Category: New York

Ten great Law & Order quotes.

Why do I love this show? Because it reminds me of home, and its predictability is comforting to me.  It was one of the few shows set in New York City to actually be filmed there on location. (“Because L&O was filming on my block”, is a completely acceptable excuse for tardiness to work.) But the writing was under-appreciated. Some classic quips…

ADA Kincaid: “Just because he’s condescending to the jury doesn’t mean we have to.”
DA Schiff: “Nobody’s condescending here, young lady!”

Det. Fontana: “There are two things every con wants as soon as he’s released. The second is a pizza.”
ME Rodgers: “What’s the first?”

Lt. Van Buren: “Did the deceased have a man in her life?”
Det. Briscoe:”Yes, but his name is Fluffy and he’s been neutered.”

Suspect (pointing to Det. Munch’s ID badge: “What’s that?”
Det. Munch: “This is my hall pass so I can go to the crapper by myself.”

Witness, referring to an allegedly Native American artist:”Little Moon Birdsong, my ass! Her name’s Linda Epstein, from Syosset.”
Det. Briscoe: “Different tribe altogether.”

Defense lawyer: “I got bent over a chair by Miss Ross once before. Now I’m getting another tingling feeling in my butt. Why is that?”
ADA Ross: “Wishful thinking?”

ADA McCoy: “We’re playing legal tiddlywinks with these punks. What I’d really like to do is take them out to Battery Park and hang them by the scrotum.”

Suspect, who has brought his cousin, a elderly real estate lawyer, to be with him during a murder investigation: “They think I killed Mike.”
Elderly lawyer: “They do? You didn’t, did you?”
The late and great Jerry Orbach as Lennie Briscoe

ADA Schiff, during a strategy meeting about the prosecution of a particle physicist: “So, all we have to do to win a larceny case, is prove how the universe will end?”

Defendant: “Dom is dead, and I did it. I knew exactly what I was doing.”
Arraignment judge: “I’m not supposed to express personal opinions in the courtroom, but I’ve got to tell you, Ms. Perazzo, you make me proud to be an American.”



DSC03570xEggs Benedict, served on hash browns instead of muffins. An unusual example of culinary revisionism that really worked. (Also note properly poached egg and crispy American streaky bacon.

Big Daddy’s, NYC, March 2013


All around the web, people are reminiscing about Hurricane Sandy a year after it devastated Lower Manhattan. A decade and a bit after the same neighborhood took another critical blow from 9/11,  it was just as hard for a lot of businesses to cope. The South Street Seaport, particularly the Fulton Street strip and Pier 17, were  still ghost towns when we visited this past March


Fulton Street, still boarded up.

One of our favorite downtown pubs, the Heartland Brewery, was a cosy unpretentious destination for excellent craft beers and high-class finger foods, tucked underneath the overpasses of downtown. A flight of beers and some luridly multicolored nachos were an excellent way to pass a rainy afternoon.

Your hostess outside the Heartland on a rainy day in 2010.

Heartland beer flight.

Garish nachos, plus Heartland’s famous and addictive Buffalo chicken spring rolls.

Post-Sandy, the wreckage was extreme.

The unrecognizable restaurant area.


The hopeless chaos of the main bar.

There are other Heartland locations throughout Manhattan, with similar menus and the same first-rate beers (try the Red Rooster Ale or the Not Tonight, Honey Porter) but they all fee more corporate and touristy, and none have the intimate neighborhood gathering-place feel of the Fulton Street one.

Thankfully, development has begun on resuscitating the Seaport, so perhaps some day it will be back its old glory.

You know what my favorite thing to do at the Seaport was? Sit and mellow out. On the upper deck was a row of lounge chairs, and you could veg there all day if you were so inclined. Reading, listening to music, or just watching the boats, the birds, and the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a small outpost of peace amid the commerce and touristing.

Brooklyn Bridge with seagull.

Brooklyn Bridge with seagull.

Mesa Grill.

Somehow it escaped my notice that Bobby Flay‘s flagship restaurant, the Mesa Grill, closed last month after 22 years, apparently due to some sort of real-estate kerfuffle.

I have a normally healthy suspicion of “celebrity chef” restaurants. But the Mesa was a class act all the way. I can’t imagine that the Southwest-tinged food has become tired, because we ate there a scant 10 months ago and it was surely one of the best meals of our trip. Gracious and friendly but not obsequious service and potent cocktails were nice touches.

Here are some memories from the late eatery.

Blue corn pancake with barbecued duck and Habanero-star anise bbq sauce. Mr. S-P proclaimed this one of the great duck dishes of all time.

Blue corn pancake with barbecued duck and Habanero-star anise bbq sauce. Mr. S-P proclaimed this one of the great duck dishes of all time.

Goat cheese queso fundido with serrano vinaigrette and blue corn chips for dipping. Pure gooey stinky indulgence.

Goat cheese queso fundido with serrano vinaigrette and blue corn chips for dipping. Pure gooey stinky indulgence.

Spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, with a bourbon-ancho sauce and a sweet potato-pecan tamale.

Spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, with a bourbon-ancho sauce and a sweet potato-pecan tamale.


Cascabel-chile crusted rabbit with almond couscous.

Cascabel-chile crusted rabbit with almond couscous.


Toasted coconut layer cake. Yes, it was every bit as delicious as it looks.

Toasted coconut layer cake. Yes, it was every bit as delicious as it looks.

Purple Bananas.

No. No. No.  Just no.

A list of Woody Allen’s greatest movies, with no mention of Bananas or The Purple Rose Of Cairo?

Funny story: Bananas was actually responsible for my premature birth. My mom was on bed rest for the last two months of her pregnancy. A work colleague of hers came over for a visit, and began describing the infamous newsstand scene. (Very, very NSFW)

He started laughing, and she started laughing, and she laughed so hard that her water broke and she had to be rushed to the hospital because I JUST WOULD NOT WAIT.

Purple Rose could be defined by the single word: bittersweet. It is charming and hilarious and hopelessly romantic and idealistic and heartbreakingly sad. I’m not the biggest Mia Farrow fan, but this is the performance of her career. Jeff Daniels in the dual role of the matinee-idol screen star and his onscreen alter ego is simply pitch-perfect. The story is a fantasy, but has a weird air of inevitability to it. Why CAN’T movie characters walk off the screen and into the real world? In a way it makes perfect sense but it retains its goofy fantasy aspect. You want it to be true, even as Cecilia realizes, it can’t possibly be true.

In case you can’t tell, I love it to bits.

I agree with two of the other choices: the brilliant and morally profound Crimes and Misdemeanors at #4, and Hannah and Her Sisters at #3. I happen to think that HAHS is possibly one of the most New Yorkish of movies, more so than Annie Hall, which never much grabbed me.  By that I mean it has the soul of the city permeating every frame, not merely that it is set in the city. (A list of excellent New York films would include obvious choices like Saturday Night Fever and Taxi Driver, but also the ageless Ghostbusters.) Plus Michael Caine, Dianne Wiest, and the luminous Barbara Hershey, who has never received the acclaim that is due her.

Woody Allen’s father in the movie (“How the hell do I know why there were Nazis? I can’t figure out how the can opener works!”) is played by Leo Postrel. In another example of the multiple ways that Woody Allen has tangentially had an impact on my life*, Leo was responsible for introducing my mom to my dad, way back in the early ’70s.

There is one other Woody flick I wish had made it onto the list: Oedipus Wrecks, the third and only worthy episode of New York Stories.

Oh. My. Gawd but that is one side-splitting, labor-inducingly funny movie.

Woody and his mother, from Oedipus Wrecks.

*Someday, dear readers, I’ll tell you about the time I smacked Soon-Yi Previn Allen. Forty years on and she is still the only person in my life I have ever physically struck.

New York City Opera, RIP.


Your humble hostess with Samuel Ramey in New York City Opera’s Anna Bolena, 1980. Photo Credit: Beth Bergman

On 11 September (yes, really), 1980. I made my professional stage debut in the mute and uncredited role of Elizabeth in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, at the New York City Opera. I was six, and on stage with me were Olivia Stapp, Samuel Ramey, and Rockwell Blake. For the entire run of performances and rehearsals, I earned a princely fee of $ 39.45, after taxes. It was to alter the course of my life in ways I couldn’t even comprehend back then.

After a glorious 70-year history of triumphs, tragedies, iconic performances, some rotten luck, some labor difficulties, and a whole heap of boneheaded decisions, City Opera is filing for bankruptcy.

Kinda depressed about this right now. If my thoughts coalesce into anything rational I’ll write them down. I might also try and get my scanner working so I can share a bit of NYCO memories and ephemera.

And always remember that there are lots of other small opera companies, projects and competitions in the New York area that are worthy of  your patronage.

Going to stalk YouTube for a while. See ya’s.

Wafels and Dinges.



I was reminded of the marvelous Wafels and Dinges earlier today. It’s a Belgian snack truck in New York City that sells waffles, of course, in two styles, and other acoutrements thereto. You can get them sweet or savory or any combination. The version pictured above is topped with spekuloos, a peanut-butter textured paste made of crushed ginger biscuits and quite the most craveable sweet goo since Nutella.

On the day this photograph was taken, the truck was down in the Financial District. I took my hot, fluffy, fragrant waffle and walked over to Zuccotti Park, where I savored it while making ostentatiously loud lip-smacking noises in front of the Occupy Wall Street campers.

They had their tie-dyed t-shirts and protest signs and righteous indignation.

I had a Belgian waffle.

I won.