Friday, December 27, 2013

Post Pop

When it's the chilly day after Christmas and everyone you know is out of town, you finally get around to walking through the Dyker Heights lights again.  Doesn't take as long as you'd remembered, but it does get cold waiting for the bus home.  And it's nice to return to your familiar streets for the opening night of an already-packed restaurant: Lea, owned by the same people whose wine bar is on your old street.  It's crowded but there's space for you at the bar and all the cocktails are pretty inexpensive and made of amari.  You're leaning toward pasta but someone enthusiastically recommends the pizza and so you pick that and you're not disappointed.  It's like the Fornino's pies you miss from Park Slope, the almost-salad-esque layering of arugula and prosciutto on a perfectly crisped pie.

Christmas day, you and your father disparaged another new restaurant you went to once, where the service was unapologetically blase and the food was slow in coming and not that great.  Not everything at Lea is 100% smooth yet but overall you are impressed by the speed and attentiveness of service, by everyone's genuine hopes that you will enjoy your meal.  Especially since you're eating alone at the bar with a cheesy-covered novel, you appreciate it.  It's nice to go someplace alone as a sort of special occasion and not have people look at you funny. 

You feel old 'cause back in the days you lived closed to "up-and-coming" (gag) Cortelyou Road, Lea, packed full of the young and hip and tastefully dressed, was the comfortingly-grungy (maybe no less hip) Vox Pop.  It was that cafe that really brought you to Ditmas Park in the first place, but it closed several years ago in several shades of infamy, its storefront dormant until now.  Though if you feel old, try your bartender: he grew up in the neighborhood, so it must be even stranger for him.

But you can't resent the strangeness, really.  Not when it's made of cocktails, redolent with aperol and cynar and zucca and campari and so on and so forth.  Next time maybe you'll try the one with your boss's name. And you will have to bring back a whole contingent of people so you can sample the tasty-sounding sweets platter of pistachio balls and biscotti and cookies and more, which you couldn't quite justify all by yourself.  (Though you did make quick work of some yogurt-flavored ice cream drizzled with orange syrup, yule log in the refrigerator be damned.) 

Monday, July 8, 2013

bramble ramble

If you're feeling burned out and overheated, it can't hurt to take the train for an out-of-city journey's worth of reading, all the way up to the Cloisters.  You can pick up fancy coffee and a decadent 3-cheese cachapa on the way.  When you arrive, there's your old favorite, the unicorn tapestries, with a special exhibit all their own.  And you can take a look at plants used in medieval brewing, if you are willing to brave the sun again, or look at tiny ornate books or hours, or take pictures of the light as it catches in hobbit-sized doors.  Fort Tryon Park's hills are as steep as anything in the city; if you wander down the right tiny path you can find scores upon scores of raspberry bushes and eagerly pluck the ripened fruit, the likes of which you haven't seen in the wild since you were a child.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


If you're only going to like one new band a year, these days, my advice is to make it a good one.  Luckily, I practice what I preach.  After standing around Rockwood Music Hall for 2 hours and having a beer spilled on my coat and bag, I contemplated going home.  But I'm glad I didn't because eventually the Spring Standards came on and it was all worth it.

The band's name makes me laugh since their songs are the mostly wildly divergent ones I've ever head.  Some have a decidedly country feel, while others remind me of Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon (they played a cover of "Peace Like a River" to confirm this feeling), the Wallflowers, and Metric.  Maybe they manage to sound like such a wide range of other artists because all three of the members (who also have a bass player but seem to mostly consider themselves a trio) take turns singing.  But they've got something unique as well.  On their latest album, Yellow//Gold, I'd preferred some of the quieter pieces but live, they really rock out on the bigger tracks.  Their performance was exactly what I'd hoped for--made me forget my tired feet and just lose myself in the music. 

Go out and see some good music.  It's an excellent way to usher in the spring.