Day: August 12th, 2007

Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Sunday, August 12th, 2007 | All Things, Arts

In a city of 8 million people, crowds are inevitable. I don’t know how many years of her life the average New Yorker spends waiting on line, but I suspect that the figure is easily doubled for avid devotees of Shakespeare in the Park.

Of all the Bard’s works, A Midsummer Night’s Dream‘s forest setting is probably the one best suited to the al fresco treatment at the Delacorte. The comedy was last staged in Central Park the summer of 1991 in a production best remembered for its intermittently nude actors.

Lines of people everywhere! Into the park…

Midsummer Nights Dream

…waiting for stand-by tickets…

Midsummer Nights Standby

…even to the ladies restroom:

Midsummer Nights Ladies Room

SYB’s six hours of waiting scored us seats in the third row, off center, from which we could catch each sleight of hand trick and every mischievous eye twinkle on the stage. SYB’s “line friend” from Romeo and Juliet — we just happened to run into him while entering the theater — didn’t fare quite as well. On the other hand, he did make it into the performance, and (we noticed) was still accompanied by the young woman with whom he had his first date that night back in early June. Awww... Summer of Love indeed.

Tonight’s cast was solid throughout: Keith David (a stage and screen actor whose voice I recognized from the Navy recruitment commercials) cut an imperious figure as Oberon, King of the Fairies. Jay O. Sanders killed as Nick Bottom — as did the rest of the “rude mechanicals”: Tim Blake Nelson as Peter Quince; Ken Cheeseman as Robin Starveline; Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Richie on CBS’s The Class) as Francis Flute; Jason Antoon as Tom Snout; and Keith Randolph Smith as Snug.

Among the confused lovers, Martha Plimpton, recent Tony-nominee and the evening’s highest profile star, was a standout as the cranky, much-abused Helena. I’ve always thought Plimpton was a pretty cool and interesting actress, not just because she was in The Goonies, or because she (too) hates Duane Reade (“I’d rather have a drunk Mr. Gower filling my prescriptions” — ha!), but then she completely won me over with this exchange from a recent New York interview:

What makes someone a New Yorker?
At this point? Having a Duane Reade Club Card. That, and knowing what this means: “Pix! Pix! Pix! Pix! Pix! Pix! Pix! Pix! Pix! Pix!” Winner receives two lamb chops and some buttered egg noodles under a big buck at my house.

Hey, Martha: I know! I know!

Backtracking… more fun in the Park.

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Ice, ice, baby

Sunday, August 12th, 2007 | All Things, Eats

Sunday brunch in New York City is almost never a simple affair. At most places around town, getting a simple plate of eggs and toast between 11AM and 1PM is nearly impossible unless you’re willing to invest in some significant wait time.

I do love brunch, though, and every once in a while, I make the attempt. SYB had gamely spent his entire morning on line for tonight’s Shakespeare in the Park tickets – the streak is alive! — so really, the eggs seemed like the least I could do in exchange for my seat.

After six hours of waiting on the sidewalk outside the Public, though, he didn’t seem much in the mood for another line. Unfortunately, at 1PM, all the East Village hipsters were just starting their days. Even Veselka’s line stretched down the block. Pretty quickly, we assessed that our prospects might improve if we were willing to expand our search to even less-traditional brunch spots. Although newly opened (and newly reviewed) restaurant Setagaya also proved too popular for us, we eventually found our way to its nearby (less authentic?) ramen rival, Momofuku. (Hey, at least Chef Chang has a sense of humor about it.)

Ah, I do love that place. Maybe because of its hot new competition, we were able to find seats right away. Within fifteen minutes, we were happily slurping away at steaming bowls of the signature Berkshire Pork ramen.

To cool things off a bit, I brought SYB to Otafuku on East 9th, where just a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that this place wasn’t just about the octopus balls (takoyaki).

Shaved ice is a treat popular in Southeast Asia: in Hong Kong, it’s “bao bing”; in Korea, pat bing soo.” Malaysians refer to it as “ice – or ais – kacang,” or simply “ABC” (air batu campur). I like to think of it as the Asian version of a snow cone, though the consistency is a little different: a mound of thinly flaked (not crushed) ice, topped with combinations of ingredients like condensed milk, chopped fruits, sweet corn, grass jelly, or here at Otafuku: green tea syrup and sweet red beans. (Strawberry and melon flavors are available, too.)

Otafuku shaved ice

Otafuku shaved ice

In Japan, the snack is called “kakigoori”, and in summer months, the stands pop up all around the country.

Ubiquitous fro-yo chain Pinkberry even has a version made of a “bed of shaved ice, mixed fruit + pillows of mochi, gently kissed with sweetened condensed milk, all hidden beneath a top hat of plain pinkberry.”

Ooh!

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