If there’s one thing I want to do in a restaurant, it’s eat something amazing. But if I get to eat something good and beat my friend at ping pong, well then things are going really well for me. Happily, there’s a whole new world of restaurants that decided to take the Dave & Busters concept to another level, combining great food with superfun extracurricular activities.
Fly Fishing at the Restaurant at the Little Nell, Aspen – The hotel hasn’t actually installed a river in the middle of their dining room. But they do take guests out for a fly-fishing lesson and chef Robert McCormick will serve a waterside lunch on fine china, along the lines of salmon crostini and housemade ice cream sandwiches. Starting this summer, they’ll make trips in a gorgeous new made-in-Montana wooden boat. thelittlenell.com
Surfing at Casa del Mar, Santa Monica – The name, Surf with Chef, says everything you need to know. You get a surf lesson with a private instructor and chef Jason Bowlin (chef at the hotel’s Catch restaurant; let’s assume he’s a good surfer); then Bowlin will slide in and serve lunch made with ingredients you’ve caught…. No! from the nearby farmer’s market, where he’ll make dishes like roasted beets with burrata. hotelcasadelmar.com
Rocking out at Sam’s, Boston – Sam’s co-owner, guitarist Drew Parsons (of American HiFi) often plays live sets on Friday nights at the restaurant. Extra credit to Sam’s: they also have a bocce court where groups can compete and sample dishes like black pepper patty burgers, and drink a Captain Hilt, a mix of bourbon, chartreuse and raspberry puree. samsatlouis.com
Ping-Ponging at Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club, NYC – Down at South Street Seaport, chef Jason Mayer serves German bratwurst on a pretzel bun (also hand-stretched pretzel snacks and cinnamon-sugar pretzels for dessert). There’s live music (George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at the end of July!) and a rec room dream assortment of ping pong, foosball and pool. beekmanbeergarden.com
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© Bryce Boyd
Region General Store
Anyone who knows me can attest that I'm prone to getting lost while shopping for two things: food and home goods. This is no joke, people—I have a serious problem! Lately, I'm finding it especially difficult to control myself because of my new favorite spot that recently opened: Region General Store in the Catskills, two hours north of New York City and just off the banks of the ultra-beautiful Upper Delaware River.
Luxury-retailer-turned-artisan-goods-junkie Bryce Boyd decided to open his store after building a summer home in the Catskills and realizing that his true passion was for a store of his own—one that would be stocked with things produced within 200 miles. He started plans for a modern take of an old-timey staple: the general store.
His country-chic boutique opened only weeks ago, and with much success. It seems only a matter of time before he'll need to hire a staff of people just to stock the shelves (especially with me on the prowl). Bryce sells specialty foods like an incredible cranberry-horseradish chutney (my personal favorite) from Beth's Farm Kitchen and artisan breads from a small-batch bakery, Flour Power, in Livingston Manor, New York. Also available are handmade home goods like a Halloweenish cobweb broom, ceramic juicers and luxurious soaps and candles from TV's famous Beekman Boys.
Region General Store’s website should be up and running in the next few weeks. Until then you’ll need to stop by, like me, and get lost in a world of chutneys, cheeses and pottery.
Region General Store, 3344 Route 97, Barryville, NY; 845-557-5000 or www.regiongeneralstore.com.
We know, this sounds suspiciously like an internet ad that tells you how to make money by selling prescription drugs online. No, this might be even easier. Some cookbooks that you just might have sitting on your shelves are going for quite a bit of money on Amazon.
We’re not talking about super-specialized books like Modernist Cuisine, the recently released, $625, 46-pound compendium by Nathan Myhrvold, nor a first-edition copy of Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food, which went for $1583. (Although if you have either of those books on hand, you’re lucky, and potentially rich.) We’re talking specifically about The Last Course, by pastry goddess Claudia Fleming. Published in 2001, the book ranks just above the 783,000 mark on Amazon’s best-seller list and originally cost $40. Now, a first edition of The Last Course is on sale for $800 on Amazon, with used copies going for $142.
Why is the book, as good as it is, so expensive? Because it was only reprinted in limited quantities. (Maybe also because gilttaste.com marked the book at $400 when Dave Chang recently named it on his curated cookbook list for the website.)
“People always want what they can’t get,” says The Last Course’s co-author, Melissa Clark. “Once a cookbook goes from utilitarian—as in, something to cook from—to cult—as in, something to own—that’s when you get crazy prices. The funny thing is, I recently bought a copy at a thrift shop for $20. Then the price skyrocketed. So now I have two copies, and I’m wishing I’d saved more from my original case of books.” Alright everyone, go check your shelves for The Last Course. Of course we recommend that you cook from it. But whatever you do, don’t put it on the giveaway pile.
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© Lucy Schaeffer
The Breslin's Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup
Here are some other rules we've seen NYC restaurants employ.
*Close the blinds to the street when the paparazzi line up outside. (A rule followed by the staff at Marea the second someone like Michael Douglas walks in.)
*Seat the best-known people in the corner. At Craft, table #158, deep in the restaurant, is set aside so anyone supremely famous (like LeBron James who rented out Craft's LA outpost for a party) can be escorted right there.
*Seat the best-known people in the kitchen. At his newest restaurant The John Dory, Friedman created a chef’s table in the kitchen. What about the rumor that Jay-Z wanted a chef’s table, with real chairs, as an alternative to the stools that make up the seating in the rest of the restaurant? “We didn't create the table for anyone in particular," says Friedman. "The chef’s table is fun, it’s in the kitchen,” says Friedman. “Plus who wants to sit on stools all the time? I don’t; neither does Charlie Rose.”
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(Pictured above: The Breslin's Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup)
© Erica Simone
The custom kitchen at Jay Kos.
New York City fashion designer Jay Kos finds shopping for clothes boring. "We all have what we need, but we shop because we love to express ourselves creatively. The experience should also be creative." To make the shopping experience at his new menswear store, which opens today on Mott Street, more fun for both him and his clients, he's installed a fabulous custom green-glass kitchen designed by Italian manufacturer GD Cucine. The food-obsessed fashion designer, known for his preppy haberdashery, is often inspired by the colors of produce in the green market. He will also use the farmers' market to inspire the dishes he cooks at the shop, though he says the signature dish will be an omelet with artichoke hearts, which he learned to make in Italy. A Russian baker friend will also be baking tarts starting next week.
© Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design
I have to admit: Few things make me happier than a well-mixed drink and a fabulous dress. But I hadn’t given much thought to how the two might be related until checking out a new exhibit at the Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Called Cocktail Culture: Ritual and Invention in American Fashion, 1920-1980, the show surveys the influence tippling had on fashion and design from Prohibition through the disco era. Objects range from kitsch (a 1948 custom-made tiki bar) to fabulously functional (a 14-inch sterling silver Art Deco cocktail shaker) to super glam (a Swarovski Crystal-and-pearl necklace worn by Audrey Hepburn in the movie Sabrina). The highlight, though, is a collection of about 50 cocktail dresses, including LBDs, flapper, Mad Men-esque and ‘70s styles from the likes of Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga. It’s no secret that the rise of social drinking was liberating for those doing the sipping, but, according to RISD curators, it also pushed designers to shake off their own inhibitions. Cheers to that. – Jenna Pelletier
Cocktail Culture is on view through July 31 at RISD Museum of Art, 20 North Main St., Providence, 401-454-6500, risdmuseum.org.
© Petrina Tinslay
National Velvet (1944)
Twelve-year old jockey Velvet Brown’s namesake dessert: Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Ice Cream (pictured). Bonus: her horse’s name was Pie.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Spicy recipes that could have been served by Maggie the Cat at Big Daddy’s revelatory birthday party in New Orleans, including Chicken and Smoked-Sausage Gumbo and Creole Shrimp with Garlic and Lemon.
Food fit for a queen: Egyptian Spiced Carrot Puree and Okra in Tomato Sauce.
© Kana Okada
A Mariah Carey pregnancy food favorite: Pork chops
She’s giving in to her pregnancy cravings by cooking and eating comfort foods like “smothered pork chops, collard greens, red beans and rice and pecan pie with homemade whipped cream,” says her husband, Nick Cannon, in an interview with People magazine.
Check out more super-satisfying recipes in our Southern Comfort Food slideshow.
© Richard Koek
Over the last few years, the generic hotel gift shop has been rethought into a super-curated retail experience. Now, hotel guests can buy Kelly Wearstler–designed pieces in the Viceroy Miami’s store, Opening Ceremony in the Ace New York and even surfboards at the new Waikiki Edition.
Now, the Surrey hotel on NYC’s Upper East Side has partnered with Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi to exclusively showcase her newest collection of jewelry. The Padma Collection’s Fall/Winter 2010 line was inspired by Padma’s global travels. Guests can purchase pieces, which are on display in a grand armoire in the lobby, directly through the hotel concierge through March 2011.
Tune in on Wednesdays at 10PM ET for Top Chef: Boston, the 12th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.