Exclusive: Making the Perfect Sunday Roast with London’s New Game Bird Restaurant

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The last decade or so of British chefs looking back to the great English traditions meant that the menus of high-profile chefs were now featuring haute versions of, well, steak & kidney pie. Even better, that greatest of all English traditions, the Sunday roast, has made its mark on the culinary trendometer. (Amusingly, the Guardian declared its revival in 2009, the Telegraph called it a “thing of the past” in 2012 – and then the Guardian last year hailed it as “a tradition worth preserving.”)

Whatever your view, Chef James Durrant is certainly the man you want at the job. He’s got Michelin-starred cred to spare, having done time in two of Gordon Ramsay’s top restaurants, as well as holding the Exec Chef title at Jason Atherton’s Maze. Now he’s at the helm of one of London’s most high-profile openings, the fittingly named The Game Bird at the plush, celeb-fave (David Beckham loves it) Stafford Hotel in posh St James. And they’re doing a quite a wonderful Sunday roast, we’re happy to report.

“It came to prominence back in 1485 during the reign of King Henry VII,” Durrant tells us, “when The King and his Guard – the Yeoman Wardens – dined on a feast of roast beef following church on a Sunday. This tradition has led to the Yeoman Wardens affectionately being termed ‘Beefeaters.’ To this day, beef is the ‘King’ of the Sunday roast, and we have decided to keep the tradition running at The Game Bird. Our mouth-watering roast rib of beef is carved table-side from a handmade trolley and served with all the trimmings.”
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What else can one expect at The Game Bird? Four- and eight-course tasting menus might include Rhug Estate fallow deer tartare, Orkney sea scallops with roasted cauliflower, smoked roe and seaweed butter, and pigeon with parsnips, cavolo nero and “bullshot” – all very English, to be sure. And interiors to match. It’s actually named for WWII resistance fighter and spy Nancy Wake; and with its etched ceiling, charmingly patterned chairs, Chesterfield style banquettes, and Deco lighting fixtures, it certainly is a throwback to more, shall we say, mannered times.

Trad-loving Anglophiles that we are, we asked Durrant to give us a peek behind the magic of his perfect Sunday roast. And he was gracious enough to let us in on some of his most treasured recipes. (See below.)

“There’s no general rule to creating a fantastic roast dinner,” he insists, “apart from choosing good meat and taking the time to create a great gravy. When it comes to vegetables, add your favorites that are in season, this way they will be more flavorsome. Spring greens with a pinch of nutmeg work great with roast chicken, or a lovely peppery swede and carrot mash work great with beef.”

 

 

Roast Rib of Beef, Yorkshire Pudding

Cauliflower Cheese, Honey Roast Carrots and Roast Potatoes

Beef and gravy
Ingredients
1 x 2.50 kg fore rib of beef (with 2 bones)
1 bulb of garlic, broken into cloves
A few sprigs of Thyme
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
A knob of butter
2 x onion sliced
150g plain flour
500ml red wine
1.5ltr hot beef stock
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F. Take the beef out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and allow it to come to room temperature. Place a large sturdy roasting tray in the oven to heat up. In a pestle and mortar smash 3 garlic cloves and most of the thyme with a pinch of sea salt and generous amount of olive oil, then massage all over the beef.
  2. Quickly smash the remaining unpeeled garlic cloves and add to the hot roasting tray with the beef. Pop straight in the oven and roast for around 50 minutes, basting occasionally with the juices from the tray.
  3. After 50 minutes, reduce the temperature to 190°C/375°F/gas 5 for around 10 minutes, or until the beef is beautifully golden brown on the outside and pink in the middle – leave in for longer if you prefer your beef well done. Carefully transfer it to a platter, dot the knob of butter on top. Cover with a double layer of tin foil and a tea towel and leave to rest. reserve the beef resting juices for the gravy
  4. Meanwhile, to make the gravy, place the roasting tray on the hob over a low heat, add the sliced onion to the juices in the tray and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until the onions are soft and caramelised. Stir in the flour, then whisk in the red wine, making sure there are no lumps. Bring to the boil, whisking constantly, then bubble until reduced by half. Stir in the stock, and then cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick.
Yorkshire Pudding
Ingredients
100g plain flour
Pinch salt
3 large free-range eggs
225ml milk
Sunflower oil
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.
  2. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs and a little of the milk. Whisk until smooth then gradually add the remaining milk. This can be done with a wooden spoon, but is easier with an electric hand-held whisk. Pour the mixture into a jug.
  3. Measure a dessert spoon of oil into each hole of a 12 hole muffin tray. Transfer to the preheated oven for five minutes, or until the oil is piping hot.
  4. Carefully remove from the oven and pour the batter equally between the holes or the tin. Return the batter quickly to the oven and cook for 20–25 minutes, or until golden-brown and well-risen.
  5. Serve immediately.
Roast Potatoes
Ingredients
8 potatoes (such as Maris Piper), peeled and cut into large chunks
Method
  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook until soft on the outside. Drain and let them steam dry on a wire rack placed over a roasting tin.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  3. Add a little oil to a roasting tin and place in the oven to heat. When the oil is hot, add the dry potatoes and stir gently to coat in oil. Roast for 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown.
Cauliflower Cheese
Ingredients
2 cloves of garlic
50 g unsalted butter
50 g plain flour
600 ml milk
500 g fresh broccoli
75 g mature cheddar cheese
50 g parmesan
1 kg fresh cauliflower
2 slices of stale bread
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
25 g flaked almonds
Olive oil
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Peel and finely slice the garlic and put it into a medium pan on medium heat with the butter.
  3. When the butter has melted, stir in the flour for a minute to make a paste, then gradually add the milk, whisking as you go, until smooth.
  4. Add the broccoli and simmer for around 20 minutes, or until cooked through and starts to break down, then mash or blitz with a stick blender (adding an extra splash of milk to loosen, if using fresh broccoli). Grate in half the Cheddar and season to perfection.
  5. Arrange the cauliflower in an appropriately sized baking dish, pour over the broccoli white sauce and grate over the remaining Cheddar and parmesan.
  6. Blitz the bread into breadcrumbs in a food processor, then pulse in the thyme leaves and almonds. Toss with a lug of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, then scatter evenly over the cauliflower cheese.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden and cooked through
Honey Roast Carrots
Ingredients
1kg Chantenay or other small carrots peeled
Thyme sprigs
100 g butter
3 tbsp veg oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp clear honey
Method
  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Tip the carrots into a roasting tin and toss with the oil and some salt and pepper sprigs of thyme. Roast for 30 mins.
  2. Add a knob of butter then Drizzle the vinegar and honey over the carrots, toss well and return to the oven for a further 20 mins.

La Loba Cantina’s Connoisseur’s Guide to Drinking Mezcal

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Mezcal board at La Loba Cantina 

The need to endlessly push the boundaries of exoticism / obscurantism in the cocktail world has created a new “spirit of the moment” seemingly every few months. (Seriously, did anyone actually own a bottle of Aperol before 2014?) Mezcal came and stuck, likely because it gave innumerable American tequila drinkers the opportunity to sip something with a bit more of a…romantic aura. (For edification, tequila is actually a kind of mezcal.)

Brooklyn’s La Loba Cantina are also in it for the long haul. The BKNY food police, of course, are notorious for going on about “authenticity”; but “The She-Wolf” genuinely looks like a place you’d stumble across on a random street corner in Oaxaca. Yet despite the obvious pleasures of its elote salads and calabaza quesadillas, its religion is, unquestionably, mezcal.

 

 

“Quality mezcals, made from 100% agave, are best experienced sipped, not shot,” explains co-owner Jeff Burfield. “And if it’s going to be a late night, sipping mezcal is a great option – it’s simple, straightforward, and the purity means you can sip it for long periods without the unsavory consequences you get from many grain alcohols or sugary mixed drinks.”

Hoping to tap into his enthusiasm and expertise, we asked him for his current top mezcal picks, from lowest to highest in cost. To our surprise and delight, he was also good enough to also provide the perfect soundtrack to go along with each.

 

Low-range

Fidencio Clásico (Espadín) $35

One of the best all-around mezcals out there – it’s versatile enough to enjoy neat, but affordable enough to use as a cocktail base. Mineral and clay flavors temper the pleasant, but not overpowering smokiness, the body is slightly richer and more robust than most espadins. Definitely a bottle to keep in your liquor cabinet for unannounced company.
Pairing/How to Serve: Serve with sliced oranges and a little chile salt or sal de gusano (worm salt). The citrus cleanses your palate between sips and enhances the experience.
Soundtrack: “Rudies Don’t Fear” by Derrick Morgan

 

 

Alipús, San Juan del Rio (Espadín) $45

A really unique espadin that’s on the savory side – dried herbs, charred broccoli, black pepper dominate first sips. But this mezcal is still wonderfully balanced with notes of lemon and sweet roasted agave.
Pairing/How to Serve: Works amazingly with grilled fish or small bites, like jicama with salt and lime, and fresh pico de gallo. Salinity really brings out its sweet and savory flavor profile.
Soundtrack: “El Estuche” by Aterciopelados

 

Mid-range

Nuestra Soledad – Lachigui Miahuatlán (Espadín) $55

The Nuestra Soledad line comes from a famed mezcalero who produces some of the most coveted mezcals in Mexico – so, it’s a steal when you can find it at your local wine shop. This particular bottle runs slightly hot for beginner mezcal drinkers (49% abv), but retains an amazing array of bright flavors: melon, fresh fruit, wood, and earth are most prominent. It also has a pleasant long finish.
Pairing/How to Serve: Great to bring to a cookout; the heat of the alcohol is best tempered with heartier summer fare, like barbecued chicken.
Soundtrack: “My Place” by The Adverts

 

 

Del Maguey Single Village – Minero (Espadín) $68

Hand-mashed and distilled in traditional clay stills, Minero is a rustic favorite we recommend to aspiring mezcal drinkers. An arid, semi-tropical microclimate gives it a refreshing floral nose, with flavors grounded in vanilla, honey and citrus.
Pairing/How to Serve: Minero works well with fresh cheese – Mexican cheeses like quesillo or queso fresco work beautifully with the warmer honey notes present in this mezcal. Fresh mozzarella or ricotta would also work nicely.
Soundtrack: “E.V.P.” by Blood Orange

 

Vago Mexicano (Mexicano) $85

Mexicano is a more rare species of agave, so it’s going to deviate in complexity from most espadins, which is the most common varietal used to make mezcal. A floral bouquet opens up to a rich silky body of flavors like peaches, cinnamon, caramel, and raspberries. This bottle should be shared with people you really like and will definitely elevate your mezcal collection.
Pairing/How to Serve: This is a great anytime mezcal, but even better as a late-night summer sipper. Savor it under the stars with arroz con leche or a high-quality vanilla ice cream.
Soundtrack: “Don’t Break My Heart” by UB40

 

 

The High-end

Real Minero Largo (Largo) $149

This is a ‘best day of my life’ bottle, made by fifth generation mezcaleros and distilled in clay – a really small production, rare mezcal that you’ll bring out for special occasions. Wild largo agave are grown in the mountains and give this a delicately complex palate of tropical fruits, pineapple and green olive brine.
Pairing/How to Serve: This is a mezcal that deserves your full attention. Sip and enjoy.
Soundtrack: “Let’s Start” (with Ginger Baker) [live] by Fela Kuti & The Africa ’70

 

Two Signature La Loba Cantina Mezcal Cocktails

When making mezcal cocktails, use an affordable cocktail-friendly bottle, like Fidencio, Classico or Del Maguey VIDA. These can be found at most wine shops or liquor stores.

 

Ancho Mezcalita

1.5 oz mezcal
.75 oz Ancho Reyes (ancho chile liqueur)
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
.5 oz agave syrup
Salt the rim of a rocks glass. Measure and pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake. Strain over fresh ice in glass. Garnish with lime wheel.

 

 

 

Santa Maria

2 oz mezcal
¼ of a dried arbol chile
.5 oz piloncillo syrup (1:1 piloncillo sugar:water)
1 strawberry
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 dash Angostura bitters
.25 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
Muddle chili, syrup and strawberry in a shaker. Add mezcal, balsamic, bitters, and lime juice. Shake with ice. Double strain into coupe. Garnish with lime twist.
*substitute demerara sugar if you can’t find piloncillo (available in Mexican grocery stores)

 

 

Sorry, But Your City’s ‘Food Scene’ Might Not Actually Be All That Special

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Image: State & Lemp, Boise

 

A by now unavoidable pattern seems to have developed over the least few years, where the “draw” of just about every American city is being pitched as its “super hot food scene.” The same buzz phrases are employed by each: “innovative young chefs” are making “locally sourced cuisine” that draws on “regional traditions” but with “a new twist.” (In some cases this means nothing more than a fussed-over grilled cheese sandwich topped with a few “local” nettle leafs.)

This all comes amidst much misguided blather about how “food is the new rock & roll” and “chefs are the new artists.” Yet let’s be clear: April Bloomfield‘s wonderful restaurants will always send you home very well fed  – but her pan seared skate with saffron aioli is definitely not Björk’s Biophilia. As for food being held up as art, Jason Farago’s 2014 BBC story slaps that one down with relative ease. (“When a chef like [Ferran] Adrià is acclaimed as an artist, or when organic obsessives wax rhapsodic about the cultural virtues of turnips, it says we expect less from art than we used to.”)

 

Pontiac Bourbon & BBQ, Cincinnati

 

The more mundane truth is that American urban centers are gentrifying at a lightning pace (South Park even did a brilliantly incisive episode about it); and where there is gentrification, there are new restaurants hoping to attract the gentrifiers’ cash. It is, in a sense, the logical conclusion of the “Brooklynization” (or “Portlandization”) of…everywhere.

Now, for our part, BlackBook does not at all abide NYC-LA centrism; and we have enthusiastically promoted the many virtues of the likes of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Oakland, Ottawa, and so on.

So, is it simply much too easy to engender a food scene? For greater elucidation on the subject, we present here a loose, eye-opening list of the cities whose “food scenes” have been showered with rapturous column inches of praise from the “elite” press. And don’t worry – should that be enough to get you to book the next flight to Boise, St. Louis, Des Moines…we’re pretty sure a “lifestyle” hotel has just opened in each.

 

Boise

Earlier this year Vogue (yes, Vogue) insisted that Boise (yes, Boise) is “having a culinary renaissance, with creative young chefs, artisans, brewers and even winemakers.” If we’re being honest, we’ve never actually seen a bottle of wine from Idaho. But it’s definitely a thing.
The “Must” Restaurants: Mai Thai, State & Lemp

 

Pittsburgh

In 2015, Zagat ranked Steel City as the absolute No. 1 foodie destination in America. Who are we to argue with Zagat? (Hipster bonus: Pittsburgh now has its own Ace Hotel.)
The “Must” Restaurants: Butcher & Rye, Union Standard

 

Butcher & Rye 

St. Louis

Back in 2014, Time Out noted that “the Gateway City’s food scene has quietly established a reputation as a home to a wide variety of sophisticated, locally soured fare [and] craft beer.” And one of the city’s signature eats is something called gooey butter cake. Yum.
The “Must” Restaurants: Nixta, Olive + Oak

 

Olive + Oak

 

Des Moines

The Atlantic urged readers in 2014 to “do the most hipster thing possible”…move to Des Moines. By 2016, Politico had decisively confirmed the city’s cool cred – and the New York Times was going on enthusiastically about the culinary treats that awaited last year’s GOP Caucus goers.
The “Must” Restaurants: Alba, Saison Kitchen + Pub

 

Saison Kitchen + Pub

Milwaukee

It’s not your father’s beer and cheese lifestyle anymore, is it? In December 2016, Eater focused on 11 of the city’s restaurants that were “garnering some serious buzz” in a piece on “the hottest openings of the last 12 months” in Mil-Town. N.B. Milwaukee in December is actually pretty bloody cold.
The “Must” Restaurants: Red Light Ramen, DanDan

 

DanDan

 

Cincinnati

The Chicago Tribune in 2016 pointed to (what else?) an urban renewal program that has turned Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood from something of a blight into “a hub of the city’s culinary scene.” Isn’t it always the way?
The “Must” Restaurants: Pontiac Bourbon & BBQ, Quan Hapa

 

Quan Hapa

 

Charlottesville, Bloomington, Greenville, Grand Rapids…

The Tasting Table 2017 list of America’s 27 most underrated food cities included all of these. Yes. there are actually twenty-seven cities in the US that have yet to be given their proper due in honoring their culinary magnificence and hotness.
There’s banana pudding doughnuts in Birmingham, tagarashi-spiced catfish in Louisville, Mongolian-beef-stuffed chun bing in New Haven, oyster mushroom banh mi in Omaha and (we kid you not) rabbit served with rye pasta purses, cherry marmalade and soda spiked ricotta in Portsmouth – all of which have apparently been criminally under-reported and shamefully under-lauded.
For the record, though, we did check – and from what we can tell, Waco, Texas doesn’t have much of a food scene. Yet.

 

Terra Square Farmers Market, Grand Rapids 

 

 

The New Cuties Coffee Bar is an LGBTQ Sanctuary in LA

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Donald Trump’s bizarre tweets last week about banning transgenders from the military, though not actually endorsed by most of his generals, merely confirmed that systemic discrimination is alive and well in this country.

So the creation of any new space for the LGBTQ community (and their straight friends, of course) to gather in comradeship seems particularly exigent. To wit, LA’s charmingly monikered Cuties Coffee Bar, which just opened on N. Heliotrope near Melrose. It’s actually the first permanent physical manifestation of the ongoing social series Queers, Coffee & Donuts, which has acted as regular gathering around the Los Angeles area.

They serve, of course, coffee and tea, along with goodies from the vegan Erin McKenna’s Bakery. But you really want to go for the solidarity, camaraderie, and perhaps to even share a nervous laugh about the clueless ignorance of Prez No. 45.

We’re here…

Indie Songstress Tristen’s Guide to Authentic Nashville

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At a time when technology continues to rapidly alter the way we process music, singer-songwriter Tristen is a steadfast practitioner of the more traditional model. She releases a record every couple of years through decidedly indie channels – and she hits the road with her guitar and outsize personality to connect with her rather enthusiastic fans in the most visceral way possible.

She’s just released her fourth album, intriguingly titled Sneaker Waves. The songs are full of dreamy, uplifting atmospherics, shimmering melodies and clever lyrical wordplay (“Only the lonely would find themselves inside of your bed / I’m howling at the moon instead.”) You might hear hints of everyone from The LA’s to Cocteau Twins to Patsy Cline.

She hits the stage in Fayetteville, Arkansas on September 7, for the launch of an extensive US tour that will take her to 23 cities, ending up in Chicago on October 6.

She grew up in the Windy City, in fact – but now calls Nashville home. So, in true BlackBook fashion, we caught up with her for a chat, and asked her to turn us on to her absolute fave places to hang in her adopted home.

 

 

Your new album is called Sneaker Waves – what exactly does that title mean?

I was at Rockaway Beach in Oregon, and I noticed signs for “sneaker waves” as I climbed along some rocks on the ocean. [I learned that] a sneaker wave is an unanticipated coastal wave that is much larger than the waves that have come before it; and it has the power to sweep you away into the ocean with no notice or reason. I felt it was a metaphor for death and how impermanent things are, I was immediately drawn to the words. We always try to find reasons for why people die young or suddenly, or ways we can prevent our own death. We often live in fear of it, when really it is a sneaker wave that can take you at any moment, and so your time, right now, becomes more precious than ever.

Songs like “Got Some” and “Glass Jar” have a sort of exuberance to them. What were some of the overarching inspirations behind the record?

For Sneaker Waves, I really tried to focus on what the song wanted to be, so I went in without a concept. It’s always about finding the right groove and that’s really the interaction between the bass and the drums. For me, I always know and can feel when things are right – trying to explain why the music is right for the song has always been the tedious part. So my job is really finding the right people to come in, and guiding them as much as they need to be guided. I make sure the arrangements are really concise.

What brought you to call Nashville your home?

I moved to Nashville fresh out of college to follow my dream of being a working songwriter. I was always able to write songs fairly easily from a young age and so I wanted to be around other artists and musicians. I learned how to record by myself, so that when I wrote songs like ‘Eager For Your Love’ and ‘Easy Out’ I could demo them at the moment of inspiration.

 

How does the city inspire you, both personally and creatively?

Nashville has a very rich musical fabric and so moving there became an invaluable education for me. I was inspired by the musicianship and taste. Nashville is all about songs and tone and if you are listening, there is a wealth of wisdom you can tap into. I mostly love the people in Nashville; my friends are some of the most talented, brilliant  musicians I’ve ever met, and we can commiserate over our troubles and party our sorrows away together.

 

Tristen’s Nashville Faves

Buy a Record at Grimey’s

The most supportive, connected, legendary record store in Nashville, possibly the country. Grimey’s frequently has in-store performances by titans of music, and their staff has ultra great musical taste; they can turn you on to some real treasures. Many great touring Nashville musicians work there when they are off the road. Next door is Grimey’s Too, a book store with used media, as well.

Pick Up Vintage Threads at Hip Zipper

Hip Zipper is most definitely classic Nashville, and it’s the best vintage store in town. Located next to the legendary local rock club The 5 Spot, Hip Zipper always has a great collection and it’s very fairly priced.

 

 

Buy Books at McKay’s Nashville

If you don’t mind making the drive, McKay’s is massive and has loads of used media: books, DVDs, records and video games.

Eat a Delicious Lunch at Mas Tacos Por Favor

Teresa Mason was the innovator of the food truck. She now has a great permanent spot in East Nashville, and Mas Tacos continues to please locals and tourists alike. She is the queen of curating a simple, concise, delicious menu.

 

 

Get a Damn Fine Cup of Coffee at The Post East

Although it’s not in my neighborhood, I frequently make the journey a couple miles away to The Post. This is my favorite coffee shop in East Nashville, tucked away from the beaten path, but a genuine local favorite.

Eat Delicious Vegetarian Food at The Wild Cow

Want a big salad after the BBQ crawl? Wild Cow is a vegetarian restaurant that won’t leave you hungry. Everything on the menu is delicious and nutritious. Make sure to have a smoothie. If you have to wait to get a table and it’s after 5pm, head across the street to the bar at Eastland Cafe for a cocktail.

 

 

Listen to Some Country Music at Nashville Palace

Skip the madness of downtown Broadway tourism, but experience real Nashville and great country music, cold beer and fried foods at the Nashville Palace. There is country music seven days a week, and a dance floor for you to practice your two-step.

See a Rock & Roll Show at Fond Object

I hope you are lucky enough to catch a show at my favorite spot in Inglewood, Fond Object. It’s a record store and vintage clothing shop that frequently hosts local and touring acts in it’s backyard. You can also check out Fond Object’s brand new downtown location, if that’s more convenient.

 

Emily Takes Manhattan: Brooklyn’s Hippest Pizza Arrives in the West Village

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Photos by Meg Farrell

Nothing pairs better with summer (or winter, or spring…) in the city than a slice of pizza that verges on perfection. Curiously in NYC, “Za” has never been hotter – thanks partly to a new trend in…Detroit style pies.

The formidable team behind this Motor City culinary invasion is Emily Hyland and chef-hubby Matt. The former lent her name to their two Brooklyn hotspots Emmy Squared and Pizza Loves Emily, where their version of crispy edged, cheese filled, chewy pizzas have equally won over the locals and the BK foodie police.

 

 

They’ve just opened a third, the equally charmingly named Emily, which takes them into Manhattan – specifically the gorgeous West Village space that formerly housed Blue Ribbon Bakery – for the first time.

“We were on a simple walk about with our realtor,” says Emily, “and he brought us to Blue Ribbon. Once we saw the iconic space with the historic oven was available, it wasn’t even a question that’s where we were supposed to be.”

They’re also messing with the formula a bit, adding round New Haven and traditional thinner New York style pizzas – but all prepared in their 18-foot deep, wood fired oven. The square-pan Detroit craze continues here, and gets unique, but very trend-aware toppings like miso queso, kimchi, sesame and bacon. Feeling really adventurous? Go for the vodka sauce with pickled chili and honey.

 

 

“Everything is very much meant to feel like [the Brooklyn] Emily,” Matt explains, “but since we have the space to play in the kitchen, we are able to offer a wider array of food.”

The restaurant wisdom, of course, goes, “do one thing really well.” Amazingly, though, the Emmy Burger, served on a pretzel bun with dry-aged Pat LaFrieda beef and good old American cheese, is among the best in the city. It’s now joined by a pressed duck sandwich and the “Lammy” burger, served with one of our  faves…curly fries! Which you can also get topped with miso queso, pickled jalapeno, olives and scallions. Got all that?

 

 

The hidden health gem in this carb-loading nirvana? The local veggies cooked in the same wood fired oven as those crispy, cheesy pies: smokey carrots paired with tahini lentils and mint, or seasonal oki veggies, roasted and served in a cast iron pan with bonito, okonomi sauce and Kewpie mayo.

The cocktail list is appropriately cutesy – so just go for it and pair your meal with a summer refresher called “Phoebe in the Field,” a vodka lavender lemonade that will chill the steamiest nights.

But, really, go for the pizza.

As Emily explains it, “We think pizza is archetypal. It is part of the fabric of who we are as New Yorkers, as Americans. It is a timeless and beautiful food.”

Yep.

 

The Philadelphia Legend Reborn: Summer Cocktail Recipes From the New Friday Saturday Sunday

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Few words possess such equally negative and positive connotations as does “institution.” But that was the word often used to describe long-standing Philadelphia restaurant Friday Saturday Sunday. Then in 2015, Chad and Hanna Williams (who had both worked with star chef Jose Garces) took over the Rittenhouse Square space – and earlier this year it was reborn, with the familiar name intact.

The menu has been enlivened with creative pastas (trotter gemelli, corn agnolotti), a great raw bar, and a dedicated vegetable selection (confit carrots, collard greens, etc). But you’re most likely to find us seated at the gorgeous marble bar downstairs, working our way through the exciting drinks list by former a.bar alchemist Paul McDonald.

We asked him to let us in on the magic that goes into a few of his greatest summertime creations (how could you not covet a cocktail called Conquest of Gaul??). And as we’re known to spontaneously hop a train from NYC to catch one of our fave touring acts on their latest Philly stop (Ride are at the TLA this Saturday, Jaymes Young at The Foundry July 29, Belle & Sebastian at the Mann Center August 3), we highly recommend making a food-drink-music overnight of it.

 

Paul McDonald’s top Friday Saturday Sunday Cocktails

 

Well-Tempered

1 1/4 oz Revivalist Equinox Gin
3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz St Elder Liqueur
1/4 oz Letherbee Beam
1/4 oz Suntory Toki
Stir on ice, strain into a coupe.
Express and discard lemon twist and garnish with a mint leaf.

 

 

Cloudbreak

1 oz Bonal
3/4 oz Bol’s Genever
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz heavy cream
1 egg white
Dry shake, proper shake, strain into a stemmed glass.
Grate grapefruit zest and cinnamon on top.

 

Conquest of Gaul

2 oz Laird’s 100 proof apple brandy
1/2 Laphroaig 10
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz honey syrup
Stir with ice, strain into a coupe, and garnish with a lemon twist.

 

 

Cartagena Cool Part II: The Lowdown on Latin America’s Most Alluring City

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Continuing our exploration of the seductive Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias (see Part I of the story), we ventured out of the walled city to see how the locals live.

A 10-minute walk directly south of the Old City, and past the Parque del Centenario, brought us to Getsemani, the town’s once very sketchy but now colorful bohemian hub. Strolling its quiet (during the day at least), narrow, tree-lined streets we came across all manor of intriguing urban life: old men playing dominoes in dusty front rooms – front doors and windows are often wide open, presumably to encourage a little circulation – which double as industrious, home-based businesses (i.e. beauty parlors), and stray cats and dogs lounging in the sun. In the evenings the bars fill up, and enthusiastic party people take over.

 

 

It was in Getsemani, and more specifically at Demente, a hip but romantic restaurant with a soaring atrium and amazing pizza, that we first met Julian Baker of Travel Colombia Direct – our insider for all things Cartagena. While Baker still sounds like the British prep schooler that he is, nine years in Colombia have infused him with a very South American cosmopolitanism, along with an excellent grasp of Spanish. His lovely Cartagenan wife Juliana, a jewelry designer, is also an advisor to the travel company.

“It’s a unique beautiful city,” Julian enthused, “with some of the most charming people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. This place has something for everyone: typical and international gastronomy, pumping nightlife, first class hotels, fantastic shopping, history, art and culture. All wrapped up in year-round sunny days, local beaches and nearby islands – a magical place, that will take your breath away if you give her the chance to.”

Dinner and drinks at Demente gave way to a midnight stroll through the hot streets; kids were still up playing football in front of the old church and portable refreshment carts supplied unnecessary yet delicious, sugary nightcaps. We stumbled back to our hotel, the bewitching Casa Pizarro, while the street scenes played out until dawn.

 

 

For the record, another great hotel choice in the neighborhood is Monterrey, on Getsemani’s northern perimeter. It has a rooftop pool and bar with a magnificent 360-degree view of the city…for just $80 a night.

While the best shopping in Cartagena is in the Old City, we discovered the marvelous Artesanias de Colombia around the corner from our hotel, which retails beautiful, handmade local housewares and clothing. Moving farther afield we headed west to Bocagrande, Cartagena’s downtown and beach area, where new chain hotels and shopping malls are bringing modern gentrification to the area. We saved our water sports for more exotic locales, but found the charmingly ramshackle beachfront restaurant Kiosco El Bony, where we dug into a lunch of fried fish and coconut rice, all washed down with a couple of bottles of Aguila beer.

 

Artesanias de Colombia

 

Cartagena is surrounded by water and we were eager to get out on it. The best way to hit the waves is to charter a small private boat and head to the Rosario Islands (a cluster of about 30), about an hour off shore, with plenty of options for swimming, beaching, eating and drinking; a few even have hotels. Travel Colombia Direct organizes day trips and more, including yoga retreats, like this one in October. For something a little less elaborate, grab a taxi and head 30 minutes northeast of the city to the dusty town of Manzanillo Del Mar, where the beach is beautiful and quiet and you can grab lunch at one of the cheap and cheerful local restaurants.

On our last night we had a wonderful tapas dinner at the cool, international Spanish/Colombian restaurant Caffé Lunatico, on one of Getsemani’s quiet side streets. Afterwards we headed back to the Old City, joined the locals at Café del Mar, an always buzzing bar/restaurant on top of the 17th Century city wall, where we watched the sun set into the ocean.

Just as we found ourselves doing, you’ll likely spend the final hours of your trip to Cartagena planning your return.

 

Rosario Islands 

 

 

 

Third Wave Coffee, Psychedelic Cathedrals + Jean-Paul Gaultier: Montreal Turns 375

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The news at home is perpetually unsettling, the conversation endlessly divisive. So what better time to hop the quick flight over the border to one of BlackBook‘s most beloved destinations than during Montreal’s dazzling, year-long 375th birthday celebration? Canada’s grooviest city has divided the events into four seasonal themes – with summer and fall still to go, obviously.

On our most recent trip, we immersed ourselves in the celebratory cultural offerings, while also taking time to stroll the beautiful McGill campus and the city’s many green parks, imbibe a few fizzy champagne cocktails at the Ritz Carlton, and indulge in the city’s exceptional designer and vintage shopping.

Here were some of our faves…

Divine Lighting

Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica is hosting AURA, a radical new show of music and illumination. Revealing the Basilica’s exquisite collection of statuary, Moment Factory (the same design and production studio that is artfully lighting up the Jacques-Cartier Bridge nightly) has designed an immersive experience that both sonically and visually captivates – enlivening the grandness of the cathedral interior with a psychedelic multimedia spectacle, featuring august orchestral sounds and a dramatic light spectacle. You’ll never look at being in church the same way again.

 

The Daily Grind

Montreal’s perpetual buzz might partially be due to its residents’ obsession with coffee. And not just any coffee, but ‘third wave’ coffee, where sourcing and production, origin and output all get equal attention. This artisanal focus is being championed by numerous local purveyors, which is why scheduling a cafe crawl with Thom Seivewright, the founder of Living Like a Local, is the best way to experience some of the city’s best offerings in the grooviest spots. These include Dispatch, where the sleek, minimalist interiors and packaging design rival the handpicked, farm-to-counter coffee selection. Some other must-sips are Cafe Osmo, in the Notman House, Le Moineau Masque in The Plat (one of the city’s hippest ‘hoods), and Crew Collective & Cafe, which is also a members-only co-working space and basement nightclub, located in the utterly spectacular former Royal Bank building in Old Montreal.

 

Crew Collective & Cafe

Avant-Garde Circus Folk

Cirque du Soleil was actually birthed in Montreal. And the experimental circus troupe’s latest show, VOLTA, is a spellbinding story about the freedom to choose and blazing your own trail – albeit in flamboyant costumes and roller skates. As you might expect, the transformational sets, lighting, original music and general choreographed mayhem assault the senses from all sides. VOLTA even features a full on BMX park, mounted on stage, where riders drop in to deliver breathtaking stunts.

Plugged In, Well-Fed

We were particularly privileged to spend time at the Society for Arts and Technologies. Set up in an abandoned public market in Montreal’s former Red Light District, the 20-year-old SAT bills itself as an incubator of talent, and center for research in emerging technologies. Inviting “visionary artists, techno-poets, enlightened artisans, atypical engineers and unconventional thinkers” to connect and create original work, it boasts over 30,000 members. The non-profit is also community-minded, even lobbying successfully to legalize skateboarding in the adjacent Peace Park.
Dining at Foodlab, atop SAT, is as adventurous as the centre’s programming. We were served a locavore-driven, eclectic menu (no poutine here), complemented by a renowned wine selection. Exchanges between chefs, sommeliers, mixologists and “audacious foodies” are also hosted regularly here. Post-dinner we were ushered into a Buckminster Fuller-esque dome, where we laid our well-fed bodies on giant beanbags and tripped out in the semi-dark over a cosmic show of mesmerizing light and sound.

 

Foodlab

Curated History Lessons

You may wonder (as did we) what those captivating projections on the buildings are as you traverse Old Montreal by night. Created by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, Cite Memoire invites viewers to meet a cast of notable historical characters involved in the evolution of the city. More than 20 poetic tableaux are brought to life through image, words and music, emerging from the walls and the ground, infused with just the right dose of whimsy. You can download the free app for maximum effect.
The newly opened Fort Ville-Marie pavilion at the Montreal Archaeology and History Complex, Point-a-Calliere, has dusted the former musty fustiness off the site of the city’s birthplace. The museum itself is built atop a restored sewer tunnel, which now features a walk-through light installation by the aforementioned Moment Factory. Props to the museum’s passionate curatorial team, who created a uniquely engaging experience – where visitors can view the actual archaeological dig site through a reinforced glass floor (the only one like it in the world, we were told), allowing the opportunity to connect with the very origins of the city.

 

Room With a Dazzling View

Au Sommet Place Ville Marie rightfully boasts the most beautiful view of Montreal. The 360 degree observation deck also currently hosts the #MTLGO exhibit, an interactive video portrait series of 55 notable Montrealers. We playfully clicked our way through the various personalities and perspectives, getting to know Olympic athletes like Jennifer Abel and Caroline Ouellette, choreographer Marie Chouinard, comedian Sugar Sammy, conductor Kent Nagano, DJ Ghislain Poirier, circus troop Les 7 Doigts de la Main, and restaurateur Martin Picard. (Alas, no Arcade Fire pics.)
From hockey to gastronomy, performance art, language (of course, everyone here speaks fluent English and French) and neighborhoods like the Plateau Mont-Royal and Vieux Montreal, we loved tagging points of interest on iPads as we moved along the exhibition’s perimeter, enjoying the panoramic view. As a nice little touch, everyone receives a printout of their customized journey to pursue at leisure.
Our hunger for knowledge turned to actual hunger – so we dined at the observatory’s spectacular restaurant, Les Enfants Terribles. Serving a mix of old and new Quebec cuisine (paired with a glass of one of their refreshing roses), the only thing we enjoyed more than the frites was the jaw-dropping view.

 

Au Sommet Place Ville Marie

Puppeteers and Fashion Shows

After a mouthwatering morning croissant – Montreal, by the way, has seen a boom in boulangeries and patisseries all across the city in the last few years – we set out for an arts-focused final day.
A Nous la Rue brings together 60 street theatre companies from six countries (France, Spain, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and, of course, Canada), taking over Montreal’s streets every day in July with over 800 performances. We were particularly enchanted by the Big Little Girl, who brazenly squatted to pee as part of her performance; the dog who ‘panted’ as he trotted close behind her; and the enormous Deep Sea Diver. The “giants” enacted a touching story of Montreal via pulleys and strings controlled by dozens of energetic, red velvet-clad puppeteers.
Being as we are so sartorially obsessed, we also made a point of visiting the McCord Museum’s “Fashioning Expo 67” and Jean Paul Gaultier’s landmark show “Love is Love” at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – both up through October, and not to be missed.
(N.B. We’re planning to return for “A Crack In Everything,” a paean to the recently deceased and deeply lamented Leonard Cohen, coming to the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal  (MAC) in November.)

 

Jean Paul Gaultier at the Museum of Fine Arts