Swiss gruyère wins World Championship Cheese Contest in Wisconsin

It wouldn’t have been my choice but a Swiss gruyère was named the world’s best cheese at the World Championship Cheese Contest in Wisconsin on Thursday 5th March.

The win gave Michael Spycher of Mountain Dairy Fritzenhaus in Bern, Switzerland his second victory (his first was in 2008). In fact, it was a Swiss 1-2 as a hard cheese called Gallus Grand CRU finished second.

This year’s tournament, the first since 2018, received a record 3,667 entries from 26 countries but due to international travel restrictions, 30 Japanese university representatives couldn’t attend.

Alas, there weren’t any pule or moose cheese entries in this year’s finals.

The World Championship Cheese Contest in numbers

55 – The number of judges who inspected and tasted all the dairy products on show

19 – The number of nations represented by each judge

132 – The types of cheese, yoghurts, and milk available to judge

3 – The number of local cheese that made it to the final (all of which finished in the top 20)

The Boston cooler: a quick history of a tasty Detroit beverage

I love ginger ale. I especially love the American variants (as they weren’t hit by the sugar tax like the UK). So when I found out about the Boston cooler, I had to investigate.

The first thing that surprised me was the fact it’s not from Boston at all. The soda shake comes from Detroit, Michigan and its history is quite complex. But one thing is clear – an authentic Boston cooler is made with vanilla ice cream and Vernors ginger ale. And it has to be Vernors.

The soda drink started in 1866 but different forms of ginger ale until they copyrighted the term for their own ice-cream bar in 1967. Until then, different people had their own types of Boston cooler and some still swear by different brands of ginger ale.

Essentially, the Boston cooler is a type of ice cream float (or a coke float or spider to some) and if a jerk made you one, that would be a good thing.

Why is it called a “Boston” cooler?

The name is based on a street rather than the city. The drink’s inventor is said to be a man called Fred Sanders who named the beverage after a street in a neighbourhood known as Boston Edison.

How a UK version would taste

Import costs are high for US products, especially food and drink. But we have plenty of ginger ale brands to make our own variant here in the UK.

Schweppes Canada Dry

For me, this is the easiest choice and common in the UK and US. Canada Dry is the brand of ginger ale I always buy from the supermarket and I think it’d work well for a quick and easy Boston cooler.

Fentimans

This is slightly more upmarket but still affordable.

Britvic

I know Britvic for its orange juice but they also do ginger ale.

Belvoir

Pronounced “beever” to own the French, Belvoir makes a style of ginger ale, blending a “fresh ginger root infusion with botanical extracts” and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Fever-Tree

Ginger ale from the sponsors of Queen’s Club Championships would add a touch of class to a jug of Boston cooler. A true transatlantic union.

London Essence Co.

Marketed as a “delicate ginger ale”, the company use sugar from the stevia plant as a healthier sweet option. There’s even some “liquorice notes coupled with distilled aniseed and fennel essences”.

Peter Spanton

This brand has an array of unusual soda drinks, including Salted Paloma, Cadamom, and even Chocolate. But it’s ginger ale is a dry variant which would work well with a soft and creamy vanilla ice cream.

Franklin & Sons

Started 20 years after Vernors, Franklin & Sons Ltd offer some great soft drink flavours and award-winning ginger ale uses British spring water and natural British sugar. Hurrah!

Any supermarket brand

If all else fails, go for a bottle from Asda or Tesco. Waitrose has one too if you fancy pushing the boat out.

What about the vanilla ice cream?

Much like your choice of ginger ale, the vanilla ice cream you choose for your Boston cooler is important. But there isn’t a specific brand you need, which is good if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, for example.

Dairy

  • Sainsbury’s Madagascan Vanilla
  • Tillamook’s Old-Fashioned
  • Jeni’s Honey Vanilla Bean
  • Edy’s
  • Häagen-Dazs
  • Breyer’s
  • Waitrose 1 Madagascan
  • Green & Black’s Organic (with Real Bourbon Vanilla)
  • Or you could make your own.

And if you have the cash and the means to do so, you could probably make some vanilla ice cream using donkey milk or moose milk. But that’s your call and your money.

Non-dairy (V = Vegan, VG = Vegetarian)

  • Swedish Glace (V)
  • Alpro Vanilla (V)
  • Northern Bloc (V/VG)
  • Booja Booja (V)
  • Yorica (V)
  • Jude’s (V)
  • Morrisons V Taste Free From Soya (V)
  • Or you could make your own. (V)

Feeling delightful devilish? Use ginger beer

This is totally off-script but hear me out. Ginger beer packs a punch and would be the perfect complement to something soothing like vanilla ice cream. What better way to represent Detroit than a fiery Boston cooler variant of its famous drink?

I recommend Crabbies or Old Jamaica, with a splash of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey (if you’re old enough to drink in your country and you drink aware).

How would you make your Boston cooler? Let me know in the comments.

Rashayla Marie Brown's scathing review of Virgil Abloh’s "Figures of Speech"

I’ve always been sceptical of Virgil Abloh. I “get” his work but it’s not for me and it’s not a coincidence that his artistic ascension coincided with Kanye’s, arguably his biggest collaborator.

So when I read Rashayla Marie Brown’s review of Abloh’s “Figures of Speech” exhibition, I felt vindicated. And Brown was more eloquent than I would have been.

She started by questioning the lack of critiques of his work to begin with (I’m aware this is a critique of a critique that questions the lack of critiques but stay with me down this rabbit hole).

Besides the press in the New York Times about Abloh’s meteoric fashion career and a cursory review of the exhibit in Architect’s Newspaper, we have not had any meaningful criticism that contextualizes Abloh’s contributions, how exactly his collaborations developed, and what the actual impact of his design is on issues of racial representation in the art and design fields.

The rest of the review analyses the exhibition and how the forms of black art are nothing more than tropes.

Where Instagram celebrity status has produced a new cultural producer hell-bent on monetizing time and false relationships, Abloh’s in-person engagements are more important than the artwork itself, a conundrum touched upon by the numerous events and sites that occasion the show.

While looking through the photos taken of the exhibit, I felt the same sentiment as Jay Post, a member of Young Chicago Authors when he said: “man, he claimed to be representing us, but instead he just gave us a big ass billboard.” The work fell flat in regard to black presentation. It’s just another ironic work of Abloh art. I’m surprised he didn’t reduce the exhibition to a banner with “BLACK” written on it in Helvetica.

But the final paragraph really cuts deep, like a hot knife through butter.

Abloh’s work complains about White supremacy in fashion and then sell products designed to uphold the financial and material oppression of one group over another through collaborating with companies such as Nike and Louis Vuitton. This is the fashion equivalent of saying you don’t eat Harold’s, while we can see the grease dripping down your chin.

(Photo credit: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.)

Saul Steinberg on art and philosophy in 1967

Saul Steinberg

At work, I nearly fell down a Wikipedia rabbit hole but stopped myself at Saul Steinberg. The reason I even got there was because I was looking up Slash from Guns N’ Roses and discovered he was named after the artist (Slash’s real name is Saul Hudson and he was born in Hampstead, London if you didn’t already know).

Saul Steinberg was born in Romania in 1914. He studied architecture in Milan and started cartooning for humorist newspaper, Bertoldo, in 1936. Anti-semitic laws in Italy forced him to leave and he fled to the Dominican Republic in 1941. He stayed there for a year waiting for a US visa but his cartoons were already well known by the time he entered the country. Many of his drawings had featured in The New Yorker.

After World War II, his work cropped up in more popular publications such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. His name was included in the “Fourteen Americans” show at MoMA and he embarked on an illustrious career. In 1967, he was the subject of a documentary called Saul Steinberg Talks.

Here’s a quote from early in the documentary

I think it is very important for people to run away…from home, from the mainstream, from their family, from the culture, from the society that produced them…because the moment I have to learn something new, like new habits, new languages, I myself have something like a rebirth. I reduce myself to the lowest denominator and this is very healthy for an artist. To start all over again.

Steinberg was a deep thinker and one of the greatest artist of the 20th century. His legacy now lives on through The Saul Steinberg Foundation, in accordance with his will.

Saul Steinberg Talks (1967)

The gorgeous art of Japanese illustrator Hiroshi Nagai

Hiroshi Nagai

Whenever I listen to Broken Wings by Mr Mister, I have this vision of a warm sunny Saturday afternoon in 1994, drenched in vivid colours. Little did I know that aesthetic had already existed a decade before thanks to Hiroshi Nagai.

The Japanese painter grew up in Tokushima Prefecture and started his career in King Terry’s studio and made a name for himself in the early 80s. His depictions of West Coast America during the 50s worked wonders during Japan’s economic boom from the 80s. There was also a new genre to tie it all together: City Pop.

The easiest way to explain City Pop is to imagine soft rock meeting soft pop with sunshine and swimming pools. And sprinkle a bit of the 80s as a garnish. Metaphors aside, the genre was very popular in Japan and Nagai’s poolside paintings were the perfect visual aid.

Hiroshi Nagai - 6/9(sun)雨…まだふってない?最高気温21℃最低17℃、3ねんまえにアメリカにおくった絵 (from Instagram)
6/9(sun)雨…まだふってない?最高気温21℃最低17℃、3ねんまえにアメリカにおくった絵 (from Instagram)

Some of his influences include Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali, but pop art also had a significant effect on his art.

“Without American pop art I would not have to start painting the way I did. This experience made me paint my summer skies as deep blues from that point on. That said, surrealism was also a big influence, and of course hyper-realism.”

Hiroshi Nagai

Nowadays, we have genres like vaporwave that take cues from that era but more akin to the 90s and with more digital effects than paint and brushes. Hiroshi Nagai’s artistry is still coveted by many including myself.

Hiroshi Nagai - Pacific Breeze
Hiroshi Nagai – Pacific Breeze

Where to get Hiroshi Nagai prints

You can get “unofficial” prints from Amazon, Redbubble, and Society6. There was the MAGIC STICK collab from their Spring/Summer 2018 collection (if you can find an item from it). In that, the Japanese street label tapped up Nagai to design their limited capsule collection, including tees, jackets and vinyl bags.

(via The Vinyl Factory)

Cook In The Breaking Bad RV with Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston

Cook In The Breaking Bad RV with Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston

Breaking Bad turns 10 this year! The show only ran for 5 seasons but is cited as one of the greatest TV dramas of all time. It spawned a heap of Heisenberg cosplays, memes, t-shirts, and quotes. To celebrate, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are inviting you to cook with them in the original RV. (Un)fortunately, that will be culinary cooking as opposed to Class A cooking. The promo video sees Paul (as himself) promoting the competition and visiting the RV. Upon entry, he discovers Bryan Cranston living there. What I found funniest is the Hal Wilkerson-esque acting which is what I knew him for before I started watching Breaking Bad. There’s also a hidden secret about Paul towards the end of the video but I won’t spoil it.

To join them, head over to the Omaze page and know all entries will support the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Kind Campaign. Flights & hotel included (sorry, you can’t stay in the RV or defecate in the bucket either).

Aaron Paul Discovers Bryan Cranston Living in Breaking Bad RV // Omaze

Postwar modernist Gunnar Birkerts dies at 92

Interview: Gunnar Birkerts (Michigan Modern™ Design that Shaped America)

Alexandra Lange wrote a brilliant piece on the modernist architect Gunnar Birkerts, who died this week at the age of 92. Birkerts was born in Latvia but fled his home towards the end of WWII as Russian troops entered.

After graduating from Technische Hochschule in 1949, Birkerts eventually opened an office in Detroit. His love of geometry shone through his work, in buildings such as Marquette Plaza in Minneapolis and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City. His work was in contrast to the brutalism seen in Ukraine, not far from where he was born.

Stream an hour interview with Birkerts below.

Brief Excerpts From James Baldwin's 1,884-Page FBI File

james baldwin

Such was the strength of racism and homophobia during the Civil Rights Movement. You can still feel that potency today, if not in different ways. But this quote from Literary Hub is harrowing:

My memorandum date 7-17-64, which concerned the captioned individual’s plans for a future book about the FBI, has been returned by the Director with this question: “Isn’t Baldwin a well-known pervert?” It is not a matter of official record that he is a pervert…

James Baldwin, a well-known pervert? M.A. Jones of Crime Records elaborated further:

While it is not possible to state that [Baldwin] is a pervert, he has expressed a sympathetic viewpoint about homosexuality on several occasions, and a very definite hostility toward the revulsion of the American public regarding it.

M.A. Jones of Crime Records

It is no wonder Baldwin moved across the Atlantic to Paris.

(via Literary Hub)

Teen Gets Yale Acceptance Letter and Free Pizza

It’s one thing to get accepted to Yale but another to have sent your personal essay with an ode to Papa John’s. That’s precisely what Tennessee teen Carolina Williams did and the move prompted the admissions officer to order pizza after reading.

Carolina rejected Yale for Auburn in the end but that story doesn’t end there. Papa John’s caught wind of her pizza prose and sent her a bunch of free stuff!

(via Eater.com)

New York's Met Museum Publish Over 375,000 Images For Free Use

Yes, you read that headline correctly. Many of the 375,000 images provided by the Met are free for use without any cost or restrictions and come from the late 19th century when photography was in its infancy and back when albumen silver prints were in use. They were the first commercially exploitable method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative and paved the way for photographic materials like celluloid.

Resources like this are really helpful for people without access to places like the Met Museum or the means to reach them in their local areas. Creative Commons was created for purposes like this and it’s great to see the Met taking part.

Free museum image related: ICYMI: The Louvre put its entire collection online

(via DIY Photography)

Sucklord, The NYC Artist Who Makes Bootleg Action Figures

Bootleg culture is a major subculture of our times.

It repurposes the discarded and creates new life. The Sucklord lives by his name under a super-villainous guise and makes bootleg action figures. The New York City pop artist is known for his “subversive Action Figure mashups and Reality TV Persona”, according to his website.

Operating under the Brand SUCKADELIC, The Sucklord’s Line of self-manufactured Bootleg Toys steal shamelessly from STAR WARS, Vintage Advertising and All manner of Pop Culture Trash. Packaged in layers of ironic self-Mockery, His shoddy looking wares have inspired an entire secondary Art movement, with dozens of entrepreneurial Toy Bootleggers creating their own versions of highly referential, low-Rent interpretations of their favorite figures.

Stream the video on Vimeo.

Superheroes In Native American Culture Explored By Exhibit At Arizona Museum

Superheroes In Native American Culture Explored By Exhibit At Arizona Museum

“Super Heroes: Art! Action! Adventure!” gave children the opportunity to become superheroes of their very own, choosing their special powers and their costume. From there, they embarked on “exciting adventures, including an animal companion interactive experience, a Native video game and other adventures along their ‘super’ journey”.

There are many similarities between the Westernised stories of superheroes – from Batman to Wonder Woman – and tales of Native American legends such as Crazy Horse and Sacajawea, but in many cases, the multi-cultural origins are lost amongst the rhetoric of fighting for American justice. Exhibits like these open up new worlds of Native American culture. Heroes and heroines aplenty.

The exhibit is now closed but you can find out more about it on The Heard Museum website.