Inspired (as so often) by Sam, who recently took a why-not? trip there, and spurred by the news that a WWI-themed opera would be playing for two weeks only, I decided to look into the feasibility of a mid-February weekend in Philly. For its balmy climate. The stars aligned: we could catch a Sunday matinee at the opera, go out for dinner at a BYOB–giving us an excuse to drink the *outstanding* wine we were given for Christmas–and since it was President’s Day weekend, catch the “American Spirits” Prohibition exhibition at the Constitution Center for free. I found a $99 deal at the city center Sheraton, roundtrip Bolt Bus tickets for about $30 each, and managed to book us into the incredible Matyson for a late-ish Saturday night dinner (not an easy feat, as I’d forgotten that this was the closest Saturday to Valentine’s Day, and shit was BOOKED UP. Urgh.)
Pictures! (and highlights, after the jump.)
Nigel Slater‘s Ripe is a gorgeous object: a heavyweight, clothbound, coffee-table tome that isn’t so much food porn as gastronomic erotica. There are gorgeous photographs throughout, of apricots poaching in fragrant tea and berries swooning on pillows of cream, of lacy stalks of blossom and rough hunks of pie. Ripe makes a pair with Slater’s previous book, Tender, both focused on the garden and the plate. Tender takes you through the cook’s vegetable patch and here, we’re guided through his orchard – a term he admits is generous for his tiny London backyard.
If you’re in New York, you still have a few days left to visit Signor Columbus at home. It’s a bit of a climb, but worth it for the wallpaper.
The Public Art Fund is behind Tatzu Nishi’s whimsical, perspective-upending “Discovering Columbus,” in which the artist has enclosed the weathered old statue in a reasonably ritzy apartment in the sky. Usually exposed to the weather, the old sea dog, hand on his tiller, is temporarily aloft on his own coffee table, while visitors admire his bookshelves, furniture, and enviable view. You’re not allowed to touch him (or borrow his copy of the Steve Jobs biography) but you can get pretty comfortable, and forget you’re standing on a platform wrapped around a 75ft-high column.
Before long Columbus’s real-estate-obsessed guests settle into the same conversations they adopt in any stranger’s apartment: where did he score that vintage leather chair? What’s his taste in books? Is that wallpaper custom? And most importantly – how much do you think he pays for a place like this?
Go speculate before December 2nd, by reserving your tickets here.
So thanks to my wonderful, culturally savvy compadre Susan, I was lucky enough to go to the mind-blowing Roman Tragedies at BAM last night: a spectacular six-hour production of Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra, staged by Toneelgroep Amsterdam and the director Ivo van Hove. Yes that’s right. Six hours. In Dutch.
* Featured limes may not actually be Key limes.
Friends, I apologize for a very short and lazy post on this pie, without even a picture of the finished product. But essentially this is a PSA: Key* lime pie is the easiest damn pie in the world to make. It is easy as pie. Really. I used the Pioneer Woman‘s recipe (original here - her pictures are excellent, and I swear mine looked just like that) and it was an excuse to use up some of the glut of limes we’ve had sitting around since the wedding, making me feel guilty every time I open the fridge door and it’s *not* to make margaritas. As for the Key lime/regular lime question, I think there’s already enough sugar in this pie to make tart limes actually preferable. Whisper: I think this might actually be the best [key] lime pie I’ve ever had.
1. Preheat the oven to 350° and dig out a shallow 9in pie plate. Take 18 Graham crackers (we used original Keebler’s) – about 9oz – and crush them mercilessly into submission, either in a food processor (boo!) or in a Ziploc bag using a heavy object and plenty of pent-up aggression (yay!)
2. Put the now thoroughly humiliated crumbs in a bowl and add 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter, melted in the microwave, and if you’re feeling frisky, 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Scrunch together with your hands, and then scoop out and press into the pie plate. The crust will be thick – do your best to approximate a pie-crust shape. Pop into the oven for 5 minutes then pull out to cool slightly (a handy windowsill is your friend here.)
3. While the crust is cooking, zest 2 limes (to yield a heaping tablespoon of zest) and squeeze those two, plus 4-6 more limes (to yield 1/2 cup juice). Let the size of your limes be your guide, in this as in all things.
4. Place the lime zest and juice in a bowl, together with 2 egg yolks and 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk (the can can do double duty as a cracker-crusher.) Stir until well combined.
5. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and put back in the oven for 15 minutes.
6. Let the pie cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least an hour or two. That’s it! That’s honestly it! How easy is that?
Serve with whipped cream if you’re feeling extra decadent.
I sincerely hope these don’t become annual posts.
Hurricane/Superstorm/Frankenstorm Sandy pounded the east coast yesterday, and much of the city is underwater, without power, or otherwise struggling, so we are extremely grateful for our high ground in Astoria and the large local contingent of dedicated small businesses, most of which are up and running, if they ever closed. There was a line outside Bareburger this afternoon (Tuesday) waiting for tables. We’re not going to go hungry, and save for a little light-flickering anxiety, we were able to eat, drink, and watch weather-disaster-porn in safety and comfort. The best collection of pictures of the storm’s impact in NYC and surrounding areas is here, via the inimitable Alan Taylor.
Here are a few pictures of the aftermath in the neighborhood. It’s cold and blustery out, but dry, and things are getting back to normal. I have a new camera lens, too, a manual-focus 50mm/1.8 which I LOVE and am trying to master. Here goes:
Worst downed-tree damage I saw – 31st Avenue
More common sight: leaf litter & general mess. 31st Avenue
Skies clearing over 30th Avenue
The Apple House still open for business
Sandbags and tarp outside the Academy for New Americans
Tree down across the street from us, 30th Drive
I picked up this recent-ish novel partly as research for my book (it’s set in New York in 1938), and although I’m a cranky and overly judgmental reader of contemporary fiction, I enjoyed it beyond its atmospheric charms. The author is a first-time novelist who’s also the head of an investment firm in Manhattan, and for some reason that information is both galling and informative. The book is obsessed with money, as practical fact and glittering illusion, and with the fine-lined social picture of Manhattan society, from its plutocrats to its impoverished artists. It also makes for some uncomfortable turns of plot, in which the renunciation of wealth for hard physical labor is redemptive (for men, at least), and weak men become strong by joining the army. The narrator is (unsurprisingly) a bookish, observant, working-class girl of Russian immigrant stock, improbably named Katey Kontent, who is by turns, often unpredictably, timid and bold, frumpish and vampish. She’s strongest when she’s describing other people – her glamorous, mercurial roommate Eve, and the wealthy lover they share, who is of course not what he seems. Reviews of the book tend to reference Fitzgerald, because the author himself likes to do so, and the novel is laden with often heavy-handed English-major allusions. At one point the narrator, who has vaulted herself into an assistant’s position at a new Condé Nast glossy magazine, is told to take a contributor’s article and make it less Henry James, more Hemingway. It sounds like something the author’s been told, or has told himself, and for the most part he finds a comfortable enough line between the two – perhaps too comfortable. Too much time spent in the company of Towles’s prose, as in the stylized, stifling apartments of his wealthy characters, makes you yearn for a little mess and a little more adventure.
The lives of Chinese artists are marked by remarkable multiplicity and confusion, change and disorder, doubt and destructiveness, a loss of self and the emptiness that follows, hopelessness and its attendant freedom, shamelessness and its accompanying pleasures.
- Ai Weiwei’s Blog
I had the pleasure of seeing the fantastic documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry at the IFC Center this week, and writing a roundup of books on the artist & his work for Biographile, a beautifully curated new site focused on biography and memoir. Before going in I didn’t know much about Ai Weiwei, who strides through this film like some kind of ancient statue come to life, and frankly, I expected it to be a worthy but not especially fun hour and a half. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Here’s the trailer:
These are kids’ sandals, really, but I started noticing them on various stylish grown-up ladies in the city, and they have proved to be a great little summer investment. They’re designed to be worn in & around water (hence the name) but they’re surprisingly comfortable for running around town in the summer, a season that, after all, kids have figured out best. They’re less than $40, and you can get them here.