11.13.2019
Brad Mehldau
Finding Gabriel

When I heard a few weeks ago that Brad Mehldau released a new album of original choral/synth/piano material earlier this year, I was pissed that I missed it. Then I heard it and I'm no longer pissed.

12.06.2016
Brad Mehldau
Elegiac Cycle

Just try to convince me that Brad Mehldau isn't the greatest piano player alive. Do it. I dare you. Wanna fight? Let's fight.

06.08.2015
Brad Mehldau
Highway Rider

I'm ready to place Highway Rider in the pantheon of Greatest Albums Ever Made That Nobody Other Than Steve Seems To Feel Are The Greatest Albums Ever Made. It's beautiful. It's flawless. It's unlike any record—jazz or otherwise—I've ever heard, without being esoteric or difficult. It's so good you guys. It should be on every list. And I might be the only one who cares.

04.24.2014
Brad Mehldau
Places

Highway Rider doesn't seem to have become some new classic since it came out a few years back. All the reviews I've seen of it in passing from real jazz folks seem to be a little cool on it. I don't know what their problem is, I think it's an absolutely beautiful peace of music, easily the my favorite contemporary jazz recording, and very close to my favorite of any era. That crowd seems to be more taken by his Art of the Trio series, a traditionally molded mix of standards and oddballs, while the young hip kids like myself are quick to point to something like Largo where he throws down Nirvana and Radiohead covers. Cuz that's so cool. But for my money, I'll take Mehldau original compositions. His playing is so unique and luscious; he plays these chords that I swear I've never heard before, with as much complexity in his left hand as his right. I feel like his original compositions make far more use of his unique voice, whereas his covers sometimes drag into boring old bop. This Places album, while nowhere near the majesty of Highway Rider, is nonetheless a lovely collection of originals. It's great. This guy, I really think, would be a legend if he was around back when guys like him could become legends.

03.25.2010
Brad Mehldau
Highway Rider

Hah ahaha ah ha ah ahah ahahaha! So much for not wanting the album to end. Turns out it's actually a double album and I was listening to disc two that entire time. Unbelievable. So now that I know how it ends, maybe I should go back and listen to the entire first half of it. My whole listening experience is ruined! Jon Brion would be pissed!

03.25.2010
Brad Mehldau
Highway Rider

This is the second album I've bought this year solely because Jon Brion has somehow been involved (the first one being an entirely disappointing and insignificant recording from Christina Courtin, who I'm sure is a lovely and well-meaning gal, but otherwise leaves me with absolutely nothing else to say). Brion is only (big fingerquotes on "only") credited as the producer, with no instrumental or writing credits at all, which is surprising considering usually he'll play an instrument (or five) on anything he produces. So obviously this isn't about Brion, this is about Mehldau. And let me say this about Mehldau: This kind of music usually bores the crap out of me on record. In person, sure, I can enjoy pleasant piano jazz, but recordings of it usually do nothing for me. The music on this record, however, is downright beautiful. I have absolutely zero insight about the modern jazz scene, and only the most basic historical knowledge, so I can't make any qualified statements about what Mehldau is doing or who he's channeling, or what makes this better or even different than the hundreds of other jazz pianists out there. But what I can tell is that there is a sort of spirit, a soul to this record that I just want to wrap myself in. It sounds like an April morning smells. Like coasting downhill feels. I'm still on my first listen, and scared that it might end.


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09.03.2020 - by Steve
Gong chaBrooklyn
Bubble tea

This is the year I've gone fully headlong into icy milk-based drinks. Horchata, Thai iced tea, bubble teas of all sorts. If it's got milk and sugar and ice cubes, sign me the heck up. I even made homemade horchata, and it was great! I just didn't take a picture of it, so I'm making this post technically about Gong cha bubble tea.

That's all I really have to say though. Bye.

08.29.2020 - by Steve
Caleta 111Queens
Ceviche, chaufa, tamale

Caleta 111 is a little sliver of a Peruvian ceviche place in a little nothing Queens neighborhood underneath the elevated J tracks, and I had one of the best damn meals in a long time there.

I don't know anything about ceviche, and I honestly was a little tepid about going there to begin with. But it had been on our radar for a long time, and we happened to be close to this weird corner of Queens for the first time in a long time, so what the heck. But yeah. It was incredible, top to bottom. The ceviche, the chaufa (that Peruvian/Chinese fried rice, kinda like Chimborazo's, but sorry Chimborazo, this place has you beat), and even the pork tamale was better than most pork tamales I've ever had. Honestly the liquid that the ceviche sits in was so good I had to pick up the bowl and slurp up the last of it like I was a kid who just finished my Lucky Charms.

I'd say it's in the top 5 meals I've eaten here. Maybe top 3. Top 2? (Sorry, can't get it up to 1... those Olmsted scallops aren't likely to step aside for anybody.)

06.15.2020 - by Steve
HanoiBrooklyn
Noodle salad with pork

In the last couple weeks of this Covid lockdown, I've been enjoying the basic pleasure of eating outside. Not on a restaurant patio (they're still closed, and I've never liked those anyway), not in my backyard (lol) or fire escape (hmm...), but mostly just on random park benches. The street I live on is a big wide parkway that connects Prospect Park all the way down to Coney Island, and is lined with an ungodly number of park benches. Just one after another for about 5 miles. When I first moved here, it was November, so the benches were generally empty, and I almost had to laugh at the sight of them. Like, who's idea was it to invest how many thousands of dollars into what was probably literally 1000 park benches? But when winter ended and the weather improved, I'll be damned if there weren't people all over those benches. Old folks that can't walk too far from home, delivery guys taking a break, teenagers doing teenager things, entire multi-generation families just hanging out on the benches. And now while you can't sit and eat in a restaurant, it's become a minor pleasure to get some food to go from some place near the parkway, take it to a bench, and enjoy a half hour of eating in peace!

That's mostly what I wanted to express in this food post. Which is funny because the bench I ate my Hanoi noodle salad at wasn't even a parkway bench, it was a bench actually up at Prospect Park. But Hanoi is located on kind of the south edge of Park Slope, not just a couple blocks from the park, and I wanted some Vietnamese and I wanted to sit on a bench, so it all came together. I can't imagine you care that much about how the food was. But it was good. A little too sweet as I got to the end of it, but I'd go back.

06.13.2020 - by Steve
SansimianBrooklyn
Jerk chicken

About a mile east of me is Flatbush Avenue, one of the main avenues that spans the entire length of Brooklyn. The point east of here is basically the halfway point of Flatbush, and from this point until about 3/4 point south of here, you will find all the Caribbean food you could ever dream of. Jamaican, Trinidadian, Haitian, Guyanese, Bahamian, Grenadan. All of it.

Sansimian is one of them. Jamaican. They have jerk chicken and oxtail and rice and peas and cabbage and curry and roti and saltfish and everything else. All of it.

Anyway it's real good and like 10 bucks for a big pile of explosively flavored chicken and rice and cabbage. Then you can bike down to Marine Park to sit on a bench and eat it and then go take a nature walk in a salt marsh and get destroyed by mosquitoes except those mosquitoes will combust upon biting you because of the jerk rub and oxtail gravy that's flowing through your system.

06.07.2020 - by Steve
Tung TungBrooklyn
Char siu on rice

There's a lot of roast pork and roast duck on rice in this town. You can get it anywhere you see a duck hanging in the window. It's almost always 5 dollars, and it's almost always good. It's sometimes great. This pork from Tung Tung, way down in Bensonhurst, was great. Some of the best I've had. I picked it up to take home, snuck one bite on the sidewalk, and ended up eating every bite of it just standing by a fire hydrant trying not to get grease on my mask.

05.20.2020 - by Steve
Randazzo PizzaBrooklyn
Chorizo jalapeno pizza

It's possible you've read my precedent on this website that all New York pizza is equally good. More or less, exceptions to the rule, all that. As such, I'm not going around posting about all the pizza I eat on here, just trust me that it's generally good.

Randazzo is one of those good places, a regular ol slice joint within walking distance of my place. But the other day they had a new slice on offer: jalapeno, onion, and chorizo. I wasn't necessarily in the mood for this combination, but it looked fresh out of the oven and I was curious. My friends, am I ever glad I did, because this slice was good enough to break my rule and post about a slice of pizza. It's extremely probable that chorizo and jalapeno and onion slices can be found at random slice joints all over town, but on this one afternoon, for one sweet moment, during the global confusion of a mass viral pandemic, Randazzo PIzza was the best pizza place in town.