You’ve heard of Macallan 12-year, 15, 18, 25 (don’t forget Cask Strength), but you’ve never heard of this Macallan. I’m talking about the oldest, rarest Macallan on the market. Meet the 64-year-old grande dame of Scotch whiskys. On November 15, Sotheby’s New York will auction off the oldest Macallan Scotch ever released, making its debut in a one-of-a-kind Lalique crystal decanter. Vatted from three sherry-seasoned Spanish oak casks, the first filled in 1942, followed by one in 1945, and a third in 1946, this past January marked its 64th anniversary.
Lalique, the fine crystal house celebrating 150 years, has produced this unmatched specimen of all decanters using the cire perdue, or lost wax method, creating this stunning gem of a spirit-toting vessel. This objet d’art and the glorious single malt it contains started their long-haul world tour in early April, stopping by way of Paris, Madrid, Moscow, Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore, and Hong Kong, before making the trek from L.A. to New York. The Macallan contained here within along with the Lalique decanter will be auctioned off to the highest bidder at a hefty sum, but in good form, as all proceeds from the sale benefit charity: water, an organization committed to bringing clean, safe, potable water to the developing world. So grab your checkbook and head on over to Sotheby’s next Monday for your chance to splurge… or watch in quiet servitude.
New Yorkers are savvy, refined, worldly people. We have experimental palates, wanderlust for the unknown, and the ability to support the underdog. And on the food front, no ingredient on a menu, as foreign or outlandish as it may seem, can shock us. That being said, the inherent rise of Southern cooking on the New York ethnic eats map comes as no surprise.
At the epicenter of this cultural phenomenon rises from its lifetime of northern ridicule and neglect… the grit. Even for New Yorkers, there is no denying that the grit, the bastion of slow-food Southern, is making a rapid entrée onto the New York culinary scene as the starlet of upcoming food-centric festivals and the champion of weekend brunch menus.
The city will celebrate this curious food at tomorrow’s screening of Stan Woodward’s culinary cult classic, It’s Grits, as part of the NYC Food Film Festival. This 44-minute, digitally remastered black-and-white documentary takes a look at how this staple food became the heralded bread and butter of southern culture, with live interviews of grit aficionados and insider tips on how to prepare grits all ways.
Proving you can have your grits and eat them too, Matt Timms, founder of the popular Chili Takedown, will host an amateur grits cook-off in conjunction with the screening. Catching up with Matt en route to his monthly trivia night at a bar in Williamsburg, I asked him to describe his inspiration for this rendition of Takedown. Always looking for food ingredients that are interesting enough to pique peoples’ curiosities, Timms met with filmmaker/hamburger expert, George Motz of Hamburger America fame and co-creator of the NYC Food Film Festival. With the addition of It’s Grits to the festival’s line-up, the idea formed. Timms’ Takedown – like his previous chili, fondue, and cookies Takedowns that have spread to cities all across America – will involve thirty amateur cooks having a go at grits. Each contestant will receive a 10-lb. bag to have their way with, and, well, the rest is grits. A panel of judges and the huddled masses will decide who takes all. The Grits Takedown starts at 12pm Sunday, June 27 at The Tobacco Warehouse (37 Water Street at Dock Street), Dumbo, Brooklyn. Come and grit your groove on!
Wine events are a dime a dozen in New York, but there are a few notables that will undoubtebly make my calendar each year. Top of the heap being the Michael Skurnik Wines Grand Portfolio Tasting, and grand it is indeed.
With over 200 producers showing well over 700 labels of the finest juice produced, from the Willamette Valley to Tokaj to Alto Aldige, and, not to mention the Terry Theise selection, this is without a doubt one of the country’s top industry events.
Held on an unseasonably balmy Wednesday afternoon this year, buyers, sommeliers, retailers, and media conjured at the Metropolitan Pavilion to elbow their way up to tasting tables for a sampling of the precious wines that make the Skurnik book one of the most coveted of portfolios in the American market.
A veritable who’s who of the international wine scene, stars like David Duband, Tony Sotter, Giorgio Rivetti, Cathy Corison, Pierre Yves Colin, and Ehren Jordan (to name a few) poured their wines with great charisma and grace. Winemaker Doug Tunnell, owner of Brick House Vineyards in Newberg, Oregon, who is celebrating 20 years of organic and sustainable farming certification, tasted me through his line-up: 2007 Brick House Chardonnay, 2007 Cuvee Tonnelier Pinot Noir and 2008 Pinot Noir Select.
Having spent 17 years as a foreign correspondent for CBS News in Beirut, West Germany and Paris, Doug returned to his home state of Oregon in 1990 to take up the ancient craft. A big fan of white Burgundy, Tunnell’s Chard goes through 18 months of oak aging and full malolactic fermentation, explaining its body and juicy layers of honey and baking spice, with just enough brightness to make it a palate pleaser. My friends, this wine and all the Brick House wines for that matter, are exceptionally delicious, and all Demeter certified biodynamic. Check them out at a fine retailer near you.
Many thanks to the Skurnik team for a fab showdown! See you all next year.
Brooklyn, there’s a new store on the block. Part artist atelier, part showroom, Sunday Love opens its doors this Saturday, October 10th on Grand Street in Williamsburg. When artists Greer Keeble and father-son duo Ned Martin and Scott Shatzer joined creative forces, they brought a fresh perspective to the old saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Descending from the world of fine arts, fashion, and design, the artists rescue antique and vintage furniture and home accessories from the heap and give each piece a breath of new life with splashes of color and eclectic patterns.
Every object in the shop has a story, a background, a place of birth. Keeping authenticity in mind, the artists hand-select each piece, research its background, and transform it into a unique work of art that maintains the original integrity. Pieces include a side table made from Brooklyn brownstone shutters and banisters, a wet bar conceived out of a vintage Philco stereo system, and a coat rack repurposed from a fireplace mantel with chandelier rosette hooks.
Seeing is believing, so get your L train on and come check it out this Saturday!
Once a year I have a calling to dip below the Mason-Dixon for a spin in the nation’s capital, and this summer was no different. Taking the Acela express from Penn Station, I quickly peaced out of the city en route to DC. The train was surprisingly clean, probably the nicest I've ever been on in Asia and Europe combined. Moral of the story, sometimes it pays to go business class.
We pulled into Union Station and I was off to meet my friend Em at her two-story town home in the up-and-coming Capitol Hill neighborhood. Saturday morning arrived with a foray of wildlife activity foreign to my Manhattanite ears. Off we went in search of a welcomed cup of joe. Sova Espresso & Wine Bar on H Street was just the ticket. The coffee is fresh and tasty…and certified Fair Trade. This is the kind of coffee house where writers and artists are born out of espresso-indulged hangovers into geniuses, so we stayed to enjoy a cup for a little enlightenment.
The neighborhood known in its past life as H Street was once rife with crime and heroin addiction, and in its new incarnation as The Atlas District, a modern-day study in urban planning with the hopeful rebirth of a once flourishing 60’s era enclave. Businesses like Sova and a handful of restaurants, bars, and retailers in the Atlas Partnership are trying to pull it up by its burned out boot straps, and it all starts with a great, unassuming coffee house. Next trip must-sees: Rock & Roll Hotel, The Red & The Black Bar, and Granville Moore’s.
If you’re curious to know what Washingtonians do on Saturday mornings, they go to the open aired Eastern Market. Vendors sell a smörgåsbord of goodies - heirloom tomatoes, aromatherapy soaps, body oils, monster pickles, jewelry, fine art, furniture, and my favorite, aluminum farm animal garden art imported from Mexico! With no vehicle to tow a piece of garden art back to the city, I opted for a savory crêpe instead and purchased a few handmade articles from an Indian cooperative, then some locally grown produce for the next day’s BBQ feast.
For the evening’s festivities we bought tickets to The Palace of Wonders’ sultry burlesque show, and with some time to kill, we headed over to the newly opened H Street Country Club for a drink and a round of miniature golf!! This could be the coolest find in all of DC: a multi-level bar slash restaurant with its own nine-whole mini-golf course inside! Am I dreaming? It was too good to be true, and they even had a drink wallah to take orders on the course. The holes were all DC themed with dead presidents, King Kong climbing monuments, and business-suited robots, courtesy of local artists.
After three drinks and nine holes, we still had some time before the show so we stopped at Good Stuff Eatery for a sunnyside burger and fries. This was one over the top burger, topped with a fried egg, bacon, and cheese, all greasily mounted on a brioche bun. I like it hot, so I dressed mine with Sriracha and washed down the fries with mango mayo and a Red Stripe. All this for 10 bucks AND sexy Chef Spike was there when my buzzer rang to serve me with a smile. DC, he's a keeper. If I had more time and a bikini, I’d check out his Sunday pool parties at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. Maybe next summer…
Back at the Palace of Wonders, we didn’t know what to expect walking into a building reminiscent of the Coney Island freak show. The bar was packed with a crowd that appeared to belong in Bridgehampton, not waiting around to see burlesque, so a Coney Island lager for old times sake was just in order. As the lights dimmed and the scary carnival music began, the raunchy-mouthed MC kicked things off with slams at the audience, a splattering of dirty jokes and vulgarity. The show was full of dirty dancing, tassels, fire eating, barbed wire, contortion, and the occasional interlude with a guy hammering a nail up his nose. $15 well spent.
After a late night of debauchery, its nice to get in a little forgiveness by paying homage to something bigger than one’s self, so we begrudgingly marched up to the Capitol Building for some touristy pictures and contemplated other monuments, but the barbe was calling. Back to Em’s we went for some grillin’ of lamb kebabs with Eastern Market veggies and cookin’ up a tasty couscous with portabellas. Wrapping up my awesome DC weekend with a few splashes of Sriracha en kebab, I took the BoltBus home and was back in the city by sundown. Until we meet again, DC.
Just in case you missed the show a few weeks back, here are a few highlights of The Keys doing what they do best. Assaulting your ears with the most raw and real sound you've ever heard, and giving it to you over and over again. Fortunately for most of us at the show the acoustics aren't horrendous, if the views of the stage are lacking. Why do I feel like I'm in an airplane hanger instead of at a rock show at T5? No one will ever know. In any event, I give you Akron's finest.