Annaliese Griffin

Articles by

Annaliese Griffin

Annaliese Griffin is the editor-in-chief of Brooklyn Based. She has written about food, film, television and, of course, Brooklyn for The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Daily News and more, and was a professor of blogging at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She tries not to let her obsession with procedural dramas get in the way of her work.

05/17/17 3:03pm

At Sycamore’s 8th Annual Crawfish Boil on Saturday, you can dig into the traditional Louisiana fixins and benefit the Billion Oyster Project at the same time. Photo: Sycamore

In no way do I want to discourage you from any of the fantastic events we’ve selected for this Ideal Week. And certainly, the most astounding drama of our time is unfolding in front of our eyes in the White House in ways pretty much no one could have ever imagined. However, I do feel like I need to point out just how much excellent television is on offer right now. Like, really an insane amount of good stuff. Are you watching The Americans? How great is this new season of Master of None and how mesmerizing/terrifying is The Handmaid’s Tale?  I haven’t even had the time to watch I Love Dick or the new season Bosch on Amazon. And man, after the burn of Arrested Development 2.0 I’m trying not to get my heart set on the new Twin Peaks being the show I’ve dreamed of watching since I binged the original one August weekend in 1998, but boy am I looking forward to it.

In news that is happening here in the physical world and not on a screen or in the Black Lodge,  Littlefield is in the last day of its Kickstarter to raise money for its new space, which includes brand-new bar and restaurant, Parklife, that will be a part of our Total Gowanus Immersion this summer. They’re so close to their goal, help them reach it before midnight on Thursday. One of our favorite local institutions, the Brooklyn Historical Society, opens a new space in DUMBO this week. The first show is called Shifting Perspectives, and it’s a group show of photography depicting the Brooklyn waterfront, opening May 19 (though there is a private event at the gallery on Friday evening). Admission is free all weekend long. 

Go forth, or hang on the couch with some popcorn and cherry pie, either way, have an ideal week! (more…)

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04/27/17 1:11pm

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, right? With climate change, random 90-degree days in April, freak snow storms in March, I don’t know what that means for horticulture, but I can tell you that the month ahead is looking pretty solid for plain old culture, particularly as public art season in New York City springs into full bloom. Here are 10 movies, exhibits and events to check out this month. Admittedly, it’s a little book-heavy, but you know, reading, it’s awesome.

10. Twin Peaks, Showtime, May 21

It is happening again. I’m curious to know if this new iteration of Twin Peaks will win any new fans, or if the same folks who were baking cherry pies and brewing pots of coffee for viewing parties back in the early 90s are the primary audience here. The series was so far ahead of its time when it debuted in 1990, but if you take the first season and re-pace it in your mind into a now-typical 10- or 12-episode arc, it’s a perfect fit. Television has finally caught up to David Lynch, let’s see what he does with it. (more…)

04/25/17 2:24pm

Yesterday marked four years since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh claimed the lives of 1,132 garment industry workers when the factory building they were in collapsed. Brands like Zara, Walmart, Joe Fresh and The Children’s Place were all found to have been producing clothing at Rana Plaza.

Fashion Revolution Week, April 24-30 this year, is a movement to demand clearer supply chains and safer working conditions, and asking fashion brands for a greater commitment to cleaning up the production of clothing, which is one of the biggest industrial polluters in the global economy.

The truth is that there is enough clothing on the planet to keep us all warm and dry well into the future. Not participating in fast fashion by curbing your shopping habit, or hitting vintage and thrift stores is the best way to reduce waste. You can also shop with these ethical fashion companies that provide safe working conditions and living wages for workers.

Another tactic is to shop local.

New York City was once the capital of the garment industry, and it was also one of the centers of the workers rights movement, which was galvanized, in part, by the horrible tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The women, largely Jewish and Italian immigrants, working at Triangle were sewing a fast-fashion forerunner–the fitted, puffy-sleeved tops that were essential to the Gibson Girl look. Different century, same story as Rana Plaza.

Today, the fashion industry is still alive and well in New York City, but most off-the-rack pieces are constructed thousands of miles away in Vietnam, China and India. There are still a handful of garment factories in the city though, and increasingly young, quality-obsessed companies that sell primarily online or in pop-ups are producing New York-made garments that you can feel good about buying and wearing. As a rule they’re more expensive than your average Gap tee, but of course they are. They pay your neighbors a living wage. Here are a few of our favorites. (more…)

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04/24/17 11:29am

Just five minutes to smoothie magic with Greenblender.

Last week the internet enjoyed a rare moment of harmony as it gathered together to mock Juicero, the high tech juice company that raised $120 million to hawk $400, wifi-enabled juicers. A meticulously reported Bloomberg story and accompanying video demonstrated that despite its boasts of aircraft-grade aluminum and four tons of pressing power, it was possible to squeeze Juicero juice packs–which you cannot buy without first purchasing the juicer, called The Press–by hand, to pretty much the same effect.

A tech writer friend and I have had an ongoing joke about Juicero since this gushing New York Times profile of founder Doug Evans came out last year, the punchline being, if you’re a certain type of white guy (read: unconventional, but rich, with a charming if slightly sociopathic personality), you can get Silicon Valley dollars like you have an ATM card, no matter how dumb your idea is.

But here’s the rub–I like drinking juice or smoothies for breakfast, and most juicers really are a pain to clean and I get annoyed by my own lack of creativity when it comes to my smoothie game. Surely there must be some kind of juice interruption that actually delivers, without having to purchase a $400 lie.

There is and the company started in Brooklyn, of course.

Greenblender, to use a tired, but useful formulation, is Blue Apron for smoothies. For $49 a week (less if you commit to several months at a time) you get recipes and ingredients for five different smoothies, two servings of each. You just pop them in a blender and voila, breakfast in about five minutes. Technically these are smoothies–no pulp or fiber is removed, it’s all blended all in there, but they’re much more fruit and vegetable foward than your standard smoothie, which is really a milkshake in disguise. Think of Greenblender concoctions more like super juice. You could not squeeze these ingredients with your bare hands and get a drink from your efforts. (more…)

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04/04/17 9:30am

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A few weeks ago a weird thing happened. I had powered my laptop all the way down and when I went to log in I couldn’t. It kept telling me my password was wrong. I was reasonably certain I was remembering and typing it correctly, but no matter how many times I tried I couldn’t get in. So, I logged in as a guest and started the Apple ID reset process and went on with my day. Except a few hours later my phone let me know through the double authentication process that someone was trying to log in to my account in Singapore. Yeah.

Then I read this NYMag story about how a hacker group that calls itself the Turkish Crime Family has demanded $100,000 in iTunes credits from Apple, threatening to randomly wipe the iPhones of users whose iCloud passwords and credentials have been compromised. I know, if this was the plot of an episode of the brief and preposterous run of CSI: Cyber, it would be laughed out of the writers room. The Turkish Crime Family? $100,000? In iTunes credits?

The truth is though, life is usually weirder than the last gasp of a once-great procedural empire that can’t even make it work with the dream team of Patricia Arquette, Ted Danson and James Vanderbeek. Maybe some criminals are just simple folks who can steal iCloud passwords, but lack the piracy skills to steal things one buys on iTunes. Or maybe iTunes credit is like catnip on the deep web. We may never know.

In any case, I got my personal cyber security reasonably locked down in the course of a few hours, mostly because I just can’t even cope with the idea of how annoying and time consuming it would be to fix. Here are my suggestions for a sort of online security spring cleaning. (more…)

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04/02/17 8:03pm

This week I want to talk about just one thing: Taxes. They’re due two weeks from Tuesday on April 18 (here’s the story behind the unusual date). As self-employed person, writing out a big check to the government is never my favorite moment in April, but this year I’m particularly dreading it.

In general, I’m pro tax. I say that as someone who has to save for and write five-figure checks each year. I really feel those dollars, way more than back in my W-2 days. But I’m happy to pay for libraries and public transportation and grants for the arts, even for art I don’t like or understand. I want teachers to get paid more and I want health care for all. Hell, I want six months of leave for new parents and all the social “entitlements.” I want to live in a society that believes that government can and should create a solid structure in which humans flourish.

(more…)

03/30/17 10:41am

April, you’re a month of continual torment. We’re all so ready to be outside–to celebrate Prospect Park’s 150th birthday, to stroll through the otherworldly beauty of the cherry blossoms in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during the Sakura Matsuri Festival, and let down our hair and break out our tambourines for Earth Day, which takes on a more serious and urgent mission this year, all hippie jokes aside.

Yet, it is not consistently warm enough to leave the house without a jacket (and a backup scarf), those outside tables that look so appealing at 4pm turn frigid the second the sun goes down, and outdoor movies, concerts and yoga are still a couple months away. Here’s a mix of can’t-miss culture that you can venture outside to enjoy, or simply watch, read or appreciate from the warm comfort of your home. Pro-tip: If you’re hoping to see LCD Soundsystem at Brooklyn Steel, tickets go on sale at noon, Thursday, March 30.

10. 2017, Louis C.K., on Netflix April 4

Louis C.K.: you either love him or…is there anyone left who doesn’t love Louis C.K.? It seems like he’s pretty much conquered the world with his particular brand of self-effacing dude humor. On April 4 his new comedy special 2017 debuts on Netflix, which seems to have stolen the comedy special game from HBO. According to Netflix this time around he’ll be having a fireside chat with America about “religion, eternal love, giving dogs drugs, email fights, teachers and more.”


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9. Prospect Park celebrates 150 years of being green

Brooklyn’s beloved park turns 150 this year and this temperate weather we’ve been having arrives just in time for a full weekend of celebrations including the first roller disco of the season on Friday night at LeFrak Center, an exhibition baseball game following 1860 rules, a Greenmarket grill out and various historical walking, and running, tours of the park. Check out the whole list of events here. (more…)

03/27/17 11:29am
Last spring Matzo Project matzo was in three stores and sold out in a matter of hours. Now they're all over the country, including at Eataly. Photo: Matzo Project

Last spring Matzo Project matzo was in three stores and sold out in a matter of hours. Now they’re all over the country, including at Eataly. Photo: Matzo Project

Passover this year begins on the evening of Monday, April 10 with seder. That’s two weeks away, and whether you’re an Orthodox traditionalist seeking out shmurah matzo for your Passover plate, or looking for a delicious Kosher-but-not-fully-Kosher-for-Passover alternative, you’re in luck. There are better matzo options than the supermarket stuff out there for you.

Brought to the forefront by young Jewish chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and Michael Solomonov, who wrote the wonderful cookbook Zahav, Jewish cuisine is thriving right now, from dishes like brisket and matzo ball soup that are Eastern European in origin, to the vegetable and spice-heavy cuisine of Israel. Last spring Dan Barber, chef and local food advocate, had a long essay in The New York Times about what goes into making shmurah matzo. Around the same time The Matzo Project released a tiny batch of their delicious matzo to three stores in Brooklyn and Manhattan. It sold out within hours.

New York has seen Mile End Deli, Black Seed Bagel, Frankel’s and Seed and Mill Halvah and Tahini flourish over the past few years. Since their trial run for last Passover, The Matzo Project has blossomed into a full-blown business that has matzo and matzo chips on the shelves of stores in nearly two dozen states, and available for sale online, in plain (yes, there’s salt), everything and cinnamon and sugar. “We have scaled up and we’re ready to take on the pita chip.” says Matzo Project co-founder Ashley Albert.

Staying Kosher, but not Kosher-for-Passover (which would exclude salt and other flavorings), The Matzo Project joins Vermatzah, a Vermont-based matzo company that refers to their product as “eco-kosher” in a market that seems to have been underserved, judging from the enthusiastic reception.

It’s not just that we’ve reached such a fever pitch with food that we’re fascinated by the minutiae of even an item that traditionally has been most remarkable for its blandness. Matzo has the ability to simultaneously function as a delicious cracker at your cocktail party and as a symbol of Jewish history and culinary heritage. Try to achieve that with a box of Triscuits. (more…)

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03/26/17 9:06pm

Apologies for the interruption in #actiontrumpshate service. I’ll admit it, I just could not read another article about politics or look at another photo of Trump in the Oval Office for a few weeks. It made me feel tired and sad and that’s ridiculous because ultimately, I have a home, and I can afford to heat it and feed my family and now we even get to keep our ACA coverage. Letting a tyrant as petty as Trump stop me from sitting on the couch and pontificating to you all on my Apple product is as first world a problem as they come.

Last week we got the best news we’ve had since the election. The Republicans blew it. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. The Freedom Caucus, Paul Ryan, Tom Price all those guys wasted mountains of political capital and still couldn’t come up with a bill that was appealing to much of anyone, that would actually serve the American people or that they could pass.

You know what the best thing about was? They did it to themselves, with a little help from us, the people. Republicans in the House were reluctant to sign on to a piece of legislation that so many constituents had so vocally opposed. Calling, sending postcards, showing up a town meetings, sending faxes, we’re doing it. And this should give us great hope.

What now? We have to keep the pressure on our elected officials, keep standing up and speaking out, and start looking toward the 2018 midterm elections. But most of all, we need to take this opportunity not to gloat, but to re-energize. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been experiencing late winter, Trump-related ennui. There’s a lot to dig into right now, some of it even genuinely progressive, not just playing defense.

Bernie Sanders told a crowd of 1000 at town hall meeting in Vermont this weekend that he has plans to introduce a single-payer bill in the Senate. You get to call your senators’ offices and either voice your support, or your support for strengthening the ACA–by lowering the Medicare eligibility age, by importing drugs from Canada (Sanders and a few other Democratic Senators, including New Jersey dream boat, Cory Booker introduced a bill in February proposing just that). Sanders isn’t likely to succeed with a single payer system at this point, but by pushing to the left measures like lowering the Medicare age and finding ways to resist big pharma and fine tuning the ACA may become more possible.

And yes, the Republicans failed because the ultra-conservative Tea Party types thought the terrible bill that would have stripped tens of millions of people of health insurance and important protections against corporate greed and healthcare chaos was too liberal. There are plenty of moderate Republicans in the House though, who are very relieved that they didn’t have to vote because they know how angry it would have made their constituents, and that’s thanks to the level of political engagement that is the new normal. Let’s keep it rolling, this week and forever. (more…)

03/20/17 1:13pm
The noodles are perfect, the broth is delicious and the ramen bowls are handmade in Greenpoint. Photo: @Takumenlic via Instagram

The noodles are perfect, the broth is delicious and the ramen bowls are handmade in Greenpoint. Photo: @Takumenlic via Instagram

A few weeks ago a friend who lives in Long Island City invited me to come over, mentioning that if we got hungry we could pop around the corner from her house to a Japanese izakaya where we could grab some snacks and sake. I’ll admit it, I was dubious. Long Island City has lots of choices for Asian food, but none that I’ve loved. There’s mediocre Thai in spades, just like the rest of New York City. Mu Ramen has delicious food, but the wait is always a problem and frankly, they’re just not that friendly. Hibino I do like, but I wouldn’t call it an izakaya.

What I was shocked to find, tucked behind the 108th Precinct, less than a block from the Vernon-Jackson stop on the 7 train was a perfect neighborhood restaurant, a place you can indeed pop into for some snacks a beer, but that also feels fancy enough for a special night out. (more…)

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