Dock to Dish: Sampling the Sustainable Delights at Montauk’s New Showfish

 

 

It’s the same every Hamptons season: you’ve barely recovered from your Memorial Day hangover, and suddenly it’s August. And wouldn’t you know, we’d yet to set foot in Showfish, the buzzy new eatery in the stylishly renovated Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina.

We quickly remedied that situation, and learned just what all that buzz was about. Epitomizing the joys of laidback summer dining, the Montauk restaurant is the latest to follow the principles of Dock to Dish, a program recognized by the United Nations in 2017 for its innovative approach to sustaining our troubled oceans.

Indeed, Showfish offers up some of the freshest seafood all caught by local fisherman in the Long Island Sound, and prepared with vegetables sourced from local farms. The seasonally focused menu was created by Chef Jeremy Blutstein, who had won heaps of praise for his stint at Bridgehampton’s perpetually trendy Almond bistro.

 

 

But here, he is decisively elevating seafood shack classics to a whole new level of sophistication.

“As an East End native,” he explains, “it’s incredibly rewarding to utilize my longstanding relationships with the community’s top farmers, fishermen, bay men and artisans and put my knowledge of sustainable practices to use with local products. We really want our diners to experience the best of the region and to provide the opportunity to enjoy local produce and seafood in ways they haven’t before.”

The name Showfish is actually a reference to the sprawling nine-foot seafood display and lobster tank where diners can select their catch of the day.

 

 

Though we were tempted by the fruits de mer raw bar tower, we started with smaller shareable plates: the slightly cured Montauk fluke crudo, tuna crudo and scallop carpaccio. We then moved on to vegetarian options found on the From the Farm section of the menu, including Sagaponack Foster Farm spring asparagus and Quail Hill Farm warm carrot salad.

Chef Blutstein’s entrees, an innovative mix of the fresh and the cured, included some genuine showstoppers. Standouts were the house dry-aged bone-in tuna ribeye, tagliatelle with Maine uni butter and Calabrian chili, and, our fave, seared scallops with house-cured duck prosciutto.

Something you don’t often see out East, the cocktail program at Showfish Bar mirrors the restaurant’s values on sustainability and localism. Unused strawberry stems from the 1 Tequila 2 Tequila strawberry margarita are refashioned to create a strawberry vinegar used in dishes or in mocktails. Leftover fruit is also utilized in house-infused spirits and syrups such as the habanero herradura tequila and cucumber vodka.

 

 

Other potent tipples on the drinks menu included the Shaolin Sour, featuring Bombay sapphire, lemon verbena, matcha green tea, lemon and black sesame, and the Caffe Shakerato, Showfish’s excellent signature espresso martini.

Though the interiors exhibit an inviting, breezy-chic (rattan chairs, natural woods, parquet floors, curved white banquettes), we highly recommend dining alfresco, under the stars and twinkling lights, on the porch overlooking the marina. Oh, and Gurney’s has played host to the likes of Naomi Watts, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz – so here everything on the Dock to Dish menu comes with a side of superb people watching.

 

BlackBook Rooms w/ a View: W South Beach Hotel, Miami

 

 

It’s no secret that things change in the blink of an eye in trend obsessed Miami. But a decade after its debut, the W South Beach still finds itself at the epicenter of the scene during everything from Swim Week to Art Basel. At any give time, supermodels, contemporary art stars, glamour hunters, and the media cognoscenti will still be descending on this significantly design driven hotspot hotel.

We checked in during Miami Swim, while the W SoBe was playing host to some of the most anticipated shows of the season, as well as all manner of star power parties, beachside soirees, model-led fitness classes and even a few enlightening wellness conversations. We enjoyed a bit of genuine South Beach living in our Wonderful Studio Suite, where the ocean views were, must say, truly and absolutely wonderful.

Here’s what we loved.

 

The Location

Sitting just across the street from Collins Park (at 22nd and Collins), this gleaming glass beacon lords over South Beach, commanding unobstructed prime oceanfront views, and easy beach access. It’s not just a hotel, but a full-service resort – so outside of our scheduled meetings and parties, we hardly felt the need to leave the premises. But it’s also within walking distance of all the Downtown, all-night nightlife.

 

 

The Rooms

The Wonderful Studio Suite, is, we can confirm, exactly that. Feeling more like a lofty studio apartment than a hotel room, it’s got a home-away-from-home vibe, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a stark modern design that make the generous living space, from the wet bar to the sitting areas, feel even bigger.
Generous closets and a sprawling dressing space adjacent to the marble bathroom was great for our quick outfit changes. But after all the parties, we slept like an all grownup baby on the signature Heavenly Bed, topped with comfy Egyptian cotton sheets. When we weren’t out schmoozing, we spent a lot of time on the private glass balcony taking in the life-affirming, panoramic ocean views.

 

 

The Beach or The Pool

We soaked in the blazing South Florida sunshine at the lush, outdoor pool area, surrounded by poolside cabanas, and shaded by sweeping palm trees. But the beach is so close it takes little effort to find yourself dipping toes in sand on a pink and white striped chaise lounger…or floating in the cool, turquoise waters of the Atlantic.
A couple of times, we were craving daytime cocktails and a little light lunch fare; and, as happened, the beach and pool areas were fully serviced by the Wet Bar & Grille. So without even leaving our chairs, we were soon drinking rosé sangria and their signature Watermelon Krush cocktails and Skinny Wet Margaritas. When paired with a brick oven pizza and buttered lobster rolls, it was seriously winning.

 

 

The Restaurants

With its white brick walls, pendant lamps and all around artful atmosphere, we found The Restaurant at W South Beach a cool place to indulge in the daily happy hour of half price oysters and bubbles. But if you tend towards a bit of celeb-spotting/people-watching, the scene at haute Chinese eatery Mr. Chow is one of Miami’s best – as is the specialty Velvet Chicken.
But most nights we could be found prepping for an evening on the town, or grabbing a cultivated nightcap in the W’s signature Living Room Bar. There amongst the furry chairs and zebra pillows, impressive DJ talent could be counted on to rock us well into the morning.

 

Tabula Rasa: The 26th Annual Watermill Center Benefit Offers 100 Artists a Blank Slate

Images by BFA

 

 

Possibly the pinnacle of the Hamptons summer social scene is the annual Watermill Center benefit at the end of each July. 1,000 guests meander through an enchanted, 10-acre forested space at sunset, and experience fantastical performance art based around some or other esoteric theme – which, this year was Tabula Rasa: a blank slate with no preconceived ideas or common goals, open to interpretation by the current 100 artists-in-residence, hailing from all over the globe.

As the best art is meant to provoke or, hopefully, expand our minds, some of this year’s installations symbolized new beginnings, such as Humberto Diaz’ It’s All in Your Head performance with saran wrapped artists. Yet another, The Purger, nodded to surrealism and sci-fi, a half giant fly and man becoming one.

 

 

Notable guests from the art, philanthropy, fashion and social worlds who came out to support this year included Isabella Rosselini, Nicole Miller, Polina Proshkina, Peter Marino, Bill Powers, Sally Hirshberger, Kelly Behun & Jay Sugarman, Nicolas Bos, Madison Cox, Anke & Jürgen Friedrich, Alexandra Munroe & Robert Rosenkranz, as well as Katharina Otto-Bernstein & Nathan Bernstein.

The evening was generously supported by its presenting sponsor, Van Cleef & Arpels and honored Katharine Rayner, philanthropist and early support of The Watermill, as well as Carrie Mae Weems, artist and recipient of the Center’s 2017 Inga Maren Otto Fellowship.

 

 

Over dinner, guests enjoyed an immersive installation and performance by Bianca Casady of CocoRosie and Ira Anufrieva. Helga Davis performed a touching rendition of “Perfect Day” as a tribute to the late Lou Reed. DJ Kitty Cash kept the artsy after party going ’til the wee hours, as always.

The Watermill Center was founded in 1992 by avant-garde visionary and theater director Robert Wilson, and acts as an interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities, situated on ten acres of Shinnecock ancestral territory on Long Island’s East End. With an emphasis on creativity and collaboration, the Center encourages experimental artistic practice and regularly convenes the brightest minds from across many disciplines to do, in Wilson’s words, “what no one else is doing.”

From what we could tell, the mission remains a success.

 

Images: Champagne Armand de Brignac Throws Glam Hamptons Clambake

 

 

As Labor Day approaches, with its promise of spending less time in the sunshine, and more time chained to a laptop, the Hamptons cognoscenti palpably ratchets up the fabulousness, to get as much out of last of the season as possible.

To wit, Armand de Brignac, the prestigious champagne house owned exclusively by none other than Jay-Z, hosted an elegant summer sunset clambake this past weekend at the perpetually chic Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton. The swinging soiree paired the brand’s Gold Brut and Rosé, poured from metallic jeroboam bottles, with a raw bar of oysters and mussels and an interactive caviar station.

 

 

For the main event, chef Jean Georges – whose eponymous restaurant at Topping Rose is one of the Hamptons’ top tables – prepared an elaborate clambake, with lobster, clams and summer corn. Which we can definitively confirm all tastes better when washing it down with $300+ bottles of champagne.

The glittering guest list included Marc & Pam Murphy, Kelly Bensimon, Florence Fabricant, Andrew Warren, Casey Fremont, Julia Moshy, Tara Sowlaty and many more, who mingled by the pool in the balmy clime, before Andy Mac took to the stage for a live acoustic performance.

 

Music City Chic: Eight Particularly Excellent Things About the New Dream Nashville Hotel

 

There are those who express concern regarding the recent spate of relentless over-development in Nashville city center – but as we always ultimately have to admit, there’s simply no stopping…”progress.”

Of course, you can still seriously get your honky tonk on – or head to East Nashville for full hipster immersion, catching the latest indie darlings at Basement East. And the hard-partying city still loves its cowboy boots and 10 gallon hats, to be sure.

But on our last visit saw us checking in to one of the positive developments to come out of all that…development. Located just moments from so many of Music City’s main cultural attractions is the shiny new Dream Nashville Hotel – which brings a bit of NYC/LA chic to 4th Avenue N, while also revitalizing the storied Printer’s Alley – once the center of all manner of naughty behavior. Drawing from the neighborhood’s rich history and exuberant energy, the Dream has quickly become a magnet for the creative set, with six dining and nightlife venues, from the casual cool of Natura, to the sexy decadence of Dirty Little Secret.

Here’s what loved most.

 

Location, Location

Right along historic, sometimes infamous Printer’s Alley. The stretch the hotel occupies has been a nightlife district since the 1940s, and has even done time as the city’s Red Light District. It’s tidied up a bit now, obviously. But, hey, you never know.

The Rooms

Thoughtfully styled by Meyer Davis Studio, the 168 art deco referencing, loft inspired rooms are awash in deep jewel tones. Bold color schemes and playfully modern furnishings  play nice with the historic details of the landmarked heritage buildings in which the Dream is located. Deluxe King rooms have generous windows framing the Nashville skyline.

 

Easy 8

An ideal spot for a casual grab and go lunch or, even better in a town like Nashville, a late night, hangover pre-empting munchie run. They serve mouthwatering, overstuffed sandwiches, juicy burgers, and decadent options such as the Kobe beef hotdogs, that are as big on flavor as they are on calories. And did we mention their foot long french fries? Obviously the perfect way to soak up all that bourbon.

Stateside Kitchen

Something a little different for Nashville. Signature brasserie-style restaurant Stateside Kitchen serves up sophisticated modern American cuisine under a beautiful, airy glass atrium. Helmed by chef and Hillstone Restaurant Group alum Michael Kopfman, you’ll find yourself torn between the bucatini jumbo prawn pasta and the 22 ounce cowboy ribeye with, naturally, jumbo asparagus.

 

 

Your Chariot

Why call Uber when you have a complimentary 2019 Lincoln Navigator at your disposal? Guests can tool around Nashville in style and substance – and, like the steaks, it’s also really, really big.

Parlour Bar

Vibing with the legacy of the area, the intimate and sophisticated Parlour Bar skips the over-concepted-cocktail trend for a chance to update the classics. Whiskey and bourbon aficionados will appreciate the Suntory Sidecar, and the very southern Smoked Peach Old Fashioned. But there’s also the CBD laced Gin & Chronic, made, believe it or not, with strawberry rhubarb.

 

 

Snitch

Those who have fully committed to the fussed-over cocktail scene will love Snitch. Located right on Printer’s Alley, they’ve enlisted top local drinks alchemists to create a menu of distinctly Instagrammable imbibables. And when the DJs aren’t spinning familiar rock and hip-hop, expect impromptu live performances on their vintage stand-up piano.

Dirty Little Secret

And finally, we’ll let you in on the Dirty Little Secret…which is hidden behind the wall of an intimate All Saints boutique, also tucked away down Printer’s Alley. This dark and seductive hideaway hosts live music, intriguing entertainment, and some of the world’s top international DJs. Virtually anything goes.

 

 

Our Favorite Art Basel 2018 Moment: Loupe + TILA Celebrated Black Women Artists

 

With the Art Basel 2018 dust settled, we took a moment to reflect on what was surely our favorite moment: a brunch on December 5 which saw Loupe and TILA celebrate black women artists.

As one of the top streaming art apps in the world, Loupe has been a game changer in the way people view, experience and acquire art. For Basel, they partnered with Atlanta’s TILA Studios to host an EmpowerHer Brunch attracting a powerhouse audience comprised of 250 of the most prominent black female artists, curators, and influencers who celebrated their talents and held a spirited and exhilarating discussion about equity and the secrets of artistic success.

“I wanted women to have the same feeling I had the first time I visited Art Basel,” says TILA Studios founder, Tiffany LaTrice. “To see themselves and feel empowered knowing they had a seat at the table.”

 

 

Held at the high-profile Perez Art Museum Miami, the brunch was sponsored by Mailchimp, and featured lyricist and poet Aja Monet and keynote speaker, Naima J. Keith (Chief Curator at the California African American Museum), along with artists Nikia Phoenix, Ebony G. Patterson, and Myrtis Bedolla. Miami’s own Jill Tracey from HOT 105 and celebrity influencers Shelah Marie, Coco (Coco and Breezy), and TK were in attendance, as well.

The 10 featured TILA artists were selected by Grace Gardner, TILA’s in-house curator, and Daricia Mia DeMarr of the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport Art Program. Their inclusion was based on the creative ways they approached narrative elements in their work, and their past exhibition history. It was a rousing success, and infinitely inspiring.

Of course, BlackBook were already big fans of Loupe (see our ongoing collaborative City Guide Series), who have been exposing a new worldwide audience to both emerging and established artists, with 30 vibrant smartly curated channels of streaming art for both personal entertainment and purchase. They are the future of art, to be sure.

 

Report From Art Basel: Chinese Artist Liu Bolin and Ruinart ‘Disappear’ From the Cultural Cognoscenti

Images by Samantha Nandez, BFA.com

 

In the whirlwind of Art Basel soirees hitting South Florida this week, renowned Chinese artist Liu Bolin, who is sometimes known as the “Invisible Man,” performed a live exhibition, as he was painted amongst a large scale installation of the Ruinart iconic rounded champagne bottles. Cognoscenti from the fashion, art and philanthropy worlds gathered in the Miami Botanical Garden to witness his creation process firsthand.

Partygoers included Shea Marie, Andres Fanjul, TK Quann, Aureta Thomollari, Vik Muniz, Carlos Bentancourt, Soledad Lowe, Christie Ferrari, Eliza Mcknitt, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Alexander Lynx, David Castillo, Ezra J William, Umberta Gusalli Beretta and Olivia Perez, amongst many others. As they watched the behind-the-scenes look at Bolin’s meticulous artistic method, guest sipped Ruinart’s beloved Rosé, paired with canapes from Michelle Bernstein and tunes by DJ Timo Weiland.

 

 

Even those who didn’t score an invite to the swanky soiree were able to immerse themselves in the world of Ruinart x Liu Bolin via an installation at the Ruinart Lounge at Art Basel. Additionally, a Bolin-inspired tasting menu will be available at Cantonese hotspot Hakkasan.

After the bash, Blackbook had the chance to chat up Bolin, for some insight into his first live installation at Art Basel Miami.

 

How did you come up with the concept of the “Invisible Man”?

Since 9/11/2001 I was thinking about my body and how I could become invisible within society, as there are a lot of conflictive ideas between humans and society. My idea of disappearing into society reflects a lot of those conflicts.

Was it difficult to break into the Western art market as a Chinese artist?

After the Beijing Olympics, China has developed at an accelerated pace. And since then, a lot of art and artists have been more easily promoted, making the environment much easier now.

What would your dream project be?

Anything man can create I can blend into – and I’m interested in these kinds of challenges. At the moment, though, I haven’t really thought of any one challenge in particular.

How do you choose your background, and is there a larger message with each project?

In regards to having any purpose or meaning to the environment I choose, it doesn’t necessarily require a meaning in the beginning. As long as I can blend in to something it will acquire a meaning.

 

 

What do you think of the artistic movement of gender fluidity, where the subject is undefined by race or gender – and how does that compare with your artistic medium of being invisible?

For me it’s not important. Everybody has a choice.

How did you become involved with Ruinart?

The history of Ruinart really interests me, as well as their support of the arts and artists.

What are your current projects?

Next year I have several exhibitions coming up in Italy, France, Hong Kong, Israel, and Australia.

 

 

Weekend in Stockholm: A Stylish Guide to an Autumn Stay in the Swedish Capital

 

As surely the most comely Scandinavian capital, there are always so many reasons to love Stockholm. Picture perfect, and with beautiful inhabitants to match, it boasts 13th century medieval castles and jaw-dropping architecture, spread over an expansive archipelago of islands. Its cutting edge design, vibrant culinary scene and legendary nightlife continue to make it an imperative destination for the style set.

On our most recent visit, we went for the ABBA museum, and stayed for the scenery and cocktails. Here’s what we loved.

 

ABBA: The Museum

For campy fun, visit the museum that houses the world’s largest collection of everything about Sweden’s most famous musical export. Marvel at the music, films, memorabilia and, especially, those ’70s fashions. It’s a fully interactive experience.

Vasamuseet

Though the 17th century war ship at the center of this maritime museum sank less than 30 minutes into its maiden voyage in 1628, it was dredged up in its entirety 333 years later and restored to its glorious splendor. Predominantly intact after laying underwater for over three centuries, this is a fascinating time capsule of Sweden’s nautical history.

 

 

Djurgarden

The lovely Djurgarden was formerly the royal hunting grounds, and now a national park – where you will feel worlds away from the pace of the city center, which is just across a short bridge. Visit the Rosendals Trädgård, a fascinating biodynamic farm and greenmarket which grows its own flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs. Relax over a fika – the Swedish version of a coffee break – at their café, which serves casual farm to fork fare. For something a little fancier, book ahead for the opulent 19th century Villa Godthem, which was the former private residence of opera singer Carl Johad Uddman – and now serves classic Swedish cuisine in a plush setting.

Fotografiska

One of Scandinavia’s top photography museums, its current Noémie Goudal: Stations exhibition celebrates the story-telling French photographer. Its award-winning namesake restaurant is run by notable chef Paul Svensson, whose specialty is vegetarian seasonal dishes built on sustainability – and here, they come with panoramic views.

 

 

Langa Raden at Hotel Skeppsholmen

Greater Stockholm consists of 24,000 islands in a vast archipelago; the idyllic Skeppsholmen is one of the most picturesque, in the heart of downtown, and offering beautiful views. Taking advantage of the scenery is the gorgeous restaurant Langa Raden, located in the Hotel Skeppsholmen. Enjoy trad Swedish fare with a contemporary twist in a lush garden setting, right on the water’s edge. It dates back to the 17th century.

Tak

Offering panoramic rooftop views over Stockholm, this new-ish bi-level hotspot is helmed by Sweden’s rising newcomer Chef Frida Ronge. Trained in the fine art of the cuisine of Japan, she has gained numerous accolades for her Nordic-Japanese creations, which use seasonal local ingredients. When it’s not too cold, the alfresco rooftop terrace turns into an all-night party.

 

Tweed Bar

Located in the oldest part of the city, Gamla Stan, Tweed resembles a vintage British gentleman’s club, with Chesterfield armchairs set amongst antique nautical décor and plaid-lined walls. Its known for its extensive cocktail list, curated by Hampus Thunholm, who also created the beverage program for Fäviken (recently featured in Netflix’s Chef’s Table series).

 

 

Linje Tio

Recently named the 25th best bar in the world by Drinks International’s “World’s 50 Best Bars.” Has all the proper bells and whistles of a Brooklynesque hotspot, and is appropriately located in the hipster hood of Hornstull/Sodermalm. The creative cocktail menu changes seasonally; expect Negronis made with strawberries and saffron, and a beet-infused Absolut Vodka mixed with coconut, ginger, lemon and nutmeg. The front houses a barber shop which functions as an overflow lounge during peak hours.

Haktet Vänster

Roughly translating to “jail cell on the left,” this stylish “speakeasy” is fitted into two neighboring townhouses off Sodermalm’s busy Hornsgaten. Sip custom craft cocktails in a cozy space decorated in vintage kitsch, mixed with 18th century antiques spread around tufted banquettes. Though the menu features a bevy of original concoctions, the knowledgeable bartenders are always up for mixing something based on your taste preferences. It’s accessible only by an intercom.

 

 

Getting There: SAS Air

The easiest way to arrive into Stockholm is via SAS Airways, who offer the most non-stop direct U.S.-to-Scandinavia flights. They recently redesigned their long haul Airbus 330-300 aircraft with ultra-modern, hi-tech cabins, including SAS Business (fully flat beds), SAS Plus (Premium Economy) and SAS Go (Economy). SAS Plus cabins also feature spacious seats and free WiFi, large entertainment screens, in addition to lounge access, and extra luggage allowance. All travelers can enjoy onboard cell service. The seasonally changing Nordic themed culinary program was also redesigned by celebrated head chef Peter Lawrence. And through a partnership with Danish brewer Mikkeller, passengers can also select from more than a dozen craft beers, brewed with high-elevation in mind.

Stay: Downtown Camper

Stockholm’s latest hospitality hotspot – located in the downtown neighborhood of Brunkebergstorg – it’s themed around “glamping,” playing to Swedes’ love of nature and the outdoors. The lobby is reminiscent of a hip tech company’s HQ, with design nods to sustainability, and a skylit concrete lobby adorned with usable kayaks. Exuding that invariably chic Nordic minimalist aesthetic, the cozy rooms are awash in a neutral gray with wool throws and a window box couch to stretch out on after a day of exploring. Refuel in their signature restaurant, aptly named Campfire, which serves delicious and unfussy Scandi comfort fare amidst sumptuous sofas and tufted chairs.

 

An Overview: Women – Janelle, Janet, Florence – Food + Wine Stole the Show at This Year’s Outside Lands

Janelle Monae, by Josh Withers

 

Let’s be honest, Outside Lands is now almost as much about the gourmet provisions as it is about the music. Named for the Richmond District where Golden Gate Park sits, the festival pays homage to the musical roots of the Bay Area, with the spirit of the Summer of Love, but with the bougie influence of the cash-flush tech industry.

Yet unlike Coachella or Lollapalloza, there is something romantic about a gathering under the majestic trees of San Francisco’s most beautiful park. While the majority of the 200,000+ guests were born after 1990, where we were was an eclectic mix of tech titans such as Evan Spiegal (founder of Snapchat), rubbing shoulders with Insta influencers, and aging hippies who could afford the $800 3-day VIP passes and $80 glasses of rare red cabernets. However, the unpredictable Bay Area weather and impending fog dictated fashion choices where down jackets and faux fur coats were spotted over rompers and cutout sundresses.

For the first time since its inception 11 years ago, the headlining acts were women, who gave some of the most exciting performances, including Janet Jackson, who closed the proceedings. Playing for a full 90 minutes, it was a blast from the past as she trotted out her most beloved hits from the ’80s to the present, with an electrifying accompanying dance performance.

 

Janet Jackson, by Josh Withers

 

With concurrent shows going on, organizers planned accordingly to satisfy different musical genres and age groups. During Ms. Jackson’s set, for instance, most of the millennials were at the other end of the park watching French electro whiz DJ Snake wind down festival.

And though the opening Friday featured Pharrell Williams tearing it up with N.E.R.D., and a great show by the Weeknd, it was another female who stole the day. Indeed, Carly Rae Jepson sent the crowd wild at the other end of the park with her infectious, energetic pop hits; and surely stealing the show was her drag queen backup dancer, who flaunted a bevy of rainbow colored wigs.

On Saturday, Janelle Monae also turned in a thrilling set, confirming her status as not only this generation’s most uncommon R&B singer, but also an ingenious performance artist – with wild costumes and dramatic stage changes against the cold fog that was rolling in. Closing Saturday night was Florence and the Machine, with Ms. Welch reminding why she is consistently considered one of our most electric live performers

 

Florence & The Machine, by Josh Withers

 

Not only did the crowd come for the music, but also the curated art and elevated gourmet experiences. While you could down $10 draft beer, stadium hot dogs and burgers were nowhere to be found. Instead, provisions came from some of the Bay Area’s finest eateries – Azalina’s, Guittard Chocolate, Fiorella, Pacific Catch, Petit Marlowe – along with an impressive range of fancy Napa and Sonoma wineries. And tapping into the new cannabis culture, the inaugural “Grass Lands” was set up, which was a sensorial “look and touch but don’t taste” exploratory exhibit, which celebrated California’s recent legalization of the stuff.

Admittedly, we were given access by Chase Sapphire to a VIP cardholder’s lounge, and their Feast in the Trees tasting events. Situated by the Panhandle stage, the rarefied area provided a second floor viewing platform, lifesaving private restrooms, and happy hour gourmet taste/pairings every day at 6 pm.

As part of it, there was a magical sunset family-style dinner in Golden Gate by Chef Hugh Acheson, a Gary Danko alum, under towering redwood trees. Another event celebrated the best of Northern California’s offerings, with the winemakers from Las Jaras Wines, who paired their limited edition vintages with bites from local favorite Tartine Manufactory.

Perhaps it was the tech influence of the Bay Area, but Outside Lands does it right – capitalizing on the egalitarian, highbrow and yet also low-key vibe of San Francisco. But it wasn’t all grooving and indulging: we got thoroughly sucked into the thoughtful, intellectual “D.A.V.E.” (Discussions About Virtually Everything) programming, with the likes of Bill Nye and Gavin Newsom – a necessary bit of brain food amongst all the decadence.

 

Feast in the Trees