Friday, July 22, 2016

Outdoor Dining at Vandal Restaurant offers Street Art & Sophisticated Street Eats

Vandal Restaurant's Street Art, photo courtesy: Shannon Ho
This feature was prepared and written in conjunction with Shannon Ho, Garden Glamour guest reporter and intern.

The outdoor dining at Vandal restaurant is an artsy space for those who love the feel of seeing New York City’s colorful streetscape portraits through the lens of a cafe; a kind of theater with an intimate, colorful view of the pulsating Gotham art scene; altogether a potent mix of fine art and culinary art. Think of dining in a fine art gallery - with a spicy mashup of street art and street food. 

In fact, Renowned street artists Eelus and Shepard Fairey cover three walls of Vandal’s al fresco dining space. It's a full-frontal sensual experience to take in the floor to ceiling red-hot and black aesthetic. 
Photo courtesy: Shannon Ho
The architecture also makes it possible to dine with an extended, outdoor seasonal experience. The decor hints of a garden with greenery on the ceiling, accented with sparkly lights and petite vases with a single, bright flower on each table.
Of note: because of its proximity to the street, noise is very much a part of the menu. If the cacophony of “traffic symphony” isn't your cup of tea - Vandal offers quieter, more intimate dining spaces within its two indoor dining areas, (total seating is 360) and long bar. Even more street artists beckon throughout the restaurant, including Tristan Eaton, Will Barras, Vhils, Apex and Hush.

Photo courtesy: Shannon Ho
To get started, the drink menu offers an array of cocktails. For something with a kick, Sergeant Bell Pepper is a gin cocktail that brings the heat; at the same time delivers a refreshing coolness with each sip.

On the sweeter side, the Double Dutch is a fruity vodka cocktail with a mix of refreshing seasonal berries that is a sexy summer beverage to savor.  

The menu is categorized by sizes. Under the “Small & Medium” portion of the menu, the waiter recommended ordering two or three items for a party of two. This was baffling at first, as they were similar to the entrees in price, but upon seeing and tasting these delectable appetizers, they proved to be well worth it. 
The Thai Papaya Summer Rolls are light and “breezy,” with the crispness of an apple. 
Seafood lovers should consider the Tuna Crudo or the Blackened Shrimp Arepas. The Tuna is tartare, with a kick of curry and fresh, sweet coconut. The Blackened Shrimp offers multiple, nuanced layers and textures: the crunch of the fried corn tortilla, the tenderness of the grilled shrimp, and the purple radish garnish, decked out by the smoothness of the chipotle cream. 
Another recommendation was the Shawarma Salad, made with chicken, homemade falafel croutons, and a thick, pasty white hot sauce. The salad was inspired by halal typical cart street food, but boasting a sophistication in its superb quality and variation of textures. This salad exceeded all expectations, and is highly recommended. 

The “Large” portion of the menu consists of sizable entrees. The Prime Skirt Steak Fried Rice is savory and sweet. It includes Chinese sausage--a sweetened variation of pork, with a sunnyside-up egg on top. The dish has a runnier texture from traditional fried rice due to the egg and array of sauces; marries well with the tender steak and sweet sausage. It is a unique Vandal recipe.  
Another entree worth noting is the Balinese ‘Beach Style’ Branzino which is small and sweetened with a soy sauce glaze.  

And how could you leave without dessert? Vandal has its own pastry chef -- and the confections reflect the dedicated intricacy of the original recipes and their elegant presentations. The Blueberry Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich is absolutely top notch. Fresh berries are a seasonal garnish, along with the sweet berry sauce trickled on top of the pretty macaroon. These flavors accent the fresh, house-made vanilla ice cream. If asked to choose between this and the Nutella Cannoli, the ice cream sandwich wins out. 
Blueberry Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich, photo courtesy Shannon Ho

Vandal offers a multi-sensual dining experience that goes beyond the food itself.  Go for the food and drink.  Linger for the art… 
Photo courtesy: Shannon Ho

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dream in Horticulture: New York Botanical Garden Hosts 4th Annual NYC-Area Green Industry Intern Field Day

Green Industry Intern Field Day BBQ Celebration & Networking at event's conclusion, photo courtesy NYBG

Affectionately referred to as the Hortie Hoopla, I’ve attended and covered the groundbreaking event for Garden Glamour since its premiere: The New York Botanical Garden Hosts 'Hortie Hoopla' Premiere because I passionately believed in its mission and genuinely wanted these plant wizards to succeed in a profession/career/calling that becomes ever more critical to our world’s art, health, and sustainable food supply. Hortie Hoopla is a fun way to learn and network with a community of talented green industry professionals. 

Tri-state - or “road-warrior” horticultural interns are invited to attend the New York Botanical Garden’s (NYBG)  School of Professional Horticulture for its Fourth Annual NYC-Area Green Industry Intern Field Day on Wednesday, July 20 from 11 a.m. to dusk.

This free annual event for horticultural interns features remarks from top horticulturists and garden designers, the chance to visit The New York Botanical Garden's outdoor plant collections, and speak with horticultural curators, participate in a challenging but fun plant ID contest, a BBQ, plus perhaps most importantly, the time to network and create industry contacts with the pros, along with more than a hundred attendees.  Here, interns discover career avenues and opportunities that many didn't know existed or was possible.  If you can dream it in horticulture, working with plants; you can do it…Learn how.


11 a.m.
Check-In and On-Site Registration, Ross Gallery
Self-guided viewing of exhibition Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas

Lunch On Your Own (Pine Tree Café is open all afternoon, or venture to nearby Arthur Avenue for some unforgettable Italian fare, or bring your own)

12:30–3 p.m.
Presentations in Ross Hall by Charles M. Yurgalevitch, Ken Druse, Karen Washington, and Quill Teal-Sullivan
Keynote Speaker: Kelly Norris, Director of Horticulture, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
3–4 p.m.
Visit with NYBG Horticulture Curators at: Native Plant Garden, Thain Family Forest, and Azalea Garden
Plant ID Contest
4–5 p.m
Visit with NYBG Horticulture Curators at: The Judy and Michael Steinhardt Maple Collection and The Burn Family Lilac Collection
Plant ID Contest
5 p.m.
BBQ in Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden with prizes for Plant ID Contest, and more.


Ken Druse 
Ken Druse, photo courtesy NYBG
Ken Druse is an internationally recognized author, award-winning photographer, and acknowledged founder of the natural gardening movement. The New York Times calls his books "bibles for serious gardeners." A popular speaker, Ken can also be heard on his podcast and public radio show Ken Druse Real Dirt.

Ken is one of my personal, hort heros; arguably, he’s singlehandedly dazzled and delighted the intern audience at Hortie Hoopla since the launch of the program he helped give birth to with his insight and vision.

Karen Washington 
Karen Washington, photo courtesy NYBG
Karen Washington is a community gardener and board member of The New York Botanical Garden. As a community activist once called "urban farming's de facto godmother" by The New York Times, Karen has been instrumental in advocating for community gardening and expanding access to food in the Bronx. She is the founder of Black Urban Growers and Rise & Root Farm, and a board member of Just Food and the New York City Community Garden Coalition. I’ve been inspired to hear Karen speak and attended some of her instructional classes -- believe me, she’s a force of nature -- a hort and community treasure.

Quill Teal-Sullivan 
Quill Teal-Sullivan, photo courtesy NYBG
Quill Teal-Sullivan is the garden manager at Meadowburn Farm in Vernon, New Jersey. A lifelong gardener, she played a key role in rehabilitating the historic Helena Rutherfurd Ely Garden at Meadowburn and currently oversees its care.

Kelly D. Norris 
Kelly D. Norris, photo courtesy of NYBG
Kelly D. Norris is a nurseryman and the first Director of Horticulture at the newly revitalized Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. A compelling speaker, Kelly is also the award-winning author of Timber Press publication: A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts and Plants with Style.

Called "one of the rising stars of American horticulture," he was one of the young horticulturists featured in Ken Druse's 2013 article, “The New Generation,” for Organic Life Magazine. Kelly is an expert on marketing horticulture to emerging demographics.

Sponsors who generously donate to the BBQ so that the food and drink is free to attendees deserve a shout out!  These green supporters include:
  • Mario Bulfamante & Sons
  • Landcraft Environments, Ltd.
  • NY State Arborists Association 
  • Trees New York
  • The Bronx Brewery 
  • Bartlett Tree Experts
  • Riverside Park Conservancy
  • Floral Landscape Services

To register for the Green Industry Field Day, Hortie Hoopla, email Eric Lieberman with the name and email address of each attendee and your organization at or
call 718.817.8580.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New York Yankees & Celebrity Chef, Andrew Carmellini celebrate Harlem Grown

Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka harvests cabbage at HOPE chef's garden event. Photo courtesy of Yankees
This is a first in a series of bylines written by Garden Glamour guest reporter and intern, Shannon Ho

Recently, the New York Yankees and celebrity chef, Andrew Carmellini paid tribute to Harlem Grown

garden and greenhouse on 134th Street as part of the team’s, Helping Others Persevere and Excel (HOPE) Week annual program that since its 2009 launch, the entire Yankee lineup celebrates "individuals, families, or organizations worthy of support.” 

This year, the team and Chef Carmellini surprised Harlem Grown founder Tony Hillery and kindergarten students from PS 125, involving the children in gardening work and healthy food prep demonstrations. 
Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka Is Ready to Dig
Harlem Grown was chosen by the Yankees as an exceptional group to recognize during this philanthropic week. Harlem Grown founder Tony Hillery changed careers in the wake of the 2009 recession, leaving his successful limousine business to eventually create Harlem Grown. It was conceived after Hillery realized that there were little-to-no healthy food options in his neighborhood of Harlem. Wanting to change that, Hillery took an abandoned lot across the street from PS 175, reclaimed it via an application to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and converted the space into an urban farm. 
Chasen Shreve at L - RIchard Bleier at C - Michael Pineda at R - in the Harlem Grown Greenhouse

“When we learned about Harlem Grown’s beginnings and the difference they were making in the community, it became clear that they were an organization that should be recognized as part of HOPE Week,” said Michael Margolis, Assistant Director of Baseball Information and Public Communications for the New York Yankees.  Margolis also explained that the Yankees team had a preexisting relationship with celebrity Chef Carmellini, and when asked to participate in the day’s events, the chef was “extremely gracious and enthusiastically volunteered his time and energy.”

Chef Andrew Carmellini provided salad demo to budding chefs. Tony Hillary (L), Ivan Nova, R. Photo courtesy of Yankees 

New York Yankees in attendance included: Masahiro Tanaka, Andrew Miller, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Rob Refsnyder, Austin Romine, Chasen Shreve, Kirby Yates and Richard Bleier. 
Andrew Mill shares picked cherries; Tanaka - C, Rob Refsnyder - R

During the ceremonies, the team presented a donation to Harlem Grown on behalf of the Yankees Foundation. Other participants involved were the hip hop group, TheLox, Miss New York USA 2016 Serena Bucaj, and singer-songwriter Kany García.

Sheek Louch - Jadakiss - Tony HIllery - Styles P - Serena Bucaj - Kany Garcia

Recognizing Harlem Grown during this year’s HOPE Week was based, in part, on the link - or affiliation - to the Yankees’ own healthy dietary habits mission. Players’ dining is coordinated via Cynthia Sass, the Yankees’ Nutritional Consultant, who was also present at Harlem Grown for HOPE Week.

Kirby Yates at L and Chasen Shreve at R Digging at the Farm.
Group Shot with Everyone - Players, Staff, Celebs and Kids

“Our organization is focused on preparing our players in every way, including helping them to incorporate a balanced diet for optimal performance,” Margolis said. “What Harlem Grown is doing is no different. They are showing children what they can eat to feel good on a day-to-day basis and provide the building blocks for a long and healthy life.”

The kindergarteners from PS 125 were chosen to be recognized alongside Hillery because of their working association with the Harlem Grown program and their participation and contribution to the garden and greenhouse throughout the school year. The Yankees Hope program provided the students a hands-on learning experience with an award-winning, farm-to-table chef, in a fun and delicious way. Together, chef and the students harvested, cooked and enjoyed eating the salad that Chef Carmellini prepared.

HOPE Week commenced in 2009 as the Yankees’ way of giving back to organizations, individuals and families off the field. The mission of HOPE Week each year is to inspire and encourage others, and that the acts of goodwill performed reach beyond those who receive them. The initiative hopes to spread altruism, with the fundamental value of “people helping people,” according to the Yankees Foundation.
Yankees Donation Is Presented to Tony Hillery

“Tony Hillery saw a need for healthy food options in the community and opened a door to a new way of thinking about food to hundreds of children and their families,” said Margolis. “Even more importantly, he is able to bring the actual food into their lives.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Kips Bay Designer Show House 2016 preview

Timothy Whealon Interiors White Orchid Room for Kips Bay Decorator Show House 

Ah yes, as I was saying, the White Orchid Room was my favorite bedroom at this year’s 44th Annual Decorator Show House. And while we’re at it - don’t you think we should name our own home’s rooms? I do. For the interiors and exterior garden “rooms” - for me and my clients. For example, there is the Mermaid Bathroom, the Bespoke Suit bathroom, the Speakeasy Bar, The Dinosaur Garden, The Alice in Wonderland Garden -- and so on. See how much fun this is? And so much more personal than “upstairs, on your right.” Initially, I think the construction teams find this over the top, indulgent, but over the course of the projects, I see that they too take no small amount of pleasure and pride in the monikers as they see the final product fulfill the vision of the room’s name. (And if boutique hotels and royalty, not to mention the White House, can name rooms, surely we can too!)

So it was with keen anticipation I entered the White Orchid Room from Kati Curtis Design’s extraordinary, artful wallpapered staircase, landings,

and lighting and art and the fourth floor nook and its exceptional use of space that others might gloss over some banal window seat or desk.

Here, Kati used the niche to create a compelling composition complete with Indian silk painting celebrating the twelve stage of life, juxtaposed with a sleek Italian chandelier, a rich cadmium orange or curry silk, shirred/relaxed roman shade and it’s dynamic couture pleated look, accessorized with a classic Asian seat and an elegant burlwood armoire. Once could get lost daydreaming and admiring this diminutive space. Who needs big?

The White Orchid Room was all cool elegance - I could feel the zen the room offered just walking in. The soft, relaxing color palette of cool lavender, fresh spring green and white. The upholstered “four poster” bed by Maison de France was tailored yet relaxed.

The plastered walls were pure genius. This is a Timothy Whealon decorated creation and his appealing style blends delightful details with livable, can-do living environments. You look at this room and think, “I want to live here” vs. a “Wow, but could this ever work design?”

The custom designed walls are leaves in bas-relief and then painted - by Osmundo Echevarria & Associates studio. It’s a subtle but enchanting treatment.

The ceiling - or that “fifth wall” was done in a glazed design. The windows were almost floor-to-ceiling and the look of white sheers in a trellis pattern added a refined garden touch. Maison de France did the window treatments, too in F.Schumacher fabric. The Maison Gerard gold standing lamp was a glittering nod to the bas-relief leaves on the wall. The Soane Lighting wall sconces and Claremont sconce shades were featured in a repeat between the windows. The uplighting was dreamy and soft…

On the other, street side of the townhouse, the Les Ensembliers “Le Jardin Secret” bedroom was formal, structural, and spare - in a good way - amplifying that “less is more” rule of design. Les Ensembliers claims it bring together construction, architecture, and design - and clearly all were revealed in this gorgeous room. Oh, there were details - subtle ones, such as the fabric wall papers by Ralph Lauren through Kravet - was extended even to the molding and the hvac unit. Who says technology has to be hidden. Well, just redefined…

The floor to ceiling window curtains and the silk duppioni back of bed by Brunschwig & Fils were exquisite in color and volume adding to the pure luxury of the room.

The airy lattice-like “coffee” table was a silvery grey, echoing the wall paper pattern and color and texture of the Kravet chairs and fur throw.

The Drake/Anderson designed “Master Floor Library” was a rich, “pond-scum” green, an oriental run on sisal, smoky mirrors, a game table, fireplace and lots of doors and windows.

A surprise was the Sawyer | Berson Terrace off the “Petit Salon” and its fabulous, patterned Durite floor. Just outside the door was a green dream - or Dali-esque surreal idea of a rooftop garden that seemed to lure me out. I asked if I could venture out there as the flooring didn’t seem real or grounded.

The docent said “yes,” and I walked out to what was a faux lawn or a kind of astro-turf that was like a carpet - and yet had real arborvitae confers populating the garden room like so many life-sized Christmas Nutcrackers. The look was unsettling for a gardener/horticulturist like myself, yet fun and intriguing. I couldn’t help but send an image to my friend Charles at NYBG! We admired and laughed. Isn’t that what good design promotes? Indeed.

Walking to the end of the green dream - I found myself looking down at a very furnished, black and grey colored Daniel Richards Design garden terrace - the “Urban Oasis” with well-designed plantings (real plants!) featuring Lace Cap Hydrangeas, potato vines - both chocolate and green, and terrace art, including Joe Wheaton sculpture, ceramic bowls, and planters from Belgian-based Atelier Vierkant in a bowood surround.

Walking back into the interior, there was a sophisticated family room (in fact it was called, “Sophisticated Simplicity”) and created by Suzanne Kasler Interiors that led to a wowsy kitchen, designed by last year’s heart-clutching kitchen designer, Clive Christian Interiors. Christian brands himself as the "creator of the luxury kitchen." While there may be room for debate about that - there is no argument that his gorgeous kitchens are glamorous show stoppers. This one was no exception. Understated - all the glamour is in the details. Of note, the back-lit Lalique glass panel inserts on both sides of the range. It was explained that the same molds were used for the panels that were used to produce the crystal art for the legendary Orient Expres passenger trains to adventure and discovery. These Audubon looking birds on the glass panels were explained to be the inspiration for the sliding, custom-crafted wood panels that fronted the wet bar. The White HazeAkdo tiled backsplash pattern was supreme. I also liked the tiered, mirrored inserts in molding on either side of the open transition to the kitchen dining table that was located between the kitchen and family room. Kudos Clive Christian.

I asked what happens to the room after the show and was told the new owners were to take it all out to put in their own design. Whaatt? I’m so hoping this is not true. This kind of interior design art should be preserved or sold or -- I heard that last year’s kitchen was purchased in total.

Mirrored panels in molding detail

The designer Alex Papachristidis was on site in his fabulous “Salle Ǻ Manger Glamour” room. He was genuinely, joyfully explaining his design choices and backstory. This is a learned designer who clearly respects his profession and offers informed, researched, and exotic selections. What a refreshing, exciting tour of this truly glamorous room. “I like to mix 18th Century pieces and design for a fresh mix in the right way,” said Mr. Papachristidis. “That era produced the best furniture ever made,” he explained. He added that he honors the classics and respects the historic undertaking of the decorative arts and seeks to showcase them to contemporary customers and audiences. I love that sentiment and couldn’t agree more.

Designer Alex Papachristidis, Kips Bay Decorator Show House 2016

Every detail of his Salle Ǻ Glamour had a fascinating narrative of the craftsperson and/or the provenance. The metallic-looking walls were hand painted by Gracie Wallpaper. 

The hand-painted dining table chairs were exquisite in a floral design sourced from Dalva Brothers 18th Century French furniture dealers, with a look that was at once contemporary, yet not … Certainly, an enduring design. There were museum quality busts and sculpture gracing the room, including obelisk, torchiere, and garniture from Liz O'Brien Home.

There were gold chairs next to the fireplace that to my eye, picked up on the coffee table with molten gold and mother of pearl that had some provenance with the Duke and Duchess of England - as in Edward from WWII era.

Besides the hand-painted chair florals, my favorite item in this room was Mr. Papachristidis’ selection of a Turkish tent material sewn or stitched together to make a unique rug presentation - that worked perfectly over the stenciled floor from Boxton Interiors. And that is precisely why we love to explore show houses. For the creative, inspired design genius that continues to provide inspired excitement, glamour, and discovery.

Also striking was the David Collins Studio blue paneled mirror and moldings in Farrow & Ball's Cook's Blue with Lutyens furniture and lighting. Looked Williamsburg - the colonial attraction not the Brooklyn neighborhood - but glossier.

I also appreciated the cork board wallpaper treatment. It was unexpected and rather glamorous as well.

Thank you and congratulations to all the talented designers, artisans, and decorators and craftspeople. And thank you Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

One more day - and then cheers to next year.