Friday night was my friend Catalina’s birthday and this is an yearly event where I get to get all teary eyed with laughter and nostalgia as all my Hunter folks gather and bask in memories. This is also the time of year where I spend the most money on a single meal, only because Catalina chooses the priciest restaurants worthy of its price.
This year we met at Per Lei in the old stomping ground of the upper east side. It’s a pseudo hooty tooty Italian restaurant, dimly lit with super accomodating polite servers and hosts. I’m guessing it was the manager/owner who was exuberantly welcoming of the birthday girl and served us cheap diluted shots of whisky(?) on the table. They also played Happy Birthday more than once and flashed the huge chandelier centerpiece turning the sheek restaurant into a guido club. A table of half naked women started dancing with this manager/owner amongst a creepy greasy bearded man. As disturbing as it was we laughed our brains out and swayed along with pasta in our mouth. We all ordered some form of ravioli or fetuccine or chocolate pasta and it was absolutely delicious. And it’s in our nature to pass the plates along and share the goodness. But wait, there’s more. The dessert was a compendium of crispy breaded creamy sandwiches, tiramisu and ice cream. And of course, of course, they serve the tiramisu in a oversized margarita glass with a sparkling fireworks candle and everyone, EVERYONE, in the restaurant claps and sings happy birthday and gets the whole place all pumped and clapping along. It was so cheesy but stupendous. We walked out pregnant with food babies (this has become a hobby of mine apparently) and in such happy statures it was hard to refuse ending the night with some booze and dance.
We headed down to the lower east side and joined a friend at Ella on Ave A. There was some special dj friend playing downstairs and I was fuming with frustration when they refused to let us in. This lounge is nothing but snobbery and I ban them for good. They did have some very good looking cookie cutter white girls though, with their skinny bodies and mod fashion and blond hair. eh. So we walked on over to Annex instead and I danced my brains out for a short while to mind numbing head bashing trance dance music. It was good times and I went home inebriated.
I spent the day Saturday baking more cookies for a studio visit I had later that day and spent a good amount of time with my dear Mellow at the park. Cookies will be posted separately. I’m part of a women’s arts collective, we call ourselves the Bubble Group, name inspired by a first meeting at Bubble Lounge in the city. The group comprises of artists and administrators from all over the art world whether it be a non-profit, a gallery, a museum, what have you. It’s a support group and although we’ve got a full agenda dealing with showcasing artist work and curating and writing, it’s a difficult task to gather and be productive. But I am very stoked to be part of this group and look forward to future endeavours. Colette Robins is one of these artists and she opened her home/studio ALLLLLLL the way up on 181st in the city.
It was a lively interior as groups of us huddled in the sweaty hot space munching on homemade chips, salsa, and guacamole and cooling off with sangria. The walls were packed with Colette’s drawings and paintings. Unfortunately we didn’t get to talk about them much, it was more a social affair than anything else. I was curious upon laying eyes on these works as they are comprised of odd forms and weird scenes. For instance, this painting was above the couch in the living room and I had to quirk my head to the side and wonder why and what? Although her execution of form, angle, and perspective are pretty much perfectly executed, the content and concept are a bit static and numbing. This painting is odd and uncanny, perhaps referring dreams deferred, slightly surreal and overtly staged. There are different textures, fabrics, tones and patterns but they seem to fall flat and nullifies the potential for fullness and dimension. But again, I’d like to speak to her a bit more about them to get an idea of what her story is.
Drawings like these were found in her studio room, disturbing nightmarish, scifi concoctions of stuffed blanket blobs and shell like spiked forms. Again, they’re very well executed but that seems to be beside the point, and the point is something that hasn’t crossed my mind just yet. Nonetheless I enjoyed the evening and had a fair share of wine, salsa and cookies. Everyone loved the cookies I baked by the way, I’m very proud.
Yesterday was easy breezy day despite being in a really indecisive ambivalent grouchy mood. It took a while to decide what to cook for dinner and I finally chose steak with Chinese style stir fry veggies and brown rice.
I bought sirloin steak and massaged oil, salt and pepper to it and broiled it for 17 minutes. It was a bit well done but it was scrumptiously juicy, and I’m flabbergasted by its heartwarming taste and oral satisfaction despite its simplicity. I must admit though, I don’t eat red meat too often anymore and I ended up feeling really full and heavy and a bit gross afterwards. I got the recipe for the stir fry veggie sauce from the Joy of Cooking:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 tablespoons cold water
8 teaspoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
In my big pot (for lack of wok or skilley) I combined oil, ginger, garlic, onion and small hot pepper, cooked for a bit, then added carrots, cauliflower, and stirred for awhile and added the sauce a bit at a time then added kale, red and orange bell peppers, artichoke hearts, almonds and raisins. I’ve got a new found love for adding almonds and raisins to cooked vegetables, it offers a great comparative consistency to the softness of the veggies. And we all know by know my obsession with kale, so bittersweet and pungent, and of course artichoke hearts, so salty sour and zingy, it sends a jolt through my mouth and I am giddy with joy. The sauce by the way absolute perfection. It was a taste I haven’t created yet and I was very very satisfied with its sweet and sour outcome.The brown rice has a subtle crispness to it and it was a very appropriate compliment to the saucy herby tastiness to the steak and veggies. Another successful meal by your very own.
Reading the weekend newspaper I learned a thing or two:
– Phillis de Pury only made $9 million in auction sales last week. They’re going down.
– I missed jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson when she was playing with her trio at Barbes in Brooklyn but she’s got a few more shows coming up so definitely check it out. She got reviews in TONY and NYT.
– I want to eat at Lunetta
– I want to read Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. As someone mentioned on NPR, he should be the next head of Agricultural affairs. Also want to read and cook out of Daniel Boulud’s cookbook.
– I’ve tried reading Swann’s Way, Vol 1 of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past, but this article made me want to try again.
– Dixon Place sounds like a great place to see experimental shows. Can’t wait till renovation is over and I can check out a show or two, hopefully for cheap. She seems like a quirky weirdo and I bet I can learn a thing or two from her. Read about it here.
– The Moth are a storytelling non-profit group. Sounds very interesting.
– I want to be like George Plimpton. I’d like to read the bio.
More links, wishlists, compiling, obsessing and daydreaming to come.