Taste Talks All-Star BBQ = food coma

Chefs at the All-Star BBQ, courtesy of Taste Talks

Chefs at the All-Star BBQ, courtesy of Taste Talks

This past weekend cult-status chefs descended upon North Williamsburg, taking over the Wythe Hotel, Kinfolk Studios, Colossal Media and the East River Park for Taste Talks Brooklyn.

Saturday, I was lucky enough to grab a seat at Mario Batali’s panel on “What is Buzz?” with Christine Muhlke, Executive Editor of Bon Appétit; Kate Krader, Restaurant Editor at Food & Wine magazine; Ken Friedman, Co-owner of several restaurants, including theThe Spotted Pig; and Craig Kanarick, CEO of Mouth.com. All of the panelists have years of curating and influencing tastes. A lot of the conversation circled around whether or not there is value in publicists and social media. Is a glossy magazine review worth more than an Instagram user with thousands of followers? The consensus – there is value in both. Credibility comes from the shiny pages of Food & Wine and expanded reach comes from social media. People find new restaurants and follow trends from those they trust – be it a journalist, Twitter maniac or coworker. And the biggest advice for new restaurants? Don’t over hype. True buzz starts with really good food. It is one thing to get people in the door, but the only way to make them come back is to provide an excellent experience that starts with the what’s on the plate.

Sunday, more than 25 chefs who all have “buzz” in their own right, including Andy Ricker, Danny Bowien, Action Bronson and Daniel Delaney, lit up grills at East River Park for the All-Star BBQ. Guests were given a card to visit each booth, checking off which samples tasted along the way. The system worked pretty well, until the lines began to get tangled. One volunteer marked my card at the back of a line and I was denied a sample when I got to the front. I waited for what seemed like decades to get the second to last sample on my card, there was no way I was missing a booth due to miscommunication. Thank goodness the guy behind me also had his card marked and he made for a perfect distraction as I grabbed a plate and darted to the end of the barbeque duck line. Victory.

Everything at the barbecue tasted delicious, but a couple best sellers for me were the lamb tongue from Lee Tiernan and Nate Smith and grilled cinnamon babka from Russ & Daughters. Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen served up duck hearts, which were admittedly tasty, but I couldn’t really get past the fact that I was eating little grilled duck hearts. Sixteen stations later, I could hardly breathe, but I had tasted every gosh darn thing on the menu. I waddled around the Future Food Expo for a spell (coolest thing I saw there was the SideChef app) and then back to my apartment where I passed out until dinner.

lamb tongue

Nate Smith and Lee Tierman’s lamb tongue, courtesy of Taste Talks

REVIEW: GROUPLOVE and Portugal.The Man Played Rumsey Playfield


A barrage of upbeat music and colorful lights took over Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield as Typhoon, Grouplove and Portugal.The Man closed out their summer tour. The venue was full of drunk girls who would rather talk about their Instagram accounts than take in the show, but I guess that’s pretty much the norm these days. Real fans stood up front, throwing their hands in the air and joyously singing along to the headlining acts’ stacked playlist.

GROUPLOVE brought their signature energy, playing a relatively short, yet full set, complete with all of their infectiously fun hits. I walked up to the closing chords of Itching on a Photograph (they started a lot earlier than I realized) as roars of applause emanated from the Summerstage. Frontman Christian Zucchoni wore an XXXL T-Shirt making him look like some kind of hobo shaman as he jumped and danced wildly on the stage. The show was a full blown love fest as members of each band spoke of the bond they had formed with each other over the last seven weeks. “We smoked a lot of weed,” said a leotard wearing Hannah Hooper. “And this is a song about best friends,” she added before launching into Grouplove’s 2012 hit Tongue Tied.

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Peaking Lights to share their Cosmic Logic with new album, listen to two tracks

peaking lights

Wisconsin married duo Peaking Lights have long excelled at their brand of poppy psych-tinged dub. And with their newest studio album, fittingly titled Cosmic Logic, they further expand upon this sound. Both singles so far, “Breakdown” and “Everyone and Us” find Indra’s voice boldly at the forefront, where on their last albums 936 and Lucifer it was found under layers of synth and sunny haze. These songs are definitely brighter than we are used to from these two. For lack of a better “cosmic” joke, shine on you crazy diamonds.

Listen to the singles below, as well as check out the psychedelic tracklist.  [Read more...]

10,000-square-foot MP Taverna coming soon to Williamsburg


Michael Psilakis credit: Joe Hume

The opening date is still TBD, but celebrity chef Michael Psilakis will open his latest version of MP Taverna at 470 Driggs Avenue. We sure miss the days when the closest thing we had to a celebrity chef was Andrew Tarlow.

Often referred to as the “Godfather of Greek Cuisine,” [Michael Psilakis] made his name at upscale restaurants like Onera and Dona; he’s received James Beard Award nominations, as well as Chef of the Year distinctions from Bon Appétit and Esquire; he’s published a top-selling cookbook, and has banked enough television appearances (BBC America’s No Kitchen Required, Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate) to cement his status as a bona fide celebrity. [Read more...]

This One Goes To Eleven: Weekly metal roundup

DSC_0143There are few things on earth more metal than surgery. Take it from a guy who was too busy blowing black goo out of his sinus cavities last week to write this little column. With ten days of recovery time and the muse of recent trauma now in the ol’ psycho-emotional pocket, however, I’m glad to say we are now, thanks to one of the craziest, ballsiest, and baddest (in a good way) release slates of the year, back with a vengeance. So strap in and buckle up, because like a Phoenix from the–wait, hang on, come back! We were just getting to the good part!

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Sick of the L Train? Williamsburg could get its own gondola


Sounds like a good idea to us, and its cheaper than expanding the subway lines:

A top real estate executive from Brooklyn is proposing a high-speed sky gondola between the Brooklyn waterfront and Manhattan — a back-to-the-future form of mass transit that could ease congestion on ferries, subways and bridges.

The so-called East River Skyway would be comprised of high-speed aerial cable cars, moving New Yorkers to Manhattan in less than four minutes. The cars could accommodate more than 5,000 people per hour in both directions.

“(It) would be a relatively inexpensive and quickly deployable solution,” said Daniel Levy, president of East River Skyway and real estate website CityRealty. “It is essential to adapt New York City’s transportation system to serve residents in these booming areas.” [Read more...]

GROUPLOVE and Portugal. The Man Play Rumsey Playfield Tomorrow


Sure, there’s a fall chill in the air, but let’s hang on to the summer for a few more weeks. Keep those vibes shining tomorrow night with a kickass show from LA alt-rockers Grouplove and Alaska’s own Portugal. The Man at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield. Both indie rock groups are on a roll, coming off a stacked summer of festival lineups. And it just goes to show, the party don’t stop. Typhoon kicks off the night at 6:15 PM, so get there early.

Don’t miss this opportunity to bust out your favorite chunky sweater and dance under the moon. You can still snag tickets for only $39.50 HERE.

And in case you need further convincing:

Maxim vs. FREEwilliamsburg – Our Back to Back DJ Sets


Making a pit stop at Rough Trade isn’t much of a digression from Maxim’s everyday life. “The setup is quite similar to the one at home,” the London-based Singer, DJ and Producer says while browsing through his favorite vinyls, most of which come from the golden eras of reggae and funk. When faced with the task of building his ideal DJ set, Maxim looks to the songs that he enjoys hearing in a gritty club, as well as representing his buddies and collaborators. “I’ve got to include some Massive Attack, so let’s do Protection; they’re good friends of mine,” he says.

The original Prodigy frontman is embarking on a new chapter in his musical career. Coming to the table with a background in electro-rock, it’s not surprising that Maxim is cultivating a following with his own style of Trap. “I want it to be harder, with a more industrial sound,” he says.

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