Month: November, 2007

Isn’t that special?

Saturday, November 17th, 2007 | All Things, Friends

The 7 train has undergone its share of construction detours this year, but this weekend’s commute was probably the most convoluted of all. No service to Manhattan, trains running express in one direction… the service change/alternate route announcements were comically long, and as usual — though much improved from back in the day — nearly indecipherable. The signage inside the cars didn’t even attempt an explanation:

7 Special

Nonetheless, I managed to deliver my stuffed pork loin safely out to Sunnyside (brining works!), where just the most hardcore of dinner devotees had gathered this night.

Post-dinner, as we were catching up on DVR-ed episodes of How I Met Your Mother, I felt a guilty twinge of recognition during the “Spoiler Alert” episode… further enhanced by the meaningful looks cast pointedly in my direction during the “Mr. Corrector” bits. Oy!

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Slàinte redux

Friday, November 16th, 2007 | All Things, Events

At Midtown Loft, across the street from Marble Collegiate Church, this evening for a tasting event hosted by Macallan. Or rather: The Macallan.

On the 11th floor, we were greeted with tumblers of scotch, which we brought to the high round tables set up along what had been a fashion runway the last time I was here. As trays of hors d’œuvres were passed about, we were treated to a primer on the six scotch single malt whisky-producing regions in Scotland: Highland, Lowland, Islay, Campbeltown, Islands and Speyside — that last being the heartland of malt whisky, and the home to The Macallan distilleries. We learned that in order to be classed a “scotch” whisky, the spirit must have been matured in an oak cask in Scotland for a minimum of three years, and bottled at a minimum strength of 40% alcohol by volume… which meant, so we were forewarned: no sticking your nose inside the glass for a hard whiff unless you’re looking to burn out the nasal membrane.

The Macallan

I’m not much of a scotch drinker, so there was added value in being talked through the tastings of The Macallan Fine Oak 15 and 17 year-old scotches. For this line, the scotch is matured in a triple combination of oak casks from Europe and America: the European casks are seasoned with sherry, which imparts hints of dried fruits, spice and chocolate orange; the American casks are either seasoned with sherry (lending notes of lemon, coconut and toffee) or with bourbon (which delivers floral aromas and sweet notes of vanilla and fresh fruits.) Tastes of The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 year scotch came next, followed by the distillery’s pride: The Macallan 18 year old, which was named “Best Malt in the World” by Whisky Magazine in June 2004. All The Macallan Sherry Oaks are matured exclusively in sherry oak casks brought to the distillery from Jerez, Spain — a town acclaimed worldwide for its sherry and brandy production.

Fancy, but not the fanciest: on December 8, a bottle of 1926(!) vintage Macallan — bottled in 1986 and rebottled in 2002 — was sold for a record-breaking $54,000 (including commission) at Christie’s “Fine and Rare Wines and Spirits” auction, in what was the first spirits auction to take place in New York since Prohibition.

The Macallan

Each new glass was accompanied by cheers of the Scottish Gaelic toast “Slàinte Mhath!” — pronounced: “SLAHN-zhe-vah,” which is an ever-so-slightly different pronunciation from the Irish toast we were taught earlier this year. Each vintage was introduced with a newsreel montage, which provided some context for the year in which our scotches were bottled. Has it really been 17 years since Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa, and Milli Vanilli were stripped of their Grammy? (Best “Behind the Music” ever, by the way — “Girl, you know it’s… Girl, you know it’s… Girl, you know it’s true!”)

Five drams in one night. Not record proportions, but quite enough.

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Province Chinese Canteen

Thursday, November 15th, 2007 | All Things, Eats

For a change of scene from our usual Chinatown lunch, we wandered over to the eastern edge of TriBeCa this dreary afternoon to check out Province Chinese Canteen, based on yet another of JL’s recommendations, making it a three-peat ™ for the week.

Province opened last August during a spate of Asian snack-food openings, and quickly distinguished itself to earn a spot on New York magazine’s Cheap Eats list in 2007. The scaled-down, industrial cafeteria design — brushed metal, blonde wood, white Christmas lights strung from the ceiling — seems appropriate for the simple offerings: sandwiches, sides, soups, salads, desserts and beverages.

Province

The sandwiches are what comprise the bulk of the menu, and based on the steady stream of walk-ins, the bulk of their take-out business. And we could see why: what they do, they do addictively well. The assorted Asian-inspired fillings (grilled chicken, braised pork shoulder, spicy pork and short rib) are presented on griddled round mantou — the Northern Chinese bread, the diameter of an English muffin, the density of a fluffy bagel. Province’s version are slightly sweet and topped with a sprinkling of dark-toasted sesame seeds, which add a nice texture.

The snack-sized buns are $4.25 apiece, making them a bargain in the city’s most expensive zip code, but on the pricey end for the market a few blocks north in Chinatown; a filling meal can be made of two sandwiches for $8, or three for $11.75. Here, the short rib, topped with kimchi (lettuce may be substituted upon request), and the spicy pork, topped with Japanese takuan. Good stuff. I would have liked to stay on to sample more items, particularly the cold sesame noodles — “the must-eat item on the menu” — but this afternoon, I had neither ample appetite nor time.

Province mantou

As I raced back to the office, one particularly strong gust inverted and bent in half my favorite Lulu Guinness umbrella. Drats.

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