A is for Austrian Art
Once the center of the cultural universe, Austria has since retreated to the fringes of global consciousness. But the period of dual monarchy with its Magyar cousins fostered a vivid period of cultural creativity that had at its center a Vienna to rival London before it, and New York after. It was an incredibly fertile period for music, art, design and scientific discovery — including psychoanalysis. The Neue Galerie (1048 Fifth Ave) features early 20th-century art from the latter part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918) and until June 6 groundbreaking portrait photography from both Austria and Germany.
B is for Bangers and Mash
No country’s culinary offerings have been as maligned, ridiculed and belittled as that of the British Isles. And not without justification. While they may be adept at creating suave international spies, scathingly hilarious satire and disposable pop music sensations, preparing a palatable plate of grub seems beyond them. But being away from home does strange things to a man’s memory. The commonplace at a long remove is now extraordinary; the grotesque, charmingly eccentric. And so it is with those suggestively shaped bundles of pig bits and pureed potatoes. With any luck they’ll be good enough not to remind you of home. Pig & Whistle 922 Third Ave; Telephone Bar & Grill 149 Second Ave
C is for Crêpes
The first thing you need to learn in Paris is where the best all-night crêpe guy is located, a precious piece of info that will save you money (crêpes for breakfast… crêpes for dinner… why not?), and save you from bad red wine hangovers. There isn’t really an equivalent service in New York, but thankfully we’re starting to catch on to the real thing. Though you can get yummy crêpes at both Paradou (8 Little W. 12th St) and Café La Palette (50 MacDougal St), the closest thing to Pierre et Ibrahim’s Crêpe du Coin is the adorable little pass-through at Shade (241 Sullivan St). Oh la la la. Merveilleux!
D is for Danish Anarchy
No, not the breakfast food, the country. Specifically the “free city” of Christiania, Denmark, the subject of Matthew Buckingham and Joachim Koester’s video installation, Sandra of the Tuliphouse or How to Live in a Free State, on hand at the Kitchen (512 W. 19th St) until June 18. In 1971, Danish activists broke into a 17th-century military base and founded one of the biggest anarchist communities in the world. This look at Christiania stars a fictional lead character, an outsider named Sandra who wanders through the various lives (and their attendant power dynamics) of the locals, serving as a focal point for this intriguing look at utopian experiments and their consequences.
E is for Euzkadi
You are forgiven for not immediately recognizing “euzkadi” as the Basque word for, well Basque, that tiny group of Iberians nestled on the Spanish-French border (who want a country of their own). Somewhat awkwardly then, the East Village restaurant known as Euzkadi (108 E. 4th St) is listed on Citysearch under Spanish cuisine (ouch), but you’ll find Basque specialties here, like house favorite Paella Mariscos. Do you know why the Basques are so much fun? They mix red wine and coca cola, in a drink called a Kalimoxo. Actually, it’s delicious (kind of like cherry cola) and keeps the party going.
F is for Finnish Art
With their high suicide rates, inaccessible mother tongue and love of rolling drunkenly in the snow, the Finns pretty much have it all — and they even have art! White Box Gallery (525 W. 26th St) is presenting their second of a three-part series of major exhibitions of Finnish work, ranging across mediums and featuring people with names like Teemu, Jaakko, Anu, Ilppo, Juho and Roi. The exhibition is named for the landmark 1966 film Under Your Skin, by Finnish legend Mikko Niskanen.