The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Pre-Happy New Years!!!

"Hey, I'm In New York!"

Home with the fam - or, more to the point, my fam is home with my fam (does that make sense?).

Low key, for the most part, but I want to share two things with you. I'd been planning an excursion to the city (there's a second one coming up, more later) to see a band I'd heard on the radio, "The Fab Faux", ( It's going to sound cheesy and Beatlemania like, but it's simply extraordinary. These guys are session and backup band musicians... well, more in a moment.

First, we went to dinner. I'd been wanting to try one of the celebrity chef restaurants - and as touristy as it is, and after dickering between Mario Batali and Bobby Flay, we decided on Flay's "Mesa Grill" (no offense meant to fans of New York's maestro of nuveau italiano cuisine - I still want to visit Batali's salumeria. We just figured we'd get another italian meal while we're in town.).

The Mesa Grill was great. Yes, we were among all of the other tourisiti there, but nevertheless, the service was excellent. Had a marvelous blue corn jalapeno muffin - this is something I really need to try to make at home (now that I've got my cornbread recipe down). There's something about the little touches, too - things like little kernels of fresh corn in the muffin.

I couldn't decide on dinner, so in addition to my appetizers, I had... two more appetizers and a side as my main course. There's something about tuna tartare that is just damned appealing - the silkiness of the fish paired with whatever simple seasonings the chef had in mind. Todd English's Olives has an excellent version. In this case, Flay's tartare was tossed with some habanero oil, and it was incredible. I then moved on to a shrimp and garlic tamale, paired with a blue-corn tortilla barbecued duck taco. Both were fantastic. Janice had an outstanding snapper (on Boy Meets Grill, Bobby Flay seems to be always talking about grilling snapper, so Jan felt compelled to try it).

Desserts were incredible. Now, most folks who know me know that I'm a chocaholic. I love the stuff (which is why I ballooned up to 265 before going on my massive diet last year. I now content myself with the sugar-free kind, occasionally treating myself to something approaching real chocolate).

Anyhow, I skipped the chocolate this time - not for dietary reasons, but because there were some other things that caught my eye. I got the "Carrot Cake Cookie - Cream Cheese Ice Cream sandwich", which had a spicy pineapple sauce. The pastry chef outdid herself with this concoction - the semi-spicy gingery cookie balanced well with the not-too-sweet, not-too-sour cream cheese ice cream, capped off with a similarly balanced sauce. Jan got the "apple charlotte", which was like a spongy cake sort of thing. It wasn't precisely what I was expecting, but she enjoyed it.

Then it was on to the Fab Faux. These guys are Beatle fanatics, professional musicians who have pored over the minutae of Beatles music so that they can flawlessly reproduce the sound of their albums live in concert. I'd heard them do renditions of "Tomorrow Never Knows", a haunting song from "Revolver" (my favorite Beatle album), complete with the sounds of George Harrison's back-run guitar playing. If you're someone who appreciates the nuances of the Beatles' studio work, you'll love the Fab Faux. This is music that couldn't be reproduced to full measure live and in concert 30+ years ago.

It can today. The Fab Faux uses a complement of strings and brass (including Tom "Bones" Malone of "Blues Brothers" fame) to round out the ensemble.

We saw them at Webster Hall in the Bowery, where they did the complete White Album. It was a terrific experience - from the quiet sounds of "Dear Prudence" (which ranks up there as one of my favorite Beatles' songs), to songs like "Everyone's Got Something To Hide, Except for Me and My Monkey", a lesser known tune that remarkably lends itself to live play.

Pictures of the concert can be found here:

Look specifically at Picture 44. It'll give you a good idea as to what goes into one of these shows.

That's it for now - more later, including some New Years' greetings.

- Andrew


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