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A Hot Theater Opening and Plays about to Disappear

Quick!  These are shows that you need to pay attention to:  one has just opened and is hotter than hot. Two others are closing soon or have limited runs. I can only encourage you to jump on your computer and book any or all of these as quickly as you can.

Just Opened and Hot, Hot, Hot

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is the Broadway extravaganza translation of Baz Luhrmann’s enormous film hit which starred Nicole Kidman as Satine.  With a playlist of 71 songs that extend into current music phenoms like Lady Gaga, Pink, Katy Perry as well as perennial faves like Elton John and the Rolling Stones, this show will have you paying attention as you play “name that tune” throughout. The set is gorgeous with the theater transformed into the Moulin Rouge that you’ll recognize from the movie.  As Satine, Karen Oliva wows as do Danny Burstein as Harold Zidler, and Aaron Tveit as the lovestruck playwright Christian. You’ll be covered with confetti before you leave.  Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, www.moulinrougemusical.com

Limited Run

Oklahoma! is the re-imagined Rodgers and Hammerstein favorite, done up in a way that’ll make you look twice at the classics.  The band is on stage, playing a countrified version of singalongs like “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” or “Surrey with the Fringe on the Top.” The costumes are contemporary, and there’s a daring use of light and dark. Plus you’ll be treated to an intermission refreshment of vegetarian chili and cornbread. Ado Annie is played by wheelchair-bound Ali Stroker in a role that won her a Tony award for best featured actress in a musical. For a special experience, try to score a seat at one of the floor tables – you’ll be right in the center of the action. The show closes in January so you have a little time, but not that much.  Circle in the Square Theatre, 235 West 50th Street, 212-239-6200, www.OklahomaBroadway.com.

Closing Soon

The Cher Show is to Broadway what Cher’s Farewell Tour is to Las Vegas – a tribute to one of the greatest music divas of our times. Spanning Cher’s five-decade (or longer) career, The Cher Show has three Chers, each portraying a span of her life. Babe is the young Cher, discovered by Sonny Bono.  Lady is the Cher of Sonny and Cher and the solo Cher. And Star, in a tour de force Tony-winning performance by Stephanie J. Block, is the mature Cher who continues to find and re-invent herself.  Cher fans will know every song, while fashionistas will marvel at the array of Bob Mackie costumes. I wish this one were playing longer, as I’d really love to see it again, and I’ve already seen it twice.  Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 52nd Street, 877-250-2929, www.TheCherShowBroadway.com.

Dan’s Taste of Two Forks Guarantees One Hot Evening in the Hamptons This Weekend

Get ready for the Hamptons’ much-anticipated foodie event, Dan’s Taste of Two Forks. This year marks the ninth year of the delicious event which is held at Fairview Farm at Mecox in Bridgehampton, New York on the shore of Mecox Bay.

On Saturday July 20, from 7:30-10pm (VIP entry at 6pm), chefs from more than 40 restaurants and winemakers from more than 15 vineyards in the Hamptons will come together to serve up some of the best food and wine offerings from the East End. Both North Fork and South Fork establishments are represented, feeding hungry (and thirsty) guests who also enjoy music under the direction of DJ Phresh. It’s a chance to try out the creations from restaurants you may not yet have visited as well as from your favorites. I’m especially excited for tastes from some of the Hamptons’ newest venues like T Bar Southampton and Anker (Greenport) and the new team from Claudio’s (Greenport).

Participating restaurants and food purveyors include Anker by Wolfgang Ban, Backyard Brine by Cori Anne and Randy Kopke, Calissa by Dominic Rice, Chocology Unlimited by Linda Johnson, Claudio’s by Franklin Becker, Peter Ambrose of Events by Peter Ambrose, Fairview Farm, First and South by Mynor Ortega, Grace & Grit by Adam Kaufer, Green Hill by Wolfgang Ban, Insatiable EATS Catering & Events by Marco Barrila, Joe & Liza’s Ice Cream by Sean O’Donnell, Kontiki by Cheo Avila, Main Road Biscuit by Marissa Drago, Mirabelle Restaurant by Guy Reuge, North Fork Chocolate Company by Steve Amaral, North Sea Tavern by Michael Basta, Page Restaurant by Cleon Clarke, Paola’s by Stefano Marracino, PORT Waterfront Bar & Grill by Bruce Miller, Saaz by Sameer Mohan, Salt & Loft, Scarpetta Beach by Jorge Espinoza, Shinnecock Lobster Factory by Marco Barrila, Shock Ice Cream by Elyse Richman, Showfish at Gurney’s Star Island by Jeremy Blutstein, Shuckers Lobster & Clam Bar by John Heaney, Smokin’ Wolf BBQ & More! by Arthur Wolf, Southampton Social Club by Scott Kampf, Spiro’s Restaurant & Lounge by Spiro Karachopan, T Bar Southampton by Tony Fortuna, The Clubhouse by Brian Schlitt, The Frisky Oyster by Robby Beaver, The Garden at Water Mill, The Halyard at Sound View Greenport by Stephan Bogardus, The Tackle Box by John Saladacara, Topping Rose House by Drew Hiatt and Union Cantina by Scott Kampf.

Vineyards include Borghese Vineyard and the Montauk Wine Company. Beer and spirits will also be flowing.

Borghese Vineyard

The evening begins at 6:30pm with a VIP reception at the Waterfront VIP Lounge and special treats. General admission starts at 7:30pm. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit All For The East End (AFTEE) that showcases and provides support to the more than 1,000 charity organizations in the five East End towns. Fairview Farm at Mecox, 18 Horsemill Lane, Bridgehampton, New York. #tasteoftwoforks

Celebrate Bastille Day at the French Institute Alliance Francaise in New York City

The Fourth of July is over, but not the celebration.  On Sunday, July 14, Bastille Day will be commemorated  in the US with as much pomp and joie de vivre as ever.  It’s a wonderful time to bring out those red, white and blue colors again and add a French twist. https://fiaf.org/event/2019-07-14-bastille-day

In New York City, the celebration takes center stage at FIAF, the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) with entertainment, food and drink, and kids’ programs.

Some of the wonderful events that day include a screening at 5:30pm in FIAF Florence Gould Hall of thedelightful French comedy C’est la vie!, written and directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, the duo behind the award-winning film The Intouchables. The story involves a wedding planner/caterer who must pull off a magnificent wedding in a 17th-century French château while the celebration and his personal life descend into chaos. It’s a hoot, French-style. (In French with English subtitles).

Tickets are a mere $13.

Another entertainment favorite, renowned French singer Gérard Chambre, with Eric Breton at the piano, will perform French songs made memorable by singers like Charles Trenet, Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, Charles Aznavour and my two personal favorites, Jacques Brel and Johnny Hallyday, whose voices have left their mark on France and the world.  The “Si on chantait l’Amour” program takes place at 3pm in FIAF Florence Gould Hall as well.  And heureusement, it’s free!

If you don’t feel like sitting indoors, there will be entertainment all day long outside, and it’s all free, too.

Taking place from 12:35pm until 5pm, there is a line-up of performers sure to please everyone in your group.

On the Main Stage, at East 60th Street and Park Avenue, the music and dance are non-stop:

12:35pm – Can-Can: Joanna Wronska

12:40pm – Music: Chloé Perrier & French Heart Jazz Band

1:10pm – Music: The Love Show

1:25pm – Feather Dance: Joanna Wronska

1:30pm – Music: The Blue Dahlia

2:15pm – Music: The Love Show

2:30pm – Music: Les P’tites Ouvreuses

3:15pm – Music: The Love Show

3:30pm – Music: Rodeo Joe

4:15pm – Zouk Dance Lesson: Franck Muhel

On 60th Street, you’ll find a range from mime to marching bands:

12:50–4:20pm – Mime with Catherine Gasta

12:50–4:20pm – Live Art with COCOVAN

12:55–5pm – Citroën Car Show

3pm – Hungry March Band

Kids won’t be ignored either. If music and dance isn’t their thing, take them to the “Fly Away with Books Workshops for Kids” from 1-4pm in the FIAF Library Booth in front of FIAF. Here, French illustrators and authors will lead three playful and imaginative workshops designed especially for kids. Starting at 1pm, and appropriate for the youngest in your group (ages 4 and up),  there are three age-appropriate sessions with card games and art.

If you, like me , think France…. and Champagne, rosé and macarons immediately come to mind, you’ll be très contente as well with two indoor food and beverage fêtes.

A Champagne, cocktail and jazz party takes place in two sessions in the afternoon in the FIAF Skyroom, with Champagne from Besserat de Bellefon, Delamotte, Laurent-Perrier, Michel Gonet, and Pol Roger; cocktails from Gioffard; and treats from Jacques Torres Chocolate, Ladurée, and Maman. All this is set to music by The Avalon Jazz Band.  1:30pm-3pm and 3:30pm-5pm

Straddling this event is a “Summer in Provence Tasting”, proving that French rosés are equally as wonderful as those from the North Fork.  Accompanied by a tasting of cheese from Président, charcuterie from Trois Petits Cochons, beer from Kronenbourg, and cocktails by Ricard, you’ll sample wines from Château d’Esclans, Château La Gordonne and Château Miraval.  12-4:30pm in the FIAF Tinker Auditorium.

For the shoppers among you, you’ll love the “Côte d’Azur France Village” marketplace on East 60th Street from Fifth Avenue to Lexington Avenue.  Along these three blocks, you’ll find more than 40 booths with all sorts of French food, culture, travel and other items.  “The French Garden” showcases premium French fashion, accessories, food and travel brands as well as treats from Strasbourg.

Captivated by all the wonders of France?  You can sign up for FIAF membership and French classes while you’re there, too, at a special price. And don’t miss your chance to win a trip to Cannes. You can purchase tickets in advance here, and you don’t have to be present to win.

Enjoy the Last Weeks of Patio Dining and Drinks in Brooklyn and Manhattan

Now that Hurricane Florence has finally passed and glorious weather is upon us, it’s time to dine outdoors again while the temperatures are still lovely. Here are some wonderful restaurants and bars with patios perfect for people-watching and soaking up the rays in these last few months before fall hits.

Brooklyn

Pig Beach, 480 Union St. Gowanus; www.pigbeachnyc.com

Pig Beach is the critically acclaimed outdoor barbecue restaurant located in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn from Chef Matt Abdoo (Del Posto) and award-winning barbecue teams, Salty Rinse and Ribdiculous Bar-B-Krewe. The all-star team here brings an eclectic barbecue-focused menu to the Gowanus waterfront showcasing barbecue varieties from around the United States. If you’re chilly, there’s also a large indoor space, now open year-round. Come here, first, for a canoe trip on the Gowanus – it’s an experience you’re unlikely to forget.

Gran Electrica, 5 Front St. DUMBO; http://granelectrica.com

Another Brooklyn favorite, Gran Electrica is the Bib Gourmand Mexican restaurant located underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in DUMBO. Gran Electric offers an authentic and market-driven Mexican menu inspired by traditional Mexican street fare. From hand-pressed heirloom corn tortillas made daily stuffed with lengua, cilantro, onion and radish, to day boat scallops marinated in aguachile, the cooking shows diversity of the many regions of Mexico. The beverage program incorporates Mexican flavors with seasonal ingredients and also features an expansive agave list with more than 50 types of tequila, mezcal, racilla and sotol. The large outdoor area has a breathtaking view of the Brooklyn Bridge. To get here, rent a Citi Bike from Chinatown and bike over the Manhattan Bridge.

Sauvage, 905 Lorimer St, Greenpoint; www.sauvageny.com

Sauvage, meaning wild in French, is a neighborhood restaurant in Greenpoint, founded by the team behind James Beard Award-winning oyster bar and cocktail den Maison Premiere. The decor, cocktails, and wine all add to the restaurant’s distinct dining experience, creating an outdoor “natural” environment with a lush profusion of planted herbs and botanicals filling the restaurant. Facing nearby McCarren Park, the sun-filled restaurant has a lovely outdoor seating

Manhattan

The Smith Restaurant & Bar, Lincoln Square, Upper West Side; https://thesmithrestaurant.com

The Smith offers a wonderful choice for patio dining after an evening at any of the ballet, music and theater venues at Lincoln Center or Jazz at Lincoln Center on Columbus Circle. Under the direction of Executive Chef Brian Ellis, The Smith’s menu features bistro classics and seasonal fare from local farmers and purveyors. The restaurant has a popular craft cocktail program with house-made ingredients featured and an extensive wine selection which includes more than 20 wines by the glass or carafe.

Bowery Road & Library of Distilled Spirits, Union Square;

www.boweryroad.comwww.libraryofdistilledspirits.com

Taking its inspiration as well as ingredients from the nearby Union Square Greenmarket, Bowery Road is an all-day restaurant serving market-driven fare from Chef Ron Rosselli.  Some of the seasonal appetizers include pinto bean hummus with mole spice, seeds and flatbread; roasted carrots with pine nut cream and garlic-honey vinaigrette; marinated beet salad with avocado cream, pomelo, hearts of palm, and almond dukkah. Main courses mix vegetarian with meat-centric choices such as the Union Square Market grain bowl with farro, quinoa, lentils, avocado, broccoli, mushrooms, and sunflower; or Niman pork adobo with mango, radish, onion and corn crepes.

Together with adjacent craft-cocktail destination Library of Distilled Spirits, where more than 1200 different spirits are offered, Bowery Road gives a Manhattan sidewalk-patio dining experience that’s unusual in its spaciousness. Happy hour is popular here as a stop en route to the nearby subway hub, serving up a menu of well-priced cocktails, wines , beer and a shareable bucket and beer filled with fried chicken, two draught beers and snacks.

Vinatería, 2211 Frederick Douglass Blvd., Harlem; www.vinaterianyc.com

At this beloved Harlem neighborhood restaurant, market-driven and vibrant dishes celebrate the rich culinary traditions of Italy and Spain. Cult favorites like spicy veal meatballs with creamy parmigiano polenta, or fresh rosemary pappardelle with lamb ragu attract a clientele of both locals and visitors. Vinateria’s expansive wine list is chosen from small producers and is full of surprising yet accessible finds, while the artisan cocktail program uses house-made tinctures, seasonal produce and fresh-grown herbs from the restaurant’s own garden. A large outside patio wraps around the restaurant (a corner building), seating 40.

Tavern on the Green, Outdoor Courtyard, Upper West Side; www.tavernonthegreen.com

Tavern on the Green’s outdoor courtyard is the perfect Central Park location for brunch, lunch, and dinner under the soft glow of string lights. Seasonal dishes from Chef Bill Peet include seared yellowfin tuna nicoise salad, miso marinated glazed marrow bone, wild mushroom toast on brioche, and smoked salmon tartine, with trout caviar. The bar at the top of the courtyard offers a separate setting for beer, wine, and cocktails such as white peach sangria, and the refreshing Hot as a Cucumber craft cocktail made with vodka, jalapeño, fennel, and cucumber. Enjoy a wonderful walk in the park to get here – the restaurant is located off Central Park West at West 67th Street or via the interior roadway encircling the park.

Off-Broadway Week: 2-for-1 Tickets Starting September 24 on Sale Now

Off-Broadway fans will love NYC & Company’s 10th Off-Broadway Week, from September 24 through October 7.  Tickets are now on sale at 2-for -1 pricing for 38 productions. If you’ve never seen an Off-Broadway show, this is the time to try out something new. Theater in NYC is much more than blockbuster musicals and long-running plays on Broadway – there’s much to love about the creative productions often set in much smaller, more intimate theaters. And the values are terrific.

Some of the shows offered include critically acclaimed musical Avenue Q, formerly on Broadway, Drunk Shakespeare, revivals of Jersey Boys and Smokey Joe’s Café, and fan favorites Gazillion Bubble Show, Puffs and STOMP.

All tickets are subject to availability, so hurry to purchase yours now. Tickets for the 10th NYC Off-Broadway Week can be purchased now at nycgo.com/off-broadway-week.

The 38 shows participating in NYC Off-Broadway Week Fall 2018 are:

  • Apologia
  • Avenue Q
  • Because I Could Not Stop: An Encounter with Emily Dickinson
  • Blue Man Group
  • The Book of Merman
  • Desperate Measures
  • Drunk Shakespeare
  • El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba
  • Final Follies
  • Gazillion Bubble Show
  • Gloria: A Life
  • I Was Most Alive with You
  • The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking
  • India Pale Ale
  • Jersey Boys
  • The Marvelous Wonderettes
  • Midnight at The Never Get
  • Monday Night Magic
  • Naked Boys Singing
  • NEWSical The Musical
  • Neurosis: A Musical That Gets in Your Head
  • On Beckett
  • Perfect Crime
  • Popcorn Falls
  • Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic

The Weather Is Great: Let’s Dine Outdoors in NYC

They’re promising that the temperature will drop in the next day or two. So? It’s time to score a seat at some of the best outdoor dining options in New York City. These seats are notoriously the hardest to book, so don’t delay. We can still enjoy dining al fresco at least until early November.

Akrotiri (29-20 30th Avenue, Astoria, NY, (718) 726-2447, www.akrotiritaverna.com)

Escape the chaos of Manhattan and take the N or W train to Astoria’s hottest Greek restaurant, Akrotiri. The 45-seat outdoor area in front of the Queens restaurant is the perfect place for serious people-watching while enjoying dishes by Chef Nicholas Poulmentis, a Greek native who studied at Le Cordon Bleu. I suggest his modern take on traditional Greek taramosalata, which he infuses here with herring roe, truffles and squid ink; or the popular goggizes, goat cheese pasta in aji amarillo beurre blanc topped with Brazilian lobster and Mangalitsa bacon. Take in the warm temperatures while sipping on a glass of Greek wine from their extensive list of organic and natural wines.

The Cannibal (113 East 29th Street, NYC, (212) 685-5585, cannibalnyc.com)

For those scorching “Indian summer” days when it’s just too hot to sit outside, spend your time in The Cannibal’s enclosed beer garden instead. The space is decorated with communal-style tables and backyard greenery so you’ll feel like you’re sitting outdoors even though you’re staying cool inside. Dine in the hidden backyard and indulge in meat-centric dishes like The Royalton Burger with dry-aged Wagyu beef, beef heart, malted bacon jam, smoked tomato, Vermont cheddar and frisee. Don’t worry, though, the name belies the restaurant’s farm and veggie orientation as well.

DaDong (3 Bryant Park, NYC, (212) 355-9600, dadongny.com)

Relax under DaDong’s second-floor wooden pergolas and take in the views of the Bryant Park and Theater District while drinking and dining on the Garden Terrace. The expansive 150-seat terrace features an outdoor bar, dining and lounge space, serving as a veritable oasis in midtown Manhattan. You can cool down with a frosé cocktail and chilled oysters on the half shell from the Raw Bar. A tranquil reflecting pool is at the center of the terrace, surrounded by potted plants and water sculptures by Chinese artist Zheng Lu. If you’re looking for a quieter evening, head to the Chef’s Tasting Floor on the third level, where you can dine al fresco in DaDong’s intimate balcony while enjoying a special multi-course Chinese feast with distinctive wine and tea pairings.

Merakia (5 West 21st Street, NYC, 212 380-1950, merakia.com)

Newly re-opened, Flatiron’s Greek Steakhouse, Merakia is a destination for superb wining, dining and people watching. The doors that line the front of the restaurant open out into the street so you can enjoy an indoor-outdoor dining experience. Be sure to try Merakia’s signature keftedes and spit-roasted lamb. If you’re not familiar with Greek wines, this is the place to experiment – the wine list is expansive.

Zen Taco (522 Columbus Avenue, NYC, (212) 787-3473, zentacousa.com)

It’s always summer where Latin meets Asian fare at Zen Taco. Sit outdoors and pretend you’re on the Riviera Maya while you sample fusion dishes including signature tacos, noodles and bowls. Popsicle-inspired Poptail cocktails keep the summer momentum going like the Strawberry Fressada, a strawberry lemonade Popsicle in a glass of tequila and strawberry liqueur. Or have a Peach Sangria, a sangria popsicle in a glass of peach liqueur.

Planning a trip to NYC?