Again With The Footballer's!

In case you have just started obsessing (and are now playing catch-up) over what may very well be the hottest series ever to come out of the U.K, the Series 3 DVD of Footballer's Wives is now available. Thenew pair to watch out for this time around are Conrad and his wife Ambaaaaaaa. It all goes downhill after this series so make sure to at least watch the first 3 (if you haven't already)!

New Music Releases

2 great new releases to check out this week:

The new Scissor Sisters cd Ta-Dah is FINALLY out- definitely go for the deluxe version - it has very cool packaging (even though DEC doesn't like it), a bonus CD and a mini-poster.

Also, Miss Jackson (cuz I'm nasty!) is celebrated her double-decade in music with all new material on 20 Y.O. - the deluxe edition has a bonus DVD.

And keep your eye out next week on October 3rd for The Killers new one Sam's Town.


Modern Drinks

We popped into The Modern bar/restaurant (part of Danny Meyer's empire) at MoMa, for drinks after L’Atelier. This was my first time to the bar and really liked it. Very laid back yet hip (and very busy, although definitely not TOO busy, for a Friday night – although it was Rosh Hashana so don’t hold me to that part). The space is gorgeous – a long back-lit bar with a small lounge on the side. Drinks were typical Midtown prices and there was an interesting variety of specialty cocktails and beer. I had an Ommegang Henepin – a draft larger from a brewery in Cooperstown NY. Definitely check this one out if you’re feeling a little artsy!

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Friday night The Lady Spence & I continued our counter-dining journey, this time with a stop at the recently opened L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon at The Four Seasons. Well, we didn't actually just "stop in" - I reserved it a month ago. We wanted to sit at the counter - the seats where you NEED to be - which are virtually impossible to get without some serious planning. We had been wanting to go to Robuchon's L'Atelier in Paris, but it is next to impossible to get in there so we held off for the NY opening.

Once we were seated at the counter I looked at The Lady and said "2-for-2" and was all smiles. This was because our waiter was bringing over none-other than Mr. Robuchon himself (who rarely makes an appearance since he has also branched out into London and Vegas) to say "bon jour". Sadly, that was about the extent of our conversation with him since he speaks very little English.

Our waiter - who was positioned behind the counter and attended to our every need - then went over the menu with us. We decided not to do the official tasting menu (which consists of many of Robuchon's signature dishes like sea urchin and carmelized quail), but instead to design our own.

Before the first course came out we were treated to a mini foie gras starter inside of a shot glass. It was like BUTTER! I loved it but sadly the Lady shied away. Then out came the bread basket, filled with mini-baguettes and rolls, which tasted like they were just flown in from Paris!

We started off the first course with Le Crabe (seasoned crabmeat inside of 2 thinly spiced avocado slices with a mild spicy oil) and Le Homard (lobster in a turnip ravioli). Both of these we loved and couldn't decide which one we liked better (although I think the crabmeat had the slight edge). Round 2 consisted of La Langoustine (a crispy langoustine fritter with basil pesto) and Le Calamar (sauteed squid with baby artichoke and chorizo). We both agreed we could've passed on the La Langoustine. Problem being - these portions are all very small - typically only 2 of each item. The Langoustine only had one so it was a bit awkward to have to cut it in half. Le Calamar was the largest of the small portions - which the chef had split for us in the kitchen. Moving on to our favorite course - Le Burger (beef and foie gras "slider" burgers with lightly caramelized bell pepper and a few light and airy french fries with a ginger ketchup). This one was SO good we ended up with 2 orders! We finished off the main part of dinner with Les Spaghettis (angel hair in a light oil with parmesan & truffles). This one had come from the "appetizers" section although it was actually the size of a reasonable main course and was plenty big enough for us to split - which again they did for us in the kitchen.

Between courses the head chef Phillipe (who speaks English very well) came over for a visit, followed by Robuchon's business partner Eric. An amazing touch that made you feel as if you were sitting in the kitchen at their homes at a dinner party while they were preparing the meal.

Even though they brought out a small complementary desert in a shot glass that reminded me of an upscale lime jello, we decided that we couldn't NOT have one of the regular deserts so we went for Le Chocolat Noir (a dark chocolate molten cake with a tonka bean-laced semmisweet coffee mousse and pistachio dust). SO heavenly!!!!!!!!!!!! However chef Phillipe thought we could use more than one desert and sent us over a complementary order of Le Sucre (a violet and lychee sugar sphere, milk ice cream, wild rose and blackberry coulis), the house signature desert which was presented to us by the head pastry chef and his assistant.

After 3 1/2 hours we decided that it was regrettably time to call it quits. Everyone came back over to wish us well as we left and The Lady even got direct line to Chef Phillipe in Paris (he typically runs L'Atelier there) so that we could be assured a table there the next time we go. This was a truly transcendental dinner and will probably go down as one of the best I’ll ever have.


Studio 60

Last night I caught up with my DVR and watched some of the new fall shows. I have to say, I'm already hooked on Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. This show was amazing - a stellar cast with acting at it's best. And it's filmed in much more of a "movie" style than a tv show. The premise is a behind-the-scenes drama of how a show like SNL operates. I've always hated Amanda Peet, but now I'm seriously LOVING her! She was looking AMAZING and I love her character Jordan. Matthew Perry was fun as ever as a pain-killer addicted writer. I'm sad to say that Sarah Paulson was as deadpan as ever (PLEASE get it together girl - you have SO much potential). The rest of the show was filled with celeb cameos (Felicity Huffman was a treat as usual). It seems like they will have at least one major cameo each week which will be an actor playing themselves as they "host" the show. Studio 60 is on Mondays @ 10pm on NBC so definitely give this one a shot (and if you did indeed miss the pilot, you can catch it on the Studio 60 link above!).


This Just In . . .

The Killers will be playing a secret show on Friday night at Webster Hall. Tickets on sale through Ticketweb today at noon!


Spelling Bee

Friday I went to see last years Tony award winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Overall, I really enjoyed it. The setting was great - the theater had been transformed into a high school gymnasium. It really did feel like you were at a spelling bee (except when the cast broke out into song). The acting was ALL top notch and I really did fall in love with the characters. This definitely isn't one of the more intellectual things I've seen on Broadway and none of the songs really stuck with me, but it's definitely a fun night out. Very entertaining for visiting out of towners, families, etc. My tix were free through an AmEx contest and I have to admit I wouldn't have enjoyed it nearly as much if I had paid the $100 per ticket. But if you can go for like $40, check it out. Oh, they also do a daily lottery where they sell 10 pairs of tickets at $25 2-hrs before every showtime.



Saturday AM I decided to call Morimoto and see if they could take a table for 2 at 9pm. Of course I got the usual NY response - only at 6pm or 10:30pm so we decided to just show up and wing it. Later that day though, around 6pm, I decided to call and see if there were any cancellations to which I was told "I can give you sushi bar at 9pm" - DONE and DONE!

We arrived at 9pm and were promptly shown to our seats at the sushi bar and lo and behold I was ECSTATIC to discover that they had given us the 2 seats right in front of the iron chef himself, Chef Morimoto! That being said we knew we were in for a MAJOR treat!

Being that this was my first time here we decided to try a little bit over everything. This included the tuna pizza (a flat bread with tuna sashimi on top drizzled with a spicy sauce - OUTSTANDING!), the spicy king crab legs (2 legs cracked open and cut into pieces with a spicy sauce on top - THIS WAS THE BEST - I'M STILL DREAMING ABOUT IT), the lobster fritters (decent, but nothing special), the rock shrimp tempura (half in a spicy sauce, half in a sweet sauce - neither compared to Nobu's) and 2 rolls - soft shell crab (great) and spicy tuna (again, definitely not as good as Nobu). To compliment it all I had the Pinot Noir by the glass which was surprisingly one of the best I've tasted!

All in all this was a transporting experience and one of the best dining experiences I've had in NY in quite a while. Even the items that weren't the best were great. PLUS the space is GORGEOUS and the service was very friendly and knowledgeable. Also, the lounge there seemed great - just the right amount of people (all seats filled but no one really standing - and no apparent MePa feeling). I can't wait to go back!


The Beautiful South

Hooray! One of my all-time favorite bands, The Beautiful South, have announced 2 nights at Irving Plaza on November 6th & 7th! They will be on the road supported their new cd Superbi. The band hasn't hit the states since 1999 so this show should be ROCKING! Tickets on sale through Ticketmaster on Thursday at noon!


The Little Owl

Saturday night I finally got to have dinner at The Little Owl and it was WELL WORTH THE WAIT (it's tough getting a reservation since there are so few tables and the place has been getting a lot of buzz.

We arrived for our reservation at 9pm but had to wait about 15 minutes for our table. Sadly, the bar was full (it only has 4 seats) so we had to wait outside. I had seen people waiting outside before, always sitting on the bench enjoying a glass of wine. The owners must have been reprimanded about this since we were told they couldn't serve wine outside any longer. Boo!

When we were seated it turned out we were put next to a hen party. And then more women arrived and squeezed in. This I WAS NOT HAVING. I spoke to the manager and he immediatedly apologized, telling us there were not supposed to be that many people at the table, and that he would move us as soon as another table opened (which he promptly did!)

After all of this drama ended and the food started coming, we knew we were in for a real treat! First up, the grilled scallop appetizer. Since we had said we were splitting the apps, the chef took the liberty of splitting the plate for us in the kitchen (a touch that I really like). Each of us had one large scallop (that was I think about THE BEST scallop I've ever had!) grilled to perfection and sitting on top of a little summer salad - some frizee, grapefruit etc.). Next up, one of the house signature dishes - the gravy meatball sliders. Each slider in the the order of 3 was a beef, pork & veal meatball sitting inside of a delicate pecorino encrusted miniature roll. These were HEAVEN! Finally, to make up for the problem with the table, the manager unexpectedly sent us over his favorite appetizer - the ricotta cavatelli. This one turned out to be our favorite of the 3 - it was small ricotta filled pasta in a spicy tomato sauce with fava beans and chucks of thick cut bacon. Simply AMAZING!

Moving on to the main courses, I had the roasted halibut which was served on a bed of mashed with lemon creme fraiche. This was a gorgeous piece of fish prepared to perfection. The Lady has her usual steak, which had grilled raddicio and pancetta on top in a thick balsamic sauce. The steak was very big and the Lady said she really liked it (in fact, she made the effort to take the 1/2 she couldn't finish home!). I only tried the sauce but that alone was savory.

Sadly, we were so full we couldn't manage to order desert. All I can say though is on my next visit I will DEFINITELY will be saving room. The table next to us ordered the raspberry filled beignets that had a puddle of warm chocolate on the side to dip them in. They looked just sinful!

I would say RUN, don't walk to the Little Owl! The food is prepared with care and the space is a warm Village alernative to all of the monstrosities that are popping up everywhere. It's going to be a great space in the Fall with it's big windows overlooking one of the cutest corners in the West Village (Bedford & Grove - in the first floors of the Friend's building). Thanks to Gabe and all of his staff for making this a truly special dining experience!


castaneda/reiman @ DCKT

Go check out the castaneda/reiman show at DCKT Contemporary, on view from September 7 – October 7. The show is a collaboration of two artists whose work focuses on the natural scenic environments existing on the fringes of the urban landscape. It features several large wall pieces and dozens of concrete replicas of river rock and quarry stones. The opening reception is tonight from 6-8 pm.


London, Baby!

As expected, the trip to London was AMAZING and I have lots to discuss so I’m gonna jump right in . . .

The trip across the pond was pretty much a breeze. Check-in at JFK moved right along and the security lines were minimal. Our carrier was Virgin and for the most part, I still really love them and was very happy with the flight. However, note to Richard Branson – it is QUITE noticeable that many of the special touches that Virgin was known for are no longer. Gone are the days of the warm towels, menus, individual wine bottles, footie socks and the after dinner Baileys. However, the “on-demand” video service was a HUGE upgrade from the last time I flew them. I ended up watching The Squid & The Whale, which was quite good albeit dark and depressing.

After clearing the long wait at customs, we made our way to our hotel, The Zetter in Clerkenwell. Thankfully, our room was ready when we arrived. I can’t say enough about how much we loved this hotel! First off, they gave us a room upgrade for Mark’s "birthday”. The rooms were simply decorated with a modern flair. The bed was comfy with down pillows and comforter, the “raindance” shower was a treat and the A.C. ran full-tilt boogie.

Other ammenities included a flat-screen tv, wi-fi, Elemis bath products, a hot water bottle, cd/dvd player and copies of Time Out and Wallpaper*. In the room is a dry mini-bar with the usual items like Ketel Chips, Cadbury’s etc. On each floor in an alcove is a vending machine that holds the bevies and booze (the beer on hand was Peroni) – a quick swipe of your room card and you were good to go. There was also a complementary easy-to-use coffee/espresso machine in the alcove that provided a freshly ground jump-start to the mornings. My favorite special added touch was the 2 large bottles of water (one still, one bubbly – bottled by the Zetter straight from the natural spring located below the hotel) that were delivered to the room daily. All of the staff were very friendly and helpful with no attitude. I HIGHLY recommend this place – especially if you can work out their European Saver package which is a STEAL!

After a short nap we headed over to the West End for dinner at the newly opened The Club Bar And Dining. Formerly The Sugar Club (an old fav of mine), the space has been redesign as a brasserie and bar on the main floor and a very cool cocktail lounge in the basement. Decent food and a very hip vibe. The crab cakes and jerk chicken were done well.

After dinner we headed over to see Sondheim’s musical “Sunday in the Park with George”. The production was spectacular, combining the live actors with video images. Even though I don’t love the show itself, the staging and the actors were all top notch which made it worth seeing. I did find it hard to concentrate on the show though, since Natalie Portman was sitting next to Mark! She was COMPLETELY GORGEOUS and was with some guy (I have no idea who – probably just a friend). She played on her blackberry during intermission while he was in the loo. Luckily no one bothered her at all (including me).

Saturday morning we headed over to Spitalfields for brunch at Canteen, a new trendy restaurant featured in this month’s Food & Wine “Where To Eat Next”. I went for the fried egg and bacon on top of bubble and squeak and washed it down with an organic hard cidar. Me so happy!

In the afternoon we walked off brunch on Oxford Street with stops at The Virgin Megastore, Next and of course Top Shop. Later that afternoon, I made a quick trip over to Exmouth Market to pick up a little snack of some homemade meat pies & mash from Clarke’s Pie & Mash Shop. Very authentic and a throwback to old London!

Saturday night we went to see the revival of Evita. Upon entering the theatre, we were sad to hear that Elena Roger, the current lead actress who hails from Argentina, was out sick and that the alternate would be playing the part. From what we heard Elena had been out all week so that at least made us feel a little better. The show was fun – very Andrew Lloyd Webber loud West End musical with spectacular sets. The men really stole the show for production – especially the ones who played Che, Peron and Magaldi. Overall I definitely enjoyed it (except for when a mouse ran under the seats down the row from me!).

After the show we headed over to The Wolseley for dinner. I have to say the crew in the front of the house at this restaurant ROCK! From the time I made my reservations over the phone to the time we were seated, the staff was nothing but attentive, friendly and helpful. Mark made friends with the head hostess and she ended up seating us in a prime table, right next to the featured cast of Guys & Dolls sans Patrick Swayze, although his wife was there, along with Michael Ball. The food was great (especially the endive & roquefort salad) and the place was just BUZZING! This place is definitely THE SPOT for post-theatre dining!

Sunday morning we headed over to Camdentown and browsed the stalls alongside all of the middle-aged punks left over from the 80’s. I got a fabulous ring from a great lady at a little stall called Suay Design. As the crowds started to build we headed down to the King’s Road for more shopping. I was blown away by how much the Sloane Square end has changed – where the armory was there is now a little cobblestone mall with stores like Ted Baker. Note to self: On the next trip avoid Oxford Street at all costs and spend the day on the King’s Road.

Sunday night dinner was at The Ivy (which has no affiliation with The Ivy in L.A. but is just as hot) . It’s a gorgeous wood & stained glass room with a menu featuring traditional British fare. The sausages and champ were savory and the the haddock & chips golden brown. Sadly, though, I had no sightings to report (then again, I wouldn’t know any of the real-life footballer’s wives if I fell over them).

Monday morning we went for our final meal at Jamie Oliver's restaurant Fifteen. Even though Jamie was away on holiday with Jules and the kids (as I was told – yes, of course, I had to ask if he was there), this was still by far my favorite stop on the trip. The space was brilliant - a rustic trattoria infused with modern design. And the fry up – well, I think this picture says it all:

Even though Fifteen is owned by Jamie, it is not a glitzy celebrity chef showcase. Each year Jamie recruits a small group of about 35 disadvantaged young people and educates them on the restaurant business. Fifteen is then the outlet in which they can ply their trade. All of the staff was EXCELENT – you could tell they all really WANTED to be there and showed a great deal of professionalism camaraderie. Plus the food was really well done!

Finally, it was time to make our way back to Heathrow for the flight home. This was the only bad (scratch that, NIGHTMARISH) part of the trip. We got there 3 ½ hrs early which was almost not enough time. It took 1 ½ hrs to check in. Then there was the security line. The line stretched back for SERIOUSLY about a half a mile! We were in line for 2 hours and were only about ½ way to the front when luckily we got pulled out and got to queue jump. Thankfully Virgin delayed the flight because there were so many people who were still in the security line. We jumped on board just as the doors were closing and I settled in and watched American Dreamz (great cast, TERRIBLE movie – avoid at all costs) and Thank You For Smoking (quite an interesting black comedy).

In the end, I would recommend all of the places mentioned above. Each one met or exceeded my expectations, especially Fifteen. I’ll close with a word to the wise though – if you are traveling through Heathrow anytime soon, arrive there AT LEAST 4 hours early if you want to make your flight! SERIOUSLY!