Review: Barnyard’s Cheese Fonduel Event 4/18

Event: Barnyard Collective’s Cheese “Fonduel” @ Larkin Cold Storage, Queens


Amy from McConnells ice cream was one of many in the industry who came to help out.

The Bottom Line:  When two cheese afficiados compete for your tastebuds with silky, tantalizing, cheese fondue, everyone wins.  The Barnyard Collective has hosted so many wonderful events like the Cheese and Raw Honey talk and pairing, the fondue competition did not disappoint, in spite of the of warm weather.


Review:  After a long day at work, who can argue with a glass of wine and creamy cheese? If you have never heard of the Collective, then you my friend, are missing out.  Guests enjoyed delicious charcuterie, white wine, olives while the two competing cheese mongers prepared their own concoctions of melted cheese.

Come to papa!

Come to papa!

As per most cheese experts, neither one of them used a roux,n which consists of equal quantities of melted butter and flour, as a base. Instead they both used a combination of reduced white wine and different kinds of melted cheese and corn flour.

Barnyard has the most amazing space.

Barnyard has the most amazing space.

The latter keeps the fondue from splitting.  Check out award-winning chef Heston Blumenthal’s similar take on a cheese sauce.

An arsenal of veggies and bread stood ready to dip in the fondue

An arsenal of veggies and bread stood ready to dip in the fondue

Both used authentic Swiss gruyère and white wine, but both had different tastes, in terms of saltiness and flavor.What does “authentic” mean? Just like Scotch can only use its name if it is from Scotland, or Daiginjo sake in Japan or champagne from Reims, France, Swiss Gruyère has its own AOP (Appellation d’origine protégée), which basically means: “I’m the real thing; don’t you dare pretend to be me!”

Plenty of cheese and mingling here

Plenty of cheese and mingling here

While both were absolutely fantastic, I really enjoyed cheese expert Joe Salonia’s version from Gourmino because he added a little nutmeg and citris flavor that just really balanced everything out:  Joe provided a breakdown of his mixture which included:

Can't you see I'm working?

Can’t you see I’m working? Joe adding the good stuff.

50% Gourmino Gruyere AOP 12 month  made by Michael Spycher who is the 2008 World Cheese Championship Contest Champion
25 % Raclette de Bruson AOP   aka Tomme du Valais – made by Eddie Bailliafard
25% Slow Food Label Emmentaler  AOP 18 month – made by husbanch and wife Bernherd Meiers and Marlies Zaugg

The complete recipe will be available here:


I want this bell

The buzz at this cheese duel event was amazing. Even after the guests voted on the best, the fondues continued and conversations lingered over the pourring of wine. My only wish is that there was more red wine pairings, but guests were allowed to bring their own booze, which we did. Stay tuned for Barnyard’s upcoming Spanish olives night. I can’t wait.


Review: One Step Beyond with Stretch Armstrong & Dj. Quik @ the Natural History Museum Friday 4/8/16

Event: Stretch Armstrong and DJ Quik rocked it at last week’s One Step Beyond after hours party @ The American Museum of Natural History


No doubt this event sold out! (c) AMNH/R. Mickens

The Bottom Line:  Can anything really compare to AMNH‘s One Step Beyond monthly parties? Oh yeah, this month’s show at the museum could.  It was truly a spectacular evening with a great crowd and a treat of old school hip hop from two DJs who kept it going. My only regret is that music had to stop.

DJ Quik brings down the house (c) AMNH/R. Mickens

DJ Quik brings down the house  (c) AMNH/R. Mickens

Review:  The AMNH has some amazing after hours parties, but One Step Beyond @ the Hayden Planetarium is one of the best. Guests were even allowed to view the four-minute Big Bang video upstairs until 11pm. Downstairs by the DJs, the party-goers queued up to purchase drinks and tickets for upcoming events. Yes, you can do that too!

Stretch Armstrong and DJ Quik

Stretch Armstrong and DJ Quik (c) AMNH/R. Mickens

This month’s feature was legendary hip hop producer and DJ Stretch Armstrong and DJ Quik. The two really knew how to keep the crowd going.

(c) AMNH/R. Mickens

(c) AMNH/R. Mickens

First, Stretch kicked things off with some 80s classics including Sade, Madonna and half way through Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy, everything changed. Tribe Called Quest suddenly erupted like thunder across the speakers and the crowd went wild. Track after track, Stretch didn’t stop.

Stretch Armstrong kicked things off. (c) AMNH/R. Mickens

Can I check my E-mail on this? Stretch Armstrong kicked things off. (c) AMNH/R. Mickens

My personal favorite was DJ Quik who also paid homage to artists who recently passed away like David Bowie. His transitions were flawless between tracks, and we didn’t even realize it was 1am when everything had to stop. Damn.

DJ Quik, man of the turntables

DJ Quik, man of the turntables (c) AMNH/R. Mickens

The music is not the only star of the show. I chatted with Benton from Moving Pictures Gallery, who has been working with One Step Beyond since its inception nearly a decade ago. His team includes final year students at the School of Visual Arts, where Benton teaches “New Forms in Media” at the MFA Computer Art department.

(c) AMNH/R. Mickens

Buy us a drink? (c) AMNH/R. Mickens

He later wrote back to me and told me a bit more about the history of One Step Beyond.
I was invited by Flavorpill to create and curate the visuals for the monthly event. The series has mostly sold out every month after Kanye West jumped up on stage to perform with A-Trak and Kid Sister in the first show of 2008.
What makes One Step Beyond unique ?
The only constant you can expect every month is transformation; One Step Beyond is the only late night museum series that remaps a cultural institution with electronic light. American Museum of Natural History has been visionary – only rarely have other museums transformed themselves for a late night event.
(c) AMNH/R. Mickens

Hiphopped out (c) AMNH/R. Mickens

I asked him where he got his inspiration for the images and light show.

Many of the images for the light show mirror stars and planets to keep in line with the planetarium. Other lighting devices match the rhythm of the music from the speakers. Most interesting was the little mirror ball, that randomly reflecting the lights on the ceiling.

If you  still don’t why One Step Beyond is so popular, I think Benton summed it up accurately.

We love our crowd! I see regulars and new faces each month.  
One Step Beyond has featured Moby, Questlove, Cool Kids, Simian Mobile Disco, Animal Collective, Four Tet, DJ Khaled, Scissor Sisters, Dirty Projectors, and Dan Deacon along with many other performers.

How do I keep my trousers on? (c) AMNH/R. Mickens

Get in on the action on the upcoming One Step Beyond party on Friday May 6, 2016. Stay tuned for the WhereNYC preview.


(c) AMNH/R. Mickens

Review: Barnyard Collective “Raw Honey” Talk and Tasting Thurs. Mar. 24

Event: Barnyard Collective presented “Raw Honey” talk and cheese pairing tasting.

Bee Raw Honey / Cheese / Barnyard Collective

Bee Raw Honey © WhereNYC

The Bottomline: A fantastic evening learning about the different varieties of honey, pairing it with delicious cheese and enjoying a glass of sparkling wine. This is one of the many delicious events happening deep in Long Island City, Queens.

Review: What would’ve seemed quick cab ride turned a bit dodgy as we headed to the warehouses south of LIRR Sunnyside tracks. Eyeing the rubble of the crumbling buildings as we played slalom through the cratered road, our cabbie asked if we were sure this was the place. I just nodded, as we jumped out. It may have looked like a ghost town from the street, but inside Larkin Cold Storage, it was a far different story as we were greeted and ushered into a beautifully built interrior.

Barnyard Collective cheese

A beautiful, wooden interrior. Note the turntables in the back. © WhereNYC

Rows of wooden tables and cedar-like paneled walls gave the place a cheerful and cozy feeling. We eyed the paintings of the wall as set of turntables played easy listening electronica. The main event of course were the cheeses arranged on the slabs and the little cups of honey that decorated the tables. As I looked over the bottles of sparkling wine chilling in the ice bucket, I knew this was going to be a treat.


If you’ve never heard of the Barnyard Collective, you’re not alone. It’s a cheese-lover collective made by people who know their stuff and frequently host tasting events for both fellow cheese-mongers and out-borough kindred spirits alike.


The event featured several cheeses to pair with the varieties of honey. © WhereNYC






It was through my dealings with celebrated Vermont creamery: Consider Bardwell Farm, who makes some seriously delicious cheeses, that I got introduced to the collective.IMAG7244

Events hosted by the Barnyard Collective are similar to those through the French Cheese Board because they are always informative and entertaining.


New York Basswood – one of the lightest most agreeable with almost any cheese.

Our honey expert Zeke from Bee Raw guided us through the basics of honey like only honey bees produce the stuff – which I admit I didn’t know. And the different varieties of light amber, orange blossom, creamy and the dark buckwheat depend on kinds of flowers and fruits the bees feast on. And while raw honey comes in a variety of flavors depending on the bees’ regimen, it also has healthy properties as well as many uses.

Furthermore, Zeke explained that a lot of the US grade A honey like those bloody bears at supermarkets come from China, India and Argentina where the honey is continually processed until it looks like light amber. Damn right evil if you ask me.  Not suprisingly, it’s usually cheaper than the domestic, eco-friendly varieties. Personally, after tasting the honey from Bee Raw, I’d take that any day.


The cheeses ranged from: blue, sheep, cow, chèvre and beautifully placed on each slab. Each one was paired with a different honey. But how do you match the two, you may ask?

According to Zeke, the honey and cheese should work inversely, meaning the lighter the honey, the stronger the cheese, and likewise, the milder the cheese, the darker the honey. It actually worked really well. And the wine acted as the perfect palette cleanser.

Main blueberry wasa favorite.

Maine blueberry honey was a favorite.

Personally, I’d like to have heard a bit more about the cheeses and where they came from, but it was delicious in any case. As the event drew to a close, we left the collective and headed to the nearest subway station with sticky fingers, happy memories and the lingering aroma of cheese.