Month: August, 2006

Dinner at Public

Thursday, August 17th, 2006 | All Things, Eats

M invited me to dinner at Public to share in her monthly Wine Mailbox Program selection — a 2004 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. I have enjoyed some fine CdP in the past, but this was my first experience in the whites. M at first thought that the wine tasted of chilled water — and it was, in fact, very light — but once it breathed (and warmed up) a bit, the flavors opened up in a lovely way.

The whole evening was lovely. M regaled me with tales of her recent trip to Baja over our four hour dinner.

Public Restaurant inhabits the NoLIta space formerly occupied by a muffin factory. The redesign concept was overseen entirely by hot, interior design and architecture firm AvroKO, earning them an unprecedented sweep of the Outstanding Design and Outstanding Graphic categories at the James Beard Awards in 2004. The restaurant uses salvaged pieces from municipal buildings of the 1930s to the 1950s: bronze post-office boxes, oak and rippled glass restroom doors with mail slots, vintage library-card catalogues, and wooden clipboarded menus made from standard-issue government forms.

Public

Public

Public

Cured wild boar with garrotxa cheese and australian salt — had this appetizer the last two times I was at the restaurant for dinner… and will probably continue to order it as long as head chef/owner Brad Farmerie (and brother of AvroKO architect, Adam Farmerie) keeps offering it. M and I also split a wonderfully fresh and simple watermelon salad: pristine sticks of crisp bright-red fruit, meticulously stacked, accented with cubes of creamy feta and spiked with jalapenos and sprinkles of crunchy pumpkin seeds.

Boar Prosciutto

Grilled Kangaroo on a coriander falafel with lemon tahini sauce and green pepper relish — compliments of the chef. Never had kangaroo before — grilled or otherwise. It doesn’t taste like chicken… more like a rare steak. I was expecting a tougher, gamier meat, but it was mild, juicy and very tender.

Kangaroo Falafel

Grilled tandoori prawns with ginger braised Napa cabbage, Asian pear and Punjabi cashew sauce. (M had the grilled lamb tenderloin and merguez sausage with ancho spiced chickpeas and a radish queso fresco salad.)

Tandoori Prawns

And for dessert, we shared the sinfully rich chocolate fudge cake with salted peanut brittle and Guinness ice cream, and new menu item cherry-vanilla creme brulée, and glasses of muscat dessert wine.

Fudge Cake w Guiness

With thanks to M for a wonderful meal.

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ISX @ Slate Plus

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006 | All Things, Events

I only recently discovered Tenzan, a casual sushi restaurant on Columbus Avenue, after dinner with CS one night shortly after she moved into the neighborhood. As local joints go, it’s been reliably tasty: the fish is always fresh and they excel in what chowhound Jim Leff affectionately calls “Stupid Pandering Americanized Sushi,” which is to say, “double dragon rolls, spicy tuna, lots of crispy and spicy thingamabobs.” Sometimes I crave the stuff, too – my apologies if that offends the sushi purists among you. Of late, I’ve been enjoying Tenzan’s “Spicy like roll” (don’t ask me what that means): an enticing combination of chopped shrimp, tobiko and crunchy bits. B accompanied me there before our night of liquor tastings; he opted for a couple of the more familiar rolls, and one creamy and curiously sweet peanut/avocado roll.

Tenzan rolls

Off to The Independent Spirits Expo (ISX). This evening’s showcase featured the brand owners of three specialty liquors — Mãe de Ouro cachaça, Khukri Himalayan rum and Orange V Mandarin and Valencia orange-infused vodka.

Slate — which I learned today has been redubbed Slate PLUS (Electric Boogaloo?) — is a bi-level restaurant-lounge-billards hall. This spot has had a long storied history as a pool hall; back in the day, it was known as “Chelsea Billiards,” the famed 24-hour den, known for its clientele of millionaires and hustlers. Bronx Science alum Jeanette Lee, a.k.a. “The Black Widow,” is perhaps the most recognizable face in professional pool. She often recounts the story of how she fell in love with the game after walking into Chelsea Billiards one Spring afternoon in 1989. She entered her first professional event in January 1993 and within a year became one of the top-ten ranked players in the world. In 1994, she was number-one, earning the “Player of the Year” award. She has won countless professional awards since, including a gold medal for the United States at the 2001 Akita World Games, and even co-authored a book, “The Black Widow’s Guide to Killer Pool.”

Our favorite at the IXP was the Cachaça Fazenda Mãe de Ouro. “Cachaça Dave” Catania was there, promoting his authentic, small-batch pot-distilled cachaça by mixing up rounds and rounds of his delicious caipirinhas throughout the night. We were in fact, so enthusiastic in our praise and interest that Dave ended up giving us not one, not two, but FIVE imprinted wooden pestles — or muddlers — for making our own caipirinhas at home. That’s five each, ha!

Here’s his recipe for the perfect caipirinha:

  • 1/2 Fresh Tahiti Lime
  • 1-2 teaspoons superfine sugar
  • 1.75 oz Cachaça Fazenda Mãe de Ouro

Cut the ends off the lime and slice the lime into 8 wedges, removing the white core. Add sugar over 4 lime slices in the bottom of a large, heavy-base rocks glass. Muddle the limes and sugar together with a wooden pestle, pressing more on the fruit than on the rind. Fill the glass with ice and add Cachaça Fazenda Mãe de Ouro. Shake or stir well. Enjoy!

Slate Plus

Slate Plus

Nine gallons of pure hand-cut sugarcane juice are used to create each hand-numbered bottle. Dave’s artisinal cachaça is served at restaurants around town… or pick up a bottle at select liquor stores, like Crush Wine & Spirits and Landmark Wine & Sake.

P.S. — it’s pronounced “ka-SHA-sa.”

Mae de Ouro

Good times, good times.

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Leigh Nash release party

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006 | All Things, Events, Music

After the weekly vegetable pick-up, I stopped in at Sucelt Coffee Shop for a mango batida. Traditionally, it seems these tropical fruit drinks are often spiked with cachaça, the potent sugarcane liquor from Brazil, but the ones served up at this decades-old hole-in-wall are served sin alcohol. Love their Cuban sandwiches, but it was a bit too early for dinner and this night, I had plans to attend the release party and showcase for Leigh Nash at the Housing Works Used Book Café.

Nash is best known as the lead singer of the now-defunct Sixpence None the Richer. Blue on Blue, her first solo album since the group disbanded in 2004, hits stores today, August 15.

Sixpence was one of the spate of crossover Christian rock groups that came to the fore in the late 1990s. (See: Creed and P.O.D.) The band’s name was a reference to a story in C. S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity. Their mainstream popularity was sealed with the mega-hit “Kiss Me,” which was featured on two episodes in Season 2 of Dawson’s Creek (even landing the lead-track position on the Songs From Dawson’s Creek soundtrack. Yes, I own it. So what?) Live sports fans, of course, mostly hear the tune nowadays when it’s played to entice spectators to kiss for the Jumbotron.

Years ago, I had seen Nash perform at Madison Square Garden when Sixpence opened for the Barenaked Ladies. Don’t remember much about their set list that night other than the aforementioned “Kiss Me” and a nice cover of The La’s “There She Goes” (which they later recorded and released as a single.) In the much humbler setting of the book café, Nash seemed sweet and at first, tentative… shyly introducing the acoustic set inspired by her achingly earnest musings on love and motherhood. (Nash has a toddler son, Henry, who was born just as she and longtime Sixpence collaborator Matt Slocum parted ways.) That angelic voice – instantly recognizable – was in fine form, though to my ears, the tunes didn’t venture so very far from the Sixpence formula. Nash quickly warmed to the audience, making self-deprecating jokes, and seeming genuinely grateful for the second-act opportunity, though this time without the backing of a major label.

Leigh Nash

Leigh Nash

Leigh Nash

Leigh Nash

The evening was awash in blue: from the glowing blue Hpnotiq drinks (garnished with branded glowsticks) to the goody bags containing the Blue on Blue album, a blue fizzy bath bomb and a bottle of pale-blue Essie nail polish.

Through September 1, would-be remixers can download the stem tracks from the first single “My Idea of Heaven” to “re-create, re-edit, re-configure and remix” at will.

Hpnotiq

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