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July, 2008:

Invasion of the Baby Furniture

Our house has begun to be invaded by all manners of boxes, mostly from Graco, that contain a number of apparently VERY IMPORTANT items that we MUST HAVE NOW. Door Jumper, anyone?

[Edited by Stephanie: Full disclosure that Graco is a client; I’m already a fan of the brand but I’m sure we will totally drink the kool-aid once we start using all this great stuff. Lookee at the sweetpeace soother!]

They are sitting in a gigantic pile collecting dust. We’re superstitious, see, and we don’t want to even open anything up if we mustn’t. Because then the Gods would not smile upon us. Unless we have to open it now.

Of course, one of the things that we HAD TO HAVE was a Dutailier. For those who are not so initiated in the ways of the Baby Whisperer (and yes, best beloved: there IS a Baby Whisperer):

The Dutailier is a rocking gliding chair that apparently only they make, and there are some other gliders, but they all suck in comparison. They are expensive, but apparently worth it, as every person that I have talked to who has had one loved theirs.

Unfortunately, the gliders are a 14 week kind of thing, so we ordered ours a couple of months ago– but apparently 14 weeks can also be 9 weeks (what’s 5 weeks among friends?)

So ours is already here. And since we had a custom color, we had to open it NOW. You can see S sitting on it over on the right, doing some shopping research in her cat pajamas.

It’s pretty, it’s comfortable, it will take a little getting used to (S fell out of it when she was standing up! Oh, and we haven’t carved the space out for it yet. So for now, our very expensive couch is being blocked by our very expensive glider.

Our living room furniture is worth more than I am! (I’m not sure if this is a statement on the furniture, or on me. But that’s grist for a different blog.)

I’m off to Coney Island to do a little performance of the Most Minuscule Show on Earth.

Only in New York (well, and Hoboken, and London, and….)

One of the best things about working in Manhattan is the availability of, and wide variety of, food. In fact, one of the only reasons that I would ever seriously consider moving back onto the island is to have the density of restaurants once again available to us – we’re getting kinda sick of our local spots, which are predominantly Latino plus our standby middle eastern place, Ya Hala.

A year or two ago a cool new delivery service started up in Manhattan, SeamlessWeb. This has revolutionized our office lunchtimes – there are currently 265 (!!!) restaurants that deliver lunch to our office at 36th and 6th. Lunch has always been a fairly communal, collaborative effort in the office (we like to order together and often will defer to whomever has the strongest point of view on what they want to eat on any given day), but Seamless has completely blown the doors off of our lunching options.

They just opened up a bunch of new cities, including Chicago and LA; wonder if they’ll deliver to my brother and the Queen of Paint? Sarah and Dad, if you’re reading this, expect an invite from me shortly. I think they’ll give me a coupon if you join and use it.

Shameless plug for the Flea Circus 7/27

Truthfully, I’ve done most of my best work by being shameless. It’s when I get shameful that I have to worry!

Anyway, it’s probably the last flea circus gig before the baby is born (unless something happens in the next week!) so come check it out if you can! Hope to see you there!

Click the image for a larger poster.

The Flea Circus Returns To Coney Island!

Coney Island Flea Circus Poster ==============================

WHAT: Acme Miniature Flea Circus at the Coney Island Museum

WHERE: Coney Island Museum, 1208 Surf Ave. Brooklyn NY 11224-2816

WHEN: Sunday July 27, 2008 at 4pm.

COST: $5

MORE INFO: http://www.coneyisland.com

MORE INFO: http://www.trainedfleas.com/coneyisland.html

CALL: 718 372 5159

ELECTRONIC PRESS RELEASE: Press Release PDF (707K: must have Adobe Reader)

PUBLICITY PHOTOS: Press Images of the show


Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

As many of you might know, I’m not a big fan of musicals in general, but I just want to say how fabulous Dr. Horrible is.

It’s a project by Joss Whedon (of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly) and I’m a big fan of two out of the three. Dr. Horrible is just a great low-tech approach to making edgy low budget television, which just happens to be made by some commercial tv quality guys. And it’s a musical. And it’s got Neal Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion in it. And it’s cheesy. And the music is fun. And as I said, I don’t even like musicals.

What I do like is seeing guys who are big in the commercial world experiment with crazy new technology just like everybody else, but bringing their big league talents to the table. This project doesn’t have million dollar sets or lots of advertising behind it– it’s just got people taking risks and having fun (and who happen to have had more than a modicum of success in the field) It’s kind of like watching Top Chef, but instead of some up and comers who have to take the risks, it’s Jacques Pepin, Emeril, and some other guy. And it would be a cheesy musical.

If you like science fiction, comic books, love stories, musicals, or the intersection between any of them, you will probably like this.

Watch it on the website, or just buy it like I did. You’ll probably want to watch it a few times. For the music.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog - Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Acts 1, 2 & 3

Birthday Dinner at WD-50: You want Molecular Gastronomy with that?

I don’t know about you, but we are pretty much over in the foodie camp. We like to talk about food. We like to cook food. And sadly we like to eat food.

And yes, we watch TOP CHEF.

So with Stephanie’s upcoming birthday, we wanted to do something very special–especially as this was perhaps our last big splurge without a child in tow for the next 10 years or so. We ended up going to a Molecular Gastronomy Restaurant with another couple and very good friends. The restaurant was WD-50, Wiley Dufresne’s restaurant at 50 Clinton St. In case you don’t know, molecular gastronomy is a kind of cuisine in which science (and specifically, chemistry) is applied to food. The food is often deconstructed, surprising, and the tastes are very strong and the textures emphasized.

It was a hard reservation to get, but we planned early, and snagged it. Although our end of the bill (we went with another couple, which I’m glad we did, as it made it very fun) was just south of 500 clams, it was a wonderful and memorable meal.

We opted for the tasting menu, a 12 course meal, and after some hesitation, went for the wine pairings too (well, three of us did.) They also made some accomodations to the tasting menu for my wife and the chemist, who don’t like fish. (3 of the dishes had fish in them– this was good, because I got to taste 3 more dishes.)

Our server was VERY knowledgeable, and we had lots of questions about the methods used. (One of the friends that came with us is a health policy scientist and chemist that works for Pfiser and teaches at Columbia) As a result, we ended up getting a tour of the kitchen at the end of the meal, and met Wylie, and actually had a little conversation with him. Amazing that a celebrity chef actually works at the restaurant, but there he was!

He asked us what our favorite part was, and I think that out of the 12 dishes, I liked the eggs benedict best (fried hollandaise cube, egg yolk in a jellied ball, and a very flat piece of canadian bacon stuck in the yolk like a bacon flag of sorts. I told Wylie that I liked it because it was the taste that I was most familiar with, and so could really appreciate the de-construction and re-layering of tastes. I also told him that it reminded me of a Bertolt Brecht quote: “Great art makes the strange familiar and the familiar strange.” He seemed to really like that.

We also talked to the pastry chef about the other big of the night– the browned butter
sorbet. Is it really a sorbet if it’s got dairy in it? The chef reminded us that all of the dairy is culled out in the browning process.

Over all it was quite a memorable meal, and so I guess it was worth it. I’ll let you know how I feel next month when I have to fork over the dough to Amex.

Below is the meal as I remember it, along with some pictures from the website– I regret not taking my own pictures. Also some of the descriptions may be off or wrong. I apologize– I drank quite a bit of wine, and it was 4.5 hour meal, so a lot of it runs together.

0. APPETIZER BREAD- a cracker bread that looked like Indian Pappadam, but only had a sesame taste. It was a little weird to eat that, and have it NOT be spicy.

1. A fish dish– can’t think of what it was.

Tasted like the inside of a Combo Pretzel snack– tiny doughy balls of pizza goodness, with pepperoni paste and fried crispy mushroom chips. Very clever, but slightly artificial tasting.

This was very tasty and well presented, but I don’t quite know how to describe it.
Served in a slanting bowl, the grapefruit shallot gel was delicious.

4. KNOT FOIE (pictured right)

A foie gras paste that was somehow tied in a knot (I think they bound it with a gum of some kind), it was stippled with tiny rice crackers, and paired with a delicious sake. had little tiny dips of raisin puree and kim chee puree.

5. EGGS BENEDICT (pictured left)
Gel of yolk with a little flag of bacon in the yolk, and a cube of fried hollandaise. The hollandaise was molten on the inside, but hard on the outside. There was a trail of black salt and a condiment paste– not sure what it was. But it tasted great!

The soybean noodle was one long noodle, and the crab tail was very tasty. The cinammon was also right on the money. Served in a consomme of some kind.

The spaetzle were somehow fried, and the pine needle was emulsified and both the emulsification and the cocoa nibs were painted on the bowl, it was very very good.

This was perhaps the most complex dish, with a lot of flavors going around all at once. The palm seeds were kind of sour steeped in Angostura bitters, the quinoa was crunchy, and the tongue was very thinly sliced. Cherry Miso was beautifully smeared as a paste on the plate.

The yogurt was a soft solid, in a long very white tuille made of olive oil The olive oil jam was delicious, and the rhubarb came as a strand.

The jasmine custard was delicious — black tea powder on the plate and a banana sorbet with a banana slice caramelized hiding beneath. Came with a milk foam.

This was just plain delicious, esp. the brown butter sorbet, which was so caramelly.

Came with an amazing chocolate pouch– the yuzu ice cream was nitrogen frozen, and drizzled with almond pebbles.

We had three substitutions for the people who didn’t eat fish.

The bone marrow tasted like a cornmeal cake with the stuff on top of it. Delicious until you remembered what you were eating.

This was like corned beef, but somehow it was duck. Delicious.

And a third thing that I don’t quite know what it was– it was some kind of vegetable dumpling– not very memorable.

We also had a slice of white chocolate cake with tamarind caramel on the inside served with a candle for my wife’s birthday.

Once again– a memorable meal, delicious, and probably not something we can afford to do again soon. We’re saving for diapers. And college.

Room… with a sort of view

While we can’t actually see the river from our house (well we can during the winter, if we get up on the third floor, lean out the window, and pray for a vision) but it turns out that we actually do have a pretty good view.

From our bedroom window and from the third floor window, we can see about 3/4 of the fireworks display (the bottom half is cut off by a 3 family house in the distance.)

This is the first time we’ve been in our house during a fireworks display.

We are at the bottom of a gently rising hill, so our view is really better than expected!

And we can definitely hear them, along with the myriads of illegal fireworks being shot off by our friendly neighbors…..

Nesting…. nesting.. Nest..Ing.

We haven’t been posting much, mostly because we’ve been busy nesting.

That’s the technical term for pregnant mothers who start taking on home improvement projects in their last trimester, in a vain attempt to be as busy as possible and to not think about their heart burn and the increasingly difficult time they have getting out of bed. (I have been sworn to say no more on the subject… but let us say there is a possibility of a videotape of the spectacle at some point. After all, a guy has to have some leverage!)

Anyway, not to be indelicate, but we’ve been nesting like the proverbial rabbits. In the past four weeks I have put together from kits a Crate and Barrel Hutch, a Crate and Barrel Buffet, an Ikea cabinet, a Joann Fabrics sewing table, an Ikea desk with four telescoping legs, 6 or 7 Ikea book shelf units, an Ikea sofa desk, and probably some other stuff that I’ve simply forgotten about. Some of these things I’ve even put together twice! (I got it wrong the first time!)

All in all, best directions go HANDS DOWN to Ikea, whose illustrations are always very clear. Sometimes they don’t make sense, or are in the wrong order, but once I’ve put something together, and have three left over parts, I usually can look at the drawing and figure out what I messed up. Worst go to Joann’s, whose illustrations missed several key points, and it wasn’t until I re-assembled the piece a second time did it become clear what goes where– and then I had to re-jigger it so that the little pneumatic gizmo had enough clearance on all sides to go up and down.

I’ve also had to lug and lug and lug this stuff out of the car, up the stairs, and in the case of the ikea book cases all the way up to the third floor. Not easy! And a lot of this stuff said “must be assembled by two people” and of course that means two people that can lift stuff, not one pregnant person who definitely should not be lifting heavy objects. Suffice to say that Stephanie helped as much as she could, and I did a little engineering to allow the very heavy awkward objects to be placed on top of one another (specifically the hutch on top of the buffet– the hutch weighed 120 lbs, the buffet 140 lbs, and I had to put them into place together. Aside from the windows being slightly mishung– it looks very good.

Today I’ve spent most of the day trying to clean out the second floor office (soon to be the nursery) and move that stuff up to the third floor. I’ve been up and down the stairs probably 20 times today. (The gym’s not open today, anyway.) I’ve moved a whole set of bookcases down to the floor level to either be free-cycled, or more likely put in the garage for a rainy day.

Now it’s hamburger time, followed by a potential fireworks show