Doc & Gerry’s Jamón Ibérico Tour – Coming November 2016! Book Now!

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This is a part of Spain that most tourists don’t get to and that’s a real shame! This is mostly because to really experience the best of Spain’s southwest Jamón Ibérico country one has to really know where to go, whom to see and what is best to eat and drink. The rewards, however, are truly great as there is no better eating and drinking anywhere and the country is beautiful and full of history too! The good news is that Gerry and Doc know the right people and know the country. Come on this the second Docsconz Culinary Insider’s Tour of Spain featuring Mr. Spain, Gerry Dawes! Continue reading


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Raising the Bar at Betony

 

Betony 41 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019 betony-nyc.com (212) 465-2400Restaurants often get a bad rap as cocktail bars and frequently that is a valid criticism. That said, some of my favorite places to enjoy well conceived, constructed and craveable cocktails  is in restaurants and NYC happens to be home to a number of them – places like Eleven Madison Park, The NoMad, Estela, Cosme and Mission Chinese to name a few. Those places combine wonderful, delicious cocktails with great food. Another restaurant that clearly belongs on my list of favorites combining spectacular cocktails with sensational food, and maybe at the very top of this list, is Betony in mid-town Manhattan. I have previously written about the restaurant, it’s dedication to details such as clear ice and how they make what may be their signature cocktail, the Milk Punch. Eamon Rockey and chef Bryce Shuman have not been standing still, however, and continue to evolve and hone their respective crafts – Eamon in the front of the house including the bar program and Bryce the kitchen. I was recently invited to sample some of their recent work and I left blown away by what they’ve been doing (and just slightly inebriated). Continue reading


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An Interview With Albert Adrià

Albert Adrià at Tickets

Albert Adrià at Tickets

The world is full of excellent restaurants and excellent chefs, while a few rise above the rest to create consistently extraordinary experiences for their guests and produce food that fully transcends its basic nutritive purpose. It is an extraordinarily difficult endeavor to be successful at running just one restaurant, let alone a number of them. When a group of restaurants is totally distinct in concept one from another, yet all under the guidance of a single chef, it has to be even more difficult, if not impossible, especially when each of those restaurants is absolutely world class/ best of class level in its genre. Albert Adrià has been hailed as a creative genius over the years initially for his contributions both as the Pastry Chef and as one of the main creative forces behind the cuisine of elBulli. He left elBulli in 2006 to open Inopia, a casual restaurant in Barcelona. Though never fully divorced from elBulli, which closed its hallowed doors in 2011, Albert eventually closed Inopia and opened a series of restaurants in Barcelona and most recently in Ibiza, while also having just finished a pop-up in London. The 41º Experience, a cocktail bar extending the spirit of creativity of elBulli, was the first to open. It arrived in 2011 followed shortly thereafter by Tickets, a creative tapas bar, as the mothership began its historic wind down. With elBulli relegated to history, 41º evolved into a replacement of sorts before it evolved further into an even more involved concept, the soon to open Enigma. In the meantime, Albert opened Pakta, a Nikkei Peruvian-Japanese restaurant, Bodega 1900, a classic turn of the 20th Century Spanish vermuteria, whose cooking is both classic and not in the inimitable Albert Adrià fashion, and a combination of Mexican restaurants, the taqueria Niño Viejo and the fine dining Hoja SantaEach restaurant is absolutely extraordinary, producing delicious, beautiful and unique food that absolutely adheres to the spirit of its inspiration, yet all stamped with Adrià’s unrivaled creative touch. Each is amongst the best of its genre that I have ever experienced and each is amongst my very favorite restaurants anywhere. He has proven himself to be not just a genius pastry chef, but a genius chef period and perhaps, the world’s finest restaurateur. Below is the transcript of a brief interview that I recently had the honor and pleasure of conducting with him. Continue reading


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My Photos From The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 Awards in NYC

The World's Fifty Best Awards 2016 - NYC

I had the great good fortune to experience the World’s 5o Best Awards in New York City the other night. Of course, these awards have become rather controversial as anything as subjective as a “Best” list is going to be. Are these rankings gospel? Of course not! They are, however, in my opinion, an interesting and reasonably approached idea of the current state of fine dining is around the globe. It is as close an approximation of the hierarchy of that state as there is, imperfect though it may be. From my point of view, the evening was a lot more fun in person, than my previous experience following over a live stream. As for the presumed biases in the awards, I believe that is more a reflexion of the current state of the industry than it is true bias. Those deficiencies need to be addressed by encouraging and supporting talented people, women and men, everywhere around the globe, while expanding the palates of the entire dining public and removing all barriers.

You can find the actual list here. Personally, I was happy with the Top 5 Rankings and was ecstatic for Massimo Bottura, his wife, Lara, and the entire team of Osteria Francescana for the first place ranking. The Roca brothers are just pure class and their restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, at this point remains my top meal of the year so far. As for Eleven Madison Park, the place is a great restaurant made even more special to me on a personal level. I have yet to eat at Central, though I have eaten the food of Virgilio Martinez and Pia León elsewhere and found it to be extremely compelling. It has been a long time since noma, the most influential restaurant in the world since elBulli has been ranked as low as 5. I have no doubt that they will continue to be as inspired, influential and wonderful as ever as they prepare to move to a new location at the end of the year. I was also thrilled to see Bitor Arguinzoniz and his brilliant Asador Etxebarri rise to the 10th spot.

The after party at an exuberant Eleven Madison Park with music by Questlove, a whole roasted Duroc pig from Mike and Amy Mills of 17th Street Bar & Grill, and food and beverage service handled by The NoMad, was as wonderful a party as I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. Photos from there, however, were few!

Click here for the full Flick’r Photoset!


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The Big Apple Barbecue 2016 – Hog Wild!

I once again returned to one of my favorite annual events – the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in and around Madison Square Park in NYC. I particularly enjoyed this one seeing old friends, making new ones and, of course eating great barbecue from around the country! This one was particularly special given that with a transition of organizers (it reverted back to the Park Conservancy) it almost didn’t happen. Thanks to the great work of the event’s original co-founder, Kenny Callahan and others, the show managed to go on and did so stupendously with fabulous food, delightful drink, wonderful weather and copious camaraderie. Below are Flick’r albums of my photo highlights from this wild weekend. Please click on the photos or the links to go to the full albums on Flick’r.

Day One – June 11, 2016

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party 2016 Day One

Day Two – June 12, 2016

Big apple Barbecue 2016 Day 2


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Eleven Madison Park Made It Nice!

IMG_1394Disclaimer alert: My family and I are certainly known to the restaurant and I received a significant discount as well as no corkage fees for bringing a couple of special bottles of wine. My son, L.J., works at Eleven Madison Park in the front of the house, and we had arranged everything well in advance. While our experience was certainly enhanced by the relationship, it is no accident that EMP recently was awarded the James Beard Award for Best Service in the nation for the second time and it is currently ranked as the top restaurant in the United States and No. 5 in the world on the prestigious World’s Fifty Best Restaurants list. Whether it maintains that spot or rises even further will be known next week.  For my wife and I and our family, it proved to be the perfect place to celebrate a very special family occasion – our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Continue reading


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Making Way For Momofuku Ko

Momofuku Ko 8 Extra Pl, New York, NY 10003 ko.momofuku.com (212) 203-8095

Momofuku Ko
8 Extra Pl, New York, NY 10003
ko.momofuku.com
(212) 203-8095

In its first iteration, despite a reputation for great food, I could never be bothered to go to the purportedly cramped, camera-phobic and aloof Momofuku Ko, but then it moved and it changed. It was no longer cramped, cameras were welcome, the staff was reportedly friendly and most importantly, the food was supposed to be as wonderful as ever. I finally went, and here, in mid-2016, is my long overdue report on one of my best meals of 2015, albeit late 2015. Continue reading


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New Tastes of New England – Part 1 – Portland’s Eventide, The Honey Paw and Hugo’s

Classic steamed Maine lobsters

Classic steamed Maine lobsters

It is difficult to imagine a specific New England cuisine. Unlike the South, there are few ingredients or dishes that appear to be New England specific, especially if one removes certain locally caught seafood items. What New England does have going for it, besides the aforementioned seafood is a wealth of ethnic influences and some superb local product from both sea and land. I recently had the chance to experience a variety of chefs in a number of locations throughout the region. I’ve eaten the food of some previously, while this was my first experience with others. Between them, there are similarities framed within their own distinct approaches. Three chefs and their teams, in particular, caught my attention, all within a coastal geography, ranging from Maine to New Hampshire to Rhode Island. Continue reading


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The International Flavors of Miami

20160417untitled-EF24-70mm f-2.8L II USMBU4A9216109There are few cities in the Americas more international than Miami, Florida. The city is perhaps the major gateway from North America to the Caribbean and South America, a fact which permeates this city’s culture. From its tropical visages of palm trees and island fruits to art deco designs and pastel color palette, Miami is a city unique in North America. Cuba supplies the single greatest international influence, but the rest of the Americas as well as Europe, Asia and Africa add significant touches as well, especially when it comes to the culinary world. These facts, as well as a relative dearth of quality, artisanal, small farm product has meant that some major global culinary trends, in particular, the noma-fed rise on the emphasis of natural, local product and new regional cuisines resulting from that, haven’t really found much of a home there. At the moment, there isn’t anyone re-developing a hyper-local cuisine, though Miami and South Florida, to a great extent through the work of my friend, Norman Van Aken, was responsible for integrating flavors from Latin America into a mainstream south Florida cuisine. This works well with what has been an abundance of top notch Caribbean, Atlantic and Gulf seafood as well as tropical fruits and vegetables of the area. It remains the linchpin of the region’s cuisine, but international imports from ethnic cuisines to high-end dining concept chains, have filled in around the edges. Continue reading


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A Taste of Cuba(n Miami)

20160416untitled-EF24-70mm f-2.8L II USMBU4A8966058It’s hard to imagine what Miami, Florida would be like now if the Cuban revolution never happened in the late 1950’s. The Cubano culture has become such an integral part of the city and surrounding areas. I’m sure there still would have been a significant Cuban presence, but not the total richness that there is now. My Travel With Doc Culinary Insiders tour group and I literally got a taste of that culture on our trip thanks to the guidance of people like Norman Van Aken, Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog and Javier Ramirez and the stellar work of a variety of cooks, restaurateurs, bakers, shopkeepers, barmen and fishermen in and around the famous Calle Ocho, Little Havana and other parts of the city. Come along for a virtual taste! Continue reading


Posted in Cocktails & Libations, Florida, Food and Drink, Pastry, Places, Restaurants, Slow Food, Traditional Ethnic, Travel, Travel With Doc | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment