Man’s Fine Life would like to wish our loyal readers a wonderful Thanksgiving Day full of feasting, friends, family & frivolity. And here’s to all those who do the hard work of putting the celebration together every year. Lord knows it ain’t easy and we’re certainly thankful for all their efforts and the fine food that results!
Enjoy your holiday, travel safely and know that we give thanks for you stopping by when you can. See you on the flipside for some day-after turkey sandwiches on rye with Russian dressing!
Or what I learned on my summer vacation… There is a “delicacy” in Sweden and parts of Scandavavia called Surströmming. The name literally means “sour herring” but that does’t even hint at the, shall we say, pungent qualities of the fish after it has been fermented for no less than 6 months. In fact, a freshly opened can of surströmming has been found to be the most putrid food smell in the world — and that’s saying something! Here are six foolhardy and funny Americans becoming acquainted with this most acquired of tastes (plenty of profanity & retching so definitely NSFW). And unlike these poor souls, if you ever decide to try surströmming never open the can indoors. Or really anywhere near a civilized population. Enjoy!
For the warmer months, we’re stocking the fridge with Davidson Brothers IPA. Brewed in Glens Falls, New York north of Saratoga Springs, this IPA drinks more like a straight up Pale Ale, with an emphasis on citrus notes rather than skunky hops. That makes it perfect for a hot day where you want refreshment and not heaviness on the palate. With a 5.9% ABV it’s certainly not a light beer by any means but it also won’t leave you with a hops hangover the next morning. Goes down smooth and refreshing with a full but not cloying flavor and a clean finish, Davidson Brothers IPA is a winner in warmer weather and it’s good to see another local New York State brewery turning out such outstanding, hand-crafted beer.
Davidson Brothers Brewing Company is located at 184 Glen Street in lovely Glens Falls, NY right near the winding Hudson River. Take a tour, have a tasting of not just the IPA but also an Irish Red, a Brown and a Scotch Ale, as well as some specialty brews, and enjoy some fine food & music while you’re sipping. Not a bad way to while away a Saturday if you’re up that way. Not bad at all.
Sure, Labor Day is the symbolic end of summer… but really, it ain’t over yet and you owe it to yourself to wring out every last drop of summer fun. So there’s still time for warm weather cocktails to go along with your end-of-season cookouts and outdoor entertainments even if the days are getting noticeably shorter. One of the archetypal summer cocktails and certainly one of my favorites is the Hemingway Daiquiri.
As the well-worn legend has it, Papa Hemingway was famous for downing epic quantities of this brisk rum-based drink during his time in Cuba when he would hold court at the El Floridita Bar in Havana. If you want a double-sized version of the drink, which Hemingway usually did, it’s therefore called a Papa Doble.
There are, of course, variations to the recipe but in my opinion the best way to make this particular daiquiri is with simple syrup rather than sugar because then it’s easy to blend and you won’t have the problem of the undisssolved sugar collecting on the bottom of the glass or staying in your cocktail shaker and leaving the majority of the drink too bitter. Like all daiquiris this is a white rum-based cocktail, so leave the Mount Gay for another occasion. I prefer something of premium quality like 10 Cane or Cacao Prieto over plain old Bacardi because, after all, to make a really good drink you should use really good rum. And if you don’t have proper Mareschino liqueur handy, I feel that readily available Kirschwasser, another type of cherry-flavored clear brandy, is an acceptable substitute. Continue reading →
Time was when South Williamsburg, that part closest to the Williamsburg Bridge, was a bit of a sleepy outpost. Sure, there was Dressler, Diner and Marlowe & Sons. And of course, there was always Peter Luger’s. But by the watering hole/restaurant “density standard” of the Northside, that seemed a relative paucity of choices, no matter that the quality of those stalwarts were all well above average. But like so much in Brooklyn’s hottest nabe, a lot is also changing on its Southside and changing fast. In the last 3-4 years, there have been at least 5 or 6 big new apartment buildings erected. And that means a lot of hungry and thirsty new folk in Los Sures.
Thankfully, one of the better new additions to the scene is the excellent bar/cafe, OTB. Occupying a former hardware store right on Broadway between Bedford and Driggs, just next to Motorino Pizzeria’s new location and only a few doors away from the now-shuttered Dressler, OTB is a super comfortable space — dare I day “homey”? — that offers reasonably priced and always tasty food and drink. With a subtle nod to the now-defunct Off Track Betting parlors of New York’s past, there are sly allusions to that peculiar institution, such as an old-fashioned rotary wall phone, heavily padded swivel bar chairs and super comfortable club booths. There are also attractive light fixtures, cool paisley-textured vinyl wallpaper and beautiful oversized photographic prints adorning the walls that feature retro-cool vintage scenes of servicemen at a burlesque show or well-turned out gentry attending a horse race. The food menu is nicely focused with an emphasis on French bistro standards like escargots, frogs’ legs and a killer steak frites, as well as a very juicy grass-fed burger. There is also a good raw bar with ceviche and oysters (the latter on special for a buck each late nights and Mondays) and meaty chicken wings done in a choice of three finger-lickin’ styles. If you’re lucky, you may also run into an occasional special of the tastiest chicken tenders around — much too good for kids and my only caveat is that they should always be on the menu.
As for libation, there is a tight little selection of craft & imported beers on tap such as Captain Lawrence IPA and Radeberger; and a very fine cocktail list with essentials like a traditional rye Old Fashioned and in-house creations like the aptly named and all-too-quaffable Pimm’s Knockout (a particular favorite of the Missus). Best of all, the gracious and friendly staff makes you feel at home the minute you sit down or belly up to the bar. And Wiliamsburg or not, that kind of vibe is hard to come by these days. It all adds up to make OTB an excellent and unpretentiously hip hangout to while away an evening, as well as a welcome addition to a rapidly changing neighborhood. So check it out on your next visit to the Southside and if you haven’t been over that way in a while, you’ll be dumbstruck at how much else has changed.
A “Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey” utilizing limestone mineral water from Rosendale, NY and blended in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Widow Jane nonetheless exhibits the best qualities of really fine Bourbon: a hot, almost cognac-like nose; a sweet caramel first impression; a hint of charred oak middle; and a lingering warm burnt orange peel finish.
Widow Jane is one of many eclectic and palate-pleasing products offered by the remarkable Cacao Prieto chocolatier and distiller, which is based out of a beautiful old brick building on Conover Street in Red Hook. But along with their amazing rum, we find the latest batch of 7-years-in-American-oak Bourbon absolutely one of the best liquors we’ve tasted lately with no off notes and smooth-sipping sweetness. At about 91 proof, adding a little branch water or an ice cube is quite all right and will open up the subtle flavors that seem to unfold like a long, warm wave over your tongue. It’s a bit too refined and expensive to be a mixing whiskey (around $58 a fifth) so best to just take your time and enjoy it on its on with a good friend or two. There’s enough going on in each sip to satisfy your senses over the long haul, no additives required. If you’re really craving an Old Fashioned or sour, pull out some Jim Beam and save the Widow Jane for another time. She’s worth it.
We highly recommend paying a visit to Cacao Prieto in person to sample their fantastic chocolate, chocalate-based liquors, stellar white rum and to stock up on the Widow Jane whiskeys available. If you can’t make it out to rapidly rebounding Red Hook, you can order this fine Bourbon through Astor Wines, as well as the vendors listed at the Widow Jane site.
Summer may be winding down but there are still plenty of BBQs, camping trips and picnics to be had. So if you’re getting a bit tired of beer (I know, for some it might be heresy to even suggest that) but are having a hard time finding a wine to pair with the unique flavors of cookouts and cold potato salad, we’ve got the grape for you. It’s a white primarily Austrian varietal called Grüner Veltliner and its tart-sweet green apple notes make it ideal for sticky sweet barbecue, jerk chicken, grilled pork and even hot dogs.
Austrian Grüner from Paul Direder
Less sweet and leaner that most Rieslings or Gewürztraminers (which I’m also a big fan of during the warm months) and with a distinctly new-wine nose, the green-gold Grüner should be served nice & cold and can be sipped on its own as an aparatif or served throughout the evening from a smoked fish starter to the cherry pie for dessert. Not only that but most are inexpensive at under $15 and they usually come in liter bottles for a little extra bang for the buck. In short, it’s a perfect summer wine and we like it so much we’re probably going to keep drinking it in the Fall…and then on vacation somewhere warm…and next Spring…
Mr. Devlin was a pioneer in the Williamsburg food scene, which is to say the whole back-to basics, farm-to-table movement. His excellent restaurant Dressler on Broadway near the Williamsburg Bridge just shut down a few weeks ago due to a failure to come to terms with the landlord on a new lease (i.e. the rent was going up, up, up). It was an absolute shock, like someone abruptly tore away part of the fabric of the neighborhood, and there was a feeling of genuine loss. Not to mention it was always extremely busy with locals & tourists, so it seemed extra hard to fathom.
I never met the man but I’ve eaten at all of his restaurants (DuMont and DuMont Burger are still, I sincerely hope, going strong) and not only was the food great and the experience fun but they played an important part in my wife & I falling in love with this ugly-beautiful part of Brooklyn.
When they write the epitaph of the inevitable decline and loss of identity of Williamsburg caused by ever-escalating real estate prices and uncontrolled development pushing out the middle and artisan class to find cheaper housing and work space elsewhere (as is happening in so much of New York City), the sad and lonely death of Mr. Devlin may well serve as a symbolic turning point: the Beginning of the End.
Our sincere condolences to his family, friends & employees from all the folks here at MFL. May you have the strength to carry on.
Hot summer days have many good points and one of the best is that they were made for outdoor grilling. And the most fun type of grilling, in my opinion, is slow cooking. Not only does it allow you to drink more beer while you grill longer, which is nice, but it also enables the grillmeister to demonstrate a bit more finesse and technique than a 5-minute steak (not that there’s anything wrong with that either).
One of my favorite semi-slow grilled dishes is classic hickory-smoked chicken. This can be cooked on a standard Webber kettle-type grill (no smoke box required), in about an hour and a half to 2 hours depending on the size of the chicken pieces or whole bird that you’re using. This would be considered a “hot smoking” method and looks like this (this pic was taken closer to the end than the beginning FYI. And yes, that is a kielbasa and yes, I am happy to see you!):
You can see that we’re banking the charcoal to one side and the chicken and kielbasa is actually placed over the area of the grill without the coals, the cool side, so as to receive indirect heat. We don’t have to sear the chicken first with this recipe–it’ll cook just fine anyway with a delicious caramalized skin.
No great revelation here: We like the World’s Most Interesting Man in the World campaign. Who doesn’t? Here’s why:
I’m not privy to the metrics but it must’ve lifted the brand’s profile in the States immeasurably, which is, after all, why companies pay ad agencies. So great value for money to the client.
The commercials are worth viewing for enjoyment on their own merits. I’m sure they’ve won a closet-worth of awards. So great prestige for the ad team while doing creative & fun work = win-win.
And, most pivotally, the dude kind of reminds us of our dads, who really did seem to have done a lot more adventuring in their heyday in the 1960s & 70s. We could be biased but our pops were more well rounded and, yes, masculine than most guys tend to be today. The MIMITW is a caricature but he resonates because those years really did seem extra “actiony”. And our dads were definitely in the thick of things.
Sure, the beer’s good with Mexican food and in hot weather. But the campaign is better than the brew. It is an all time classic.