Thursday, July 23, 2009

Various and sundry, mid-July-'09 edition

Greetings, good people. It has been a minute, I know. Hectic times, stemming in part from the Ween project, on which I've been making some slow but respectable progress. I'm in interview mode right now, busy tracking down all the principal players in the Chocolate and Cheese saga. If anyone knows the whereabouts of cover model Ashley Savage, do drop a line.

So, if you don't mind, here's an utterly random list of mainly non-music-oriented shout-outs:

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
A farm/restaurant up in Westchester, run by the same folks who own the Blue Hill joint in the West Village (the Obamas' chosen date spot). Laal and I celebrated her June birthday belatedly here this past weekend, and it was insanely good. It's steep, no doubt, but the Sunday tasting-menu lunch is very reasonable, and the food was simple yet mindblowing. Basically it's one of those farm-to-table joints: The menu focuses on "the daily catch" and thus it's always changing. Below is a pictorial sampling of what we ate, before taking some time to stroll around the grounds, which are pretty much gorgeous. I'd recommend the jaunt highly--I think it's pretty quick on Metro North. (Be forewarned, though: You'll definitely need to score reservations way in advance.) Anyway, the eats, as photographed by Laal and myself, both making our initial forays into food porn:

[I didn't record all the "official" names for these dishes, so I'm just going to wing it.]

Bean salad with fresh tomatoes

I'm no tomato lover and still, this ruled. Abundant string beans, mixed with peaches and other goodies. Subtle and awesomely acidic dressing.

Ricotta gnocchi
I never knew that gnocchi could actually be filled with something; had always thought it was more of a mixture. Anyway, this was probably the best pasta I've ever had in my life.

Baby lamb with chickpeas and zucchini
It's a little harder to eat lamb when you see the animals in question grazing on your way into the farm. I got over it quick, though: The meat was unreal. Killer green sauce on this one, tasted like pureed vegetables or somesuch. And the chickpeas were a great touch.

How can you not opt for the proverbial cheese course? I have no recollection of what these cheeses were actually called, but I can tell you that they both come from Vermont and that they were both delicious. Note cherry chutney (which had onions in it!) and little chewy caramel-nut confection on the side.

Cheesecake gelato with fresh blueberries and yogurt... pellets?

Re: the latter ingredient, there were these little frozen pieces of yogurt used as sprinkles--a crazy little accent. The gelato itself was flawless, and being a cobbler enthusiast, I very much appreciated the fresh fruit and graham-crackery crust sprinkled throughout.


Two new/recent publications of note, authored by friends/colleagues:

Zachary Mexico's China Underground
Apologies to Zack, my college buddy and former bandmate (and current member of the highly recommended bands The Octagon and Gates of Heaven), for not mentioning this on the blog sooner. A mega-informative and highly entertaining piece of travel literature. Profiles of a wide variety of everyday folk--punk musicians, a filmmaker, a prostitute, a university student, a journalist, a guy who's obsessed with the so-called Killing People game, etc.--adding up to an alternative history of modern China. Each chapter is like a mini documentary and history lesson rolled into one. I believe Zack is currently in China working on a follow-up, and I wish him all the best with the project.

Jay Ruttenberg's The Lowbrow Reader, issue 7
A great little comedy journal edited by my TONY colleague and infused with his inimitably elegant and understated wryness. Latest issue focuses on Gilbert Rogin, an eccentric, hilarious writer whose work has been out of print for years. Also on offer is Jay's review of a recent Don Rickles performance, a piece which is alone worth the $3 cover price. Click the link above to order.


And now for the music stuff:

As expressed in Time Out New York, I love the new Suffocation album.

Been rediscovering the genius of Ian MacKaye, especially as evidenced by his most recent project, the Evens, and by his always-brilliant interviews, like this one, in which he heroically maintains his poise despite the interviewer's boneheaded demeanor.

The Midnight Special could be the coolest thing ever. I was actually compelled to order these DVDs by, yes, an infomercial, which I saw while flipping channels in a hotel room a few weeks back. Basically TMS was a late-night variety show that aired in the '70s/'80s and featured an insane assemblage of musical talent. I just received the first DVD and during a recent viewing, I and several friends were floored by the spookiness of Stevie Nicks, awed by the ridiculousness of the Guess Who, freaked out by the audaciousness of Labelle, baffled by the deadpan-ness of Debbie Harry, etc. Tons more on there, including John Denver, the Bee Gees and Al Green, and future volumes promise Genesis (!), Steely Dan (!!), Van Morrison (!!!) and more. Will keep y'all posted on what I receive, since I'm now apparently in sort of club where they'll be sending me DVDs every four to six weeks whether I like it or no. More viewing parties to come...

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