Wine Corks at Hunkar
(2006) by Galina
TRYING TO TRAVEL IN STYLE by
NEW YORK CORNER: ANTHOS by John Mariani
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR: Feudo Arancio Makes Quality Sicilia Wines at Great Prices by John Mariani
TRYING TO TRAVEL IN STYLE
by John Mariani
For several years now a friend of mine has never gone on a trip without packing what we calls his "travel suit"--a shiny, ill-fitting bottle-green number he bought years ago in Hong Kong that he says he wears only when he absolutely has to put on a jacket and tie. "It's terrific," he exults. "I can crumple it up, shake it out, wear it and not really care if it gets torn or stolen. It's just a cheap, crappy suit I wear out of necessity."
If that seems like a nifty item to have in your luggage, consider also that he looks like he's working a cheap, crappy suit. In other words, concierges, restaurateurs, and shop owners take one look at that awful green suit of his, wring their hands and say, "Here comes another one."
I am not suggesting that clothes always make the man, nor that the pleasure of travel be encumbered by the kind of wardrobe only George Hamilton would bring for a weekend in
There are certain rules--simple ones that don't take up much room in the luggage--that I think both ease one's passage through gates and lobbies and give an air of sophistication that is always preferable to being regarded as a close cousin of the Simpsons. None of these rules requires extra baggage--they may even require less--nor discomfort, unless you're the type of man who thinks wearing a jacket is somehow more constricting than wearing a windbreaker or jogging suit top.
The guiding principle of traveling in style is always to look comfortable in one's clothes, not stiffly dressed to the nines. "A good style should show no signs of effort," said W. Somerset Maugham, who also said that "only a cad would wear a brown hat to town." Which reminds me of a woman I met who once attended a party where Cary Grant showed up. After returning home, the woman asked her husband, "Did you see how beautifully Cary Grant was dressed?" To which her husband shrugged and said, "No, what was he wearing?" Her reply: "Oh, I don't know what he was wearing."
So, here are a few do's and don'ts of traveling in style that I think are completely reasonable, usually rewarding, and don't cause chafing.
THE LAND'S END SYNDROME
One of the chronic mistakes Americans abroad make is to dress in a style that suggests everything was purchased from a mail order catalog. Tennis shirts the color of strawberry sherbet, a blue poplin blazer with welted seams and white buttons, uncuffed chinos and brand new sneakers, that sort of thing. Such an ensemble is perfectly adequate on vacation in
I've nothing against chinos (I own a pair or two) or blue blazers (which I also own two of), but it has become the American traveler's uniform and gets an appropriate response. It's fine--as are shorts in hot weather climates and anoraks in wet--but wearing such an outfit to a fine restaurant in
CULTIVATING CASUAL CHIC
The whole world has become more casual in its dress, but that doesn't mean slovenly. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the finest restaurants in
So, too, Italian or Spanish loafers are supple, while English laced shoes are more comfortable after a long day on your feet. Nikes and Reeboks are fine for traipsing through the ruins of
By the same token, it is useless to object to restaurant policies that insist upon a jacket and tie and pure folly to arrive in expensive, casual duds and expect to be seated anyway. Most restaurants that require a jacket courteously have on hand several discreet jackets in a range of sizes. Others try to punish your indiscretion by giving you something embarrassing to wear. While dining at the Savoy Hotel in
007 KNOWS BEST
If you've ever read any of Ian Fleming's James Bond books, you will see that super-suave super spy 007 is anything but the fop he became in the Roger Moore films. Bond, by the very nature of his assignments (forty-eight hours to find and defuse an atomic bomb in choppy waters off
A blue suit is essential to traveling in style. It is never out of place, dressy enough for more formal occasions and always correct in business meetings. Medium to dark gray is fine too, but tan, khaki, green, and brown get boring--both for the wearer and the onlooker.
A well-made lightweight wool blue blazer--without welted seams--will always be welcome just about anywhere and at any time, with or without a tie, but with gray flannel slacks, not chinos. The former makes you look like a gentleman; the latter like a member of a college glee club.
A PROPER COLLAR
A man can get by in most echelons of society in a well-fitting, moderately-priced suit. But nothing can disguise a cheap shirt. If there is one item of clothing that betrays a loser's style, it's a shirt with a collar that doesn't sit correctly around the neck, a sheer fabric of a kind that makes you look like an insurance claim adjuster on the job, and cuffs and seams that pucker after two trips to the cleaners. Clothes may not make the man, but bad shirts mark the man, and an investment in good, all-cotton shirts--and you can get excellent quality starting at about $60--is the best one a traveler can make if he wants to make an effortless impression. Bring a variety--a couple of button downs, a straight or spread collar, perhaps a tab. Skip pin-collar shirts. French cuffs are beautiful, but they take extra thought, and you can't afford to lose a cuff link. And take enough shirts for a week: You're unlikely to have them sent out to a cleaner, which would cost a fortune anyway.
Also, while this may seem obvious, dress shirts should have collars. But these days, many of the high fashion shirts don't, giving the wearer that ineffable dentist or barber look. Save such collarless fashions for Oscar night in
ONE GOOD BAG
I am adamantly against buying exorbitantly priced leather luggage or anything with little, intertwined L's and V's on brown vinyl, unless I wanted them banged around by the baggage handler terrorists. Good, sturdy luggage with good locks is a necessity. Suiters, rarely handsome, are the best way to avoid losing your luggage, of course. But buy a good carry-on bag: You might think your old Carnival Airlines bag from your cut-rate trip to
I'm old enough to remember the days when people driving their friends and relatives to an airport or picking them up at one would really dress up for the occasion. Now, even in first-class, you'd be lucky not to be sitting next to a tattooed doofus in a sleeveless t-shirt and baseball cap or a jacket reading "GO BULLS!" across the back. (Ever try to pack one of those heavy, satin sports jackets? Fuh-ged-aboud-it!)
Not too long ago the airlines themselves requested jackets and ties for gentlemen in first class, then "appropriate dress." Few pay much attention any more, but I have found that showing up at the counter in a jacket and, preferably, a tie can work wonders with the gate and flight attendants in getting you a bit of preferential treatment, whether it's in a better choice of seating, a little lagniappe with cocktails or food, even an upgrade. On a recent occasion I showed up in jacket and tie for my coach seat, only to upgraded to business by a gate attendant who was in a particularly good mood, had the room, and thought she'd do me a favor. Couldn't hurt.
THROW THEM IN JUST IN CASE
I always carry a few items that don't take up much more space than if I didn't, and they can sometimes make for a more elegant appearance and acceptance at my destination. Pocket squares and neckties in two or three colors to add variety to a basic wardrobe. White cotton handkerchiefs. One cotton turtleneck to be worn under a jacket. A lightweight cotton raincoat--never one of those hideous plastic things that fold into a pouch or a poncho that makes you look like a tour guide in
JUST ONE MORE
I try never to check my bags, but if I do, I never put anything in there I can't afford to do without. I make the reasonable assumption that anything of value will be summarily stolen. I do try to bring one extra suit of clothes in case they lose the bag, or get spilled or splashed upon. It creates a little more bulk in the baggage, but it's worth it for peace of mind.
ONE NIGHT STANDS
But the key element to traveling in style is always to remember that you are probably not going to see the same people more than once or twice on your trip. That means you need not take more than two outfits and a few accessories, because no one is going to see you in them again. I once drove back and forth across the
As I said up front, traveling with a certain elegance can be as comfortable as traveling in bad taste. For those who couldn't care less, go right ahead. But don't blame me if a maître d' in a posh restaurant leans over to say, "Are you dining with us today, sir, or are you here to check the gas meter?"
DRESSING FOR DINNER TIMELINE
1 Million B.C.
NEW YORK CORNER
by John Mariani
36 West 52nd Street
The sudden closing of Dona, the East Side 52nd Street restaurant run by Chef Michael Psilakis and Donatella Arpaia (below), after less than a year in business was a real downer for those of us who went there for first-class, modern Greek-Mediterranean cuisine. As often happens in such cases, a new owner of the building made staying in that location exorbitant, so after a brief respite, Psilakis and Arpaia have opened Anthos, on the same street but just across Fifth Avenue and facing `21' Club. And while they insist this is not Dona (which may re-open elsewhere in the future), their re-emergence is great news for those of us who have come to regard Psilakis, 37, as one of the new masters of New York cuisine.Appetizers at dinner run $15-$20, entrees $28-$44. Anthos is open for lunch Mon.-Fri. and for dinner Mon.-Sat.
Arpaia, whose first restaurant was Bellini, partnered with Chef David Burke three years ago to open burke & donatella on
Joining Arpaia at Dona, Psilakis featured what he called "First Generation Cuisine," combining modern ideas on Italian and Mediterranean food, with a good deal of raw seafood items and mezes appetizers. At Anthos he is toeing much the same line, refining further those elements he innovated at Dona.
The new space, formerly occupied by an Italian seafood restaurant named Aquapazza run by Arpaia's brother Dino, is far more beautiful than Dona, basically a long, sleek, glowingly lighted 95-seat room with pleasant bar-lounge upfront and a staircase leading to private dining rooms. White tablecloths, good glassware and silver, and a conversational decibel level make this one of the west side's most congenial and civilized new dining venues, and, though not required, most of the men at dinner wear jackets and ties. The 215-label winelist, with a slew of good modern Greek wines, has a decent price range starting at $35, and a good sommelier, mark Du Mez.
So far--at less than two months old--the staff at Anthos is not quite up to the food or wine here. They seem overwhelmed by early success, and the bar is confused by even the simplest cocktail order. I trust this aspect of Anthos will only improve once they all get in synch.
Psilakis's food is wholly in its groove, though. For while he is extremely proud of his Greek heritage and wholly knowledgeable about old country culinary traditions, he has brought them into the new century with panache, from the mezes straight through to desserts. The raw mezes (below) began with glistening tuna dressed with mastic oil (made, I'm told from resinous "tear drops" blended with olive oil), tangy lemon confit and a little rosemary; yellowtail was dusted with fennel pollen and sided with ouzo-macerated cherries, and a Taylor bay scallop with pomegranate gelée, pistachio vinaigrette, and the tingle of peppermint; slightly smoked sable fish came with potato and pickled peppers; and cobia with a little lamb shoulder terrine.
The amazements kept coming: Tasmanian crab was flavored with a sea urchin tzatziki of trout roe with chives; large Japanese botan ebi prawns were moistened by a tomato consommé with crumbled feta and spicy basil; sardine escabeche that just escaped being fishy came with cucumber, and something inelegantly called "Thassos olive tar," made from cured, not brined, olives that are dehydrated then blended with olive oil to make a tar-like purée; grilled octopus was fabulous, with a mixture of orange purée and tsakistes olives, with chicory and garlic; and hilopita egg noodle encompassed rabbit, snails, black truffles, and sheep's milk manouri cheese--this last the only dish that went a little over the edge, and certainly didn't need the snails.
Our main courses were somewhat simpler and heartier, as they should be. We began with whole grilled loup de mer with roasted vegetables, then succulent grilled swordfish with seftalia Cypriot minced lamb sausage, baby octopus, chickpeas and cracked coriander vinaigrette, followed by two meat dishes--baby pork chops and belly with cabbage-wrapped dolma containing pork and rice, with grilled fennel and a light, lemony avgolemono sauce, and a rack of lamb and moussaka with parsley root, nettles, and a garlic confit.
Beautifully composed desserts by Bill Corbett included a trio of baklavas--for once not overly sweet!--pistachio, honey custard, and walnut cake with cinnamon ice cream; yogurt with spoon fruit and the unexpected flavors of olives, with a mint gelée and crushed mastic kourambiedes shortbread cookies; a rose and white chocolate crema with passion fruit purée and almond crumble; and goat's cheesecake with Pink Lady apples, goat's milk caramel, and wispy, crisp kataifi pastry.
The menu at Anthos is just the right size to allow Psilakis and his team to bring everything off with finesse, despite the number or exotic ingredients used. It is to their credit that none comes across as gimmicky, nothing that might be called "experimental." Everything works here on the principle of good flavors and impeccable ingredients combined in very precise ways to make something that is wonderfully new rather than tellingly novel.
NOTES FROM THE WINE CELLAR
Feudo Arancio Makes Quality Sicilia Wines at Great Prices
by John Mariani
Matricardi is not a winemaker to
mince words. Indeed, when discussing his or others’ bottlings he
indulge in the usual Winespeak that makes wines sound more like fruit
chem lab experiments than fermented grape juice. “This
is a `Jimmy wine,’” he says of an over-extracted
John Mariani's weekly wine column appears in Bloomberg Muse News, from which this story was adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from art, books, and theater to wine, travel, and food on a daily basis, and some of its articles play of the Saturday Bloomberg Radio and TV.
HINT: IT AIN'T ABOUT
MAYBE IT'S JUST. . . YOU !
"Dining in [
* Silks restaurant at Mandarin Oriental San Francisco announces additions to the schedule of winemaker dinners hosted by Wine Director and Master Sommelier Richard Dean. Each event is preceded by an hour-long tasting seminar with the winemaker or winery representative. Chef de cuisine Joel Huff will create menus to complement the wines. April 24: Freeman California Wine Dinner with Ken and Akiko Freeman. $160 pp; May 29: Louis Jadot
* During The Tribeca Film Festival from April 25-May 6, Cercle Rouge is offering special $19.95 lunch and $34.95 dinner prix fixe menus for guests in the area, featuring chef Pierre Landet's cuisine. Call 212-226-6252.
* From April 28-May 6 in NYC all three Dos Caminos restaurants will lead in to Cinco de Mayo with special Hass Avocado dishes and a specialty cocktail, the Zaragosa. On Cinco de Mayo
* On April 29
* On April 30, the Washington, DC Chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier is hosting "The Art of Food," the 12th Epicurean Food & Wine Auction Gala at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. DC’s top female chefs will create cuisine in honor of the nation's capital's "ColorField remix" celebration taking place this Spring. Chefs incl. Anna Saint John, Nona Nielsen-Parker, Laurie Alleman-Weber, Lisa DeStefano, Lynn Foster, Ruth Gresser, Carla Hall, Kate Jansen, Ris Lacoste, Jamie Leeds, Janis McLean, and Nora Pouillon. Proceeds will benefit the Scholarship and Grants Program of Les Dames d'Escoffier. $250 pp. Call 202-973-2168; visit www.lesdamesdc.org.
* Whistler's Dine & Unwind program returns May 1-June 28, offering visitors multi-course menus starting at just $20 pp. Participating restaurants incl. Araxi, Bavaria Restaurant, Cinnamon Bear Bar & Grille, Crêpe Montagne, The Den at Nicklaus North, Fifty-Two 80 Bistro, Hy's Steakhouse, La Rua Restaurante, Milestone's Whistler, The Mountain Club, Quattro at Whistler, Ric's Grill, Rimrock Café, Tandoori Grill, The Wine Room, and Zen Sushi. Stay in Whistler during Spring Dine and Unwind for as little as $99 per night. Call 1-800-WHISTLER.
* On May 14 in
* As part of the new "Art de Cuisine" series at Sivory Punta Cana, in the
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