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Arts + Culture

20 Baller Things to Do This Month

It’s official: The dog days of summer are here. But there’s still plenty of juice to squeeze out of the sunny season. On the agenda this month: a nationwide party in Singapore, world-class art exhibitions in Moscow and New York, a new food market in New Orleans and that famously nutty music festival in the Nevada desert.

See recent posts by Nate Storey

Hot Restaurant Tables

Los Angeles
Fans of Bryant Ng’s much-loved but shuttered Spice Table have been feverishly waiting for the chef — and his mouthwatering Vietnamese-Singaporean dishes — to resurface. At Cassie, in Santa Monica, he’s teamed up with wife Kim and local toques Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan to create similar plates but with a French influence. The one item that lives on at the new Art Deco space: the grilled pig’s tail, a cult favorite.

Housed in a Brutalist structure inside the Sydney Opera House, Australian chef Peter Gilmore’s follow-up to the renowned Quay, has the local food scene buzzing. Under Tom Dixon lighting fixtures, Bennelong specializes in à la carte dishes (miso duck with pickled hispi cabbage, roasted John Dory on the bone) and a more casual menu called Cured and Cultured (Byron Bay pig culatello, Sydney rock oysters), served with sweeping views of the harbor.

The red-hot Pubbelly guys have switched gears for their new restaurant, PB Station, in downtown’s Beaux Arts Langford Hotel, formerly the Miami National Bank Building. The menu is divided into four sections: classics (shortrib tartare), flour and water (pork belly dumplings), sea and garden (tomato and tofu), and pig out (calamari squid rice). Locals are crazy about the rooftop lounge Pawn Broker with its subway tile bar and killer cocktails.

Best Food Markets

New Orleans
After sitting in disrepair for a decade after Katrina, the historic 1875 St. Roch Food Market has reopened in the St. Roch neighborhood. The offerings are pure Nola: blackened shrimp po’boys, freshly shucked oysters, and seafood gumbo, among others.

LA restaurateur Tony Riviera’s first upscale food emporium, Market Hall, has a gourmet grocery, a charcuterie station, and a restaurant by Russell Burton. Here, the chef turns out an eclectic menu, from Neapolitan-style pizzas to Kobe cheeseburgers. Next up: San Francisco, San Diego and Dallas.

The European-style Avanti Food & Beverage is part culinary collective, part chef incubator. Inside a former LoHi printing warehouse, seven reclaimed shipping containers act as test kitchens for new restaurant ideas. A few highlights: John DePierro and Michael Nevarez’s izakaya, Mijo; chef Tim Payne’s sustainably driven Farmer Girl, which serves crispy chicken confit and wood-fired pork loin from Colorado farms; and the kegged cocktails by Williams & Graham’s Allison Widdecombe at the upstairs bar.

Badass Bars

San Francisco

At the just-opened 50-seat Leyenda, bartender Ivy Mix — has there ever been a better bartender name than that? — shakes pan-Latin drinks in the shadow of her old stomping grounds, Clover Club. Order the 2015 American Bartender of the Year’s mescal mai tai, or the multi-rum Stir Key, with macadamia nut orgeat.

Offbeat Festivals and a Boozy Popup

Buñol, Spain
Nearly 300,000 pounds of tomatoes get used in what is surely the world’s biggest food fight, all in the name of Buñol’s patron saints, the Virgin Mary and St. Louis Bertrand. By the time it’s over, the red-dyed masses and splattered tomatoes look like a performance art installation, or maybe a giant sea of salsa.

London’s latest pop-up is like nothing you’ve ever inhaled before. Starting July 31, food artists Bompas & Parr will open a booze installation in a basement space on the site of an ancient monastery next to London Bridge. Visitors will walk through a fog of alcohol, breathing in clouds of mixers and spirits released into the air from a humidifier. Just remember not to drive there.

Buenos Aires
It’s hard to believe that Argentina’s love affair with the seductive tango started in bordellos, but the dance is a full-blown national treasure — around 500,000 spectators take part in the festivities every year. The Tango Buenos Aires Festival kicks things off with tango shows and screenings for the first nine days, followed by the world championships. Don’t miss the opening day milonga, which brings thousands of dancing tangueros to the streets.

Culture Hits

The city-state is in the midst of a yearlong Golden Jubilee to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence from Malaysia, but the day to be there is National Day, August 9. Insane fireworks, concerts, parades — it’s going to be one big blowout, with most events held at the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Singapore Botanical Gardens. For those who can’t make it this month, two new walking trails will debut in November: Jubilee Walk, which winds through historic sights, from the civic district to Marina Bay; and the Art Connector, which connects the City Hall MRT station to the National Gallery Singapore and will showcase an eye-popping mural made from thousands of local portraits.

Siena, Italy
Just like Triple Crown races in the U.S., the annual Palio di Siena, in the Piazza del Campo, is more about the party than the competition — though partisans of the city’s contrades are known to bloody each other up. The 90-second sprint, which dates back to the Middle Ages, is actually held on two days a year, July 2 and August 16, and will get you up, yelling profanities in Italian. Regardless of who wins, la dolce vita ensues, with wine-fueled revelry throughout Siena’s winding alleys till dawn.

All eyes are on Milan this year, thanks to the Milan Expo, which will see an expected 20 million visitors before it closes on October 31. The expo’s theme, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” is all about the connection between food and water, and nature’s fragile ecosystem. Sound a tad dry? It’s anything but. You can expect a star-studded convergence of fashion, culture, food and design. Don’t miss Casa degli Atellani, a grand palazzo in the center of the city where Leonardo da Vinci’s vineyard from 500 years ago has been recreated in the walled garden after years of research, or Allavita!, an original Cirque du Soleil production that runs through August 23.

Music Blowouts

Coachella doesn’t have anything on the Reading and Leeds music fests. The crowds at the wacked-out free-for-alls are notoriously unruly, dressing up in costume (think dudes in flower print dresses or full-body beer koozies), throwing bottles at acts they don’t like (just ask 50 Cent) and occasionally inciting a riot. In other words, it’s really f*cking fun. Highlights this year: Azealia Banks, Kendrick Lamar and Deadmau5.

Filthy-rich tech nerds, ’90s burnouts, P. Diddy — Burning Man, in the middle of the Nevada desert, is all about status these days. Even though its popularity has swelled, the desert blowout is still a once-in-a-lifetime must-do, especially with its themed camps (check out the 7 Deadly Gins), trippy art installations, always killer music lineup and, of course, people watching.

Killer Art Exhibits

New York
Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971, MoMA Yoko made her debut here in 1971, when visitors encountered a sign near the entrance that read “Museum of Modern [F]art.” The artist claimed to have released a swarm of flies on the grounds and encouraged the public to chase them around Manhattan. More than four decades later she’s officially showing her inaugural exhibition, with more than 125 installations, films and more.

Norwich, England
Jeff Koons Exhibition, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery The influential American artist known for his overtly sexual themes and scandalous recreations of banal objects will showcase such famous works as his highly polished oversize Winter Bears at the Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery through October. It will be his biggest exhibition in the U.K. in decades and the only chance to see him there this year.

New York
Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life, New York At the New York Botanical Gardens you can get a rare look at Kahlo’s love for nature in more than a dozen original paintings, including Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. Don’t miss "Frida al Fresco" (August 6 and 27), when the Conservatory is transformed into a recreation of Kahlo’s famous garden in Casa Azul, Mexico, with live music and performance art — and complimentary margaritas.

Versailles, France
British artist Anish Kapoor has moved into the famous 17th-century gardens for "Kapoor Versailles," a series of sculptures that have stirred some serious controversy. Case in point: The oversexed Dirty Corner piece was recently vandalized after Kapoor suggested it was “the vagina of the queen who takes power." And many people, including the mayor of Versailles, believe it was an insult directed at Marie Antoinette. Aren’t art feuds fun?

Moscow, Russia
Designed by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art was this year’s most anticipated opening (sorry, Whitney). In a repurposed bus terminal on Gorky Park, the Instagram-worthy moment happens at Japanese multimedia artist Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room — The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, a constellation-like installation that debuted at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City. Just as trippy is Kusama’s new Guidepost to the Eternal Space, a gallery filled with enormous red polka dot structures that evoke the mushroom tops in Mario Bros.



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