Whenever I walk the aisles of a well-known supermarket chain – which need not be named – it’s not an infrequent occurrence that there will tables set up where eager and (mostly) young people are engaged in demonstrations of new products, from chocolates to granola bars, from beer to coffee, from chips made from all variety of vegetables to dipping sauces to dunk them in. Most such products are launched on their journey to the commercial marketplace by being featured in the Fancy Food Show, which is staged by the Specialty Food Association twice a year and on both coasts – the Summer version taking place in New York at the Javits Center. Running from June 30 to July 2 in 2018, it promises not only to herald upcoming flavorful and imaginative additions to the American palate, but also to provide attendees – most of whom are engaged the food industry, from retailers to manufacturers to consultants, and the like – with opportunities to gain greater knowledge about the business while they network with partners, vendors and colleagues.
While the growth in the marketing and selling of books has undeniably and irreversibly been changed by digital media – chiefly by the presence and influence of a company I need not name – the resiliency of the publishing industry is nonetheless demonstrated by manifold developments. As BookExpo America, North America’s largest gathering of book trade professionals, prepares to descend upon Manhattan once again, it has been re-branded The Reimagined BookExpo (though the url to access detailed information about it remains www.bookexpoamerica.com) to reflect the evolving nature of the business, and while there will indeed be elements and presentations familiar to the global audience of publishers, writers, agents, booksellers and readers who attend the festivities unfolding at the Javits Center from May 30thto June 1st, there will thus, as always, be new wrinkles reflecting the ever-changing climate.
What’s new for APAP as the 2018 annual conference approaches starts with the name of the organization, which as of September has changed (and meanwhile in a way stayed the same). While the acronym APAP remains, it now stands for Association of Performing Arts Professionals – whereas previously it denoted Association of Performing Arts Presenters – and the switch reflects a desire on the part of membership, consequent to a vote held at the 2017 conference last January, to convey an expansion of the mission of APAP as well as a new initiative to include more arts professionals in its membership. This has been the third name change in the 60-plus year history of APAP – it began as the Association of College and University Concert Managers (ACUCM) in 1957, became the Association of College, University and Community Arts Administrators (ACUCAA) in 1973, and since 1988 has been known as the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.
Once again New York gourmands can welcome in the new year by attending a competition at which there are no losers – the Annual Cassoulet Cook-off at Jimmy’s No. 43, which will hold its 9th iteration on Sunday, January 15th from 1:00-4:00pm. Co-hosted with the Chefs’ Consortium, which will help source local ingredients for the competing chefs, it will feature both professional and amateur chefs vying for prizes from sponsors Wüsthof and Anolon Cookware for people’s and judge’s choice awards.
While there are undoubtedly many theories and philosophies regarding various diet regimens designed to ensure a healthy and long life, I have always maintained that gustatory pleasure for its own sake promotes one’s well-being – or, to put it another way, “the fat is where the flavor is.” Thus, it is with expectation that New York gourmands look forward to the second annual installment of The Great Big Bacon Picnic. Hailed as “The Bacon Event of the Year”, it has been moved to Autumn for 2016, and over the two-day weekend of September 24 & 25 there will indeed be a celebration embracing all manner of cured pork delicacies and artisanal spirits at the Old Pfizer Factory at 630 Flushing Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Perhaps the most striking group of mountains within the domain of the Alps are the Dolomites, situated in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige. They point towards the sky not in the pyramidal or conical forms commonly seen elsewhere, but rather as a collection of craggy, singular sentinels looming over a very distinct area of Italy with a rich artisanal tradition and agricultural bounty. Thus it is apropos that the unique soil and environment in this realm of pristine air, clear lakes, glaciers and diverse microclimates gives rise to some exceptional wines.
It may not be the case that Matt Groening’s everyman owes his record-setting television sitcom longevity to yeast, hops and barley, but certainly many a similar notable accomplishment has been fortified with regular consumption of Homer Simpson’s favorite quaff. Those sharing his obsession have something to look forward to as from February 19-28, the 8th Annual New York City Beer Week will take place – yes it’s a ten-day week, but would seven days be sufficient to allow for a sampling of the fine products of local artisanal brewers? In the elasticity of time, let work weeks be shorter, and beer weeks be longer.
For 2016 the APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) Conference offered a broad array of performers and entertainment to behold, not only for those members of the organization looking to fill out their calendars for the upcoming year – at arts facilities, festivals, colleges and universities and the like – but for aficionados of the performing arts in general. As the world’s largest networking forum and marketplace for performing arts professionals, APAP features more than 3,600 presenters, artists, managers, agents and emerging arts leaders from all 50 US states and more than 30 countries convening in one place at one time to both celebrate the disciplines they have dedicated their professional lives to, as well as discuss in many forums and panels the issues which impact the production and presentation of culture, both in the US and globally. While the Conference program unfolded over January 15-19 at the New York Hilton Hotel, the showcase performances which energize and thrill both members and general audiences alike took place over a longer period, from January 12-21 (with some showcasing performers in residencies extending for a week or more beyond), and could be seen at a great number of sites around New York in addition to the Hilton.
There is little better on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of winter than a hearty bowl of stew, and the version perfected in France, the Cassoulet, raises the concept to an art form. While there is no standard recipe, ingredients usually lean heavily on meats such as lamb and pork, slow-cooked in a savory mélange, and beans are essentially mandatory. At a previous cook-off one attendee remarked that he didn’t like beans – to which I retorted “going to a cassoulet tasting and not liking beans is like going to Bill Cosby’s house and not liking roofies.”
While January annually brings cold weather, it also avails New Yorkers a great and singular opportunity to indulge in the kind of pleasures one normally associates with the long days, warm and sunny weather, and open-air celebrations of summertime – namely, the feast presented by the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ event, slated for January 30th. Once again taking place at the Tunnel, at 608 West 28th Street, the Manhattan installment – the 7th annual – of Beer, Bourbon & BBQ is the opening event in a multi-city tour; future stagings are set for February 27 in Tampa, Florida, April 1 & 2 in Timonium, Maryland, May 7 in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 21 in Atlanta, Georgia, June 11 in Richmond, Virginia, June 17 & 18 in National Harbor, Maryland, August 5 & 6 in Cary, North Carolina, August 20 in Virginia Beach, Virginia and September 17 in Leesburg, Virginia. Named by Fest Forward the ‘Best of the Fests’ 2015 Award Winner, it is indeed a welcome gustatory escape from the rigors of winter.