Friday, May 30, 2008

Welcome to Brooklyn

The New York Daily News is reporting this morning that a "shake truck," a satellite location of the famed Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, plans to be in downtown Brooklyn by the end of the summer.

"The Brooklyn truck could set up shop in the MetroTech plaza for lunch by the end of the summer. The truck is expected to hit other spots on weekends and at night."

Having recently been introduced to the Shake Shack portabello mushroom burger (see post), I am thrilled about this news! Hope they don't forget the vegetarians!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Trans-Atlantic Relations in DUMBO

What on earth is a 37-foot long telescope doing on the Fulton Ferry Landing in DUMBO? Giving visitors to the pier a chance to say hi to friends and strangers in London of course! What?!

Basically, between now and June 15, visitors to the Fulton Ferry Landing can look into the giant telescope and see people standing in front of the Tower Bridge in London in real time. Brits have to pay 1 pound to enjoy the view but it's free for those on this side of the Atlantic (maybe because the dollar is so weak;-)). There is no sound but visitors can use white boards to communicate with their friends across the pond.

The project was the idea of British artist Paul St. George who combined a bit of history, make-believe and technology into his trans-Atlantic public art project. And what exactly does telectroscope mean? St. George is quoted by the Times of London as saying:

"A French editor (in the late 1800s) misread a report about the invention of a thing called the Electroscope – which is all to do with static electricity – and called it a Telectroscope. He also misinterpreted its purpose. The fascinating thing is that his misunderstanding of what it did – to communicate face to face over a vast distance – really caught fire. People really liked the idea, which promised what was called ‘the suppression of absence’. Mark Twain and other writers became fascinated by it.”

That's the history bit. The make-believe bit is that St. George says his great-grandfather actually came up with the idea for the telectroscope and started digging a tunnel under the Atlantic to realize his goal. The technology bit is that fiber-optics have brought the idea (real or not) to life.

Erica and I decided to check it out on Friday night. I was a bit skeptical about the idea after reading a New York Times article about the project earlier in the week, but I must admit that it is quite novel. We checked it out around 8pm, which meant that our counterparts in London were, let's just say the post-pub crowd. The Brits teased the Yanks about the exchange rate, we asked if they were drunk; they proudly wrote back "YES." There was also a bit of written banter about the Chelsea/Manchester United soccer match from earlier in week.

There's a bit of a time lag, but it was a riot to watch the Americans (and quite a few foreigners) read the white boards from London and react without being able to respond verbally. There was talking going on amongst ourselves but everyone seemed to realize that hand and facial gestures were the best ways to comment back.

Don't think this post does a justice to the project. I recommend checking it out for yourself if you have the chance:-)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wonderful day in history

Lots of great things happened on May 24 throughout history:-) One of them is the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, which was used by the public for the first time today in 1883. Apparently, people could buy a ticket to cross the bridge for a penny, cars for 5 cents. 150,300 people and 1,800 vehicles crossed the first day. There was one protest... by Irish workers upset that the opening was coinciding with Queen Victoria's birthday (another happy birthday!)

Click here for more Brooklyn Bridge fun facts!

It's wonderful to have Erica and her sister in town this weekend. We took a stroll under the bridge after breakfast this morning. It looked like lots of fun bridge activities were set to take place in Brooklyn Bridge Park this weekend, including movies and putt-putt golf with holes that look like various Brooklyn sites.

Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge holes in the foreground. Junior's cheesecake and the arch at Grand Army Plaza in the background

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wright Brothers on Clark Street

As I believe I have written before, I live across the street from a college dorm. While the police did show up at 2am once this semester and the kids who come home in the middle night can be noisy, overall I am amused.

My amusement continued yesterday as I looked onto the balcony from the loft and saw what at first glance looked like trash.

As I climbed down my ladder, I realized what it was. Someone had successfully launched a giant paper airplane onto my balcony. What's funnier is what the airplane was made out of. Looks like a lot of skin!

I can just imagine the scenario... a couple guys, packing up at the end of the semester, decide that they no longer want their poster. They've already got packing tape on hand and at some point in the last few months they noticed my balcony across the way. Friday night, braving some pretty strong winds blowing down the street from the river, they launched their creation. Who knows how many times they attempted the flight before they were successful. I am just thankful that the final flight didn't crash land into my window. I would have wet my pants!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


From the market in Brooklyn Heights to the Union Square market, lilacs are in bloom.

Lovely (and they smell great too!!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Brooklyn Height House Tour

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the Brooklyn Height House Tour. 5 houses and one hotel lobby, one of the coolest $30 I've ever spent.

One house was modern, lined almost completely in wood, with retro tiled bathrooms and a gas fireplace with stones (reminded me of Michigan.)

Others were more traditional brownstones-- one with 5 stories of fantastic rooms, Statue of Liberty views and even a massage room! Another had beautiful details like English wallpaper and stacked balconies that looked like they were from New Orleans.

You could also tour one of the oldest houses in Brooklyn Heights-- built in 1926. I enjoyed all of the antiques in that house, which had been collected during the families travels all over the world.

The carriage house was awesome too-- a fantastic white kitchen and a second floor with exposed brick and beams.

The final building that was open to see was the lobby of the Hotel Bossert. No longer a hotel, the group who owns it has kept it in immaculate shape, allowing visitors to see the grandeur of an earlier time in Brooklyn Heights.

One silly note-- as I was looking for apartments 18 months ago, I was scared by buildings where the staircases were leaning or that smelled old. Were these buildings run by irresponsible landlords I thought. I was interested to see and smell that even the luxurious houses that I toured were not immune from slanting stairs and the fragrance of history:-)

The lines were long at times but did move quickly.

Check out the Brooklyn Historic Association's website for some pictures of the inside of the houses.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Ugly Art"

While enjoying my New York Times and a chai from Mud coffee at Union Square last weekend, I was shocked by a conversation I overheard between a pretentious father and his adorable 3-yr old daughter.

"What's that daddy," the little girl asked as she pointed to the artwork on the southern side of Union Square.

After a short pause, he "enlightened" his daughter, "that's ugly art."

"I don't like ugly art, I like pretty art," she responded to her dad.

As I watched them walk away, I watched the little girl point up to the artwork again and say to her dad, "that's ugly art."

I certainly don't think that the 3-yr old needed to be read the artists' statement as her bedtime story, but as the daughter of an art teacher, I am appalled by the father's comment.

I must admit that I didn't know anything about the artwork until I did a quick Wikipedia search. The installation is called Metronome and was created by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel. Wikipedia says, "The work was commissioned by the Related Companies, developers of One Union Square South, with the participation of the Public Art Fund and the Municipal Art Society. The $4.2 million provided by the developer makes it one of the largest private commissions of public art." According to the artists' statement "Metronome contemplates time: geological, solar, lunar, daily, hourly, and momentarily, revealing the fractions of seconds in the life of a city – and of a human being." That's just a small part of the artists' statement. Check out more of the statement if you're interested.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Little Branch

The nondescript entrance facing the corner of Leroy and 7th Ave in the West Village could easily be passed without notice. But for those who see the little sign announcing Little Branch and decide to navigate down the steep dark staircase, a wonderful little bar awaits.

As you enter, your eyes adjust to the candlelight, you are greeted by fun music at just the right level, and a dapper “mixologist” can be seen at the bar.

While some people like to say they “closed the bar,” I like to “open the bar” so Matt and I arrived shortly after 7pm one recent evening and were seated right away at a cozy booth in the corner. Matt said the wait can be quite long on the weekends.

Honestly, I forget all of the ingredients that went into each of our drinks. But to be sure, they were wonderful—Matt’s first drink was rum based. Mine was notable because it had absinthe in it. My second drink was tasty with a splash of apricot liquor, but it was Matt’s “mixologist’s choice” drink that won the evening. If you don’t want to select one of the 9 or 10 drinks on the menu, you can ask to have the bartender create something for you. Matt’s drink had honey in it, with freshly squeezed lime juice… and I think it was rum based. Simply divine!

P.S. don’t forget the rules…among my favorites, no fighting (real or play), no picking up women and say your goodbyes inside so you can leave quietly into the night.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Following on the important apple struedel and cheese spaetzle research I've done in Germany and the ground breaking crab cake research done on the east coast, Matt and I are conducting a pizza tour of New York. You've seen my posts on Grimaldis, Lombardis, DiFara and Joe's (did I write one on Joes?). Today, for a special treat, Matt wrote about Lucalis!

575 Henry St, Brooklyn
Wednesday April 30th, 8pm.

Matt: The hostess came outside to greet us and took our name and phone number. Our wait to be seated was 45 minutes. Lots of activity out front, to include the hostess bringing out a free pie to her sister.

(Erin adds: I think the sisters were related to the owners. They were fantastically Brooklyn Italian, I loved the accent!)

Matt: Our half garlic pie arrived 15 minutes after we ordered. A large size pie or calzones, those are your choices, nothing more, nothing less. The wait was made pleasant by the warm and inviting atmosphere featuring just enough, but not too many votive candles, a reasonable noise level with italian singers in the background, a contemporary earthy decor and an actual street sign from the corner of Henry and Carroll, which was right next to my chair. The pizzas are made in the open; some might call it a 'Pizza Stage' where the two (authentic I'm sure) Italian stallions ply their craft. And a craft it is.

(Erin adds: the mood was romantic and neighborhoody:-))

Matt: While Papa Johns says 'better ingredients, better pizza', it is the true NY artisans that diligently follow this motto. If you aren't using San Marzano tomatoes for your sauce, which come from the base of Mount Vesuvius, well I have no patience for you.

(Erin adds: other kinds of sauce can be good too...but I will admit you can taste the San Marzano difference.)

Matt: The crust was thin, crisp, and slightly burnt on the bottom and around the edges, just the way I like it. I had thought the bottom crust would be more like that of the 'NY Classics' aka Lombardi's/Grimaldi's/Totonno's. However I found it to be more like Difara, and when one compares anything to DiFara, it can only be good. The flavors melded together perfectly, a harmonious combination of dough, sauce, and cheese, and just the right amount of garlic. My dinner companion opined that the flavors worked well together b/c no flavor overwhelmed the other, they were perfectly complementary.

(Erin adds: Who was your dinner companion!? ;-))

Matt: 3 slices apiece and a $24 bill later, we were out looking for a cab back to BK Heights.

Food 24
Service 26
Decor 24