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Spring 2009

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All in the Family

Bee Shaffer and Austin Bryan, the offspring of Anna Wintour and her boyfriend, Shelby Bryan, held hands at Marquee. Harlem congressman Charles Rangel is likely getting a divorce and may be dating other women. The typewriter that disabled author Christy Brown used to bang out his best-selling autobiography (with his left foot, no less) will be auctioned off tomorrow. New York Yankee Jason Giambi took shots at a club. Sophie Dahl and longtime boyfriend Dan Baker Jr. broke up, and Mick Jagger may be to blame. Lindsay Lohan ex Harry Morton is now dating Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly. Mark Wahlberg and the real-life "E" acted like Vinnie Chase and the fictional "E." Ronald and Nancy Reagan were once funneled money by a Hollywood studio through an illegitimate real-estate transaction.

Le Cirque Scrambles for Relevance; P*ONG Expanding

A myriad of consultants and experts are surrounding Sirio Maccioni, giving advice on how Le Cirque can recapture its now-departed magic. [Insatiable Critic] Dessert bars are a hot enough trend right now that some restaurants and bakeries are transforming themselves at certain hours, while others, like P*ONG, are built expressly for the genre. [NYP] Related: Because Our Desserts Are as Good as Everyone Else’s Entire Meals Speaking of which, Asian dessert guru Pichet Ong will open a shop devoted to ice cream, pudding, and cookies next door to P*ONG on August 17. [Strong Buzz]

Call Me

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So the iPhone went on sale Friday afternoon; America rejoiced, God smiled, and people who'd been waiting on line for three days could finally go take a shower. (We must say our favorite touch is the line of what seem to be Apple employees at left, applauding the dude for, you know, shopping.) Funny thing: After all the hysteria and lines and waiting and so forth, our friend walked into an AT&T store Saturday afternoon, bought an iPhone, and left in about a half-hour. UPDATE: Aforementioned friend IMs: "Errata! I was in and out of Apple Store in 5 minutes." Apparently reporting over drinks late on Saturday night doesn't always yield complete accuracy. Who knew? Earlier: Daily Intel's we're-giving-Steve-Jobs-exactly- what-he-wants iPhone coverage.

Tired, Poor, Huddled

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Welcome to July 4 week. We suspect it'll be a slow one in these parts. Nice weather today, at least.

Safe

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• Crime is drastically down so far this year, with the city on track to set a record in 2007: the fewest murders since the police began keeping track in the sixties. An NYU prof credits an NYPD program that sends crowds of rookie cops to bad neighborhoods — and those rookie cops would be the ones they're now paying $25k. [NYDN] • Is Joe Bruno the Alan Hevesi of the sky? The state's top Republican is under investigation for allegedly steering state contracts to associates; now Spitzer is threatening to look into Bruno's use of state aircraft — and police escorts — to fly to fund-raisers in New York City. [NYP] • Those new New York City condoms hit 100 of New York's 325 senior centers last week. The remaining 225 centers — save for seven apparently run by prudes — will get their rubbers this week, along with pamphlets on HIV prevention. [NYP] • Bloomberg's new noise code went into effect yesterday. See, isn't the city nice and quiet now? [NYT] • And A-Rod's wife wore a tank top to yesterday's game bearing the words "Fuck You" on the back. Perhaps it would have been better to convey this message at home? [NYP]

Prince to Give It Away in the U.K.

Prince's new album, Planet Earth, will be given away for free in British newspapers this summer, angering British music retailers, who had hoped to sell the album in exchange for British money, which is called "pounds" instead of "dollars."

Jean-Georges Vongerichten on His Gift for Delegation

No chef in New York restaurant history has been more successful, or more influential, than Jean-Georges Vongerichten. As he begins his third decade of cooking and running restaurants in New York, we sat down to ask him some questions about the scene: how it’s changed and where it’s going.

Ssäm Bar Vindicated; Haute Cuisine Gets No Love

Momofuku Ssäm Bar wins two stars (!) from Bruni and completes a success story that seemed pretty unlikely a few months ago, when the place was selling Asian burritos to a handful of customers. The review is also a watershed in the changing culture of restaurants: Formal is now officially out, casual now officially legit. [NYT] Related: The I Chang [NYM] Meanwhile, Randall Lane is a lone dissenter, calling out Ssäm Bar for its unevenness, lack of focus, and the steep prices of some of its main dishes. On the whole, though, he seems to have missed the point — David Chang's loose, unfettered approach to good cooking. [TONY] Steve Cuozzo joins in the chorus of approval greeting Wayne Nish’s transformation of the stuffy March into the swinging, fusion-y Nish. The message: Remain formal at your own peril. (See reviews of Dennis Foy and Gordon Ramsay.) [NYP] Related: Bedeviled [NYM]

Pelaccio Opens in London; Hotel Gansevoort Boycotted

Zak Pelaccio’s new London restaurant (first announced here) finally opens and issues a press release with a menu. [Snack] In a recent post, we called Michael Ruhlman a mandarin and critiqued his hauteur. Count us wrong on both counts: This response, titled “Grub Street Wankers,” and the vitriol that follows in the comment section, isn’t exactly high-minded. [Ruhlman] Related: In Defense of Rachael Ray and the Food Network [Grub Street] The big billboards erected on Hudson Street by the Hotel Gansevoort are so ugly that Pastis’ Keith McNally and 5 Ninth’s Joel Michel are refusing to take hotel reservations in protest. [NYP]

Morandi! McNally! And Now — Menu!

Morandi may be the opening of the winter, and Rob and Robin have come through with a sneak peek at the much-awaited Italian restaurant and an interview with owner Keith McNally. And now, in a powerful addition to the ever-growing glory that is our database, we’ve got Morandi’s menu, too. We could tell you how tasty these Sicilian-inflected classics look, but why not just click through yourself? Morandi Menu [NYM]

Forget ‘Top Chef,’ Here's What Real Cooking Looks Like

The cooking on Top Chef is, as most chefs will tell you, about as realistic as the medicine practiced on House. But that doesn't mean you can't see the real thing if you look hard enough. Consider RealMeals, a brand-new, just-launched website which specializes in videos of both professional and amateur chefs actually cooking. This kind of instructional/aspirational video has been coming into vogue in recent months (Chow has produced a number of really good ones.) But RealMeals is both more interesting and more New York-oriented.

Read Poe on the Pot at Zucco: Le French Diner

With just twenty seats (most wedged between the bar and a wall), Zucco: Le French Diner is one of the most lilliputian eateries in the city. Once we located the bathroom jammed in the back corner next to a prep table — and tapped on the cook’s shoulder so he could make room for us to open the door — we weren’t surprised to find that it's also tres petite. Thankfully, what the loo lacks in size, it makes up for with Godardian flair.

Staten Island's Spring Awakening

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Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, and so did Holtsville Hal on Long Island. But the only weather marmot residing in New York City — Staten Island Chuck — woke up, saw no shadow, and thus allows us to confidently predict spring will come early for our fair (if, granted, soon to be inundated) city. The good people at Gothamist provide the picture we've been looking for, and it reminds us — in case we've forgotten — that Brooklyn Chuck will never miss a chance for a photo op. Early Spring, Says Staten Island Chuck [Gothamist]

Food Network Moves Feast for Catherine Zeta-Jones

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Less than a month before the Food Network Awards Show — when plans have been made, florists scheduled, hotel rooms booked — the Food Network is rescheduling the big event, pushing it up a day. Why? Because Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart have a conflict. Zeta-Jones, who plays a chef in the summer movie No Reservations, and co-star Eckhart were scheduled to be presenters at the show. But then Eckhart got an Independent Spirit Award nomination, and that ceremony is on the same day. And Zeta-Jones declined to do the gig without Eckhart. But the foodies are flexible. "We'd change the world for Catherine Zeta-Jones. She's a star," says Lee Brian Schrager, organizer of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, which hosts the awards. Among the big New York names who will have to change their plans: Gotham Bar and Grill's Alfred Portale, Momofuku's David Chang, and Aquavit's Marcus Samuelsson. Even Laurent Tourondel, who was scheduled to cook a Champagne barbecue at the Miami festival that now conflicts with the Food Awards, says he doesn't mind. But then Zeta-Jones probably needs no reservation at BLT Prime, either. —Alexandra Peers Feeding Frenzy [NYP]

GoldBar Finally Emerges from the Vault

You might have heard a little bit about GoldBar lately. It's the hottest thing since Death & Co. two weeks ago and until Star Lounge goes into soft launch … this weekend. We were pretty confident the décor of this Cain offshoot would be gold, and the involvement of skulls seemed likely. But until last night’s opening to "friends and family,” all details were little more than informed speculation. Now, finally, the truth can be told.

Kimora Lee Simmons Embraces Her Fabulosity

Kimora Lee Simmons
Name: Kimora Lee Simmons Age: A woman who will tell her age will tell anything! Job: Mother, businesswoman, fashion designer, entrepreneur, philanthropist. Her fall 2007 Baby Phat collection debuts tonight at 8 p.m. at the Roseland Ballroom.
Neighborhood: Upper East Side Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional? Jackie Kennedy Onassis

Room Service, at Your Service

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The self-consciously hip Flatiron club Room Service has several gimmicks, and one of them is this: With a reservation for one of the curtained-off VIP cabanas — and 24 hours' notice — a Room Service concierge will deliver anything your VIPness desires. So what have patrons been requesting? Grub Street's Daniel Maurer got his hands on a list of every item demanded over a two-week period, and it runs from Ben & Jerry's to wasabi peas. We promise some stops along the way are more salacious. Weird Deliveries Demanded by Club VIPs [Grub Street]

Woody Allen Fights AIDS, Bores Us

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Speaking of Wednesday's amFAR benefit, it also brought out Woody Allen for a rare public appearance. (He presented an award to an old friend, Dr. Mathilde Krim, amFAR's founding chairman.) After a charmingly bumbling speech, he sat, quite oddly, across the table from Soon-Yi and listened to Garry Shandling tell the room about watching Allen years ago on a short-lived Saturday-morning TV show, Hot Dog. "It was a show where they explained to kids how things worked and Woody Allen was one of the people who explained things," Shandling said. "I'll never forget the time he came out and told us that baseball bats were made of halvah, so that when you strike out, you can eat it." Later we approached Allen to ask for an interview and were shocked to have him agree. Suddenly, visions of brilliant, hilarious, angst- and Yiddish-filled quotes leaped to our mind. We were thrilled. And then he proceeded to give us a series of totally boring replies. (Except for one tiny bit of news, that despite his last few films, he hasn't forsaken New York forever.) Feh.

Boston Cartoon Attack Was, Well, a Glitch

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So those two hair-obsessed guys arrested in Boston for planting the Aqua Teen Hunger Force non-bombs that terrified New England? A bit of creative Googling reveals that both men — Sean Stevens, 28, and Peter Berdovsky, 27, who goes by "Zebbler" — are affiliated with a "live performing video force" called — and this is the sort of fun part — Glitch. Well, yes. We suspect that Turner Broadcasting, parent of Aqua Teen's home, the Cartoon Network, sees this as quite the glitch. Which perhaps explains the whole thing: It's all part of Time Warner, and Time Warner is trying to be more synergistic, and didn't Time Inc. CEO Ann Moore just say her company needs to fail more? This, folks, is failure done right. Two Men Charged After Boston Security Scare [Reuters]