The Nightcap Returns

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The Nightcap Returns

Boston is a great city. We're under an ungodly amount of snow right now but still- a great city. The Nightcap is a celebration of that greatness, a chance for visitors (like those in town for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, for example) and residents alike to hang out with people from across our different neighborhoods and industries. And by "hang out" we mean "challenge to a game of low-stakes Connect Four while drinking and grooving to DJ Mixmaster Mully." 

This year's Nightcap is happening Friday, February 27 at District Hall. Tickets are $10 and proceeds benefit the Rock On Foundation. The Connect Four tournament kicks off at 8 PM (arrive on-time to play as space is limited and there are bragging rights to be had). The top three finishers will receive prizes from awesome local companies like Cuppow. Think you're not that great at Connect Four? Here's how to win

So join us for some friendly competition, music, and general debauchery. We hope to see you there!

RSVP and spread the word on our Facebook page

Read about last year's Nightcap

About the Rock On Foundation 

The Rock On Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports community athletic and artistic initiatives. Since its creation in early 2013, Rock On has operated events such as an NBA Three-Point Contest viewing party, Sneakers and Speakers SXSW music showcase in Austin (TX), Sneakers and Speakers summer benefit concert in Portsmouth (NH), the Mid-Summer Classic high school basketball tournament in Concord (NH), the Okkervil River ACL After Show in Austin (TX), and, most recently the Alt-Star Party at NYC's Bowery Ballroom.

Like The Nightcap, the Rock On Foundation’s unique events inspire and enhance the community with proceeds going to local nonprofit organizations that support community artistic and/or athletic endeavors. To date, Rock On has distributed funds in support of its mission to renovate public basketball courts, provide financial aid for underprivileged youth interested in art and music lessons, assist with the development of new community art programs, provide financial aid for at-risk youth to attend life skills basketball camps, and help fund a Police Activities youth basketball league.

Poster designed by talented human Mark Malazarte 

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CAN'T. WAIT. (The Nightcap is coming!)

If we know each other on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Vine, or maybe even, gasp!, in real life (if you stood next to me in the Pho Viet banh mi line we are automatically BFFs, that's just a fact) you've probably heard mention of The Nightcap. It's an AWESOME event I'm jazzed to be working on with my husband, Ananth Pandian, and our friend Luke Bonner. Luke and his bro Matt Bonner founded the Rock On Foundation, a non-profit that hosts ridiculously cool events that somehow flawlessly combine mega NBA events with indie rock. The money they raise from these shenanigans goes to local academic, athletic, or artists programs to do things like "renovate public basketball courts, provide financial aid for underprivileged youth interested in art and music, assist with the development of new community art programs, help at-risk youth to attend life skills basketball camps, and help fund a Police Activities youth basketball league" (RockOnFoundation.org). 

So what does this have to do with Boston and our creative community? Well in a few weeks the  MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference will bring leaders from across the sports, technology, media, and entertainment industries to Boston. In past years Ananth found that these awesome guys and gals didn't really venture out into our fair city and experience the cool things that go down, or get to know the locals behind said coolness. So this year Rock On is inviting the Sloan attendees and everyone else to Church of Boston on Saturday, March 1st beginning at 7:30 PM for an unofficial Sloan Conference after-party and Boston showcase. We're calling it The Nightcap and there will be something for everyone to geek out on. Seriously: 

  • Play: We kick the night off with a Rajon Rondo-inspired Connect Four Tournament (!!) sponsored by Somerville-based Train Gum (gum helps you concentrate, say the scientists, and board game tournaments are for real so you've gotta bring it). The Tournament will include Local Celebrity Competitors like James DiSabatino, proprietor of Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, funny man, and former contestant on Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race. Sign-up is required (space is limited) and requires an extra $5 donation so get on that. 
  • Laugh: After the Tournament will be performances from comedians Hari Kondabolu (indie comedy super hero credentials include appearances on Conan and Jimmy Kimmel but, more importantly to this stand up fan girl, Marc Maron's WTF podcast and Pete Holme's You Made It Weird), the irreverent Greg Gethard and Aaron Hertzog of the Holding Court Podcast, and local favorite Shaun Bedgood (first saw him at the late great Grandma's Basement, RIP Grandma's). 
  • Dance: The night cap's off (see what I did there?) with music by DJ Vid Kid and “party attack”/DJ/ hip hop band Big Digits.

Oh oh oh, and we're doing a spin on the traditional merch table concept with a pop-up “souvenir shop” featuring affordable (read: under $100) works from local artists including Aaron Dana and Andrew Lorge (who may be laser cutting a mini Connect Four board as a trophy, guess you'll have to come by to find out).

HOTNESS. See you there (better get a ticket before they sell out). 

Can't stop won't stop- we're posting updates on The Nightcap to our official press releaseFacebook event page, and on Twitter with hashtag #NightcapBOS. 

UPDATE 2/20: AMystery Mei” (one of the sibling founders of Mei Mei food truck and restaurant) will also be competing in the Connect Four tourney. G'ah!

Official event poster by the great Mark Malazarte 

Official event poster by the great Mark Malazarte 

Comedy headliner Hari Kondabolu

Music headliners Big Digits 

Dorchester's own Shaun Bedgood

Gregg Gethard on "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?"

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The Tribe (or "What Corky Did Now")

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The Tribe (or "What Corky Did Now")

Vision is a thing outside ourselves. Sometimes we walk right through, only catching a vague scent. Other times we stop, breathe it in, and change right then and there. 

Two years ago I sat in a beautiful sun filled cafe (Voltage) and waited to meet Corky White. We'd never really talked but I thought she would have something to tell me. I'd requested an interview for my little fledgling food blog and she'd generously agreed. I was already beginning to doubt whether the world really needed another blog, but more honestly what I was really scared of was whether it needed my voice, or worse, that I didn't have anything worth saying. But then I met Corky, we shared toast, and through a simple conversation my world opened up. We talked about how far food, and our culture, had come. Corky told me about chance (leaving a bunch of recipes out later got her a book deal) and determination (being told to leave food writing behind if she ever wanted to be taken seriously as an academic).  

Have you ever felt that what you were doing that very second matters? Her voice had helped me find my own. Little tendrils of chance unfurled that day, every one of them leading me somewhere I could have never anticipated. 

Most recently one of those places was a lovely home in Lexington on a snowy winter night. A tribe of us had been gathered by Corky to celebrate the 40th (!!) Anniversary Edition of her book Cooking for Crowds and create/bear witness to "a cooking extravaganza and historic culinary event!" A "troupe of intrepid chefs" would "choose a recipe from the book and make it their own, (to) update or frame in new contexts." It sounds like a children's book and should be: Enduring Leafy Vision Meets Gnarly Inspiration Carrot (working title).  

Our Chief, Corky, climbed up a step stool and reiterated the night's mission: "It's all about the then and now." Her book had been out of print for 35 years when she revisited it just over a year ago and rediscovered a vocabulary that distils just how far we've come: "It mentions 'soy bean curds because we didn't know how to use the word 'tofu.' It was when quiche was exotic! We couldn't say 'coriander'- you had to say 'Chinese parsley," she explained. "The best tool we had back then was a rubber spatula." 

Next the chefs stepped forward to share their reimagined dishes. In order of appearance: 

Rembs Layman of Tupelo made a braised rabbit or hunter stew "winterized" with red wine, brandy, and more tomato. "Was the rabbit foraged from the streets of East Cambridge?" Corky asked. Sadly (or not) the answer was "No." 

Jared Forman of Strip-Ts made crab covered nachos ("because I said when I become a chef I'm going to put that on nachos") and cauliflower soup because Corky had "talked a little smack on it in the book" and "said it wasn't versatile so I got a little mad and made it into soup." 

Susan Regis (of Biba and Upstairs on the Square...) made hummus because "it's a staple and has been around" but updated it with fresh chic peas and mint as well as freshly made pita with buckwheat flour. She also made a heirloom chicory salad with "a modern version of Green Goddess" because "What would Corky do now?" (WWCDN) 

A video is worth (a lot of words). This beauty is by Cat Lau (of the blog Fat Cat Eats). Thank you, lady! 

Mike Fitzhenry of Mike and Patty's (and Hungry Mother and State Park) made a "Vietnamese pâté de campagne" with chicken, chicken liver, pork, ginger, five spice and white wine with a "topping of anything you'd find in a banh mi just chopped up in relish form." The new take on Corky's original pâté receipe was inspired by the time Mike was introduced to Corky, "when she took interest in a hot dog special I served years ago that was done in a banh mi style, which included a pâté." #meta #throwback #mindblown 

Irene Li  and her sister Mei of MeiMei Street Kitchen made Chinese noodles with meat sauce adding the spin of "big, thick, hand pulled chewy noodles" and their own ground pork because they "do whole pigs every week" just for fun. Oh, and "Korean chili paste because we thought it would be nice spicy."  Irene offered anyone who wanted to pull noodles/ "slap themselves in the face" to go ahead and "just let me know because I'm here for you." 

Lucy Valena of Voltage Coffee and Art "wanted to work on the linzer torte" because she "comes from a beverage space and wanted to make something that tastes like a cocktail." So naturally it was a hazelnut, grapefruit, rosemary linzer torte with a spritz of bitters. "So yeah, it should be like 'bam bam bam bam.'" 

“Cookbooks (are) social documents, There’s so much embedded in these receipes. It’s really about a cultural moment. To be able to take the knowledge we have about how times have changed, our awareness of so many other cuisines and so many other ingredients...it really is a historic moment.”
— Darra Goldstein (founding editor of Gastronomica)

Jean Woodward "kept her dessert out on the terrace." A home cook, her "desserts often appear on Corky's table or as pies baked for Community Servings." She made both Corky's traditional Brandy Alexander pie and tartelettes, a good thing because those little babies were richer than North West. 

Brian Sway of Captain Marden's seafood and Cod Squad made a pomegranate-almond Charlotte. "It was like every recipe in the 70s had amaretto. I ditched that for pomegranate and a zing of Serrano chili." 

Colin Davis, a "kitchen mercenary" all over Boston and currently Bergamot "is in a fish sauce mode right now" and made nosi garang, an Indonesian rice dish. "I don't know anything about Indonesia but I do know what I like to put in my rice," he said.  

Alex Crabb of Asta made borscht and attempted to make smoked snail borscht but the snails "didn't really take to the smoke very well." So after adding a few smoked snails he "aggressively smoked some beets because they take smoke...there were a lot of smoked aspects." 

Gus Rancatore of Toscanini's made khulfi. Ice cream. 

Debra Samuels, our generous host, made the Portuguese casserole stew "because coming to Cambridge forty years ago the Cambridge Portuguese cuisine was my first brush with ethnic food...as a nice Jewish girl from Long Island bagels were ethnic to me." 

And Merry Corky White of Chief Corky White of the Cooking Outside the Book Party (and Cooking for Crowds 40th Anniversary Edition and Coffee Life in Japan and Boston University...) channeled her past self channeling her future self and made Yotam Ottolenghi's eggplant chermoula. 

And with that the tribe, having come across forty years of cooking to brave the wilds of Lexington and land fully (hungrily) in the present, ate well into the night.

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Do Something: Bled for Boston

Photo by Chris Padgett

Photo by Chris Padgett

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with local photographer Chris Padgett about his project Bled for Boston. Chris is photographing the people of Boston who got tattoos to memorialize last year's attack on the Marathon, and as you can read in our interview the project grew from taking photos of the tattoos to portraits of the individuals to now a Indiegogo campaign to fund collect the stories and photos in book form with proceeds benefiting the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. 

The interview kicks off "Crowded," a series I'm on with my friends over at Opus Affair to highlight Boston arts-related crowd sourcing campaigns. 

In speaking with Chris, and then again when writing up the post, I was inspired by his practicality and transparency. Here was a guy who had a desire to do something to help, and who ended up creating something bigger than himself. He started small, did his best at every step of the way, and the rest came. As a friend told me the other day, "There's never going to be a perfect time, so if you have a vision just start." Bled for Boston is a sparkly shiny example of that. 

Photo by Chris Padgett

Photo by Chris Padgett

My favorite thing about Bled for Boston is that it's documenting and reflecting on a really hard event on a really human level. A person's story is something I can wrap my brain around and sit with. I wouldn't presume to speak for Boston as a whole but for that I personally thank you, Chris. Much success, man. 

Read more about Bled for Boston and support the Indiegogo campaign (it ends on 2/17 and at the date of this post there's a little over $2,000 to go!) 

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Towards the mountain that looks like hope

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Towards the mountain that looks like hope

Full Moon, Meadow, 2004 by Barbara Bosworth

Full Moon, Meadow, 2004 by Barbara Bosworth

I'm listening to Little May's "Boardwalks" for, oh, the 20th time in a row...

... and entering hibernation again, that end-of-year phase of mind: reflecting on all that's happened and setting an intention for the year ahead. Maybe its just me and my Scorpion nature but I need a deliberate, contemplative space around this time to put things into perspective before the year ahead can shimmer with promise.

How to go about this? By reading. Or baking stuff. Or visiting quiet, cold cities (this year it will be Philly and DC). By going back to Woodstock, NY to hang with my oldest friends (some who also "come home" and some who never left). We'll revisit the places that defined our lives, or at least our teenage years: diners where we ate breakfast after dancing at "all age" clubs that would make us gag today; grocery stores  where we made minimum wage and flirted with the college guys who worked in produce; coffee shops and pizza places where we were bound to run into at least five people we knew at any given time; and indie movie theaters where we kissed boys our own age and felt a part of something bigger. While going home doesn't make me feel fourteen again it does remind me of who I've always been. That's not always easy, but it feels important. 

"Cause' we are not afraid of who we are but of what we have become, And we are not afraid of what's to be when this road has just begun, So we will turn our backs and close the doors for the last time,

Give me back what's mine."

2013 was a tough year for many of us. Crazy shit happened. For all the times I gave freely they were occasions when I wanted to take something back- my time, my work, my city.  The "doing" of life can callus our hands and leave dirt in the scratches (said another way: shit is hard and disappointment not easily forgotten). Life happens and there is darkness and there is light. 

When It gets messy, and It definitely will if we're doing anything worth doing, sometimes all that's left is to strip everything away, plunge into the darkness, and search around for something to grab on to. Something meaningful. We might misstep  or we might find something important. Trying, creating, and feeling are acts of risk we take everyday and when I look back at the year a tangled pile of stuff that could have gone better sits in the shadow of a big, dark, winter moonlit mountain that looks like hope. 

Cheers to you, to being in the dark together, and to the New Year. 

 

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Holiday Hunting

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Holiday Hunting

A very topical edition of Coolhunting! 

Ah boy, the holidays. Let's just acknowledge for a moment that despite the glitter and soft lighting and forced cheer of chain store ads its a pretty heavy time of year. Expectations! Obligations! Family stuff! 

To break up the monotony of blog gift guides let's slip the debit card back into the JFolds and honor one of the truly beautiful notions of the season: delight. 

Local: My lady Shelby aka Lady Gouda introduced me to Eat Boutique and man, its been the gift that keeps on giving. This weekend you can meet the small-batch makers behind Salt Traders Vanilla Sea Salt (my purchase last year- they sold me on the idea of eating vanilla-y butternut squash on the regular), Union Square Donuts, and Cuppow at the Fringe Union/Eat Boutique Holiday Pop Up.  **Extra, extra! It was at last year's Eat Boutique that another friend of the blog, San, debuted The Coffee Trike! He's just been nominated for Zagat's "30 Under 30." What a year- congrats, buddy! 

Casually leave this baby up on your screen at the coffee shop 

Casually leave this baby up on your screen at the coffee shop 

Design: Jessica Jones, a graphic/textile designer, is the creative force behind the blog How About Orange, She shares freebies like fonts and backgrounds in addition to DIY tutorials (if that's your thing) with a peppering of renovation diary posts (wallpaper swoon!). Check out her recent compilation of holiday wallpaper downloads (aww, reindeer). 

Party Tricks: When you rebelliously wear a beautiful sweater to that ugly sweater party you're going to have to redeem yourself somehow. Tuck a little clementine in your purse with a vile of olive oil and bum a match from that handsome stranger and voila! You've got yourself a candle, girl. 

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