Over the summer, I attended This Rad Party to celebrate the release of the Volkswagen Limited Edition #PinkBeetle. In keeping with Pink theme, they served refreshing pink drinks in pink glasses, delivered on a pink tray! Oh, the pinkness!
One of my favorite perks of writing this rad blog is being invited to a really nice press party; one where quality food, drink, atmosphere and fun people all come together to create a memorable experience that I just can’t wait to share with readers. A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate (and thrilled) to attend the 60th Anniversary Celebration for Norway’s most famous cheese, Jarlsberg – and what a fabulous bash it was! Jarlsberg is popular here in the states, but you might not know much about the rich history of its Norwegian heritage.
Created in 1956, using an original Norwegian recipe, the Jarlsberg brand of cheese has been exported to the United States for over 50 years and is one of America’s most loved and best-selling brands of specialty cheese. It is named after Count Vadel Jarlsberg, whose estate was on the Oslo Fjord near where it was first manufactured. Known for its mild, mellow and nutty taste — unlike any other specialty cheese — Jarlsberg is classified in the U.S. as a Swiss/Emmenthaler type cheese. Jarlsberg (pronounced: Yarls Berg) cheese is one of America’s favorite specialty cheeses, and it’s a crowd-pleaser when served on a cheese board, for snacking, delicious in a sandwich, in an omelet, baked, or melted on top of a burger — and its exquisite melt-ability makes Jarlsberg an ideal choice for fondues. Most surprisingly, because of the process through which it is made, Jarlsberg is naturally lactose-free!
The party was held at Aquavit, a Michelin-starred, Scandinavian restaurant in midtown, which provided an elegant backdrop, complete with gracious, first class service for this special occasion. Jarlsberg CEO and President, John Sullivan was present, along with other Jarlsberg executives, who addressed each the gathering, and later were happy to mingle and chat with guests. We were also introduced to Aquavit‘s Executive chef Emma Bengtsson, who created a special menu for the evening that included Jarlsberg Cheese and other Norwegian Specialty Cheeses.
Here are some photos of what we ate!
Shortly after I arrived, I was asked repeatedly if I had yet tried “The Brown Cheese” — which was the buzz of the buffet. You can see what they were talking about on the right side of the platter in the above photo. Made under the Ski Queen brand (a subsidiary of Jarlesberg’s parent company, Tine) this Norwegian cheese is called Gjetost, and it includes a mixture of cow and goat’s milk. Gjetost has a unique, sweet flavor due to the way in which it is processed. The milk is cooked until the sugars in it have caramelized, giving the cheese its distinctive brown color and sweet flavor. The milk is then curded and pressed. This distinctive “brown cheese” (brunost) became popular as a skiers’ snack and thus was given the label Ski Queen. It is widely popular among Scandinavian-Americans, and children especially are drawn to its sweet flavor. I must agree, it was uniquely delicious! Brown Cheese!
Another Tine brand is Snøfrisk cream cheese spreads, which are made from 80% goat’s milk and 20% cow’s cream. A touch of salt is added and that’s it: there are no artificial additives, preservatives or colorants. The creamy consistency of the cheese makes it perfect for use on a cracker, bread or as a snack together with fresh cut vegetables, nuts or honey. Snøfrisk is the creamiest, lightest cream cheese I’ve ever tasted! At the party, we got to try the original flavor as well as two of four flavored varieties, Red Onion & Thyme and Wild Ramson Garlic, which will soon be available to buy here in the States along with Dill and Horseradish flavors.
Also present on the buffet were Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps, which are a new product for the brand. These incredible savory, crunchy baked crackers are handcrafted in small batches, and made with freshly shredded Jarlsberg Cheese that is immediately sprinkled on top of the crunchy crackers just prior to being baked. Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps take the mild, mellow and nutty flavor of Jarlsberg Cheese and bake it into a delicious crunchy snack. The Cheese Crisps in come in four flavors including Rosemary & Olive Oil and Mediterranean Sea Salt (pictured above), as well as Chipotle and Garlic & Herb. They are sturdy enough to hold a variety of toppings, and taste especially fantastic with a glass of red wine!
Also new to the brand are Jarlsberg Cheese Snacks, packaged cheese sticks which were cleverly hiding among the twigs of this centerpiece. At just 70 calories per snack, I threw a couple in my bag to take home!
The party got pretty crowded, but if you had trouble getting close to the buffet, there were no worries, as passed hors d’oeuvres from Chef Bengtsson were also offered.
Everything was so yummy!
There was also a full bar with top shelf alcohol, and they would make any kind of drink you wanted. It was amazing
Look, a tray of Negronis!
Cosmos and Wine made us feel fine!
They were also serving authentic, chilled Aquavit (above, right). Aquavit (“Water of Life”) is an important part of Scandinavian drinking culture, where it is often drunk during festive gatherings, such as Christmas dinners and weddings, and as an aperitif. Although the recipes can vary, this Aquavit was vodka infused with cardamom and figs. It tasted like sweet fire. Skol!
Thanks to both Jarlsberg and Aquavit for a truly wonderful evening!
Do you like Mexican food? I sure do. As a transplanted native of southern California, I was already spoiled for life when it comes to excellent Mexican food by the time I got to NYC 27 years ago. But the bar for (what passes for) Mexican food in NYC has definitely been raised, a lot, in recent years, and now it’s pretty easy to find reliable sources for the fresh taste of California-style Mexican food all over the city. One of my favorite spots to pick up a burrito that gets me all nostalgic for L.A. is the fast casual chain called Moe’s Southwest Grill. Maybe you have Moe’s in your town, so you already know what I am talking about.
Last week, Moe’s threw a rad party, called An Honestly Awesome Night, over at the Hudson Mercantile Building, and a bunch of us press peeps were invited out to eat and drink until we were all fat and logey with delicious Moe’s food and assorted intoxicating beverages. Also, there was music, and some fun art. It was a good time. Let me tell you about it, and show you some pictures of what you missed on what really was an honestly awesome night!.
Moe’s was founded in Atlanta back in 2000, and I’m not sure if it is widely known that the name Moe’s is actually an acronym for “Musicians, Outlaws and Entertainers” — so clever! Sixteen years later, there are over 650 Moe’s restaurant scattered across the country, with the restaurant recently named Fast Casual Mexican Restaurant Brand of the Year by the 2016 Harris Poll! One of the main qualities Moe’s is known for is their literally millions of possible food combinations that can be created with all of their fresh and delicious ingredients. You can have it ‘your way’ and not be shy about asking for what you want when you go to Moe’s!
Say hello to Moe’s mascot, Joey Bag of Donuts, the Human Burrito, and check out his awesome dance moves! Did you know that all the music you will hear while dining at a Moe’s restaurant is by bands with musicians who have passed on to the Great Gig in the Sky? This is a great idea for creating an excellent playlist, since all of the best music happened in the 80s and earlier (my opinion). You can hear music by living musicians anytime, but at Moe’s you get a real pop-culture history lesson! How much fun would it be to play “Guess the Dead Rock Star” with your teenager (who thinks he knows everything) every time a song comes on? Answer: so fun! You would win every time, because kids today don’t know anything about good music.
One of the most popular items at Moe’s is the Legendary Homewrecker Burrito, and the party had a burrito station exclusively dedicated to making this delicious food item!
All freshly-made Homewrecker Burritos were wrapped and stuffed into these little round holes, so party-goers could just grab and go! What a great idea! Moe’s should change its name to Moo’s because we were all grazing like cows.
This is the Salsa-tails Wall of Great Refreshment. The Lime Green and Orange Colored Cocktails were a tasty homage to the Salsas served at Moe’s but they did not taste like a spicy tomato, they tasted sweet and potent.
The green one was especially intoxicating, and had a subtle flavor of cucumber.
Everyone loves a Burrito Bowl, am I right? They had Burrito Bowl station where you could customize your dish to suit your taste.
The food began to take a more artistic bent with the Quesadilla Spinart Station, which is exactly what it sounds like. Take a look below.
Artsy! The finished product was not only beautiful, but also delicious.
Another chef invited us to watch him do a Smashin’ Nachos Demo. This demo drew a large crowd of people armed with their smart phones.
We were then invited to eat the Nachos right off of the board on which they had been smashed. It tasted much better than it looks!
There was also an Art Exhibit for the unveiling of Moe’s Rockscapes: six musically-themed masterpieces, each one of which salutes a different memorable music moments. The Rockscapes were created with help of artist and photographer Carl Warner, who is famous for his realistic food scapes. and everything within each tableau is made from real food items! Click on any of the images in this post to enlarge them, so that you can see all the detail that went in to creating each photo.
The above scene is a tribute to The Beatles‘ final live performance, which took place in January of 1969 on the rooftop of the Apple Records offices in London.
This one celebrates the Jamaican Reggae scene.
The most ambitious Rockscape tribute is called Foodstock, which is, of course, meant to honor the first Woodstock concert in 1969, and the profound impact it had on both music and social culture. Foodstock is also the first of the foodscapes to receive the Augmented Realty treatment as part of Moe’s new Rockin’ Rewards loyalty app. Augmented Realty will give fans an opportunity to interact with the art and bring Moe’s fresh ingredients to life through their smart phones. With AR you can leverage the feature to play the onion drums, see bees buzz and, literally, create sweet melodies with Moe’s endless, high-quality food combinations! Fun! The six new pieces of artwork that will be in all Moe’s locations by the end of the year!
I hope you enjoyed living through me as I took you on a food-coma/journey through Moe’s Honestly Awesome Night!
Fans of this rad blog may already be familiar with Japanese artist Mr. from This Exhibit — which was way back in 2012, but seems like it was just yesterday! Mr.’s latest exhibit, up now at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, is called Sunset in My Heart, and it features a new series of vibrant Manga paintings that still embrace the Superflat style, and yet break new aesthetic ground for this enigmatic artist.
For Sunset in My Heart, Mr. has returned to his expressive and experimental roots as a young artist, incorporating abstract elements like graffiti, and using distressed and sullied canvases. Mr. prepares the canvases by burning them, walking over them, and leaving them on his studio floor to collect dirt and debris. This new treatment of the canvas is directly connected to the artist’s early interest in the 1960s Italian art movement Arte Povera that inspired his first manga paintings he produced on store receipts, takeout menus, and other scraps of transactional detritus.
These recent works reflect the artist’s intensely personal reinterpretation of popular visual culture and the increasingly mediated ways we engage with one another. Mr.’s oeuvre has elevated anime and manga subculture by embracing its cultural significance rather than critiquing its frivolity. In addition to painstakingly recreating the tantalizing graphics and slick finish of manga comic book characters, Mr. physically becomes the characters through cosplay performances — dressing up as fictional characters — at his openings and events.
This recent body of work reflects Mr.’s impulse to push the seemingly kitschy nature of these imaginary realms into a gritty and abstract painting style in order to explore personal, global, and environmental themes of destruction. While the manga-style characters continue to appear in Mr.’s work, their significance has shifted from playing up lolicon—the fetishization of young, fictional female characters—toward a more platonic realm, known as moe, or love for an icon that does not carry sexual associations.
These new characters represent positive beacons of strength that overcome all adversity. This reflects the artist’s creative impetus to embrace pleasure and beauty in diverse forms, instead of giving in to the personal and national despair that emerges after catastrophic loss and destruction, as it has in Japan since 2011. The title, Sunset in My Heart, reflects the simultaneous yet conflicting feelings of melancholy and hope, which also encompass the complicated nature of the human condition.
Upon entering the final gallery room, we were surprised and delighted to see, through doors opening onto a rear patio, that there was a party going on!
With colorful paper lanterns, folks dressed in kimonos; balloon animals, Japanese posters and very interesting music, the energetic vibe was certainly comparable to the wild shenanigans we enjoyed at the opening reception for this This Exhibit, which is to say that it was just insane. We learned that this party was designed to recreate a Japanese summer festival! Here are some photos of the festivities!
Posters like these covered the walls and even the ground, so that fans would feel fully transported to another place, far far away.
Here is an inflatable kiddie pool filed with colorful balls. We are not sure if we were supposed to take one of these balls as a souvenir, or if they were just part of the art. Should we have taken one? Probably.
We gently pushed our way to the front of he crowd to see that Mr. was there; dressed as a Japanese school girl, inspired directly by one of his paintings, and performing Japanese Pop Song Karaoke. Here, he takes a dramatic pause mid-song to roll on the ground.
Here, he performs “Hotel California” by The Eagles. There is an MC on his right, who is interpreting the scene. Art!
Suddenly, Mr. decided to cover his face with dark blue paint. Perhaps this was an indication that he was feeling melancholy.
There was also a chef making a variety of delicious dumplings for the hungry crowd. These had shrimp in them. Yummy!
Mr.’s Sunset in My Heart will be on Exhibit Through August 12th, 2016, at Lehmann Maupin, 536 West 22nd Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
When my friend Liane and her husband Neil were invited to a Wacky Alice in Wonderland-Themed 40th Birthday Party, they took the term Wacky as seriously as possible. Not only did Neil go full drag as an extremely authentic blonde-haired Alice, but Liane took her look even further, recreating the classic Shock Rocker eye makeup of Alice Cooper. Seriously, that is just genius. Genius!
Although they are obviously having a great time at the party, notice how Liane stays in character. What dedication!
Liane is also the mother of adorable, two year-old identical twin boys! Welcome to her nightmare!
Here they are again at the party! It looks like fun! Alcohol!
Today Liane also posted a photo of the cake on FaceBook! Amazing!