A little piece I wrote for the latest issue of Islands.
*Note: The editor got a little creative here – Red Boat is definitely not on the tables of hole-in-the-wall pho joints. But the rest is close enough.
James the winemaker gently strokes his favorite red heifer. “You can’t make great wine without cows,” he tells me. Hmm. They are surprisingly affectionate, his cows. And so is James. He scratches under their bellies until their legs twitch like a puppy’s and even leans in to kiss one, throwing his arms around her thick neck. I want to show some affection of my own, so I put my hand out for the cow to lick, but my pants appear to be more appetizing. At the precise moment this half-ton beast is running her wide, unexpectedly rough pink tongue along my trousers, I think of the half-truth I will tell the customs officer upon my return to the States. Have I been on a farm while in New Zealand? No, just a couple of wineries… (read more in the latest issue of Islands)
American billionaire Leslie Alexander, an avid wine collector and owner of the Houston Rockets basketball team, is opening a new wine club and storage space in the Hamptons with a US$50,000 (£32,000) membership fee. Located in Bridgehampton, some 160km east of New York City, Société du Vin is set to open on 25 May. (read more)
The warmer weather brings with it singing birds, blooming buds and an undisputable hankering for rosé or pink wine. It’s hard to believe rosés once had a stigma. Nowadays, they’re pretty much a given in the summertime. And why not? They’re easy to drink, best enjoyed when pleasantly chilled and pair well with everything from barbecue to picnic food. You often see rosés from France and Spain, but just about every wine-producing region now makes rosé. We round up pink wines from around the world. (read more)
Every year, in my late adolescence and young adulthood, my dad and his friends would celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. If it fell on a workday, they’d take it off. The agenda would begin with an appearance at the local parade, then a beeline for the pub.
There was only one Irish person in the group – as in, one actually-born-in-Ireland person – but that, of course, didn’t matter. They were all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. If, by Irish, you mean shit-faced by mid-afternoon. My dad is definitely not the only person to celebrate St. Paddy’s this way. The not-quite-holiday has become known as amateur hour and is best depicted in this 30 Rock episode: a sea of Megans, drunken couples fighting or all-too-publicly making up, buckets of testosterone and green-hued puke, and a totally misguided sense of patriotism. And now, the same fate has befallen Cinco de Mayo. (read more)
The big race in Kentucky this weekend is synonymous with extravagant hats, ballsy bets and cocktails served in icy silver cups. That’s right: julep season is upon us. Time to stock up on bourbon. And why not splurge on a good craft bourbon whiskey now that so many are readily available? From Kentucky Straights to small-batch Yankee bourbons to sweet corn whiskeys from the West Coast, there’s no shortage of brown liquors for your mint julep. Of course, with bourbons as fine as these, you’ll probably want to sip ’em straight. (read more)
Here’s an equation for you: the better the coffee we all drink, the longer we all have to wait to drink it. At craft coffee bars, where artisanally roasted beans are ground and brewed to order using low-tech equipment like pour overs and siphons, a coffee break can be quite the time commitment. Have you been to any of the Blue Bottle locations in San Francisco? The line can stretch out the door. What’s a coffee geek to do? Ride the third-wave right into the future, says Khristian Bombeck, founder of the new Steampunk coffee and tea brewer. (read more)
Pisco is a clear grape brandy that most people recognize as the main ingredient in a pisco sour, a cocktail created nearly a century ago when an American bartender working in Peru allegedly ran out of whiskey for a whiskey sour and decided to use the local moonshine instead. Pisco is also a small, sleepy port town about 150 miles south of Lima. There isn’t much to see in the town of Pisco: a ton of pisco was shipped out of there, but not actually made there. In the greater Ica region, however, there are several distilleries — bodegas — to visit, from sleek new facilities with shiny high-tech equipment to tiny, rustic operations where chickens peck through discarded grape skins and workers nap in the shade while the magic of distillation takes place. (read more)