By Peter

New Outpost of Xi’an Famous Foods Provides One Less Reason to Ever Leave Greenpoint

Xi'an Famous Foods

We all know that living in New York affords us the ability to travel without leaving the city, and few destination neighborhoods offer as much variety as Flushing, Queens.  Even a short trip here is enough to realize how lazy a term ‘Chinatown’ is.  Many of the restaurateurs in that neighborhood have begun to capitalize on this, highlighting their regional identity and scoring great reviews in the New York Times while attracting more western eaters to endure the 7 train in exchange for a cheap, delicious meal.  Few have done so with the marketing skill of Xi’an Famous Foods, which has now gone one better and recently opened up shop on the corner of Bedford and Manhattan Avenues in Greenpoint, thus sparing us the pre-dinner commute to Queens. Continue reading

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New Italian ‘Le Fanfare’ Serves up Dinner with a Side of Jazz

Le_fanfare_greenpoint_rosie_de_bIn a neighborhood largely under occupation by the Haslegrave brothers, we walked into new bar and restaurant Le Fanfare to the pleasant surprise that it wasn’t another one of theirs. The design of the space is comfortable and coherent, from the sharply-painted facade to the sequin-lined stage. Attention to detail pervades everything; the printing on each page of the menu lines up perfectly with the stenciled text on the board holding it, for example. This careful attention to detail appears throughout the restaurant: ingredients, furnishing, music, and even the staff have been chosen and integrated carefully by people who realize that it only takes one cut corner to cheapen the whole experience.

Our night at Le Fanfare (1103 Manhattan Ave) began at the small round bar up front, where we were warmly welcomed by an easygoing and friendly staff. The cocktail list is short and classic, with drinks around $11, and the bar is comfortable and pleasantly backlit by a clouded mirror studded with star-like lights. I sometimes find that I mentally rank spaces like these by how badly they make me wish I could still spend long nights smoking inside at them, and this bar gets pretty high marks there. Continue reading

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Full Moon Horseshoe Ritual

I’ve just learned that the best event of the summer – if you like the full moon, citizen science, horseshoe crabs, and moonlight rituals, at least – is happening this Saturday night at an undisclosed location in the ocean:

I’m not totally sure what I’m getting you into by suggesting that you go, but if my own experiences with this project is any example, you can expect to:

  • Wade into the ocean on a moonlit beach,
  • Learn a lot about how these animals work by catching a few,
  • Help scientists monitor their populations, and if you’re lucky,
  • Catch a tagged crab and get a sweet pin for calling it in.

For details, including on convenient transportation to and from Union Pool, check out the website http://fullmoonhorseshoe.com/.

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Visiting Hours at the New York State Pavilion

This may have happened today in Flushing, Queens, but nevertheless Greenpointers is ON IT.  Today, for a mere three hours, visitors were invited into the remnants of the New York State Pavilion.  This building is one of the structures remaining from the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and is currently in the spotlight as the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair is upon us.  It’s also been in the news lately as a variety of restoration efforts are being contemplated.

The line for a tour of the NY State Pavilion.

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WTF is Plank Road?

A black-crowned night heron.  Several swallows, cormorants, and geese.  One lone white duck.  These were some of the birds seen on this Saturday’s canoe trip to Plank Road, which was a collaboration between the Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) and the North Brooklyn Boat Club.  The paddlers, many out for their first trip on New York’s waterways, remarked on the stunning juxtaposition of active and crumbling industrial sites alongside a very living, if troubled, ecosystem.   They traveled up the Newtown Creek and met up with a land-based group to hear from historian Mitch Waxman about this peculiar site that the NCA is looking to revamp in the coming months.

Mitch Waxman speaks about the history of Plank Road. Photo credit NBBC

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Vongole & Negroni at The Elm

The_Elm_Vongole
Vongole with Manila clam, garlic and bacon. Image courtesy of @zachgoldman0

A few seats to my right at the bar, an expensively-dressed middle-aged woman spoke loudly on her smartphone while the stoic waitstaff artfully transferred white beans from a polished steel serving tray to her wide, gleaming white plate.  Behind me in a booth, two young men chatted over $20+ appetizers, their old Nike sneakers up on the doeskin-soft leather banquette.  At another table, a couple whose combined age I’d place no higher than 30 photographed their dessert, flash on.

These were the patrons with whom I was sharing the subtle ax motif of The Elm,  chef Paul Liebrandt’s below-ground restaurant nestled in the foundation of the King and Grove hotel in Williamsburg (160 N 12th St). Continue reading

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Future Mate: OKCupid Stories for the Drone Wars


When your children come in from a long day scavenging for food in the irradiated exurbs and ask for a story while the family is gathered around the meager rubbage fire in the gunshot-punctuated evening, what better one to share than the tale of how you and your partner were first brought together by the barely-functioning totalitarian state?

This is the fairytale romance that you live as a member of the audience at Future Mate, a participatory theater experience that sets you in a wonderfully awkward dating event thrown by a comically despotic government organization seeking to unite the few remaining fertile singles of a fractured world. Continue reading

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Dear Bill: Responding to the 10/15 Mayoral Debate

Bill, I say this as someone who has supported your campaign since before you were thought of as a viable candidate: I have never been closer to voting for your opponent than I am after watching your performance tonight.

Don’t misinterpret that statement: I’m still voting for you. Continue reading

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Captured Tracks, Our New Downstairs Neighbor

Laser-cut wood sign over diamondplateAround six months ago I saw diamond plate going up on a renovated wall at 195 Calyer street, just east of Manhattan avenue. I wrote it off at the time as simply the ugliest siding I had yet seen in a neighborhood that knows its ugly siding.

Katie Garcia, general manager at Captured Tracks records, swears that while their wooden sign may hang over it the label had nothing to do with the diamond plate. Seeing the shop and offices a few steps below it – a bit more tasteful on the whole – I’m inclined to believe her. Continue reading

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Blood and Rubble: Williamsburg Fashion Weekend S/S 2014

Four months and twenty days before 11 designers debuted their latest collection on the stage at the venue Villain on North 3rd St for Williamsburg Fashion Weekend, garment workers in Bangladesh were ordered to return to work in a building that was already beginning to show signs of structural failure serious enough to keep the other businesses in it shuttered.  It collapsed shortly thereafter, causing 1,129 individual humans to be crushed and suffocated by concrete and rubble.

Arthur Arbit, the local tailor who started Williamsburg Fashion Weekend in 2006, opened this year’s event by pointing out that there is no way to produce a $15 blouse for H&M without the garment being soaked in someone’s blood; this year it may be appropriate to adjust that to say that there’s rubble in the pockets of your Levi’s.  Arthur’s event provides copious evidence that industrial fashion, although difficult to avoid, is not our only option. Continue reading

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