Lunar New Year Filled with Roosters and Dragons – both Edible and Legendary

Chinese New Year Gift Basket from Manhattan Fruitier

Lunar New Year Gift Basket from Manhattan Fruitier

This Chinese New Year, the year of the Fire Rooster, begins on January 28. During the two-week celebration of the New Year, family and friends gather for feasting and to honor household and heavenly deities. It is one of the grandest, most celebratory annual events throughout the world.

Originating in the ancient Shang Dynasty (17 to 11 BC), this lively holiday was a way to ward off the legendary monster “Nian,” who loved to feast on little children and farm animals. Along with his appetite, Nian had some peculiar hang ups. He detested the color red and abhorred loud noise. So people decorated their houses in brilliant reds and set off fire crackers in the streets to send Nian away for another year.

Even though China adopted the Western calendar and January 1st as an official New Year date, the Lunar New Year is still of the utmost cultural and historical importance. Chinese continue to celebrate the traditions and customs of Lunar New Year, albeit now with a shorter new name – the Spring Festival.

During the Spring Festival, mandarin oranges, tangerines, pomelos and all types of citrus are gifted as tokens of good fortune, happiness and abundance. These fruits are displayed on kitchen tables throughout the two week celebration as a harbinger of a healthy, hopeful and prosperous New Year to come. Another highly-prized celebratory fruit during the Spring Festival is the Dragon Fruit or Pitahaya. Wildly popular for its brilliant fuschia-pink coloring – some believe the color of luck – Dragon Fruit is often placed on altars for the Lunar New Year.

Dragon Fruit or Pitahaya

Dragon Fruit or Pitahaya

Dragon fruit, or pitahaya, is actually a vine-like cactus that originated in the Americas but became almost exclusively popular in East and Southeast Asia over many years. It’s a fruit both moody and mysterious. The pitahaya’s aromatic flowers bloom one night only, on the full moon, and can only grow by nocturnal pollinators that bring this magical fruit to fruition.

The white flesh of the Dragon Fruit is soft like a ripe peach and is easily eaten with a spoon once you cut the fruit in half. It has tiny black seeds that are easy to eat. The flesh is slightly sweet with a touch of lemon flavor. Delicious as well as exotically colored, it will ward off the monster Nian until at least 2018.

New York City Chinatown Parade

New York City Chinatown Parade

This 2017 Lunar New Year Spring Festival begins on January 28th . If you happen to be in New York City, check out the New Year’s Day Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival, kicking off at Chinatown’s Sara Roosevelt Park.  Usher out the New Year celebrations on February 5th with a bang and clang two weeks later at the dazzling Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown.

Happy Lunar New Year to you all!

Color Your World!

Tutti Frutti

In a tech-filled world of tablets, gadgets, phones and drones, what adult among us hasn’t wanted to step back to our childhood, at least for an afternoon, back to the blissed-out zen of breaking in a new coloring book with colored pencils or crayons? Well, sometimes you can go back.

Grown-ups are actually coloring again, and it’s really o.k! Adult coloring books have found their way to the top of best-seller book lists in the U.S. and Europe and, what’s even more amazing, they are bringing joy, creativity, and relaxation to the masses – when we all need it the most.

Coloring Party

We are big on coloring at Manhattan Fruitier. Our own Lauren Westbrook learned first-hand the joy of coloring as an adult when given The Secret Garden by Johanna Basford as a gift by a childhood friend. One rainy afternoon at her friend’s lakeside cottage they sat, side-by-side, each coloring a page, just as they did when they were girls. They found the activity just as satisfying years later, but what seemed different was the sense of tranquility it brought as well as the undeniable desire to play with unexpected colors and shading. She highly recommends coloring as a creative outlet for all, especially gratifying for the non-artistically inclined adult.

We are excited to carry the work of two illustrators who have designed the most beautiful tools for this growing phenomenon. Johanna Basford, whose books are responsible for this new wave of fun – and Louise Fili, award-winning graphic designer, author, lecturer, illustrator, and friend of Manhattan Fruitier who has designed gorgeous colored pencils for filling in and outside the lines.

 Johanna BasfordJohanna Basford

Johanna Basford is an illustrator and ‘ink evangelist’. Growing up on her parent’s fish farm in native rural Scotland, her intricate work stems from the flora and fauna that surrounded childhood life. She graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, specializing in silk screen prints and drawings. Johanna Basford’s success has become familiarly known to us with commissions by Starbucks, DKNY, and Chipotle’s “Cultivating Thought” Author Series, to name a few.  She describes her detailed drawings as, “every piece starting as a simple pencil sketch…organically evolving…and slowly creeping over the paper.” Her work for adult colorists is distinctive and with her books an imaginative adventure awaits.

Louise FiliLouise Fili

Louise Fili, renowned graphic designer, has used elegant and original typefaces and an Italophile aesthetic to transform many a corporate logo, including the logo of our own Manhattan Fruitier. Her work is found in permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the Cooper Hewitt Museum and the Bibliotheque Nationale.  We offer her splendido set of twelve “Tutti Frutti” colored pencils, inspired by classic Italian packaging and stationery. These double-sided pencils with complimentary hues of brilliant color will inspire your written words and drawings. Buon divertimento!

This gift from our Spark Collection, combines Johanna Basford’s newest coloring book, “Enchanted Forest”  with the superb quality and elegant style of the “Tutti Frutti” pencil set designed by the incomparable Louise Fili. Guaranteed to bring smiles and evoke childhood memories while it unleashes the tranquility and creativity for grown-ups who are young at heart.

Maker of the Month: Andrej Urem, Brooklyn NY

Candles in the home set a mood, impart a scent, illuminate a dinner table. What if these candles were given more than a flicker of imagination, a spark of something truly transformative?

Artist Andrej Urem, Manhattan Fruitier’s October Maker of the Month, transforms utilitarian candles into gorgeous, livable works of art by sculpting and hand-pouring soy and beeswax into platonic forms. These candles are part of our SPARK collection because they are beautifully designed and expertly crafted.

Learn more about artist Andrej Urem’s inspirations and process in his studio interview.

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Artist Andrej Urem in his Gowanus studio with Boston Terrier, Tank.

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Maker of the Month: Tin Dizdarević of Tin Mustard

TinTin Dizdarevic, creator of Tin Mustard outside his Red Hook production facility.

Finding a partner for our pretzels that “cut the mustard” was a tall order at Manhattan Fruitier until Tin Dizdarević’s phenomenal mustard came into our lives. Tin Mustard, based in Red Hook, Brooklyn, may sound metallic but no heavy metals or preservatives are involved. Only pure, true ingredients – mustard seeds, vinegar and spices, making this namesake mustard peerless in the States, while rivaling the Dijon masters abroad. Born of necessity in the bustling kitchen of Craft Bar, Chef Tin Dizdarević, our August Maker of the Month, took his recipe to market and struck golden. We visited Tin’s new production facility recently to see his process, share recipes and learn more about his story and the art of mustard-making. Continue reading