Month: August, 2006

NYHRC Opal Anniversary Cruise

Sunday, August 20th, 2006 | All Things, Events, Family

Mom and Dad’s 34th wedding anniversary! Traditionally, this would call for an “Opal” anniversary gift. Though upon review, this list compiled by librarians at the Chicago Public Library’s Information Center offers a pretty strange collection of presents: “Improved real estate” seems oddly specific for the 42nd anniversary; “Groceries,” pretty mundane for the 44th. But if you reach the milestone two years beyond that, the 46th earns an “Original poetry tribute.” By the 49th anniversary, the gifts can be “Luxuries, any kind.”

To celebrate this year, J, the Entertainer and I decided to take Mom and Dad for a lunchtime cruise aboard the New York Health & Racquet Club Yacht. After an initial morning rush, the family convened at the Skyport Marina on East 23rd with plenty of time to spare before the noon sailing aboard the newly renovated 75-foot vessel.


Once we embarked, C set us up at a table inside the air conditioned dining cabin, which became our base for the three-hour tour. (Insert Gilligan’s Island joke here.) As we hit the water, the summer sun grew strong overhead, but the East and Hudson rivers provided a refreshing breeze as we cruised at a decent clip. Lunch was a simple affair of grilled chicken wraps, quiches, fresh-cut fruit salad, bagels and lox, tortellini salad, grilled vegetables, muffins, yogurt and granola. But the views…!

South Street Seaport

Seaport Boats

Manhattan Bridge

The route was determined by the captain that afternoon: we sailed down the East Side, wrapping around the Southern tip of Manhattan, and several miles up the West Side to Trump Place. On the return, we took a slight detour to pay a brief visit to Lady Liberty.

West 50s

Manhattan Southern Tip

Statue of Liberty

Strawberry cake from our namesake Yeh’s. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad… and many more!


There's 1 comment so far

Bay Ridge adventure

Saturday, August 19th, 2006 | All Things, Eats, Friends

Due to a change in the publication schedule, I was granted another reprieve from the Saturday duties. At this rate, I feel I’ve been in the office as many Saturdays this summer as I’ve been out.

The day before, DK had issued an invitation for the old crew to visit his new home in Bay Ridge. So after the morning trip out to Queens, I returned to Manhattan to run a quick errand before girding myself for the ride out to 77th Street. As it happened, DK and his bride were in the city running errands of their own, and offered me a ride back into Brooklyn in the Silver Bullet. Sweet!

After a stop at the Red Hook Home Depot, I got a grand tour of Chez C-K: from the Brazilian cherry floors to the George Kovacs lighting fixtures to the triple-coated, artist-paintbrushed walls — the impressive end results of their months-long renovation efforts. And it warmed my heart to see the newlyweds look so genuinely happy in their new setting. HH arrived soon afterwards, and the four of us set out for dinner at nearby Lebanese restaurant Tanoreen.

Bay Ridge’s Tanoreen was named the best cheap eats in the city by New York Magazine. No secret to hardcore foodies, who have a way of scoping out these far-flung gems: the place has received scads of glowing reviews since its opening in 1999. I’d never eaten there myself, though, and Saturday’s visit afforded the perfect opportunity.

Modest storefront, and a basic setting. But within…


Tanoreen Interior

The bustling restaurant’s air was warm and thick with the aroma of the famed “Tanoreen spices”: allspice, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, ginger, dried rosebuds… The exact components and proportions remain a secret closely held by chef-owner Rawia Bishara, who has the propietary mix roasted, ground and shipped to Brooklyn from her hometown of Nazareth. We snagged the last available table for four, near the front window, through which we could watch the queue of hungry diners form.

So much of the menu looked tempting, but we finally decided upon three appetizers and three entrees, two of which were special off-the-menu recommendations by our enthusastic server (who, given the huge publicity jump this place received a few weeks ago, is no doubt accustomed to directing Tanoreen newbies.)

Times reviewer Eric Asimov pronounced, “There may be no better hummus in town than Tanoreen’s smooth and airy version, just touched with lemon juice and garlic, perfect with the crisp house-made zatar bread.” SK mentioned investigating this claim last week, and finding their hummus a little runny, but ours was thick (but not overly so) and brightly flavored, and well accompanied by the crisp breads, thickly brushed with zesty, herby paste.


By the time the rest of the appetizers started rolling in, we were ravenous. The “Eggplant Napoleon”: perfectly crisped slices of eggplant layered with tangy babaghanoush and topped with an impeccably fresh tomato and basil salad. Also, the “Sambosek” (not pictured): deep-fried dough crescents stuffed with ground lamb and those “Tanoreen spices,” served with a thick, bright-green cilantro-basil dipping sauce.

Eggplant Napoleon

We devoured the meze and awaited our entrees, which soon arrived all at once: the “Kafta” (ground spiced lamb, topped with tahini sauce), the wonderful, tender spicy beef and the moist, garlicky, herb-coated salmon. All came with a heavy sprinkling of fresh parsley and were served with what the server called “Egyptian rice”: a spiced, textured rice mixture interspersed with thin brown noodles. So good!


Washed everything down with a tall pilsner glass of iced mint tea. I must admit that when the generous platters first hit the table, I didn’t think it would be possible for our foursome to finish all of the food, but finish we did. Strolling along Third Avenue afterwards, our satisfaction was such that we couldn’t even manage room for dessert from the nearby Häagen-Dazs.

Best cheap eats in all of New York City? I don’t know. But certainly worth the trip.

There's 1 comment so far

The New York Dolls @ The Seaport

Friday, August 18th, 2006 | All Things, Eats, Music

I had planned to visit the South Street Seaport Museum for the “Monarchs of the Sea: Celebrating the Ocean Liner Era” exhibit, but didn’t manage to leave the office until late. When I arrived at the seaport, I saw that the buskers were out in full force. At the museum entrance, I came upon two familiar scantily-clad forms performing amazing acrobatic feats for a crowd of appreciative onlookers. Hey, it’s the Aussie English Gents from the Absinthe show!

I’d wandered in towards the end of their routine, so the pinstripe jackets and breakaway pants were already in crumpled heaps on the ground. Their feats seemed even more impressive for being performed in broad daylight, on unforgivingly hard, uneven cobblestone, with only a towel as cushion. Ouch.


Farther in, the usual silver-painted human “statues” and a juggler. I would have stuck around for his dangerous-looking finale (juggling an assortment of sharp and flaming objects while balancing on a rolling board), but just then the music was starting up on the Seaport Music stage on Pier 17.


Opening act Brooklyn-based Tralala performed, fresh off their Scandinavian tour. The band is comprised of four rocker grrrrls, backed by three rocker boys on guitar, drums and bass, playing an energetic mix of punk-inflected pop. After a half-hour set of respectably catchy, danceable tunes, they cleared the stage for the main event: The New York Dolls.

Seaport Music Baby

The Dolls formed in New York City in 1971. Their seminal self-titled album was released in 1973 and went on to influence a generation of bands, including, KISS, Blondie, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, AC/DC, Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses. In 2003, the editors of Rolling Stone magazine named it the 213th greatest album ever made. The Dolls followed-up with the prophetically titled Too Much Too Soon in 1974, and broke up the following year. In a recent profile, New York Magazine called the Dolls “more a legend than a band.

Despite their brief recording career, the Dolls maintained an avid cult following, which included among their diehard ranks a certain Steven Patrick Morrissey. In 2004, Morrissey, former president of the official U.K. New York Dolls fan club and sometime Dolls cover artist, made the request that reunited the three surviving band members for the Meltdown Festival he was curating at the Royal Festival Hall in London: singer David Johanson, guitarist Sylvain Sylvain and bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane (who succumbed to cancer a month after the festival.) The one-off date ignited such a resurgence of interest in the band that it spawned a full-fledged tour, and ultimately a third studio album, over three decades after their last: One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This.

It was almost 8 before the Dolls took the stage, and by then the pier was packed with concert-goers (no doubt fortified by the prominent mentions in both Gawker and Gothamist.) As the sun set, I could only manage a couple of blurry shots, but the experience was worth far more than the photographic evidence. They played several tunes off the new album, interspersed with classics like “Pills” which had the crowd going wild, and a nice cover of Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart.” There were also tributes to fallen band members – no shortage there: Morrissey once referred to the Dolls as “the unluckiest band in the whole world” – as in Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Round A Memory.”

Near the end of the concert, I headed back up to Botanica to meet SYB, AB and her boyfriend LB. The three of them had been imbibing there pretty much since work let out, so I felt a bit like a latecomer to the party. We set out for late-ish night bites at Café Habana, but after being discouraged by the line forming out the door, ended up at French-Moroccan Café Gitane, a cozily chic, if slightly Eutotrashy, alternative. The slices of pita provided with the hummus I ordered were nicely warmed, and I did like the fact that my iced mint tea came accompanied with a simple syrup dispenser. Such a nice touch that is too often overlooked.

And each time I tell myself that I, well, I think I’ve had enough,
But I’m gonna show you, baby, that a woman can be tough.

I want you to come on, come on, come on, come on and take it,
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby. (Break a…)
Break another little bit of my heart now, darling, yeah. (Have a…)
Hey! Have another little piece of my heart now, baby, yeah.
You know you got it if it makes you feel good.
Oh yes indeed.

There's 1 comment so far