Tuesday, May 29, 2018


"Czardas" is a composition by Italian composer Vittorio Monti. This rhapsodical concert piece, written in 1904 is a well-known folkloric piece is based on a Hungarian cszardas (tavern).  It was originally composed for violin, mandolin, or piano. Take it up a number on the marimba as COS Young Symphonic Ensemble stepped aside to hear it done via a duet of marimba and bandurla. 

It was an unexpected treat for the audience attending the Children’s Orchestra Society’s 24th Annual Discovery Gala at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College on May 24 featuring Discovery Artist Alumni.   Tomoya Aomori tapped the keys of this xylophone-like percussion instrument with lightning speed as it called for portions of the piece to his sometimes using three mallets, two in one hand and one in another. 

COS’s Music Director and Conductor Michael Dadap, accompanied Aomori, a COS alumni, with the bandurla, a 14-string guitar originally from the Philippines that resonates more like a mandolin. 
The sell-out crowd heard composers such as Leonard Bernstein, and George Gershwin as well as perhaps lesser known symphonists. Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide,” a lively opening, filled the great acoustics of the concert hall.

Special guest artist Pei-Wen Liao, was then featured on the violin with a piece called “Sunshine Over Tashkurgan,” composed by Gang Chen.
The four movement Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra by Ney Rosauro brought Aomori back to the stage prior to intermission.  

Dadap treated the audience to a piece that he composed, Habanera from Handurawan Dance Suite.  In the program notes, “Handurawan”, is a Viayan word meaning to reminisce or recollect early childhood memories.  

This time it was a Gershwin score that featured Liao back to the stage as the orchestra performed selections from Broadway’s Porgy & Bess.  “My Mans Gone Now,” “Oh, I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin,””Bess, You is My Woman,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “I Ain’t Got No Shame,” and the most well-heard “Summertime” were chosen. 

If that wasn’t enough music to our ears, Liao went for an encore that was planned ahead of time but not soon enough to list in the program.  She and Dadap discussed it on the stage for Liao to perform  “Por una Cabeza," the tango theme song from the movie Scent of a Woman.  It was clear that the audience did not mind that extra piece. 

Ottorinci Respighi’s Rosinlana Suite, performed in four movements, was the finale.  A very “colorful” suite, the piece is quite appropriate for a ballet. 

Yeou-Cheng Ma, the founder of the COS, came up to the stage to take a bow with Dadap.  For those not familiar with Dr. Ma’s career, please note that she can perform on the violin as good as her brother, Yo-Yo on the cello.  She is referred to as “Dr. Ma” for those that know her in a second career as a Pediatrician. 
If one would not rely on spotting the ages of the artists, the ears of ones appreciation of music would put this orchestra in the same class as any “adult” ensemble…and in many cases may surpass it.  The talent is spot on.  Personally I would love to see the CSO perform at a venue in Queens. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Everything tastes great with bacon, so set your sights for Ann Arbor, Michigan as Zingerman’s Bakery and their community of businesses sponsor their ninth annual 5 days of Camp Bacon from May 30 to June 3.   Zingerman’s has been around since they opened a deli in 1992, known for making great sandwiches from around the world.  They went on to add their fresh baked goods two years later.  What does this all have to do with bacon?

I had the opportunity to interview co-partners Frank Carollo and Amy Emberling after receiving a recipe book titled Zingerman’s Bakehouse as their 25th Anniversary. I also received samples of their delicious goodies, most of which the book includes these recipes.  There are no hidden ingredients, these are the real things. 

Zingerman’s originally started by Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig in a historic building near the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market.  They featured huge corned beef sandwiches, an exceptional array of farmhouse cheeses, estate-bottled olive oils, varietal vinegars, smoked fish, salami, coffee, tea and much, much more.   Now there are 10 separate entities that include a Creamery, mail order, the original deli, a coffee company, candy company, restaurant, and a Korean restaurant called Miss Kim.   

One of their signature sellers is their sour cream coffee cake with walnuts.  Probably even more popular (not in the cook book and not always available) is the Apple Bacon Coffee Cake.   Perfect breakfast start as you get your protein, fruit, and grain in one fell swoop.  “Not your classic Jewish coffee cake,” said Emberling. 

Man cannot live by Roadhouse Bread, alone.   “If you want a great sandwich, you have to make a great bread,” said Carollo. This hearty dark crusty loaf is made with rye flour, cornmeal, wheat and a bit of molasses.  I think it would be a great vehicle for a bowl of their cheddar ale soup.   Roadhouse Bread is just one of a huge line of breads from all over the world. 

Along with baking breads, they decided to include pastries as well leading them into non-stop progress adding a baking school as well.  

Let us turn to something savory like their line of Hungarian foods of which I sampled the rétes (ray-tesh), better known as strudel.  They take their own fresh dough and hand-stretch it over an 8 ft. table until it's thin enough to see through.  It is then folded and layered with melted butter and a sprinkle of bread crumbs, wrapped around fresh fillings.  I chose one stuffed with cabbage arriving with the raw dough so that I could bake it golden brown.  Here were my thoughts.  Although delicious by itself I prepared a sauce made from crushed tomatoes, chopped beef and raisins.   Now I would have the tastings of stuffed cabbage!  Oh yeah, they have a traditional Hungarian potato with bacon. Bacon…!

“We started to research other parts of the world and happened upon Hungary with a developed cuisine,” Emberley said. “There is a large Jewish population of Ashkanazi immigrants and we decided to educate people about the food.  Aside from the retes, we have many pastries such as our great torta cakes.”  

The Creamery produces soft cheeses such as a spicy Pimento Cheese made with cheddar and a Cream Cheese like no other.  It is minus the additives.  I experienced it as a cross between a whipped cream cheese and crème fraiche.   Milk comes locally from Calder Farms and Guernsey Dairy. 

“Our cherries come from Northern Michigan, mainly Traverse City at Cherry Central,” said Emberley.  “Michigan is said to be the largest producers of chestnuts.  In fact, we make chestnut baguettes from the flour coming from the Michigan Chestnut Association.”

Bakehouse Cookbook also features a baker’s dozen of their favorites: Just Rhubarb Rhubarb Pie; Dinkelbrot German Spelt Bread; Bakehouse Bagels; Sicilian Sesame Semolina Bread; Focaccia with Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onions; Somodi Kalacs Transylvania Cinnamon Swirl Bread; Bakehouse Brownies: Black Magic, Magic, and Buenos Aires; Hunka Burnin’ Love Cake; Detroit Style Pizza; Tunisian Orange and Olive Oil Cake; Walnut and Current Rugelach; French Crullers; and Bakehouse Blondies.

Incidentally, along with the recipes, the book includes essays and brief stories on how they work together.  I do not use cook books when I prepare food, but in this case the science of baking makes it necessary if I want to produce the absolute best and delicious goodies.  The bakery is located at 3711 Plaza Drive, 734-761 2095.  www.zingermansbakehouse.com

Young Artists are the Focus of Latest Marlene Yu Rainforest Art Foundation

Two Queens artists have their work on display at the Rainforest Art Foundation’s “Nature in Art By Young Artists” exhibit.
The exhibit, run by artist Marlene Yu, opened May 5 and will run through June 6 at 35-58 37th St. in Long Island City.
Midori Tanabe lives in Forest Hills and has a background in architecture. Her artwork is on display at the exhibit, including a drawing of the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, which shows off the area’s submerged trees.

“Some of my work includes drawings in pastels usually about things I find in New York City. Most of my work focuses on architecture and nature,” Tanabe said. “I like drawing on the site because it makes me pay more attention to the details. Being that this is the Rainforest Art Foundation, it is all about appreciating nature through art, so my art is based on the flowers and foliage of the city. Although I prefer drawing indoors as my comfort zone, the outdoor environment gives me a further dimension and can be less suffocating.”
Jenny Liu, of Long Island City, has two copper plate etchings on display at the exhibit, “I Found the Universe in My Backyard” and “Infinity.”
“All of my work tends to come back to nature in some way,” Liu said. “My artwork served as a culmination of my interdisciplinary studies and interests in undergraduate at University of Pittsburgh.”
Liu majored in philosophy and minored in studio arts, as well as chemistry. She is inspired by nature and the world around her.

“I try to better understand the significance of living organisms and what it means to be living,” Liu said.
With “I Found the Universe in My Backyard,” Liu said she tried to show off “the awe and wonder that is universally felt when we immerse ourselves in nature.” “Infinity” is “a study of the states of infinity that can be found in nature,” Liu said.
“After seeing Marlene’s art, I was inspired and felt further connected to these questions and curiosities regarding nature that we both share,” she added. “I am excited to see more of her work and get to know her more because it seems like our artwork comes from similar ways of thinking about nature.”
There are five other artists in addition to Tanabe and Liu who have their work displayed at the exhibit.

Catherine Chang flew in from Atlanta to provide a solo show within the exhibit. The fabric pieces included in her work are naturally hand-dyed with food scraps in order to honor “nature.” The pinks are made from avocados and the yellows from lemon peels. Chang said she is inspired by the spiritual feeling of being out in a naturalistic environment.
Receptive to both her own inner nature and nature’s wisdom, Chang said that she seeks “to explore universal metaphysics and internal feeling in my artwork through line, space, and color” and uses the medium to create a visual language of what she not able to put into words. “I wish that those who connect with my art will find a quieting of the mind and an opening of heart and soul,” Chang said.
Scarlett Chang, Catherine’s sister, also contributed to the exhibit with one drawing of pen on paper. She said her focus is simple and intricate line drawings of flower forms using both pen and watercolor. “The work I create is a product of self expression and creativity used as an outlet for the mundane,” Scarlett said. “Flowers are the main focus of my work and are detailed in the most simplistic nature of pen on paper in order to highlight the work with less emphasis on the medium.”
Ave Salzman, Jinge Xu and Alexander Yu also showed off their work at the exhibit, though they were not present at the opening reception.
Salzman considers herself to be a practicing graphic novelist, painter, and illustrator. She said that she is “deeply passionate about ecology, evolutionary biology and the conservation of species in the earth’s remaining niches of great beauty.” Her exhibit of her “Small Five” series came from volunteering in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, which is in Africa.
“I aim to capture that appreciation of nature coupled with the effortless inventiveness of a child, two qualities that are fundamental to human development and happiness,” Salzman said.
Alexander Yu is the youngest of the artists whose work is featured in the exhibit. “During my art elective at school we were instructed to paint a still-life painting using acrylic paints,” he said. “My choices were limitless but I settled on one of my favorite pictures of my dog, the scene setting a sense of serenity as Ella is deep in sleep on soft covers. She embodies still life and peace in oneself.”
Jinge Xu, from the northern Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, said she is inspired by the colors found in nature, though the art she has on display shows black and white line drawings of whimsical animals.
Those interested in attending the exhibit can stop by the Rainforest Art Foundation Tuesdays through Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call the foundation at (917) 682-3630.
Posted 12:00 am, May 12, 20,18


An opening reception at the Rainforest Art Foundation in Long Island City gave attendees a peek at owner Marlene Yu’s latest mural.  At the age of 81 Marlene Yu is still painting murals in her studio.  During the opening reception of the latest exhibit, Nature In Art By Young Artists, a tour of Yu’s artwork revealed the largest mural one piece she had ever painted.  Taking 6 months to complete the 54 foot long, 20 foot high, canvas acrylic was gracefully displayed amongst her extremely talented artwork.  

In order to do complete the happy task, three people were involved, first with the canvas being laid out on the floor.  At one point, the canvas is hauled up onto the wall while her husband, James staples it.  The process continues with Marlene working on a scaffold.