• The Leadbelly

    Food & Drink  

    by Tucker Chet Markus

    A heavy yellow glow, the tear of a harmonica riff, fresh oysters on ice. Peel off of Orchard Street, number 14, through the doors at The Leadbelly—a Montauk surf shack and gritty speakeasy simultaneous. Inhale.

    The place is hand-drawn—the childlike Garrett "People" Wasserman profiles of boys and girls greet you as you enter—and the rest is wedged between spinning vinyl and cracks in the plaster walls. Sit. Order a dozen on the half shell (selected weekly, the next seven days hold Shigokus from Washington, Ninigret Cups from Rhode Island, and Barcats from Virginia). Sip a Cucumber Julep or a Whiskey Ginger. Relax. Feel. The rhythms around you move on the ride cymbal of a Sonny Boy Williamson tune.

    Opened in September of 2012, it feels part mid-century Europe, part Americana. The interior was designed by Phil Winser and Kate Dougherty—the latter’s work includes set decoration on Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. Happy hour is nightly from 6pm-8pm (Barcats are a buck-a-shuck) and if your appetite stretches into dinner, The Fat Radish’s kitchen across the street is at your service. It gets better. A rotating group of local DJs and musicians lay the vibe Thursday through Saturday night. Captured here by Winser and Dougherty is the brackish meeting point of an August breeze and the blues of Bourbon Street.

    Savor the senses. The weight in your chair, the music, the company. Have an oyster. Allow place to happen to you at The Leadbelly.

    Oysters are a buck-a-shuck every night from 6pm-8pm. It's the perfect time to split a couple dozen with friends while having the place mostly to yourselves.

    Jul 9, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • The Nantucket Lobster Trap

    Food & Drink  

    It's five o'clock and we have just ordered a two pound lobster. Carl and I, beyond a bit peckish, carry on debating the merits of five pounders. The bigger the better, right? Conventional American wisdom would think so. But not so with these crustaceans. The young man dropping off our beers chips in his two cents. We listen up. After all, he's the only one out of the three of us that has actually eaten a five pound lobster.

    It turns out, the meat tastes different. To a lobster connoisseur, significantly different. A little tougher...not as tender as a two pounder. In a world of the up-sell, we're delighted and surprised with his candid disposition. It's refreshing and rivals the sweating Modelo Especials freezing our brains.

    The Nantucket Lobster Trap has been serving up stuffed and boiled lobster for nearly four decades now. Locally owned and operated by the Brothers Weldon (there's three of them), it is a Nantucket staple. You'd come to expect any kitchen right on the water to serve up the freshest seafood. "The Trap" does not disappoint. They house two gigantic salt water tanks in the back that keep your lobster alive up until the moment you order. All you have to do is decide if you're up for two pounds or five.

    23 Washington Street
    Nantucket, MA 02554

    Jun 26, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • The Grog Tray

    Food & Drink | Prep Essentials  

    Drinking out is kind of a luxury. Think about it. A decent scotch will run about $14 a pour. Toss back three of those and you might as well have picked up your own bottle. Enter drinking at home. Not only is it economical (we like economical), but it's as good an excuse as any to fill your home with friends while also setting up your own home bar. It was William Morris who held, "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." We tend to agree—and a grog tray is both. What began strictly as a scotch bar has grown to include rum (El Dorado is a fantastic and not too sweet sipping rum), small-batch bourbon, rye whiskey, and chocolate.

    As with most things in your home, your bar should reflect your own style and tastes. Make it personal. Stock it with your favorite spirits. I gravitate toward the contradiction between masculine and feminine, old and new, and high and low in my personal style. For me, it's about the mix.

    One reason I love this mirrored grog tray and polished chrome stand is because it has a feminine refinement to it. It's very Upper East Side and lends a touch of nouveau preppy—a stark contrast to my red-blooded liquor tastes. The paper coasters I lifted from a memorable night at The Bowery Hotel, the quahog shell from Narragansett Beach holds match boxes from my favorite bars, while loving cups not only hold chocolate bars and wooden arrows (summer camp nostalgia) but evoke an air of victorious celebration...all memories worth raising a glass to.

    Apr 14, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • Father’s Office

    Food & Drink  

    Tucked away in a dark, crowded American gastropub in Santa Monica is the one burger I go out of my way for when I'm in L.A. The gospel served on a soft roll. It’s simply a patty of fine dry-aged beef topped with caramelized onions, Gruyère and Maytag cheeses, applewood-smoked bacon compote, and arugula. A local and self-proclaimed foodie introduced me to the joint back in 2007. Every time this burger hits my lips, I crown it "Best Burger…Ever.” Every time.

    Welcome to Father’s Office.

    The nationally acclaimed gastropub is helmed by Chef Sang Yoon. The Korean/Russian restauranteur took over the tiny, unpretentious local bar in 2000, opened the kitchen, and gifted the much touted “Office Burger” ($12.50) to Angelenos. Known for its world-class selection of beers on tap (a seasonally rotating selection of 36 craft beers) and burgers, the Office is just as notorious for what it doesn’t have—ketchup and empathy for your menu substitutions. Hey, Yoon’s genius is not without its madness. But he does us one better with two aioli sauces of garlic and blue cheese for your sweet potato fries. In a single epiphanic moment, the very idea of ketchup becomes foreign. Baptize it all in one of the local microbrews and consider it a religious experience.

    1018 Montana Ave
    Santa Monica, CA 90403

    Oct 25, 2013 | Permalink (4) View/Leave Comments

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 12/26/2013 at 12:42 PM:

    @Al—It’s a different burger than Mr. Bartley’s. The Office Burger borders gourmet more or less. Different class of burger, making them hard to compare.


    Al left a comment on 12/26/2013 at 12:13 PM:

    Sounds good, but is it better than Mr. Bartley’s in Cambridge? That’s an epic burger.


    Paul left a comment on 12/26/2013 at 10:38 AM:

    Your writing is off the hook.


    George left a comment on 12/25/2013 at 2:09 AM:

    I’m glad to know that you make it out this way from time to time. Enjoy the sun, avoid the nuts and flakes, and maybe get up north a little to San Francisco. Best Wishes.


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  • Scotch & Chocolate

    Food & Drink | Prep Essentials  

    The older I get, the more I find respite in life’s simple pleasures. I am a firm believer in enjoying certain indulgences in their due time. A glass of scotch and chocolate is one of these pleasures I find myself relishing as I settle into my thirties. After a long day, there might be nothing better.

    A fraternity brother introduced me to The Balvenie® Doublewood Single Malt Scotch Whisky three years ago. I've been winding down to it ever since. The Scottish distillery matures this 12 year old unique single malt in two distinct casks: Traditional whiskey oak and European oak sherry. The result is a complex mellow flavor of significant depth. I take mine on the rocks as I like a touch of water....it helps "open up" the warming layers of vanilla spiciness and honeyed depths. Stick with a 2 x 2 inch cube to minimize dilution (silicone king cube trays can be found at West Elm).

    Mast Brothers chocolate is a bar I've only recently stumbled upon. Hand-crafted right here in Brooklyn since 2007, brothers Rick and Michael Mast have developed an artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate factory using only the best cacao in the world. Their intensely flavored chocolate is made only from cacao pods and cane sugar, which may not seem that noteworthy until you read the long ingredients lists on other bars: lecithin, milk solids, palm oil. My favorite is the sea salt bar—a celebration of the sweet and salty with salt from solar houses on the Mystic Coast of Maine enhancing the berry-forward cacao. I don’t hate the rugby striped Italian art-paper wrapper either.

    What’s your favorite scotch and/or chocolate?

    Oct 14, 2013 | Permalink (17) View/Leave Comments

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 1/8/2014 at 11:03 AM:

    @Jai—Brotherhood of Christian Aggies.


    Jai left a comment on 1/8/2014 at 9:37 AM:

    Which Fraternity you were in at Texas A&M?


    Daniel left a comment on 12/5/2013 at 4:07 PM:

    Fred- What fraternity did you join?


    Dychi left a comment on 12/5/2013 at 12:10 PM:

    Aberlour A’bunadh has been mentioned, but it’s one of my all time favorites. For a peatier, punchier whisky, I like Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask and Ardbeg’s Uigeadail. Recently, I’ve been getting into briny, lightly-smoky whisky, such as some offerings from Talisker, Caol Ila and Bruichladdich. The entry-level offerings from these distilleries are all excellent, and Talisker has a no age statement whisky called Storm that I’ve really taken a liking to.

    Happy drinking!


    Chad Savage left a comment on 12/3/2013 at 11:22 AM:

    balvenie 14 year Carribean cask is great and so is Oban 14 year..


    BRB left a comment on 12/2/2013 at 11:44 AM:

    I’ve probably tried close to if not over 100 (have the empty bottles and tins/boxes still) single malts over the last 4-5 years or so and we actually had more types of scotch at our wedding reception last year than any other liquor. By far, I think one of the best I’ve had was one from our reception, the Glenmorangie Signet. Not only a beautiful scotch, but the bottle and box also stand out, but at $150-200 a bottle, they better.


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 12/2/2013 at 9:34 AM:

    @James—I studied at Texas A&M as well. While there, I rushed my fraternity.


    James left a comment on 12/2/2013 at 9:14 AM:

    There are fraternities at private Christian universities?


    Nic left a comment on 12/2/2013 at 9:05 AM:

    I like to use soapstone cubes or a sphere of ice. The latter if you must have ice is the best at minimizing any dilution.


    Drew left a comment on 12/2/2013 at 1:26 AM:

    I’m no aficionado of chocolate or scotch. If I get a chance to pull on some laphroaig, I’ll jump.
    Drew
    diyvat.com


    rjohnson left a comment on 12/2/2013 at 1:20 AM:

    I apologize.
    Not Talisker but the Lagavulin 16-year-old Islay Single Malt


    rjohnson left a comment on 12/1/2013 at 11:49 PM:

    The Cask strength MaCallan is my house scotch.
    The Balvinie Double wood, is beautiful as well.
    A’bunadh whisky from the Aberlour is as well cask strength, a touch of water opens it.
    The 16 year old Islay Talisker is devine… Liquid sex.

    Ice (iced red wine? = no) closes the nose and flavor notes. Just a tickle of water (filtered) will do.
    Scotch, like chocolate should be at room temp for best flavor appreciation.
    Cheers.

    ...only in your 30s?... That’s a lot of scotch to enjoy yet for you then!


    Oscar left a comment on 12/1/2013 at 11:58 AM:

    I’ve worked in the Food & Beverage industry for most of my 20 years since College graduation, and the cost/benefit equation of aging hits a plateau at 15 for mixed malts, in some cases 12 for single malts, and always will be a question of personal taste, so Macallan 12 hits the sweet spot in my opinion. For Chocolate, if the first ingredient in the wrapper is not chocolate or cocoa butter, then hydrogenated fats are used in lieu of cocoa fat flavored by cocoa powder. More chocolate % does not necessarily mean better chocolate, only a lower melting point. For me its Ragusa, from Camille Bloch. MIND-BLOWING


    OMK left a comment on 11/30/2013 at 9:11 PM:

    Superb! Try Macallan 12. Better than 18, less expensive. Awesome stuff year round.


    chapeau left a comment on 11/30/2013 at 8:01 PM:

    Glenmorangie, gorgeous


    JeffW left a comment on 11/30/2013 at 6:36 PM:

    The Balvenie Carribean cask is also wonderful.


    MrFahrenheit left a comment on 11/30/2013 at 4:07 PM:

    Try the Aberlour 12. It’s a doublewood as well and more complex than the Balvenie.


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