Sunday, September 27, 2009

More Stores

OK. Let's just briefly mention:
1. Sun Bo Bo. For some reason, the name of this Chinese place makes me very happy, and it seems to be hanging in there. It's a Sunday morning photo - hence the closed shop.
2. Sea World. Also still making a buck. This is not a very appetizing fish store, but it's an actual FISH STORE on Fifth, & thus deserves a little respect.
3. Poor Conchita's. This place used to have scary ancient cakes in the window, but it was better than the ubiquitous phone stores or Edible Arrangements that infest the avenue & had a nice coffee counter. Not much has been happening to the building, even though it closed down quite some time ago. Those open windows don't look too promising. I wonder what's next.
4. There don't seem to be any African Gifts here at all. Other than sundry belts, backpacks, baseball caps & sunglasses.

Tacos Nuevo Mexico

I really miss the older version of Tacos Nuevo, seen to the right, and currently not in use. I liked its spacious, rather stark, interior, the Corona decorations (especially the parrot) & the mystifying jukebox (sometimes the music was great, sometimes very schlocky, & I had absolutely no idea how to tell the titles apart). It was the perfect spot to head off to at very short notice, & a great place to unwind over tacos, spicy pork chalupas & margaritas. I wish I liked the newer, more upmarket version better, but it's just not the same.
Of course Tacos Nuevo itself hasn't really been there that long. I know Glasgow's Deli was there when I first moved to the Slope, but I'm pretty sure it was in the left building (the newer T.N.M.). It was a bit of a grim(y) deli, but I did venture in every so often for bare essentials. I was looking around online to see if I could find any photos of Glasgow's but there was nothing to be found.


I'm not wrong about this, am I? Puppets has to be one of the most ill chosen names ever for a jazz bar. Who in their right name would give such a seriously uncool name to a jazz place? If there's a background story I'm missing here I'd love to know it. Perhaps I'm missing some clever hidden reference. Or is the owner's surname Puppet? I have to confess I'm not too crazy about the awning either - it doesn't project a very jazzy feel. This bar had an earlier incarnation in the north Slope, & moved to its southern location (5th between 11th & 12th) fairly recently. I'm all for jazz bars, & there certainly aren't too many music spots in these immediate parts, except for the excellent Barbes. But Puppets. Puppets, Puppets, PUPPETS?? To add insult to injury, this new banner hanging across the storefront proclaims that the place has "the best organic veggie burgers ever." Oh come on.

Friday, September 25, 2009

One More Folded Sunrise?

Such beautiful skies this week, but I've been getting out of the house just a few minutes too late to catch their full glory. As dawn breaks later, it will be easier for me to be up and about for longer before heading to work. The downside of this early morning splendor is the greater number of poor quality photographs of sunrises I've been taking. Oh well. If you saw this morning's, you'll remember what a stunner it was. If not, you'll just have to look at this undistinguished snap. A poor approximation.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


For those, like me, who missed the appalling sight of Tom Delay on Dancing With the Stars, here's a chance to see it in all its horrid splendour. Not for the faint of heart.

I can never get enough of these views, and every so often have to leave the train at Smith St., on my way to work, & scoot down the platform to stand by the chain link fence. Pure wonder. Then it's back onto another F & on with the crossword.

Monday, September 21, 2009

4th Avenue

I'm a little obsessed with the 4th Avenue subway station. Smith & 9th does, of course, offer the spectacular views, & the whole journey between 4th Avenue & Carroll is a blessing to the F train rider, but I'm a regular at 4th Avenue, and spend a lot of time on the F (& G) platforms. For quite some time, the state of the station depressed me no end, but now, even though I still think it's egregiously neglected, I've grown to appreciate its down at heel urban beauty. Get there early in the morning, just after sunrise, and it's radiant with grace. Now if they could just reopen the entry to the station on the east side of Fourth Avenue, that would be really something.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bright Star

I went to see the film the day it came out, and had mixed feelings. For the most part, I loved it. The cinematography is beautiful, especially the scenes involving nature, as when Fanny's siblings collect butterflies for her, or she & Keats walk a path cutting through a thicket of golden reeds. The acting is uniformly good. Ben Whishaw is a fine Keats, & I have a special soft spot for those two siblings, the lanky, ever helpful brother, with such a pale, curious face, and that solemn, pink cheeked sister. You can't help but surrender to the doomed beauty of Brawne & Keats' relationship (a delicious sentiment), & you come out of the theater to a rushing world shifted just a fraction - in the way a good film should always alter your vision.
And yet. There was still a trace of Masterpiece Theater hanging about it at times (especially those helping the plot along conferences among Keats' circle of friends). And the accents bothered me a bit as well. Too contemporary or something? It would probably have been awful had Campion tried to make her actors adopt some mock-archaic diction, but I kept wondering, during the film, what the characters might have sounded like in their own time, and that was an annoying distraction. Fanny irritated me quite a bit at first, too, & she looked so large & robust next to Keats that I found it a bit disquieting. Of course, anyone might have looked large & robust next to the tubercular Keats, so that was a silly quibble. Something about her jarred though.
Part of the reason I liked the film was that it brought me back to Keats. I grew up at a time when every English grammar school student read the Odes (Autumn is still my favourite), and I had a mother who was besotted with his work. This photograph is of her 1930's Oxford Keats (now mine) - dark green leather, with the spine faded to a soft blue. One of my favorite professors at university was a Romantics & Shakespeare scholar, & a good friend persuaded me (against my better judgment), to read Ode on A Grecian Urn in front of a group of guests at a twenty first birthday party. The film made me think of being nineteen again, and reminded me of just how vital the act of reading was at that age.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ode to Autumn

Ode to Autumn
by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

No US Distributor For Charles Darwin Movie

Via One Good Move, this story from The Daily Telegraph. This looks like a fairly mild mannered film, & is being distributed all over the world, but it's too much for U.S. audiences, apparently. Read this & despair.

More Thrifty Dining

Tonight's supper was a Spanish Potato Omelette - a substantial kind of omelette with potato, onions, pepper, garlic, sliced pheasant garlic sausage, feta, olives & parsley.

Saute some onions, peppers, garlic & sausage. Remove from pan.
Add about a pound of thinly sliced potatoes to the pan & cook until soft for about 20 minutes. Return onion/sausage mix to pan & cook for a couple more minutes.
Beat six eggs & stir in some finely chopped parsley. Add to pan & sprinkle with crumbled feta & sliced olives. Let eggs set (about 5 minutes).
Place omelette pan in 375 degree oven & cook for about 10 more minutes.
Serve, with green salad. Serves 3 - 4.
You can really play around with ingredients here, either sticking to a straight potato/onion/garlic mixture or adding things as you please. Easy & cheap.

Mystery Sign

Even though I've pored over this for some time I've no idea what this (not especially old) sign says. There's something in very small print about The City University of New York, but otherwise it's indecipherable. Oh, hang on. Is it Interborough? It's just off 5th at 10th.

Years later - 9/12.  Probably Kingsborough.

Monday, September 14, 2009

This Red Hook house, with its cobbledstoned street, is a picture of contentment. Who in their right mind wouldn't want to live in it?

Sunday, September 13, 2009


A Sunday Dinner kind of supper. Roast chicken (w. lemon, herbs & garlic), some roast tomatoes from the garden, polenta (just right for those herby, garlicky chicken juices) & green beans. I'm still playing around with roast chicken recipes, & though I like the idea of turning a chicken over halfway through roasting it, to make sure the chicken breast is really moist, the reality of my sad efforts is that when I turn the chicken, half the chicken skin (one of the best bits, surely) inevitably gets stuck to the roasting pan. Not satisfactory at all. I love the chicken with "crispy croutons" recipe that was in The Times earlier this year, & highlighted on The Paupered Chef, but didn't feel like that one today. So I went for the Simon Hopkinson recipe. He doesn't have the most enticing writing style, but his recipes really work. I did add less butter than suggested though, & went for a little olive oil instead.

I don't know if the empty lot next to it goes with this building on Van Brunt. What a crime that it couldn't get fixed up & given new life.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Belle & Sebastian

The original Belle & Sebastian was a French children's television series, one of the many dubbed European shows you could watch on English television in the 1960's & 70's. It started out in black & white, but the later shows (with a different title) were in color. As a child, I had no idea how groovily French this series was, and how movie-star French looking those young actors were. I was more interested in the angelic looking child, Sebastian, & his dog, Belle. Here are two clips, one introducing the cast, & the other Les Poppys, the theme song of the show. Childhood, where did you go?

Thursday's Dinner

Another weekday kind of supper, cheap & easy to prepare. I made a lentil curry, with yellow lentils, onions, garlic, carrots, ginger, squash & some pureed tomatoes. The spices I added were madras curry powder & fennel seeds, coriander, turmeric & cayenne. This was served with biryani rice. Sometimes I'll add nan bread & yogurt on the side, but not tonight. Because this was so easy, I decided to throw in a (rare for weekdays) dessert. I took a dozen or so black mission figs (with the stalks removed and a cross cut into the top of each fig), & added about three tablespoons of lightly crushed pine nuts, a dab of butter, a mixture of brown sugar & maple syrup, & a couple of tablespoons of water (would've gone for brandy if I'd had some!). These went in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, & were served, warm, with vanilla ice cream.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Stanley Robertson

Stanley Robertson died last month at the age of 69. Robertson, of Traveller descent, worked for most of his life in the Aberdeen fish houses, and was generally acknowledged to be the best storyteller in Scotland. There are many tributes & obituaries to be found online. Here's one, from The Economist. And from Radio Scotland, here's a clip of Robertson describing his co-workers.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

History of Food Continued

I haven't read any of this book for a few days, but now I'm back to it. It's crammed with information, & has a very loose sense of organization, so you can only read a little at a time before you feel rather drunk on anecdote. This woman certainly has a lot to tell you, but the manner of telling leaves something to be desired. Still, who doesn't enjoy reading about the Athenians & Romans love of "suggestive offal" & (briefly) toying with the image of the Emperor Maximinus "(keeping up)his strength by eating 40 pounds of meat a day"?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wild Swimming

As the summer draws to an end, here are some short films to celebrate the outdoors. Kate Rew, founder of the Outdoor Swimming Society, visits Lumb Falls, in Yorkshire, talks with a childhood friend of Ted Hughes, and swims. You can see two other swimming trips, one of them to Rydal Water, Cumbria. The photography is beautiful, and the Yorkshire & Devon accents sweet to the ear. Just be patient with the adverts at the beginning & be aware that you might need to try a couple of times to get the films to play.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ruth Ades Carrying on the Family Trade

Ruth Ades selling the famous carrot peelers in Union Square


No, not the radio station. It's a new British campaign to cut carbon emissions by 10% in 2010, & it's aimed at individuals & public & private organizations. The campaign was formally launched yesterday, at the Tate Modern (formerly a power station) & already private citizens, schools, football clubs, NGOs, grocery chains, Women's Institutes, energy companies & the inevitable politicians & celebrities have signed on. This is creating a lot of press in the UK & hopefully will have some kind of critical mass effect in affecting energy policies. As the campaign leaders admit, the 10% reduction is eminently achievable - far deeper cuts are feasible & vital - but this first step is critical. Links to the campaign are below. Couldn't we get something like this going in this country?

Check out the campaign here ,here, and here.
If you want to follow some of the 1010 recommendations (bearing in mind the UK/US differences) , check this out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bad, Bad Food Writing

"One of my treasured memories of eating fried eggs is on the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados, where I have been lucky enough to get to spend several holidays. For me it's the best place on earth for an early morning dip in the sea, and as you swim and look back at all that beauty, the evocative smell of bacon and eggs cooking is sheer heaven. At breakfast, there's always a happy, smiling Bajan wielding an old, blackened frying pan, enquiring how you like your eggs fried."
How to Cook by Delia Smith (2001)

It was while raising her children in a remote valley in Andelusia in southern Spain and living for a year in the Languedoc in rural France that she acquired an appetite for the feasts and festivals of the peasantry whose lives she shared.
Blurb for European Peasant Cookery by Elizabeth Luard (2007 ed.)

The second one sounds straight out of the 1950's & does, I have to admit, make me laugh. And it's not actually Luard herself doing the writing. But Delia, a mediocre writer at the best of times, outdoes herself here. Awful beyond belief.

Tire Shop