Blue Bottle Cafe brought out desserts inspired by art pieces from their SFMOMA location.
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Art Meets Food at the Frieze

Jacqueline Sainsbury / May 13th, 2013

Today wraps up the second Frieze Art Fair on New York City's Randall's Island Park. The decade-old world renowned fair draws close to 70,000 spectators and around 180 galleries, exhibiting over 1,000 artists each October in London, with similar numbers appearing at the fair's recently added (2012) New York venue.

This year's event celebrated the short-lived experimental restaurant FOOD, that lasted for three years on Prince Street in New York City's SoHo. The restaurant opened in October 1971 and was both a meeting place for artists as well as a studio, of sorts, with food as the medium for guest artists to explore and serve. (Read more about the original restaurant here.) Just outside the main tent, FOOD 1971/2013 set up a temporary space, where different chefs cooked for the fair every day, each citing their own inspiration for the day's menu. Sunday's chef, Tina Girouard (one of the original chefs from FOOD), recalled the roots of the restaurant and Gordon Matta-Clark's spit-fired pig under the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1970s. She served up Cochon Amour (spit-roasted pig with pecans, purple onions, and pineapple) with roasted sweet potatoes and collard greens, while more pigs took their turn, slow roasting on a makeshift spit nearby. Carol Goodden (the co-founder of FOOD and Friday's chef) used soups as “'paintings' to decorate the table,” while Jonathan Horowitz found inspiration from “a kind of traditional, realist art, as practiced hundreds of years ago by Buddhist monks who created imitation meat dishes.”

While the focus of the fair is exhibiting contemporary artists, visitors' gastronomic sensibilities are not ignored. San Francisco's famous Blue Bottle Coffee was on hand to caffeinate the masses and share art-inspired desserts from their SFMOMA branch, such as a Mondrian cake made with chocolate ganache and white velvet cake. Roberta's hauled out two pizza ovens from Bushwick and set up shop on the outdoor cafe deck, while New York City restaurants The Fat Raddish, Frankies Spuntino, Marlow & Sons, Sant Ambroeus, and Court Street Grocers juggled the crowds indoors. A few select dishes from across the nearly 250,000-square-foot tent included: braised octopus with dandelion greens and Castelvetrano vinaigrette, and pappardelle with shrimp fra diavolo, mint, and peas (Frankies Spuntino); Agostino Recca anchovy sandwich with red onions, radishes, and butter (Court Street Grocers); fennel/market potato salad with grilled spring onions and roasted garlic crème fraîche (The Fat Raddish); artichoke risotto and brick chicken (Marlow & Sons); and a Baby Sinclair pizza with dinosaur kale, roasted maitake mushrooms, 9-month aged Prairie Breeze cheddar, and Calabrian chilies (Roberta's).

One of the largest lines to be found was wrapped around Danny Bowien's (newly minted James Beard Awardee for Rising Star Chef) Mission Chinese Food booth. “We're at the Frieze Art Fair,” said Bowien, “because, in the restaurant, we try to be as creative as possible, and this is the perfect medium for us to showcase what we're all about.” Bowien noted the difficulties of having to cook in a venue with no on-site kitchen, but said, “It's a challenge for us to be able to do something like this, and we're always trying to challenge ourselves.” The x.o. noodles with green peas, scallions, and ham were a huge hit as well as Mission Chinese Food's Kung Pao pastrami and Chongoing chicken wings.

“It's a lot of fun,” says Bowien of the Frieze, “and I think that art and food have a lot of parallels; it's all about expression.”