Stuff to Do

AllNY.com's look at things to do in NYC written by New Yorkers for New Yorkers and serious New York tourists.


Slow Down and Smell the Orchids at the New York Botanical Gardens This Week…. Then Enjoy an Evening of Food, Drink, Dance and Music

The Bronx’s New York Botanical Garden is in full bloom with its daffodils, azaleas and tulips. But it’s the Garden’s exotic orchid show in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and its after-dark program, “Orchid Evenings” that add a special something to programming this spring. This year’s orchid show with its thousands of delicate orchids is a tribute to Singapore, the “City in a Garden” where orchids are a vital part of the culture and landscape.

Orchids from Singapore as well as from the Bronx collection are on display in full dazzling colors and shapes.

Orchid Evenings

There’s still one more week to enjoy the beauty of these Singaporean orchids and indulge in a fun evening reminiscent of Asian night markets. Dancers, live DJs and outdoor food and drink vendors are as enticing as the flowers.

The show was developed in partnership with Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay. Some of the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ signature Arches make their appearance here in specially designed versions, adorned with thousands of orchids and other tropical flowers. Gardens by the Sea has contributed their Supertrees, amazing vertical shapes dripping with orchids of all colors created especially for the New York Botanical Garden. The trees have another function as well; they are embedded with photovoltaic cells that harvest solar energy, not as important within the confines of the Conservatory in the Bronx but important in Singapore.

Plan your timing so that you can explore the gardens outdoors by day, enjoy the orchids in their indoor setting as dusk falls, and then indulge in the outdoor fun that will have you smiling until late. You can also reserve an early-evening table at the Hudson Garden Grill (last reservation is at 5:30pm).

1st time in NYBG’s history, they're naming a new orchid hybrid after a public figure and beloved native New Yorker, Vanda Awkwafina

Tickets can be purchased online for either day entry to see the orchids or for the full evening experience.

Evening tickets are available for the weekend fun, with entry times at 7pm, 7:30pm or 8pm, on April 26 and 27. No one under 21 is allowed.

2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York, 718-817-8700   https://www.nybg.org/event/the-orchid-show/

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It’s Rock and Roll and the World at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Two exciting exhibits are currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The first, “Play It Loud” is a must-see for anyone who fancies himself or herself a rock ‘n roll fan.  The exhibit consists of rooms and rooms tracing the history of iconic instruments of rock ‘n roll from 1939-2017 with many used by musicians like Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Joan Jett and Lady Gaga. While there are more than 130 instruments on display, the exhibit is not surprisingly guitar-heavy.  If you’ve been curious about the origin of the electric guitar, the evolution of Stratocasters, and other guitar paraphernalia, the exhibit gives you more information than you’ve probably ever imagined. It’s all an interesting path through one of the most important artistic movements of the 20th century, and the videos with explanations of the power of guitar work and music by Keith Richards and Eddie van Halen add some real-life star power to the show.

Music plays in each room, illustrating the time period shown.  In the first room, you’ll need to pause a moment to take in the actual Beatles drum set and guitars dating from 1963, a powerful trip down memory lane. Many of the display items representing instruments from more than 80 musicians are on loan from notables like Paul McCartney, so it’s a rare chance to see these up close.

There’s a lot more than guitars, although the guitars on display are pretty fabulous. You’ll see costumes worn by Prince and Jimmy Page. There’s a sculpture made from pieces of the smashed remnants of Pete Townshend’s electric guitars, the purpose-built multi-neck guitars of Don Felder (The Eagles) and Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), a Moog synthesizer customized by Keith Emerson along with his electric tone-wheel organ, an electric piano, and the pianos played by Lady Gaga on the Jimmy Fallon Show and a vintage gold-painted one played by Jerry Lee Lewis. Design fans will love the psychedelic hand-painted guitar from Keith Richards who admits to have painted it while high, St. Vincent’s personally designed guitar, Bo Didley’s red “Twang Machine,”  the drums from Keith Moon’s colorful “Pictures of Lily” drum set and Jimi Hendrix’s notable “Love Drops” electric Gibson.

Concert fans have a treat in store. The room of vintage concert posters spans the globe. It’s almost inconceivable to note that the Rolling Stones played at Carnegie Hall and tickets cost a mere$3.50.  Or that there was a concert with a lineup of The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and The Rascalls, all together at Flushing Meadow Park, again for only $3.50 per ticket.

And, of course, there’s a room with  footage of a variety of important concerts where you’ll want to soak in the atmosphere and stay to watch multiple times.

A special MetFriday evening celebrating rock and roll will include performances, talks, lectures, screening and workshops on September 13. Organized by The Met Museum’s Department of Musical Instruments and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, “Play It Loud” is the first major exhibition in an art museum dedicated entirely to iconic instruments of rock and roll.  “Play It Loud” runs through October 1.  #MetRockandRoll.

Before you leave the museum, head up to the Cantor Roof Garden where a new outdoor installation has just been unveiled.  Named ParaPivot I and II, the massive dual pieces were designed by Alicja Kwade, a well-known artist from Berlin who exhibits regularly at Gallery 303 in New York City and has shown at exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale.

Set against the backdrop of Central Park and Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, Central Park South and Central Park West skyline, the site-specific sculpture makes a dramatic setting for a day or evening out, particularly in the warmer months when the roof turns into a cocktail party in the evening.

As described by the artist herself, the installation is a consideration of the world, noting how “it’s amazing that we are a full world spinning on a ball.”  Thinking about that, she added nine spheres as key elements to her powder-coated steel frames. The frames intersect at oblique angles, creating transparent boxes through which you can contemplate the world as well as the New York cityscape beyond. The placement of the massive globes on the frames gives the impression of looking at the orbital pathways of the globe.

You have until October 27 to take a look.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, https://www.metmuseum.org/.

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Dining Like a President at Blackbarn Restaurant

This past Presidents’ Day, I had the privilege of experiencing a truly presidential meal, thanks to chef-owner John Doherty of Blackbarn restaurant in Manhattan. While the American-inspired restaurant has received numerous accolades for its cuisine and wine for the past four years, it’s this meal that’s truly the stuff of food legends. Through the middle of March, Chef Doherty is sharing his years of creating meals for dignitaries while executive chef at the Waldorf=Astoria in what he’s labelled the World Leader Menu. The dinner is an exceptional experience, served at Blackbarn’s exclusive Chef’s Table in full view of the restaurant’s open kitchen.

The five-course meal that I enjoyed was curated from dishes that had been served to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, George W. Bush,  Bill Clinton and other world leaders, updated for today’s diners with Blackburn’s farm-to-table spin.

Enhanced with wines selected exclusively for the dinner, the meal began with a consommé and ravioli of wild mushrooms and truffles, a rich (and very pretty) presentation that was a wonderful opener on a chilly evening. The paired wine was an interesting Rojac Malvazja, a local variant of malvasia, from the Istrian peninsula in Slovenia. I could imagine the original 1988 inspiration for this mushroom-based dish, the former Chairman of the Soviet Union of Socialist Republics’ Mikhail Gorbachev, smiling with appreciation along with his hosts President Ronald Regan and President Elect George H. Bush.

Two strikingly different main courses followed, a seared Maine diver sea scallop set atop a pillow of potato mousseline and graced with a smidge of Oscetra caviar. The somewhat briny taste blended beautifully with a California grenache blanc and was a favorite of President Clinton in 2000 who happened to be dining at the restaurant the same night that I did. The second entrée, a gift for any meat lover, was a lovely rack of lamb in rosemary jus, served with a medley of salsify, lemon and tomato and an eggplant terrine along with one of my favorite red wines, a deep-hued Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany. The dignitaries who had previously enjoyed this dish were President George H Bush, James Baker, General Brent Scowcroft (the National Security Advisor under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. Bush) and Prime Minister John Major of the United Kingdom. I felt honored indeed.

A cheese course arrived next, a small portion of triple-cream Brillat-Saverin with a dollop of fig jam and a garden salad as perfect now as it had been in 1985 when it delighted the six leaders of the free world during the 40th anniversary of the United Nations. Dessert, a dreamy chocolate caramel tarte adorned with gold leaf amid a raspberry coulis, also had a connection to the United Nations, as it had been served to President George W. Bush after his address to the United Nations Assembly in 1997. The pièce de résistance, a vintage port from the Douro Valley, was presented with panache and an elaborate opening ritual, befitting its extraordinary 1970 creation.

It is my hope that this meal which honors Presidents Day and the great leaders of the world will become an annual event. I’m excited to return to the NoMad restaurant to absorb more of the striking barn-meets-industrial design, sample Chef Doherty’s other farm-to-table menus, and maybe visit the beautiful wine room downstairs. Or I’ll come back to try another Chef’s Table evening – the menu changes each month and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Blackbarn, 19 East 26th Street, New York, NY, 212-265-5959. http://blackbarnrestaurant.com/

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An Immersive Night of Humor and Wonder with Paul Mecurio — Buy Tickets Now

Paul Mecurio is the type of performer who enthralls and amazes. He knows how to warm up a crowd — he’s the opening comic every night on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He’s a talented comedic writer – he was an award-wining writer for The Daily Show on Comedy Central. And, on his own, he’s an exceptional performer. His one-man show, Permission to Speak, is an unscripted journey that changes each night where Mecurio creates an event that involves the audience as much as it does himself.

An Emmy and Peabody Award winner, Mecurio melds comedy with life stories. Be prepared to be called on stage to share your story from Paul’s point of view. Personal memories, observations and feelings all come into play in this mostly politically correct and unusual show. This isn’t stand-up comedy as you might be used to, because you’re as much part of the show as he is. Your photo could become part of the show as well. You’ll walk away with a connection with people you’ll likely never meet again. And given the audiences that flock to this show, some for the third and fourth time, you’ll share the wonder of New York and the world all at the same time.

Paul sums it up, “As a performer I’ve found everyone has a story –  fun, interesting and always entertaining stories that others should hear but no one has ever bothered to ask.” This is your chance to hear them all without judgment.

Permission to Speak has two more performances in March before it morphs into something much larger under the auspices of Mecurio’s producer and director Frank Oz. Don’t miss this – tickets are available on Telecharge here. Use the code: PMFAN for a half-price ticket.  The Actors’ Temple Theatre, 339 West 47th Street (between 8th and 9th avenues).

Can’t get enough of Paul? He’ll be part of the comedy line-up at the Stand Up Showcase at Stand Up New York in February as well. 236 West 78th Street.

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Celebrate the Oscars with a Long Weekend of Drive-In Movies (and Dinner) in Manhattan

For the third consecutive year, Westfield World Trade Center will roll out the red carpet for the Tribeca Drive-In: Dinner and a Movie film screening series, organized in partnership with the team behind the Tribeca Film Festival, and taking place from Thursday, February 21 to Sunday, February 24 – just in time for this year’s major awards season!

Westfield World Trade Center’s Oculus

During the four-day series, visitors to Westfield World Trade Center’s beautiful Oculus in Lower Manhattan can get a free ticket to screenings of five past Oscar® nominees and winners from 1982-2004. Tickets can be reserved in advance here. Admittance and seating is first-come, first-served.  www.westfield.com/wtc/dinner-and-a-movie 185 Greenwich Street, New York

The schedule is a stunner:

Thursday, February 21, 7pmAs Good as It Gets (1997) – Directed by James L. Brooks, starring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Skeet Ulrich.  When a gay artist is assaulted and hospitalized, his cranky neighbor must care for his dog, triggering a change in formerly selfish attitude.  Two Oscar wins and five Oscar nominations.

Friday, February 22, 7pmField of Dreams (1989) – Directed by Phil Alden Robinson. This three- Oscar nominee for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Original Score, is a fantasy about a farmer who builds a ballpark in his cornfield, where long-dead Major Leaguers gather to play. Remember the line, “If you build it, he will come?” This is where it comes from.

Saturday, February 23, 12 NoonHugo (2011) – Directed by Martin Scorsese. A young orphan lives in a train station in 1930s Paris and tries to repair a mechanical man built by his father. Five Oscar wins and six Oscar nominations.

Saturday, February 23, 7pmE.T. (1982) – Directed by Steven Spielberg. A lonely boy befriends a homesick alien stranded on Earth and attempts to help him find a way home. Four Oscar wins and five Oscar nominations. “E.T. phone home,” is still one of the favorite movie lines of all time.

Sunday, February 24, 12NoonFinding Neverland (2004) – Directed by Marc Forster. A biography of playwright J.M. Barrie focusing on his relationship with a young widow and her sons, and the role it played in inspiring the children’s classic Peter Pan.  One Oscar win and six Oscar nominations, and the inspiration for the hit 2015 Broadway musical which starred Kelsey Grammer as Captain Hook.

Pre-film fun includes live music performances presented by BMI, a seating lounge for relaxation, special displays of fashion and accessories by stylist  Samantha Brown, photo ops and food and beverage service by Westfield World Trade Center restaurants and eateries including Epicerie Boulud,  Eataly NYC Downtown, Nunu Chocolates and Sugarfina.

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Valentine’s Day Ideas for New York Procrastinators – It’s Not Too Late

Bad weather, busy schedules, forgetfulness…. All can put you in a position to need a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift or reservation.  Not to worry – we’ve got you covered with these incredibly interesting and available fun things to do for Valentine’s Day (or later) in New York City.

Bluebird London

Dining out is a no-brainer, unless you can’t get a reservation. Since this special lasts for three days, you might have a chance.  At the glamorous, truly gorgeous import from London, Bluebird London, Valentine’s Day will be a special evening. Offered from February 13-15, the special prix fixe menu features four courses of decadent offerings, like Oscietra caviar served on warm buckwheat blini with sour cream; duck foie gras and chicken terrine with Sauternes jelly and toasted brioche; beef Wellington for two with mushrooms, truffle and red wine jus; and dark chocolate and passionfruit mousse with Champagne. Pair the indulgent menu with a selection of shareable cocktails like the Thyme for Tea with Johnnie Walker Black Scotch, Drambuie, Rishi Tea Earl Grey, honey and thyme and you’ll have a memorable evening. The Columbus Circle restaurant’s been packed since it opened – it’s on everyone’s “hot” list. Now’s your chance to score some points! https://www.bluebirdlondon.nyc/restaurant/

Ben & Jack's Steakhouse

As they say, here’s one that you’ll see “only in New York, kids, only in New York.” Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse in the Theater District, in partnership with Judges For Love, Inc., will be performing private vow renewal ceremonies in a private dining area at the restaurant. Of course, a special prix fixe menu and Champagne options accompany these celebrations. Ribeye and romance, anyone?  http://benandjackssteakhouse.com/

Since pizza is a New York favorite, why not celebrate Valentine’s Day with a heart-shaped one at Sorbillo on the Bowery. On February 14, the Naples-inspired restaurant will be serving a four-course prix fixe menu  including the pizza, a  Prosecco toast, antipasti like fried calamari and Fiori di Zucca Ripieni (ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers), a main dish such as Fettuccine alla Bolognese or Saltimbocca alla Romana, and the pièce de résistance,  Sorbillo’s angelini (crispy pizza dough with Nutella) for dessert. www.sorbillonyc.com

Sorbillo

If you’d like a more relaxed and perhaps more private celebration, consider Sir Henri Penthouse for a boozy special. On the penthouse floor of Hotel Henri in the Flatiron district, you’ll soak up the speakeasy vibe in this dimly lit space filled with cozy nooks perfect for snuggling up with your sweetie.  Sir Henri’s Valentine’s Week cocktail specials include fun drinks like Tickle Me Pink, Glow of Love, and Lovely Lilac. If you decide to spend the night in the hotel, you’ll get two free cocktails. www.sirhenriny.com

Sir Henri Penthouse

For a seductive overnight gift, book the “Fifty Shades of Pink” package at the Moxy NYC Downtown in FiDi. You can start your evening at the retro-inspired bar Recreation where you’ll enjoy a specialty Valentine’s cocktail, bar bites and even a movie. Recreation’s half-court sized basketball court will be transformed into a cozy movie theater showing a special Valentine’s Day movie. After, your hotel room awaits along with the evening’s special toys: romance play cards, handcuffs, a blindfold and sexy chocolates. https://www.moxynycdowntown.com

Moxy NYC Downtown

The Pierre Hotel is giving you lots of choices to book your last-minute celebration.  You could surprise your sweetie with a stay at the hotel for a truly romantic evening, and, if you do, you’ll be treated with a decadent bottle of Taittinger Champagne and a pair of crystal flutes from Tiffany’s, yours to take home as a souvenir of your romantic evening. The following morning, you’ll breakfast at charming Perrine, the hotel’s swanky restaurant. And what’s better, you can book this romantic getaway any time through February 28 so you don’t have to stay in the middle of the week.

The Pierreny

If you’d rather do something on Valentine’s Day itself, however, the Pierre’s Two E! Lounge will host a special afternoon tea menu featuring heart-shaped sweets, extending the hours until 8pm. Or choose dinner, instead, at Perrine with a romantic three-course menu of seasonal favorites and the aptly named Temptations Four Ways dessert: orange dark chocolate mille-feuille, warm single origin chocolate hazelnut cake, milk chocolate crème and white chocolate lavender ice cream. It’s as pretty as it’s decadent. https://www.thepierreny.com

What would Valentine’s Day in New York City be without a party with an international twist? At Fonda in Park Slope (Brooklyn), the East Village and Chelsea, you can indulge in a traditional Mexican celebration of El Día del Amor y la Amistad (the Day of Love and Friendship). Each dish of the meal takes on a cheeky, romantic significance starting with the Sopa Marte y Venus which pays homage to Mars and Venus (a twist on the traditional soup with a Venus love overlay), Lovers’ Guacamole mixed with mango and red grapes, and Shrimp Apasionados adorned with passionfruit. The dessert is Chef Roberto Santibañez’s Valentine’s Day version of a lava cake with bright red raspberry sauce and whipped cream.

Fonda

Also embracing the Mexican spirit, at the Dream Downtown, Bodega Negra’s Executive Chef Brad Warner has created a romance-inducing menu of guacamole made with white chocolate, hibiscus, pomegranate and almond tostadas; lobster ceviche; and sarape, a seductive combination of delicata squash, hen of the woods mushrooms, mole and queso Chihuahua. For a sweet finish, Chef has some fun with a selection of limited-edition conversation desserts, reminiscent of the candy hearts traditional for Valentine’s Day. Diners will pre-select a personalized saying such as “Mi Amor” (my love), “Te Amo” (I love you), or “Besame” (kiss me) to be embossed on their celebratory Tres Leches dessert. Book your dinner and pre-select your dessert message by February 13.

Bodega Negra

Since Valentine’s Day and chocolates go hand-in-hand, you could buy your SO a gift from the luxurious bean-to-bar chocolate company, MarieBelle in SoHo – they’ll even deliver to you if you live in Manhattan — but you might actually want to go to the shop together; MarieBelle is a feast for the eyes as well as the appetite with its gorgeous room and tantalizing choices. Pick out some artisanal ganache, lavish truffles or chocolate bars, or indulge at the Cacao Bar in the back where you can also select from a menu of desserts, pastries and hot chocolate drinks. This is one of Manhattan’s hidden gems. https://mariebelle.com/

Mariebelle

Another way to satisfy a chocolate lover is to reserve a table at the luxe Alsatian-inspired Gabriel Kreuther restaurant near across from Bryant Park where you can try Chef Kreuther’s new Chocolate & Liquor Pairing.  www.gknyc.com Guaranteed to wow any foodie, dinner and dessert here will be evening to remember. And you can take the experience home, too, from the next-door Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate emporium where pastry chef Marc Aumont has created some of the most beautiful chocolates and pastries you’ll find anywhere. For Valentine’s Day, there will be many special chocolates including Chocolate Heart Locks inspired by the love locks lining Paris’s iconic Ponts des Arts bridge; Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Pops, a molded dark chocolate heart lollipop decorated as a chocolate-covered strawberry; Pink & Red Confetti Heart yogurt chocolate bars; Cherry Cola Dollhouse Donuts coated in pink and red; and a Chocolate “Hug” Sculpture inspired by the copper statues in NYC subway stations. www.kreutherchocolate.com

Gabriel Kreuther

If all this isn’t enough to win a New Yorker’s heart, the Seaport District’s iPic movie theater and Tuck Room restaurant are offering two over-the-top packages for Valentine’s Day. If you’re sure that you’ve picked your mate for life, you can pop the question here. You can choose the Big Screen Proposal Package, where you create your own proposal to be shown on the big screen with a surprise “movie trailer,” an extravaganza that will make any romantic filmie swoon. This celebration can be as large as you’d like, too, by including friends and family (unknown to your sweetie, of course) and arranging a catered meal with cocktails.

The Tuck Room

Or go completely crazy with the “I Do” package in the secret Green Room at the Tuck Room at iPic, where a four-course aphrodisiac  dinner includes a diamond ring tucked inside a golden apple cloche with the words “Will You Marry Me” written in chocolate and gold dust on the outside. That’s truly “A Night to Remember.” https://www.ipictheaters.com/#/home/ http://www.thetuckroom.com/

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