Month: June 2010

11 Madison Park

So I went to New York City this past weekend with my family, and one of the experiences I really wanted to have was a meal at 11 Madison Park, an Danny Meyer restaurant whose head chef, Daniel Humm, just won a James Beard award.  Frank Bruni gave the restaurant four stars in his final review as restaurant critic for the NYTimes.  Serious Eats overlord Ed Levine gave it a rave review.  Basically everyone says that this restaurant is perfect.

And I’m inclined to agree.

So this is a large, beautiful, old Deco space.  The room used to be the lobby of a Met Life insurance building, and all the fixings and wood inlays and ceilings are original.  The room is light and airy and beautiful.  And I don’t really have a good picture of it, sorry.

Each of us ordered the three course price fix lunch, with is $48.  And an excellent bargain, because you get lots of yummy freebies.

We were immediately served an amuse-bouche of carrot marshmallows and what were essentially high-end wheat thins topped with a sliver of foie gras and some strawberry gelee.  Delicious, and beautiful.  My mother also got a special little mango amuse because she is allergic to strawberries (she ate the strawberry amuse anyways), but I didn’t try it.  Anyhow, the strawberry marshmallow was sort of savory and sweet, as was the foie gras wheat thin.  I don’t know, I’d totally eat more.

Also, we got gorges, which are little cheesy bread poofs of deliciousness.  Total winners.

So!  First course!  Jessica got peach gazpacho with chunks of peach and chunks of prawn, which was smooth and creamy.  My father had a composition of young vegetables that looked beautiful and springy.  My mother and I both had tuna tartare with some croutons and greens and olives and a poached quail egg and a lemony sauce and it was really delicious.  I wish I had a better description but I am sad to say I do not.

Peach Gazpacho

Composition of Young Vegetables
Tuna tartare

Second course!  We all got the same thing: taglioni with Alaskan King Crab, lemon, black pepper, and like a stick of butter.  Probably the most delicious and satisfying dish of the day.  The pasta was so fresh, the crab was so succulent, the butter was so fantastic.  I could have eaten a pound of this.

Taglioni with Alaskan King Crab

Third course!  My father and sister split the roast organic chicken for two (a $15 supplement).  They brought the chicken to the table before they took it into the kitchen to carve it:

Look at that beautiful mahogany chicken.  Beautiful.

They brought back the chicken breast on a plate, with a side salad of faro and corn, and then a side plate of the dark meat chicken with morels, corn, and some other deliciousness.  Oh there was also a stuffing of brioche, foie gras, and truffles between the meat and the skin.  Amazing?  Yes.

My mother and I both got the lobster lasagna ($15 supplement).  Nova Scotian lobster tale and claw chunks, wrapped in a lasagna sheek, in sort of a tomato-y seafood-y broth, with some vegetables, and some zucchini blossoms.  All gorgeously, perfectly cooked, gorgeously presented, just special and wonderful, really.

After the meal they brought out a plate of macaroons.  Many different flavors: strawberry basil, peanut butter and jelly, pink peppercorn and caramel, vanilla and cherry, chocolate…yeah, that was fun.

And since we were in the area, after our meal we went to Shake Shack and got some custard.  A concrete, to be exact.  Hey, Danny Meyer owns Shake Shack too, so we were keeping it in the family.

Anyhow, 11 Madison Park was fantastic.  If you ever have the opportunity to eat there, please do.  The food was great, the service was fantastic (they even brought me a little special magazine detailing where the restaurant sources its chickens and including some recipes), and a gorgeous interior.  A truly special experience in all aspects.

The Pit, Raleigh

So I finally got myself to Ed Mitchell’s The Pit in Raleigh this weekend.  All the food blogs and magazines rave about it, so I figured it was about time I go.

The Pit is in downtown Raleigh, in the warehouse area.  You can make reservations (if you do so ages in advance, only half the restaurant is given to reservations), but since I didn’t call two weeks ahead of time we decided to chance it.  Four of us arrived at the restaurant at 6:45 on a Saturday night and found a wait of about an hour.  Luckily we were able to snag seats at the bar and order drinks (sangria!) and appetizers.  Seen below.

Sweet potato skillet corn bread with maple butter

I’m not the biggest fan of cornbread, but this cornbread had a nice sweet-potato flavor and the maple butter on top was unbelievable.  I’d smear that butter on everything, including my first born child.

Fried green tomatoes with basil and lime aioli

I looooove fried green tomatoes.  These were not “overly” fried, meaning you could still taste the tomatoes.  The lime aioli was subtle but the basil was an ingenious choice, a great play on the Italian tomato basil pairing but with a Southern spin.  Wonderful.

Exactly one hour later (very timely!  The service, btw, was quick and efficient, friendly but not overly so) we were sitting at our table, preparing to order dinner.  But first we had to eat a basket of complimentary biscuits and hush puppies.  Well, okay Ed, if you say so.

Wait you want us to eat more food? With more butter? Okay.

We ordered, and our food was brought quite quickly.  I had a plate of some of the best, most tender brisket of my life, smokey and quite excellent with the tomato-based sauce provided on the table.  The mac and cheese and cole slaw on the side were excellent as well.

Brisket with sides of macaroni and cheese and cole slaw

Jon ordered pulled pork with the same sides as I did (he was happy with his pulled pork, vinegar-sauce style in what some might call authentic North Carolina fashion), and another one of our table mates ordered a triple combo (in his case brisket, pulled pork, and chopped pork) with a side of fried okra and macaroni and cheese.  Our other table mate ordered pulled pork and had a side of cheesy bacon grits.  We should have ordered a vat of those grits for the table.

Jon's pulled pork with macaroni and cheese and cole slaw.
Triple combo with fried okra and macaroni and cheese.

So the men were felled by meat overload but, being a lady, I have an entire second stomach for dessert.  So I ordered a banana pudding, which was a little too sweet for me, but the marshmallow fluff topping was great.  I barely made a dent in the pudding but whatever, I had to have the full experience.

Banana pudding, untouched
Banana pudding, interior shot

And, of course, there were leftovers.  And since the leftovers were our food babies, we had to treat them carefully on their way back to the refrigerator.

Wear a seatbelt or die

So that was my The Pit experience.  More, please?

Tony Awards 2010 Live Blog

Hi Friends!

So, like last year, I will be liveblogging the Tony Awards!  It will be exciting!  I will be snarky!  Fun!  So check back periodically for good times and great oldies as the night progresses.

8:00:  Sean Hayes starts, and shows everyone who said that he was “too gay” to play straight that he is not too gay to show off his piano skills.

8:02:  Have I mentioned that I haven’t seen any of the Best New Musical nominees, and hardly any of the other nominees, and therefore don’t really have much of an opinion on things except for those I have randomly generated?  P.S. I am totally bored by these medleys and holy balls Kristin Chenowith’s dress is so tiny, and geometric.  Wow, teeny tiny.

8:03:  O hai Come Fly Away .  I miss the days when only nominated shows got to perform.  Sigh.

8:05:  Forget I said that.  I really wanted to see Everyday Rapture so I am glad that Sherrie Rene-Scott is getting a moment with her two sassy backup singers.  I love her, but her chest looks sunburned.  This reminds me of when I saw the opera All the King’s Children (Koenig’s Kinder in German) and the lead female character had a wicked sunburn.  It was so inappropriate for the role.  I think that performers should know better than to tan.  Just saying.

8:08:  The Cagelles are always my favorite.  Jon notes that their movements are super-feminine.  For a moment I think that John Gallagher Jr. is actually someone from Green Day.  I am wrong.  Also, loving the random iPod in the back during this number.  Also, very Rent.  Good heavens.

8:10:  O hai Green Day.  This is the only time of the night when Jon will willingly be watching these awards, except for perhaps the actual American Idiot performance.  Billie Joe has admirably shaggie hair, and admirably tight red pants.  I’d say that I was jealous of his street cred, but I feel that playing at Radio City Music Hall automatically robs one of a bit of their street cred, so it would be a moot point.

8:12:  Loving the random shots of the audience rocking out to Green Day, in particular Matthew Morrison (head bob), Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas (bemused tolerance), and Lea Michelle with her new bangs (not sure how I feel about her bangs).

8:14:  Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenowith making out = excellent fuck you to that dude who wrote that article on how Sean Hayes is too gay to play straight.  That was sort of hot, and I sort of love Sean Hayes’ tie.  And his closeted Republican joke.

81:16:  THAT’S RIGHT Scarlett Johannsen is with Ryan Reynolds that bitch.

8:18:  Thanks for reminding me that they are reviving H2$. I want to see it so much.  Daniel Radcliff looks SO UNCOMFORTABLE and Katie Holmes is SO TALL this is such an AWKWARD HORRIBLE PAIRING OF PRESENTERS.  DISLIKE DISLIKE DISLIKE.  Daniel Radcliffe is SO SHORT.

8:20:  I sort of like Scarlett’s dress, despite the fact that it looks as though she has stepped from the depths of the Emerald City, but I don’t know how I feel about her hair.  Still, a good surprise of the season, Scarlett actually being able to do a Broadway show.  Congrats, sassy lady.

8:22:  Wait they’re reviving Evita and Funny Girl at approximately the same time?  Isn’t this a diva explosion?  And why is Ricky Martin going to be in it?  I don’t know anything about Million Dollar Quartet btw, except that it is a juke box musical, I believe.  Oh, there’s Hunter Foster.  Hi Hunter.

8:28:  Well that was underwhelming, but evidently Levi Kreiss, who plays Jerry Lee Lewis, is up for his own Tony.  I think I understand why, he is the only one who wasn’t boring-ish.

8:31:  Wow, that’s an amazing set-up in Times Square.  That’s super fun, I’d love to be there.  Except for like, where do you go to the bathroom?  Just saying.  And Lucy Liu, that’s a nice color on you, but what on earth is going on with the weird triangle floral patterns.  They are disrupting your hotness.

8:33:  Wow, Eddie Redmayne won, he’s like 12, that’s really impressive.  Go him.  Red is the only new play happening that I still want to see, though I’d love to see Fences.  I guess the only reason I haven’t been more drawn to Red is because I’m not a huge fan of Mark Rothko’s work.  Alas alack.

8:34:  Ah, LA cage aux Folles.  I will be seeing this in a few weeks, and pretty much know what to expect, so, I’m just gonna sit back and watch the cagelles dance (hopefully?).

8:36:  I love it when buttoned-up British Shakespearean types get to play silly, like Douglas Hodge in La Cage.  Also, loving that he is flirting with Matthew Morrison (although gee, let us continue to pimp/plug Glee, damn).  AND WILL SMITH.  Wonderful.  P.S. Who doesn’t know the plot of La Cage?  That intro was unnecessary.  YAY THERE ARE THE CAGELLES.  They are my favorite.

8:45:  Evidently Sean Hayes in ballet tights must be much funnier in person?  And Antonio, where hast thou beard gone?  I thought it was for Zorba.  Alas, not.

8:48:  The Best Director awards are coming a little early in the evening, aren’t they?  Or is it just me?

8:50:  THEY’RE DOING BEST PLAY ALREADY?  Jesus.  I really like Chris Noth, even though he is always going to be Mr. Big to me.  I believe Red will win.  Yes? I wished I could have seen In the Next Room.  Laura Benanti I LOVE YOUR DRESS.  I want to see Next Fall as well,  but, alas, so little time, so little time.  It looks like I’ll go see Red when I’m in NYC in two weeks, presumably.  I mean, come on, I’m an art historian.  Oh heavens.  And Laura Linney looks beautiful.

8:55:  Wow, um, so, are they meaning to let us hear the camera people telling the performers what to do?  And I so don’t care about Bon Jovi, or his pianist or whomever.

9:00:  ANGELA LANSBURY SO AWESOME YOU ARE 82 AND WEARING A BEAUTIFUL RED DRESS AND WILL NOW BE AWESOME FOR THE THEATRE WING YEAH.  Or something.  Wow why is Beyonce there?  She just distracted me.  She looks great as well.

9:03:  1990s television nostalgia lovers are so excited right now as the brothers Frasier arrive onstage together.  Loving the Kelsey Grammar/David Hyde Pierce reunion.

9:04:  Um, that would have been ridiculous had Angela won, but yay Katie Finneran, you were supposed to win.  And, um, Tonys broadcast you are the shittiest, way to not project Katie Finneran’s name, but instead the name of one of the other nominees.  That was a sort of awkward speech, but at least it was real.

9:07:  Mark Sanchez at an awards show, just as all his awards are taken away.  BURN.  I don’t know anything about Memphis either.  LACKLUSTER.  All I can think is how bored I am, and how I am not inspired to see any of these shows.  Sigh.

9:12:  I think Dave Itzkoff summarized my feelings regarding Memphis best:  “What about this music and choreography says Memphis, exactly?”

Okay people.  Pausing the Tonys liveblog to watch True Blood, that will be more interesting. Although I do like Kristin Chenowith, and her like, faux-fainting, and winning things, she is sort of lovely.  Oh and mazel tov Levi Kreiss, yay you.

OKAY.  Back to it!  And yes, True Blood was far more interesting, mainly because of the phrases “Conscience off, dick on” and “pussy overflow.”  Yes.

I left off right before Catherine Zeta-Jone’s rendition of “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music.  God they really picked the most boring number to do in this piece, probably because she is FAMOUS.  Also, I was in the balcony when I saw this production so I couldn’t see her overacting when I saw it live.  But, man, she is totally overacting.  Also, I’ve never really liked this song.  I think i mentioned that, right?

Idina Menzel comes out to introduce Ragtime.  The original production is one of my favorite shows, truly.  Idina’s dress is sort of princess-fabulous in a nostalgic way, but her hair is just terrible.  Dreadful.  I think that the actress playing Mother (presumably) sounds too young, and a litle too belty.  I really liked Marin Mazzie.  This new woman is just dreadful.

VIOLA DAVIS GREAT DRESS.  Denzel Washington for the love of God shave.

This using cast members to introduce the plays is just dreadful, and I don’t think it will make anyone see these plays.  Dislike.

Also awkward?  This strange little mash-up of the thirty-nine plays that opened this season.  And what is with this odd music in the background?  DISLIKE.

Why is Sean Hayes in an Annie outfit?  Is this like that time when Whoopi hosted the Oscars and came out in costumes from every film nominated?  Because that was more entertaining.

Why does Helen Mirren always look better than I do now?  Better than I ever will?  Oh, Helen.

Viola Davis wins for Fences.  Duh.  Didn’t realize she’s won Tonys before.  Go her.  Denzel Washington wins too.  That was a really intense, famous-person category.  I think either Liev Schreiber, Denzel Washington, or Alfred Molina were deserving, but it looks like a Fences sweep.

Fela! I’ve wanted to see this, mainly because I hear that it is a crazy fun dancey time.  Jada do you have a donut on your head? I think I’d only see it if the dude who plays the main Fela (not the one who switches out with him three performances a week) were definitely on.  Dancey good time.  And a very attractive cast.

Because I am old I fastforward through Michael Douglas’ tribute of some theater and the technical awards which evidently AREN’T IMPORTANT ENOUGHT O BE GIVEN FULL AIR TIME.  Okay now to watch some choreography, including Twyla Tharp.  I saw that sassy black afro-ed woman in Movin’ Out.  What happened to that super-pale red head?

I didn’t really watch any of that, just to be clear.  I was too busy laughing at vuvuzela gifs etc. on the internet.  Damn vuvuzelas.

Oh, going straight into the Promises, Promises number, huh?  Well, okay then.  This is such a delicious throwback piece.  I want them to do “Turkey Lurkey” but I have a feeling they won’t.  Blah blah Tony goes to Bill T. Jones Paula why are you here?  BILL T. JONES PUT ON A TIE THIS IS NOT YOUR LIVING ROOM.

OhmyGod y’all, I am so bored with this broadcast that I just fast-forwarded through the Death Montage.  I never do that, I usually really like the Death Montage, but that’s what DVR is for.

Hahaha, speaking of Death Montage, Uncle Fester with the lightbulb and a reference to the vibrator play.  Wiin.

CATE BLANCHETT I LOVE YOUR DAVID BOWIE SPACE MAN SUIT.  Why wasn’t your show on Broadway so you/it could have been nominated.  TRAGEDY.  Fences wins, duh.  You go, August Wilson.

Red wins too.  PONTIFICATION ON ART BIG FANCY IDEAS AND THOUGHTS.  I appreciate that one of the producers is wearing a big red dress.  Excellent fashion statement.

Oh God the Glee performance.  Laura Bell Bundy, are you wearing extensions?  I mean, what am I supposed to say about this?  I love Glee quite a lot but I am really worried that it is going to crash and burn due to its own excellence.  Sort of like Icarus.  Or, you know, a brightly shining star going Supernova.  Why couldn’t the back-up singer/dancers for Matthew Morrison have been the actual Glee cast?  Just a side note.

Regarding Lea Michelle and her obvious audition for the upcoming revival of Funny Girl:  I don’t really like Lea Michelle normally.  I think she is smug, and I think her singing can get a little singer-facey whiney.  However, I do believe that she is an excellent performer and she could easily pull off this scary/challenging role.  She looks good/appropriate in that white toga dress (even if it does overwhelm her tiny frame a little bit) and I do love her flirting with the crowd/her “boyfriend” Jonathan Groff.  That was a fairly indisputable audition.

Sean Hayes, your Spiderman Musical spoof was a wonderful, wonderful wonderful piece of glory.  Will that show ever actually happen?  I kind of don’t want it to happen.  Ever.

Raquel Welch what is happening with your hair.  DISLIKE.

I guess Finian’s Rainbow isn’t allowed to perform because it has been closed for too long?  But Ragtime was closed too?  I don’t understand?  Also didn’t Finian’s Rainbow get better reviews than La Cage?  Oh well, I’m seeing it, so I shouldn’t whine.

Blah blah Billy Joe blah blah “WHAT AM I DOING ON BROADWAY READING A TELEPROMPTER HUH?!” blah blah introducing this MUSICAL based on our CONCEPT ALBUM huh?!  Okay.  Thanks, also, Billy Joe, for shouting our Michael Mayer who for SOME REASON wasn’t nominated for best director.  Weird.

Okay, loud fun rock performance.  Far more interesting/entertaining than anything else I have seen tonight.  I’d see this show, but I’ll probably wait for the tour, just because.

David Itzkoff on the Sean Hayes Spiderman joke: “Sean Hayes recreates Lea Michele’s performance in a Spider-Man costume, unable to sing through the mask. For the 10,000 or so people who get that joke, that’s HILARIOUS.”  Truth!

Bebe Neweurth, so stunning as always.  Nathan Lane, so perfect as always.   Y’all present those awards.

Okay, re: Catherine Zeta-Jones win, Charles Isherwood summarized my feelings perfectly:  “No, I wanted Sherie Rene Scott or Kate Baldwin. What the voters have done is basically validate the stars in hopes of wooing more, realizing that stars are what are ensuring the success of Broadway shows now. Sad.”  I mean, I really enjoyed Catherine in the show, and her sort of shocked stunned look and then rapid pulling of the dress to get up the stage was sort of adorable, and she is a theatre baby, but still…I don’t want Broadway to be taken over by movie stars.

Well, at least the movie stars didn’t take the Best Actor in a Musical cateogry.  I’ve read so many great things about Douglas Hodge and am excited to see his performance in a few weeks.

Blah blah Bernadette Peters aka Not Rachel Berry’s Biological Mother announces some blah-looking show named Memphis as the winner.  I mean, I enjoy seeing happy chorus people but I have no desire to see this show.  Yawn yawn yawn blah.

Last notes: Sean Hayes, you were so good.  Please host again, preferably doing the entire thing in a Spiderman costume.  What is this last performance thing?  I still don’t want to see Memphis.  This is convincing me of nothing except for the following:

“This underlines the fact that it’s not about giving awards (or receiving them) but about hyping the shows. Rather tacky. I have to say overall this was a very conservative list of winners. Lots of British people and one of the only two traditionally structured musicals. Disaster of an ending…” Well, Charles Isherwood, at least you got something right.

Okay, that’s all, signing off now.  Ungh.  Disaster.  Goodnight.