This Week’s NY Happenings: LUCKYRICE, Taste Of The Nation, Manon

NOW: The Mother Of All Rice Fests Returns
LUCKYRICE is back in New York and ready to celebrate all things Asian with a superstar lineup. Tonight is the kickoff, with Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese, and it’s already sold out. Fortunately other tickets remain, as the festival tours through ramen with Chuko, Filipino food with Umi Nom, and a cabana night market at The Maritime Hotel. On Thursday night the focus shifts to “chef cocktails.” Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto hosts while luminaries from Experimental Cocktail Club, Macao Trading Co., and his own Tribeca Canvas put Asian accents on some very fine sips.

LUCKYRICE kicks off tonight, April 29th. Cocktail Feast: A Journey East starts at 8pm on Thursday, May 2nd, at The Bowery Hotel (335 Bowery, East Village). Tickets for the cocktails are $40. To learn more aboutt he hotel, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides. Photo by Parliament of Owls.

NOW: Taste Of The Nation
Seventy of the city’s best bars and restaurants will all be in one place tonight as the 26th annual Taste of the Nation goes off at 82MERCER. Players like ACME, Pouring Ribbons, and The Dead Rabbit are only the beginning, and all proceeds go to fighting childhood hunger.

Taste of the Nation starts at 7:30pm on Thursday, April 25th, at 82MERCER (82 Mercer St., Soho). General admission tickets are $225 ($185 is tax-deductible). To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

WEDNESDAY: Manon Opens In Meatpacking
Moscow’s Cafe Pushkin peeps take another stab at NYC with glossy Meatpacking triplex Manon. The kitchen is run by a former Public hand, working up seasonal ingredients with international accents. Industrial ironwork meets chandeliers on the glossy interior. Opulence, it has it.

Manon (407 W. 14th St., Meatpacking District) opens Wednesday, May 1st. To learn more about the restaurant and lounge, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Know every inch of this city by checking out BlackBook’s NY City Guides, & signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email. 

Cider Week Is Here

The best thing about apple season is making and drinking apple cider. But even as many New Yorkers recognize that, most don’t go into a bar thinking about hard cider. Well, this coming week aims to change that as all across the city more than 180 restaurants, bars, and other venues celebrate the crisp, fall beverage.

Running from October 12 to the 21, you can hit up numerous events like Saturday’s Harvest Beer and Cider Sessions at Factory On Kent, which includes over 20 ciders from around the world, artisanal apple spirits, and local beers. On Sunday, hit up the Cider Revival at the New Amsterdam Market in Manhattan. From 11am to 4pm, shoppers can try ciders paired with season hor-d’oeuvres by Marlow and Sons, and purchase not only hard and virgin cider, but other goods made with New York apples. After that, across the street from the market is a cider tasting at the wine shop Pasanella and Sons from 4 to 6pm. 

On Monday, City Grit hosts a southern cider dinner featuring drinks from Virginia’s Foggy Ridge and New Hampshire’s Farnum Hill Ciders. Also on Monday, you can trek to the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle to get Doc’s Hard Cider on tap with cheese pairings and cider donuts, or stay downtown at the Bowery Whole Foods for other cider samples and more donuts. 

The celebration continues all the week with plenty of cider samples and pairings, including cocktails with Aaron Burr, a talk about woman in cider and cheese at Murray’s Cheese, and tons of hard cider tastings. For a complete list of the events, you can check out their website

If you can’t make any of the events this week, you are still in luck. The whole month is dedicated to cider and restaurants all over the city have embraced some form of this on their menu, including Rose Water, The Darby, Bklyn Larder, The Breslin, Txikito, and over a 100 more. So, if you want to celebrate this magic apple juice, now is the time.

The Governor Is In: Colonie Spreads Its Brooklyn Reign in DUMBO

When a group of servers who formally worked at Public got together and opened their first restaurant Colonie, it was gamble to see if people would take the trek to Brooklyn Heights to check out the place. After all, first time restaurateurs Elise Rosenberg, Emelie Kihilstrom, and Tamer Hamawi, were running it. Even before it opened, people were excited, and once they unlocked their doors, it was packed daily. Later, chef Brad McDonald joined the team and a scant year-and-a-half after opening Colonie, the team debuts their third restaurant Governor, which opens in DUMBO today.

“Brad was ready to do something of his own in New York and in his neighborhood,” said Rosenberg. “He had recently moved to DUMBO and was appalled by the lack of dining choices, which is very similar to Colonie’s situation in Brooklyn Heights.”

The new restaurant focuses on foods dear to McDonald’s heart, meaning he takes dishes from his training at Per Se and the famed Noma in Copenhagen.

“We [at Governor] are more creative than Colonie and here it’s more about comfort and innovation without being pretentious,” said Rosenberg. “We want to be the neighborhood restaurant where you can walk in wearing jeans and grab a snack or come in for a full-on tasting menu.”

The tasting menu isn’t in full swing yet, they are after all just opening today. But the regular menu is chock full of options that stem from McDonald’s foraging expeditions and, like the other restaurants, uses local and seasonal ingredients. The space is key too. Located in the Clocktower Building at 15 Main St., Governor boasts 18-foot ceilings that allowed them to add a mezzanine to the restaurant. They are right next to the water and the 60-seat venue has a full bar where they have created a seasonal cocktail list complete with fresh juices.

Now, the team has to see if Governor will garner the same crowds as Colonie and their Mexican restaurant Gran Electrica, also in DUMBO. But, if it takes after its namesake,Robert Gair, who was nicknamed Governor and who the building was erected in honor of oh so long ago, it will be strong and good. 

Our Man in Miami: A Night on the Town with Irvine Welsh & Public Enemy

“My God. Did that really happen last night? If I didn’t have pics I’d swear it was just an extended jetlag and writing fatigue hallucination.” That’s from my pal Irvine Welsh, who texted me as soon as he woke up last Sunday morning. It seems a particular portion of our Saturday night was a little far-fetched even for a man whose mind is behind some of the most out-there novels in the history of literature. Then again, catching Public Enemy in a locked-down burlesque joint on a sultry late summer evening is almost too surreal to be believed by anyone.

Irvine had flown into town on Friday and given me a ring, and we’d agreed to meet the next night. At the time, I had no idea where we’d go, but I figured something swingin’ would come up. Little did I know that it’d be something that swung in straight from another world.

Like all wild nights, it began with some splendid fortification. In this case, it was at the ever-hopping Mercadito, which opened in Midtown Miami back in May and hasn’t had a mild night since. As always, our host was the indefatigable Brian Hicks, a Chi-town native who seems predestined to table-hop. As a manager, Brian makes Mercadito move as smoothly as the Miami River. As a man, he’s the consummate gentleman. and he never fails to make patrons feel more than welcome.

Mercadito, which means “Little Market” in Spanish, knows how to feed folks too, with perfectly-portioned delicacies sourced as fresh and as fine as it comes. The cocktails are also crazy cool, and we opted for some pineapple concoction that tasted like a treat from Dionysius himself. Perhaps that’s why the rest of the night came off as some sort of ecstatic madness – we’d drunk from a god’s flask, and now we had to pay for it.

And how. The drive up to La Fee Verte was pleasant enough. As we crossed the 79th Street Causeway, Irvine filled me in on his August in Edinburgh at the legendary Fringe Festival, and I tried to counter with recollections of my summer in the thick of it all. We talked about books (he’s here to finish up a novel called The Scag Boys), flicks (he’s in L.A. next week to see about the filming of his book Filth), and women; or more precisely, his one and my lack of just one (Irvine’s longtime accomplice happens to be one of the most remarkable women alive).

We entered La Fee Verte expecting no less than sheer sexy from the get go, and we weren’t disappointed one bit. The art, the furnishings, the colors, the lights – all harked back to a time when burlesque was big business. Here, a man has to pinch himself to remember he’s actually in the 21st century.

But all the trappings in the world wouldn’t mean a thing if the entertainment didn’t also hit the mark, and here the joint outdoes itself. Aurora Natrix, Milena Hale, and my own personal favorite, Nicole Soden, shook and shimmied their way into our hearts as if they’d been designed to be broken. Call me a masochist, but there’s something about a tease that leaves me reeling; something delicious indeed. And these three knockouts knocked the proverbial wind out of me.

Then it happened. The lights dimmed, the room went silent, and a voice came out of the ether: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Chuck D and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy!”

The crowd, such as it was, went nuts. And Irvine and I looked at each other with a note of utter surprise. We kind of expected Chuck D to be there – Flavor Flav, on the other hand, was always in doubt. That the two would then ascend to a go-go dancer’s poled platform and launch into some of the most riotous hip hop ever to blast from a boombox never once entered our minds. Sure, we counted on hearing the hits, but from a stripper’s perch? Not in a million years.

Things got even kookier when Chuck and Flavor started serenading the birthday boy, who’d obviously coughed up a good chunk of change both to lockdown the joint and to lure what’s left of Public Enemy. And from the way these hip hop heavyweights bantered about, the largest part of that chunk must’ve been going straight into their pockets. But who am I to criticize? The cat made it possible for me and Irvine to see two of rap’s most historical figures from within arm’s reach. And at the end of it all, we both felt as if we’d seen something few people ever would see – let alone believe.

Street Beautes: How NYC Keeps Cool in the Heat Wave

Being the kind of writer who does most of her work from the confines of an artificially cooled office, the idea that there are street-style paparazzi clicking along cobble stone streets in 103 degree heat strikes me as a novel, if slightly hazardous, concept. So novel, in fact, I decided to leave the comfort of my 70-degree office yesterday to do some face hunting myself. But as I sweatily tramped around the island of Manhattan, I wasn’t searching for the jazziest outfit, the stealthiest stomp, or the new ‘it’ lipstick shade: I was curious to find out just how girls on the go were keeping their makeup from running down their faces. Not surprisingly, at peak heat yesterday afternoon, there weren’t a large number of girls trotting around Nolita. In fact, many of the girls who were taking a stroll were so concerned with the state of their frizzing hair or sweat-stained T, they refused to have their photos snapped. The gals who were doing it right (somehow managing to keep a cool brow while I sneaked into coffee shops for napkins and brief moments of AC reprieve) were happy to share their big secret: keep it simple, take the subway, and have a cocktail.

image Megan Ross, Prospect Heights “I’m about to try to grill at my friend’s apartment, but it seem like a better plan to stay inside, directly in front of an air conditioner.” Spotted: Waiting for her friend on a bench on Mott near Spring Street. How She’s Keeping Her Cool: I’m wearing really loose clothing. Besides that, just drinking a ton of water and taking the subway—the subway was actually heaven compared to walking around on the streets today. Melt-Proof Beauty Tricks: I’m not wearing any makeup, just sunscreen—LaRoche-Posey Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen—and very large sunglasses.

image Laurel Lang, Williamsburg “I don’t have air conditioning, but I’ve been doing my best to find reasons to be in places that do.” Spotted: On her way to work at Public, on Elizabeth between Prince and Spring Streets. How She’s Keeping Her Cool: I’ve just discovered the most amazing iced lollies from this place next to Saltie in Williamsburg. I found them as I was wandering into places that had AC. I also spent the day at the beer garden Radegast Hall to watch the soccer match. Basically, I just stay out of my place as much as possible. Melt-Proof Beauty Tricks: I can’t say enough about waterproof. Waterproof liner and mascara is all I’m wearing right now.

image Moa and Saga, Sweden “We had to put a lot of thought into what to wear today because we didn’t want to carry a lot of stuff, and we packed nothing for this kind of weather.” Spotted: On the way to get frozen margaritas to go, on the corner of Stanton and Chrystie. How They’re Keeping Their Cool: We’re staying in a hostel that has air conditioning, but unfortunately they are having some problems with the electricity because it it so terribly hot. So now we are going around, looking for ways to keep cool. We heard about this margarita stand that has frozen drinks to go, so we’ll try that. We also have to be creative with what we are wearing—I’m (Saga) tying up this dress to make it shorter. Melt-Proof Beauty Tricks: Go natural—no makeup is the best thing to do to keep your face from feeling like it’s melting off.

Elsewhere in the City

Alma Jodorowsky, Paris Spotted: Strolling the High Line image

Marina Tregubova, New York City Spotted: The “L” Train image

(Photo Via)

New York: Top 10 Pancakes

In his book Eat Me, notable flapjack flipper Kenny Shopsin writes of pancakes: “They are flour and milk drowned in butter and some form of sugar. They’re crap.” We love crap!

Clinton Street Baking Company (Lower East Side) – Even fashion x-rays throw carb-rexia to the wind for these scrumptious slapjacks. Blueberry buttermilk ‘cakes are the fairest of them all. Fluffy pillows of the nutritionally void. Unlike socks-n-sandals or back hair, it is totally acceptable to order a supper stack. ● Tom’s Restaurant (Prospect Heights) – Born back in ’36 and still rolling with the whippersnappers. Harvest pancakes studded with tryptophan BFFs cranberries and sweet corn — b.y.o. turkey gristle. Lemon ricotta with lime butter, famous banana walnut, boy. Free coffee, cookies, and lollipops while you wait. Old but spry. ● Public (Nolita) – Nerdy library gimmick can’t obfuscate simple beauty of coconut plus ricotta plus mango plus pancake. Pour out some ginger lime sizzurp. Books are for wussies and tropical fruit is for men. Save some room for kangaroo too.

Shopsin’s General Store (Lower East Side) – Much like cranky owner Kenny Shopsin, these pancake flavors are tripping balls. Mac and cheese, s’mores, butterscotch, the ever popular “slutty” — infused with the essence of stripper perfume, Parliament Lights, and pumpkin. Put years on your life by memorizing your order (“Tasty II”) before approaching diminutive Essex Street Market stall; the pancake Nazi don’t play. ● Balthazar (Soho) – Though scenetastic breakfast starts many a player’s day at McNally’s faux bistro original, apple cinnamon pancakes are for the people and thus only available during weekend brunch. Do like the tourists: smother it in maple syrup and don’t look back. Plus bowls of coffee to make your teeth grind. ● Norma’s (Midtown West) – Come early, leave poor. Burger Joint’s evil twin pumps out clever hotcakes — think lemon mousse, hot chestnut, dollops of Devonshire cream. A mere $20-plus per stack. Awesome place to squire treating in-laws. Just beware the OJ hustle: waiters swoop in with pitchers of spendy “fresh-squeezed” and fill you up before you can say boo. ● Sarabeth’s (Upper East Side) – Lemon and ricotta buttermilk delights — worth braving Connecticut’s embassy to the UES. Easy-listening jams and cozy pastel space puts a happy face on patrons’ rotting souls. Bring kids or rent some. Xoxo. ● Kitchenette (Tribeca) – Country kitchen with kitschy ‘50s charm and oh-so-modern ‘tude flips up griddle goodies galore. Four-grain ‘cakes come berried, lumberjacked (add two eggs and bacon), or Bridgehampton, baby — shrunk to silver dollar size and slathered in yogurt. For the alcoholics among us, available until 4:30 in the pm. ● Good Enough to Eat (Upper West Side) – Say it three times fast with a hangover: Peter Paul pancakes, please. Tongue twisters thankfully go down easier than ’09 Lohan with Belgian chocolate and coconut. Or opt for single, massive apple ‘jack decorated in cinnamon sugar and sour cream. Disarmingly friendly farmhouse may promote paranoia: There must be spit in my pink lemonade! Relax. ● Bubby’s (Tribeca) – Rib-stickin’ Southern cookin’—also the name for your belly after inhaling a stack of extra fluffy sour cream slapjacks. Banana walnut version claims to be sautéed, but doubtful your arteries can tell the difference. Perfect double shot of nostalgia and cholesterol. Is that Harvey Keitel?!

NYC: Free Films Featuring Free Food

imageAll right, recessionistas and frugal-living cheapskates. This one’s for you. Starting this Saturday, the NYC Food Film Festival will be kicking off its third season. What makes this festival a standout is the part where they not only serve the films to you at no cost; they also hand out free food at the films — food that was featured in the films. Genius! So that means if you head on over to the Beef Is Bueno screening, you might just score some Argentine beef for your belly. Likewise, if you choose Know Your Mushrooms (which has an amazing score by The Flaming Lips), you’ll also be treated to a mushroom-tasting session. More details and fest trailer after the jump.

Screenings of films take place at Astor Center, Water Taxi Beach L.I.C, and Water Taxi Beach South Street Seaport. While most every screening is actually free (and the food too!), you will have to buy tickets for the opening night and the mushroom night. Opening night ($35) features a pair of short films by Joe York: “Mutton: The Movie” and “Buttermilk: It Can Help.” The food portion will include BBQed mutton and a buttermilk tasting. The mushroom night will feature a showing of the film “Know Your Mushrooms,” and the food part will include a mushroom tasting as well as Chef Brad Farmerie’s (of Double Crown and Public) aged ribeye mushroom cheesesteaks. Both of those nights are at Astor Center. Other than those two ticketed events, entry is free, though the festival is requesting donations of two canned goods per person for the Food Bank for New York City. Check out the full schedule here.

New York: Top 10 Surprisingly Affordable Meals

imageWhether due to a possible celeb sighting, a massive amount of food and booze, or just straight-up delectable eats and swank digs, these spots — at least by New York City standards — give you real bang for your buck.

10. Azuki Sushi (Flatiron) – Students and students-at-heart who load-up on at least $15 worth of fresh Japanese eats are treated to unlimited house wine and hot sake. 9. Fatty Crab (Meatpacking District) – A welcome antidote to the Meatpacking District’s endless gimmicks and attitude; all you need here is a love for spicy eats. 8. Chef Ho’s (Upper East Side) – Forget about Chinatown — this UES joint is sparkly clean, has a friendly staff, and for $28 you’ll get a traditionally prepared whole Peking duck (enough to feed three hungry diners) served with scallions, cucumber, and pancakes.

7. Rio’s Churrascaria (Midtown West) – Come hungry — very hungry — because Sunday through Tuesday, for $29, you not only get a sizable portion of steak, grilled chicken, salmon, pork loin, or beef ribs, but you can hit 40-plus dishes at the Brazilian spot’s hot and cold buffet. 6. Public (Nolita) – For $14, why not try grilled kangaroo? 5. L’ybane (Midtown East) The diminutive French Riviera import offers a $40 chef’s tasting menu that comes with 14 dishes — think chickpea fritters, moussaka with eggplant & cheese, 2-day marinated meat skewers. You’ll be stuffed through the next day’s afternoon. 4. Republic (Union Square) – A spot so worth checking out that former BlackBook intern Ryan Adams wrote an affectionate ode to the diminutive spot chock-full of under-$8 options. 3. Indochine (Greenwich Village) – The fact that you might find yourself seated next to French Vogue Carine Roitfeld — who counts Indochine among her fave restaurants — is just the cherry on the cake of this perennially delicious hotspot. 2. Matsugen (Tribeca) – Frank Bruni-approved, and you can now enjoy a six-course mini-omakase dinner menu at one of Jean-Georges’ finest for $35. 1. Mia Dona (Midtown East) – Not for nothing was Donatella Arpaia a tough judge on Top Chef — Mia Dona, which she owns along with chef Michael Psilakis, offers top-notch Italian eats that are filling without being heavy. And the menu also includes a variety of exceptionally well-prepared under-$20 entrées.