Ex-Lower East Sider, guitar guru and yes, former Lo-Down contributor (see JP’s Food Adventures), JP Bowersock has produced a new album, “Big Songs for Small Spaces,” with the band zerobridge. They’ll be celebrating the album release with a show at Mercury Lounge tonight at 8:30pm. Lead singer, Din, still lives in the neighborhood so be sure to stop by and give them some local love.
The Mercury Lounge concert notes read: It’s not often you hear about a band like NYC based zerobridge. Lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Din and drummer Mohsin are brothers who trace their lineage back to the disputed territory/conflict zone of Kashmir, nestled within the Himalayan region of South Asia. Bassist Greg Eckelman, (Orange 9mm, The Phoids) and lead guitarist JP Bowersock (the Strokes, Julian Casablancas & Ryan Adams) round out the four piece rock n’ roll band whose sound draws their influences from the likes of the Replacements, Some Girls era Rolling Stones, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Oasis, Lou Reed and New Order. With 3 releases behind them, zerobridge are set to self-release their new LP entitled Big Songs for Small Spaces, produced by the guru himself, JP Bowersock.
I’ve heard them live and trust me, they can fill any size space with their fantastic big sound. You can see the video for their new single, “Ten Years,” from the the new album here.
Photo by Cynthia Lamb.
Mussels. They’re inexpensive, easy to cook, kind of celebratory, widely available in the neighborhood and delicious. Yet many never think of making them at home. Why not?
Here’s one of my favorite recipes, given to me by an American ex-pat in Amsterdam years ago. It’s a “can’t miss:” mussels cooked in wine with sautéed leeks, finished with a drizzle of heavy cream. The cooking liquid is served in a bowl with the shellfish, to be sopped up with bread. (I recommend a baguette from Pain d’Avignon in the Essex Street Market). Elegant simplicity. Round things out with a generous salad and you have a quick one pot meal you could easily serve to guests. Best of all: even an inefficient cook could put this together in under half an hour.
Photo by Cynthia Lamb.
I’ve heard complaints that our neighborhood isn’t so good when it comes to shopping. I may not buy much “stuff,” but I spend a sizable chunk of change on food, wine and other kitchen-related items. I think our neighborhood rules for this kind of shopping — maybe not so much if your ideal is Martha Stewart or the Williams-Sonoma catalog. But those with a more eclectic style can do very well scavenging for bargain cooking utensils, serving vessels and hard to find ingredients. Allow me to share some of my favorite places to shop with you.
A number of my favorite kitchen items come from Chinese restaurant supply stores on Grand Street, Canal Street and the Bowery. Like my go to knife, a Chinese cleaver, available in many of these shops for well under $20. I like the #1 and #4 sizes. They may look scary, but in over two decades, I’ve never hurt myself with one. I have nicked myself with my much more expensive chef’s knife, so it stays in the drawer until I absolutely need it for tricky knife work.
Photo by Cynthia Lamb.
Buzzwords are funny things, especially when it comes to restaurants. Some places comically tout “authenticity,” others present an expensive mishmash of ingredients as “fusion“, while still others bandy about words like “original,” “modern” or “seasonal”. “Tapas” has come to mean miniscule portions paired with overpriced drinks, regardless of whether the food bears any resemblance to something one might find in Spain.
How did that happen? I stay away from places that associate themselves with buzzwords, as I’m convinced they mean I’ll be paying a premium for the privilege of taking part in somebody’s concept. I have nothing against concept dining, I‘m simply not interested in paying extra for it. My favorite places are more pedestrian: hole-in-the-wall joints where I can get a great meal without an obligatory side of pretense. I go out to eat, not to affirm my social status.
This kind of thinking brings me back to places like Pho Grand (277c Grand Street, between Eldridge and Forsyth) again and again.
Luis Meat Market, Essex Street Market. Photos by Cynthia Lamb.
Our neighborhood has traditionally been the home of immigrants, and continues to be so today. I was surprised when a few friends, people who were raised outside of this country, expressed a dislike for chicken, America’s most popular menu item. It struck me as strange to hear repeatedly that the our chicken has a “weird” texture and flavor compared to the chicken they grew up eating. I’ve traveled quite a bit, and noticed that the chicken in some places seemed more delicious, but I’d chalked that up to the excitement of eating in a foreign country. Perhaps it was time to rethink chicken at home? I’d gotten away from eating it often, because I found other options more interesting.
JP on the prowl in Chinatown. Photos by Cynthia Lamb.
Editor’s note: Today we’re excited to introduce a new columnist. JP Bowersock is a Lower East Side resident, a professional musician and a genius in the kitchen. In “JP’s Food Adventures,” he’ll be introducing us to some of his favorite neighborhood food finds — including places to buy amazing cooking ingredients and great, affordable restaurants off the beaten path. Here’s his first column…
Six years ago my wife and I were facing a move from our beloved East Village apartment. She asked if I’d be willing to consider any other neighborhoods, as we were looking to buy in a skyrocketing market. Chinatown was my answer. She was thinking LES, and Seward Park Cooperative proved a perfect compromise for us. I get to spend a fair bit of my free time food shopping and eating out in Chinatown, and she gets the benefit of this without having to live next door to a fish market (which still doesn’t seem like a terrible idea to me).
Our neighborhood boasts an embarrassment of riches when it comes to superb (often very inexpensive) Chinese food. An adventurous eater can find great eats for pocket change. As a musician whose income varies wildly, I like knowing about such places; if I haven‘t had a fat gig or royalty check in a while a tasty, handmade $5 meal holds some appeal. A preference for hole in the wall joints over posh ones seals the deal (sometimes to my wife’s chagrin). Eldridge Street is a goldmine for such places, in the form of dumpling and noodle shops. Some sport lines out the door during peak hours, as word has gotten out among food nerds.
Let’s take a virtual walk down Eldridge St, and I’ll point out some favorites: