Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Aamanns/Copenhagen sneak peek!

Another day, another Danish-royalty party. These shots are from yesterday's stop on the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark's U.S. visit. Chef Adam Aamanns' new smørrebrød spot at 13 Laight Street in Tribeca won't officially open until late November/early December, but here's a look at what will be served:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Denmark's the Spot!

I spent the last couple of weeks scrambling to write a story about Nordic cuisine in New York City and sat down with many of the city's finest purveyors of gravlax, smørrebrød, rye bread, pickled herring et al. One guy I didn't get to interview was Rene Redzepi, famed chef at Copenhagen's Noma, aka the "best restaurant in the world." But I finally caught up with him in Union Square yesterday, eating a local apple no less, where he was promoting Danish cuisine to an audience of foodies, press and the Crown Couple of Denmark.
As for American chefs who inspire him, he cited Thomas Keller ("an astonishing chef"), Wylie Dufresne and David Chang. In fact, Redzepi's head chef at Noma is yankee Matt Orlando.When I asked him if he had plans to open any restaurants in NY, he gave me a sad face and shook his head, "No," saying, "I love New York City. Who doesn't?" But he's pretty happy and busy with what's going on with his work back in Denmark, so really, nothing to be sorry about.

However, as an addendum to the part in my article about the New Nordic Manifesto, Redzepi said he was "surprised" that chefs here were looking at it for their own Scandinavian cooking. "They're not rules —they're inspirations," he says. "If you have rules, it becomes absolute. That's a horrible thing. Who's to say just because you want to incorporate olive oil that it's not Nordic cooking?"

Below, samples of bites prepared by Adam Aamanns -- who will be opening an eatery in Tribeca by December. (At very top of post, æbleskiver dusted with vinegar powder.)
Potatoes with mussel cream

Beet Root smørrebrød

A smorgasbord.

 P.S. As for my story which came out today - I highly recommend stopping by Nordic Breads, mentioned in the intro for their "dark piquant rounds of Finnish rye." (Multiple locations: New Amsterdam, Union Square and Stuyvesant Town Greenmarkets; some Dean & Deluca’s, Shaller and Weber; Whole Foods Market)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is it really the end of S̶e̶p̶t̶e̶m̶b̶e̶r̶ October already?

When I was researching my story about places to eat around Lincoln Center during Fashion Week, there were plenty of restaurants to choose from. Rosa Mexicana or Fiorello's would have been too obvious. Salumeria Rosi was too far. Boulud Sud would have been one too many Bouluds...I was on the fence about Gastroarte--but then I saw their insane platings and thought, "how perfect." Above, squid ink risotto and seafood. Below, beets! and further down, Lincoln Ristorante by day.

Friday, July 22, 2011

New stuff

I hung out with actress Jena Malone in Los Angeles earlier this year and wrote about it for S Magazine. And if you happen to pick up an issue and all you do is gawk at the nude photos of her without reading the story—shame, shame on you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wendi "Daaaaaang" Murdoch's leading lady

(At The London Hotel's Maze restaurant: Actress Li Bing Bing, right; director Wayne Wang, left.)

I had trouble figuring out how to write about this whole Snow Flower and the Secret Fan business, even if I did suggest it to my editor at The Paris Review in the first place. But at the time of the pitch, I hadn't yet seen the film, and was intrigued about the possibilities. After watching the movie, things became murkier from an editorial standpoint. At one point, there was going to be some pretty heavy lesbian porn references, not to mention the use of the FUPA acronym. But as my friend Tom pointed out (while I was past deadline and ready to give up), "often journalists will find a topic that's just easy/provocative under deadline rather than say what they really think." Though, it's not like had I gone the FUPA route, I wouldn't have been saying what I really thought anyway. Here's my end result, and here's the awesome Wendi Murdoch smackdown clip.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Free Ai Weiwei?

In New York and in Miami, I saw these posters, remnants from Ai's 81 days of imprisonment. Of course, he's not really free, is he.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I should remember to post this every year:
Just got back from yet another depressing lecture at MIT on Carbon Capture and Sequestration. Not familiar with CCS? In a nut: We are in the global warming shitter because we drive too much, fly too much, and can't control our rate of needless consumption. All of this requires energy, much of which comes from burning coal in power plants, and results in a runaway train of carbon emissions that's destroying the earth and the air we breathe. So scientists are trying to figure out a way to suck the carbon from these plants and then inject them deep into underground geological formations or even beneath the ocean -- which if they ever do figure out how to make work, then has the potential to wreak even more catastrophic results, like ocean acidification, ecological destruction, blah blah blah. On top of that, if they do miraculously figure it all out, it's only a fraction of what we need to do to make it all...not so bad. Because no matter what, it's gonna be bad.

I spend my time learning and obsessing about this problem, the enormity of it and perhaps the futility of trying to fix it, wondering if I'll ever be able to use a disposable plastic fork without feeling overwhelming guilt or not despise a culture which perpetuates mass retailers of overpriced superfluous junk. But mostly, I wonder why so many bikers have to be killed by cars and their drivers.

This morning, when I pedaled across the intersection of Harvard and Cambridge in Allston, like I do almost everyday, I saw yet another ghostbike chained to a light pole, memorializing the life and death of a 23-year-old girl who was killed riding her bike a week or so ago. Her friends had covered the street corner with flowers, notes, pictures, even a giant graffitied message saying, "Kelly, we love you." Bikers, you see, whether they are conscious of this or not, are doing us a huge favor by choosing not to pilot giant heaps of gas-guzzling, carbon-emitting, war-inducing metal. Yeah, I'm a biker, so it sounds like I'm just wanking one off, but you can't really argue with it. Just try to.

So, wear a helmet, ride a bike, ride safe, save the world.

I originally wrote it in May of 2007, after I'd left New York the first time, and was mired in the world of Nova science now. When I was a more prolific blogger. I later commented:
"We need a complete overhaul of our cultural values, and a greater respect for our fellow humans. People think they're minding their own business while coveting and collecting things, when really everything we do effects somebody else and then comes back to slap us on our asses time 10: breathing, eating, all of it. Biodiversity is key, not only in nature, but in humanity, our urban metropolises, our comfortable Ikea-turned out homes --so it behooves us not to run each other over and think more about what is essential to life, liberty and happiness.

The recession happened, and as painful as it is, to some more than others, I know it isn't all bad. It's taught some of us how to be frugal, yet make the most of it (i.e. out of work, and nothing to do but look at the birds). Nevertheless, I've lost touch with some of these ideals in the last year or so, and it's time to refocus.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I'm assuming this is based on a scale of 1-10, 1 being low and 10.3 signifying tomorrow's -- sorry, next weekend's --impending apocalypse.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Artist Ai Weiwei missing for 9 days

Artist Ai Weiwei has been detained by the Chinese government, according to news reports. Nobody knows exactly why he was arrested or how long he'll be held. Back in 2007, when I was living in Boston and spending quite a bit of time attending various lectures and talks at the multitude of universities around Cambridge, I interveiwed Ai. He had been invited to speak at MIT's School of Architecture, and I was immediately taken by his personal and artistic sense of humor. He was very generous with his time, and shockingly candid with his criticism of the Chinese government. I was worried he'd get in trouble. Here is an excerpt.

BLVR: The Chinese government's push to build Beijing up into a world-class metropolis filled with skyscrapers is destroying historic neighborhoods. Are you okay with that?

AWW: First, I don't think it comes from design. Any design, any city, any kind of craziness or tragedy, it all comes from a long time of preparation. Destroy or build. Crazy or non-crazy. I'm not nostalgic about the old city. I don't enjoy it that much. It was just a city with one emperor and the rest of them just rats or meaningless people. Of course, it has its own conditions. The society was so different—it was a feudalistic society. It didn’t come to a point of industrial revolution until 20 years ago. And today, we jump into this globalization of the economy and Internet age. Of course, there has to be chaos. It has to be crazy and I don't think there's anything wrong about it except this government which is really incapable of doing anything meaningful. Otherwise, I think the building can be bigger, larger, and the city can be much more crazy. The problem is the government structure is so deadly stupid, not really solving problems but creating a lot of problems itself every day.

BLVR: How are you so free with your criticism of the Chinese government? Don’t people tend to end up in prison for that? Or are you safe because of your involvement with high-profile projects?

AWW: It’s not like before. It’s very clearly losing power in every aspect, but trying to fix up all the problems or potential problems. The whole attitude of society has become much more open and realistic. They realize that the only way to make a more democratic and free society is to let different opinions come out. The government has improved in the last two or three years. Of course, the structure is still the same; there’s still a one-party system and strong censorship.

The whole interview can be read here. And info on "Never Sorry," a film about Ai directed by Alison Klayman can be found here, as well as the "Who's Afraid of Ai Weiwei?" Frontline documentary here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

All dressed up and...

These came from downtown L.A.'s Bottega Louie. I've heard it's a pretty, loud restaurant where the food is only okay. But those macaroons were right on point.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

At last.

In 2010, I lived in a fancy hotel and worked as a story producer for My Life As Liz, Season 2. Both of these (unrelated) experiences had me jumping up and down on a king-sized, satin-sheeted bed - and not sleeping nearly enough. The show premieres tonight on MTV at 11 pm.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Awww, pussycat

I interviewed actress and icon Tura Satana (July 10, 1938 – February 4, 2011) for Giant Robot way back when. She talked to me about everything from overcoming gang rape to conquering the art of nipple-tassle twirling. Bye-bye, pussycat.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Actor Stephen Dorff was one of the first interviews I conducted with a celebrity during my tenure at Jane Magazine. He stood me up on our original phone date, and I eventually ended up having to go into the office on a weekend to have the conversation -- which lasted over two hours and was pretty amusing. In retrospect, I'm surprised at some of my questions and responses, but then again, I had initially been pretty annoyed by his delinquency. I thought of him recently because he's in that new Sofia Coppola move, Somewhere, and then found that someone had posted our interview on the web. I have re-appropriated it here. The photo, by the way, was taken by Michael Stipe.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

West Coast report

Flip flops in January is a pretty damn civilized concept, especially when I think about the nuisance of  crossing an intersection in NYC, post-snowstorm (which apparently is all the time these days).  But now that my closest geographical acronym is PCH, I'm pissed that I'll be missing this Adrian "in conversation" with artist Leanne Shapton event next month at the Strand, where he'll also be signing copies of his new book Scenes from an Impending Marriage. I went to his (really amazing) wedding years ago where guests were given the original version of this comic as favors. Which reminds me, I should have sold mine on eBay when I still had a chance.

Wednesday, February 9th, 7:00 pm
Strand Bookstore
726 Broadway
In conversation with Leanne Shapton.

Oh, lepidopterist.

Nabokov -- writer, hotel dweller, lepidopterist. Le-pid-op-ter-ist. You had me at hotel dweller. You definitely had me at writer.  And now, butterflies.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The best lunch deal in town: Del Posto

Last fall, Sam Sifton gave Del Posto, the Bastianich/Batali mega-restaurant in the Meatpacking district, a 4-star rating  -- his first since he became the New York Times dining critic in 2009.  And while I generally believe rating systems with their stars, numbers, or other funny little icons to be inevitably flawed, I'm down with Sifton. After heeding a rec by my NYC neighbor who is a sommelier at the restaurant, I found Del Posto to be one of the best fine-dining experiences I've ever had. Of course, I'm the kind of person that is easily impressed by whipped lardo as a complimentary option to spread on your choice of three fresh-baked breads, cheese graters re-imagined as serving trays for dessert canapes with wooden pullout drawers revealing a second secret layer of more dessert canapes, and an off-menu children's entree of gnocchi with truffled butter. And did you see those gold-dusted cheese-risotto balls?

But on top of the exquisitely prepared dishes and drinks, the waitstaff also maintained a down-to-earth elegance, even providing a purse stool for our 4-year-old-friend's Dora the Explorer backpack. Later, our waiter conceded to the fact that most truffle oils are fake, including their own, enhanced by chemical compounds such as 2,4-dithiapentane to impart that certain je ne sais quoi - which, of course, did not stop that gnocchi from being inhaled like a plate of peanuts backstage at a circus show.

The damage:  $29 for a three-course lunch prix fixe. (Of course, the a la carte order of their hundred-layer lasagna is extra.) Info: www.delposto.com, 85 10th Avenue/16th Street, 1-212-497-8090.