Chinese fretwork first appeared in Britain in the early eighteenth century on garden fences, but it was not until midcentury that the vogue for fretwork on furniture erupted.
Here, the three-dimensional angular pattern seems to float in midair to support a small, six-sided tray. The exact design for these candelstands comes from the first edition (1754) of Thomas Chippendale’s Gentlemen and Cabinet-Maker’s Director.
This Pair of Mahogany Candlestands (Circa 1755 – 60) Was Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
In a city that loves to eat, Chinese is among the most popular cuisines in Manhattan. From Chinatown to Midtown, I frequent a handful of Chinese restaurants that consistently serve my favorite dishes with no disappointments, but there is always room to add one more to that list. Open since late August 2019, Red Peony, located in the heart of midtown’s upscale shopping district, is an elegant Chinese restaurant that feels like a secret oasis within the congested urban landscape. Specializing in both Cantonese and Szechuan-style dishes, Red Peonyaims to be fully inclusive of every palate; with an extensive menu featuring both familiar favorites and exotic-sounding, visually tempting dishes I’ve not seen on other menus. Judging by the number of Chinese families gathered at its large round tables on the night of my visit, Red Peony offers a truly authentic dining experience.
The peony is the unofficial Chinese National Flower. It stands as a symbol of spring and female beauty, and it also represents richness, honor and high social class. A Red Peony specifically represents life and celebration, and you will find all of these values reflected in the restaurant’s opulent interior decor. The first floor dining area features the above pictured, tufted seating in vibrant red fabric, flanking ample-sized tables for two. Larger round tables in the center of the room can accommodate families and larger parties, and there is also a second floor, which is ideal for events and special occasions.
Second Floor Dining Room With Windows Looking Onto 56th Street
You’ll see lovely Asian artworks throughout the restaurant, as well as huge, painted red peony blooms adorning the walls at the entrance. The feeling is one of being immersed in an atmosphere of luxury and comfort — but just wait until you taste the food!
My dining companion had already visited Red Peony several times and, while she is an adventurous eater, she suggested we stick to shared favorites on my first visit, so that I could set a baseline for comparing Red Peony’s cuisine to my favorite establishments — a great idea! Who doesn’t love starting out a traditional Chinese meal with a crispy Scallion Pancake ($5.95)? This one was delivered to our table piping hot, flaky, golden and loaded with fresh scallions.
Here’s a closer look: you can almost taste it with your eyes. So good! This appetizer is served with a sweet and savory sauce on the side for dipping.
Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings
With so many items to choose from, we could not resist also ordering the Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings ($7.95), with their delectable wrapper that gets nice and crispy from the pan while staying tender and easy to bite into on the top. These plump morsels are stuffed with finely minced carrots, cabbage and onions, and the mild flavor really perked up with just a dash of the sauce left over from our scallion pancake!
Crispy Bacon and Shrimp Roll
One unique appetizer that I will be ordering on my next visit is this mouthwatering Crispy Bacon and Shrimp Roll ($6.95). Doesn’t that look amazing?
Sesame Chicken, With Steamed Broccoli on the Side
Sesame Chicken ($20.95) is one of my favorite main dishes, and I am not fronting when I say that the sesame chicken served at Red Peony is the best I’ve tasted anywhere. Each bite is perfectly tender and juicy white meat chicken, tossed lightly in flour before being quick-fried to a non-greasy presentation, with a sauce that’s not-too sweet, and a flavorful dusting of toasted season seeds. It’s flawless, and the generous serving can easily satisfy three hungry people (or, you can just take the leftovers home)!
Shanghai Fried Rice
Red Peony’s special Shanghai Fried Rice ($9.95) with scallions and egg, was a perfect accompaniment to our delicious chicken entree. How they make fried rice that is not greasy at all is a mystery to me.
This looks like a fresh and tasty meal that you would be proud to serve to your family at home, but it tastes even better at Red Peony, because they made it for you (and, let’s be honest; their secret recipes make it taste better than you or I could).
For those who want to make any meal feel like a special occasion, Red Peony does a whole Peking Duck served with all of the traditional accompaniments for just $58! Bring a few friends along and discover what everyone loves about the delicacy (reservations recommended if you plan to order this dish)!
Sweet Egg Custard Bun
When it’s time for dessert, Red Peony offers a selection of sweet treats that you won’t find anywhere else, and I loved the vibrant photographs that show you just what to expect when the dish arrives at your table — because presentation is everything. These Sweet Egg Custard Bun ($6.95) — which look like three little pigs!– have me intrigued for a future visit!
Stew Peach Gum Tremella Soup
This tasty looking dessert is called Stew Peach Gum Tremella Soup ($10.95), a sweet, gelatinous dish featuring the resin from peach and Chinese wild peach trees. The nutritional content of peach gum is off the charts, so you might want to ask your server about this on your next visit.
Red Bean Short Cakes
We were so stuffed, but wanted to add a little something to top off such a great meal, and these Red Bean Short Cakes ($4.95) were the perfect finishing touch. These little fried turnovers feature a flaky crust stuffed with sweet red bean paste, and garnished with toasted black sesame seeds. We enjoyed them with the pot of green tea which accompanies your meal free of charge.
You can see by the prices included here that Red Peony is very reasonably priced, making it one of the best dining out values in midtown, by far. At press time the restaurant does not yet have its liquor license, but they welcome you to bring your own bottle of wine. I’m looking forward to a return visit!
Red Peony Chinese Restaurant is Located at 24 West 56 Street Between 5th and 6th Avenues in Manhattan. Check Out Their Extensive Menu, Make a Reservation, or Order Online at Red Peony Restaurant Dot Com !
It is no secret that shopping at Pearl River Mart is my jam, because that store has everything. Earlier this year, Pearl River opened a new location in the Chelsea Market, and that is where I discovered this breathtaking decorative display of Pink Chinese Paper Lanterns and colorful paper parasols, which inspired today’s ‘pink thing’ post. These lanterns can be used (and re-used) in place of balloons as festive party décor, don’t you think? They are so lovely.
Chinese Paper Lanterns in a variety of colors and sizes are available for super cheap at both Pearl River locations (Chinatown and Chelsea) and they can also be purchased online at This Link!
Red Envelope Art By Ike Sanchez (All Photos By Gail)
The Red Envelope Show is an amazingly fun annual art exhibit that pays homage to the red celebration envelopes distributed by the Chinese community during the Lunar New Year. The show was curated, as it is each year, by Bert Chau of Brooklyn’s Grumpy Bert gallery. Although getting to the show involved a nearly 90-minute subway adventure to arrive at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, it was totally worth it! This was the show’s fourth year, with the exhibit running from January 5th through January 27th!
Flushing Town Hall
Red Envelope art submissions by local visual artists were displayed and for sale in Flushing Town Hall’s spacious gallery, with pieces by community and school groups also displayed throughout the building for all visitors to enjoy. Additionally, 25% of the proceeds from sales of the Red Envelope artworks goes towards support of Flushing Town Hall’s visual arts programming!
Partial Installation View
While the artwork theme was not restricted to images of Pigs, I do love pigs, and it is, after all, the Year of The Pig in Chinese Astrology, so I decided to focus on the envelopes depicting pigs. As you will see, the participating artists got very creative! Please enjoy a selection of my photos from the show!
Piglet Kicks The Big Bad Wolf’s Ass, Set By Adrian K
The story of The Three Little Pigs, or just a grouping of Three Pigs was a popular theme among many of the artists, as you may notice.
Three Little Pigs By Kush Wright (Kid Mind)
Three Pigs Student Submission
Three Pigs By Matt Stanton
Three Pigs By Lou Pimentel
Three Pigs By Aaron Meshon
Pigs In Disguise By Kick or Treat
Three “Boss Hogs” By CMYKharma
Here are a few more Student Submissions, which are all excellent.
Ice Skating Pig By Student Abigail Lee
Piglet By Unknown Student
Olivia The Pig Piglet By Unknown Student
There were well over 500 Red Envelope artwork submissions from artists, and almost that many from student and community members! It was great fun to browse through all of the art, which was obviously created with much love.
Trio By Diana Vuong
It was also fun to see work by many Asian artists.
Duo By Kevin Chan
Duo By Shawn Cheng
“Classy Pigs” By Cong Rong Zhou
Pig Flowers By Dingding Hu
Pig Duo By Aimee Pong
Year of The Pig By Frank Chang Pig in Hat By Derrick H; Pork Products By Carina Yuen
This Littler Piggy ByJane Wu; Sausage Pig By Andrew Bell
Showering Pig By Cameron Cundiff
Trio By Vinnie Neuberg
Flying Pigs By JosL J0sL
A Day in The Life of a Pig By Deepti Sunder
Year of the Pig Series By Kathy Ferguson
Pig By Not Cool Co.
3-Envelope Set By Rodmex5
Thanks for the great art Red Enevlope Show! Happy Year of the Pig, Everyone!
Ai Weiwei’s Gilded Cage in Central Park (All Photos By Gail)
Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has a new series of public art sculpture installations up in Manhattan and across the five boroughs, which is called Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. Inspired by the international migration crisis and current geopolitical landscape, the ambitious project is installed in over 300 locations, including two monumental sculptures situated within in highly-trafficked Manhattan parks, along with security fences on top of, and in between, buildings (such as The Cooper Union), and several bus shelters. In addition, there are also graphic and photographic works on flags, billboards and lamppost banners. I saw a lot of these banners along Chrystie Street, which is where I also got my first glimpse of one.
Rooftop Fence Installation at 189 Chrystie Street
Ai’s metal fence is designed as a modular form, readily adaptable to the existing architecture, to span and partition the space.
You can still see the fences at night, because they are illuminated.
Rooftop Fence Installation on Bowery
Don’t forget to look up!
Bus Shelter at Ave C and E 6th Street
While it’s fun to spot the fences, it’s the interactive sculptures in the parks that really bring the Instagram Moments. Gilded Cage located at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park (at 5th Avenue and 60th Street) can be entered on one side.
Joss Paper is burned by the Chinese to honor the deceased. Traditional Joss Paper, or ghost money, is commonly found in the form of squares of rough bamboo paper printed with seals and rectangles of gold or silver. More contemporary forms of Joss Paper include hell notes, often with denominations of $10,000 to $5,000,000,000. There are also elaborate, faithful paper reproductions of everyday objects such as suits of clothes, shirts and ties, high heel shoes, cell phones, cameras, computers, packs of cigarettes, bottles of alcohol, toothpaste, false teeth and makeup kits. Larger Joss objects include television sets, jet planes and Mercedes Benz automobiles.
These items represent the favorite objects of the dead, and when they are burned the items are sent along with the dead into the hereafter. They are made of papier mache and waste paper from packaging, and the backs and undersides of the objects sometimes reveal the logos of the various products they originally packaged. The Joss Paper objects themselves sometime feature parodies of familiar logos, such as Kekou Cola and Halloro Lights cigarettes.
Water Dripping – Splashing By Zheng Lu (All Photos By Gail. Click on Any Image to Enlarge)
The gravity-defying sculpture works of Zheng Lu are deeply influenced by his study of traditional Chinese calligraphy, an art form he practiced growing up in a literary family. Zheng Lu uses language as a pictorial element, inscribing the surface of his stainless-steel sculptures with thousands of Chinese characters derived from texts and poems of historical significance.
To create his metal sculptures, Zheng Lu begins with a plaster base. He then laser-cuts character into metal, and in a fashion similar to linking chainmail, the pictographs are connected and heated so that they can be shaped to the support. The resulting works are technically astonishing: their fluid, animated forms are charged with the energy (qi) of the universe, belying their steel composite.
Zheng Lu was born in Chi Feng, Inner Mongolia, China in 1978. He lives and works in Beijing.
Zheng Lu’s Water Dripping – Splashing is part of the Bright Eye of the Universe Exhibit and will be up Through October 10th, 2015 at Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Located at 547 West 27th Street, Ground Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.