visual allure GALORE

Catching an exhibit at MOMA? Head to the cafeteria early, and you can beat the line, as my friend Maya and I did in late summer. The seasonal selection and service at Cafe 2 cafeteria was fantastic. We filled up on faro salad, arugula salad with prosciutto, goat cheese and figs and a trio of Bruschetta: eggplant and tomato; spicy broccoli rabe and citrus ricotta cheese; and lemon chick pea and artichokes. The visual appeal whet our senses for the Ron Arad exhibit, which was also divine.


'tis the season for SHERRY

At a recent Sherry and Tapas Tasting, I was reminded of how much I enjoy sherry. North Square’s sommelier, Raoul Segarra, shared his knowledge of this unique wine, with each of the six pairings emphasizing unique notes of every variety, whether a Fino, Amontillado, or Oloroso. Photo shows the sherries in order, which, of course, got sweeter and heavier as we progressed. I encourage you to head right over to the Washington Square Hotel and warm up with a glass yourself in their cozy surrounds. See more photos and details on the pairings here.



Dempsey & Carroll have been in New York City, printing with hand-engraved steel dies on tactile cotton paper since 1878. Procrastinators, if you have yet to send out your party invitations for the holiday, you are in luck. This Friday, the store on 1049 Lexington Avenue (betw 74th + 75th) is having a 25% off sale on all boxes of fill-in invitations. You will definitely be wowed once you are in the store by the level of craftmanship and classic and modern motifs to choose from. You also might pick up a few gift items for the sophisticates in your life, or create a custom calling card for yourself—which people have started doing again, though instead of just a name, they are adding their blog or website. See more of what I liked at the store here.


BEAM me up! creative cocktails in the penthouse

Beam Global Spirits & Wine pulled out all the stops at their recent tasting held in the penthouse in The Hotel On Rivington. Five themed bars were cranking out creative libations from Contemporary Cocktails, including the punch—served by a mystical, golden lady. I could go on and on, it was a fantastic night. See more pics, cocktail recipes and creative decorations by artist Christopher Young here.


Thin is IN

There’s a new spot for pizza in town. Ultra thin, to boot. Trattoria Cinque is featuring them, along with Chef Mirco Grassini’s other Tuscan specialties. Head to Tribeca with a crowd, because you are going to want to try them all. We sampled the Lardo with Rosemary, seen here on the left, and the Margherita, right, to which the staff added some proscuitto for us. The Gorgonzola with Sliced Pears featured the most delicate blue cheese I have ever tasted. Not what you would expect. They even feature a couple of unique choices on the brunch menu: scrambled eggs, mozzarella and pancetta pizza or the Margherita pizza with fried eggs and bacon. See more pictures of the vast space and food here. The price is nice as well—order a pie and two Peronis and you pay $20, including tax.

Ward 111: a triple reWARD

Back in June, I attended the soft opening of Ward III in Tribeca and had a fabulous time. When Michael Neff served my favorite cocktail at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Gala I was reminded it was time to go back. Purposely, I went in the early eve, so I could get lots of personal attention from Michael and Kenneth McCoy (photo, left) who was at the helm. Author Kara Newman and I sampled from the cocktail menu, and were more than pleased with our choices (you can see more pics of the tasting here). Best of all, if you don’t see something you like on the list, you can refer to the “bespoke menu” (photo, right) which has lists of adjectives that you can use to describe the perfect cocktail which will be customized for you, on the spot. Check out Kara’s new book called “Spice and Ice” which is filled with her own selection of spicy cocktails.


three dog night

Bruce Kreig, author of Hot Dog, enthusiastically tells the history of this American icon—from its humble German-immigrant origins to the development of signature toppings. Hosted at the Roger Smith Hotel, Chef Daniel Mowles put his gourmet touch onto the regional specialties we tried. Pictured left is the Coney Island hot dog, which had onions, yellow mustard, and chili on top. The secret ingredient in the chili was beef hearts, which, everyone agreed, made it indescribably delicious (see more pics from this event here). Tasting these hot dogs brought me back to the Fancy Food show in July, where I had some amazing samples from D’artagnan. All four of their varieties are excellent—duck, beef, pork and buffalo (photo, right). I highly recommend them for your next barbecue, as they are skinless, fully cooked, raised on an all-vegetable feed, without growth hormones, antibiotics or nitrates in the mix. Excellent with or without toppings.


merrily we troll along

Bruce Gore began fishing kindly in 1978, long before anyone was concerned about traceability or the effects of net fishing. At the same time each year, salmon are line-caught in way that is in tune with the sea and the nature of the salmon. Because the boat travels at the same speed the fish swims, swiftly pulled onto the boat and humanely killed, cleaned and frozen instantly, the fish never develops the lactic acid that would result from a struggle. You can really taste the difference. Tanuki Tavern, the new restaurant that replaced Ono at the Ganesevoort Hotel, is serving it up in little bites—hibachi-style, as sushi and in special rolls. You can also buy it retail at Dean and Deluca. For ordering information, visit the Triad Fisheries website, and ask owner Mark Tupper to give you a taste of superior salmon. See more pics of the tasting here.


dinner with the STAR

I can’t think of a more fun way to end the weekend than having a fantastic meal, good company and a food competition to watch. The Harrison in Tribeca, where Amanda Freitag is chef, has been hosting viewings of The Next Iron Chef, as Amanda advanced into the final four. Friends and fans gathered around to see this talented chef, and watch her reactions as she viewed the episodes she taped a few months back. Of course, while I was there I had to take advantage of not only being able to see the food, but to taste it. Top photo is the Shrimp Cake, which was a crunchy delight. To see more of what happened that night, click here.


inventive natural wines from Spain

A few months ago I went to a Spanish wine and food show and discovered a winemaker inspired by American techniques and attitudes with an extremely creative collection. Vintae Luxury Wine Specialists produces Matsu, which means “wait” in Japanese. The 2006 label is a dedication to the people who have devoted their lives to the land (photo, center, on the right is a trio of older labels). I thought these designs were as innovative as the wine. Also noteworthy is Castillo de Maetierra, an elite line of white wines from the Valles de Sadacia, usually known for Rioja. This region of Spain boasts low rainfall and humidity levels, thus imparting the most sunshine for the re-established Muscat à petits grains grapevines. When combined with Viura and Malvasia varieties, Libalis, part of the collection, thrills you with its fruity and well-balanced taste. On the left is Ribera de Queiles’s “6” —a blend of Temperanillo and Merlot, this wine is intensely dark, full-bodied, excellent. Save these wines for a special occasion, but don’t wait too long!


At the Carlyle: the Tommy Rowles cocktail

Finding yourself in the 90s on the east side, around 9:30, can be a challenge to find a place that’s buzzing. Sfoglia was packed, and other spots closing or on the wane. What to do? Luckily, we had the stamina to walk down Madison until we came across The Carlyle around 76th ! At 10 pm the place was electric and actually a perfect segue to our outing at the 92nd St Y—an interview with the irrepressible and brilliant Gore Vidal. The jazz mixed beautifully with the classic cocktail called the Tommy Rowles, named after the bartender who was there for 50 years, and featured: Martell Cordon Bleu Cognac, Ten Cane Rum, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and house-made tonic. It was one of those nights where you say “I love New York!” See more photos from The Carlyle here.