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I’ve seen about forty shows so far at this year’s Fringe Festival in Edinburgh. The six shows I have given high ratings to have been at the Traverse and the Pleasance theatres. The best shows I have seen so far:

At the Traverse:

1. Mouse

2. Diary of a Madman

3. My Eyes Went Dark

At the Pleasance:

1. Krapp 39

2. Swansong

3. Bucket List

The worst shows have been Sweet Child of Mine (walked out about halfway through), Cut, The Last Dream on Earth (a big bore) and Blank (ultimately shallow and banal)

 


Today was the first day of the Fancy Food Show which fills the Javits Convention Center in New York for three days.  Organized by the Specialty Food Association, the exhibitors are makers of food and beverage products hoping to catch the eye of representatives of restaurants, supermarkets, and anyone else who buys food for commercial or retail use.

I only walked about half of the show today, but I noticed a few trends:

CHIPS AND CRACKERS MADE FROM UNUSUAL FOODS AND GRAINS

There were lots of exhibitors with crackers or chips that are made of something not so typical. It went past “multigrain” or “gluten free” to chips/crackers made of things like red fife and spelt, falafel, pasta, sweet potatoes, beans, chickpeas, pomegranates and broccoli. And then there were lots of flavor combinations, such as sweet chili, sea salt, maple honey, mesquite cheddar, rosemary and thyme, and another trend, sriracha.

CAKES AND JARS

There was a lot of weird stuff going on with cakes and cookies, including making appearances in tubes, jars, bottles and cups.

Cupcake pops

Cupcake pops

I’m not sure it’s advisable to squeeze a cupcake into a plastic popsicle tube. I didn’t taste one of the cupcake pops, but I hate to think of having to eat all the whipped cream before I can get to the cupcake.

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Cakes are also being shoved into jars of multiple sizes. Cakelove is doing it with cream cheese icing. Goodbye layer cakes.  The idea is that you can have a little now and store the rest in the fridge for later. Who are they kidding?

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You don’t want a glass jar? Well, you can have your cake in a mug. This time, it hasn’t been cooked yet. The My Cup of Cake package includes a dry mix, an oil packet and a ceramic mug. You put everything in the mug with some water and then cook it in the microwave for less than three minutes. Voilá: Belgian chocolate soufflé. The larger size comes with enough for four ramekins–you supply the ramekins.

Cookies in a jar

Cookies in a jar

More than one company is selling a jar that looks like one of those colored sand bottles you made at camp. Inside are the ingredients to bake cookies, just add egg, butter and vanilla. Unlike a mix, the ingredients are layered separately in the jars and include mix-ins like chocolate chips, dried fruits and nuts jelly. The Mason Jar Company allows you to make your own combinations online.

SistersGourmet has a set selection of cookie mixes.  You can select the bows on the outside of the jar — it seems they are mostly intended as gifts.

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SistersGourmet cookie mixes in a jar

ASIAN SAUCES GO MAINSTREAM

THE Sriracha

THE Sriracha

Sriracha, a hot sauce modeled after Thai hot sauces, has become ubiquitous.  The Sriracha sauce that started it all is made by Los Angeles company, Huy Fong Foods.  Sriracha has become a common table top condiment like ketchup and soy sauce.  Now, competing Srirachas sauces are made the large food manufacturers and “sriracha” flavor has shown up in all kinds of products like the chips mentioned above.  More recently, a Korean fermented chili paste, Gochujang, is rising in popularity.  Gochujang is more of an ingredient used in cooking than a condiment, but now you can see it mentioned more often in recipes and in descriptions of food items on restaurant menus (and not just Asian restaurants).

So, perhaps partly due to the successes of Sriracha and Gochujang, I noticed today at the Fancy Food Show a lot more companies specializing in Asian style sauces, from Korean hot sauces that bear a resemblance to gochujang, but are intended to be used as a condiment, to Indian style chutneys and ketchups that have been spiced up.  Here are some examples:

GLUTEN FREE GONE WILD

The obsession with gluten free only gets bigger.  The GF certification could be seen everywhere.

IMG_6747The lists of what products DON’T have are getting longer and longer:

What's left?

What’s left?


Fly by Night is a funny, poignant, enjoyable musical.  It’s a lot of fun and I recommend you see it.

Harold’s mother has died and, when going through her things with his father, Harold sees a guitar that he never knew she had. He goes home with it and when he’s not working in a New York City sandwich shop, he’s learning how to play the guitar and trying to write songs.

Daphne has done some community theater in her small town in South Dakota. Now she’s ready for the big time—she moves to New York City to see if she can get to Broadway. She brings the family car and her sister Miriam with her—Miriam is good with maps and also makes a mean cup of coffee.   Miriam goes reluctantly, since she is content pouring coffee at the town diner.   She’s a stargazer not an aspiring star and it’s hard to see the stars in the sky in New York.

There is more than one love triangle when Harold crosses paths with Daphne and Miriam. but this is not a light farce or story of mistaken identities. It’s about themes like love, fate and chance, hope and disappointment, dreams and realities, the healing power of music told with clever writing that had me laughing out loud.

At one point, a couple is talking about breaking off their engagement. They say that the vows they hear are “for worse, for poorer, in sickness, until death do us part.”

Some of the humor revolves around the sandwich shop where Harold works and the owner of the shop. I’m still repeating the mantra “mayonnaise, meat, cheese, lettuce”.

Mayonnaise, Meat, Cheese, Lettuce

The storyline is not linear. It jumps ahead and then goes back to explain what just happened.   Things build to a climax on the night of the Northeast blackout on November 9, 1965.

The music is more rock ‘n roll than Broadway musical. The band (Foe Destroyer)  is center stage. And in addition to playing the music, with an almost sleight of hand, they give props to the actors.

The stage itself is entertaining. Plain tiered levels, what looks like a floorboard opens like a bench. Inside is enough detail–phone, alarm clock, cushions–to indicate a bedroom or living room of a New York apartment.

If you want to know more: the New York Times did a feature about the three writers of the show, Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick and Kim Rosenstock.

Fly by Night Giveaways

Fly by Night Giveaways

Conceived by Kim Rosenstock; written by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick and Ms. Rosenstock; directed by Carolyn Cantor; choreographed by Sam Pinkleton; sets by David Korins; costumes by Paloma Young; lighting by Jeff Croiter; sound by Ken Travis and Alex Hawthorn; production stage manager, Kyle Gates; general manager, Carol Fishman. Presented by Playwrights Horizons, Tim Sanford, artistic director; Leslie Marcus, managing director. At Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, Clinton; 212-279-4200, phnyc.org. Through June 29. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes.

WITH: Henry Stram (Narrator), Adam Chanler-Berat (Harold McClam), Peter Friedman (Mr. McClam), Patti Murin (Daphne), Allison Case (Miriam), Michael McCormick (Crabble) and Bryce Ryness (Joey Storms).

 


Meg Cranston at Fitzroy Gallery

The Myth of Symmetry by Meg Cranston

I walked into Fitzroy Gallery at 195 Chrystie Street and immediately liked the works of Meg Cranston.  Most were quite large (around 72 by 56 inches) works of oil, acrylic and silkscreen, but the one above (collage and gouache on paper) was only 14 by 11 inches.

I loved the collage element of the works, the colors, the mix of abstract images and images found in popular culture.  I found the works both stimulating and mysterious.  Cranston is a Los Angeles artist and is acting chair of the Fine Arts Department at Otis College, where she has been on the faculty for over 20 years.  She works in many media–often sculpture, video, and performance.  The exhibit is on through June 15th.

Meyer Vaisman at Eleven Rivington

Meyer Vaisman at Eleven Rivington

I also enjoyed the Meyer Vaisman exhibit which is in both of Eleven Rivington’s gallery spaces:  11 Rivington Street and at 195 Chrystie Street.  These works are abstract images on plywood that have been created with an inkjet printer.  Though they have been created without the artist’s hand, they are playful and give the illusion of “action”.  Most of the works were signed twice–so the owner must decide which is the top and which is the bottom when hanging the works.

Meyer Vaisman–note the dual signatures

Vaisman is the same age as Meg Cranston (both were born in 1960).  Vaisman was born in Venezuela, went to art school and worked for some time in New York, but has been based in Barcelona for 14 years.  This is his first solo show in New York since 2000. The show is up until July 3rd, 2014.

Philip Pearlstein at Betty Cuningham Gallery

 

Philip Pearlstein self-portrait

Philip Pearlstein self-portrait

I was surprised to find the Betty Cuningham Gallery at 15 Rivington Street, the former home of Dodge Gallery.  Turns out Dodge closed after 4 years in the space. Betty Cuningham originally opened in Soho in 1972 and spent 10 years in Chelsea.  Chased out of Chelsea by high rents, she has moved the gallery and the final exhibit of the Chelsea space has become the inaugural exhibit on Rivington Street.  Chelsea has become home to super galleries with exhibits of major artists that rival museum shows in quality and curatorial ingenuity.   For the last few years, the lower east side was where you went to see emerging artists with unfamiliar names.  Though a couple of established galleries have opened spaces in the Lower East Side area (e.g. Lehmann Maupin opened an auxiliary space on Chrystie, while keeping their Chelsea space and Sperone Westwater built a remarkable building on the Bowery), to me, the arrival of Betty Cuningham who represents well-established artists like 90-year old Philip Pearlstein truly indicates a change in the face of the art scene both in Chelsea and the Lower East Side.

 

By the way, I’m not a Pearlstein fan, but that’s me.  The Philip Pearlstein exhibit is on display at the new space through July 25, 2014.

 

 

 


In addition to viewing paintings, I got to walk through a House of Mirrors during my quick romp through a couple of galleries on the Lower East Side.

installation

Lee Bul’s Via Negativa II installation

 

Booties are required

Booties are required

At the Lehmann Maupin Gallery at 201 Chrystie, the highlight of the exhibit of works by Korean artist Lee Bul is an installation (Via Negativa II) that made me feel like I was at a fun house at a carnival.

When I walked in, I was told I needed to put on some booties if I wanted to enter the exhibit room which has a mirrored floor.

The central sculpture looked like a number of slabs of mirrored glass with newspaper type print etched on them.  At first, I thought I could get the whole effect from outside the room without bothering with the booties.  But I was wrong.

I’m very glad I took the time to put on the booties, because entering the installation, I found a labyrinth of mirrors:
Lee Bul at Lehmann Maupin

Lee Bul at Lehmann Maupin

This is one photo

There were a few sculptures, including this one:

Lee Bul sculpture, Monster Black

 

 

Lee Bul’s works reminded me a lot of Yayoi Kusama. The house of mirrors has a lot in common with her infinity rooms and the Monster Black sculpture uses forms similar to the the stuffed fabric potato/phallic forms in many of Kusama’s works.

Lee Bul's room

Lee Bul’s room

Yayoi Kusama infinity room

Yayoi Kusama infinity room

Yayoi Kusama sofa

Upstairs there are some works on paper, including this collage/painting of the installation:
Lee Bul at Lehmann Maupin

Detail of the collage/drawing

Detail of the collage/painting

People waited hours to get into Yayoi Kusama’s infinity rooms. There was no line at Lehmann Maupin–so get there quick.  The show is on view through June 21st.


Friends have been telling me for years that I should start a blog.  I don’t know whether or not I really should, but I going to go ahead and give it a try.  I am going to use this space to write about the things I love about New York (restaurants, theater, art galleries and museums) and more (wine, books and travel)