Drinking | A Continuous Lean. - Page 2

The Wine Trade: Carla Rzeszewski

May 1st, 2013 | Categories: David Coggins, Drinking, The Wine Trade, Wine | by David Coggins

Master of her domaine: Carla Rzeszewski in The John Dory. Photo by: Lauren Mowery

This is the first in a series about people working in the wine trade.

Carla Rzeszewski is the wine director across April Bloomfield’s irreverent restaurant empire: The Spotted Pig, The John Dory and The Breslin. Those are disparate restaurants require a wine guru who fits their impressive profile. Indeed, in addition to being, at various times, an actress, a bartender and a nude model. Rzeszewski is sharp, capable, profane, and a strong advocate of sherry. We spoke recently over a beer, of all things, at her local in the East Village.

David Coggins: It’s funny that you suggested meeting at a bar specializing in beer. Does that mean that when you’re not working you’re a beer drinker?

Carla Rzeszewski: When I’m not working or if I’m just relaxing with a book, it’s always with a beer, i’s never with a glass of wine.

DC: So you’re a believer in wine with food.

CR: For sure. They historically have gone together, and they’ve been nurtured together.

DC: So when wine is tasted officially and there’s no food—

CR: It’s a joke. Quiet wines, wallflower wines have a beauty and complexity all their own. They don’t stand out in a huge lineup. Other wines have a broader structure and bully their way to the front.

DC: Then how do you, as a director of a wine program, introduce people to these quieter wines, especially if they haven’t heard of them before?

CR: Well the Dory serves more delicate food. Whites, for the most part, and light, low-tannin reds. A lot of those whites are too acidic on their own and yet with the food it works perfectly. Like the razor clam ceviche works very well alongside a Pigato, or even a Sherry. They need food and when they have food they begin to sing. The other day at the Dory I had this clam I’d never seen before. It’s got excess levels of hemoglobin so it’s bloody. It’s pretty but sinister. Alongside this basic Chablis, you put them together and it’s awesome. But the Chablis on its own isn’t as exciting—it needs the food to wake up a bit.

Parma & Co. | Taking Prosciutto Very Seriously.

Jul 20th, 2012 | Categories: Drinking, Food, Italy, Milan | by Michael Williams

Wine, prosciutto, parmesan cheese, bread and a little pasta with basil and tomatoes. That is really all one could want for on a sunny afternoon in Italy.  There’s a salumeria called Parma & Co. that happens to be the perfect place to enjoy the tastes and pace of Brera, one of Milan’s most enjoyable neighborhoods. Brera is quaint and historic with a lot of great restaurants and shops. It’s more low key than some of Milan’s more happening neighborhoods, and is my favorite place to hang out while in Italy’s most stylish city.

The food at Parma & Co. is simple and delicious, very typical of Italy. The must have is the Prosciutto di Parma — the restaurant claims to have won some type of Italian cured meat award, something I don’t doubt actually exists. Regardless of its prosciutto bona fides, your author can confirm that Parma & Co. definitely worthy of a detour, some of your hard earned money and an opportunity at an enjoyable Italian lunch.

Change is Bad: 21′s New Bar

Aug 31st, 2011 | Categories: Drinking, New York City | by Michael Williams

After 81 years, the famous New York establishment 21 Club is finally getting a few bar stools. Glenn Collins at The New York Times reports on some new developments at 21 which include a new bar in the lounge, complete with places to sit and drink.

“The bar was for drinking, not for resting,” said a customer of 36 years, Thomas Moran, the chief executive of Mutual of America.

In the era of the three-martini lunch, the standing elbow-benders were three-deep at the bar, nearly as much a part of the lore of “21” as its checked tablecloths and the ceiling dangling with dozens of toy airplanes, patrons’ sports memorabilia and other curios (they are dusted twice a month). “I’ve served many people who ate a whole meal standing up,” said Tara Wright, a bartender there for the last six years. The tradition was “that you’d made it when you could stand at the bar,” she said. “You’d arrived.”

Spring Ritual: Ode to the Negroni

May 2nd, 2011 | Categories: David Coggins, Drinking, Italy | by David Coggins

The classic Negroni as enjoyed yesterday in Venezia.

The Negroni, along with the baseball season, is one of the most welcome rites of Spring. Its devotees include Gabrielle Hamilton, Orson Welles, and, of course, Count Negroni, for whom the drink is named. According to legend the count wanted a stronger version of an Americano and asked a bartender in Florence to substitute gin for club soda. The result is downright historical. Never has so much been owed by so many to so few. Kingsley Amis, our best writer on drink, declares simply: ‘This is a really fine invention.’

SXSW: Into the Breach.

Mar 19th, 2011 | Categories: Austin, David Coggins, Drinking, Music | by David Coggins

Resist the temptation to try to come to terms with SXSW logically. These aren’t tax forms you’re dealing with, but 2000 bands, playing in clubs, in tents, on streets, in parks. By design, it reinvents itself every year, and there are countless pathways through the mayhem, all of them leaving you exhilarated and exhausted. You face the assault on your senses and then pick your spots for visceral gratification. The fact that the festival overlaps with St Patrick’s Day is a blessing or a curse depending on your feeling toward public intoxication and fake Irish accents.

The Drinking Man’s New Orleans.

Feb 23rd, 2011 | Categories: David Coggins, Drinking | by David Coggins

You think you’re braced for New Orleans’ lax approach toward human frailty, but you’re probably not.  Like an upper classman with a fake ID, the city encourages you to drink with little concern for the consequences.  Many of us don’t need much persuasion in the first place.  You already know the classics: The Ramos Gin Fizz, the Sazerac, the Pimm’s Cup, and, lower down the list (much lower), the Hurricane.

At the indispensable Tujague’s, the astute barman Paul devised something called the Green Rice.  All he would reveal before we tried it was that the liquor was gin, which of course was no problem.  It tasted slightly of citrus, and had an incredibly clean finish, without being bitter.  The reason?  Rice vinegar.  Sometimes it takes vision to invent a new level of vice.

Open for Business | Jeffrey’s Grocery

Oct 5th, 2010 | Categories: Americana, Drinking, Food, New York City | by Michael Williams

One day out of the blue I got an email from Gabriel Stulman — the guy behind a few of New York’s smallest and most loved restaurants (Joseph Leonard, et. al.) — inviting me to lunch sometime. If you have ever been to Joseph Leonard you will understand Gabriel and I share an aesthetic, something that was further established for me the first time we met. That was about a year ago and it was near the beginning of the process of planning Gabriel’s newest spot, Jeffery’s Grocery. The concept is oyster bar meets local grocery meets late night drinks-and-a-sandwich. destination.  Eventually, our shared appreciation for vintage American aesthetics led to a series of discussions and meetings over the next several months where Gabriel and I would meet to talk about the look and feel for Jeffrey’s. We discussed everything from the colors of the wood that made up the bar, to the beadboard, the employee uniforms (which are from Levi’s, Gitman Bros. Vintage, Kenton Sorenson Leather, Stanley & Sons and The Hill-Side; more on that here soon) and all of the little design details and layout that goes into making a place unique. I’d even see Gabriel and his fiancé Gina up at Brimfield with all sorts of cool old stuff that was destined for Jeffrey’s. It was obvious  early on that Jeffrey’s was going to me my type of place.