Archive for November, 2010

Eat This: Brunch at Perch in Park Slope

Fellow brunchers: If you live in Brooklyn and have not had the pleasure of brunching at Perch in Park Slope, it is a must. It was one of the first places that we started going regularly after our move to Brooklyn almost 5 years ago, and we haven’t stopped since. The atmosphere is very laid back, and the decor is bird-themed: bird cups, bird paintings, bird shirts, etc.

The Perch coffee cup, filled with excellent coffee.

It’s overall a small menu, with some basic choices, but everything they do, they do well. We have a number of favorites, several of which we ordered that day. One word of caution; the busier it gets, the more insufferable it is, not to mention to more crowded with strollers it is. So get there early!

We had the lovely Sarah G in town a few weekends ago, and she makes it a point to always go to Perch when she is in Brooklyn. Her breakfast sandwich of choice: The Sam’s Green Eggs combined with Chicken Apple Sausage. A very good decision.

Perch's Green Eggs breakfast sandwich with Chicken Apple Sausage

Doug’s choice is a recent favorite: the Sourdough Waffle with Raspberry Butter.

Sourdough Waffle with Raspberry Butter

(Side note: Douglas and I tried to make Raspberry butter last weekend. It did not turn out as rich and creamy and delicious as Perch’s. But it was a valiant effort). I had my usual, the Egg & Cheese sandwich, a perfectly cooked frittata with avocado.

Egg & Cheese Sandwich, with Avocado added.

We also couldn’t resist getting the Perch toast, which is one of their specialties. It’s basically a strawberry jam sandwich, battered and fried on a panini maker, with maple syrup. A good snack or light breakfast.

Perch toast

Other favorites include their Homemade Granola with Yogurt and Fruit, the Eggs Florentine, and the Huevos Rancheros. But I think we made good decisions. Look at that breakfast spread:

The full breakfast picture.

November 30, 2010 at 11:56 am 1 comment

JudyJams picks November 2010: Aloe Blacc, Glasser, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger & La Sera

Happy pre-holiday season! I apologize for the slightly belated nature of this post: most of the music came out a few weeks ago. November, in its flurry of activity, caught me off guard. The exciting part about the beginning of Winter, aside from Thanksgiving food, is that there are a lot of great year-end releases. TnJ will also be doing our top 2010 release choices in the next few weeks, but for now, here are the picks:

Aloe Blacc just released his sophomore album Good Things on Stones Throw this Fall, and the single “I Need a Dollar” has been in non-stop rotation on my iPod, and in my head, ever since.

Aloe Blacc album cover via StonesThrow.com

The whole album has a very classic bluesy Motown sound while also feeling modern. His voice is amazing, and Good Things is one of those rare “listen-all-the-way-through” albums. Multiple times over. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Stones Throw, one of my favorite labels. You can check out some previews of the music from Good Things and from his debut, Shine Through, at his website. Below is the video for “I Need a Dollar,” which will be instantly stuck in your head:

Second pick, very different from the first, is the new album by Glasser. Her given name is Cameron Mesirow, and her debut album Ring came out in September.  I only discovered in the post-CMJ coverage shuffle, which explains the delay in posting.

Photo of Glasser via Glassermusic.com

The music is heavy on the bass, but her voice is the stand out: it sounds all the more haunting and gothic layered over dreamy, ethereal beats. My favorite song is by far “Mirrorage,” but they’re all good. It is available through True Panther Sounds, but for a little preview, check out the videos for “Mirrorage” and for “Apply” below:

Third pick is a new collaboration between Sean Lennon and his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl, called The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, released on his own label, Chimera Music.

Photo of GOASTT via Press Here publicity

If you’re familiar with Sean Lennon’s earlier work, especially his debut Into the Sun (a favorite of mine), this is reminiscent but with a more playful, throwback vibe. You can stream the song “Jardin Du Luxembourg” here (and get Stereogum’s opinion on it, too). You can clearly tell that these two have the serious hots for each other: for those in the mood for some  flirty tunes, this is just right.

Last pick is a fun video that debuted around Halloween time. This is from La Sera, who is Katy Goodman of Brooklyn-based Vivian Girls / All Saints Day.

The video is kind of gory, in a silly way, but if blood is not your thing, you can listen to the song here. The song is really sweet (I swear!) and her voice is beautiful. The full album will be self-titled and out on Hardly Art in February 2011. Stay tuned!

November 23, 2010 at 4:44 pm 5 comments

Cook This: Leek, Mushroom, Gruyère Tart

Fall is upon us in full force, which means lots of root vegetables, including the lovely leek. Mushrooms are always nice in winter for that yummy earthy flavor. And of course, who doesn’t love Gruyère cheese??? Seriously! If you know someone like this I’d like to meet them and stare at them dumbfounded.

This tart is pretty fabulous, and if you make the crust ahead of time ad stick it in the freezer like I did, it can be pretty fast to whip up!

Here’s a pretty good recipe for a basic crust, or pate brisee as they say in France:

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart by Deb at Smitten Kitchen. Some people say it’s cheating to use a food processor. I say, that’s nonsense. If it makes your life easier and still tastes delicious, do it!

Pate Brisee

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)

With machine running, add ice water through feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn out dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Now for the filling. I used this recipe from the BBC, with a few minor adjustments and translation to American measurements.

Leek, Mushroom, & Gruyére Tart

2 tb of butter
4-5 leeks, sliced and washed
8 oz cremini or white mushrooms, sliced
2 eggs
1 cup heavy cream (you can cheat and use milk but it will be a bit less creamy)
1 cup Gruyère, coarsely grated (I used a bit more because I love cheese)

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a round about 2 inches larger than a 9 inch tart or pie pan. If you have the kind with the removable bottom, that will make it a little prettier, but if not, no worries. Use your rolling pin to lift it up, then drape over the tart pan so there is an overhang of pastry on the sides. Push the pastry into the corners of the tart pan. Chill in the fridge or freezer for 20 mins.

While the pastry is chilling, heat the butter in a pan and cook the leeks for 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until they soften. Then turn up the heat and add the mushrooms. Cook for 5 mins more, then turn off the heat.

Lightly prick the base of the tart with a fork, line the dough with a large circle of parchment paper, then fill with baking beans, rice, or actual pie weights. Blind-bake the tart for 20 mins, remove the paper and beans, then continue to cook for 5-10 mins until it begins to brown.

While the dough cooks, beat the eggs in a bowl, then gradually add the cream. Stir in the leeks, mushrooms and half the cheese. Season with salt and pepper, then pour the filling into the dough. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese, then bake for 20-25 mins until set and golden brown. Leave to cool in the pan about 10 mins before serving. Yum!

November 20, 2010 at 12:19 pm Leave a comment

Eat This: Brunch at Stone Park Cafe

Biscuit and jams at Stone Park Cafe

Stone Park Cafe in Park Slope has been a standout restaurant for years now and their brunch is commonly known as one of the best in the area. The interior is lovely but can get very crowded and loud; they also have some outdoor seating, although with the plunging temperatures that will soon be useless. Luckily, the food makes up for everything.

On a recent visit with friends we naturally had to start with an order of biscuits. This is a must at Stone Park, what with a warm buttery and flaky biscuit that can be slathered in delicious jams and their berry fruit compote if you’re lucky.

Pan Seared Bluefish Cakes with Poached Eggs at Stone Park Cafe

Next, I ordered the Pan Seared Bluefish Cakes with celery root slaw, poached eggs, caper hollandaise, toast, and homefries. I don’t eat crab so I was thrilled to see that these cakes were made with fish instead. They were lightly breaded and cooked to perfection and provided an excellent base for the delicately poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. The celery root slaw on the side provided a refreshing crunch. The homefries were excellent as well.

The Spicy Omelet at Stone Park Cafe

The other guests all got omelets, including two of The Spicy, which is filled with andouille sausage, mushroom, pico de gallo, and jack cheese. The mixture of these flavors, I was told, were excellent and the spice was enough to keep the flavors dynamic but not overpowering. And with tons of homefries, what’s not to love?

Stone Park Cafe is an elegant and delicious option for brunch, but it definitely gets crowded on the weekends and you may be faced with a long wait. The earlier you get there the better!

Stone Park Cafe
324 5th Avenue, Corner of 3rd St.
Park Slope, Brooklyn
718-369-0082

November 5, 2010 at 12:09 pm Leave a comment

The TnJ CMJ Round Up

The time has arrived for us to review and contemplate the busiest week of the Fall in Toast and Jams-land: CMJ. The week that proves that we are not teenagers any more, but yet we still love music just as much. Because we saw SO MANY bands, we have decided to give some special TnJ awards. We have posted official show reviews here and here, if you’d like to see some extended thoughts about what we saw.

Best Individual Shows

Best Stage Show/Costumes: Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr at Public Assembly

Best Sister Duo/Best Female Vocals: First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit at the Delancey

Best Sister Trio: Smoosh


Best Vocal (pop)/Best Cover Song: Harper Blynn (Beyonce’s “Halo,” complete with a Dirty Projector’s “Cannibal Resource” interlude–seriously, check out this video)

Harper Blynn at Mercury Lounge

Best Dance Moves: The Drums vocalist Jonathan Pierce tied with Francis of Francis and the Lights

 

Best Use of Choral Influences: Active Child and their harp

Active Child at Brooklyn Bowl

Best Dance Show: Matthew Dear

Best Dirty Stage Banter: Marnie Stern

Marnie Stern at Santos Party House

Funniest Stage Banter/Most Comfortable Stage Presence: John Vanderslice

John Vanderslice at Mercury Lounge

Best Dreamy Indie-Pop Set: Wild Nothing

Wild Nothing at Santos Party House

Best Foot-Stompin’ Roots Rockin’: The Ramblers

The Ramblers at National Underground

Cutest Accents/Twee Pop: The Crayon Fields

The Crayon Fields at Rockwood Music Hall

Most Unique Instruments: The Luyas and their 12-string zither and French horn

The Luyas at Arlene's Grocery

Best Vocals as Instruments: Braids

Braids at Arelene's Grocery

Best Voice to Come Out of a Nondescript Guy: PS I Love You

PS I Love You at Arelene's Grocery

Band Most Worth Staying Up Until 1 AM For: The Drums

Jonathan Pierce of The Drums at Santos Party House

Band Most Worth Getting Up By 1 PM for: Francis and the Lights

Francis and the Lights at Knitting Factory BK

Best Blues and Gospel Influenced Band: The Mynabirds

The Mynabirds at the Delancey

Best (Literal) Hair Band: Cults

 

Cults at Brooklyn Bowl

Band We Most Wanted to See But Didn’t: Das Racist

Best Showcases

Best Overall Showcase: Stereogum at Santos on Wednesday night

Best Canadian Representation: The M for Montreal Showcase at Arlene’s Grocery on Thursday night

They gave out free poutine (french fries, gravy, and cheese curds) at the M for Montreal Showcase

Best Folk Roundup: The Delancey on Thursday night

Show We Most Wanted to Get into But Couldn’t: Four Tet, Gold Panda, and Jon Hopkins at Webster Hall

Best Day Showcase: Brooklynvegan‘s Showcase on Saturday at Public Assembly

Best Non-official CMJ Showcases: #Offline Festival at Brooklyn Bowl by Pitchfork

Lots more pictures after the jump!

(more…)

November 2, 2010 at 10:46 am 4 comments


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