Tuesday, March 16, 2010
With in the first five minutes of meeting Chris and Andrew I felt I’d known them for three hours. Three solid, carnivorous, men-hanging-out-talking-food-smack hours. And, that is precisely what followed. Let’s back up a bit.
NYC sees a new restaurant open ever day. In this mid-recession restaurant boom, which defies rational economics, these newbies try everything from a celeb chef to locally grown everything just to occupy a little mind share and influence choice. This has left my mind scrambled when it is time to actual choose a restaurant. What happened to the simply days when we would thumb through a slim, burgundy book and reserve a table for 2 with a telephone call? Enter the internet and everybody-is-a-foodie craze. You can’t open a magazine, a browser or a television without some new, hip joint claiming to be BETTER than the best meal you ever had.
Chris Stang and Andrew Steinthal have brought me back to the days of Zagat bliss by giving me one stop for all my NYC restaurant needs. Through their fairly new site, Immaculate Infatuation, they give me the non-foodie run down on such over hyped spots as The Spotted Pig and Char No. 4. Chris and Andrew come from the music biz. The site was born from the sheer number of restaurants they ate in while entertaining clients and bands. Deciding to put this experience to use, they started writing basic, human, reviews of the places and foods they consumed setting the “Infatuation” on fire.
A few weeks ago I met up with them at Tom Colicchio’s refurbished Craft Steak spot, Colicchio and Sons for a prix fix throw down. In those first five minutes I mentioned above, one of us dropped an F-Bomb, we jumped through four different conversation topics and it was determined one of us would NEED to order a diet coke. (a test to Tom’s very public endorsement deal for the beverage) Quick friends are made from those with similar passions. In this case talking to people and eating. After the meal it was clear that we had the same opinion of each other and of Tom’s NEW restaurant so we decided that more Immaculate Infatuation/Forking Tasty chow downs were in the near future. Until then I will simple pick from their ever expanding list of reviews and block out the hundreds of PR, money driven, in the know, swank, green, sustainable, celebrity-hyped reviews that give me more A.D.D. then an ex-vegetarian at a hipster butcher shop.
Thanks guys for simplifying at least part of my life. Now if I could just figure out my overstuffed inbox problem.
What we ate: But trust me, the guys tell the story better.
Gnocchi with Chestnuts
Squid with Cavalo Nero
White Bean Agnolotti
Spice Roasted Lola Duck
Braised Loup De Mer
Coconut Cream Doughnuts
Beignets with bourbon panna cotta
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Joe and I decided on an old watering haunt of his for a quick and overdue holiday meetup. Joe is an old college friend from SUNY Albany. The adventures that were logged over the years are far too many to list. On the top of that list has to be hiking the Sawteeth peaks in the Adirondacks, Halloween with him dressed like “The Crow” and a Philly run down to the Ruby Lounge in which he wore a shirt that indirectly ridiculed Seth’s girlfriend. In more recent years Joe sits at the photo editor desk for the WSJ, not a bad gig. When the whistle blows he heads back to a small town in Jersey that has somehow turned into the mecca for ex-Albany photojournalists. Joe and I are mistaken as brothers often. Needless to say we hold similar behavior, humor and, apparently looks. Joe is always good for that clever and well timed laugh. He puts me in stitches most times I am in his company and for that, I thank him.
Chris also has some history at the pub we were visiting. Cheezie, as those in the lnow call him, was a good friend of Joe’s wife, then of Joe’s and now of mine. As a real estate broker in NYC he has it tough these days. But according to him things are looking up. I believe him. Chris always adds to the humor when throwing back the cold ones with us. Being a guest in Dublin, their bar, is like visiting a friend on thanksgiving. You know nobody, they know everybody. More jokes fly and more beers get poured. My kinda night. Thanks guys.
What we ate
I forget what Chris got but he had never, ever had it before
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I have ate with Joey almost as much as my brother. We started the eating parties back in high school and over the years we have chowed everywhere from Oyster Bay, Long Island to Buenes Aires, Argentina. Joe plays an important part in my life. He is one part sounding board, one part grounded Italian and one part insane neurotic. Ask me about the OCD wheel or the DefCon Eating scale one day and his neurotic trait will be completely understood.
Marcella is a newer edition to the crew. Joe’s girlfriend by association but every bit her own person in reality. As a Columbian she has spunk and conviction under her normally calm and spiritually centered ora. All I have to say is, don’t flip her off a raft while floating down rapids in the Andes mountains or you will get the bite end of that ora.
Joe owns a landscaping business in Long Island and Marcella is a yoga instructor and make up artist. They recently made the move closer to Joe’s clients because the Brooklyn Long Island commute became insane. Seriously, where the hell is everyone going at 6am? This meal was much needed. The 12 blocks that used to separate us increased another 497 blocks with their move. That has kept the three of us from eating together for far too long. We kept it quiet and local and popped over to one of my Greenpoint favorites, Anella.
What we ate
Baby Arugula Salad with Shaved Manchego Cheese, Crispy Sunchokes and Hazelnut Vinaigrette
Baked Roman Gnocchi with Porcini Fondue
Fresh Pumpkin Ravioli with Shitake Mushrooms, Broccoli Rabe, and Sage Brown Butter
Fried Organic Chicken with Parsnip Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Beets
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Let’s get it out of the way right now. No. Mike was never on an 80′s sitcom with Tina Yothers nor was he in one of the best movie trilogies of all time nor was he in another hit sitcom in the 90′s. But, he did work with me way back in the beginning of the last decade when the two of us were burning the midnight oil learning our marketing chops at Digitas.
Mike and I pulled off some great campaigns back in those days and have kept a tight friendship over the last 8 years. Above all things that make Mike a good friend is his loyalty. Back in that day Mike always gave me the straight dope on deadlines, budgets and client comments. Sometimes that made things tough but he always stood by “the team” to get done whatever needed to get done. He stood by us even if it meant telling the client “no” or sticking his neck on the line for what we believed. A true team player. Through the years I saw this characteristic in effect in some of our personal ventures (lots of business talk) and again when we overlapped while working at Ogilvy. When you think about your friends there are a lot of traits that come to mind. Of all of them, loyalty is definitely in my top 5.
A few years back we started a tradition of having a big holiday steak lunch every December. This past December was no exception. Once again that loyalty trait was excercised. We always promised each other that the meal would be an over indulgence in quantity, price and length. When we started looking at the $100 plus Brunello’s on the wine list. He kept loyal to the rules and pulled the trigger on a delicious Montalcino red. Thanks Mike!Continue reading...
Friday, December 18, 2009
You have to understand right from the get go that Marc and I have ate many meals together. In fact, he is one of the first people I ever ate with. Older cousins have a tendency to hold these types of records. But, now that we are all grown up we spend a lot less time eating with each other. Considering we are the two New York kids it may make some people wonder. You see, along with being the New York kids we are also the driven, go-getting, exotic work location kids. It is no wonder we can’t find much time to share a meal. Our mailing address’ are close but our latitudes usually are drastically different. Last week the stars aligned and like Magellen and Cortez we found ourselves exploring the same plot of land. Lure in Soho was the confluence of our explorations a spot Marc knows well and I, after some memory rousing, found familiar as well.
Marc has been in real estate since he left his mangers post at the old SOHO Kitchen and Bar on Greene St. years ago. Always wearing his handsome, bright white smile he has worked on projects from NYC to Miami to Mexico to St. Kitts. His latest project came in a beautiful baby girl named Jordan. From way back in the day Marc always had his sights on the big leagues (at least in my opinion). He has tackled whatever necessary in order to get what he wanted but never did it without his dignity, ethics and morals in check. You have to respect someone who operates like that.
Rachel is way prettier than Marc. As an Elite model you might expect that but you quickly realize that the beauty goes way deeper than the skin. As a mommy Rachel has become even sweeter than her original delightful self. Of course, she has her fair share of travel adventures as well so the fact that she was also in town for this meal was true serendipity. Always asking the right questions to make you feel comfortable and at home Rachel has the knack for comforting just about anyone. Next on the P.I.E. list is baby Jordan.
Thanks Rachel and Marc for being so bright, shiny and hungry. I am swinging by soon next time I am in the hood.
What we ate
1/2 dozen clams
CRISPY CALAMARI with a Smoked Chili Glaze
TEMPURA SHRIMP with a Spicy Sesame Mayo
LOBSTER CROUTONS with Golden Garlic and Chilis on Sourdough
STEAMED BRANZINO-Oyster Mushrooms / Scallions / Ponzu /Cilantro
PAN ROASTED COD-Bacon Wrapped / Butternut Risotto / Pumpkin Vinaigrette
“LURE STYLE” CHEESEBURGER-American Cheese /Tomato & Pickles / Mayo / Onion Rings
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
It’s rare, even for me, when a work partnership turns into a friendship considering that the two guys above do not work with me everyday. Tarikh and Josh are the duo that make unbelievable ideas come to life at their company, Uncommon Projects. It has been just over a year now when I called up Uncommon and asked them to put a GPS tracker in a sneaker. They said no. Then I asked, “Hey, how about a bike” They agreed. (More on that picture taking, GPS enabled Yahoo! bike here) Thankfully we finally got down to celebrating the project at Vinegar Hill House about a week or so ago.
Josh Rooke-Ley is the quiet, coding genius who rarely is scene without a fitted Mets hat on his head. Among his many passions he has become quite the cyclist since the Yahoo! Bike project launched. For a while he was riding to the office in DUMBO all the way from his house in Queens. It even inspired this iPhone app. You know someone is into their work if it changes behavior in their personal life.
Tarikh Korula is a master of hardware and software mixing. In a world of new apps, programs and websites, Tarikh has the magical fingers to hack, invent, make and modify devices that can do things never before seen. Tarikh and I had more than one 4am night getting the bikes ready for shipment. Through those wee hours we covered everything from hip hop legends to failed relationships to beer preferences. I love to get him going on a topic he finds interesting. The conversation always goes to a great place. Outside of work he has gone deep into the ambient music world. He has started turning out performances that use all sorts of sounds in his melodies including old traffic reports. Super fun stuff to close you eyes to and listen hard.
Guys thanks for making work so fun and making play that much more interesting.
What we ate:
Farmstead Cheese & Salami with homemade crackers, pickled quail egg
Fennel Salad with provolone piccante, green olives, currants
Braised Beef Cheeks with celeriac, celery, chestnut honey
Red Wattle Country Chop with homemade sauerkraut
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
In Texas, they say everything is BIGGER and that includes personalities and food risks. Interesting enough all the guys here are from California. But, we were in Austin so, when in Rome, right? (Well, when in Austin actually. Ahh, forget it).
Brian and Flo are friends and colleagues from the buzz team. These guys are both stand up gents that I would run into a burning building for. Actually, I have theoretically done that several times for each of them. They have gratefully returned the favor. Brian Mullin is a SoCal boy born on St. Patrick’s Day who races cars and raises 3 kids when he is not selling ice to Eskimos. Flo(Sean Florio) is a NoCal kid who’s life resume reads like a Disney casting call. Homecoming king, quarterback for the football team, semi-pro skiier, ideal husband, perfect dad covers the basic milestones. I’ll let Walt and his “idealistic” storytelling fill in the blanks.
Sean O’Connor is my new best friend in Austin. He is a gregarious and fun loving guy that seems to run on full tilt ALL THE TIME, which makes for a quick bond. Sean jumped right in when we were ordering the appetizers, finding the “crazy stuff” to fill our bellies. Having only spent a couple hours with him I can barely paint a proper picture of his person but he clearly knows how to enjoy LIFE. His recent move from San Fran to Austin will hopefully result in more fun for me on my next visit down. Plus, who doesn’t want a tour of the place where a spray can full of pancake batter was created? For me Sean’s company, Batter Blaster, is like mixing good food and street art. Think Banksy meets Emeril Lagasse. The product almost begs you to make pancakes on anything hot; Intake manifolds, blacktop in 100 degree heat or just inside the window on that greenhouse effected ledge in Starbucks.
Nick Tangborn is Sean’s right hand man and a tall, pompadour capped party machine in his own right. Having worked and played in the music scene for years, he has quickly dialed in the disco in Austin.(Disco meaning rock and roll) Walking into the Continental that night was like seeing the mayor meeting his “citizens”. At dinner, he took part in the risk food between Napster stories and pointing out Stevie Ray Vaughan’s brother at the bar.
I love Austin more and more each time I visit. Now I have two more reasons to add to the list. Three if you count Olivia. Thanks guys for treating me local. Brian and Flo, glad we had the time to break bread and whoop it up a bit without any burning buildings in sight.Continue reading...