Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Silver Kisses, Loving Thymes: Valentine's Day Patrón Silver Cocktail Recipe

I suppose without Valentine's Day we would just have an unusual amount of celebration and sales on Presidents and Groundhog Day.   It is February's sweet spot day today.  While most people may tell you that it's just another day and that we should never be so busy that we have to pencil love in on a calendar, I prefer to look at it through a different pair of lenses.  Or perhaps through two spirit-filled glasses.

So this is the day that you either clink two glasses together and toast your love or clasp the stem of one glass and drown out the state of no love.  For whatever you choose to do today I should hope that you'll do it no less celebratory even if there's just a party of one.  You may think champagne in tall flutes, but a well-curated cocktail can be just as appropriate if made with love by your own hands for that some special or made with special ingredients, such as pomegranate syrup, by you for you.  

Speaking of pomegranate syrup or pomegranate molasses, having that handy doesn't just provide a nice half sweet half tart ingredient, but also opens up your bar to more palatable possibilities for your selection of spirits.  Here's a great recipe that had a really great two-fold flavor profile of tart pomegranate and citrusy lemon, the sweet ushering-in of a vibrant syrup and a florally rich honey, the herbal savory bite of fresh thyme and the robust flavor of the always incredibly smooth and perfect Patrón Silver Tequila.   

Love Of A LifeThyme

1    ounce    Patrón Silver Tequila
1/2 ounce    Lemon Juice
1/4 ounce    Pomegranate Syrup or Pomegranate Molasses
1/4 ounce    Honey
Fresh Thyme
2 Dashes of Peychaud's Bitters

Add all the ingredients into a shaker.  Shake then strain into a glass that can have an optional spritz/drop of absinthe.  Another optional, but yummy move, is to float some Prosecco on top then finally garnish with a fresh sprig of thyme.

Salaciously satisfying for the single cosmopolitan or appropriately romantic for the dining couple.  For whatever fuels your motivation this Valentine's Day, as always, please remember to drink responsibly.   Happy Valentine's Day folks!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Blue Jackets Matter: Inaugural Blue Jacket Fashion Show

With all the mess that's going on politically these days, fashion can seem kind of trivial.  When people are being denied certain liberties, when folks feel like their voices aren't being heard or respected or when those who decide the law blatantly make some of us feel like we're invisible, does it really matter that a shirt collar was so last season or a pant hem width very three years ago?  Yes and no.  It does matter since you're spending power affects the livelihoods of countless garment producing employees.  Then it sort of doesn't matter at times since there are bigger issues to connect with like just dressing to suit your needs, even if Esquire says 'nay'.  It can sometimes seem backstage to the very ideas of fighting to uphold the very laws that unify and uplift a society.  

Clockwise from top left:  Actor Lee Tergesen in Joseph Abboud, Supermodel Alex Lundqvist in Stephen F, NY Post's Richard Johnson in Paper Denim & Cloth, Richard Johnson and Luis Fernandez, Yankees Pitcher CC Sabathia in John Varvatos and Actor/Comedian Tommy Davidson in Tongue In Cheek

For some time now, I've said that with such little time for ourselves nowadays that making things more two-fold is the way to influence things to get done.  So when I got the opportunity to attend the inaugural Blue Jacket Fashion Show last week I first thought "another fashion show during fashion week?... groundbreaking!"  However, when I learned that that whole event was to draw awareness to prostate cancer, then the redemption hit me.  Fashion, like sports, movies & music, can serve to help us escape the craziness of heavier issues like politics, healthcare and social changes, but it can also serve to bridge the gap to those issues as well.  By enlisting those centered in the objects of our escapisms we get to see a modern way to bridge the gap by getting everyone involved by any means necessary.

Clockwise from top left:  Actor/Comedian Mario Cantone, Host Carson Kressley in Nicole Miller, Philanthropist Omar Sharif Jr., Omar Sharif Jr. with designer Gustavo Moscoso, Bill Nye The Science Guy' and designer Nick Graham, Bill Nye

This is what happened Wednesday Night at Pier 59 in New York City.  The blue carpet was rolled out for a cool group of athletes, musicians, media & entertainment personalities, actors and designers with the emphasis on prostate cancer and benefiting the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) founded in 1993 by financier Mark Milken.  Every 3.3 minutes a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer and it has become the deadliest non-skin cancer among American men so early detection is key.  The PCF focuses on research and development into prevention, treatment and care to make sure that prostate cancer doesn't become an epidemic.  In addition to the awareness raised, Johnson & Johnson has also developed a free photo-sharing app for smart phones (@DonateAPhoto) that will donate $1 for every photo shared and pay for one hour of research for every 30 photos that are shared.  Doing your part by taking a selfie, group photo, nature photo, etc. is how you can show your strength, concern, humanitarianism and solidarity to help eradicate this cancer globally.

Clockwise from top left:  Musician Ian Mellencamp in Maggie Norris Couture, Ian Mellencamp with designers Maggie Norris and Nicole Miller, NY Giants Wide Receiver Victor Cruz in John Varvatos, Alessandro Mele in Thom Browne, CNN Anchor Don Lemon in Proper Cloth, Actor Jack Griffo

Further helping the fight, each jacket on all these handsome gentlemen were one of kind creations by the designers and then auctioned off after the fashion show during a dinner with all of the proceeds going towards the PCF.  This was a great two-fold evening where like all the marches and peaceful protests that have been going on lately, it shows how we are stronger as a nation when we work together to ensure that everyone has a chance to live their best life.  

Left to right:  Stylist Ty Hunter in Dolce and Gabbana, two runway looks from Rag & Bone, legendary R & B Singer Melba Moore entertains the crowd

For more information about The Prostate Cancer Foundation and how it serves men globally with the almost $700 million it has already raised since its inception, go to www.PCF.org.  Stay informed and fashionable gents.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Reason To Enjoy The Grape Again: Just The Wine Product Review

There was a time in my mid to late twenties when I could ingest anything and bounce back like a rubber band.  Fast forward fifteen years later and a hefty plate of pasta could put me out of commission for a day or so.  Times and unfortunately our bodies and digestive systems change.  For example, I remember many a Saturday evening when I would leave my part time job of years ago and spend the night drinking merlot and enjoying antipasti at a quaint Italian eatery till I closed the joint.  Again, fast forward to today and, more often than not, I take two sips of a glass of red and it hits my body like the equivalent of ingesting more than the recommended dosage of a box of Unisom tablets.  

I've gotten accustomed to the spirits with tequila and whiskey becoming my vices, however, I still have an intense yen for the warm and spicy, often woodsy, faintly sweet taste of a good red wine.  So staying within the present day, my 40th birthday was looming and I planned an epic trip to Lisbon, Barcelona and Casablanca.  Naturally a problem ensued.  I couldn't possibly be in Portugal or Spain without imbibing of their seasoned cultivation of the delicious grape.  That's when I was given the opportunity to try Just The Wine.

The idea behind Just The Wine is all in its name.  Just The Wine wants you to enjoy just the wine and not the sleepiness, body aches and lethargy that can come with drinking red wines.  Sulfites are the natural ingredients that make red wine become a thing of dread and Just The Wine diminishes the effect of those sulfites with just a few tiny drops.  Skeptical?  Well I can tell you that while I sipped plenty of rosés overseas, I was also able to enjoy a brilliant Spanish aged Tempranillo and a spicy Portuguese Vinho do Porto without having to seek my hotel bed immediately afterwards.

Just The Wine is a nice tasteless, odorless way to enjoy the darker grape that you may have been missing.  You need very little (only about 3 drops) to diminish the sulfites in a six ounce glass of red wine and the tiny bottle can fit neatly inside a purse, pant or jacket pocket.  Give it a try, after all, the sulfites are all you have to lose!


Monday, December 12, 2016

Bring Riesling Rather Than Fruitcake: Pacific Rim Dry Riesling Review

It's that time of year again when the holiday parties can be as difficult to keep track of as those Pokemon Go-esque hop stops to and fro homes on Thanksgiving.  What does one wear?  How cold is it going to be?  Can we possibly get from Manhattan to Brooklyn in a half hour?  Is anyone from my job going to be there?  Do I have to bring anything?  

Well I'll let your local meteorologist and über app determine a couple of those questions while I offer up a plausible option for a great gift to bring to your intended host.  This is a great season to discover and gift new wines as they are festive and suitable for toasting, communal imbibing and creating outright revelry.  I recently received a bottle of a riesling from Pacific Rim that struck me as inviting as it was soiree appropriate.

Pacific Rim Dry Riesling, 2014 from the Columbia Valley is a wonderfully light and fresh riesling.  The aroma is both citrusy and sweet with a dry flavor profile the has delicate nods of summery citrus and peach and a deep subtle undertone of herbal jasmine.  It's perfect to go with all that you may find on the table at a holiday function like vegetable crudités, meat & cheese or sushi platters.  

It's also important to have a great white on the table since not everyone can stomach red wine.  For those that can and those that enjoy the warmth of both, Pacific Rim Dry Riesling, 2014 is a vibrant choice that is a neutral stunner and also a white wine winner.  

Pacific Rim Dry Riesling, 2014 is available now at your finer local wine, alcohol and spirit retailers. Pick up a bottle today and don't show up empty-handed!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Indian Sensibilities, Chinese Formalities: The Chinese Club Restaurant Review and Hakka Chinese Cuisine

It's said that one can get just about any cuisine in the world in New York City whether its made from the hands of those who originate from that particular region or not.  I mean who hasn't, on a tipsy weekend night, stumbled into a Chinese take-out place and ordered a taco platter or popped into a Greek diner at 4am for a Tex-Mex burger with all the trimmings?  Cultures can celebrate and interpret other cultures which is ideally what happens in a melting pot.  Otherwise the city wouldn't be called as such, but more like a city with hundreds of different burners going for hundreds of different pots to create only singular flavors.  

This is precisely why I was very drawn to the idea of Hakka Chinese Cuisine.  While the idea of the American cultural melting pot is a great premise, it's not only American.  This is what intrigued me about this cuisine in that how, unless you visit a global locale, you are sometimes unaware of the influences border-sharing, trade and migration have had from countries in closer proximity.  These characteristics can and have shaped cultures and created distinct styles, flavors and techniques that have made for inventive and distinctive culinary offerings.  
Chef Salil Mehta and Stacey Lo

Such is the case with Hakka Chinese Cuisine.  Without going into a grand history lesson, just consider the very close proximities of China and India and the fact that people of ideas just don't stay put.  Hakka Cuisine in a nut shell is taking Indian flavors, spices and ingredients and preparing them with Chinese techniques.  The food is vibrant and fresh and to those like myself who had the pleasure of first experiencing it last week Wednesday at The Chinese Club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, parts familiar and parts astounding.

What's interesting about Hakka Cuisine is that I found myself playing detective to figure out if a dish was more Indian flavor or Chinese technique.  As explained by the head chef and owner Salil Mehta, the restaurant offers up completely fresh modern interpretations of both cultures which he feels are dying culinary art-forms in the age of 'fast-everything'.  He is absolutely correct since what was offered up at The Chinese Club had no nods to pre-packaged, processed fast foods.  Myself and the other guests were treated to a wonderful culinary sampling served family style and we were bombarded with freshness and flavors as each dish was ready to be served to ensure never an empty plate or palette.  

The cleansing white wine along with eye-opening starters Left To Right:  1)Lightly crisp and satisfying Organic Salt & Pepper Mushrooms that had a perfect light freshness of a tender whitefish, 2) spicy Aloo Chaat with Fried Noodles, a dish with potatoes, crispy noodles, fried lotus flower, pomegranates and tamarind that was verdant and tart, 3) crunchy chili-blasted Lollipop Chicken with a Spicy Mayo for a cool heat

The satisfying walks through flavor and texture Left To Right: 1) The delightful remixed Indian street snack of Chinese Bhel Salad with puffed rice, avocado, pomegranates, cilantro, chiles & fried noodles served with a chutney sauce made of chilis, garlic, lime juice and honey, 2) smoky, spicy and fragrant Hakka Chili Chicken that had a delicate citrus flavor to balance off the comforting earthiness of the chicken, 3) a texturally lovely Vegetable Manchurian Paneer that was both crispy from the breading and creamy from the middle with an almost hoisin-like depth

Wonderful entree sides that could stand strong on their own Clockwise from Left To Right:  1-3) Brown,  Jasmine and Cumin Rices of which the cumin was my favorite with a sweet depth created by the presence of fresh cloves, 4) garden fresh and deliciously spicy Chili Garlic Noodles that could most definitely be a vegetarian's dream dish, 5) spicy Hakka Noodles that had an almost iron-rich sharp depth, 6) The Fillet of Fish in Hot Garlic Sauce was an excellent way to serve the always delicate flounder as it had a soft flaky crust and a zesty bright earthy garlicky sauce

There had to be room for this kind of dessert Left To Right:  1) this deceptive -looking Fried Ice-Cream With Noodles took softly sweet coconut ice-cream and expertly replaced the fried tempura batter coating with fried coiled noodles; the slivers of green onion look questionable but offer a pop of peppery balance to the earthiness and sweetness of the dish 2) breakfast for dessert came in the form of the Fortune Cookie Waffle Cake with its tooth fruity toppings atop a soft comforting chewy waffle pastry served with a delicately lovely sweet ice-cream, 3) this appropriately-named fresh, crisp and fruity cocktail was truly a Big Boss as it featured three sakis, mango pulp and mango pop bubbles nestled in the base of the glass

Chef Mehta, who operates The Chinese Club along with his wife Stacey Lo, believes that modernity done with a fast food mentality make people forget that good food is worth sitting down and enjoying instead of just being inhaled.  Your senses, not just your appetite, feel satisfied after a well-prepared meal made with everything fresh when you order it.  This is a labor of love for this cuisine and a respect for treasured foods from Mehta and Lo.  This idea in a world of 'I needed it yesterday' needs the sensual-appeal of food to endure.  Food should be a celebration and when it's done too fast, well, who wants to rush a celebration?  

The Chinese Club is located at 208 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (718)487-4756 and is open daily for lunch and dinner and includes meat, seafood, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.  An innovative wine, sake and beer menu accompanies the restaurant's cuisine.