Appetizing with Russ and Daughters Cafe

A Sunday well spent brings a week’s of content, as the saying goes.  What could be better than a sunny 60 degree day in February on the Upper East Side with someone you love?  Throw in a bagel and cream cheese you say, with some of the best cured fish in the city?  Well, ok.

Russ and Daughters is a New York institution, with a gritty and wonderful flagship location on the Lower East Side.  Want a fine, comprehensive, and dazzling array of cured fish?  Caviar?  Babka?  Well, head down, grab a ticket, and wait in line (and DO NOT lose that ticket, my friend).  Looking for a slightly more polished and artsy experience?  Well, do what we did yesterday and head all the way uptown to the Russ and Daughters Cafe, nestled in the basement of the Jewish Museum.  Sit down, have an egg cream, and an appetizing platter that will knock your socks off.  Nosh away, friends.  Nosh away.

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Greek Wine Dinner at the Fez

The Fez is a charming, cozy, Moroccan restaurant on restaurant row in Stamford, which owner Nancy Laist describes as a “bit of Soho in CT.”  Although they are known for their live music, we came for the food (and the wine) and were not in the least bit sorry that we did.

Greek wine is a category neither Scott nor I have explored at any length, so we were delighted that Nancy invited us to attend (and gave us tickets for the event, thank you!)  The wine itself was good enough and interesting enough that several bottles found a home in our cellar (a Domaine Katsaros Valos and a Rhous White – all bottles pictured below and available for purchase at Horseneck Wines & Liquors).  The Rhous White in particular we loved: a Muscat blend lacking the sweetness of many of the lighter whites of Italy and Spain.  The wine, overall, was punctuated by a somewhat intense but very pleasing mineral quality, which the distributor  assured us was indicative of the region.

And the food?  Oh my, the food.  Baba ganoush was a creamy and airy delight: whipped eggplant served with a cinnamon toasted Pita chip.  Scott proclaimed the grilled octopus with harissa mango sauce (not pictured) to be his favorite – a great textural char on this dish offset the subtle sweetness in the sauce nicely.  As for me?  The vine leaves, stuffed with meat alone and no rice, were fresh and appealing.  Vegetable kebobs punctuated with freshly made falafel and a light dessert of African style baklava, known as Briwat, ensured that the balance of food was also not too heavy or overwhelming – a common issue at multiple course wine dinners.  Of everything we sampled, my heart belonged to the lamb: slow braised with a thick wine reduction to ‘fall off the bone’ perfection.

And speaking of hearts – The Fez is hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner (reservations highly recommended).  Four courses and a prosecco toast are offered for $60 – excluding tax and gratuity – with live music from Kathy Muir.  Treat your sweetie to a cozy, intimate dining experience, and enjoy the visual tour of our dinner below.

The Fez | 227 Summer Street, Stamford | 203 324 3391

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OOTD – questing for the perfect winter jacket

Finding the right items of clothing can turn into a quest.  Thankfully, I already had my Indiana Jones hat on (perfect for finding the Holy Grail or the perfect item of clothing).

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Got the theme song in your head now?  You’re welcome.

I had, the previous week, dragged Scott (not entirely unwillingly) in half of the thrift stores in LA in the quest for the ‘perfect’ bomber jacket, with no luck.  Many contenders were found, but none quite measured up to standard.  So imagine my delight upon walking into Max Zeller Furs and discovering – well – exactly what I was looking for, along with completing another quest – for the perfect fur coat.  Two for one??  Reasonably priced?  That’s what I’m talking about.

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Details: multi colored (farm raised) rabbit fur line this military style bomber jacket.  Not your mother’s fur coat – it has street edge, but a soft, colorful secret on the inside, waiting to envelope you in luxurious layers of (detachable) fur.  Put the hood up and enjoy a pop of color – keep it down and the same bright detail will be visible from the back.  

Hotel Cocktails: Beluga Caviar Martini

Welcome, friends, to a new special section of my blog where I review cocktails at the various hotel venues Scott and I venture into during the course of our travels.

Why?

Well, because hotels are a perfect little microcosm of the macrocosm of the city around them.  The best are thought out in meticulous detail, creating a world unto itself, much like a properly created cocktail is a world unto itself.  A chance to pause from life, and enjoy one simple, thing, executed well, if you will.

So let’s explore together, starting with the Beluga Caviar Martini at the Beverly Wilshire

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Beluga Noble Russian Vodka | Cinzano Dry Vermouth | Petrossian Caviar Cube

A word about the Beverly Wilshire – classic Beverly Hills.  How classic?  Well, “Pretty Woman” was filmed here, and yes, there is a “Pretty Woman” cocktail on the menu (but of course), although  visual inspection of one several tables over was definitely not encouraging.  Something has to cater to the tourists, after all.

No, order the Beluga Caviar Cocktail instead.  At first, it will impress you as, perhaps, pretentious, a little “too too” – much like Rodeo Drive itself.  But then you taste it, and soon you are a convert.  The oil from the caviar will slowly but surely seep into the vodka, so I would recommend drinking this at a semi brisk pace before it crosses the line from ‘dirty’ to ‘fishy:’ and if you’re brave enough to order two – that’s on you.  One was perfect for me.  Sometimes, simplicity and brevity are best.

Champagne and Teddy Bears!

The Holiday Season means different things to different people, but one universal is that it SHOULD involves the things (and people) we love the most.  That was most certainly the case for me at Max Downtown for their annual Champagne Gala reception, with my most favorite date (Scott), followed by Teddy Bear Tea the following day, with my darling daughter Penelope and the adorable Mommy/daughter combo of Rosa and Gloria – of Lady Diana’s Pearls (check out her blog about our experience here!)

Before I delve into everything we enjoyed – a quick note for those (like me) still doing holiday shopping (bonus points if you make a spreadsheet to track the eight nights of Chanukah… oh that’s just me… oh ok).  A Max gift card is an excellent gift for those who enjoy champagne, teddy bear tea, burgers, wood fired pizza, local oysters – the list is long with ten locations to choose from!  Pick one up here (e-card options available too for those last minute purchases!)

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And also, a huge thank you to my friends at Max for inviting me in for both of these amazing experiences below.  Please enjoy the photos at the bottom of this article also for a visual recap of my experience.

OK – on to the important stuff.  Champagne, champagne, champagne.  Our good friend Jacob of the Wise Old Dog was on hand along with Max Sommelier Brian Mitchell the night of the gala.  Scott and I are semi regulars at the wine tastings of the WOD (if you haven’t been – go – RSVP in advance and prepare to be entertained AND educated by Jacob, who is both knowledgeable and oh so clever.  And probably going to give me flack about writing all of this about him next time I see him).  My two favorite champagnes of the evening were the Fourny and the Marguet, and he was gracious enough to give me the background on each.  The Fourny is imported by Kermit Lynch, and is organic, small batch, and sustainable in a mass market, over produced area.  The Marguet is imported by Jeff Hellman, a quote “Grower Champagne Gangster.”  Small batch, specially produced and created with a relentless attention to detail.  Another Jacob quote on this champagne “this all grand cru fruit, high toned sparkler shows orchard fruit, nice structure, medium-plus body, and a very clean and persistent finish. Delicious.”  Both these champagnes were indicative of the evening overall – if you want to stray from Verve and find something interesting, original, and totally excellent, the Champagne Gala is the way to go.  Or, just go and soak in some bubbly.  The choice is yours!  So check out the impressive bubbly list next time you’re at Max Downtown – and also – when you go to the Wise Old Dog.  And if you need help selecting a bottle – Jacob and his staff will be more than willing to oblige.

On the Teddy Bear Tea: this was Penelope and my first tea, and we will absolutely make it a holiday tradition.  Every part of the afternoon was a high note, from the impressive brunch cocktail selection to the well curated brunch/dessert plates, to the stuffed bears which every child received, to the candy bar.  Penelope was all smiles the entire time – a bit of a rarety for a little kid in a restaurant setting.  We also lucked out in that Shabbat Bear was visiting that weekend from her preschool, so he was able to hang with the other bears and also enjoyed a delicious latke as part of the tea spread.  Having lived in the UK for several years, I’m a large fan of high tea in general, and the concept of eating many small bites as part of a full meal on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  The Teddy Bear Tea is also a fundraiser and toy drive for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center – so in addition to be excellent Mommy/daughter Daddy/daughter Mommy/son Daddy/son bonding time, it’s a destination to drop off toys and help sick children enjoy their holiday too.  What a wonderful time.  So set your calendars for next year, and from my family to yours – Happy Holidays!

One last note: Steve Abrams, Managing Partner at Max Downtown, was on hand for both evenings.  Steve is a dapper dresser and gracious host, and seeing him is always one of the highlights of visiting MD!  He is pictured below with Brian Mitchell and again with Rosa at Tea.

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Max Teddy Bear Tea

Fun and Fancy with Max this weekend

Soo blessed and excited for TWO trips to Max Downtown in 24 hours, starting with tonight’s Champagne Gala!  The dinner is SOLD OUT, but you can and should join me for the champagne reception, kicking off at 5:30 pm.  Tickets available here or by clicking the image below!

FRIDAY, DECEMBER  2nd ~ 5:30PM

Featuring some of the world’s finest champagnes:

A. Margaine | Doyard | Taittinger | Delamotte | Louis Roederer |
Lanson | Billecart-Salmon | Pol Roger | Veuve Forny & Fils | Le Brun Severnay |
L. Aubry et Fils | Paul Clouet | Alexandre Filaine | Marguet | Grongnet | Chartogne-Taillet
…and a few surprise additions

CHAMPAGNE TASTING
PASSED HORS D’OEUVRES
LIVE MUSIC

Gala Reception from 5:30pm – 7:00pm in the atrium of CityPlace – Hartford, CT
$49 per person
(includes $25 to CCMC, tax & gratuity not included)

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So, yes, bubbles and cocktail dresses.  Perfection.  Then the next morning, Penelope and I will return for the annual Teddy Bear Tea!  We will be attending with Lady Diana’s Pearls (her little girl is in the picture below!  so precious).  A couple seats still remain but are filling fast, so click here to reserve!

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‘Tis Noble to Drink at Noble & Co

Recently – quite recently – I had a posse of ballerinas and a desperate need for a locale  where we could spread out, take photos, and generally be merry and bright on behalf of a local client.  This engendered some gorgeous photos of CONNetic Dance doing their brilliant thing at the luxe, sophisticated, crushed velvet interior of Noble & Co.  A little speakeasy and a little upscale – and quite well appointed for your libation and lounge needs in West Hartford Center.  They do have a copper gun that will allow you to shoot a magnum of champagne directly into your mouth if that’s your thing (and it it’s not: I’m not sure we have enough in common to be friends – but you’re welcome to explain why in the comments I guess.  Ugh.)

Below are some photos from the photoshoot: plus my return visit with the lovely and vivacious McKinley to discuss important jewelry business to benefit Camp Courant.  Oh, what a time to be alive.  And  to drink interesting cocktails featuring Navy strength gin, egg whites, and jam.

So, by all means, go.  To Noble & Co.

And please, buy tickets for my good friend Carolyn’s (aka CONNetic Dance’s) AMAZING Nutcracker, which will be at the Wadsworth weekend after next.  It’s ‘not your Grandmother’s nutcracker-‘ and there are so many interesting and hip moments to delight your sense of wonder.

I promise.  And I hope to see you there.

(photos with gorgeous dancer type people via the very talented Alex Syphers and jewelry + styling by Lux Bond & Green and That Girl)

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