3.23pm, internet cafe, Astoria Boulevard & 31st Street, Queens, NYC, NY,USA
Wouldn’t you know it – best laid plans always go astray. I ended up hearing about one of the best-kept-secret hot dogs in town, so changed my plans because it was also in a part of town I’d never been to – Astoria in the borough of Queens.
Just for those folks who have never been to New York City, the whole thing is made up of 5 boroughs: Manhattan, Queens (home of the New York Mets), The Bronx (home of the Yankees), Staten Island, and Brooklyn.
But I did go for a wander through Times Square first and bowled into a crowd having their photos taken with a total NYC icon – The Naked Cowboy. Check the photo, gals in all branches of the company – don’t say I don’t put stuff in the blog just for you! Then I hopped onto the subway for the first time this trip and tracked down the San Antonio Bakery #2 on Astoria Boulevard & 37th Street. It’s a proper working bakery with a Chilean flavour – definitely helps all over New York if you’ve got a few words of Spanish. Besides a glass-fronted counter full of freshly baked custard fluffy buns, meringue topped citrus tarts, and pastry creations that I couldn’t identify – with and without fruit – they have several savoury options as well. One of them is a meat and vegetable pastie-looking turnover made with more of a flour tortilla rather than flaky pastry, and the other is what I was looking for – the “Completo” hot dog.
I think a lot of folks think I’m weird when I take photos of hot dogs, but I’m going to end up with a very handy reference library of a wide range of foods in the end! The hot dog comes its own individual “rest”, which makes a lot of sense, topped with shredded onion, mashed avocado and mayo in a lightly toasted bun. A tub of spicy salsa called “pebre” comes with it, and you ladle on what you can handle, because it’s pretty stingy – definitely leaves your lips humming! I asked what was in it, and there’s onion, fresh chilli, tomato, lime juice, coriander – and something else I couldn’t get. Wait until I get more words in Spanish – I’m going to be dangerous! In the photo, you can see the dog and the salsa, and the layered caramel biscuit thing – absolutely sensational creamy sweet crisp. Definitely worth the trek.
And back to business …
Thursday & Friday, 22nd & 23rd October: New York City Rewind
These two days were all about the Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience, a massive three-day program of tastings, master classes and food & wine events featuring 250 top wineries from every corner of the wine-producing world. This is the first time we have been invited to participate, and the two really big nights are the “Critics Choice Grand Tastings” on the Thursday and Friday evenings.
Brian Walsh (our chief of all things winemaking and viticultural) and I manned the Yalumba booth, and we poured the 2004 Signature Cabernet Shiraz blend – fitting really, as Walshy’s signature is on the back label of that Signature. We talked our faces off, and poured for consumers, the press, distributor reps, retailers, restaurant folk, and other winemakers – and were thoroughly shattered at the finish – but really pleased with the response to the wine, and just to be there – amongst such a stellar collection of wineries.
Also good to see that there was no shortage of Barossa neighbours either. I’ve put some photos in which I slipped around and took before everything got too crazy. There’s Cam Ashmead from Elderton, Dave Powell from Torbreck, Prue and Stephen Henshke looking like a honeymoon couple, Angela our PR gal based in the USA with Prue, and Brian and me at Yalumba central. (Notice I’m wearing those sharp threads, and yes, we did ring each other up and colour coordinate in power dressing red and black.)
If it’s a stellar parade of wine faces – makers and press – that you’re looking for, this was the place to be. Here’s the owner of Chateau Musar one minute, Matt Kroemer talking Sicily the next. We just talked nonstop to the consumers and answered 20 questions most of the time, but I did get to indulge my sweet tooth during a lull in the traffic. I slid over to the back corner of the room and tried four Sauternes – Suduiraut, Climens, d’Yquem & Coutet. No spitting those out, I can tell you! It really is a “gathering of the great” when you look at the Old World names that were there, and it was a treat to be there and see it all happen.
Now I’m caught up, I’m off to the Bronx to see if the Yanks can get up over the Angels and get to the World Series. See ya.