Food + Drink
On the northeastern side of Lake Michigan, Traverse City is a hip little town that has exploded in recent years with new wineries, a slew of fantastic farm-to-table restaurants, and its very own Michael Moore-founded film festival. Surrounded by lush farmland, vineyards, and pristine beaches, the area is still blissfully under-the-radar. But not for long: with summer-resident and star chef Mario Batali singing its praises, Traverse City’s on the rise.
BEST MEAL: Located in the historic Bowers Harbor Inn on Old Mission Peninsula, Mission Table reopened in 2010 after a major renovation and menu overhaul. Their commitment to local, sustainable ingredients is evident in their ultra-seasonal farm-to-table fare.
PR guru/savvy entrepreneur/enthusiastic globetrotter/longtime friend of T+L Melanie Brandman lives a life many would envy, traveling to all corners of the globe for her namesake company’s top-name travel clients.
And having also grown up in Australia and the Middle East, it’s no surprise Melanie’s world view is big—one that’s surely influenced and helped cultivate her good eye (and her good taste). Few know, however, that before her start in the travel industry, she worked as an editor at Vogue Australia.
Today, Melanie officially returns to her early professional roots with the launch of The Travel Curator. The new website is her little black book of favorite finds from the road. Think of it as the short list or cheat sheet (hotels, restaurants, shops, more) for the world’s top luxury destinations mixed with smart trend coverage.
The first city in the spotlight? Sydney, of course. Melanie tips readers off to everything from a Surry Hills boutique renown for its custom textiles to what she calls “the best food truck in the Southern Hemisphere,” which sells meat pies with all the fixings around the clock. “Believe me, at 2 a.m. it’s just what the doctor ordered.” We do, Melanie!
Next month, travel with Melanie to New York City.
Food and wine festivals are becoming a ubiquitous fixture in every self-respecting dining destination, but until recently, the City of Angels had little to call its own.
Enter the first-annual Los Angeles Food & Wine (LAFW), presented by American Express Publishing (T+L's parent company): a four-day (October 13-16) festival that features more than 50 culinary events across four neighborhoods. From a California clambake in Santa Monica with chef Tom Colicchio, to a red carpet VIP event and pork and pinot noir party hosted by chef Todd English, to a musical performance by Train, the festival promises to levy L.A.’s megawatt star power while showcasing its considerable dining chops. We got the scoop from LAFW’s co-founder, David Bernahl.
Q: How did the LAFW come about?
A: There are all these rock star younger chefs that are really leading the culinary world right now, and we knew from experience that this is the best way to get people interested in food and wine. We set out two years ago to start creating something that was deserving of the city.
To drive past the soaring modern barns and lush pastures of Arethusa Farm Dairy in Litchfield, Connecticut, is to think: lucky cows. Light-years away from the rustic dairy farms that dot the nearby hills, Arethusa is the creation of Manolo Blahnik USA co-owners George Malkemus (president) and Tony Yurgaitis (vice president). These two sophisticated and urbane gentlemen have applied the same creative vision to—well—milk that the brand does to the curve of an insole or the proportion of an ankle strap. With the addition of a pristinely elegant creamery shop (822 Bantam Rd.; 860/361-6600) in nearby Bantam, ice cream, farmer cheese, Camembert, and yogurt are also for sale, providing a gastronomic experience as well as an aesthetic one. It’s all the proof we need that true style can be applied to anything.
Photo by Lee Clower
Everyone has someone they admire—a certain chef, musician, or adventurer, perhaps. Here’s the chance to get up close and personal with your hero.
For the Foodie: The new gastronomic tour from renowned French chef Guy Savoy begins with lunch at his Paris restaurant (he’ll be there to greet you), where the menu is tailored to your next destination. This month, you’ll get whisked away on a jet to an oyster farm in Brittany; in November, you can create your own Cognac in Charente. The intimate trips end back where they started, with a meal hosted by the chef. From $7,000 (all-inclusive); Oct. 26–28 and Nov. 16–18.
For the Music Lover: At Hollywood, California’s Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, you’ll form a band, get pointers from Kiss’s Paul Stanley, and take the stage at the Gibson Showroom. Leather pants not included. From $6,000 (includes most meals, a recording session, and evening activities); Nov. 10–13.
For the Space Junkie: Buzz Aldrin—the second man to walk on the moon—will speak to starstruck guests at Soneva Kiri by Six Senses Thailand, as part of the Exploratory Talkers’ Tables series. Doubles from $3,100, including meals; April 8, 2012.
Photo by Laurence Mouton
Small-batch breweries are mixing in inventive autumnal ingredients. Here, a taste of the season’s best.
Where to Try It: The Bruery, Placentia, Calif.
Tasting Notes: This Orange County brewery, in a former warehouse, has made headlines for its creative brews—including this sweet and spicy one made with 17 pounds of yams (yes, yams)—plus cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses, and maple syrup. 715 Dunn Way; 714/996-6258.
Fuego del Otoño
Where to Try It: Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales Café & Brewery, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Tasting Notes: Head to the brewery’s laid-back restaurant for a sample of its annual fall release, a blend of anise, cinnamon, and Michigan-grown chestnuts that’s aged in oak barrels. The deep flavor also features the brand’s calling card—a smooth sourness, thanks to a special yeast. 311 S. Main St.; 734/913-2730.
Where to Try It: Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Tasting Notes: Pumpkin beer should complement pie, not taste like it. Luckily, founder Sam Calagione has mastered restraint: the taste of the fresh fall squash and hints of cinnamon and allspice are noticeable yet subtle—and are best enjoyed at the cozy brewpub. 320 Rehoboth Ave.; 302/226-2739.
Where to Try It: Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Pleasantville, N.Y.
Tasting Notes: This gold-toned beer isn’t technically made with fruit—but a stint maturing in apple-brandy barrels at a cozy brewery lends it cider-like sweetness and a tart bite. 99 Castleton St.; 914/741-2337.
Where to Try It: At events throughout the Northeast.
Tasting Notes: Some of the barley malt in this stout—from the roaming brewery Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project—is smoked over rosemary. Who says the herb is just for hearty fall fare? 617/682-6419.
Photo by Lars Klove
Have you ever wondered what it may be like to sit and enjoy a drink from the
top of a multi-storey car park? Probably not, but if you have then you can
indulge your musings now through Sept. 30 at Frank’s Café atop a car park in South London's Peckham neighborhood. Classy!
Frank’s Cafe and
Campari Bar is situated amidst the Bold Tendencies Sculpture Project atop a parking garage overlooking the city. (It's also part of the Henry Moore Foundation Year of Sculpture 2011). Designed by Practice Architecture, Frank’s Café and
Campari Bar occupies a temporary building alongside the sculptures on the roof. And yes, parking is available.
Photo courtesy of Frank's Cafe and Campari Bar
It’s either unchecked hedonism or outright
denial that led me to New York’s Fire Island the weekend
after summer’s unofficial demise. While most
vacationers packed up their share-houses and kissed farewell to the spit of
sand off Long Island’s south coast over Labor Day, I
was still dreaming of bike rides, summer ales, and one last coat of sun.
It doesn’t hurt that hotel prices fall off a cliff once
beachgoers pack up their white (I paid $225 per night at Clegg's Hotel, while
rates during summer’s apex can be double that). So I
found myself at the Island Mermaid pulling on a straw filled with its signature
Rocket Fuel (a dark rum piña colada with a Cruzan 151 “sinker” at the bottom and a pond of Amaretto floating on top) and stretching summer out
as long as possible before the looming cold throws its death grip around New
York City. I wasn’t ready for fall, not yet.
Summer might technically end on September 21, but a few goodfolks are letting New Yorkers prolong the spirit: from September 23–25, the Hammer and Claws Blue Crab Feast will hit Chelsea for the first time, bringing an authentic, Maryland-style (steamed in beer, vinegar, and water, and dusted with Old Bay seasoning), all-you-can-eat blue crab feast right up to the Hudson Harbor. Tickets for each of the weekend’s four seatings cost $118, and include all the fixings—plus beer and cocktails. And it’s all for a good cause, no less.
It’s fitting that the artist behind Chicago’s iconic bean-shaped sculpture has now created an espresso cup. But not just any cup. Available as part of a limited-edition collection by Italian coffee brand Illy ($90 a pair), Anish Kapoor’s white porcelain demitasse has a slick, platinum interior. The saucer can be placed on top to produce a mini sculpture. One masterpiece with my espresso, please!
Photo courtesy of Illy