Six Questions w/ Exalted Peruvian Chef Pia León

 

 

Chef Pia León may not yet be the most recognized name in New York’s culinary scene, but in her hometown of Lima, Peru she’s a legend. Named 2018’s Best Female Chef in Latin America by World’s 50 Best Restaurants, she’s taken the rich food culture of a diverse nation to create something utterly new. Kjolle, her first solo restaurant, has become renowned for plating simultaneously familiar and yet also surprising gastronomic experiences to the Peruvian palate.

Now she’s brought those flavors to NYC. Indeed, thanks to the Priceless pop-up on St. John’s Lane, featuring some of the best bars and restaurants in the world. And thus, a taste of Lima has never been more at hand.

 

 

Chef León actually spent three years cooking at Central, generally regarded as the best restaurant in Peru – and possibly all of  Latin America. But Kjolle, named for a hearty mountain flower, is where she established the uniqueness of her own cuisine, reflecting her passion for her home country’s ingredients. Peru, for instance, boasts around 4,000 indigenous varieties of potatoes and tubers – sourced from the towering Andes to the Amazonian jungle – as well as many hard to find grains and unique herbs.

We enjoyed a chat with her, before she generously revealed the secrets behind two of the most popular dishes currently being rhapsodized over by diners at Kjolle.

 

 

 

 

So what can diners expect at the New York pop-up?

Fresh baked bread and butter topped with cacao nibs and local salt, raw scallops with guanabana pulp and lime, or a tart of layered and thinly shaved roots in a delicate pastry shell made of a mixture of Peruvian grains. Even the pork belly is paired with cassava, yucca and and mole, but topped with locally sourced rocket and edible flowers.

What inspired you to come to New York and set up at Priceless?

It’s a great platform to communicate our concept and ideas about Kjolle to a different audience. It has been a really positive experience working with such a very professional and dedicated team, that is willing to understand and show Peruvian products in a way that hasn’t been done before.

How is the dining experience different from back home?

It’s very similar actually, since the idea was to replicate the restaurant in New York, and for people to feel like they’re in Lima. We even brought part of the team from Lima to NYC. But we also had the opportunity to make it different by mixing Peruvian ingredients with local ones we have access to here in the city, which has been exciting.

How have the local products been received?

The local products have been of very high quality, and we’ve been glad to work with different ingredients and adapt them to our menu in our own way.

What ingredients are exciting you right now?

The quality of the meat here in NYC is great, the fish we’ve been receiving is so fresh and tasty. Most importantly, the vegetables and roots are amazing, between all the colors, quality and variety. And a big plus is to be in a city where you can find so many different ingredients from around the world!

What are your goals for expansion, if any?

I would like to eventually replicate Kjolle and share our concept with many other cities for short periods of time. I haven’t thought about making something permanent outside of Peru…but you never know.

 

 

 

 

SHORT RIBS AND BURNT CORN

To cook the short ribs, start with an andean dressing. You will need:
  • 5kg yellow pepper
  • 100g chincho
  • 100g Huacatay
  • 100g Muña
  • 50g garlic
  • 300mL White vinegar
  • 10g Pepper
  • 10g Cumin
  • Salt
Blend all the ingredients together. Reserve.
Clean the short ribs. Take each rib and cover them with the andean dressing. Place them in a pot, and cover half of the pot with water (even better if you have a chicken stock). Slow cook the meat for 8 hours, or until the meat softens.
Once the meat is cooked, take the ribs out and use the cooking juice to make a sauce. Strain the fat out of the cooking juices, reduce what’s left and add demi-glace sauce to serve.
You can let the entire rib for each plate, or you can cut in in cubes to make a smaller and more presentable dish.
For the corn garnish:
  • 1L Cream
  • 200g Butter
  • 10g garlic
  • 20g White onion
  • 1kg Blended corn
  • 200g Corn kernels
To make the corn pure, start cooking the garlic with white onions in a frying pan with a little bit of oil. Once everything is cooked and soft, blend all of the ingredients adding the butter and cream.
Reserve the pure in a pot, cover with film paper until needed.
On the other side, cook the corn kernels in salted water. They must be cooked but still firm. Strain the water out of the corn kernels, place them on a trail. You can either use a torch or a frying pan without any kind of fat, to slightly burn every corn kernel on each side.
Reserve the burnt corns.
To plate, place the Short ribs in the middle of a round plate and cover them with hot sauce. Coat the piece of short rib with the corn pure. Use the corn kernels to decorate. You can save some of the herbs to burn them and use them as a decoration too.

 

 

 

Razor clams from Huarmey

INGREDIENTS
Razor clams
  • 160 units razor clams
Purple tiger milk
  • 150g razor clam broth
  • 80g lime juice
  • 60g pickled mashua juice
  • 10g salt
  • Olive oil
Razor clam stock
  • Razor clams shells
  • White wine
  • White onion
  • Celery
  • Green apple
Pickled black mashua
  • 500 mL water
  • 500 mL White vinegar
  • 500g sugar
Pickled Macre pumpkin
  • 200g macre pumpkin
  • 100g panela sugar
  • 100ml wáter
  • 100ml White vinegar
Amazonian chalaca sauce
  • 50g cocona
  • 1 sachaculantro leaf
  • 50g tomato
  • 50g red onion
  • 15mL lime juice
  • 15g salt
Preparation
Razor clams
  1. Clean the razor clams and reserve the shells for the stock.
  2. Cut the razor clams in small pieces (1cm long)
  3. Reserve the razor clams in cold storage with a towel to keep them dry
Razor clams stock
  1. Cut the onions, celery and apple in mirepoix
  2. In a pot, cook the vegetables and apple with some vegetable oil.
  3. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the white wine, and before it evaporates, add the razor clams.
  4. Pour some water (until it covers the razor clams), let it boil. Strain and reserve in cold storage.
Purple tiger milk
  1. In a small bowl, pour all the ingredients.
  2. With a hand mixer, emulsify the liquids with olive oil. It has to have a consistent yet liquid texture.
Pickled mashua
  1. With a mandoline, slice thinly your mashua form the longest side.
  2. Pour the ingredients of the pickling juice in a pot and boil them.
  3. Once the pickling juice is ready, poru them on to the mashuas so they can briefly be cooked. Keep them in cold storage.
Pickled macre pumpkin
  1. In a pot, mix the sugar, water and vinegar. Let it boil.
  2. Once the pickling juice is ready, let it cool down.
  3. Cut the macre pumpking so you can slice it through a mandoline. We recommend in pieces of 10 cms long and 2cm wide.
  4. Pour the pickling juice in the sliced macre pumpkin. Vacuum everything together so the pumpkin can absorb the juice.
Amazonian chalaca sauce
  1. Dice all the ingredients in a small brunoise.
  2. Mix them all together and add the lime juice and salt.
  3. To finish the sauce, cut thinly the sachaculantro leaf and add it to the sauce.
Plating
  1. Place around 8 units of cut razor clams in a wide-open plate. Put some sea salt on the top of each piece of razor clam.
  2. Pour some of the purple tiger milk.
  3. Strain the macre pumpkin and the pickled black mashua. Roll them and place them in 5 different spots in the dish (5 pieces of mashua and 5 pieces of pumpkin)
  4. Top your dish with some of the chalaca sauce, it should cover all the spots where you can see the purple tiger milk.
  5. To finish your dish, as a garnish, burn some jungle nuts and slice them really thinly with a mandoline. Place around 8 slices per plate.

 

 

 

 

Gelato, Rock Stars and Eco-Hotels: Three Days in the Heart of West Hollywood

1 Hotel West Hollywood

 

Though we often refer to Los Angeles as a monolith (no one in New York says “I’m flying out to Bel-Air tomorrow”), truth is, it’s sort of a collection of fairly autonomous towns given an overarching “federal” government – which we must admit we’re not exactly sure is in charge of what.

For our purposes here, we’ll refer to them as neighborhoods – and those like Silver Lake and Highland Park have followed the typical hipster arc this past decade-plus…while Beverly Hills remains central command for all things posho, and Downtown, now a combination of business, trendy nightlife and upscale apartments, still struggles for an actual identity.

 

Maxfield

 

But for the dozens of times we’ve made the 3000-mile trip to LA, West Hollywood has generally acted as our spiritual home. No other ‘hood has remained so steadfast in its identity, while also never lapsing in its mission to stay dynamically current. It’s cool, it’s fun, and it actually looks more like everyone’s idea of Hollywood than Hollywood does.

We recently checked into 1 Hotel West Hollywood – a fairly new eco-luxe brand with a pair of sister properties in NYC, as well as one in Miami. With its sustainable chic, casual-cool clientele, and destination F&B offerings, it could not be more philosophically aligned with its 8490 Sunset Boulevard address (just east of La Cienega). And in keeping with WeHo’s “anything you want, it’s yours” agenda, the legendary Comedy Store is just a block up – we caught hilariously woke-defying sets by Whitney Cummings and Anthony Jeselnik – while directly across from the hotel is the equally legendary Pink Dot liquor store, for those late night “back to the room” party supplies.

 

1 Hotel West Hollywood

 

Of course, nobody walks in LA. But we figured we would at least ditch the gas guzzler and do a Bikes & Hikes tour of WeHo, which is ridiculously fun considering the “slopes” leading up to and down from Sunset. We opted for of-the-moment electric bicycles, meaning real cyclists were looking on at us with genuine disdain; and the range of old and new discoveries along the way included the city’s first marijuana-tolerant restaurant, the Lowell Cafe, and Elvis’ house, flamboyantly tucked away in the lower hills (though we’ve always preferred Little Richard).

We then headed for lunch at the exceedingly buzzy Gracias Madre (it translates to “Thanks mom” – aww…). Crowded since its opening in 2014, it boasts a gorgeous Oaxaca meets WeHo interior, with a tiled bar, and Colonial style hanging lamps. The cuisine was fancy vegan Mexican, and has also sated the likes of Liam Hemsworth, Amber Heard and Harrison Ford.

 

Gracias Madre

 

A brief stroll through the Design District took us to Maxfield, a brilliantly curated and very mod furniture shop – mid-century French is a thing there – which also stocks a smartly chosen selection of design finds and bleeding-edge fashion (Anne Hathaway, Lana Del Rey and Usher are amongst the steady parade of celebs that have been spotted shopping there). A separate gallery space has exhibited everything from Galliano-for-Margiela clothing to The Kills’ Alison Mosshart’s paintings to selections from the Daft Punk archives.

GM Nick Remidio then greeted us for a tour of the nearby Kimpton La Peer Hotel (named for its address). And we must admit, with hipster-style fatigue having set in years ago already, we loved that La Peer was a bastion of elegance and good taste, with plush furnishings fitted into a lobby space of Corbusian like understatement, a very nice-looking private pool area, and some gorgeous tile-work at the entrance. We returned that evening for dinner at the hotel’s Viale dei Romini restaurant, where charismatic Exec Chef Casey Lane dazzled us with his creative pasta dishes, including the Alla Piastra with “the world’s best bolognese.”

 

Gelato Festival 

 

The next day we went deeper into WeHo Italophile culture (trust us, it’s a thing) with a gelato making class at the charming Gelato Festival on Melrose. Founded in Florence in 2010, the festival itself now travels around the world, Berlin, Chicago, Yokohama…and West Hollywood, of course. The shop is staffed by real Italians, and they delighted us with their inimitable charms and delectable flavor creations – all of which are better for you than actual ice cream.

There was nothing particularly healthy about lunch at Pizzana – but it certainly has done away with the notion that you can’t get great pizza in Los Angeles. We could safely say it is definitely not for purists, as these were distinctly high-concept pies – Vegan Funghi, Cacio e Pepe, the spicy salami Diavola…and were all far too decadent for a 1pm feeding.

 

Pizzana

 

We had to fit in some “old” West Hollywood, naturally – and the best place to do it was the Sunset Marquis hotel, which is like a little village tucked away behind Alta Loma Road – albeit one endlessly populated with rock stars. And indeed, we popped over for a visit only to find that Ringo Starr was having an exhibit of his photographs…an opening for which guitar gods Jimmy Page and Joe Perry would make appearances. Dining on the patio were Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry, while Bono and Keith Richards anecdotes were amusingly shared. So…you get the idea.

But we were invited down to the hotel’s exalted Nightbird Recording Studios to have a look around – and were reminded that a new generation – Katy Perry, Rihanna, Drake – were now regularly making music here as well.

Fittingly we then went on to check out the recently revitalized Formosa Cafe, which once hosted the likes of Sinatra, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. Now it feeds the cool kids a menu of hipsterized Chinese eats (the patio is a total scene) set to a very well curated soundtrack.

 

Sunset Marquis 

 

Back at the 1 Hotel, there was no discernible scenesterizing at the 1 Kitchen by Chris Crary, which is really all about the food, and hits all the right consciousness notes: sustainably sourced ingredients, with an organic garden and beehive on premises, and a good selection of biodynamic wines. A tequila-and-watermelon Quench cocktail paired beautifully with an heirloom tomato panzanella, and the Brandt Beef grilled ribeye was one of the best steaks we’d enjoyed in recent memory. Perfection.

Drinks at the absolutely gorgeous Harriet’s rooftop easily conjured that ever elusive vibe of classic Hollywood glamour, with twinkling lights reflecting on the elegant black and white striped sofas. But our Champagne cocktails also came with a striking view of Janet Echelmann‘s ethereal Dream Catcher installation, dramatically draped between the hotel’s two towers – the old and the new, just as we’ve come to expect of our beloved West Hollywood.

 

Janet Echelmann’s Dream Catcher

Epicurean Northern Spain: Rioja Wines, Starchitects and an Enlightening Lesson in Evolución

AC Hotel Burgos

 

 

We have been for years trumpeting the glories of Spanish cuisine and wine, both of which still don’t get the same respect in America as, say, French and Italian. We still can’t figure that out.

So when the opportunity arose to spend a few days in Northern Spain‘s wine country, we were particularly piqued. After all, there’s plenty enough written about Napa/Sonoma, Burgundy and Tuscany. And sure enough, our visit left us wondering how a region so dotted with starchitect designed wineries, Michelin starred restaurants, and UNESCO World Heritage sites, has saved itself from the mass tourism of cities like Barcelona and Sevilla.

 

Burgos Cathedral

 

Heading a few hours north of Madrid, we were met with rolling hills, ornate rock formations that tower into the sky, and historic villages begging for thoughtful exploration. Our first stop was Burgos, in the Castilla y León region, a perfect dichotomy of the medieval and the modern.

The Burgos Cathedral, one of those aforementioned UNESCO World Heritage sites, and a landmark whose towers serve as a visual compass to the city, is a fascinating melding of Romanesque and Gothic styles of architecture, and dates all the way back to the 11th century. Original stained glass windows, ornate spires, and gothic cloister gardens on the outside give way to interiors boasting a massive golden staircase, Renaissance chapels, and the Papamoscas, or fly catcher, an odd looking character that sits high above one of the clocks and opens his mouth to ring in the time on the hour.

 

Museum of Human Evolution

 

Built into the naturally elevated landscape, the the cathedral spans four levels, and a breathtaking panorama of the city from the top level inspired a more than a few earnest oohs and aahs.

Just a short walk across the river was the Museum of Human Evolution, a modern architectural marvel whose exhibits delve into the Darwin-approved progress of our prehistoric ancestors, as well as offering insight into the human brain, and charting our social and intellectual development. Heady stuff for the consciously curious, but equally entertaining and engaging.

We ended the day with a highly anticipated epicurean feast at Cobo Vintage, a Michelin starred restaurant with a sleek/modern, but low key vibe. Here, Chef Miguel Cobo deftly fuses his Cantabrian roots with the locally sourced provisions and traditions of Burgos. The tasting menu, eight courses paired with a local Verdejo or Crianza, saw us indulging in skewered hake in a garlic and hot pepper sauce, shrimp carpaccio with tomato tartar, and a melt-in-your-mouth beef rib accompanied by a rather bold green herb sauce. It’s a cliché by now, but the beautiful presentation was just slightly eclipsed by our delightedly dancing taste buds.

 

Cobo Vintage

 

Continuing our journey west to La Rioja, we wandered through medieval villages and walled hamlets while local artisans plied us with homemade cheeses, sausages, olive oils and bread to feast on as we took in the undulating grape and olive vines from a hilltop perch. Logrono, the capital of Rioja, seemed like the natural place to call home for a couple of nights, with its proximity to the bodegas (wineries), and to the best places to experience a pinchos crawl. Pinchos (sometimes spelled pintxos), Rioja’s version of tapas, are flavorful bites that accompany your wine or beer pairing in this region of Spain.

The most action could be found on the busy Calle Laurel, and the neighboring narrow and vibrant streets that are lined with over 50 tavernas and bars, making it easy to stroll and sample the local specialties. The vibe was definitely social, nibbling and sipping around makeshift tables made from aged wine barrels as we people-watched the locals and visitors buzzing by.

 

Street in Logrono

 

Some tavernas featured a particular signature dish, like Bar Angel, whose specialty was grilled mushrooms. Served stacked in threes and topped with a shrimp, they’re assembled over a slice of hearty bread that soaks up the olive oil, garlic, and also the secret ingredient they’ve been grilled in.

At Taberna del Volapie, we paired a citrusy white Rueda with a cone of bright orange prawns, head and tail included. And as we grazed our way through the streets indulging in barely fried sardines, tender beef in a hearty sauce, and tasty pork lollipops, we paired each with glasses of Rioja’s crisp whites and structured, fruit forward reds.

The de rigueur wine tasting, tour, and vineyard dining experiences are available at the many bodegas throughout the region – but La Rioja is also a hotbed for design enthusiasts. Exalted architects Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava and the late Zaha Hadid have all spectacularly made their mark in the area, in the process setting the bar ridiculously high. At Bodegas Ysios, considered by many to be the most “remarkable wine building ever built,” Calatrava crafted an homage to the surrounding landscape that offers a startling visual experience upon approach.

 

Bodegas Ysios

 

Sitting at the foothills of the Sierra de Cantabria mountain range, the winery was built into the uneven terrain, and its expansive roof of thick aluminum bars mirrors the hills in the background. We strongly recommend scheduling a tour of the property and, of course, a proper tasting of the indigenous Tempranillo varietal which is aged in French oak barrels.

Oenephiles looking for a familiar name in Rioja wines will not be disappointed with a visit to Campo Viejo. We were particularly impressed that it is helmed by a trio of women winemakers dedicated to sustainable and innovative wine making practices; and its design, built almost entirely underground, is like nothing you can imagine.

A tour of the winery, a bouquet workshop to identify the smells and tastes of spice, tobacco, plum, and berry notes of the wine, followed by a dinner on the terrace overlooking the vineyards, and we were irreversibly in love with Northern Spain.

 

Campo Viejo

 

AC Hotel by Marriott Burgos

AC Hotel by Marriott La Rioja

Originally a designed-focused hotel brand founded in Spain, AC Hotels was brought under the Marriott umbrella in 2011 – and has been in growth mode ever since.
Style remains a priority, with modern lighting and mid-century furniture creating inviting lobby spaces and lounge areas for kicking back between cathedral tours and pinchos crawls. We especially loved the European style breakfasts and tapas lunches, which fused local flavors with more traditional Spanish cuisine.
In Burgos, the AC is located alongside the river pathway leading to the city center, and is a cool oasis of modernity. The warm, neutral palette of the rooms perfectly suits the minimalist design philosophy, a cool aesthetic respite from all that medieval architecture outside.
In Logrono, proximity to both the town center and aforementioned bodegas make it the best located hotel for a Rioja excursion. The light filled rooms are outfitted with warmly modern furnishings and particularly comfortable beds.

 

Top image: AC Hotel Burgos; bottom images:  AC Hotel Logrono

 

Are ‘Sound Aged’ Spirits the Next Big Tippling Trend?

Images courtesy of Quadrant Bar & Lounge

 

 

For better or worse, trendy cocktails have gotten very…sciency. But what if actual science could be applied to aging the booze itself?

As it turns out, Chris Mendenhall, lead drinks alchemist at Quadrant Bar & Lounge, tucked into the Ritz Carlton Washington D.C., realized the possibilities of aging liquor not with time, but with sound. A self-proclaimed curious mixologist, he was “always seeking ways to expand [his] knowledge. Sound-aged liquor was a journey down a ‘Google black hole’ that led to learning about technology that is being introduced into the spirit world.”

So, what is sound-aging? It’s a way of infusing sound waves into spirits, which mimic the effects of, well, aging. Mendenhall has a special process that injects wood into the spirit directly, pushing it through like a sieve. Sounds easy, right?

 

 

But according to him, “It took my team and I about a year to develop the recipes and ratios using the device we purchased.”

So what’s the benefit of sound aging? As far as he’s concerned, it’s educational. “The sound waves allow us to impart characteristics of time and help educate the guests on what whisky is, how it’s made, what re-casting is and why it all takes time.”

His most favored cocktail so far is the sound-aged negroni which he describes as, “a negroni for those that don’t like negronis, and a new twist for those that do.”

By pushing the liquor through the wood itself, all the subtle characteristics of that wood are that much more prevalent. Chris introduced a combination of wood soaked in cabernet to round out the sharpness of the newer liquor, and created a caramel-like aged flavor which mellows the finish.

 

 

So, what are the best sound-aged liquors?

“My favorite is the sound-aged Bourbon #1,” he says, “It is best showing guests just how whisky is made and what time does to whisky.”

It also happens to be made with 120-proof nine-year-old Kentucky bourbon that he processes with a customized homogenizer that “ages” spirits in under thirty minutes. According to him, the best way to enjoy it is, “neat with a sample of the unchanged base.”

The Quadrant Bar & Lounge itself is a testament to the changing face of downtown Washington D.C., which although steeped in history, has lately been enthusiastically embracing innovation. Though he doesn’t much care for “cocktails that use crazy ingredients, but instead those that you see and taste, and know that someone put a lot of thought and effort into creating – whether it be simple or complex.”

For our further enlightenment, we asked him to further elaborate on four of more popular sound-aged spirits.

 

Bourbon Style #1

An example of a pure age reflection, this bourbon shows the true power of the machine without added variables such as wood chips to mimic a cask. The“base” is a 120 proof, nine-year-old Kentucky bourbon. After being sound-aged, the “change,” yields a more mellow bourbon with pepper, leather, and vanilla notes.

Bourbon Style #2

This seven-year-old Kentucky bourbon has a “base” of 107 proof, and after being sound-aged with American Oak chips soaked in a 10-year port, the “change” yields a sweeter, richer bourbon with caramel notes.

Whiskey Style #1

The “base” is a 90 proof Tennessee sour mash whiskey. After being sound-aged with French oak chips soaked in sherry, the “change” yields an incredibly smooth whiskey with notes of corn and vanilla.

Rye Style #1

The “base” is a 100 proof, four-year-old American rye whiskey. After being sound-aged with French Oak chips soaked in cognac, the “change” yields bold hints of pepper, orange and chocolate.

 

Opening Visit: The Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor Ups the Bavarian Hotel Ante

 

 

We’ve been enthusiastically following Andaz’ European goings on, with stops at their London and Amsterdam hotels during the last year. So with the news of a pair of new openings on the Continent, as discerning, design-minded travelers, we made immediate plans for visits to Vienna and Munich.

Firstly, as opposed to so many hastily thrown together programs, Andaz actually retains local gallery curators to oversee their eclectic art collections – and it shows. And with so many hotels offering so many forgettable amenities these days, their collaboration with the The Society of Scent, an olfactory collective with their own fragrance laboratory, means each Andaz will ultimately have its own custom scent – with co-founders Frederick Jacques and master perfumer Jean Claude Delville creating signature experiences inspired by the hotel’s location.

 

Following our visit to Vienna, we hopped over to Germany, where the new Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor exemplifies everything we love about the Bavarian capital and its perpetually chic inhabitants – from the food and fashion, to the world class museums and nightlife, to its bike-friendliness and gorgeous green spaces. The hotel is perfectly located between the Olympic Stadium, the Pinakotheken and the Englischer Garten, in the heart of Munich’s currently most creative quarter.

Opened earlier in 2019, Southern Germany’s most talked about new luxury lifestyle hotel is the product of a philosophy of pioneering design, and has already become a meeting place for the local and international cognoscenti – thanks to its epic lobby space, and minimalist but colorful aesthetic. But we must admit, the Andaz staff were as good looking as the hotel, period, with urbane General Manager Mattheos Georgiou assembling an energetic, totally plugged in team, whose recommends took us to some of Munch’s most happening places.

 

But inside, the hotel boasted one of Germany’s most luxurious and largest wellness destinations, The Spa at The Andaz, at 2,000 square meters. We wished we’d had more time to experience the 24-hour gym and personal trainers on-site; but we did get to lounge poolside on the terrace, with seemingly endless views of the city, after indulging in one of the premier treatments – and who could resist a WELL + BEE Bavarian Honey Massage or a DEEP + SLEEP for stress relief? The former effectively kneaded away the knots from a full day of exploring Munich by bike, which the hotel kindly provides upon request. It’s such a sought after program that the Andaz offers a limited number of lucky locals a yearly membership.

Every morning, a rejuvenating breakfast awaited at Bicicletta, the hotel’s ground floor coffee bar geared to bike lovers (or anyone, really), with fresh pressed juices and smoothies. Though if we’re being honest, we also loved just curling up in the cozy window seat of our cool, residentially styled room, watching the energetic Schwabing street life below each morning.

As we were not quite disposed towards the local currywurst spots, we were eager to dive in to The Lonely Broccoli, Andaz’ amazing, meat-forward eatery. With its globe lamps, warm woods, central, peep-worthy open-plan kitchen, two communal tables, and a private dining room, it was equally    endowed with energy and style. The menu was chock-a-block with a selection of charcoal-grilled and slow-roasted marinated meats of premium butchered pork, beef and lamb in assorted forms, accompanied by pickles, foraged salads, signature sides, and sauces like caramel port gravy and lemon-parsley bearnaise. For those not bothered about cholesterol, the signature Butcher’s Plate is a shamelessly decadent feast.

Now, like many European cities, Munich has not gone full tilt into roof bar mania. So no surprise, the hotel’s sexy rooftop M’Uniqo was already boasting lines out the door. It was a stunner of a hotspot – and the clientele was equally easy on the eyes. Once settled in, we sampled a curated range of rare and infused vermouths, and kicked back with classic and signature aperitivos. The bites were of the Venetian variety (cicchetti, to be specific), with pizzette, bruschette and dolci.

And as the sun set over the distant Alps from the city’s highest epicurean venue, we realized we had fallen in love with everything about the Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor, as well as the city it calls home.

 

 

 

The Munich Hit List

 

  • Tantris, two-Michelin starred since 1974, one of the fifteen best restaurants in Munich. The building is listed, and its retro-fab interior design should be as well.
  • The FreudenHaus, the go-to place for lovers of stylish eyeglasses, hand manufactured for over 20 years.
  • Surfing Munich style – it’s a thing! See local surfers in action along the Eisbach, a small, two kilometer long river flowing through the Englischer Garten, with human-made waves.
  • The Badenburg in the Nymphenburg Palace Park, with free concerts in fair weather and a romantic view of the miniature palace on the lake.

 

Badenburg

 

  • Kaisergarten, a majestic bar and restaurant, for over a century located in the heart of Schwabing, in an Art Nouveau house opposite the St. Ursula’s church – with its lovely shaded beer garden and age-old chestnut trees. Bavarian-inspired cuisine with regional and seasonal offerings.
  • Odeonsplatz, a beautiful square, Hofgarten, an Italian-style renaissance garden, and Gartnerplatz and Glockenbach, both trendy neighborhoods full of independent boutiques, bars and pubs.
  • Jaadin Grillhouse and Chaada Teahouse, located directly across from the Andaz – we loved, loved, loved these spots. Both owned and operated by a Vietnamese brother and sister, with an eye for beautiful design. Offering delicious food and drink in the dining room with outdoor seating, and takeaway in the adorable storefront tea shop.
  • Haus der Kunst, Munich’s modern and contemporary art museum, in an awesome neo-classical building dating to 1937. And don’t skip the Golden Bar, consistently earning its title as one of the world’s best, its exquisite interior dating back to the 1930s.

 

Haus der Kunst

 

Beauty at the End of the Earth: Three Days in Finnish Lapland

Image by Markus Kiili 

 

We recently had the privilege of following none other than Carly Rae Jepsen to Finland, for a unique and unforgettable performance. Whilst there, she and we all fell in love with the peaceful landscape of the fabled Lapland.

Located above the Arctic Circle, the unspoiled wilderness that is the Finnish Lapland is decidedly remote and silent, yet is abuzz with visitors once winter arrives. In summer and autumn, it offers long days lit by the midnight sun, with a temperate climate, actually making it a year round destination. Over 70% of Finland is covered by forestry, with nature at one’s beckon – the world’s cleanest air making it the perfect life reset and recharge.

Here’s what we loved.

 

Levi

Levi is the largest ski and recreational resort in Finland, and lies 170 km north of the Arctic Circle. We soaked up the majestic scenery of the mountains and lakes, as we hiked through the forest and foraged for wild superfoods – that could at any time include cloudberries, lingonberries, chanterelles and porcini mushrooms – which are all free for the taking.
During the summer there are 45 days of 24 hour daylight, which culminates in a crescendo of golden hues of yellow, red and caramel in autumn. The Aurora Borealis Northern Lights show starts around mid-August and lasts through early April, and can be witnessed on any clear night. The dancing cosmic display is as dramatic and breathtaking as it is unpredictable.
We stayed at the luxurious Levi Spirit, designed as sprawling log cabin villas, with a modern Nordic decor and luxuriously appointed amenities. Situated in the middle of a forest, we appreciated how the floor to ceiling windows virtually brought nature indoors, especially as you’re cozying up by the fireplace or indulging in your ensuite hot and steamy Finnish sauna or jacuzzi – which tops out at over 110 degrees celsius.
The restaurant served Lappish and international fare with a view, specifically a 360 degrees one of the surrounding fells and plains of Lapland.

 

 

Yllas

Consisting of two authentic Lappish villages surrounded by seven fells, Yllas is a gateway to one of Finland’s most famous national parks, Pallas-Yllastunturi. We explored the park by hiking and following the trail alongside the waterfall, where it’s not uncommon to see reindeer strolling along beside you. We ended the day with an authentic Finnish sauna experience, followed by a quick frigid dip in Lake Akaslompolo, for the ultimate hot/cold experience.
Perfectly located at the base of one of the gondola lifts in Yllasjarvi is the Lapland Hotels’ Saga, which offers magnificent and changing views of the landscape depending on the time of day and year from its vantage point of 1000 feet above sea level. Our room featured contemporary Finnish decor, with a private balcony overlooking the slopes, and we warmed up from the outdoors by the fireplace. There are also spa and sauna facilities on site.
We tasted traditional Sami and Lappish dishes at the cozy Restaurant Rouhe, which uses locally sourced ingredients for a seasonally changing menu. Some of the local specialties included sautéed reindeer with lingonberries, braised lamb shank in a rich blackcurrent sauce, and oven roasted arctic char and pike perch.

 

 

Ruka

Ruka is a stunningly beautiful ski resort – but it was very much about where we were staying. Indeed, Rukan Salonki Chalets offers charming lakeside log cabins in the middle of Lappish nature, with decor created from locally sourced materials, embodying the spirit of Lapland, with the comforts of home and a few luxurious touches. Naturally, each chalet also came equipped with an ensuite sauna.
Perhaps our favorite meal of the trip, the fine dining spot Restaurant Rukan Kuksa offered a seasonally shifting menu created from the wild food and ingredients harvested around the Lapland. The atmosphere was chic but cozy.
But we couldn’t leave the Lapland without a Forest Yoga session with MyTrail, meditating atop a peak bathed in the warm light of the sunset under a canopy of birch trees. The majestic scenery of the verdant valley and rivers below made it a truly unforgettable experience.

 

 

Getting There by Finnair 

The most convenient and luxurious way to travel to the Lapland from the US is via Finnair, which offers daily direct flights to Helsinki from JFK, with easy connections to destinations in the Lapland. Their Nordic Business Class represents all the best of that legendary Scandinavian hospitality (i.e. a lovely staff), with flat reclining seats, signature menus created by top Finnish chefs, a signature Finnish cocktail program (no more dull airplane vodka tonics), and, our favorite, the very fashionable Marimekko designed amenities kit.

 

 

Trending Cities: Is Columbus, Ohio as Hip as The Hype?

 

 

In 2017, a Yelp analysis deemed Columbus, Ohio to be the nation’s #1 market for the cultivation of the more and more vaguely defined…”hipster” market. This sort of meant that if you intended to open a millennial-friendly business, or were hoping to peddle apartments (preferably in converted warehouses) to said demo, this was pretty much the place to do it.

A long time swing state, Ohio seems to have troublingly tipped a bit over into the Red recently – though that doesn’t seem at all apparent in cities like Cleveland and Columbus. The latter has poured civic financial support into programs for the arts (surely much to the horror of local 45 supporters); and, well, the city is ever excitingly abuzz with university students. These days, Short North / Clintonville is where most of the action is.

Into all this hipsterifficness has recently debuted the extravagantly named Canopy by Hilton Columbus Downtown Short North. It’s the 12th entry into the hotel giant’s new-ish boutique brand, which takes a particularly artful approach to 21st Century hospitality – evident to us as soon as we entered the cavernous lobby, with its lively Central Market House restaurant greeting guests with an immediate dose of dazzle.

 

 

Short North is characterized by an astonishingly long stretch of North High Street, which seemed to be home to about 450 restaurants and bars. Naturally, for a town full of students, there is a fussy coffee culture – which meant our first stop on our recent visit would be One Line Coffee, where we learned the rarefied but approachable art of “cupping.” It’s rather like wine tasting, except the people doing it (in this case, One Line partner Mark Forman) actually seem quite a bit more serious about it. As several of their top – and quite aromatic – varieties were put before us, we detected notes of flowers, fruits and nearly anything else you can imagine, thus coming to more deeply appreciate the fragrant qualities of really, really good coffee. The honey latte was a particular fave.

The aforementioned support for the arts was evident straight away in the so many public murals lining Short North’s main drag. Featured artists included Andrea Meyers, April Sunami, Melissa Ayote and the ideologically driven Omar Shaheed, born in nearby Youngstown. We were most taken with Terry Norman’s vivid portrait of Richard Pryor, who seemed to be stuck somewhere between laughing and wincing – which is really just what you’d expect of him.

Columbus also has destination worthy exhibits going on at any given time. At the nearby Hammond Harkins Galleries, a text based show by Jenny Holzer was/is currently running. And the Dublin Arts Council is showing Cuba in Columbus, an homage to the cultural exchange the city shares with the controversial Caribbean island, until November 15. Also worth a stop are the Sean Christopher Gallery and Studios on High Gallery.

 

 

The sheer number of restaurants along North High was nothing if not apoplexy inducing. For lunch we opted for Harvey & Ed’s, which was something of a groovy take on the classic Jewish deli; but to give one an idea of the pace of change in Columbus these days, the 16 month old eatery is already temporarily closing, to be morphed into a new concept by its owners.

But local epicures have been congregating in great numbers at North Market, which is humming away at any time of the day, and is actually about to expand into nearby Dublin. Of course, food halls can be crowded, dimly atmosphered places, where the sights and smells sort of blend together and overwhelm each other. Yet this one was very much a civilized affair, with space to move around, and plenty of light flooding in from all sides.

Being early afternoon, we were tempted to settle into the Barrel & Bottle wine bar – but opted instead for a fix on another kind: lavender ice cream at Jeni’s Splendid. which we quickly added to our last-meal-on-earth list. One should make a point to stop at Hoyo’s Kitchen, a popular Somalian spot in the market that stands as a symbol of the 60,000 strong local Somali population.

 

 

Just up the street, the chic little MMELO was an absolute treat, literally, for our Belgophilic hearts. A chocolate shop with a level of creativity and style (this was basically confection as fashion) as to surely have them upping their game in Brussels and Zurich, they were so of-the-moment as to feature KETO, vegan and gluten free options; but their wildly designed and ridiculously decadent Chocolate Tea Cakes exhibited little concern for all that trendy tweeness. Carmelized Banana Caramel with Pecan? Why of course.

Later, we found the late afternoon scene at Seventh Son Brewing Co. to be impressively energetic – and the Qahwah Turkish coffee stout, as well as the Goo Goo Muck tart IPA very much to our liking. The latter, named for the Cramps song, hinted at their excellent taste in music – which was confirmed by several obscure new wave gems coming over the soundsystem, including Devo’s “Pink Pussycat.”

 

 

Nearby Wolf’s Ridge was actually a pretty sophisticated affair, at whose Taproom we sampled a very strong (10.4%) Coffee Vanilla Dire Wolf Stout and a Hefe & Wedge Orange Hefewiezen, both of which will forever alter your notion of creative brewing. The elegant but energetic dining room turned out international fare like Sakura Wagyu strip steak, Chinese 5 spice duck, braised oxtail, and Faroe Island salmon with roasted root vegetables. They weren’t at all offended when we ordered up a a few bottles of wine with dinner.

No surprise, cocktail culture has reached Columbus, and Antiques on High is Seventh Son’s urbane spot for artful tipples like the Draft Punk (cognac, Lillet Rose, orange blossom, tonic) and Yuzu That You Do (tequila, mezcal, Choya Yuzu, sherry-vermouth, grapefruit, citrus, orange blossom water).

Which brought us full circle back to the Canopy, and its new Goodale Station rooftop bar – where we were given a little pre-opening preview and mixology class. Created in partnership with NYC’s exalted drinks alchemists Death & Co, it offered heart-racing views of the dynamic city below – a city which had intrigued us enough to want to return sooner than later. Especially if it involves more chocolate.

 

 

Canopy by Hilton Columbus Downtown Short North

Perhaps Hilton’s most intriguing new brand, Canopy has been populating the international hospitality landscape from Portland to Iceland with a singular panache. Not at all attempting to be scenestery, rather they build hotels around the local DNA, making for a unique experience from city to city.

In Columbus, however, they might not be able to not make a scene, with the October 17 debut of the hotel’s much talked about rooftop bar Goodale – and those aforementioned Death & Co created cocktails. Though we departed before the opening, we were more than satisfied with the feasting we undertook at Canopy’s Central Market House restaurant, where chef Tripp Maudlin (a Michael Mina alum) focuses on simplicity and flavor. So unfussy dishes like sweet potato & coconut soup, ricotta & shishito tartine, spiced lamb flatbread and the curry chickpea bowl all seemed as exciting as much more complex fare.

Elsewhere, the hotel is rife with thoughtful amenities: to wit, a dedicated shower area, should your room not be ready upon check-in; and the Retreat lounge, complete with brick-walled terrace – which feels more like a living room than a shared work space.

The stylishly un-showy rooms had attractively muted color schemes, and carpets flowing into wood floors, giving them a bit of a comfy, residential feel. Prodigious windows framed the handsome downtown Columbus skyline.

 

BlackBook Rooms w/ a View: The Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis

 

 

 

Like Kafka and Prague, John Waters and Baltimore…the public image of Minneapolis is inextricably linked to The Purple One. But unlike so many other American Midwestern cities, the Minnesota capital had always seemed to exhibit a kind of effortless cultural cred, from hosting proto-career-girl Mary Tyler Moore to birthing Prince and the Twin Tone / post-punk music scene, and on up to being home to one of the country’s most challenging contemporary art museums, the Walker Art Center.

But, well, once it was mostly known for…flour. And like most great American centers of industry, it took a dive in the mid-20th Century, with the factory buildings mostly getting shut down and business grinding to an almost halt. As happens, though, old factory buildings (see: Ancoats, Manchester, UK) make excellent apartments for 21st Century creative sorts – and once in awhile, are even expertly converted into an unexpected hotel.

Now, Hilton had introduced their Canopy marquee in 2014, and the new brand has since successfully endeavored to shake off the business-y image of the mothership. Their first in Minneapolis, just opened in May, is fitted into early 20th Century building that did, in fact, operate within the business of flour – and thus has great architectural bones.

We’ve spent quite a lot of time in the Twin Cities’ most recognizable twin. But with the purpose of checking into, and checking out the Canopy, we made a recent early autumn visit – here’s what we came back with.

 

 

The City

Minneapolis built a virtual (graffiti?) bridge from Prince and Hüsker Dü to young foodies and the primacy of Target to its local culture, and has thus managed to retain a significant level of cultural relevance. Once known for its provocative music scene, now it is a city that absorbs creative types not impressed enough by New York to pay its ridiculous rents, many of whom come to work for the “bullseye” retail giant with the seemingly endless credibility capital. Alas, climate change is already starting to negate the “it’s too cold” argument: we were there in early October, and it was 95 bloody degrees fahrenheit.

 

 

The Mill District

It’s a curious phenomenon, there is now such an influx into American cities / urban centers that the real estate is evolving before the surrounding infrastructure manages to even get established (meaning, the formula of coffee shops / art galleries / condos has literally lapped itself). This seemed to be the case in the Mill District of Minneapolis, where scores of handsome old industrial buildings have been converted to architecturally hip new apartments; yet one would have a hard time finding even a pharmacy within walking distance of said apartments. Still, the neighborhood boasts the excellent Mill City Farmers Market, as well as the ability to go for a casual jog over the Stone Arch Bridge, against a spectacular backdrop of St Anthony Falls – all included in the price of the rent.

 

 

The Hotel

One of our fave features always is a hotel lobby into which pours energy from several different points of entry. And the lobby at the Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis Mill District sprawls out in several directions, so one can veritably choose a number of different public experiences: a cozy corner lounge, an energetic main seating area, and a pair of restaurants that seem to be hopping at various times of the day.
Aesthetically, one’s first impression is a lobby full of cleverly repurposed old timber – i.e. beamed ceilings everywhere you look – apparently shipped in from Portland, because, you know, that’s where there’s a lot of old timber. The hotel also boasts an extensive but unshowy contemporary art collection, mostly focused on local talent.
An extremely thoughtful feature? A shower area with lockers – so one can clean up and run straight off to a meeting, even if one’s room is not yet ready.

 

 

The Rooms

Despite the fascinating visual layout, the rooms are surely the pride of the Canopy Minny, handsomely brick walled spaces, some on the 6th floor boasting dizzying 19 foot ceilings (really, you must request one of these). Throughout, they’re remarkably good looking, with patterned rugs, mod canopy headboards, blond wood floors and furnishings that exhibit an overall low key elegance. In essence, they’re kind of like a more rustic version of Ligne Roset.
As well, being so ideally positioned with the Mill District, massive factory windows frame captivating views of the century-plus-old industrial landscape that surrounds the hotel – visually connecting guests with the architectural heritage of the city.

 

 

The Restaurants

One surely needn’t even leave the hotel for quality sustenance, with the Bacon Social House and Umbra restaurants located right on the premises. But a few absolute standouts gave us a genuine sense of the current Minny dining zeitgeist. Brenda Langton, for one, was an exalted pioneer of vegetarian cuisine; but her latest, Spoonriver, is a cozy, sophisticated spot with plenty of meat on the menu. Simplicity reigns, and farm / Asian influences mean indulging in everything from tempeh udon salad to Sunshine Harvest grass fed beef.
Over in the happening North Loop hood, Chef Ann Kim’s Young Joni is a total scene, with a hipstery waitstaff serving up to-die-for Korean BBQ pizza, bibim grain salads, and kimchi oxtail sugo meatballs. The photo booth is located just outside the bathrooms, making for some amusingly awkward encounters.
But what seemed to us to be one of the city’s most populated weekend rituals, was Sunday brunch at Spoon & Stable, also in the Mill District. Industrial-farmhouse-chic provides the stunning scenery for decadently prepared duck egg omelettes and bison tartare. And the crowd is as interesting as the sustenance.
Back at the Canopy, don’t expect to bump into Moby or Morrissey at the Bacon Social House. Indeed, there’s piggy art all over the walls, and an excellent weekday happy hour that pairs Blood Orange IPA and Hogwash rosé with bacon deviled eggs and bacon sliders. And bacon and bacon and bacon.
But the hotel’s signature restaurant Umbra finds rocker chef Kevin Aho bouncing between bourguignon sliders, beets carpaccio and fettuccine frutti di mare without missing a beat. The Pirate Jenny cocktail, with habanero-infused Tattersall Aquavit, carrot & lime juices and Grand Marnier, is the unmissable specialty of the house. We had a few, before finishing up the night at Betty Danger’s Country Club, a bar, complete with ferris wheel and shuffleboard table, just waiting for a David Lynch movie to star in. SO very Minneapolis.

 

Top image: Spoon & Stable; bottom two images: Umbra

 

 

España Autumn: Indulging the Art, Food + Flamenco of Madrid

 

 

With Barcelona increasingly overrun with tourists, the lure of Madrid’s food, culture and relentless nightlife scene becomes ever more difficult to resist. And indeed, visitors numbers to the sensual Spanish capital ticked up by 5% in 2018.

We, ourselves, were returning to check out the exceedingly cool new-ish Only You Atocha hotel. The brand itself had launched in 2013 with a very different sort of property: the Only You Boutique hotel, in the trendy Chueca district, an aristocratic 19th mansion converted by star designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán into a surreal but drop-dead stunning maze of differently themed public areas and plush guest rooms. He was enlisted again for the Atocha, this time giving a distinctly Spanish context to the lobby-as-hip-playground concept familiar to denizens of hotels like The Ace.

 

 

And indeed, everywhere you might turn, there was something to grab our attention. To the right of the entrance, The Bakery by Mama Framboise, which serves decadent Tartaletas MF, a dozen flavors of macarons (goat-cheese-figs-pralines!), and Iberian ham toast all day. To the left was the Latin-Asian Trotamundos restaurant, with its buzzy corner cocktail bar. And just beyond, a dizzyingly dramatic atrium, where nouveau jazz happenings regularly bring in the city’s modern day hepcats.

But probably our favorite part of every day was shuffling off the hangovers while lingering over a lazy breakfast against spectacular vistas at the 7th floor Séptima – where in the evenings DJs soundtrack the views, late into the night – thus perpetuating the hangover cycle.

 

 

Upstairs the rooms were a great deal more plush and stylish than those in typical hipsterrific hotels, with smartly patterned bedspreads, exposed brick walls and white tiled bathrooms. For a particular splurge, we can’t stress enough the fantabulousness of the sprawling Terrace Suite – whose outdoor space could easily accommodate 10-12 enthusiastically gyrating party people.

Madrid itself – sometimes mistakenly passed over for the more archly hip Barcelona – comes especially to life as winter passes into spring, with its scores of pavement cafes, its teeming plazas for sexy-people watching and its streets that buzz late into the night (really, more like 6am). The food is transcendent, the nightlife is some of the best on the Continent, and its grand boulevards / grandiloquent baroque architectural icons make it one of Europa’s most under-appreciated capitals.

Here’s what we did.

 

The PradoThe Reina Sofia

The thing about classical art in Spain…it’s just different. It’s a country that still has a king, after all. And so a great deal of la historia de España is still told in a place like The Prado. It’s indeed a very Spanish museum, and even if you’re a contemporary art geek, you’ll find yourself drawn in to the narrative as told through the dramatic works of Velazquez, Goya and El Greco. The jaw-dropping collection also boasts Rubens, Titian and Hieronymous Bosch’s proto-surrealist masterpiece The Garden of Earthly Delights. Don’t kill too much time on the stiff royal portraits.
The Reina Sofia, just a short stroll from the hotel, is Spain’s most important museum of 20th Century art, with treasures by Miró, Juan Gris, Pablo Serrano, and, of course. The museum also holds significant contemporary works by the likes of Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman, Man Ray, Julian Schnabel and Richard Serra. For a poignant look at the origins of the feminist artistic zeitgeist, Defiant Muses: Delphine Seyrig and the Feminist Video Collectives in France in the 1970s and 1980s runs through March 20.

 

Prado Museum 2017

El Prado

 

Art Gallery Tour

It’s not Berlin, surely – but Madrid’s contemporary art scene has genuinely started to garner international attention, with its annual ARCO fair having become one of Europe’s most important. The Art Gallery Tour people are your best bet for getting an insider’s view, with tours of specific districts like the hip Letras and posh Salamanca. They will also curate private tours to suit your taste. You can add a wine drinking element, should you wish to pontificate on what you’ve seen over a glass or two of Ribera Del Duero.

Barrio de Las Letras

Also a short stroll from the hotel, Las Letras is just that sort of neighborhood that defines Madrid, with atmospheric streets where charming little bars and cool indie boutiques reign – and there’s not a chain outlet in sight. The outdoor cafes on Plaza de Santa Ana and the narrow streets around it are great for lingering and people watching.

 

 

Palacio de Cibeles Restaurant Terrace

Atop the spectacular municipal building on the Plaza de Cibeles is a hidden away 6th floor restaurant and terrace. There’s a full gourmand’s menu – but come for cocktails, views and to soak up the vivid afternoon Madrid sunshine.

YOUnique Restaurant at Only You Boutique Hotel

Just being in this gorgeous hotel is an indescribable aesthetic pleasure. Its signature restaurant is a particular delight for a long, lazy lunch (okay, there’s really no other kind in Madrid), with Valencian paella, oxtail cannelloni, and skipjack carpaccio all beautifully presented. Ask for a table in the verdant, art-adorned garden. Come back in the evening, as the YOUnique Lounge is a stunningly designed setting for fancy cocktails – and the surrounding neighborhood jumps at night.

 

02-younique-restaurante191

 

1862 Dry Bar

Spain’s is a wine-beer-sherry drinking culture. The cocktail thing, mercifully, did not sweep into its major cities and strap all of its bartenders into old-timey suspenders. 1862, for instance, is distinctly Spanish bar, not some awful Brooklyn imitation. A crowd of urbane Madrilenos come to sip updated takes on the classics (Gimlet, Sazerac, Manhattan) by drinks wizard Alberto Martinez. Spread over two floors, it’s one of the city’s buzziest scenes.

Corral de la Morería

Flamenco is way hotter than you might actually think – and five decades after opening, Corral de la Moreria is still one of the hottest tickets in Madrid. In a classical but sensual setting, with Arabic touches, watch some of Spain’s top names in the genre heat up the stage (and the audience) with their visceral, passionate performances. It’s actually quite an intense, even somewhat aphrodisiac experience.

 

Flamenco Madrid