• 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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  • National Lampoon’s Animal House

    Culture | Prep Essentials  

    You have four years to be irresponsible. If you’re ambitious, five. Then it’s over. And if you did it right, you spent money you didn’t have, slept through classes you didn’t love, and drank too much. Some of it should be a blur. Ideally, you forged bonds that will never be broken and memories that will never be forgotten. That’s college. Few films capture that...potential...quite like National Lampoon’s Animal House. Released in 1978, it is considered one of the greatest comedy films ever made. In fact, in 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National film Registry.

    The lighting in a bottle that is Animal House was made possible by the hands-off approach of Universal Pictures. Although they landed Donald Sutherland, the low budget comedy lacked sufficient star power. The suits didn’t have high expectations. In the words of studio head Ned Tanen, “Screw it, it’s a silly little movie, and we’ll make a couple of bucks if we’re lucky—let them [director John Landis and crew] do whatever they want.” Well, that couple of bucks turned out to be $141million. The film became a true cultural phenomenon setting off toga parties at campuses across the country.

    The heart of Deborah Nadoolman’s costume design was quickly overshadowed by the widespread adoption of the sheet-wearing ritual. Madras shirting, satin baseball jackets, Jennings’ three piece corduroy suit, and Bluto’s iconic “COLLEGE” sweatshirt lent an uniquely American texture to the film. She showcased the marriage between sportswear and clothing that a post-war American youth pioneered. Looking at menswear’s landscape today, it’s quite obvious that Nadoolman’s rich work is, in large part, why Animal House holds “aesthetic significance.” I have pulled together a collection* of pieces I found on eBay inspired by the classic comedy. Follow me on eBay to check out the rest of my shoppable collections at prices that allow you to be, well, a little irresponsible.

    *My eBay Collection was created as part of my collaboration with eBay and Style Coalition #FOLLOWFINDIT

    Oct 30, 2013 | Permalink (4) View/Leave Comments

    Aaron left a comment on 11/12/2013 at 3:03 PM:

    Many forget this amazing film was filmed on the campus of the University of Oregon… Campus obviously has changed quite a bit.


    Meg left a comment on 11/11/2013 at 9:56 AM:

    Easily one of my favorite movies.  This post made my day.  Thanks, Fred!


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 11/8/2013 at 7:46 AM:

    @Alex—Right on.


    Alex left a comment on 11/8/2013 at 7:42 AM:

    It’s great to see these looks aren’t dated at all. The movie is set in 1962, right? Except for a detail or two, these guys would look as good in 1962 as they would in 2013.


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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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  • Chinese Ginger Jars

    Style | Prep Essentials  

    Porcelain ginger jars, a longstanding favorite amongst interior designers, are rich in centuries of Chinese history and culture, dating as far back as the Qin Dynasty (221 BC—207 BC). The hand-painted jars were long used for storing rare spices such as salt, herbs, and ginger (hence the name). In the 17th century, the British began exporting these porcelain wares and called them “china.” Showcasing these pieces in one’s home during this time came to symbolize wealth, sophistication, and travel. Today, designers are often creating an elevated high/low approach with these beautiful blue-and-white pieces.

    The key is to not be too precious with them. Make them functional. Convert them into lamps or flower pots. Here, I store my croquet set in a large 20” jar but your umbrellas could be just as fitting. My friend Mariah, the equine lover behind Quite Continental, displays polo mallets in hers. The floral patterns and bulbous hand-painted body introduce a subtle femininity to a room. Larger antique Chinese porcelain ginger jars can still be found for upwards of $600; however, they will typically show heavy signs of wear and tear and are often very fragile. New reproductions, ideal for decorating and re-purposing, can be had for a fraction of the cost at shops like Etsy and Pearl River. It’s about the mix—Chinese ginger jars with Persian rugs with mid-century modern Bertoia chairs.

    Sep 27, 2013 | Permalink (11) View/Leave Comments

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 11/5/2013 at 12:17 PM:

    @Chase—I’m currently in a three bedroom apartment.


    Chase left a comment on 11/5/2013 at 12:11 PM:

    Are you in a studio apartment in South Slope?


    Margaret left a comment on 11/5/2013 at 10:46 AM:

    I’ve been away from this site for a few months - any update on the online retail shop? coffee table rowing book? etc.?


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 11/5/2013 at 10:44 AM:

    @James—If you’d like to continue this conversation, just email me.


    James left a comment on 11/5/2013 at 10:43 AM:

    You’ve had one up until recently, yes?


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 11/5/2013 at 10:41 AM:

    @James—I could be open to the possibility.


    James left a comment on 11/5/2013 at 10:39 AM:

    Are you looking for a roommate?


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 11/5/2013 at 10:27 AM:

    @James—At the moment, yes.


    James left a comment on 11/5/2013 at 10:22 AM:

    Do you live by yourself?


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 11/4/2013 at 4:16 PM:

    @Grace—Only a year or so. There is a club that plays in Central Park every summer.


    Grace left a comment on 11/4/2013 at 4:11 PM:

    How long have you played croquet?


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  • Lobster Rolls

    Food & Drink | Prep Essentials  

    It’s finally reeking of summer in New York. That’s right, I’m talking about the subways. But there is a silver lining—lobster rolls. Of preppy summer fare, there are few greater and none more satisfying. The best are teeming with fresh lobster and served up in cardboard trays and wax paper. Rebecca and I rolled up to the food truck laager in the Flatiron District last night to usher in the season of leisureliness properly.

    Connecticut style (right) and Maine style (left) lobster rolls ($16)

    Red Hook Lobster Pound specializes in fresh catch lobster. Susan Povich and Ralph Gorham, who founded the seat-of-your-pants operation in 2008, drive up the coast of Maine several times a week to round up their crustaceans. They serve up rolls in Maine (chilled lobster, celery, house mayo, light spices) and Connecticut style (warm lobster drunk on butter). In a moment of indecision I order both. Nine minutes later, no regrets. It is easily one of the best lobster rolls in New York (and I’ve had Lunch before).

    May 10, 2013 | Permalink (2) View/Leave Comments

    kim left a comment on 6/6/2013 at 5:35 PM:

    So which style did you prefer? :) They looked the same from the photo.

    http://thoughtfulplate.wordpress.com


    NJGlenn left a comment on 5/20/2013 at 7:21 AM:

    Yes please.  This is the perfect summer meal.


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