Enjoying the warmer weather we turn to a summer series visiting museums to partake in a summer journey of art and food, after all, #FoodIsArt. (Eat at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Peabody Essex Museum; Worcester Art Museum; Norman Rockwell Museum, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum… and more).
Food: It is the utmost undervalued form of artistic expression in the history of art. As it beckons to belong to the reigning crowds of contemporary art, food is still considered a separate form of emotional and creative expression – maintaining its desire for inclusiveness and full support of the art world.
Just as we can name the works of the greats like Monet’s Water Lilies, Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, and Van Gogh’s Starry Night, we must do the same for the culinary masterpieces of Anthony Bourdain, Wolfgang Puck and Gordon Ramsey. Through their culinary choreography, they touch upon the purest human emotions – bringing their admirers on a journey of exploration and interpretations just like Gustav Klimt and his unraveling journey though detailed paintings.
Food and art are not separate crafts but instead an extension of each other. Over the next few weeks, Mass Foodies will explore the thin line between culinary and artistic skills by visiting an array of art institutions in Massachusetts, in search of answering the question: How do museums view the artistic inclinations of food?
There is no denying the instant gratification of walking through the oversized bronze doors of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. With an entrance of grandeur and allure, the MFA is home to a collection encompassing nearly 500,000 works of art but the biggest masterpiece is not hanging on the perfectly colored walls of the Gund Gallery. Instead, it lays in between the lines of their food menus at over three on-site dining options. Catering to the masses, the Museum of Fine Arts showcases its appreciation for the culinary artform by ensuring their visitors a day of quality and uniqueness.
With four food locations, the MFA accommodates both the lifestyle and eating habits of its visitors through unique menu line ups. From cafeteria style dining to upscale white linen tables, the eclectic range mimics that of the art collection.
At the Garden Cafeteria, visitors can accompany their love for garden aesthetics with a light lunch. Tables and chairs line the outdoor garden in an attempt to encourage visitors to eat their lunch among the natural beauty of the garden. Self-made salads and cafeteria style foods including but not limited to sandwiches, pizzas and soups, are served in a family-friendly environment. Coupling the light energy of the Garden Cafeteria with the outdoor garden haven, visitors embrace the art of food while sitting in a natural masterpiece.
There is something to be said about enjoying a glass of Pino Noir with an assortment of cheese and fruit at the MFA. In the Contemporary Art wing, the Taste Café and Wine Bar provides a lively setting and a touch of classic sophistication. Handcrafted sandwiches, specialty salads and signature desserts line the menu at Taste Café with an extensive list of gourmet coffee and craft beers. From Prosecco to Moscato to Pino Noir, they offer a taste of culinary sweetness with a view into the contemporary art pieces of Jonathan Borofsky.
Selected as one of the best museum restaurants in the US by Food & Wine in 2014, visitors can indulge in table-side service in the Museum of Fine Arts’ soaring glass-enclosed courtyard at the New American Café. Freshly prepared regional dishes like the salmon put this café as a must experience when visiting the museum. Intertwining the art form of food with the innate beauty of Botticelli, the New American Café offers a special menu to complement the extraordinary exhibit. Through the month of July, visitors can indulge in a menu inspired by “Botticelli and the Search for the Divine.” With names like The Venus – a blend of Prosecco, fresh raspberries and a kiss of lemoncello liqeur – and Pasta alla Norma – a pasta with tomatoes, eggplant, basil and ricotta salata – the appreciation of culinary art is emphasized with every sip and every bite.
But nestled quietly among the greatest works of art, stands Bravo – a white linen restaurant offering an elegant experience of culinary art. With artfully prepared dishes and a satisfying dessert menu, Bravo provides an upscale dining visit with exhibition-inspired cocktails and fare. Stimulated by the still life pieces of “Matisse in the Studio,” Bravo’s special menu – ending in July – is lined with dedicated drinks like The Matisse – a citrus-flavored vodka with a tint of raspberry Chambord – and dishes like the Pan-Roasted Black Sea Bass – with whipped kohlrabi, starbust squash, sweet peas and charred lemon beurre blanc. With a modern setting, an eclectic wine list and an emphasis on sustainable, local ingredients, Bravo is deserving of their Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine.
The relationship between art and food is a undeniable love affair embracing the skill sets of their master painters and master chefs as the Museum of Fine Arts continues to prove.
Join us at our next stop, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.