Bangkok House, Restaurant Row, NYC

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

An open top “Tommy the tourist” bus in New York is indisputably the best place to learn about New York culture.  Well, if you believe the tour guides (and assuming that you tip them enough).  I learnt that if you want to eat cheaply in NYC there are two options:  McDonalds, or Restaurant Row on W46th St between 8th and 9th.

I tried the cock, but where was the bang???

Bangkok House is not McDonalds, but it certainly isn’t expensive either.


Wine envy living on…

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

I was pretty chipper about my Combine Harvester, installed in 2008 at Bathgate Towers.  It has kept my finer bottles in tip top condition and is a super talking point when anyone remotely interested in wine visits.

But I am a mere amateur according to a book just published in the US.  Living with Wine, by Samantha Nestor, is actually better read in pictures (impressively furnished by Andrew French).

Lucky bastards - wine cellars of the rich and famous

From swish New York bachelor pads to decadent Napa Valley wine clubs I can only drool at the fantastic cellars containing fantastic wines – many not even American!  The intersection of architecture, interior design and fine wine is surely one of the greatest causes of wine envy in the oenological world?

Just one thing – can we have a repeat of this book but focussed on UK cellars?

Living with Wine is published by Clarkson Potter ($75), a division of Random House and whilst my copy came from the US, I understand it will be available in the UK soon.

Keens Steakhouse, New York

Thursday, September 24th, 2009
Keen as mustard (available with your steak...for some reason)

Is there anything that could make me feel more at home on my first night in New York, than an old fashioned English Victorian style chop house that has been around since 1885.  However, comparing this to, say, Sam’s Chop House, is a bit like putting The Oxo Tower up against the Empire State Building.

They are both fine examples of art deco architecture but one is dainty and proportioned, whilst the other is just f##king massive.  I am not sure I have seen a restaurant with so many rooms, so many more covers  than the ESB has floors (there are 102 since you ask and 1860 steps if you walk up – I didn’t).  Keen’s is enormous.  And they serve meat portions to match.


Wolfgang Puck, American Grille, Borgata Casino, Atlantic City, NJ

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Borgata is the newest and smartest casino in AC and way out of the reach of my meagre finances, so, naturally, I dashed there to see if I could find some decent tiffin. No such thing as cheap. Even the taxi from Caesar’s (tacky) Palace was $15 for a mere 3 minute dash across town.

Tucked away in a wee cranny of this Cathedral to St Cajetan is a restaurant that sounds like an ice hockey match being played to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.  It is one of about a dozen eating places in the casino, ranging in quality from Jack High to Four of a Kind.  We chose this one hoping for something better than soggy chips but cheaper than a Royal Flush. 

Wolfgang Puck Tavern - is that ice hockey on the TV?


Carmine’s Waste Side Story

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Carmine's Waste Side Story

“This is a traditional New York Italian family restaurant” said our Pacific Island looking waiter pointing at a huge canoe full of pasta being delivered to the next table.  A random walk around the pleasant residential areas of the upper west side had allowed us to use the antiquated predecessor to to find an eaterie.


Lemelson Six Vineyards Pinot Noir 2005

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

I’ve been all over this big wide world and I’ve tried all kinds of Pinot Noir, but I never get bored of trying a new one.  I am going to learn about a new grape soon, but I will always drink PNs whenever I see an interesting one.

I discovered very late in my virtual journey that Oregon is an excellent source of this varietal.  Lemelson Six Vineyards Oregon Pinot Noir 2005 came from the Wine Society (£12.50).

Only six?  Why not eight, or more?

I smelt plums and wet cardboard, but the taste turned out to be more cherry.  A decent wine, but not spectacular value.  I would save up a few more groats and go for the glorious Thea’s Selection (from the same Vineyard and equally available in the UK from the Wine Society at about £19.)

Firesteed Oregon Pinot Noir 2006

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

There was quite a reaction to my criticism of Costco recently.

Whoa there boy!

Whilst I stand by my slight lack of confidence in Costco’s wine buyers, this does not stop me buying a few bottles every now and again, especially when I see something interesting.  This Oregon Pinot Noir, at £9.39, stared at me longingly, “I’m only a tenner” it whispered flirtatiously.  “You look bloody lovely!” I replied a decent number of decibels to the wrong side of audibility.  But a few queer glances from bemused fat folk do not deter me.  I picked the bottle up and took it home, reasoning that a US owned store ought to know a bit about US wine.


Lemelson Thea’s Selection Pinot Noir 2005

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

My world tour of Pinot Noirs was starting to look a bit like the baseball world series in reverse.  In other words I had covered almost every territory except the US.  I even likened Pinot Noir to a French actress (Brigitte Bardot – sexy, flirtatious, but unreliable, and a little bonkers) and insulted American actress, Barbra Streisand who I compared to a Chenin Blanc hmmmm….

As I stand here touching my toes, humbly awaiting transatlantic cyber-flagellation, I offer, in my defence, a review of a PN from about the most famous of US sources – Oregon.

Lemelson Schmemelson



Friday, October 19th, 2007

Eating healthy - Mondavi and Bran Flakes…for some reason

I’ve been a bit healthier than usual recently.  Walking up mountains in Switzerland; exercising on my cross trainer at home; eating lots of fresh fruit; cutting down on fried food; and even eating Bran Flakes.

I used to think that Bran Flakes were disgusting but, like a lot of things in life, you grow into them as you get older.  Olives, oysters, snails, mustard and Armagnac were all off my list until at least my thirties but now I love them, (not sure I will ever pick up a taste for anchovies though).

You may recall the last time I tried a Zinfandel, it was awful.

So I wonder if Zin is one of the things I will grow into after a number of tastings?



Monday, August 20th, 2007

“Original all American wine!”.  “Pride of California!”.  “Bold and not for the faint hearted…”.  “What are you doing lurking around my website?”

Encouraged by various American correspondents, I promised to try a Californian Zinfandel.  I had only stopped at Sainsbury’s Supermarket for 568ml of milk (remember pints?) but where there’s a wine stand, there’s a wino.

Apart from the ubiquitous Gallo, the only “Zin” I could find was Ravenswood Lodi 2004 Old Vines Zinfandel.  At £8.49 it is one of the most expensive wines at this supermarket but I figured it had to be worth the extra.

Ravenswood “Zin” next to a Lancashire County Cricket Club umbrella (well it is summer!)