Archive

Posts Tagged ‘experiences’

Travel Diaries: Two Days in New York, or Pleasures of Being a Tourist

April 24, 2019 4 comments

I live in close proximity of New York – 45 minutes by train – and I almost call it my “home town”. Each year, I get to visit the City, as it is typically called by locals (and to the best of my knowledge, “The City” primarily refers to Manhattan – New Yorkers, feel free to correct me) numerous number of times – business meetings, dinners, Broadway shows, wines tastings – you name it. But every one of those visits is purpose-driven – get in, do your thing, get out. Yes, I get to walk the streets, which I enjoy immensely and snap a few pictures, but still – the mind is set on “in and out”. “Can I sit on this bench for another ten minutes? No, because then you will miss the train. Get up and get going”.

To tell you the truth, the idea of staying in New York for a night was on my mind for a long time. Last week was a school break, for which we had no opportunity to make any plans. I looked around for a short notice vacation – flying would cost a fortune and would be mentally exhaustive (don’t get me going on my travel luck lately). Driving long distance with a rainy forecast for most of the East Coast didn’t look attractive even for a bit. And then the thought came – what about New York? My wife and our youngest daughter quickly agreed (older kids had no vacation that week anyway); we got lucky finding the room at Marriott Marquis, right in the middle of the Times Square – and with my Marriott status we even scored an upgrade, so we were definitely all set for a short New York getaway.

We decided to come over by train so we will not have to deal with the parking. After some deliberations, we decided to skip the most touristy things – city tour and the Broadway show, and just enjoy the City for what it is. Our mandatory program was short – Times Square, 9/11 Memorial, Jewish Heritage Musem and Central Park. Natural History Museum was also on the list, but with a bit of a lesser priority. With the hotel located right on the Times Square, the first requirement was easy – plus our upgraded room exceeded our expectations – we had the full view of the Times Square from the 45th floor, any second we wanted to see it – that alone made our vacation perfect.

Despite the gloomy forecast, I have to say that the weather cooperated with us very well. The view of the World Trade Center building covered in the fog was rather unique, and overall gray weather was perfectly appropriate for the solemn mood of the 9/11 memorial and even Jewish Heritage Museum. And for the next day’s walk through Central Park we even had the sun coming out instead of the expected rain, so we really can’t complain about the weather at all. By the way – we made it to the Natural History Museum, but it seems that there were a lot (way too many) dinosaur fans in New York that day – the line to get into the museum to see T.Rex exhibition was stretching over the few of the neighboring streets, so we really decided to call it a day.

The fact that we stayed overnight in New York really changed the impression and perception of this vacation. Instead of fighting the traffic and crowds to get back home after dinner, the leisurely walk back to the hotel created a feeling of a real vacation, when you immerse into the life around you and lose the feeling of time. There was no feeling of the day trip, no feeling of being close to home – it was a real vacation, just somewhere in the world, in a place where time doesn’t exist and you don’t need to care about anything. We all really loved the experience of being a tourist almost in your hometown and will be looking forward to doing this again – in New York and not.

The only way I can share this experience with you is through the pictures. As I never know when to stop, here are some many pictures for you – definitely more than a few, but I’m only trying to share some of the moments of our [short] vacation. Hope you will enjoy them as much as I did while taking them. Cheers!

Lower Manhattan – The World Trade Center and around:

Somewhere in New York:

Times Square – day, night, and around:

Central Park:

Oversold and Underappreciated Premise of Wine Pairing

November 27, 2015 10 comments

MWWC_logoThis post is an entry for the 21st Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (#MWWC21), with the theme of “Pairing”. Previous themes in the order of appearance were: Transportation, Trouble, Possession, Oops, Feast, Mystery, Devotion, Luck, Fear, Value, Friend, Local, Serendipity, Tradition, Success, Finish, Epiphany, Crisis, Choice, Variety.

Let’s start from the mini quiz – is food and wine pairing an art or a science? Or is it neither and the question makes no sense?

I’m sure you can successfully argue both sides, as they do in debate competitions. Technically, cooking process is based on science – heat conduction, protein’s reaction to heat and cold, combining acid and alkaline – we can go on and on, of course the scientific approach to the food and then the pairing can be argued very well. But one and the same dish can be flawlessly composed from the scientific point of view – think about a steak which is perfectly cooked with a beautiful crust – but missing on all the seasoning and having either none or way too much salt – it would require an artistry and magic of the Chef to make it a wow food experience. So may be food and wine pairing is an art after all?

I don’t have an answer, and I don’t believe it is even important. The problem is that in many cases, that “food and wine pairing”, which is typically sought out and praised, is not possible, not universal and even not needed.

Yes, there are rules for the pairing of wine and food. Contrast, complement, balance of the body of the wine with the perception of the “weight” of the food, tannins and fat and so on. The rules work well when you create a tasting menu and pair each dish individually with the very specific wine, based on practical trial and error. However, once you try to extend your recommendation to say “try this stew with some Syrah wine”, that begs only one question – really? And overbearing Shiraz from Australia, or earthy, spicy and tremendously restrained Côte-Rôtie or espresso loaded Syrah from Santa Ynez Valley – which one?

Here is another example, simply a personal one. At a restaurant, my first food preference is seafood – scallops, bouillabaisse, fish – anything. My wife typically prefers meat, and so do many of our friends. Going by the standard rules (white with fish etc.), we are either stuck with water or have to order wine by the glass, and ordering wine by the glass is typically not something I enjoy doing – very often, “by the glass” list is short, boring and grossly overpriced. So instead of trying to pair wine with the food (don’t get me wrong – I like the “spot-on” pairing as much as any other foodie and oenophile), I prefer to pair the wine with the moment – a good bottle of wine which doesn’t match the food is still a lot better than crappy wine which would denigrate the experience.

Still not convinced? Think about a simple situation – old friends are coming for a visit, and you know that these friends like wine. Yes, I’m sure you will give some thought to the food, however, there is a good chance that you will comb your cellar over and over again in a search of the wines to create the meaningful  wine program for the evening, even if the whole dinner would consist of one dish. You will spend time and time again thinking about your friends and trying to come up with a perfect, special, moment-appropriate and moment-enhancing wines.

Wine is an emotional connector. Wine elevates our experiences, making them a lot more memorable. You might have problem remembering what dish you had at a restaurant, but if the bottle of wine made you say “wow” on the first sip, there is a good chance that the special moment will stay in your memory, thanks to that special pairing which took place.

We pair wine with moments, and we pair wine with the people, for good and bad of it. If Aunt Mary comes for a visit, who enjoys a glass of Chardonnay with a cube of ice in it, is it really the time to break out Peter Michael or Gaja Rossj Bass? A Bogle Chardonnay would pair perfectly with Aunt Mary (not that there is anything wrong with Bogle – it is just perfectly priced for such occasions). However, if you know that your friend Jeff will stop by, who you know as a Pinot Noir aficionado, all the best Pinot Noir in your cellar will all of a sudden enter into a “chose me, I’m better” competition. And if none of them will win, the Pinot Noir at near by store will enter the fray. And keep in mind, all of this will be happening whether you will be serving steak, salmon or cheese and crackers…

Yes, when food is well paired with wine, it is really a special experience. But food and wine pairing which doesn’t work is really not the end of the world, it is still just a nuisance – and a learning experience, if you will. When the wine pairs well with the moments and the people, that’s when the memories are created, and that, as MasterCard likes to teach us, is priceless. Let’s drink to lots of special moments in our lives. Cheers!

3/415/1863

March 29, 2013 24 comments

 

Sun-lit grapesLet me ask you a question (no, today is not Saturday and this is not a quiz post) – what do you think the numbers in the title represent?

Any ideas?

Okay, here it is.

3 years.

415 posts.

1863 comments, which translates into more than 900 dialogs.

Today is third anniversary of Talk-A-Vino blog.

This blog started on March 29, 2010 with this post. Started is somewhat of a big word, as the very next post came out almost 4 month later, on July 20th (interestingly enough, it was about Wine Century Club, same as my post from yesterday).

From there on, this blog went forward. Slowly. Sometimes, I was questioning the entire premise of this writing (believe me – I still do). Sometimes, the going was easy. And sometimes, getting a single word out was as easy as successful as convincing oneself that tooth pain is enjoyable. But – there was always something else to say. Something else to share. And the lucky day would bring a comment. An opportunity to talk and to engage, to have a dialog. I think ultimately, the dialog is what I value the most in the whole blogging paradigm. Yes, I can express myself, I’m talking about the subject I’m extremely passionate about – but I really strive for discussion, strive for dialog, strive for the feedback. Good, bad or ugly – doesn’t matter; having any feedback is much better than having none. This is why I included the number of comments as probably the only metric I care about. No, I’m not trying to lie to you – of course I look at the number of views and visitors. But – dialogs are what really matters, and it is the major reason for this blog to exist.

Okay, I think you got my point (can I please have a comment from each one of you, so I know my message went across? What, no comment? Well, please promise that you will leave one next time?).

Considering that any birthday is an opportunity to reflect, I wanted to give you my own retrospective and tell you what was planned, what worked, what didn’t work, what I liked and what I didn’t like. I dutifully scrolled through many posts, to no avail – I’m ashamed to admit, but I like a lot of them…  Here is an “oenophile” mini-series – Fears of the Oenophile, Five Essential Traits of the Oenophile, Five Traps of Oenophile. And then there are Wine and Time, Wine = Art and Taste Of Wine – Engineering Approach, as well as the “wineries” mini-series – BV, Ridge, Paumanok, Chateau Ste. Michelle, … Wine quizzes, Daily Glass, Bars and Restaurants, Travel – all with pictures (can I share one more number? 1309 pictures are attached to this blog…).

Many things didn’t work as planned. My Daily Glass is very far from even weekly. My Categories are all over the place – grapes, wines, experiences and regions are all just lumped together, without any system. I don’t update pages on time (Top Wine Ratings is 5 month behind, for instance)…

Well, it is what it is. It is a live blog. And does create dialog. Thus, I’m happy. Cheers!

 

 

Knowledge or Wisdom? repost from Whisky-online

March 1, 2012 5 comments

Today I came across a blog post which stroke a chord – whether or not you are in love with whisky, this will universally apply to all of us who takes keen interest in Wine, Whisky, Beer, Rum or anything else you strive to know more about, because knowledge enhances the pleasure… Here it is:

http://whisky-online.com/blog/knowledge-or-wisdom/

Enjoy!

Categories: Experiences, Life, Whiskey Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: