Monday, August 29, 2005

My Big Apple Adventure

I apologize for lack of recent blogging, but I have just returned from a wonderful trip to Manhattan. On Thursday, I met up with my brother Marty, a producer/editor (a.k.a. "prediter") at MTV, and we enjoyed an enormous lunch of cheeseburgers at McHale's. I left him to return to work, and I strolled around midtown for the afternoon, stopping briefly for some snails and a glass of provencal rose at Brasserie Marseilles. That evening we went out for ribs at Bluesmoke with his girlfriend Lindsay and roommate James.

Marty left early Friday morning to shoot the Video Music Awards in hurricane-threatened Miami, and I began the morning with a trip to Davidoff to meet up with my great friend Kellette. He is responsible for having introduced me to wine after my brewery in Atlanta closed in 2000. We had a nice diner breakfast before I set out for the International Center for Photography to see the daguerreotypes of Southworth and Hawes (this was the nominal purpose of my visit). Afterwards, I again joined Kellette, this time with his lovely wife Islandria, for a tour around the warehouse district and a stop at his local wine shop. We then headed downtown to a Spanish joint named Bar Jamon, which perfectly lived up to its name. We enjoyed marinated sardines and squid, a tasting of three ages of manchego, olives, and serrano ham with glasses of wine (I had sherry). By way of digestion, we took a stroll through the neighborhood and smoked cigars, along the way bumping into Tony Bourdain, who carried a dog in a purse and who proved to be much nicer than his gruff TV image would suggest.

Kellette, Islandria, and I eventually made it back to their place after a brief stop to pick up some cold cuts and cheese for dinner (it was now close to 10pm). They produced a wonderful spread of traditional and spicy salami, aged provolone, proscuitto, basil, and tomatoes and we did a small tasting of three lesser known french red wines, a Saumur, a Corbieres, and a Cahors, the former winning top honors for its delicate texture but complex midpalate. The night ended around 2am with Ashton Super Selections, Kellete having been awake for 27 straight hours by this point.

I awoke in the late morning on Saturday and headed south from Marty's apartment on 50th Street down to the aforementioned Mr. Bourdain's Brasserie Les Halles for what I imagined would be brunch. Upon seeing the menu, however, I was unable to pass up the more savory dishes and choose some very tender pork rillettes, delicious pigs' feet, and a sorbet trio. I skipped wine in favor of the lovely french pressed coffee.

After lunch I wandered down to the market in Union Sqare and tasted some artisanal cheeses from New York and some splendid apple cider. Continuing south, I stopped in Washington Sqare Park to do some reading and watch some incredible bocce. Later that afternoon I met up with Lindsay, who was gracious enough to entertain me in my brother's absence. We had a brief tour through the east village (where I shopped in vain for the perfect gift for Stephanie) and then took a cab to her fabulous apartment on 1st Avenue at 62nd Street. Lindsay recommended a thai restaurant in the area, where we had panang chicken and I introduced her to the pleasures of Gewurtztraminer.

Lindsay left to hang out with some friends, but Kellette, phenomenal friend that he is, managed to get off work just as I was wrapping up with Lindsay. He met me at Merchant's, one of the few remaining New York bars where smoking is still permitted. He is well-loved by the staff there, and we were treated wonderfully. I smoked a limited edition Fonseca with some uncharacteristically uninspiring Lagavulin 16, and Kellette smoked La Flor Dominicana with equally disappointing Macallan 12. After our usual long and meaningful conversation we said goodbye some time after 2.

I enjoyed my trip immensely and am very grateful for the wonderful friendship and entertainment provided by all of my New York friends. It was a superb wine, ham, and cigar filled weekend that I will not soon forget.

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