Master Distiller Myriam Hendrickx didn’t begin her career in the gin game. But as a food engineer in the Netherlands, she’s always been drawn to “the old [distilling] craft.”
“One gets to play around with beautiful natural products such as herbs, spices, fruits and nuts,” she enthuses. And when the family run Rutte Distillery (named for founder Simon Rutte) needed a new distiller for their seventh-generation gin, Hendrickx was in the right place at the right time to take over.
Subsequently, her Celery Gin was actually voted the best new spirit of 2016 – which is hardly surprising, considering her passion for the spirit.
But following the trend of tapping into heritage, Old Simon Genever, the forerunner that dates back to the 17th century, is this summer’s coolest drink. It’s a true testament to the infused liquors that the Dutch pride themselves on creating; and while they traditionally drink genever straight, it’s now finding its way into creative cocktails.
What’s the difference between gin and genever? Genever tastes somewhere between gin and whiskey, with “botanicals like a gin, and the grain-base of whiskeys. Barrel aging is optional. So we get to play with lots of beautiful flavors from nature, and with grain- and wood-tones.”
Its versatility makes a classic negroni new again, or gives an old fashioned a unique twist. Innovative cocktails are popping up all over NYC, from Prohibition on the Upper West Side, to David Burke Kitchen at The James Hotel in Soho.
Exclusive Jenever Cocktail Recipes From The Rutte Distillery
1.5 parts Rutte Old Simon Genever
1 part Italian Sweet Vermouth
2 dash orange bitters
1 orange zest
*Add all ingredients into a mixing glass and stir with ice until cold and diluted. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Garnish: Orange zest twist
– 2 parts Rutte Old Simon Genever
– 1 part lemon juice
– 2/3 simple syrup
– Top up with Soda
– 1 Lemon zest
*Add all ingredients into a mixing glass and shake, covered, with ice until cold. Strain into a an ice filled rocks glass.
Carving out enchantment in Croatia isn’t difficult – but visits to this pearl of the Adriatic Sea should absolutely extend beyond the more obvious cities of Dubrovnik and Zagreb. Indeed, in this ethereal land known for its otherworldly sites – as vividly depicted in Game of Thrones – there’s so much more to see.
We took the Kompas Adriatic Cruise on M/S Stella Maris, the compact luxury ship that allows for unprecedented access to sights and delights of those lesser known gems. Beginning in Dubrovnik and sailing north towards its final port-of-call in Poreč, the ship’s gracious and knowledgeable staff complement unique personal touches like lively info sessions, surprise island detours, and Croatian language lessons.
M/S Stella Maris
We were admittedly on a gastronomic mission – and thankfully, there’s an ocean’s worth of culinary gems at every stop.
Croatian fare is something of a crossroads of diversity and regional specificity, perhaps most easily divided up by coastal and mainland/continental fare. The former utilizes a lot of fresh seafood (squid, shrimp, lobster, octopus) and plenty of their award-winning Croatian olive oil – which is enhanced by an ample dose of fresh herbs and spices (think oregano, marjoram, cinnamon, rosemary); you’ll also recognize quite a lot of Mediterranean influences and resemblances to Greek and Italian (Venetian) cuisines.
The latter is heavily characterized by Slavic influences, as well as some Austrian, Hungarian, and Turkish (due to proximity and historical rule). You’ll see meat, fresh-water fish and vegetable dishes fortified by headier ingredients such as sweet paprika, roasted garlic and black pepper; and moreover, instead of olive oil, it’s sunflower oil and/or animal fats, such as pork lard for cooking and frying.
Highlights in the overall include cheese made from fresh sheep or goat’s milk from the Island of Pag, spicy sausages (kulen) from Slavonia, Dalmatian prosciutto, truffles from Istria…we could go on.
Here were some of the highlights.
Take the cable car up Srđ Hill and soak up sweeping panoramic views of the Old City of Dubrovnik, the island of Lokrum, the bay of Lapad, and the Elaphite Islands. Perched atop the hill is Panorama Restaurant and Bar; and considering your location along the Dalmatian coast – here, you must exercise your gustatory duty to eat freshly caught seafood. We recommend the Dalmatian Trilogy, a swimmingly delicious trio of octopus, marinated shrimps, and anchovies – best enjoyed with a glass of summer à la Grgić Pošip (2015).
Panorama Restaurant & Bar
Take a stroll through Mljet National Park – this cherished green island oasis is situated on the Dalmatian south. It is the oldest national park along the Adriatic sea and hosts a wealth of flora and fauna, along with two unique features: the Great Lake and Small Lake. The latter on which you can take a small boat over to the Isle of St. Mary, where the 12th century Benedictine monastery awaits. The building is a bit of an anomaly; due to it being redesigned numerous times, architectural styles collide: Renaissance meets Romanesque meets Baroque. For a break from the history lesson, wander down to Restaurant Melita. With views overlooking the lake, enjoy a romantic meal on the terrace with local cheeses, black risotto and our favorite, grilled mljet lobster.
Millenia-old winemaking traditions are revered here. So a visit and chat with Mr. Branimir Cebalo in his Lumbarda vineyard at Grk Cebalo is very much in order. Located about two miles from the Old Town of Korčula, they offer tours of the grounds and wine tasting: we recommend his Grk white wine, which offers reserved intensity and is gorgeously layered. Then make your way back to the shoreline to Lešić Dimitri Palace Restaurant – or more simply, LD Terrace. It recently entered the Michelin Guide and their Dalmatian fare with contemporary flourishes ideally complements the patio-perfect views of the Adriatic Sea. We recommend the gambero rosso & rose galić dish, which features local sweet, raw prawns, and a lush bisque that’s finished with a drizzle of herb-infused oil.
Lešić Dimitri Palace Restaurant
You probably know it as the island where international celebs and folks with fancy yachts congregate; but beyond the ritzy-glitz, there’s authenticity and charm waiting to be discovered. Wander the streets of this seaside town and make your way over to the Španjola, a Spanish fortress built in the 15th and 16th centuries. As you stand on historic antiquity, take in sunny views of the quaint town, the Adriatic and nearby the Pakleni Islands. Then head to the local Hvar Market for a basket of the freshest, sweetest strawberries you’ve ever tasted in your life. Sometimes life’s simple pleasures are just as sublime.
Part of the Dalmatia region, this bustling city is the second-largest in Croatia and spread over a central peninsula. Head below ground for a brief respite from the crowds, explore the palatial rooms beneath the surface of a Roman Emperor’s namesake Diocletian’s Palace, deemed a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Then, wander over to the chic and lively Bokeria Kitchen and Wine bar for stellar Croatian wines (we recommend a medium-bodied white Stina vugava, from Brač); pair with the smoked and charred octopus, made with sweet stewed chickpeas and tomatoes.
Located in the northeast town of Sibenik, Krka National Park is accessible nature at its finest. It’s a natural karst phenomena and rich in endemic species, but allows for leisurely strolls due to the many wooden paths. There are 360°views of lush forestry, streams, and seven waterfalls to behold – of which the most famous and stunningly beautiful is Skradinski buk. After a jaunty workout, grab a seat by the sheltered overwater patio at Konoba Toni. The mixed grill is a must and features locally caught orada (sea bass), brancin (sea bream), calamari, clams, and shrimp. Fresh, sweet and tender – all else that’s required is a drizzle of local Croatian olive oil, lemon and salt.
Situated along the Dalmatian coast, the past and present greet one another with a cool connectedness. With over 3000 years of history, a wander through the Old City of Zadar and you’ll be face-to-face with Roman forum ruins. Then encounter the present/future with art installations by Nikola Bašić along the coastline, which feature his psychedelic solar-powered Greetings to the Sun and water-symphonic Sea Organ. Then, get an ample fill of people watching on the patio of Pet Bunara as you tuck into Croatian-Mediterranean fare such as stuffed calamari that’s filled to the gills with a mixture of barley, Dalmatian bacon, goat cheese, fish sauce, capers and chives. And remember to take a peek inside the restaurant itself; its digs are built upon the archaeological ruins of the Old City walls – which you can see through their glass floor.
It’s hard to resist the charms of this impossibly romantic town. Situated on the western coast of the Istrian Peninsula, Rovinj’s Old City is a basket weave of narrow winding cobbled streets, stone archways, flower-dotted window sills, and a central harbor lined with little batanas. Wander up to the foot of the Church of St. Euphemia for inspired views, baroque architecture and insights into its famed namesake martyr; then snake down around the back (with swimsuit in tow) to the Plaža Baluota and its swimming nook. Enjoy the crystal waters of the Adriatic Sea and views of neighboring Katarina and Banjol islands. Afterwards, head over to Gelateria Italia for baseball-sized scoops of gelato (two, if you please) – obvious winners are the pistachio and the Crema Siciliana (blood orange).
From that final port of call of Poreč, opt to venture into Zagreb, the capital – the three-hour drive meanders through majestic mountains and evergreen farmlands. Upon arrival, make your way over to St. Mark’s Church, and don’t be surprised to be surrounded by numerous wedding parties and a sea of brides in white waiting their turn outside in the courtyard to tie the knot at this historic 13th century gem. To this day, it is picture-perfect, even though a portion of the building was constructed in 1880; it still features the medieval coats of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia, and the emblem of Zagreb. Ironically, the Museum of Broken Relationships happens to be situated a few feet away from all the “happily-ever-after” related going-ons. If the name isn’t enough of a giveaway, it showcases stories of heartbreak from all over the world. If you consider that the love of food is the most reliable form of affection, seek it out a block over and dine at local favorite Konoba Didov San, for Croatian comfort food. The restaurant inside is a tiny, cozy nook of a spot but in warm weather, seek out patio pleasures with charming views of the neighborhood and the Magdalenić-Drašković-Jelačić Palace. Try the Snails à la Dida – plump puževi sit in a rich gravy that includes roasted garlic and onion, and it’s served with crunchy polenta that’s riddled with crispy lardons. But true love will be found in the form of their fried fluffy donuts, served with their exquisite homemade cheese – the perfectly delicious ending to a delectable tour of culinary Croatia.
It’s no secret, our ongoing love affair with Philadelphia. And for a city that constantly seems to have so much new happening, it’s also perpetually, gloriously impervious to all that hopeless contemporary trend-chasing.
It’s exactly that attitude that the Renaissance Philadelphia Downtown hotel – which just opened in what is arguably the most enviable position in all of town, smack in the center of the Old City, facing Independence Park – seems to have been imbued with. Eminently, it employs no cloyingly obvious “millennial” signifiers; but rather, is simply focused on good design and epicurean pleasure, those things which always top our list of hotel exigencies.
We also love that the check-in desk is hidden away in a corner – allowing guests to enter right into the buzz of the hotel’s lobby lounge, bar and restaurant…and thus keeping the buzz going.
Notably, the rather fabulous opening bash featured local hero OddKidOut – a Skrillex prodigy – on the decks, and whose Northern Liberties based Boom Room Studios we got to spend an afternoon in. But we were also taken with the provocative original artworks by Alloyius McIlwaine adorning the party space – palpable evidence of the hotel’s artistic soul.
During our visit, it’s no surprise we couldn’t resist a visit to Reading Terminal (the Philly food market that predated all those hyper-trendy food markets). But we mostly spent a few days specifically kicking around the Old City. Here’s what we loved.
Understatedly chic (Philly is not a show-off town), with low, moody lighting, clever artworks and absolutely glorious bathrooms. It goes without saying (but we’ll say it): request one with a view of the park.
Philadelphia is obviously the cradle of American civilization. And at a time when certain basic rights seem worryingly under attack here, it was fascinating to take an art and history tour of the Old City, via Mural Arts Philadelphia. We learned how the City of Brotherly Love was also a city of sisterly action: indeed, in 1852 Quaker women organized one of the country’s first women’s rights conventions. The tour also takes in many of the city’s awe-inspiring murals (each has a story), from historical to contemporary – including Steve Powers’ 2016 Old City masterpiece, simply titled Philadelphia.
The Center for Art in Wood
A genuinely ideological gallery, The Center for Art in Wood is, as it says, focuses on a very specific medium. But it explores it from a multitude of aesthetic and ideological viewpoints. Currently not to be missed is Connie Mississippi’s Circle of Time, on view through July 21 (N.B. the artworks are for sale).
Sonny’s Famous Steaks
Sometimes, a city’s storied signature food is a banal disappointment. But, just around the corner from the hotel on Market Street, you’d be remiss to not spend a lunchtime at Sonny’s, pulling up at a communal table and making new friends over sloppily decadent cheesesteaks. There have been some developments – you can now order one with applewood smoked bacon, and a gluten-free roll. Still, don’t come here with any Gwyneth-y pretensions.
Old City Shops
For all its history, what has always held for us the greatest allure is the Old City’s keen cultivation of independent shops and boutiques – where you could easily while away a couple of afternoons. Pop in to Never Too Spoiled or The Geisha House for fashions from boho-chic to trend-aware-elegant; the eccentric Sioux Zanne Messix for unique vintage finds; Art in the Age (brilliantly, the name is a reference to Walter Benjamin’s radical 1936 cultural studies text) for small batch spirits and artfully crafted bar supplies and books; Minima for bold, contemporary furnishings; the preeningly hipster Bloke’s Barbershop & Gentleman’s Emporium for an of-the-moment cut and shave; and Bonejour, for a special gift to bring home for Fluffy or Fido. Post-shopping, reward yourself with a Hot Waffle Sundae at Fezziwig’s Sweet Shop.
The effortlessly sexy Vista Peru is one of the chicest new restaurants in town – with sleek, clean-lined style, but a sultry, exotic menu of ceviches, specialty arroz dishes, mouthwatering steamed mussels and the best pisco sours anywhere in the city. The Peruvian risottos are also an absolute must. Take a date, if you can.
Jose Garces Joints
The city’s most exalted chef, two of his ten Philadelphia restaurants are located in the Old City. The still buzzy Amada was actually his first, and yet reigns for an evening of Espana-inspired decadence. Amidst the Euro-chic surrounds, order up plates of chorizo blanco, manchego pasamontes, piquillos rellenos and croquetas de jamon – chased with a couple of bottles of particularly dry cava – and share generously with your dining companions, for full effect. His newer Olde Bar is just a couple of blocks away, for continuing the evening over mezcal-based Smoke on the Water cocktails or the signature Fish House Punch.
Chez Ben & M. Brown’s Bar
The Renaissance Philadelphia Downtown’s stylish French restaurant Chez Ben is themed around – you guessed it – Ben Franklin, who, like Jefferson, was famously Francophilic. And the space, a cool approximation of a Left Bank bistro (brasserie lamps, counter seating), is actually also peppered with references to the exalted Founding Father. Chef Paras Shah is actually from New York, but is noted for stints doing Japanese (Momofuku) and Spanish (Philly’s Barcelona Wine Bar). Order up the full Parisian or a Philly omelette for breakfast; then dinner choices veritably bring apoplexy, from frisee aux lardon to mussels Breton to steak tartare and an excellent raw bar. No matter where else you’ve been, end the night at the hotel’s cool M. Brown’s Bar, with its seductive interiors and impressive selection of specialty ryes, bourbons and Japanese whiskeys.
The only positive outcome of Greece’s continuing economic struggles, is that lower prices have reinvigorated its tourism trade – with sun-seekers flocking to its glorious assemblage of islands.
The most popular of those, Santorini, has a strikingly beautiful downtown that can get oppressively crowded in high-season; but with its romantic winding lanes, colorful architecture and chic boutiques, it’s really not to be missed. So checking-in somewhere away from the throngs is always recommended. And the new 12-suite charmer Istoria, set directly across from Perivolos Beach, could not be more secluded and furtive.
As a member of the exalted Design Hotels group, obviously style was front and center in its conception. Overarchingly stark and clean-lined, there is yet a palpable rusticity evident in the handcrafted textiles, stone pots, traditional mosaic flooring and terracotta elements. Room terraces and poolside loungers offer tranquility amidst views of the surrounding mountains and olive trees.
But there’s also a full-service, Asian-inspired spa, all-day cocktails by the pool, and the Greek-Med restaurant Mr. E, lorded over by NOMA alum Alexandros Tsiotinis.
Plan ahead – the annual Ifestia Festival (a tribute to the volcano eruption of 1600 B.C.) takes place September 15, with music and fireworks.
From Yoko Ono to Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda to Maxine Waters, women being celebrated for their irrepressible relevance and mettle into their 80s continues to be an inspiration – and a gift – to a world still rife with those who would seek to devalue their essentialness.
And so it is that the newly minted exaltation of radical pop artist Yayoi Kusama is important beyond just the quality of her work. It is about her power to continue to inspire. Especially as she first flowered at a time (the 1960s) when art was very much an uncontested boys’ club.
The epic presentation of her Cleveland Museum of Art – an institution, by the way, that can easily be considered alongside the likes of New York’s Metropolitan and London’s British Museum for its cultural gravitas – exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors (which runs through September 30) is thusly layered with meaning. And it rises to the occasion with its ability to evoke wonder and illusion.
Indeed, in addition to the magical paintings from her ’60s-era “Polka-Dot Happenings,” seven of her universally lauded Infinity Mirror Rooms are on display – more than have ever been assembled in one place.
“This exhibition celebrates the remarkable career and enduring legacy of one of the most important living artists, who continues to evolve and inspire,” enthuses Reto Thüring, curator of contemporary art at the museum. “The show’s narrative spans the entire arc of Kusama’s groundbreaking oeuvre, from her early collages, paintings and sculptures, up to some of her most recent Infinity Mirror Rooms and architectural installations.”
While the very notion of spectacle is a key feature of the show, it would be wrong to see the Infinity Mirrors as acts of bombast or hyperbole. Rather, they are meant to alter our sense of reality and our relation to it – allowing a moment to step out beyond of our banal existence, and then come back with a new sense of possibilities. They are, in a sense, a trip.
It’s also a great reason to be in Cleveland, a city that continues its spectacular cultural rebirth.
Ah, London; in stepping off the tube at South Kensington, our immediate reaction was to breathe a sigh of relief at the fact that everything is just so much cleaner, slower, and less stress-inducing than it is on the NYC streets we’d left a mere 10 hours prior. Far from judging their work ethic, the sight of fashionable office workers lounging outside a pub at noon makes us wonder why we don’t follow suit. To be sure, there are a lot of things we question in America these days.
The English capital has oft been our final destination when crossing the pond, and certainly there’s no shortage of amusements to be found there. But this time a country road trip was in store; and no sooner had we landed, had a quick look around the V&A, caught Jools Holland at Hampton Court’s summer music series, and discovered the seductive Leighton House Museum, than we were zipping south in a 5-speed rental, and on the ‘other’ side of the road no less. A few days later we would be in Bath, England’s gorgeous Roman-meets-Georgian spa town, where we did indeed take the waters…and then set out to explore several Neolithic ruins, yes Stone’enge included (cue Spinal Tap references).
Here’s what we did.
This Charming Town
It’s nice having relatives with 16th century country homes; and ours, whose spectacular abode was down a wooded lane close to the charming hamlet of Liss, lavished us with a delightful garden dinner followed by lashings of homemade limoncello around their enormous ancient fireplace.
The next day we headed south to the sea for bracing walk along the water in West Wittering, stopping first to fortify at the charming Lamb Inn, where local ingredients combine in dishes including summer risotto and south coast fish stew.
A Stop at the Stonehenge Gift Shop
In preparation for our trip we became fascinated with the history of the ancient stone circles that dot the landscape throughout the Isles, and our southern sojourn put us in the path of many of the imposing structures. The granddaddy of them all is of course Stonehenge, which is truly spectacular, although as one of the more renowned monuments in the world isn’t exactly bereft of tourists…or a gift shop (ok we bought a mug).
Being fascinated by all manner of birds of prey we were thrilled to come across the wonderful Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire, which showcases, houses and rehabs all types of fowl; we had to tear ourselves away from the baby owls, and were soon back on the road to Bath, where we holed up at the charming Abbey Hotel in the center of town.
Taking the Waters…
Known for its eclectic art collection, which includes a significant cross section of local artists, students from the Bath University and even hotel guests, the Abbey combines modern amenities with typically British charm. Our cozy room had an amazing view of one of the town’s main squares and the imposing Bath Abbey cathedral. There’s also a cool, bohemian cocktail bar on site (fittingly named Artbar), and the well-reviewed Allium restaurant.
The next day we were in full tourist mode and started with a two-hour visit at the spectacular Thermae Bath Spa. While Bath is of course known for its, erm…Roman built baths, modern predilections for health being what they are, actual bathing there is highly regulated; apparently, we lost our tolerance for water-born diseases a few centuries ago. But Thermae is as modern as it gets, while still allowing immersion in the blessed waters; we tried all manner of steam rooms, pools, and relaxation rooms, finishing up with an aromatherapy massage, and then a cider in the Springs Café; delightful, and invigorating.
And Yet More Stone Circles
That evening we took the advice of a local and headed off the beaten path to The Bell Inn, a cooperatively owned bar and music venue that was gloriously tourist free, we quaffed ciders and marveled at the irony that the bluegrass duo that were playing were from Lawrence, Kansas. On the way back to the Abbey we grabbed an excellent Thai curry at the authentic Salathai; most restaurants were closed by 10 and we’d yet to discover Bath’s late night underground.
Our exploration of stone circles continued the following day with a walk in the fields at Stanton Drew, one of the lesser known sites, and just 15 miles from Bath. We wandered alone among the great boulders, imagining life as a druid centuries ago, then abandoned all pretense of communing with the past and settled in for a couple of pints at the appropriately named The Druid’s Arms. British pubs have come a long way since our dads were downing pints and crisps at the local back in the day. At the nearby Bear & Swan we lunched on a modern take on the Ploughman’s, which included homemade breads, Piccalilli (pickles), and chutneys, as well as a Greek Salad with fried salt and pepper squid; as the area is known for its ciders, we sampled accordingly.
All Back to London…
Our drive back to London took us past the second most well-known, but largest, henge: the World Heritage Site of Avebury. It’s vastness is humbling, and wandering the breeze-swept lush green lands, one felt the energy of the space as we imagined our ancient relatives might have.
Back in the modern world we managed a rush through the thoroughly magnificent British Museum, and grabbed a final taste of all things British in the form of a scone with jam and clotted cream at the Tea and Tattle across the road. Now, if England can just win the World Cup…
If you find us daydreaming with a very big smile, you can bet we’re lost in thoughts of Italia – likely imagining a lazy Tuscan summer evening, with a good pizza and a spritz.
But now when that mood hits us, we’re just a taxi ride away from thoroughly satisfying it. Indeed, restaurateur Carlos Suarez and chef Wade Moises have just opened Rosemary’s Pizza in the West Village (a spinoff of the beloved Rosemary’s in the same neighborhood), surely one of the more authentic approximations of rustic Italian epicurean life.
To be sure, with its colorful tiling, exposed brick walls and unfussy, authentic pies (funghi; guanciale; broccoli rabe), it will decisively sweep you away to a bucolic countryside locale in the old country, if only for a couple of hours. But we were particular taken with the dedicated menu of “affogati,” Italian ice cream sodas, that are a decidedly decadent way to beat the oppressive summer heat.
We asked them to share the secrets behind two of their most indulgent of these.
2 scoops vanilla gelato
1 tablespoon crushed toasted walnuts
1 shot Borsci San Marzano Amaro Liqueur
Place vanilla gelato in a glass and sprinkle with walnuts. Top with liqueur and soda water to fill the glass and serve.
2 scoops vanilla gelato
1 tablespoon burnt orange (recipe follows)
San Pellegrino Aranciata soda
Place vanilla gelato in a glass and top with burnt orange. Top with soda to fill the glass and serve.
To make burnt orange, dice a whole orange into 1/2-inch cubes, leaving the peel on but removing any seeds. Toss with a teaspoon each of salt and sugar, spread on a lined sheet tray and roast in an oven at 450 degrees F until charred, or place under the broiler to achieve the same result. Let cool.
Restaurateur Joe Carroll has built a mini-culinary-empire in Brooklyn via hipster faves St. Anselm, Spuyten Duyvil and the practically legendary Fette Sau. But his newest is arguably his coolest yet.
Indeed, his latest BKNY hotspot Casino Clam Bar is based on old school Jersey Shore clam joints, making it a must for satisfying your summertime seafood cravings. With a menu lorded over by chef Jeremiah Del Sol, it specializes in locally sourced fruits of the sea, with perfectly paired wines and brews. And the communal, U-shaped chef’s counter design, as he puts it, “allows diners to engage in conversation with each other, and with their server, to experience the restaurant either individually or as a whole – and gives diners an inside look at the open kitchen in action.”
But the highlight for us is the “flight of caviar” – raising it above your typical seafood shack. With a rotating supply of wild and sustainable options both domestic and international, we asked chef Del Sol for a little edification on the exalted delicacy.
What’s your favorite American caviar?
Hackleback caviar that comes from Tennessee. I personally like this caviar because it is a quality product, has great taste and is wild and sustainable. Most caviar in the world is farm raised.
How should you eat caviar?
Some may disagree, but I think the best way to consume caviar is by grabbing the biggest spoonful you can and putting it in your mouth. Try to appreciate the texture and flavor, and then chase it with champagne.
What do you look for in quality caviar?
When it is in the form of small black beads and has a smooth texture with a dry and briny flavor profile. The perfect pairing is champagne with soft bubbles and notes of yeast.
How many types of caviar do you carry at any given time?
We carry three different types of caviar, and those change often. Currently, we offer Hackleback, Daurenki, and Royal Ossetra, all of which are from the caviar brand Petrossian.
What other foods pair well with caviar?
I don’t see caviar as a full meal, but more of a very nice condiment. It pairs well with oysters, crudos, pastas, soft bread, butter, creme fraiche, and even roasted meat. At Casino Clam Bar, we specialize in taking those classic shore dishes and elevating them to a higher quality, offering everything from east coast classics like clams casino to small plates meant for sharing, like ceviche and clam escabeche – and pairing it all with fabulous wines.
Imagine. Olivia Chaney was born in Florence; grew up in Oxford; and then studied music in Manchester and London (at the Royal Academy, mind). Artistically, and surely spiritually, one could not have begged to be surrounded by any greater sense of inspiration.
Now eight years in to a prolific and critically exalted career, the British indie-folk songstress’ CV includes collaborations with Kronos Quartet, Robert Plant, Zero 7…as well as the 2017 record The Queen of Hearts, a creative communion with The Decemberists under the moniker Offa Rex, which was nominated for a Grammy. Impressive, to put it mildly.
Most recently, she chose to withdraw to her family’s bucolic 18th Century cottage in the North Yorkshire Moors, seeking yet still fresh inspiration. The result is a stunning new album, Shelter, released in June by Nonesuch, her label since 2015.
“The beauty and unpredictability and harshness of nature provided much of what I was looking for and looking to be immersed or lost in,” she explains. “And the isolation from ceaseless communication we’re all now in was a welcome break. That isolation could also lend a terrifying kind of empty clarity – the self doubt could be exaggerated, but so was the focus and thankfully that enhanced my ability to distill the ideas I knew I wanted to distill.”
In many of the songs, there’s a palpable visceral debt to Joni Mitchell, along with a Jeff Buckley sort of sense of divinity; but her Englishness also shines through, perhaps the result of her so starkly reconnecting with the land. Indeed, “IOU” recalls Kate Bush, with its lilting phraseology of such laid-bare lyrical exhortations as, “Won’t you make peace with me / It’s been too long / That I’ve held you in my grip.” And “Roman Holiday” is at once intimate and emotionally epic.
But it’s surely “House on a Hill” that most leaves its visceral imprint, with its haunted evocation, “At night I hang from the ledge / By moon, by Pleiades / In all the shining mystery.”
“I achieved exactly what I set out to aesthetically,” Chaney insists. “More directness and clarity, but also still the layers of metaphor and I hope a true development of my own style and voice.”
An urban wilderness – the flora and fauna here in spring and summer are uplifting, as is the sense of space all year round. Sometimes you’ll encounter few people, but on a sunny weekend there’ll be the dog-walkers, hipsters, cyclists, dealers, barge dwellers, poachers, planters, strollers, families, etc. The green stretches on forever here, with the River Lea flowing between other parks and reservoirs that all connect across a strange smattering of industrial estates and railway tracks, graffiti and allotments. All juxtaposed besides the pretty boats, the swans, herons, terns, the wild bits, the bridges and a last stop at The Anchor and Hope, a river-side Fuller’s pub the size of a postage stamp, full of locals that will ‘enlighten’ your sense of local history but who might not assist your journey home….
A beautiful shop and imprint. Female authors dead, alive and reprinted. They also sell other beautiful objects, fabrics and furnishings, besides their own perfectly published books. In an age of historic London bookshops closing by the month, it’s also something to support. Lambs Conduit Street is one of my favourite streets in London – mostly 18th and 19th Century houses and shop fronts; great wine bars, cafes, restaurants; the wonderfully Dickensian ‘The Lamb’ pub (with it’s super-trad ‘no-music policy’ – great for a musician sometimes – plus original snob screens and overflowing with London characters), independent clothes shops including Folk; a community-run ‘people’s supermarket’. It’s (still) pedestrianised, there’s a friendly bike shop and it just feels the way a high street should.
Walthamstow as a borough has plenty going for it, though it’s far out of town – but such is the economy of cities like New York and London that communities are flourishing beyond their original nuclei. This particular patch is still a lot of bookies, barbers and defunct minicab offices, but nourishment is provided by this little gem. Juices, coffee and breakfasts to die for, jewelry, pottery and other useful gifts by local artists (of which there are many) on the side, and fabulous hosts. The area hasn’t gentrified (yet) and hopefully as it grows (not gentrifies), it will follow suit in the spirit of this small and successful enterprise, that satisfies many of the locals.
This cafe/restaurant is an ex ’80s squat, still community-run, sitting on the edge of an oasis that is Bonnington Square. I’ve been coming here since I was about 18, at music college, and thankfully it hasn’t changed much: cheap, lo-fi, summery, authentic, vegetarian/vegan home-cooking (some nights/chefs are vibier than others) and providing welcome solace from the dense traffic just around the corner. There’s even a ‘pleasure garden’ 20 yards away in the centre of the square, replete with a disused watermill, a swing, neighbors’ cats, tropical plantings and Victorian eccentricity. Everyone in the square is green-fingered or inspired to be so – every doorway, window-box, and lamppost seems to explode with lush green planting and colourful flowers. Apparently the cafe’s tenancy is finally under threat, so go and support them whilst being cooked for, and someone might even strike up a tune on the old piano. And BTW…it’s BYO.
Florencia Clifford and Hugo Hildyard opened this beautiful cafe, restaurant, gallery, vintage furniture shop (and not-always-intended community centre) just over a year ago. York is a beautiful, small university city in the north of England (where my mother now lives) and it’s lucky to have these friends of ours and their fine establishment as an addition to its many attractions. The menu is ever-changing and fresh in every sense, as is the decor, and as are the hosts. They bring their laid-back flair, discernment, charm and skill to everything they do, make you feel welcome but not fussed over, and serve fine food, coffee and cakes with it.
If you’ve a moment to rifle through the deliberately more generic, repro pieces, they’ve a few near-museum-quality ones hidden in between. Once I found a 19th Century Japanese fireman’s coat on the rack that could have been designed for a catwalk today. I normally prefer hunting bargains out myself in thrift stores, but the sought out vintage ones are worth it – I like the buyer’s eye. Also great for staples: socks, overalls, belts and shoes. I believe there’s one in Brooklyn too.
Last time I was here it looked like the local mob had smashed the windows in or created multiple bullet holes? We persevered and opened the handleless door by the top corner only to hit the familiar wall of bad jukebox pop, heat and incredibly loud American banter. It’s worth it. Once fighting your way in, and once a waiter catches your eye you’ll be treated like an old friend and offered a seat at a not particularly hygienic-looking table and a confusing menu from which the fried delights and dumplings appear – a fusion of Southeast Asian, American and not sure what else…but it’s delicious. During your meal, just as you feel you’re fitting in, you’ll suddenly be offered (forced) to down shots of Jameson’s with the locals and the bartending waiters. This then usually turns into a lock in, and then things get pretty blurry after that. Despite waking with a sore head and hazy memory after a night here, people (and I) always return. Also if you’re looking for the grittier, less touristy answer to the monied, chic, Manhattan exclusivity that seems to be the increasing norm, here’s your (dive) bar!
Divine, inspired frescoes such as those by Fra Angelico in the amazingly well-preserved monks’ cells are amongst the treasures that draw people from around the globe to this city again and again, and have done over the centuries. Two of my favourite paintings: ‘The Annunciation’ and ‘Noli me Tangere’ are both here, and so humbly; not in an air-conditioned, lifeless gallery but in the tiny monastic rooms where Fra Angelico, along with other monks, once piously lived and worshipped long ago. You’re able to look at the frescoes in the same light in which they were painted, and get a far greater sense of why and how and in what conditions they were conceived, created and perhaps interpreted or absorbed. There is a lifetime’s worth of history, art and architectural beauty to see in Florence but San Marcos’ frescoes, alongside the Brancacci Chapel (namely, for me, ‘The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden’ by Masaccio, Michelangelo’s teacher) are my two recommends if you’re short on time. If you want further guidance, Florence ~ A Traveller’s Reader has just been revised and re-issued with the wonderful Little, Brown Books (and happens to be by my scholar of a father).