Home cooking

I've been on a cooking kick for the past few weeks. Today, for instance, I made a wheatberry salad (with cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and dried apricots), a broccoli-basil-avocado toss (crunchy and citrusy -- the "dressing" is to die for!), and a rhubarb fool (almost too tangy and intense). 

But my proudest accomplishment is probably the ebelskivers I made in California. These light, fluffy pancake-like balls seemed impossibly complicated, but if you're in a well-equipped kitchen, they're actually pretty manageable. The recipe I used wasn't quite as good as the one my mom and grandma use, but my knife-scooping-and-flipping skills weren't half bad.

Now at Socrates

Walked down to Socrates Sculpture Park yesterday; it was still a little soggy from Friday's rain, but the current exhibit, "Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City," is good for meditating on. (It continues through August 5, 2012; the Civic Action Tumblr offers more information on the works.) The mirrored pavers, below, are a cool visualization of what Sunswick Creek once was (Mary Miss, "Sunswick Creek: Reflecting Forward").

There's tons of great stuff going on at Socrates this summer: next weekend is the LIC Bike Parade, and outdoor cinema kicks off on July 4 -- the films that will be shown haven't been announced yet, but food will be served at an installation built by artist Rirkrit Tiravanija.

On the prowl

Last night, we met some friends at Thirstbaravin (at 629 Classon Avenue in Brooklyn). It was recently reviewed in the New Yorker's "Tables for Two" section; though the review is largely positive, it does depend on observations that some might find offputting, like, "Thanks to its unfortunate location, on a bleak corner between neighborhoods, there is no wait for a table, no tense negotiation with the hostess. ... the place becomes an anti-destination destination." 

Maybe so; for us, this was a selling point, but I can see why it might not be a universal lure. Still, given the rate at which New York evolves, it's hard to say how long the "anti-destination" business will hold. The food was good, rich yet simple (have the macaroni -- but not too much of it, because you should also try all of the desserts!). And as the reviewer notes, there's "something almost charming about the stray cats slipping in and out of the overgrown lot next door." The two pictured above were joined by three or four others that were camera-shy ... or perhaps it was that their attention was elsewhere, on the food: what looked like a serving of beef shank or lamb belly (or maybe just bits and bobs cast off in the creation of those meals?) had been plated in a white ceramic bowl just outside a door at the rear of the restaurant.

LIC Arts Open 2012

Dropped by one of the LIC Arts Opens's "Nabe Nites" -- at 2 Gotham Center, right on Queens Plaza South. Great installations in vacant retail space; also pretty cool because it's an area with such heavy foot traffic -- people on the street couldn't help but poke their heads in to see what was going on, decidedly more democratic than many other city art events.

Tomorrow is the Vernon Boulevard Nabe Nite Out, and Friday's focus is Jackson Avenue. The festival continues through May 20, and there's tons to see. Just a few highlights if you plan on hitting the neighborhood this weekend: a Bill Bollinger retrospective at the Sculpture Center (44-19 Purves Street, on through July 30); the 10x10 benefit auction (Saturday) and exhibition at Art Plus LIC (43-01 22nd Street); a block party on 22nd Street between 43rd and 44th Avenue (Saturday, between noon and 6); and, of course, open studios at PaintCan Studios (10-10 44th Avenue, third floor) and Reis Studios this weekend.

Dust to dust

The Museum of Arts & Design (at 2 Columbus Circle) has a cool exhibit on now. "Swept Away: Dust, Ashes, and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design," up through August 12, focuses on works made out of unorthodox materials -- a murder of crows out of burned wood, say, or designs "printed" with smog on porcelain that was blocked with a stencil and left exposed to the ambient haze of LA for months.

Above left, a sand painting by Joe Mangrum, who I believe mentioned he was installing another such painting encircling the MAD building in Manhattan on June 8 and 9; above right, a smog piece by Kim Abeles.

Lost and found

I've posted about Le Corbusier's Modulor before, and I remain interested in the architect's writings and work, particularly given connections to Chandigarh. So it was really cool to read, on the architecture Web site Archdaily, about a "lost" building of his recently discovered in Iraq. Le Corbusier designed the Baghdad Gymnasium in 1957, and it was built in the city in 1982; it was "rediscovered" less than a decade ago by Caecilia Pieri and has set off a movement toward preservation of buildings, insofar as it is still possible, in today's Iraq. AFP offers more detail on this fascinating story.

Carte blanche

I'm as big a fan of New York's food carts as they come; right now, I'm particularly fond of a nice little cart at 53rd and Park where, for $3 or $4, you can get the most pungently delicious apple-carrot-celery-ginger juice in the five boroughs. Walking home today, near Northern Boulevard, I saw these two unadorned carts on the side of the street: such interesting structures, inside and out, even before cuisine and culture come into play.

Eating the Russian Way

Found this charming 1963 book by Beryl Gould-Marks (from the back cover: "As the wife of a documentary film director, British writer Beryl Gould-Marks has traveled in forty-eight countries where 'I follow my nose and go into kitchens and talk about food with the cooks'"). The illustrations, by Geoffrey Walker, are particularly choice (the jacket, at left, was designed by Henry Dabbs). Blinis and kvass for all!


To market, to market

I stopped by Sunnyside for the debut of Queens County Market today. This foodie frenzy, planned as a monthly event, features hand-crafted, artisanal food from throughout the borough. There were some familiar faces, like Queens Comfort and Ronnybrook, but I made off with a few goodies that were new to me: "peanutella" (an organic, dairy-free peanut and chocolate spread) from Woodside Bakehouse and lovely truffles from Sweet Silk. Looking forward to stuffing my face until the next market pops up!