Is your skin in need of a little TLC after a long hot summer of gelatinous humidity and city soot? The spa at the Trump Soho has just the cure.
The newly opened spa has nine treatment rooms within its well-appointed 11,000 square feet, but what really sets it apart is its take on the hammam - the traditional bathhouses of Morocco and Turkey. The Trump folks claim it is one of just two authentic luxury hammams in the U.S. (the first being at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas) and the only one in New York. Ok, apparently there are other hammams in the Big Apple, but none whose tiles and materials have been sourced exclusively from Turkey and Morocco or that feature a domed ceiling and tiny pinhole lights that mimic the pin pricks of natural light found in many traditional hammams.
So, on a late summer day, I headed to Soho to check it out. Stefan Drobel, assistant spa director for The Spa At Trump, led me through the spa, stopping at the Tepidarium, a chamber where one is supposed to warm up before entering the baths. The steam and sauna facilities, alas, are still awaiting a final green light from city health inspectors. Then it was on to my Turkish hammam treatment, which Stefan assured me would detoxify and purify my skin. I changed into a robe and was led to a black- and white-tiled room - one of two hammams at the spa. Wearing nothing but the disposable mesh undies provided, I was instructed to sit down on a heated marble "belly slab" (which is big enough to accommodate couples, if you so desire). The mosaic tiles shimmered in the dim light and the little pinholes of light glittered like stars in the sky. My "hammam attache," Jenny, was wrapped in a towel from the waist down -- my first clue to what was to come. She promptly commenced filling silver bowls with warm water and pouring them all over me. That simple act elicited a surprisingly soothing, almost primal, sensation of warmth, and I felt the tension in my body melting away. I laid down and more bowls of water cascaded upon me. Then she donned a slightly coarse "kesa" mitt and gently exfoliated my skin, first front, then back, and always followed by more nurturing water.
If your idea of Latin American cuisine is tacos and a frosty Corona, you're missing out, amigo. From Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, Latin America offers up a stunning array of flavors and culinary traditions -- and all were on display recently at the Gourmet Latino Festival, a five-day series of events and tastings in New York City. There was Argentine barbecue, Mexican mole, and cocktails made with Peruvian Pisco, Mexican tequila and Brazilian Cachaca.
Being a wine lover, I was intrigued by an event that promised to pair Latin America specialties with wines from surprising regions like Brazil, Uruguay and Mexico. it was held at at Palo Santo, a Latino restaurant in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood, where chef-owner Jacques Gautier serves up unusual but authentic pan-Latin cuisine, often using ingredients from his rooftop garden.
"I like to showcase dishes I've come across in my travels but that are less well known," explained Gautier. The same could be said for the wine served that evening.
Todd English and his executive chef, Mike Suppa, pose with the catch of the day at the Food Hall's Ocean Grill.
Central Park South is about to get some European flair with the opening this Friday of The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English. Part market, part restaurant, it is inspired by colorful European markets such as the San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale in Florence and the food hall at Harrod's in London. It's also the first of an influx of European-style food emporiums about to invade New York.
On a sultry, pre-Memorial day evening, chef and restaurateur Todd English offered up a sneak peek of the new venue, which is located on the concourse level of the Plaza Hotel. Let's just say, Eloise never had it so good.
Last year, I wrote about the barefoot running trend for the New York Times, so when Terra Plana recently invited to me to try out their new minimalist running shoe with a renowned running coach, I was eager to give it a try. I've always been a somewhat reluctant runner, so this, I thought, might give me a boost to get in shape for summer.
Terra Plana, run by Galahad Clark, a seventh generation shoe maker (his family owns the footwear giant Clarks), has been one of the biggest proponents of the move toward stripped-down running shoes that mimic a barefoot feel but provide protection from city streets. In March, the company debuted its first performance running shoe, the Evo ($160). it has a super-thin rubber sole (4 millimeters, compared to an inch or more for a conventional padded running shoe) and weighs just eight ounces.
The first-ever five-day festival -- "part conference, part cocktail party" as the organizers call it -- features seminars, hands-on classes and tastings to celebrate and explore the culture and the craft of the cocktail.
Discover boutique distillers, blend you own single malt whiskey, trace the history of the martini, celebrate Campari's 150th anniversary, discuss the roots of moonshine in the American South (and its present day renaissance) with a legendary bootlegger, sample Monastic tipples and cheeses, be regaled by tales from behind the bar.... these are just a sampling of the activities on tap.
The events take place at the Astor Center and bars around the city. For the gala kick-off party, top bartenders, chefs and all manner of revelers will take over all four floors of the New York Public Library (so if you find an errant olive among the solemn shelves the next time you are checking out a book, you'll know why).
The Cocktail Classic was dreamed up by thirteen bartenders, educators, bar owners and professional imbibers, including David Wondrich, a cocktail historian and author; Lesley Townsend, founding director of the Astor Center; mixologist Dale DeGroff, aka King Cocktail; and beverage director extraordinaire and Pegu co-owner Julie Reiner, to name a few.
For a complete list of events and tickets, go to http://2010tickets.manhattancocktailclassic.com/. If the event you want is sold out, console yourself with a stiff drink and the knowledge that the Cocktail Classic will return next year.
As a 21st-generation winemaker whose family has made prosecco in the hills of Valddobiadene in Italy's Veneto region for centuries, Gianluca Bisol has a deep appreciation for the area's rich culture and history. So it is with great pride that Bisol this weekend unveils a new restaurant and hospitality center that reclaim a bit of Venice's forgotten past.
The estate, called Tenuta Venissa, is located on the island of Mazzorbo and includes a restaurant (pictured above) helmed by a renowned chef, an inn and a restored walled vineyard where an ancient grape variety that was nearly extinct has been replanted and will soon be bottled.
Mazzorbo, part of the archipelago of islands off of Venice, was once an important trading center. In recent times, it has languished quietly as a home to fishermen, abandoned vineyards and the occasional day-tripping tourist visiting Burano, an island famous for its lacework and colored houses (Philippe Starck apparently owns three) that is connected to Mazzorbo by footbridge. (Murano, the island renowned for its glass, is a short boat ride away).
Bisol hopes to transform the island into a tourist-worthy destination and research center dedicated to exploring the region's indigenous grapes and cuisine. "I have always been fascinated with the food and wine history of the lagoon," says Bisol, a genial Italian with a broad smile.
Been there, done that? How about total umbral immersion 40,000 feet in the air?
For thrill seekers, that's the pitch from Rick Brown, a self-described "eclipse-chaser" who has chartered an Airbus jet that will fly into the path of a total eclipse of the sun set to occur on July 11. (And you thought that was just a Carly Simon lyric).
Total eclipses typically occur only once every year or two. And viewing them can be a challenge: they are often only visible from remote parts of the Earth, and even if you make the trek, clouds or weather can obscure the view. On July 11, for example, the moon's shadow, or umbra, will sweep across the South Pacific in a narrow band, only making landfall on Easter Island and a few atolls in French Polynesia. The "totality," as the period when the sun is completely blocked by the moon is called, will last just four minutes on the ground.
Enter Rick Brown and his EFLIGHT 2010. The forty or so eclipse-chasing passengers high above the clouds will watch as the moon's shadow approach them from over 200 miles away before basking in the darkness of the lunar shadow and gazing at the sun's pearly white corona for nearly 10 full minutes - which Brown says will be a record viewing time.
Then again, this was no conventional museum tour. This was Artbites.
The brainchild of Maite Gomez-Rejón, a trained chef and historian and our guide that evening, Artbites melds art, history and cuisine through classes that combine museum trips with hands-on cooking instruction. Gomez-Rejon's subjects range from the Aztecs to Leonardo da Vinci (who knew he was a vegetarian?) to Thomas Jefferson. Although she is based in Los Angeles and holds most of her classes at the Getty Center and other museums in the area, Gomez-Rejon frequently jets to other cities for classes, like the one I was at in New York. (See a schedule here).
This evening, we were tracing the victorious route of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), the Macedonian king and general who, along with his army of 44,000 hungry men, traveled 22,000 miles from Greece to Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia and India in a 12-year trail of conquest and culinary discovery.
You won't necessarily notice it, but your Champagne is about to get greener. Champagne producers have recently standardized a new lighter-weight bottle designed to reduce carbon emissions generated during transport by 8,000 metric tons annually - the equivalent of taking 4,000 cars off the road.
Sure, you say, another group of producers jumping on the green bandwagon. But this was no easy feat. Each bottle of bubbly contains 6 Gs of force -- for the non-rocket scientists among us, that's about 60 pounds of pressure per square inch, similar to the pressure found in a tire on an 18-wheeler. So the bottles are thick and heavy for a reason. However, working with local glass designers, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the region's trade group, was able to shave about 2 ounces from the glass bottle without compromising safety. The lighter weight allows producers to pack more bottles per truckload or container, cutting down on the number of shipments.
The move is part of a broader initiative by Champagne makers to cut carbon emissions by 25% by 2020, and a whopping 75% by 2050.
Apparently, the folks at New York's Time Warner Center got the memo. On the first ever Jazz Day this Friday, the center's renowned chefs will come together to serve up a feast inspired by Bebop, swing and New Orleans jazz, and the cities that made them famous.
Called A Taste of Jazz, the evening will feature dishes from some of the hardest to get tables in town: Masa Takayama's (Masa) Jazzy Duck – marinated duck with foie gras inside of a mooshu skin, and Missy Robbins' (A Voce) Citrus Cured Sardines and Fennel, an homage to her hometown of Chicago. Michael Lomonaco (Porter House Steak) will cook up a NY strip steak and NY cheesecake, while Landmarc chef Marc Murphy explores his French roots with New Orleans-style shrimp gumbo. Thomas Keller's Bouchon bakery will contribute sourdough Parker House rolls filled with single origin chocolate custard.
That's just a taste of A Taste. There will also be slow smoked ribs with molasses bourbon BBQ sauce; 3 cheese mac & cheese, collard green quiche with lardon and micro kale, and more -- not to mention Bourbon-mint Iced Tea Bebops.
What about the jazz you ask? Leave that to the capable hands of Walter Blanding, saxophonist for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, who will be leading a septet in jazz standards.
Blanding will also discuss his selections and perhaps tell a jazz tale or two. He might, for example, tell the story behind "A Train," the famous composition by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington, which was inspired by the directions given to Strayhorn for his first meeting with Ellington.
Here are the deets for all you cats:
Time Warner Center
10 Columbus Circle, 2nd floor
Friday, April 9
6:30 - 9:00 pm
Tickets are available for $85 at www.circleoftaste.com
Directions: Take a taxi to 59th Street, Columbus Circle. Or better yet, Take the A train.