Archive for January, 2008

S’MAC – Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese

Posted in food, restaurant, Tom on January 23, 2008 by criticalreviews

Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese
345 East 12th Street, NYC

Sunday was a very cold New York day, and we were really in the mood for some comfort food. S’MAC serves only one food, and New York is one of the only places that a specialty food place serving only macaroni and cheese can exist. Although S’MAC was really crowded we were able to get two stools at the bar against the window. You order at the counter, they give you a number, and then they bring the food out to you. There are three sizes: nosh(small), major munch(med), and mongo(large), and all are served is their own cast-iron skillet like dish (all hanging on the wall so you can accurately judge how much mac and cheese you need).

Another customer that was in the restaurant ordered a mongo, with out looking at how large it actually was. The man then proceeded to argue with the cashier that he wanted a smaller one, and would not be able to eat the mongo(which seemed rediculous to me…if you make that kinda mistake you suck it up and eat alot of food). S’MAC was very accommodating to this customer, and offered to make him half of it to eat in the restaurant, and the other half as a Bake Ready (a dish of mac and cheese that you can take home and bake in your own oven).

We ordered a nosh of the four cheese(Cheddar, Muenster, Gruyere and Pecorino, topped off with sharp Cheddar), and a major munch of the garden lite. We also opted for the whole wheat pasta and breadcrumbs on top (extra delicious). The four cheese is pretty much your typical mac and cheese with a wonderfully blended creamy cheese mixture, with the top cooked crisp but not burnt. The garden lite is really anything but lite. I guess the lite comes from lots of veggies being mixed in (Lite Cheddar, Parmesan, roasted cauliflower and portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic, broccoli and scallions). The cheesey bend in the garden lite tasted almost like a combination of cheese and alfredo sauce. Again the top was cooked to a crisp coating (which is the best part!). S’MAC was a very enjoyable experience, and ordering a nosh and a major munch to split between two people was the perfect amount of food. We left feeling full, but not stuffed, and totally satisfied. I will definitely try to make it back here one more time before it warms up.

(Tom)

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2007 (year in review)

Posted in Best of..., music, Tom on January 18, 2008 by criticalreviews

So, 2007 was a bizarre year for me musically. I really didn’t listen to anything the first half of the year (and the second half of 2006 for that matter), but I picked up the pace starting in May. I got to see a lot of wonderful music, and surprisingly enough I actually purchased hard copies of every album on my top ten. This is my year in review…mostly lists, but some amorphous blobs of information that I also found important.

Tom’s Best of 2007 LPs
1. Scout Niblett- “This Fool Can Die Now”
2. Jens Lekman – “Night Falls Over Kortedala”
3. Mt. Eerie- “pts 6 & 7”
4. Boris with Michio Kurihara – “Rainbow”
5. Les Savy Fav- “Let’s Stay Friends”
6. Dan Deacon- “Spiderman of the Rings”
7. Deerhoof – “Friend Opportunity”
8. Karl Blau- “Dance Positive”
9. St. Vincent- “Marry Me”
10. Animal Collective- “Strawberry Jam”

Other Things I really liked:
Bonnie Prince Billy- “Ask Forgiveness”
Melt Banana “Bambi’s Dilema”
The Fiery Furnaces- “Widow City”
Bill Callahan- “Woke on a Whaleheart”
Caribou- “Andorra”
Of Montreal- “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?” (Please note this is the first Of Montreal record I have ever enjoyed)
M.I.A.- “Kala” (I hated this at first)
Blitzen Trapper- “Wild Mountain Nation”
Aesop Rock-“None Shall Pass”
Feist- “The Reminder”
Baroness- “Red Album”
Peter, Bjorn, and John “Writer’s Block”

Bands/Albums I wish I would have given more/some time in 2007….maybe in 2008:
Akron/Family- “Love Is Simple”
Black Moth Super Rainbow – “Dandelion Gum”
Times New Viking- “Present the Paisley Reich”
Pissed Jeans- all
Frog Eyes- “Tears of the Valedictorian”
Maritime- “Heresy and the Hotel Choir”
Yeasayer- “All Hour Cymbals” and live
Ariel Pink- “Scared Famous” (among other things…I think it is time I revisit)
Team Robespierre- any recorded and live
Deer tick- any recorded and live

Two genres that I was never really into that effected me drastically at the end of 2007
1. No Wave
—thanks to the two v/a comps “No New York” (compiled by Brian Eno) & “New York Noise Vol. 1” (Soul Jazz Records)
——-also The Contortions “Buy”
and
2. Reggae (thanks to Tunnel One on WNYU, When Roots Attack on KVRX, and Mystic Sounds on East Village Radio)
——-albums specifically Augustus Pablo’s “Africa Must Be Free by 1983 Dub”
——————————-“Studio One Dub” (Soul Jazz Records)
——————————-“More Pressure- Straight to the Head” (Pressure Sounds Records)

Top 10 Live Shows
1. Limp Wrist @ the Knitting Factory
2. Scout Niblett & St. Vincent @ Bowery Ballroom
3. Jens Lekman (solo) @ MHOW
4. Mountain Goats @ Soundfix
5. Defiance, Ohio @ Death By Audio
6. Built to Spill @ McCarren Pool
7. Boris with Michio Kurihara @ MHOW
8. Melt Banana @ the Knitting Factory
9. Karl Blau @ Cake Shop
10. Dan Deacon & USAISAMONSTER @ The Yard (Brooklyn)

(Tom)

best of 2007 (imho)

Posted in Best of..., Leah, movies, music on January 18, 2008 by criticalreviews

Another year has past, and an exciting one it was. A couple of the things that kept me sane were great music and films. I’ve created a comprehensive list of my top ten albums, shows, and films of the year. 2007 was a cultural explosion for my eyes and ears and it was really difficult narrowing down these lists.

10 Best Albums –
1. Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
-While riding the train, whether I was on my way to work or to Inwood, this album was perfect for zoning out.
2. Radiohead – In Rainbows
-Yes, old habits die hard, but still, this album is undeniably amazing and was a beautiful surprise. I didn’t pay for the download (I know, I know) but I bought it on vinyl January 1st. Plus, I’ve seen them four times, people. Give me a break.
3. St. Vincent – Marry Me
– This album has been stuck in my head from the moment that I first heard it. And, Annie can fucking shred.
4. Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
-Beautiful man, lovely songs. He makes me want to nest.
5. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
-This album is like lying in a park on a beautiful day. You close your eyes and the sun shines right through your eyelids. I don’t know if that makes sense and I don’t care.
6. MIA – Kala
-I’m not the biggest fan of her fashion sensibilities, but how can anyone resist her booty-shake inspiring bhangra funk? It makes me long for MJQ on Wednesday Nights (ATL reference).
7. Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
-Break out performance of the year must go to Kevin Barnes’ schlong in Vegas. Anyway, the music is infectious. This is my favorite album of theirs yet.
8. Battles – Mirrored
-I enjoyed putting this album on for background music. Sometimes, it’s not about the lyrics.
9. Scout Niblett – This Fool Can Die Now
– If I had discovered this album earlier, it would probably be higher on my list. Kiss is one of my favorite songs of the year.
10. Dan Deacon – Spiderman of the Rings
-I understand if you don’t get it, because I didn’t, until I saw him live.

Honorable Mentions: Grinderman, PJ Harvey – White Chalk, Deerhunter – Cryptograms, Beirut – Flying Cub Cup, Deerhoof – Friend Opportunity, Boris – Rainbow, PB&J – Writer’s Block

10 Best Shows (In order by date)
4/21 – Flaming Lips at Brown University
-There’s not much better in life than playing with huge, inflated balls and truckloads of confetti with fucked up ivy leaguers.
5/5 – Bjork at United Palace Theater
-Bjork didn’t make it on my top ten albums. I was a little disappointed with Volta, to be honest. She definitely made it up to me with her performance that night.
5/6 – Beirut at Bowery Ballroom
-All the horns!! It was a busy weekend.
6/10 – Melt Banana at the Knitting Factory
-I had forgotten how much fun it can be to rock out next to a mosh pit.
6/15-17 – Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN
-I still don’t think that I have recovered from all of the dust inhalation, but holy crap, I had so much fun. DJ Shadow and Ween were my favorite performances.
7/24 – Porter Wagoner, ,White Stripes and Grinderman at Madison Square Garden
-I was hesitant to purchase tickets to this show, based on the venue. Both bands delivered amazing performances. I’m glad that I got to see Porter Wagoner live, before he died. Plus, Nick Cave fell on his ass—definitely funny. I vaguely remember wanting to throw beer bottles at people booing Grinderman.
8/9 – Daft Punk at Keyspan Park, Coney Island
-I know this is a controversial topic, but…BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR!
10/10 – PJ Harvey at Beacon Theater
-This was my first time seeing Polly Jean live. She was wearing that crazy, Victorian looking dress that she dons on the cover of her new album, White Chalk. Her voice sounded amazing and the theater perfectly complemented the creepy, ethereal vibe of her latest album.
10/18 – St. Vincent at the Knitting Factory
-Although she didn’t start until after 1AM, and I had to sit through 2 or 3 completely uninspiring opening acts, and I had to work the next day at 830AM, I still could not get over this girl and her guitar!
10/26 – Scout Niblett at Union Pool
-She commented on our photo booth pictures before the show. She was wearing a reflective construction worker’s jacket and camouflage. She looked like she needed a shower, bad. I love her.

Honorable Mentions: Peter Bjorn and Joan @ Bowery Ballroom, Fujiya and Miyagi @ Mercury Lounge, Built to Spill and Cat Power @ McCarren Pool, Boris @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, Jens Lekman – Music Hall of Williamsburg, Justice @ Terminal 5

10 Best Movies
1. No Country for Old Men – Javier Bardem is obviously the main draw of this film, as a psychopath with a Prince Valiant haircut. Honestly, I don’t understand why people were so upset about the ending. Obviously, the Coen Brothers (and Cormac McCarthy) wanted to show that life is bleak. The good guys don’t always win. Get over it.
2. Control – How did they find someone who looks so much like Ian Curtis?
3. La Vie En Rose – Marion Cotillard deserves some kind of award for her portrayal of Edith Piaf.
4. Into the Wild – It made me want to go on a long road trip, that is, until the ending.
5. This is England – Who doesn’t like a movie about skinheads?
6. Darjeeling Limited – I had to grow to love this film, but it really was great. I felt that it had more depth than other Wes Anderson flicks.
7. I’m Not There – Cate Blanchett is going to make me gay. I swear.
8. Rescue Dawn – Christian Bale ate maggots in this movie. He is one dedicated actor.
9. Lust, Caution – pretzel sex. Yeah.
10. Sicko – This movie made me angry, which is saying a lot, because I’m pretty apathetic.

Honorable Mentions: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sherry Baby, Grindhouse Presents: Death Proof, Sunshine, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, Sicko, Juno, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

-LEah

2007, music heaven.

Posted in Best of..., klk, music on January 18, 2008 by criticalreviews

I had a great time with music last year, probably because of settling into in New York City, which is pretty much the focal point for amazing and free (!) concerts by new and exciting bands. Maybe it was also being back in school and spending a lot of time alone studying (and not studying), riding the train, reading, all the while listening to music. Also, I’d be lying if I didn’t give OiNK (RIP) some credit in my musical adventures this year. My little circa-2004 (2003?) iPod mini has had more excitement than it can handle (luckily I upgraded for Christmas this year). It’s been awesome, and I can only hope that 2008 is half as great!

Anyway, here’s my list of the best records of 2007. I guess the one thing these records all have in common is that I was pleasantly surprised by all of them, and that they were (to use a cliché) moving in some way.

I was especially moved by these records:

10. Mary Timony Band – The Shapes We Make

9. Deerhunter — Cryptograms

8. Sondre Lerche – Phantom Punch

7. Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam

6. Dan Deacon – Spiderman of the Rings

5. Fiery Furnaces – Widow City

4. Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala

3. St. Vincent – Marry Me

2. Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

1. Scout Niblett – This Fool Can Die Now

It was really hard to pick only ten, but I figured that it would be best to narrow down the list to make it more “meaningful” or something. That said, here are some Honorable Mentions:

Radiohead – In Rainbows

The Shins – Wincing the Night Away

The Field – From Here We Go Sublime

Panda Bear – Person Pitch

Stars of the Lid – And Their Refinement of the Decline

Beirut – The Flying Cub Cup

Blonde Redhead – 23

Blitzen Trapper – Wild Mountain Nation

Boris with Michio Kurihara – Rainbow

Devendra Banhart – Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

Keren Ann – s/t

Weakerthans – Reunion Tour

!! klk.