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Friday, May 23, 2014

The Weekly Roundup: 9/11 Museum Opens, Broadway's Back, The History of Red Velvet

  • The 9/11 Story Told at Bedrock, Powerful as a Punch to the Gut: After a decade marked by deep grief, partisan rancor, war, financial boondoggles and inundation from Hurricane Sandy, the National September 11 Memorial Museum at ground zero is finally opened ceremonially on Thursday, with President Obama present, and officially to the public Wednesday. It delivers a gut-punch experience — though if ever a new museum had looked, right along, like a disaster in the making, this one did, beginning with its trifurcated identity.
  • Food trucks stuck in park: Facing financial challenges, some owners trade up to eateries or opt out altogether. The challenges trucks face are many: bad weather, parking regulations that prohibit vending on many city streets and the difficulty in getting permits from the city's Department of Health, to name just a few. The Department of Health has issued 5,100 mobile-food-vending permits, which include trucks and food carts; just 500 belong to food-truck operators.
  • Last call for city's Irish pubs? Rising tastes, rents and a wave of upscale taverns leave old-line bars tapped out: It’s last call for a growing number of Irish pubs, driven by a combination of rising rents and a concept that seems increasingly obsolete in the era of smartphones, craft beers and kale salads. To succeed, many are becoming less Irish, as publicans broaden their offerings beyond Guinness, Jameson and shepherd's pie. Once, crowds flocked to more than 30 Blarney Stone bars around the city, serving steam-table corned beef and cheap pints. Today, only five remain
  • Broadway attendance jumps after 2 years of declines: Star-driven plays featuring James Franco and Denzel Washington along with musical hits like Disney's Aladdin have helped boost the numbers for the 2013-2014 season. Star-driven plays like A Raisin in the Sun and splashy musicals such as Disney's Aladdin that opened in the spring helped push attendance higher this season after two consecutive years of decline. With only one week left in the 2013-2014 season, attendance jumped 5% to 11.9 million people for the period ended May 18, 2014 from the corresponding period last year, according to the Broadway League, a trade organization. Meanwhile, gross revenue gained 11% to $1.2 billion.
  • Time Inc. Saying Goodbye to Iconic New York Building Heading downtown after splitting from parent Time Warner: Time Inc. is officially saying goodbye to the Time & Life building, its home in midtown New York since 1959. The publisher, which is set to spin off from parent company Time Warner on June 6, has confirmed speculation that it is moving to new (and, presumably, much cheaper) digs in lower Manhattan.
  • What to Love About NYC…In 1976: Including #3. Habitually fitting your thumbnail in the Y-cutout of a subway token. And #11. Hating ConEd. Nick Carr, the man behind Scouting New York, recently stumbled across an article published in The New York Times in 1976 called "101 Things to Love About New York City". We discuss the list and take calls about what's gone, what's new, and what always stays the same.

  • So Much Food, It Fills a Hall: Food halls are all about gratification, both immediate (a chorizo and potato taco to eat on the spot) and delayed (a chunky jar of anchovies to take home). These bounteous markets are not new to the city; Macy’s opened its Cellar nearly 40 years ago. In 1997, the former Nabisco factory was transformed into Chelsea Market on West 15th Street, setting off the modern proliferation of indoor markets. Here’s a sampling of some of the best, including Chelsea Market Baskets, Dickson’s Farmstand, Tartinery, and Murray’s Cheese.
  • Yelp Reviews Help Track Food Illnesses: After a particularly bad restaurant meal, you may be moved to post a review on the website Yelp, warning other diners. But now someone else is listening in: New York City health officials, who may try to track you down if you complain that the meal made you sick. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on Thursday saying that the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had completed a pilot project that used Yelp reviews to help identify unreported outbreaks of food-borne illness.
  • Merriam-Webster Adds Turducken, Pho, and Poutine: Over 150 new words have been added to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary this year and amongst terms like "selfie" and "hashtag" are a few that are food driven. According to a press release, the Vietnamese soup Pho ("a soup made of beef or chicken broth and rice noodles") and Canadian classic Poutine ("a dish of French fries covered with brown gravy and cheese curds") have made the cut. Surprisingly, so has turducken, the portmanteu for "boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck stuffed into a boneless turkey.” 
  • Harlem foodies to launch festival in 2015: Business owners from Harlem’s burgeoning food and drink scene will join forces next year to stage a festival to showcase the neighborhood’s culture, officials announced Tuesday. Spearheaded by celebrity chef and Red Rooster owner Marcus Samuelsson, food festival guru Herb Karlitz and Tren’ness Woods-Black, granddaughter of the late restaurateur Sylvia Woods, the “Harlem EatUp!” festival will be held over three days in May 2015.
  • Beyond Pretzel Logic: For years, lingering at the bar came with a penance: a bowl of stale peanuts or soggy pretzels. Even if you didn’t start out wanting to drown your sorrows, the food made you want to. Bar snacks were meant to lace your mouth with plenty of salt, leading you to reach more often for your thirst-slaking gimlet. But over the last decade or so, the elevation of the American cocktail has led to a corresponding gift to booze hounds everywhere: the refinement of the American bar snack. 
  • Vegging Out: For years, great eating—like, really chowing down—meant one thing for a man: meat on your plate. And the bloodier, thicker, greasier, saltier, the better. But a curious thing has happened recently. Call it the new green revolution. Suddenly, the most inventive and tastiest dishes are being created by chefs determined to move the once lowly vegetable from the side to the center of the plate.


  • The Last Two L-Shaped Streets in Manhattan: the rarest of the rare are L-shaped streets – streets with 90° turns that leave you on the same street you started on (as opposed to the intersection of two different streets). How rare? As far as I can tell, there are only two public L-shaped streets left in Manhattan. The first is Martketfield Street in FiDi. The second is Commerce Street
  • Where the Password Is Deco: A Sampling of ’20s- and ’30s-Style Bars, Clubs and Restaurants: Night and day, New York reveals itself as the Art Deco capital of the world. I don’t mean just the obvious treasures — the Chrysler Building, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center — but the Deco surprises that decorate just about every other block. Commerce: The best haunts are those with a back story. In the late 1980s, when we first visited Commerce, hidden on a crooked street in the West Village, it was still the Blue Mill Tavern, a restaurant with traditional American and Portuguese specialties that had been there for 50 years, a windmill fixed to its facade. Right before it closed and became Grange Hall, I stole an ashtray with a blue drawing of the Blue Mill on it…
  • When the weather gets warm, dine at these new al fresco find: After a brutal winter, it’s finally warming up — time to grab a table outside at these new outdoor eateries. Baker & Co.: With paper-bag luminaries and a rustic ambience, the cozy garden at this new West Village spot is just right for a low-key romantic dinner. The flavorful Mediterranean fare — ravioli with smoked eggplant ($18), fava bean salad ($12) — is perfect for dining al fresco.
  • A Jazz Age New York Bohemian Dinner, in List Form: In this wry list, writer and artist Charles Green Shaw tried to capture the experience of attending a “bohemian dinner” in New York’s Greenwich Village. Though the list, held in Shaw’s papers at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, is undated, Shaw lived in New York in the 1920s and 1930s, writing for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. With few words, Shaw evoked the loud atmosphere of a Washington Square restaurant (“wailing sounds”; “doleful discords”), the unappetizing food (“chemical wine”; “rum omelette”); even the sartorial affectations of his fellow diners (“long hair”; “low collar”; “flowing tie”).

  • Red Velvet Cake: From Gimmick to American Classic: As the nation swung into its post-9/11 comfort-food phase, both cupcakes and Southern food offered solace. Red velvet became a superstar. In 2009, red velvet cake flavoring was part of 1.5 percent of all items on menus. By 2013, it was in 4.1 percent of items

  • Federman & Tupper on 100 Years of Russ & Daughters: Earlier this month cousins Niki Federman and Josh Tupper opened the Russ & Daughters Cafe on Orchard Street, 100 years after their great-grandfather opened his iconic appetizing store on the very same street. The shop (which was not then called Russ & Daughters) moved shortly after to Houston Street, where it has sat ever since, run by four consecutive generations of the Russ family despite the fact that, as the two cousins explain, things have not always gone smoothly. As they prepared to open the restaurant, Eater sat down with Niki and Josh to discuss the story of Russ & Daughters and the reasons why only now, 100 years later, they've decided to expand.
  • Bar Primi, the New Italian Restaurant From Ostrom, Pickard, Carmellini, and Lamboglia: The new Italian restaurant in the old Peels space from hit-makers Andrew Carmellini, Luke Ostrom, and Josh Pickard opened Monday. It looks like they're going for a more affordable, casual version of Locanda Verde, with extra emphasis on fresh pasta.

  • Dim Sum for Dummies: Barbecue Pork Buns (Cha Shao Bao) Think of it like this: it’s meat from sweet and sticky barbecue ribs finely diced and stuffed in an airy and soft steamed bun. It’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet. Strategy: Look out for the cart with steamed buns of all sorts, specifically the bamboo basket with 3-4 puffy, slightly split white buns.


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