• 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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  • The History of Boast

    Prep Essentials  

    Nantucket doesn't let you sleep in. At least not in Siasconset. The Sun rises at a quarter past five over the eastern bluff the sleepy village teeters on (one house has already tumbled down the eroding cliff with a handful more sure to follow). Let there be no mistake, I'm of the ilk that enjoys Nantucket by way of work, not exclusively by way of play. But such are most of my travels. I'm hardly interested in jetting off anywhere unless it involves a business write-off.

    I pop into Murray's Toggery Shop, the birthplace of Nantucket Reds, to pass some time before my buddy Jon Terbell and I begin building out his summer pop-up shop, One Orange. It's what one would expect from a small town sportswear clothier. But after I wander into the back room (where there is everything you could ever imagine in Nantucket Red) I notice a small stash of Boast piqué polos hanging in the corner. While certainly a fan of the brand, their fit left a little to be desired since I last pulled on the "Japanese Maple Leaf" a couple years ago. Rumor had it Boast revisited their polo's fit* recently and I secretly hoped it to be true. The arm holes are higher, the body sits closer to the torso while the tennis tail hits at just the right part of your backside. I happily left with one in Carolina Blue. Back in play, as they say.

    Never heard of Boast? Enjoy this animated abridged history of the irreverent squash inspired sportswear company to get up to speed.

    *It would seem as if Boast embraced vanity sizing as where I was once a medium, I now wear their small (I'm 5'11", 175lbs)

    May 8, 2013 | Permalink (3) View/Leave Comments

    T2 left a comment on 5/16/2013 at 10:18 PM:

    You learn something everyday.  Thanks Fred.


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 5/16/2013 at 9:33 PM:

    @T2—For what it’s worth, the very name “Boast” is taken from a squash shot played to the front wall via a side wall or the back wall.


    T2 left a comment on 5/16/2013 at 8:03 PM:

    While the Yale squash team and other squash players might have wore Boast, Bill St. John is an avid tennis player.  Taking into account that Rene Lacoste designed this type of shirt, I would say that it is a tennis inspired company.  I know that this is a minor point; however, it seems more correct.  It’s nice to see some coverage for a fairly under the radar company.


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  • The Needlepoint Belt

    Style | Culture | Prep Essentials  

    According to the 80s-penned Official Preppy Handbook, the needlepoint belt is a “must accessory for the collegiate B.M.O.C. (big man on campus)" and typically a gift from women of a certain sort and class...women committed to memorializing young love by stitching a needlepoint belt for their beau. Ironically, it eventually garnered notoriety as the breakup belt. By the time the belt was finished, someone in the relationship had often decided to move on.

    While preppy fashion has gradually evolved over the last 30 years, the casual and jaunty nature of needlepoint belts has not. It's the preppy catholicon for holding up ill-fitting khakis, shorts, and summer suit trousers.

    Victoria Stulgis started needlepointing at age 12 when she and her mom wandered into the Nantucket clothing/needlepoint boutique, Erica Wilson. By 15, she became much more avid. After a day at the stables, she and her equestrian friends would slumber party at each other's homes and needlepoint in front of the TV. "It was rather unconventional, I think," Stulgis recalls.

    "I started working on [my boyfriend] Jack's belt when I was 17. Back then I was rather quick at needlepointing and it only took 3-6 months (I think there was a time when I was needlepointing during history class)."

    When she was finished with the crossed oars design in Georgetown colors (and still in the relationship) Stulgis sent the canvas to a leather shop just outside Lexington, KY, which she had stumbled across while competing at the US National Pony Finals in 2004. They do a top notch job with the stitching and use superior quality leather, as they cater to the equestrian set down in Kentucky. Good thing too, since her boyfriend Jack has been throwing it around his waist almost daily for the past six years.

    Can’t get your auntie, mum, or lovely lady to labor for months over this functional status statement? No worries. You can simply pick one up from Tucker Blair or Smathers & Branson; however, my favorite is one I came across from Rugby several years ago (beautiful repeating gold skull & bones on navy ground, wool thread, and better quality leather than the former). Most ring in under $200. Of course, the most valuable needlepoint belts are those made by moms or girlfriends like Stulgis.

    Sep 6, 2012 | Permalink (2) View/Leave Comments

    PSP left a comment on 1/30/2014 at 10:27 PM:

    My wife made a U Penn one that incorporated my initials as a Christmas gift.


    Rowboats left a comment on 10/30/2012 at 8:35 PM:

    M’s Canvashouse out of Lexington KY sells the best most extensive variety I have ever seen (and online!). You can also send it back to them to do leathering.  My boyfriend has multiple.


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