Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Restaurant Week!

That's right, folks, it's time once again for that week that comes only once a year, when some of New York City's best restaurants offer Prix Fixe deals for lunch and dinner, allowing regular people to go there without missing a rent payment or skipping out on the phone bill or something. Except it now happens twice a year. And it happens two weeks at a time. So it's sort of like "Restaurant Month, but we broke it up so it happens twice." But that doesn't exactly roll trippingly off the tongue, now does it?

But I'm not complaining! Having a broader target for this kind of thing is all good. This time round, Cory and I went to 5 Ninth. I'd never been there before, but it's one of Cory's favorite places, and now I know why. I've never been all that good at writing food porn, but for today, I'll give it a try...

It's a beautiful space that appears to have been a townhouse or something in a previous life, down on 9th Ave at that funky corner of Gansevoort and Little West 12th (you know - that block where everyone looks like a model? Probably because they are models?), simply but elegantly furnished, with some great garden seating in the back (and what seemed to be a nice upstairs dining area too, though I didn't get a lingering look at it). We had a drink at the bar first - I made the HUGE mistake of not looking at their cocktail menu before I ordered a simple Gin & Tonic, and so missed out on some really great offerings that I wouldn't have come up with on my own. Cory had the "house cocktail" which changes every so often, and yesterday involved armagnac shaken over ice with lemon and kummel (do you know this? it's a liqueur I'd never heard of - caraway is the predominant flavor) then poured into a cocktail glass and topped with Champagne. Yum!

We decided that it was worth the wait to be out in the garden, and once we got there, we were served by an entire battalion of waiters, waitresses and bussers. There was some training of a new employee going on, but that's no bother in my opinion. All were pleasant and knowledgeable; although our frontman wasn't totally up on the wine list, he just grabbed the host, who handled our questions adroitly without any of the snob effect that sometimes accompanies people who know their wine. We got a very interesting bottle of Albarino, a wine I wasn't familiar with. From Galicia, it was as promised dry, very slightly effervescent, with hints of grass - perfect for a summer night, especially well-suited to seafood.

The 5 Ninth Restaurant Week menu changes every few days, so it's not up on their website, but that's a good thing too - that way nothing gets stale, including the kitchen's attitude. Cory started with the local greens, about which she had no complaint; I opened with the roast pork belly. If I'd had any doubt that I was in for a meal and a half, that ended the moment I bit through the bib lettuce into the tender delicious burst of flavor within. I've said it before, and I'll say it again (before I finish this entry, I'll wager): yum! Cory's main course was cod with an edamame puree, and I had the truffled ravioli, which were round but not overplump with delicate cheese filling, covered in an amazing basil sauce and truffles, and which coyly hid some roasted grape tomatoes.

I was starting to wonder what good thing I've done recently that allowed me to deserve such a meal.

We got around to dessert, and as valiantly as the fruit salad strove for our attention, we both went for the inevitable chocolate pot de creme. I have now three times tried and failed to describe this dessert without resorting to a sexual reference. For now, I'll keep it simple, and allow myself a reference to the Dark Knight zeitgeist. Holy yum, Batman!

Didn't bring a camera (wouldn't have wanted to shoot the food anyway; as deserving as it was, that would have injured the evening) so you'll have to make do with the descriptions and the website link. Anyway, hope you've enjoyed reading about it - I enjoyed writing it, but not anywhere nearly as much as I enjoyed the event.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela

Yep, he's 90 today. 90! That's very exciting.

There's nothing I can really add to this man's story, which hopefully you all know well already. Truly and I think indisputably one of the Great People of our time, he personified integrity, self-sacrifice, devotion, persistence, effective activism and wisdom. Here's a report of the tributes from AFP.

I love how he describes himself as "a retired old man who no longer has power or influence." Nicely done.

So, my irreverent addition to the celebration will be a reblog to a very funny political cartoonist's site having nothing particularly to do with Mandela at all. Brian McFadden writes and draws Big Fat Whale, and finishes off with a pithy comment-on-the-commentary as well. Here's a link to the archives for your amusement and edification; the whole site is worth investigating. Meanwhile, here's today's entry:

OH - and I did call in sick for rehearsal last night. First time maybe ever (not counting when I was in school - I punked out a couple times back then). The Cal Ripkin Jr. impulse lost out to the 'take care of yourself - it will be better for you and for the show' impulse. Not sure what the hell that hygienist did to my jaw, but it's still a little sore. Much better than yesterday, though, so I'll be back in the game tonight.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New England Dreamin'

Seriously experiencing New England envy today. I know, I know - I was just there a few weeks ago, but I didn't get to the ocean at all. I'm wanting to be away from the fluorescent cubes and the steamy streets and the control freaks, swimming in that cold water.

It's unlikely I'll get up there again this summer. However, a beachy day-trip closer to home is a must!

Meanwhile, half of my face is numb and my jaw is throbbing from a trip to the dentist. Ugh. Don't know if I'm going to be able to rock the Shakespeare tonight.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

School of Rock

Oh, I've been a baaaaad blogger lately. Twelfth Night is in full rehearsal swing; some great people involved, I'm thrilled to say. Not that it's been without its challenges - there have been many. Always an interesting experience to deal with a whole group of new personalities and processes.

And it's the end of a long day right now. The only reason I'm up and able to tap away at this entry is that the All-Star Game is in the 13th inning and I don't feel like sleeping through the end of it. Might be sorry 'bout that call tomorrow, but I'm going with it.

SO - have you seen The School of Rock? The Jack Black movie about the guy who takes over a middle school classroom under false pretenses and turns them into a rock band? Or maybe you've even seen Rock School, the (gasp) documentary about Paul Green, who actually did start a music program for kids in Philadelphia. Well, this year's batch of those real-life kids took a mini-tour to New York several weeks ago. I caught their Jethro Tull set (I know, I know - it was the show that fit into my schedule) at The Cutting Room. Dr. Green makes sure his students understand the importance of theatricality: costumes and attitude shared center stage with musicianship. When covering a band like Tull, that meant medieval references, wizards, knights and animals, and a healthy dose of cross-dressing.

I felt kind of weird taking pictures, because the light was too low not to use a flash, and flashes are a pain to performers. But by the end of the set I relented, since so many people (I'm guessing they were mostly parents) were taking flash photos. Here's the best of the bunch - Aqualung, as sung by this, what, eleven-year-old? Complete with English accent, I should add.

With apologies to John Hall, I'm sorry but: I love this kid's energy! He totally sold this song about an old homeless guy with a snotty nose ogling the children. He put himself out there and hit it out of the box.

Which I wish someone would do in the Stadium tonight. It's now the 15th inning, and I just want someone to win it. Preferably via another J.D. Drew knock. Sheesh! So much for that asinine World Series home field advantage nonsense, right?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

FISA Petition

Ok, I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, (the current 'compromise' version of which offers retroactive immunity to telecom companies that have broken the law in monitoring conversations, emails, etc. and grants all kinds of intrusive powers to the government going forward) under the assumption that you've read about it elsewhere. God knows you've had the opportunity to.

What I will do is include a link to a Petition to the Senate floating around the internets (one of several) and invite you to sign it. I did, and included the following comment:

This Independence Day, I'm choosing to defend the Constitution, and invite the Senate to do the same. In fact, didn't you take some kind of oath to that effect?
Holla to Russ Feingold, who's leading the legislative fight. Wisconsin represents.