Monday, November 30, 2009

'Mr. Fox' - as sly as he wants to be

Fantastic Mr. Fox
3 1/2 Stars

By Joe Maniscalco

Despite a slight, but significant, propensity for screwing up, Mr. Fox is as sly as they come.

Able to pilfer poultry out from under the collective noses of the richest and most powerful farmers in the neighborhood, Mr. Fox nevertheless lacks the good sense to know when to say when.

He is, even if he does favor tweed suit jackets, just a wild beast after all.

The eternal struggle between domesticity and freedom lies at the heart of Wes Anderson’s excellent animated feature, “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”Based on the classic children’s story by Roald Dahl (“Charlie & the Chocolate Factory,” “James and the Giant Peach”), “Fantastic Mr. Fox” eschews ubiquitous CGI with something really pioneering — old school stop-motion photography.

That decision, as well as the one to get rascally George Clooney to voice the title character, add up to one of those rare features that will not only entertain audiences of all ages today, but will continue to captivate families for years to come.

Make no mistake, scores of kids weened on war and disillusion today will grow up treasuring Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” as one of their unassailable childhood touchstones.

Funny, quirky and multi-dimensional, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” demands to be seen more than just once. Yeah, it’s that good.

You may only be spending an hour-and-a-half with a cast of talking woodland critters, but the stakes here are as high as they come. When the vengeful farmers decide to go for bear, spitting nails and rattlesnake venom, this reviewer experienced more real suspense than anything the hapless humans in “2012” could generate.

There’s a lot to absorb here in addition to the impending animal genocide.“Fantastic Mr. Fox” explores stuff like family dynamics, self-identity, survival and, yes, happiness, all in a truly inspired and artful way.

There’s that, and just the fun of trying to figure out which of the animals Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe are voicing.

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” is rated PG. Runtime 1 hour, 27 minutes. Starring George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray.

Playing in Brooklyn at the Access Digital Theatres - Pavilion Cinema in Park Slope, Cobble Hill Cinemas, UA Sheepshead Bay 14, and Bay Ridge Alpine Cinemas.


Writing corners

Tonight, Abby Sher reads from her new memoir, "Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying (Among Other Things), at Union Hall.

When not performing on stage at places like the Magnet Theater, the Fort Greene-based writer/improv comedian can be found at her neighborhood coffeeshops, including Outpost, Tillie's, or Bittersweet.

"I have certain places even in the café where, oh this is where I get inspired,” Sher tells us.

We're felt the same thing about the Coffee Den in Carroll Gardens, where, when getting down to business, you can also enjoy their seasonal drinks, cheap sandwiches and free wi-fi.

Of course, those aren't the only laid-back coffee spots in Brooklyn. Do you have a certain neighborhood spot you love to write in? Share in the comments section.



Newspapers certainly love duals, and the New York Times isn't exempt.

This one isn't in the political sphere or on a sports field, though. The paper reports that starting next year, the American Ballet Theater will establish a "Nutcracker" franchise at BAM in Fort Greeen, to rival City Ballet's own longstanding run in Manhattan.

“I actually suggested A.B.T. do a ‘Nutcracker,’ ” David H. Koch, the vice chairman of ATB's board, told the paper. “They certainly need one in the worst way."

That's not all. BAM will also host "The Hard Nut," Mark Morris Dance Group's spin on the classic, which will be closing a mere three days before ATB's version opens.

While this drama is a year in the making, let the games begin, as they say.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Bring something extra special to your autumn table

By Helen Klein

The autumn harvest offers creative cooks a wide array of flavor options that can be contrasted and combined in innumerable variations, flirtatiously teasing the palate as they charm the eye.

Such sweet vegetables as winter squash have their dulcet tones enhanced by caramelized onion and garlic, which deepen the richness of the orange-fleshed squash, cooked till it’s soft. At the same time, bitter greens such as kale add another grace note, the tartness of the cooked leaves framing the honeyed taste of the slowly cooked squash and alliums.

That the flavors work well together is a boon, given the reality that such vegetables all hit the produce stands virtually simultaneously.

Also blending well with autumn produce are the last bright vegetables of summer -- the lean stalks of pearly corn and the toothsome sweetness of colored peppers that have matured on the vine.A marriage of such ingredients will have, in Shakespearean verbiage, few impediments.

Sautéed together, they make a stellar accompaniment to simple grilled meat. Enriched by a dollop or two of extra virgin olive oil, they also are a terrific topping for pasta, for a quick side dish or light main course. And, they can form the base for a hearty soup, as well as for a quiche or frittata.

Fall Vegetable Saute

2-3 tbl. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic, slivered
4 cups cubed and peeled winter squash (such as acorn or butternut)
2 ears of corn, husked
1-2 tbl. sugar4 cups coarsely chopped raw kale leaves (discard the coarse spines at the leaves’ center)
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tbl. chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in large non-stick skillet. When oil is hot, add sliced onion and salt to taste, and cook, over medium heat, until translucent and golden, adding a couple of tablespoons of water, if the oil is absorbed and the liquid rendered as the onions cook has largely evaporated.

While onion is cooking, boil water for corn. Once water is boiling, add 1-2 Tbl. sugar and corn, cooking for 2-3 minutes before removing. Shuck corn from ears when it’s cool enough to handle, and set aside.

Add sliced pepper to the skillet, and continue to cook, adding a little water as necessary. When pepper is crisp-tender, add garlic, cooking rapidly until it has softened and lost its bitterness.

Add squash to skillet, and continue to sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently, and adding small amounts of water as necessary.

When squash has begun to soften, add the kale and vegetable stock, and cook, over medium-low heat, till kale is wilted and stock has largely evaporated.

Add corn kernel s to skillet and stir to mix.

Once flavors have combined, add basil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.


Take your palate to delicious new heights at Vue Restaurant

By Marshall Slater

Vue Restaurant is, to my knowledge, Brooklyn’s only rooftop dining establishment. While its location atop the Hotel LeBleu (a large and very much in demand luxury boutique hotel) is certainly singular, the venue’s location is further unique, sandwiched in a commercial/retail strip in a neighborhood that is near the end of its transition from working class to a setting that is more luxury condos and Manhattan east than Park Slope south.

And while the restaurant does not sit on a revolving turntable, one side offers views of the Brooklyn cityscape, while the opposite side boasts the outdoor dining room (it will, probably by mid December, be semi-enclosed and heated for immediate and year-round use), which commands unobstructed vistas that stretch from the Verrazano Bridge to the State of Liberty, Lower Manhattan and the towers and lights of midtown.

Vue is actually two carnations with a single name: the restaurant itself sits on the eighth floor, which the Vue bar and lounge is a flight above, completely separate from the dining room and attracting its own crowd for the drinks, the company, the DJs, and the night life. And while this aspect of Vue is very popular, indeed, it is the restaurant which will be the focus of this article.

The dining room has been compared to a slice out of neo-modern Miami, and the comparison has merit. It is designed in a modern, impressionistic style with a soft blue theme of bubbles and waves, flat screens in the walls, floor to ceiling glass to accommodate the views, and soft and comfy banquettes, which stretch in soft angles around the walls. The whole scene is cool and laid back and comes as quite a jolt as you emerge from the elevator, considering the street area downstairs you just left.

So order up a bottle of Riesling and begin perusing the thickly padded books, which contain an innovative and very atypical bill of fare. But do sample the excellent fresh rolls, made irresistible with the addition of marvelous sweet chili butter. Begin the meal with the pan fried noodle wrapped chicken or the filet mignon starter covered with caramelized onions and wrapped with bacon, finished with a chili garlic dressing.

In another singular creation, the meat from short ribs is mashed and spiced and then wrapped in what they call gold coins, actually a thin pastry shell which is presented with a truffle zabaglione dipping sauce on a plate, which has been decorated with a mix of greens and cucumbers slices upon which are placed sliced cherry tomatoes.

The calamari is distinguished in that, instead of small rings, there are thick slices of the seafood, which are marvelously tender and coated with an almost ethereal batter that is delicious and a perfect complement to the seafood. It is served with a sweet chili glaze, adding immensely to your enjoyment. There is also a jumbo lump crabmeat cake that is served with red caviar, diced tomatoes and fresh avocado slices all on lighter than air pastry squares, which crumble away leaving just their essence at first bite. A crème dressing completes the dish.

Now please note that while the tastes are luxurious and the preparation extravagant, pricing is quite reasonable; there is no appetizer above $10 and the average is around $7 or $8.

Entrées continue this exploration into creative combinations and wonderfully clever match-ups of ingredients. A case in point is the burger, here made from Kobe beef, arguably the finest in the world, and served with shoestring fries. The Denmark Baby Back Ribs come with a macaroni and bleu cheese accompaniment. Fried chicken is served with Asian pear slaw and garlic chive mashed potatoes. You get the idea; each dish is a new treat.

Jumbo shrimp (these are true three bite shrimps) are grilled, presented with a sprig of fresh thyme, and served with a topping of minced fresh lobster with an Old Bay dressing and the most gentle — but no less flavorful — BBQ sauce, which is drizzled on the plate. Fresh, sweet, corn (in a heavy cream) is the base of the dish; the corn is a confection unto itself. The dish is artfully plated, with the ingredients forming a lobster tail.

The Mediterranean Sea bass is perfectly filleted and grilled to bring out a singular succulence and moistness. The fish itself is excellent and flavorful; enhanced with Parmesan cheese, fresh veggies, artichokes, mushrooms and tomatoes.

Other main courses include an all vegetarian dish aptly named The Garden of Dreams…a full size portion of the filet mignon appetizer mentioned earlier and a Kobe Beef Chili served with Yukon Gold potato skins with bacon, cheddar and sour cream. Salmon is seared and prepared with a Meyer lemon marinade. There is also something called an Everything Crusted New York Strip Steak, which we did not get to sample, but which garners raves (as does the restaurant in general) from web foodies who proclaim their love for the dish and their fondness for the relatively new restaurant, which opened less than six months ago.

By the way, the kitchen was clever enough to offer many of the entrée addendums as full side dishes such as the Asian Pear cole slaw, the macaroni and bleu cheese, roasted garlic chive mashed potatoes and zucchini and squash ribbons. Now when you read the menu and you can’t decide between the main courses, order one and add a side dish to give you the best of both worlds. Side dishes average just $5 so there is no reason to resist.

For dessert? Make the molten chocolate cake (push down the fork and out spurts the liquid chocolate confection) your choice, with crushed macadamia nuts, blueberries and above average whipped cream. There’s also a fresh fruit (on this night, apple-watermelon) sorbet to please and to cleanse the palate.

Note that Vue offers a Saturday and Sunday brunch, price fixed at $19 and including mimosa. Options run the gamut from lobster Benedict with corn pancakes and an Old Bay Hollandaise sauce to a Blue Point Oyster Frittata served with caviar and (you gotta love this one) green market eggs, done any style, and served with pastrami from Katz’s Deli and Yukon Gold hash brown potatoes. There are a half dozen other equally impressive offerings.

Vue Restaurant
370 Fourth Avenue in Park Slope718-625-2177, 888-879-9628 or
Hours: dinner is featured Sunday – Thursday, 5 – 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday until midnight. Saturday and Sunday brunch is offered 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The upstairs bar/lounge is open Sunday – Wednesday, 5 p.m. – 1 a.m. and until 3 a.m. on Thursday through Saturday (the expanded hours and days were expected to start imminently, but call to make sure). Sunday and Monday nights offer football specials (call about drink and food specials) while happy hour runs seven days, 5 – 9 p.m. with $5 well drinks, $4 wines and $3 beers. DJs spin Thursday – Saturday starting at 6 p.m. Note that a specialty cocktail menu is also available both in the restaurant and the lounge.

Most major credit cards are accepted.

There is free parking at all times and free valet parking, Thursday – Saturday.

Private parties up to 150 are accommodated; outside catering is available.A prix fixed dinner menu will be coming soon. Ask for details.

Photo by Stefano Giovannini


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let it be: Ukulele players just gotta sing

By Meredith Deliso

All you need is love. And a ukulele.

On December 6, Brooklyn Bowl will be home to over 80 singers, 120 musicians and as many uke players as they can manage for an all-day Beatles lovefest, as it hosts the Second Annual Beatles Complete on Ukulele Festival.

On the uke that day will be Roger Greenawalt (pictured), a producer who founded the festival with friend and producer Dave Barratt, as he accompanies the singers and musicians on all 185 original Beatles songs, from “Love Me Do” to “Let It Be.”

Greenawalt has iTunes to thank for this extravaganza. When importing the Beatles discography onto his computer on day (and distilling it of all cover songs), we was left with 185 songs, equally 9.6 hours of music.

“I realized you could play it all in one day,” says Greenawalt, who lives in Williamsburg. “You couldn’t do all of Skakepeare’s plays in one day. But this is a doable amount.”

So he will do just that, kicking off festivities with dozens of ukulele players on “All Together Now.” He’ll hold up the fort himself the rest of the day, with guest musicians including The Pierces, Ryan Miller of Guster, Adam Green (singing “I Will” via Videolink), Mike Wolff, The Naked Brothers and many others taking turns. Beatles cover bands The Meatles and The Newspaper Taxies will also be on hand to provide support, and a gospel choir while come in around 7 p.m. for a five-song set.

By this point, you’re probably wondering, why the uke? It’s simply a matter of logistics.

“It is about the least taxing instrument to say,” says Greenawalt. “Bass – my fingers get sore, it’s heavy, you need a lot of force to make a note. Piano – there’s banging. But the ukulele – it’s really gentle.”

Greenawalt has been “obsessed” with the miniscule instrument for the past nine years, finding it had a powerful Zen spirit about it that was very therapeutic when playing.

Another uke enthusiast – Warren Buffet – received a portion of the proceeds from last year’s festival, which he forwarded to Girls Inc. of Omaha to provide the girls club with ukeleles and lessons.

This year, a portion of the proceeds will go to Yoko Ono and her charitable endeavors. Think what you may about her and her relationship to the Beatles, Greenawalt believes she’s gotten a bad rap.

“She’s a very controversial figure,” says Greenawalt. One thing that’s irrefutable: “She’s been doing really good philanthropy for a long time. She’s a pioneer in the field.”

So, in addition to the hundreds of ukes, singers, musicians and Beatles fans expected at the marathon, there will also be 16 Yoko Ono impersonators. Just don’t expect to hear “Oh Yoko.”

The Second Annual Beatles Complete on Ukulele Festival will be held December 6, from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., at Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Ave.). Admission is $10, and you can come as go as you want as long as you get stamped. Those interested in joining in the ukulele chorus can arrive at 10 a.m. for rehearsal. For more information, call Brooklyn Bowl at 718-963-3369.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story reported the event as being Saturday, December 5. It is Sunday, December 6. We regret the error.


‘Amen, Amen, Amen’ author live

By Meredith Deliso

Most days, you can find Abby Sher setting up shop in one of her local coffee shops, whether it’s Outpost, Tillie’s, or Bitter Sweet, to write.

“I have certain places even in the café where, oh this is where I get inspired,” says Sher, who has lived in Fort Greene for the past five years with her husband and, for the past year, their baby daughter.

Of late, Sher has been at work on her memoir, “Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Praying (Among Other Things),” out last month on Scribner. After writing a personal story for Self magazine, an editor suggested the author explore developing a memoir. The end result is essentially a story of demons ­—obsessive-compulsive disorder, brought into high gear following the death of her father at the age of 10, anorexia, cutting and alcoholism.

Amid her self-destructive behavior, Sher found herself praying for hours at a time, afraid if she didn’t, someone else would die. “I had never believed in a vengeful G-d,” she writes in “Amen, Amen, Amen.” “I believed in a vengeful me.”

It’s not all sadness. Living happily in Brooklyn now, a mother, trained yogi, and working through her compulsions, Sher hopes the book can be inspiration for those who see themselves in her, and she encourages those readers to reach out to someone they can trust, including herself, to talk through them.

“I hope most of all people who feel like some of these behaviors are familiar, they know that they’re not alone. That there are many ways to find solace, and that it’s not necessarily looking for a cure,” says Sher. “I hope it feels, not necessarily tied with a bow, but a hopeful story.”

It is also a witty and self-deprecating one, thanks to Sher’s background as an improv comedian, which includes time on stage at Second City and iO (Formerly ImprovOlympic) in Chicago. You can currently find her performing at the Magnet Theater here in New York. Going back and forth between the two creative outlets, Sher finds the process of writing more liberating.

“I find that I actually have a lot more freedom on the paper than on stage, as far as being myself,” says Sher. “But, I also love being characters.”

Keeping true to form, on November 30, when Sher celebrates the release of her memoir at Union Hall in Park Slope, she’ll do so with books on hand, but the event will primarily be a performance piece. “If someone begs me to read, maybe I’ll read the inside flap,” says Sher.

Already typing away at the next thing, when the author goes to her trusted cafes today, you can find her working on an adult fiction piece she hopes to turn into a novel, as well as the early stages of a screenplay, a collaboration with her friend Kimberlee Auerbach. And she couldn’t be happier here.

“I can go down the block and write in a café, then go to yoga above the café, and yet I’m not in the boonies,” says Sher. “Even though I wanted to be a Manhattan girl, I’ve found I’m much more inclined to be in Brooklyn, especially with a stroller and all that.”

Abby Sher performs at Union Hall (702 Union St.) November 30 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5. All proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. For more information, call 718-638-4400.


Field Music is game for Bell House b’day bash

By Meredith Deliso

Seeing your favorite band for your birthday is a fortuitous experience of timing for the average concert goer. For the booker of a New York City venue, it can be just the same thing.

This December 3, Jack “Skippy” McFadden, the booker for the Bell House in Gowanus, has conjured up a line-up of hard-to-see acts and rare New York appearances that’s the stuff of dreams for die-hard music fans, and also years in the making.

Each year, a show is deemed his birthday bash (last year it was Loney Dear, Takka Takka and Alina Simone at Union Hall, which he also books). While his birthday isn’t until December 17, when he’ll turn the “improbable 41,” “sometimes you have to co-opt another date to make magic happen,” says McFadden.

Indeed, the bill is a confluence of good timing and years of urging that brought the lineup together.Coming all the way from England, headliners Field Music (pictured), a quartet anchored around brothers David and Peter Brewis, is on the road these next few months, giving a preview of their forthcoming third album, “Field Music (The Measure).”

The two took some time apart a couple years ago to pursue other projects (for David, School of Language; Peter, The Week That Was). Back as Field Music, the Brooklyn show will be only one of two U.S. dates for them, out here at the behest of McFadden.

“I’ve been bugging the agents for Field Music for a really long time to play a show,” says McFadden. “They are absolutely one of the most underrated bands out there. They make gorgeous records and it’s a rare treat to see them live.”

It’s a treat for the band as well to be coming to Brooklyn.

“For us, it’s a great opportunity to come back to New York and remind people that we still exist,” says David. “Plus, we’ve never played in Brooklyn or had a chance to look around, so I’m intrigued as to how the atmosphere and audience will be different from a Manhattan show. If it’s anything like the difference between a north or south London show, it’ll be interesting!”

McFadden also talked Pulsars, a ‘90s synth pop act, into coming together just for the Brooklyn show. Sidelined while making their sophomore album, the band, another brother duo (Dave and Harry Trumfio), now records under the name Our Future. Back in the day, Dave used to produce bands on McFadden’s label, March.

“We found we have the same affinity for some obscure new wave bands like Silicon Teens. I tried to talk my way into being in his band, but he and his brother ended up being perfect together,” says McFadden. “I’m honored they are flying in from L.A. to play for everyone.”

As far as the curious item listed as Rumours on the bill, McFadden says it’s a total surprise that won’t disappoint, and won’t happen again. Confirmed for the bill is a fourth band — the Baltimore-based indie folk duo Wye Oak, which provides another great live act for the night.

“It’s such a strong lineup. Not one of those bands could headline the Bell House, but with them all together on one show, I feel like it’s going to be a really special night,” says McFadden. “This lineup…was probably years in the making, and only for a special occasion. Like Christmas coming early.”

Or, your birthday.

Field Music play the Bell House Dec. 3 at 7:30. With Pulsars and Wye Oak. Tickets are $12. The Bell House is located at 149 7th St. For more information, call 718-643-6510.


Grab a cutlass, and en guard

By Meredith Deliso

With its New York Clown Theater Festival, the Brick Theater has become the destination for clown theater each fall.

Now, it with its upcoming Fight Fest, the Williamsburg theater looks to do the same for another obscure performance genre: stage combat.

From December 4 to 20, The Brick will provide a home for a broad spectrum of fight choreography (think musicals, but instead of breaking out in songs, the characters fight), with everything from martial arts to capoeira, swordplay to firearms.

Stage combat seems to be at a tipping point, says Timothy Haskell, what with “The Soul of Shaolin,” a Chinese martial arts spectacle, on Broadway earlier this year, the martial arts-based “Jump,” which ran for 10 months last year at the Union Square Theatre, and the Weinstein Company’s interest in bringing “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” to Broadway.

“It’s pervasive,” says Haskell, who joins Qui Nguyen and Abby Marcus of Vampire Cowboys Theater Company, and the staff at The Brick, in curating the festival. “It seems like the right time because there’s a real interest in this kind of theater.”

Haskell got into stage combat himself in 2003, directing a production of “Road House,” the Patrick Swayze movie, for the stage. For Fight Fest, he’ll direct “Last Life,” starring Taimak of the legendary fight film, with the fight directed by Rod Kinter.

“I want to create something on stage that is as exciting as an action movie because people will tend to go see a really bad action movie before they see a really good play,” says Haskell.

“Last Life” will be one of 10 diverse shows offered through the three-week festival, which the theater hopes to make an annual event. Genres from street fighting to martial arts to “Three Musketeer-style fighting,” will be included, says Haskell. “We’re trying to make it as eclectic as possible.”

After directing the fight for The Brick’s 2006 production “The Kung Fu Importance of Being Earnest,” Qui Nguyen returns to the theater with “The Ninja Cherry Orchard,” a play off the Chekhov piece directed by Michael Gardner. Nguyen will also direct the fight for the martial arts fairy tale “Craven Monkey and the Mountain of Carnage,” presented by Piper McKenzie Productions, the creators of “Macbeth Without Words.”

Also presenting in the festival are Depth Charge, with “Butterfly, Butterfly, Kill Kill Kill!,” inspired by Japanese B-movie director Seijun Suzuki’s 1967 accidental masterpiece “Branded to Kill”; Fighto LLP, with the swashbuckling comedy romance “The Buccaneer”; Ten Directions with “Deck the Hallmans!,” just in time for the holidays; En Garde Entertainment with “Evolution” (pictured), which features a cast of 24 fighters using anything they can get their hands on — broadswords, smallswords, spears, guns, rocks, you name it; and Cat Fight Productions with “Power Burn 3,” a full-on — you guessed it — cat fight.

The festival will also feature several cabarets, including a free preview of the mainstage shows on opening night, and a glimpse of “The Zombie Project: The Story of Icarus Phoenix,” directed by Stephanie Cox-Williams.

With the theater’s intimate setting, you’ll see every kick, punch and flip right in your face. And, unlike in film, there’s no room for editing or second takes.

“We’re going to see a level of choreography rarely seen on stage,” says Haskell. “There’s going to be a lot of honesty, as much as possible without someone getting hurt.”

Fight Fest runs at The Brick (575 Metropolitan Ave.) from December 1-20 (with extensions through January 10 TBA). All shows run multiple nights. Tickets are $18 for each show and can be purchased by calling Theatermania at 212-352-3101/212-868-4444, or online. For more information, call 718-907-6189.


Pumps & Pleats: Modern vintage at Eponymy

Story and photos by Michèle De Meglio

Vintage clothes are retro cool but layering on too many 1950s duds can make you look like a character in a period piece. Or worse, Mary Poppins.

Eponymy, a women’s boutique in Park Slope, has a solution — mix the old with the new.

Shop owner Andrea Miller calls this “modern vintage.” With that in mind, Eponymy’s racks offer vintage and new clothing and accessories side by side. In such close quarters, many of the new pieces even have an old world feel.

Such is the case for a series of luxe party dresses arranged next to displays offering cozy sweaters, J Brand dark wash jeans and eye-catching black leather cuffed shorts. Choose between a clingy black velvet number, a “zip shirt” adorned with sequins or a long-sleeved black dress with intricate beading along the collar and sleeves.

For the “modern vintage” look, pair any of these garments with a fresh pair of black ankle booties by Melissa, the maker of fashion-forward waterproof rubber shoes. (A Pumps & Pleats tip: Eponymy is now selling Melissa jellies at 75 percent off! Check the back of the shop for classic ballet flats and a luscious pair of pink Vivienne Westwood Anglomania + Melissa Mary Jane III.)

To accessorize your outfit, Eponymy carries vintage jewelry, as well as new pieces from Brooklyn designers.

Peruse a variety of delicate chains featuring pendants shaped as sweet gold bows, cameos and teardrops.

Add to the look with vintage accessories, such as sterling silver matchbooks, a makeup compact disguised as a pocket-sized hardcover book and tortoiseshell hairpins encrusted with rhinestones.

The Pumps & Pleats crew is particularly taken by a tiny worn leather pouch hiding a sweet old bottle perfect for a floral perfume oil. Santa, can you hear me?

Eponymy is located at 466 Bergen Street. For hours call 718-789-0301 or log onto

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.


Kitchen Klutz: Welcome to a Klutzy Thanksgiving!

By Michèle De Meglio

I love Thanksgiving!

Actually, I love cranberry sauce and stuffing. Family drama — not so much.

Another thing I’m not so fond of is turkey. C’mon, does anyone really like dry turkey? Duh, no!

My advice, ditch that inedible bird and load up on sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows and even that weird green beans and fried onions casserole!

Better yet, take those lovely sides and cram them into a sandwich! I’ve never actually done this but apparently the so-called Day After Thanksgiving Sandwich is rather popular.

The traditional ’wich calls for turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, lettuce and mayonnaise all piled high on two slices of white or whole wheat bread.

For my sandwich, I made some changes. One, mayo is gross so that’s not touching the bread. Two, there’s no point wasting time making a turkey that’s going to taste like sandpaper. Cold cuts will suffice.

With time on my hands, I made stuffing! No, not that Stove Top nonsense.

My Pecan Stuffing recipe called for chopping and sautéing celery, an onion and handfuls of parsley. Done!

I couldn’t find good old fashioned white bread at Trader Joe’s so I opted for something called Shepherd’s Bread. It looked like white bread and was pretty hard so that’d work.

Since the stuffing recipe called for stale bread and Joe’s loaf was fresh, I popped a few slices in the toaster. That’s gotta do something. After that, the bread was soaked in cold water and squeezed until dry. So weird! I felt like I was doing my laundry!

I added chopped pecans and dried cranberries then filled a Pyrex dish with my hopefully tasty mess. Into the oven it went for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Verdict: Thanksgiving food rocks! The stuffing was wonderfully flavorful thanks to the juicy cranberries and crunchy pecans. They tasted even better when smushed in the ’wich with a mound of yummy jelled cranberry sauce. The stuffing was so tasty that I picked out the turkey and dumped it on my “Happy Thanksgiving” paper plate. This Thanksgiving, give those birds a rest.

Pecan stuffing


1/2 loaf white bread, toasted or stale

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 cup celery, diced

1/3 cup onion

4 tbsp parsley

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1/3 cup dried cranberries

2 eggs


Soak bread in water and squeeze dry. Coat frying pan with butter and sauté celery, parsley and onion. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until soft. Combine with bread, beaten eggs and remaining ingredients. Fill baking pan with mixture and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

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.


Montessori Circus Show comes to town

By Meredith Deliso

Forget parading elephants and cheesy emcees.

The Montessori Circus Show is a Brooklyn-style stage spectacular, an avant-garde piece featuring aerialists, hula hooping, puppetry, wood chopping, baking, and some clowning thrown in for good measure.

Conceived by trapeze duo Lollo Birgitta, the show was commissioned by The Bushwick Starr following the two’s sold-out show last spring during the theater’s Bushwhack Series, an experimental performing arts festival. The production is the second piece to be produced by the two-year-old theater, following their run of “Rocky Philly” this past summer, and will be the first full-length show for Lollo Romanski and Cecilia Grimm, who comprise Lollo Birgitta.

Though there are decidedly diverse elements included in the night, “I didn’t want it to be a variety show,” says Grimm, who, in addition to Romanksi, will be joined by acrobats Jocelyn Davis and Ana Carolina on stage. “We wanted to create small stories within a bigger story.”

Specifically, the show will feature circus acts and vignettes inspired by classic 19th century American carnivals as it plays upon aspects of the Montessori method, specifically the idea that physical activity should be used in a child’s absorbing abstract concepts and learning practical skills. Fittingly, the show answers the question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” as it weaves its various acts together, performed on the stage and in the air at the Bushwick space, which, with its 15-foot ceilings, is a natural for aerial stunts.

“Our space is a good-sized theater, but you feel really close up to the action,” says Sue Kessler, managing director and curator of The Bushwick Starr. “It’s so exciting to see aerial work and these kinds of things in an intimate space like ours. You’re just so used to watching trapeze from very far way in more of an arena setting.”

When Kessler and partner Noel Joseph Allain got the Starr Street space in 2002 to use for their theater company, they never envisioned performances would take place above the stage. But since opening as the Bushwick Starr in 2007 after the theater company fizzled, they’ve hosted Lollo Brigitto, as well as Agee’s Ruby Streak Studio and the San Francisco-based company Bow and Sparrow, among others.

“(Aerial work’s) always been really received well, especially by the Bushwick community,” says Kessler. “I think it’s great that a lot of theaters are embracing this art form. We’re very happy to be a part of it.”

In addition to trapeze work, the Montessori Circus Show will also feature stilt walking, juggling, live baking (to include more of the senses), and finger puppetry, which will involve animal shapes projected onto a large screen. So, in a way, there will be elephants.

The Montessori Circus Show runs at the Bushwick Starr (207 Starr St.) December 3-5 and December 10-12. All shows are at 8 p.m., with tickets $10. Advance purchase is recommended.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Scenes from SCORE

Helping charitable organizations like City Harvest or Rock and Wrap It Up while also helping yourself to a gently used pair of jeans or a sweet amplifier sounds like a paradox.

It wasn’t to the more than one thousand Brooklynites who ravaged the makeshift shelving for clothing, books, and electronics at SCORE’s second-ever swap at 3rd Ward Brooklyn (195 Morgan Ave.) on November 21, evoking a Barneys Coop sale.

“We don’t push the altruism factor,” said Leslie Harmelin, who co-founded and helped organize SCORE. “People want to party and have a good time and get some free stuff. What could be better?”

Each section of the pop-up store was curated and staffed by knowledgeable individuals in their fields.

Writers from Showpaper informed customers about vinyl albums for sale, while librarians waxed on books, and an editor from Nylon magazine gabbed with deal-seekers about shoes and coats. By the end of the day, roughly 40 trash-sized bags were assembled which Rock and Wrap it Up collected and distributed to clothing charities throughout the city.

Jenny Gottstein, of Mean Red Productions, which cosponsored the event, helped organize the first public swap during an outdoor market earlier this year at the Brooklyn Yard.

She described the event as “fascinating.”

“I had the pleasure of explaining the concept of SCORE to a lot of people, which was, you pay $3, you drop off your stuff, it gets sorted by volunteers and you just wander around the departments like a department store, and then everything’s free,” said Gottstein. “Some people said, ‘Oh my God,” others had the ‘holy sh-t you’re kidding’ face, which was followed by brief moments of euphoria, people finding things they liked, and freaking out.”

Who needs Black Friday, seriously?

Photos and text by Aaron Short


Regina Opera opens 40th with ‘Don Giovanni’

Regina Opera presents “Don Giovanni” this month, the first full opera of its 40th season.

Maestro Scott Jackson Wiley conducts the 30-piece orchestra for this production which is staged by Linda Lehr. Kuwon Lee and Bryce Smith (pictured) share the title role of the notorious seducer. Leporello, his servant and sidekick, will be played by John Schenkel and Jason Thoms. Camille Gifford and Emilie Storrs will portray Donna Elvira, who was seduced and abandoned by Don Giovanni, and Wendy Baker and Maryann Mootos will alternate in the role of Donna Anna, whom Don Giovanni is now pursuing.

The role of Don Ottavio, the fiancé of Donna Anna, will be sung by Ivan Rivera de Beltran and Ubaldo Feliciano-Hernandez; Larry Small and Gennadiy Vysotskiy portray the Commendatore, Donna Anna’s father who is killed by Giovanni. Rounding out the cast will be Kristina Semos and Julia Spanja as Zerlina, a young country bride who falls under the spell of Don Giovanni, and Albert Donze and Saidue Karmo as Masetto, her bridegroom.

Performances are November 28 at 7 p.m. and November 29 at 3 p.m. at Regina Hall, 65th Street and 12th Avenue. Tickets are $20; $15 for seniors, $5 for teens and free for children. For more, call 718-259-2772.


Shop Brooklyn for the holidays

It may be “Black Friday” to everyone else, but to borough residents, tomorrow it will be “Brooklyn Friday.”

So hopes Borough President Marty Markowitz as he launches his “Shop Brooklyn” initiative for the 2009 holidays.

“Shop Brooklyn” is designed as an awareness campaign that will highlight the uniqueness of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods and thriving shopping corridors and encourage residents to “shop local.”

As part of the “Shop Brooklyn” campaign, Brooklyn retailers, restaurants, bars, and other service providers taking part in the initiative will offer special “Brooklyn Bonuses” running through December 25.

Participating retailers will display the “Shop Brooklyn” logo in store windows and will have their special offers posted here.


The 'Stache Bash: get ready for some hirsute hijinks

The mustaches are coming.

On December 5, Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO will host the ‘Stache Bash, foremost a fund raiser for New York City public schools organized by the New York City chapter of Mustaches for Kids, but also a chance for men to embrace their manhood and grow a truly awesome ... mustache.

For the month leading up to the event, participants have been cultivating their stache, in hopes of winning categories such as World’s Strongest Mustache or Sweetest ‘Stache. A panel of judges and the audience will help determine who gets what.

Contestants are also encouraged to come in costume, so don’t be alarmed if you see a macho police officer at the bar, or a couple Nintendo Marios running around.

See it all go down, and help raise money for a good cause, December 5 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20, and includes an open bar on beer and wine. Part of the proceeds will also go toward

Galapagos is located at 16 Main St. For more information, call 718-782-5188.


The Weekend: 11.25-11.29

The weekend starts early this holiday week, and we have Thanksgiving to, well, thank. Here's a look at what's happening in a neighborhood near you.

Wednesday, November 25

Goody bag: From a scavenger hunt in Gowanus to a film fest in Williamsburg, the night before Thanksgiving has a lot going for it. Check out our guide to what's happening that night.

Thursday, November 26

Ice skating: The rink at Prospect Park opens for the season today. So burn off some calories in advance of all that turkey and pie, and hit the ice. Starting at 10 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults ages 15 and up, $3 for children (14 and under) and seniors, and a skate rental is $6.50 (tax included). Located near the Parkside and Ocean avenues entrance of the park.

Friday, November 27

Music: The day after Thanksgiving is always a party at Park Slope's Southpaw. Chin Chin help make it one this year with their funk-disco-jazz blend. At 8 p.m. Tickets $10. Located at 125 Fifth Ave.

Saturday, November 28

Benefit: Brooklyn Bowl and Calling All Crows host a Care Package Assembly Party for U.S troops today. Bring items frequently requested by U.S. troops, like deodorant, toothpaste, soap, long-distance phone cards, books, CDs and playing cards, and write letters thanking them for their service. Also stick around for performances by members of Guster, fun., State Radio, Steel Train and Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers. At 2 p.m. Free. RSVP here. Located at 61 Wythe Ave.

Sunday, November 29

Dance: Arelah Thompson is starting the footwork for a new dance studio in Brooklyn. Help her realize her dream through a benefit at Galapagos Art Space featuring, of course, dance. At 8 p.m. Tickets $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Located at 16 Main St.

Skee-Ball: Do you like to skee? Then head down to Full Circle for their Brewskee-Ball league, which kicks off its winter session tonight at the Williamsburg bar. From 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Located at 318 Grand St.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More Lethem for you

Wondering how Jonathan Lethem's going to finish his new book, "Chronic City," during his marathon reading series, given that he still has half of his book to read with one event to go?

A reading at Brooklyn's Word will certainly help.

The Greenpoint bookstore has just announced a November 29 reading with the author, during their holiday brunch.

From 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., Lethem will read about 40-60 pages from the novel, with breaks to sign the book and to chat with listeners.

It won't get him significantly closer to the finish line of his 480-page novel, but it will help before he concludes with the final reading December 4 at Book Court. At this point, it's expected to go late into the night.


Skee-ballers wanted

Brewskee-Ball is coming to Brooklyn.

Starting November 29, Full Circle will host the league, a Skee-Ball/beer combo. The Williamsburg bar, which opened earlier this month, also makes a permanent home for the sport with its three Skee-Ball lanes.

“We thought that skee-ball is too good of a game for adults not to be able to play it on a daily basis,” said Eric Harris Pavony. “It’s a perfect mix of brew and skee and it turned out other people thought so as well.”

Those interested in joining Brewskee-Ball NYC, which kicks off November 29 and runs all winter on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays, can e-mail with the following information:

1. Witty team name
2. Three-roller roster (plus alternates)
3. Roller’s e-mail addresses
4. Division preference (Sunday, Monday or Wednesday)

Full Circle is located at 318 Grand St.

Photo: Time Out New York


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:

Theater: With its New York Clown Theater Festival, the Brick Theater has become the destination for clown theater each fall. Now, it with its upcoming Fight Fest, December 4-20, the Williamsburg theater looks to do the same for another obscure performance genre: stage combat. Other stage antics in the neighborhood include The Montessori Circus Show, an avant-garde piece featuring aerialists, hula hooping, puppetry, wood chopping, baking, and some clowning thrown in for good measure, running December 3-5 and December 10-12 at the Bushwick Starr.

Dining: Park Slope's Vue Restaurant, found atop the Hotel LeBleu, has a very popular bar and lounge a flight above its neo-modern Miami-esque dining room. We take a look at the restaurant below and its innovative and very atypical bill of fare.

Music: All you need is love, and a ukulele, at the Second Annual Beatles Complete on Ukulele Festival December 5 at Brooklyn Bowl.

Columns: Pumps & Pleats checks out the "modern vintage" of Park Slope's Eponymy, while the Kitchen Klutz has a Klutzy Thanksgiving with Pecan stuffing and the Reporter's Table takes a nod to the season with a fall vegetable saute.

Books: Fort Greene-based writer Abby Sher celebrates the release of her new memoir, "Amen, Amen, Amen" with an event at Union Hall Nov. 30. A comedic performer, expect some laughs as well.

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


Man who paints goats

The Green Building puts on its first art show with a retrospective of "forehead painter" Jonathan Blum.

From December 3-January 14, the Gowanus space, presents “Rabbis, Goats and Other Characters: Paintings from Jonathan Blum’s First Decade in New York (1999-2009),” with an opening reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by an after-party, 9:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

Blum is known in some circles as “the forehead painter,” because his early portraits captured his subjects only from the eyes up. He still focuses on faces but has expanded downward over the years.

The Green Building is a 4,000 square-foot yeshiva by day and party room by night located on the Gowanus Canal450 Union St. at Show hours are Sunday and Thursday, 12-6 p.m.; for more, call 917-855-6564.


Connect Four champion coming

Tonight's the big night game enthusiasts: the Connect Four championship at the Bell House.

For the past three weeks, eager contestants have been dualing it out over their black and red chips (with week-by-week commentary provided by Brokelyn for those who missed it).

Tonight, they will declare a champion on a monster-sized Connect Four board. Silly? Yes. But still fun.

The Universal Record Database will be on hand as well to document the activities, as participants try to break various world records (fastest game ever, anyone?).

Even if you're not involved in the finals, everyone is welcome to come down and enjoy the battle (and drink specials: well drinks and select pints are only $4).

Starting at 7 p.m. $3 to play, free to watch. The Bell House is located at 149 7th St.


In the kitchen with the Dap Tones

Tonight, IFC premieres its new series, Dinner with the Band, a cooking show combining culinary delights, musical performances and conversations with some of today's most acclaimed indie music artists.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the acts hail from Brooklyn (from Les Savy Fav to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings), as do the show's founders, brothers Darin and Greg Bresnitz, and its tatooed host, chef Sam Mason.

Summing up the show, Mason tells the Times: “Playing music onstage is like Halloween: you can be whoever you want up there. This show is about taking musicians out of that comfort zone, putting them in a situation where they come out of their shells.”

Helping start things off tonight are Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, a soul revival act out of Brooklyn that's built an international following. The show airs at 11 p.m. on IFC, and will feature them cooking, as well as performing "Let Them Knock" and "100 Days, 100 Nights."

For a preview of what's cooking in the kitchen, here's the recipe for episode 1's meal:

Sharon Steaks and the Dap Rings with Red Eye Gravy

Flat iron steak, 2-3 lbs

Steak marinade:
1/2 c olive oil
2 c parsley leaves
2 c cilantro leaves
2 T yuzu kosho
3 large red onion, sliced into thin 1/8 inch rings
1 c pancake mix flour
12 oz blue moon white beerCanola oil, for deep frying
1 c buttermilk
1 c blue moon white beer

Red eye gravy:
1 shallot, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 T sugar1 c Dijon mustard
1/2 c brewed coffee
1/4 c freeze dried coffee
3/4 c smoked bacon, cooked, 3 T bacon fat reserved
1/2 c water

Puree steak marinade ingredients in a blender and add to a large bowl with steaks. Marinate for 12-24 hrs.

In a bowl, mix 1 c buttermilk and 1 c beer and soak onion rings in mixture for ½ hr - 1 hr.

Preheat oil in large pot to 365 degree. Also preheat grill pan.

Heat a small sauté pan, add shallots and garlic, cook until translucent.

In a blender, add cooked shallots, and garlic along with all red eye gravy ingredients and blend until smooth. Strain through fine mesh strainer. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, add pancake mix, and beer. Mix until thick enough to coat onion rings.
Begin frying onion rings in batches. Season onion rings.

While frying onion rings, remove steaks from marinade and begin grilling in pan. Cook 3-5 minutes on each side depending on thickness.

Serve steaks with onion rings and red eye gravy.

Cook Time: 30 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 4-6 servings


Monday, November 23, 2009

Piano bar for hipsters

By it's name, you'd think it's in the city, but the Manhattan Inn is all Brooklyn.

This new Greenpoint restaurant/bar, from the ladies behind Glasslands Gallery, gets a nod in the New York Times today for the quiet nights it provides in the borough. Except, of course, for the ragtime played emitted from the lily-white baby grand by the likes of Smokin’ Billy Slater.

“It’s a little older crowd, maybe looking to have a quieter night," co-owner Rolyn Hu tells the Times.

The crowd better like cocktails as well. Says Metromix: "The cocktail-centric booze menu, run by a former Per Se sommelier, tips its hat to the area with Polish suds like Zywiec." Pair one up with entrees from chef Justin Farmer, who also tips his hat to the neighborhood with borscht and pierogi.

Located at 632 Manhattan Ave. For more information, call 718-383-0885.


Here she is, Miss G Train

By Aaron Short

Easy to loathe but loath to avoid, the Rodney Dangerfield of the subway system, the G train, was the runaway winner of a beauty pageant thrown in its honor by a Williamsburg museum.

The other winner, Astoria resident Elizabeth Kutcha (pictured), walked away with a sash and crown, outlasting eighteen semifinalists to become Miss G Train 2009.

“All the contestants are amazing!” said Kutcha, upon learning of her victory. “They are so talented and so nice!”

At City Reliquary (370 Metropolitan Ave.), 19 pageant contestants strutted their stuff, answering transit trivia and explaining why they should represent the much-maligned line.

“I used to have to take the G train to get home every day to Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint. But I worked hard, saved my money and moved out of Greenpoint! Now I’m living in the Lower East Side and I haven’t even seen the G train much less ridden on it for at least two years,” said contestant Jessica Delfino, who was eliminated in the first round of voting.

Five women and one drag queen advanced to the final round, where they showed off their vocal, dance, and bartending talents to an admiring crowd and judges (Abbie Borod, Ed Coffey, and Fiona Gardner, the photographer who curated the “Miss Subways” exhibit currently on display at the Reliquary).

“I wanted someone who came up with something I didn’t think up. They were all so different. (One contestant’s) walk of shame was so funny,” said Borod, beauty pageant talent coach and trainer.

In the end, Kutcha was chosen for her energy and passion for the train line, despite not residing directly on it. She visits her boyfriend in Greenpoint often, taking a free transfer from the 7 line at Court Square in Queens before crossing Newtown Creek on a Church Avenue-bound G.

“I’m on the G some of the time, as most people are because it doesn’t come that often,” said Kutcha.

Neighbors Allied for Good Growth Chair Michael Freedman-Schnapp praised Kutcha while also singling out third runner up, Gowanus resident Marleah Martin, as an excellent choice as well.

“She had a plan to become an advocate for the G train. She would have been an instant NAG member. We’re still trying to recruit her,” said Freedman-Schnapp.

For her part, Martin offered a comprehensive policy towards improving service on the line and ways for local residents to voice their transit concerns.

“There should be a Fulton Street Atlantic Avenue transfer, the G should go up to Queens Plaza one more stop, and we need more cars on the train,” said Martin.

After it was all over, a dozen firefighters broke down the makeshift stage and simultaneously hosted an after-party while the song “Love Train” blasted through a set of speakers. Gardner declared the event a success. So would she be taking the G train home at this late hour?

“No, I’m calling a car service,” said Gardner.


Script Tease

Here's more pre-Thanksgiving fun for you.

Tonight, the Union Hall Drama Club (love that name) presents Script Tease, a new play reading series held in the downstairs of the Park Slope venue.

The evening will feature readings of thematically related newworks, performed by professional actors, followed by cocktails and conversation. With the holiday approaching, they will present a irreverent evening filled with plays that feature plays about the good, the bad, the ugly - the wild frontier of the family get together.

Featuring plays by Holly Hepp-Galvan, Jeannine Jones, Courtney Brooke Lauria, Crystal Skillman, and Erin Murtaugh Strouse. With performances by Andrea Dionne, Ellen Haynes, Kate Juliano, Nancy Kelly, Jesse Manocherian, Mimian Morales, Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Kristin Warheit and Brett Warwick.

Get a generous helping of catharsis to relieve your family angst before Thanksgiving (with help from happy hour-priced drinks).

Tonight at 7 p.m. Free. Union Hall is located at 702 Union St.


Street art

Brooklyn artist Logan Hicks has created one of his largest murals ever, a tribute to his son, Sailor, for Epeis Outside.

Check it out on North 11th street, at the corner of Wythe Avenue, in Williamsburg.

Photo: Jaime Rojo/Brooklyn Street Art


Friday, November 20, 2009

Amore with the undead sucks

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Two stars
By Thomas Tracy

Love with the undead has never been so dull as in “New Moon,” the astonishingly slow second segment of the “Twilight” saga.

While the story of a young woman’s forbidden three-way love affair with a vampire and a werewolf may make Brooklyn’s teen and pre-teen female population giggle with glee, director Chris Weitz’s interpretation of the Stephenie Meyer novel does very little for anyone over, say, 17.

Still, amazingly, “New Moon,” which lumbers along at the pace of an old-timey Universal Monsters mummy, is a bit more interesting than its predecessor, thanks to a new group of four-legged friends.

This time around, vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson), our gaunt, pasty-white hero who always looks as if he’s desperately in need of a sandwich, decides to break up with his beloved Bella (Kristen Stewart) for her own safety and ditches town (it seems that vampires shouldn’t date humans — go figure).

Her heart rent asunder by Edward’s actions, Bella spends the next several months keening (literally) until she discovers that “reckless behavior” causes her to see apparitions of her former love.

Her pursuit for perilous pastimes sends her into the arms of Jacob (Taylor Lautner), an old friend who has a supernatural secret all his own.

While it appears that Bella and Jacob have more chemistry (his heart at least beats), Bella is still all aquiver for Edward, which of course sets up a final confrontation as well as a preview of what’s expected to come in the inevitable third installment — which we hope isn’t as boring.

We also hope it’s a bit spicier. While you would think being romantically involved with a vampire and seduced by a werewolf at the same time would bring new meaning to the phrase “things that go bump in the night,” no one gets past first base — ever. Romantic moments are always interrupted by furry things or, even scarier, Bella’s own emotional baggage.

That’s the inherent problem with “New Moon.” Weitz spends far too much time on Bella’s malaise (by the movie’s halfway mark, Stewart has become the epitome of teenage depression) instead of vampire culture. And once we get a glimpse of it during an unexpected, and somewhat forced, sojourn to Italy, we realized all Weitz did was replace the redwood trees of Forks, Washington, for a group of red-eyed vamps — Dakota Fanning being one of them — who are just as wooden.

“The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Directed by Chris Weitz. Running time: 130 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some violence and action.

Playing in Brooklyn at
AMC Loews Kings Plaza 6 in Flatlands, Bay Ridge Alpine Cinemas, Cobble Hill Cinemas, UA Court Street Stadium 12 in Downtown Brooklyn, UA Sheepshead Bay 14, Linden Boulevard Multiplex Cinemas in East New York and Kent Theatre in Coney Island.


The Weekend: 11.20-11.22

There's lots of fun to be had in Brooklyn this weekend, from games to concerts and cook-offs. Here's a look at what's happening near you.

Friday, November 20

Music: Brooklyn's Bishop Allen make it a two-fer this weekend, with a show tonight at Union Hall in Park Slope and tomorrow at the Bell House in Gowanus. Bop around to some pretty perfect pop melodies. Sold out tonight, though tickets may still be available at the door (you can still get tickets for tomorrow's show). At 8 p.m. Tickets $15. Located at 702 Union St.

Saturday, November 21

Shopping: Markets are all over Brooklyn. This weekend, 3rd Ward in East Williamsburg hosts SCORE! Pop-up Swap, where the most you'll probably spend is on the $3 admission. Bring clothes, CDs, books and movies, and trade for some new goodies for yourself or friends and family for the holiday. From 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Located at 195 Morgan Ave.

Games: Get a clue this weekend, when The Peach Tartes’ Rita Men Weep and Joe the Shark bring the classic detective board game to life, burlesque-style. Was Mr. Body done in by Professor Plum with the glove in the water closet, or choked by glitter in the ballroom by Miss Scarlett? Find out at Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO. Tickets $12 in advance (use discount code BOOBS for $10 tickets), $15 at the door. Doors at 10 p.m., show at 10:30. Located at 16 Main St.

Sunday, November 22

Food: Chili or pie? That's the choice today, with two cook-offs in Brooklyn. At the Bell House, it's the 5th annual Chili Takedown, where you can feast on nearly 30 different interpretations on this Texas delicacy At 4 p.m. Tickets $15. Located at 149 7th St. Over in Williamsburg, the first annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off Benefit brings blue-ribbon pies to Spacecraft. Fill up on two slices of pie, plus ice cream, of course. A portion of the proceeds will be going to Bags for the People, the local non-profit that combats plastic bag waste by giving away reusable bags. So strut around with that tote. Tickets $10. At 1:30 p.m. Located at 355 Bedford Ave.


Latkes for your home

While the prospect of a latke-eating contest isn't too appetizing to us, a modest serving is.

With potatoes and eggs as the base, the rest of the ingredients vary from one recipe to the next. So we asked around for a tried and true combination, and a friend procured this family recipe:

Number of potatoes of your choice (5 makes a medium batch)
Equal amount of eggs to number of potatoes
1 onion
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup matzo meal
Apple sauce (optional, but recommended)

Grate potatoes and onion and mix together.

Add eggs, salt, and matzo meal until mixture sticks (add more matzo meal if necessary).

Heat oil in skillet. (A trick to know when it is ready: put a piece of onion in the skillet; when it turns brown and starts to sizzle, you're good to go.)

Spoon batter onto skillet (make latkes as big or as small as you like) and fry until the ends begin to turn brown. Flip.

Remove onto paper towels.

Serve with apple sauce.

Have a recipe you'd like to share? Submit your own in the comments section.


Squash soup warms you up

By Helen Klein

An essential ingredient in the cook’s repertoire is being able to react effectively when a recipe doesn’t live up to its hype.

What do you do when instead of fabulous flavor, a recipe delivers little except a thud?

That was what I was up against when I prepared a squash soup recipe recently from a cookbook that is generally reliable.

Yet, amazingly, after a distinctly unpromising start, I ended up with a soup recipe that was all I could have hoped for, seductive in its blend of flavors, and warming on a cold day, combining sweet, savory and a soupçon of bitter, definitely a keeper.

I have to admit that I was dubious when the recipe I began with called for the vegetables to be cooked for a relatively brief time in just water. But, I was in a hurry, so I pressed ahead anyway, which is why I ended up improvising -- rather successfully, I think -- when winter squash, carrots, potatoes, sautéed onion and garlic, enhanced by oregano and celery seed, and with orzo added for body, tasted bland and generally unappealing after what really wasn’t much more than a prolonged soak at low temperature.

For one thing, I upped the flavor quotient with a quick infusion of vegetable stock ( I keep a jar of concentrate in my fridge that I use regularly). I also tipped in about a cup of dry white wine, reached for the thyme in my spice cupboard and the fresh sage in my crisper, and shook in a goodly quantity of Hungarian paprika.

My goal was to concentrate the flavors, adding a broad background against which the taste of the vegetables -- kale was coming later -- would shine. Had I been able to go back in time, I would also have sautéed the carrot and squash cubes briefly before adding the potatoes and pouring in the liquid ingredients, to caramelize the sugars in these vegetables and intensify the flavor still more.

The soup delivered a bonus as well. With lots left over, I reached for a few ladlefuls of the mixture the next day when I reheated a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket in the oven.

When adding my personal stamp to precooked chicken, I normally roast it in a bed of briefly parboiled potatoes, plus onions, garlic and whatever other vegetables seem appealing, dousing the veggies with whatever pan juices have accumulated in the chicken package, plus added water as necessary. The soup veggies served the same purpose, browning on top and a pudding-like consistency as they roasted alongside the chicken.

Winter Squash Soup

2-3 Tbl. olive oil
1½ cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
4 cups peeled and cubed winter squash, such as butternut or acorn1 cup chunked baby carrots
4 cups peeled and cubed boiling potatoes
2 tsp. dried oregano1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. celery seed
1 Tbl. chopped fresh sage
2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 cups water
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chopped kale
½ box orzo

Heat the olive oil in a stockpot or a large sauté pan, that is both deep and wide.

When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic, and cook quickly, over medium heat, till translucent and golden.

Add the squash and carrots and sauté briefly, until golden.

Add the potatoes, the spices, salt, pepper, and liquid and cook over medium high heat for 20 minutes, checking frequently to make sure the liquid has not boiled out.

When the potatoes are fork tender, add the kale and orzo, adjust the level of liquid in the pot (adding more water if there is little left) and cook over medium high heat for another 10 minutes.

Once the orzo is al dente, and the kale is tender, adjust seasonings and serve.

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