Sunday, July 31, 2011

Restaurant Review: LAMBERT'S COVE INN

We've found it at last. A Vineyard restaurant that is beautiful, with a menu based on fresh local ingredients, simply but deliciously and artfully prepared by someone with natural talent, who neither skimped on portions, nor over-priced the menu. The wait staff was friendly and professional, the lighting was lovely, and we could actually hear ourselves talk in the dining room: LAMBERT'S COVE INN & RESTAURANT!

There's a new executive chef-- who had previously been the sous chef--the self-taught, warmly down to earth, 27 year-old Max Eagan who started out cooking with his mother in the kitchen. He has now brought his unique style to his own kitchen and is living the dream, doing what he loves best: traveling the world, absorbing new tastes and ingredients and making them his own. The guy radiates joy-- and so does his cooking.

He has a resident forager who searches the island for whatever's in season. Right now, there are wineberries-- something I've never had before, and Max has recreated something right out of my childhood--jello with whipped cream. But this is a delicate wineberry gelee topped with a silky vanilla panna cotta. It's light and cool, tangy and sweet, and utterly refreshing. I'm starting with dessert because I have a major sweet tooth.

Our main courses were perfect- cod two ways-- poached and brandade, light and fresh, delicately seasoned. A culotte--steak perfectly rare--juicy, grilled and tender; Statler chicken--moist white meat of breast with drumette attached in fragrant herbed pan juices over creamy mashed and the green of broccoli rabe as a bitter accent; braised beef shortrib melting off the bone. Even my caesar salad starter was crisp and delicious with red and green romaine.

I could go on, but you should just go. The driveway is long and mysterious, the inn is a charming shingled cottage full of antiques and candlelight in a forest clearing. Eat in the library if you can-- I think it's the prettiest room.
90 Manaquayak RD
Vineyard Haven


I know I'm on vacation when I find lobster in my hair. And so it begins...Last night my husband Andrew Cohen is flying in from Spain to meet me on the Vineyard. He stops off at Logan for a connecting flight--when suddenly airport security yanks him and his luggage out of line. They hustle him into a back room and immediately start questioning him about the suspicious looking bundle they've picked up on x-ray in his baggage: a rectangular box, a watch below, and wires coiled nearby.

"What is this?" they ask.

"A gift for my wife."

(Yes we have an explosive relationship, but this is ridiculous.)

Huh? They silently eye him. They commence opening.

Inside, they uncover a pair of headphones, an ordinary wristwatch, and a twine-wrapped wooden box filled with--TA DAH: quince jam. It's clear my husband came not to destroy --but to preserve.

"We had a moment of excitement there," said the TSA officer as they slowly re-assembled the package and headed off, hot on the trail of a dangerous looking elderly woman with what might be --a pant load of trouble.


The next adventure was awaiting my husband at home--a delicious seafood dinner prepared by Neil Cohen my bro-in-law and graduate of Cornell's famous Hotel School. The centerpiece of the meal was something so delicious, but which had never crossed our palates before, despite years of culinary escapades the world over. Neil had spotted these in the case at John's Fish Market in Vineyard Haven, and Sandra the owner behind the counter said, "We don't have these very often; they're a pain in the neck to clean."

Bass cheeks.

Neil hesitated; the woman behind him in line had her eye on them too. He bit, brought them home, brushed them with a little lemon juice and butter, salt, pepper, and paprika, then threw them on the charcoal grill. He served them with a little caper butter and white wine sauce, and they were the lightest, freshest, sweetest cheeks I've ever tasted. No kidding. Check out the cheeks.

PS: My husband's the bomb.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I've found myself at odds with the prevailing winds. But as always, I'm blowing my own way. Here's what I thought of:

- Woody Allen's MIDNIGHT IN PARIS--it's slight but funny with a romantic spirit and an appealing performance by Woody's alter ego Owen Wilson as a writer enthralled with Paris in the 20's. By some mysterious twist of fate and time, he meets his glamorous idols-- F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, and an "ultra earnest" Hemingway-- and we enjoy the creme de la creme of cameos: Adrien Brody as a surreally revvedup Dali!! Kathy Bates as a motherly Gertrude Stein! Watch for French first lady Carla Bruni, and the ever-devastating Marion Cotillard! Frothy fun about the illusory romance of the past...

--COMPANY ONE'S production of "1001." Hated it. It is NOT sexy. It is not inventive. It is badly acted, badly directed, badly written, ill-conceived, and inaudible. Framed like a time traveling version of Scheherezade, it strands Gustave Flaubert, Osama Bin Laden, and a raft of other unfortunate souls on a sea of claptrap about the power of narrative-- "change the narrative-- change the world." It plays like one of those pretentious late night conversations in a college dorm room after much marijuana. Maybe that's what was missing.

-- MATT & BEN over at Central Square. Actresses do pointless impersonations of MATT & BEN and how they made it. Matt is annoying, Ben is a lunk, and the GOOD WILL HUNTING script dropped out of nowhere. The 70 minutes it took for this not very funny skit to peter out-- felt like 170. It's been extended through 8/14.

Onscreen, I have also already seen CRAZY STUPID LOVE and SARAH'S KEY -- will review when they officially open in Boston.

That's all for now, folks!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Snap! Crackle! Pop-- that's how the dialogue goes in this fresh, funny, up to the minute romantic comedy starring Justin "hotter than hot right now" Timberlake and Mila Kunis! Trading quips like a modern day Cary Grant and Ros Russell, they light each other's fuses and crack us up! He's the sleek, laid back, genius L.A. art director; she's the wisecracking street smart Noo Yawk head hunter. She signs him up for a job with GQ, they become fast friends-- and soon both sign up for the mutual benefits package: sex with no complications. We know this is not possible and right from the beginning we suspect they know this is not possible. But things start simmering in scene after spicy scene-- lots of naked, funny, blunt, and sweetly sassy sex scenes. Before they know it, they're cooked. Throw into the mix hilarious turns by Patricia Clarkson as Mila's libidinous hippie dippie drop-out mom, and Woody Harrelson as Justin's vivaciously narcissistic gay colleague-- and we're cooked.

Timberlake is a natural-- so much fun to watch: relaxed, charismatic, with perfect comic timing, physicalizing every scene like the gifted dancer/musician he is. Kunis is his perfect partner-- big-eyed and gutsy, parrying his jibes with her sensual, funny irreverence. The summer has finally started for those among us looking for explosions of a different kind, and these two sparkle; with the help of a script that keeps it light but real-- they make magic on a midsummer night's screen.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I found the following so delightfully funny that I had to share. Here it is: Life According To Woody:

"In my next life I want to live my life backwards. You start out dead and get that out of the way. Then you wake up in an old people's home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and a party on your first day. You work for 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous, then you are ready for high school. You then go to primary school, you become a kid, you play. You have no responsibilities, you become a baby until you are born. And then you spend your last 9 months floating in luxurious spa-like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and then Voila! You finish off as an orgasm!"
— Woody Allen

Monday, July 18, 2011


It's the coolest thing in town right now-- and it's only here until July 24! They call themselves:

You may think the performers doth toot their own horns too much. Methinks you would be wrong. I was mesmerized and tickled and left gasping by this astonishing amalgam of acrobatics, juggling, acting, mime-- all grafted onto, or springing out of-- scenarios which accumulate meaning beyond the stunts. Picture this: A man on a couch in his psychiatrist's office; before long he's fraught with tension juggling his memories (and some bowling pins) and we understand the stress of trying to keep all the pins in the air as he balances the vicissitudes of life in a constantly shifting universe. And that's just the beginning. Some of this is just plain physically astonishing.

Presented by Arts Emerson--See it at the Cutler Majestic through July 24.
Bring some smelling salts.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I saw it 4 nights ago, and as I emerged from the theater I heard a sniffling 17 year old girl in Potter garb exclaim through her tears, "My childhood is over and nobody cares." That sums up the fantastically successful Harry Potter series for a generation of fans who came of age along with Harry, Hermione, and Ron as they struggled with their identities, the dark forces within-- but mostly without in the form of Lord Voldemort. In that sense, the last installment is more than a movie; it's a rite of passage for millions who won't care so much if the final chapter is visually murky and dramatically tepid. I also read all the books-- but as an adult who has several rites of passage behind her. And I'm a movie critic, and so will evaluate according to more specific criteria.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 is a dutiful, dark, somewhat disappointing film. The movie held my interest without stirring my soul, or even tugging at my heart. Technically, the 3D version washed over me like a damp cloud-- not the vibrant emotional and physical extravaganza I'd hoped for--perhaps too much? 3 D should have packed more of a wallop considering much of it is spent on a long-awaited battle between the intrepid three hot on the trail of horcruxes and The Dark Lord, not to mention every character left at Hogwarts and their enemies, from Minerva McGonagall and Neville Longbottom, to Bellatrix Lestrange and Draco Malfoy. The film is also the culmination of the romantic longings of our young protagonists, which director David Yates attempts to play off against the mounting danger and tension. The results are underwhelming. A soggy kiss here, an awkward hand holding there.

There are some powerful and remarkable moments-- Snape's gruesome and poignant demise, McGonagall's prim courage just when it was needed, Voldemorte's spectacular disintegration. But Ron's part is so underwritten he practically disappears. Hagrid suddenly comes out of nowhere and we have to recall where we left him off-- which pulls us out of the movie. Ditto for Tonks and Lupin, Mrs. Weasley's standoff with Bellatrix, and the death of one of the Weasley twins. More time needed to be spent bringing these moments to life, rather than ticking them off like a to-do list. The film surely needed more dramatic detail, less spectacle.

And then there's Harry. He's always seemed a bit muted onscreen to me-- and here once again he performs appropriately, but not stirringly. Hermione remains the most expressive of the three actors, but the final chapter is not her moment. I was, however, very glad the movie includes the epilogue-- so lovely in the book and a chance to see our aging heroes launch another generation of witches and wizards into a magical future that someone has yet to imagine.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Halibut with brown and white rice risotto.

I LOVE TO EAT. I love seeking out a new restaurant and settling into a delicious meal with hours to spare over great food, wine, and conversation. I especially love doing this with my dear friend Cindy; our high school friendship was cemented late one night when we were 15 and we polished off a pound of pasta with butter and parmesan which Cindy had prepared to perfection. She remains a great cook; I retain a great appetite. Once a year we seek out the most delectable food we can find in whatever city we meet and sit and savor and analyze (we are both virgos, after all), and eat and eat and eat.
Smoked trout tartlet appetizer.

A few years ago we met up in Brattleboro VT and asked to be directed to the best restaurant in town. Someone suggested this "little place up the street." T.J. BUCKLEY'S. We strolled over in our high heels and soon found ourselves in a deserted neighborhood. No restaurant. The only place that had a door that fronted on the street and looked like a possibility, also looked like an old abandoned dining car. Crack den--or restaurant? We wondered. What the heck. We opened the door -- and it was like a portal to another world. Suddenly we were on the Orient Express! Before us lay a long, narrow, candlelit room--all dark wood, white linen, and crystal. Beyond that awaited one of the most delectable meals we've ever had.

Years go by. And then, two days ago my producer and good friend Marji--to whom I have never mentioned this restaurant-- was taken to this very establishment by friends, and was so struck by it, that she e-mailed me photos. Trust me. She and I never send each other pictures of food. A shock of rocognition and I was sent hurtling back to that intoxicating evening so many years ago.
White cake with chocolate chunks dessert.

Apparently T.J. BUCKLEY'S has been in operation for 27 years under the same chef and owner. The food still tastes as good as it looks. Feast your eyes. Then venture a trip: 132 Elliot Street, Brattleboro VT. (802) 257-4922. You can even get there by train.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


By now, everyone has heard about the terrible murder of a young Wayland HS graduate, and the ex-boyfriend accused of her murder. The pall of this tragedy is suffocating. I cannot escape it for a moment. It was with me from the minute my daughter-- a junior at Wayland High School told me that a classmate-- Lauren Astley-- was missing; it crept into my bones and stayed there. As the awful details emerged, I felt helpless, and shocked, and scared, and frustrated and witheringly sad. How? Why? What could anyone have done? Are some things just not preventable? As I made my way around town yesterday, the story hung in the air. I passed the news trucks at the police station, knowing that former colleagues of mine were outside, telling a terrible story that was now about someone known to us. It was strange to see this very personal human tragedy filtered through impersonal phrases; this time, the "18 year old woman found dead" was someone many in town knew from the time she was a little girl. I heard someone saying they remembered the young man accused of the crime-- as a very sweet third grader.

I know that within the last six weeks Wayland High School had spent time on the subject of violent teen relationships. There were classes, and discussions; my daughter told me and we talked about it. No doubt Lauren and Nate had participated as well. What were they thinking? Did they or anyone have an inkling that such a horrible thing was festering among them? And even if they had, could it have been prevented?

I know that the world is a dangerous place. I know that terrible things happen to good people. I know that no one gets out of here alive. I know that we must stay close to our children and sometimes intrude even when they push us away. But how much to push, and when to give space, and what are the warning signs? I know that people are complicated and mysterious-- even to themselves.
I don't know how those parents will get through this, though they must. My friend Steve knows; he says: talk to our daughters. I know this is right. I know there is love, and faith, and hope in the face of despair. I know there is some consolation in trying to learn and be better. I wish the lessons of living on this earth didn't come at so high a price. I am for the moment unable to do more than write this. My heart is aching for everyone.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Djokovic just beat Nadal to win at Wimbledon! And if there's a professional athlete out there in need of a primer on how to behave--win or lose, just watch the trophy ceremony on the field post match. After playing their hearts out, these world CLASS athletes graciously received their awards, shook hands, and sincerely and publicly expressed respect for their competitors. There was never a moment of braggadocio. No silly victory dances in the end zone. No rabid fan hatred spewing onto the court. Their decorum certainly won them the respect of the crowd and no doubt the millions of viewers watching around the world.

It is clear these sentiments were not merely false show on the spur of the moment, but rather the result of longstanding relationships cultivated on the road among a group of athletes traveling the world together; certainly they do not all like each other, but it's clear they have at least cultivated professional relationships that allow them to behave like gentlemen in the context of the sport. It's clearly "not cool" for them to behave otherwise, and raises the level of the game for everyone, competitor and spectator alike.

It's called "sportsmanship."

Friday, July 1, 2011


The studios have spat out another summer comedy with two big stars: Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in LARRY CROWNE. The stars can't steer this sappy, poorly executed, and ill-conceived hunk of nonsense-- penned by Hanks and Nia (MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING) Vardalos-- away from the fate it deserves: oblivion.

Hanks cheerfully condescends to his character Larry Crowne, proud manager of a Walmart-esque big box store; Hanks plays him like John Wayne-- roaming the shelves, corralling the carts, herding the help--until he's suddenly fired just because he doesn't have a college degree. Divorced and unable to pay his mortgage, Larry enrolls in the local community college where he meets a beautiful sourpuss of a teacher in the form of Julia Roberts. Dripping with cynicism, Roberts "Miss Tainot" displaces her frustration at her bad marriage and sneers at her students daily. And she's supposed to be a GOOD teacher. After all, she teaches Shakespeare and speech-making and thus hates all modern technology like cell phones, computers and their evil spawn: Facebook and Twitter; it doesn't help that her husband (BREAKING BAD'S Bryan Cranston) is addicted to internet porn. She's ripe for the old-fashioned Larry who shows up all smiles in her classroom, and is now driving a scooter to save money on gas.

What happens next boggles the mind. Hanks is immediately and without explanation adopted by a cute coed and her rag tag band of moped-ites who apparently wheel around campus saving square middle-aged men from making bad fashion choices. They decide Larry is "way cooler" than he appears, and proceed to toss Larry's polo shirts, re-decorate his house, and tweak his romantic life. He lets them. We know not who they are-- or why. Nor do we know why Roberts ever married her deadbeat husband in the first place. Or why she keeps a job she hates. Or why she gets drunk enough to attack Hanks in what is supposed to be a giddy funny kiss, but just looks awkward and out of nowhere. And apparently this has happened before-- with a delivery man. She seems psychotic. They both barely exist as characters. Cedric the Entertainer is Hanks "wacky" neighbor with the gloriously talented Taraji P. Henson wasted as his wife of five lines. There's George Takei as an eccentrically cheerful economics prof-- who also hates cell-phones. If his part were omitted, nothing would be missing except some relief from the annoying and cloying Hanks/Roberts coupling in progress.

The film looks dingy, lacks drama, and makes no sense. Let's call it MY BIG BLAND MIDDLE-AGED BEDDING.