Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sigur Ros

Life is starting to slow down a bit, and not just because I’m taking a little breather from my Times Square Movie Club activity.

In the first three months of 2013, I’ve shown 23 feature movies, 14 episodes of Firefly, 6 episodes of Elementary and six episodes of Sherlock (and that doesn’t even include the Oscar party and other private showings with individual friends), so that pace was bound to slacken.

Of course it’s not terribly taxing to host these things and they motivate me to keep the place tidy and stocked with food. But at some point, I do want to turn my energies to other things as well.

One thing I talked with Kacey about last Wednesday was creating a play-writing competition through Open Love NY. We had dinner at Print. on 11th Avenue, a New American restaurant with a killer appetizer menu. I tried the octopus and chorizo salad to start, then the seared sea scallops, and we shared the panacotta dessert.

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Kacey had the goat cheese gnocchi and the red snapper, which she said equaled the best versions she’s had in Costa Rica.

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After dinner we went up to the Press Lounge, the rooftop bar, and took in the gorgeous, sweeping vistas of midtown Manhattan on one side and the Hudson River on the other: 

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Afterwards, we came back and finished our Twilight run with a flourish, watching Breaking Dawn Pts. 1 and 2 back to back. I can't tell you how nice it is to share my Twi-fandom with someone who shares it without irony or derision - just one of many reasons that Kacey is one of my favorite people.

On Saturday night, T came over for the first time in a long while to deliver a print of another one of her works, "Bubble Love" and to see my framing of her drawing, "An Unknown Woman."

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We had some tea and a nice chat before heading down to the MMMM and seeing our friends. K-Rand was there, plus Kiwi, Ilan, Emily, Stella and Josh. We met a young newcomer, Colby (like the cheese) who left with Katie, T and me around 2 a.m. for our respective homes.

Monday night, Morgan came into Princeton to accompany me to see Sigur Ros at Madison Square Garden. We took the train into New York and went to Cho Dang Gol to introduce him to Korean cuisine. Morgan had a Bibimbap with octopus, while I had the seafood Cham dubu (soft tofu) - it was the first time I'd had Korean soft tofu since I was in Los Angeles in 2005. Then we went home to drop off stuff, and back down to Madison Square Garden for the concert.

It's been a few years since I've been to a rock concert, and I'm going to two of them inside of a month (Muse with Christine in a few weeks). This was probably one of the top three concerts I've ever seen (Porcupine Tree at the Beacon Theater is my standard). The concert started, as pictured in Heima when they performed in Reykjavik, with the band backlit behind a scrim for a couple songs before it dramatically drops during a crescendo.

Even though I love Sigur Ros' music, the acoustics at MSG are pretty lousy (as I remember when I saw Rush there a few years ago). Even so, the sound was tuned well enough to be enjoyable. The light show was truly amazing, with a combination of warm fairy lights on stage (just like in my apartment), a high-def screen for visuals behind, lasers, smoke, and high-intensity flashers and spotlights. I especially loved when they played Hoppípolla, from their album Takk, and showered the stage with glittering sparkles that perfectly suited the soaring, cascading beauty of this song.

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I also got a cozy hoodie and buttons as souvenirs. The hoodie is super-long, with sleeves long enough to cover my hands, which I love. It's already my favorite hoodie ever, and a lot less scary than my old Porcupine Tree hoodie, which has a spooky kid's face on the back.

Here is a fantastic blog about the concert, with gorgeous photos much better than my Blackberry photos - check it out! I think my second favorite part of the night was the two song encore, Glósóli and Popplagið, when the band really cut loose and closed the show with a bang. Wonderful concert, just magnificent!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Modern

Piper and I had a superlative dining experience at The Modern on Monday night as a prelude to our detour on our Kubrick marathon - we watched the Peter Hyams-directed movie 2010, the sequel to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Our dinner started with a blitzkrieg of complimentary amuse bouches: lemon verbena popcorn, spoons containing a cube of mackrel and a cream cheese stuffed rasberry, a sunchoke soup with red pepper served in a test-tube.

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There was also a bite of hamachi tuna in a citrus gelee with roe:

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My first actual course of the meal was the "Pralines" of Foie Gras Terrine - three spheres of goose liver the consistency of butter and coated with crunchy breadcrumbs, spread over bread. Check out the menu for full descriptions of each dish.

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Piper chose the Rabbit Terrine, which was coated in a green herbal goo that reminded me of the taffy Wreck-it Ralph falls into when he visits Sugar Rush:

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My second course was the Slow-Poached Farm Egg over Squid Ink Spaetzle, while Piper had the John Dory Gratinee, beautifully presented in a triangle of pimento glaze:

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For the main course, I chose the Thomas Farm Rack of Lamb, probably the finest lamb chop I've ever tasted (and I'm a big fan of lamb), while Piper selected the signature Squab and Foie Gras Croustillant, a piece of foie gras sandwiched between two pieces of squab and encrusted in a light pastry shell. Both dishes were finished with their sauces tableside on gleaming copper heaters with candles.

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For dessert, I got the aptly named Modern Black Forest Fantaisie, which featured a tall and slender chocolate shell cone partially melted by the tableside application of a hot chocolate sauce. Piper enjoyed the Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut Dacquioise.

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However, the meal did not just end there. A server came around with a trolley full of handcrafted chocolates and assembled a selection that included a carrot marshmallow, tied into a tiny knot, that Piper gushed about. We were also presented with mini-cones of a citrus-herbal sorbet.

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Once the check was presented, the final in a long line of complimentary surprises arrived - a take-home gift of three small cakes, similar to petit-fours, in an elegant box.

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Piper wrote this on the comment card, summing up our evening of extraordinary gustation:

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Wicked Faire 2013

So I'm finally coming back up for air after a relaxing weekend where the only socializing I did was going out to dim sum with Ilan and Jet on Sunday, then visiting Ilan's love Stan where she works at Evolution, which is possibly one of the coolest stores in New York. Saturday I shopped for groceries and bought my copy of the Twilight Saga on Blu Ray at Best Buy, plus some shoes at Nordstrom Rack.

Last weekend was all the movies and Oscar party, but I didn't get a chance to talk about our third time at Wicked Faire the weekend before that. I met up with Morgan at the event on Friday night and Puck came in later by train. Ego Likeness was playing Friday night, so we watched a few songs from their set before heading back to the Goblin Market, where Morgan bought a new hoop. We found a spice dealer in the marketplace called Auntie Arwen's and I bought a bunch of things, including Black Truffle Sea Salt, an incredibly aromatic salt that was once used to ship black truffles and is resold as a unique condiment that is perfect on eggs. I also got another salt mixed with ghost pepper chiles, one of the world's hottest peppers, and Turkish Marash chile pepper flakes.

I also got several teas from the Tea & Absinthe that we discovered at Steampunk World's Fair last year, including Irish Whiskey, English Caramel, Rose Marzipan (black tea with roasted almonds, rose petals, cardamom, rosebuds, vanilla bits) and Starry Night (black tea with coconut rasps and almond flakes). So my pantry is pretty well stocked at the moment. After the shopping we hung out in the Burn Ward for a bit, a chill place to dance, hoop and lounge in cuddle spaces in the style of an Arabian tent.

Saturday we explored the Faire, which this year included a stonecutter plying his trade:

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We watched a very interesting presentation about molecular gastronomy, a modern trend in cuisine. The presenter made bacon-flavored "dirt" out of bacon grease and tapioca starch, mozzarella balloons filled with rosemary-scented air and demonstrated how to set up a DIY immersion circulator using a slow cooker.

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Saturday night This Way to the Egress played their usual warm-up show for Voltaire - they are releasing their sophomore album in May. They were joined by a hoop artist and a burlesque dancer for a couple of their songs:

Around midnight, we met up with Puck, who was doing a lot of volunteer work this year, and we watched the Wandering Cellist, here playing the theme to the video game Skyrim:

Sunday morning Morgan and I left early to get on the road - he to get home to Harrisburg, and me to park Yoshi back in Princeton and take the train to the airport to fly to Houston for work. Sunday night I checked into the Four Seasons in downtown Houston and drove out to visit my old friends Norm and Meador, who I last saw at the rodeo at random on my last trip ("Lady Antebellum" - March 3, 2012). Norm has been dabbling in watercolors in his retirement years and he gave me one of his pieces that I liked. It wouldn't fit in my carry-on case, so I brought it to the office on Monday and had them ship it to my desk in Princeton. Monday morning I also had a lovely hotel breakfast of smoked salmon Eggs Benedict and turkey sausages:

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The work week was pretty brutal in Houston, with non-stop meetings around my usual work, plus team lunches and dinners, so not a lot of downtime that keeps me sane. Luckily it wasn't for the full week, since I left around midday on Wednesday. I also had a very nice meal at the Le Grande Comptoir in the Houston airport: French onion soup, beef carpaccio (thinly sliced center cut beef filet flavored with olive oil, fresh pepper, pickled red onions, capers and accompanied by handmade toasted crostini) and a Pancetta and carmelized onion flatbread pizza (Pancetta and slow cooked caramelized onions atop a blend of mozzarella, parmesan, romano, provolone, and cheddar, served on a traditional, oven baked, thin and crispy flatbread crust).

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And that pretty much led into Liz's Mardi Gras party on Friday and the Oscar marathon weekend.

There - all caught up.