Fran's Recommendation Of The Day

For dogs that like to burrow, get them the Cosy Cave. It rocks!

The Killers @ MSG

This time around Brandon Flowers & Co. make the move from The Theater to the main arena at Madison Square Garden. Tickets for the April 28th show go on sale this Saturday at 12pm unless you run out to Target and get a specially marked CD to get the presale code.

Momofuku Ssam Bar

Went for brunch with Suz yesterday to Momofuku Ssam Bar. I've been wanting to try chef David Chang's Asian decadance since last June when he was voted one of the Best New Chefs by Food & Wine. One night over the summer I was actually lucky enough to get a seat at the counter (oh wait, it's all counter) of the original Momofuku. Sadly though, it was one of the steamiest nights of the summer. Add to that that it is an open kitchen which takes up about 1/2 of the small space and the fact that we got the seats in the back corner. I just couldn't bring myself to endure the heat and left vowing to return.

I still haven't made it back there YET, but since then Mr. Chang has opened up an even less formal (if that's possible) offshoot of his original called Momofuku Ssam Bar. Located in the East Village on 2nd & 13th, Ssam Bar is a sleek modern space made of dark wood with both counter and tables. An indie soundtrack rounds out the hip vibe.

The concept is very Chipotle in the fact that there is no table service - instead you make your way down the line making selections for your wrap (made of a flour pancake or lettuce - a ssam is an asian version of the burrito) or rice bowl and pay at the end. I went for the signature original ssam ($9) - a flour pancake filled with hoisin, sticky rice, bershire pork, onions, pickled shitakes, edamame and red kimchee puree.

This was a small bundle of heaven and the hoisin/kimchee flavor combination is pure magic! We also tried the steamed chicken buns ($8 for 2) - also great but a little misleading. I was expecting more of a dumpling but in all actuality it was more of a mini-sandwich type item filled with organic chicken, hoisin, pickled cucumber and kewpie slaw. All this this was washed down with a refreshing OB asian lager ($5).

Overall I LOVED this place and am now praying that the Chang empire expands west into my 'hood. Delivery is on it's way for the lucky East Villagers (I'll just have to settle for take-out)! Not to mention original Momofuku is now at the top of my M-U-S-T list!


Red Velvet Heaven

We were just celebrating a co-worker's birthday and we had cupcakes from Crumbs. I may have very well had had THE BEST red velvet cupcake EVER! So check them out - they have multiple locations.


Flexible Flight Search

Trying to find the cheapest fares to a specific destination (especially an international one) over an expanded time period? Try the flexible search functions on ITA Software. At the top of the screen choose the month long search or weekend search, then put in your destination and time frame details and the results will tell you the best time to travel! (A special thanks to Airfarewatchdog for this tip!)

Oscar Nods

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning. The short list includes:

Best Picture

Best Actor

  • Leo (Blood Diamond)

  • Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson)

  • Peter O'Toole (Venus)

  • Will Smith (The Pursuit Of Happyness)

  • Forest Whitaker (The Last King Of Scotland)

Best Actress

  • Penelope Cruz (Volver)

  • Dame Judi Dench (Notes On A Scandal)

  • Helen Mirren (The Queen)

  • Meryl (The Devil Wears Prada)

  • Kate Winslet (Little Children)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine)

  • Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children)

  • DjimonHounsou (Blood Diamond)

  • Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls)

  • Mark Wahlberg (The Departed)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Adriana Barraza (Babel)

  • Cate Blanchett (Notes On A Scandal)

  • Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine)

  • Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls)

  • Rinko Kinkuchi (Babel)


Extra Extras

Hopefully everyone is watching the new season of Extras on HBO. This show rocks! Of course fans of the U.K. edition of The Office all love Mr. Ricky Gervais. But pay particular attention to Ashley Jensen who plays Gervais' sidekick Maggie - she is HILARIOUS! You can also currently catch Jensen playing wardrobe maven Christina on Ugly Betty.

Here's an Extra secret: Every Monday HBO releases the episode of Extras for the upcoming Sunday on HBO on Demand so you can actually see it 6 days earlier!

Oscar Nominations Tomorrow!

The nomination ceremony for the 79th annual Academy Awards will air tomorrow morning around 8:30am on Today on NBC. The awards show will air on Sunday, February 25th at 8pm on ABC.



Met up with Bitchfest last night to attend the extremely unhip annual geekfest thrown by MRI at Tavern On The Green. As usual the decor was just blinding, the wine choices insulting (Merlot or Chardonnay ONLY!) , the band overpowering and the food suburban function hall. Oh well, I guess Tavern only stays in business due to it's location and standing as a tourist attraction.

Following the party we decided to venture up Columbus Ave. looking for a watering hole when lo and behold we came across a little gem called Malachy's. This place was hardcore - lots downtrodden singletons hitting the booze hard with a homeless guy thrown in to boot. The bartender was friendly, the pints were cheap (a mere $9.25 for 2!) and the 25 cent old-fashioned pistachio machine delectible (well, at least compared to the food at Tavern). Ahhhh . . . a very New York moment on a cold rainy January night . . .


A Moon For The Misbegotten

Tickets went on sale this a.m. (the American Express pre-sale that is) for the latest revival of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon For the Misbegotten. The show is a transfer from London's West End and will retain its original cast including Kevin Spacey and Colm Meaney. Previews begin March 29th with opening night on April 8th and a limited run through June 10th. Tix are $82.50 - $102.50 (with premium seats at $201.50) . From my search earlier today, it seems as though the American Express seats are only marginally good, so you may want to hold off for the general public on-sale on February 3rd.


A Chorus Line

Saturday I went to see A Chorus Line on Broadway. I had high expectations for this one since I've heard nothing but great reviews for this revivial and know that tickets are sold out for months in advance. Sadly, I was mildly disappointed. To me, the show was lackluster. What was at one time one of my favorite musicals now lacked a spark. Maybe I've changed and the material just isn't as meaningful to me as it once was. Truly, though, I feel the problem may have been poor casting. The only actor who really stood out to me was Jeffrey Schecter as Mike. Schecter not only embodied the character but could sing and dance with what seemed like little effort. The rest of the cast varied from middle-of-the-road talent to easily replaceable. Overall, this is not a bad production (how could it be? - it's all modelled on the original production). I think I've just been spoiled by the shows I've seen lately, especially the revival of Sonheim's Company. I guess I'd recommend A Chorus Line to anyone who has never seen the show or who wants to see something a little more substantial than the Mama Mia's of the Broadway world.


Food & Wine Classic Sweepstakes

Chrylser is hosting a sweepstakes through Food & Wine. Enter for your chance to win a 2007 Chrysler Aspen SUV and (more importantly) 2 tickets to the Food & Wine Classic (with airfare and hotel included), America's premier culinary festival, in Aspen June 15-17.


Isidro Blasco @ DCKT

With all of this warm weather, how about a little gallery hopping in W. Chelsea? Pop into DCKT Contemporary and check out their latest show from Isidro Blasco. It's some cool stuff!


Bide-A-Wee Animal Rescue

The aforementioned Fran came to us through Bide-A-Wee, an animal rescue organization in Manhattan (also with branches in Wantagh and West Hampton). I have to say I was VERY impressed with their operation. The staff were all extremely knowledgeable and friendly and the premises were very clean. If you're in the market for a new dog or cat, consider saving a rescued animal and visiting Bide-A-Wee!

Guest Packet's New Mascot

Please welcome our new little angel Fran to the fold! She arrived yesterday and is eager to dive into the scene!


Happy Reading!

If you're looking for a deal on some books, stop by Coliseum this week. This favorite independent bookstore on 42nd St. will close it's doors for the last time on Saturday night. From now until then everything in the store is 50-70% off. The stock is shrinking quickly but there is definitely some fun stuff still there!


Al, David, Come Quick - There's A FIRE ! ! !

One last post for today. I had to follow in Bitchfest's lead and bitch about the PURE STUPIDITY of people!

I was fast asleep in the wee hours of New Year's day when I was startled awake by some IDIOT lighting off fireworks somewhere behind my building. The fireworks started off small, like firecrackers, but as time went on they started growing into more full-on fireworks, shooting in all directions and hitting all of the buildings surrounding the courtyards. I called the police, however almost immediately after I hung up the phone, the second floor roof of the building beind mine directly across from my bedroom window caught on fire! I had expected this would happen and was right back on with a 911 connection to the fire department. This was not just a little fire - it was taking up about a third of the roof and kept growing, climbing up a fence the owner had up there for decoration. Thankfully in a few moments (which of course seemed like an eternity), the boys in red arrived and shortly thereafter all was again well.
So this is where I give a big shout out to the NYFD for arriving promptly and quickly getting things under control. And this is also where I tell the stupid bitch who started the fire to to go and get some serious help and THEN to F*OFF, You MORON!

Grey Gardens

This entry is meant to bea double review since I haven't yet touched on this topic.

First up - Grey Gardens the movie. For those of you unfamiliar with this film, it is a documentary cult-classic that was shot in 1974 by Al & David Maysles. The film follows the day-to-day of Jackie Kennedy's aunt Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Little Edie Beale, socialites who ended up living in squalor in their later years. The women lived in East Hampton in a mansion called Grey Gardens that over the years became overrun with fleas and racoons and cats and was raided by the government multiple times due to it being a health hazard. I have fallen in LOVE with this movie and especially Little Edie. Both are disturbing yet ultimately endearing. And Little Edie is one STAUNCH woman! It's a very public look into the private life of two eccentrics. If you haven't seen this one, GET ON IT IMMEDIATLY! The Maysles' recently released a second documentary, The Beales Of Grey Gardens (it isn't a follow up - more sort of a continuation/second volume type thing since they had recorded so much footage when they were there) which is just as great (if not better - I'm torn).

This new obsession of mine lead me on New Year's Eve to the Great White Way to see the recently transferred to Broadway Grey Gardens the musical starring Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson. The prologue to the show begins in 1974 with the Edie's living in the Grey Gardens we know from the movie and then quickly flashes back for the rest of the first act to 1943 to show us the Edie's we never got to know. I have to admit, I wasn't so impressed with the first act. The music didn't do much for me and I didn't think any of the performaces were THAT notable. The only thing the first Act did for me was to answer some of the various questions that I had from the movie which was kind of interesting. Plus Matt Cavenaugh was pretty easy on the eyes as a young Joe Kennedy.

The SECOND that Act II started though, I knew what a treat I was in for and would subsquently come to see why everyone is RAVING about this show. The whole second act is basically the Maysles' film set to music (many times word for word). The sets and costumes were DEAD ON, as was Christine Ebersole's near-perfection portrayal of Little Edie. Ah, the VMI dance routine! It was SO realistic that it gave me chills! Sadly, I wasn't so in love with the music in Act II either, but who cares - there was the ghost of Little Edie twirling her flag before me! If Miss Ebersole doesn't win the Tony Award for this part, there is no justice on Broadway. In the end, I'm not so sure I would recommend this show to everybody. I think you really need to see the movie first and decide from there. I think the content of the musical might seem a bit odd if you hadn't seen the movie and wasn't familiar with the Beale's story. For fans of Broadway, though, this one is a must for Ebersole's and Wilson's performances alone.

We Are Dreamgirls

I continued on my Golden Globe must-see movie list last week and took in Dreamgirls (as most people did who went to see a movie last week). It was definitely fun and worth seeing. And yes, Jennifer Hudson was as AMAZING as everyone was saying. Her two solo's were so good we ran right out and bought the soundtrack! I think Jennifer will win the Globe for sure but we'll have to see about the Oscar. I have to admit, Jennifer kind of showed up Beyonce (both in acting and vocally). As usual though it was a total treat to see Beyonce looking fab in a ton of different costumes/looks. Overall, just about every performance in this movie is great and the story itself is very entertaining. Not much else to say about it really, except that it was indeed worth the $11 to see it on the big screen.
After the movie, we had dinner at Next Door Nobu, which was delicious as usual. I did notice though that the interior is starting to look a bit worn, especially above the sushi bar area where the wallpaper was starting to lift off. Sadness! Seen: David Schwimmer eating alone at the sushi bar (reading a book) all incognite with baseball cap pulled down and Paul Giamatti at a big round table in front of the door with what appeared to be family wearing some super-cool Elvis Costello-type glasses.