Friday, January 29, 2010

The Weekend: 1.29-1.31 and beyond

It's music, magic and general mayhem this weekend. Here's what's happening in a neighborhood near you.

Friday, January 29

Music: There's a wide range of tastes tonight, from the jam-packed layers of Here We Go Magic, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight, to the all metal tribute bands Judas Priestess and Cheap Trick or Treat at Brooklyn Bowl, to the indie rock of Les Savy Fav and Vivian Girls at BAM, as part of their Sounds Like Brooklyn festival. What exactly does Brooklyn sound like?

Magic: Bring the kids to the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture in Park Slope tonight for their Night of Magic. The popular event is now in its 9th year of bringing modern Houdinis to the borough (fun fact: Houdini lived here). At 8 p.m. Tickets $15. Located at 53 Prospect Park West.

Reading: You've seen this plastered in bookshop's windows. Now see the author live. Joshua Ferris, a former Brooklynite who came to fame with his first novel, "Then We Came To the End," reads from his latest, "The Unnamed," at Greenlight in Fort Greene tonight. At 7:30 p.m. Located at 686 Fulton St.

Saturday, January 30

Music: Field Music hasn't bailed on Brooklyn. The British brother duo had to cancel their December engagement at the Bell House in Gowanus, but they're here tonight for what's sure to be a rocking time. Get a glimpse at their forthcoming release, "Field Music 3." At 8 p.m. Tickets $12. Located at 149 7th St. Also tonight, Long-time Brooklyn institution Life In A Blender play BAMcafe in Fort Greene. It's always a good time. At 10 p.m. Free. Located at 30 Lafayette Ave.

Games: Somewhere, at some time, people will be racing through the city in shopping carts today. The Idiotarod is back, and chances are, the scavenger race will go through Brooklyn. Cheer them on, just don't get in their way.

Theater: Brave New World has a penchant for Arthur Miller (last year, they did "The Crucible"). Tonight, they present "The American Clock," his vaudeville based in part on Studs Terkel’s "Hard Times," at The Old Stone House in Park Slope, and serves as a benefit for their forthcoming site-specific production of, yet again, "The Crucible," this March. Tickets are $50, $25 for seniors and patrons under 25. and includes a dinner. At 7:30 p.m. Located at Fifth Avenue, between 3rd and 4th streets.

Comedy: Add another comedy night to your list. Today, Sycamore kicks off Rope Swing, a new comedy variety show at its Flatbush space. The first event has Joe Mande and Greg Barris, and hosted by Caroline Creaghead. At 9 p.m. Tickets $8. Located at 1118 Cortelyou Rd.

Theater: With only 12 people allowed in at a time, the Irondale Ensemble's adventurous new play, "alice...Alice...ALICE," is selling out fast. Get immersed and travel with the cast as they explore Wonderland in this site-specific production. Now through February 20. Tickets $35, $20 for students and working artists. Located at 85 South Oxford St.

Sunday, January 31

Food: It was only a matter of time before the taco was tackled. Today, cookoff enthusiasts Theo Peck and Nick Suarez present the Brooklyn Taco Experiment at the Bell House. All taco fanatics welcome. From 1-5 pm. (Advance tickets sold-out.)

Monday, February 1

Benefit: Brooklyn has been showing strong support for the Haiti relief effort, especially its music community. Tonight's no different, as the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg hosts Help for Haiti, a benefit featuring Fu-Arkist-Ra, an Afro-beat ensemble, as well as Fela! cast members. Tickets are $15, with 100 percent of proceeds going to charity. At 7 pm. Located at 361 Metropolitan Ave.

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2010 Manischewitz Cook-Off is coming

By Helen Klein

Brooklynites, start your ovens!

A year after Bay Ridge resident Erin Evenson was a finalist in the Manischewitz Cook-Off, the deadline for the annual event, now in its fourth year, is fast approaching.

To participate, competitors are asked to create an original recipe using Manischewitz products -- this year, entrants are required to utilize new Manischewitz all-natural broth -- and submit it by January 31st, to be entered in the Man-O-Manischewitz Cook-Off, which offers prize packages to finalists, with a hefty grand prize for the winner, who will be crowned King or Queen of Kosher.

Last year, Evenson’s Ruby Red Risotto, which featured Manischewitz borscht, propelled her to the February, 2009, cookoff, where she made her Risotto -- enriched with pistachio-basil pesto and garlic herb goat cheese -- for a panel of judges from the world of food. In so doing, Evenson -- a transplanted Brooklynite in love with the culinary offerings of her adopted borough -- had the distinction of being one of six home cooks who made it to the finals, out of thousands of submissions.

This year, world-renowned chef Jacques Pépin will be the master of ceremonies at the cookoff, and head up the panel of judges who will officiate at the March 18th event, which will be held at the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan.

Five finalists will received all-expense-paid trips to New York to compete. The grand prize winner will walk away with a $25,000 prize package that includes, among other things, GE Profile kitchen appliances and cash.

For Pépin, the author of a whopping 26 cookbooks as well as the host of 11 television cooking series, participation in the competition as a judge is an extension of his life’s work. “I always encourage people to experiment with new types of ethnic cuisine and products,” he remarked.

In its first three years, the competition has attracted upwards of 10,000 participants who have “shared some amazing recipes,” noted David Yale, the president of Manischewitz.

The competition is open to U.S. residents who are at least 18 years of age. According to Manischewitz, “All recipes must be original, kosher, include a new Manischewitz Broth product, have no more than a total of eight ingredients, and be prepared and cooked in one hour or less.”

Entries will be culled to 15 semi-finalists; those recipes will be prepared in Manischewitz’s test kitchen, and winnowed down to five finalists.

An entry form and official contest details can be found at www.manischewitz.com. Entries can be submitted on line or can be mailed to Manischewitz Cook-Off, c/o BHGPR, 546 Valley Road, Upper Montclair NJ 07043.

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Tabbouleh - always a new dish

By Helen Klein

With its nutty taste, infused by savory herbs and citrus, Tabbouleh is a long-standing family favorite in my house.

A Middle Eastern specialty, it is usually made with a combination of mint and flat-leaf parsley which, in concert with the refreshing tartness of freshly squeezed lemon juice and the smooth unctuousness of extra virgin olive oil, give the plump grains of bulghur wheat a haunting flavor that is -- dare I say it -- downright addictive.

Nonetheless, good as it is in its traditional iteration, Tabbouleh hardly is a one-trick pony. Rather, it is something of a blank canvas, a concept that can be tweaked and played with, using whatever ingredients are at hand, to develop alternatives that are equally toothsome.

A case in point was my recent riff on classic Tabbouleh. I had already started soaking the bulghur wheat when I realized I had no mint. So, I rummaged in my crisper, looking for inspiration, and came out with a bunch of dill, another green herb with Mediterranean flair.

A little more searching through my vegetable drawer turned up some crispy kirby cucumbers, a bright orange sweet pepper and some stem tomatoes, as well as a bunch of the requisite parsley.

I was set.

The resulting salad was as flavorful as Tabbouleh is expected to be, but far brighter in color, because I chopped part of the pepper and cucumber finely and added it to the grains, along with finely chopped sweet onion and garlic. Diced cucumber, pepper and tomato were added as a garnish, providing a blast of both color and flavor, as well as varying the texture of the finished dish, which can be a light lunch main dish, or a side dish with grilled meats, sandwiches, even quiche.

Best of all, it can be made even in the middle of winter, bringing some piercing rays of Mediterranean sunshine into even the darkest, coldest days.

Tabbouleh with Dill

Ingredients

1 cup medium bulghur wheat
1 cup water
½ large sweet onion
2-3 cloves garlic
1 orange, red or yellow pepper
2 kirby cucumbers, peeled
1 medium tomato
Juice of one lemon
Extra virgin olive oil to equal three times the amount of lemon juice, or more
½ cup chopped dill
½ cup chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Combine bulghur and water and leave to soak till bulghur has absorbed all the water, at least 1 hour.

Chop onion, garlic, ½ pepper and one cucumber. Combine with bulghur, chopped herbs, lemon juice and olive oil.

Stir well to blend, adding more olive oil slowly till a satisfactory balance of oil and lemon juice has been reached. Add salt and pepper to taste.Let sit to absorb flavors, at least one hour. Adjust flavorings.

Dice remaining colored pepper, cucumber and tomato.Before serving, garnish Tabbouleh mixture with diced vegetables.

Serves 4-6.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kitchen Klutz: Food Network showdown


Photos by Ted Levin


By Michèle De Meglio



“The Kitchen Klutz” and one of the “Worst Cooks in America” have joined forces to destroy the Food Network’s pristine kitchens. Not intentionally, of course.



Picture this — “Worst Cooks in America” contestant Rachel Coleman and I are armed with super sharp knives at our very own station in the Food Network’s massive test kitchens, housed in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market. Right behind us, a dozen professional chefs are testing recipes for my favorite shows and the network’s awesome magazine. Bobby Flay’s sous chef, Miriam Garron, is baking just five feet away! We are so not ready for a throwdown!



Even though it was unlikely we’d create anything as glorious as the luscious chocolate layer cakes on display, we wanted to try our best — and not be laughed at. Fortunately, two savvy chefs were at the ready with helpful tips — and probably making sure we didn’t burn the joint down.





Coleman, a Bushwick resident, and I were attempting a Seared Scallops with Citrus, Arugula and Pomegranate Salad dish created by Anne Burrell, Coleman’s mentor on “Worst Cooks” and the host of “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.”



Coleman’s skills have clearly improved thanks to her stint on the reality show. In fact, while I squealed when placing scallops in a hot frying pan, and slicing a red onion, and segmenting a clementine, Coleman was cool as a cucumber. Burrell must be the best teacher!



“After being on the show and being in the kitchen with Chef Anne yelling at me and having the time ticking away and freaking out, it’s really relaxing to be here with you chilling,” Coleman joked.





Coleman even showed me how to properly handle a knife as long as my forearm! Apparently, you don’t just hold the handle and watch the blade flail dangerously (that’s my trusted technique). Burrell taught Coleman to keep two fingers on the base of the blade, thereby steading the potentially deadly weapon.



With a new grip on the chef’s knife, I tried my hand (shaking just a bit) at segmenting a grapefruit for the first time in my life. Since I am often nervous when handling steak knives, you can imagine my fear when Coleman advised me to hold the peeled fruit in my palm and use the giant knife to remove tiny portions — all without cutting my fingers. I did this very slowly and carefully. My segments may not have been perfect but all my digits were intact!



The fruit was combined with baby arugula for a sweet-smelling salad, which we paired with sautéed scallops. Yum!





Verdict: We didn’t screw up! Our scallops were deliciously buttery and the perfect compliment to the light citrus salad. Maybe we’re not so bad after all.



“Worst Cooks in America” airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. on the Food Network.



Kitchen Klutz follows 20-something Michèle De Meglio as she burns casseroles and her fingers, all in hope of trading frozen dinners for home cooking.




Seared Scallops with Citrus, Arugula and Pomegranate Salad



Recipe Courtesy Anne Burrell



Ingredients


3 clementines, peeled and cut into segments


1 ruby red grapefruit, peeled and cut into segments


Salt


Pinch crushed red pepper


8 large dry diver sea scallops


Extra-virgin olive oil


2 cloves garlic, smashed


2 cups baby arugula


1/2 small red onion, finely julienned


1/2 cup pomegranate seeds



Directions


Combine all the citrus in a medium bowl with a pinch of salt and crushed red pepper and reserve.



Season the scallops with salt. Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking add the smashed garlic cloves. When the garlic has become golden and very aromatic remove it from the pan and discard it. Next, gently lay the scallops in the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. If the pan begins to smoke, reduce the heat of the burner. The scallops should look beautifully caramelized on each side.



While the scallops are cooking, dress the arugula in a small bowl with some of the juice from the reserved citrus and also high-quality extra-virgin olive oil and some salt.



Arrange the arugula on individual serving plates. Toss the onion in with the citrus and give it a sprinkle of olive oil. Lay the citrus on the arugula.



Cut the scallops in half equatorially and place them overlapping in a line against the citrus. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and give another little drizzle of olive oil.



Yield: 4 servings

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No prohibition against fun at 'Speak Easy'

By Meredith Deliso

Brooklyn’s got a speakeasy on its hands.On February 5 and 6, Galapagos Art Space channels the early half of the 20th century with “Speak Easy,” an aerial circus cabaret from the people that brought you last month’s “12 Acts of Christmas” at the DUMBO space.

Suspended Cirque’s latest production finds the acrobats in 1947, celebrating the last night of the Speak Easy Jazz Club.“Something we wanted to do for a while is work with a live band,” says Angela Jones, founder of Suspended Cirque. “A lot of us come from a musical theater background, and one of our girls was in the Broadway show ‘Cabaret’ for a while. We wanted to play with some themes from there, like ‘Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding’ meets ‘Cabaret.’”

For the live music, Suspended Cirque has tapped Victoria Cave and her band to perform standards like “Just a Gigolo,” “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby,” and “Big Spender,” set to a big triple trapeze number.

In addition to trapeze, the drama will play out in the air on ropes and hoops, as well as below with dancing and singing in cigarette girl outfits and zoot suits – an era-authentic cabaret, but with some liberties taken.

“We have to have a little it of poetic license. We’re doing things that are way more athletic than they would ever actually do in a cabaret at that time,” says Jones. “We’re trying to at least keep it to trapeze and ropes mainly. We’re trying to not do anything too recent (like silks).”

In keeping with the time, expect lots of audience interaction as well.

“We’re going to be in the house the whole time, even when the band is playing out some of the plot points,” says Jones, so people should come with an open mind and “be willing to throw themselves into the time and place.”

When Suspended Cirque roots themselves back in 2010, they look to take some time off and revisit in the fall their recent productions, including “12 Acts,” “URBANOPOLIS,” and “Speak Easy,” and polish them even more.

“I feel like this show as the potential to be one of our best ever,” says Jones of “Speak Easy.” “It’s interactive, it’s genre-bending, it’s got theater, it’s got circus, and it’s got tunes people love. I think it has real potential to be great.”

“Speak Easy” is at Galapagos Art Space (16 Main St.) February 5 at 7:30 p.m. and February 6 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children/seniors. For more information, call 718-222-8500.

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Bangstrum: Rock & roll never forgets









The band then and now.

By Meredith Deliso

A majority of teenage boys at one point or another live the fantasy and play in a band. As these things tend to go, the band forms, you break up, everybody moves on.

That was the case for Vince Lisi. Growing up in Nassau County during the 1960s and ‘70s, he and his buddies jammed to the music of their time, getting gigs at places like their 8th grade school dance and parties nearby in Queens, playing under the name Obsidian Glass.

After high school, they all went their separate ways, moving on to different bands and different lives. Lisi himself moved to Brooklyn, where he’s been for over 30 years. He stuck with music, playing guitar just for himself. It seemed like those band days were behind him, until, thanks to the powers of the Internet, one of his former bandmates found him. After a reunion at a barbecue, the band was back together.

Since reuniting two years ago, this time under the name Bangstrum, they’ve been playing pretty much the same music they played as kids – ‘60s and ‘70s classics, as well as some more obscure tracks. After a few gigs around Long Island and Brooklyn, including a block party in Lisi’s neighborhood of Prospect Lefferts -“I felt like a local celebrity for about 24 hours” - they play Southpaw on February 6 (see footage of the block party show below).

Lisi was in the Park Slope a couple months ago for a neighborhood kid’s band, made up of his 8th grade buddies (“You could tell that took me back,” says Lisi), when he reached out to the venue shortly after about playing there.

“Long Island’s got a big scene but it’s different,” says Lisi, whose other bandmates have remained on the island. “They’re all excited about coming to Brooklyn because it’s a cool place. Twenty years ago they said, ‘You’re crazy, why are you moving out there?’ Now they know it’s a cool place.”

In Bangstrum, Lisi plays the bass, with Paul DiPaetro (also in the band Inner Child) on guitar, Frank Boccia on guitar, and Joe Pesola on drums.

“We do more harmonies. I think that’s one thing that brought us together – we enjoy singing and blending our voices together,” says Lisi.

For the Southpaw show, the band looks to play songs by The Eagles, The Who, The Beatles, The Allman Brothers, U2, The Doobie Brothers, and The Good Rats, a popular Long Island band.

With a handful of gigs under their belts since reuniting, the band’s eager to get out there, including some more gigs at Brooklyn venues.

“We’re just trying bars and some of the other bigger clubs,” says Lisi. “Then we’ll take Williamsburg by storm.”
Bangstrum play Southpaw (125 Fifth Ave.) February 6 with The Windsor Terrors at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 718-230-0236.


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tUnE-YaRdS at the Bell House

By Meredith Deliso

Merrill Garbus feels the Brooklyn love.

“I feel very embraced by Brooklyn,” says Garbus, the woman behind the indie folk outfit tUnE-YaRdS. “I feel like the Dirty Projectors were such a big help to us. When we played with them in New York it felt like a really big hug from the Big Apple, that people really enjoyed what we did.”

Along with bassist Nate Brenner, Garbus has toured with the likes of Brooklyn’s Dirty Projectors this past year, performing songs originally created by herself using a digital voice recorder and a laptop from the album “BiRd-BrAiN.” Though only originally just her on the album, the songs had much scale – in emotion, as well as influences, including R&B, lo-fi and pop mentalities, and instrumentation, with ukulele meshed with digital loops.

On February 5, tUnE-YaRdS return to Brooklyn for a show at the Bell House as part of BAM’s Sounds Like Brooklyn festival, a testament indeed to the Brooklyn love for the band, which, after time in Montreal, has found a new home not here but in Oakland, Calif.Despite the long distance relationship, Garbus always feel at home in Brooklyn.

“I grew up in Connecticut and New York is the city that I call ‘the city,’” says Garbus. “It feels good to have New York be a home base of sorts, especially because of moving out here (to Oakland) – it’s definitely new territory.”

The move hasn’t stifled Garbus at all though; in fact, it’s fed her creatively, as she and Brenner have been at work on writing new songs and preparing for a European tour after the Bell House gig, and then a spring tour with Xiu Xiu.

“In my mind I equate (Xiu Xiu) with a lot of experimentalism, and I think that’s been inspiring me to think about the show in a boarder terms,” says Garbus.

In the process of writing new music, Garbus has been big on non-musical influences, ranging from the poetry and writing of Amiri Baraka to Patti Smith.

“I feel like her approach to being a rock singer as a poet and as someone who’s deeply rooted in the society that she’s living in – those are things I’d like to be part of in my education and my moving here,” says Garbus.

And while there’s decidedly more support on the follow-up to “BiRd-BrAiN,” when it was just her and her laptop in a Montreal apartment, Garbus is looking to stay true to what she likes.

“Before it was very much for myself and what I wanted to hear. I’m trying to get back more to that, just recording what I would like to hear versus thinking about what anybody else will want go hear,” she says.

One thing’s for sure – Brooklyn’s ears are waiting.

TunE-YaRdS plays the Bell House (149 7th St.) February 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 (advance tickets are sold out). With Takka Takka and A Rose Parade. For more information, call 718-643-6510.

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The Pink Elephant speaks





By Meredith Deliso

Gentrification in Brooklyn is like a topic you shouldn’t bring up at dinner.

For their next exhibition, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) confronts the issue right head-on with “The Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant Speaks.”

Through the works of over 20 different artists in nearly as many mediums, the issue is broken down into its conglomerates – real estate development, eminent domain, class issues related to income and housing – through literal and abstract explorations in photography, painting, video, sculpture, poetry and music.

“Now is a good time for this show,” says curator Dexter Wimberly, a Brooklyn native who currently lives in Fort Greene. “Brooklyn is becoming so homogenized. As a curator, it was important to me to make sure this exhibition was not just an African American perspective, or a white perspective or an Asian perspective or a Latino perspective. It was important to try to involve artists that were representative of all these ethnicities.”

(To read about student participation in the exhibition, go here.)

And while most of the artists live in Brooklyn as well, some of them have been forced out of their neighborhoods due to the exact issues the exhibition explores. Alexandria Smith moved out of Bedford-Stuyvesant last summer because of skyrocketing rents, she says. Her painting, “Good Neighbors,” which shows a young woman making or building a fence (it’s intentionally unclear), is not about that, but rather is derived from a line in a Robert Frost poem, “Mending Wall,” which discusses how people use boundaries or walls to avoid the outside world and its problems.

“As I created this painting, I thought about its relevance to Brooklyn and the rise of expensive condos and co-ops springing up in areas of Brooklyn that have long been neglected/ignored by the city,” said Smith. “People have difficulty relating to one another because of differing beliefs which in turn leads to people closing themselves off to one another. In actuality, we are a community and should operate as such.”

Some pieces aren’t necessarily about gentrification, but still speak to it. Marie Roberts has lived in Coney Island her whole life, and Wimberly felt it was important to include her work – sideshow billboard paintings – in the exhibition. “To me, it kind of embodies what Coney Island is about,” says Wimberly.

Included in the exhibition is the piece “Fire Eater,” which previously could be found outside of the Sideshows by the Seashore Theater at Surf Avenue and West 12 Street.“While my fire eater is a modern lady, she stands on the shoulders of a long tradition of performers in Coney Island,” says Roberts.

Not all of the pieces can be found in the downtown Brooklyn space. Gabriel Reese, who does outdoor work in his neighborhood of Crown Heights, created hand-painted billboards that address a different impact of gentrification, from housing to food to demographics, to be placed in different areas of Brooklyn.

“I use humor, subversion and references to popular culture to illustrate the issues,” says Reese, one of whose billboards features, in a fake advertisement, two white women, one wearing a gold “Brooklyn” chain, above the words “Ghetto Fabulous Condos.” “Some of the billboards are down-right offensive, but I would rather offend someone and have them notice these works than be politically correct and no one see them.”

Regardless of which side of the fence who stand on, Wimberly hopes the exhibition sparks a conversation about these timely issues. “It’s about taking what has been historically an uneasy topic, and making people more comfortable with the idea of talking about it,” he says.

Reese, in his way, would agree. “My only goal is to get people to discuss the topic of gentrification. If they go home after seeing one of my pieces and rant about it, I would be very pleased.”

“The Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant Speaks,” opens February 4 at MoCADA (80 Hanson Pl.), with a free reception from 6-9 pm featuring a musical set by author and DJ Rich Burroughs.The exhibition runs until May 16, 2010, with admission $5 for adults, $4 for students (with valid ID) and seniors, and free for children 12 and under. The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday from 11 am -7 pm. Several public events are also planned throughout its run. For more information, call 718-230-0492.

Photos: An outdoor billboard promoting the exhibition, photo by Gabriel Reese and Lauren Besser; Alexandria Smith'a "Good Neigbors", painting (56" by 56" - Oil on Panel), photo credit: Alexandria Smith; Marie Roberts' "The Fire Eater," painting, photo credit: D. James Dee.

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Brooklyn beats the winter blues

By Meredith Deliso

While we may be in the throes of winter, the summer will be here before you know it. And it’s not a bad time to think about it either, with acts slated for Celebrate Brooklyn! already being released.

Big among them is the June 29 benefit show from the Boston-based Passion Pit. The electronica act seems to be this year’s answer to one of last summer’s popular festival acts, MGMT. Since the release of their first full-length, “Manners,” out last spring, Passion Pit has been lauded for the album, which was on countless year-end best lists, as well as for their live performances.

The band is excited to join the acts that have passed through the festival over its 30-plus year history. “As more and more of us have come to call New York ‘home,’ it’s an honor to take part in a Brooklyn tradition,” keyboardist and guitarist Ian Hultquist told us. “We are really looking forward to these shows to be something special.”

Also on the June 29 bill is the Canadian indie rock band Tokyo Police Club. Tickets for the show go on sale January 30 at noon on http://www.ticketmaster.com/, and are $32 in advance, $35 day of show.

In unofficial line-up news, Bumpershine writes that jazz legend Allen Toussaint will be playing the park in some capacity on June 12, three days after the festival kicks off (no word yet on who will headline that show; last year’s opening night saw record-breaking numbers thanks to headliner David Byrne).

Until then, you can help celebrate Brooklyn with BRIC Arts Media, the group that runs the summer festival, with several “warm up” events. On February 3 and 4, for instance, there’s Melvin Van Peebles & Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber at BRICstudio (647 Fulton St.) in a work-in-progress preview of the “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song (the Hood Opera),” a musical stage adaptation of his 1971 film, “Sweet Sweetback.” Tickets are $10.

Then, on February 27, Eugene Mirman and friends present a night of comedy and music to kick off the 2010 Friends of Celebrate Brooklyn membership campaign. Friends include usual Brooklyn suspects like Kristen Schaal and Michael Showalter, and more, at the Bell House (149 7th St.). Tickets are $10 and are currently on sale.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

alice...Alice...ALICE!

Go down the rabbit hole this month, as Irondale Ensemble presents "alice…Alice…ALICE!," an original, environmental excursion performance piece, based on the Lewis Carroll classic, “Alice in Wonderland.”

The audience follows the ensemble down the rabbit hole into Wonderland — the nooks, crannies, recesses and lofts of the Irondale Center and its historic 19th century building. This unique, adventurous performance exploration will be vastly different from other theatrical presentations and the audience is encouraged to wear comfortable clothing. Don’t let the stairs, attics, and over-crofts keep you away.

Get ready to enter a strange and wonderful world that the general public seldom sees with the Irondale company as your guide.alice...Alice...ALICE! appeals to audiences of all ages. The show is a combination of predetermined text and improvisation. The music is original, punctuated by an eclectic mix of existing music used in surprising and thought provoking contexts.

In addition to the main production, the Irondale Ensemble will also present two Saturday matinees, February 6 and 20 at 1 p.m., which will be a collaboration with the Irondale Young Company, a theater ensemble comprised entirely of Brooklyn high school youth. The Young Company will take the lead in this production and present a piece that contains themes highlighting pervasive boredom in today’s fragmented, niche society and the desire to reach out to others and make human connection.

The show runs through February 20, Wednesdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. at Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street.

Tickets are $35; $20 students and working artists, and for everyone on Wednesday and Friday nights; Thursday nights, tickets are $15 and $10 for Saturday Matinees. Saturday night tickets are $50, which includes a post show salon with cast and director and a wine & cheese reception. For more, call 718-488-9233.

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Strength Through Unity tonight

The Bell House's mega-benefit for Haiti tonight is sold out, but don't despair - you can follow the venue's Twitter to see if they release any tickets.

Scheduled to appear (in approximate order of appearance):

JIMMY FALLON

THE WAHOO SKIFFLE CRAZIES

New York State Senator DIANE SAVINO

HERE WE GO MAGIC

PAT KIERNAN of NY 1

FREELANCE WHALES

EUGENE MIRMAN

SONDRE LERCHE

MICHAEL SHOWALTER

THE WRENS

TODD BARRY

AC NEWMAN of NEW PORNOGRAPHERS plus RHETT MILLER of OLD 97s plus NICOLE ATKINS as a SEEKERS cover band.

TED LEO

JIM GAFFIGAN

LAUREN AMBROSE & THE LEISURE CLASS

THE BLOW

fun.

THE WALKMEN

All performers will be playing abbreviated, acoustic and/or stripped down sets.

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Beard Ball, celebrating all things hirsute

Break out your finest for the Beard Ball.

This February 4, the co-founders of the blog www.build-a-beard.com, which chronicles all things hirsute-related, are throwing a launch party at Matchless in Greenpoint.

The event also serves as a benefit for RightRides for Women’s Safety, a Brooklyn-based program that offers direct services, safety education and advocacy programs to the local NYC area and boroughs, now in its fifth year. All ticket sales, raffles and a drink special will all be going to benefit the organization.

“We figured if we’re going to throw a party - might as well help a local Brooklyn program,” said Kristina Weise, one of the blog’s co-founders, along with Alex Aizenberg.

Helping make this event a party will be three “bearded bands” – Transatlantic FM, Quiet Loudly, and Julius C.

It all starts at 8 p.m., with tickets $5. Matchless is located at 557 Manhattan Ave.

Flyer by Magnetic State

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'Strange Intersections' in Brooklyn

Just a pair of old, worn-out jeans covered in dried paint?

Think again.

The work of Kensington-based artist Engels, such as “Engels 09,” which has said jeans crumbled into a pair of shoes packed into a wooden frame, shows his belief in the transcending power of art over the more mundane and material aspects of our lives. Here, that image conjures up one of bondage, of packaged humanity. And by standing the piece, as he does, on another that combines a picture frame with a mirror, the work is freed of its enslaved isolation and becomes an ode to painting.

In the exhibition “Strange Intersections,” at the Crown Heights-based Five Myles gallery, new works by the Haitian-born artist such as “Engels 09” are on view, showcasing the artist’s eye for details that, when combined on a canvas or a piece of plywood, become a unit. For Engels they resemble a journey, still ongoing and not afraid of detours.

The Brooklynite, who works out of his studio in Gowanus, describes his work as “abstract figuration” or “modern spiritual.” By often including photographs in his collages, he makes a contrast with the ephemeral strokes of a brush dipped in paint that for him is the underlying spirituality in modernism. Engels’ mastery of form, textures, colors, objects and built environments within the works, as well as his provocative juxtapositions, reveal his sense of the sacred found in ordinary things.

Strange intersections indeed.The exhibition is on view now through January 31 at Five Myles (558 St. Johns Pl.). For more information, call 718-783-4438.

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Kid favorite Zanes returns to BAM

Dan Zanes is back.

The Grammy Award-winning musician plays BAM February 6 with his band, as part of Sounds Like Brooklyn, a series celebrating Brooklyn’s diverse music scene.

Performing songs in English and Spanish, Zanes and his band will be joined onstage by special guests such as tap dancer Derick K. Grant, buzuq player Tareq Abboushi and young artists from The Brooklyn Symphony Youth Orchestra and the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble from Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation’s Youth Arts Academy.

Dan Zanes and Friends occupy a unique place in American music where sea shanties, Broadway standards, North American and West Indian folk music, fiddle tunes, and the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll collide.

There will be two performances in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (30 Lafayette Ave.), at 2 and 5 p.m. The BAMcafé is open for brunch at 3 p.m. For tickets, priced at $15 and $25, call 718-636-4100.

Dan Zanes and Friends will also present a performance for school audiences, only on February 4 at 10:30 a.m. For information, call 718-636-4130 extension 1 or visit wwww.bam.org/education.

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Let's try that again

Last month, Field Music were all excited to play Brooklyn, until flu symptoms got in the way.

This month, they're back and ready to take on the Bell House for sure this time.

In light of the rescheduled show, happening this Saturday, January 30, here's that interview with David Brewis we did in advance of the show, where he talks about Field Music's third album and his preconceptions about Brooklyn life (interesting stuff).

And, if you're not redeeming tickets, here's the link for that, too.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dollar Van Demos

For the past six months, Dollar Van Demos have been hooking up local musicians, rappers and comedians with rides, and music videos (if you live in the outer regions of the outer boroughs, where train and bus service is few and far between, you probably know a thing or two about dollar vans).

The site's even garnered the attention of McDonald's (jury's out on whether that's a good thing or not).

Check out the latest musician, Harlem emcee Kalae All Day, singing her track O.G.LyrikalBookbagger:

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This week in 24/Seven

Each week we'll preview what you can expect in our 24/Seven print edition, out Thursday for you southern Brooklynites and Friday for the downtown neighborhoods.

Highlights include:

Music: Passion Pit is slated to perform as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn festival this summer. But don't delay, tickets go on sale this week. Closer on the horizon, Bangstrum plays Southpaw February 6, and is comprised of friends who played in high school, lost touch, and, over 30 years later, have reunited. It's every wife's worst nightmare.

Art: MoCADA takes on a weighty issue in their latest exhibition, "The Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant Speaks,” opening February 4.

Cooking: The fourth annual Manischewitz Cook-Off is coming, and Brooklynites are urged to sign up by January 31.

Theater: Brooklyn's got a speakeasy on its hands, when the latest from aerial troupe Suspended Cirque comes to Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO February 5-6.

Columns: Pumps & Pleats hangs with the Etsy crew, while the Reporter's Table experiments with Tabbouleh and the Klutz and “Worst Cooks in America” contestant Rachel Coleman make a mess of the Food Network's kitchen.

For these stories and more, pick up a copy in your nabe or check back here later this week!

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Cash tickets going fast

Brooklyn sure likes the Man in Black.

As of yesterday, there were only 100 tickets left to The Johnny Cash 78th Birthday Bash.

For the past five years, the event has sold out, so if you're looking to go, I wouldn't wait. And you better mark your calendar, too. The event's February 26 at Southpaw. Tickets $15 in advance.

For a sneak peak, here's Alex Battles and crew at a previous bash:

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Monday, January 25, 2010

More in Brooklyn for Haiti

Brooklyn came out in full support for Haiti over the weekend, with a benefit at Music Hall netting over $20,000. You go guys.

In other Haiti benefit news, Zebulon is hosting a benefit February 2 at 8 pm, with live Haitian music, djs, and dancers, plus an auction.

All of the proceeds and 25 percent of bar sales will go directly to Haiti relief funds via Radio Nago and La Troupe Makandal. There will be a $10 suggested donation or canned and dry goods, clothing, flashlights, and medical supplies. Zebulon is located at 258 Wythe Ave.

Also, this isn't quite in Brooklyn, but Wilco is offering as a download-for-charity their July show at Brooklyn's Keyspan Park. It's $15 and available at Wilcoworld, so if you missed that one, here's a great - and good - way to see it.

ADDED: Sycamore will be hosting a benefit for Haiti this Sunday, January 31. At 3 pm, Lloyd Miller will perform a children's concert, followed by Curtis Hasselbring, Tim Kiah, Sam Bardfeld, and other special guests TBA from 4-8 pm. Tickets are $20 at the door (call 347-240-5850 to reserve), and all proceeds go to the relief effort. Sycamore is located at 1118 Cortelyou Rd.

ADDED: This Thursday at Southpaw (125 Fifth Ave.) will be Hip Hop for Haiti relief party, presented by The Wax Cafe and a group of indie hip hop artists. There's a $5 suggest donation at the door, with all proceeds going to Yele. At 8 p.m.

ADDED: On February 1, the Knitting Factory hosts their Help Haiti benefit, starring Fu-Arkist-Ra, an Afro-beat ensemble from Williamsburg. Tickets are $15, with 100 percent of proceeds going to charity. At 7 pm. Located at 361 Metropolitan Ave.

Planning a Haiti benefit in Brooklyn? Let us know in the comments section.

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Haunted bar?

Gothamist tells us that Barcade in Williamsburg was built on a burial ground. Creepy!


The two square blocks bordered by Union and Lorimer avenues and Devoe and Powers streets (Barcade is located on Union between Powers and Ainslie streets) were apparently a cemetery, known as the Old Methodist Burying Ground. The church that closed the cemetery closed in 1856, at which point the bodies moved. Scouting NY, though, wonders if a few got left behind.

Gothamist speculates that the site may be haunted, but when they asked Barcade own Paul Kermizian if he's seen anything out of the ordinary, he said, "The only ghosts we've seen have been in our Ms Pac Man game!" Whew!


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'Legion' one unholy mess

Legion
One and a half stars

By Gary Buiso

Humankind is in trouble in “Legion” — and so are audiences forced to endure this mostly humdrum apocalypse yarn.

The film is a surprisingly banal affair only briefly interspersed with intense, albeit cliched, action scenes and occasional gore. But it’s mostly an unholy mess. Meaningless, dull dialogue weighs heavy in what would could have been a B-movie gem.

God is fed up with mortal shenanigans, so he dispatches an army of angels to purge the earth of humans. Gunslinging rogue angel Michael (Paul Bettany) has faith in humanity and sets out to save an unborn baby who inexplicably is Earth’s salvation.

Most of the film takes place in a diner in the Mojave Desert, where — surprise, surprise — a ragtag band of stranded customers and staff fight for their very survival against a possessed horde of zombiefied humans. Still, things certainly start off promising enough.

An octogenarian lady saunters into the dusty eatery and sweetly informs a very pregnant waitress (Adrianne Palicki) that her baby will “burn with the rest of ‘em.” Indignation turns to horror as the old lady shows she’s still spry, climbing on the ceiling like a black widow spider, eventually showing the staff that she really likes her meat rare.

Pestilence isn’t far away, along with more waves of flesh-hungry humans under an angelic spell that targets the weak.

Director Scott Stewart doesn’t take the care to make sense out of the film’s down-time, or plot holes, which are considerable. Instead, cookie-cutter characters offer throw-away dialogue that has few, um, revelations.

Bettany, and the eventual clash with rival archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand), offer the film’s best moments. Who knew angels knew kung fu?

Not quite pure hell, “Legion” is akin to cinematic purgatory.

“Legion.” Rated R for strong bloody violence, and language. 100 minutes. With Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki, Charles S. Dutton and Dennis Quaid.

Playing in Brooklyn at UA Court Street Stadium 12 in downtown Brooklyn, UA Sheepshead Bay 14, Bay Ridge Alpine Cinemas, and Linden Boulevard Multiplex Cinemas in East New York.

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Brooklyn benefits for Haiti

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, that has multitudes of Brooklynites worrying about their families, several Brooklyn venues and galleries are coming out and showing their support for disaster relief.


This Wednesday, January 20, for instance, Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg hosts a Haiti benefit show featuring a jam session with Robert Randolph & the Family Band. All proceeds go to the American Red Cross's Haiti Fund and Yele Haiti. Tickets are $25 (higher donation levels are available), with the show at 9:30 p.m. Brooklyn Bowl is located at 51 Wythe Ave.

Next week, the Bell House has a jam-packed night of bands, comedians and other entertainers for its Strength Through Unity benefit for the vicitims of the earthquake. The bill includes Jimmy Fallon, Cold War Kids, Ted Leo, Eugene Mirman, The Wrens, Sondre Lerche, Toddy Barry, Here We Go Magic, The Wahoo Skiffle Crazies, and The Seekers (A.C. Newman of New Pornographers with Rhett Miller of Old 97s and Nicole Atkins).

All performers will be playing abbreviated sets, with the acts kicking off at 6 p.m. Early birds can come for free food courtesy of Great Jones Cafe, Dub Pies, and more. Tickets are $50. The Bell House is located at 149 7th St.

The Causey Contemporary Gallery in Williamsburg feels the ugency of the situation as well. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the gallery hosted a benefit auction. With a show currently in their space, director Tracy Causey-Jeffery has selected pieces of art that if bought, she will donate the gallery's portion of sales to the American Red Cross and Oxfam. For more information, call 718-218-8939.

Another gallery, Tabla Rasa in Sunset Park, is contributing in a similar way. Donations of $75 and $150 to the gallery will entitle you to pieces of art work in the space, which in turn will be donated to Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, Catholic Relief Services, and the Mayor's Fund. Because the pieces are donated, 100 percent of the proceeds can go to the charities. Tabla Rasa is located at 224 48th St. For more information, call 718-833-9100.

UPDATE
: The Music Hall of Williamsburg (66. n. 6th St.) will host two Haiti benefits. The first, Saturday, January 23, with Zach Galifianakis, Britt Daniel (of Spoon), Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), St. Vincent, Janeane Garofalo, Wyatt Cenac (of the Daily Show), the live debut of John Shade (ex Dave Godowsky) and more. Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 day of show, and all proceeds go to the Red Cross. At 8 p.m.

Then on Wednesday, January 27, the venue will host their N. 6th for Haiti Benefit, featuring The Roots, Kaki King, Matisyahu, and more. Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 day of show. All proceeds to benefit Partners In Health. At 8 p.m. This event has been cancelled.

Do you know of other Brooklyn venues that are helping in sending aid to Haiti, or are hosting something yourself? Let us know in the comments section.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

The Weekend: 1.22-1.24 and beyond

Lots going on this weekend, including several closures - venue and otherwise. Here's a look at what's going on in a neighborhood near you.

Friday, January 22

Music: Brooklyn goes hard at a new performance series featuring musicians, poets, dancers, and other youth performers from New York’s most talented borough. Real Bushwick/ Bushwick Real features hip hop acts and performers including Nine 11 Thesaurus, The Sound, Dan Friel, Life and Yung Starz, Mic Blaque, DJs TV Baby and Lord Easy and a special guest appearance by Rahiem, of Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five fame. At 7 pm. Tickets $10. At I.S. 291 (231 Palmetto St.) in, of course, Brooklyn.

Saturday, January 23

Art: Get creative with “Draw-a-thon Retreat” at Paige’s House of Collection. It's not figure painting. It's theater. At an undisclosed warehouse in Williamsburg. RSVP for directions. At 7 p.m. Tickets $17.

Sunday, January 24

Closing: It's the last weekend for MonkeyTown. Most events are sold out, but tonight, you can go out with a bang with DJ Megan Awesome. Free. 11 p.m. to late. Located at 58 N. 3rd St.



Exhibitions: Also closing soon is the rock and roll photography exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum (maybe you're heard about it?) and “Harriet Hosmer: Lost and Found,” an exhibition of paintings by Brooklyn artist Patricia Cronin. Today, the Brooklyn Philharmonic performs a program inspired by the latter. At 2 pm. Tickets $15. Located at 200 Eastern Parkway.

Brunch: Find a new favorite brunch spot in Brooklyn along Cortelyou Road in Flatbush, the borough's latest foodie destination.

Music: The dad from The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players performs tonight in his latest project, the Pendulum Swings. At 8:30 p.m. Located at 702 Lorimer St.

Cooking: Today Galagagos Art Space in DUMBO is all about the four C's: Champagne, Camaraderie, Cooking and Cocktails. Do all four with four their new Creating Culinary Cravings series of interactive cooking classes. You’ll gain hands on finesse with captivating new dishes as you cook along with Chefs Debbie Lyn and Marco Morillo. Then savor your culinary handiwork. From 1-3 p.m. $45 (includes Champagne reception, two course class/brunch and recipes. $10 of With Discount Code: CRAVE. Located at 16 Main St.

Monday, January 25

Music: It's Gowanus a go go at the Bell House today, as The Gowanus Canal Conservancy hosts their first annual benefit concert, featuring some of the best bands of the New York City music scene. At 6:30 p.m. Tickets $20. Located at 149 7th St.

Wednesday, January 27

Benefit: Two days later, the Bell House hosts their own Haiti benefit. On the bill are Jimmy Fallon, Eugene Mirman and Todd Barry on the comedy front, and Walkmen; Ted Leo; Sondre Lerche; Here We Go Magic; AC Newman of New Pornographers with Rhett Miller of Old 97s and Nicole Atkins as a Seekers cover band on the music, among others. At 6 p.m. Tickets $50.

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Anatolian Gyro: It just hits the spot - every time

By Marshall Slater

Long before Turkish cuisine became popular or even, dare we say, fashionable, Anatolian Gyro was packing in the crowds. It started modestly enough…a hole in the wall, which mainly attracted the riders from the bustling subway station a half block away. The window opened onto Sheepshead Bay Road and people walking by would inevitably get a whiff of the scents or spy the massive round of meat slowly roasting on the open spit, and they would give it a shot. Then they would just come back again…and again…and again.

It was good…in fact, it was very good. And it was different.

So it was something of a local secret that was very well shared.

But then the Village Voice had a short piece about just how good this tiny take-out joint was, and the lines got bigger, still. But that was a while ago…probably close to a decade; Anatolian Gyro opened in 1994.

It was about that time that I tried the place. I worked a couple of blocks away and was tired of getting pizza everyday, so I ventured out and tried a chicken kebab. It was good…I mean really good. You know how something just hits the spot; it’s not fancy, it’s not elaborate, but it’s really good. So you have it again and figure it won’t be quite as good as your first experience. But it was.

And then a while later, I tried the mixed eggplant salad. Not even sure why I tried this particular item. I think part of it was the fact that it sounded reasonably healthy and it was something like $3 for a large container. Well, that was good too…again, very good. They mash up the eggplant, which is lightly fried so it gets very tender, add just the right seasonings, which offer contrasting and complementing tastes, then serve it up with a nice loaf of fresh Turkish bread hot off the open grill. I must say, it immediately converted me into a die-hard fan.

And so it was that for the next 10 years or so, I found myself perusing through the menu and ordering from them two or three times a week. I never got tired of it, and the quality and taste, which attracted me in the first place, never wavered. Yes, the prices rose a little, but that’s life.

And it wasn’t just for lunch during the workday that I went…on days off, or after work, when I wanted an enjoyable dinner, I would pick up a big bag of goodies to bring home, and everyone loved those nights.

Truth is, the only reason I stopped eating there was that about a year ago our offices moved to the opposite end of Brooklyn and, even for a very loyal customer, that’s a bit too far for delivery.

Somewhere along those years it soon became apparent that my sentiments were shared by many. And it wasn’t long before that that the hole in the wall expanded, and then expanded again, and today Anatolian Gyro still not only sports a very busy take out counter, but a full dining room frequently filled with clientele, who now extend far beyond Sheepshead Bays’ borders.

Still owned and operated by Metin and his cousin, Ekrem (yes, they are actually Turkish), the place is still very much a family owned and operated business where the many lures which brought me into the place initially, and kept me a fan for years, are still quite intact. So let’s take an in-depth look into the food that has kept me sated for years, and whose menu I have extolled personally long before this public review.

Turkish food is, in many ways, the best of all worlds…at least as rendered by Anatolian Gyro: satisfying in taste and amount, easy on the budget, relatively guilt free in terms of diet and nutrition, and varied enough to appeal to a wide variety of tastes.

Perhaps the most important distinction, however, is that while the menus at many Turkish/gyro restaurants are quite similar, the end result is quite disparate. The preparation at Anatolian involves subtlety of tastes and spices, grilling and combinations, succulence and flavoring; simple dishes become delicious and you just can’t go wrong.

A salad or side dish as common in ingredients as the Shepherd’s Salad is a good case in point. Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and onions are dived up, sprinkled with fresh parsley, and then seasoned with a very specific blend of vinegar and oil or, as I prefer, just some fresh lemon juice. The end result is so much better than the perceived banality of the ingredients. Perhaps it is the freshness of the veggies or the mix of the herbs and spices…but the end result is intensely satisfying.

It is as satisfying as a plateful of juicy, slightly edged-seared lamb carved from the spit, but if your ambition was to enjoy your lunch while eliminating calories and fat, you won’t go wrong here…nor will you if you order the lamb gyro and put some Shepherd’s salad on the side.

The standard Middle Eastern spreads are exceptional here. All are freshly made from scratch…the humus, or the babaghanouj, the latter mashed from whole eggplants, which are first grilled over open charcoal and then pureed, combined with tahini and garlic — all first rate because of the careful addition of spices and herbs. They don’t have that industrial taste, which is all too common elsewhere…and equal praise goes onto the fresh falafel balls, which are made when ordered, not left lying around to be fried again hours later. The fact that the stuff comes with that excellent Turkish bread — miniature whole loaves, which are super crunchy around the exterior and delightfully soft when you rip them open, very slightly glazed with butter — doesn’t hurt either.

The tabouleh salad, freshly made from scratch, is a mix of cracked wheat, crunchy rounds of scallions, parsley and tomato with fresh lemon juice. There are the excellent grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs with a delicate skin and a white bean salad, made from enormous beans which are the star ingredient with minced red peppers, parsley and onions with a light dressing.

Soups are recommended every season…during the winter they are mandatory. The Lentil Soup, with its burnt orange hue, starts with red lentils mashed into a puree, then cooked with mint, tomato paste and a touch of flour. The final yield is a silken broth. Fresh mushroom soup gets the thumbs up of patrons, as do the two versions of chicken soup. Both the spicy and the regular varieties are teeming with generous chunks of fresh and tender white meat chicken; the former broth is enhanced with jalapeno, fresh tomato, garlic and onion; the latter comes with chunks of carrots, celery and very finely chopped onion, which dissolves into the broth. These are so good even the most finicky kid will like them.

Both versions of the eggplant salad have become staples of my diet, either one scooped up with big ripped off hunks of the Turkish bread. Have it sitting next to you in the car and you may find yourself lapping it up, canine style, while you’re driving (this is no endorsement for eating while driving you understand…pull over and indulge your private habits). The Grilled Eggplant starts whole, where it is slowly grilled over the charcoal fire. The skin is then completely peeled off and the pieces then marinated with oil, lemon, garlic and a touch of salt…to which is then added tomato and parsley. The Mixed Eggplant starts off as cubes which are fried with long hot peppers, garlic oil and tomatoes and then all cooked together. Now it all sounds simple enough, but pizza all starts with the same three ingredients as well…but the intricacies of the amounts and the combinations is what separates the mundane from the extraordinary, and such is the case here.

They hit upon a formula, understood its popularity, and have stayed true to it ever since.

As for the main entrees, there are really three variations on the themes of chicken and lamb: kebabs, gyro or adana. If you make a mistake in ordering it really doesn’t matter…you’ll like whatever arrives equally well.

The gyro is the meat on the slow vertical rotisserie. A combination of ground lamb and beef or, alternately, layers of specially marinated chicken breast, are wrapped around a great vertical spit, which continuously turns while being grilled by flames on all sides. The charcoal flames don’t touch the meat, but gently and very slowly cook it so the meat becomes incredibly tender, which facilitates the fat dripping away. The dish or sandwich is then created by slicing thin strips of the meat from the spit as it turns. Of course the meats are first spiced so that the tastes are uniform throughout. So at any given time part of the meat in your sandwich or on your plate is slightly seared and other slices as juicy as can be. It’s very good and you’ll soon understand why it has earned a popularity around the city in a relatively few short years.

The kebabs are thick cubes of lamb or chicken meat, which are also thoroughly marinated and then lanced on skewers. When ordered, the skewers are removed from the refrigerator and placed on the open charcoals to be cooked. I have never — underscore never — had a piece of grizzle or fat. The meat is succulent and satisfying, served with a white creamy dill-yogurt sauce or a red hot sauce; both have their merits. The keys here are knowing just the right marinade to addict you, and just how long to keep the meat on the grill, which is kept freshly glowing, so the skin burns ever so slightly on the edges but is cooked thoroughly and allowed to remain juicy. Think of the analogy with a steak you cook at home and one cooked in the kitchens of Peter Luger…same hunk of meat…very different end result. You’ll really like this place.

The third variation on the theme is the adana, which sees the lamb or chicken (always white, meat incidentally) finely chopped and then carefully seasoned with a blending of herbs and spices, then shaped into long thick patties, which are then grilled over the open flame.

The meat, the charcoal, the spices, the marinades, the scents and flavors all coalesce into this wonderful sandwich or entrée and before you know it you are hooked. It is as deceptively simple as this.

Most everything is accompanied with fresh onions, and you can be an insider if you make sure to ask for some sumac, a coarse purple powder condiment made from the plant of the same name, which is like a universal flavoring, enhancing some tastes and muting others (like onion, in which the addition of the spice takes away the sharpness).

Most main dishes are also served with rice, a special long grain variety which has its own excellent taste and also absorbs the tastes of the ingredients heaped over or around it.

As for dessert, the rice pudding is in a realm all its own…it emerges cold with a thick layer of skin across the top from the whole milk. It is prepared with baking rice, milk and sugar. If you think you know what rice pudding is supposed to taste like, be prepared for an awakening when you sample this version. There’s also homemade baklava, drenched and dripping in honey, plus a pistachio roll, with phyllo dough so thin it melts when it hits your mouth. And if you can’t decide, get all three and add one of the little chocolate mousse cakes that they get from Michael’s Bakery on Avenue R, one of the few things they don’t prepare in their own kitchen.

Anatolian Gyro
1605 Sheepshead Bay Road, 718-769-7474
Hours: Open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

There is free delivery within a mile radius, but if you’re ordering for four or five, they deliver across most of southern Brooklyn, from Canarsie to Bay Ridge (just make sure about order minimums if you live a distance from the restaurant).

Private parties are accommodated both on and off premises; outside catering is a specialty.

Most major credit cards are accepted.

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Veggie pasta: dinner in a flash

By Helen Klein

With pasta and canned tomatoes in the pantry, and some fresh vegetables and herbs in the crisper, dinner is always close at hand.

Even when time is as limited as the selection of ingredients, it’s simple to put a satisfying, warming and wholesome meal on the table.

Count on about 15 minutes to cut the veggies into bite-size pieces, another 10 minutes to sauté them and about 15 minutes more for the sauce to cook. Most of this can be done while the pasta water comes to a boil and the pasta itself cooks till it’s perfectly al dente, just cooked through without being even the slightest bit mushy.

I usually opt for whole grain pasta; not only is more nutritious, but it’s more filling and has a subtle, nutty flavor that I find especially appealing.For the vegetables, I usually take the crayon box approach. The more colors I combine in the finished dish, the more varied the nutritional composition of the dish is likely to be.

It also tastes better, because the sweetness of such vegetables as colored peppers plays off the slightly bitter taste of crucifers like broccoli, and the pleasing tartness of tomatoes.

And, it has all-important eye appeal, which is particularly important if you’re dealing with picky eaters.

For this dish, I combined broccoli and cauliflower florets with chunks of colored pepper in a tomato-based sauce enriched by sautéd onion and garlic, a dash of hot pepper flakes and some fragrant basil redolent of the summer now long-gone-by. If you don’t have fresh basil, it’s fine to substitute frozen basil leaves that have been coarsely chopped.

Veggie Pasta

Ingredients

½ pound rotelle (or other medium-sized shaped pasta), cooked till al dente and drained
2-3 Tbl. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 colored pepper (orange, red or yellow), diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup cauliflower florets, steamed till crisp-tender
1 cup broccoli florets, steamed still crisp-tender
1 28-ounce can diced plum tomatoes
½ cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

While pasta water is coming to a boil, sauté the vegetables.

Heat olive oil in large skillet. When oil is hot, add chopped onion, sautéing over medium-high heat till translucent and golden. Add diced pepper and continue sautéing till pepper is tender. Add chopped garlic, and continue cooking, over medium heat, till garlic is soft. Add cauliflower and broccoli and sauté briefly to combine flavors. Add tomatoes, with juices, and the red pepper flakes, and cook till liquid is reduced and flavor has mellowed and combined. Toward the end of cooking, add the fresh basil (if frozen, add with the tomatoes), and the salt and pepper to taste.

When pasta is done, drain and toss with the sauce.

Pass freshly grated Parmesan cheese after serving.

Serves four as a light main dish.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Here We Go Magic's recipe: layer sounds, add heat, and let cool

By Meredith Deliso

Lately, Luke Temple has been on a cooking kick.

“I just saw ‘Julie and Julia,’ and it’s gotten me kind of obsessed with the idea of cooking,” says the musician. “I’ll actually wake up, have ingredients lying around in my head, and realize they want to be together. And I have to figure out a way to make that happen. It’s nice to put random elements together and see what happens.”

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think the musician was talking not about food but, well, music. But, for him, the two processes are very similar. Over the past year, Temple and his band, Here We Go Magic, have been gaining momentum for their ambient sound, an experiment for the singer-songwriter that found him working in layers and arranging his ingredients in a nontraditional song structure. Magic was born out of his bedroom with the help of his analog synths and cassette 4-track in a process Temple has described as a “call and response.”

“I kept building on these really linear forms...and was less involved in specific arrangements and more considering the whole sound,” he says.

Last year around this time, the band played Southpaw in Park Slope upon the release of their self-titled debut. This January 29, the band – comprised of Temple (guitar and vocals), Michael Bloch (guitar, vocals), Kristina Lieberson (keyboard), Peter Hale (drums), and Jennifer Turner (bass), headline Music Hall of Williamsburg in advance of the release of their sophomore album, out on Secretly Canadian this spring.

The album finds the band still dealing in repetition, but “with more of an expanse of sound. It’s jam-packed with information,” says Temple, who, when not on the road with the likes of Grizzly Bear and The Walkman, currently lives in Williamsburg. “It’s more song-oriented...but it still has that ambient quality to it. It’s not going to disappoint, I don’t think.”

Despite his confidence, Temple is not immune to the pressure that often accompanies the release of a sophomore album.

“Here We Go Magic started as a way to do more experimental stuff. There was less pressure,” says Temple. “Now ears are waiting to hear it, so that’s exciting. That’s something I’ve never experienced before, actual anticipation for what I’m doing.”

While Magic afforded an escape from his pervious work, Temple might have to leave his messing around in the metaphorical kitchen to his solo work, as Magic currently takes up most of his, and critics’, attention. Though he hasn’t abandoned his personal brand altogether; later this year he looks to put out a record of Luke Temple music on Western Vinyl.

And, while he’s still in Brooklyn and not on the road, he’ll also keep at it in the kitchen. Given his predilection for layers, it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise what Temple is most interested in tackling next.

“Custard desserts,” says the musician, “like, folding egg whites into cream. That’s a really great thing.”

Here We Go Magic play Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 North 6th St.) 9 p.m. With Midnight Masses and Glass Ghost. Tickets are $12 in advance or $14 day of show. For more information, call 718-486-5400.

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Jef Aerosol paints the walls


By Aaron Short

Rumors of their demise were greatly exaggerated.

Despite moving out of their longtime gallery space 49 Bogart Street in mid-January, Ad Hoc Art co-owners and husband and wife team Garrison and Allison Buxton are still throwing street art exhibitions in their East Williamsburg neighborhood they have called home.

After organizing a group exhibition of colorful street art-themed window displays in October on Willoughby Street in Downtown Brooklyn and participating in arts festivals in Vermont in December, Ad Hoc Art returns to Bogart Street for their first opening of the year, a solo show featuring aerosol artist Jef Aerosol, on January 29, with the show next door at Eastern District (43 Bogart Street) in Williamsburg.

For Garrison Buxton, the show represents a continuation of a movement in which Ad Hoc has promoted and sold works by artists who began or continue to create art in city streets with exhibitions in a professional gallery setting.

“It is a show we have been planning for over a year new and it is finally coming to fruition,” said Garrison. “We are excited to present a solid show of a signature artist from the dynamic movement in which we believe. Aerosol is breaking out some big art guns-o-love. Get ready.”
A French-born artist who mixes elements of stencil and collage in his work, Aerosol began creating collages and distortions of photos with a photocopier in the 1970s. In 1982, he began stenciling, and with colleagues Blek Le Rat and Miss Tic, ushered in a new wave of street art beyond the bubble lettering and graffiti of the previous decades.

According to Aerosol, he uses spray paint or sponge and brush to paint his works, though it depends on the stencil and whether it is placed indoors or outdoors.

“Some of my stencils are single layered, other have up to four layers,” said Aerosol. “The outdoor ones tend to be life size but in my canvas work I favour close ups, along with color and texture effects.”

Aerosol’s recent works feature wry political and social commentary on the immediate environment surrounding the outdoor space he paints on. A black and gray stencil of a young woman in a skirt suit bending backwards over two fire hydrant valves is both playful and raw, while other characters sit on park benches in anguish, as if having experienced a break-up.

“I have tried with pictures and words to call forth memories, emotions, feelings, joy and sadness to honor those who have fed my life with their music, words, art works, movies, ideas and ideals,” said Aerosol.

Eastern District, the contemporary exhibition space that will house Aerosol’s works, is as raw as the concrete backdrops he sometimes paints on in industrial quarters of cities like New York, London, and Paris. Part gallery, part clothing retail store, Eastern District has featured shows with a range of photography, sculpture, and interior design, as well as street art works more commonly at home in Ad Hoc.

Garrison said that it is the first of what could be many Ad Hoc collaborations at the space. Williamsburg’s art fans will no doubt be holding their breath, at least until the spray paint hits the wall.

Ad Hoc Art will present a solo show featuring Jef Aerosol on January 29 from 6-10 pm, at Eastern District (43 Bogart Street). The show will run until February 21. Admission is free. For more information, call 917-602-2153.

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