Sad news that the artist Lucien Freud passed away today.
Reminded me of a place I used to work where he was an everyday regular, always looking slightly disheveled in his painting overalls. He seemed like a shy man but every so often he had wicked grin that told of deeper mysteries.
As I remember he drank a Lattechino, dryer than a latte but milkier than a cappuccino, something he delighted in having made up himself, oh, and he was partial to an almond croissant always paying with crisp £50 notes.
Can’t say I am a mad fan of his art but there is definitely something to be said for someone willing to show people at their least flattering rather than their most and truth be told I always wished I could get him to doodle on a napkin.
I stumbled across the Pork Memoirs website a couple of weeks ago and was immediately struck by the amusing and moving tales, everything from Holocaust survival to the secret stashes of bacon on a kibbutz. It made me think about the story of my own introduction to the forbidden meat of my youth.
Very happily they deemed it worthy of publishing and so this week A slippery Slope is their featured story.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world people always find a space to party. Sometimes whole economies are based upon it, other times the Party finds its space in the cracks where no one else is looking. I found this one by accident and it seems like one to savour. I have been to the Full Moon Parties on Koh Phangan, and experienced the mega clubs of Ibiza and now in Bushwick I have found Tiki Disco. Although the scale is incomparable the happy vibe and care free attitude of this place easily matches any of those beach blow outs.
My journey was a cultural odyssey. I cycled past throngs of people enjoying Sunday cook outs in Fort Green Park. Towards Bedford Avenue I was delighted to pass through an enclave of Hasidic jews, these people live such an extraordinary life right in the middle of such ordinary suburbia. Then there were streets dominated by Latino families and businesses, until I reached Bushwick where, Chinese builders merchants, the New York Loft Hostel and Roberta’s all combine in an industrial landscape.
This looked like the party of the summer, the only thing missing was the beach and the beautiful setting. Much is being said about Bushwick as a new center for artists, with a ready supply of loft and studio space all right on the L train to Manhattan, the building blocks are there. The only price of these conveniences is a gritty landscape of industrial buildings, poorly paved roads and a dilapidated housing stock.
But still none of this mattered to the hundreds of people who wanted to party. Tiki Disco is a bi-monthly event during the Summer at Roberta’s and it seems the masses are tuned in. Apparently a big name DJ in from LA was swelling the numbers but even so the line around the block was impressive. Once past the door (it is free to enter) there is wood fired pizza available from a mobile oven, two bars one more makeshift than the other and the Tiki tent where frozen Margherita and Gin ‘n’ Juice kept the crowds happy. The music, the blazing sunshine, killer drinks, it was the atmosphere I had seen before in those beach paradises, everybody rocking shades and happy vibes.
This part of town seems relatively lawless compared to the manicured streets of Manhattan and fancier parts of Brooklyn so I imagine this kind of party is pretty unique. I am sure in years to come when this area has gone through the almost inevitable gentrification process these parties will be looked back upon with awe and envy as people reminisce on more simple times when throwing a party was just about opening the doors, turning up the music, and allowing the drinks and ….. to flow.
251 Moore st
New York is a steak city, yet I had never been to a real steakhouse here, so when out-of-town guests wanted to go somewhere ‘we would not normally go’ I decided that this was my best opportunity to drag along my semi veggie partner without seeming totally selfish.
The decision of which steakhouse then left me with a dilemma. If I was going to do this it had to be good, and since it was with guests it was about more than just the food. I wanted the right kind of venue with atmosphere, friendly service and great meat. This ruled out my long-term desire to eat at Peter Luger’s which is regularly voted as NY best steak. Unfortunately the reputation for their steak is as well-known as their reputation for surly service. While this can sometimes add to the fun, the thought of shelling out hundreds of dollars in cash (they do not take credit cards) to be treated like an annoyance did not seem appropriate.
Hence some further research led me to Keen’s steakhouse in the city. Once I had the approval of Carmine, my omniscient landlord, I knew we were in for a good night. As soon as you enter you feel a million miles from the bustle of mid-town New York. The low ceilings, wood panelled walls and bow tied waiters take you back in time, and I imagine since the place opened in 1885 not much has changed.
The service was elegant and friendly, we were offered cocktails that came with a crudite plate and proper bread rolls before a food menu was even presented. All our questions were graciously answered and a request for an off menu item was greeted with an ‘of course madame’.
The food did not disappoint. I ordered a delicious piece of sirloin that must have weighed at least 16oz, but that was dwarfed by the Kings Cut Prime Rib with bone that was enough to feed 3 healthy adults. Even the non red meat-eater was satisfied with a good piece of sea bass. Sides were equally matched with proper crispy fries and creamed spinach. Starters and desserts were tasty but lets face it the steak is the important thing here and when the only garnish is a piece of red pepper you know they must be proud of their meat.
Kings Cut of Prime Rib
Keens was a great experience, and made a nice change from the usual places. Whilst I am a big supporter of the locavore movement it was nice not to be force-fed the provenance of every ingredient, and to be treated like a valued guest rather than someone who should be grateful to receive such rarified ingredients. The service, the food and the ambiance were truly old school, all the way to the lobster tank in the middle of the room. And while this is not a regular destination (for the sake of your wallet and your stomach) it is defiantly a special occasion treat that I would confidently recommend to anyone.