The Week Ahead: What to see, watch and do March 29 – April 4

Restaurants

Mu Ramen's tasty, decadent, time-intensive chicken wings
Mu Ramen’s tasty, decadent, time-intensive chicken wings

Mu Ramen (Long Island City) – I haven’t been yet but Chef Joshua Smookler is serving up what must be the tastiest and most decadent chicken wings around – deboned and stuffed with foie gras.  See the article by Eater NY: http://ny.eater.com/2015/3/23/8278153/mu-ramens-foie-stuffed-wings-take-days-and-days-to-prepare#4700136

Brooklyn Fare Hell’s Kitchen – will it ever open? Still supposed to be March/April but blogs have been posting about an imminent opening date for two years.

Movies

Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds
Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds

Woman in Gold (opens April 1) – based on a true story, Helen Mirren plays an elderly Jewish woman who returns to Vienna six decades after WWII to reclaim a painting by Gustav Klimt “The Lady in Gold” which had been seized from her family by the Nazis. Ryan Reynolds plays the young lawyer who comes to her aid.

Furious 7
Furious 7

Furious 7 – Continuing the global exploits in the unstoppable franchise built on speed, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson lead the returning cast of Furious 7.

Last Knights starring Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman
Last Knights starring Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman

Last Knights (open April 3) – A fallen warrior (Clive Owen) rises against a corrupt and sadistic ruler to avenge his dishonored master (Morgan Freeman), in this epic, sword-clashing adventure of loyalty, honor, and vengeance.

Plays

Skylight starring Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy
Skylight starring Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy

Skylight (open April 2) – stars Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy fresh from their critically acclaimed performances in London and directed by David Hare. Mr Nighy plays Tom Sargeant, an ex-lover of Ms. Mulligan’s character Kyra Hollis. Tom visits Kyra after his wife dies and the two spend and evening attempting to rekindle their relationship – only to find themselves locked in a battle of opposing ideologies. The production was hailed by The Mail on Sunday as “a scorching production—a brilliant play about changing and clashing values, and the true cost of love. Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan are sublime.”

Hand to God opens April 7
Hand to God opens April 7

Hand to God (opens April 7) – A hit off-Broadway which earned critics picks from The New York Times, Time Out New York, and New York Magazine the provocative Hand to God opens this week.  The play is centered around Jason, a shy student who initially finds an outlet for his creativity in the Christian Puppet Ministry in the devoutly religious, relatively quiet small town of Cypress, Texas. When Jason’s hand puppet, Tyrone, takes on a shocking and dangerously irreverent personality it throws Jason’s close relationships with friends and family into upheaval.

TV / DVD

The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch
The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch

The Imitation Game (released March 31): The story of legendary mathematician Alan Turing’s most famous feat: cracking the Nazi’s seemingly unbreakable “Enigma” code. If you haven’t seen it yet rent it and see why the film was nominated for eight academy awards.

Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Veep: The Complete Third Season (released March 31): The new season debuts on April 12.  If you aren’t watching start now. Entertainment Weekly calls Julia Louis-Dreyfus “the greatest comedic actress of our time.”

Silicon Valley created by Mike Judge
Silicon Valley created by Mike Judge

Silicon Valley: Season 1 (released March 31): The new for Silicon Valley also debuts April 12th so get caught up now on Mike Judge’s HBO comedy about a group of California computer programmers trying to make it big.

Must see – Selma: I see why you like him now

Selma starring David Oyelowo
Selma starring David Oyelowo

Although I like to see the big Oscar-nominated films prior to the Oscars I was unable to get to Selma until recently. David Oyelowo’s performance was masterful and I understand now the grumbling about his being overlooked in the Academy’s best actor category. I found the scenes portraying the conflict between blacks and whites in the South at this time to be emotionally powerful.  We know these events happened but the cruelty that people are capable of displaying to those different from themselves is still astounding and disappointing.

I also understand the criticism of the portrayal of LBJ.  While I don’t believe he had to be manipulated into proposing the Voting Rights Act as the movie would leave us to believe it did serve the purpose of creating tension between MLK and LBJ.

See it in the theater before it is too late – the scenes of the march won’t have the same effect on a small screen.

The Week Ahead: What to see, watch and do the week of March 22

Movies

Serena - reunited Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence
Serena – reuniting Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence

Serena (opens March 27) – Serena brings Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence together again in a romantic period drama.  Unfortunately early reviews indicate that it probably won’t achieve the critical success of their previous joint effort Silver Linings Playbook. Bradley Cooper plays a North Carolina timber magnate.  Jennifer Lawrence plays his independent wife who begins to unravel after a devastating miscarriage. Based on the reviews see at your own risk.

While We're Young starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried
While We’re Young starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried

While We’re Young (opens March 27) – Stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as a middle-aged couple who start to question how they are living their lives when a young couple (played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) enters them.  Directed by Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale and Frances Ha),

TV

Mad Men starring Jon Hamm
Mad Men starring Jon Hamm

Mad Men: Season 7 (March 22)The final episodes start tonight.

DVD

November Man starring Pierce Brosnan
November Man starring Pierce Brosnan

November Man (March 23)Pierce Brosnan gets back into the spy business in this violent throwback adventure about a former CIA agent who becomes re-embroiled in espionage business.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (March 24):  The final installation of Peter Jackson’s the Hobbit trilogy as well as the entire six-film Tolkien Lord of the Rings epic.  The man really knows how to draw out a good thing.  And this flick is about half battle (the movie is aptly named I guess).

The Week Ahead: March 15 – 21

Movies

Insurgent is the second movie in the Divergent series
Insurgent is the second movie in the Divergent series

The Divergent Series : Insurgent (open March 20) – In the second film in the Divergent series (directed by Robert Schwentke) Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) are on the run from Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) and trying to figure out the secret that will help the rebels build a better future.

The Gunman stars Sean Penn
The Gunman stars Sean Penn

The Gunman (opens March 20) – Sean Penn stars in this action thriller as a traumatized special forces veteran trying to put his past behind him and settle down with the woman he loves.   The cast includes Javier Bardem and Idris Elba and was directed by Pierre Morel (“Taken”).  Despite the all-star cast early reviews have not been strong. . .

Spring
Spring

Spring (opens March 20) – Lou Taylor Pucci stars as Evan, a man who flees to Italy to escape his past (a barfight – must be one bad barfight).  While traveling the Italian coast he meets and connects with an enigmatic woman who harbors a dark secret.

Plays

The Heidi Chronicles (opens March 19, Music Box Theater) – this revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play stars Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men,” “Top of the Lake”), Jason Biggs (“Orange is the New Black,” American Pie) and Tony nominee Bryce Pinkham (A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder).  The play tells the coming-of-age story about Heidi Holland and her diverse circle of friends across three decades.  It is being directed by Pam MacKinnon (Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).

The Week Ahead – March 8

Movies

Cymbeline stars Ed Harris, Ethan Hawke, Milla Jovovich and Dakota Johnson
Cymbeline stars Ed Harris, Ethan Hawke, Milla Jovovich and Dakota Johnson

Cymbeline – opens March 13.  This action/thriller starring Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris and Milla Jovovich was inspired by William Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.  A gritty story of a take-no-prisoners war between dirty cops and an outlaw biker gang. Good cast but early reviews haven’t been positive.

Museums

Madame Cezanne Exhibit at the Met ends March 15
Madame Cezanne Exhibit at the Met ends March 15

Madame Cezanne – last chance to see the Madame Cezanne exhibit at the Met as it ends March 15.  The exhibition features twenty-five of the twenty-nine known portraits of Hortense Fiquet, Cezanne’s wife and the mother of his son.  For more information: http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2014/madame-cezanne

Fashion

Epaulet is a specialty men’s retailer with stores in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Much of their assortment is product which is exclusive to them – either their own label or collaborations with great brands like Alden.  The proprietor’s (Adele Berne and Michael  Kuhle) goal is “to deliver classic American style (with a heavy touch of British influence), razor-sharp tailoring, consistent sizing, unique fabrics, and phenomenal quality at a fair price” and they largely succeed. Epaulet recently launched a custom shirt program (see link below for more details).  Use the code “Individualized-Welcome” for $25 off each shirt through Tuesday March 10. http://epauletnewyork.com/collections/made-to-order-shirting

Restaurants

For California residents In-N-Out has achieved a cult status and following.  Their secret menu items separate those in-the-know from those who are not.  The following link is a guide to other fast food restaurant secret menu items. http://www.thedailymeal.com/eat/10-fast-food-secret-menu-items-you-have-try?advD=1401,117828

Manhattans: The Perfect Winter Cocktail

The perfect winter cocktail
The perfect winter cocktail

Manhattans have become my winter cocktail of choice. I used to drink exclusively white spirits – premium vodka preferably. But something about brisk temperatures, short days, fires in the fireplace just lends itself to dark spirits. My first foray was perfect brandy Manhattans (I was weaned on these as my parents drink them religiously). After awhile I decided to branch out and started experimenting with bourbons – Basil Hayden, Hudson (great small batch bourbon), Eagle and Buffalo Trace (for everyday pours) were all favorites.

A couple of years ago I learned that the original Manhattans were made with Rye. I started experimenting with Rye. And then realized I couldn’t ignore the other key ingredients in Manhattans – vermouth, bitters, cherries (or a twist if you are so inclined). So after many pleasant experiments:

  • 3 parts Rittenhouse Rye
  • 1 part Carpa Antica sweet vermouth
  • dash of bitters
Rittenhouse Rye - the perfect choice for Manhattans
Rittenhouse Rye – the perfect choice for Manhattans
Carpica Antica is the best vermouth for a Manhattan
Carpica Antica is the best vermouth for a Manhattan

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 100 proof Rye and the Italian vermouth balance each other perfectly.  A Yarai mixing glass and strainer is also a critical supply should you prefer straight up vs. on the rocks (Manhattans should be stirred not shaken!).

Yarai Mixing Glass + Strainer
Yarai Mixing Glass + Strainer

I normally garnish with a lemon twist, although I recently found Woodford Reserve’s spiced cherry bitters – with the proper cherry (see below) it is an interesting choice.

Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters
Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters

If you like the traditional cherry make sure you do not use the traditional fire-engine red maraschino. Luxardo is a much better choice (and a great measure of the quality of a bar and skills of a bartender).

Luxardo Cherries - the original Maraschino
Luxardo Cherries – the original Maraschino

If the Manhattans above don’t work for you see the links below for alternatives.

Kiin Thai and The Lion at the Lynn Redgrave Theater

The dining room at Kiin Thai
The dining room at Kiin Thai

Lovely afternoon!  Started with lunch at Kiin Thai – a new restaurant in the Village from the owners of East Village favorite Somtum Der. The restaurant was still in soft opening mode but based on the Sai Qua sausage and Gaeng Hung Lay curry it is worth a visit.  See more information from the Village Voice and Eater NY:

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/2015/02/kiin.php

http://ny.eater.com/2015/2/27/8121643/open-somtum-der-kiin-thai-east-village

Benjamin Scheuer in The Lion
Benjamin Scheuer in The Lion

After lunch I took a snowy walk to the Lynn Redgrave Theater to see The Lion, Benjamin Scheuer’s autobiographical coming of age musical.  A compelling story in an intimate setting – and the perfect amount of time – 70 minute run time with no intermission! Runs through end of March.

Home in time to open a nice pinot and watch the snow fall in front of a fire in the fireplace.

The Week Ahead – March 1: what to see, do and watch this week.

Plays – Broadway

The Audience with Helen Mirren
The Audience with Helen Mirren

The Audience (opens March 8) – Helen Mirren stars as Queen Elizabeth II in the story of the Queen’s relationship with the twelve prime ministers that encompass her sixty year reign.  The play, fresh from its London run, is directed by two-time Tony winner Stephen Daldry.

On the 20th Century starring Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher
On the 20th Century starring Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher

On the Twentieth Century (opening night March 12) – Kristen Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher star in the remake of this comedy from Roundabout Theatre Company which takes place on a luxury train traveling from Chicago to New York.

Music

Betty Carter
Betty Carter

Salue to Betty Carter (March 6 & 7) – Vocalist Charenee Wade and drummer/music director Alvester Garnett celebrate Betty Carter – one of the most original jazz vocalists of our time – who would have turned 85 this year. Garnett will be joined by a few past members of Betty Carter’s band.

Fashion

March sample sales – Racked NY just published a comprehensive guide to New York’s sample sales this month:  http://ny.racked.com/2015/2/26/8113677/sample-sales-nyc-march-2015

Movies

Two Men in Town with Forest Whitaker, Harvey Keitel, Brenda Blethyn, Luis Guzman and Ellen Burstyn
Two Men in Town with Forest Whitaker, Harvey Keitel, Brenda Blethyn, Luis Guzman and Ellen Burstyn

Two Men in Town (opens March 6) – Stars Forest Whitaker as a man recently released from a lengthy prison sentence during which he developed an Islamic faith. He faces opposition in his desire to live an honest life from the county sheriff (played by Harvey Keitel) and his former criminal gang. Also stars Brenda Blethyn, Luis Guzman and Ellen Burstyn.

TV / DVD

Foxcatcher stars Steve Carell and Channing Tatum
Foxcatcher stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo

Foxcatcher (releases to DVD March 3) – Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo star in the well-reviewed (five Oscar nominations) story about the real-life relationship between two Olympic-champion wrestlers and millionaire John du Pont.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (releases on Netflix March 6) – The original comedy series from Netflix is produced by Tina Fey and stars Ellie Kemper as s a woman who, after escaping a cult, comes to work as a socialite’s (30 Rock‘s Jane Krakowski) unlikely nanny.

Archer - Season 5
Archer – Season 5

Archer (Season 5 releases on March 7) – One of the smartest, snappiest and funniest TV comedies running today.  And who doesn’t love Jessica Walter? Season 5 may not be their best but still better than most.