Last Friday, October 17, Betsy and I went to see Katy Pfaffl at the Canal Room. Katy is a fun singer/songwriter. For this performance, she was backed by a full band, including a string trio. The Canal Room is a small, intimate venue with a decent sound system, but some weird choppy lighting. It was a fun performance; Katy is a great singer and a lot of fun.
(You can go to YouTube to watch the video in high quality.)
After the concert, Betsy and I went to Bouley Upstairs. It is in the same price range as several small bistros in the same neighborhood, but the food is cooked with the same love and attention to detail that is given at the affiliated high-end restaurants. And the wine is also fair, if you stick to the wines by the glass.
I had a fantastic weekend and took advantage of quite a bit of what the city had to offer.
The weekend started out with Dance. Friday evening, I met my friend Mary and her father and we went to see my friend Kristen perform in Sawdust Palace at Dance Theater Workshop. The piece, by Susan Marshall & Company, was a fun and entertaining 80-minute set of 20 dances. Kristen and her fellow dancers are extremely talented. The pieces were sensual and athletic. Some pieces were whimsical, while others were heart-rending. It was a great set of shows, and I wish they had more performances. That being said, they had a grueling schedule of six shows in four days; Friday and Saturday had back-to-back shows at 7:30 and 10.
After the dance, Mary, her father, and I went to Brooklyn and had some light dinner and drinks at Clover Club on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens. I had a “Gin-Gin Mule,” a tall gin drink with ginger, and an Anejo Mole Old-Fashioned. The Old Fashioned was made with tequila and flavored with mole seasonings; even though it sounds nothing like a traditional Old Fashioned, it managed to incorporate non-traditional ingredients while still remaining true to the spirit of the original drink. (I apologize in advance if I mangled the names of the drinks.)
Mary headed home, and I wandered towards my house down Smith Street. A few doors down from Clover Club is Char No. 4. I decided to stop in for a quick nightcap. Char No. 4 features over 150 whiskeys, including scotches, bourbons, and ryes. I decided to have a 2-ounce pour of Wild Turkey Single Barrel. It’s a very strong bourbon at approximately 100 proof, so I had it with a bit of water and a couple of cubes of ice. To further cut the heat of the alcohol, I ate a small order of deep-fried cheese curds with pimento sauce. Deep fried cheese and hard liquor? Not the worst end to a fun evening. I have two suggestion for Char No. 4, one silly and one serious. It would be nice if the strength of the alcohols were listed on the menu. And it would be nice if they had poutine. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out which idea is serious and which idea is silly.
Saturday morning, I got up bright and early to prepare brunch with my friends Harri and Kristiina. I always have fun making brunch, and this was no exception. In addition to fresh pastries from Almondine and berries from the farmer’s market, I also prepared Eggs Florentine and fresh homemade biscuits. It’s gotten easier to prepare brunch the more times that I do it. I’ve realized that the key to poached eggs is that they can be prepared ahead of time and kept in water before serving. (Thanks Mastering the Art of French Cooking!) This allows everything to come together very quickly. Also, fresh spinach, while a pain to clean thoroughly, is easy to prepare and tasty. This was my first time making biscuits for guests. I used cake flour. While it made for a very nice tender crumb, the biscuits did not rise as much as I would have liked. I think I will try all-purpose flour next.
Saturday evening, I met up with Betsy. We started the evening by going to Los Dos Molinos for dinner. They are a good New Mexican restaurant. It’s a bit pricey, but the food is very good with a fair amount of heat. It was also the perfect location for the next stop on our itinerary….
After dinner, we headed down Irving Place to the clumsily named The Fillmore at Irving Plaza. After waiting around for thirty minutes or so, we saw an opening act by Shawn Mullins. If you don’t recognize the name, you would certainly recognize his music; for example, check out this video of Lullaby.
The main event of the evening was a performance by Dar Williams. Dar is on tour in conjunction with her latest album release, Promised Land. She performed at one of the first concerts I attended when I first moved to New York City. I remember going to shows of hers at the Bottom Line and Town Hall. I really admire her, and once stood in line after a show to get her autograph on an album. She now lives in New York State very close to my friends Phil and Karen. Below are two shaky, poorly recorded clips from the show; in one she is performing Spring Street and in the other she other she is performing As Cool As I Am. You can really hear the crowd singing along during As Cool As I Am.
Dar has such a great energy, and it was clear that she loved performing in New York City. I’m really happy that I was able to catch her performing again.
Betsy and I stopped by The House for a quick drink after the show. In the future, I would not order a cocktail here; I ordered an Old Fashioned and received a very odd watered-down drink that tasted like it was made with muddled lemons and cherries and no added sugar. Betsy had a perfectly decent glass of Moscato D’asti. We were both going to switch drinks, but our waiter misunderstood us and brought another round. The twist on the evening was that I was charged extra for Maker’s Mark without requesting a premium liquor. Despite the odd drinking experience, the wine list and menu look very nice. It’s also a very elegant space, and I would love to check it out on another occasion.
I was looking for a fairly calm day on Sunday. I spent most of the day poking around on the computer and reading Elements of ML Programming, and then I met up with my friend Anne for Chinese food and soup dumplings. The default, and arguably best, choice for soup dumplings in New York City is Joe’s Shanghai. We enjoyed a terrific meal of soup dumplings, shrimp, and eggplant. Joe’s always has speedy and attentive service, and the food is terrific. (When my friend Andrew was visiting town, it was one of only three restaurants we went to in a city full of excellent restaurants.) After a nice late lunch, we walked through Chinatown and picked up some ice cream at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. I had lemon sorbet.
We walked around a bit; the day was surprisingly hot and muggy. (I wish I had worn shorts.) At the South Street Seaport, I was able to scope out my apartment from the Manhattan side of the East River before taking the subway back to Brooklyn Heights.
Overall, I had an amazing weekend. It was the kind of weekend that reminds me why I love New York City.
Last night, I was lucky to see Dar Williams performing some songs from her new album at the Virgin Megastore in Union Square. She has been one of my favorite singers for years, and I hope to catch her show in a month or so.
My friend Sarah worked on this great movie about Pete Seeger. I saw it when it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. It was a lot of fun, and I was lucky enough to see Pete Seeger in the audience. He is truly an American hero, and I recommend checking out the movie if you have time. Here is what Sarah wrote about the movie:
This is your reminder that PETE SEEGER: THE POWER OF SONG is opening tomorrow at the IFC Center for One Week Only! Showtimes are:
11:05am, 1:10pm, 3:15pm, 5:25pm, 7:35pm and 9:45pm
Following the 7:35pm showing on Friday, there will be a Q&A; with Director Jim Brown and Editors Sam Pollard and Jason Pollard.
To get you excited to go out and support the film, check out the trailer on YouTube:
I enjoy late night sitcom repeats. My current favorite is Scrubs, showing at 11:30 and midnight on channel 5 (the local Fox affiliate). It’s a realistic view of life in a hospital in the framework of a sitcom. My friend Harlan really enjoys it, if for no other reason than one of the lines in the 2004 season by Doctor Cox in a “pep” talk to the interns, “Each and every one of you is going to kill a patient.” (Harlan is a neurosurgeon and one of the smartest and most capable people I know. He also has a wry sense of humor.)
One of tonights’ episodes, My Choosiest Choice of All, is one of my favorites due to the appearance of the Polyphonic Spree, an orchestral rock bank. They play their song, Light and Day, at the end of the episode.