Cider Week Is Here

The best thing about apple season is making and drinking apple cider. But even as many New Yorkers recognize that, most don’t go into a bar thinking about hard cider. Well, this coming week aims to change that as all across the city more than 180 restaurants, bars, and other venues celebrate the crisp, fall beverage.

Running from October 12 to the 21, you can hit up numerous events like Saturday’s Harvest Beer and Cider Sessions at Factory On Kent, which includes over 20 ciders from around the world, artisanal apple spirits, and local beers. On Sunday, hit up the Cider Revival at the New Amsterdam Market in Manhattan. From 11am to 4pm, shoppers can try ciders paired with season hor-d’oeuvres by Marlow and Sons, and purchase not only hard and virgin cider, but other goods made with New York apples. After that, across the street from the market is a cider tasting at the wine shop Pasanella and Sons from 4 to 6pm. 

On Monday, City Grit hosts a southern cider dinner featuring drinks from Virginia’s Foggy Ridge and New Hampshire’s Farnum Hill Ciders. Also on Monday, you can trek to the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle to get Doc’s Hard Cider on tap with cheese pairings and cider donuts, or stay downtown at the Bowery Whole Foods for other cider samples and more donuts. 

The celebration continues all the week with plenty of cider samples and pairings, including cocktails with Aaron Burr, a talk about woman in cider and cheese at Murray’s Cheese, and tons of hard cider tastings. For a complete list of the events, you can check out their website

If you can’t make any of the events this week, you are still in luck. The whole month is dedicated to cider and restaurants all over the city have embraced some form of this on their menu, including Rose Water, The Darby, Bklyn Larder, The Breslin, Txikito, and over a 100 more. So, if you want to celebrate this magic apple juice, now is the time.

Industry Insiders: Joe Campanale, Wine Warrior

Joe Campanale and his business partner, chef Gabe Thompson, opened their first restaurant, dell’anima, in the fall of 2007, while Joe was still a year away from earning his masters at NYU’s Food Studies program. The cozy Italian restaurant in the West Village, which stays open until 2:00 a.m. five nights a week, immediately became a go-to spot for stylish locals and celebrities alike. On a recent weeknight we spotted Mad Men’s January Jones and Elisabeth Moss plus SNL funnyman Jason Sudeikis lingering over bowls of homemade pasta. In the next three years Joe and Gabe opened two more restaurants: L’Artusi, the bigger, grander version of dell’anima, and Anfora, a dimly lit wine bar adjacent to their first restaurant. Joe serves as beverage director for all three, crafting signature cocktails and helping diners navigate the extensive all-Italian wine lists. When he’s not working at one of his restaurants, you can find Joe racing in a marathon, roaming Italy, or teaching Martha Stewart how to mix a cocktail. Joe took time out from a wine-tasting trip in Friuli, Italy, to chat with BlackBook about restaurants, food, TV, and wines for under $10.

Biggest challenge of owning and operating three restaurants? Finding the right people so I don’t have to be all three restaurants every night, which is what we are constantly working on. These days I do very little of the actual operations. The other challenge is finding balance. I love work and my tendancy is to be here all the time. Running has helped me balance my life better.

At a small, neighborhood restaurant like dell’anima, where private seating isn’t really an option, how do you cater to celebrity clientele? We have a lot of celebs who come in and don’t seem to be bothered by the lack of privacy. Our guests are great about respecting people’s privacy. A few times though we’ve had people book the private room at L’Artusi so that they could be sure they have some privacy.

Nowadays, thanks to the Food Network and reality TV shows like Top Chef, consumers are a lot more informed, or at least they think they are. How does this affect the restaurant industry? I think its great that people are more interested and involved in food. The fact that consumers are more informed and demanding than ever will only help the guys who are doing it right.

Would you participate in a reality TV show? I’m open to it

Is there someone in the restaurant/hospitality biz whose career you wish to emulate? I respect Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Food & Wine and Danny Meyer (of course!) but am trying to do my own thing.

Favorite NYC spots: I go to Gramercy Tavern and sit at the bar all the time! If I’m ever uptown its probably because I’m at Dovetail and I love Franny’s and Roberta’s in Brooklyn.

How can the general dining population become more educated about wine? Ask your sommelier a few questions when your order a bottle of wine, see if your favorite wine store does tastings, or sign up for a class. Institute of Culinary Education and the International Wine Center do great classes. Wine is one of those things where having a little knowledge really adds to the enjoyment.

Is there such a thing as a great bottle of wine for under $15? Under $10? I drink bottles at those prices all the time. I think you can have a very good bottle at $10 or $15, but a great wine requires a great plot of land, low yields, and lots of hours of doing things by hand – the kinds of things you can skimp on with less expensive wines. So, once in a while it is worth it to splurge on a nicer bottle if you can.

Your favorite cocktail? Negroni Sbagliato (“wrong negroni”), a negroni with sparkling white wine instead of gin.

Plans for the future? Continue to improve dell’anima, L’Artusi, and Anfora and we’ll see what comes of it.

Andy Cohen on Whether Bravo Is a Gay Network

By day, Andy Cohen holds the coveted title of Bravo’s Senior VP of Original Programming and Development. By night, he’s in front of the camera, cocktail in hand, hosting his own late night talk show, Watch What Happens: Live. Once a week, Andy sits down with featured guests from across the world of pop culture—as well as your favorite Bravolebrities—to discuss everything from what’s making headlines that week to the latest Housewives drama. Recently named one of TV Guide’s “25 Most Influential People in Television,” Andy is elevating Bravo, and himself, to a whole new level of acclaim. On the morning after Top Chef won its first Emmy, which was, coincidentally, also the night of the big Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion throw-down, we caught up with the pop culture icon to discuss the divas of Bravo, Watch What Happens’ rapid success, and whether Bravo is in fact a gay network.

What does a typical day in the life of Andy Cohen look like? There’s really not a typical day. I usually take a few pitches everyday, I watch cuts of shows and do notes on them, I meet with my team and with other Bravo teams to sort out what’s going on. We have so many shows in production and development at the same time, so typically it’s mainly about that. The on-air stuff usually takes me away from the day things.

How do you decide what will work for the network and what won’t? It’s typically whether it’s on-brand. We have the most upscale and educated audience, so it’s about that. Is it different, is it definitional, is it going to pull in over a million viewers? Is it fun? Does it fit in with food, fashion, beauty, design, and pop culture? Those are kind of the filters.

What’s the casting process like for these shows? Well, it depends on the show. In terms of Housewives we look for people that know each other, who have different relationships with each other, and people who represent different things to each other.

Since Bravo is so involved with social media, how much does audience feedback drive the plot lines of the shows? We don’t really drive the plot lines. I think in terms of audience feedback, it’s important for us to see what people want to know. I think they inform future seasons. I think Top Chef is a good example of a show that has evolved and changed as we’ve gone on. It’s evolved with an eye to what people like and what they want to see.

The network is filled with diva-esque, campy women. Have you always been a fan of these big, over the top characters? I have, yes, absolutely. I love a strong woman. I think they’re unpredictable, fun to watch, exciting, funny, and sometimes unintentionally funny.

How do you feel about people saying Bravo is just Andy Cohen’s interests and you’re just puppeteering these people’s lives? I didn’t know any of the housewives before the show went on. I can’t push them in any direction. They determine the story line by what’s going on with them. I couldn’t in a million years make up what is happening or what is going to possibly happen with the housewives. It’s beyond the scope of my capability.

So tell me about how Watch What Happens came to be and how you ended up in front of the camera? In college I studied Broadcast Journalism. I wanted to be on camera as an anchor or a reporter. My last internship was at CBS News in New York, and I wound up working there behind the scenes for ten years, and my career grew and I kind of gave up the on-air thing. That was until I was at Bravo and Lauren Zalaznick, my boss, said that she would love to do a show online that was complimentary to my blog which I was writing on BravoTV.com. So I stated doing an online show after Top Chef, and funnily enough, they came to me and asked if I wanted to do my online show on air! I would have never in a million years have had the hubris, gumption, stupidity, idiocy, lunacy to think that I could wind up doing what I am doing now.

Over the past season, you’ve gained over two million viewers. What do you think it is about the show that grabs so many people? I think because it’s live and unpredictable and it’s fun. It’s often really complimentary to whatever we just had on the air. On our season premiere, we’re going to have Teresa from the Jersey Housewives and Stacie Turner from the DC Housewives. So that’s something that anybody who loves the housewives will be interested in seeing. Conversely, when you have someone like Jerry Seinfeld come to the Bravo Clubhouse it’s like, What’s he doing there and what’s he going to say? There he is kind of railing against the Housewives in the face of me, who’s in charge of programming for the network. It’s certainly unpredictable and fun.

Can you tell me about the reunion? It looked very physical. It’s nuts. It goes back to your questions about me controlling storylines or things like that. I cannot predict what’s going to happen with these women and on these shows and that’s one of the reasons why I love the show so much. It was the first time the women had been under the same roof in a year. It’s very raw and volatile—like lighting a match around a tank of gas—and I was lighting the match.

I saw some behind-the-scenes footage you had recorded and you weren’t sure how it was all going to come together. Did it all turn out like you hoped? It came together great. When you’re sitting there and you’re in the midst of this, you can’t imagine how it’s going to play out in a TV show, because it’s so meandering. My job is to keep everything in order, and there is no order. I think the shocking thing is how the two hours ends.

Do you think the Jersey Housewives have veered off in a different direction than the rest of the Housewives? I think they all have their own personality. I think the Orange County Housewives, who are the originals, are the Knots Landing of the group, whereas New York is kind of the Dynasty. New York is like a drawing room comedy—fighting about invitations and friendships and protocol. I find that especially entertaining and humorous. I think Jersey is loaded in, even though it has nothing to do with it, a Sopranos-esque vibe. To me, DC is the most intellectual of all of them because they do start fighting about politics. There’s a big debate about gay marriage that comes up that’s really surprising. There are real questions of race and class that keep coming up in DC that haven’t been seen in any of our other series.

Bethenny Frankel from Real Housewives of New York now has her own show. Are there other housewives that have been trying to push for their own show? There are some, but I think that their is great strength is being in an ensemble cast. I always make the analogy that Friends was a great ensemble cast, and then Joey came on after that and it was an unsuccessful spin off.

Bethenny is also an exception because she’s so candid about her life. She is bulls-eye Bravo.

Bravo seems to be a gay network, but is not as explicit gay as, say, Logo. How do you define it? I always saying we’re bi, but I think it’s kind of how I view myself being gay—it’s just one of things that I am. So Bravo may or may not be gay, but I think there’s a lot of other things going on. I think for the gay people on Bravo, it’s one of the things that they are—they’re not on Bravo because they’re gay. The people that are gay on Bravo, like Brad on Rachel Zoe or Jeff on Flipping Out, they’re gay but they’re also great at what they do and that’s why they’re on Bravo and that’s important.

What are some of your favorite places to go out in the city? I love the Boom Boom Room. I think it’s the most beautiful room in the New York City. There’s a new bar that opened on 8th Avenue between Jane and 12th called Anfora that I really like. I also like going to The Cubbyhole. It’s in my neighborhood because it has a great vibe, it’s fun, and they have Bravo on the TV, so I know I’ll be entertained.

Did you see the pictures of Danielle’s daughter in the latest Blackbook? Gorgeous, she’s really beautiful.

Interpol Takes Us to Their Favorite Downtown Haunts

Interpol lead singer and guitarist Paul Banks sits in a windowless lounge in the Soho headquarters of Matador Records, his face obscured by aviator sunglasses and the brim of a black fedora. He’s joined by his bandmates, guitarist Daniel Kessler and drummer Sam Fogarino, each dressed in somber tones that, were it not for their impeccable tailoring, would make them indistinguishable from the trendy young New Yorkers sitting around the office.

“It’s erotic and creepy,” says Banks of the music video for “Lights,” a haunting track off Interpol’s new self-titled album, out this month. The video interpretation of their already pitch-black song was directed by Charlie White, who also helmed the video for their 2005 song “Evil,” which followed a puppet on his way to the hospital a er a brutal car accident. Not surprisingly, the video for “Lights” is equally twisted, featuring a pair of attractive Asian “courtesans” preparing a “doe” for pheromone-harvesting, a ritual that occurs, as the title card helpfully informs, “deep within the inner chambers of the three-horned rhinoceros beetle.”

“Charlie is obsessed with sex and death. He’s a man after my own heart,” says Banks, who recently split from his longtime girlfriend, supermodel Helena Christensen. The video is a far cry from most of the pop frippery out there—Katy Perry and her whipped cream breasts; Lady Gaga and her firework breasts—but then, so is Interpol.

Over the course of eight years and four albums, fans have watched the band evolve from post-punk revivalists to indie rock innovators, defining and re-defining their sound while sharing the stage with some of the world’s mightiest rock legends. They headlined a North American tour this past summer, and will support U2 on a spate of European gigs this month and next. Still, their latest album marks a turning point for a group that’s often compared to Manchester rock pioneers Joy Division. “We wanted to do something different from what we had done before,” says Daniel Kessler, which meant building instrumentation and bringing keyboards and melodies to the forefront.

Interpol has been based in New York since 1997, when the band first began performing together at downtown clubs like Luna Lounge. And while they could probably do what they do anywhere in the world at this point, their formative years in the city helped define them as a band. “With New York, a lot of people are affected by their first year or so,” Kessler says. “Either they run screaming and crying, or they succeed in what they’re trying to do. I could go to Uruguay and still feel the essence of New York and be inspired by the time I spent here. Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker.”

Cienfuegos: “This is where I come to pull chicks. That’s really the main reason. And, yeah, there are good Cuban sandwiches downstairs. Upstairs, they serve exotic punches in big carafes with ladles and some of the better cocktails in the city. They have this amazing drink called Rosa Verde with watermelon and arugula. The owner [Ravi DeRossi] also runs Death & Co., which is one of the best cocktail bars in the city, along with The Bourgeois Pig, 124 Rabbit Club, and a Mexican place up the block called Mayahuel, so he’s got a little empire going on.” —Paul Banks

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Anfora: “I met [owner Joe Campanale] at a dinner party. We became friends and he’s since taught me a lot about wine. He also owns the restaurant next door, dell’anima, and L’Artusi, just a few blocks away. It feels like you’re doing something a little swanky at this wine bar, but without the pretension. You could come in wearing a pair of jeans and still have a glass of $80 Barolo. It brings this level of sophistication down to earth. I’m into white wine, so I always tell Joe ‘dry but fruity.’ They serve sandwiches, cheese plates, and stuff from very specific regions of Italy—a lot of salamis and cured meats. The prosciutto and the beef bresaola are my favorites.” —Sam Fogarino

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Rebel Rebel Records: “This is the place to go for vinyl. The owner and I have like-minded tastes. It was a shame when we lost Virgin Records in Union Square, but I would care more if we lost this one. Good record stores are a dying breed, and I think this one is the real deal.” —Paul Banks

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Matt Umanov Guitars: “I bought my first guitar, a Guild, here in 1992. I thought it was awesome at the time. The last thing I got here was a 12-string Gibson. I like the dudes who run this place.” —Paul Banks

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Cafe Gitane: “I’ve been coming here for 15 years. It’s always filled with people, but I can still find peace of mind. They have a great salad with beets, apples, and endive, and an avocado on toast that’s very tasty, too. The place is tiny, but it works—plus, it’s a nice spot to sit outdoors and catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a while. It’s a good rendezvous spot.” —Daniel Kessler

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Lord Willy’s: “I keep coming back because of the personalities who work here, and I love the shirts. They’re done with classic English tailoring. The colors are always playful, almost post-dandyish. They’re from an era that’s not around anymore. The shirts fit so well that I don’t have to wear them with a tie to make them look nice. You can dress them up as much or as little as you want.” —Paul Banks

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Freemans Sporting Club: “There’s an adjacent restaurant, Freemans, which I went to before I knew about this place. As we were leaving, I walked out onto Rivington Street, and I was like, What’s this? I walked in, and I thought, is is probably the coolest clothing store I’ve ever been in. And there’s a barbershop, too? I’ve known Shorty, my barber, for the better part of 12 years, and I turn around and he’s cutting hair here! We hadn’t seen each other in a while because I had been touring, but that brought me back here. I like the whole concept of the men’s club. Hemingway would have shopped here. I got this brown leather belt, this green shirt, and a couple of winter pieces. This stuff is going to endure for decades. I’ll come here when I’m 70 years old and it will feel just as natural as it does now. —Sam Fogarino

Photography by Brooke Nipar