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Sofar (sounds) so good…

11 Jan

So we went to a Sofar Sounds show….

Preface: Pokito, a wonderful (tiny) asian/southwestern fusion bar/resto with fantastic happy hour and food. We also met one of the performers (review to come later) who enthusiastically and sincerely asked, “but why are you even coming?” – to which we emphatically responded, to see what’s out there. To seek out some interesting shit.

And then, First, venue: a 20-something gent named Michael let us into his eccentrically appointed artists loft on South 4th (next to the Woods – I’m already on board). We packed into a large room, grabbing a spot on the floor, with 50-60 creative-minded people (read: lots of chambray and denim combos). I brought a travel neck pillow as a butt donut (yasss). After popping a bottle of BYOB red wine and some glasses carried en tote, we were introduced to the Sofar evening’s host, our fellow guests (yes, there’s a meet and greet moment) and then the music began.
Set 1: Magana – This beautiful, subtle singer-song writer had us with her minimalistic, breath-fueled vocals. She was captivating and modest and I couldn’t help but gape. Her song, “No More Friends” brought me right back to college, and a memorable trip to the Bronx zoo. Apparently, she has a full band show at Pete’s Candy this March. I’ll be stopping by.
Set 2: Girl Blue  – holy shit. white girl’s got pipes. With meaningful lyrics and political satire, our pre-show girl crush (said performer we had met at Pokito) had the right aesthetic for the room. Her voice is brilliant and wielded with powerful intention. I could have listened to her sing about tax returns. PLEASE let her sing about ANYTHING. Hailing from Albany, she’ll be opening for Michael Bloom at Bowery Ballroom this spring. I will absolutely be following her tour dates.
Set 3: Micky Sings + Mateo – not for me, but in an “I respect the hustle and what you’re trying to do” type of way. Micky was an aggro male voice who’s played over 400 times in 2016. I think he was a bit restrained by the Sofar format but it is what it is. Mateo on the keyboard grabbed one solo song and nailed it – I’m not a huge electric keyboard gal, but I picked up what he was putting down. They’re at Rockwood on Saturdays in February, if that’s your thang.
Overall, I would say go to a Sofar Sounds show. Get to know their scene, enjoy the unique setting, the undiscovered musicians, and, if you’re blessed by the domestic gods, apply to host one. Everyone on this list owes it to themselves to check it out, should there be events in your hood. Check it out.

Somebody That I Used to Know: Hester Street Fair

30 Apr

It’s been a year since my last foray to the LES street fair standout on Hester Street and, unlike the many reincarnations of Gotye’s post-breakup ballad (yes, you can have too much of a good thing), this food and fashion fest is jam packed with the vendors that I used to know but actually enjoy in subsequent encounters.   With tried ‘n true faves like Luke’s Lobster (#1: holy shrimp roll, Batman) and it’s-new-to-me-comers like La Sonrisa (#2: Chipotle mayo + spicy queso makes for effin delicious grilled corn), this trip back to Hester Street Fair was revisiting the scene of a love affair that’s not painful to remember (but easy to dwell upon). Oh, and boozy cupcakes (#3) from Prohibition Bakery (sweet, sweet, irony) like the pretzel and beer mini are finger lickin’, tongue and cheek offerings.

After the first round of eats, I helped myself to a few more delicious items.  First, an iced coffee from the fine folks at Cafe Grumpy (#4) was an excellent mid-meal refreshment.  Shortly thereafter, I had my first encounter with the lovely ladies at S’Amore who recommended I meet Tom (#5); a salted chocolate graham cracker sandwich with a hand-torched marshmallow, almond and melted dark chocolate. This may be the best dessert I’ve ever eaten.  Seriously. After that, I treated myself yet again – to a Swarovski blinged-out star burst ring (#6) from LYRALOVESTAR by Crystal Streets (wholesale prices at HSF each week, what what!?).  To be honest, you could spend your Saturday doing something other than attending this faboosh affair, but like the sorry dude on YouTube trying to cover Gotye for the 1,000th time, don’t be that guy.

Keeping Up with the Cocktails: Lantern’s Keep

18 Nov

So many things in 2011 have been cheers-worthy; I’ve had a major (excellent) career change and began working on a new blog professionally (you can still find my resto reccos here).  While I know it’s been a spell since I’ve had time to visit with you all, my recent trip to Lantern’s Keep gave me a reason to come out of retirement.  This classy little Midtown speakeasy is giving the cocktail shops Downtown a run for their money and giving me another reason to cheers.

On this particular cold and rainy evening, stepping inside the Iroquois Hotel (W 44th St btwn 5th/6th Aves) was a thoroughly welcomed escape.  Through the lobby, I spotted the lavish digs Lantern’s Keep calls home – the rich chocolate woods are complemented with plush blue Venetian-style seating and a fireplace nestled in the back corner will warm the crowd of cocktail enthusiasts during winter months.  The menu, which features selections crafted by head bar keep Theo Lieberman, stays true to the classics while infusing its spirits with creativity as much as the ingredients themselves.

My standout cocktail of the evening (like I was really stopping at one!) had to be the Wildest Redhead ($14).  Served in a lowball glass with a glacial-sized rock of ice, this scotch-based concoction plays on the warm aromas of all-spice with the belly-heating effects of its spirit base.  The drink is best when consumed through a chilled metal stirrer-straw, as provided by the Keep’s tender.  Another favorite was the Mexican Bouquet ($14), which leans heavily on blanco tequila while letting the St Germain Elderflower liquor and rose syrup whisper a lovely floral perfume.

The charcuterie plate featured an array of cheeses, meats, fruit and warm fresh bread served on a slate and smartly labeled so I’d never confuse my Vermont Shepherd with  the Tickler Cheddar (as if!)  This and other petite plates prepared by The Iroquois’ Executive Chef Jason Tillman are portioned perfectly to keep your worst hungers at bay.  And no, I’m not talking about that hankering for your next cocktail, there’s no helping that desire.  Not that there’s anything wrong with having another one when the drinks are flowing at the Lantern’s Keep  – and to that, let’s cheers.

Delicious, Naturally: The Soft Serve Fruit Co.

26 Aug

In this summer’s heat, we’ve had no shortage of new frosty food and drink options – in fact, the sheer number of choices could bring on an intense brain freeze when trying to make a decision.  With players like Taiwanese-style Shaved Ice and New Orleans-inspired SnoBalls, a simple frozen yogurt (fro-yo, if you will) just hasn’t been cutting it for me.  But recently I have been craving soft serve, minus some of the terrible artificial flavors that taste, well, unnatural.  So naturally, when I heard about the new soft serve kid on the block (literally, it’s on my office’s block – 17th btwn Union Sq/5th Ave) that boasts natural fruit flavors, I decided to give The Soft Serve Fruit Company a whirl.

This is a bold statement, but on a hot day, I don’t care who you are – you’re going to love this stuff.  Beyond the well developed flavors, it’s dairy, gluten, cholesterol and fat free.   What it’s not free of is MAJOR un-messed-with fruit flavor – think sorbet, but better.  I tried the blueberry which was pretty darn good – I’d say even better paired with the banana which is bizarrely close to the actual fruit’s taste.  My favorite flavor was the raspberry, a seasonal specialty that I’m hoping they’ll take on full time.  I went for a medium sprinkled with chopped walnuts (for only $4.75) and was good to go.

Forget fake, chemical tasting fro-yo and get to The Soft Serve Fruit Co.  This stuff’s the real deal.

Rhea Recommends Chicago: The Deep Dish

10 Aug

It's Better Backstage

Seeing as I had the absolutely fabulous opportunity to hang in Downtown Chicago this past weekend, you’re getting the (deep) dish on some of my trip highlights.  Between the music, the culture of Chi-Town and a BYOB brunch to rival some of NYC’s best,  I‘ve got some awesomeness to share with y’all you all.

Let’s talk eats… obviously, I managed to get a BYOB brunch in there (2x).  Yolk in South Loop (S Michigan Ave btwn E 11th St/E Roosevelt) was legit.  We rolled up with bottles of Prosecco, ordered some orange juice to-go and hung out/drank in the courtyard while waiting for our table.  Once we were called, we had some top notch egg dishes in skillets, omelets and sammies – everything costs under $10 and includes your choice of pancakes (a HUGE order), an English muffin or toast.  Oh, and there’s NO CHARGE for Egg Beaters or whites.   Kick ass deal.  This girl LOVES it.

Music?  Yeah, there was music.  Holla for Lolla(palooza) – some of my favorite eargasm-able artists rocked the crowd.  My highlights include:

Foster the PeopleHoudini

PhantogramWhen I’m Small

Manchester OrchestraI’ve Got Friends

Local Natives Cubism Dream

Fitz and the TantrumsDon’t Gotta Work It Out

Foster the People @ Belve Lounge

Culture, ok, there’s some of that too.  Chicago-natives and tourists alike will enjoy the Architecture Tour ($25-35) – it’s a 90 minute expedition through the Chicago waterways checking out the buildings that make Chi-Town architecture truly remarkable.  You get a little history, learn some fun facts – and hey, you’re on a boat!  It’s definitely another attraction I deem worthy of looking up for – c’mon kids, your neck can handle it.

Marina City (Bertrand Goldberg)

After a long day of adventures in the windy city, treat yourself to a delicious little dinner – I’m a big fan of the inexpensive family-style Italian fare at Quartino.  Thin crust pizza may not be Chicago’s signature slice, but the folks at Quartino know how to make a mean crispy pie.  Not in the mood for Italian?  Not a problem! Sign onto Savored.com and get hooked up with 30% off the total bill at the city’s hottest restos.   Over and out; it’s been real, Chicago.

Don’t Look Far, Look UP: Fuerza Bruta

2 Aug

Being in NYC is all about doing things outside the normal and having the strangest most exciting experiences out there.  Sure, you don’t have to look FAR to find unique things to do, but I recommend you look UP – at Fuerza Bruta, that is.  I was lucky enough to score an outing to this extraordinarily eccentric spectacle as a gift from my fabulous friends.  The show, which takes place above the audience, is worth craning your neck to check out.

Enter the Daryl Roth Theatre in Union Square and walk down into a cocktail dungeon with a crowd that’s as diverse as the performance itself.  I was surprised to see young kids (it may be above their heads, not just literally) and just as shocked to see some seniors as well – not that these folks didn’t know how to party.   And that’s exactly what you’ll do at Fuerza Bruta.  Bring your childlike sense of wonder (but leave the children home) and get ready to enjoy the parade of attractive actors dancing, swimming, sprinting and all sorts of other verb-ing for your viewing enjoyment.  Not to give too much away, but the most interesting part to watch unfolds as actors slip, slide and dive on a clear trampoline pool suspended above you.  It’s almost mesmerizing to look at and definitely had me aching to join the cast on their slippery stage.

If you’ve heard of the show or maybe even walked past it hundreds of times (like me), it’s time to go – now.  Shows are Weds-Fri @ 8pm, Sat @ 7 & 10pm and Sun @ 7pm.  Tickets are usually $75 but if you’re flexible with dates, pop over to the theatre 2 hours before the show to see if you can snag one of the limited rush tix for only $25 or search online for deals on tix, which there are ALL the time – score!  Whatever you do, don’t overlook this one, folks.

Lobster Roll-ing in the Deep: Luke’s Lobster Truck

7 Jul

Being a bit of a social media junkie, stalking my favorite food trucks on Twitter has become a top-priority hobby.  Luckily for me, ever since I’ve started at my fabulous new job in Manhattan’s Flatiron district, the trucks have been coming out in droves.  Most notably, Luke’s Lobster’s food-mobile, “Nauti” seems to be hitting up the hood on the daily!  The crustacean connoisseurs at Luke’s are clawing their way up the lunch ranks – forget, “we could’ve had it all” – now you CAN have it all, and be Lobster roll-ing in the deep.

If you’ve got a lunch budget like mine (read: shoestring), you’ve probably noticed that make-your-own-salad joints are multiplying in cost on the daily.   Well folks, when Nauti’s on the block, it’s not exactly frugal Friday BUT if you eat like me and savor every bite, it’s not hard to make one of these precious roll creations into a full meal.  Plus, these Lobster, Crab and Shrimp rolls ($15/$10/$8, respectively) are SO worth what you’re shelling out – and only get better if you make it a combo (+$2) with a drink, chips and a pickle.

The rolls themselves are seemingly simple but with ingredients this fresh (delivered straight from Maine), letting the flavors speak for themselves is the key.  While I’ve had these buttery bites in all roll varieties, my favorite is the shrimp – those little guys pack a BIG punch of flavor.  I do always tend to go with 1/2 shrimp and 1/2 lobster – who can resist the namesake roll?!

So if you’re not lucky enough to be within walking distance of one of Luke’s 4 NYC locations (E. Ville, FiDi, UWS, UES) or their new Washington, DC locale, fear not!  You can cherish that rare occasion when the Luke’s Lobster Truck is nearby – such a welcomed surprise!  The morale of the story is this: when your boring lunch spots put you in a dining rut, check out Twitter or the new Zagats Food Tuck Site (still in beta) to find a food truck near you.  If you’re lucky enough, you may just get a little Nauti on your lunch hour.

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