How To Know A “Wine Bar” Or Restaurant Is Legit

IMG_4646Recently, I launched a regular column at Vine Pair, a blog about drinking culture, which will come out every Wednesday. This week, I shared some tips for finding a legit place to drink awesome wine – so you can avoid places that advertise themselves as wine bars or wine restaurants, but are really just trying to ride the trend wave. Check out my piece here; I hope it helps you find someplace great to drink!

The column is pretty open, and I’d love to hear what people out there (not publicists, regular people who want to learn more about wine) come up with as suggestions for topics – write to me at my full name at gmail.

Wine Stories And More Wine Stories (Plus Some Quebecois Travel Tips)

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So, 4th of July is coming up–I got you covered! Advice about amazing domestic wines to drink here, plus the scoop on delicious glou-glou light reds to serve chilled, here.

But the most interesting work I’ve been able to do recently was hardly work at all, because it was also a true pleasure: getting to know Brianne Day, who I think is not only the future of artisanal, natural winemaking in Oregon, but also an example of an amazing businesswoman who really knows how to invite opportunity into her midst and make the best of it.

Thank you to everybody who took the time to give me quotes for these stories!

Also, I recently enjoyed an amazing trip to Vermont, where I visited a bucolic sheep farm and a goat cheese-making operation, then trekked on up to Montreal and ate my face off across town. Take a look at my recs here. Thanks to a special someone for guiding me around that belle ville.

browser poem

CM Capture 4somebody once told me that when she gets distracted by the Internet, she just makes a poem out of the open tabs on her browser.

 

1)   gmail – here I just e-mailed my boss

2)   wethinkalone.us – here I signed up to receive a weekly e-mail from some writers including Sheila Heti, whose novel I’ve just read

3)   Vamoose Bus – here I am investigating the purchase of a bus ticket to Virginia, where my family lives, for Thanksgiving

4)   WebBeams – this is a portal used to get online at a coffee shop; today I used it at Bedford Hill, one of my staple writing spots, and I reflected that it’s a nice change to see fewer people on computers (because Bedford Hill only implemented the WebBeams policy recently; I’ve noticed other Brooklyn coffee shops doing this lately!)

5)   http://www.margauxwilliamson.com/ – a painter portrayed in Sheila Heti’s novel as the narrator’s (Sheila Heti’s) best friend. Much has been written about Heti’s novel so I’m late the literary party as usual, but God that woman has transformed literature in this hemisphere forever, I am sure of it. A woman writing about being a woman, and how fucking confusing that is (both the writing about being one, and the being one). A new work of literary fiction that takes place outside of New York, for a very nice change (ahem, Mr. Shteyngart/Mr. Lipsyte/Ms. Egan/Mr. Auster, etc etc etc). And the form—the e-mails! Each snippet of meaning, separated out and numbered! The lowercase letters! Each chapter title: “Margaux Goes To . . .” As if it were a children’s book, so cute, this woman’s story about the utter pain of living, of being a postmodernist creature divorced from most of nature, enslaved by economics, addicted to screens and substances. This is vital, crucial! Anyway, I think Margaux is a beautiful name (imagine having a name that ends with “X!” Wouldn’t you feel so special?) and I like her paintings

6)   A map of the New Amsterdam Market, where I went this afternoon for some special events, including an array of goods delivered by a wind-powered barge that sailed from Vermont. Don’t worry, all the magazines are writing about it already. After the event, I tried to shop at the market, but everything was too expensive. I finally bought a delicatta squash for two bucks (which I knew it would cost, even before it was weighed) and a ham/cheese/béchamel hot pocket thingy

7)   The Groupon page for exercise classes – I have too much energy, and I need to dance more often

Rabbity News: GreenRabbits.org Newsletter

Welcome to the first edition of the Green Rabbits newsletter! Every two weeks, you’ll receive updates from other Rabbits; information about upcoming events on food and urban issues; and links to Green Rabbits blog posts and other relevant readings from the web. We’re interested in your contributions and feedback, so please send thoughts about this newsletter to Rachel Signer, Communications Director of Green Rabbits, at rachel@greenrabbits.org. And if you don’t already follow us on social media sites, join the conversation by following us on Twitter and liking our Facebook page. Read more

All the Single, Scrappy, Ambitious Ladies…

437285_024Last night, I finally saw the movie of the summer, a black-and-white pic about an anti-heroic, sterotypically-unfeminine woman in her late twenties, living basically hand-to-mouth in New York City (but not abstaining from $14-packs of American Spirit) while pursuing her artistic dream, to be a professional modern dancer.

No, it’s not “GIRLS: The Movie,” although at first glance one is struck by the parallels between the world of Frances, the aforementioned protagonist, and Hannah Horvath of Lena Dunham’s “GIRLS”: both are frumpy but somehow quite homely, both are talented yet not sure how to achieve success, both are obsessively reliant on one or more female best friends for camraderie and security, and both seem relatively indifferent to normative ideas of middle-class American romance such as steady relationships or marriage and parenthood. Rather, these women more or less stumble through life, operating on a short-term basis instead of a five-year plan, and magically making a good impression on people despite their essential lack of social graces or nepotistic connections.

And yet, in “Frances Ha,” as opposed to in “GIRLS,” we have a character whose stoicism is remarkable: she is unemotional almost to the point where she seems stereotypically masculine rather than feminine; not once in the film does Frances weep, break down, or consult a therapist when the going gets really, really tough. Nor does she, as does Hannah Horvath, beg her parents for money–in fact, her pride prohibits her from admitting to them, or her best friend, when her career has hit the gutter and nothing seems to be going right in life, at all. And very unlike Hannah, Frances does not once grab the nearest decent-looking man and drag him into bed (perhaps because, at points in the film, she doesn’t actually have a place to live). In other words, Frances is slightly more grown-up, stronger, more adept than Hannah.

But these differences are rather slight; what is important is the similar territory they cover–young women from undistinguished backgrounds and of imperfect character, trying to make it as artists in the big city–and the novelty of this subject matter appearing in mainstream cultural production. And I would piggy-back on recent writing by Emily Nussbaum, the New Yorker‘s television critic, which points out the huge impact made by the HBO series “Sex and the City,” by saying that that show opened up space for this new, incredibly important genre of young women who unapologetically pursue their individual visions of a successful life, whatever that may be and by whatever means. Throughout “Sex and the City,” Carrie Bradshaw wrestles with changing career goals and romantic needs in a way that no previous female character had. In fact, the only work coming to mind that, prior to “SATC” addressed these issues is “Annie Hall,” in which Diane Keaton is a woman motivated by writing and effectively unconvinced of the need to devote herself to a male partner, to Woody Allen’s character’s dismay. (As a side note, my film-viewing partner and I last night both noticed Allen’s influence in Noah Baumbach’s directing style, with approval.) But “Annie Hall” depicts this kind of femininity ultimately from a male perspective, whereas now we have women writing (the actress who played Frances co-wrote the film), directing, and producing these shows and movies.

It’s infinitely invaluable to young women to have these cultural products, whether or not we find them to be “accurate” representations of our lives (notably, the criticisms abound that the women portrayed in these instances are white and middle-class or upper-middle-class, or living in “privileged poverty”). They are fodder for self-analysis and critical discussion, as I have written before about “GIRLS.” And they also prod us, as writer Kate Mooney has done excellently for Brokelyn, to examine the numerous success stories that come out of this post-third-wave-feminist ethos of pursuing art and career goals at any cost. In Frances, Hannah, and Carrie, we see the challenges and mistakes that appear in our own personal and professional lives, and we can’t help but use these reflections to become stronger, better versions of ourselves–and we become writers of our own series, crafting our imperfect yet admirable selves into the protagonists we really want to be.

Local food fail: NYC paves over a beloved foodie haven

imagesMy article in Grist on the controversy surrounding the Pier 17 development plan:

“But now, the New Amsterdam Market is likely facing its last summer at the Seaport. In its place, the Howard Hughes Corporation plans to build a complex of luxury hotels, high-rises, and a concert venue. The city council, which recently voted to approve the company’s plan for the Seaport, is calling the development a victory for local food, but while the Hughes Corp has plans for some kind of ‘food market’ that uses local and regional ingredients, the organizer of New Amsterdam will likely not be involved, and it is unclear if any of the current vendors will, either.”

 

 

Will New Amsterdam Market Survive & Flourish?

2013-03-14 06.32.08Yesterday I observed an incredible outpouring of support for the New Amsterdam Market, whose existence may be threatened by a plan to develop Lower Manhattan’s Pier 17. Read about it in my Green Rabbits blog post:

“LaValva spoke to the Council, revealing several points about the HHC plan: (1) it would ’cause the City’s existing Lease with Howard Hughes to be amended so that the City would no longer be obliged to maintain the two remaining, historic Fulton Fish Market buildings as a market at all’; (2) ‘only office uses will be permitted in the . . . Tin Building’; and (3) that ‘the EDC and Howard Hughes have a Letter of Intent to redevelop the Fulton Fish Market site as a luxury residential high rise, hotel and retail complex. The proposed rezoning therefore enables a development that has never been revealed to the public or reviewed by the Council.’

What would any city be without markets? British scholar Carolyn Steel writes in Hungry City that pre-industrial cities ‘all [had] markets at their hearts, with routes leading to them like so many arteries carrying in the city’s lifeblood.’ Cities were always nexuses for the transport of food, and markets were considered vital rather than accessories. The New Amsterdam Market’s proposal asks that it be allowed to continue serving its loyal customers and bringing business to the surrounding restaurants and bars, but it also positions itself to take New York City back to pre-industrial days when community mattered and cities were about exchange, not just consumption.”