I spotted this cute Sad Ice Cream Sundae mural by Mohawk-sporting street artist Buff Monster on Spring Street near Mott Street in Soho. Too bad it is mostly obscured by a security gate and a dumb store sign. Dumb sign! No wonder the Ice Cream Sundae is sad!
London based artist STIK completed the final touches on his Liberty tribute mural as of Thursday, September 12th. A gift to NYC from Dorian Grey Gallery and STIK, this 60 foot mural was inspired by the history and spirit of Tompkins Square Park and will become a symbol of the artistic legacy of NYC’s East Village. The mural adorns the side of the building at the southwest corner of Avenue A and 9th Street above Doc Holiday’s Bar.
You can tell so much about a city from its Street Art. When I was vacationing in Seattle this past July, I photographed this very colorful undersea life mural in the city’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. With a little bit of Googling, I was able to uncover the below information on the mural at This Link:
“The 100 foot long and 17 foot tall mural Emerge: An ode to Dedication covers the east side of the currently abandoned Metropole building in Pioneer Square, located at the corner of Yesler Way and 2nd Avenue. The building was damaged by a fire in 2007. In 2010, the artist Jeff Jacobson created the mural on plywood covering the side of the building. His goal was to create something beautiful to look at and draw attention to the building. According to [a video interview with] Jacobson, where he describes the mural’s underwater scene, the salmon represent artists rising to and breaking through the surface of the water.”
The Los Angeles-based street artist Thierry Guetta, better known as Mr Brainwash, has lost a copyright case involving a 1977 photograph of the punk rock musician Sid Vicious shot by the British photographer Dennis Morris. Guetta had claimed that the seven works he created using Morris’s black and white photograph, including one mural and one collage made of broken vinyl records, were sufficiently altered to be protected by the fair use defence, which allows for the use of copyrighted material for commentary, criticism and parody.
The federal judge rejected Guetta’s claim, saying that “most of [the] defendant’s works add certain new elements, but the overall effect of each is not transformative.” The judge also opposed the argument that “appropriation art per se” should be protected by fair use. As we went to press, the terms of the settlement, including unspecified damages, were being determined.
In 2011 Guetta lost a copyright case to Glen Friedman over his use of Friedman’s photograph of the rap group Run DMC, while last year the estate of the photographer Jim Marshall sued Guetta and Google for the unauthorised use of Marshall’s photographs of musicians. This case has not yet been decided and is due to go to trial in July.
There is a saying that “God is in the details.” Manhattanites can certainly find tasty Sunday brunch specials in any neighborhood on the island, but if you’re looking for delicious food that’s enhanced by subtle details such as fresh flowers on the table, a cup of coffee that includes your own individual French press, or a chill music mix of flamenco and Bossa Nova to soundtrack your meal, then Pera, on Thompson Street in Soho, is a destination to add to your list.
The brunch menu at Pera offers a mix of Mediterranean dishes and traditional brunch plates. There’s also a prix-fixe that includes a brunch cocktail or fresh juice of your choice, a main plate and coffee or tea for $21. But it’s the little touches that add a civilized feel here in the urban jungle. If it’s a sunny day, opt for a table at one of the spacious, comfy booths at the front of the restaurant in the bar area, which will give you not only a great view of the entire restaurant, but also provides an ideal spot for people watching.
It isn’t really brunch without a cocktail, is it? We selected a refreshing Peach Margarita on the rocks (all brunch cocktails are $7) to enjoy sipping as we perused the eclectic menu.
We started with an appetizer of the Eggplant “Kofte” Croquettes ($9). This house specialty consists of ground eggplant balls lightly breaded and deep-fried to resemble something like a fritter stuffed with baba ganoush. The creamy eggplant center is a nice contrast of textures and tastes with the light, crunchy breading. We were also intrigued by the description of the Spicy Muammara with Chickpea Chips ($9). This dish was described to us as being a Roasted Pepper and Walnut Paste flavored with Marinara, which sounds adventurous. Next time!
My dining companion and decided to order one sweet dish and one savory dish and share them. We had been reading about Pera’s White Chocolate Chip Pancakes for weeks and were extremely keen on ordering them, but were disappointed to learn that we had been looking at an outdated menu! As a consolation, we ordered traditional Buttermilk Pancakes with Strawberry Butter ($14). We are constantly on a quest to find the perfect pancakes at brunch spots in Manhattan, and these certainly rate for being moist and cake-like, while managing to be completely done in the center (you would not believe how hard it is to find a well-done pancake in Manhattan. Even IHOP can’t get it right).
The three fluffy cakes are served with fresh berries and sprinkled with powdered sugar with maple syrup on the side. Unfortunately, the promised Strawberry Butter did not manage to make it onto the plate, and although we suspected something was “missing,” we were not able to figure out what it was until we had left the restaurant. This was very disappointing, because we suspect that the Strawberry Butter would have elevated this dish to a sublime deliciousness.
For our savory choice we selected the Oven-Baked Eggs ($14) served on top of a Green Olive-Studded Parmesan Polenta Cake, with melted Sharp Cheddar and accompanied by a generous amount of tender steamed Kale. There are few healthy foods that are as trending right now as Kale, and this was cooked to perfection, bringing out a sweet taste and eliminating any trace of bitterness. The Baked Eggs dish is easily large enough to share, and we would just offer a reminder that the eggs are served with a runny yolk (think: poached), so if you prefer your eggs well done, be sure to specify that when ordering.
We also added a side of Pera’s House Made Chicken Sausage ($6); a lean and mildly seasoned sausage with a texture that is very similar to traditional Merguez (lamb) sausage. The sausage perfectly complemented both our sweet and savory brunch dishes.
Shortly after 1:00 PM, a house DJ sets up in the bar area to provide her own mix of tunes, which is a nice addition to the atmosphere.
Pera is spacious establishment with a large, intimate dining room at the rear, a separate private room for parties also located adjacent to the bar and a massive outdoor patio. Once the weather warms up, we can imagine that Pera’s outdoor seating area will be packed, especially on the weekends. We left Pera feeling satisfied, relaxed and ready to enjoy a leisurely post-Brunch stroll and a bit of window-shopping in this beautiful neighborhood.
NOTE: Sadly, L’asso EV Has Closed as of July 2013
Against trend, we often side with the belief that most foods labeled “Healthy” might be significantly less tasty than their less healthy counterparts – case in point: Pizza. So, we had a pretty serious Come to Jesus Moment this week while dining for the first time at L’asso EV, a newcomer to the East Village, boasting a dedication to the organic, gluten free culinary approach, that manages to get just about everything right.
We were initially tempted to visit L’Asso with the promise of being served the “Best Pizza In NYC” (a claim we have heard many times before). And while we admit that L’asso EV’s pizza is insane, it is really a co-star amid an ensemble cast (menu) of tasty treats that will likely convert you to a regular customer.
With a smaller, original location at 192 Mott Street (at Kenmare), L’asso EV (Italian Translation : The Ace , with EV signifying the East Village) opened with an expanded menu at 107 First Avenue about 6 months ago. They are proud of their pizza – and rightly so – but L’Asso offers a varied menu featuring fresh, unique salads, appetizers, pasta and desserts that you won’t find on any other area menu. Aside from the delicious food, the space is totally cool.
Striking a fine balance of hip and classy, the restaurant is a perfect addition to this wildly popular and centrally located neighborhood which attracts both foodies and the artistically inclined crowd. Before we even get to the food, the interior is immediately inviting and comfy. L’asso EV’s appealing decor – a mix of clean chic and farmhouse kitsch – is enhanced by an impressive collection of art adorning its walls.
From a collection of Ashley Macknica photographs known as the Pizza is My Lover series, to a colorful pyramid mural painted directly on the wall by local street artist Dima Drjuchin, to an eclectic collection of tiny canvases scattered across the walls of the large back room (great for groups), there are almost as many beautiful things on view at L’asso as there are delicious things to eat. Innovative Chefs Jackie Gibson and Joseph Lee make sure of that.
Amid an enticing selection of big salads, we chose to start our meal with the Insalata Fresca ($15.00), made with cucumber, corn, tomato, cilantro, radish and salty, flavorful caciocavallo cheese dressed lightly with olive oil, lemon juice and soy sauce. It looked as good as it tasted!
The D.O.C. Bufalina Pizza appetizer was presented on a house-made bagel topped with Buffalo Mozzarella, San Marzano Tomatos and Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($6.00)
A major highlight of the evening came early (and unexpectedly) in the form of the Fried Tomato Appetizer ($14.00), which was recommended to us by our charming server/host, Paul AKA Love Jungle This is a satisfying plate of three, thick-cut slabs of Red (not green!) Tomato, well coated in a light, seasoned breadcrumb mix and expertly pan fried, drizzled with balsamic and served topped with huge ball of fresh mozzarella. OMG! Not only are the sweet, ripe tomatoes beyond delicious on their own, but the mozzarella is so soft, milky and fresh, this dish is nearly as luscious and decadent as a dessert.
A Trio of Eda’s Meat Balls ($11.00) – a mix of veal, beef and pork –arrived at our table fresh from the oven, baked in a ramekin with sauce and more Buffalo Ricotta. The meatballs are huge, flavorful, juicy, tender and highly recommended!
Gnocchi can be a fickle mistress, but L’asso’s Gnocchi Portofina ($13.00) are among of the lightest and fluffiest Gnocchi we have tasted. Served in a light tomato sauce with homemade ricotta, we would ask for an additional dollop of the accompanying delicious cheese when ordering these again.
L’asso Mussels (cooked with garlic, white wine and pancetta, $14.00) are served with generous helping of crispy, fresh herb-tossed French Fries accompanied by a fresh and creamy Pesto Aioli for dipping.
Finally, it was time for us to get down to the business of eating pizza, and our attentive wait staff created a special, off-menu (but soon to be on menu), item just for us: a Muffaletta Pizza, which they cheekily call The Big Muff ($18.00)! This round pie is based on the famous New Orleans sandwich, being topped with Green Olive salad and both mortadella and sopresatta before being buried in cheese. This pizza is so rich and loaded with toppings and yet the suportive crust stays crisp and light. A small pie can easily be shared between two people, with a shared salad, and it is doubtful you would leave hungry. We will concur that L’asso EV deserves to lay claim to serving the “Best Pizza in the East Village.” We will be back for more.
L’asso EV is Located at 107 First Avenue, Between 6th and 7th Streets in NYC’s East Village. Phone 212-837-2048 to make a reservation and visit their awesome website to find out about special nights and events.
Miss May from Pizza is My Lover Series
While we were sorry to say goodbye to Chef Dave Martin’s woefully short-lived Meatball Factory, which shuttered its doors at the end of April, the space at the corner of 2nd Second Ave and 14th Street didn’t stay empty for long. In an exciting “Contemporary art gallery meets fun summer eatery” venture, the folks at The Hole Gallery have launched a pop up restaurant, cleverly named Hole Foods, which will serve a rotating menu of seafood and featured comfort food dishes in a vibrant, modern art gallery setting.
Creating a completely artist-designed space, Joe Grillo of the collective Dearraindrop has transformed the restaurant into a colorful den of artworks, with a neon drip mural (pictured above) across the ceiling, walls and floor, customized tables and tablecloths, painted furniture, video works, black light bathrooms (Yes!), a ceiling installation and interactive sound sculptures. He even made a customized chef suit and hat for the executive chef, Robert Rubba. Grillo has exhibited internationally and has his first big New York City solo show with The Hole this coming October.
We passed by the restaurant this past Sunday afternoon, feeling parched by the freakish late spring heat, and being excited to perhaps sit at the bar and enjoy a chilled and refreshing artsy cocktail. Alas, it was not be, as the Mother’s Day holiday found the place to be closed up tight. We did peek in the windows, however, and the place is pretty cool. The limited menu looks appealing also, but the big green B on the door makes us want to wait a few weeks to see if they can transform that into a much happier blue A. Hole Foods promises to fill their summer tenure with special art projects and performances, including a Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black night, with hostesses and servers in head to toe Karen Black make up (read: expect partial nudity). So, maybe the food isn’t what’s most important. We’ll see.
Hole Foods, a Three-Month Pop Up Restaurant, is located at 231 2nd Avenue (Northwest corner of 14th Street) in NYC and will be in Operation until August 5th, 2012. Phone 212-260-8015 for more information.
Contemporary Pop Artist Kenny Scharf was born on this day, November 23rd in 1958. It was almost a year ago today as well that Geoffrey and I were walking up Houston Street on a cold Black Friday evening when we passed Kenny as he worked on his amazing Houston Street Mural, (see image above or click on link) which has sadly been replaced several times since then. Happy Birthday, Kenny!
Photos By Geoffrey Dicker
Geoffrey took the photo above late yesterday afternoon as he and I walked east on Houston Street. We were out and about in the Soho area because we had actually planned to hit up Kenny Sharf’s new exhibit, Hot Glue Hullabaloo at the Hole Gallery on Greene Street, but it was closed for Black Friday. It was just an insane bit of luck that as we approached the corner of Bowery, formerly the site of the famous Keith Haring mural and later home to murals by other famous artists such as Shepard Fairey, who did we see but Scharf himself in the process of creating an amazing new work of art. There were maybe half a dozen photographers documenting Scharf’s progress as he worked with a can of spray paint on the pink figure you see here, and no one even seemed to mind that it was really quite freezing standing there on the street. I’m going to walk by the site again today and see how far along he’s gotten.
Update: Kenny completed the Mural on Tuesday 11/30/10. Here is what it looks like now! So cool!
Night View, Photo by Geoffrey Dicker
Day View Courtesy of Gawker.com