Where In The World?

All next week keep your eye on The Today Show to find out Where In The World Is Matt Lauer?


Patti In Gypsy

For all of you theater lovers, get in there this July for the much anticipated month long stint of Ms. Patti Lupone playing Mama Rose in the City Center's Encores! production of Gypsy. Tickets on sale now!

Ticket Update

Last year's American Idol 2nd runner up Elliott Yamin plays Bowery Ballroom on May 22nd. Tickets are already on sale and still available ($20). I'm excited for this one (even if it is age 16+!) - I LOVE his new single "Movin' On".

The king of comedy, Ricky Gervais, has added 2 more NY appearances, this time at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center on May 17th & 18th. Tickets are $30 and go on sale Friday at noon.

Morrissey plays M.S.G. on June 30th. Tickets on pre-sale now for AmEx Cardmembers, and on Monday at 10am for everyone else. What do you think people? Is he really going to be able to sell out the joint after all these years?

Happy Birthday Roger!

Today is Roger Taylor from Duran Duran's 47th birthday! Have a pint for me you old bugger! Rumour has it the band is finishing up the new album and it should be ready by summer. And Roger verified that he is indeed getting married again, this time to his Peruvian girlfriend Gisella. Congrats on that too!


Barcelona Foodies - Take 3 & 4

This is the last section of Barcelona food talk. I promise.

Lunch on Saturday was around the corner from Gaudi's La Pedrera at Tragaluz in the ground floor cafe. The menu was pretty much basic cafe offerings. We went for an arugula salad and paired it with a parmesan based mac-n-cheese. Not too notable, especially after it all started getting blurry after the Cava arrived. I'd mostly recommend it due to it's location. The upstairs formal dining room has a retractable roof and looked like it could be good for dinner. Of note is that this is the flagship of the Grupo Tragaluz, a hip restaurant group that is kind of like the Keith McNally joints of NY.

Saturday night we had dinner at Moo in the Schrager-esque Hotel Omm (another Tragaluz). This was one of the more disappointing meals. To me, it was just way too trendy and overdone. And the crowd it attracted felt very NY MePa. All of the dishes came in 1/2 portions. I went with a violet salad with beets, a chicken & foie meatball and the sea bass with ginger, all of which were good but not so notable. At the end of the meal they gave us a complimentary dessert that we were supposed to guess what the flavor was because the taste was supposed to duplicate the smell of the signature scent the hotel was launching. It was lavender. Whatever. I'm sure someone in marketing got a huge promotion off of that idea. My recommendation is to skip Moo and the downstairs club OmmSession and maybe just grab a quick drink and some nibbles in the lobby. It's not that the food was bad - nothing just seemed to stick out after all the other amazing food we had already consumed.

Sunday night we had our last supper at Arola in the Hotel Arts at the Port.

Phew! Back to AMAZING-ness! Arola is an upscale tapas joint by another of Barcelona's favorite chefs, Sergi Arola. The decor is very Miami with lots of futuristic white and a great soundtrack supplied by a live dj. Much of the food is "deconstructed" - my favorite foodie term of the trip. The highight was the deconstructed tomato bread (which basically meant they brought you toasted bread and then you rubbed the freshest tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and salt on it yourself to your taste - LOVED that!) We also tried the deconstructed patatas bravas (little bites of spicy potatoes with a kick), the quail and foie ravioli with hoisin (a signature dish, we were reluctant by they were excellent), fried oysters and Iberico Jamon (cured ham). Another highlight of this meal was the dessert wine. It was a Mataro, a sweet red wine made from a grape that had been lost for ages and was recently brought back. Not too sweet, this was one of the best dessert wines I've ever tasted. For an upscale tapas dinner, I think Arola is the one to beat!

After dinner we had drinks at Shoko, a club-cum-restaurant across from street from Arola. This is one of the cooler clubs in that very touristy area and was recommended to us by Guillermo, one of our hosts at Casa Camper. Taking in the Asian inspired decor and the funky music was a great mix of people. There is also outdoor space in the back with daybeds. I'd recommend Shoko since most of the places surrounding it looked HORREN.

One last honorable mention. As with any trip, The Lady & I had to find our FP. In this case it turned out to be Bar Lobo, a hip little bar/restaurant (yes, yet ANOTHER Tragaluz) on a cute little square around the corner from our hotel. This was a great place to hang as the Cava flowed freely each afternoon:

To keep from getting too messy so early in the evening we eventually took part in a bit of the tapas - ham croquettes, mini cheese melts and the patatas bravas:

A gorgeous no-attitude staff made it all that much more enjoyable. This will definitely be my first stop on my next trip to Barcelona!

Barcelona Foodies - Take 2

We started off our second day in Barcelona with lunch at Cal Pep. For those of you unfamiliar with Cal Pep, it is a small EXTREMELY popular tapas bar. We arrived about 15 minutes before they opened (if you don't, you have to wait in line for stools to open) and were promptly seated at the counter when the doors opened. First off we LOVED our server - he reminded me of Ricky Gervais. (Sidebar: Why is it that everyone who wears glasses in Barcelona has the coolest frames!).

We dove right in to the food, opting for the tomato bread (good, but not as good as I remembered from my last visit), fried baby squid (top notch!), meat and potatoes (we both agreed that this was THE BEST meat we had ever tasted - a high quality cut, lightly seasoned that melted in your mouth!), and pimiento peppers:

I've now visited Cal Pep on 2 separate trips and both times have been extremely inpressed. It is a definite M-U-S-T when in Barcelona. Just remember to get there about 15 minutes before they open for lunch/dinner and make sure to grab a stool at the counter, because it's all about the counter, not the tables in the back.

Next up on the agenda was dinner at Tapioles 53. This was definitely THE BEST meal of the trip. Tapioles is the brainchild of Australian chef Sarah Stothart and her husband, Barcelona designer Ricardo Feriche. The restaurant in located in the residential Poble Sec neighborhood in an old umbrella factory. The space is a loft with only about 10 tables and an open kitchen. In the back, glass doors separate the restaurant from the couples actual home. The feel is very warm and homey with dim lighting and mismatched chairs. Noel, the pastry chef, came over to our table and told us that Sarah was away and that they would only be offering a 3-course instead of the usually five-course menu and that she would be doing all of the cooking based on Sarah's recipes. Fine with us! After the Cava arrived Noel sat down at our table and started to discuss the menu with us, explaining all the ingredients and how they decided on each dish. A-MAZING! Since there were 2 options for each course we ended up trying everything. Course 1: Cauliflower soup with a chuck of cold blue cheese dropped in the middle (PURE HEAVEN!) & a salad of cured meat, arugula, paremesan and balsamic (perfectly done!). Course 2: A beef stew (very hearty) and porcini raviolis in a cream sauce (very good and not too heavy). Course 3 was where we met Noel expertise - dessert. If you are reading this Noel, please FedEx us one of your carrot cakes! (this was one of the best desserts I've ever had and usually I'm a chocolate lover only!). We also tried the flourless chocolate cake that came with a light & airy coffee mousse that was to die for. What I had approached as a nice break from tapas turned out to be one of my top dining experiences ever. The personal touch people, THAT'S what it's all about!

After dinner we headed off for drinks at Las Guindas, a neighborhood bar recommended by Noel (excellent choice!). Finally we decided to visit with the green fairy, sipping Absenta's at Bar Marcella:


Barcelona Foodies - Take 1

Immediately upon arrival in Barcelona we headed out for our first meal, lunch, at Bar Pinotxo in La Boqueria market. It is a small lunch counter near the entrance of the market that is frequented by the likes of uber Catalonian chef Ferran Adria.

I have to say Juanito Bayen (a.k.a. Pinotxo), is quite a character and makes it well worth the visit.

I was sort of coerced by Juanito into having the baby squid with garbanzo beans - definitely the wrong choice after a red-eye flight with no sleep, a mild hangover and an empty stomach.

It was really good - just not what I wanted. But who cares? Really there just there to be there and be entertained!

After an extended siesta we headed out for dinner at Comerc 24, home of noted Catalonian chef (and a disciple of Adria), Carles Abellan (who was indeed at the helm of the kitchen that night). We decided to be brave and go with the 8 course festival tasting menu. Some of it we liked, some we didn't. But really it's all about individual taste. It was all quality for sure. The first course was a bunch of mini-tapas including green olives stuffed with anchovies, gold guilded macadamias, pork rinds, parmesan balls, fried mini-fish and bread sticks with a pesto paste. I think the pork rinds were our favorite.

Subsequent courses included: an orchata, ficoide glaciale and scallop soup-salad (scary, the scallop was a bit undercooked for my tastes), cuttlefish and morel ravioli (delish!), duck and foie rice (very rich), beef entrecot with potatoes and wasabi (the beef was too chewy for me), a mackrel dish and tuna tartare with yolk vinagrette:

All of the food was paired with a 2004 Hacienda Monasterio Ribera Del Duero which was out of this world and one of the best bottles of wine I've ever had. Finally, desert came which consisted of about 5 different items with a side shot of apple-celery juice.

Overall I really enjoyed Comerc and would recommend it to the adventurous. The main dining room is small and quiet (a HUGE change over NY dining) with dark rich colors and comfortable seating. Service was good, although even with a Spanish speaking dinner companion, some of the dishes were lost in translation.

Jarvis @ Webster Hall

Last night I went to see Jarvis, the former lead singer of Pulp with DEC et al. at Webster Hall. I have to say it made me a bit sad. I miss Pulp. And to me, Jarvis didn't really cut it on his own. On his self-titled CD there are really only 2 songs that strike me - "Black Magic" and "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time". Both did sound great live. And there were moments throughout the show where certain chords made me reminisce about the old Pulp sound. Overall though the show was a bit dull and self-endulgent. And the man himself really needs to cut his hair - he looked way too skanky for my taste.

Welcome To The Catskills!

A big shout out to Kimmi K. & Craig! Congratulations on your new home in the mountains and thanks again for taking us for an weekend away!
(It was so much fun in fact, that at one point we had to enroll in the Melinda Doolittle School of Humility so that it wouldn't look like we knew how much fun it really was!)


Casa Camper

Well, I'm back from a SPECTACULAR trip to Barcelona. I have a lot to write about but not a lot of time today so I'm going to have to do it in installments. First up, the hotel - Casa Camper.

I want to start off by saying this was one of my favorite places that I stayed at (I know, I know, I say that everytime, but they do indeed keep getting better!). Camper is located on a small street near MACBA (The Museum of Contemporary Art) in El Raval. It has 20 1+1 rooms (that means you have your bedroom and across the hall your own mini-lounge) and 5 suites (the mini-lounge is attached to the bedroom). We had the 1+1 and in the end I think I preferred it because when one person is sleeping the other person can watch tv etc. across the hall without disturbing their companion.

The room is done in a minimal fashion. The beds are large and extremely comfortable. All of the closets are open. The rainmaker shower is heavenly. There are robes and Camper slippers to make the stay more comfortable.

The bedrooms are in the back of the building which helps keep noise to a minimum. They have a large window facing the "vertical" garden. When you are ready to hide the garden view and blackout the room, there is a garage-door type mechanism that lowers over the window.

The mini-lounge faces Elisabets street and has a futon, table and chairs, flat-screen tv, a hammock and a half-balcony. It's great for having late night cava parties!

Because there is no room service, the hotel offers free food & drink 24 hrs. in the Tentempie section of the lobby. Choices include sandwiches, salads, soup, desserts, chips, peanuts cookies and a wide vartiety of non-alcoholic beverages (the alcoholic ones can be purchased at reception). Breakfasts are even more full-on with eggs made to order.
On the top floor is a indoor/outdoor lounge. With great city views, it's another fun place for a cava party!

All of the staff is young, good-looking, hip and extremely helpful (oh, and they speak English). As you can see, Camper made me very happy and I'm HIGHLY recommending this one:


Nobu - Off the Menu

I just discovered there is a secret dish at Nobu 57. It's fish & chips and looks DELISH!

It's only available to family, friends and those in the know so order it up! (Not sure if they have it at all locations - my source just referenced 57).

Let The Birthday Celebration Begin!

This weeked marked the start of my week-and-a-half long birthday celebration. It started on Saturday night with dinner with Mark at The Little Owl and will end next Monday on my return flight from Barcelona. There will be a full Barcelona posting upon my return. But for now . . .

A big shout out to chef Joey Campanaro at the Little Owl. How much do I love him for serving soft shell crab for the first time of the season on my pre-birthday weekend dinner?!?!?!?!?!?! 2 big plump juicy crabs were served over heirloom tomatoes and avacado - heavenly perfection! Not to mention as usual the scallop appetizer, the assorted sliders and the pork chop were all spectactular! If you haven't hit this place yet, get on it! To get a reservation during prime hours you have to call the second the phone lines open exactly one month before you plan to go but it's TOTALLY worth it!

The second event of the pre-birthday weekend was seeing A Moon For The Misbegotten on Broadway starring Kevin Spacey and Colm Meaney yesterday. Sadly, the ONLY thing that saved this show for me was the fact that I was sitting EXTREMELY close and that I love Kevin. Very fun to see these 2 master actors, as well as leading lady Eve Best, ply their trade. I don't think I can really recommend this play unless you are a huge Spacey fan and feel like you have to see this. The material to me was uninteresting and boring as well as WAY TOO LONG! About 4 times everyone in the audience seemed to breathe a sigh of relief that it was coming to an end and then a whole new scene would start. For me, even the top notch acting couldn't save this production.


Food & Wine's Best New Chefs 2007

Food & Wine announced the winners of the 2007 Best New Chef honors this a.m. and are as follows:

April Bloomfield The Spotted Pig, New York, NY
Gabriel Bremer Salts, Cambridge, MA
Steve Corry Five Fifty-Five, Portland, ME
Matthew Dillon Sitka & Spruce, Seattle, WA
Gavin Kaysen El Bizcocho, San Diego, CA
Johnny Monis Komi, Washington, DC
Sean O'Brien Myth, San Francisco, CA
Gabriel Rucker Le Pigeon, Portland, OR
Ian Schnoebelen Iris, New Orleans, LA
Paul Virant Vie, Western Springs, IL


Bide-A-Wee Clinic

Poor little Frannie hasn't been feeling well so we had to take her to the vet on Friday. We took her back to the clinic at Bide-A-Wee where we got her. I had to give this place a plug due to the great care and attention we got there. It was super clean and both the physician's assistant and the Dr. herself were great. PLUS it is a "best kept secret" that their prices are extremely low. A visit is only $48! So if you are looking for a new vet, this is the place!

Downing Street Wine Bar & Morandi

Last week I went for pre-dinner drinks at a new wine bar on Downing Street owned by the guys behind Blue Ribbon. All I can say is that this place rocks! Well, it doesn't exactly "rock" per se, but it's an AMAZING wine bar and now my favorite! The space is small, with only about 14 backless stools spaced around a bar and a small counter along the back wall. I dread to think how hard it will be to get in here once this place is discovered, but as usual I have to share it with my loyal readers! The room is gorgeous with big windows to the street, lots of wood and wine bottles. The wine here comes in 4 forms - a "taste", a glass, a flight or a bottle. KK & I both started off with the bubbles flight (3 reasonable sized "tastes" - $17). We were SUPER excited since one was a sparkling Vouvray (which we both now LOVE since our Wine 101 class). Next we dove in to a flight of reds (we composed the flight on our own, but they do have pre-arranged ones if you prefer to follow their lead). All were excellent. If you aren't in the mood for wine, they do carry beer & spirits as well. The staff (especially Margot & Sean) are extremely knowledgeable, friendly, down to earth & fun. The atmosphere is very W. Village neighborhood meets aspiring wine geek. The music is soothing, reminiscent of old Portishead but a bit more up beat. They also have quite a few nibbles which we passed on but looked amazing. I can't wait to get back there and dive right in!

Once the wine kicked in we were in full-tilt boogie mode and raced over to claim our 8pm ressie at the new Keith McNally joint Morandi. In the end we wished we hadn't rushed since we had to wait 1/2 hr for our table to open up. (Sidenote: at this point, to get into this place you have to call at 9am exactly one week before you want to go. We called at 5pm day of and they managed to squeeze us in. If you aren't a planner, that way may be your best bet.) The place was utter chaos. It was impossible to get anywhere NEAR the bar, so we opted to just wait by the door. It was EXTREMELY loud - so loud that everytime the waiter spoke to us he had to repeat things at least 3 times and then we usually gave up since we couldn't hear him. The service could've been better as well - he always seemed to be there when we didn't need him and nowhere in site when we did.

For those who don't keep up with musical chairs, the chef, Jody Williams, came over from nearby Gusto. I never went to Gusto but had always heard it was great so was excited for Williams' cuisine. Sadly, I was extremely disappointed. We started off with fried artichokes - WAY too greasy. That was followed by the frito misto - some fried calamari (really good but for some reason EXTREMELY heavy - almost like they were soaked in butter and then deep fried), 2 giant prawns with shell & head on (that was just wrong in a fried seafood dish - where was the batter!?!?!), and 2 full-on sardines (I swear the tail of mine moved - YIKES! - well, not really but that item was not for me!). For a main, I had the bucatini amatriciana. My favorite Italian dish but such a bland disappointment. I love that the NY Magazine review described this dish as "a tastless sludge of tomato sauce". Even worse was KK's dish - she had the bolognese which was served over egg noodles (wrong again!) and all you could taste was nutmeg (WAY too overwhelming!). In the end I recommend skipping this place entirely and heading back to the tried & true McNally Pastis for the croque monsieur!

Is He Having A Laugh? (Part 2)

Possibly! And hopefully Bowie will be too! I definitely will be! Woo-hoo! If you didn't get a ticket, why not just stalk Ticketmaster!