This Week in Review – 07/03/2015

This Week in Review

Can you believe it’s already July? A very short list this week, as it’s a holiday weekend, and I want to go play in the sun! Have a very safe and happy Fourth of July, little bears! Be sure to hydrate and wear sunscreen, no matter where you are!

It is the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, published on July 4, 1865. Here are some of my favorite Alice in Wonderland facts that I learned today at the Morgan Library’s Alice: 150 Years exhibit.

Lewis Carroll’s preliminary sketches of the White Rabbit

  • The Cheshire cat was possibly inspired by a famous cheese from the Cheshire region of England. It was molded into the shape of a smiling cat, and if served from the tail end of the cheese, it would have slowly disappeared into just a smile.
  • The Dodo, from the Dodo, the Duck, and the Lory, was named after Lewis Carroll himself. He had a stutter and sometimes introduced himself as Charles Dodo-Dodgson.
  • All of the illustrations were produced by John Tenniel, who did not retain copyright over his images – I was shocked when I learned this! Because of this, Lewis Carroll was able to license and market Alice in Wonderland as he saw fit.
  • Alice was first adapted into a movie in 1903, and at 12 minutes, it was the longest film yet produced in Britain. Watch the adaptation here:
  • Other names that Lewis Carroll considered for Alice in Wonderland: Alice’s Time Underground, Alice’s Adventures in Elf-land.

Alice: 150 Years in Wonderland is on view through October 11. If you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend you stop by!

The Bloody Mary Club – Cookshop NYC

The Bloody Mary Club

Richa and I went to Cookshop for a late brunch after we caught a matinee of Guards at the Taj (you have two more weeks to go see it – go!) Cookshop is operated by Marc Meyer, who runs two other restaurants in New York. The decor was lovely inside, very light and airy. It was raining, and a breeze came in through the front door. Neither of us had been before, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. The service was terrible, but the food was great. But let me tell you about the Bloody Marys – winner winner chicken dinner!

Left to Right: BLT Mary, Pickled Mary

Cookshop had five Bloody Marys on the menu. (Their menu online is outdated, be warned!) I ordered the Pickled Mary, which was vodka, pickle + tomato juice, topped with a pickle, pickled red onions, olives, lemon, and celery. There was a nice smoky salt rim. The pickle, tomato, and lemon combination is very acidic, but served as a nice counterbalance to the creaminess of eggs, cheese, and grits.

Richa ordered the BLT Mary – bacon infused vodka and house-made Bloody Mary mix, topped with bacon, lettuce, and olives. The vodka was insanely smoky and bacon-y, and the BLT Mary was very spicy. Richa loves drinks with a bit of heat, so it was the perfect choice for her. Too bad there was a fly in her first drink! If the waitress had been attentive enough, I would have ordered a BLT Mary as my second drink. Alas, the waitress knew what was better for me and thought one drink was enough.

The drinks were a little watery and thin for our tastes, but the flavor was amazing. After we ate, Richa and I reminisced on all of the Ghosts of Marys Past, and we crowned the Cookshop Bloody Mary as our new favorite. The reign of the abck mary is over!

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Cheat Sheet:

Pickled Mary
Liquor Base: Vodka
Viscosity/Texture: A little watery
Spice: Not so much spicy as nicely acidic and vinegary
Fixin’s: Celery, pickles, pickled onions, olives, and a lemon wedge
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

BLT Mary
Liquor Base: Bacon Infused Vodka
Viscosity/Texture: A little watery
Spice: Absolutely amazing – not for the faint of heart
Fixin’s: Bacon, lettuce, olives
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Cookshop is located at 156 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011. http://cookshopny.com/

Frida at the New York Botanical Gardens

These are some of the photos that I took when I went to the New York Botanical Garden’s Frida exhibit, which “reimagines the iconic artist’s famed garden and studio at the Casa Azul, her lifelong home in Mexico City.”

One of my many new hobbies is learning how to use my new digital camera. One of my friends is so lovely and teaching me all about F-stops and apertures. It involves a lot of patience and practice, and I’m taking every opportunity to take photos.

The lines were very long to see the Frida sketches and paintings, but the walk through the gardens were lovely. I was a little too entranced and crowded to take photos the first half of the day, but I came to my senses and took a few in the second half.

After we walked through the gardens, we laid around in the softest grass and took a nap. It was absolutely lovely, and I might go again (maybe twice!) before the show closes in November.

The Bloody Mary Club: ABC Kitchen

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Capture

We had such a good time at ABC Cocina that we decided to hit up ABC Kitchen this month. The two restaurants are right next to each other and are only separated by a glass partition. ABC Kitchen is connected to ABC Home, and it had slightly more traditional decor than ABC Cocina did. Everything was clean and crisp, and we were served with shabby-chic china with rose patterns and mis-matched cutlery. I didn’t take any photos there, mainly because it was early and I forgot my camera as I dashed out the door Saturday morning, so I’ll keep this short and simple.

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(Photo from the ABC Kitchen website)

Richa had train-issues and wasn’t able to join us, but Iris and I happily split the buttermilk cheddar biscuits (deliciously overpriced, and you can ask for a side of jam). Iris’s mushroom and egg pizza was the star of the brunch, while the omelette I ordered was a well-executed but kind of boring entree. The egg was a perfect fluffy yellow, but the potatoes were bland and the presentation was lacking. If I go back, I’d order the pizza in a heartbeat. It’s really heavy and packed though, so I’d recommend splitting this and a lighter entree with a friend.

The Bloody Mary on ABC Kitchen’s menu is called the “abck bloody mary.” It contains housemade lemon vodka and was a little thicker and spicier than its “Sherry Mary” sister at ABC Cocina. It came in an identical glass, but with an added olive. I am not a fan of olives, so I always take them out of the drink, but this was just another sign of the slightly more traditional fare on the ABC Kitchen menu. Just when I thought I found a winner at ABC Cocina, I actually preferred the spicier and less sweet Mary here. The lemon vodka wasn’t as sour and overpowering as Oyamel’s “Bloody Maria”, so I was able to enjoy the drink from beginning to end! We’re going to Jacob’s Pickles next month, so stay tuned!

***

Cheat Sheet:
Liquor Base: Vodka
Viscosity/Texture: A little thicker than at ABC Cocina – almost slightly pulpy, but not quite chewy. I rather liked it!
Spice: It had a very nice heat to it, you may want to take a sip of water in between sips.
Fixin’s: A lemon wedge and an olive
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

ABC Kitchen is located at 35 East 18th Street, New York, NY 10003. www.abchome.com/eat/abc-kitchen/

The Bloody Mary Club: ABC Cocina

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A Brief History of the Bloody Mary Club: Living in New York City is full of pros but there are a few cons – mainly it can take an hour to travel ten miles. Two of my best friends, Richa & Iris (hi guys!), live on the Other Islands – Staten Island and Long Island. While these ladies are such troopers for surviving a long commute to work every day, it is hard for us to find time to see each other. Last year, we committed to a monthly brunch, so that we’d see each other at least once a month.

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The Bloody Mary Club, from Left to Right: Richa, Jessica, Iris

You know it’s true love when your friends are willing to wake up at 9am in order to make it to brunch by noon. (Richa is usually late though.) Richa and Iris love Bloody Marys as much as I do, so our monthly brunches quickly turned into a running tally and ranking of all the different Bloody Marys that we’ve tried together. After half a year, I’ve finally decided to get it together and start documenting our drinks and our opinions. We all like our drinks slightly differently, so we often end up picking very different things. No complaints here, it makes it possible to try a bunch of cocktails. Onto the drinks!

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IMG_0763For April brunch, we went to Jean-George’s ABC Cocina. This is the newer sister to ABC Kitchen, which is right next door. It is a modern and trendy space that pays a lot of attention to the details. Everything was concrete and reclaimed wood and barnacles (trust me, it looked pretty great) and all in-line with the ABC Home aesthetic. We ordered WAY too much food, but somehow managed to eat it all. The highlights were the crispy fish tacos, the spring pea guacamole, and the churros. Next time I go back, that may be all I order, and no, I won’t be sharing with anyone! However, the pina coladas that we ordered were so disgusting that no one could take more than one sip. I’ve never sent something back before, but we really considered it this time.

The Bloody Mary was called a “Sherry Mary” which was a combination of sherry, tomato juice, mystery spices, and a lemon wedge. I saw a few people putting drops of the famous habanero hot sauce into the drink as well, but I found the Sherry Mary to be a great balance as is. Although I am not a huge fan of sherry, it added just the right amount of sweetness to offset the tart tomato juice. It was a great consistency – a tiny amount of tomato pulp, without feeling like you had to chew your drink (ew!) I got a drink at the bar while I waited for Richa and Iris to show up, and mine was so good that Richa immediately ordered one too! Richa said the Sherry Mary was: “The perfect combination of sherry and tomato; it was slightly spicy and slightly sweet.” Iris added that there was a good portion-size too. Overall, a real crowd-pleaser at our table. We are going to be a little predictable and try ABC Kitchen next month – stay tuned!

***

Cheat Sheet:
Liquor Base: Sherry
Viscosity/Texture: The perfect thickness! Jean-Georges knows what he’s doing!
Spice: It was flavorful and spicy enough for me, but adventurous people would probably want an extra splash of habanero sauce.
Fixin’s: A lemon wedge
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

ABC Cocina is located at 38 E 19th St, New York, NY 10003. www.abchome.com/eat/abc-cocina/

A Reading: Richard Siken – 4/23/2015

The Fulcrum

The Fulcrum, Richard Siken

Richard Siken read from his newest collection of poems, War of the Foxes, on Thursday, April 23, at NYU, and I was lucky enough to attend. The Creative Writer’s House is this beautiful old house bordering the West Village on 10th Street and 6th Avenue, and it has a very long and skinny corridor of rooms on the first floor. I arrived 15 minutes early, and the first floor was completely packed. People were sitting on the floor, on the stairs, and crammed into doorways. I made my way to the very back and ended up sitting on the fold-out table meant for the reception afterwards.

Siken said that if a book is a landscape, then a reading is a path through the landscape. War of the Foxes has many paths winding through the landscape of his poems, what Siken categorized into war poems, angry poems, and making poems. He made a few jokes about dirty poems and why he didn’t write any this time, before reading his poems on making. My only wish is that he read more than three poems. He read, in the following order:

  1. The Language of the Birds
  2. Three Proofs
  3. Landscape with a Blur of Conquerors

I’ve provided links where the poems are available online, but I would urge you to support poetry and the arts and to buy his book!

Siken told us that one of the last things he wrote in Crush was the following line from “Unfinished Duet”:

His hands keep turning into
birds, and his hands keep flying away
from him. Eventually the birds must land.

“The Language of the Birds” is a kind of continuation and landing place for Crush, opening with a certain kind of quiet grace:

A man saw a bird and found him beautiful. The bird had a song inside him, and feathers.

And Flew And Flew, Richard Siken

I was surprised at how much Richard Siken is like his poems – a combination of vulnerability, intelligence, and power. He answered questions about his craft confidently, was able to quote Gertrude Stein off the top of his head, and yet choked up a little while reading a poem out loud for the first time at a reading. He mentioned that he created some really beautiful landmarks in his landscape of a book, but couldn’t find a workable way to fit them into the book. I am desperately curious to know what these landmarks are, and I may spend one of these weekends with a paintbrush and canvas and start creating my vision of his landscapes, and maybe a few of my own. It’s always a treat to hear a favorite poet or author read. I walked up to him after the reading, and not only did he sign my books, but he gave me a list of poetry recommendations. I’ve listed them below, in case you’re interested and inspired as well:

  • Jack Gilbert
  • Claudia Rankine
  • Anne Carson
  • Jorie Graham
  • Larry Levis

Claudia Rankine and Larry Levis were new names to me, while I’m relatively familiar with the work of the other poets’. It was so nice to see that I shared some favorite poets with Siken! I’ll definitely be looking for these books the next time I’m at the Strand. Have you read any of these before? What are some of the most memorable readings you’ve attended?

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Additional Reading: