Category Archives: Art

Bill Brady: Food Art

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Professional food photographer Bill Brady helps businesses sell a product or a lifestyle by creating a certain mood through his photos.  He writes, “Crumbs wants the public to crave their Crumnuts, T-Fal displays their perfect and dependable cookware, and the Quinoa Board must express that ancient grains equal a healthy lifestyle.”

With his new food art exhibition at the Martin Vogel Photography Gallery, he gets to do the opposite.  “Rather than objectifying food as an object of beauty and desire,” he writes, “food becomes integral in the play of color, light and composition. The result is abstract, sometimes beautiful, other times shocking.”

He adds, “Reducing foodstuff to its lowest common denominator, it becomes the raw material of expression rather than the end product.  Just as a traditional painter uses oils, watercolors and acrylics, I use condiments, sauces and food. Common objects like candy or frozen peas become an elevated mode of expression.”
To see Candyland (pictured above) and other pieces in the collection, visit Food Art from March 6 through April 29 at the Martin Vogel Photography Gallery at the Port Washington Public Library.  The opening reception is Saturday, March 8th from 2 to 4 p.m.  Bill will be lecturing on Monday evening, April 7th at 7:30 p.m.

Day Trip: Cold Spring, New York

Cold Spring sign

Cold Spring, New York is a short ride (a little over an hour) on Metro North from Grand Central Station, but a world away from New York City.  Step down from the train platform and be transported.  This is a perfect place to go for the carless New Yorker.  The town is right off the train stop, and everything is within walking distance.  On weekends, this is a popular destination.

Welcome to idyllic small town America, complete with flag-draped gazebo.

gazebo 2
Known for its antique shops, Cold Spring’s main drag is the appropriately named Main Street, lined with cute storefronts selling antiques, flea market goods, gifts and more and many restaurants to choose from.  I liked The Country Goose, a charming shop with gourmet food products, soaps, children’s items, tea, products from the British Isles and more.  The owner is a charming woman who also makes gift baskets.

Cold Spring street

Not far from the train station is a the trolley stop where you can board and head to Boscobel House. There’s a little park here where a band plays big band music while people eat ice cream cones outside on park benches. The Village Scoop serves up ice cream in fun flavors like cannoli (made with mascarpone) and cherry pie.

cannoli ice cream
If you walk west toward the Hudson River, you’ll see the gazebo and the historic Hudson House, built in 1832 and one of only two accommodations in town.

Hudson

The accompanying restaurant has scenic patio dining.  The bread is of note–a popover with strawberry butter.

popover strawberry

I got the lobster and avocado roll.  I enjoyed the unique addition of avocado.

lobster avocado roll
Next door is the popular Moo Moo Creamery with creamy vanilla ice cream. The long lines are worth the wait.

Moo Moo vanilla
The nearby park has lovely views of the Hudson River and mountains.

Cold Spring mountain

Cold Spring mountain 2

What to Eat:  ice cream from Moo Moo and the Village Scoop, popovers and classic American fare from Hudson House, artisan ice pops from Go-Go Pops.

Where to Shop:  The Country Goose for gourmet food and gift baskets, The Gift Hut for unique toys for kids, Back in Ireland for goods made in Ireland.

What to See & Do:  The 1928 gazebo, the Hudson River view, Hudson House historic inn, Boscobel House and Gardens, Putnam History Museum, kayaking.

Artist Hong Yi’s 31 Days of Creativity with Food

Malaysian artist Hong Yi’s project 31 Days of Creativity with Food is what happens when an artist plays with her food.  A basic white plate served as the canvas for her food-art creations.  (This is making me think of copyright law, because I’m an IP nerd, but I guess the actual art would not be copyrightable, although her photographs depicting the art are.)  Check out what she does with Oreos; I want one of these!  I love the giant squid one.  These are so creative and cool!

The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park

The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park are open.  Get your fill of cheer with numerous booths of local and handmade jewelry, ornaments, scarves and hats, housewares and more, including one of my favorites–St. Petersburg Collections with Russian ornaments.

skating rink

There’s the skating rink and the restaurant and lounge, Celsius, if you want to get in from the cold.

Celsius

This year, there are many food booths to keep the foodie happy.  There are plenty of artisan food purveyors here.  Have some gruyere grits at Daisy Grits.  There’s TopArepa with toppings to make your arepa sweet or savory.  Get a warm baked apple strudel at Strudels & Pies by Hans.

Max Brenner’s

There’s plenty of chocolate, including Max Brenner, Raaka Chocolate from Brooklyn and No Chewing Allowed.  Get a pickle from a barrel at Pickle Me Pete.

Pickle Me Pete

There’s also churros, Turkish food, vegetarian food, kettle corn, doughnuts, macarons, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, crepes and artisan soft pretzels in flavors like cinnamon raisin or truffles and cheese.

macarons

Of course, there’s an apple cider stand. The longest line I saw was at Wafels & Dinges; no surprise people want a hot waffle on a cold night!

You can even find foodie home decor at Brazilian Home Collection.

fruit home decor

Cerealism by Ernie Button

Cerealism is a fun and interesting photography collection by photographer Ernie Button using cereal.  My favorite are the Lucky Charms shamrocks.

Make and mail a cake postcard

According to the cake postcard maker, these slices of “cake” can be mailed.  It seems like the post office wouldn’t let you.  Not sure I’d want to mail these, but they would be fun to make to keep for myself!

Food Photography for Your Blog

Food photography is a topic of interest to any food blogger who wants to make the photos on her blog look professional and stunning.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

Bill Brady, professional food photographer, addresses everything food bloggers and those who aspire to a professional career in food photography need to know to take great food photos in his new book More Digital Food Photography from Course Technology PTR, a part of Cengage Learning.

used with permission

I met with Bill over lunch at Madison & Vine in Manhattan to discuss his book and career in food photography as well as his hints and tips for taking professional-quality food photography for food bloggers.  Bill says he doesn’t mind giving away the tricks of the trade.  Each photographer has his or her own eye, called the point-of-view, and would all have a different perspective when photographing the same scene.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

Bill says the top two important areas in photography are light and composition.  When photographing food in a restaurant, he says, the best seat in the house is one near the window where you can get access to natural light.  “Food likes to be lit from behind,” he says.  Direct sunlight is not the best though.  “On an overcast day, the light is perfect,” he says. “Food likes diffused light not harsh light.  If you’re sitting outside or by a window, you have a better chance of getting a good picture.”  Bill’s biggest no-no is a flash.  “Artificial light makes the food look off color,” he says. He recommends purchasing a small diffusion panel–easy enough to fold up and carry in your purse–to use to reflect light off of.  Either that, or a white plate held in front of the subject as you photograph.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

Composition is the second area to focus on when photographing food.  Bill says to move the dish around to find what part of the food looks best.  He says if you’re photographing a roll, which he proceeds to do as an example, tear it to show its texture inside, put a pat of butter on a butter knife and lay it across the front of the bread plate to create more interest.  “What you’re doing is manipulating the surroundings,” he says.  Then decide what angle you will shoot from.  “If you want more drama, you shoot from below, looking up at the food.  If you shoot from overhead, it’s more graphic,” he says.  “You could focus on a particular area and something else becomes a background element.”  Bill adds, “Compositionally, the closer you get to the food, the better.”

I take a picture of my dish as I normally would, with a camera phone and flash.

Then I take one with natural light and a close up.  (We were seated in the middle of the restaurant, so the lighting was not the best.)

Bill recommends a point and shoot camera over a camera phone.  “A good digital SLR is not that expensive,” he says and will last you at least five years.

Bill shoots with a medium format camera.  It’s more expensive, he notes, but more professional in terms of the results you get.  He also likes shooting manually so he can control every aspect.  Starting his career in photography in 1994, he worked with a food photographer and learned the food photography business, which he began doing in 1999.  A trip to Italy solidified his interest in food photography.  “The food was amazing–the way they presented it,” Bill says.  So he shot food on his own and found his niche.  His first assignment was to photograph every category of food for Food Emporium.  In the last 13 years he has been photographing food, photography has seen many changes–most importantly, the transition from film to digital, and the ways in which that made taking photographs easier.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

I recommend checking out Bill’s very cool blog where he pairs his food photography with reader recipes.  Also, stay tuned for my review of his book as I start my adventure into food photography for my blog.

Museum Meals

Museum restaurants and cafes can be surprisingly good places to eat.  New York City is one of the best cities to get great cuisine at a museum.  I had brunch recently at Robert, a restaurant at the top of the Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle that serves American and Mediterranean cuisine.  Talk about one of the greatest views in the city!  Full frontal Central Park.

If you haven’t been to the museum, I highly recommend it, as I’ve gone on a few occasions and enjoyed it very much.  The gift shop has unique housewares and jewelry as well.

To get to Robert, take the elevator to the 9th floor.  The contemporary space is white with sci-fi see-through chairs with purple cushions and pink and yellow lighting from above.  The bathroom doors are pretty cool too with fluorescent pink lighting through the glass door.  The lounge area has couches or you can get a table near the window in the dining area.

We were served a basket of mini baguettes and chocolate muffins with creamy-good butter and sea salt.

For starters, I got the chilled corn soup with avocado and cilantro.  My friend also ordered this dish, and though visually pleasing, it didn’t work for either of us.  I thought the olive oil flavor didn’t mix well with the corn.  It was a little overpowering and the consistency was an unpleasant thickness.

For my entree, I got the ricotta cheese pancakes with tomato-dried fruit jam and whipped cream.  Pretty, pretty pancakes!  These were wonderfully fluffy and light.  I enjoyed switching between the jam for a little sweetness and the whipped cream.

For dessert, cheese cake with peach compote and chocolate tuille.  This was a light, fluffy cheese cake and the peach flavor was a sweet variation.

My dessert was a perfectly round scoop of house made vanilla ice cream.

Iceland’s Landscapes with Food

Iceland’s incredible and varied landscape is the subject of food photography.  Art photographer Eszter Burghardt uses food in Edible Vistas to create the realistic miniature glacial lakes, moss-covered hills and lava fields of Iceland.  Having seen this landscape in person, I can say that these look like the real thing.

Restaurant Week: Gastroarte

I always like to catch a few restaurants during Restaurant Week in winter and again in summer.  A lot of New Yorkers do not like Restaurant Week because they feel that the quality is not as good and that portions are smaller.  Most Restaurant Week regulars, however, know that there are a few great bargains for fine cuisine hidden in that extensive list of restaurants.  Gastroarte is one of them.  I’ve written about Gastroarte before, as I’m a fan of Chef Jesus Nunez’s beautifully artistic creations modernizing Spanish cuisine.

Chef Nunez greeted us before we ordered and recommended we try the pear salad and hake fishballs, as being signature dishes.

pear salad with Valdeon cheese, quince and walnuts

Where are the cheese, quince and walnuts, you ask?  Hidden beneath the pleasantly dressed mixed greens.

Another appetizer option: a creamy golden corn soup studded with English peas, fava beans and Serrano ham.


My friends ordered hake fishballs, mussels, shrimp and roasted cauliflower in a Mediterranean sauce. Hake, similar to cod, is abundant here in New York and very popular in Spain.


I ordered the marinated pork ribs with vegetables, a spicy sauce and cumin yogurt. I enjoyed this dish very much.  The perfectly cooked pork was topped with a lovely, spicy barbecue sauce.  With a sizable portion, it was quite filling.

For dessert, we all opted for the torrija with vanilla cream and strawberries. None of us had had torrija before, but it is similar to French toast. This dish was like a comforting, warm bread pudding with berries.

torrija

The Restaurant Week menu at Gastroarte provides an opportunity to try the restaurant’s classic dishes and whets your appetite for more of Chef Nunez’s creations. Chef Nunez will be put to the test against Chef Michael Symon on the July 29th episode of the Iron Chef. Judges include Jose Andres and Andrew Zimmern. It’s no secret I’m rooting for Chef Nunez!