The Lion, The Witches, and the Wardrobes [Books + Media]

Would you like white truffles with that?

On occasion I’m invited to profile prominent NYU alumni for the school’s magazine. Here, the latest, on John Delucie of The Waverly Inn, who opened his you-probably-can’t-get-there-either pleasure dome The Lion last week. I’ve toured both, so you don’t have to. Enjoy, and may your dreams be of a gigantic highball and a Flatiron steak.

The Waverly Inn is the kind of place that doesn’t list its phone number because it doesn’t need to. A place that counts models, moguls, and movie stars as regulars. A place where even the mac and cheese costs $95 because it’s flavored with white truffles flown in from Alba, Italy. To those who want to get in, it can seem impenetrable. To those who do get in, it’s the modern epitome of “see and be seen.”

Back in the early 1990s, when John DeLucie was stuck in a cubicle at a Midtown employment agency, he had no idea that he’d someday be the executive chef and co-owner of such an establishment. His humble past is still evident on the menu, where patrons will find dressed-up comfort food—a simple yet stylish alternative to haute cuisine. And unlike chefs at some exclusive restaurants, DeLucie, who recently launched his second Village venture, The Lion, warmly greets guests as though they’re family coming over to dinner.

In his recent memoir, The Hunger: A Story of Food, Desire, and Ambition (Ecco), DeLucie offers readers an intimate look inside one of the hottest restaurants to hit New York in decades and tells the tale of his unlikely rise to culinary fame.

Continue reading “The Lion, The Witches, and the Wardrobes [Books + Media]”

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Introducing The Accidental Extremist

The best kind of travel is the least-expected. Even if it means narrowly escaping disaster. Especially if it means narrowly escaping disaster. Ever think to yourself, “I shoulda stayed home”? Tell your story over on my new blog, The Accidental Extremist

Think of it as the online home for misadventure. Stories about the wheels coming off and what happened next. Cultural gaffes. Cautionary Tales. Submit them, especially if they’re funny. Make them compelling. (And yes, make them true, or risk the lash of karmic whips). This is the place for off-the-road tales of the outlandish, the ridiculous, and the embarrassing. Basically everything that daily life is not. Snapshots, videos, links, cartoons, postcards all welcome. We can use your name, or not. Your call. And Happy Trails! 

Raise a Glass to Fall [Diversions]

 

thirsty much?
thirsty much?

The sky may be falling on Wall Street, but we’ll always have beer. It makes us happy; it’s inexpensive; it’s readily available. What’s not to like? And fall is an especially good time to drink it. The Great American Beer Festival is in just a few weeks; the traditional Oktoberfest in Munich started just two days ago—and will go for another 13—but there are plenty of reasons raise a glass of beer right now, and close to home instead. 

 

For the last five years I’ve had the incredibly good fortune to join my friend Seth Fletcher in rating the best beers in the land (or sometimes the world) for MEN’S JOURNAL, a somber task we approach with monkish restraint (OK, we enjoy it mightily, but if we actually finished the hundreds of bottles we sample each summer the story would never happen. Much returns to Earth from whence it came. And we have notebooks, piles of them. We swear.)

This year’s list is on newsstands now, and this time, the premise was deceptively simple: if you like ‘X’ mass beer, try ‘Y’ craft variation. Are you a Guinness drinker? Then try Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter, available in 19 states and counting. With an eye toward America’s smallest, most artisanal craft brewers—some with only a handful of employees—we dedicated ourselves to coming up with a list of exceptional American (and in one case, Quebecois) craft beers that are a bit harder to find, but so worth the effort. Many of these beers are available in NYC, on tap or in bottles at bars like The Blind Tiger, Bar Great Harry, DBA, Against The Grain, Spuyten Duyvil, The Diamond, the Brazen Head, and more. There’s also a mini-profile of beer provocateur Vinnie Cilurzo (of California’s Russian River Brewing Company). Enjoy!

RELATED:

– Our previous offerings: 2004, 20052006, and 2007.

– The hard-to-please imbibers online at BeerAdvocate.com discuss our picks (via http://www.beeradvocate.com)(cheers, guys).

– Photo album: Outtakes from my 12 month tour through 14 countries, 59 breweries, and 330 beers on the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in 1996-7.

– Interesting piece by Nick Kulish on the German beer scene today (NYT).

Life Imitates Art [Flyers’ Remorse]

From the first page of the recent and much-lauded Jonny Miles debut novel “Dear American Airlines” (Houghton Mifflin) any weary traveler worth his industrial-strength earplugs will surely nod in baleful agreement with Miles’ assessment of the scabrous conditions considered normal in American commercial aviation. Apparently, some recent AA passengers didn’t get the memo (read: everybody loses) and decided to fight back. Which, in keeping with the way things go these days, backfired. But at least they tried. I was Miles’ researcher/fact-checker at Men’s Journal for a couple of years, which was a pleasure, especially working on one non-fiction ode to New Orleans bars in all their decadent glory. Catch him reading from his new book this Monday night the 14th at the Half King. I’ll be there. RELATED: Vicarious air rage was never so therapeutic nor generously rewarding. Buy the book.

Take The High Road [Diversions]

On this flickr set, a photographer named Ken Ohyama captures some incredible images of what might at first seem incredibly boring — highway interchanges. Shot mostly by night, these eerie, desolate asphalt and concrete spans take on mesmerizing, fantastical and sometimes even organic forms. [Thanks, Tommy]