Jacques Pepin even more at sea

NEW YORK -- Celebrity chef Jacques Pepin will open a new restaurant late next year. The gimmick: It will be aboard Oceania Cruises' new 1,258-guest Marina.

Pepin's namesake restaurant will, not surprisingly, be French-themed.

The space will showcase a grand rotisserie, Pepin-signature china, antique flatware and Lalique glassware, as well as chandeliers fashioned from crystal decanters.

An art collection comprised of some of Pepin's favorite personal pieces and original works Pepin created especially for Marina will add a personal touch.

In addition to being a popular TV show host, Pepin is the author of more than 20 cookbooks and has served as personal chef to numerous heads of state. As executive culinary director for Oceania Cruises, he has overseen the creation and operation of restaurants aboard the line's ships Regatta, Insignia and Nautica.

"As we designed the culinary experience aboard Marina, a restaurant by Jacques Pepin was at the top of our guests' wish lists," said Bob Binder, Oceania Cruises' president. "Jacques will present a traditional French dining experience in a casually elegant fashion."

The Marina has been purposefully designed for epicureans with 10 dining venues, including six open-seating, gourmet restaurants with different themes.
Oceania Cruises
The Marina
Jacques Pepin: The Apprentice Then & Now
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Big Apple entries head 'Tales' awards

PDT, a New York City cocktail lounge, was named “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” at the 7th annual Tales of the Cocktail convention.

Not only that. Co-owner Jim Meehan was named “American Bartender of the Year.”

PDT is located at 113 St. Marks Place in Manhattan, near First Avenue.

New York magazine calls it “the hot-dog joint for grown-ups. Actually, it’s the cocktail-lounge annex to Crif Dogs, an East Village mainstay known for its deep-fried Jersey-style franks. Accessed through a vintage phone booth within Crif Dogs, PDT (short for Please Don’t Tell) is a snug, sexy speakeasy with a twist: Along with its high-quality classic cocktails and a well-chosen selection of beer and wine, patrons can order food from Crif’s kitchen next door. Oddly, it works. …

“As well as rendering classic cocktails with unparalleled expertise, mixologist Jim Meehan (formerly of Gramercy Tavern and Pegu Club) offers up irresistible seasonal creations … .”

The Merchant Hotel of Belfast, Northern Ireland, won three awards:

• World’s Best Hotel Bar
• World’s Best Drink Selection
• World’s Best Cocktail Menu

Other winners:

• World’s Best New Cocktail Bar: The Clover Club, Brooklyn, NY
• Best American Cocktail Bar: Pegu Club, New York City
• International Bartender of the Year: Tony Conigliaro, England
• Helen Davis Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Dorelli, manager, American Bar, The Savoy Hotel, London

Tales of the Cocktail is an annual event held in New Orleans, where bar professionals, enthusiasts, writers, chefs and others gather to share information in a variety of seminars and demonstrations. This year’s Tales ended Sunday night.
World's Best Bars: NYC edition
Dowd's Guides

Seneca Falls gets a Hollywood touch

SENECA FALLS, NY -- The owners of the former Gould Hotel are hoping the structure's new name will signal a wonderful second life for it.

The renamed Hotel Clarence is named for the angel from the 1946 Frank Capra film "It's a Wonderful Life." That's in keeping with the contention of many residents of this Finger Lakes village that their community was the inspiration for the film.

Karolyn Grimes, who portrayed Jimmy Stewart's daughter in the film, is expected to attend the opening. (In photo above, she is seen with Stewart and Donna Reed.)

The Hotel Clarence is scheduled to open Thursday of this week. It is a 48-room hotel with a restaurant and banquet facilities and a restaurant, located in a downtown building that opened in 1918 and operated for decades. Two Syracuse-area developers bought the property in 2007.
Gateway to the Finger Lakes
Dowd's Guides


Let's go to Bahston for chowdah

BOSTON, MA -- Cape Cod is a peninsula chock full of tourists in search of the perfect breakfast and ice cream. It used to be full of folks searching for the perfect clam chowder, but that changed in 1987.

Anthropologists cite that as the year the number of chowder contests and restaurants achieved perfect balance, thus allowing every eatery on the Cape to confidently claim its concoction was No. 1.

The same can be said of the Boston area. However, certain "chowdah" competitions there retain a strong cachet, so if you win the right one you're a major star.

Enter Ned Devine's Irish Pub. On Sunday, it won "Chowderfest" for the third time and has been elected to be enshrined in the event's Hall of Fame.

Manager Greg Springer credits New York City chef Sean Ryan's 20-year-old recipe.

The 28th annual Chowderfest was held as part of Boston Harborfest, a Fourth of July festival showcasing the city's heritage. Eight restaurants competed for the title of Boston's Best Chowder. Organizers says 2,000 gallons of New England's signature dish of clams, cream and potatoes were served to about 10,000 people.

Ned Devine's Irish Pub also won in 2004 and 2005.

The establishment, located in the historic Quincy Market building (a/k/a/ Faneuil Hall), is a two-story facility that includes Ned Devine's, Parris Lounge and the Parris Nightcluib.

It has a wonderful dress code it enforces from Labor Day through Memorial Day, and it is very straightforward:

No hats
No tank tops
No logo'd T-shirts
No athletic jerseys
No sneakers of any type
No work boots
No flip flops
No hooded sweatshirts

How very refreshing.
• Dining in Boston
New England Clam Chowder Recipes
• Qunicy Market/Faneuil Hall
Dowd's Guides

KY cooperage will begin welcoming visitors

LOUISVILLE, KY -- Brown-Forman announced today it is opening its world-famous cooperage to visitors for the first time in its history.

The barrel-making facility also has had its name changed, from Blue Grass Cooperage to Brown-Forman Cooperage. Brown-Forman created the facility in 1945.

Barrels are crafted there from American white oak for the aging of spirits owned by Brown-Forman, such as Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Early Times, Canadian Mist, El Jimador and Herradura. Brown-Forman is the only spirits company in the world to make its own barrels.

Tours must be arranged in advance online through Mint Julep Tours or by phone at (502) 583-1433. Mint Julep Tours also is offering an “All Woodford, All Day Tour” which includes transportation to both the Brown-Forman Cooperage and Woodford Reserve Distillery, a guided tour, admission to both venues, and lunch.

Is it worth the trip? Having visited Woodford several times as well as having a private your of the cooperage, I'd definitely say yes. The cooperage is a beehive of activity that turns out more than 1,500 barrels a day.

Here's a small photo tour of what I saw the last time I visited.

William M. Dowd photos

Workers known as “barrel raisers” assemble 32 staves into barrels.

As part of the process of a zero-waste manufacturing stream, some scrap wood is made into dowel pegs to hold together barrel headers.

Barrel headers are coated with beeswax, then run through a charring apparatus.

Finished charred headers are stacked up until the remainder of the barrels come off the assembly line.

Meanwhile, the barrels are “toasted.” Wood begins to ignite at 482°F, creating a controlled char of the inside of each barrel.
Once barrels are fully processed, they are put on conveyer belts and head for their final destinations.
Mint Julep Tours
Visiting Louisville
Dowd's Guides


Long Island wine country in a growth spurt

From Newsday

Recession or not, a new crop of wineries, tasting rooms, vineyards and wines is making its way to Long Island wine country this season, suggesting that the business of sipping may not only defy but thrive in tough economic times.

From the planned September opening in Southold of a 10,000-square-foot tasting room and winery called Sparkling Pointe devoted exclusively to sparkling wines to a quaint red tasting shed across the road called One Woman Wines & Vineyards, Long Island will play host to nearly a dozen new winemaking operations over a one-year period, pushing the total to more than 60.

The "newcomers" include some stalwarts in the business. Just this week, Jason Damianos, the winemaker of Pindar Vineyards fame, plans to open a two-story, 5,500-square-foot winery and tasting room called Jason's Vineyard in Jamesport. His plans preceded the economic downturn, Damianos said. But financial changes since then actually have helped, because interest rates are down. "I'm hoping they stay low," he said.

[Go here for the full story.]
Long Island Wine Country
Dowd's Guides


Miss Liberty's crown re-opens for July 4

NEW YORK -- With a tip of the nation's hat, the Statue of Liberty opened her crown to the public for the first time since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

The iconic statue that sits on Liberty Island, once known as Bedloe's Island, in New York Harbor received the first passenger ferry of July 4 at 7 o'clock this morning. As part of the festivities, a special swearing-in ceremony for new citizens was held under a tent. Seven U.S. servicemen from various countries took the citizenship oath.

Visitors who climb inside the statue to reach the crown must negotiate a narrow "double helix" staircase, working their way up 146 steps with no turnarounds allowed. The total steps from the statue's base to the crown is 354.

The statue, whose official name is "Liberty Enlightening the World," was created by French architect Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and shipped from France as a gift to the U.S. in 1886, the nation's centennial year.

It is made of a pure copper sheeting hung on a framework of steel (originally puddled iron), except for the roch's flame which is coated in gold leaf. It originally was made of copper and later altered to hold glass panes. It stands atop a rectangular stonework pedestal which in turn stands on a foundation in the shape of an irregular 11-pointed star. The statue is 151 feet tall. With the pedestal and foundation, it is 305 feet.
• Visiting the Statue of Liberty
• Visiting Ellis Island
Dowd's Guides

Bare essentials for Air New Zealand

Bad taste, good taste, or just a taste of good fun?

That's the debate over the Air New Zealand commercials that have everyone from luggage-handling ground crews to pilots and flight attendants clad in nothing but body paint that resembles their work uniforms.

Private parts are strategically hidden, but for amateurs the employees do a fine job of representing their employer.

I even suspect passengers would pay more attention to the pre-flight safety briefing if these painted versions became the official everyday uniforms.

Go here for the commercial and here for the blooper outtakes.

• Tourism New Zealand
Dowd's Guides


Rhone wine dinner festival gets under way

"Celebrate Summer the French Way," a two-week promotional event involving 27 restaurants in nine states plus Montreal, begins tomorrow, July 4.

The project pairs French cooking and Rhone Valley wines. It is held in collaboration with Maitres Cuisiniers de France Restaurants, will offer a special $30 prix fixe menu paired with Cotes du Rhone wines along with complimentary Maitres Cuisiniers de France "Celebrate Every Day the French Way" booklets.

The event is scheduled to coincide with both the American and French days of independence, officially beginning on July 4 and continuing through July 18, Bastille Day.

Daphne Payan, Rhone Valley wines brand ambassador, says the "Celebrate Summer the French Way" honors the commonalities of French and American culture.

"The versatility and food-friendliness of Cotes du Rhone wines make them perfect for by the glass experimentation and allows diners to try pairing the wines with a variety of different fare," she said.
• Participating restaurants list
• Dowd's Guides

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