Tag Archive | Party

Jarlsberg Cheese Celebrates 60th Anniversary With Fabulous Party at Aquavit, NYC!

Cheese Wheel
Jarlsberg 20 Pound Cheese Wheel! (All Photos By Gail)

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!

Buffet Spread

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!

The Brown Cheese
What Everyone Was Talking About: Gjetost (AKA The Brown Cheese)

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!

Snofrisk Soft Cheese Spreads

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.

Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps

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!

Cheese Snack Sticks

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!

Crowd Shot

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.


Cheese and Snack Plate

Everything was so yummy!

The Bar

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!

Cosmo and wine

Cosmos and Wine made us feel fine!

Scotch and Aquavit

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!

Party Crowd

Thanks to both Jarlsberg and Aquavit for a truly wonderful evening!

Moe’s Southwest Grill Hosts An Honestly Awesome Night!

Foodstock Bus Detail
Bus Detail from Foodstock, Original Art for Moe’s Southwest Grill (All Photos By Gail )

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.

Moes Logo Shadow

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!.

Crowd Shot

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!

Joey Bag of Donuts

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.

Homewrecker Burrito Station

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!

Homewrecker Burrito Singage

Burrito Holder

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.

Homewrecker Burrito
Homewrecker Burrito: Interior Detail

Salsa Tails Wall

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.

Salsa Tails

The green one was especially intoxicating, and had a subtle flavor of cucumber.

Burrito Bowl Station

Everyone loves a Burrito Bowl, am I right? They had Burrito Bowl station where you could customize your dish to suit your taste.

Spinart Quesadilla Station

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.

Spinart Quesadilla In Action

Spinart Quesadilla Finished

Artsy! The finished product was not only beautiful, but also delicious.

Spinart Quesadilla

Smashin Nachos Demo

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.

Smashin Nachos

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!

Bacon Blues
Bacon Blues

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.

While My Cheese Gently Weeps
While My Cheese Gently Weeps

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.

Trenchtown Guac
Trenchtown Guac

This one celebrates the Jamaican Reggae scene.

In Bloom
In Bloom

Straight Outta Limeton
Straight Outta Limeton


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!

Moes Social Media

I hope you enjoyed living through me as I took you on a food-coma/journey through Moe’s Honestly Awesome Night!

Moes Logo

Sunset in My Heart By Mr., at Lehmann Maupin

Gallery with Crowd
The Joint Was Jumpin’ at Lehmann Maupin for the Opening of Sunset in My Heart (All Photos By Gail)

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.

As It Was That Day, 2016
As It Was That Day, 2016

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.

Pinkish Gold, 2016
Pinkish Gold, 2016

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.

Time Gently Passing, 2016
Time Gently Passing, 2016

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.

Small Fairies Have Arrived, 2016
Small Fairies Have Arrived, 2016

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.

California, 2016
California, 2016

Party View

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!

Festival Scene

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!

Mr. Party

Posters like these covered the walls and even the ground, so that fans would feel fully transported to another place, far  far away.

Kiddy Pool with Balls

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.

Mr. Sings Hotel California

Here, he performs “Hotel California” by The Eagles. There is an MC on his right, who is interpreting the scene. Art!

Mr. Paints Face

Suddenly, Mr. decided to cover his face with dark blue paint. Perhaps this was an indication that he was feeling melancholy.

Japanese Chef

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.

Paper Lanterns

Alice Cooper in Wonderland

Alice and Alice
Neil and Liane as Alice and Alice (Photo Courtesy of Liane Butler)

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!

Neil and Liane

Although they are obviously having a great time at the party, notice how Liane stays in character. What dedication!

Alice Cooper in Wonderland

Liane is also the mother of adorable, two year-old identical twin boys! Welcome to her nightmare!

Two Alices

Here they are again at the party! It looks like fun! Alcohol!

Alice in Wonderland Cake

Today Liane also posted a photo of the cake on FaceBook! Amazing!

Video Clip of The Week: My Drunken Haze, “Carol Wait”

Man, does this aural morsel of ’60s psychedelia spiked with a garage rock edge, courtesy of Athens, Greece-based Rock quintet My Drunken Haze, ever bring back some seriously fuzzy memories! This is the kind of music that never gets old for me despite its deep nostalgic pull. The video for “Carol Wait” follows a young girl’s “adventurous” evening spent at a house party that features “vintage aesthetics, sexual liberation, hallucinations, destruction and self-destruction.” You might know it as a night that you can’t quite remember, but will never forget. Face it; we’ve all hand them.

Carol Wait Video Still

“Carol Wait” can be found on the group’s self-titled debut album (out now on the fantastic Inner Ear Records) which the band’s bio calls, “an album starring the character of a woman in search of love, longing, separation and redemption, set against a backdrop of daydreaming, drugs and the hot sand of a summer beach.” All good! Enjoy!

My Drunken Haze Band
My Drunken Haze Band Photo by Dionisis Matiatos

If There Is To Be a Revolution, There Must Be a Party

Photo By Gail

This photo by Cristina De Middel was originally part of her series, The Afronauts, which tells the real, re-imagined story of the Zambian space program to conquer Mars. Here, it has been repurposed for her recent exhibit Seven Stories at Dillon Gallery in the Chelsea Gallery District.