As summer weather starts its slow fade to fall, it’s time to pack in the most open-air fun as possible. This week’s list of things to do has plenty of outdoor activities to fill the shortening days, from a concert in Hudson River Park to Manhattan’s first-ever Smorgasburg. Enjoy yourself, and as always, check Groupon for more great things to do in New York City. Lit Crawl Manhattan East Village | Saturday, September 13 This three-hour event puts a literary spin on a bar crawl as participants follow their maps to readings and book-themed activities at 25 East Village watering holes. Compete in rounds of “literary Taboo” at Solas, or take in a performance by Farrar, Straus and Giroux house band the Savage Detectives at Leftfield. See the full schedule of events here. (Multiple venues; 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; free) Lorde & Majical Cloudz Midtown | Sunday, September 14 Gothy pop wunderkind Lorde claims she’s no royal—but her fans may beg to differ. This Sunday, the 17-year-old New Zealand native holds court at JBL Live at Pier 97, where she’ll set heads bobbing to chart-topping hits like “Tennis Court” and “Team.” Majical Cloudz’s wistful, electronica-tinged indie pop kicks things off. (Hudson River Park at W. 58th St.; 6 p.m.; $74; get tickets here) AHOYsters Tribeca | Tuesday, September 16 At this punning New York Oyster Week event, the crew of the F/V Sherman Zwicker invites landlubbers aboard their historic schooner for a shellfish-centric feast. Docked at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25, the Zwicker features more luxurious accommodations than the oyster boats of yore: guests pull up chairs to white-clothed tables at Grand Banks, the vessel’s onboard oyster bar. (N. Moore St. at West St.; 6 p.m.; free) Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man Hell’s Kitchen | Through Sunday, September 28 This live-action rom-com starts with a meet-cute between shy college student Robyn and brash advice-giver Dan, the gay male author of the book Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man. As Dan helps Robyn loosen up in front of her crush, Stefan the stagehand, audiences get in on the naughty fun: bachelorettes who purchase a party package even get to join the characters onstage. (777 8th Ave.; tickets $55–$66.50 through GrouponLive) Smorgasburg at Central Park Central Park | Friday, September 19 For those tired of trekking to Brooklyn, Smorgasburg has granted you a reprieve. This Friday, the foodie festival brings 30 of its top vendors to Central Park SummerStage for its first-ever outing in Manhattan. Chow down on treats from ‘burg stalwarts like Blue Marble Ice Cream, Ramen Burger, and Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque, or newcomers like Dan & John’s Wings or tostada-slingers El Super. (72nd St. and 5th Ave.; 5–9 p.m.; free) Photo credits: Ky Huynh (Lit Crawl), Annette Geneva (Lorde).Read More
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For a company that only arrived in Manhattan eight years ago, FIKA is doing a pretty good job of showing the coffee world how it’s done. It’s already the largest privately owned coffee company in New York and the fastest-growing coffee company in New York City history. In 2015, FIKA will open its flagship store in one of downtown’s most coveted locations: on the ground floor of Tower 4 in the new World Trade Center. Overlooking the memorial, the new location is expected to draw more than 55 million visitors a year—a far cry from the one-location company founded in 2006 by Swedish native Lars Åkerlund, whose sole goal was to bring to New York the Swedish concept of “a daily FIKA” (a coffee break, often accompanied by a sweet or savory snack). Åkerlund’s coffee shop—FIKA 58th Street—remains in its original location at 41 W. 58th St., but the company has added eight more locations since 2006. It’s also added two more partners: Åkerlund’s wife, Lena Khoury, whose background includes five years with Hermés, and chocolatier Håkan Mårtensson, a Culinary Olympics Gold Medal winner. Mårtensson joined the FIKA family in 2009; today, you’ll find him behind glass windows that offer a view of the chocolate production process inside FIKA Tribeca & Chocolate Factory (450 Washington St.), where he supervises one full-time staff member and six interns while retaining his well-deserved status as a chocolate artist. Mårtensson, born and raised in Sweden, knew from an early age that he “didn’t want to be sitting behind a computer all day,” and that he “liked to eat.” When it came time to pick a vocational training path, his creativity and facility with his hands led him to a pastry and baking-design course, which he took from ages 15–18. After graduation, he worked with leading Swedish pastry chefs (cue Muppets theme) and developed a love of all things chocolate, particularly chocolate carving and design. That remains his specialty today. At FIKA Tribeca & Chocolate Factory on a Thursday morning, Mårtensson took me on a tour of the various sculptures in progress in the factory. There was the chocolate Yoda that my co-worker had urged me to steal when he discovered I’d be taking the tour (alas, it would have been too obvious); a giant chocolate dinosaur Mårtensson has been working on for weeks; and a dragon that Mårtensson considers his favorite kind of figure to carve. “Whatever you do, no one can ever say it’s wrong,” he says. “I can use my imagination completely.” When asked if he’s bothered that his name isn’t on the door (like other chocolatiers around the city), Mårtensson doesn’t skip a beat. “FIKA is a much stronger word than my name,” he says, referring to the Swedish concept. (Mårtensson, Åkerlund, and Khoury are all Swedish, and all three deeply identify with the idea of “taking a FIKA.”) And when I asked him what he thought of the pastry chefs and dessert shops that have a habit of making a name for themselves by coming up with quirky, trendy products (cough, cough, cronut), he was similarly nonplussed (perhaps a Swedish trait). “I have things people have never tried before, but it’s all part of a consistency of being innovative and creative, not to be different,” he says. “I could do a smoked-salmon truffle and make it taste good, but do I want to be known as the smoked-salmon truffle guy? No.” As for the future, there are big plans for FIKA—even bigger than the flagship store at the World Trade Center. Next month, the company will open FIKA Tower, its largest location yet, at 55th Street and 10th Avenue. The three-story building will house a catering kitchen, a bakery and pastry factory, and an event space. They hope to open 5–10 more stores in Manhattan, then branch out to Brooklyn, New Jersey, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Seattle. No small dreamer, Mårtensson says the ultimate goal is 50 stores in the US within the next five years, and then to set their sights on the global market. “Chocolate is one of those things that knows no boundaries across the world,” he says. But in the here and now, Mårtensson is simply doing what he does—though in a spectacular fashion that makes it quite obvious that he loves every second of it. Tall and quiet, his usual presentation is anything but showy. But watching him prepare chocolate and then finish truffles by hand in the factory, it’s impossible to miss the almost imperceptible smile on his face. FIKA Tribeca & Chocolate Factory is located at 450 Washington St., New York, NY 10013. They are open Mon–Fri from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat. from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sun. from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition to a full range of chocolate products, FIKA serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a full wine list. Visit http://www.fikanyc.com/ for more information. Check Groupon for deals at more New York City coffee shops.Read More
This week’s list of things to do includes an ‘80s classic coming-of-age film, an IRL appearance by Daily Show writers, and a 70-minute spectacle that has dancers flying in the air. Enjoy yourself, and as always, check Groupon for other great things to do in New York City. Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Midtown | Saturday, August 23 Tender, saucy barbecue from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Delaney Barbecue, and Mighty Quinn's Barbecue flavors this family-friendly festival, which has brought blues and roots musicians to Pier 84 for 15 years. It’s okay to eat your weight in brisket—just give yourself time to digest before the high-energy funk of headliners Big Sam’s Funky Nation calls up your best dance moves. The BBQ also kicks off the Hudson River Park 550 (#HRP550) fundraising initiative: visit the campaign page for more info. (Off W. 44th St.; 2 p.m.; free) Left Bank Picture Show: Stand by Me West Village | Sunday, August 24 Rob Reiner’s classic 1986 coming-of-age tale is the second-to-last to be screened in West Village tavern Left Bank’s summer film series. Guests nibble on themed sips and bites as a very young Wil Wheaton, Cory Feldman, and River Phoenix bond over their quest to locate a missing child in the woods near their small town. A baby-faced Kiefer Sutherland co-stars. (117 N. Perry St.; 8:15 p.m.; free) Widowspeak Midtown | Thursday, August 28 Moody, Western-tinged rock will fill MoMA’s Sculpture Garden as Brooklyn duo Widowspeak takes the stage for the last MoMA Nights event of the summer. Lead singer Molly Hamilton weaves her haunting, Mazzy Star–esque vocals in with Robert Earl Thomas’s ‘70s-psych influenced guitar. (11 W. 53rd St.; 6:30 p.m.; free with museum admission) Improv by Daily Show Writers Chelsea | Thursday, August 28 The men and women responsible for crafting Jon Stewart’s nightly quips venture out from their writers’ room for one precious night onstage at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. When they’re done blinking, naked-mole-rat-like, at the unfamiliar light of the sun, the jokesters perform an improv show based on audience suggestions. (307 W. 26th St.; 9:30 p.m.; $5; make reservations here) Fuerza Bruta: Wayra Union Square | Through January 4, 2015 Forget straining your eyes to see dancers onstage. In fact, forget stages at all. Fuerza Bruta: Wayra’s immersive 70-minute spectacle explodes the fourth wall, raising performers above audiences’ heads as they tumble through the air, climb suspended walls of fabric, or slip around a transparent water-filled pool. (101 E. 15th St.; $49–$59 with Groupon; buy tickets through GrouponLive here)Read More