Tag Archives: bar

Half-way Around the World in 14 Days

An Epic Trip to New Zealand

Two weeks of hiking, dining, drinking, exploring below the equator

Auckland, New Zealand

Downtown Auckland from the Bay

It was a dream trip 25 years in the making. It has been that long since my sister, Marianne, moved to Auckland, New Zealand  And for 25 years i kept promising i would visit. But you know how it is. But in February i finally bit the bullet and hopped a looooong flight to Kiwi land on Hawaiian Air. I got a very good price with an overnight stop over in Honolulu. Perfect! that meant i could spend a night with my oldest friend, Joe Ferraro and his wife Nadine. Joe picked me up at the airport around 5:00 and brought me back to their bungalow-style home in Manoa. After a shower and a change into the appropriate shorts and flowered shirt we had a beer on the patio and headed out for dinner on the beach. i have to say, the minute my feet touched ground in Hawaii i could feel the tension seeping out of my body. And it continued into New Zealand. Even the prospect of a nine  hour flight hard on the heels ao a 11 1/2 hour flight and an hour and half delay in taking off from Honolulu due to an equipment problem, couldn’t raise my temperature.

Touchdown in Kiwiland

I arrived in New Zealand late Tuesday night. Marianne was there to meet with at the airport.And i really didn’t feel that bad after the 20 hour trip. Here’s the key: I laid out an extra 75 bucks each leg for exit row/bulkhead seating. well worth it? no knees jammed into the seat back in front of me. no getting pissed off at the person in front of me. There was no person in front of me!

Day 1: Exploring downtown Auckland

Wednesday i got my first look at Auckland. I threw on a t-shirt and a pair a shorts and set out. Yes, it is hilly! My sister’s house is in the Eden Terrace neighborhood of Auckland, just a 20 minutes walk from downtown. I just kind of nosed around downtown. You know how when you go to Boston and you’re walking around and suddenly you wonder, Hey where are all the people? well, it’s not like that in Auckland. not in downtown Auckland anyway. Lots of people walking around. I stopped at the Crown on Custom St. for a pint. It’s a brewpub where i enjoyed a pilsner. Though i thought the $12 price for a pint was a bit steep. But stop to figure it out. The exchange makes that $12 $10.20 American. Also, note that there is no tipping in New Zealand, so knock another 2 bucks off of that and you have an $8 pint. that seems about right. Later Marianne and i went out for dinner at, YUZU,  a Japanese place in Mt. Eden. the miso orange roughy was fantastic.

Day 2: Discovering the Auckland Domain

I took a commuter train to Grafton and walked a few steps to the Domain. Wow! What a place. i entered it from behind a small grandstand that sat at the edge of a depression or bowl. it wasn’t until later that i learned it was one of the many volcano craters dotting the city. Athletes were running, stretching, playing cricket. (Well, maybe calling the cricketeers athletes is a bit of a stretch.) i was there to visit the winter garden but had to hunt a bit to find it in the vastness of the Domain.

The Wintergarden in the Auckland Domain

The Wintergarden

The winter garden is a smallish conservatory with a beautiful annual house, and a tropical room with a lovely courtyard. I found the lovely Wintergarden Cafe outside the courtyard and enjoyed a delicious lunch of a warm salad and a Steingarden beer.

More to come…

24 Hours in Beantown

A Short Post-Christmas Trip to Boston

Last year, my wife and i spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Boston, visiting family, sampling restaurants, getting some culture at the Gardener Museum, getting some History at Paul Revere’s House.  We stayed at the Boston Park Plaza in one of the biggest hotel rooms i ever saw. This year, i went solo and booked a “petite” room at the same Park Plaza—with some trepidation. I like this hotel though. great location, just a few blocks from the Boston Common, Boylston st, Newbury street. what i don’t like is the $12 surcharge PER DAY for WiFi.photo(1)

But the petite room turned out to be fine and after i dumped my stuff off, Emme and i drove off to pick up Zea at South Station. She was coming in from Maine, where she spent Christmas with her in-laws. Where to eat? that was the question on everyone’s lips. The answer? The Gallows. I had been there once, for brunch and didn’t require any arm-twisting. At the Gallows, we started with their pulled pork stuffed corn muffin to share. Well, i use the term share loosely. Zea pretty much claimed it. Fabulous! then it was on to the main course.

Earlier, we had decided we would “eat light” after the excesses of Christmas. But by now we had worked up an appetite and when confronted with the menu, i knew it was burger time. I opted for the Carpetbagger with fired oysters atop. Zea chose the Maleson Melt with chanterelle, and porcini-morel butter. Emme, though, zeroed in on the poutine. specifically the daily Out of Control poutine, tonight made with bone marrow gravy. Wow!

Friday night, we hit another, small, beer-centric pub of the type that seems to characterize Boston. This time it was The Five Horses Tavern in the South End. Our mantra again was
“Eat Light!,” but that didn’t happen. not after i got a look at the menu.As son as i spotted it i knew i would have the k.f.c.g.h. With Kentucky fired Cornish game hen, jalapeno mashed potatoes and pork belly mac and cheese, it was comfort food times three. And it did not disappoint.

Fried Cornish Game Hen, Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes and Mac & Cheese

Dinner at Five Horses in Boston

Both of these fine establishments had amazing beer menus–bottled and on tap. And Five Horses happily seated our party when only  four of  six were present. When’s the last time something like that happened in New York?

 

 

Booking it in East Hampton

Lauren Visits Authors’ Night in East Hampton.

East Hampton Library's Authors Night 2013

Marcus Samuelsson (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz))

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Gwyneth Paltrow (photo by danielgonzalezphotography.com)

I recently had the pleasure of attending one of the best summer events in the Hamptons— Authors Night. If you don’t know, this is when authors, most with local ties, show up to sign their books and chat with fans to benefit the East Hampton Library. I just couldn’t stop rubbernecking there were so many celebs! Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband—Chris Martin of Coldplay, chef Marcus Samuelson, Nelson DeMille, Nile Rogers, Dr. Ruth, Phillipe Petit, Kelly Bensimon, Lynn Scher and, of course, Alec Baldwin. It was a swell evening with good food and drink. I actually got to talk to these authors about their recent works and buy an autographed copy of their latest tome. DJ Bonnie Grice was interviewing for the local station. Fun was had by all!

After the signing, authors were invited to dinners hosted by local fans. Boo hoo! I wasn’t invited to that, but I did have an awesome time and it was all to benefit the library in East Hampton.

East Hampton Library's Authors Night 2013

Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly (photo by Sonia Moskowitz)

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Nelson DeMille (photo by danielgonzalezphotography.com)

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Writers and readers filled the tent in East Hampton. (photo by danielgonzalezphotography.com)

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Nile Rodgers (photo by danielgonzalezphotography.com)

I have always loved going to the library. Reading a book can transport you to anywhere in the world. I have to give kudos to the Amagansett library and my peeps that work there! I’m always demanding that they get me this or that. And they cheerfully do. Ah well, I don’t have to wait a whole year to read anything. I’m just going to my library.

Chefs & Champagne

A Great Night for Food and Fun in the Hamptons

lauren is feelin’ the love at wofflers

Andrew Zimmern does not think Lauren is Weird.

Andrew Zimmern does not think Lauren is bizarre. All photos by Gemma Kahng.

 

Today I was so feelin’ the love on Long Island. I’m talking about the passion displayed at the James Beard Foundation Chefs and Champagne New York event at Wolffer estate in da Hamptons. The chefs so tenderly presented their creations. They were lovingly displayed and prepared with care. Many “hot” chefs were represented their from the tri state area including Masaharu Morimoto with his tuna trio, Eric Miller from Madison & Main with his grilled Montauk pearl oysters, and Stefan Karlsson from Sweden with his salmon tartare.  I had a hard time working because it was difficult not to spend all my time stuffing my face with all the goodies available. I also got to take a photo with the JBF award winner Andrew Zimmern star of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods

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Masaharu Morimoto lovingly created and served a Tuna Trio to appreciative guests at Chefs & Champagne.

Besides feeding me—and hundreds of others— the Foundation does stellar work giving students scholarships that honor and nurture America’s diverse culinary heritage.  They educate and inspire the young to be creative and learn their craft whether it’s food, wine, champagne, or whatever. They also had very cool items and travel opportunities to bid on both online and in person. All and all it was a fun time had by me —and all. I think everybody gained at least five pounds!  The only problem is I have to wait a whole year for such fine food grazing. In the meantime, I’ve just have to visit some of the restaurants that were represented there.

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Wofflers in Sagaponnick was the scene for Chefs like Stefan Karlsson

Chef Stefan Karlsson from Fond restaurant in Sweden served Tuna Tartare.

B. Smith and her man enjoy the evening.

B. Smith and her man enjoy the evening.

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Rosa Ross from Scrimshaw in Greenport.

Rosa Ross from Scrimshaw in Greenport.

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For the Love of Ivy

Yum yum gimme some…..more Ivy restaurant! What a feast I just had. Lobster tacos layered shrimp and avocado sautéed Brussels sprouts with bacon and onion covered in cheese. Generous appetizer portions with fair prices. It’s mostly bar food but a bit more upscale than most. My friend had a pomegranate drink and was feeling no pain. I highly recommend this restaurant on 56 and 8th if you are ever in the hood!

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Sotto Sopra Scores

 Worth a Visit in Amagansett

Sotto Sopra

Sotto Sopra offers fine dining in Amagansett.

The owners of Sotto Sopra (who also own Bobby Van’s) are bold and courageous. Brave and true. They have opened a classy restaurant in a spot where nothing ever lasts that long, even though it’s right on Montauk Highway in the heart of Amagansett. This new incarnation, Sotto Sopra, should change the fortunes of that location. There are a lot of reasons why it should succeed… from the welcoming light and airy space to the thoughtful menu, to the food itself.

We stopped in  for a late Saturday lunch recently and snagged a table in the pleasant and quiet back terrace. Of course, it’s the staff that presents the first, and lasting, impression of a restaurant, and here we were greeted by a cheery and attractive hostess who turned us over to our solicitous waiter. He didn’t miss a beat in delivering a basket of fresh bread and bowl of olive oil. We each ordered a glass of wine for the nifty wine list, Pinot Noir for Lauren and Riesling for me. We were given the choice of ordering from the brunch or lunch menu. We weren’t feeling very brunchy so we opted for lunch.

Portrait of Lauren with Pinor Noir

Lauren enjoys a glass of pinor noir at Sotto Sopra

The first (and only) disappointment of the afternoon occurred not long after we were seated. Lauren was bummed  to learn that the lobster roll was sold out.

No matter, we started with a crostini for Lauren and a arugula salad for me. I swear, I had never seen a bigger heap of arugula. With match sticks of fresh apple and a few delicious cherry tomatoes, with truffle dressing on the side, it was a great start.  Lauren enjoyed her steak sandwich with aoli. While I fell in love with my Linguine Mollusco: tender little neck clams in the shell or pasta with a lovely garlic sauce dotted with chiles. I emptied the breadbasket, sopping up the sauce after the clams were gone.

insalata fresca  with arugula, tomatoes, and apples.

The insalata fresca at Sotto Sopra is a magnificent heap of aruglua.

On to desert. We had a crazy layered crepe kinda thing and some knock-your-socks off chocolate mint gelato.

It turned out to be a wonderful, relaxing meal. We’ll be back.

Sotto Sopra

231 Main St.

Amagansett, NY 11930

(631) 267-3695

 

 

 

A Vermont Weekend

Great Fun for a Burlington, Vermont Weekend

We had a great reason to travel to Burlington, Vermont, the weekend before Memorial Day—My daughter Zea was graduating from Med School! Any reason is a good reason to get back to Burlington in the Spring, but this was special. We left NYC after work on Thursday and drove to Ballston Spa to visit my Mom. The next day i managed to get Lauren up early and we set off for Vermont–a trip of just under three hours. We go to Burlington in time to meet her old college friend Sally, who now lives in White River Junction.

Restaurant

Normally the Chef’s Corner in Williston is bustling for brunch

We met Sally for lunch at the Chef’s Corner in Williston. You know, right next to Lenny’s shoes on the Essex Road. (right around the corner from our motel, too, the something or other extended stay suites. Now i had heard plenty about this cafe from my ex-wife, but had never been.

What took me so long? it was totally charming. You get in line and order from the blackboard behind the counter. then have a seat, indoors or out and wait for the server to deliver.I had the tuna salade Nicoise which was delicious. can’t recall what Lauren and Sally had, but both raved about it.

Then we checked into our room. (now i remember, it was Townplace Suites. Nice place. Our room had a queen bed plus sofa bed and a full kitchen with a large fridge. They have an indoor pool – not that we had any time to use it. There’s no cafe but they offer your standard continental breakfast and pass out 20% off coupons for our new favorite—The Chef’s Corner.

outside burlington

Townplace Suites, just outside Burlington, was the best place we could find for UVM grad weekend

After a leisurely and uneventful check-in we headed off to Costco to do some party shopping. Boxes of wine! Sacks of sweet onions. Meat! Chips! Beer! It’s party time!

The next morning i crept out of the room as Lauren slept and walked to Chef’s Corner for breakfast, where i kept it simple: two eggs over easy, the best home fries ever, and bacon. take off the 20% and i feasted for under 10 bux. Then off to Zea’s to make German Potato Salad and lots of frenzied running around to buy last-minute supplies, until it was time for the party at Burlington’s Oakledge Park.

Oakledge Park in Burlington

Susan, Zea, Emme, Warren, and Casey enjoy the perfect weather on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Saw lots of friends and family at the party. Ate burgers, drank beer. What more could you ask for?

But i wasn’t just eating, drinking, and partying, no. that weekend was also dedicated to finally clearing out my storage shed that i had been supported for too many years. It was a slog down memory lane with college notebooks mashed up with wedding pictures and tax returns—all the phase of my adult life mixed up together.

from Man's Life magazine

Look what i found in my storage shed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(to be continued… A Vermont Weekend)

Starting the Season with Lobster in East Hampton

Lunching on Lobster with Lauren at Bostwicks in East Hampton

Granted they were just opening for the season, but our waiter obviously didn’t know Lauren Ezersky. He mistakenly place some of our order in front of me. Lauren set that straight pretty quickly. One pound lobster—Lauren. Half dozen little neck claims—Lauren. Corn on the cob—Lauren. Cole slaw—Lauren. Clam chowder (New England style) and Peroni—Warren. (Ok, two Peronis) And don’t forget the extra sauce for Lauren! That’s how we roll at Bostwick’s in the Spring in East Hampton.

Lauren in the Hamptons

Look out Lobsters when Lauren hits Bostwicks!

Chelsea’s Fabulous Regional Thai

 Chelsea’s Regional Thai Might Be the Best Restaurant Deal in NYC

Lauren Ezersky

That's moi with Regional Thai Pad Thai

My husband says there are entirely too many Thai restaurants in New York City. But he’s always happy to take me to Regional Thai on 22nd Street in Chelsea. Why? Two reasons. One: He’s cheap. Two: Their Happy Hour. Three: the $4.00 wine. And not only wine. Their happy hour dinner special is one of the best in the City, bar none. OK listen up: here’s what you get. A choice of two entrees: pad thai or fried rice, either with shrimp, chicken, beef or tofu, and a choice of two appetizers: beggar’s purse, veg dumpling, spring roll, firecracker, maybe something else that i don’t remember—all for $7.95! I loooove the beggar’s purse, stuffed with all kinds of good stuff like shrimp, chicken and herbs They say eating a beggar’s purse brings good luck. Better to be lucky than good, right? I always have a delish veg spring roll too. Then its on to the Pad Thai that comes served in a big heap on the plate. Always get it with shrimp. Never disappointed. And that’s what i get. Every time. I don’t understand why, but they’ve got some funky Mexican sh*t on the menu too. And Margarita specials with top of the line booze like Patron and Cuervo, but i’m not a big boozer. I leave that to my hubby.

Oh wait… almost forgot. the service is great. everyone is so friendly. and the decor? well Warren says it’s ’80s Lower East Side, but i think the bright colors, fake elephant head (i hope it’s fake!) and the bird cages are all fab. Specials run from 5 – 7, monday to friday. That suits me fine. I like to eat early so i can have my teeth out and my nightgown on by 9:00.

That’s why i say that Chelsea’s Regional Thai is a great deal.

 

 

Happy Hour at the Palm

The Palm Happy Hour Makes Us Happy

The Palm is an ancient steakhouse, always included on the list of best in New York. There’s also an outpost in East Hampton. We never go there for dinner. We know that Lauren would not be able to resist their famous three pound lobster, and that would decimate out dining-out budget for about six months.

Like any good steakhouse, the Palm is not inexpensive. Unless… you take advantage of

Welcome to the Palm

their Bar Bites Happy Hour. Unfortunately, I’m not often here in the Hamptons during those delightful hours of 5 – 7 Mon – Fri. I’m more of a Friday night jitney east, Sunday afternoon Long Island Railroad west kind of guy. But taking a long weekend for our anniversary provided the prefect opportunity to take part.

The bar at the Palm, East Hampton, is all dark wainscot and time-worn tables. The bar is murky and moody with old wooden booths. The kind of place you want to hide out on a hot summer afternoon. A on those afternoon—from 5 to 7 on weekdays—you can partake of their bar bites, normally ranging from $10 to $13 for just $5.50! That includes steak burger sliders, lobster roll sliders, crab cakes, charcuterie plates and more. Shrimp cocktail is $3.95 and oysters are $1.90 each.

shrimp cocktail

super giant shrimp at the bar

We started with a half dozen oysters and a half dozen shrimp. When the shrimp arrived, they were beyond jumbo, fresh and crisp. Best we’d had in ages. The oysters, too, were fresh and briny. An order each of (3) burgers and (3)lobster roll sliders was all we needed. Well, we did spring for a carrot cake too, not that we needed it. Oh, and a couple of glasses of a crisp California chardonnay. It was a great meal of appetizers.The bar was empty when we arrived at 5:00. By the time we left it was packed with others taking advantage of one of the best dining deals in the Hamptons. We’ll be back for the Palm’s Happy Hour.