V.I. protest causes airline to retreat

American Airlines has announced it will not apply its new checked baggage fees to boxes of liquor purchased in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The U.S.V.I. consist of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John.

Boxes of liquor bottles are a common take-home item for tourists taking advantage of the fact the Virgin Islands sells liquor at duty-free prices that are usually much less than in the mainland U.S. Because federal regulations prohibit carrying liquids into the cabins of passenger aircraft, boxes for the alcohol bottles must be checked.

Last month, when American announced it planned to charge all passengers for each checked bag, rathering than allowing one free bag as has always been commonplace in the industry, Virgin Islands officials "bristled at the potential impact it could have on duty-free liquor sales," reported the Virgin islands Daily News.

Go here for the remainder of the story.
U.S.V.I. Department of Tourism
• Virgin Island Travel Guide
Dowd's Guides

Slow Food Nation event fast approaching

Slow Food Nation, the largest celebration of American food in history, will take place in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend, Aug. 29-Sept. 1.

The event will bring together tens of thousands of visitors to experience a range of activities "highlighting the connection between plate and planet," as the public relations people like to put it.

The majority of the events will be free and open to the public. However, some events require tickets, which are available in advance online. Prices vary per event.

The event is more than just a stream of food vendors. As the press release notes, "Slow Food Nation will bring together local citizens and visitors, farmers and food artisans, political leaders, environmental advocates and health care experts, community educators and artists.

"Participants will savor food from across the U.S. at Taste, a 50,000 square foot pavilion; meet farmers and producers at a marketplace surrounding a 10,000 square foot newly-planted urban garden in the heart of the city; learn from visionary speakers; and engage in political discourse to shape a more sustainable food system. Slow Food Nation will also feature a music festival, workshops, films, dinners, hikes and journeys."

Anya Fernald, SFN executive director, isn't shy about sharing the organization's lofty goals:

"Slow Food Nation will catalyze a huge shift in how Americans perceive and prioritize food. Through the four-day event, we hope to build momentum and demand for an American food system that is safer, healthier and more socially just.

“Our founder, Alice Waters, has set the stage for a delicious revolution through decades of leadership and advocacy and our parent organization, Slow Food U.S.A., has built a wide membership base across America. By creating a framework for a deeper environmental and community-based connection to our food and farmers, Slow Food Nation will help participants learn how everyday choices affect our well-being, our culture and the health of the planet.”
Slow Food Nation official site
• Dowd's Guides

Raising the bar in Lake Placid

April Dowd photo

Cocktails guru Tony Abou-Ganim (left) and drinks writer Bill Dowd work out behind the bar during a Lake Placid workshop this week.

LAKE PLACID, NY -- Tony Abou-Ganim, the celebrity mixologist who helped the cocktail culture return nationwide with a rush over the past decade or so, was in fine form during an hour-long cocktail-making workshop at T-Bar on Thursday night.

T-Bar, a ritzy Adirondack-style cocktail lounge within chef Charlie Levitz's eponymous Charlie's restaurant on Main Street, was briefly turned into the kind of classroom no one wants to avoid.

Abou-Ganim splits much of his time between Las Vegas and New York -- he's a partner in the recently-opened Manhattan spot Bar Milano -- but pops up all over the country for trade shows, training events and special occasions. He'd just appeared at the annual Santé magazine industry trade show in Manchester, VT, and was returning to a place where he'd personally trained Levin's bartending staff a year ago in the fine points of cocktail making.

This workshop preceded a cocktail-pairing dinner prepared by Charlie's head chef Lendell Eaddy and Levitz, who oversees the Charlie's kitchen but spends much of his time at his other Lake Placid restaurant, Chair 6, and with his extensive catering operations.

During the show-and-tell, Abou-Ganim invited several onlookers to step behind the bar to help him make some basic drinks -- Cosmopolitans, Marqueritas, Martinis. He also challenged yours truly to a "Manhattan throwdown" since both of us are fans of the historic drink. I, in fact, consider it a food group.

He laid down the ground rules: The same recipe had to be followed — bourbon (we both liked the sweetness of Maker’s Mark), Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth, Angostura Bitters and a maraschino cherry. The catch was that Abou-Ganim preferred to shake his concoction over fresh ice — which I normally do for a straight-up cocktail — while insisting I stir mine with ice to properly chill each drink.

He shook.

I stirred.

We poured.

The audience voted on the cocktail with the most alluring appearance.

Modesty prohibits revealing the voters results. Let's just say I won't ask for a recount.
Lake Placid and the Adirondacks
The Olympic Region
Dowd's Guides

Blog Archive