Making weird restaurant dishes at home is a dicey business, especially when you're talking about avant-garde trademarks like Room 4 Dessert's "Ice Ice Café." (Ingredients: white coffee sabayon, espresso fluid gel, basil-seeds caviar, and passion-fruit sponge cake.) Still, ambitious suckers now have a glimmer of hope: Will Goldfarb, Room 4 Dessert's chef, doesn't mind giving away a few secrets, if it means another revenue stream. Through a service he's calling "Willpowder," Goldfarb's selling the obscure (in the supermarket, at least) constituents he uses to make his dishes — and offering live advice over the phone to supplement the recipes on his Website. "The idea is to be able to reproduce anything you had in our restaurant," Goldfarb tells us. You want it, he's got it: methylcellulose (a stabilizer: "it makes ingredients hold together so you can aerate them"), lecithin (an emulsifying agent: "hot chocolate mousse that doesn't fall or break"), and flavor agents like tandoori masala. But isn't Goldfarb worried about every nut in town calling and interrupting him and his people in the kitchen? "Nah. Every nut in town calls me up already."
• A gruesome murder-suicide in Brooklyn left four dead and almost redefines "lurid." Investigators believe an ex-con bludgeoned to death his girlfriend (who was also his half-sister), killed her two children, then overdosed on the scene. [WNBC]
• A former NY1 reporter says she was sexually harassed at work and fired for complaining about it. Among other things, a colleague Photoshopped giant breasts on her photo, which apparently passes for a joke at NY1. [NYP]
• E. coli is here! The first registered NYC patient (who has already recovered) is a Staten Islander who got the bug, like the other 60 victims, by eating at a local Taco Bell. [amNY]
• The Daily News is shocked to learn that about 70 percent of recent subway graffiti has been made by European kids looking for an "authentic" NYC experience. Next they'll tell us those guys on Astor Place are not real punks. [NYDN]
• And the Times ponders the rise of "experiential marketing" in Times Square, wherein companies do something moderately freaky and hope tourists will photograph it and/or blog about it. Here at Daily Intel, we would neverfallforsuchgimmicks. [NYT]
As the number of shopping days till Christmas dwindled, the ten magi of the Baker-Hamilton commission told Bush 43 that he had "one last chance" to get Iraq straightened out and suggested that most troops come home within fifteen months. Other surprising figures popped up: The Senate confirmed Defense Secretary-nominee Robert Gates by a vote of 95 to 2 after he said that Saddam Hussein had no 9/11 connection. (The president called Gates the right man to tackle "the emerging threats of the 21st century," leaving some to wonder where he'd been six years ago.) Hillary Clinton seemed ready to commit 110 percent to a 2008 presidential campaign, planning strategic visits to Iowa and New Hampshire and telling one pol, "I'm really going to go for this." Meanwhile, her potential rival, Barack Obama (and many Dems' No. 1 fantasy), gave at a $2,500-a-plate Manhattan charity dinner.
Not that it's any big surprise at this point — after secret sets of books, and floated-and-then-retracted fare hikes, and all that — but the MTA might be up to something a little shady again. While everyone's busy being excited about the redevelopment of the High Line, it turns out the MTA has been whispering to developers looking at its West Side yards — where Bloomberg wanted to build a Jets stadium, and which contain 31 percent of the elevated rail tracks — that a purchaser might be able to dismantle at least part of the Line. (You know, so building could start faster.) Last night, Friends of the High Line rallied its base in a meeting at Chelsea Market to protest this news and presented the case that maintaining the High Line on the MTA property would actually make it more attractive to developers, and thus more lucrative to the MTA. To that end, Friends of the High Line — with partial funding from developers with projects elsewhere along the structure — offered this sketch, from the Chelsea firm SHoP Architects, of what a redeveloped MTA yard would look like with the High Line still intact up there. Pretty, ain't it? —Alec Appelbaum
On Daily Intelligencer today, you'll find a story on upper-crust icon Ralph Lauren opening an eatery next to his boutique in the East Hampton. The former Blue Parrot has been bought by the former Ralph Lipschitz, who is said to be refashioning it along the lines of the Ivy in Beverly Hills. (The prior owner has moved to L.A. to pursue an acting career.) Lauren already has a big restaurant in Chicago, but somehow, this locale just seems like it was meant to be. Perhaps this summer we'll change our name, buy some new shirts, and drop in.
Ralph Lauren to Open Hamptons Eatery, No Doubt to Be Filled With Old-Time Americana [Daily Intel]
MIAMI BEACH — You don't tend to find guys in baseball caps at art fairs. So when you spot one at Art Basel Miami Beach, it's a good bet who's underneath it: Russell Simmons. The Def Jams founder has been holding court this week at the Delano, the festival's headquarters. His high-profile presence at Art Basel — he's often seen chatting on the hotel's front porch or just walking down the street in cap and jeans — has been a boon to fair organizers, some of whom have fretted privately that the otherwise hugely successful event has been a little low on non-art-world star wattage. Simmons — an Art Basel vet — is here to host a variety of events, most for his arts-education charity, Rush Philanthropic. But he's also art shopping.
What does he collect?
How many openings has Grub Street broken in the last 24 hours? So many we've nearly lost count. First was news of a new Sasha Petraske saloon, this one to forgo the mixology maven's usual carefully constructed cocktails for beer and wine. Next was the report that Amalia, the restaurant and lounge scheduled to open a few weeks ago in the Dream Hotel, won't awaken there till late January. (But Grub's got renderings now!) Finally came one more bit of Petraskiana: The Milk and Honey and Little Branch proprietor wants to add food to his empire, aiming to open a restaurant in the old Grange Hall space in the West Village. Need to know more? It's all on Grub Street.
Milk and Honey Owner to Do Wine and Beer — and Queens! [Grub Street]
Dream Hotel's Restaurant Still a Dream, But Opening in January [Grub Street]
Sasha Petraske to Take on Fine Dining, Too [Grub Street]
At last, there'll soon be a chance for East Enders to actually eat at Ralph's. Designer Ralph Lauren, who owns the steak-and-seafood joint RL in Chicago, is taking over the space in East Hampton that for 25 years has housed the popular, unprepossessing, vaguely surf-themed Blue Parrot. "They signed the contract, and we should close in a couple of weeks," confirms Parrot owner Lee Bieler, who is moving to L.A. to pursue an acting career. "They said they wanted to renovate the building and do a restaurant. His designer said it would be a concept similar to the Ivy in Beverly Hills." The restaurant, complete with outdoor patio, is next door to the Polo player's East Hampton boutique. Word is it'll be open for business by the spring. —Beth Landman
Make no mistake: Beekman Place and its nearby blocks are as rarefied as the moneyed thoroughfares of Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue. No matter that it's just minutes away from unpretty Second Avenue with its fratty bars and dusty traffic. (Why else would the Rockefellers, the Barrymores, and the Vanderbilts have roosted here?) One Beekman Place is the queen of this tiny kingdom, a highly selective, white-glove building with stunning river views that's supposedly terribly fussy but, without a doubt, grand. Open houses are unlikely there (it's that exclusive), but a walk through the enclave and the few buildings hosting showings there this Sunday (listed below) will be enough to give you a hint of the good life. S. Jhoanna Robledo
Boerum Hill: Atlantic Yards' next sin? Illuminated billboards that are fifteen stories tall. [Gowanus Lounge]
Chelsea: The High Line might not make it north of 30th Street after all. [Blog Chelsea]
Park Slope: Park Slope Towers is really a dorm, not a condo building. [Curbed]
Upper East Side: Meet the Gael Pub Quizmaster, David Jacobson. [Upper East Side Informer]
West Village: On Saturday, join the memorial ride for Eric Ng, a 22-year-old bicyclist who was killed December 1 by a drunk driver on the West Side bike path. [onNYturf]
Williamsburg: Parks Department placates angry residents by promising to diversify McCarren Park Pool concerts with Colombian and Polish music. [Brooklyn Downtown Star via Brooklyn Record]
MIAMI BEACH — The celebrities at Art Basel Miami Beach are rich collectors and powerful gallerists, for the most part, which means the sightings are usually less than glamorous. (Look, there's Tony Shafrazi in orange swim trunks!) But one bit of Hollywood celebrity hanging around has been Keanu Reeves, who was spotted last night by the bar at the Standard and quickly ushered into the dinner there hosted by Yvonne Force Villareal and Mark Fletcher. When a photog tried to snap his picture, Reeves begged to share a smoke instead, offering up a menthol cigarette as a consolation prize. It worked.
Inside, the art stars were lounging on $50 beach towels designed by Richard Phillips, Marilyn Minter, Rob Pruitt, and Alex Katz that are sold through Target to benefit Force's Art Production Fund. It was very Morocco meets Miami, and everyone looked good in the low candlelight.
Upper East Side grandees are fond of each other's company and eat at restaurants like Nello to make sure they get it. Why else would anyone pay $22 for a celery heart or $38 for spaghetti with clam sauce? But we thought that even the lonely and ultrarich might balk at the new $750 Kobe steak that, according to "Page Six," the restaurant is now serving. Given that the best of these steaks seldom top $125 in town, how can Nello justify the price? "It's a small quantity of product that's available," owner Nello Balan tells us, as if that justified anything more than the going rate. "They distribute it all over from Moscow to Paris to New York. It's a novelty." A novelty it may be to Balan's crowd, but the rest of New York has pretty much gotten the whole Kobe thing by now. And yet, there's no arguing with Nello's results: "We sell ten or fifteen a day." At least the rich aren't always getting richer.
Steer Heaven [NYP]
Rabbi Joel Yehuda Kolko was arrested yesterday in Brooklyn and charged with child sexual abuse. Back in May, New York's Robert Kolker detailed allegations against the rabbi that went back at least two decades, noting that the Brooklyn District Attorney's office would often defer to Orthodox authorities instead of investigating complaints. But David Framowitz, a former student of Kolko's, sued the rabbi and his Flatbush yeshiva for $20 million in federal court in May. Kolko now faces other civil suits filed by adults who claim they, too, were abused. "The bottom line is that abuse is a universal issue that closed communities hide because it threatens them," one former Lubavitcher who said he was abused told Kolker. "Whether it's Jewish or Amish or Mennonite or Catholic or Muslim, it doesn't make a difference."
On the Rabbi's Knee [NYM]
Sex-Rap Rabbi is Busted in Brooklyn [NYDN]
Peter Blake, New York's first architecture critic, died this week at the age of 86. An architect himself, Blake was known for his stylish, refined orthodox modernism (even though he hated "modernism" as a term). His writing for the magazine, as a columnist from 1968 to 1976 and then on and off for another twenty years, was similarly polished, a refined voice in an age too often given to unrefined buildings. Here's his witty conversation with the late Philip Johnson, published on June 9, 1996, shortly before Johnson's 90th birthday. —Christopher BonanosMagic Johnson [PDF]
Peter Blake, Architect, 86, Is Dead; Designed Houses in the Hamptons [NYT]
Earlier we reported the Milk and Honey owner-mixologist Sasha Petraske was going into the beer, wine, and cheese business. He's not stopping there: Petraske is also eyeing the still-vacant Grange Hall and Blue Mill space, a venue he's loved since he had his eighth-grade graduation party there (he grew up a couple of blocks away). Why hasn't he snatched it up? The restaurant-world newcomer has yet to click with a chef who shares his vision of serving cocktails before and after dinner rather than simply during. "I'm trying to find some partners who'll let me do my thing in the front of the space; someone who's doing something of serious quality." If anyone fits the bill, you can reach Sasha at the secret number divulged here, though it may change soon. Daniel MaurerEarlier: Milk and Honey Owner to Do Beer and Wine — and Queens!Zagat Fails to Number-Close Milk and Honey
Besides interviewing his share of Nobel, Pulitzer, and Oscar winners for his eponymous WNYC show, Leonard Lopate has picked up a few commendations himself, including a James Beard Award for a conversation in which Ruth Reichl and his favorite chef, Daniel Boulud, explored the relationship between scent and taste. This past week, the Park Slope resident treated his nose to some of the city's finest bagels and (possibly) the best baguettes outside of Europe.
Could it be? Yes, it could. A mere three weeks after real, genuine construction started at ground zero — the concrete foundation was finally poured for the much-delayed Freedom Tower — there's set to be some more real, genuine progress today. Five years after it was badly damaged and rendered uninhabitable by the attacks, the long-shrouded Deutsche Bank building is finally coming down. The AP is reporting that the building's façade is being removed starting this morning; once that is gone, the steel-and-concrete infrastructure comes next. One of the new WTC towers is set to be built on the site, plus a new Greek Orthodox church. Don't start rushing to say your Greek prayers, though: It'll be a year till the current building is gone.
Work Begins Friday to Take Down Damaged WTC Skyscraper [AP via Newsday]
Earlier:Freedom Tower Construction Finally Begins, Boringly
Number of E. coli victims doubles; Cali green onions probably to blame. [NYT]
Long Island Railroad to curb bar-car pre-parties. [NYP]
After deadly mêlée at the Greenmarket, foodies continue seeking out Fuji apples. [NYDN]
Eliot Spitzer's New Year's Day inauguration will feature James Brown and Natalie Merchant but not Alan Hevesi. Yes, Beyoncé threw Jay-Z a big birthday party in St. Barts. No, they're not getting married, at least according to Rush & Molloy. John Kerry threw a dinner party for Democratic donors at his Georgetown home, at which he may or may not have shilled for his party's 2008 nomination. Paris Hilton may be engaged to "student" Stavros Niarchos. Tinsley Mortimer's sister-in-law is getting married to the director of Syriana. The reigning Miss Universe, also Miss Puerto Rico, is dating a fellow Puerto Rican. Mandy Moore had dinner with former flame Wilmer Valderrama. The director of scary when-scuba-goes-bad flick Open Water is set to direct another movie about sharks. A lot of people went to go see Annie at Madison Square Garden, and not everyone got in on time. Celebs donate time, company to an auction run by Martin Luther King Jr.'s eldest son. Colin Firth is a picky eater. Lindsay Lohan's former assistant, now Jessica Biel's assistant, was the subject of much of Lohan's vitriol in the rambling e-mail she wrote two days ago. Eddie Murphy and his ex–Spice Girl ex-girlfriend continue to disagree over whether Eddie is the father of her baby, according to "Page Six." (The News has this Murphy-Spice "exclusive," too, worded the exact same way.) Britney Spears bought expensive lingerie, Dakota Fanning bought a dog, and Courtney Love is moving to London. Liz Smith claims John Stamos will be on an upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars, based on his affinity for tango. Molly Sims got stung by a bee in Hawaii.