Only having time to watch two minutes of S05E01 before I leave.
UPDATE! So now I've watched it. And I'd say a lot more, but I've unexpected events I'm dealing with, in a way (see soon to be posted post that will be right above this one). But this I can say: I watched this episode wondering where this season would take me as all our old youngsters are gone (or about to be gone) and now it is time to love Luke and Vince and Tinker like we've been loving them for a hundred seasons and learn to accept the "new" new characters (while we're actually quite busy accepting last season's new characters.) Still, there is a football game in this episode and, darn it, it made me feel the ol' FNL magic. With all the changes of the past two seasons and the almost completely new cast it's like this is a completely different show now, starring Eric and Tammy Taylor. And I'm curious to see what this new Eric and Tammy show turns out to be all about.
Last Friday there was an art show involving a brotherhood of BYU Art Grads down on East Broadway, the location meant one thing: Call up Andy, tell him to bundle up . . .
Cuz we're hitting the road.
And reunited with Jared.
Here's the deal: all these artists, they had been playing Dungeons & Dragons the past 6 months or so through video chat and creating art inspired by the campaign, this show was organized to showcase the art, bring the brotherhood together, and finish the game. The name of their show, and the name of their party (I presume), was DOOMSLANGERS.
This animatronic skeleton was actually a piñata of sorts. More on that at the end of the post . . .
This was a fun little short film about a Cloak of Invisibility.
And here's Jared's art, hidden away in a corner. "Die, Kitty!" the name of this one.
Discovered a unicorn hidden behind that terrifying warrior. Was that Warduke? Possibly.
His Mighty Arm.
Gian ceramic'd up this grappling hook.
Casey Jex Smith was the mastermind behind this operation and his illustrations were just magnificent. I especially liked this one. A warrior, his stats, his belongings. Just trying to make it in the world with just a 10 Constitution (but with an 18 Wisdom, I know he'll find a way.)
This large illustration, I spent a lot of time lost in it. I did not take enough close up pictures.
An empty character sheet. The temptation of infinite possibilities. Who will be birthed into the world of fantasy through this paper?
Alan explained to me that this Bear
Killed this warrior.
Leaving this Cursed Necklace for his elf to claim.
Elements of Mormonism turning up here and there. After staring at the larger illustration for a while I realized that the iron rod ran through it leading to . . . oh no? Had the Tree of Life been cut down? Now that's a quest.
"Are you Santa Claus?"
"No, I'm a Fighter."
Costumes were encouraged. On the right, I hear that fellow is an excellent DM, to the left his is son, the barbarian. Alan as elf stands in the middle.
"Are you a wizard?"
"No, I'm Steve."
The evening concluded with a battle against the skeleton.
Dice were rolled to determine if the warriors would hit the monster, then blows were swung. The skeleton launched a few lightning bolts and fire balls, a few warriors were lost.
But in the end, the party was victorious. Yes, the monster had been stuffed full of spaghetti.
Opinions on records recently listened to (often several times).
No Age, "Everything in Between" On my first listen I was a little mad at this record for, unlike Nouns, not having Teenage Creeps or Sleeper Hold on it. I listened to it a second time and thought, "Hmmm, maybe it does all right on its own though." But on a third listen I decided, "Yeah, I'd rather listen to the No Age record with Teenage Creeps and Sleeper Hold on it."
Belle and Sebastian, "Write About Love" Having a first go at this record I wondered to myself if the world needed another Belle and Sebastian record* and, if so, if this were the record the world needed. And upon finishing it, I didn't quite feel it was. But listen, this record is a grower . . . it needs precisely two listens to completely grow on you. Turns out this IS the Belle and Sebastian record the world very much needs right now. Super catchy, but you don't catch this at first, and there's a good tone that runs through the whole album . . . a tone like an early winter wind? Something like it.
*I wasn't trying to be awful about this. It's just that the Belle and Sebastian catalogue is so complete. To me, in someways, they're like the Beastie Boys or Weezer . . . all three bands have a solid and classic collection of albums behind them, can't that be enough? (For 2 of the 3 bands I'd argue it is . . . but I'm a few records behind on what the Beastie Boys and Weezer have been doing lately.)
Male Bonding, "Nothing Hurts" ALBUM OF THE MONTH! OR WEEK! OR UNTIL THE NEXT ALBUM I RESPOND TO IN ALL CAPS FOR THE FIRST THREE SENTENCES! What we have here is the Wavves/Best Coast sound interpreted by a British band. The results? Please consult AllCaps sentences from the beginning of this "review" or continue reading: The results are just brilliant. A hint more discipline? A suggestion of more talent? Might be what's happening here. Tthese dudes make American music sound better than Americans do for an album the way Pains of Being Pure at Heart made Scottish rock sound better than Scots for an album last year.
The Like, "Release Me" Four, five years there was this band called the Pipettes that some people liked because they were girls, they dressed 60s (good 60s), and played 60's-ish music . . . my problem with them, though, was I thought their music was lame and that they had no game. Now this year there's this band, the Like, who I know've been around for a bit, and suddenly they're dressing 60's (good 60's) and they're playing 60's-ish music real well and at first I was just about floored by this record and how well it spoke to my 60's garage sensibilities (because, not too deep down inside, this is my favorite genre of music). But then I did the tiniest bit of research and learned, oh no, that "Release Me" is a Mark Ronson-produced record. And now I just don't know what to think. A Ronson record is a Ronson record just like a Spector record is a Spector record, the band suddenly disappears in the puppet master's presence and I just don't know what to do about it. I go from thinking "Oh, that's tight" when I hear the buzzy guitar drop in on "He's Not a Boy" to "Oh, there you go again, Mark." The lesson: When you like something, stay away from Wikipedia. Another lesson: I should have just recommended this record, not said who really made it, and told you to never look the Like up on Wikipedia.
Twin Shadow, "Forget" Hey, this record is kind of sick (and I speak after the manner of the vernacular). Let me incorrectly try to describe it as, like, 21st Century Hall & Oates meets David Bowie. And let me highly recommend it and award it my "Runner-Up of the Month! or Week! or Until the Next Runner-Up!" award and give it my "Top Recommendation of the Month if What You're Looking for is a Record That's a Little Different from Everything Else You've Been Listening to Lately" award.
This post is literally about something that happened last night, not something that happened two weeks ago. Okay, here we go, post officially starts . . . now!
Oh, hello there. I didn't see you coming in. Allow me to introduce myself, it's me, Brigham, and I'd like to tell you about my dinner last night.
Yesterday afternoon I accepted a nearly-last minute invitation to join 7 friends (old and new) for dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a fine dining destination located near Terrytown, a 30 minute or so drive from the city (in minimal traffic).
The deal with Blue Hill at Stone Barns (as opposed to regular Blue Hill right off Washington Square Park) is that it is inside an old barn (don't worry, they cleaned it up) on a big farm and just about all the food (vegetables, cheeses, butters and animals) comes from right there. You choose between a 5 course Farmer's Feast or an 8 course Farmer's Feast and the kitchen takes it from there.
Basically what I just told you in the above paragraph is the long-version of what the menu says. Also, the menus each have different food illustrations. Let me introduce you to the menus and the diners: Mike, Vanessa, Josh (the mastermind behind the meal), Beth's hand.
Trish's hand, Nat, Mala, Mike.
Josh's eyes, Beth.
So, yes, this elegant dining experience was a bit of a splurge but I was able to think of a lot of reasons to . . . well, I don't want to say justify it because I feel it needs no justification . . . I was able to think of a lot of reasons to do the right thing (which was come to this dinner), such as: 1) Celebrate Salt Lake City Laura's Birthday, 2) Almost obey my mother and almost go to Sleepy Hollow, 3) Celebrate the end of my four-week Spanish language review project, 4) I never do this sort of thing . . . and if you think I do do this sort of thing, let me tell you that this was a thing of an entirely different sort, 5) Told myself I had been saving $18 a year for the past 10 years so I could go, 6) Not buying any airfare recently, 7) Not buying anything recently, really, if you think about it, 8) It was an awesome opportunity, something I wouldn't soon forget, and I've passed on things like this before and missed the experience more than I would have missed the money, 9) etc., etc., let's look at the food.
(Blue Hill had a Please, No Flash Photography policy so we're going to have to make due with some dark, hi-ISO photos from my point and shoot here.)
We began with 30 minutes worth of amuse buches, starting with little glasses of "V9," a zingy house-made vegetable juice. I forgot to ask what the ninth juice was that put this little thing over the top.
Next, an assortment of garden vegetables from the farm (there in the middle that's the centerpiece, it wasn't for eating . . . I don't think) (also, there was disagreement at the table over whether the server had said "vegetables from the farm" or "vegetables from the barn", for now I'd like to think the vegetables came from the farm). They were so good that I ate mine from stem to root, that's the veggie equivalent of snout to tail. As you might be able to see, the vegetables were individually skewered on nails sticking out of these boards. Presentation at this place: constantly top notch.
Oh, by the way here's Trish. You may remember her from Rio, or the time you were somewhere with the two of us and we wouldn't stop telling Rio stories.
Mushroom burgers, so tiny. I relished/gobbled mine up in one bite. Really liked it, not sure what all was on it. Could have eaten 40.
Salsify lollipops, wrapped in house-made pancetta, rolled in toasted sesame seeds. It took me forever to eat mine, maybe licking it wasn't the best way.
"Green beans", the server said with aplomb. (But we can all see they were tempura-battered, like TGI Friday's new green bean fries) I like it when green beans are called green beans and not haricot verts, this is America, people.
Potato with taragon and dried kale. The dried kale was one of my favorite things that night. There. I said it.
These little potato chips, the taragon leaves were threaded through them. That's the job I want in the Blue Hill kitchen.
Okay, one more amuse: a charcuterie course! I believe we were told this was lonzo and pancetta. Sure, I'll believe there's a cured meat called lonzo. Why not?
And now, at nearly 11 pm, dinner is served . . . first course: Fall beets, mache, and yogurt. I just found out that mache is a type of lettuce SO what was the delicious, hummusy thing beneath the salad? That definitely wasn't yogurt? Not hummus, right?
And here we have one of my absolute favorites from the night: an onion from the garden that had been cooking for 18 hrs (and I thought I was hardcore the time I roasted onions for an hour!) with salt.
Oh, and toppings, if you're into that: olive tapenade, diced beets, matsutake mushrooms, and vegetable puree (but you can pretend it was guacamole). Basically you were invited to make little onion nachos. Invitation accepted!
After this course a fellow from the restaurant came over to the table and visited with us for a while, making us feel welcome, told us about the restaurant, checked to see why the loudest table in the room was also the least drinkiest, and answered some of our questions about Blue Hill (the question I wasn't bold enough to ask: "Yes, uhm . . . who are you?") One thing I remember learning: Blue Hill customer demographic breakdown: 30% from NYC, 30% from NYC metropolitan area, 20% visitors from foreign lands, 20% passing through town/domestic vacationers.
And now . . . fish. A delicious piece of sturgeon (I'd say it was perfectly cooked and perfect in every way, but I don't think I'd ever had sturgeon before, so who knows) served on corn and seafood chowder (there were mussels in that bowl). This picture is deceptive, it was a generous portion.
Curse you camera! This is supposed to be a picture of the wonderful baskets of bread and the three house-made salts: tomato salt (meh), corn salt (!!! tastes like Doritos !!!), and black mushroom salt (spill a little of this and the tablecloth will tell on you).
"This Morning's Farm Egg" with tomato and beans. Egg was softboiled and deepfried in something. I'm not going to end every food description by saying it was delicious. Listen, it was all delicious.
The bread across the table looked like a bunny.
Peruvian potato gnocchi with foraged mushrooms. Very excellent gnocchis, don't know how I feel about being fed mushrooms they just found lying around. (I joke! I joke!)
And, last but not least, Lamb Belly, Lamb Loin, and Lamb Leg with carrots.
Now I would like to take a moment to talk about the service at Blue Hill. The service was: something else, that's for sure. Someone was always nearby with an eye on the table, taking care of everything. Head off to the bathroom, they sneak in a refold your napkin (that I've seen before), come back from the bathroom and someone shows up to pull out your chair just as you arrive. Dishes were plated and sided by a synchronized ring of rotating servers . . . the first few times this happened it nearly gave me chills, I hardly understood what was happening, but I got used to it. Here's a little video of when they cleared our lamb plates . . . not the most perfectly synchronized clearing of the night and by now we had been eating for nearly three hours and were a little more chilled out than earlier. (Because earlier we were not chilled out at all.)
And another service thing: after you finished dinner, the hostesses in the lobby could be found standing with your coats in hand, ready to return to you. Coordination throughtout the house! Incredible.
Almost more incredible: They were so nice to us, always. We did not deserve it. We were not always as civilized as we could have been.
All right, time for dessert.
This was my one failing at recording, it's three seperate desserts, from right to left: blue berry and carmelized cornflake with something white on it (yogurt maybe?), a eucalyptus and bartlett pear sorbet (I think) and a fromage blanc and concord grape sorbet. The grapes won the dessert contest. And no, the pen isn't meant to be in the shot for scale, but why not. Let's use it for scale.
Also, the table had a real good laugh over how hard it is to spell eucalyptus and then we joked that the chef not only serves the finest foods but the hardest to spell foods, as well. This had some of the table in tears. It was getting late, we were having fun.
A variety of after-dinner drinks were available. Some became tempted once we saw herbal teas were offered.
Said teas served with charming honey-serving device.
Finally: Apple tart with rosemary and toasted merangue. I was going to ask what the sliced fruit on top was (pear?) then I thought about it for a second
Oh, wait. Forget that I said "finally" because then they brought out macarons, grapes, and honey chocolate chocolates.
These grapes . . . truly unike any others ever tasted by me before them.
I'm being for real here.
And finally, the bill. I'm not going to be gauche and get into details about the final tab, but let me say something—Blue Hill at Stone Farms: they've got free refills on soft drinks. Little inside tip for you if you ever go.
Wrapping things up, putting accounts in order, smiling and being happy.
And dinner is officially over at . . . 1:20 am.
Goodbye salad bar (just kidding, there was no salad bar.)
Goodbye dining room and mural.
Goodbye Nat. (don't worry, we didn't leave him).
Goodbye totally dark Stone Barn.
In summation, if you were wondering: Yes, I do recommend a trip to Blue Hill at Stone Farms (if I could have changed anything, I would have had a little daylight so we could admire the grounds and the animals). You will have a nice time, they will be nice to you, you will get fed, and you'll want to wake up your roommates when you come home at two a.m. to tell them all about it.
OH WAIT! A second thing I'd change: They were playing subdued jazz and other contemporary elegant dining music in the dining room but the food was putting me in a mental state where loud rock or rap would have been more to my liking . . . so I could have been like, "Yeah! I love these beets! AND these beats!" (sorry, sorry, did Not know I was going to make that joke when I started the imaginary self-quotation) Guess I'm too used to Momofuku dining.