Tyrion Finally Gets Battle Recognition (Possible Spoilers)

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I have to admit, I’m one of those assholes who complains when the video adaptation of a book doesn’t follow the book closely enough. I know I know, the adaptation is its own work and should be judged independently, but it’s hard to do once you’ve already decided how it should be. For this reason, my biggest (and I don’t have many) complaints about the first season of Game of Thrones was the way the y depicted the first battle between the Lannisters and the North. As some of you may know, Tyrion and his hill people did an excellent job in the battle, thus somewhat ruining Tywin’s plan of funneling the opposing army behind the vanguard and into a trap. The episode disheartened me however when Tyrion was, somewhat ridiculously, knocked out by his own people, only to wake up at the end of the battle. Ridiculous because the audience missed out on a great battle. And ridiculous because if someone as small as Tyrion collapsed to the ground during a charged, they’d be trampled to death.

I know that the show has a budget that’s already considered high compared to any other television show and they needed to cut the battle for both time and financial reasons. But, for me at least, that just raised the question of why couldn’t they cut out some of the ridiculous sextoposition scenes, and the added non-book scenes (most of which didn’t provide much substance to the overall show) to make room for the battle.

The show pulled a complete 180 for this second season, in what might have been one of the biggest Westerosi battles in the books so far. They did just what I hoped they would do. They spent the previous few episodes cutting out unnecessary scenes and, almost perfectly I might add, devoted an entire episode to the Battle of Blackwater.

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They started us off with painful tension both sides face as they feel the battle draw nearer and nearer. Everyone at King’s Landing slowly prepare and go on with their lives, trying to forget the imminent horror they’re about to face; then the bells sound, signaling the first sightings of the oncoming storm. We then cut to the Onion Knight’s flagship as Davos partakes in some small talk with his son; and then, the drums. When they called for the drums to start, I felt a small chill run down my spine. I turned to brother to see his reaction, but he was too enthralled to say anything. We later both wondered about how frightening it must be to stand on the wall and hear the drums, yet not see the enemy. This all slowly builds up until finally, the water itself is set ablaze with wildfire.

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But, the true pleasure of this episode was the rise in leadership of the one man who epitomizes the saying that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog, the Imp, the Half-Man, Tyrion Lannister emerged as the leader he was meant to be. The Hound, petrified by the firestorm on the battlefield flees from the fight, not from cowardice so much as from the phobia he developed thanks to his loving brother. Joffrey “the king” spent the entire previous day boasting of how he would cut a red smile into Stannis’ face, yet the first sign of stress and he runs to hide behind his mother’s skirt. We saw him for the sniveling piece of shit that he was once when he attacked Arya by the river and cried and begged for mercy when he had his ass handed to him. We saw it now again, except his cowardice was on stage for all to see now. But Tyrion, the most unlikely of leaders, the man who no one sees as a true threat, instilled the will to fight back into his men. To top it all off, he takes the front line with his troops and leads them back into battle, taking some of the enemy with him as he went. That was the magic of this episode, it showed us that he is not just the smart and witty guy, who might be better at planning than at execution, he’s the best of the Lannisters, as a person and as a leader. The Tyrion of the show is finally becomes the Tyrion of the books. Sure some of the battle itself was different, the arrival of Tywin and the Tyrells was a bit underscored, and the battle ended unnaturally quickly considering how many soldiers they showed us, but Tyrion’s emergence as a leader, and his subsequent forshadowed loss as of leadership by the arrival of his father, was what made this battle so brilliant. And, it was the one place where season one failed. Here’s to more moments of brilliance in the future, which we’ll probably get next week when Daenerys visits the House of Undying.

Heaven is Made of Cheese and Tomato Sauce

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A few years ago I had to move from Long Island to Brooklyn. I didn’t much care one way or another about the move as I really just dwell in my room most of the time anyway. The one shining moment about the move though was when I realized how close I would be to the most magical place in the city, Di Fara Pizza. In the middle of Midwood, a predominantly orthodox jewish area of brooklyn, is a little pizzeria that, for all intents and purpose, has no reason to be there. And yet, even with its quasi-misplaced location, it’s probably the most successful storefront in the area and that’s for only one reason, the food. It looks like nothing on the outside (pic above) and inside isn’t much better (recently renovated though, not that one who hasn’t been there before could tell) but, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you, this is the best slice of pizza you’ll ever come across.

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The place is run by a little old man in his mid 70’s, Dom DeMarco, and his kids. His kids help with taking orders and preparing the ingredients for the next pie, but Dom is the only one who ever makes anything, slowly, by hand, fresh per order. At first it will seem like he mechanically moves around the workstation preparing one pie after another, and to some extent that’s true. But as you watch him, and if you don’t get there early you’ll be watching for a while, he almost looks like he’s dancing. There’s no real precision to his workmanship, everything is by feel. How do you spread the sauce on? Dump some on and spread until it looks good. Is the pie in the oven done? Let’s shove a hand inside to check. Watching him work is really half the pleasure of the entire experience, well not half, but a good portion. As you stand there, the smell of the cooking pies fills you with hunger and anticipation until finally your turn arrives, and what meets you is simply perfection.

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The process. It takes a long, long time to get your food. The first reason is that he’s an old man, so cut him some slack. The second is the amount of ingredients and steps that go into each pie. He starts with some designer dough that’s special ordered and spreads across his work table. Once it’s in a nice, thin circle, he pours on the tomato sauce. This sauce is magnificent, made from plum tomatoes. They’re never completely crushed into the sauce so every now and then a slice comes out with a little chunk of tomato. Make sure to fight tooth and nail for this slice because those pieces of tomato or mouthwateringly unbelievable. Next, he drops on two different cheeses, buffalo mozzarella, and and some parmigiano-reggiano because if you’re gonna use cheese, you better make it the best damn cheese you can get your hands on. Then we pour some extra virgin olive oil both under and on top of the pie and into the oven it goes. Every now and then he’ll slide his hand into the oven and check the pie, and turn it by hand. I would have a photo of this, except I flinch every time I see him do it, pretty sure his fingertips have lost any feeling they may have once had. Once he decides the pie is read he pulls it out and lays it on the counter, bringing delight to the owner of the pie, and jealousy from everyone else still lying in wait.

He then sprinkles the third and final cheese, the gran padano; one of the sharpest and most delicious cheeses to ever find their way to a pizza (I always ask for some extra of the padano, they put it in a container so I can sprinkle more on later). The pizza is still so hot at this point, you can stand and watch as this third cheese melts its way into the pie.

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After that comes the final touch, some cuts of fresh basil, and another small pouring of olive oil to complete the pie.

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The end result is magnificence (though don’t be greedy and bite int too quickly, I did that today. Burned my lip and got a blister, still finished my half of the pie though because somethings are just worth the pain).

Here are some tips and tricks for visiting Di Fara. First, it’s right off the Avenue J stop on the Q-Train, but if you want to drive make sure you’re with other people, that way one of you can look for parking while the rest get in line. once inside, break off into groups again, one person stays in line to make the order, while the rest scramble for a table and chairs; the place is small and every second counts, time is of the essence. Next, come early. I usually arrive 20-30 minutes before they open, because once they get going, it takes longer and longer for your pie to come to you (especially when some asshole forgets where he is and orders five pies to go). This is what the line looked like 15 minutes before opening (Brother held my spot while I went to take this photo. Got there 30 minutes early and was  still only third in line, my skills are slipping):

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They have a weird system for who gets what pie, if you order multiple pies then your pies have to come out close enough to the same time for them to be yours. If you order two pies and only one is ready, it will go to the next person who ordered one pie. The optimal group size and order is to come with four people and order two round pies to stay. If you order to stay they’ll give you one pie and cook the second while you’re eating. If you’re waiting on your first pie, and a square pie has come out for slice orders GET ONE. The square pie is absolutely amazing, thick crunchy crust, globs of cheese floating on top on a pizza so hot the cheese is still partially liquid. It’s a must have. If you’re ordering to go, go for one round pie and one square pie, it’s a lot of food, and day old pizza for breakfast is the best. Next, when ordering, don’t order slices of the round pizza, go for the pie; this is for two reasons. First, because so many people order pies it’s hard for him to make a pie for slices, and he only makes them one at a time, so you might be waiting a while. Second, a slice of pizza is $5, but the pie is $28, so you actually get a per slice discount when you order the pie (take home what you don’t finish, can never go wrong wit too much pizza). Finally, don’t get toppings. The pizza is perfect the way it is, don’t sully it with more than what’s necessary. So, get on out there and enjoy a slice of heaven.

My Favorite Two-Block Walk for Food/Drink

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Anyone who knows me, and anyone who reads this will soon enough know that, when it comes to food, I’ve always been more fond of the low key spots where the food is more important than the aesthetics. I could care les how the place looks as long as they deliver the goods that matter. For this reason, my favorite two blocks in the city (I mean Manhattan) is the two block walk from Caracas Arepa Bar to The Hop Devil Grill. Nowhere here will one find the “best” food in the city, but if one is looking for a fun night out with minimal walking, this is the area to go to.

We start our evening off at the corner E. 7th St and 1st Ave at Caracas Arepa Bar. For those who may not know, arepas are venezuelan sandwiches that are made using cornmeal for the container instead of bread. The restaurant is oddly split into two locations with a store front in between, the smaller sit in/take out area, and the actual dining room two store fronts over. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I actually prefer eating in the smaller room. The food tastes a bit better, the room is a bit cozier, the staff is a bit friendlier: the ultimate triple threat. First timers may want to start with their arepa combo meals but, if you ask me, the ones to go with are: la sureña (pictured above), la del gato, los muchachos, and/or la mulata.

Right between the two store fronts is the next culinary delight to visit. It’s a bit more on the expensive side, but if you’re up for some seafood Luke’s is the way to go. The lobster roll is quite enjoyable, but if you’re hungry enough and want it all, the “taste of Maine” is always a great way to go.

From there we move north on 1st Ave and turn east on St. Marks. The wait for the Arepa Bar can get a bit long and, much like the fiscal political strategy, it is never a good idea to starve the beast for too long so, luckily enough, we have some alternative options as we move east on St. Marks. The first stop on this minor trek is the Dumpling Man. I’ll admit, as far as dumplings go, Dumpling Man is neither the best nor the cheapest. They’re actually a bit pricey considering Prosperity Dumplings offers vastly superior dumplings at a much cheaper price (if you ever find yourself in Chinatown near Eldridge Street I highly recommend them). However, if you just need a quick fix, the Dumpling Man’s seared pork dumplings are a fine way to go.

As we head farther down the St. Marks rabbit hole we eventually find ourselves at the wonderful Crif Dogs. If you find yourself in need of some great fucking hot dogs you can’t go wrong at Crif Dogs, they’re just brilliant. The added benefit with Crif Dogs is their inner sanctum, PDT. PDT is a small area inside of Crif Dogs, accessed by reservation only. It has its own, very special, menu of hot dogs (including one made by Wylie Dufresne) and cocktails. If you’re planning to do PDT, plan ahead. You need a reservation and they’re busy, so don’t try to wing this.

The quietest and most laxed eatery before the final destination is the always wonderful Tuck Shop. Aussie meat pies as far as the eye can see. Their original location is at 1st and 1st, the nexus of the universe (STAY ALIVE, NO MATTER WHAT OCCURS, I WILL FIND YOU!) but they’ve since expanded to a couple other locations. I’ve had almost all their pies and they’re just brilliant. Come with a group so you can sample a bit of everything. Here, the mandatory gets are the Guiness Steak and Mushroom pie, the BBQ Pork with Coleslaw pie, and the sausage roll. Then wash it all down with some boylan’s; it’s not just soda, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of. Or am I confusing soda with the maltese falcon again? Oh well. By the time you’re done, you’ll find yourself in that odd situation where your brain battles with your stomach on whether you should have more, the stomach will win more often then it really should.

And finally we reach our final, drinking destination: The Hop Devil Grill. I’ll admit something now. I’m not a big drinker, and for me it’s always better to milk a couple bottles of beer for the night then to go for any of the harder stuff. It’s for this reason that Hop Devil is the perfect spot for beer lovers. They have an amazing menu of craft beers and they change the menu regularly. They used to update the menu on their site but it seems like they’ve given up on that quite a while ago. They’re also a sports bar so you no longer have to make the hard decision between going out or staying in because a game is on (I still refuse to leave my room during Jets games, but this is my failure as a person, plus how are the Jets supposed to win if I’m not sitting in right spot?). Food-wise, it’s nothing to write home about, ate a burger once and had their nachos and it really wasn’t anything special, but with the other options in the area for food, I doubt you’ll go hungry. They play some decent music too, which is the icing on the already dark and hoppy beer of a cake. If you find yourself in a group that likes to change locations, you now have the added bonus of being only a few blocks away from another great bar at d.b.a. It falls outside my two blocks but the option is too good to pass up on. So that’s my favorite two-block area for food and drinks, and with no better way I can think to end this post I’ll just go with good night and good luck (love that movie).

Welcome

Howdy boys and girls. Welcome to TorkoftheTown a place where I promise nothing of importance will ever be written. I don’t know what else to write in terms of a welcome except to say my future posts will be more entertaining then this. But, let’s face it, the bar has not been set very high.