Thursday, March 13, 2014

Newcomer Angus Club Steakhouse Offers a Prime Dining Experience.

Angus Club Steakhouse Porterhouse with Sides*
Executive Chef Edward Avduli uses a rare method to prepare his steaks at Angus Club Steakhouse, and the flavorful result he achieves is palpable and palatable. At a recent press dinner, WGINY learned that, using only hand-selected premium cuts of USDA prime Angus beef from Master Purveyors, Avduli then ensures that his meat is dry-aged, on site, for 30-35 days, a unique combination of care that many local steakhouses can't match.

Impeccable Fine Dining at Angus Club Steakhouse
The Art Deco style Angus Club Steakhouse is housed in a former nightclub space at 135 E. 55th Street, and has an expansive layout with several private dining areas, a controlled-climate wine cellar, and two full bars. The bars, furnishings, and even the restroom stalls are custom made with careful attention to detail, which creates a luxurious atmosphere. Add to that impeccable, refined service, an impressive food menu, and extensive wine list (75+ bottles available, and growing, with an emphasis on California wines), and it's clear that Angus Club has mastered the art of fine dining in just a few short weeks since officially opening in February.

Canadian Bacon
Full menus can be viewed here. We sampled many menu highlights including a Prime Steak Tartar, Canadian Bacon, Angus Club Salad, Crab Cakes, Norwegian Salmon, Colorado Lamb Chops, Truffle Mac n' Cheese, Angus Home Fries, Jumbo Asparagus, Creamed Spinach, Mushrooms and, of course, several varieties of steak, before moving on to sweet desserts. Angus Club also advertises an additional "superior" selection of seafood, including 3-pound lobsters, sushi-grade yellow fin tuna, and Chilean sea bass.

Among the appetizers, the steak tartar, made with a fine mix of sirloin and filet mingon, was like a light introduction of what was later to come, teasing the palate with just a touch of richness that made it easily devourable. Like with his steaks, Chef Avduli also ensures that even his seafood is top quality, and the spicy soft crab cakes we were served next were stuffed with real Phillips crab meat. Even the house salad was so much more than just a salad, featuring tasty surprises such as baby shrimp, roasted red peppers, and bacon. Speaking of bacon, the thick Canadian bacon slices stood out as hearty and crispy, and might have been my favorite, which is a pretty incredible feat considering I rarely like bacon products.
Truffle Mac n' Cheese

Of the sides, the truffle-infused mac and cheese, made with a combination of Vermont, American and Cheddar cheeses, and topped with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, was addictive and unforgettable, and the lush, buttery home fries also really complemented the main courses. 

Rack of Lamb
For the main attraction, we moved to the meats, beginning with the bone-sucking, tender lamp chops, which quickly disappeared. We then tried signature sizzling Porterhouse and Rib Eye steaks, which were seared to medium rare and prepared without any hint of steak sauce, and rightfully so as the steaks literally spoke for themselves. The aroma alone was mouthwatering. The Porterhouse, served family style for two, three or four, encompassed leaner cuts of filet and sirloin that melted in the mouth, while the fattier, juicy ribeye bursted with flavor.

Tender Steak Morsels at Angus Club Steakhouse

Finally, we enjoyed a dessert platter which consisted of an in-house, homemade coconut tiramisu, as well as various cakes from a select Hudson Valley bakery. Red velvet and carrot cakes, topped with creamy icing, were both particularly fluffy and really rounded out the evening's premium dining experience. 

Angus Club Steakhouse is open daily from 11am to 11pm, serving lunch and dinner. 

*All photos in this post are property of Angus Club Steakhouse, used with permission.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Help the Meriwether Foundation and Miss USA 2012 Empower Communities in Africa by Attending Networking Events in New York - Coming Up Next: Charity Spin Event March 15.

Ever wonder how a beauty queen might spend her days? Consider Miss USA 2012, Nana Meriwether, an athlete, an academic, and a real altruist. I recently had the opportunity to have a phone interview with Ms. Meriwether, and I was amazed to learn about the lengths her organization, The Meriwether Foundation, has gone to empower rural and impoverished communities in Southern Africa, working daily to help children and families.

Right here in New York, Ms. Meriwether also runs the Manhattan Social Club, promoting exciting networking events such as cupcake making classes, food and wine tours, and spa days, with proceeds from these events supporting the important work of the Meriwether Foundation. The next Manhattan Social Club event is a Charity Spin Event happening this weekend, Saturday March 15, at Cyc Fitness. There will be some celebrity guests in attendance, and spots are filling up fast, so sign up to SPIN now.

Ms. Meriwether created the Manhattan Social Club, a component of the Meriwether Foundation, as a fun way to mix her "philanthropic side with [her] social side," and "give people the opportunity to give back while meeting others." This philosophy was aligned with her reasons for entering beauty pageants in California and Maryland, eventually landing her both the Miss Maryland and Miss USA 2012 titles. She saw the competitions also from a philanthropic perspective, a way to gain "exposure and a platform" for her altruistic ideas and those of the Meriwether Foundation.

The Meriwether Foundation was officially incorporated as a non-profit in 2007, co-founded by Ms. Meriwether, but the organization's work dates back to the 1980s when Ms. Meriwether's parents began working in rural and remote villages in Southern Africa. Ms. Meriwether was born in South Africa, and grew up in some of the rural villages in which her family worked. As her father was a doctor (and the first African American to be accepted at Duke University School of Medicine, helping to integrate the school), the organization's original focus was on health, but has since expanded to other social services including education, nutrition, and agriculture. You can read more about the history of the organization, the contributions of Dr. and Mrs. Meriwether, and their children (including Miss USA 2012), here.

The Meriwether Foundation now serves approximately seventeen villages in five countries-- South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique. Extensive programs include operating health centers and clinics, running health fairs, bringing fresh, clean water, electricity, and organic food to the villages, addressing HIV/AIDS, combating poverty and malnutrition, and encouraging early childhood development. The foundation also operates schools, and supports scholarships and after-school tutoring programs.

The Meriwether Foundation has experienced immense growth since 2007, in part due to fundraising, and Ms. Meriwether hopes that her organization only keeps growing. Tax-deductible donations help keep the foundation thriving, and more importantly, will directly serve some of the world's neediest communities. Consider making a donation to these worthy causes, or find other ways to get involved through volunteering, internships and assisting with fundraising.

When I asked if she could dispel some of the stereotypes about pageants, Ms. Meriwether instantly replied that she "met the most ambitious, intelligent women" while competing, which was not surprising considering her own accomplished background. She has trained for the Olympics, she was a 2-time All-American volleyball star at UCLA, graduating with the highest honors and a degree in Political Science, and she has studied pre-med in a graduate program at UCS. In addition to helping run the Meriwether Foundation, she is also currently contemplating whether she wants to attend medical school, law school, or business school. If only we all could be faced with such alluring options.

When I asked if Ms. Meriwether had a message for young women of color, she stated, "I'm inspired by my parents [who] grew up in much harsher times ... I learned from them the power of education ... You can change your entire life's landscape by applying yourself."

Follow The Meriwether Foundation on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the foundation's philanthropic work, and for more information on upcoming Manhattan Social Club events.

All photos in this post are property of The Meriwether Foundation and are used with permission.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Kill Shakespeare" is a Creative, Hilarious Adventure Featuring Everything You Love About the Bard, Live (Kind of).

"Kill Shakespeare" at HERE Arts Center
banner used with permission
Comics are a common topic these days for blockbuster movies, and live theatre has also been catching on to the intrigue of the graphic novel. Enter "Kill Shakespeare," a new theatrical production that's re-enacts a graphic novel, which is a re-imagining and re-mixing of your favorite classic Elizabethan dramas and comedies. Say that three times fast. Oh, and there's also a forthcoming board game.

Richard the III and Hamlet
Artwork by Andy Belanger
 used with permission
"Kill Shakespeare" finds a handful of Shakespeare's most notable characters thrown together in an epic battle of good and evil as they search for their "Creator," a reclusive wizard, who happens to be Shakespeare himself. In this fractured fairytale of sorts, the villainous Richard III and Lady Macbeth team up in their thirst for power, thinking that by eliminating Shakespeare they may reign absolute. Juliet is a rebel and a leader of the resistance fighters against the tyrannical Richard. Also searching for Shakespeare, but with more altruistic motives, are Hamlet, Othello, Romeo, Falstaff, and Puck. "Honest" Iago is along for the ride, but whom does he really serve? Will Romeo and Juliet ever realize that the other is still actually alive? Or will Juliet instead fall for Hamlet? The Ghost of Hamlet's father guides him on his journey, and eventually Hamlet encounters the sanctified Shakesepare in an unexpected state. Finding the allegorical source of Shakespeare's power, will Hamlet discover that this wizard is less than omnipotent? Has he reached Shakespeare in time to save him from falling into the bloodied hands of Richard and Lady Macbeth? Don't despair, like several of Shakespeare's most beloved stories, this one does end in merriment.   

Does "Honest' Iago Serve Anyone But Himself?
Artwork by Andy Belanger
 used with permission
This creative, hilarious adventure features everything you love about the Bard: romance, cross-dressing, farce, tragedy, mayhem, and treachery. Using a unique combination of comic panels projected on a large screen, radio-style readings by the actors, acoustic samples of songs by rock greats such as the Beatles and Led Zepplin, and inventive musical tactics including crinkling plastic bags and tapping a hammer on a steel pipe, the "Kill Shakespeare" story really seems to come to life as its creators, Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery (with Art by Andy Belanger) could only have hoped.

Director Jordana Williams has described "Kill Shakespeare" as a "wonderfully strange combination of comic book and radio play." Following a successful reading at New York Comic Con and other national Cons, "Kill Shakespeare" is now in the midst of a short (5 day) debut run at HERE Arts Center, and the final staging will be tomorrow, Wednesday, March 5. Tickets, $15, are currently sold out online for the 75 minute show, but some standing room tickets may be available at the theater. "Kill Shakespeare" is presented by Gideon Productions. If there's enough demand, there may even be a NYC revival planned. (Hint: Demand can exist if you create it...). 

Monday, March 3, 2014

"Spotlight Your Talent" Industry Mixer Brings Together Emerging Artists

By Heather K. with contributions from Tami Shaloum

On Friday, February 28, Creative Spotlights and The Red Shark Entertainment came together at EVR Lounge to throw a shindig of sorts, showcasing emerging musical acts and creating a forum for a wide array of artists to inspire and be inspired. The entertainment industry networking event, "Spotlight Your Talent" featured an eclectic mix of artists that appealed to all genres of music. Highlights included singer-songwriter, Natalia Segura, Urban Pop band, "The Down Beat Keys," and rocker Kiirstin Marilyn.

Natalia Segura, an Australian singer-songwriter with Latin roots, began her set with a catchy, introspective original song, "Broken Love Song." With lyrics seemingly drawn from intense life experiences, Segura belted out her melodies with an impressive vocal range. She definitely had potential, and it didn't hurt that this buxom beauty looked like she just walked off the cover of a magazine.

"The Down Beat Keys," or "DBK," started somewhat generically, but quickly found their sound. Their hip-hop influences really came through on hit "Take Me Home," while their pop roots were evident in their single, "Lonely." Not surprisingly for a band that has played with the likes of "Matt and Kim" and "Jon Bon Jovi," DBK had the crowd dancing up a storm as they moved through an upbeat repertoire full of funk and soul.

Finally, while all of the acts had their strengths, the one that stood out the most for me was the performance by Kiirsten Marilyn. Marilyn, an edgy musician unafraid of a little audience interaction, accomplished a lot with merely a drummer, a base, and her own special magnetism. With songs like "The Struggle," and "Grim," her hard, dark rock could speak directly to any brooding heart. She was mesmerizing to watch, with a theatrical intensity and stage presence that evoked Gwen Stefani, Lzzy Hale, and other notable female rock musicians.

Other musicians who performed at the event included Americana singer-songwriter, Danny Severance with his "Na Capellas," and rock band, The R.O.A.R. WGINY looks forward to more from all of these artists soon.