The borough’s official tourism slogan is “It’s in Queens,” but over the summer, it could also be “It’s Outside in Queens,” as countless parks, cultural venues, and boulevards host countless plein air movies, concerts, plays, food festivals, and parades. Among the most popular is Live at the Gantries, a series of free performances in Gantry Plaza State Park featuring a diverse collection of musicians doing everything from Prog Rock to Reggae to Arab sounds with bellydancing. Tonight, Dahka Band, which infuses traditional music from Algeria, Nigeria, and Turkey and sings in Arabic, Berber, Yoruba, and English, will take the stage, which boasts the East River and the Midtown Manhattan skyline as its backdrop.
Information on the remaining performers and a photo of the venue are on the jump page.
Welcome to the Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email email@example.com.
The Spot: Alobar, 46-42 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City.
The Deal: When your restaurant’s philosophy revolves around farm-fresh produce and seasonal dishes, it’s imperative that the menu reflects the changing seasons. So although patrons may miss a favorite hearty dish – such as late winter’s Signature Dish of the Loaded Baked Potato Gnocchi – summer is just an opportunity to find a new favorite.
Brooklyn has hipsters. Queens has Hip-to-Hip. This theater company, which specializes in family-friendly productions, performs Shakespeare classics for free in various public spaces throughout the borough each summer. This year, Hip-to-Hip will put on the Bard of Avon’sTwo Gentlemen of Verona, an early slapstick comedy about love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness…and a dog, and Cymbeline, a late romance/fairy tale about a king, his only daughter, an evil stepmother, and a forbidden love. The professional actors will perform in repertory, and 30 minutes before each performance, they will host “Kids & The Classics,” an interactive workshop for children of all ages.
Shoko Kazama has always been fascinated by Chinese characters and poetry. From childhood, the Yokohama native studied calligraphy and passionately orchestrated the brushes, Japanese paper, and Chinese ink. After studying independently and with various mentors for decades, she is now the distinguished official calligrapher of Kencho-ji, a Zen sect with its high temple in Kamakura, Japan. This Friday, Kazama opens her first ever exhibition in New York City, Bokusai, at Resobox, an LIC gallery/cafe that promotes art and cuisine from the Land of the Rising Sun. The show’s theme is Otogizoshi or stories from the Muromachi period (13th century) that have been passed down verbally among children for generations. Kazama mixes black ink with white paper because her art explores expressing the invisible through the visible.
A quote from Kazama, another image, and more exhibition information are on the jump page.
Manhattan has the inspiring Empire State Building. Paris has the romantic Eiffel Tower. Queens has authentic, affordable and amazing restaurants. Lots of them. A culinary tour company that debuts this weekend, Local Finds: Queens Food Tours, hopes to bring taste-conscious tourists to as many borough establishments as possible. This two-person agency will organize weekly food sampling and cultural walking tours of Long Island City for now with hopes to expand to Flushing, Jamaica, Richmond Hill and the Rockaways as soon as possible. One of the company’s two founders, Queens native Sergey Kadinsky, will lead three-hour journeys every Sunday morning, starting at 11 am. Kadinsky, who also works for City Council Member Karen Koslowitz, will bring patrons to six local establishments, including a micro-brewery, a hip coffee shop and Manducatis Rustica (photo), where signature dishes will be awaiting. Plus, participants will receive a brochure with a neighborhood map, list of attractions, and recommendations for about 30 other great eateries in the area.
“When it comes to good eats, Queens is the king of the boroughs,” stated Richard Mumith, the other founder and a former Council Member Koslowitz employee. “We are all about discovering, eating, and supporting…local.”
A list of other Queens food tour guides is on the jump page.
There’s no place like hip-hop home. The rappers Havoc and Prodigy, who work together as the infamous Mobb Deep (above), will return to their native Queensbridge housing projects to give a free concert on July 17th as part of the NYC Parks SummerStage Presents series. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, featuring 15 of the world’s finest soloists and ensemble players and led by Wynton Marsalis, is also scheduled to perform this month, as are Ismael Miranda, aka “El niño bonito de la Salsa,” and laid-back Washington, D.C.-based R&B vocalist J. Holiday. But the extravaganza offers more than music, as the Harambee Dance Company (below) will perform and Puppetmobile and Teatro SEA will appear as part of SummerStage Kids.
Is it possible to create twins via cloning? Because that’s the only way to enjoy all the top-notch live music in Queens this Thursday, when the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the country’s best Beatles tribute band come to town.
At 7 pm, the Met — in association with SummerStage and City Parks Foundation — will host a concert in Socrates Sculpture Park featuring Mary-Jane Lee (soprano), Ginger Costa-Jackson (mezzo-soprano), and Yunpeng Wang (baritone), accompanied by Dan Saunders (pianist). They will perform arias and duets from a variety of operas. At 7:30 pm, Strawberry Fields (above), a group that former President Bill Clinton praises in his book Giving, will take its audience on a Magical Mystery Tour through the Fab Four’s biggest hits as part of the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation’s 2014 Waterfront Concert Series. Then at 8 pm, the New York Philharmonic, which is the county’s oldest symphony orchestra, will venture away from Lincoln Center to give a free concert with Strauss, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, and Alan Gilbert as the conductor in Cunningham Park.
Opera details: Metropolitan Opera Recital, Socrates Sculpture Park (below), 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, July 10th, 7 pm, free.
Beatles details: Strawberry Fields, Astoria Park Great Lawn, Shore Boulevard between Hell Gate Bridge and Astoria Pool, Astoria, July 10th, 7:30 pm, free.
La Pirogue tells the story of 30 men and one woman who disembark from the Senegalese coast in a dinghy. The African passengers are from various ethnic and religious backgrounds, but they share the common desire to survive the perilous, seven-day trek to Spain in order to create better futures for themselves in Europe. On July 9th, this 87-minute drama, directed by Moussa Touré, will show on an outdoor screen in Socrates Sculpture Park as part of a 16th annual international film festival.
This eight-week collaboration with the Film Forum and Rooftop Films will focus on a different country or culture — Russia, Senegal, New Zealand, Italy, Argentina, Central Africa, Japan and France – each Wednesday evening. Before each screening, visitors will be able to enjoy live music and dance performances from each film’s native country or region.
Tadao Ando is known as the “Japanese Master of Minimalism.” His style mixes traditional Japanese architecture with a contemporary flair, featuring creative uses of natural light and structures that flow with landscapes instead of challenging them. His buildings often contain large expanses of unadorned cement walls with stone floors and large windows that play with the sun, rain and wind. On July 4th, the Noguchi Museum’s Free First Friday program will feature a screening of Director Mathias Frick’s Tadao Ando – From Emptiness to Infinity, followed by an extended conversation about the documentary, which is in German with English subtitles. The movie was curated in collaboration with the Architecture and Design Film Festival. Free First Fridays happens during select months.
Details: Free First Friday, Noguchi Museum, 9-01 33rd Street, Long Island City, July 4th, 5 pm to 8 pm.
Bonus details: Noguchi will also offers public tours in English and Japanese at 2 PM on this day.
The Deal: Crescent Grill opened last summer and, during our long, brutal winter, endeared itself to local residents by offering a free shuttle service to the restaurant. The menu features modern American cuisine that highlights the best of local ingredients, and the décor highlights the works of local artists and doubles as an art gallery.
The restaurant has developed a long-standing relationship with Upstate Farms, which delivers 90 percent of the restaurant’s vegetables. Originally, Crescent Grill opened as a partnership between two brothers, Shaun and Dan Dougherty, until Milton Enriquez, a winner on Chopped, joined the team last November as executive chef. The team has taken full advantage of these partnerships.
“My inspiration [for the menu] is that everything comes from the farm,” Enriquez says.
The Dish: The signature dish at Crescent Grill is no exception. Enriquez can trace the route each ingredient has taken to become part of the Magret Duck on a bed of fricasseed vegetables which include baby turnips, spring garlic, fiddlehead ferns and strawberry paint in a natural jus. Strawberry paint is simply a natural reduction of pure strawberry juice – “With no added sugar,” the chef emphasizes.
“Personally, I love duck and like to have it on the menu,” Enriquez says. “I leave as much fat on the skin as possible so the skin becomes crispy like bacon.
As the seasons and in-season vegetables change, the underlying bed of spring vegetables can rotate to include shiitake mushrooms or baby carrots.
“Everything possible comes from the farm,” says Enriquez. “When I call in the order, they cut the vegetables.”
The preparation of the menu’s duck will change in line with the seasons but whatever the preparation, guests of Crescent Grill can expect the freshest local ingredients to be included in its preparation.