Grand Central Oyster Bar, Grand Central Terminal, lower level, June 13-29, 212-490-6650
Russ & Daughters, 179 East Houston St., 127 Orchard St., Jewish Museum, 212-475-4880
Restaurant Aquavit, 65 East 55th St., June 18 - July 13, 212-307-7311
The new herring is here! The new herring is here! After being sampled by Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the Hollandse Nieuwe Haring from Scheveningen has been air-expressed to New York City, where it is available at several prime locations through around the middle of July. For years we’ve been singing the praises of the new herring at the Grand Central Oyster Bar, which will serve the Silver of the Sea from its special cart (marked De Haringkoning — the Herring King) in a cozy nook by the bar June 13-29, accompanied by chopped egg, diced raw onion, and seeded flatbread, along with genever (Dutch gin) as desired. Each bite is a delectable taste sensation that should be slowly savored, never rushed. But we very well might now have a new favorite, the special herring menu at Russ & Daughters Cafe on Orchard St. We adore the herring board, which comes with four luscious tail-on herrings, four hot-dog-shaped challah rolls, and chopped onions and capers. You can also delight in the new catch at the Russ & Daughters shop on East Houston, where the marvelous matjes herring, two fillets attached at the tail, is available for takeout at the counter, although you should strongly consider ordering in advance; there’s a reason why their latest book is called Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built. There will also be kosher herring at the Russ & Daughters restaurant downstairs at the Jewish Museum, where the Herring Pairing Party takes place on June 27 ($79), with live music by bandleader and saxophonist Paul Shapiro and a special viewing of the new exhibition “Chaim Soutine: Flesh.” And Aquavit’s annual Herring Festival runs June 18 through July 13, with a three-course $58 prix-fixe herring menu for lunch, consisting of the new catch with chives, red onion, cheese, and löjrom, seared salted herring with potatoes, peas, and horseradish, and strawberry and rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream. As Sholom Aleichem once said, “A kind word is no substitute for a piece of herring or a bag of oats.” We’re not sure about the bag of oats, but we have no problem choosing herring over a kind word every year at this time.
Madison Square Park
23rd to 26th Sts. between Fifth & Madison Aves.
Saturday, June 9, and Sunday, June 10, pay per plate, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Fast Pass: $125; Big Rig VIP Pass: $275
The immensely popular and ridiculously crowded Big Apple Barbecue Block Party is upon us, as pitmasters from around the country gather in Madison Square Park and serve up some damn fine BBQ. The sixteenth annual event, being held June 9-10, features some old favorites as well as some up-and-comers: Ash Fulk of Hill Country of Pleasant Hill, California (Brisket Sandwich with House Pickle & Coleslaw), Bill Durney of Hometown Bar-b-que in Brooklyn (Chopped Brisket & Jalapeño Cheddar Link Sandwich with Queso and Tater Tots), Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que in Decatur, Alabama (World Championship Pulled Pork Sandwich with Spicy Mustard Coleslaw), Ed Mitchell & Ryan Mitchell of Ed Mitchell’s Que in Wilson, North Carolina (Eastern NC Whole Hog Sandwich with Slaw), New York City’s Erika Nakamura & Jocelyn Guest (Hot Dog with Kimchi & Mayo; Kielbasa with Mustard; Bratwurst with Kraut & Mustard), Garry Roark & Leslie Roark Scott of Ubon’s Barbeque in Yazoo City, Mississippi (Mississippi Chicken Wings with Bloody Mary Cucumber Salad), Jean-Paul Bourgeois of Blue Smoke in Manhattan (Fried Smoked Chicken with Tabasco Honey; Broccoli & Black-Eyed Pea Salad), Joe Duncan of Baker’s Ribs in Dallas (St. Louis Ribs with Jalapeño Cole Slaw), John Stage of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Manhattan (St. Louis Ribs with BBQ Beans), John Wheeler of Memphis Barbecue Co in South Haven, Mississippi (Baby Back Ribs with Mamma June’s Baked Beans), Jonathan Fox & Justin Fox of Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q in Atlanta (Brisket & Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage with Jalapeno Slaw & Pickles), Mike Mills & Amy Mills of 17th St. BBQ in Murphysboro, Illinois (Apple City Barbecue Baby Back Ribs with Tangy Pit Beans), Pat Martin of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville (West Tennessee Whole Hog Sandwich with Coleslaw), Rodney Scott of Rodney Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Charleston (St. Louis Ribs with Coleslaw), Sam Jones of Skylight Inn/Sam Jones BBQ in Ayden, North Carolina (Eastern NC Whole Hog Sandwich with Sweet Slaw), and Scott Roberts of Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas (Brisket & Sausage with Sesame Coleslaw).
There will also be sweets and sides for $4 to $8 from Pies ‘N’ Thighs (Mac ‘N’ Cheese, Spicy Watermelon Salad, Biscuit & Gravy Sausage, Cornbread), Ample Hills Creamery (“Corn to Run” creamy corn ice cream with cornmeal crumble and blueberry swirls), Doughnut Plant, the Original Fried Pie Shop (Apple, Apricot, Blackberry, Cherry, Peach), and Sugaree’s. The lines can get extremely long, so the best way to enjoy the event is to go with a bunch of friends, get on different lines, and then gather somewhere in the park to devour your meal. The $125 FastPass gains access for you and one guest to the express lanes and $100 worth of food, drink, and merchandise; the $275 Big Rig VIP Package grants you that in addition to access to the VIP tent and private VIP area with open bar and snacks. The music lineup on Saturday features Ben Sparaco and the New Effect at 12 noon, Mo Lowda & the Humble at 1:30, Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers at 3:00, and the Felice Brothers at 4:30, while Sunday’s roster consists of Cypher Music at noon, the High Divers at 1:30, the Vegabonds at 3:00, and Max Creek at 4:30.
The “Academy at Metrograph” series, a yearlong residency for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Lower East Side cinema house, concludes June 1 at 7:00 with Sideways, eclectic director Alexander Payne’s fourth film, following the underseen Citizen Ruth, the excellent Election, and the overrated About Schmidt. Sideways is fabulously entertaining from start to finish, a smart, inventive, very funny dark comedy about friendship and love set in California wine country. Paul Giamatti stars as Miles, a schlumpy wine connoisseur who is having trouble getting over his divorce and the failure of his massive novel to get published. His best friend, Jack (Thomas Haden Church), is getting married, so the two head off on a road trip, with Miles looking forward to sampling fine wine, and Jack anticipating sampling fine women. While Jack finds what he is looking for in Stephanie (Sandra Oh, who was married to Payne at the time), Miles seems hell-bent on not allowing himself to enjoy life, even as a beautiful woman with a deep appreciation of the grape (the excellent Virginia Madsen in what should have been a career-redefining performance) shows an interest in him. You definitely do not have to be a wine drinker to fall in love with this marvelous movie, one of the best of 2004; it was nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Madsen), and Best Supporting Actor (Haden Church), and screenwriters Jim Taylor and Payne won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Taylor will be at Metrograph to talk about the movie, which will be preceded by a screening of Jeff Fowler’s 2004 Oscar-winning short, Gopher Broke, and followed by a wine tasting with vintages provided by Francis Ford Coppola Winery.
It’s getting mighty hot out there, so the time is right for the Scooper Bowl, the biggest All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream Festival in the country. On June 1-3, Bryant Park is hosting Scooper Bowl New York, three afternoons of ice-cold refreshment from well-known companies as well as smaller craft creameries. Serving up treats are Baskin-Robbins (Cannoli Be with You, New York Cheesecake, OREO ‘n Caramel, Triple Grape Ice), Ben & Jerry’s (Gimme Smore, Caramel Almond Brittle [nondairy], AmeriCone Dream, Chocolate Shake It), Big Gay Ice Cream (Salty Pimp, Rocky Roadhouse, American Globs, Dorothy, Birfdae Cek, Lunchbox, Blueberry Gobbler), Breyers (Natural Vanilla, Oreo, Mint Chip, Delights Minis Chocolate, Delights Minis Vanilla Cupcake), Häagen-Dazs (Trio Lemon & Raspberry with White Chocolate & Raspberry Sauce, Trio Vanilla & Caramel with White Chocolate & Caramel Sauce, Trio Coconut & Chocolate with Belgian Chocolate & Caramel Sauce, Non-Dairy Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle, Honey Salted Caramel Almond), My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream (Ripe Strawberry, Green Tea, Sweet Mango, Cookies & Cream), Talenti (Pumpkin Pie, Double Dark Chocolate, Coffee Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Peach Biscuit, Vanilla Chai), Vice Cream (Minted — Mint Chocolate Chip with Cookie Crumbles, Choc of Shame — Chocolate with Brownie and Chocolate Chunks, Afternoon Delight — Vanilla with Cookie Dough & Caramel Truffles, L’Orange a Trois — Vanilla with Orange Swirl & three types of Chocolate, Bourbon Mash — Vanilla with Bourbon-flavored Caramel), Wafels & Dinges (Spekuloos Cookie, Crispy Dark Chocolate), Adirondack Creamery (Syrian Date and Walnut, Vanilla, Earl’s Chocolate Peanut Butter, High Peak Perk), Van Leeuwen Ice Cream (Vanilla, Honey Comb, Vegan Salted Caramel, Mint Chip, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough), Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (Vanilla, Pistachio, Cherry Vanilla Chocolate Chunk, Chocolate Chocolate Chunk, Caramel Swirl), and Sambazon (Acai Sorbet) with additional treats from Breads Bakery and Loacker. Proceeds will benefit the Jimmy Fund, which was launched in 1948 and “solely supports Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, raising funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research to improve the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world.” Although the forecast is calling for rain, the event will go on despite the weather. And in the case of a dangerous storm that forces cancellation, there will be no refunds, “since the Scooper Bowl critical mission persists rain or shine.”
28 Liberty Plaza
Between Liberty & Pine and Nassau & William Sts.
Tuesday, May 22, 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Admission: free, all dishes $7 and less
Sponsored by the Downtown Alliance, the seventeenth annual Dine Around Downtown will feature signature dishes from more than three dozen Lower Manhattan restaurants, from pizza places and burger joints to steak and seafood houses. Among the participating eateries are ATRIO Wine Bar, Battery Gardens, Bavaria Bier Haus, Blue Ribbon Bakery, the Capital Grille, Cowgirl SeaHorse, Delmonico’s, Eataly, Financier Patisserie, Harry’s Italian, Inatteso, Le District, Mad Dog & Beans Mexican Cantina, OBAO Water Street, Parm Battery Park, Route 66 Smokehouse, Stone Street Tavern, SUteiShi, the Tuck Room, and Ulysses’ Folk House. There will also be live music by the National Jazz Museum in Harlem-All Stars and a raffle. Each plate goes for no more than $7, with proceeds benefiting the Downtown Alliance, which “is striving to make Lower Manhattan a wonderful place to live, work, and play by creating a vibrant multi-use neighborhood.”
In the fall, the Essex Street Market, a fixture on the Lower East Side for nearly eighty years, will be moving across the street. So its annual spring block party will be featuring current businesses as well as new ones coming in later this year. Taking place May 19 from noon to five o’clock, the party will include such vendors as Saxelby Cheesemongers, Arancini Bros, Puebla Mexican, Samesa, Josephine’s Feast!, and Harlem Shambles, with most food items five dollars or less. There will also be live music by Yotoco, Cumbiagra, and DJ tres dos.