Monthly Archives: April 2012

Starting the Season with Lobster in East Hampton

Lunching on Lobster with Lauren at Bostwicks in East Hampton

Granted they were just opening for the season, but our waiter obviously didn’t know Lauren Ezersky. He mistakenly place some of our order in front of me. Lauren set that straight pretty quickly. One pound lobster—Lauren. Half dozen little neck claims—Lauren. Corn on the cob—Lauren. Cole slaw—Lauren. Clam chowder (New England style) and Peroni—Warren. (Ok, two Peronis) And don’t forget the extra sauce for Lauren! That’s how we roll at Bostwick’s in the Spring in East Hampton.

Lauren in the Hamptons

Look out Lobsters when Lauren hits Bostwicks!

It’s Norway or the Highway

Lauren Reviews a Movie from Norway: Headhunters

Ever since Stieg Larsson trilogy starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo came out people have been clamoring for more thrillers from those wacky Scandinavians. Headhunters is it: A suspenseful movie that also makes you laugh and gasp at the same time.

Aksel Henne stars as Roger, a charming badass who lives a life of glamor and luxury way beyond his pay grade as an accomplished headhunter in Norway. Unknown to all, he is an

The cast is led by Aksel Hennie, one of the most popular actors in Norway, as Roger Brown

art thief on the side. His wife, played by former model Synnøve Macody Lund is a stunning gallery owner who introduces him to gorgeous Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who owns a Rubens painting that Roger risks everything to steal. In the process he becomes a hunted man.

Directed by Morten Tyldum from a book by Jo Nesbø, Headhunters is a crazy romp with thrills by the minute. Word is that it will be remade by some famous American director starring some famous American movie star. Heaven help us. Go see the original please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ballet Hispanico Attacks the Stage

There’s still time to catch Ballet Hispanico at the Joyce

Recognized as the preeminent Latino dance institution in the United States, Ballet Hispanico returns

Rodney Hamilton, Vanessa Valecillos, Mario Ismael Espinoza. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

to The Joyce Theater for its annual New York Season from April 17-29, 2012.

This year’s program pays tribute to the richness and range of the company’s Latino roots – and the diverse talents of the dancers – and features African and Caribbean influences. Works to be performed include a World Premiere, Espiritu Vivo, created especially for Ballet Hispanico by Ronald K. Brown and set to music by Afro-Peruvian Latin Grammy Award winner Susana Baca, who will perform live during Program A; the Joyce premiere of Asuka, Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro’s first work for the company, an exuberant homage to salsa legend Celia Cruz; and the New York Premiere of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Nube Blanco.

We were there Wednesday and were both blown away by the energy and athleticism of the dancers. I especially enjoyed Espiritu Vivo, the middle dance of three and the live accompaniment of a small band and vocalist Susana Baca.It’s a wonderful night of dance, and a great way to introduce a dance-neophyte date to this energetic art form.

The Day the Dogs Tied the Knot

Bravo Was There When the Dogs Tied the Knot

Chef Roble didn’t quite know what to make of Lauren when she came to her to request catering for the wedding of Carmen and Harpo. Why? They’re dogs! Chihuahuas to be exact. But he was game and he and his sister put together quite a blowout in the Hamptons. The bride and groom were resplendent in outfits designed and created by famous designer Gemma Kahng.

There were plenty of doggie guests and the canines ate better than the humans. They enjoyed duck meatballs and steak and eggs among other treats, while we had salad and fish. i do admit nipping a couple of he meatballs. they were excellent.

It was a fun day and was broadcast in January as part of the Chef Roble show on Bravo. I can’t believe they left out the only little bit of conflict, when a dog peed on my jacket and i had a little sparring session with its owner.

Lots of excitement when the dogs tied the knot.

 

 

Chelsea’s Fabulous Regional Thai

 Chelsea’s Regional Thai Might Be the Best Restaurant Deal in NYC

Lauren Ezersky

That's moi with Regional Thai Pad Thai

My husband says there are entirely too many Thai restaurants in New York City. But he’s always happy to take me to Regional Thai on 22nd Street in Chelsea. Why? Two reasons. One: He’s cheap. Two: Their Happy Hour. Three: the $4.00 wine. And not only wine. Their happy hour dinner special is one of the best in the City, bar none. OK listen up: here’s what you get. A choice of two entrees: pad thai or fried rice, either with shrimp, chicken, beef or tofu, and a choice of two appetizers: beggar’s purse, veg dumpling, spring roll, firecracker, maybe something else that i don’t remember—all for $7.95! I loooove the beggar’s purse, stuffed with all kinds of good stuff like shrimp, chicken and herbs They say eating a beggar’s purse brings good luck. Better to be lucky than good, right? I always have a delish veg spring roll too. Then its on to the Pad Thai that comes served in a big heap on the plate. Always get it with shrimp. Never disappointed. And that’s what i get. Every time. I don’t understand why, but they’ve got some funky Mexican sh*t on the menu too. And Margarita specials with top of the line booze like Patron and Cuervo, but i’m not a big boozer. I leave that to my hubby.

Oh wait… almost forgot. the service is great. everyone is so friendly. and the decor? well Warren says it’s ’80s Lower East Side, but i think the bright colors, fake elephant head (i hope it’s fake!) and the bird cages are all fab. Specials run from 5 – 7, monday to friday. That suits me fine. I like to eat early so i can have my teeth out and my nightgown on by 9:00.

That’s why i say that Chelsea’s Regional Thai is a great deal.

 

 

Happy Hour at the Palm

The Palm Happy Hour Makes Us Happy

The Palm is an ancient steakhouse, always included on the list of best in New York. There’s also an outpost in East Hampton. We never go there for dinner. We know that Lauren would not be able to resist their famous three pound lobster, and that would decimate out dining-out budget for about six months.

Like any good steakhouse, the Palm is not inexpensive. Unless… you take advantage of

Welcome to the Palm

their Bar Bites Happy Hour. Unfortunately, I’m not often here in the Hamptons during those delightful hours of 5 – 7 Mon – Fri. I’m more of a Friday night jitney east, Sunday afternoon Long Island Railroad west kind of guy. But taking a long weekend for our anniversary provided the prefect opportunity to take part.

The bar at the Palm, East Hampton, is all dark wainscot and time-worn tables. The bar is murky and moody with old wooden booths. The kind of place you want to hide out on a hot summer afternoon. A on those afternoon—from 5 to 7 on weekdays—you can partake of their bar bites, normally ranging from $10 to $13 for just $5.50! That includes steak burger sliders, lobster roll sliders, crab cakes, charcuterie plates and more. Shrimp cocktail is $3.95 and oysters are $1.90 each.

shrimp cocktail

super giant shrimp at the bar

We started with a half dozen oysters and a half dozen shrimp. When the shrimp arrived, they were beyond jumbo, fresh and crisp. Best we’d had in ages. The oysters, too, were fresh and briny. An order each of (3) burgers and (3)lobster roll sliders was all we needed. Well, we did spring for a carrot cake too, not that we needed it. Oh, and a couple of glasses of a crisp California chardonnay. It was a great meal of appetizers.The bar was empty when we arrived at 5:00. By the time we left it was packed with others taking advantage of one of the best dining deals in the Hamptons. We’ll be back for the Palm’s Happy Hour.

The End of Brunch

The End of Brunch: What Defines This Strange Weekend Meal?

Alcohol is a Key Ingredient of Brunch

I am happy to report that the Age of Brunch is over. Just about anyway. Oh, all the folks blithely enjoying their weekend mimosas and eggs Benedict think that brunch will always be in fashion. After all, it has been more than 100 years since Punch magazine declared in 1896, “to be fashionable now, we must brunch.”

 

And brunch we do. From sunup to sundown every weekend, in New York and cities across America, people are going out to brunch. They’re engaging in it, and enjoying it. But can someone please tell me exactly what the heck brunch is?

The simple answer, according to the OED, is that brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch. The dictionary informs us that the word itself was coined by a Mr. Guy Beringer in Hunter’s Weekly in 1895.

But neither Mr. Beringer nor the OED really explains what makes brunch brunch, as distinct from breakfast or lunch. Is it the food? It’s not the food. Eggs, for example, a brunch staple, are also breakfast food. They are prepared for brunch exactly the same way as for breakfast. Brunch favorites—burgers and salads—are also served at lunch and dinner. If brunch were a true combination of breakfast and lunch it would combine the dishes as well, e.g. eggs with hamburgers. That indeed is a dish I’ve enjoyed, a regional Rhode Island specialty hamburger patty with a fried egg on top. But I ate those on my half-hour lunch break in Portsmouth. That clearly was not brunch because I was on deadline. I had a schedule, I had somewhere to be after I ate, unlike folks enjoying brunch, which is a meal that in theory can stretch to infinity—or at least Monday morning. Is it the time? Yes, it’s the time, to a certain extent. Brunch is characterized by a sense of leisure.

And yes, it has to be on the weekend. Saturday or Sunday with a long day and lazy evening stretching out in front of you.

For me, as a boy growing up on a farm, those long lazy days were non-existent. Even on weekends, there was always work to get back to. So you can understand my bafflement about brunch.

I’m quite sure my Dad, a lifelong farmer, never ate brunch. He probably never spoke the word “brunch.” That’s not to say he wouldn’t like brunch. He would appreciate any excuse to eat. On the farm, my father routinely ate a second breakfast around 10 a.m. As I recall, it was pretty much the same as the first breakfast (or as he called it “breffist”—peanut butter on white bread, folded, dunked in his coffee. These days, you probably won’t find peanut butter on the brunch menu, unless it’s tucked into a crepe or incorporated into some brunch dessert

Does the eater define brunch? To a degree.

Do Real Men Eat Brunch?

My father was a real man, a regular guy. I believe that a regular guy couldn’t care less about brunch. If he’s at brunch, nine times out of ten he’s there because his girlfriend suggested it. However, he does like the idea of having permission to start drinking in the morning. If that requires ordering a hamburger and calling it brunch, so be it. Girls like brunch. Guys will do what girls like. Straight guys do anyway. And gay guys just plain like brunch.

So just because I am a brunch idiot why do I posit that brunch has reached the apex of its ascendency?

Go to the epicenter of the brunch world, the restaurant Pastis in the Meat Packing District of New York. If brunch wasn’t invented there, it should have been.  And you will suppose, from the long lines and the high prices, that brunch has never been more popular. Folks will wait hours to paying seventeen bucks for a couple of eggs—the very same eggs that are eleven dollars during the week. That’s a six dollar surcharge for the privilege of calling them brunch. You’ll find l’oeufs on the brunch menu at Pastis, as well as their salades and garnitures. But you won’t find the French word for brunch. Why? There is no French word for brunch. The French do not need a magic word to justify spending all day in a café eating and drinking.

Unrest in the Land of Brunch

But look around at the outer reaches of Brunchville and there are signs of unrest. There’s something brewing besides coffee—and that something is trouble. First there was Permanent Brunch, a restaurant in the Lower East Side that promised brunch all day, every day. It seemed like a sure thing. It shuttered soon after opening. Why? Once you experience brunch on a Tuesday at 6 p.m. you realize it’s not so special anymore. It’s not hard to figure out that anything permanent cannot be special. (See marriage.)

But a worse sign of the coming brunch apocalypse is offered by Meat Hook butcher shop in Williamsburg. It’s fitting that the home of the hipster is also home to the first ironic brunch. At the Meat Hook, they’ve set up a single table in front of the counter, where for $50 a head guests get to enjoy a “tasting menu” that might include a slice of leftover pizza with Miller High Life, saltines with chocolate and coffee, schnapps and beef jerky followed by lentil soup.

Well, it does meet the main criteria of brunch: alcohol. Plenty of it. But seems to me that once brunch becomes ironic its days are numbered.

So if you’ll excuse me, it’s the weekend, and I’m going out for a late morning meal. I’m in the vanguard of the next fashionable thing. Eggs over easy, home fries and bacon. And a big mug of coffee. I’m calling it breffist.

And for me, that will be the end of brunch.

Venus in Fur Crackles

Venus in Fur Poster

Hugh Dancy and Nina Arianda star

Venus i Fur Crackles on Broadway

You know what happens when you’re in a dark, cold, dry room and you rub a fat long-haired cat the wrong way? Right: sparks fly. And that’s just what happens in Venus in Fur at the Lyceum. The play opens as thunder and lightning boom and flash on a dark stage. What follows is an hour and a half of non-stop building sexual tension between Vonda (Nina Arianda) and Thomas (Hugh Dancy). Just the two of them, a bag full of costumes dragged in by Vonda, a few pieces of furniture and a witty, edgy script full of twists and turns.With it’s play-within-a-play structure and 19th century shadow story, the play is quite Tom-Stoppard-esque. The plot is convoluted, the characters exchange roles, and, in the end, a bit more clarity would have been appreciated. But, when leaving the theater everyone can be hard exclaiming the same thing: Nina Arianda! She is a force of nature. Beguiling. Sexy. Dangerous. Eccentric. Endearing. As electric as the lightning that flashes throughout the show. Hugh Dancy does a great job just to keep up with her. Don’t miss it!

Congratulations to Nina Arianda, just nominated for a Best Actress Tony! And David Ives, Best Playwright nominee for Venus in Fur.

Avi Sher & Dancers Sparkle at Ailey Center

 

With no lavish sets, no frilly costumes or tutus, and mostly contemporary music,  Avi Sher & Dancers bring ballet into the 21st century. The result is pure power of dance stripped of accessories. It’s a bold move to make the choreography and the dancers carry all the weight, but this troupe pulls it off. Sher, American born, but Isreal-raised presented a handful of sharp, crisp, finely crafted dancers at the Alvin Ailey Center in early April.  The dancers, including Herman Cornejo from American Ballet Theatre and and Misa Kuranaga from the Boston Ballet, proved up to the task and possessed the stage with their confident performances.

Avi Sher & Dancers was founded in August 2008 with a mission of building new audiences for neoclassical and contemporary ballet by presenting top quality dancers and new works in small, affordable venues, often with live music. They are succeeding in a big way.