Saturday, February 28, 2009

Volume 12. A Glimpse of New York

Everroving Global Around Town Senior Travel Correspondent Doug Wingate just submitted this report from O'Hare Airport:

I'm in O'Hare, having just left NYC for a few-day-jaunt. Saw several things, most of which are sadly winding down this very weekend.

First, saw Charles Busch's new comic tour de force -- playing for a limited run at the Lucille Lortel theater (co-starring with movie star Kathleen Turner), called THE THIRD STORY. It's frivolity at its height, involving a trio of mother-child fantasies ranging from madwoman scientists creating doppelgangers, to gun-totin' mob mommas seeking revenge on behalf of her princeling heir-apparent, to fairytale Eastern European witches enchanting traditional princes and princesses. Turner is in fine throaty form, but ... Busch is just a true treasure -- as in the fine tradition of the Davis/Crawford/McCambridge-type women he re-creates, but with his own uniqueness that's as original as that of those icons of the 30s and 40s cinema he effortlessly evokes. Its run ends in mid-March I think, so one can still catch Busch -- a subversive star not to be missed.

Also saw NYC Ballet's "21st Century Movement" series, with works all created since 2001 by such modern masters as Dutch choreographer Jorma Elo, NYCB's own ballet master Peter Martins and NYCB's former resident-choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, plus a recent world premiere by NYCB alumna Melissa Barak (no "c" in that last name!). It was all quite good, but I was most impressed by the Dutch dude -- quirky, original, but oh-so-grounded in fine form. NYCB's winter season sadly ends tomorrow though.

Finally, also saw the Roundabout Theater's current revival of PAL JOEY, also having final performances tomorrow the 28th of Feb. This is a remake of the Broadway classic that made Gene Kelly a star, and was a Hollywood star vehicle for Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth. The show itself is a bit creaky, but the women in the show are top-notch. Stockard Channing, as the rich-but-slumming Mrs. Simpson who sings the immortal "Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered," enchants and is deserving of a Tony in my opinion. Martha Plimpton, whom I have always thought of as indelibly contemporary, surprises with a knockout performance as Gladys Bumps, a spiralling-down chanteuse, singing the Elaine Stritch star-maker "Zip." She also deserves a Tony. Unfortunately, the show still has a number of fuddy-duddy "lesser songs" that have "no zip," and could've been replaced, but for the director's desire for "authenticity," I assume. Oh well ... All in all, however, I'd agree with The New Yorker's generally favorable review, rather than the other less favorable reviews from other critics.

Also enjoyed lunch one day at DB BISTRO MODERNE, part of the eponymous empire of uberchef Daniel Boulud. It is as marvelous as ever, and was packed for Thursday lunch; no signs of a recession there!



ARUGULA SALAD Fava Beans, Iberian Ham, Manchego, Cherry Tomatoes AP 17.

HEIRLOOM BEETS Red & Yellow Endive, Pears, Blue Cheese, Toasted Nuts AP 18.

LOBSTER SALAD Mesclun, Hearts of Palm, Haricots Verts, Pesto Dressing AP 25.

CHARCUTERIES COUNTRY DUCK PATE Pickled Vegetables, Dijon Mustard AP 16.

FOIE GRAS TORCHON Poached Quince, House Made Brioche AP 25.


Celery Rémoulade, Horseradish, Grumberküechle »AP 19.

MOROCCAN TUNA TARTARE Cucumber Raita, Chickpeas, HarissaAP 19. / MC 36

PEEKYTOE CRAB Ruby Red Grapefruit, AvocadoAP 19.


Hazelnut Spaetzle, Button MushroomsAP 19. / MC 29.

NANTUCKET BAY SCALLOPS Celery Mousseline, Citrus Jus AP 19. / MC 36.

ORECCHIETTE PASTA Venison Ragout, Chestnut, Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts AP 19. / MC 29.

SPECIALITES DE LA MAISON OLIVIER’S ALSATIAN « TARTE FLAMBEE »Fromage Blanc, Bacon, OnionsAP 10. / 15. Layered with Shaved Black Truffles AP 75.

TOMATO TARTE TATIN Goat Cheese, Frisée, Black OlivesAP 18.


Coco Beans, FarfallineMC 29.

SAUTEED LEMON SOLE Truffle Pomme Puree, Leek FondueSauce Forestiere MC 38.

BACON VEILED SALMON Baby Carrots, Turnips, Fingerling Potatoes Riesling Veloute MC 29.

MAINE RED SWEET SHRIMP Artichoke Risotto, Sunchokes, Baby Fennel, Orange MC 36.

VIANDES DE BOUCHERIE ORGANIC CHICKEN BREAST "GRAND-MERE" Pomme Cocotte, Bacon, Button Mushrooms, Spinach MC 29.

HANGER STEAK Oxtail Ragout, Swiss Chard, Onion Compote, Bordelaise Sauce MC 33.

BERKSHIRE PORK CHOPCreamy Brussels Sprouts, PancettaChestnuts, Pomme Dauphine

MC 31.

PLATS MIJOTES LAMB TAJINE Braised Lamb Shoulder, Cauliflower Couscous Almonds, Dates MC 32.

CRISPY DUCK CONFIT Wild Mushrooms, Broccoli Rabe, Sweet & Sour Duck Jus MC 33.

BRAISED FLAT IRON STEAK Watercress Pomme Purée, Baby Carrots, Salsify, Sauce BourguignonneMC 31

. « COQ AU VIN »Wild Mushrooms, Bacon, SpaetzleMC 30.


Super Green Spinach

Vegetables Jardinière

Bean Fricasée

Pommes Frites

Pommes Dauphines


Brussels Sprouts

Mesclun Salad

SD 9.

THE ORIGINAL db BURGER Sirloin Burger Filled with Braised Short Ribs & Foie Gras Served on a Parmesan BunPommes Frites—or—Pommes SouffléesMC 32.

db BURGER ROYALE Layered with 10 grams of Shaved Black TrufflesMC 75.

db BURGER DOUBLE TRUFFLE Layered with 20 grams of Shaved Black TrufflesMC 150.

May I just say... some people have all the tasty luck!

Thanks Doug

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In Memoriam

It is always so sad when such a bright star, such a genuine and sincere talent, dies at a young age. Collin Walcott should've turned 64 today. Unfortunately he was killed in a traffic accident while on tour with Oregon in East Germany in 1984. You may recall Collin from his days with The Paul Winter Consort.

I often saw him perform with Oregon.

His magnificent sitar and tabla playing graced the recordings of:

Miles Davis
Larry Coryell
Don Cherry
Egberto Gismonti
Dave Liebman
Meredith Monk
Jim Pepper
and many others...

We miss you Collin.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Volume 11. The Voice

I wonder how many of you out there are aware that this girl can swing! Like Jazz swing! Many years ago I heard of this rather rare and unusual recording of Bjork performing jazz. Then around 10 years ago when I was in Amsterdam I hunted it down. It has been a treasured part of my collection ever since. I remember bopping down Istanbul's İstiklal caddesi one beautiful spring day with this on my iPod. What a wonderful marriage of scene + sound! Bjork sings standards here mostly in Icelandic. A couple in English. She's accompanied by trio Gudmundar Ingolfsson. There are works by Hammerstein & Kern, Leiber & Stoller, Rogers & Hammerstein that you will recognize. It's really all a lot of fun that you shouldn't miss.

Another couple of events that should not be missed...

Washington D.C. often has many great things going on in the Arts. With all the museums, concert halls, galleries etc... one can always find something interesting to do. As you may recall I have attended and recommended concerts by some of our Estonian friends (ie Tonu Kaljuste leading The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir). Here is a notice I recently received from the US Friends of Estonian Culture:

Dear Friends of Estonian Cinéma,

For the first time ever, the Embassy partner organizations (World Artists Experiences and the International Division of Maryland’s Office of the Secretary of State) from the state of Maryland giving you a unique opportunity to discover the unseen documentary Headwind Hall about the charismatic conductor Tõnu Kaljuste. Producer and co-writer of Headwind Hall, Artur Talvik, offers a light-hearted summary of the film. Headwind Hall is a documentary film about the conductor Tõnu Kaljuste and his crazy idea of building an opera house on the estate of the past inventor Schmidt in Naissaar; an island which even today has no regular ferry line, no electricity and only one permanent resident.

In order to carry his idea through, Kaljuste must face situations bordering on the absurd, involving potential investors, snobby bureaucrats, construction workers, and the general public. He transports construction materials and other necessities to the island with his own small boat. The press and the representatives of different institutions cannot refrain from gloating - what is he trying to prove? The idea is almost as crazy as inventor Schmidt's erstwhile headwind ship that used the energy of headwind in order to move ahead with double power. However, in the summer of 2006, the Nargen Opera is completed and the first performances are carried through. This amusing and dynamic film follows the activities of Tõnu Kaljuste during a period of five years. The building of an opera house may not strike most people as a subject for a very dramatic film. Notwithstanding, sometimes the most extreme circumstances can be the setting for the most compelling stories.

The charismatic conductor Tõnu Kaljuste resigned his position as music director and chief conductor of the world renowned Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in late 1999 and set out on a quixotic quest to build an opera/concert hall on the island of Naissaar, located about 12 miles north of Tallinn (the Estonian capital). Naissaar, also known as the Island of Nargen, was once the family home of world renowned telescope and optical lens inventor Bernhard Schmidt (1879-1935) among whose other theoretical inventions was a wind-powered sail/propeller boat which used the force of the wind to sail directly into the wind itself. The idea of this "against the headwind ship" becomes the metaphor for Kaljuste's dream to realize the construction of his opera/concert hall despite all the forces of bureaucracy, financing, and common sense working against him. Naissaar Island had no electrical supply, a barely functioning harbor, and only one or two permanent residents at the time this story begins. How Kaljuste overcame nearly endless adversity and ultimately achieved his goal is shown in this exhilarating film.

Headwind Hall ends with the pop hit Minu inimesed [My People] by the Estonian rap/dance-club performer Chalice (the stagename of singer Jarek Kasar) and provides a musical benediction to Kaljuste's efforts. At the same time, composer Arvo Pärt declares on-screen that "the Estonian people can't begin to appreciate the trouble that Tõnu has gone through". Thanks to director Priit Valkna's triumphant film, audiences get the chance to see it and appreciate it for themselves. Headwind Hall was given standing ovations at the 2007 Nordic Film Days in Lübeck. The film runs 60 minutes. Success in Maryland helps the film rollout to the rest of the country!

Production: Ruut,Faehlmanni 10,10125 Tallinn, EstoniaTel: +372 697 7079Fax: +372 697 7077E-mail: film@ruut.comContacts of film producers:
director Priit Valkna
skype - priit.valknacell: 372 5091966email

International Film Series to Debut Statewide World Artists Experiences and the International Division of Maryland’s Office of the Secretary of State, in conjunction with Frostburg University, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Salisbury University, and Towson University, invite the public to attend free screenings of documentary Headwind Hall from Estonia. The Bridges to the World International Film Series is a statewide, month-long initiative in recognition of the State’s global reach and a reflection of those connections in Maryland. The series will run from February 16 through March 13 at four venues throughout the state and feature films chosen by the embassies of the respective countries. Each film will be introduced, screened, and followed by a discussion. Presentations begin at 7:00 p.m. The schedule is as follows:

Towson University, Van Bokkelen Hall Auditorium Friday, February 27 – Headwind Hall (Vastutuulesaal )

Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis
Wednesday, March 4 – Headwind Hall (Vastutuulesaal ) (Estonia)

Frostburg University, Lane University Center
Tuesday, March 10 – Headwind Hall (Vastutuulesaal ) (Room 201)

Tickets are not required for these free screenings; however seating is on a first-come basis.

Contact: Betty McGinnis, WAE president, 410-647-4482;
Mary E. Nitsch, Director, International Affairs, Maryland’s Office of the
Secretary of State, 410-260-3865;

I think this film should prove to be fascinating!

And as we consider treasure from Iceland, and from Estonia...

How about some that is local?!

Maris Wicker has a keen eye (programming Bernstein, Weill, Arlen etc...), and a lovely voice. When she performs, you should be lucky enough to be there! Here is notice of a wonderful program she's put together for you. Don't miss it!

Dear Friends,

I hope you can join Lonny Smith, Mary Sugar and me when we present "Lenny, Kurt & Harold" in the Indigo Room of the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Even if these names aren't all familiar to you, we're sure that much of the music will be. "Lenny" was Leonard Bernstein, the true Renaissance man of 20th century American music, who wrote, among many other works, the music for "West Side Story." "Kurt" was Kurt Weill, who wrote the cutting-edge music for "The Threepenny Opera" in his native Germany before coming to the U.S. where he had a string of Broadway hits. And "Harold" was dear Harold Arlen, whose voluminous works include the music for the movie "The Wizard of Oz." We love their music and we're sure you will, too.

"Lenny, Kurt & Harold" will be the featured performance in an exciting "Voix de Ville" variety show evening. When ordering tickets by phone (202-399-7993), please be sure to specify the Indigo Room "Voix de Ville" show on Fejbruary 28. If ordering online, ( click on "tickets", then "Indigo Room", then "February 28".Hope to see you on the 28th! If ordering online, ( click on "tickets", then "Indigo Room", then "February 28".

Be there or be square.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Volume 10. Roma

Welcome back Dear Readers to what I hope you will find to be another fine edition of Global Around Town. This week we're heading to Rome for a very special concert of the music of a very interesting man. American composer Rhys Chatham tuned pianos for Glenn Gould and

LaMonte Young. He studied music with electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnik. As a teen he became the first Music Director at the Kitchen in Manhattan. During those early years he worked with many greats including: Robert Ashley, Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Steve Reich, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, John Lurie, Fred Frith and Robert Longo. Influenced by punk rock and No Wave music, Chatham began composing music for large guitar ensembles. It is a work for large guitar ensemble that brings us to Rome this week. Tuesday February 17th at 9:00, Auditoreum Parco della Musica, Sala Petrassi is the place to be. The peformance... "A Secret Rose: Concerto for 100 electric guitars Orchestra Contemporanea, conducted by Rhys Chatam, a multimedia event. Described as "an imaginary jam session with John Cale, Tony Conrad and the Ramones," created by post-minimalist Rhys Chatam, founder with Lou Reed, of the Velvet Underground, a disciple of Morton Subotnik and LaMonte Young. The work, actually scored for 100 electric guitars, an ensemble of Rome's best guitarists and students from the best music schools in the city. With video designed for the work by Robert Longo."

I can't imagine what a piece for 100 guitars would sound like. I'd really love to be there to hear this piece. Here's what Byron Coley of The Wire had to say about one of Chatham's pieces for 100 guitars:

As An Angel Moves Too Fast To See unfolds, it develops an extended sense of grandeur that should be obvious to anyone. If some segments function very well as art rock, others really transcend all known genres - just huge wallows in oceans of sound. This [is] the music on which his reputation rests and which almost slid through the fingers of history. And the music is, well, angelic. Really.”

I am thrilled that Chatham has been touring Europe with his 100-guitar orchestra. Thrilled too that Paris, Chatham's adopted homeland, is hip enough to have commissioned him to write a composition for 400 electric guitars! So if you are anywhere near Rome this week, get your tickets for this monumentous performance now.

If you can't make it to Rome this week perhaps you can grab a bottle of 1997 MASI "MAZZANO" Amarone and whip together some papparadelle with duck ragu. While you're at it you may want to pop in a copy of this.


There are many other concerts you might enjoy in Rome this week.

Italian jazz drummer Roberto Gatto will be performing with Paolo Fresu, Stefano Bollani and friends at Auditorium Parco della Musica, Sala Sinopoli - Monday February 16, 9 PM.

Catch "NYC Scene": Miguel Zenon Quartet - at Viale di Porta Ardeatina, 55 (near the Baths of Caracalla) - Thursday, February 19, 9PM.

Wednesday night you can go see Madame Butterfly. Thursday follow that up with a performance of Tosca. Both "pocket size" versions at 8 PM at Teatro Flaiano.

The culinary scene is also an embarassment of riches. So many choices, so little time!

Head to Il Convivio for its take on alta cucina. Don't miss their bay leaf-scented pigeon "in casserole" with a blood orange sauce and a potato tartlet.

Or try Jewish/Roman cuisine at Il Piperno for all things Jerusalem Arthichoke. Particularly very delicate fritti.

Lastly, you may want to splurge on a meal at the absolutely stunning Sapori del Lord Byron. Here is one of Executive Chef Jean Luc Fruneau's recipes to tease your palette.

Beetroot carpaccio with seared king prawns and wasabi sauce

Ingredients for 2 persons:
Boiled beetroots 2
King prawns, media size 12
Buffalo ricotta cheese 100 gr
Half grated lemon
Salted anchovies 2
Garlic 1 clove
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

How to prepare: Peel the beetroots, cut them into thin slices and put the carpaccio on the plates.

Prepare the vinaigrette: whip vinegar, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and emulsionize with some water. Season the carpaccio with the vinaigrette and prepare the wasabi sauce. Sieve the ricotta, add the grated lemon, salt, pepper and the wasabi and mix well. Top the carpaccio with the wasabi sauce. Clean and shell the prawns and scald quickly. Put the prawns on the carpaccio add some salt and garnish with chive.

I am sure that you'll find many other ways to amuse yourself in Rome this week. Pizza, espresso, Art, strolling aimlessly... I wish I could be there to join you!

I wish you all the best and a
Happy Valentines Day!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Volume 9. Copenhagen

It all started when I was a kid surrounded by all this beautiful Design. Herman Miller bedroom furniture, the colorful Eames hang-it-all on the pale yellow wall of my childhood bedroom, Harry Bertoia chairs at our round Saarinen dining table in the kitchen. Georg Jensen silverware was stashed away in the buffet. Our walls were adorned with Marimekko wall hangings, our bodies with their striped T shirts.

Then, because of my love for Design and Jazz, and because of my attraction to the Danes and the manner in which they take care of eachother, I decided to take my Junior Semester Abroad in Copenhagen. On my flight over... Joe Pass who while running through Klastrup Airport with his guitar in a plastic case, invited me back to Montmartre to hear him with Oscar Peterson, Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen, and Albert "Tootie" Heath. Also on that flight... Frank Zappa and his entourage. Needless to say, this was a great harbinger of things to come. I did go to see Joe Pass at Montmartre. I hung out there often in fact. I went to concerts all over the place. I attended performances of the Bournonville Ballet and it would not be unusual to find me out in Humlebaek at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art strolling the galleries or enjoying the beach, the waves, and the sculpture gardens. This was, as you can no doubt imagine, a very special time for me. I learned a lot and met wonderful people. I went back there for the first time a couple years ago and it was a lovely reunion of great Design, Music, Architecture, and Cuisine.

For this edition of Global Around Town we are heading to Copenhagen, where among other things, we will celebrate the birthday of one of the Fathers of Scandinavian Design: Arne Jacobsen. He would've turned 107 on February 11th.
Arne studied at The Royal Danish Academy of The Arts in Copenhagen and began winning awards for his Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe influenced works at a rather young age. He designed every inch of, and much of the contents of, The Royal Hotel in Copenhagen which remains quite a time capsule. I have the Series 7 Chairs (pictured above) at my dinner table and dream of the day when my home is graced by the presence of an Egg Chair (top) or perhaps a Swan (below).
To celebate Jacobsen's Birthday you just might want to head on over to The Royal Hotel and take it all in. Better yet book a couple nights there and surround yourself with all this beauty. You may also want to contact Republic of Fritz Hansen which manufactures Jacobsen's goods to see if you can arrange a tour of the factory.

I ended up staying at the seriously beautifully designed Hotel Skt. Petri right near where Montmartre used to be. I enjoyed my stay very much. Looking forward to their pastries every morning for breakfast was enough to drive one mad! The quality of the ingredients in Denmark is very high indeed. Beautiful butter, cheese and pork products. With the sea right there, you can be sure that its bounty, found on many a table, is only the freshest. That said you can be sure that there are many wonderful restaurants to try. I did!

My first night in Copenhagen I had a lovely meal at a restaurant named after the wild Peter Greenaway film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Here's an example of a set menu offered there.

Salted langoustines served with mayo, cabbage, dill and apple

Fried Gurnard with green asparagus, mussels and savory

Confit of roe deer with pea purèe and rhubarbs

Saddle of roe deer with shiitake and peas, dried blueberries and lardo

Selection of cow milk cheeses, peach-onion chutney and manitoba bread

Mascarpone cream with strawberries sorbet, nougatine and pepper

There has been something of a change of guard since I visited, but from all reports the cuisine, wine and atmosphere (a quaint 18th century townhouse that used to be a brothel) are all just fine.

One night I ventured north to Klampenborg to Den Gule Cottage for another special treat. This beautiful little place on the Bellevue Beach serves wonderful Modern Danish cuisine.

Also up in Klampenborg, another way to celebrate Arne's Birthday would be to drop in to Restaurant Jacobsen. Surround yourself in things Jacobsenian and dine on good fusion cooking. All around you "ant", Swan" and "Egg" chairs. The view of the Oresund Sea is to die for. Not a bad way to go!

I also had a very special French meal with a very special Danish gal at the much lauded (two Michelin stars) Kommandanten. Exquisite regional/seasonal cuisine. Lovely ambiance.

The one culinary experience I wished I'd revisited was smorrebrod. Those lovely little open faced sandwiches that the Danes top with just about everything. If I had my way I'd head on over to the more than 100 year old "Carl Faberge of the smorrebrod world", Restaurant Ida Davidsen. With so many delicious toppings, deciding what to have there can be a real chore! Perhaps you should try the Victor Borge. "The old showman is a piece with salmon, freshly marinated lumpfish caviar, crayfish tails, Greenland shrimp, lime and dill mayonnaise." You can see why I'm kicking myself for missing out on this landmark of Danish Cuisine. Yummers!

I would not go to Copenhagen and miss visiting The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Currently on exhibit there Max Ernst, Eve Sussman, and Manga!

A visit to the museum Ordrupgaard, with it's new wing designed by Pritzker Award winning architect Zaha Hadid, is also a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Currently on view there you'll find a lovely exhibit of the works of French Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte.

Another treat while in Copenhagen is their relatively new and stunning Opera House. When I visited I felt very fortunate to be able to attend the world premier of a song cycle The Secret Songs from Elvis Costello's opera about Hans Christian Andersen and his obsession with the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind. This week if you're lucky, there will still be tickets left for Mozart's "romantic comedy of dreamers and schemers" Le nozze di Figaro.

Take in Henning Larsen's brilliant building, glass of something bubbly in hand, and thank Arne Jacobsen for giving us a wonderful excuse for visiting this great city.

Happy Birthday Arne!