Photo: Theresa Raffetto for Peanut Butter & Co.
A passion for peanut butter can drive a person to do crazy things -- eat entire jars in one sitting (I'm looking at you, boss); leave the safety of a hiding spot for Reese's Pieces (it's ok, it all turned out okay for E.T. in the end); or, in the case of Lee Zalben, open a shop that sells peanut butter in a variety of palate-bending flavors.
In the 13 years since Zalben first introduced Peanut Butter & Co. to New York City, he's continued to reinvent the PB&J. Last year, he challenged himself to create a new peanut butter sandwich for every day of the year. He did it, and 365 exotic, clever and downright crazy concoctions later, the idea for Nutropolitan -- "the world's first PB&J art exhibit" -- was born.
The Nutropolitan Museum of Art -- a three-day pop-up art gallery featuring images of some of Zalben's sandwich creations -- is the product of Zalben's peanut-butter know-how, food stylist Patty White's execution, and photographer Theresa Raffetto's artful lens. Just in time for National Peanut Month, Zalben, together with the National Peanut Board and Openhouse Gallery, is putting his artwork on display.
The crowd was thick at the gallery's opening last night. (We're sure the abudnant treats -- Peanut Slaw from chef Suvir Saran of Devi, Chicken Sate from chef King Phojanakong of Kuma Inn, and sandwiches served on Orwasher's Bakery bread -- were huge draws, too. And the peanut butter-based cocktails with peanut topping didn't hurt either.) As we perused the artwork lining the white washed brick walls, it was difficult to decide which sandwich was our favorite. Some won points for cleverness, others for making our mouths water. Some ingredient pairings were so shocking that we couldn't help but stare. To see some of our favorite photos, and catch a glimpse of the most peanutty party we've ever been to, click on the gallery below.
The Nutropolitan Museum of Art
In the New York City area? For the next two days, The Nutropolitan Museum of Art will be open to the public at Openhouse Gallery, and for every guest that attends, Peanut Butter & Co. will donate a jar of peanut butter to the Food Bank for New York City in their honor. (Bonus: While supplies last, patrons will also be gifted a free jar.) Like what you see while you're there? Prints of the photos will be available for purchase, with all of the proceeds also going to the Food Bank. From Saturday, March 5 through Sunday, March 6, visitors will be able to make their own PB&J art and chat with peanut farmers, plus enjoy complimentary peanut butter treats from Van Leuwen Ice Cream truck and the Treats Truck. For more info, check out the Nutropolitan site. (Really, you'd be nuts to miss it.)