Archive for April, 2012

TOAST OF THE TOWN WINE TASTING NYC

Thursday May 3, 2012

Oscar Hammerstein Ballroom

Over five hundred wines, spirits and beers from around the world to tantalize the palate! No, that’s no misprint. That’s what Toast of the Town’s annual gala boasts in what may be New York City’s finest wine-tasting event. Make no mistake, this isn’t just another wine-tasting: it’s a taste experience. In addition to a global range of beverages, this Wine Enthusiast-sponsored event promises you a direct and harmonious experience of superb drink in combination with inspired and fitting food, music, and setting choices. If you have an appetite for the beautiful things in life look no further.

Thirty-five of the city’s best restaurants will prepare signature dishes to accompany the featured wines. Culinary creations from the area’s top chefs will be paired with intriguing wines selected by master sommeliers. Music will be provided by the Jonny Hirsch Band, led by one of New York City’s most scintillating saxophonists. As for the setting, what could be more elegant than The Oscar Hammerstein Ballroom, a monument of aesthetic grandeur? Toast of the Town offers a veritable feast for the senses.

Sip, socialize and delight your palate with beautiful wines from every corner of the world. Wine as a cultural ambassador? What a lovely thought: from Marlborough, New Zealand to Montalcino, Italy, a delicious trip around the world. And you don’t need a passport (just your guest pass). For a evening of sumptuous wines, spirits, music, and the tastiest gourmet food the city has to offer take in Talk of the Town, a Wonderland for oenophiles and foodies.

VIP Tasting: 6-7 p.m.+ Admission to the Grand Tasting.VIPTickets include early entrance to the event, exclusive access to hundreds of reserve wines, one-on-wine talks with the wine makers and interaction with the restaurateurs.

GRAND Tasting: 7-10 p.m.

Oscar Hammerstein Ballroom 311 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001 | To order tickets call 888-695-0888, or for info call 800-847-5947.

WHERE TO STAY:

Like wine? The nearby Eventi hotel offers a complimentary wine reception each night from 5pm until 7pm. This 4.5 star Kimpton Hotel has all the features one would expect; soothing spa, fabulous fitness center, bustling bar. However, Eventi is also home to FoodParc, a unique concept in hotel dining that is garnering rave reviews.

The St. Regis Hotel New York is known for its opulence as well as it’s prestigious wine library at Adour, the hotel’s AAA Four Diamond Restaurant Award, maintained since 2008. From Waterford crystal chandeliers in all rooms to a sumptuous marble-clad lobby, Regis New York is the epitome of beauty, luxury, and the best that money can buy. This dedication to excellence has resulted in St. Regis NY being recognized with the Mobil Five Star and AAA Five Diamond awards for 14 consecutive years.

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THE BEST SECRET BARS IN NEW YORK CITY

The speakeasy conjures up scenarios of dark alleys and discrete doors with secret passwords and tuxedoed doormen with misshapen noses. The stuff of history books and old movies, perhaps. But leave it to New York City to keep the speakeasy mystique and exclusivity alive. Make no mistake—not everyone will get to sample some of the city’s best cocktails in these venues. Getting to and gaining entrance into these hideouts requires some savvy and persistence (connections help), but is well worth the effort.

Milk and Honey, 134 Eldridge Street, Lower East Side. You’ll miss it if you blink. It’s the battered steel door next to a storefront with a suit hanging in the window and a sign that reads, “M&H, Tailors.” Celeb cocktail artist Sasha Petraske runs the show, offering invention and nuance. The place to go for a radical cocktail experience. Be warned: you must call ahead to reserve a table, but the number can be hard to find. Now and then the owner publishes it on the web. Otherwise tracking it down may be adventurous.

Little Branch, 20 Seventh Avenue S. Another metal door, this one rusted, with no giveaway but a bouncer outside. Yes, it’s another joint by Sasha Petraske. The bartenders are wizards, concocting elixirs and bewitching potions. Almost. Don’t know what you want? Ask for one of the specials, sure to make the eyes glassy for more. Access is almost as difficult as its sister bar, but persistence pays off.

The Raines Law Room, 48 West 17th Street. To get in here, find an unmarked stairwell, ring the doorbell at the bottom, and hold your breath. Each table inside the bar is outfitted with a button used to summon the server. Reservations accepted only Sunday to Tuesday. To make a reservation, email the ETA, number of people and a contact phone number to reservations@raineslawroom.com. Otherwise, first come first served.

Please Don’t Tell (PDT), 113 St. Marks Place. Walk down a set of stairs into the Crif Dogs restaurant on St. Marks Place. Look for an old-timey phone booth. Step inside, pick up the phone and press the buzzer. A voice answers and, after approval, the phone booth wall opens into a cubbyhole centered by a bar. Enjoy fine cocktails and food from Crif’s kitchen. Reservations recommended. Call at 3 p.m. 212-614-0386.

Employees Only, 510 Hudson Street. Look for a red neon sign shilling a psychic and then for the live tarot card reader. A bouncer guards the entrance. He’ll lead you through a curtain, into the bar. Bartenders in white chef’s jackets also serve terrific food. The tarot card reader at the door does live readings. On weekends seating in the bar is tight. Show up early to ensure a table.

Death & Co, 433 East Sixth Street. A boarded up storefront, the name Death & Co. printed in metal on the sidewalk in front of the bar’s entrance. Inviting or what? Give your number to the bouncer at the door and he’ll call you when it’s time. Death waits for no one. And FYI: at Death & Co. to ensure perfection, each specialty drink is stirred 40 times and taste-tested by the bartender.

We Recommend You Stay at,

Hotel Gansevoort is widely credited with transforming the Meatpacking District from gritty to fabulous, and you’ll find it a short walk away to these secret bars. This chic and trendy 4 star boutique property reigns as one of Manhattan’s hottest hotels. Whether to dine at Tanuki Tavern, swim in the Plunge rooftop pool, or spend a blissful day shopping the cobblestoned streets of the Meatpacking District, guests continue to flock to Gansevoort New York. Enjoy complimentary upgrades on us, waived extra adult fees, and special amenities for suite reservations.

Located on Spring at Varick, the Trump SoHo is in the heart of the neighborhood. Visitors can wander the maze of streets and shop to their heart’s content. Towering over the SoHo neighborhood, this hotel is also close to many of the secret bars listed above. Enjoy a refreshing plunge on the 6,000 square foot landscaped pool deck on the seventh floor or decadent Italian cuisine at The Restaurant.

Eventi New York opened in May of 2010; since then, this new addition to the North Chelsea neighborhood is re-defining the modern-day luxury hotel. This 4.5 star Kimpton Hotel has all the features one would expect; soothing spa, fabulous fitness center, bustling bar, and a complimentary wine reception every evening!

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THE LA FILM FESTIVAL

June 14-24, 2012

In a city with more film festivals than you can count on two hands, the actual Los Angeles Film Festival has been preeminent, showcasing the world’s best independent features. Which is not to say the occasional smash-hit hasn’t come its way. The Devil Wears Prada made a splash here before setting the world on fire. The LA Film Festival endeavours to connect the movie-lovers to acclaimed filmmakers, film industry pros, and emerging talent in the heart of the entertainment capital of the world—Los Angeles.

Among the 2012 LA Film Festival’s lineup of sensational films, the much-anticipated Steve Carell apocalypse comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World will enjoy its world premiere during this year’s gala screenings. The Benh Zeitlin-directed Beasts of the Southern Wild and Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere will also run during the gala screenings.

Seeking for a Friend for the End of the World stars comic genius Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody and others in what’s been described as “a humorous, moving and intimate journey against an epic backdrop of Earth’s final days.” The film is written and directed by screenwriter Lorene Scafaria, making her directorial debut.

Beasts of the Southern Wild, tells the story of a six-year-old girl on the brink of orphanhood in a utopian bayou community. Directed and co-written by Behn Zeitlin, the film, starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry, won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Middle of Nowhere, presents a portrait of a woman in search of herself, torn between two lovers and two worlds. The movie won writer/director Ava DuVernay a Best Director Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The Festival features signature programs including the Filmmaker Retreat, Ford Amphitheater Outdoor Screenings, Poolside Chats, and more. The Festival also screens short films by high school students and has a section devoted to music videos.

Los Angeles Film Festival Film Independent 9911 W. Pico Boulevard. Los Angeles, CA 90035 Box Office & Information: 1-866-345-6337.

We Recommend Staying At,

After closing for two years for a thoughtful restoration to revive this iconic gem, 5 star Hotel Bel-Air‘s redesign now, more than ever, celebrates the surrounding landscape by seamlessly blending the indoor and outdoor experience. Nestled in the Bel-Air Estates neighborhood of Los Angeles, the Hotel Bel-Air is a sprawling oasis, only minutes from Century City, Beverly Hills and Westwood. Enjoy complimentary breakfast for two during your stay on us!

Ultra-chic and supremely unique, Mr. C Hotel Beverly Hills, a Cipriani Hotel, is a luxury boutique in the heart of beautiful Beverly Hills. Inspired by European traditions, the exquisitely landscaped courtyard garden features Californian citrus fruits, tropical foliage and fragrant English roses, all lending itself to the ambience of reminiscent of an Italian seaside villa. Enjoy a complimentary upgrade when you book with us!

At the iconic intersection of Hollywood and Vine lies The Redbury, the newest addition to the award-winning sbe Hotel Collection. Curated by Creative Director and renowned photographer, Matthew Rolston in collaboration with sbe Founder and CEO, Sam Nazarian, The Redbury Hotel offers an escape into a colorful and enchanting world of luxury. With a focus on creative, business, and leisure travelers with an admiration for the arts, music, fashion and entertainment, each guest flat offers a playful retro touches creating an inviting and welcoming atmosphere.

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CHICAGO BLUES FESTIVAL

June 8-10, 2012 at Millennium Park

Renowned as the largest free blues event in the world, the Chicago Blues Festival returns to Grant Park this June for three days of blues bliss. Whether you’re a blues aficionado or just a music lover, Chicago is the place to be from June 8 to June 10. Upwards of 500,000 blues fans are anticipated for this celebration of blues past and present, offering proof that Chicago is truly the “Blues Capital of the World.”

Headliners for this year’s Festival include Texas Johnny Brown on June 8, and Floyd Taylor on June 9. On Friday June 8, at the Petrillo Music Shell, blues fans will be treated to a centennial celebration of Lightnin’ Hopkins. The Houston blues legend died in 1982 and fellow Houston bluesman Texas Johnny Brown will commemorate him with his soulful guitar stylings. Chicago-born Floyd Taylor is the son of R&B great Johnnie Taylor and spent years learning his craft from his father. Taylor pays tribute to his father, who died in 2000, and other bluesmen.

Chicago’s own Mavis Staples is set to close the festival on Sunday, June 10. More than sixty years after she began singing with the Staple Singers, Mavis is still going strong. In 2011, she won the Grammy for “Best Americana Album.” The living Gospel and Blues legend is also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Before Mavis Staples performs on Sunday, festival goers will be treated to a tribute to the Queen of the Blues, Koko Taylor, who died in June of 2009. A select group of Blues women will perform in her honour, including Melvia “Chick” Rodgers, Jackie Scott, Deitra Farr and Nora Jean Brusco.

The performance stages include the Petrillo Music Shell, the Bud Light Crossroads Stage, Mississippi Juke Joint, and the Pepsi Front.

The 29th Annual Chicago Blues Festival is presented by the City of Chicago and produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. FREE Admission • Grant Park • June 8, 9 & 10, 2012. For more information call (312) 744-3316.

Live in luxury at these fine hotels,

The lavish Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago is North America’s second tallest building. This 5 star tower on the Chicago River features easy access to The Loop, financial centers and is within walking distance to exclusive shopping on Michigan Avenue, and Millenium Park where the festivities will take place. Expect unprecendented views, spacious rooms, and an attention to detail. You won’t be dissapointed! Enjoy a free upgrade on us!

The Fairmont Chicago, overlooking Millennium Park and Chicago’s lakefront, is a 4.5 star luxury hotel located in the Grant Park neighborhood of downtown Chicago. This AAA Four Diamond Millennium Park hotel is walking distance to the Loop, theater district and the Art Institute of Chicago. A $50 million dollar renovation completed in 2008 has distinguished this downtown Chicago luxury hotel as a prestigious address. 

The Allegro Chicago, a Kimpton Hotel, features a convenient location in the Chicago Theater District near entertainment and shopping venues on State Street and the Magnificent Mile. A sparkling renovation unveils thoughtfully-designed guestrooms and suites and a colorful lobby await you. Enjoy a complimentary wine recepetion every night of your stay!

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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

A Gutenberg Bible sits on a shelf deep in the monumental recesses of the New York Public Library. Perhaps not on a shelf. And no one is likely to loan it out soon. The Gutenberg Bible is the first major book in history produced on a printing press—the book that launched the world-changing Gutenberg Revolution. It means something that in this age of the denuded little object known as the book, one of the great libraries of the world has it safely stashed. But of course the New York Public Library is about more than books. It’s about that other denuded little thing: Western Civilization. And it stands as one of its enduring landmarks.

 

First opened in 1911, the New York Public Library was created by bringing together a $2.4 million donation from Samuel J. Tilden to “establish and maintain a free library and reading room in the city of New York,” along with the collections of the financially strapped Astor and Lenox Libraries. The site of the Croton Reservoir was chosen for the new library, and Dr. John Shaw Billings, director of the New York Public Library, conceived its initial design. When the building opened, this Beaux-Arts wonder was the largest marble building in the United States, and home to over 1 million books.

In addition to its vast collections of books and periodicals, the impressive architecture and awe-inspiring interiors of the New York Public Library alone are worth the visit, if not its many treasures and artworks including murals, paintings, photographs and a comprehensive Americana collection.

Free one hour tours are offered Tuesday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and 2 p.m. on Sunday (closes on summer Sundays and some holidays) highlighting the Library’s history and architecture. Get an informed overview of the beauty and expanse of the Library’s collections. Free tours of the Library’s Current Exhibitions at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 3:30 p.m. on Sundays.

New York Public Library 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue | 212-930-0830

WE LOVE STAYING AT

A new star is rising to fame in Manhattan’s Theater District; The Chatwal New York has debuted to rave reviews. This 5 star property is a true boutique, featuring a mere 76 perfectly-designed rooms and suites. Guests seeking a truly intimate experience in the midst of Midtown’s hustle and bustle will be instantly charmed by the Art Deco allure of The Chatwal New York.

The Setai Fifth Avenue is sculptural lines and a modern aesthetic, combined with an Asian-inspired simplicity that brings out the “Zen” in guests. At the 5 star Setai NYC, guests are moments from world-class shopping on Fifth Avenue, which hosts retailers ranging from Macy’s to Tiffany’s, and everything in between.

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A PLACE TO LOVE: ADOUR AT THE ST.REGIS HOTEL

ADOUR, the new Alain Ducasse restaurant in the St. Regis New York Hotel, has returned back to basics with a new Nature menu—perhaps with a nod to Ducasse’s new book, Nature: Simple, Healthy and Good. Ducasse has made a name for himself preparing bold, natural ingredients in a French Style and developed to be served with wines. The normal vegetarian tasting will be augmented by a health-conscious five-course menu. Ducasse contends that the ideal dietary balance is 80% vegetable/grain and 20% protein. While it’s good to enjoy tasting menus loaded with cream, butter and foie gras, people can’t eat this way on a regular basis.

Ducasse believes that quality ingredients are the most essential element in creating a memorable dish, following his famed mantra of 60% ingredients and 40% technique. Adour’s menu lives up to the Chef’s commitment and ardor, offering such delicate appetizers as Sea Urchin Homemade Pasta (in fennel, garlic and creamy uni sauce), and a sparkling Meyer Lemon Marinated Hamachi (with daikon fresh yuzu and espellette pepper). The entrees of the pared down but solid menu range from Diver Sea Scallops (with savoy cabbage and black truffle) to côte de bœuf for two, all prepared with specific wine-pairings in mind.

Tasting menus are offered, including a white truffle tasting menu as decadent as it sounds. Try Pumpkin Velouté (with walnut, chestnut, raisin whipped cream) or the beautiful White Vegetable Carpaccio (with apples and pickled shallots), or for something truly original, Contemporary Exotic Vacherin, made with mango marmalade and a passion fruit emulsion.

Ducasse has successfully brought his vision of healthy eating choices and excellent wine pairings to fruition with this elegant addition to the St. Regis New York Hotel, complementing the refined, linen-clad dining experience of Astor Court.

Two East 55th Street, at Fifth Avenue New York, New York 1002. (212) 710-2277

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CITY SECRETS: THE BROOKLYN BREWERY TOUR

For a time Brooklyn was known as brewery central with brands like Schlitz, Schaefer, Piels, and Old Dutch operating at capacity. While some of the breweries have come and gone, Brooklyn Brewery has thrived and achieved status as one of the best in the borough. Why? Perhaps the proof is in the suds. Brooklyn Brewery makes good beer. Its award-winning selection of seasonal and specialty beers have gained the Brewery acclaim as one of the top craft beer producers in the world, reputedly exporting more than any other American craft brewery. Brooklyn beers are distributed in 25 states and 20 countries. Esquire magazine recently chose the Brooklyn Lager 16 ounce as one of the “Best Canned Beers to Drink Now.”

For the past two decades, the borough of Brooklyn has undergone a cultural and gastronomical renaissance that has made it a go-to place for foodies and culture hounds of every stripe. Brooklyn Brewery has contributed to the scene by paying homage to Brooklyn’s hop-heavy days of yore, and producing an uncompromisingly flavorful product. Founded in Utica in 1988 and installed in Williamsburg in 1996, it offers tours each Saturday through its modest brick building’s brewhouse, and an informative talk about the brewery’s history.

Throughout 2011 The Brewery underwent an expansion that doubled overall capacity in 2012 and will quintuple it by 2013. The Brewery boasts some serious beer-folks on its roster. Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver, acknowledged as the world’s foremost scholar on beer, wrote The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering The Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food in 2003, a must-have compendium of beer and food pairings. In 2005, Co-Founders Steve Hindy and Tom Potter wrote Beer School, inspiring stories about starting a brewery from scratch.

Of course, after all the talking, you’ll want to wet your whistle with a cold one. They’re no longer free—though its hard to imagine that they were, once. The Brewery provides picnic tables in the tasting room for your sipping comfort. The Brewery opens its doors to the public Monday to Thursday from 5-7 p.m. for reservation-only Small Batch tours, Friday evening for Happy Hour, and Saturdays and Sundays for Tours and Tastings. If you’re traveling to New York visit the brewery and take a walk through the vibrant surrounding Northside neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

Brooklyn Brewery 79 North 11th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211  (718) 486-7422

Only a short ride away from Manhattan.

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