July 2006 Archives
Tosca - Free, August 1, 2006
Uncle Paq & Blackberry Ellie: Please go to the New York Grand Opera website for information about a free opera at 7.30 pm this coming Tuesday, August 1, 2006 ... Tosca ... at the Naumburg Bandshell, Central Park, 72nd Street at Mid-Park ... let us all go bring a pinic buffet and sing-along in Italian ...
Also see Naumburg Orchestral Concerts
Update: Postponed due to the heat.
Spicy & Tasty - Flushing
Another great Sichuan restaurant in Flushing, strongly recommended by AGINY, is Spicy & Tasty ... there is a counter with plenty of ready-prepared cold appertizers, one can pick and choose ... I love to eat the hot and spicey "beef tongue and tripe" and cold tofu with slivers of Chinese stalks of celery ...
Moreover, along this stretch of Prince Street, there are numerous ethnic restaurants which I still must find the time to enjoy, especially the Malaysian restaurant ...
3rd Annual Tiger Beer Singapore Chili Crab Festival
The 3rd Annual Singapore Chili Crab Festival, Sunday, August 6th, 2006, DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), Brooklyn, 66 Water Street (between Dock and Main Streets), 12 - 6pm. (rain or shine) ... a sensational experience for all ages in DUMBO's summery outdoors ...
From Tiger Beer:
We will once again take over the Brooklyn waterfront and give it the vibrancy and excitement of a massive Singaporean Street fair.
In addition to chili crabs, other authentic Asian delectables will be available. Entertainment will include live band performances, souvenir vendors, children's street entertainment, massage therapy, traditional lion dancers, pedicab rides and kickboxers from Gleason’s Gym.
The admission is FREE to all with charges for food and beverages from 12 noon to 6 pm, outside Water Street Restaurant & Lounge at 66 Water Street (between Dock and Main Streets).
The location is accessible by the A & C trains to High Street; the F train to York Street; and the #2 train to Clark Street. By car, festival goers should take Old Fulton Street to Front Street to Main and Water streets.
Water Taxi service will be available to festival attendees. The service will be available from South Street Seaport to Fulton Landing from 12 Noon to 6 pm.
Cappucino, ice cream and sorbet
The very best "ethnic" Italian cappucino and ice-cream is at Bottega del Vino, ... the real McCoy for $4 per cup ... the foamy milk is so thick it will float the sugar ... (a friend ventured into Starbucks and ordered an expresso that was served in an unappertizing paper cup - no class. What a contrast! I was ashamed for Starbucks) ... I enjoyed many World Cup matches standing at the coffee bar ... the ice-cream and sorbet are made in small batches ... $3 per two-scoops ... a great treat ... and just across the street from the Apple Store ... web site, 7 East 59th Street, 212-223-3028 [MenuPages | Citysearch]
The very best "ethnic" French ice-cream and sorbet is at Payard, also made in small batches ... the breads, pastries and chocolates are so delicious... web site, 1032 Lexington Avenue, 212-717-5252 [Yummy Baguette | MenuPages | NY Mag | Citysearch | Gayot]
Perfect after a meal in Chinatown, they both close at 11 pm ... Sweet dreams ...
"Wikipedia is to Britannica as 'American Idol' is to the Juilliard School."
-- Jorge Cauz, President of Encyclopedia Britannica
“Wikipedia is to Britannica as rock and roll is to easy listening."
-- Jimmy Wales, founder, Wikipedia
Is Wikipedia accurate? Last year, Nature published a survey comparing forty-two entries on scientific topics on Wikipedia with their counterparts in Encyclopædia Britannica. According to the survey, Wikipedia had four errors for every three of Britannica’s, a result that, oddly, was hailed as a triumph for the upstart. Such exercises in nitpicking are relatively meaningless, as no reference work is infallible. Britannica issued a public statement refuting the survey’s findings, and took out a half-page advertisement in the Times, which said, in part, “Britannica has never claimed to be error-free. We have a reputation not for unattainable perfection but for strong scholarship, sound judgment, and disciplined editorial review.” Later, Jorge Cauz, Britannica’s president, told me in an e-mail that if Wikipedia continued without some kind of editorial oversight it would “decline into a hulking mediocre mass of uneven, unreliable, and, many times, unreadable articles.” Wales has said that he would consider Britannica a competitor, “except that I think they will be crushed out of existence within five years.”
Larry Sanger proposes a fine distinction between knowledge that is useful and knowledge that is reliable, and there is no question that Wikipedia beats every other source when it comes to breadth, efficiency, and accessibility. Yet the site’s virtues are also liabilities. Cauz scoffed at the notion of “good enough knowledge.” “I hate that,” he said, pointing out that there is no way to know which facts in an entry to trust. Or, as Robert McHenry, a veteran editor at Britannica, put it, “We can get the wrong answer to a question quicker than our fathers and mothers could find a pencil.”
"Know It All: Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?" by Stacy Schiff, The New Yorker, July 31, 2006
"Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence: Founding Fathers, Patriots, Mr. T. Honored," The Onion, July 26, 2006
I had good teachers, and remember two [of] the best: Mr. Olson, who gave me a love of history, and the inestimable Rhoda Hansen, who coached speech and debate. To the callow student who drew her for English, she must have seemed like a bemused bird of prey; to those of us who had her for a coach, she was the ultimate authority on the superficial aspects of our craft. How to stand. How to walk. How to gesture. She was also the one who tore apart our arguments and built them back up, taught us to construct a thesis, rebut on the fly and think on our feet, act like junior Barrymores, deliver a humorous speech or a tearjerking monologue, then head over to the Extemporaneous Speaking round and whip a defense of Israel or the 55-MPH speed limit out of our own heads in 15 minutes. She had a sense of sarcasm sharp enough to shave granite in micrometer-thin slices. When you got one of her exfoliating critiques you felt it down to the bone, and when she reacted to your humorous speech with her dry smoker’s cackle – the tenth time she’d heard it! – you were on top of the world. She treated us all like grown-ups who’d unaccountably ended up in high school, but she wasn't our peer and she wasn't our pal; if we doubted her authority, it took one arched eyebrow to bat us back into place. She expected victory and she got it. She loved us and we loved her. She was the most important teacher of my life.
I sat at my desk in the motel; I cracked the window. I made a pot of coffee. I got out the phone book. I had a cup, collected my thoughts, dialed the number, and wondered why I felt so oddly nervous. Well, because it was Mrs. Hansen, that’s why.
She was pleased I’d called. She read the column; she’d kept up. She was happy I’d done well. I told her what I wrote above, more or less. I felt 15 again. I felt like I should be standing in front of her desk, hands clasped behind my back (the reverse fig-leaf position, she’d called it) while she gave me a critique of my career since leaving her charge. She was dismissive of her impact – why, I had so much energy and so many ideas, I was easy to teach – but I had to set her straight on that. She gave me confidence and craft, without which energy and ideas just fizz away. I will always owe you everything.
We said goodbye. I closed the phone and put it on the desk and looked at it. Damn.
What took me so long to do that.
"The Trip Home, Con't." by James Lileks, The Bleat, July 26, 2006
Chatham restaurant - New Big Wang
Last Saturday, we had 9 for lunch at Chatham restaurant ... Liz & Roger with their 3 children: Max, Becky, and Julia ... Max brought along three college friends: a Mongolian-Chinese, a Korean and a Filipino ... We ate very well and the cost was $63, plus a $10 tip ... less then $10 per person ... I missed Julia's bat-mitzvah last month and this was my make-up party for her ...
My favorite place for a single person snack-meal in Chinatown is now the New Big Wang ... a bowl of delicious "swei-kow tong" (dumplings of ground pork and chives) for $3.00 ... a plate of roast pig or duck for $5 ... yummy ... 1 Elizabeth Street, 212-219-3686 [previous post on AGINY]
Post by Peter
Jazzmobile - Frick Collection - The Jewish Museum
Wednesday nights in the summer time are reserved for the free Jazzmobile concerts held at Grant's Tomb ... 7 pm ... 122nd Street and Riverside Drive ... this coming Wednesday features the Wycliffe Gordon Quintet ... jazzmobile.org ...
The Frick Museum is "pay-as-you-wish" on Sundays between 11 am to 1 pm. Parking is very easy so early in the morning ... the Jean-Étienne Liotard exhibition runs through September 17, 2006 ... 1 East 70th Street, 212-288-0700
Are you happy?
Most people are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
-- Abraham Lincoln
"[I]f you want to know the absolutely most miserable Zip Code—and this is based on a very large number of people—it seems to start with 101.”
That’s the prefix assigned to many of the office buildings in midtown Manhattan. “Staten Island is also miserable,” he [Chris Peterson, of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania] adds.
So what does this say about New York? I ask.
“I don’t know,” he says. “Maybe that if you make it there, you can make it anywhere, but you won’t be happy doing it.”
. . .
Smarter people aren’t any happier, but those who drink in moderation are. Attractive people are slightly happier than unattractive people. Men aren’t happier than women, though women have more highs and more lows. Surprisingly, the young are not happier than the elderly; in fact, it’s the other way round, with older people reporting slightly higher levels of life satisfaction and fewer dark days.
Money doesn’t buy happiness--or even upgrade despair, as the playwright Richard Greenberg once wrote--once our basic needs are met. In one well-known survey, Ed Diener of the University of Illinois determined that those on the Forbes 100 list in 1995 were only slightly happier than the American public as a whole; in an even more famous study, in 1978, a group of researchers determined that 22 lottery winners were no happier than a control group (leading one of the authors, Philip Brickman, to coin the scarily precise phrase “hedonic treadmill,” the unending hunger for the next acquisition).
"Some Dark Thoughts on Happiness: More and more psychologists and researchers believe they know what makes people happy. But the question is, does a New Yorker want to be happy?" by Jennifer Senior, New York Magazine, July 17, 2006
- "Happiness: A User's Manual: Twenty strategies adapted from the scientific research and applied to New York living," by Ben Mathis-Lilley, New York Magazine, July 17, 2006
- Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania
- "The God Pill: Hallucinogens induce lasting spiritual highs in the religious," The Economist, July 13, 2006 ($)
- "How to Be Happy in Life," from The Happy Guy (although it seems obvious, if you read random web sites on how to be happy, you probably won't be....)
- "Ben's Top 11 Positive Psychology Internet Resources," by Ben Dean, NIH
This Week in NYC Reviews - July 21, 2006
Each Friday, A Guy In New York publishes "This Week in NYC Reviews (TWIR)," with quick links to reviews of New York City restaurants that sound interesting to us and that we believe represent a good value ... places we would take our friends.
To see a list of upcoming food events in the NYC area, see "New York City Wine Tasting, Dinners, Food/Drink Events."
- Although Jules at The Bruni Digest has decamped for Chicago, she continues to write about Frank Bruni's "reviews" ... "Le Cirque: Fancy Pants, but No Family Jewels" ... "Time to take off those thatched heather pajamas and put on your fancy pants! The Count, feeling very Countly today, drops in on Le Cirque, flush with seeming nostalgia for the starchy, star-studded brand." ... good luck in Chicago Jules!
- Robert Sietsema says the best place for Sichuan peppercorn-spiced food is Xiao La Jiao ... "In a tawdry bi-level strip mall next to Golden Golden Szechuan stands newcomer Xiao La Jiao (English name: Little Pepper)." (this used to be Spicy & Tasty) ...the dried rabbit "wasn't dry in the least, and the subtle smoked flavor was enhanced by dipping each bite-size piece in the accompanying saucer of salt and toasted huajiao." ... "The best thing on the menu, though, is a dish that dry-cooks swatches of lamb with a coating of cumin and Sichuan peppercorns, three ingredients and one technique inconceivable in southern Chinese restaurants." ... 133-43 Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, Queens, 718-939-7788
- Steve Cuozzo asks, "Where does less than $6 worth of food cost $32?" ... our answer: Any place where there are people with more money than judgement (MMTJ) ... and at the kind of places we don't go and don't think you should either ...
- eat drink one woman, after eating ja jang myun at Shanghai Mong, is still searching "for the delicious ja jang myun of my memory. Anybody have any recommendations?" [Citysearch]
- Augieland does his typical thorough review, with pics, of Moto ... and Devin Tavern ... we wonder why the NYT can't hire someone to put together reviews half as good as Augie's - just wondering ... and he has a nice overview of the "top of the world of junk food," Chicago Dogs ... we love this:
The last stop of this journey was Hot Doug’s. When Chicago area magazines do surveys, Hot Doug’s often appears on the “favorite places to eat” lists of the Chicagoland chefs I respect most. On a little corner far from the city center (the 3300 north block), across from an empty field with a crew using a backhoe to dig a hole deep enough to fit an extension ladder, is a small (about a dozen four-top tables) lunch-counter kind of place somewhat haphazardly decorated with things like pictures of Brittney Spears, an 8x12 print-out of sausage-centric German phrase translations, and in large white lettering the slogan that “the two nicest words in the English language are encased meats.”
- A Guy in New York visited several "good value" eateries with his friend from Italy, Mietta Buitoni ... yeah, those Buitonis ...
- Veal Cheeks has a roundup of Four Asian Spots ... Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House ... Mie Jakarta ... New Asha Cafe ... Skyway ...
- The Girl Who Ate Everything has a picture of omurice at Hiroko's Place and it looks interesting (according to wikipedia, Omurice is "a contemporary Japanese dish consisting of an omelet made with fried rice") ... "Each plump little grain of rice was coated in ketchup. I've never had rice and ketchup before, but it works (if you like ketchup). While I wouldn't want it slathered on in a goopy fashion, the coating was just a tint of flavor." ... 75 Thompson Street, between Spring and Broome Streets, 212-625-1303 [MenuPages | Yelp | The Gaijin Girl's Guide to Chinatown]
- pushcart NYC
took my first visit to Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights -- or is it Rego Park? -- at any rate, near 79th Street, where the legendary Arepa Lady is rumored to hang out.
I was amazed -- here is another piece of the city, unlike any other, as throbbing and busy as Chinatown, and supposedly open later. Queens truly is where the city that never sleeps lives now. Service industry=all hours.
There are a great number of carts of varying degrees of sophistication strung out along the sidewalks flanking the elevated portion of the R. I have singled out two of the simpler ones for this first review, and I fear I haven't even done them particular justice...I'll have to go back soon. Of particular interest: a food-truck specializing in ceviche and the countless fruit salad and fruit-drink carts, particularly the ones that seem to use some kind of crisp pastry as a dish (almost like an sugar cone).
He promises more soon ...
- Twenty bucks a day says the food at Damascus Gate is "totally delicious" ... and "the mtabbal, which seemed to be comprised of garlic mashed up with eggplant and peppers, was good and unique enough that I considered taking home a gallon" ... but commenters on zabihah say this place is overpriced ... 7224 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-680-8844 [zabihah | New York Food | Village Voice] ... and says Spartan Souvlaki is "the only restaurant I’ve been to in the last few years (with the possible exception of the dining room in my great-grandmother’s nursing home) that has had flowers painted on the ceiling" ... "the gyro sandwich - a true monsterpiece that adds enormous heapings of yummy meat, lettuce and red onions to the tomatoes, and adds a generous dollop of tzatziki to bind it all together. Warning: this tzatziki has so much raw garlic in it that it is just as pungent as a hot pepper" ... sounds good to us, but we like garlic .... 6820 Eighth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-748-5838 [Go Brooklyn | Village Voice | insider pages]
Did we miss your favorite review?Let us know: aguyinnewyork [at] gmail.com ... we're especially interested in hearing about mom and pop places from NYC bloggers ...
Joe's Shanghai - Chatham - Amy Ruth's - Nice
Last Sunday, my old friend Mietta Buitoni arrived from Italy ... we ate at Joe's Shanghai in Flushing for delicious soupy pork and crab dumplings, clams with ginger and scallions, and "oon choy" green vegetables ... $45 for 3 persons ... 13621 37th Avenue, Flushing, Queens, 718-539-3838 [previous post on AGINY | NYT | NY Mag | Village Voice | openlist | Gayot | Yelp]
Tuesday morning, we rode the bus to Harlem for waffles at Amy Ruth's for $20 ...113 West 116th Street, between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., 212-280-8779 [NYC nosh | MenuPages | NY Mag | Citysearch | openlist | Savory NY | Yelp]
All excellent and all good value ...
We've been talking about the kind of restaurants we want to tell other people about ... and very few of them have PR budgets and "buzz" ... Eater, Bruni, Andrea Strong, and hundreds of other folks can and do adequately cover those kinds of places ... there's nothing wrong with those kinds of places - we even eat at and like some of them! ...
But we're more interested in, and prefer to support, the numerous great "mom and pop" places, where the owners - and often their families - are much closer to the business of cooking and not so focused on showy and expensive artistry ... again, nothing wrong with showy and expensive artistry, but those places have many people who want to swoon over and gossip about them ... and we don't need to add to that ... plus, we're not the swooning types ...
Steer away from all the fancy flowers, silverware, bottled still or sparkling water, sexy female hostesses and publicity-seeking chefs ... we are not impressed with all the extra noise ... we are only interested in the food and great value ...
Moreover, some would claim that ethnic eateries are not hygenic but we have not seen any empirical evidence from the City health authorities to substantiate that claim ... we have never caught any sickness from eating street vendor food and at ethnic eateries ...
From now on, we will highlight reviews of places that sound interesting to us, and we'll continue to try and spread the good word about places we like ... places we would like to take our friends ... and we hope that you will try them, too, so that they can stay in business and thrive ...
NYC is a town where you can eat at fantastic restaurants and street vendors every day on less than $20 ... yes, we like him, too ... so, from now on we will share reviews and tell you about those places that we believe are a good value ...sometimes those will be expensive places ... but more often they won't be ...
What disappoints me as I slip the bounds of the coveted 18 to 34-year old demographic is that advertising is not treating the newest batch of consumers as intelligent peers. Advertising has forgotten how to be subtle. Worst of all, it requires no cultural competencies to decode.
"The death of the double entendre: Ads are killing our 'cultural competencies'," by Ryan Bigge, The Tornoto Star, July 16, 2006
The Gaijin Girl's Guide to Chinatown
The Gaijin Girl's Guide to Chinatown is in the process of putting her Guide into blog format ... we are looking forward to using TGGGC in this new easy-to-link-to format ... and she's keeping the html version available too ...
Who is responsible for fat kids?
If the only publicly admissible or mentionable locus of responsibility for the diet of children is the government, we have accepted the premise of totalitarianism.
"PC Among the Docs," by Theodore Dalrymple, New English Review, July, 2006
The more expensive the restaurant the better the food?
According to Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University who also has a popular dining guide for the DC area,
Receiving a Michelin star increases prices in a Parisian restaurant by 20 percent, controlling for measures of quality, décor and location. Michelin-starred restaurants in fancy hotels, or in areas with other Michelin-starred restaurants, also have higher prices, again adjusting for quality. Diners are paying more to eat in fine or prestigious surroundings, whether or not the food is better. One gastronomy expert, speaking in Le Nouvel Observateur, noted, “Gaining a Michelin star ensures that your banker will be kind to you.”
. . .
It remains easier to get good cheap food in the United States, if only by looking to the growing number of ethnic restaurants, most of which stand outside formal ranking systems. Labor laws that are more flexible than those in France also support more dining options in the United States. Most Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris are closed on Sundays, and many are closed on Saturdays as well. Labor costs are the major culprit.
"In the Language of Gastronomy, Those Michelin Stars Translate as Dollar Signs," by Tyler Cowen, The New York Times, July 13, 2006
We know that great dining can be had at many restaurants across the pricing spectrum here in NYC ... from inexpensive places such as Sanur ... to the more expensive such as Aquavit ... and with Summer 2006 Restaurant Week here, there are even more affordable places to explore ... Bon appétit!
Nobody will remember Materazzi - Hate cell phones? - Nostalgia
Most people don't even know who Marco Materazzi is ("one of the dirtiest players in the game" - see comments), and in a few years no one will remember him, while many WILL remember Zinedine Zidane, one of the world's great football players. However, Zidane should have waited until after the game to smack Marco....
Hate cell phones?
Hate cell phones? You should move to Vermont. As of June 2005, the most recent data available, the Green Mountain state had the fewest cell phones per capita in the country at just over 300 per 1,000 people.
. . .
[A]s more and more people switch to cell phones, local governments are losing revenue from the franchise fees they have traditionally charged to landline subscribers.
"Cell Outs," by Josh Goodman, 13th Floor, July 10, 2006
Play Guitar Like the Cowboys Do…Only 8-1/3 Cents a Lesson
Whistling soccer fans ...
All the whistling by the German fans didn't seem to help their team beat Italy .... Italy 2, Germany 0 ... On to the finals!
You'd think they would have learned from the English fans ....