Best Weekend Food Events: Bronx Brewery Party, Crawfish Boil, Food Book Fair

Opening Day Party
The Bronx Brewery (856 East 136th Street, Bronx)
Saturday, 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The Bronx Brewery’s backyard is officially opening this weekend. To celebrate, the brewery is hosting a bona fide barbecue with Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue and live music. Tickets are $20 and include two drink tickets, along with a discounted Uber ride and commemorative shirt.

The Bloody Mary & BBQ Brunch
Beast of Bourbon (710 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn)
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Can’t decide your favorite style of Bloody Mary? The Bloody Mary Liberation party is hosting a brunch party where guests can try four unique Bloody Marys alongside a barbecue brunch. Black Swan Pub and the Bloody Mary Liberation Party will each show off their own concoctions. The brunch menu includes staples like smoked and pulled chicken, pork ribs, and corn bread. Tickets are $48.47 (including tax and gratuity).

Mad. Sq. Eats
Madison Square Park — Worth Square (Fifth Avenue Between 25th and 26th Street)
Saturday, April 30 through Friday, May 27

Mad. Sq. Eats, an outdoor food market, returns this weekend with a lineup that includes Ice & Vice, Roberta’s, and Hill Country Barbecue among other eateries. Guests can also find take-home treats like marshmallows, chocolates, and macarons too. A full lineup of participating businesses can be found on the Mad. Sq. Eats website.

Ninth Annual Crawfish Boil
The Redhead (349 East 13th Street)
Sunday, 11 a.m. until supplies last

Snag a fresh crawfish straight from Louisiana this weekend. Get a platter with two pounds of crawfish and traditional sides like corn, andouille sausage, and potatoes for $35. The restaurant will also have additional bites on hand, like hush puppies and bacon-peanut brittle. Drinks include Louisiana-favorite Abita beer, hurricanes, cold brew coconut milk punch, and group-sized cocktails. Can’t make it this weekend? There will be additional crawfish boils on May 8 and 15.

Food Book Fair
Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn)
Sunday and Monday, 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Snag a copy of your favorite culinary publication or check out a panel discussion during this two-day affair celebrating the written gospel of food. Workshops include a cocktail-making class led by the beverage director of Mission Chinese as well as a party with pizza and sparkling wine. Tickets range from $8 to $115.


Best Weekend Food Events: NYC Beer Week Kicks Off, and an Epic Bloody Mary Battle

2016 NYC Beer Week, Multiple Locations, Friday through February 28

The annual NYC Beer Week is packed with so much frothy excitement that hop heads will have ten whole days to experience it all. On Friday, Randolph Beer will tap a special keg of New York State–made IPA, with additional special beers available throughout the week. On Sunday, DBGB is hosting a panel discussion featuring Kelly Taylor of KelSo Brewery and Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver compete with beer and snacks for $25 per person (reserve here). Additional locations and events worth seeking out include a hot dog eating championship at Jimmy’s No. 43 and a proper pour class at Bierocracy.

Battle of the Bloody Mary’s, L’Apicio,  13 East 1st Street, Saturday, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

This bloody battle is the perfect alternative to your usual bottomless brunch. On Saturday, fourteen participating restaurants, including Rebelle and Blue Smoke, will serve up their secret blends, with both attendees and judges voting for their favorites. Brunch-themed snacks will also be served. Tickets start at $55 and can be reserved here.

Burger and Wine Festival, Harlem Shake, 100 West 124 Street, Saturday, 4 p.m.

Find the perfect wine pairing for burgers, fried chicken, and even a bacon-wrapped hot dog. Pompette Wines is curating select parings for six of Harlem’s Shake’s menu items, with a port-chocolate milkshake for dessert. Wine varietals include pinot noir, shiraz, and riesling among others. Tickets are $45; reserve them here.

PITH Pop-Up, The Bronx Brewery,  856 E. 136th Street, Bronx, Saturday, 7:30pm

You’ve heard about Jonah Reider — the Columbia student who operates a pop-up restaurant out of his dorm room. Thus far, it’s been hard to get a seat at his campus venture, but for one night only, he’ll be serving up dinner at the Bronx Brewery. The meal will include a tasting of pale ales paired with each of the menu’s four courses. Additionally, the event will feature unique lighting and sound designed to enhance the senses during the dining experience. Tickets are $50 per person.

Lowline Winter DayLife Pop-Up Food Festival, Lowline Lab, 140 Essex Street, Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Essex Market continues its 75th anniversary celebration with a food party at the Lowline Lab, a virtual underground park that acts as a lab for lighting and horticulture experiments. A selection of the market’s beloved stalls — including Saxelby Cheesemongers, Arancini Bros., and Osaka Grub — will be offering select menu items. The event is free to attend and all participating restaurants will offer a cash-only menu.


Minetta Tavern Serves a Mean Brunch, Despite Wimpy Bloody Marys

There are a few setbacks to brunching at Minetta Tavern. Even if you have a reservation, they will leave you cooling your heels in the packed entryway before leading your party of three to a two-top by the bathroom. The waitstaff will then leave you at the table for way too long before taking your order. And the half-dozen Bloody Mary options all come a little too watered down. But if you can get past the flaky service and subpar brunch cocktails, you’ll be rewarded by some excellent hangover sopping food.

It’s always tempting to order the Black Label Burger, no matter the time of day or occasion, and fortunately it stays on the menu for the weekend midday meal. Along with the Minetta Burger and Tavern Steak. You’ll see most diners chowing down two-handed style.

The more breakfast-y dishes however, are absolutely worthy of your time also. Black Pudding Clafoutis features thick coins of sausage and chunks of barely softened apple suspended within the flan-like custard. Topped with a handful of herb salad, it’s an exercise in savory breakfast brilliance.

Potato latkes are the base for an eggs Benedict-style dish with smoked salmon and dill hollandaise; though the “latkes” tend to come out more like a mound of hash brown. Brioche French Toast is available for those who take their brunch on the sweet side.

Skip the pastry section of the menu. You can get much better canele at Dominique Ansel down the block — and for a lot less than Minetta’s $16 sticker price. Instead, splurge on an order of pork sausage with shucked oysters for the table. Though not as satisfying as Prune’s version, the dish teeters the line between humble and decadent in just the right way. Which sums up brunch in general. I mean, really, people, you could make eggs at home for a few bucks, or splurge and have someone else do the cracking.


What to Drink at An Choi: The Cocky Rooster

Each week in The Daily Shot, we have ourselves a drink that we think you should try, too.

The drink: Cocky Rooster

The bar: An Choi (85 Orchard Street, 212-226-3700)

The price: $7

The ingredients: Beer with sriracha, maggi, lime, jalapeño, served in a salt-rimmed plastic tumbler

The buzz: Like pho that you would want to sip as a refreshing beverage rather than slurp as a hearty meal, this Vietnamese take on the michelada comes across as exuberantly intense and subtly detailed. The freshly sliced pepper and bitter citrus, along with the maggi — a sort of vegetable bouillon popular in Asia — play up the beer’s hoppy graininess while preventing it from tasting too yeasty. Carbonation, meanwhile, keeps the savory and sour components from being too powerful: The cocktail doesn’t have the heavy, steak-in-a-glass vibe of many a Bloody Mary.

See (and sip) more Daily Shots here.


The Week in Food Blogs: Outer-Borough Restos, Bloody Marys, Fungi

This week in food blogs:

Eater rounded up 10 new restaurants worth an outer-borough commute.

Grub Street delved into how much people actually spend at the city’s top restaurants.

Chowhound looked at the 11 most ridiculous restaurant-related Facebook groups.

Food Republic shouted out the five greatest dramatic sign-offs. Up there with Lou Gehrig and Nixon? Yep, Sam Sifton.

Zagat Buzz asked if New York City has gone Bloody mad: Apparently, Bloody Mary bars are a thing now.

Diner’s Journal had a mushroom expert answer readers’ burning fungus questions.

Serious Eats listed the best tacos to be found on East 116th Street in Spanish Harlem.

Midtown Lunch offered five New York Comic Con lunch recommendations.

The Strong Buzz wondered, Is Williamsburg the new Manhattan?

Gilt Taste considered the cooking of Andrew Carmellini.

The Feast got excited about fall flavors landing in restaurants around the city.

The Daily Meal gave us 13 food celebrity Halloween masks. Yikes!

Immaculate Infatuation launched its smartphone app.


When Musicals Matured: Three Revivals Recall Another Age

South Pacific, Gypsy, and Juno: While the last was on view, briefly, you could sample three rich dollops of what might be called the American musical theater’s Age of Maturity—shows for the serious-minded, though not without a passing eye for frivolity. The more earnest fans of their seriousness often espouse a quasi-Darwinian theory of music-theater: the idea that the genre has been evolving toward the higher status of opera. In this Darwinized musicology, Hammerstein’s avowed disciple Sondheim ranks as the natural culmination; Rodgers and Hammerstein themselves are viewed as the glorious moment just before Sondheim, when the musical first stood upright, shed its prehensile tail, and walked with square-shouldered dignity toward the era of conceptual productions and unresolved dissonances.

The faint hint of condescension in this view of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musicals covers an inevitable disquiet, since it takes some squeezing for the team’s musicals to fit the theory. Both men had been old hands, as actively interested in pleasing the audience as in challenging it; both had been artistically “married” before, and had often taken with their previous partners the sort of risks that were not supposed to have been part of the musical theater before they came together in 1943 to write Oklahoma! Both were interested in storytelling that offered opportunities for the eye-catching spectacle and low comedy that pre-“serious” audiences had traditionally loved. Though the team strove for, and frequently captured, an “American” feeling, its roots lay noticeably in Viennese costume operetta; its rare fumbles (Me and Juliet, Pipe Dream) came from trying to write in the American here and now.

South Pacific (1949), the team’s fourth musical, stands as both an anomaly and a kind of quintessence, telling the story of two tension-fraught romances between Navy personnel and local residents on a Pacific island at the height of World War II. Though not exactly “here and now,” its time and place were breathily close to the era’s audiences, many of whom could have experienced them firsthand. The exotically beautiful setting contrasts with the rowdily American characters. The principal non-Americans are also non-natives: Bloody Mary, a “Tonkinese” (presumably Vietnamese), and Emile de Becque, a widowed French planter. De Becque’s two half-Polynesian children and Bloody Mary’s daughter Liat fuel the dramatic tension of subplot and main plot respectively, pointing up another interesting fact: South Pacific is the only R&H musical that actually addresses a pressing issue. Race was much on American minds in 1949; Truman had recently signed the executive order desegregating the armed forces. Treating the topic in the long-familiar terms of “forbidden” interracial romance, but with the twist of a half-step forward, South Pacific rode the wave of this new national awareness, sometimes bumpily: In 1957, after Governor Orval Faubus had made Arkansas a byword for bigotry, in at least one summer-stock production the actress playing the show’s heroine, Navy nurse Nellie Forbush, was driven offstage in tears by the storm of booing that broke out when she told de Becque she was from Little Rock.

Lincoln Center Theater’s revival of South Pacific, directed by Bartlett Sher, plumps for the work’s seriousness, approaching it with quiet realism—almost cautiously, as if its romance might prove too fragile for our cynical time. But South Pacific has solidly built-in defenses against breakage, including the self-mocking lyrics in which Nellie ridicules her own romanticism. An additional pinch of that showbiz self-mockery wouldn’t have hurt Sher’s production, which at times seems too sedate. Kelli O’Hara’s winsome, beautifully sung Nellie surprisingly lacks vigor; Loretta Ables Sayre makes Bloody Mary more amiable than lewdly ferocious; Danny Burstein endows the shark-like Luther Billis with wistful perplexity. Against this, it’s the graver romantics who register most strongly: Li Jun Li makes a fetchingly delicate Liat, Matthew Morrison’s Lieutenant Cable supplies everything the role needs, including a hint of aristocratic hauteur, while handsome, stalwart-voiced Paulo Szot, an unusually young de Becque, will probably soon figure in a lot of romantic playgoers’ dreams. The physical production is, expectably, both lush and astute. And once the 31-piece orchestra lights into Robert Russell Bennett’s orchestration, you won’t mind much else.

Bloody Mary’s shamelessness finds a cockeyed mirror image in Gypsy‘s heroine, Madam Rose, who’ll stop at nothing to make her daughter a star. Transferred to Broadway from last summer’s Encores! revival, librettist Arthur Laurents’s new production of the 1959 classic demonstrates the work’s sturdiness by, at times, pushing so hard against it that a less sturdily built object would topple over. The spoof numbers for June’s vaudeville act, once so endearing in their scruffy kitschiness, have hardened into cold-as-steel camp, while June herself (Leigh Ann Larkin) has hardened into a smoldering bundle of negativity. The three leads, miraculously, have slipped out from under Laurents’s hard-edged insistence: Laura Benanti’s portrait of Louise, the ugly-duckling daughter, has become deeper and more moving; Boyd Gaines’s cheerily ulcer-pained Herbie now projects bigger power with no less charm. And Patti LuPone has enriched and refocused her performance till it actually deserves some of the torrents of gush the press has poured over her. Last summer’s Rose, who had no time for anyone but herself, has gone, replaced by a woman of genuine complexity, her ravening ego buried deep under her concern for her kids; this is a Rose who actually engages with the world, as well as sings the hell out of those great Styne-Sondheim songs.

Even so, Laurents rides her psychopathy into overemphasis. In the last scene, he stands his own script on its head by having Louise laugh in her mother’s face and walk off alone, leaving LuPone onstage to writhe in egomaniac desperation. Does he think 1959 audiences saw the original ending (mother and daughter walk off arm-in-arm) as a cure-all? Or that today’s audiences need things shoved at them ever more emphatically? The latter might explain why the theory of musical-theater evolution doesn’t hold up, though it wouldn’t explain why so much of Laurents’s excellent script still plays wonderfully without directorial pressuring.

Juno (also 1959), Marc Blitzstein and Joseph Stein’s musical version of O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock, both displays the incredible beauty that the form’s quest for seriousness could produce and shows how that quest inevitably failed. Set on the battlefield of 1921 Dublin, the show constitutes an aesthetic battlefield itself, never sure whether it’s dramatic opera or musical entertainment. Blitzstein achieved much in both modes, but his dualistic approach couldn’t capture the overriding sense of life in one particular place and time that makes O’Casey’s original great. Under Garry Hynes’s direction, Encores! gave a strong account of the work, though several key cast members unused to musical theater muddled things further by playing their idea of a “musical-comedy” style. This didn’t square well with Victoria Clark’s powerful, strongly grounded Juno, or with the lovely work of Celia Keenan-Bolger and Michael Arden (both struggling a bit with Blitzstein’s classical vocal demands) as Mary and Jerry.


Proud Marys

Poor Queen Mary. Sure, she ruled En-gland and wore only the fanciest ruffs and sentenced hundreds of Protestants to violent death—a diverting hobby for any girl—but all she really wanted was to be loved, and laid. As she moans to the Pope, the Assistant Pope, and her transsexual tutor in Rachel Shukert’s Bloody Mary, “I am 37 years old and I have never known the love of a man, that is, the kind of love that can be shown with a penis.” Clearly Shukert’s anti-royalist comedy, directed by Stephen Brackett, offers a picture of the English monarchy never dreamed of by Masterpiece Theater. This history of Mary’s life and reign features gimp masks, Jewish divorce lawyers, Jimi Hendrix as a sinister guardian angel, and King Henry VIII, in the throes of sodomitic pleasure, gasping, “Fie, fie, foul fornicatress! Squeeze my immortal codfish as if your life depended on it!”

Until she’s crowned queen and thrust into hoopskirt and lace-up bodice, Audrey Lynn Weston, as Mary, spends the play attired in a Catholic-schoolgirl uniform accented with a vintage cardigan and Doc Martens boots. It’s the outfit of a disaffected adolescent, and the play wears that same too-cool-for-school air. The writing and direction betray precocious talent, but just when a scene threatens to become dramatically compelling, they fall back on a particularly lewd bit of vernacular or a lurid bit of blocking, and the energy scatters. There are larkish bits—King Philip II of Spain as an East L.A. cholo, Edi Gathegi’s louche Jimi—but they make for an unhappily jejune two hours.

While the actors are having a marvelous time, reveling in the cleverness of it all, they don’t always offer to let the audience in on the joke. Rather, they cavort and camp extravagantly, milking the sex scenes and gross-out moments with particular glee. Editing a script and reining in an eager corps are grueling tasks, but were Shukert and Brackett to dare—cutting out a touch of the smuttiness and most of the self- indulgence—they just might have a glorious hour-long amusement on their hands. But for goodness sake, leave in the tonsure hats. They’re a scream.

Mary, Queen of Scots, born just a few decades after the English Queen Mary, received an even more brutal cut than a tonsure when Queen Elizabeth I ordered her beheaded. Friedrich Schiller’s 1801 Mary Stuart, in a brisk and genial translation by the Voice‘s own Michael Feingold, is a dignified catfight of a play in which the rival redheads bicker their royal way to Mary’s doom. Like many a Pearl revival before it, the production proves solid, though a bit stolid as well. (It’s a pity Shukert couldn’t have lent it a bit of Bloody Mary‘s horseradish and pepper.)

In a speech to rally the troops at Tilbury in 1588, Elizabeth declared, “I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.” As far as Schiller’s concerned, women—in body or heart—aren’t feeble creature in the least, though they do fall prey to male wiles. Joanne Camp offers a marvelously resilient Mary—desolate in her isolation, but fierce when confronted—while Carol Schultz, as Elizabeth, proves a worthy rival, although her costume does seem to strain her voice somewhat. Those costumes, by Jessica Ford, are detailed and sumptuous, though they clash with Susan Zeeman Rogers’s dully modern setting. Schiller’s prose and poesy can have a rather cumbersome heft, but director Eleanor Holdridge dictates a swift and steady pace.

A royal motto, “Honi soit qui mal y pense,” translates as “Shamed be he who thinks evil of it.” Even critics don’t like to think of ourselves as evil—most of us, at any rate—so it’s fortunate that though the production’s a touch workmanlike, there’s much worth praising.