August 31, 2008

Meat Fest '08: Part 2 - Ribeye Steak, Saucisson and Andouille

Paul and I spent most of the afternoon contemplating song ideas and concept albums. All the while, we continued our Festival of Meats with a platter of meat (saucisson and the leftover andouille from the day before), cheese (Guinness cheddar, Brie de Meaux and havarti) and fresh bread from Balthazar by way of Union Market. Paired with the platter, we had a duo of West Coast beers - Stone IPA, brewed in North Country San Diego, and Anchor Steam Beer from San Francisco.

Meat and Cheese Platter

Buy local? Try "buy"-coastal.

For the main course, it was on to the ribeyes...

As the grill was heating up, I finely diced some shallots and coarsely chopped a white onion. When the shallots were sweating in two separate skillets, I ran outside and tossed halved red and yellow peppers on the grill. Then it was back inside to add port to shallots in one saucepan and veggies to the other. The veggie dish is something I came up with back in July for my mom's birthday; MB has been raving about ever since. It's simple enough - spinach, onions, shallots, roasted peppers and grilled corn - but there's something about the mix that works really well.

As for the steaks, I seasoned them, got the grill super hot and threw them on for about a minute and a half per side. Once they rested off the grill for a little while, I topped them with some port sauce and served them with the vegetables.

The main course

For dessert, I went back to the summer playbook one more time for another crowd pleaser. Earlier in the summer, we were up in Argyle, NY to see MB's family. When we were there, I tried a dish my sister and brother-in-law turned me onto - grilled peaches. Here's the recipe:

Take ripe peaches, halve them and remove the pits. Put them in a container with some brown sugar (between 1/2 and a 1 full cup) and rum (you can use any type but I would recommend Gosling's dark rum - it makes a beautiful sauce). If the mixture doesn't cover the peaches, add a little water. After marinating the peaches for several hours in the sugar/rum mix, throw them on the grill. The grill should be as hot as possible in order to get some nice grill marks on the peaches but once you've flipped them over, pull back the heat to make sure they heat evenly throughout.

Once the peaches are on the grill, take the rum/sugar mixture and put them in a skillet. Reduce the mixture just like you were making a caramel (if you've never down that before, watch this video). You'll know it's ready once it coats the back of the spoon. To serve, put the peaches in a small dish and top with a scoop of ice cream and, finally, the sauce.

More grilled peaches than we could eat. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post to see how we used the leftovers.

Blurry, but delicious

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August 30, 2008

Meat Fest '08: Part 1 - Andouille

I've been concentrating a lot of my posts on music lately but now I'm ready to switch things up a bit. When I'm not playing/recording/writing music with Paul this Labor Day weekend, I'll be preparing a variety of meats in a variety of styles. On the agenda: ribeye steaks, boneless center cut pork chops, lamb loin chops, and duck breast. For snacking between meals, we grabbed some saucisson, andouille, and cheese - Havarti, Guinness Cheddar and Brie de Meaux.

After MB and I grabbed the groceries from Union Market, we came back and fired up the grill to prepare the andouille for later in the weekend. We also decided to have a few links for dinner. While the sausage was cooking, I threw the pair of ciabatta rolls of to the side of the grill to heat them through. When the andouille was just about ready to come off the grill, I drizzled a little olive oil on the rolls and toasted them directly on the flame.

In the meantime, I split the sausages and cut some havarti. Once the rolls were ready, I put a few pieces of cheese down, then the sausage, and then a little more cheese; this allows the cheese to act as a binding agent between the meat and bread. If I were to do this again, I would have put something heavy on the sandwiches to smush them together but all in all, a pretty quick and easy meal for a Friday afternoon. Paired with the sandwiches, we had a couple of Magic Hat beers - Circus Boy Hefeweizen and Lucky Kat.

Crispy, melty, spicy goodness

Cheshire grin beers?

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August 29, 2008

Tunes @ Work; Opus 1, No. 11

I've got a bunch of ideas for improvements to this ongoing series, mainly providing access to streaming music via sites like lastfm or uploading tunes to a site like iMeem or muxxtape. Eitherway, I'll still provide access to purchase the songs via iTunes or Amazon's music store. In the meantime, I'm still backlogged with lists (not to mention food and music reviews from the summer) so I'll do whatever I can until I'm caught up. Now onto the music!

(author's note - The iTunes Music Store Link Maker site isn't working at the moment so I can't provide the iTunes buttons. I'll try to remember to come back and add them later on. In the meantime, the hyperlinked song titles lead to streams on lastfm.)

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August 28, 2008

I've Got a Cheshire Cat Grin

For a night spent on the couch, watching TV, tonight was pretty intense.

First, Barack Obama took the stage (or I guess field would be more accurate) in Denver to accept his party's nomination for the presidency of the United States of America. Regardless of party affiliation, I like to think most Americans can appreciate the significance of this event in our nation's history. I could say plenty more about the substance of his speech but there are enough political pundits in the world so I'll keep my thoughts to myself.

Once the confetti was flying, MB and I turned our attention to Radiohead.

Sometime today, a message on the band's blog kindly informed fans that it might be a good idea to update some A/V software. Later on, Colin posted a second message letting everyone know they would stream the final show of the North American tour, live, from the Santa Barbara Bowl. Make it four and a half shows I got to see on this tour.

Chalk up one more coup for Radiohead. What a way to end a tour that all started with the unorthodox release of In Rainbows, their seventh studio album. The quality of the feed was incredible, all things considered, even on my 37" TV.

Either I'm on stage and my camera sucks or the live feed is pretty good
(on the laptop, shot taken with my iPhone camera)

Oh, and apparently sometime between the time we caught them at APW and the West Coast leg of the tour, they changed the song they play at the end of the show. Instead of the harmonic minor tune that reminded me of a bazaar someplace in the Middle East, they played the Flight of the Conchords' If You're Into It.

On the TV with MB's star-light in the background
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Tunes @ Work; Opus 1, No. 10

  • Tom Petty - Wildflowers - Cabin Down BelowCabin Down Below - Tom Petty; Wildflowers
  • Turin Brakes - Ether Song - Blue HourBlue Hour - Turin Brakes; Ether Song
  • Joni Mitchell - Court and Spark - Free Man in ParisFree Man In Paris - Joni Mitchell; Court and Spark
  • Primus - The Brown Album - Hats OffHats Off - Primus; The Brown Album
  • Houston - Soul Coughing; El Oso
  • She's Electric - Oasis; (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
  • The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin - GashThe Gash - The Flaming Lips; The Soft Bulletin
  • David Bowie - Best of Bowie - Golden YearsGolden Years - David Bowie; Best of Bowie
  • The Sheik of Araby - Various Artists; The DJango Reinhardt New York Festival Live At Birdland
  • Basement Jaxx - Oh My Gosh - EP - Oh My Gosh (Radio Edit)Oh My Gosh (Radio Edit) - Basement Jaxx
  • Boubacar Traoré - Maciré (Kar Kar) - Bebe Bo NaderoBebe Bo Nadero - Boubacar Traore; Macire
  • Eric Clapton - From the Cradle - Sinner's PrayerSinner's Prayer - Eric Clapton; From the Cradle
  • Parliament - The Best of Parliament - Give Up the Funk - FlashlightFlashlight - Parliament; The Best of Parliament - Give Up the Funk
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - One Hot Minute - AeroplaneAeroplane - Red Hot Chili Peppers; One Hot Minute
  • Sonic Youth - If I Were a Carpenter - SuperstarSuperstar - Sonic Youth; Juno Soundtrack
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August 26, 2008

Backtracking - Part 1: Radiohead in Charlotte (05/08)

The day after MB's birthday, we headed down to Charlotte to catch Radiohead at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. We hadn't seen the boys from Oxford since the last show of the 2006 tour at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam so we were pretty amped up for the show. They didn't disappoint. After all, how could a show like that be anything short of mind blowing when you've managed to score pit tickets and you end up watching the show 10 feet from the stage.

Here's how they looked with a little zoom...

...and this is how close they looked to the naked eye.

As would turn into a familiar theme throughout the tour, there was a little rain. Apt for an album named In Rainbows. Fortunately, we were on the very edge of an enormous storm and managed to escape with only a short drizzle. Later on, we found out a few tornadoes touched down just north of the venue.

Before the show began, we made friends with a pair of dudes standing near us. One was a fellow ND alum and the other works about 4 blocks away from my office in NYC. By the end of the first set, we had agreed to purchase their tickets to the Montreal show later in the tour which they couldn't use. And that's when we made the reckless decision to follow Radiohead all over the east coast in the summer of 2008 was laid.

Oh, and of the 4 of us, we managed to grab 2 setlists.

I guess they couldn't decided between Exit Music and No Surprises (crossed out)

Recycled paper. Go figure.

Clay, our new friend from New York City, cheered as loud as the rest of us when the show was over but as Ed left the stage at the end of Everything In It's Right Place, he put his hand on a C-note and got into position. When the first list landed in the audience, he landed right behind next to it. I can't imagine giving up a setlist for a band like Radiohead for a measly 100 bucks but I gotta believe the shock and awe of this well formulated plan simply overwhelmed the poor bastard.

By the time Clay came back to celebrate his victory, MB had managed her way up against the rail. Maybe it was because she was screaming "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!" at the top of her lungs, or perhaps it was just her feminine wiles, but when the roadie picked up Jonny's sheet, he crumpled it up and tossed it right to Mary.

Time seemed to slow down as I watched the ball of paper arc through the air. As it deflected off my wife's hands into the no-mans-land between the rail and the stage, I have to admit I briefly lost faith in my wife. But as the security guard reached down to pick it up, I remembered that her powers of persuasion are much better than her ability to catch. Moments later, we were deliriously pushing our way out of the crowd still assembled in front of the stage, eyeing everyone around us like they were Slugworth.

As for the performance, its hard for me to describe without comparing it to the other shows I caught this summer but there are a few things that come to mind when I look at the set. First, we heard a number of the In Rainbows songs in a very raw state at the Amsterdam gig and the legendary 28-song Bonnaroo show during the 2006 tour. By the time they'd finished Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, it was clear that they'd worked out all of the kinks in the interim. At the same time, it was obvious that this was only the fourth show of the tour.

As for particular songs, I just about lost my mind when they went into Planet Telex. I was also pretty luck to catch Talk Show Host for the second time, the first one coming at the MSG show on 10/10/2003. And how do I properly describe the light show. It was unlike anything I've seen before. True to form, they waited until the very end of the show to unleash their most impressive visuals as the entire system went "in rainbows."

In Rainbows

Quite possibly one of the best pictures I've ever taken.

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August 19, 2008

Tunes @ Work; Opus 1, No. 9

Well, I've decided to link the songs on my lists to iTunes whenever they are available. If you're ever interested in hearing the songs I can't link, shoot me an email or add a comment and I'll see what I can do for you. Enjoy!

  • Radiohead - Pablo Honey - LurgeeLurgee - Radiohead; Pablo Honey
  • It Ain't the Money - Beck; Live with Macy Gray
  • Remy Zero - Villa Elaine - Goodbye Little WorldGoodbye Little World - Remy Zero; Villa Elaine
  • Rape Me - Nirvana; All Acoustically
  • Thunderclap Newman - Something In the Air - Something In the AirSomething in the Air - Thunderclap Newman; Almost Famous Soundtrack
  • Brett Dennen - So Much More (Special Edition) - She's MineShe's Mine - Brett Dennen; So Much More (Special Edition)
  • The Olivia Tremor Control - Dusk at Cubist Castle - Marking TimeMarking Time - The Olivia Tremor Control; Music from the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle
  • Angie - The Rolling Stones; Forty Licks
  • Randy Newman - Good Old Boys - MarieMarie - Randy Newman; Good Old Boys
  • Miles Davis - Bitches Brew - Miles Runs the Voodoo DownMiles Runs the Voodoo Down - Miles Davis; Bitches Brew
  • Tom Petty - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Greatest Hits - I Won't Back DownI Won't Back Down - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; Greatest Hits
  • Bob Dylan - Modern Times - Beyond the HorizonBeyond the Horizon - Bob Dylan; Modern Times
  • Within You, Without You - The Beatles; Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow - 4000 Miles4000 Miles - Blackalicious; Blazing Arrow
  • Paul McCartney - Chaos and Creation In the Backyard - Fine LineFine Line - Paul McCartney; Chaos and the Creation in the Backyard
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August 14, 2008

iHunger - Part 1: Urbanspoon (with special guest Bob Dylan)

After dealing with faulty charger cables and the snide comments of Gawker-reading young women across the greater NYC area for the past year or so, I finally caved and traded in my Motorola E815 for an iPhone. I wanted to get it before I left for Montreal but my lack of time and the generally limited supply meant I had to wait until this Monday. When I called the Apple store a week ago, I was told I would need to pick up a ticket in the morning and return later on to purchase the phone. Demand must have gone down sometime during the last week because I was able to make it from my office at 42nd & 3rd, up to the Apple store at Grand Army Plaza and back again in under 90 minutes.

The difference has been life altering. Now, I'm not trying to say that the is iPhone indispensable or anything. I'm just saying the magnitude of the upgrade has been tremendous. Hell, I wrote a blog post on that sucker last night from the comfort of my bed. While I did hack that Motorola, a feat I accomplished with the help of the communityu, watching 3gp files and surfing the Web simply aren't in the same ballpark as far as utility.

This post will serve as the first in an ongoing series about iPhone apps related to food. I'll also do another series on music-related apps (enter witty title here). There are a bunch of each type out there, with more sure to come and a whole slew more for "jailbreaked" (jailbroken?) phones, so this will take some time and treasure. The first app(lication) I'm going to review is Urbanspoon, a restaurant search tool recommended to me by my sister-in-law and fellow new iPhone owner, Becca. This was the first app I paid for and I wasted no time giving it a go.

Tuesday night, Bob Dylan played a show at the bandshell in Prospect Park which is all of a 5 minute walk from my apartment. Tickets sold out almost immediately but we did what we always do when we don't want to or can't get into a show - grab some wine, cheese and crackers and attend what amounts to a live podcast. In fact, of the 5 years we've lived in Park Slope, we've only actually gone inside for one show, the Spoon show earlier this summer (brief review: Not that impressed. Decent muscianship but not enough to make up for their relative lack of showmanship). In all that time, we've seen some great acts - Ben Folds, Maceo Parker (with special guest Prince) and Ani DiFranco - but there's never been a crowd like the one on Tuesday, in terms of size, age range and demeanor.

After the show, Mary Beth, Paul and I decided to grab some dinner. Now, I've tried to be cool about my new toy - is there anything worse than when someone shoves their latest gadget in your face? - but after 5 minutes debating potential eateries, I felt this was the right time to pull this bad boy out and see what it was made of.

When you first launch the app, the software figures out your current location and loads the restaurants in that area; you can also manually select your location if you prefer. Unfortunately, this information isn't stored for your next use so you have to wait each time, which can be annoying when you don't have an optimal connection. With any luck, the developers will address this in a future update.

Once your location is loaded, you're ready to roll. The interface looks like a slot machine with three dials - one for neighborhoods, one for cuisine type and one for price range ($ - $$$$). You can choose a specific input for any or all of the dials by tapping the lock icon below. Then, you simply shake the phone or tap the Shake button to access information on a random restaurant that fits your criteria. Result include phone number, address and user reviews. What you can't access is a menu, which is a clearly a major drawback. In addition to the slot machine interface, you can also use the app to share notes with friends, browse restaurants by name, perform a simple keyword search and find places in your immediate vicinity.

Urbanspoon Demo

As far as the results, our first experience was a complete success. Within a few shakes, we settled on Oshima, a decent Japanese restaurant on 7th Ave between Berkeley and Lincoln. The staff was extremely nice, seating us despite the fact that we arrived about 15 minutes before their scheduled close. As a result, we were rushed a bit but it wasn't anything obnoxious. The three rolls were on par with Yamato, our regular neighborhood maki spot, and the "$$" price tag was on the money, no pun intended - 3 rolls, an order of edamame beans, and a single glass of cold sake for $46. Read Full Entry

Tunes @ Work; Opus 1, No. 8

Along with the backlog of music events and restaurant visits, I have four playlists I need to post. In case you're curious how I come up with these, I come into work everyday and turn my iTunes on random. As it cycles through the +15,000 songs in my collection (that's over 72 gigs of music!), I throw the songs that pique my interest into a weekly playlist. Going forward, I plan on adding links so you can listen to or purchase the songs directly from my blog. I can either link to a streaming service like imeem or to a music purchase platform like Apple's or Amazon's. What would you prefer? Hit me up with a comment and let me know. In the meantime, here's a list from mid-July.

  • In 'n' Out - Van Halen; Right Here, Right Now (Live)
  • Velouria - The Pixies; Death to the Pixies 1987-1991
  • Part-Time Lover - Stevie Wonder; Song Review: A Greatest Hits Collection
  • Sweet Emotion - Aerosmith; RS 500
  • Ghetto Child (Demo) - Curtis Mayfield; Superfly [Charly]
  • The Outer Motorcycle - Mohlmin
  • Tribute - Tenacious D; Tenacious D
  • One Way Out - The Allman Brothers Band; Almost Famous Soundtrack
  • Youthless - Beck; Modern Guilt
  • Moonage Daydream - David Bowie; Ziggy Stardust
  • Run-Around - Blues Traveler; Four
  • No Diggity - Blackstreet; Another Level
  • Ahora Me da Pena - Compay Segundo; The Definitive Collection
  • Kick Out the Jams - Presidents of the USA; Presidents of the USA
  • Martha Ann - David Karsten Daniels; Fear of Flying
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August 13, 2008

Is there anybody out there?

I know I haven't been active in the blogosphere for a few weeks but I'm curios what people have to say about the style and content of this blog so far, especially in regards to the voice i've tried to develop. I'd love to hear any suggestions or critiques you might have so, if you get the chance, leave me a comment on this or any relevant post. In the meantime, check back often in the next week or so because I've got a number of music and food events from the past few weeks to tell you about. Read Full Entry

August 12, 2008

Open Mic & Late Night Grub in Greenwood Heights/South Slope

On Wednesday, July 30th, Paul Kellner and I played an open mic in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn at the Living Room Lounge. Located just off 5th Avenue on 23rd Street in Brooklyn, the bar does an open mic on Wednesdays, Guitar Hero on Thursdays, karaoke and burlesque shows on alternate Fridays, and live bands/DJs on Saturdays. Add in a bunch of comfortable couches, a pool table, semi-decent and relatively cheap bar list, and hilariously out-of-place (re: clean & modern) bathrooms, complete with beautiful glass-bowl sinks and chairs for lounging/hanging out, and this locale would be a great place to haunt any night of the week. I know I’d probably end up there a lot more often if it wasn’t such a hike from my apartment.

We strolled into the bar at 8:00, about 45 minutes before the sign-in and were greeted to 6 or 7 people chilling out and chuckling to Harold & Kumar: Guantanamo Bay which was being projected on a small screen over the stage. One oddly-forward performer aside, no one budged as we entered the joint. I saddled up to the bar to bar, ordered a few drinks and asked the barkeep who I needed to speak to about getting my name on the list. The sign-in sheet comes out at 8:45 and the regulars pounce on the list right away so if you’re looking for a specific slot, get there early and position yourself at the bar. With set lengths of 15 minutes or 3 songs, we were happy to get the 6th slot; an estimated 10:30 appearance gave me plenty of time to rally the neighborhood troops.
Our set started with Full Moon Crazy, a song Paul wrote and played with his band Heathcliff back in Madison, WI. We followed that with a cover of Beck’s Lazy Flies and finished with an instrumental Paul and I worked on together entitled All the News That’s Fit to Print. This last tune seemed to get the best reaction from the crowd, or at least people started clapping enthusiastically during the first (of three) faux-ending. Regardless, the feedback was generally positive.

While the set was certainly fun, the most productive portion of the evening came when the host, Matt Frye, introduced our duo. “Next up, Man and Paul.” Now, I know that my handwriting is anything but stellar (if I remember correctly, I was grounded for a week in the 3rd grade because of my handwriting grade) but I would have thought that by now I could manage to write my own name legibly enough for people to read it. Apparently not. But, in the end, the audience reacted well to our new name and we decided it should stick, at least for our acoustic gigs.

Man & Paul

On the way back home from the gig, MB, Becca and I decided to grab a bite to eat at Sidecar, a great bar with decent grub on 5th Ave that serves food Tues-Sun from 6pm-4am. That’s not a typo. You can get everything on this menu 6 days a week until four in the morning. Yeah. I love my neighborhood.

We grabbed a spot at the bar, made friends with the Phillip, the bartender, and ordered a round; Becca and I grabbed Southampton Double White Ales and MB had a pint of Six Point’s Sweet Action, one of her favorite cup of suds from the Brooklyn brewer. To accompany the beer, she ordered a burger in our usual style – cheese (cheddar), mushrooms, onions and bacon. The only thing she had trouble deciding was how she wanted the thing cooked. I interrupted and told Phillip medium-rare; have you ever gone someplace where they’ve brought you a hamburger and you’ve said, “Damn! That’s too rare!”? As for me, I ordered “The Sidecar” which is basically a souped-up turkey club with sliced granny smith apples, gruyere, red onion, and sun dried tomato mayo on grilled sour dough. Delish!

Sidecar Burger w/Cheddar, Bacon, Mushrooms and Onions

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August 11, 2008

Still Buying Time

I know it's been almost 2 weeks ago since I promised I would be posting again but there have been too many blog-worthy events and not enough time to blog about them. Never fear, my friends. By the end of the week, you'll be swimming in reviews of restaurants from Texas to Montreal and music from Radiohead to the stuff I'm working on myself. In the meantime, I'm the proud new owner of an iPhone. That should make it a lot easier to keep this thing up to date.
Here's a picture of our meal at Au Pied du Cochon (The Pig's Feet) in Montreal. Any guesses what it might be?

Dinner @ Au Pied du Cochon in Montreal

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