Lechonera La Isla

Walking around the streets of Harlem while trying to find the Puerto Rican restaurant, we had no idea that we had walked by it (probably because we were expecting it to be a little bigger.) On the display in the front of the restaurant were freshly made blood sausages, amarillitos and lechón, put there to open the appetites of people passing by. The size of the place and the fact that there weren’t any tables inside made us reconsider our decision to eat there until our Puerto Rican friend, Michelle encouraged us to go inside.
As we took our places at the bar stools, Michelle ordered for us. The plates of lechón with arroz con gandulez, which is pork with special baked yellow rice, were placed in front of us. What’s special about Puerto Rican food is that it is compromised of ordinary ingredients cooked with extraordinary sauces, making amazing dishes. This applies for every dish aside from the blood sausage, which was what I had. The blood sausage is usually filled with pork meat mixed with herbs, onions, spices and blood, and all of these are put inside the intestines of a pig.
As a Turk who does not even eat Kokoreç in her home country, I was not happy when I heard about the intestines! A 30 cm piece of the whole sausage was cut for the five of us and I took a small piece of it. Apparently we were supposed to suck the insides first and then eat the skin.
The sausage was hot and did not have a very strong smell, thank God. The skin of the sausage wasn’t very thick. The insides did not have a pretty look. The color of the blood did not help with my urge to throw the fork away. My first thoughts taking a bite off the sausage were on its salty and meaty taste. Before it reached my taste buds, I actually enjoyed it. I have to be honest, I’m not the one for exotic new tastes, and bloody intestines aren’t really for me. But overall, I could not stop myself from eating the pork and the yellow rice with beans. I especially loved how they had many different sauces. The service was fast and fulfilling. The cashier (also the waiter) even suggested some dishes for us. The music made us move in our seats and we literally got up from our stools and danced to the lively Puerto Rican beat.
I loved the little restaurant, the service, the atmosphere, and the music. Five people ate for 35$, so it was not expensive at all.
I would strongly suggest Lechonera La Isla for those who love new tastes!
By Alara Ozsan

Photos by: Alara Ozsan

Photo by: WiseGeek


The Book of Mormon

I can honestly say it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever experienced. From the comedic minds of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone comes The Book of Mormon, the tale of a pair of good Mormon boys from Salt Lake City, Utah, traveling to a village in Uganda for their two year mission. The musical draws from the same style of comedy in South Park, a clear testament to the writers’ unique manner. Despite the generally offensive style of the Broadway show, I laughed until I cried.

Perhaps the show relies too much on the audience’s knowledge of the LDS church, but for a girl from Salt Lake City, it wasn’t hard to follow at all. Even from the very opening lines- “Hello, my name is Elder Price and I am here to share with you the most amazing book!”- the show had me giggling. As the plot grew more and more ridiculous, it also got funnier and funnier. One scene depicts Elder Price dreaming of going to hell, in which two enormous coffee cups dance around him and force him to drink Starbucks. Maybe without the knowledge that Mormons aren’t allowed to drink coffee, the joke would not have made sense, but the ridiculousness of the situation would still be apparent. The humor is clever, sharp, and very dirty.

The scene-stealer of the show was definitely the African warlord, General Butt-F***ing-Naked. He rules over the village and threatens to bring harm to the young girls within the community and every time he was onstage I found myself laughing. At one point, the ambitious Elder Price reaches out to him, trying to convince him to convert to Mormonism during the musical number “I Believe,” and the ensuing tense reaction from the character was unforgettable. The scene I found the funniest is that in which the villagers put on a play depicting the life of Joseph Smith for the Mormon church leaders sent to review the mission. The musical act was so offensive I felt I had to omit it from my overview of the play to a Mormon friend.

The three lead characters were also well-played. Elder Price and Elder Cunningham’s relationship onstage is a funny but relatable one. Just like when people speak of The Office, everyone can say they know a Dwight Schrute, everyone who watches the play knows an Arnold Cunningham (Cale Krise). The comedy acting on the part of Nic Rouleau, Elder Kevin Price, was brilliant. Despite his never breaking character, there is something in his mannerisms that points out ‘isn’t this funny and ridiculous?’ to everyone in the crowd, and the audience is forced to laugh and agree with him because the whole play is funny and ridiculous. I couldn’t tell whether he or his character was more charming. The village leader’s daughter Nabalungi (Nikki James) is understandable because of her naivete and innocence. She sings a ballad about her vision of Salt Lake City (Sal Tlay Ka Siti), where, as one writer explains, the comedy lies in the “chasm between her perception of Salt Lake City and what we all know to be true of the real place.”

As Jon Stewart put it when he spoke of the play on The Daily Show, the show is “so good it makes me angry. If aliens come thousands of years from now and this is the record of our time on Earth, I will be absolutely satisfied with that.” I think that statement about sums it up. To anybody who encounters Mormon people on a daily basis or really anybody who likes to laugh, the show is a godsend.

By Allyson Larcom

Oxbridge Goes to Once

When a small budget indie film becomes an eight time Tony Award-winning musical, it really has to be something incredible. The Broadway show Once defied all odds to be just that–it went from being a movie unknown to the vast majority of the world to a smash broadway hit, and each NYCE student got the chance to see this unbelievable show with their major classes at the matinees on either July 8th or July 15th.

Once tells the story of an unnamed Irish street musician (Steve Kazee) who is struggling both emotionally and monetarily, and the Czech woman (Cristin Milioti), also unnamed, who inspires him to pick himself up off the ground and start living and believing in his music again. The show explored the harsh realities of lost love and the struggles and triumphs of life through the raw emotions displayed by each member of the cast in their every action.

Although there were some noticeable differences from the movie, which is inevitable when switching from film to theater, the gripping music and acting in Once were absolutely carried through into the show. The witty dialogue and heartfelt songs caused the audience to laugh out loud and be brought to tears over and over during the hour and fifty minute show. The mood changes from hysterically funny to somber and serious were all skillfully done and displayed the acting prowess of every member of the incredible cast. Their performances used song and dance as a means to show the pain, heartache, and prevailing dreams of each character in a way that is rarely executed as effectively as it was in the show.

Once is a truly spectacular musical that earned every bit of recognition that it received. It was heartbreaking yet hopeful, and relatable in a way that is rarely seen because of its powerful portrayals of the harsh and beautiful realities of life. Once took its audience through an emotional roller coaster that virtually no one wanted to end. It’s no mystery why it took home eight Tony Awards earlier this year.

Journalism class with “Once” star, Steve Kazee

By Sara Evall

Eataly: “Life is too Short not to Eat Well”

If food was great literature, then Eataly must be Shakespearean. Located in a spacious 50,000 square feet complex on 5th Avenue near Madison Square Park, Eataly has something to satisfy every tastebud. There are twelve dining venues surrounded by a large market (where books, houseware, cheeses, meats and olive oils can be found) in this Italian food kingdom. This Italian delicacy center is not the first in the world. In fact, Oscar Farinetti, one of the co-founders of the New York City location opened the first Eataly in Turin, Italy in 2007. Three years later, he became partners with Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich of Batali-Bastianich (B&B) Hospitality Group and opened Eataly in New York City.

Mr. Farinetti’s aim is to make high‐quality Italian foods available to everyone, at fair prices and in an environment where people can shop, eat and learn. He has certainly succeeded in attaining his goals and Eataly could not be better represented.

By Léa Lotey-Goodman

Photography credits: Léa Lotey-Goodman and Alexis Munier

Smooth Sounds at Madison Square Park

The atmosphere at Madison Square Park was casual as families and friends gathered on the grass to listen to the soothing sounds of Nellie McKay’s voice Wednesday, July 11th. The performer’s musical style fell somewhere between that of Regina Spektor and Norah Jones, with a voice like Sara Barielles. Belting out jazzy and bluesy tunes such as “The Dog Song,” McKay was captivating. Despite the outdoor setting, her performances could have suited a smoky bar in the jazz age or an island resort, depending on the act.

A former stand-up comedienne, McKay’s sense of humor was clear in her manner on stage. She commented that she was using her “Tom Waits” voice as she mimicked his gravelly tones. Her wit and playfulness allowed the audience to relax and enjoy her performance that much more. Her bassist played a particularly nice solo during one of her acts. Overall, the performance was a solid A.

McKay was just one performer in a free concert series held at Madison Square park. Other performers include Bettye LaVette and Jeff “Tain” Watts. Mad. Sq. Music been running since 2009 and brings music to the masses. The entertainment truly is for everyone, with audience members of young children and senior citizens.

By Allyson Larcom

“Milk” Review

Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Penn, tells the story of gay rights activist and first openly homosexual California officeholder Harvey Milk. From his early days as a photographer, the movie chronicles his journey to office and how his lifestyle and sexuality played a role in his political life. The film does a good job of showing the interplay between the personal and political aspects of his life and exactly how they interact.

The movie as a whole gets a solid A for the truth of the story it tells. It had moments where it dragged and I found myself checking the time and, as it’s a true story, I don’t think I give anything away by saying that the end is disheartening and disappointing. The movie gives light to an issue that we still face in our generation, which makes it a powerful one to watch. Gay rights is arguably the next hurdle we must face in the fight for civil rights.

James Franco and Sean Penn both do a fantastic job in their roles in the film. The acting is good and the cinematography, transitioning back and forth from real clips of seventies footage to the movie, blends well. The movie is certainly worth the eight Academy Award nominations it received. It deserved every one of them.

By Allyson Larcom

“Page One: Inside the New York Times” Review

Print journalism is a dying art. The New York Times knows it. Since the birth of the Internet, newspapers have been filing bankruptcy and going out of business daily. In order to adapt to the modern news world, the Times has had to change their entire business model. Following the company since Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, Page One shows the history of the Gray Lady, and how she has become more modern: using Twitter, speaking at South by Southwest (a media conference in Texas), and using new technological innovations to their advantage.

The movie follows several different stories in order to get the full scoop on the paper: the Iraq war, the announcement and release of the iPad, the NBC Universal-Comcast merger, and WikiLeaks, to name a few. It also follows a day in the life of the Times, how the paper is made on such a tight timeframe, and all the staff meetings and arguments that make it possible for the Times to be on your doorstep bright and early every morning.

Directed by Andrew Rossi, the film premiered at Sundance in 2011. The documentary is well-made and interesting to watch throughout. A lot of that is due to the presence of the ever-controversial David Carr, who adds character and humor to a movie that would otherwise be a bit dry.

Movie Grade: B

By Ethan Weinstein