Laura Mvula
Pink Noise

Laura Mvula finally came back after like 6 years with a new album, and it's inexplicably an 80s-inspired, wet-drum dance party, which is better than that flippant description would lead you to imagine, but still nothing I really need in my rotation.

Laura Mvula
The Dreaming Room

A couple years ago, Laura Mvula released this really beautiful album of carefully and lovingly orchestrated art pop, that was mostly too polite and adult to be given much consideration by anyone outside of NPR and the quiet few of us who love adult and polite lovingly orchestrated art pop. So now here's her follow up, and it's mostly a continuation of that vein, but with a notable addition of some electronic 'stuff,' and bigger booming Florence drums here and there. The songs are generally good, but it all has a slight feeling that somebody at the record company wanted to try a little bit harder to score a big hit this time around. Luckily, they didn't try that hard. So it's still a lovely polite adult art pop record. Just not as flawless as the last one.

Laura Mvula
Sing to the Moon

Upon further review, I like this record a whole lot. It's still tough to get really attached to it, but purely as a display of craft and structure and humanity, it's hugely refreshing; a 180 away from all the derivative 80s inspired synth pop that has been consuming music in the last year, yet still completely modern.

Laura Mvula
Sing to the Moon

This sounds like an exact 3-part mix of Amy Winehouse, Janelle Monae, and Julia Holter, and I want so, so badly to love it. It has so much going for it, especially for a major label album. Patience. Restraint. Sophisticated arrangements. But unfortunately, because it sounds like an exact combination of Amy Winehouse, Janelle Monae, and Julia Holter, it is very hard to love. But I like it.

Gelato & Co.Queens

I had some dark cherry gelato from this extraordinarily ordinary gelato shop in Astoria, and it was real good. Like real real good. I don't think I've ever picked dark cherry as an ice cream (gelato, custard, froyo, whatever!) flavor in the past, but I think I'm fully on board. Real good.

(I followed this gelato up with some bolognese from a place across the street, which was totally fine but I think I'll skip that whole write up for now.)

Moonlight GrillQueens
Lamb chops

I got these here lambchops from the Moonlight Grill—a deceptively generic looking Middle-Eastern-Mediterranean counter-service grill in the middle of the heavily Bangladeshi-Pakastani-Tibetan-Nepalese part of the neighborhood—and they were an absolute treat. And with two added bonuses:

One, the whole plate, even in a take-out tray, looked as lusciously cared-for as every photo on this place's menu. I watched the owner plate every dish behind the counter, and this was a man who cared about his craft. The cook at the grill, meanwhile, didn't seem to be afforded the same amount of patience. But grilled a damn fine lamb chop nonetheless.

And two, in a move possibly inspired by the neighborhood's heavily Latin contingent a few blocks down, or maybe because it's one of the world's great condiments, they were served with a side of chimichurri. These lambchops were just about perfect to begin with, but the combination of chimichurri and Middle Eastern seasoning is a damn revelation.

I realize most of these Queens-heavy posts are for places you (who even are you?) will probably never visit. But whatever. Moonlight Grill! Don't leave Manhattan to get it or anything, but if you live in Jackson Heights or Sunnyside, shit!

Fat Cat FlatbreadQueens
Pork flatbread

A magical secret of Flushing (and other heavily Chinese neighborhoods around here) is the food courts. Like yeah, walk around outside and you'll see nothing but Chinese restaurant after Chinese restaurant, but occasionally in a mall or behind a grocery store or, in this case, a disarmingly generic looking storefront called "New York Food Court," you'll find dozens more, all of which specialize in one or two dishes, and almost all of which are as good or better than anything you'll get at a restaurant.

Anyway I've got a low key goal of trying to hit every place here at the New York Food Court. I had some fine dumplings and some good noodles, but the one I want to mention is Fat Cat Flatbread. I guess this particular type of Chinese flatbread—not to be confused with the sort of American gastro-pub nonsesnse-pizza—is a thing in some regions, but I hadn't heard of it before. Sort of like a scallion pancake I guess, but not exactly. It's basically two big ol' (but very thin) pieces of crispy fried bread which have a sort of spread of pork in between them. Maybe it's all fried together? I'm not totally sure. The interesting thing is that the pork really is almost totally in paste-form, you're not getting chunks or anything. I guess now that I typed that out it sounds gross, but I swear it's not. It's super savory and deeply pleasurable. And it comes in a little bag that's cute as shit and almost impossible not to post on Instagram.