Reynard’s Desiree Tuttle Works Pastry Magic

Desiree Tuttle, the pastry sous chef at Reynard in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has a tattoo of a croissant under her left ear. “Croissants are my jam, I love croissants,” she explained the other morning as she sliced one in half. “Most people don’t do this, they just bite right into the side or something. But you can see all these laminations—each one is a layer we put in there by hand.” Indeed, there’s an incredible geometry to it, like the rings on a sequoia. “It’s actually really hard to do, because we use this organic butter that’ll shingle if it doesn’t laminate properly. Then you won’t get those distinct croissant qualities, like the flaky layers.” 

At twenty years old, she might be less precocious were she doing this elsewhere. Namely, anywhere but Andrew Tarlow’s esteemed new farm-to-table restaurant in the Wythe Hotel. But for more reasons than one—e.g. having spent nearly two years in San Francisco doing double-duty at Waterbar and Farallon under James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Emily Luchetti—she seems to be right where she belongs. And in a sense, all this was a long time coming.
 
“When I was ten, we started going to my grandpa’s farm in Maine. We’d go out and pick all this corn, and flats and flats of strawberries. I made jam with my aunt and she made this little label with my name on it and my face and I jarred it and brought it back to California—it was so awesome! It makes such a difference—it tastes so much different when you can see where the food is coming from and you’re doing it yourself.” 
 
Otherwise, her own home in San Diego lacked for inspiration. “My mom doesn’t have a culinary bone in her body.” Afternoons at the babysitter’s house meant an occasional episode of Emeril. “Half the time, I didn’t really understand what was going on, I was just so enthralled with how excited he got about food and how excited people were to see what he was doing with it.” 
 
By eighteen, she’d won a scholarship to the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco through a competition. “You were given an hour and a half and a whole chicken. And I was like, I don’t know how to break down a chicken, I’ve never done that! I was looking up YouTube videos of these Asian women teaching you how to break down a chicken.” She showed up with a borrowed knife (“my mom didn’t believe in having sharp objects in the house”) and a couple of her grandparents’ recipes in mind, and wound up beating out the other nine finalists with an almond-crusted chicken breast, baby sweet carrots, and lemon-and-herb baked red potatoes. “I cooked my chicken to an appropriate temperature without killing people,” she told me through a wry grin. 
 
Nine months later, she was logging hours with Luchetti and executive chef Mark Franz over at Farallon, then skipping down to Waterbar, another project of the Bay Area powerhouse of Franz and Pat Kuleto. But it wasn’t more than a year and a half before Erin Kanagy-Loux, her former instructor in school and the head pastry chef of soon-to-be-open Reynard, gave her a tug. “In San Francisco, I was learning so much and I was so excited to be in the places I was, but I was ready for more responsibility. I was coming up with menu items, but wasn’t in a position to push them because I was only a cook. Erin gave me an opportunity where I’m not only learning how to manage, but I’m in a position to grow creatively.” 
 
At Reynard, Tuttle’s skill and curiosity folds well into Tarlow’s overall philosophy. His full line, from Marlow & Sons to Diner, is meticulous about its use of local ingredients and full animals—its retail wing, Marlow Goods, features a full line of leather goods made from the same body as that steak. 
 
“Erin and I actually just went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and we met with the farmers that we’re getting all our produce from. It hit home as well because it felt like I was getting to be with my family again. It was great to see where we’re getting all this beautiful fruit from and the (Amish) people who are putting in that work.”
 
Beyond the croissants, the pastry menu is stacked from morning ’til close. The vegan chocolate sorbet, made with Mast Bros. Papua New Guinea beans, was the densest thing I’ve ever tasted. “In Papua New Guinea, because of the flash floods, they have to dry the beans over a fire instead of on the ground, which is what gives it that smoky richness.” A menu that changes daily features fennel ice cream, sweet corn pudding cake with salted caramel corn and olive oil ice cream, and chocolate layer cake with mascarpone cream and almond-tea dacquoise. 
 
But as demanding as the day may be, they still won’t serve her a drink after work. “I’m not a partier. I want to go wine tasting for my twenty-first. I’m working on expanding my palate and being able to read notes, on wine and coffee specifically, because you should know every spectrum of the food world, not just your department.” Indeed, next up for Reynard is a curated set of coffee-and-pastry pairings that she’s working on with their barista.  
 
She’s an extremely careful speaker. After I’d ask her a question, she’d wait a good moment or take a bite of croissant first, the way someone much older might, had I asked them something ontological. Her age isn’t something she cares to flaunt. “I don’t think age changes judgment. I think you’re born with a good sense of judgment, and either you have it or you don’t.” 
 
While pleased with the success of her career so far, Tuttle has her sights on the mecca of sweet desserts. 
 
“In five years, I need to be in Paris working for a baker. Christophe Vassuer is an expert French baker I would kill to work under. Just to be there, and know that’s where it all started.” Surely that time will come.

5 Things Not to Do in NYC, According to Simian Mobile Disco

The last run-in I had with Simian Mobile Disco was kind of strange. I was in bed on the early side when my door suddenly burst open and the Klaxons enter along with James Ford (of Simian Mobile Disco) and my roommate Cat (she’ll kill me for saying this, but she was the “white girl” in the band Fannypack). The Klaxons had performed on Dave Letterman that day, and seeing as I was the only one in my apartment that had a TV (and the fact they were just around the corner), they wanted to see themselves in action. This was almost two years ago, and the boys are still insane as ever—in a good way. James had mentioned something about working on a new album, and lo and behold, they promoted it last night at Santos’. Simian Mobile Disco (James Ford and James Shaw) is no stranger to NYC, and could actually work as ambassadors for our lovely city. So pay attention to their five things not to do in the Big Apple.

Don’t stay in your hotel room NYC is probably our favorite city to visit in the world. There is so much to do it’s almost impossible to get bored. There is great food on every corner and just wandering around still feels like being on a film set.

Don’t go to McDonald’s There are hundreds of better options for a good burger. Why not try Walker’s in Tribeca or Diner under the Williamsburg bridge or 5 Leaves in Greenpoint?

Don’t go with a full suitcase Clothes shopping in NYC is second to none. You can find every normal shop in Soho, but if you head towards the Lower East Side/East Village, there are some of the best secondhand shops ever.

Don’t go to Starbucks It was always said that it was impossible to get good coffee in NYC, but times have changed. Why not try La Colombe in Manhattan or Blue Bottle Coffee in Brooklyn?

Don’t get a cab everywhere Although yellow cabs are everywhere, New York has quite a small footprint, so its amazing to walk around. You can always find a hidden cocktail bar/pizza slice/boutique guitar pedal shop, that you never knew existed.

Industry Insiders: Carrie Ellen Phillips & Vanessa von Bismarck

Carrie Ellen Phillips (right) was in need of a German translator for an event she was planning in 1999. As luck would have it, she found Vanessa von Bismarck, a new intern and native Deutschlander, sitting in the office of her public relations firm. After a few months of working together, von Bismarck proposed that they go into PR together. “Vanessa would call and ask me what name I wanted on my business cards,” Phillips says. “I was like, Business cards? I’m not starting a company with you!” Phillips eventually gave in, and Bismarck Phillips Communications & Media was born. Now heavy hitters in the fashion industry, they started with only one client, contemporary artist Jeff Carpenter. Fashion designer Derek Lam came on board shortly after. “We had our first meeting with Derek at his apartment and all he had were sketches,” says Bismarck. Both self-described “strong personalities,” Bismarck and Phillips have been partners for 11 years and counting. “We always joke that we own more things together than we do with her husband or my partner,” says Phillips. “We’re on more leases together, and we have more bank accounts and credit cards.” More on these dynamic personalities after the jump.

On their first impressions of one another: Carrie Ellen Phillips: I’d gone on vacation and I was going to quit when I came back. I told the owner that I needed somebody who spoke German for this big event that we were doing. And I thought: there’s no way she is going to find me someone who speaks German. I came back from vacation and there was this girl sitting in my office. I was immediately like, “Who are you?” And she goes, “I’m Vanessa.” And I was like, “Well, what are you doing here?” And she goes, “I’m you’re intern, I speak German!” And I was like “Great… that’s your office over there.” Vanessa von Bismarck: It was one of those situations where you have cubicles with pretty thin walls. And I heard Carrie go like, “Who is that?” And they’re like its your German-speaking intern! And she’s like, “She’s much too old to be an intern.” And I was like, “I can hear you actually!”

On deciding to go into business together: VB: I wore her down just by harassing her. And by telling her this is a great adventure. You’ve got to be adventurous sometimes in life and I’ve already got a client, so it’s going to be great. I found an office, which was simply a cubicle in a Greek shipping office on the Upper East Side. But it was at a great address, at 645 Fifth Avenue, which is the Olympic Tower East.

On their first clients: VB: Derek Lam was a boyfriend of a friend who lives close to me in Germany. He introduced us and said, “He’s just starting his line and he needs some help, and he wants to do a fashion show during fashion week. Can’t you help out?” And we were like, “Fine, we’ll do it.” It was really great, it was so much fun to see how that brand developed from showing us sketches to showing in this furniture store… CP: His first show was in a furniture store on the corner like Washington and Jane Street. A friend of ours at Vogue said, “Take Polaroids and send them up to me.” She showed Anna, and Anna showed up two days later at the show.

On managing time between their four offices (New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London): CP: We do it very carefully. Vanessa and I both live [in New York] and now we both have children so we can’t pick up the kids and fly them around the world. We’ve now figured out that that doesn’t work. So it’s all about scheduling, and it’s not as haphazard as it used to be. VB: Also, we have to be in Europe twice a year for collections, sometimes three times a year if we have couture shows or four times, depending. Some clients show on completely different schedules that everybody else. We’re quite good at going back and forth. We also have very strong directors in every office. For us it is important not to micromanage the people that we work with. We like to hire people who are very strong in their own right. More than agency animals, they are their own individuals. They’re able to go and represent the agency and talk for our vision. I think there is a clear understanding of where we are trying to take this business as a whole, as opposed to Carrie and me dictating every step of the way.

How BPCM differs from the traditional PR model: CP: We really become partners in business for our clients. Neither of us comes from a fashion background, and I think that’s what sets us apart. We both come from a creative place but also from a business place and for us that’s the most important thing. Strategy. You can’t do PR in a vacuum. You can’t do PR just for PR’s sake. At the end of the day it’s about selling clothes, furthering the business, and being the voice for these companies and we take that very seriously. VB:We’re also trying to help younger designers with introductions to strategic retailers that make sense for them. We find them interesting partners that they can do their business with. We just try to get involved. That’s what keeps us interested as well. We hire really smart people and it would be hard to keep them engaged if their only job was just to send out samples.

On the “PR Girl” stereotype: CP: We try to create a place where we want to work, because we’re there every day. We treat people like adults. We take forever to hire people. The interview process for us is a very long one, because people stay at our agency for a very long time, 6, 7 years. So we really have to like them. VB: Also, we hire people who have a sense of humor. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the entire office crack up over some joke that they’re sharing. I think that’s great and they do that very frequently. It’s also very telling.

Fashion Week likes and dislikes: CP: When we first started doing Fashion Week, Vanessa and I, coming from a non-fashion place, went, “This is a disaster!” The whole process was so disorganized and it seemed so random. We spent a lot of time and a lot of money training our teams, creating tools, creating software that really helped us manage things in a simplified, cohesive way. The first thing we say to everybody is, “This is a party and you’re the hosts, so you need to greet your guests.” If somebody looks lost you need to go help them. If you see a fire starting over here, don’t run away from it and think that somebody else will take care of it. Run toward the fire. We’ve developed a reputation where people enjoy coming to our shows. At the very least one of us is at every show. The prep is always hard but the energy and the teamwork make it feel like being at camp. VB: I’ve never been to camp…but I say the nice thing about Fashion Week is that everybody pulls together and gives everything they have to make it a success. The togetherness of this team, even if they’re on their last leg and they are so exhausted, is nice to watch. I think the most grueling thing is the schedule.

On meshing their European and American mentalities: CP: We’re very compatible. I think it was key that we didn’t start out as friends, but now we’re like sisters. I think we’re a little bit different, we can be a little good cop/bad cop, but we trade off on those roles. VB: We’ve also been incredibly lucky because we spent the first three months sitting together in one cubicle with one computer that had internet access because that was all we could afford at the time. It was a trial by fire to sit so close together. It was really interesting because we both have really strong personalities, and there would be situations where we would both explode, and I would run out of the door, and slam the door and say, “I’ve had enough.” And she would join me for a cigarette and we would make up again. I think that we’ve been really good at picking our battles. We also totally trust each other. Whereas I’m sure Carrie has toyed with the idea of moving to Costa Rica and leaving it all behind, and I’ve done the same thing, we would never actually leave.

Go-to places? CP: We’re at the Crosby Street Hotel all the time.You can come and have a coffee and a real chat with somebody and you don’t feel like you’re being churned out. Lupa is the secret spot for lunch. There’s a Japanese place called Hibino in Brooklyn Heights. And Diner is another one, I love Diner. VB: Uptown, I love The Mark. It belongs to a friend also so it’s kind of fun because I always see my whole Euro crowd up there. I love the little bar on Crosby Street called Ñ. There’s this place where I’m kind of obsessed with on Sullivan called Pepe Rosso. I love Novecento as well. CP: When I meet fashion people for a drink, I take them to 7B. VB: You’ve never taken me there! CP: Sorry you’re too busy up there at The Mark!

Winter Warrior: Greenpoint Coffee House’s Stellar New Menu

A while back, New York magazine profiled the Greenpoint Coffee House with the backhanded compliment that it “remains the best place to get a decent cup of coffee in Greenpoint, but it falls short of being a dining destination.” We’re here to tell you that’s no longer accurate. With a renewed commitment to quality eats, the GPCH has elevated itself to destination dining status, its rebirth the work of one man. Earlier this summer, we profiled local chef Jonathan Meyer (he lives across the street) whose experimentation behind the grill turned t.b.d.‘s beer garden into the perfect getaway on a balmy Brooklyn night. It turns out Meyer is a man of all seasons, transforming GPCH into a cozy hub for winter comfort food to go along with its steaming pots of coffee.

Don’t be fooled by the “Est. 2003” emblazoned on the storefront window. The mahogany wainscoted interior with tin ceilings and majestic oak bar call back to a time when the nearby docks were still teeming with shipbuilders and headlines announced allied advances across the Atlantic. And the food is just as transporting. Meyer, who chopped and braised in the kitchens at Fatty Crab and Diner, took into account the winter weather when renovating the menu. “We aim for developed, robust flavors. We’ll be doing a lot of roasting and braising, and we’ll serve plenty of pasta, beans and polenta,” says Meyer. “We’ll use more brown butter and red wine, and reach for more assertive, warmer spices and herbs.”

Last summer, unbeknownst to him, Meyer was being watched. The managers at GPHC must have read the Nymag profile and decided it was time to legitimize their menu. After seeing the creative flourishes he brought to old standbys like corn on the cob (basting it in apple butter) and banh mi sandwiches (homemade pork sausages) they were convinced he was the man for the job. He was losing his job to the increasing frigidness of Mother Nature, and leapt at the opportunity to impose his vision of humble, recognizable, and affordable food with the best ingredients available on a blank slate kitchen. “We don’t use luxury ingredients like say, rare fish or expensive cuts of meat. Instead, we try to cook attentively and carefully. Everyone who works in this kitchen cooks because they love cooking, and places a premium on producing food they can be proud of,” says Meyer.

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Food they can be proud of includes one of the best new burgers in Brooklyn. Featuring a thick, flavorful natural beef patty from Painted Hills in Oregon, it’s cooked to perfection on a cast iron pan (Meyer’s improv in a grill-less kitchen) and topped with grafton cheddar, and sandwiched between a fluffy bun from Amy’s. The result is extremely satisfying ($11). Another standout winter combatant is Meyer’s crispy buttermilk fried chicken with apple cider Glaze, and a house-made buttermilk biscuit ($14). Spaghetti and meatballs ($13), mac & cheese ($9) and this week, a Rueben sandwich with house-made corned beef is also available. As part of the brunch menu, Meyer offers up among other staples, hearty omlette with caramelized onions, manchego, and house-made chorizo ($11).

To compliment with these proven favorites, Meyer’s constantly-changing menu offers up more unusual fare. Squash, pumpkin and apple soup with brown butter, crème fraiche and nutmeg; chicken liver crostini with Lillet, pickled black currants, and beet greens; sirloin steak with salsa Verde, fries and a watercress and watermelon radish salad. “We don’t follow a particular rubric,” says Meyer. “Our menu is determined by the products available to us each week.” His staff is a rag-tag group of passionate cooks. Meyer and his resident pastry chef Will Griffin met at the memorial service of a mutual ex-girlfriend, who was killed last summer in a bike accident. Meyer asked Will to join him at GPCH, who accepted the offer and relocated to Brooklyn. Ben Flanner runs the rooftop farm in Greenpoint over the summer, and has decided to cook with Meyer until the spring, when he’ll return to farming. And John Petry, the resident butcher is also a sous-chef at the Fatty Crab. The union of their sensibilities and passion for food is what makes the food here so special. You can taste the love.

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Greenpoint Coffee House, 195 Franklin St., Brooklyn, NY, 718-349-6635

Industry Insiders: Alan Linn, Members Only Fellow

Alan Linn created a home for the art world by hand picking every piece inside Norwood, his West Village private members-only club. An artist himself, Linn got his B.A. and M.A. at Royal College of Art in London and started his career working at local bars, but fell in love with New York. Lucky for him, a group of New Yorkers have since fallen in love with Norwood. Once a month, Linn selects random members to sit for dinner and hopes that Norwood’s legacy will be the projects that are inspired there. Everything from movie screenings to band performances occur under Norwood’s roof and spontaneous jam sessions take place regularly. (You might also be surprised to see which rock star comes in to play the piano every now and then). A chat with Linn after the jump.

How did your start in the hospitality business? I got a bar job just to pay bills and carry on being a painter after university. I worked at Andrew Edmonds restaurant in Soho, London, which is a real institution. I also worked at The Groucho Club. In the ‘80s and ‘90s it was a big hangout for artists like Damien Hirst. I worked there for about six months and left to run a members only club called Blacks. Joe Strummer and Kate Winslet would come in there. It was quite wild. I was there for 12 years.

How’d you make it across the pond? I fell in love with a New Yorker. I’m a gay man so I couldn’t come here officially by getting married, so I decided to open a business in New York. Although, it probably seems naïve to think I could just come to New York and open something that would be successful.

Still together? Yes, still together.

Do you have any partners in Norwood? Steve Ruggi is my business partner, and he was a founding member of Blacks. He knew I wanted to do this and his wife is a New Yorker and art critic for Art Forum in London as well. Steve had been a documentary filmmaker and then went into finance. It was a good match all around.

How did the business come together? It was day or two of looking at spaces. It was very important to me to have a house. A house makes people relax, and I love the idea that this is a house for the arts. I wanted to create a place where people actually looked each other in the eye and talked to each other and had a commonality of being creative and being curious. We’re still focused on being interested in people and seeing what we can develop.

How big is the 14th Street space? This house is 9000 square feet and 6 floors.

And you found it on day two of looking? There’s been a lot of serendipity with this project from the start. The outside of the building is landmarked. We preserved the interior, just bringing it to code. It’s one of the best townhouses in America. It has reverse staircases and solid silver handles on the mahogany doors and a marble fireplace.

Who belongs to Norwood? Our demographic is from the ages of 21 to 101. One member is a young writer who comes on his skateboard while others are people at the highest level of their careers. This is a club for New Yorkers. We only just began taking members from outside New York. We wanted to be established as a strong arts club for New York.

Who were the first members? The founding members were cherry picked from many different worlds. It was very important to me to have a good mix. We had the connections. It was two years getting the project together and now we’re two years open. We started with 300 members and are just over a thousand now.

How do you compete with Soho House? It is not about competition. It’s if people like what we offer.

Do you have sister clubs? If you’re a member here, you’re a member of The Ivy and The Groucho Club in London, as well as the Spoke Club in Toronto. Those are our affiliations, and helped in how we branded ourselves.

What was the inspiration for the interior? Simon Costin designed our interiors. We wanted it to seem that when you walk in the door, you’re somewhere else. It was very important to have a fragrance for the club so that if you were away the smell would bring you back. We go to flea markets every weekend looking for things for Norwood.

Plans for 2010? We’ll be opening a new dining room on the second floor. Andrew D’Ambrosi from Top Chef is our chef. We also want to eventually start a foundation to fund various art projects.

Who are your favorite artists? Francis Bacon, Henry Darger and Hiroshi Sugimoto.

What are your go-to places? Diner in Brooklyn, Fatty Crab, Basta Pasta, Boom Boom Room. I love hotel bars like at The Carlyle. Always great service.

NYC Openings: Le P’tit Paris Bistro, The Union Square Lounge, Roman’s

Le P’tit Paris Bistro (Windsor Terrace) – Windsor Terrace gets down with L.P.P. ● The Union Square Lounge (Union Square) – Relaunch of the lounge under Coffee Shop. Good for young’uns not yet out of the habit of partying in basements. ● Roman’s (Fort Greene) – Marlow and Diner peeps bring the white tile and marble to Ft. Greene.

Lessons in Getting Funky: Chromeo’s Dave 1

David Macklovitch makes up half of the Montreal-bred, synth pop duo Chromeo, with his counterpart, P-Thugg (a.k.a. Patrick Gemayel). In the music world, he’s known as Dave 1: A dude who’s simultaneously studying for his PhD at Columbia, and getting read to drop an album next summer as a follow-up to 2007’s majorly-hyped album Fancy Footwork. Chromeo is playing one show this fall on October 16th at Irving Plaza to promote the mix they put together for the !K7 Records’ DJ-KiCKS series. And fortunate for Chromeo fanatics who simply cannot wait around until next summer, eager for some new tunes, the single “Night By Night” will be release through Green Label Sound on Wednesday, September 23rd for free download. We caught up with Dave 1 during mandatory study hours while he took a quick break from the books to talk about chicks and muzak (smooth rock, if you will).

What are you up to today? I’m at Columbia University, studying at the library. I’m working on my dissertation for a PhD in French Literature.

When are you delivering your dissertation? Hopefully in December, but at the latest in May.

How are you enjoying it? Good, good, it’s sort of stressful. Anybody who writes a dissertation goes a little crazy so, I think I’m there. I’m feeling a little bit of that but I gotta do it.

How have you been balancing working on your PhD and your music career? It’s been hard over the last couple of years, but by now I’m used to it and I’ve always done music stuff on the side. It’s gotten a bit harder but I just do one or the other and that’s pretty much it. Now, I’m working on the new Chromeo record and we have the !K7 Records’ DJ-KICKS series release and I’m going to do a lot of touring over the weekend so it’s always both.

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Are you going to give some previews of your new material during the October 16th DJ-KICKS show at Irving Plaza? I think we’re going to do that the Eagles’ “(I Can’t Tell You Why”) cover that we did on the DJ-KICKS album. And then we’re going to do another song, which is on our next record, and it’s probably going to be the first song that we’re leaking or releasing for free in the fall. I guess it’s like a preview of what our next records going to sound like, I mean, it’s not too far off of the last one. Our influences haven’t been changed dramatically. The new stuff we’ve been working on is maybe a little more like late ‘70s than of just ‘80s. There’s a bit of a ‘70s flavor and maybe a classic rock element here and there but it’s still our recognizable sound. It’s hard to talk about it because we haven’t finished but for us it’s mostly about trying new things.

And what about the subjects of your songs? It’s always chicks. That doesn’t change much.

What should we be expecting in terms of sound? This album is a little more like, Kenny Loggins, with the Kenny Loggins Michael Mcdonald thing. We’ve been listening to a lot of rock bands when they had to do the mandatory disco record, you know. Like when the Rolling Stones did Miss You and when KISS did, I Was Made For Loving You. There’s a hidden clumsiness to those records. They’re just classic rock groups that wanted to get funky because they were being pressured to, and the results were often very endearing. I think that has influenced the new stuff we’ve been working on a little bit.

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Have you been pressured to get funkier? No. When we started working on this album, P was really into a smooth rock phase. But really into it. He was going beyond Ken Loggins. His stuff was sounding like, Air Supply or something. It got a little out of control and I was like, “Don’t forget that for most people we’re a dance band so we’ve got to put that element into it.” It’s about balancing it all out.

Have you incorporated any new gadgets? We ended up buying a new keyboard. We’re always kind of refurbishing our synths collection because everything we do is with analog synthesizers and analog drum machines and all this vintage gear so we’re always buying new pieces of equipment that get incorporated into our songs right away.

Stories about songwriting for this album? An interesting thing about this new record is that we load it all, or most of it just on piano or on vocals and then we transform the song into your typical Chromeo song but we’ve been writing them a lot just on the piano. I think that’s a new thing for us.

Are you sick of playing any of the songs from Fancy Footwork? No

You still love all of them? I like them. Every time I play them it just reminds me of how proud I am of what we accomplished on the last record. It’s a modest accomplishment because we didn’t sell that many records but considering where we came from before and how things changed for us, I’m very proud of it. Where do you hang out in New York? I don’t go out that much, but my little brother across the street in Williamsburg, so we hang out in little restaurants in our neighborhood.

Any in particular? I like Diner. I like Marlow & Sons. That Hotel Delmano place is fun, here and there. There’s a place I like in Chinatown called Bacaro. I also like subMercer.

Now, I’m going to give you subjects for songs and you have to give them titles. Okay, that’s easy.

The first scenario is that you accidentally buy your girlfriend a vacuum for her birthday and she finds it offensive how you view her role in the household. That song would be called “Suck It Up”.

The second one is you fall in love within the first two miles of a cab ride with the female driver. That would be called “Love and Cab Fare”.

The third one is you buy a pair of jeans, you think they’re amazing, you walk around the store and all the sales people are telling you how great you ass looks but when you bring them home you realize you bought girls jeans. Yeah, that’s tough. That song would be called “In-jean-ue”.

Beer Garden + Banh Mi = Greenpoint’s Best-Kept Secret

Let’s face it: summer in New York is over. There’s technically a month left, but if it goes by as quickly as the rest of them did, then August will be over by the time you’re done reading this. Looking back on the season that was, the two dominant commodities are obvious – -beer gardens and banh mi. Until now, a harmonious partnership of the two has been non-existent, but an enterprising Brooklyn-based chef has changed all that, and it’s too bad you’re only just now finding out about it.

A few months ago, t.b.d., a clandestine bar on a Greenpoint side street, converted an adjacent lot into a very summery beer garden replete with picnic tables, rustic patio furniture sets, and a gravelly base, all surrounded by a protective barbed wire. But what separates this outdoor area from the others is the corner grill, run by young chef Jon Meyer, formerly a line cook at the Fatty Crab and Diner. Meyer mans the ship from behind a standard barbeque, and at first glance he looks like Dad on a Sunday afternoon, grilling up burgers for the kiddies. But the menu indicates something else entirely.

Meyer grew up in Northern California where sustainable agriculture is more of a norm, and he takes great pride in the quality of his ingredients. He plucks them from a nearby farmer’s market and gets fresh organics from Rooftop Farms. Regulars on the menu include Meyer’s take on the banh mi, which includes egg, Sriracha, and kaffir aioli. Another is his eggplant sandwich, garnished with pickled red onions, harrisa, smoked feta, and mint. When I came last weekend, Meyer whipped up tangy smoked chicken wings, corn on the cob with smoked apple butter, and an octopus salad with charred scallions and romesco. All of it was utterly delicious. Other staples include mac n’ cheese and a BLT. “We just cook whatever we want, so long as it’s delicious, and we can pull it off.” He can, and he does.

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Photos by Mary Meyer.

Pop Quiz: Chairlift’s Aaron Pfenning

The Brooklyn-based via University of Colorado band Chairlift (recently featured in BlackBook) has been getting some buzz lately, not the least of it due to their song “Bruises,” which was featured in an upbeat iPod nano commercial last year (lyric: “I tried to do handstands for you”). But this ditty is somewhat of an outlier on the electro-pop band’s complex album Does You Inspire You, which starts off right away with dreamy, haunting soundscapes, easing you in to a moody journey. The remastered album is being re-released on Columbia Records tomorrow, with an additional two new songs “Dixie Gypsy” and “Le Flying Saucer.” This week they’ll also be hitting the road with Peter Bjorn and John, swinging through New York on April 29 and 30. But first, guitarist and vocalist Aaron Pfenning explains to us about his astrological sign and his great affinity for Star Wars and the restaurant Diner in our quixotic (and now hungry) Pop Quiz.

When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up? A Pisces. But I’m a Scorpio, so my dreams were unrealistic.

Do you have any tattoos? No, but if Tauba Auerbach (the artist) would design a tattoo for me, I would get it.

Are you superstitious? Not at all. If anything I’m super-repetitious. I’ll listen to the same song on repeat for hours. Prime example: “Seven” by Fever Ray.

First album you bought? It was either the Mission: Impossible soundtrack or The Wallflowers’ Bringing Down the Horse.

If you could have any super power, what would you choose? I would choose to be able to access Wikipedia with my mind.

What restaurant would you eat at every day if you could? Diner, in Brooklyn. And I do eat there every day when we are not on tour. They have the freshest ingredients and genius chefs and beautiful waitstaff.

How many times a day on average do you think about sex? I’m a Scorpio, so, all the time. Probably 37 times a day.

Have you ever been arrested? I would answer but if Canada reads this, they will not let me cross the border. How about I’ll tell you in person over brunch at Diner?

What’s your guilty pleasure? Anything Star Wars and anything ice cream. Star Wars ice cream?

Do you have a favorite bar in New York? Monday nights at Union Pool. Monday is country night, and it’s usually empty, so you can have a few drinks and actually talk at a reasonable volume with friends while listening to Hank Williams.

Ever been star struck? I misread this as “Ever been in Star Wars?” … I wish. No, I never get star struck anymore, but the last time I remember was when I met John Elway 13 years ago.

When you get good news, who’s the first person you tell it to? I usually just Twitter the good news, so I suppose I tell everyone.

What do you always watch if it’s on TV? Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

What do you normally sleep in? I have no normal sleepwear. One night it may be a bathing suit, another night may be a parka, another may be nothing but socks. The list is endless, depending upon what trouble I find myself in.

Where’s the craziest place you’ve had sex? Nothing too crazy, actually. But the craziest place I wish I’ve had sex would be on the Death Star during the final battle in Return of the Jedi.

What’s on your computer wallpaper? A photo of northern California during a freak dust storm. It looks like the moon!

If you could be any literary character, who would you be? Howard Roark from Atlas Shrugged.

Where do you really want to be right now? Not in Florida (where I am). I’d like to rewind 10 hours ago: hot tub on the rooftop of hotel in New Orleans.

What’s the first job you ever had? Editing video footage for a local news station in Colorado.

Favorite Muppets/Sesame Street character? It’s hard to beat Kermit. Especially when Kermit and Steve Martin team up. Those scenes kill me.

What’s the best advice you ever got? A friend advised me to read Ayn Rand. I owe a lot to that friend and to Ayn.