Author Archives: bcarter3

Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent — Now in Theatres

Until a couple of days ago, I didn’t know this film existed, but it’s become my Must See movie of the month.  Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, produced by Anthony Bourdain, is an overdue look at the fascinating Jeremiah Tower.

Here’s the film’s official synopsis:

Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent explores the remarkable life of Jeremiah Tower, one of the most controversial and influential figures in the history of American gastronomy. Tower began his career at the renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley in 1972, becoming a pioneering figure in the emerging California cuisine movement. After leaving Chez Panisse, due in part to a famously contentious relationship with founder Alice Waters, Tower went on to launch his own legendary Stars Restaurant in San Francisco. Stars was an overnight sensation and soon became one of America’s top-grossing U.S. restaurants. After several years, Tower mysteriously walked away from Stars and then disappeared from the scene for nearly two decades, only to resurface in the most unlikely of places: New York City’s fabled but troubled Tavern on the Green. There, he launched a journey of self-discovery familiar to anyone who has ever imagined themselves to be an artist. Featuring interviews by Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Ruth Reichl and Martha Stewart, this delicious documentary tells the story of the rise and fall of America’s first celebrity chef, whose brash personality and culinary genius has made him a living legend.”

And here’s a recent interview with Jeremiah Tower and Anthony Bourdain, discussing the documentary on CBS This Morning:

Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, fresh from the Tribeca Film Festival, is now playing at a single theatre in Los Angeles and a single theatre in New York, but will expand to another 11 cities on Friday, 28 April 2017, with many more venues to follow.


For a great look at the early days of Chez Panisse, you can’t do better than this excerpt from David Kamp’s book, The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation which Vanity Fair published under the title “Cooking up a Storm”. Kamp combines a thoroughly researched look at the origins of Chez Panisse with gossipy stories about the drug-drenched environment and the complex sexual entanglements of the key players.

Feud: Bette and Joan, the first of Ryan Murphy’s accounts of famous “complicated” relationships, has just ended its season. He’s tackling the story of Prince Charles and Lady Diana next. If he’s at a loss for a third season, he should consider the story behind the decades-long debate about whether Tower or Alice Waters was most responsible for the rise of Chez Panisse to the first ranks of American restaurants.

American Gods — First Reviews

The first reviews for American Gods are in, and they’re raves. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 94%. and this review from Deadline Hollywood is pretty typical:

The first eight episodes of American Gods will play on Starz, beginning on 30 April 2017.


With my 80s obsession, you don’t really think I’d pass up a chance to post the great 80s song that’s referenced in that review, do you?

As if.

Here’s “Under The Milky Way”, by The Church:

Suspect I might have posted the review simply as an excuse to boost a great 80s song?

Maybe.

Artomatic 2017, and the Joy of Discovery

Artomatic, the free-floating exhibition space that pops up in Washington every two or three years, has made a welcome return. This year, more than 600 artists and performers are taking part in the seven-week-long show.

Artomatic is non-juried. With no gatekeepers to evaluate quality, pretty much anything goes.* As a result, you can find yourself wading thought some truly horrendous amateur art. But every once in a while, you’ll stumble over something beautiful and inspired. The joy of unexpectedly finding something that gives you pleasure is what makes Artomatic so much fun.

The location of Artomatic changes with each show, moving to a different building “in transition”. This year, it fills seven floors of a currently unoccupied office building in Crystal City. I was able to tour four of the floors before museum fatigue kicked in, and I plan to return to see the rest of this year’s show before it ends on 6 May 2017.

Here are some of the things that caught my eye during yesterday’s visit:

 


There’s more to Artomatic than the visual arts. The event also features music, video, film, poetry, performance art, dance parties, and the occasional magician.

Here’s today’s events schedule:


*I’ve never seen the artists’ agreement documents, so I don’t know whether there are restrictions on content. The show stipulates that it’s designed for adults, but there were plenty of families with children touring the exhibition yesterday.

2017 Cookery Project — Steak and Cottage Fries

Steak and Cottage Fries

Steak and Cottage Fries

Because I was mentally and physically exhausted from doing my taxes last night—All those numbers to key into the H&R Block screens! All those NEXT buttons to click!—I felt like staying in and cooking instead of going out today, so I reviewed what I had on hand, and came up with this simple lunch.

I took some top round, seared it, and then braised it in beef stock and red wine, something I could probably do with my eyes closed. (I decided to keep them open, though, because there was no one around to impress with my daring, kitchen skills, and savoir faire, so there was no point in risking major injury. I still have bad memories, and a few second degree burn scars, from the last time I tried it….)

My basic rule for the 2017 Cookery Project is that each dish must include a new-to-me technique or ingredient. This time, that requirement was met when I used a method for cooking potatoes that I learned from a recipe called Chef John’s Cottage Fries from allrecipes.com. I’ll let Chef John himself describe it:

I like it spicy, so I went a bit overboard with the cayenne pepper. I’ll reduce it next time.

I crumbled some bleu cheese over the beef, and garnished the dish with parsley, because why not?

Another success in the kitchen!

“The More You Look at This Picture, the More Anxious It Becomes.”

This Lovecraftian image showed up everywhere today, without any attribution that I’ve been able to locate. It was posted to Reddit under the above title,* and, Reddit being Reddit, the posting has already acquired enough analysis, speculation, and snarky commentary to keep you occupied all day.

The creepiness is in the details, and you really have to magnify the image to catch much of the weirdness. If you want to delve deeper, download the image and enbiggen it with your photo manager app, unless, of course, your computer has one of those magical “Enhance” keys that seem to exist only on TV police procedurals.


*Warning: When visiting an art gallery, don’t stare at the paintings. According to the Redditor who posted the image, it makes them nervous.