Thursday, December 31, 2009

The gospel according to the Asylum Street Spankers

By Meredith Deliso

For most of their 15-plus year history, the Asylum Street Spankers have been belting it out Sundays at their gospel shows.

For those unacquainted with the roots band, these aren’t your typical gospel shows (and don’t be fooled by the name of their latest CD, “God’s Favorite Band,” either). Rather, the Austin-based band traffics in “agnostic gospel,” as they coined it, which includes old traditionals from bands like the Golden Gate Quartet mixed with originals that take a break from their usual riffs on alcohol, weed, and anti-war politics and examine the spiritual nature of mankind, Spankers style.

For all its agnosticism, don’t doubt that this isn’t a religious experience. Singer and co-founder Wammo has called this music the closest thing he’s had to one, and that through getting acquainted with gospel tunes, he’s learned it has more to do with soul than going to church.

For those looking to check them out, head to their upcoming Brooklyn show at the Bell House January 9. And for those who saw the band the last time they were in town, you can see them in their best form this go-around, as band co-founder Christina Marrs, who was on maternity leave last year, is back with the band.

“It will be a much different show than the last show,” says Wammo. Not having Marrs “totally affected what we can play and not play. It will be a dramatically different show. Brooklyn gets to experience her amazing voice.”

For their Brooklyn show, the band’s multi-instrumentalists will be breaking out some old favorites, including “Tripping Over You,” “War on Drugs,” and “Beer,” in addition to the new stuff.

“We’re mixing it up. We’re doing some oldies I haven’t done in a long time,” says Wammo.

So the first set will be songs off the gospel record – the salvation portion of the evening – and the second set will be more secular Spanker hits. “The nasty stuff,” says Wammo. “We actually like the salvation first. Then we sully the audience.”

Audience, you’ve been warned.

The Asylum Street Spankers play the Bell House (149 7th St.) January 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. For more information, call 718-643-6510. The next morning, the band performs a children’s show (no joke) at the 92Y Tribeca (200 Hudson St.) at 11 a.m. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 212-601-1000.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Illuminating


"5,537,594 Suns From Flickr (Partial) 5/30/09 - for Bam" by Brooklyn-based artist Penelope Umbrico. On view at BAM along with another new work, "Leonards for Leonard, opening January 6, with an artist reception from 6-8 pm. The exhibition runs through March 14 in the Natman Room of the BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building (30 Lafayette Ave.).

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Wedding crashers encouraged here

Getting married?

Get inspired by Brooklyn’s best caterers, photographers, bands, DJs, invite, dress, jewelry, floral and cake designers at the city’s most original wedding fair.

On January 9 at the Bell House, meet more than handpicked vendors (by Brooklyn Based) and hear expert speakers on topics like Invite Etiquette and DIY Ceremonies in the event Wedding Crashers.

Free flutes of sparkling wine, gift bags, and a special Honeymoon Gift Package including a $250 J. Crew gift card and $500 voucher at Gap Adventures. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door for each three-hour session (10:30 a.m. And 2 p.m.) or $40 for a day pass.

The Bell House is located 149 7th St.

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Evacuate the dance floor – it’s Tony Ferrante!

By Meredith Deliso

You may know him as Tony Disco. Now get ready to meet Tony Mambo.
Gravesend resident Tony Ferrante made it to the small screen this past summer, showing off his dance moves on “American’s Got Talent” and making it as far as the finals.

Now, the 75-year-old retired barber is looking for his second shot at fame.
The dancer has been in talks with the “Talent” folks about another run, this time, breaking out his mambo moves.

After wowing over the crowd with his disco freestyle, set to Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” in “Talent’s” last season (see clip below), Ferrante was called back before the judges again recently to audition for the next one. This time, he did a mambo number.

“One of the judges remembered me, says, ‘Oh, you’re back, how are you, you look sharp,” says Ferrante.

A natural performer, Ferrante doesn’t have any formal training, and he does all his dancing freestyle.

“No rehearsals, no choreography, everything I do comes natural,” says Ferrante. “My new steps now, I don’t know where I’ve got them from. It just comes to me.”
When his stage moved from Brooklyn to before a TV audience of millions, the pressure didn’t faze the Brooklynite one bit.

“When (‘Talent’ host) Nick Cannon asked me, ‘You’re not nervous?’ I said, no, I’m not nervous at all,” remembers Ferrante. “The more people I see the more I want to perform. For other people, it’s usually the opposite. I just love it.”

Before his TV debut, Ferrante honed his skill on the Brooklyn dance floors, tearing it up in Bay Ridge at places like the Greenhouse Café and Griswold’s Pub.

“Tony would come into my gigs at Griswold’s Pub years ago and with his flair for style, dress and dancing would catch everyone’s eyes,” says Frankie Marra, who fronts a Bay Ridge rock and roll band. “Tony is what Brooklyn is about — character. We are friends and he often comes to see me and I specifically pick songs out to highlight his unique dancing moves. As a lifelong Brooklynite, (I am) proud to have Tony represent us in any dancing contest.”

Since appearing on TV, Ferrante’s picked up some new fans too.

“I had a wild experience on 86th Street and Bay Parkway,” recalls Ferrante. “I walked into the store, and three teens walked in. One said, ‘You’re from America’s Got Talent. Oh my God!’ She was jumping up in the air.” Like a pro, he took a photo with them.

Ferrante’s hoping to get a call back from “Talent,” and, after catching the TV bug, is looking for more outlets. His girlfriend, Marianne Marciante (pictured above with Ferrante at Goodfella's), who encouraged him to audition for the show in the first place, has sent a video of Ferrante to Oprah. They may also contact another dancing fiend, Ellen DeGeneres. Though regardless of the outcome, he’s pleased with his success.

“God’s been good to me,” says Ferrante. “I’m very happy about this whole thing.”



Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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Culture club: the best bests for 2010

By Meredith Deliso

That was fast.

Another year has gone by in Brooklyn. These past 12 months may have found you dining at Buttermilk Channel, bowling at Brooklyn Bowl, or rocking out at the Knitting Factory, three acclaimed borough establishments that all came to be — or be reborn — in 2009. Or maybe you caught Cate Blanchett in her praised role of Blanche Dubois at BAM, took in the captivating “New Electric Ballroom” at St. Ann’s Warehouse, or had rock star insight at the Brooklyn Museum’s “Who Shot Rock and Roll” exhibition.

With 2010 right around the corner, we take a look at what’s in store for Brooklyn’s cultural landscape, from anticipated exhibits to concerts you should buy tickets for today (and don’t worry if you haven’t made it to the Brooklyn Museum exhibition yet; it runs until the end of January).

Brooklyn Sounds
There are shows on a daily basis in Brooklyn worth mentioning, but these caught our eyes, or, rather, ears. On January 29, Brooklyn Bowl has something for all you metal/tribute/Michael Jackson/Judas Priest/Cheap Trick enthusiasts. Promoter Rocks Off presents their Tribute Wars XXXII, with Dangerous, an all-metal tribute to Michael Jackson featuring members of 2 Skinnee J’s and Tragedy: All Metal Tribute to the Bee Gees, as well as all-female tributes to Judas Priest.At 9 p.m. Tickets $5. Located at 61 Wythe Ave. For more information, call 718-963-3369.

That same night, fans of experimental indie rock might want to head over to the Music Hall of Williamsburg for a set from Here We Go Magic. These guys have just been growing since formed by Luke Temple two years ago. With a sophomore album coming out in the New Year, expect even bigger things. At 9 p.m. Tickets $12 in advance, $14 day of show. With Midnight Masses and Glass Ghost. Music Hall is located at 66 North 6th Street.

Top local acts are lined up for BAM’s “Sounds Like Brooklyn,” an annual music festival that has its ear to the borough’s diverse sounds. This year’s, which runs from January 29-30 and February 4-6, features Les Savy Fav with Vivian Girls, Rain Machine with Anti-Pop Constortium, and Ra Ra Riot with The Antlers, at BAM, with additional Brooklyn venues participating as well.Tickets range from $15 to $25. BAM is located at 30 Lafayette Ave. For more information, call 718-636-4100.

Live on Stage
Stew made waves with his Tony award-winning “Passing Strange” in ’08. In ’10, he brings a multi-media rock show to Brooklyn with “Making It” at St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO. Are you making it? What are you making? When do you know you’ve made it? Watch as Stew and Heidi Rodewald explore these questions in their show, which traces the unlikely careers of Stew and Heidi from the dive rock clubs of Hollywood to the footlights of Broadway. We’ll say they’ve made it.

The show runs from February 17-21. Tickets $42 to $82. St. Ann’s is located at 38 Water St.

Bushwick band Pass Kontrol have been at work on their original rock opera “New Hope City,” doing workshops here and there. In February, they have the Bushwick Starr all to themselves as they present the work, from February 11 to 27. Should be out there. The Bushwick Starr is located at 207 Starr St. Tickets $10.

For a more traditional opera experience, BAM hosts its first ever opera festival this coming March. Curated by conductor William Christie, of the ensemble Les Arts Florissants, he brings a bit of the Baroque to Brooklyn, with two operas from Purcell – “Dido and Aeneas” and “The Fairy Queen,” and the French opera “Actéon,” plus a recital with Christie, Baroque cabaret and more. The festival runs from March 18-31. Ticket prices vary.

Ancient Art
For its next exhibit, the Brooklyn Museum in Prospect Heights draws more than 100 objects from its holdings of ancient Egyptian art (which numbers over 1,200) that illustrate the range of strategies the ancient Egyptians developed to cheat death. Fittingly, the exhibition is titled “To Live Forever: Art and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt,” and explores mummification and tomb rituals. Creepy or fascinating? You decide.

The exhibition runs from February 12-May 2 in the Robert E. Blum Gallery, 1st Floor. The museum is located at 200 Eastern Parkway. Suggested contribution is $10. For more information, go to http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/ or call 718-638-5000.

Big Fish
Katie Jarvis has been earning rave reviews for her performance in “Fish Tank” – which tells the story of a rebellious 15-year-old who becomes involved with her mother’s boyfriend – especially given her rookie status. The film itself, from Andrea Arnold, has won praise as well, taking the jury prize at Cannes. See it here, followed by a Q&A with the director, January 7 at 7 p.m. at BAM. Tickets $12.

Second Editions
New restaurants and shops pop up all the time in Brooklyn, those these following offerings give a second life to previously existing borough favorites.

Williamsburg’s Pies-n-Thighs shuttered to the dismay of barbecue lovers everywhere when they were kicked out of their space in 2008. The much-anticipated and long-delayed reopening a few blocks from the original is anticipated for early 2010. Happy New Year, indeed. Located at 166 South 4th St.

Lucali put Carroll Gardens on the pizza map when it opened in 2006. The year 2010 brings another pizza destination to Brooklyn – Giusepinna’s, or, as its been nicknamed, Lucali II, since it’s run by Chris Iacono, brother to Mark of Lucali, and initial speculation was that it would share the same name. Located in Greenwood Heights at 6th Avenue and 20th Street, the hope is that the new pizzeria will ease the wait at Lucali I once it opens, anticipated for late ’09, early ’10.

The Coney Island Boardwalk lost some flavor in early ’09 when Lola Staar was forced to close. Good news comes in the New Year, as the boutique and gift shop is set to reopen under the city’s new deal to buy land from developer Joe Sitt. As of press time, the new lease was in the works, but owner Dianna Carlin was hoping for a New Year’s Day party to celebrate the reopening and ring in 2010 with the Polar Bears as they make their annual New Year’s dip in the ocean.

For the past several months, Sixpoint Craft Ales in Red Hook (much in the news this year) has been under renovation to add space to make more beer, mainly meaning, no visitors allowed. That changes in the New Year, when the microbrewery, which has won fans for their rich stock of six brews, including their signature, Sweet Action, reopens to visitors. Since the brewery doesn’t bottle its beer, but rather sells it from kegs and at places like Biefkraft in Park Slope, that’s the best place to have it. How sweet it is. Located at 40 Van Dyke St.

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Saturday night’s alright for 2010 transformations

The Brooklyn Museum’s January 2 Target First Saturday celebrates transformation. These monthly First Saturday events attracts thousands of visitors to free programs of art and entertainment.


The January 2 event celebrates the transformative power of the new year with an exciting lineup of programs. Highlights include a performance by the indie rock band Cordero, a screening of the film “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” accompanied by a special live performance, a masquerade ball, karaoke, and an old school rockin’ dance party with New York Night Train.

From 5-7 p.m., Punk meets Latin as the bilingual indie rock band Cordero mixes Southwestern ballads with the gritty feel of the Brooklyn arts scene. At 6 p.m. Daphne Brooks, associate professor of English and African-American studies at Princeton University, discusses women of funk rock and the aesthetics of James Brown (free tickets are available at the Visitor Center at 5 p.m.).

At 6 p.m. Stepping Out Studios gives group waltz lessons in preparation for the Masquerade Ball. From 6:30-8:30 p.m. enjoy some hands-on art. Sketch a charcoal portrait from a live model posing in graceful dance steps (free timed tickets available at the Visitor Center at 5:30 p.m.).

Then, at 6:30 p.m., there is a film and performance. Based on the rock musical by the same name, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001, 95 min., R) tells the story of an East Berlin boy who undergoes a sex-change operation in order to marry and flee to the West.

This screening will be accompanied by a special live performance by a group of Hedwig enthusiasts known as the Midnight Checkout Queens (free tickets available at the Visitor Center at 5 p.m.).

The Masquerade Ball is from 7-8:30 p.m. Get decked out for Brooklyn’s highly anticipated annual Winter Ball. Dance lessons are at 6 p.m.

A Young Voices Gallery Talk is slated for 7:30 p.m. Student guides give a Sign Language-interpreted talk on the theme of transformation in Buddhist art. From 9-10 p.m., author John Sellers discusses his book “Perfect From Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life.”Karaoke is a favorite from 9-10:30 p.m. Belt out your favorite rock tune. Expressway Music hosts.

The night ends with the Dance Party from 9-11 p.m. New York Night Train conductor Jonathan Toubin spins his trademark 45 rpm “maximum rock and soul” sound.

Throughout the evening, a cash bar will offer beer and wine, and the Museum Café will serve a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, and beverages. The Museum Shop will remain open until 11 p.m. Some Target First Saturday programs have limited space and must be ticketed; lines for free tickets often form 30 minutes in advance. Parking is a flat rate of $4 from 5-11 p.m.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Drink to your neighborhood

This New Year's Eve we know what we'll be drinking: a Red Hook Cocktail.


The Times details some of the mixologists' newest creations, which include a drink named after the scruffy nabe.

Created by former Milk & Honey bartender Enzo Errico, it's a mix of rye, sweet vermouth and maraschino liqueur. According to The Big Apple, here's how you make it:

2 ounces rye whiskey
1/2 ounce Punt y Mes
1/4 - 1/2 ounce maraschino, to taste

Stir with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass.

The sweet drink has "inspired at least a dozen more sub-riffs by other ardent cocktail classicists," says the Times, "with almost all the drinks named after Brooklyn neighborhoods, including the Greenpoint (which uses Chartreuse), the Cobble Hill (Amaro Montenegro and cucumber slices) and the Bensonhurst (maraschino liqueur and Cynar)."

If Errico's looking to tailor drinks after all of Brooklyn's neighborhood's, he'll have to have a lot of time on his hands.

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This week in 24/Seven

Each week we'll preview what you can expect in our 24/Seven print edition, out Thursday for you southern Brooklynites and Friday for the downtown neighborhoods.

Highlights include:

The New Year: A look at what's to come in Brooklyn in 2010: on stage, on the big screen and on the street.

Music: Diverse acts come to Brooklyn next month, from pop punk pioners All at the Music Hall of Williamsburg Jan. 9, to the Aslyum Street Spankers at the Bell House that same night.

Columns: Pumps & Pleats finds some deals and steals in the Fulton Mall, while the Kitchen Klutz makes a super sweet steak, and the Reporter's Table makes a loving nod to her mom with her homemade mac & cheese.

For these stories and more, pick up a copy in your nabe or check back here later today!

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The Weekend: 12.31-1.3

Here we are. 2009 is almost behind us, and soon schoolchildren will have to remember to write 2010 atop their notebooks.

Here are our picks to usher in the new year this weekend in Brooklyn.

Thursday, December 31

New Year's Eve: Check out our guide to wining and dining in Brooklyn tonight. Or, if you're looking for a party, check out our other guide, which has a sampling of Brooklyn's biggest bashes, from warehouse parties to Las Vegas-style shenanigans.

Friday, January 1

Brrrr: Not one but two Brooklyn groups will be jumping into the shivery Atlantic today to ring in the new year. Stand by and watch with some hot cocoa, or, if you're one to join in, bring your suit. The Ice Breakers go first, with their annual swim at noon at Brighton and the Boardwalk. At 1 p.m., the Polar Bears jump into the surf at Stillwell Avenue and the Boardwalk.

Food: For those looking to recoop from the night before not with an icy dip but some comfort food, check out these restaurants, whose food hits the spot.

Saturday, January 2

Winter Follies: No, the Kentucky Derby hasn't jumped a few months on the calendar. But tonight, the Bell House celebrates everything horsey and southern today with their Winter Follies, a Derby-themed party complete with Benedictine Sandwich appetizers and mint julips, a hat contest and race track game, to get you in the spirit early. Plus, there's rope tricks. At 9 p.m. Tickets $10. Located at 149 7th St.

Museum: The Brooklyn Museum's Target First Saturday is all about transformation, it being a new year and all. Highlights include a performance by the indie rock band Cordero, a screening of the film “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” accompanied by a special live performance, a masquerade ball, karaoke, and an old school rockin’ dance party with New York Night Train. From 5-11 pm. Free. Located at 200 Eastern Parkway.

Sunday, January 3

Top Picks: Take a break from all your partying today, and see what 2010 has in store for you. Check out our guide for what's happening in Brooklyn in the new year, and update your gCal now.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

A rock ‘em, sock ‘em Sherlock Holmes on screen

"Sherlock Holmes"
3 Stars

By Thomas Tracy

It’s rather elementary that once it was proven that a reboot of a decades-old franchise would be a planet shattering hit that every movie studio with a few old antiques rattling around their storm cellars would try their luck.

Warner Brothers is trying to grab that lightning with “Sherlock Holmes,” which hasn’t seen a big-screen re-launch since “Young Sherlock Holmes” in 1985. The Holmesian heyday in Hollywood, of course, ended in the late 1940s when Basil Rathbone shucked off the deerskin cap.

Yet while they have one of the cinema’s best character actors in their stable (Robert Downey, Jr., “Iron Man,” “The Soloist”) as the enigmatic 19th century super-sleuth, this mystery turned into a break-neck horse race around London has all the consistency of flash powder – there are shining moments, but in the end you’re left with nothing to grab onto.

Call it some kind of ironic therapy, but Downey – known for his bouts with illicit substances – doesn’t portray Holmes as the drug-addled genius others have. This Holmes is more bi-polar. After helping to arrest the mundanely devious Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong “Rock-n-Rolla”) and left with no interesting cases to solve, Holmes goes into a great depression that all the best London fight clubs can’t knock him out of.

When his best friend Dr. John Watson (Jude Law, “Sleuth,”) takes him to dinner to meet his future betrothed, all Holmes does is use his honed skills of deduction to insult her.But the poor fellow can’t help himself. Director Guy Ritchie (“Snatch”) aptly portrays both the good aspects of Holmes’ ability to make deductions from everything he sees and the ones that leave him with red wine splashed on his face.

It’s not until word spreads that Lord Blackwood has somehow risen from the grave that Holmes malaise is gone and he’s back in action.

Yet Downey’s Holmes is not really Arthur Conan Doyle’s incarnation. Instead he’s a 19th century Batman, replete with quick left hook and utility belt (we kid you not).

In turn, Law takes a completely new approach to Holmes’ traditionally bumbling sidekick while Rachel McAdams’ Irene Adler (Holmes fans will thrill to the name, but everyone else will go “Who?”) does a drab job as a sinister succubus.

Firing off all their flash powder at once, Warner Brothers managed to turn the tales of the legendary detective into explosive popcorn fare and set the stage for a second match between Holmes and a shadowy nemesis that only true fans will look forward to seeing.But will a sequel be made? That’s a mystery only the viewing public can solve.

"Sherlock Holmes." Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Directed by Guy Ritchie. Running time: 128 minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material.

Playing in Brooklyn at the Access Digital Theatres - Pavilion Cinema in Park Slope, Cobble Hill Cinemas, Linden Boulevard Multiplex Cinemas in East New York, UA Court Street Stadium 12 in Downtown Brooklyn, UA Sheepshead Bay 14 and Bay Ridge Alpine Cinemas.

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Pumps & Pleats: Fly in style



Story and photos by Michèle De Meglio



It’s the holidays! That means it’s time to hop a plane, train or automobile and visit family.



Don’t make the long trek with a banged and bruised suitcase. Get yourself a chic carry-on at Ace Luggage in Sheepshead Bay.





Open since 1961, the shop is stocked with classically stylish suitcases and duffle bags, as well as trendy luggage.



Take Ace’s big seller — the Vera Bradley quilted cotton collection. Choose from a travel tote, rolling duffel or 26-inch upright. If you like to match, score a Vera Bradley purse. Ace carries just about every single paisley print made by the brand.



Looking for something heavy duty? Then pick up a hard case in a glossy leopard print. Your case will definitely stand out in the airport’s basic black crowd.





There’s plenty of famous brand names at Ace, including Tumi, Tignanello, Samsonite, Kenneth Cole and Kipling. You know, that cool company that outfits each bag with a furry monkey keychain.



Ace has much more than luggage. There’s the obvious travel accessories, such as slippers and pillows, but also handbags and briefcases. You can score one of Kathy Van Zeeland’s bling-tastic purses. Hurry, they’re now on sale!



You don’t gotta tell me twice!



Ace Luggage and Gifts is located at 2122 Avenue U. For hours call 718-891-9713 or log onto www.aceluggage.com.



Michèle De Meglio is a native Brooklynite addicted to all things chic. Check out Pumps & Pleats each week for more adventures as she scours the borough for fab duds and accessories.

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Kitchen Klutz: Christmas lasagna — Klutz style


Photo by Joe Maniscalco


By Michèle De Meglio


My mom cooks a feast every Christmas. Seriously.



The Eve is all about seafood. After enjoying mussels, fried shrimp and scallops last year, my family and I said, “Oh gosh, no!” when presented with salmon steaks the size of my head.



On Christmas day, my mom turns out a full Italian buffet highlighted by lasagna. Oh, lasagna. Soft pasta, sweet sauce and creamy cheese. Does it get any better?



I recently joined my mom in her Brooklyn kitchen to cook this traditional dish. C’mon, of course my mother was there. Do you think I could pull this off myself?



I prefer lasagna with just noodles, cheese and sauce but my mom added chopped meat since my brothers would be sharing this dish. Seems fitting since I did call them meatheads when we were kids. They deserved it!



We used every single bit of counter space to make the lasagna. Geez, this is hard work!



After my mom made her signature tomato sauce from scratch (I think I was modeling my new boots when she did this), we browned chopped meat in a frying pan. I whined and screeched when turning the meat. My aversion to carcass continues!



The cheese mixture was a combination of ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan. I was put in charge of mixing bowl duties (I bet my mom was sick of hearing me complain about the meat.)



Now for the fun part! Building the lasagna!



It’s kinda like building a house — a house made of gooey cheese and tomatoes! Using a 9-inch by 13-inch glass baking dish, we added layer upon layer of noodles, sauce and cheese. Then off it went into the oven.



Verdict: My mom is the greatest cook who ever lived! Her lasagna is the best in the world! Hey, I can make outlandish declarations. That’s my mama!



Kitchen Klutz follows 20-something Michèle De Meglio as she burns casseroles and her fingers, all in hope of trading frozen dinners for home cooking.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

A pasta for all seasons with this tasty dish

By Helen Klein

For years, Pasta Primavera has been a mainstay of restaurants and cookbooks.

Designed to showcase the growing season’s earliest vegetables, the dish, at its best, is a savory mix of such toothsome morsels as young asparagus, the first peas and baby carrots, whose delicate flavors are enhanced served on a bed of whisper-thin angel hair pasta.It seems equally logical to create a dish to mirror spring’s opposite number, featuring a panoply of fall produce.

I envisioned autumn pasta as a rich and satisfying main dish, drawing on the deep colors and flavors that develop in vegetables that have soaked in the summer sun before being culled, and served on a bed of sturdy pasta, such as shells.

As I often do, I drew on my produce drawer “crayon box,” selecting vegetables in varying colors for their eye-catching appeal, their complementary flavors, and their nutritional benefits.

This was clearly a dish in which I wanted the flavors to meld together, while also shining individually. I wanted it to be hearty, and I wanted it to tease the palate, then deliver full-bodied satisfaction.

To that end, I opted for a combination of red and yellow pepper, baby carrots, kale and wax beans, on a base of sautéd garlic and onion, and enhanced with the addition of chopped walnuts, chopped fresh basil and shreds of mozzarella cheese, which melted unctuously on top of the hot pasta.Binding the entire dish together, and enriching it, was a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. I also chose to use whole wheat pasta, both because of its slightly nutty flavor and its superior nutrition.

Autumn Pasta

Ingredients
½ large onion, chopped
½ cup chunked baby carrots
½ red pepper, seeded, cored, and sliced
½ yellow pepper, seeded, cored, and sliced
1 lb. fresh wax or green beans, ends trimmed and cut into thirds2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 leaves kale, spine removed, and coarsely chopped
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1-2 Tbl. olive oil
¼ cup chopped mozzarella cheese
2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ lb. whole wheat shaped pasta, such as shells

Directions
Heat the olive oil in large skillet. When oil is hot, add the onion, and sauté over medium heat till translucent and slightly golden in color, salting to help the onions render liquid. Add the carrots and pepper and continue to sauté till carrots are crisp-tender. Add beans and continue sautéing, adding the garlic when the beans have begun to become crisp-tender. Continue to sauté, adding a quarter cup of water, if necessary, to prevent vegetables sticking to the bottom of the pan.

When the garlic has cooked sufficiently to have lost its sharpness, add the kale, and continue sautéing till kale is limp and tender. Add walnuts, and continue to cook, over low heat. Add basil, and salt and pepper to taste, just before removing from the heat.While vegetables are cooking, boil water for pasta. Add 1 Tbl. salt and 1 Tbl. olive oil to water. When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook till al dente.When pasta is done, drain and return to pot. Add vegetable mixture, mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil, and combine. Adjust seasonings.

Serves four.

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Goodfella’s: a delicious and good time for all

By Marshall Slater

Goodfella’s has been a staple in Bay Ridge for many years, consistently serving crowd pleasing cuisine in very charming surroundings all wrapped up in a family friendly and good times atmosphere. I am pleased to say that little has changed in all these respects now that the restaurant is well into its second decade.

And before we get started on the specifics, it should be first understood that while there are many Goodfella’s restaurants, this location long ago took its own road, maintaining the name but taking off in other varied directions, including culinary, making it very much a one-of-a-kind establishment, able to cater to its Brooklyn clientele in a most personalized manner.

Owned and operated by brother and sister partners Michele and Darren Carbone, one is always on premises to make sure customers are consistently happy. It is easy to see that this is a real favorite for regulars and newbies. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming; the portions abundant, the menu far and wide ranging, plus there are lots of other enticements to keep you coming back.

Each night brings a prodigious array of specials augmenting the already diverse bill of fare. On a recent evening, the blackboard menu tempted the palate with stuffed filet of sole, pork chops with vinegar and cherry peppers, campagnolo Carbone, fresh salmon served any style you desire, steak pizzaiola, veal chop with mushrooms and onions or done parmigiana. But at Goodfella’s, everyone seems to have their favorites, be it one of their award winning brick oven pizzas — which have been named best in the land more than once — the traditional Italian favorites or the specialty entrees.

The meal starts with some of the best homemade bread you are likely to enjoy; as thick and as good as cake dough. But while the desire is to consume all that reaches your table, have a little discipline so you can leave more room for the meal.

The Antipasto Paesano is a good place to start, made up of all the starters you love: first rate, wonderfully fresh veggies are grilled (eggplant and zucchini) or roasted (sweet peppers), and complimented with a smooth and satisfying virgin olive oil and balsamic dressing, and chunks of fresh garlic and light spices. Add in the fresh mozzarella wheels atop tomatoes and under basil and you have a delectable way to begin the meal. Or there is its kissing cousin of the hot antipasto sampler consisting of excellent baked clams, mushroom oreganata, snappy jumbo shrimp gently battered and tender eggplant. Cheese is also the main ingredient in the decadent mozzarella en carrozza, in which the milky cheese is lightly battered and then fried, finished with a thick red sauce studded with more garlic.

Other options to begin your visit include the Famous Goodfella’s Buffalo Style Chicken Wings available in mild, medium and (very, very) hot; popcorn shrimp, a spinach and artichoke dip, bruschetta, tender and crisp fried calamari, chicken fingers, stuffed artichoke Zuppa di Clams or Mussels in red or white sauce, and probably more than a dozen others.

But choice is one of the main ingredients in everything at Goodfella’s. A good case in point is the option for the very popular Family Style Dinner, which serves couples, foursomes or parties of 50. It is a price fixed feast, which allows you an exceptional array of choices for one low price of $23.95. For this tab you get your choice of four appetizers (the best of the regular menu), two pastas, three entrees (veal, chicken, seafood; again, some of the most popular choices from the main menu), plus dessert and beverage. This menu is not only available for dinner patrons, but can be further enhanced for those planning a party.

Want even more of a bargain? Then come for the four course Early Bird Dinner Menu, which is featured Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. and priced at just $18.95.Add in such amenities as free valet parking, karaoke on Saturday night and live bands on Fridays and you soon realize why Goodfella’s is known for good times.

Of course, if you find yourself in the neighborhood during midday, they offer both $7.95 and $9.95 complete lunch specials Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.But for now, let’s head back to the dining room and see what else entices. Of course, Goodfella’s is very well known and even more respected for its old world style pizzas, available as either individual four slice pies, a six slice square pie or as the more typical eight slice variety. All specialty pies are made with hand sliced fresh mozzarella and all pizzas are baked in the brick oven. Customize the pie with any of a dozen and a half options or, better yet, opt for one of their wonderful specialty creations like the Pizza alla Vodka — voted the number one pizza in the country two years running and made of their coveted tomato cream vodka sauce, seasoned with fresh mushrooms, peas and prosciutto. Smokin Goodfella, named The World’s Best Pizza at the International Pizza Festival in 2007, consists of smoked fresh mozzarella, roasted pepper cream sauce, fresh sausage, wood roasted peppers all topped with Pecorino Romano cheeses and fresh basil.

Other choices include the venerable Mushroom Madness constructed with a porcini cream mushroom sauce topped with freshly seasoned and sliced mushrooms and imported Pecorino Romano cheese. There is also the Vegetable Delight, the house namesake “Goodfella” (plum tomato sauce, topped with brick oven roasted peppers, sausage and fresh sliced garlic), an Eggplant Parmigiana pizza, Chicken Parmigiana, Quattro Stagioni (literally “four seasons”) made with plum tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, artichoke hearts, black olives, prosciutto and fresh, seasoned mushrooms and the close relative of the Quattro Formaggi, their interpretation of the four cheese creation, with fresh mozzarella, provolone, fontina and grated Pecorino Romano cheese topped with that plum tomato sauce. But these only begin the long list.

Of course, pastas are also a featured item on the menu, such as the Penne alla Vodka, with its sweet background taste gained from the echoes of the vodka, which is burned off during the cooking process. It’s a light cream sauce confection with peas and a touch of tomato. The exceptionally light and tasty potato gnocchi dumplings are presented in a superb fresh pesto sauce. There are at least another dozen variations on this theme, some traditional and some not so…like the Linguine Sinatra with the macaroni sautéed in garlic and oil with chopped shrimp and clams and a drop of tomato for a pink blush and a nice counter taste.As for the entrees, veal, chicken and seafood are given equal attention and all the classics are represented. The Chicken Siciliano offers alternating layers of prosciutto, mozzarella and eggplant; the succulent veal saltimbocca is made with excellent prosciutto in a wine sauce. The Chicken Scarpariello is offered on the bone with tons of fresh garlic and a zingy sauce to lap up with the bread.

From Veal Parmigiana and Sorrentino to Pizzaiola and Bolognese, you can see the old favorites are very much still in style at Goodfella’s along with house creations such as the Chicken Ambrosiano (breast sautéed in garlic and wine with capers, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes served over penne) and the Chicken Goodfella’s with tender chunks of breast sautéed with scallions, shallots, garlic, white wine and cream over penne pasta or the Chicken Contadina also served on the bone sautéed in garlic and lemon with sausage and oven roasted peppers.

Shrimp Romulus offers baby shrimp sautéed in a delicate lobster cream sauce with angel hair pasta; there is Calamari Marinara or Fra Diavolo, jumbo shrimp done Francese, Oreganato and Parmigiana, fresh fish and combinations like the Chicken and Shrimp Rustica, which matches a grilled chicken breast with shrimp, roasted peppers, mushrooms, shallots, garlic and cream with a touch of tomato over penne.

Desserts are no mere accommodation to the end of the meal; instead, they offer a sweet shop array of temptations like the apple pizza pie ala mode, which starts with a base of pizza dough then adds thin slices of fresh apples and cinnamon crumb topping, topped off with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate syrup. Beyond this innovation is a bakery case filled with everything from tirami su to Snickers pie, sorbets in their natural fruit shells to Reese’s pie, New York cheesecake to the Vesuvius pie, a combination of mousse, cheesecake, brownie, caramel and nuts.

Goodfella’s
9606 Third Avenue, between 96th and 97th streets
718-833-6200

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday until 11:30 p.m.; Saturday until midnight and Sunday, 12:30-10 p.m.

Free valet parking nightly after 5 p.m., seven nights.

Most major credit cards are accepted.

Early Bird Special (choice of appetizer, soup or salad, entrée and pasta plus dessert) price fixed at $18.95 is available Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. For details on the Family Style Menu available at all times, see the body of the story above.

There is karaoke with Vinny Karaoke and DJ every Saturday, 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Friday night features live bands from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Private parties up to 130 are accommodated. Outside catering is a specialty.

There is free delivery for several miles, from Bensonhurst to Bay Ridge and Sunset Park.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

­The Murals of West Belfast

The O’Donovan Rossa Society invites you to “Culture, Community & Resistance: The Murals of West Belfast,” a free slide and lecture presentation by Belfast muralist Gerard ‘MoChara’ Kelly.

With the outbreak of conflict in Ireland in the late 1960s, Ballymurphy was disproportionately impacted by the violence that followed. Over the next 30 years, more than 150 people were killed and hundreds from the area injured, interned without trial and imprisoned.

In 1971, upon the introduction of internment without trial by the government of the time, 11 members of the community were shot dead by the British army in a single night, one of the worst incidents of the conflict. Against this background of turmoil, MoChara became politically involved. Arrested for a political offence, he served a prison sentence in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.

During his time in prison he discovered the importance of revolutionary art. Teaching himself to paint and draw, he realized that art was a means of acknowledging resistance, challenging media censorship and imbuing the oppressed nationalist community with a sense of dignity and pride in their history and culture.

Upon his release from prison he began to paint murals in Ballymurphy covering a wide range of themes, from the prison struggle, to the hunger strikes, elections, the history of Irish Republicanism and Celtic mythology.

The lecture is January 6, 7 p.m. at Rocky Sullivan’s Pub, 34 Van Dyke Street at Dwight Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn.For more, call 718-246 8050.

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Inside look at the city’s little neighborhoods

A new book, “New York: The Big City and Its Little Neighborhoods,” is a must-have guide to 20 of the city’s most distinctive ethnic enclaves.

Both the first time visitor to New York City and seasoned natives will enjoy this unique “how to” book, which captures the spirit of each neighborhood by offering tips on where to eat, shop and visit off the beaten track in all five boroughs.

The book includes directions to each destination from Grand Central and a “local flavors” sidebar suggests authentic dishes to try from each culture.

In Queens, sample Moussaka in Astoria’s Little Athens, or Basbousa in Little Egypt. Head to the Bronx to try Pasulj in Belmont’s Little Albania or homemade ravioli in Little Italy. In Brooklyn, visit the Shmura Matzoh Bakery in Borough Park’s Little Jerusalem, eat kibbe in Bay Ridge’s Little Beirut, or experience the boardwalk in Brighton Beach’s Little Odessa. Take the ferry to Staten Island’s Little Sri Lanka for a meal of Coconut Roti and String Hoppers. And, don’t miss the chimichangas in East Harlem’s Little Mexico or the Foufou in Harlem’s Little Senegal.

Other local featured neighborhoods include Flatbush’s Little West Indies and Greenpoint’s Little Poland.

“New York: The Big City and Its Little Neighborhoods” by Naomi Fertitta with photography by Paul Aresu is available on Amazon.com and major retailers nationwide.

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The Weekend: 12.24-12.27


Ongoing

There are lots of family obligations this weekend for sure, but for those looking to get out, here's what's going on near you:

Thursday, December 24

Have a Ball: Forget Chinese food and the movies this year. Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Ave.) is throwing its first annual Matzah Bowl this year for those looking to break from their own traditional Jewish holiday plans. The event will feature Israeli performers Days Like Months and Pey Dalid, as well as drink and bowling specials, and menus from nearby kosher restaurants. At 8:15 p.m. Tickets $12. Over in Park Slope, Southpaw (125 Fifth Ave.) hosts JDub's annual Jewltide, a night of funk from Dan Saks (of DeLeon) & The Funkadeli All-Stars. At 9 p.m. Tickets $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Ongoing

Afrobeat: Antibalas take a break from their December residency this week at Knitting Factory, but you can catch them on stage in Fela! this winter and get your afrobeat fix.

Theater: St. Ann's extended its popular run of "Brief Encounter" until January 17. Get your tickets before they're gone.

Sunday, December 27

Music: Dar Williams has her own holiday tradition: a Brooklyn show after Christmas. Make it your own as well and see her at Southpaw tonight. Tickets are $25 in advance, available for purchase at ticketweb.com, or $30 at the door.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Comfort food for the day after

There’s nothing like a post-mortem over drinks and good food that fills your stomach, especially after a New Year’s Eve bender. For some comfort food post-partying, try these Brooklyn favorites and start the New Year’s off right.

Aunt Suzie’s
247 Fifth Ave.
718-788-AUNT

This Park Slope restaurant has been providing generous portions of Italian-American favorites for more than 20 years, and through it all has remained pretty affordable. Its pasta dishes are just like Grandmas made them, too.

S & B Restaurant
194 Bedford Ave.
718-963-1536

This cozy Polish restaurant in Greenpoint serves up grub you’d expect from a diner, as well as kielbasa, pierogis and other meaty, greasy food sure to warm you up. Come to think of it, this might be a good stop to hit the night before, too.

Dumont
432 Union Ave.
718-486-7717

What do most people want when it comes to comfort food? Some really good mac and cheese. And Dumont’s in Williamsburg fits the bill (they call it the Dumac and cheese. Aww.). It comes with cheddar, guyere, Parmesan, bacon and radiatore pasta. That also makes us go yum.

The Brooklyn Star
33 Havemayer St.
718-599-9899

This Southern-themed restaurant in Williamsburg presents American comfort food at its finest, and has quickly won fans for its hearty food. From the corn bread to the chicken-fried steak to the mac and cheese, you better come here ready to eat.

–Meredith Deliso

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Wining and dining this New Year's Eve

By Meredith Deliso

The choice of what to do for New Year’s Eve can be agonizing. For those looking to eat, we’ve narrowed it down a bit for you. To follow, some highlights of restaurant specials in Brooklyn to ring out ’09, depending on what you might be in the mood for.

Big Helpings
Patricia’s Pizza and Pasta of Williamsburg only opened in the past couple months, but is winning fans for their authentic Italian cuisine. Go it family style at the homey spot and share among the restaurants pasta, chicken and fish offerings. Or get a full dinner for $50 a person, from wine to dessert. Located at 35 Broadway. Call 718-218-9272 for reservations (recommended).

Down in Bay Ridge, Goodfella's is making it a party this New Year’s Eve with a five-course dinner and open bar for $65 a person, complete with party favors, DJ and karaoke. Better get working on “Auld Lang Syne.” Goodfella's is located at 9606 Third Ave. For more information, call 718-833-6200.

For pizza, head to Motorino in Williamsburg. The Neapolitan pizzeria will be providing a $35 prix-fixe menu, including a pie with black truffle and taleggio cheese. For a toast, bottles of prosecco will be available for $30 a bottle, or $8 by the glass. Located at 319 Graham Ave. Call 718-599-8899 for more.

Tres…Dos…Uno…
Celebrate Spanish style at Casa Pepe, which will be serving their regular menu, plus some specials, this New Year’s Eve. The Bay Ridge restaurant offers Spanish and Mexican cuisine, so bring your friends and order a bunch of tapas for the table. And make sure to get the paella. Located at 114 Bay Ridge Ave. Reservations suggested for larger groups. Party rooms are also available. Call 718-833-8865 for more.

Little D went the way of the dodo this year, making room for Fonda, with contemporary, urban Mexican fare that seemed to fill a void in Park Slope’s dining scene. For New Year’s, the little spot will be have a special prix fixe menu with three seatings – 6 p.m. ($45), and 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (both $65). Tables can share the salad and guacamole family style, and choose among the entrees and desserts. Chef Roberto Santibañez recommends the oxtail mole de olla, and for the vegetarians, roasted polbans with spinach and goat cheese. And for dessert, you can’t go wrong with a citrus tres leches. Located at 434 Seventh Ave. Call 718-369-3144 for reservations (required).

Another newish addition to Brooklyn, Bay Ridge hot spot Trace should be a party, as they serve their regular menu of modern Mexican fare (until 11 p.m.). A DJ will be on hand to provide the sounds, so after eating, continue to enjoy the atmosphere at the bar. Located at 8814 Third Ave. Call 718-921-9500 for more.

Bar Food
With a name like Beer Table, you wouldn’t expect much beyond beer enthusiasm. But the Park Slope spot also has a keen palate, and on New Year’s Eve, you can imbibe, as well as indulge. Their three-course menu includes a spicy black eyed pea salad, Bamberg onion (stuffed with pork and topped with bacon) and potatoes, and Bayley Hazen Blue with honey and hazelnuts. Seatings are at 8 p.m. ($45) and 10 p.m. ($55). Call 718-965-1196 or e-mail info@beertable.com to make a reservation. Located at 427 Seventh Ave.

New to ’09, The Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights has won fans for its sophisticated pub grub. On New Year’s Eve, the restaurant will be offering a four-course prix fixe for $68, with an optional wine pairing for $40. The restaurant is located at 570 Vanderbilt. Reservations for the back room, while the front bar room will be accepting walk-ins. Call 718-623-0570 for more.

For the Foodies
Buttermilk Channel has big plans New Year’s Eve. The Carroll Gardens bistro will run its regular menu along with “some decadent, extra-fancy additions,” including a whole-roasted chicken with foie gras and a lobster pot pie, as well as a stout cake made with Otis Stout from Brooklyn’s Six Point Brewery for dessert. For the toast, sip on sparkling Blanc de Blancs from Schramsburg. Located at 524 Court St. Call 718-852-8490 for more.

Grrrr...
Ring in the Year of White Tiger at Moim, a Korean spot in Park Slope that will be offering a prix fixe three-course dinner for $20.10 (ha), as well as live jazz from the Seung-Hee Trio, playing standard and pop arrangements. Located at 206 Garfield Pl. Call 718-499-8072 to make a reservation (recommended).

Seafood
Christmas Eve is a big fish night for some, but for a new tradition, head to The Pearl Room for some gourmet seafood offerings. The Bay Ridge spot will be providing a four-course meal, including an open bar, for $128 a person. Located at 8203 Third Ave. Call 718-833-6664 for reservations.

Classic Cuisine
For a wide array for choices for all the different tastebuds in your group, these Bay Ridge places can’t be beat. For a restaurant with a view, head to Restaurant 101, which overlooks the Verrazano Bridge. The spot will be serving their full menu all night, with a champagne toast at midnight. Located at 10018 Fourth Ave. Call 718-833-1313 for reservations.

The Greenhouse Café is ready to celebrate New Year’s all night, with multiple seatings from 4 pm. on. For you late birds, enjoy a complete dinner and open bar for $85 per person with their 9:30 and 10 p.m. seatings. Located at 7717 Third Ave. Call 718-833-8200 for reservations.

And, for the meat lovers, the Bay Ridge Manor breaks out their choice cuts for New Year’s Eve, with their full carvings on the menu. Dinner is $95 per person and includes an open bar and unlimited bubbly. Located at 476 76 St. Call 718-748-8855 for reservations.

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Countdown in Brooklyn

By Meredith Deliso

For all the talk of cutting back during the recession, Brooklynites are still partying strong. Just look at the sold-out concerts at venues like the Music Hall of Williamsburg, or the packed parties that transpired this past Halloween.

New Year’s Eve shouldn’t be any different, and for those looking to make a night of it, here’s what’s going on in a neighborhood near you.

Rock ‘N’ Soul
Boogie with Obits, Eli Paperboy Reed & The True Loves, and other special guests at the Bell House for this December 31. Subway Soul Club DJs will be on hand to get you dancing until the wee hours of the morning as well. There will also be food vendors for when you get hungry, free champagne with admission to quench that thirst, and party favors and door prizes just for the fun of it.Tickets are $30 in advance, $40 day of the show. At 8 p.m. The Bell House is located at 149 7th St. For more information, call 718-643-6510.

Warehouse Parties from Party People
For New Year’s Eve, Winkel & Balktick bring you their Warehouse Alchemy Magnum Opus, fancy words for a night to make you forget the booms and bursts of the past 10 years, and go into the New Year in style with dancing, DJs, interactive art installations, lounging, activities, games, elixirs, cuisine and merrymaking. The party duo will transform their warehouse in Sunset Park into a “clandestine celebration laboratory just for the occasion.Tickets are $20 through December 25, and $100 or $250 after. The location of the warehouse is given upon RSVP.

Dance until you sweat in Gowanus, as MeanRed hosts an all-night dance party at the Old American Can Factory. The Rub, known for their funk, soul, and R&B classics parties, will be sure to get you moving.The party happens from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. at the Old American Can Factory (232 3rd St.). Tickets $25.

Gemini and Scorpio take a break from their Russian Baths parties for The Bootleggers’ Ball, a New Year’s Eve speakeasy ball in a Carroll Gardens warehouse befitting the mood. Party-goers can expect “the intimacy of a daring cabaret mixed with the intrigue of a vintage costumed ball, expansiveness of a warehouse dance party, excitement of live brass, a splash of fine cocktails, and just a dash of illicit adventure and unpredictable moments,” according to the organizers. Come dressed in depression glamour and dance to old-timey jazz. The party is from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., and is 21 and over (25+ recommended). Tickts are $30 in advance, $40 at the door, $50 VIP, and $20 after 2 a.m. Check in is at Green & Green Insurance Co. (450 Union at Bond Street).

Best of Downtown in Brooklyn
Galapagos Art Space welcomes a Downtown cast, as comedian Mr. Murray Hill hosts a variety show at the DUMBO space. The cast includes burlesque beauty Dirty Martina, nightlife performer Julie Atlas Muz, comedian Bradford Scobie, Neal Medlyn, the “Paris Hilton of performance art,” crooner Bridget Everett, musician Kenny Mellman, and performer ‘Lill Miss Lixx. And, when midnight strikes, look up, as champagne will descend from the ceiling. After raising your glasses, stick around for the after-party with DJ Mel Huckabee. Tickets range from $25 to $100. The party starts at 10:30 p.m. Galapagos Art Space is located at 16 Main St. For more information, call 718-222-8500.

Party with a ‘Vue’
Ring in the New Year atop the Le Bleu in Park Slope in the Vue Restaurant, dancing to music spun by the live DJ, munching on hors d’oeuvres made by celebrity chef Chris Cheung and watching the ball drop at midnight on one of eight flat-screen panels.The $75 admission includes a five-hour open bar from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. After 1 a.m., bottles are 20 percent off. Admission is $25 after 12:30 a.m. The Vue is located at 370 Fourth Avenue. For more information, call 718-625-2177.

Glitz, Glamour and Gambling
Get a taste of Las Vegas in Brooklyn when Brooklyn collective Block Association, in conjunction with fashion boutiques Brooklyn Circus, Private Stock and Pedigree Sneaker Gallery host Casino Royale. This coming from the fashion set, expect a glammed-up party, equipped with red carpet photo-ops, as well as black jack tables, three floors of dancing and a complimentary midnight champagne toast. Dinner is also served until 11 p.m. The party’s from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. at No. 1 Front Street in DUMBO. Tickets $30 in advance or $50 at the door. The dress code is, as they describe it, black tie/fashionably elegant, so break out your best duds for this one. For inspiration, head to Brooklyn shop Harriet’s Alter Ego, which belongs to the Block Association.

Ballroom Dancing
The newly renovated grand ballroom at the Dyker Beach Golf Course is ready for its first New Year’s Eve party. Live entertainment, dinner and dancing will be on the menu for this elegant affair, as well as a few live views of the countdown on screens throughout the room.Tickets are $150, and includes dinner, a full premium open bar and party favors. For reservations, call 718-836-9722 ext. 224.

Circus celebration
OK, here’s a free one for you. The Coney Island Circus Sideshow makes a special trip north to ring in the New Year. Scott Baker, Serpentina, Kryssy Kocktail, Adam “The First Real Man” Rinn, The Executioner and Dick Zigun will bring the goods to Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Williamsburg, along with musical guest Bad Buica. The show starts at 10 p.m. and is free. Radegast Hall is located at 113 North 3rd St. For more information, call 718-963-3973.

Lighting up the Sky
Also free: While Times Square usually draws the biggest crowds for its fireworks display, over in Prospect Park, you can honor the evening in a traditional fashion with fireworks and live music at Grand Army Plaza. Best locations for fireworks including anywhere in Grand Army Plaza, inside the park on the West Drive, and along Prospect Park West between Grand Army Plaza and 9th Street. And, or course, anyone with a rooftop view.The festivities begin at 11 p.m., with the show at midnight.

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This week in 24/Seven

Each week we'll preview what you can expect in our 24/Seven print edition, out Thursday for you southern Brooklynites and Friday for the downtown neighborhoods.

Highlights include:

New Year's Eve: Our guide tells you where to wine, dine and party this New Year's Eve, from Williamsburg to Bay Ridge, plus where you can drag your tired self to the next day for some comfort food.

Food: We take in Goodfella's, a Bay Ridge staple, for good reason.

Columns: Pumps & Pleats heads to Ace Luggage, which helps you fly in style, while the Klutz tries her mom's lasagna, and The Reporter's Table breaks out a favorite: pasta primavera.

For these stories and more, pick up a copy in your nabe or check back here later today!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Skip this dismal 'Road'

"The Road"
2 1/2 Stars

By Joe Maniscalco

Look, I’m as misanthropic as the next guy – probably more so given the sad state of society – but even I was yearning for a heaping bowl of good ‘ol Christmas schmaltz and eggnog chaser a third of the way through director John Hillcoat’s “The Road.”

Counter programming is one thing – but come on, is Dante’s 10th, 11th and 12th circles of Hell really the alternative to singing chipmunks and magically reformed misers?

Make no mistake, “The Road” is a well-acted, and for the most part well-crafted piece of cinema.

Viggo Mortensen turns in a powerhouse performance as the desperate but courageous dad who valiantly fights to protect his only son in a dying world turned inside out.Nevertheless, “The Road” is one excruciatingly painful experience. Underline those words and remember them if you take away nothing else from this modest space: excruciatingly painful.

How bad is it? Well, familial murder and suicide are just the starters.

From there, “The Road” moves on to famine, cannibalism, the apocalypse and some really other nasty stuff I don’t even want to mention here.

Pass the popcorn and the Twizzler’s – yeah right!

After an unexplained cataclysm, Mortensen’s unnamed hero and unnamed son both hit the open road on foot with nothing but the faintest glimmer of hope ahead of them, and roving bands of Palin-esque rednecks at their backs.

The influence of “Deliverance” is, indeed, long and profound.

The only discernable turning point in the plot involves our hero, who in his zeal to protect his beloved son, slowly begins to lose some of his luster – and even sadder still, some of the boy’s respect as well.

The bleakness of Hillcoat’s universe is so complete that by the time he’s decides it’s okay to throw his audience even the tiniest bit of relief – in the final minutes of the unrelenting two-hour affair – it comes off as unbelievable, and totally incongruous with the world the director has painstakingly created.

“The Road” is hard. You just have to ask yourself how badly do you really want to avoid Tiny Tim once again intone “God bless us, everyone.”

“The Road.” Rated R for some violence, disturbing images and language. Starring Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Robert Duvall. Guy Pearce, and Charlize Theron.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

The Weekend: 12.18-12.20

The holidays are in full swing (only 8 days to Christmas!), and Brooklyn's feeling the spirit. Here's a look at what's happening near you.

Friday, December 18

Game on: The Blip Festival is in full swing at the Bell House (149 7th St.) in Gowanus, featuring chiptune or 8 bit music made using old gaming gear. Tonight sees Pioneer Null Sleep at 11:20 p.m. Check here for the full schedule. Located at 149 7th St. Tickets $15

Music: The Honey Brothers make it a family affair, with a show tonight Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Ave.) in Williamsburg. At 9 p.m. Tickets $10.

Saturday, December 19

Shopping: Do some last minute holiday showing at the Brooklyn Lyceum's holiday fair, today and tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free admission. The Lyceum is located in Park Slope at 227 Fourth Ave.

Aerial Art: Suspended Cirque bring the holidays to new heights with their new show, "The 12 Acts of Christmas," tonight and tomorrow at Galapagos Art Space (16 Main St.) in DUMBO. At 8 p.m. tonight, 3 and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets $20, $10 for children and seniors.

Dance Party: Let loose at a steamy dance party at the Russian Baths tonight. rom 7-2 a.m. at Featuring Balkan music, tarot readings, poolside dance floor, hookah lounge and pierogies. Tickets range from $35 to $85. At Banya (602 Coney Island Ave.) in Kensington.

Sunday, December 20

Cookies: There are two events for cookie monsters today: the Cookie Takedown at the Bell House (6:30 p.m., $10), and the 2nd Annual Me So Hungry Cookie Contest & Sing-A-Long. at Union Pool (484 Union Ave., 9 p.m., free) in Williamsburg. For the latter, expect music with your milk and cookies, as local musicians like Brooklyn duo This Frontier Needs Heroes and Justice of the Unicorns will play.

All In Good Fun: It's Chanukah versus Christmas at this annual event at The Way Station (685 Washington Ave.) in Prospect Heights. Brooklyn's DJ Mikey Palms will be spinning all night for this epic holiday battle royale featuring Santa Pat Fondiller and his helper elf Erica Crawford behind the bar serving up HE'BREW Beer and Gentile craft brew. Special performances by Rosie 151 and Lil Miss Lixx, plus free latkes and Christmas cookies. From 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Free.

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Join the 'in crowd' at the Brooklyn Children's Museum

While school’s out (December 24-January 3, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily), the Brooklyn Children’s Museum is the “in” place to be, during their annual Winter Break Festival - World of Celebrations.

Back by popular demand, this year’s festival boasts unique interactive family programs exploring toys, holiday customs, and seasonal traditions from across the globe like a toy inventors’ workshop, making peace doves, decorating gingerbread people, and much more (The museum is closed December 25 and January 1). All special programs are included with Museum admission.

Featured holiday programs include: Winter Wonderland (January’s installment of the Blooming Babies toddler workshop series), Beastly Feasts (December’s family science Chase Wonder Why Workshop) and Family Celebrations: Holly Jolly Decorations.

Don’t forget to stop by the new visiting exhibition Top Secret: Mission Toy, a perfect place to discover playthings from around the world through January 3.

December 26 and 27
--Family Celebrations: Kwanzaa (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) ages 5 and under. Find out about seven principles of Kwanzaa, or nguzo saba and make your own Kwanzaa-inspired work of art to take home.

--Harvest Gifts (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) Ages 6+. Join in exploring mazao (the gathering of crops), a central theme of the Kwanzaa holiday. Kwanzaa not only commemorates ancient African harvest festivals, but also celebrates the rewards that come when a community works together. Discover your own harvest gifts, as you plant your own seed to take home and grow.

--Meet and Greet Creatures of the Sea (noon-12:30 p.m.) All ages. How does a sea urchin move? What does a starfish eat? Discover how diverse life really is under the sea by exploring animals up close and personal.

--Family Celebrations: Kwanzaa (2:30-3:30 p.m.) Ages 5 and under. Find out about seven principles of Kwanzaa, or nguzo saba and make your own Kwanzaa-inspired work of art to take home.

--Chase Wonder Why Workshop: Beastly Feasts (3-4 p.m.) All ages. For the holidays share feasts with family. Join in Neighborhood Nature and explore animals feasting right in their own habitat. Discover a variety of animal adaptations and survival methods with BCM’s live animal expert.

--Circle Time (4:00-4:30pm) All Ages. Come hear stories from around the world.

December 28 & 29
--Hope for Peace (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) Ages 5 and under. Doves are an ancient symbol of peace. Come spread the message by decorating a snow-white bird in the preschoolers’ Art Studio, where we will display your masterpiece during the holiday season.

--Holiday Snapshots (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) Ages 6 and up. Create a snapshot of your family and decorate your own unique picture frame.

--Meet and Greet Creatures of the Sea (noon-12:30 p.m.) All ages. How does a sea urchin move? What does a starfish eat? Discover how diverse life really is under the sea by exploring animals up close and personal.

--Festive Films (1:30-2 p.m.) All Ages. Warm up this winter season with a good movie. Join for a variety of seasonal and holiday films.

--‘Tis the Season for Giving: Toy Inventor’s Workshop (20-3:30 p.m.) All ages. In Top Secret: Mission Toy explore toys from around the world. Little inventors can put their thinking caps to the test as we create marvelous toys that zip, bop and whirrrr.

--Hope for Peace (2:30-3:30 p.m.) Ages 5 and under. Doves are an ancient symbol of peace. Come spread the message by decorating a snow-white bird in the preschoolers’ Art Studio, where your masterpiece will be displayed during the holiday season.

--Festive Films (3-3:30 p.m.) All ages. Join for a variety of seasonal and holiday films.

--Circle Time (4-4:30 p.m.) All ages. Come hear stories from around the world.December 30 & 31--Holiday Snapshots (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) Ages 6 and up. Create a snapshot of your family and decorate your own unique picture frame.

--New Year’s Celebration (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) Ages 5 and under. Get ready for the New Year with hands-on activities brought to you by the number 2010.

--Meet and Greet Creatures of the Sea (noon-12:30 p.m.) All ages. How does a sea urchin move? What does a starfish eat? Discover how diverse life really is under the sea by exploring animals up close and personal.

--Festive Films (1:30-2 p.m.) All ages. Join for a variety of seasonal and holiday films.

--‘Tis the Season for Giving: Toy Inventor’s Workshop (2:00-3:30pm) All ages. In Top Secret: Mission Toy explore toys from around the world. Little inventors can put their thinking caps to the test as we create marvelous toys that zip, bop and whirrrr.

--New Year’s Celebration (2:30-3:30 p.m.) Ages 5 and under. Get ready for the New Year with hands-on activities brought to you by the number 2010.

--Festive Films (3-3:30 p.m.) All ages. Join for a variety of seasonal and holiday films.

--Circle Time (4-4:30 p.m.) All ages. Come hear stories from around the world.

January 2 & 3
--World Passport Workshop: Magnificent Camels (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) Ages 6 and up. See how the people of Bikaner, India celebrate the ships of the desert during the annual Camel Festival. Create our own charms and other decorations believed to protect travelers and display wealth on long journeys across the desert.

--Blooming Babies: Winter Wonderland (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) Ages 18 months- 2 ½ years. Create a winter wonderland landscape with puffy paint, as you learn what people from different cultures wear to keep warm during the winter months.

--Meet and Greet Creatures of the Sea (noon-12:30 p.m.) All ages. How does a sea urchin move? What does a starfish eat? Discover how diverse life really is under the sea by exploring animals up close and personal.

--Can’t Catch Me (2:30-3:30 p.m.) Ages 5 and under. Come hear the classic tale of the Gingerbread Man, then decorate your own version of that “quick” little cookie…if you can catch him.

--Kitchen Chemistry: Food pHun (1:30-2:30 p.m.) Ages 6 and up. Put your taste buds to the (litmus) test as you explore acids and bases in the science kitchen.

--Circle Time (4-4:30 p.m.) All ages. Come hear stories from around the world.****The Museum is at 145 Brooklyn Avenue (at St. Marks Avenue); call 718-735-4400. Admission is $7.50.

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Grilled salsa turns up the heat

By Helen Klein

To a grilling aficionado, pretty much everything tastes better when it’s been kissed by an open flame.

I am certainly one of those, perhaps because I grew up in an apartment, and barbecued food was only an occasional treat when I was young.

No matter. Now that I have my own house, you can find me in the backyard several evenings a week, as long as it’s not actively precipitating, even if all I’m doing is just flipping burgers.

Nonetheless, when I have the grill roaring, I usually try to utilize the golden flames to the max, throwing on a couple of peppers or a couple of ears of corn (silks removed, then wrapped back up in their own husks), where ever there is some open space on the grate. Those vegetables then find their way into side dishes and main courses over the next few days, if they aren’t eaten more quickly.

This grilled salsa, which also functions as a sophisticated salad, nestling up cozily to a piece of grilled steak or chicken, evolved when I had a crisper full of veggies, a couple of containers of beans open in the fridge, and a meltingly ripe avocado just begging to be used.

While I’ve dubbed it a “grilled salsa,” not every ingredient is cooked. Rather, the peppers, onion, garlic and corn all benefit from the flavor-enhancing properties of direct heat, while the beans go straight into the salad from the refrigerator and the cilantro, cucumber and avocado are raw.

This is the kind of dish I make expecting leftovers. However, with four of us chowing down, that didn’t happen.

Memo to self, next time, double the recipe.

Grilled Salsa

Ingredients

1 red pepper, seeded, cored and slit open to lie flat on the grill
1 yellow pepper, seeded, cored and slit open to lie flat on the grill
1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Maui, cut in thick (½-inch) slices
2 ears corn, husks peeled back and silks removed, then rewrapped in husks
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and stacked on a metal skewer
1 Hass avocado, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 kirby cucumbers, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
½ cup canned navy beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 medium lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
Extra virgin olive oil to equal the amount of citrus juice from lime and lemon
1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Lightly coat the peppers, onion, corn and garlic with oil.

Cook peppers, onion, corn and garlic over medium flame on open grill, flipping onion after 3-4 minutes, turning garlic every minute or two, and turning corn every 3 minutes, removing vegetables as they are done. The onion should be golden at the edges and translucent. The corn husks should be charred. The peppers are done when the skins have blackened, and the flesh is tender. The garlic is done when the outside has browned slightly and the flesh has become tender.

When cool enough to handle, cut the peppers into ½-inch squares, dice the onions, remove the corn kernels from the cobs and chop the garlic.Combine peppers, onion, corn kernels, avocado, cucumber, beans and cilantro in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate small bowl or measuring cup, combine the garlic, the citrus juice, the olive oil, the cumin and the salt and pepper till thoroughly blended. Add to vegetables and mix till the vegetables are thoroughly coated. Taste and adjust seasoning. Chill till serving time.

Serves 4-6.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pumps & Pleats: Dress your ego in style



Story and photos by Michèle De Meglio



Sometimes a pair of basic Levi’s just won’t cut it. In those instances, opt for some bling on your jeans.



It’s All About Me Now, a new women’s apparel and accessories boutique just steps from Marine Park, offers affordable designer denim that looks like a million bucks.



Many of these trendy jeans, retailing for $40 to $50, are decorated with rhinestones and shiny hardware on their back pockets. Several pairs boast clear and gold crystals, giving a diamond effect. You’re sure to attract attention when walking into a club in these sparkly skinnies!





If you’re more into Rihanna’s tough girl look than Beyonce’s bling appeal, try a pair of stonewash jeans with matte black studs covering the back pocket. Now that’s rock star style!



Even the brand names are cool — LA Idol, Machine and Ecko Red. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to wear a pair of pants made by Flying Monkey Jeans?



It’s All About Me Now isn’t all about denim. The boutique carries of-the-moment handbags, jewelry, tops and sweaters. There’s also a slew of perfect party dresses.





A slinky black sheath gets a hard edge thanks to a strip of leather and silver studs. An added bonus, it’s less than $47!



Feeling blingalicious? Get a similar cocktail dress blending black satin with big and bold crystals ($46).



With these fresh styles and wallet-friendly prices, Pumps & Pleats has just one thing to say — gimme some bling!



It’s All About Me Now is located at 3102 Avenue U. For hours call 718-513-6665.



Michèle De Meglio is a native Brooklynite addicted to all things chic. Check out Pumps & Pleats each week for more adventures as she scours the borough for fab duds and accessories.

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