Village Voice Choice Eats; Review of Many NYC Restaurants

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More than 50 restaurants, generous samples, 3 hours: it's the perfect equation for wonderful, sinful gluttony. Shared with three friends/food enthusiasts, this was one insane food event and I highly recommend it! Restaurants that are invited to participate by the Village Voice food critics put their best samples forward and woo potential diners to their home base. It all took place at the Armory on Lexington and 26th, conveniently located steps from where I work. Luckily I got there early and my friends were able to join me in line because by the time the doors were opened, the line went around the block! My reviews and opinions on the following restaurants and samples are my own, but the photographs are all courtesy of the official event photographer from the Village Voice. I only selected photos from the places that I thought are worthy of a actual visit. As a critique to the whole event I would like to say that there were not enough sweets or dessert samples. When I enjoy a meal, I would say 20% of is my dessert. So I would expect for there to be at least 10 different places sampling desserts at this event. Unfortunately, that was not the case but the few places that did have a dessert were all quite lovely. For starters here is a picture of the building outside as foodies wait in the rain for sample insanity:

And take a look at the inside. It looks crowded but actually the lines were all workable and assisted in the digestion of the samples:
Alright, time for the food! Please note, each photograph is preceded by the restaurant name and the sample.

Bunny Chow: Bread with South African Toppings
Heavy and warming, good for a winter meal. Pieces of toasted bread were topped with cumin spiked stews and lamb curries. The lamb was tender and mixed with soft chunks of potatoes and chickpeas. Different types of jerkey will also available.
Bunny Chow
74 Orchard Street

DuMont: Seafood Stew with Tender Potatoes
One of my colleagues raves about the burgers at DuMont so I have to say I was a little disapointed that the sample was not a burger, but this small bite of their seafood was exquisite and definitely makes the restaurant worth going to. There was one thick scallop and one large shrimp, one small potato half and whatever else goes into their stew. Rich and creamy, the seafood cooked perfectly, I can't wait to try this place!
432 Union Avenue, Brooklyn

Jimmy's No 43: Crostini with Special Sauce and Brisket
I was actually going to by-pass this sample because I had had so much meat and bread and the thought of eating another crostini with meat made me ill, but I had heard SO MUCH about Jimmy's No 43 and this was my chance to get a small bite from them and see if all the hype is true. Wow! This was definitely the best little piece of meat and bread I have ever had! The brisket was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and whatever sauce they had on the bread under the brisket was buttery and yummy. This small bite was perfect! Was I lucky, or should I really go and try this restaurant with their constantly changing menu?
Jimmy's No 43
43 East 7th Street, New York

Juliette: Rillette with Muscovy Duck and Celery Root and Green Apple Slaw
Juliette is a small French Bistro and their sample was sample too, but flavor packed and very rich and delicious! The Muscovy duck was well-fatted and pounded and served on a little toasted piece of buttery bread and topped with a sort of French slaw. Normally I don't jump at the idea of well fatted duck, but this was one of those sinful nights and this was a perfect little bite that warranted the calling of my friends to immediately come and get their own because I wasn't sharing this bite.
135 North 5th Street, Brooklyn

Kuma Inn: Crisp Pork Belly with Carrot Green Papaya Slaw
Filipino style tapas. This was one of the many pork belly samples available that night, but the Kuma Inn did stand out. The freshness of the gingery carrot and green papaya slaw was a wonderful compliment to the juicy and fatty pork belly.
Kuma Inn
113 Ludlow Street, 2nd Floor

Madiba Restaurant: Malva Pudding Cake
One of the few dessert samples at the whole event, this was a lovely South African malva pudding cake. It was similar in texture to bread pudding but not too sweet. It is a lovely comfort dessert that I'm sure would taste quite perfect with some milk or vanilla ice cream. My date and I signed up for free $10 gift certificates to the restaurant, which, if nothing else, I plan on going for some Malva pudding and tea.
Madiba Restaurant
195 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn
  Luke's Lobster: Buttery Shrimp Rolls
This was my second time having the pleasure of trying Luke's Lobster rolls and both times, it has stuck out as one of the best things I ate all night. The rolls were simple and completely melt-in-your-mouth good. Fresh, juicy small shrimp were on the soft white potato roll that had be rolled in butter and grilled. Once the shrimp was on board, the sandwich was topped with sea salt and some other seasonings and of course a generous drizzle of butter. Luke's Lobster had one of the longest and most competitive line at the event and it was well worth the wait!
Luke's Lobster
93 East 7th Street

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Title: The Village Voice New York June 5th, 2007

The Village Voice
Mess Haul
Richie Budd's sculptures cook popcorn and meat
by Ben Davis
June 5th, 2007

At first blush, it's easy to pass over Richie Budd's messy suite of sculptures at Priska C. Juschka as visually unimpressive, inert. These random clusters of appliances, lights, and foodstuffs, inelegantly fused into reliefs via black rubber caulking, look like something Budd's fellow Texan Robert Rauschenberg hawked up on his way to inventing his "combine paintings."

Looking closer, certain items recur, constructing a theme: disco and siren lights, security cameras, Foreman grills, popcorn makers, bubble machines, perfumesamples—all things associated with the sugar high, and then the sugar hangover, of consumption. Tiny car-key remotes dangle from various sculptures. Press their buttons, and a mechanical belch issues forth.

The numerous electric cords sprouting from each work aren't incidental either: You've got to feed these machines. They're meant for you to plug into. Play with these sculptures and the various contraptions light up, rumble, come alive; leave them alone and they revert to disheveled blobs.

The objects Budd incorporates represent all five senses in a deliberately fragmented way: Screens play security-camera feeds at cocked angles, chopping up space; the scent of a pile of popcorn crashes into a nearby "Shades of Vanilla" Febreze. Budd makes atomization a theme—one often finds sealed plastic globes embedded in his sculptures, containing specimens ranging from Cheetos to a dead mouse. If his works don't register as visual wholes, it's because they're portraits of a mind bombarded by trashy mall culture, unable to focus; these combines don't combine.

There's a vaguely dystopian, critical air to all this, but one shouldn't miss how it's swept up by a groovy, genial vibe. Consider the show's centerpiece, a freestanding tower that incorporates, among other things, a Casio keyboard, a toilet seat that can shoot pineapple-scented steam, a popcorn maker, and a grill (ask for popcorn at the desk, bring your own meat). Speakers drone a goofy-creepy motivational tape: "What is completion? What is my backup plan?" The whole installation offers less a real critique than a haunted-house ride, with its portrait of the schizoid effects of junk culture as the clunky animatronic demon you're happy to be frightened by.

Title: Scientology: Jason Beghe in Germany
Village Voice:

Jason Beghe speaks in Hamburg at a government sponsored symposium on Scientology fraud and abuse.

Thanks Anonymous for making this video happen.

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March Garden Calendar

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In my efforts to become more organized, I am creating a month by month to-do list for my garden.  So far this month, I have planted most of my seeds that can be started indoors, pruned my shrubs, and started some of my potatoes outside.

My very basic garden calendar

This year's seeds

Flats of seeds that will go on my light shelves

This first half of the month, I still need to remove the mulch from my front yard beds, over-seed the lawn, and edge my garden beds.  The second half of the month, I will direct sow my onions, garlic, shallots, peas, potatoes, and spinach.  Then I will begin installing a watering system for my garden.  

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