Celebs Come Out for Glamorous Opening of NYC’s Maxwell’s Chophouse

Share Button
Marisa Tomei and Babette Haddad

Certainly everyone is gearing up for the beach season – which in New York means the reopening of all our Hamptons faves. But Wednesday evening saw a decidedly fab crowd gather for one last glamorous Manhattan bash, before digging out the swimsuits for the Memorial Day weekend.

The occasion? The opening of Maxwell’s Chophouse, NoMad’s newest dining hotspot. With the Avion Tequila cocktails flowing, mother and daughter proprietors Babette Haddad and Melissa Haddad Malaga hosted a glittering guest list: Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, actress Zuleikha Robinson, Real Housewives‘ Dorinda Medley and John Mahdessian, HGTV’s Genevieve Gorder, supermodel Alex Lundqvist, fashion designer Carlos Campos, Brit rockers The Struts…and superstar DJ Elle Dee manning the decks.

Maxwell’s itself is poised to be one of the summer’s hottest scenes, serving up steakhouse classics and seafood specialties in a plush, grandiose space, with patterned floors, high-ceilings and lots of swanky gold trimmings. But stylistas will surely be fighting for space on spectacular rooftop, with its jaw-dropping downtown views.

  • Zuleikha Robinson and Alexander Klingspor
  • Scott Lipps
  • Carlos Campos
  • Avion Tequila
  • Bruce Perlmutter, Prudence Inzerillo, Carson Kressley
  • DJ Elle Dee
  • Sarika Rastogi, Pippa Cohen, Fiona Bora
  • Luke Ditella, Charles Thorpe
  • Rooftop Garden

An NYC World Food Tour With Sultry Songstress Tei Shi

Share Button

She was born in Buenos Aires, and spent a good part of her life in Colombia – but peripatetic songstress Tei Shi now calls New York City home. As accomplished as she is alluring, she released her first single “M&Ms” in 2013, after studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Four years on, her debut album Crawl Space has finally seen release (on Downtown Records), and it exhibits a remarkable musical and emotional maturity. The seductive “Keep Running” stands out for its mix of sultry R&B and chunky synths; but our fave is “How Far,” with Tei Shi lamenting in sensual tones, “If it pleases you to say you’re sorry when you’re not / It’s a dangerous slip of the tongue,” over a cool, melancholy guitar twang.

As she prepares to launch an extensive international tour on June 3 at Toronto’s Field Trip Music and Arts Festival, we asked her to share her favorite spots in her adopted home of NYC – those places where she’s likely to be found when she’s not out on the road.

 

 

Punjabi Deli

This is probably my favorite NYC food discovery that I made when I first moved here. It’s a bodega-style Indian deli in a basement on the Lower East Side. They sell all kinds of awesome Indian snacks, candies, and trinkets. But the main thing are their homemade daily all vegetarian options. You have six veggie dishes to choose from with rice, samosas, and lots of other sides. It’s a place to pick up, or stop and eat on the go. It’s really affordable, and also open 24 hours a day, which makes it great for a late night stop.

Ramen Lab

A ramen bar in Nolita that runs like a pop-up, featuring a different ramen chef every month. So each month the menu is different, but always only features two or three insanely delicious options – one of which is vegetarian. It’s a tiny place and you can only sit at the bar while you’re eating, so generally it moves pretty quickly. They also have only one type of beer and sake; so it’s very simple and no-frills, but the vibe is great.

Cheeky Sandwiches

A New-Orleans style snack and sandwich shop on the border of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, right by where I live. I am not a huge meat eater and eat mostly veggie food – but their fried chicken sandwich is unreal. They make all the sandwiches with freshly made biscuits, and their gravy and coleslaw are so good. It’s a tiny shop with a really laid back and welcoming vibe all around.

Mile End Deli

A Montreal style Jewish deli in Soho, it’s named after an area in Montreal that has a lot of local food spots. I lived in the Mile End for awhile so this place always gives me a good dose of nostalgia. Go for really great sandwiches and Jewish dishes like knishes and matzo ball soup. It’s delicious, homemade comfort food.

 

A Loupe Art Guide to Denver – Featuring Artist Johnny Draco

Share Button
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

 

Denver is oft regarded as either a gateway to Colorado’s posh ski resorts, or a place where a lot of oil and banking deals go down. But it’s actually got a thriving art scene, anchored by the newly renovated Museum of Contemporary Art.

Our fave new art app Loupe – which allows anyone with a phone, computer or television to possess a thoughtfully curated “virtual art gallery” – also gets it. They signed Denver artist Johnny Draco right from the start as part of their stable of exciting, boundary-pushing creatives. Draco is a self-taught artist from Atlanta, whose provocative post-pop work crosses references from Japan and America, mixing childhood nostalgia with elements of humor, mystery and even menace.

He says of the geographically lofty capital he now calls home, “Usually cities are always moving fast. Denver instead has a relaxed vibe to it. But the art can be really majestic, much like the mountains that surround the city.”

Draco actually moved to Denver to work for Kidrobot. We asked him to guide as through where the local creative community can usually be found socializing, shopping or just being inspired by other artists.

  • Buster
  • Covered
  • Cyborg
  • EXO
  • Denver

 

 

Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

‬MCA Denver is one of my new favorite places. Went there for a Basquiat exhibit and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even when you finish all the exhibits, you can go to the rooftop to enjoy drinks and conversations with friends.

Black Book Gallery

Black Book is a pretty active contemporary art hub in Denver. I went to a few shows there and really loved the pieces on display.

 

 

Fice Gallery

Fice is a fairly new establishment. It serves as a gallery, as well as a streetwear boutique carrying brands such as Staple, Nike, Vans, Asics, and others. The art they show is always interesting.

Svper Ordinary

Svper Ordinary serves as both a gallery and boutique. The art and products they sell there are generally what you wouldn’t necessarily find anywhere else. Even the atmosphere is unique in itself.

 

 

Dae Gee

If you have never had Korean BBQ before in Denver, I would say this is a good place to start. I had it for the first time this year and I have to say my mind was blown. The whole atmosphere and vibe of this place is pretty amazing. The creative team at Kidrobot and I get together regularly to go here.

Bones

Bones has become one of my favorite noodle spots in Denver. The ramen there is among the best I’ve had, especially having a bit of a French twist to how the food is made. If you’re out enjoying the scene in Denver, this is definitely the place to end your art-filled evening

 

 

Mutiny Information Café

Mutiny has become one of my favorite places to go. There is a great selection of used books in there, and once in awhile you might find a real gem. They also have live bands there from time to time. It’s just one of those places you know you’re going to love.

First Draft Taproom + Kitchen

If you’re really into beer and just a great environment, I would suggest going here with some of your close mates. They have a wide array of beers choose from, and on top of that you pour the drinks yourself. Everything there is charged by the ounce, so getting a chance to try a real variety is pretty cool, especially when you’re not trying to break the bank.

 

Awesome Burger Recipes from the New Shake Shack Cookbook + Interview With Culinary Director Mark Rosati

Share Button

You kind of knew something was up back in 2004, when the first Shake Shack opened up in Madison Square Park – and the lines stretched halfway to the Chelsea Piers. Danny Meyer was already one of NYC’s most exalted restaurateurs, with Union Square Cafe, The Gramercy Tavern and Blue Smoke to his credit. But this was his nod to the burgeoning trends of food trucks and comfort food.

Now there are 129 Shake Shacks (seriously, count them), from JFK Airport to Chicago to West Hollywood to Tokyo, Bahrain and Moscow. But oddly enough, nothing has really changed. The lines are still long, the devotees are just as devoted – and Danny Meyer is still one of our favorite New York restaurant honchos.

Naturally, there had to be the cookbook. And this month brings Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories to the bookshelves. No surprise, it feels as comfy and friendly as any of Mr. Meyer’s restaurants, a 131-page look inside the family, philosophy and, of course, the food that make Shake Shack a place that you just can’t not love.

We chatted about the book with Culinary Director Mark Rosati, who also shared with BlackBook the recipes for two of Shake Shack’s most popular burgers.

 

What made this the right time for a Shake Shack cookbook?

We’ve been asked to do one for many years. When we went to write the cookbook, we also wanted to tell the story of how we’ve gotten to this position. We can attribute a lot of our success to our business philosophy and culture, and there have been a tremendous amount of people that have been a part of our story; so we thought now was an appropriate time to share our philosophy and recipes for success.

What are some of the highlights for you?

There are a couple! It was fun to share some of the classic recipes like the Chicago Hot Dog and Custard, but I also enjoyed giving the readers the keys to think like we do – even little decisions like why we use pickles on certain menu items or why the sauce is so important for others. In the end, we want you to walk away with the knowledge and tools to make not only our creations, but the knowledge and tools to make your own amazing burgers and creations. We are also really excited to tell the story of all the amazing people in the world of Shake Shack; major food players like Paul Kahan, Michael Solomonov, and Nicole Rucker are people that we want to honor, take part in their creations, and help feel connected to what they’ve done for the food scene in their city.

Do you hope the book will put fans and newcomers more in touch with the essential philosophy of Shake Shack? Does the book make it a more visceral connection?

I hope so. That’s really the point behind many of the stories we tell in the book. We want to take you to the next level of what we do, because there is such a large thought process behind almost every detail of our business. For example, the reason why we chose crinkle cut fries is because grooved fries have more surface area, so when you fry them, they are crispier since more oil comes into contact with them. Additionally, the grooved shape picks up ketchup better than other shapes.

What do you feel has been Shake Shack’s ultimate contribution to American culinary history?

We definitely didn’t invent the format we’ve been working in. Burgers and fries have been around for so many years! What we hope we did, when we looked back at it, is this: Burgers, Shakes, and Fries became popular in the 40s, 50s, and 60s in the so-called Golden Age of America. You rolled up in your hot rod and hung out with your friends, eating burgers and fries all night at your local spot. Overtime, it became less and less about the hangout spot and more about the convenience. Then machines started making burgers – that’s where fast food started to go awry. If there is one thing we’ve been a part of, it’s fostering a return to this golden age philosophy behind the importance and essence of the burger. We do this by serving the best quality and tastiest versions we can: All natural beef grinded fresh, cage free eggs, natural sugars, non GMO, combined with the support of people who are making food the right way. All of these are our keys to success, and hopefully the key to our legacy.

 

SHAKE SHACK BURGER RECIPES

Peanut Butter Bacon Burger

 

MAKES 4
Among devoted Shack fans, this burger has cult status. It’s only officially been served twice in our history! But folks know they can always order a bacon hamburger and ask us for a side of peanut butter sauce.
4 hamburger potato buns, toasted (page 42)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pound very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks
½ teaspoon Our Salt & Pepper Mix (page 40)
8 slices cooked bacon, broken in half (page 54)
8 tablespoons smooth peanut butter, thinned with a little canola oil
Follow the ShackBurger recipe on page 48, topping the burger with great bacon and two spoonfuls of thinned peanut butter instead of lettuce, tomato, cheese, and ShackSauce.
The ShackBurger
Okay, here’s our sacred cow!
MAKES 4
Most likely the reason you have this book in your hands—our version of the great American cheeseburger. Like all deceptively simple things, it took us years to get it right, but now you can master burger perfection in five minutes.
4 hamburger potato buns
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons Not Quite Our Shack-Sauce
4 pieces green leaf lettuce
8 ¼-inch slices ripe plum tomato
1 pound very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks
½ teaspoon Our Salt & Pepper Mix
4 slices American cheese
1. Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-low heat until warm. Meanwhile, open the hamburger buns and brush the insides with the melted butter. A soft brush is helpful here. Place the buns buttered side down on the griddle and toast until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer buns to a plate. Spoon the sauce onto the top bun. Add a piece of the lettuce and two slices of tomato.
2. Increase the heat to medium and heat the griddle until hot, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Evenly sprinkle a pinch of Our Salt & Pepper Mix on top of each puck of meat.
4. Place the pucks on the griddle, seasoned side down. Using a large, sturdy metal spatula, firmly smash each puck into a 1/3-inch-thick round patty. Pressing down on the spatula with another stiff spatula helps flatten the burger quickly. Evenly sprinkle another big pinch of Our Salt & Pepper Mix.
5. Cook the burgers, resisting the urge to move them, until the edges beneath are brown and crisp, and juices on the surface are bubbling hot, about 2½ minutes. Slide one of the spatulas beneath the burger to release it from the griddle and scrape up the caramelized browned crust. Use the other spatula to steady the burger and keep it from sliding. Flip the burgers. Put the cheese on top and cook the burgers 1 minute longer for medium. Cook more or less depending on your preference.
6. Transfer the cheeseburgers to the prepared buns and enjoy.
OUR SALT & PEPPER MIX
We mix ½ cup kosher salt with ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper and use that mixture to season our burgers as they cook. You’ll see we call for a pinch or two of the mixture in every recipe.
Martin’s Potato Rolls
Toast the Buns Ahead
Think of this as a lovely ritual: Heat up your griddle and lavish attention on those buns so they’ll be ready the second your burger’s done. Begin by melting butter in a small pot. With a soft brush, paint the butter on the insides of the buns. Place butter-side down on the griddle till they’re beautifully browned.
Cooking Bacon
MAKES 8 SLICES
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lay 8 slices of bacon on a parchment paper–lined baking pan. Bake until the bacon is browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Break in half to top burgers.
Pro Tip: After it’s been cooked, Mark likes to dice the bacon into small pieces and sprinkle it on top of cheese fries and especially over cheese dogs—his favorite.

 

ShackMeister Burger

 

MAKES 4
Where do our burger ideas come from? This one was born to compete at the annual Burger Bash at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami. Not surprisingly, every one of us had an opinion. Ultimately, good old-fashioned comfort and simplicity triumphed. We went with our simplest burger. And we won!
4 hamburger potato buns, toasted
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons ShackSauce (recipe follows)
1 pound very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks
½ teaspoon Our Salt & Pepper Mix (recipe follows)
4 slices American cheese
4 ounces ShackMeister Fried Shallots
Follow the ShackBurger recipe on page 48, topping the burger with the Fried Shallots instead of lettuce and tomato.
ShackMeister Fried Shallots
MAKES ABOUT 1 1/2 CUPS
Okay, we’ll be honest: these fried shallots are our version of onion rings. We prefer the garlicky flavor of shallots, and because they’re smaller than onions, we can add more delicious crispy bits to our burgers and flat-top dogs! The marinade balances the shallots’ sweetness with the slightly bitter edge of beer. Making them is easier than you think.
½ pound shallots, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups ShackMeister or other ale
1½ cups flour
Canola oil for frying
Salt
1. Put the shallots, ½ teaspoon of the pepper, and ale into a bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
2. Mix together the remaining ½ teaspoon pepper with the flour in a wide deep dish. Strain the marinated shallots, discarding the marinade.
3. Pour the oil into a deep pot to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium heat until the oil reaches a temperature of 350°F on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, working in batches, dredge the shallots in the seasoned flour until evenly coated. Transfer them to a sieve, and shake off excess flour.
4. Working in small batches, deep-fry the shallots in the hot oil, turning them halfway through, until golden and crisp, about 1½ minutes. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Season with salt.
The ShackBurger
Okay, here’s our sacred cow!
MAKES 4
Most likely the reason you have this book in your hands—our version of the great American cheeseburger. Like all deceptively simple things, it took us years to get it right, but now you can master burger perfection in five minutes.
4 hamburger potato buns
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons Not Quite Our Shack-Sauce
4 pieces green leaf lettuce
8 ¼-inch slices ripe plum tomato
1 pound very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks
½ teaspoon Our Salt & Pepper Mix
4 slices American cheese
1. Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-low heat until warm. Meanwhile, open the hamburger buns and brush the insides with the melted butter. A soft brush is helpful here. Place the buns buttered side down on the griddle and toast until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer buns to a plate. Spoon the sauce onto the top bun. Add a piece of the lettuce and two slices of tomato.
2. Increase the heat to medium and heat the griddle until hot, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Evenly sprinkle a pinch of Our Salt & Pepper Mix on top of each puck of meat.
4. Place the pucks on the griddle, seasoned side down. Using a large, sturdy metal spatula, firmly smash each puck into a 1/3-inch-thick round patty. Pressing down on the spatula with another stiff spatula helps flatten the burger quickly. Evenly sprinkle another big pinch of Our Salt & Pepper Mix.
5. Cook the burgers, resisting the urge to move them, until the edges beneath are brown and crisp, and juices on the surface are bubbling hot, about 2½ minutes. Slide one of the spatulas beneath the burger to release it from the griddle and scrape up the caramelized browned crust. Use the other spatula to steady the burger and keep it from sliding. Flip the burgers. Put the cheese on top and cook the burgers 1 minute longer for medium. Cook more or less depending on your preference.
6. Transfer the cheeseburgers to the prepared buns and enjoy.
OUR SALT & PEPPER MIX
We mix ½ cup kosher salt with ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper and use that mixture to season our burgers as they cook. You’ll see we call for a pinch or two of the mixture in every recipe.
ShackSauce
MAKES ABOUT 1/2 CUP
Long ago we threw away the key to the secret recipe for ShackSauce; but we promise to get you really close with ingredients easily found in your kitchen.
½ cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon Heinz ketchup
¼ teaspoon kosher dill pickling brine
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Airbnb Lists the Entire Country of Sweden

Share Button

Airbnb is full of accommodating treasures for the traveler with a specific taste. From castles in Ireland to treehouses in Mexico and yurts in Germany, each temporary stay is perfectly unique. Now the site has listed an entire country to its many lodgings.

Visit Sweden has teamed up with Airbnb to give the beautiful country an Airbnb listing. The lakes are your infinity pool, the mountains your granite terrace, and the meadows your garden. The best part is that the whole listing is completely free, thanks to the country’s freedom to roam law. It allows anyone to enjoy the vast abundance of terrains, whether hiking, cycling, or camping.

“This is made possible thanks to a Swedish right guaranteed by the constitution – freedom to roam,” says Jenny Kaiser, USA Country Manager at Visit Sweden. “This right enables the Swedish people to experience nature and enjoy the beautiful Swedish wildlife. In Sweden, we have everything from high mountains to deep forests, from beautiful archipelagos to quiet meadows. Now, together with Airbnb, we welcome everyone to come to Sweden and, through freedom to roam, share our wonderful nature.”

The collaboration is a first of its kind for Airbnb, allowing the travel site to promote the country as a destination. James McClure, General Manager of Northern Europe at Airbnb sees Visit Sweden as a long-term partner in their promotion.

Watch the campaign video and book your Swedish stay with Airbnb.

Mexico’s Glorious Mayakoba Resort Turns Ten

Share Button

 

Spring break had come and gone, but the group of young women waiting to board our short AeroMexico flight to Cancun early one morning recently certainly looked like there was an abundance of overly sweet drinks and cloying DJs in their future. It turned out they were part of a bachelorette party, which wasn’t a surprise at all.

As an entry point to numerous destinations on the Mayan Riviera, Cancun airport sees an interesting mix of travelers: the high-fiving bros and the women who put up with them head to the high-rise hotels on the closest beach; well-heeled nouveau hippies drive an hour and a half south to Tulum, where they can dip a toe into eco-tourism while still eating at restaurants imported from Tribeca; and stressed-out urbanites desperately in need of luxe pampering head for the geographical middle – the opulent multi-resort enclave of Mayakoba.

It’s been a decade since it first appeared – and Mayakoba still thrives by offering remarkably polished yet relaxed service at all of its enclosed resorts, at which the newest, Andaz, we recently dropped our bags. Andaz shares the Mayakoban encampment with three other resort hotels and their accompanying residences, each of which appeal to a slightly different demographic; we came for a long weekend and this is what we found at Andaz Mayakoba.

We’re very big on first impressions, and Andaz nailed it with their circular open-air reception area, The Sanctuary, which is built around a pool designed to resemble the fabled jungle cenotes.

 

Image by Tadeu Brunelli

 

Our airy open plan room looked out on to the hotel’s lagoon, home to hundreds of species of chattering birds – all of which are included in the rate. As was one fat, happy looking iguana – who may have discovered Mayakoba’s array of excellent dining options.

Indeed, with three poolside restaurants-slash-bars at the hotel, and no particular business to be done, cocktails en la piscina was a perpetual option. We couldn’t imagine saying no to an expertly made pina colada…and didn’t.

Guests of each resort have the privilege of touring the other three, expanding dining options exponentially – not that we wasted any time doing the math. Andaz by itself flaunts four superb restaurants, ranging from hipster casual at OllaTaco (Yucatan street food), to elegant fine dining at Casa Amate.

Technically there’s nothing outside of the Mayakoban encampment that you can’t live without; but we were in the middle of a Mayan jungle, so we got out and explored. Tours of the amazing cenotes (underground rivers, pools, and caves) are a must – our new friends at 4Worlds Expeditions escorted us through one of them, as well as taking us to a sacred Mayan cacao ceremony. It wasn’t quite “altered states,” but it was the middle of the afternoon, after all.

 

 

Image by Tadeu Brunelli

 

A series of canals and waterways connecting all four resorts flows throughout Mayakoba; Andaz offers an eco cruise that ferries you through mangrove covered banks while you try to catch a glimpse of a baby croc (we did). Oh and you can have them bring champagne and snacks (we did).

The beach. Do we really need to say? It’s stunning.

But Andaz’ de rigueur spa Naum was where we passed most of our leisure time – with such wellness wonders as a hydrotherapy room featuring a shaved ice face bath and a customized fragrance roll-on, made from ingredients you choose, as a parting gift. The hot stone massage was…hot stuff.

Perhaps we were most charmed however by El Pueblito, at the entrance to Mayakoba. Created to look like a town center of yore, with cafes, shops and even a church and a quaint stone gazebo. It’s a Mexican-inspired recreation of Mexico, in…err, Mexico. How meta.

 

 

 

Images 1,2,4,5,6,7,8 by Jeffrey Leder

Alex Guarnaschelli, April Bloomfield Headline 10th Annual Taste of the UWS

Share Button

Of all of New York City’s neighborhoods, the Upper West Side has rarely been cited for its dining scene. But more than 85 local restaurants come together this weekend for the 10th edition of the annual Taste of the Upper West Side, it may be cause for a rethink.

Lording over the proceedings will be the likes of April Bloomfield & Ken Friedman, who recently opened White Gold Butchers on Amsterdam Avenue, NY Times scribe Frank Bruni, and Alex Guarnascheli, judge on The Food Network show Chopped.

“I grew up going to lower school in that neighborhood,” says Guarnaschelli, “so it has great sentimental value. Plus it is a fun evening with great food, and I love the cause it benefits.”

 

 

The list of participating restaurants is virtually impossible to resist, from the posh (Jean-Georges, The Leopard at Des Artistes, Lincoln Center Kitchen, Boulud Sud), to the classic (Cafe Luxembourg, Isabella’s), to the sloppy (The Meatball Shop, 5 Napkin Burger), to the sweet (Magnolia Bakery, Sugar Factory, Jacques Torres Chocolate).

And the cause? Proceeds from the event go to local community improvement, including parks, schools, etc.  This year specifically will benefit the Wellness in the Schools program.

On-demand grocery-and-drugstore delivery service Max Delivery are one of the sponsors. And the company’s President Chris Siragusa enthuses, “As a local New York City company, it’s great to be involved with an organization raising money for community improvement through an event focusing on food. It’s a truly terrific opportunity to sample a wide variety of signature dishes from some of the city’s top chefs and restaurants, including even a few Michelin star recipients.”

Friday evening’s main event will be Summer in the City: Surf & Turf, and Saturday’s is Best of the West. All tickets can be purchased online.

 

10 Brilliant Reasons to Get to Moogfest 2017

Share Button

There is certainly no shortage of buzzworthy American music festivals. But Moogfest, which debuted in New York in 2004, is genuinely set apart from the others, launched as it was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the greatest synthesizer company ever – Moog, of course – giving it something of an aesthetic and ideological mission. To that end, it has also acted as a lab for the cultivation of new ideas, from the cultural to the social to the political.

The festival, coming up this week (May 18-21), is now entering its second year in its new home of Durham, North Carolina. And it comes at a historic time – as the state’s divisive “bathroom bill,” designed to ignorantly discriminate against transgender people, was just overturned on March 30. It was a “hallelujah moment” for civil rights.

This year’s program is among its best, and most diverse ever. Here are just ten of the reasons you need to be there.

 

The Lineup

In addition to electronic icons like 808 State and Simian Mobile Disco, the Moogfest stages this year will hold art rockers Animal Collective, nu-goth goddess Zola Jesus, superstar DJ Derrick May, Syrian singer Omar Souleyman and rapper Mykki Blanco.

The Protest Stage

Certainly a response to the tense political and social climate under the Trump Administration, Moogfest 2017 will feature a dedicated Protest Stage – with, amongst others, a performance by hip-hop provocateur Talib Kweli.

Michael Stipe

The former R.E.M. frontman, who has been noticeably quiet since the band’s 2014 breakup, will premiere a new multi-media installation, soundtracked by his first ever solo composition.

Stranger Things

SURVIVE members Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein will perform a live version of their score for the hit Netflix series Stranger Things – surely the most talked about new show of the last year.

Nick Zinner

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist will join Haxan Cloak for what is being intriguingly described as a “durational” performance. It’s worth going just to see what they actually mean by that.

Nona Hendryx

As vital a creative force as ever, the Labelle / Talking Heads legend will perform, and also conduct a discussion on her futuristic wearable tech instruments.

Peanut Butter Wolf

Will do an exclusive DJ set, which will specifically weave in the songs of recently deceased music legends, from Bowie and Prince, to Sharon Jones, George Michael and George Martin.

The Keynote

By Kate Shaw of CERN in Geneva, discussing the Large Hadron Collider – the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. Food for deep thought.

Thought-Provoking Themes

Will include discussions on such heady topics as Hacking Systems, Black Quantum Futurism, and Transhumanism.

The Future of Creativity 

Always the most urgent, exigent topic for the worldwide creative community, it will be addressed by some of its greatest minds.

 

A Weekend of Art, Lucha Libre and Tequila in Mexico City

Share Button

Ah, Mexico City, La Ciudad de Mexico, CDMX – you’ve heard a lot about it lately. Indeed, the New York Times named it 2016’s hottest destination…anywhere.

It is all true, every bit, everything you’ve heard (unless you heard it from the Trump administration). Mexico City is impossibly exciting, a boundless playground for foodies, artists, and history buffs. Like no other place in the world, and yet warmly familiar to anyone versed in the frenetic energy of a really big, busy capital. The old world rubs seductively against the new across all 573 square miles. But with all the urban sprawl, and so much to see, where to even begin?

At your hotel, of course. And we instantly fell in love with the incomparable  Grupo Habita property Downtown Mexico. Located in the city’s Centro Historico (historic center, if you hadn’t already figured that out), the exceedingly atmospheric hotel is as charming as it is chic; and you can walk to many of the most imperative sights, as well as the best shopping, restaurants and nightlife. Through the front entrance’s formidable wood and cast-iron-gate doors lies a majestic, moodily lit interior, from where a poignant Manuel Rodriguez Lozano mural gazes skyward on a far wall. There’s a MAC store. And this is just the lobby.

We started with lunch at the hotel’s Azul Historico restaurant, which serves up negro mole and other authentic Mexican fare to packed tables under a canopy of hanging candles and manicured trees.

 

 

Not far from the hotel, the landmark Palacio Bellas Artes (just one of 132 museums in town), features stunning works from Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and their most notable contemporaries. Another short walk takes you to the Museo Mural Diego Rivera, where his vibrant masterpiece, Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park, is strikingly on display. Swing by the Latin American Tower (again, just around the corner from the hotel) where a quick zip up to the 44th floor gets you some of the most spectacular views of Mexico City – and on a clear day, the pyramids resting on its perimeters.

You don’t have to go far to land in La Ciadudela, a glorious traditional craft market selling blankets, tapestries, rugs, bags, silver – something authentic to bring home and treasure forever. (“Remember, we got this in Mexico City?”)

For dinner – which happens late here (hot tip: if there’s a restaurant you can’t get into, try showing up around 7pm before the rush begins) – make a point of booking a table at Puntarena, which just happens to the right next door to the hotel. One of the city’s best seafood spots, it has a living wall, and a romantic garden patio.

Finish the evening at Downtown Mexico’s roof deck, open only to guests. Cocktail service runs late on weekdays, and on weekends a thumping dance party eventually ensues. Sip mezcal margaritas overlooking a glowing Calle Isabel la Catolica below, or take your drinks by the pool.

 

In the morning, after enjoying your coffee and chilaquiles on the terrace, hop a taxi to the nearby neighborhoods of Condesa, Polanco, and Roma. In Condesa, try Elena Reygadas’ Lardo, a lovely fusion of Mexican and Italian cuisines open for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Tall sliding glass doors open up onto the charming neighborhood streets, and its handsome bar fills quickly with what appears to be stylish friends and friends of friends. The neighborhood gem serves scrumptious fresh pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and home-made charcuterie – a bit of Europa in Mexico.

While in the area, browse local Condesa shops, like VOID, an über-hip vintage boutique with a neon sign over its entrance that says: “Come in, we’re closed.” The shop features rarefied vintage from names like Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, and Dior. They also have a curated collection of army jackets and band tees.

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, catch a Lucha Libre match at Arena Mexico. This traditional but wildly theatrical form of Mexican wrestling, where men and women dress head-to-toe in flashy costumes and stretchy face masks while stomping, flinging, and rocketing each other in and out of the ring, is an absolute hilarious spectacle. The show, the vendors, the fans – all of it feels like a rite-of-passage into the heart of Mexican popular culture. And culture, after all, is exactly what we came all this way to see.

And speaking of culture, you can’t leave Mexico City, of course, without a night of serious tequila imbibing. In the historic center, La Casa de Las Sirenas is a restaurant-bar with (we’re not kidding) over 250 labels of the indigenous spirit on display. The Cantina de Tio Pepe is another local gem in the same area – actually an English-inspired pub that opened in 1870 and has been a go-to for political discourse and a classy tipple ever since.

 

 

Five More Things We Loved About the Downtown Mexico Hotel

Moments after walking through the hotel gates, we were gobsmacked by the atmosphere. Hanging candles, lush greenery, two fabulous restaurants, and a lovely coffee bar and bakery. What a first impression!
Every room comes replete with luxe amenities: rainwater showers, doors that open to private balconies, super comfortable beds, and bets of all, thoughtfully stocked mini bars.
Fancy a dip? Sure you do. And the rooftop pool is the perfect place for it. Plus, the rooftop bar serves up delicious mezcal margs as well as wonderful bubbly libations.
Café con leche. Each morning we awoke at a very vacation-esque hour and stepped out to breakfast on the charming terrace. Nibble on sweet breads, yogurt, granola, or chilaquiles before starting the day’s adventures.
More pillows please? From laundry service to in-room massages to a glass of wine while you wait for your in-room massage to begin…for a big city hotel, they know a lot about personal pampering.