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Andanada’s Chef Berganza Brings Spain to The James Beard House

Andanada’s Chef Berganza Brings Spain to The James Beard House

The James Beard Foundation invited Andanada’s Manuel Berganza to cook at the historic James Beard House in Greenwich Village on July 30th, and the executive chef stepped up to the challenge. For his “Spanish Wine Lovers’ Dinner,” the chef devised a special five-course menu, featuring wine pairings from Tobelos and Enate Winery.

Chef Berganza, who earned two Michelin stars at Madrid’s Sergi Arola Gastro and staged at Chicago’s famed Alinea, offers his modern interpretation of Spanish cuisine at the Upper West Side’s Andanada. “You know, I’ve been working at Arola for nine years. My personal style comes from Arola, but the thing I learned at Alinea is the passion, the organization, and their good work. It’s incredible how they push the passion they have,” he told The Daily Meal. Berganza’s own passion shows through his modern take on Spanish cuisine and his emphasis on pure, refreshing flavors.

The night began with a walk through the Beard House kitchen to the canapé reception in the garden, where the Andanada team served hors d’oeuvres. The patatas con olivas y boquerones combined fine dining with a touch of casual fare, with spherified olive and marinated anchovies, topped with crumbled potato chips. The foie gras torchon and ratatouille on rice toast had a creamy texture with a kick of spice, making it a favorite amongst guests.

Dinner started on the second floor, and I sat at a table facing a crimson-colored wall lined with bookshelves. The dimmed lights and the fireplace gave the room a cozy atmosphere, and I could picture James Beard enjoying a book or two in what is now a dining room for guests to try food cooked by chefs from across the world.

Each dish was light, well proportioned, and timed so that diners had the appetite to anticipate the next course. The gazpacho Andaluz was studded with fresh vegetables and a piece of king crab that I wanted more of. The stuffed squash blossom, the next course, was filled with Ajo Blanco foam, and beneath it was a marinated foie gras tartare that captured the delicate liver flavor without being too rich. Almond bits added a crunchy texture to the tartare and was a smart nod to the almond-flavored foam.

San Pedro red snapper with creamy Iberico rice was perhaps the highlight of the meal, even though a crispy fish skin would’ve added more texture. Iberico ham, which rested on top of the rice, cupped a foam that melded with the flavor of the fish. Beans, which were packed with brothy flavor, hid underneath the red snapper.

The following dish, beef tenderloin, was cooked evenly as seen by the tender red centers, but it was not served hot enough. Nevertheless, the chef likes to surprise diners with thought-out details. A sprinkling of Maldon sea salt over honey-dressed spinach added an unexpected crunch and sweet vineyard peach bits mimicked the shape of a baby potato. Tobelos Tempranillo 2008, which went with the beef course and comes from Andanada owner Alvaro Reinoso’s family winery in La Rioja, was the most complimented wine of the night at the table.

White chocolate-saffron mousse with berries, like the other courses, had a refreshing vibe, but the dessert didn’t satisfy my sweet tooth. The previous courses were light enough to leave room for diners to enjoy a heavier dessert, and perhaps adding something more starchy like cookie crumbs would have added more texture and not left us thinking, “This was great, but where’s the rest of the dessert?” Still, this dish successfully incorporated savory ingredients such as saffron and cilantro, and the mousse won over non-white chocolate fans like me.

After the dinner, we asked Chef Berganza to describe his cooking style in six words. “Fun, young, always improving, changing, and real,” he said. But he didn’t really have to explain: the food spoke for itself.


Cruise Watch: Windstar Foodie Sailings In 2016, With James Beard Foundation

Windstar Cruises is partnering with the the James Beard Foundation to offer guests three themed foodie cruises in 2016. Dubbed “The James Beard Foundation Collection,” this portfolio of sailings designed for food and wine aficionados will bring Windstar guests closer to the culture of their destination by allowing them to experience the best of each port with the tastes of the region. Yum.

Each sailing in the James Beard Foundation Collection will include a James Beard-featured chef, who will serve as the on board culinary ambassador for guests offering cooking demonstrations, a nightly featured dish, and ample opportunities for one-on-one interaction. A full line up of host chefs and associated wine experts selected for each cruise will be announced in January 2016 at an event at the James Beard House in New York City.

The 2016 "James Beard Foundation Collection" by Windstar itineraries includes:

  • James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruise of Southern Spain & Morocco: April 24, 2016 – This eight-day voyage aboard the Wind Surf sails from Lisbon to Barcelona, docking in Tangier, Morocco before sailing in Spain with stops in Málaga, Granada, Cartagena, Ibiza, and Tarragona. Spanish tapas, jamon, Moroccan tagines, tempranillos, and riojas are a few highlights for guests to taste along with their James Beard-selected host chef, who will provide two cooking demonstrations, a nightly featured dish, and a trip to a local market or culinary outing. Guests will also enjoy five complimentary regional wine tasting sessions on board three regional wines with each dinner two food & wine themed shore excursions an onboard Flamenco show and the expertise of a sommelier on board, who will lecture periodically on local vintners and offerings specifically from Spain.

“We are delighted to partner with Windstar in 2016 to bring together the expertise of three James Beard recognized chefs with the cruise line’s fantastic culinary itineraries through Spain, Morocco, and France,” said Kris Moon, Vice President of the James Beard Foundation. “Guests will have the special opportunity to enjoy the cultural delights of these amazing locations in the company of some of our country’s most accomplished chefs.”

Windstar is also donating a cruise for two as a silent auction package for the JBF Gala: New York City, in November, 2015. In addition to those attending the event, the cruise is available for bidding online through the event on November 13. There's still time!


The jamón went down to Georgia

By Maryn McKenna , April 18, 2018 Photography by Melissa Golden and Dennis Chamberlin

Even from a distance, the pigs looked odd. It was hard to see them clearly at first heavy rains had carved ruts into the dirt road that led into the pasture, and every time the Jeep hit bottom, my glasses slid down my nose. But as we jolted forward, the mass of dark bodies crowding the fence and pressing against the wires came into focus. They weren’t like any pigs I’d seen before — not pearly and stout like the commodity Yorkshires whose backs and bellies provide most American bacon, not sturdy and colorful like the Tamworths and Gloucestershire Old Spots that heritage-focused farmers raise. Instead, these pigs were lean and compact, long-snouted and quick. A fringe of black bristles sprouted between their floppy ears, formed a collar around their shoulders, and ran down their legs to narrow, pointed hoofs.

“They’re Spanish pigs,” said Will Harris III, the owner of the animals and the pasture. He tipped back the brim of his white Stetson and rested one boot on a fence rail. A piglet gently bit his toe. He hesitated a minute, as though he wasn’t sure whether to share a secret, and then nodded as though he’d made a decision. He told me: “We’re going to make Iberian ham.”

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Harris is a fourth-generation farmer, and he has a farmer’s flair for making outrageous predictions — for high prices, for good rainfall, for an aging tractor holding out just one more year — and then practically willing them into reality. Even so, what he’d just said in his sibilant drawl was extraordinary. We were staring at pata negra, or “black footed,” pigs, the raw material for one of the most precious cured meats in the world — jamón ibérico de bellota, the free-range, acorn-fed, dry-aged Spanish ham — but we were knee-deep in damp grass at 330 feet above sea level in southwestern Georgia, 4,200 miles from the pigs’ origin in the mountains of southwest Spain.

It’s taken for granted by now that the foods most worth celebrating are those that tell a story, and that story is all about location: a breed that is tied to a place, a patch of ground with a heritage, cooking and serving and eating as close as possible to where the narrative begins. The identity of White Oak Pastures, the farm where we were standing, is rooted in a story like that, one property worked by one family for 152 years. But the pigs that Harris was fondly regarding were unfurling a different story, of immigration and adaptation. Harris was wagering hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a good portion of White Oak Pastures’ reputation, on a long-odds bet that his foreign pigs could do at least as well in exile as they ever had at home, and make a product at least as delicious. And maybe more.

Will Harris III with his Iberian pigs at White Oak Pastures.

What came from the White Oak pigs would have to be delicious, because the ham it aimed to reproduce is transcendent. Jamón ibérico de bellota, the highest grade of Spanish ham — from pigs who spend the last months of their lives eating bellotas, or acorns — is garnet-dark and sweet, streaked with glossy fat that becomes translucent and begins to melt as soon as it makes contact with the air.

The fat is the secret to the ham’s quality, and the acorns are the genesis of the fat. The nuts — technically, fruits — from the oak species that grow in southwest Europe are low in carbohydrates and high in oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fat that makes olive oil healthy. (Iberian ham marketing materials call the pigs “olive trees on legs.”)

But it takes a lot of acorns to fatten a pig for slaughter, and the dehesa — the park-like, tree-studded savannah where the hogs spend the last months of their lives — is a finite resource. Cattle, sheep, goat, and hog farmers all share it the part reserved for pigs covers about 1,700 square miles, an area slightly smaller than Delaware, inevitably pitting the hunger of a growing horde of ham enthusiasts against the limits of the land.

That demand and a predictable desire to drive down costs — an intact leg of jamón ibérico de bellota can easily price out to $1,000 or more — led to dilution. The slow-growing, dark-footed hogs, which date back in historical accounts to the time of the Romans, were crossed in the 20th century with industrial breeds from elsewhere in Europe. Then they were brought indoors and fed commercial feed. By 2014, the Spanish government felt it was necessary to impose quality controls, through a series of labels that indicated how the pigs were produced: white for the lowest-value crossbreeds, followed by green, red, and finally black labels for the highest quality, denoting pigs fed only on grass and finished exclusively on acorns. Out of the 3 million pigs raised for specialty Iberian ham in Spain in an average year, only about 12 percent yielded bellota, the most precious grade.

And then, in 2008, the bottom fell out of the world economy, and Spain was hit harder than most. The appetite for premium ham dwindled, and when sales crashed, the bank loans that kept farms going did too, forcing farmers to slaughter or sell off their herds. But a few ham makers, who had capital behind them and who wanted to stay in the business of their parents and grandparents, started exploring new markets and began pressuring the Spanish government for permission to ship Iberian pigs outside the country for the first time.

This was risky. Spain had never sought the kind of “protected designation of origin” restriction by which the European Union safeguards product identity and quality. France’s blue-footed Bresse chicken and champagne have a PDO, for instance, as does Italy’s Parmigiano-Reggiano, but jamón ibérico does not. Once the pigs left the country, the name and reputation of Iberian ham would be in play, protected only by the quality of the landscape the pigs landed in, and the integrity of the farmers electing to raise them.

In the town of Alburquerque in southwestern Spain, the father-son team of Jaime and Kurt Oriol sensed the opportunity in front of them. They felt the American market would respond to Iberian ham, given a chance. (They weren’t alone in that several months ahead of the Oriols, a group of Spanish investors established their own Iberian pig project called Acornseekers in Texas.) There had never been much of a U.S. market, because USDA objections to Spanish slaughterhouse regulation and concerns about pig diseases kept Iberian ham out of the country until 2008. The cured meat was little known in the U.S. except to chefs and travelers, without the fan base that prosciutto and guanciale possess.

“We thought there should be a bigger market for Iberian ham here,” Kurt, the younger Oriol, who lives in New York City, told me. “So we came on a tour, talking to people and visiting farms, to see if we could find someone compatible.” They toured the Midwest, visited California, and then, on the recommendation of a rancher who raised grass-fed beef, detoured to Georgia. “We came to White Oak,” Kurt said, “and then even though we had a few more places to go, we cancelled the rest of the tour.”

“Will perfectly understood, from the beginning, what was the idea,” Jaime, the white-haired, ebullient patriarch, said. The vision the Oriols unrolled for Harris was simple, if not easy: They would bring pure ibérico breeding stock from Spain, and Harris would raise them, with the two families splitting the ownership, the expenses, and the proceeds. The goal would be to produce jamón ibérico — or at least as close to the original as they could get.

Harris accepted, and the group dubbed the venture Iberian Pastures. In January 2015, after months of quarantine on both sides of the Atlantic, 24 young, unbred females and six toothy, wild-looking boars arrived in the south Georgia woods.

White Oak Pastures lies just south of Bluffton, Georgia, a hundred-person dot that was once a thriving market town, now populated mostly by farm employees. The farm was founded in 1866 by James Edward Harris, a former Confederate cavalry officer. His son, Will Carter Harris, expanded the subsistence property into a small but profitable business, raising cattle and hogs and chickens that he butchered by hand and hauled to general stores on a mule-drawn wagon. The next generation, Will Bell Harris, turned the mixed-use property into a modern cow-calf operation, deploying the post-World War II achievements of agricultural antibiotics and synthetic hormones, and trusting in agricultural technology as the path to success.

Young Iberian pigs eat a feed supplement in addition to grazing at White Oak Pastures.

Will Harris III expected to continue that legacy. He earned an agricultural degree from the University of Georgia and came home planning to expand his family’s monoculture of cows and the herbicide-maintained monoculture of grass that kept the cows growing. And then, in his 40s, he changed his mind. He ceased using antibiotics and hormones, stopped spraying his fields with weed killer, and turned his cows loose to graze the native grasses. He added sheep to eat the plants the cattle spurned, and chickens to scratch up the dung the ruminants left behind, and goats and pigs to clear underbrush so the cows could move into new fields.

Some 25 years into its reformation — during which Harris and his employees learned to grind cattle bones for fertilizer, repurpose slaughterhouse rinse water for irrigation, make pet chews out of hides, and grow insect larvae for chicken feed in vats of discarded viscera — White Oak Pastures is now the largest certified-organic property in the Southeast, spanning some 3,000 acres. The farm raises 10 kinds of animals — cows, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, and guinea hens — slaughters them in USDA-approved abattoirs, then sells the meats online and through Whole Foods and other supermarket chains.

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Harris had been raising American heritage-breed hogs and selling the meat for just a few years when the Oriols emailed, asking to visit. “We brought hogs and chickens and all these other species in for two reasons,” Harris said. “They improve the pasture, and they give us another product to sell. We sell more beef if we offer beef, and lamb, and chicken, and when we’re out of something, we sell less of everything.” We were bumping across a field in his Wrangler it was December, but the feathery perennials bending under the tires gave off a fresh green smell.

“So these pigs were an attractive proposition,” he continued. “I didn’t have as many hogs as I needed. And raising them is a kind of sexy and challenging thing to do.”

It was going to be challenging, for sure. Georgia is nothing like the pigs’ ancestral home. The dehesa is shallow-soiled and suffers hard droughts. White Oak is almost always humid it lies on a coastal plain so rich that, 1,000 years before Europeans arrived, indigenous Americans built one of the oldest and largest mound-city settlements in the southeastern U.S. there. Even the oaks are different, water oaks and live oaks instead of the holm oaks and cork oaks in Spain.

Iberian pigs wait to be moved to fresh grass. They are rotated frequently while grazed areas are reseeded.

That posed a problem. Acorn fats and acorn flavor are essential to the character of Iberian ham. If the nuts the pigs ate in Georgia were somehow distinct — less abundant, less sweet, varying in the fatty acids and bitter toxins they contained — the differences would be reflected in the meat. It would be risky and wasteful to feed the pigs White Oak’s acorns and hope they turned out perfect, so the partners needed to find something acorn-like — something local, abundant, equivalently nutritious, and tasty to the pigs.

They found the solution 12 miles down the road in Blakely, Georgia, an old market town whose courthouse square holds a granite monument to the peanut. (“So largely responsible for our growth and prosperity,” the inscription says, “important to the better health of the people of the world.”) Blakely processes more peanuts than anywhere else in the United States. Harris and the Oriols had peanuts from Blakeley and pecans from White Oak’s own trees tested by Spanish nutritionists. The balance of fats and carbohydrates were a perfect match for the Spanish acorns.

But it takes more than nutrients to make an animal into the best version of itself. If that were true, a farmed salmon or a battery chicken would be as tasty as a wild fish or a barnyard bird. The Georgia pigs were growing up in a richer, wetter, wilder environment than their forebears had experienced in Spain, drinking from new streams, rooting grubs from under different trees. It was impossible to guess what was taking place inside those tough, dark skins, or what they would eventually taste like.

The American product closest to jamón ibérico is country ham. The processes are similar at the outset: The back legs of pigs are carved off the carcass in one piece, salted to draw out moisture, and then hung in a cool place so air currents and enzymes can transform the soft, raw muscles into sweet ruby solidity. But between curing and aging, country ham is often smoked over smoldering wood. The buildings that produce the most precious American hams — Allan Benton’s in Tennessee, Col. Bill Newsom’s in Kentucky — are imbued with the ghosts of generations of fires, a faint fog of ash and musk that persists even when nothing is burning, and clings to anything that passes through.

Spanish hams are never smoked — which meant the great American curing houses, and the ham masters who run them, would not be able to produce White Oak’s jamón. Nor would White Oak be able to build a curing house of its own: Iberian hams age, instead of rot, in the cool and dry climate of southwestern Spain, and southern Georgia is seldom dry or cool.

The partners needed to find one more collaborator, someone who had a curing house in the right climate, and who knew how to make ham without smoke. They hoped as well to find someone like themselves: entrepreneurial, curious, and willing to test traditional practices to see if they could be bent in new ways. Out of all possible places, they found that final partner in Iowa, the heartland of industrial pork.

Herb Eckhouse, owner of La Quercia in Norwalk, Iowa, moves a rack of Iberian pig legs that he is curing for White Oak Pastures.

Herb Eckhouse and his wife Kathy operate La Quercia, just outside Des Moines, one of the few curing houses in the U.S. to make prosciutto to Italian standards using meat from American pigs. Beginning in 2001, they began buying pastured pigs from small farmers (they now also raise their own), butchering them by hand and curing them with salt and cold air — first making prosciutto and later expanding into pancetta, guanciale, and spallacia. The Eckhouses had worked out how to make a product derived from foreign traditions feel local, legitimate, and fresh, and they perceived that Harris and the Oriols were reaching for the same goal. Eckhouse agreed to take legs and shoulders from the Iberian Pastures pigs, put them through the classic salting and hanging process, and age them for the traditional period of two years or more. He would turn them into the best version of whatever their raising allowed.

“Grapes from all over the world are being grown in the United States,” he told me. “Are they the same as the wines that are made in Bordeaux, or Tuscany? No, they’re not. Are they delicious? Yes, they are.”

The Georgian-Iberian hams, he thought, had potential, like an ancient crop grown in a novel place. “We don’t expect it to be the same, or even want it to be the same, but we expect it to be delicious,” he said. “We want to develop an American tradition.”

At the end of January 2017, Iberian Pastures slaughtered the first batch of pigs. The parents had arrived almost exactly two years earlier, rested a few months, and then been mated. A few days before the slaughter, Aaron Lorenz, the manager of all of White Oak’s hogs, took me to see the herd, which had grown to 150 animals. (There are about 400 now.)

A batch of sows and their newest piglets had been stashed in a stand of century-old pecan trees the farm had bought and wanted to reclaim the orchard had been neglected for decades and the ground between the trees was obscured by privet, tall, stemmy shrubs that grow too thick to walk through. The pigs had torn the privet down, chomped on it and stomped it flat. Wherever they had rooted, bright green grass was growing again.

The piglets squealed when they saw us, and the mothers lumbered to their dainty black-nailed feet. They crowded around, snorting and rubbing their long heads against my jeans. I felt a nip, and craned behind me a piglet had set her teeth in the ankle tab of my boot, and was yanking on it like a toy. “They’re mostly happy animals,” Lorenz said. “They’ve got a personality, and they’re smart. Every time they see a human, it’s because we’re bringing them something. So they don’t have any reason not to like us.”

A few days later, 26 males were herded out of their pasture at sunset and guided into a holding pen. The next morning, the crew loaded them into a small truck and drove them a few hundred yards to the slaughterhouse, where they were shot through the head with a bolt gun, hung upside down and bled, and scalded and scraped of bristles until their skin looked white. It was a calm process, and quick. Inside 9 hours, all 26 pigs had been killed.

Iberian pigs wait in small groups at the processing facility the evening before slaughter.

White Oak had sent two of its employees to apprentice with the Oriols in Spain: John Benoit, who manages all of the farm’s livestock, to learn how to raise the pigs and Brian Sapp, its director of operations, to learn Iberian meat-cutting methods. Sapp is a tall, taciturn man with an advanced degree in meat science incongruously for someone who deals in death every day, he grew up on a flower-bulb farm. Once the pigs were dead and cleaned, he took over, breaking them down according to Spanish standards — slicing along both sides of the backbones instead of sawing the spine down the middle as an American butcher would, and leaving a chunk of hip bone in the joint at the top of the ham, like a handle.

Mid-morning, Will Harris texted me an image, a long steel table stacked with more than 100 deep-red haunches and shoulders, ending in black-nailed feet. “Two-plus years of negative cash flow behind us,” he wrote. “Two-plus years of negative cash flow yet to bear.”

On a mild February evening last year, Harris was making his routine tour to tuck the farm up before night fell, visiting every pasture in turn with a Solo cup of merlot tucked down near the parking brake and a shotgun lying on the dash. We went to the cattle and the goats and the sheep and the laying hens, skirting the massive Great Pyrenees guard dogs that live and sleep in the fields. He was feeling positive about the pigs, he said, but the Oriols were due the next day. They had not been to the farm in a few months, not since before the pigs were slaughtered, and he was anxious whether the animals had come out as everyone planned.

Every Iberian pig I had seen at White Oak had looked content and healthy: the sows just after they arrived from Spain, the batches of piglets they had given birth to, even the giant, dangerous-looking boars that were confined on the other side of the highway in sturdy wood-fenced pens. Harris wanted me to understand that their ability to thrive in Georgia had not been guaranteed. He had wondered whether they would flourish at all, living in an ecosystem they had not evolved in, exposed to insects and infections their breed had never experienced.

“We replaced the acorns they are used to eating, but that was not radically different,” Harris said. “What was radically different, a great risk, was taking these animals from a high elevation to a low elevation, and a low humidity to a high humidity. Completely different temperatures, and completely different pathogens that they have no resistance to.”

He steered around the edge of an emerald pasture and past a wide, still pond. “We have not had one sick pig,” he said. “We haven’t lost a single one.”

The next afternoon, Harris retraced the route, leading a caravan of cars and trucks. The vehicles wound past the rusty-red broiler chickens, hybridized out of heritage varieties sturdy enough to live outdoors, and the Katahdin sheep, chosen because they shed their coats without shearing, and thus can endure the Southern summer. They bypassed the cattle herd, bred from an unbroken line of heifers born on the property since the first Harris arrived 152 years ago, and the American heritage pigs, Tamworths and Berkshires and Gloucestershire Old Spots, that had been fenced into a stand of pines and left to mix themselves into a unique White Oak blend.

And then we came to the Iberians. The trucks pulled up to the pecan grove. Harris lagged behind, a little. Kurt Oriol unchained the big gate, and his father surged ahead, silver curls spiraling with the humidity from under a White Oak cap. Jaime had not seen the pigs for a year, and he was as eager as a relative running toward a long-denied reunion. The sows and piglets swarmed him, tugging on his shoelaces and pressing against his knees.

“Will!” Jaime yelled. “They are beautiful, they are perfect! They are armonizada—” He turned to Kurt. “Homogenized? Harmonized?”

“Consistent?” Kurt offered. “With the way they should be.”

“Consistent,” Jaime agreed. He smiled. “They are exactly right.”

By the time the first load of pig parts was trucked to Iowa, and then a second and a third, gossip about the Iberian Pastures project began percolating through the food industry. Every round of slaughter left a small amount of meat typically eaten uncured: loins, flanks, and shoulder muscles, a mere 10 pounds per pig. The partners put the meat up for sale on White Oak’s website, where the farm’s regular customers snapped it up. Then Harris’s daughter Jenni began driving around the South to persuade chefs to sample it. They hoped to build a groundswell of interest, in the fresh meat and in the ultimate product, the Iberian Pastures hams — priced, potentially, at $1,500 each — that will begin to emerge from La Quercia in summer 2019.

After slaughter, Iberian pigs are processed at an abatoir near White Oak Pastures.

One of the chefs was Katie Button, the James Beard-nominated executive chef and owner of Cúrate, a tapas restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina, that serves Iberian hams and other cuts of Spanish cured meats. Button worked for Ferran Adrià and José Andrés and married a Spaniard their company, Heirloom Hospitality Group, runs food trips to Spain. She was excited about the project very little fresh Iberian pork is sold in the U.S., and much of it arrives frozen from Spain. And she liked the idea of an American iteration of ibérico. It would enrich an American farmer, if things went well, but ought also to raise awareness of the Spanish traditions it was modeled on. “I will be really excited if somebody here in the U.S. starts aging hams in that two-to-three-year range,” she told me. “It’ll hopefully make the product more accessible to Americans, and more available in restaurants across the U.S., because it won’t be a Spanish specialty item any more. It will be an American item. I would love for more Americans to taste the quality of great cured ham, and understand what that is.”

A few weeks after the first pigs were slaughtered, the Harrises held a small dinner at White Oak for their workers and partners, everyone who had put two years of trust and hope into ferrying the pigs and breeding and raising them. They decorated the screened-porch pavilion with flowers and candles and strings of Christmas lights. The Oriols brought case after case of wine, and two Spanish chefs: Alejandro “Sacha” Hormaechea, a media personality from Madrid, and Manuel Berganza, the opening chef at Andanada, a Spanish restaurant in New York with a Michelin star. (Andanada closed in 2017.)

The two chefs sidled past each other in the pavilion’s small kitchen, trading places as they pickled and chopped and heaved slabs of meat on a roaring wood-fired grill. When Berganza squeezed past, I asked him whether the pigs being raised in Georgia would make him not want to bring it to his customers. He rolled his eyes. “If I wanted to serve ibérico at my restaurant,” he said, “why would I buy something that sat frozen on a boat for three months, to have it be Spanish? When I could have this, which is the same bloodline, which is fresh?”

The ibérico meat was delicious. It was charred outside, dark red and juicy within, and marbled so finely that almost no fat was visible. It tasted more like a grass-fed steak than like the lean white meat of commodity pork — like an animal that had enjoyed its life outdoors, chewy and tender and tasting of fresh herbs and blood. It offered a palatable confirmation of how well these foreign pigs had done in their new home, and a promise of what they might become.

From time to time, as the pigs had been growing, I had asked Harris how he construed them. Were they a foreign foodstuff merely raised in America? An American animal forced into a foreign frame? Authenticity is a fraught concept in food now, and so is appropriation. But Harris had not appropriated the pigs. They had been brought to him by people who had a claim on their patrimony he had given the pigs new pastures when their historic home was threatened, with conditions that matched the highest standards in Spain. His pigs, I realized, were like the farm he was raising them on. He had inherited something traditional, looked at it closely, improved it by instinct, and transformed it into the best version it could be.

We had talked about this, in one of my visits to the pigs, thumping down one of the farm’s back roads. Harris was thinking out loud about the product to be. “It would be disingenuous to say, ‘This is Iberian ham,’ and lead people to believe I imported it from Spain,” he said. “But I think it’s quite acceptable to say, ‘This is raised in Georgia, and we substituted peanuts and pecans for acorns, and we think it’s just as good. Or better.’”

Lead image: In Spain, Iberian pigs roam and eat acorns, but these Iberian pigs explore and forage the pecan orchards at White Oak Pastures. Photograph by Melissa Golden.


The introduction of an Ace Hotel drew the attention of many yinzers, and the Whitfield is the star of the show. Expect craft cocktails, synth music, thick horn rims and suspenders. If that’s not your thing, you can easily get lost in the food with a farm-to-table menu curated by Brent Young and executed by Chef Bethany Zozula. The whipped butterscotch cheesecake will make you cheese your pants, no doubt.

By and large one of the Pittsburgh restaurants that I go back to the most. It’s best in warmer weather when you can enjoy the outdoor garden seating — a sprawl of brick patio with lattice, creeping ivy and twinkle lights at dusk. Any curry is a winner and you’ll be lucky if you can nab an order of the mango sticky rice as it’s perpetually 86’ed by diners in the know.


10/04/2014

A Decade of Delicious: The 2015 Michelin Guide to New York City Restaurants


Culinary stars were shining bright on stage at the gala celebration for the tenth edition of the Michelin Guide to New York City restaurants. Of course, the Michelin Man was there too!


There is certainly no shortage of places to dine in New York City but only 73 restaurants can currently boast that they're Michelin-starred! First published in France in 1900 to help hungry motorists find the very best meals on the road, Michelin introduced the NYC guide 10 years ago and their team of anonymous inspectors annually place a spotlight on the Big Apple's culinary stand-outs. Whether you're a local or a visitor, the Michelin Guide is a great resource for navigating New York's culinary landscape.

Not just a showcase for world-famous three-star eateries like Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, and Masa the Michelin Guide New York City 2015 ($18.99) lists 874 restaurants and more than 60 types of cuisine from Argentinian to Vietnamese. Every New Yorker knows that a great meal does not have to cost a fortune and the 2015 guide includes Bib Gourmand selections throughout the five boroughs that represent the Michelin Inspectors' favorites for good value. 

I attended the gala celebration for the 2015 Michelin Guide NYC and the extravaganza included tasting stations with beautiful bites from restaurants like Lincoln Ristorante, Telepan, NoMad, Jean-Georges, and the Spotted Pig.

It was an absolute pleasure to meet Chef Jonathan Benno of the elegant Lincoln Ristorante (1 Michelin Star) at Lincoln Center - I've dined there and the food & service are impeccable. At the gala Chef Benno served a hearty chic creation - Smoked Eel and Foie Gras Terrine with Apricot Mostarda and Brown Bread.

It's been years since I dined at Telepan (1 Michelin Star) but Chef Bill Telepan's dish of Heritage Pork 'BBQ-Style' with Pork Belly, Smoked Shoulder and Creamed Corn has definitely inspired me to visit soon!


At the gala, I ran into the incredibly talented Chef Manuel Berganza of the modern Spanish restaurant Andanada (1 Michelin Star).  (This may be my first "selfie" with a Michelin starred chef!) I promised Chef Berganza that I would visit Andanada again soon for his innovative interpretation of cuisine from Spain. (Click here to read my 2012 interview with Chef Berganza).

Could one (or more) of this fab foursome of young chefs from Jean-Georges earn his own Michelin star one day?


07/25/2018

The Authentic Allure of Alentejo: Portuguese Wines with Heart & History

Blame it on Alentejo. I'm no daredevil but somehow found myself soaring in a hot air balloon, gliding above the Portuguese countryside and hovering a little too long over one of Europe's largest man-made lakes. Invigorating yet serene, retro yet innovative, that sky-high adventure encapsulates the feeling of my entire Alentejo experience.

Hugo Domingos, hot air balloon pilot and proprietor of Emotion Portugal, made my first ever balloon ride one to remember. 

Once safely on the ground, our capable and charming pilot celebrated the moment by popping the cork on a bottle of local wine. (Speaking of cork, Alentejo is home to about one-third of the world's cork tree forests.) Whether toasting an adventure or simply enjoying a meal with family and friends, wine is an integral part of life in Alentejo. 
 

A treasure trove for wine lovers and those seeking the bucolic beauty of wide-open country spaces where people are outnumbered by cork trees, sheep, and possibly pigs the Alentejo region is just a 90-minute drive inland from the capital of Lisbon. Alentejo means Beyond the Tejo because it is located south of the Tejo River that cuts across Portugal.

António Rocha is preserving the ancient art of hand crafting the large clay vessels that are an integral part of Alentejo's winemaking heritage. A single Talha de Barro (amphora) can be as large as seven feet in height, hold up to 520 gallons of wine, and weigh 2,000 pounds! Outside of the nation of Georgia, Alentejo is the only place in the world where this ancient method of winemaking has never ceased. It co-exists in Alentejo alongside more modern winemaking techniques.  

Formerly part of a Roman province called Lusitania, Alentejo is the only region in Portugal that still practices the Roman technique of making & storing wines in large clay vessels known as amphorae (Talhas de Barro in Portuguese). Passionate about tradition but open to innovation, Alentejo's winemakers create authentic and appealing wines from indigenous and international grapes. 

image courtesy of Wines of Alentejo

With more than 250 indigenous grape varieties, Portugal has the highest density of native grapes per square mile of any country in the world. For those of us that don't speak Portuguese, the names may be a bit tricky but the rich and expressive flavors have universal appeal. The key red wine grapes cultivated in Alentejo include Alicante Bouschet, Castelão, Touriga Nacional, and Trincadeira. White wines represent only one-fifth of Alentejo's production but grapes like Antão Vaz and Arinto create wonderfully expressive wines. Visit the Wines of Alentejo website to learn more about the unique qualities and flavor profiles of each grape. 

image courtesy of Wines of Alentejo

Wines from Portugal are becoming increasingly popular abroad and Alentejo in particular is gaining acclaim for well-crafted and accessibly priced wines. Alentejo's mix of ancient and modern winemaking techniques, commitment to sustainability, and unique grape varieties make it hard to resist. It is also an increasingly popular, but not overwhelmed, tourist destination with a well-defined wine route. If a trip to Alentejo is not in your immediate future, take your tastebuds on a journey with their wonderful wines. Start your Alentejo winetasting adventure with wines from two of the region's best known wineries: Herdade do Rocim and Herdade do Esporão. 

The words of Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa inspire the winemaking team at Herdade do Rocim: "God wishes, Man dreams, the Work is born." Located in the Lower Alentejo, Herdade do Rocim is committed to crafting wines that respect the nature and culture of their region. A modern winery that blends harmoniously with the landscape, Herdade do Rocim embraces modern techniques but also pays homage to tradition and their portfolio includes wines produced in the traditional clay amphorae. 


Winemaker Vânia Guibarra José is a key member of the Herdade do Rocim winemaking team which is led by Pedro Ribeiro. 

During my visit to Herdade do Rocim, I had the pleasure of tasting wine with a key member of their winemaking team, Vânia Guibarra José. Vânia's family initially discouraged her because "they thought winemaking was for men" and they wanted her to be a doctor. Thankfully, Vânia pursued her passion and is now one of several talented and respected women winemakers that I met in Alentejo.

Herdade do Rocim Mariana Rosé 2017 ($11.99) is a charming blend of Touriga Nacional and Aragonez. Although named after a nun whose clandestine love affair led to a dramatically broken heart, Mariana is actually a very joyful wine. Provence pale, it has lively red fruit flavors, a silky texture, and vibrant acidity. If one had to select a national grape to represent Portugal, Touriga Nacional would certainly lead the pack. According to Wines of Alentejo, Touriga Nacional's "thick skin helps to obtain deep, dense colour - one of the variety's distinctive traits - but it is the abundance and depth of aromas that best identify its value. These may be floral, or fruity, or citrus but they are always intense and explosive, with an urbane, noble air." Aragonez is an absolutely Iberian grape and is known as Tempranillo in Spain. Generally a grape with low acidity, Aragonez is often blended with other varieties. 

A bottle of Herdade do Rocim Amphora Vinho Branco 2016 ($18) contains more than wine it represents thousands of years of winemaking tradition because it was produced in the ancient style using the Talhas de Barro - large clay amphora. This blend of Antão Vaz, Perrum, Rabo de Ovelha, and Manteúdo was also fermented using indigenous yeasts. This minimally invasive winemaking technique produces wine with a unique texture and flavor profile. An appealing tapestry of mineral, flint, and nutty flavors. Herdade do Rocim also produces a red Amphora wine. 

Herdade do Rocim Vinho Regional Alentejano Touriga Nacional 2016 ($16) is a wonderful chance to sip Portugal's signature grape in a single varietal wine. A rich and supple wine with gorgeous flavors of violets, brambly blackberries, spice, and well-integrated tannins. 

Herdade do Esporão

Chances are that if you're already a fan of wines from Alentejo, you've sipped a vinho from Esporão - they are one of the region's most widely known and respected brands. Wine was first produced under the Esporão name in 1985 but the estate has a rich history -- its boundaries were first established in 1267 and have been unaltered since then. The site of many battles and intrigues during the Middle Ages, life is certainly less dangerous at Esporão these days and visitors can enjoy tastings, meals, carriage ride tours, and more. 

Herdade de Esporâo Reserva 2015 blends an all-star lineup of grapes: Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Trincadeira, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I first tasted the 2014 vintage ($24) of this wine and was blown away by its character and balance. The 2015 is just as captivating. Voluptuous but not unwieldy, it has rich dark berry flavors with savory hints of spice and herbs. 

Another captivating blend from Esporão is their Monte Velho 2017 ($10). A blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, and Syrah, it is fresh and forthright with juicy berry flavors and a kiss of spice. 

Where to Wine, Dine and Relax in Alentejo

If you're looking for an off-the beaten-path place to vacation with wonderful food, wine, scenery and friendly people Alentejo should be on your list. 

Stay: Country chic is no cliché at Herdade da Malhadinha Nova. A vast estate of vineyards and olive groves, at Malhadinha Nova nature and modern life co-exist harmoniously cattle and Alentejo's famous black pigs roam the land while human guests unwind in simple luxury. 


Malhadinha Nova winemaker Nuno Gonzalez said that he is "trying to make the best wine possible, every year." Their vineyards are planted with the signature varieties of Alentejo in addition to international varieties.  


Malhadinha Nova resident chef Bruno Antunes prepares meals with ingredients that are primarily sourced from the estate, including their own olive oil and pork from the famous Black Pigs of Alentejo. Chef Antunes works closely with Michelin-starred consulting chef Joachim Koerper. 

Farm to table is a reality for meals at Malhadinha's restaurant and the cuisine is paired perfectly with their wines. The restaurant is actually located in the cellar building, which emphasizes the strong connection between food and wine. 


image courtesy of Herdade da Malhadinha Nova

The beautifully appointed and spacious rooms at Herdade da Malhadinha Nova are located in a traditional rural house that melds comfort with upscale elegance, including luxurious Bvlgari amenities in the bathroom and a combination of artisan and designer furnishings and fixtures. 


Temple of Diana, Roman ruins in Évora. 

Wine, Dine, Explore: The historic center of Évora, capital city of the Alentejo province, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a history that dates back to Roman times, in the 15th century Évora was the residence of the Portuguese kings. 


One of Évora's many quaint streets lined with whitewashed buildings. As you wander, you'll also see beautiful wrought-iron balconies and the famous azulejos (tiles).  

Évora is extremely walkable and chock-full of charm and historic landmarks, including the Temple of Diana and the exquisite Royal Church of St. Francis and it's macabre, yet moving, Chapel of Bones. 


Manuel and his wife Carolina own the cozy culinary treasure, Tasquinha do Oliveira restaurant in Èvora. I was amazed at the quantity and excellent quality of the dishes that Carolina creates. She was hard at work in the kitchen when I snapped this photo of charming Manuel! 

After your stroll around Évora, try to snag a table at Tasquinha do Oliveira.  A tiny jewel box of a restaurant, with about 14 seats, it feels like you're in your favorite uncle and aunt's living room. Better yet, make a reservation before you fly to Portugal  - it is one of the most in-demand restaurants in Évora. Manuel manages the guests and Carolina handles the homestyle cooking which is a seemingly never-ending smorgasbord of traditional Alentejo cuisine and family recipes. The offerings include the beloved Bacalhau (salted cod fish), rabbit, the famous Black Pig, and many vegetable dishes. A signature of Alentejo cuisine is that many dishes are seasoned with coriander and vinegar. 

For a more modern dining experience, visit Cartuxa Enoteca. The menu showcases innovative interpretations of classic dishes and their winery's portfolio. Cartuxa has a very rich history in Alentejo, it is owned by a foundation that is very committed to the cultural, educational, and spiritual well-being of Èvora. The winery is located in the dining room of a former Jesuit house and offers tours and tastings.


Chef José Júlio Vintem, in action at Säo Lourenço do Borracal, is passionate about preserving the culinary traditions of Alentejo. 

Back in the countryside, Säo Lourenço do Borracal is a beautifully restored estate that has been in the same family for 200 years. In addition to producing their own wine, the estate has a large organic garden, cattle, and olive groves. The guest rooms include suites and cottages.


Chef Vintem with estate owner José António Uva - the 8th generation of his family to live at São Lourenço do Barrocal. 

Chef Vintem is one of Alentejo's most celebrated culinary stars and in the early mornings he can often be found foraging for herbs and mushrooms. He magically transforms the estate's abundant resources into flavorful and authentic cuisine. 

The best wine trips are never just about the wine but discovering how this revered beverage fits into the fabric of a culture. In Alentejo, wine has been produced since time immemorial and is respected and treasured. It is a part of the rhythm of life, from the city to the countryside. Alentejo's endless hectares of old-vine vineyards show the intimate relationship between humans and nature. From toil and tenacity, grapes are cultivated and transformed via science, intuition, and artistry into wine. Whether it is produced in the ancient style in a clay amphora or crafted using all the tools that modern technology has to offer, Alentejo winemakers are committed to making their wines, their way. The Alentejo way where tradition and innovation happily co-exist. Where indigenous varieties like Touriga Nacional are nurtured but international varieties are not excluded. Where the wines are an essential companion to their cuisine. 


Black dress, red wine. In the wine cellar at Malhadinha Nova. 

My visit to Alentejo reminded me that when you open a bottle of authentically made wine, that you are tapping into the life pulse of a culture. This was my first trip to Portugal. I don't speak the language and at times felt embarrassed at how little I knew about their history. But I was made to feel welcome. Whether soaring in the sky or strolling in the vineyards, Alentejo wraps itself around you, pours you a glass of wine, and welcomes you wholeheartedly. I don't pretend to be an expert on Alentejo but my life and wine education have certainly been enriched by the days I spent there. Until I can return, memories of Alentejo are only a sip away. 


Talk:Outline of Spain

Instructions for developing country outlines is located at Wikipedia:Outlines (while that section is complete, the page is a draft, and will be moved to the Wikipedia namespace when completed). The Transhumanist 21:45, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Many of the entries (and their links) are standard across all of the country outlines, to aid readers, especially young readers, in comparing countries to each other.

So if this country doesn't have any of a particular entry, like navies, please don't delete the entry. Instead, complete it with "none" (and a brief explanation as to why, for example, "- x is a landlocked country with no ports"). If the explanation exists in an article on Wikipedia, then click on the redlink and create a redirect to that location. See Wikipedia:Redirect, WP:Section linking, and Help:Section#Section_linking.

Standard redlinks (article names) were also chosen based on how country coverage tipically expands. This makes the standard names for these subtopics widely available and easily accessible. So please do not remove those redlinks, for they will turn blue eventually. In the meantime, they can be redirected to the section of whatever article has the relevant information, if any. See Wikipedia:Redirect, WP:Section linking, and Help:Section#Section_linking.

P.S.: To discuss the standard design of the country outlines, or of outlines in general, do so on the Outline of knowledge WikiProject talk page.

Guidelines for the development of outlines are being drafted at Wikipedia:Outlines.

Your input and feedback is welcomed and encouraged.

The government section needs to be checked for accuracy. The initial data placed in the government branches sections was generated by template, and the data didn't fit all countries.

So those sections need to be looked over, and fixed if needed.

P.S.: If you'd like to help out with other tasks concerning Wikipedia's Outline of knowledge, please drop me a note on my talk page.

"Outline" is short for "hierarchical outline". There are two types of outlines: sentence outlines (like those you made in school to plan a paper), and topic outlines (like the topical synopses that professors hand out at the beginning of a college course). Outlines on Wikipedia are primarily topic outlines that serve 2 main purposes: they provide taxonomical classification of subjects showing what topics belong to a subject and how they are related to each other (via their placement in the tree structure), and as subject-based tables of contents linked to topics in the encyclopedia. The hierarchy is maintained through the use of heading levels and indented bullets. See Wikipedia:Outlines for a more in-depth explanation. The Transhumanist 00:00, 9 August 2015 (UTC)


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‘Bruce and the others who are no longer here. Today was a good day to be with friends and family.’

Mr Reynold’s son Nick, 51, designed a headstone for both his father and his mother, Frances, who died two years ago.

It featured a death mask of Mr Reynolds and the phrase he said as the train approached - ‘This is it’.

The couple’s ashes were poured together in front of the memorial.

Nick said: ‘My dad didn’t care for the robbery in the end. He turned his life around. It was a shadow that hung over all of us.

Mugshots: Ronnie Biggs (left) and Great Train Robbery mastermind Bruce Reynolds (right) who died in February

‘I hope this anniversary means we can move on.’

The memorial ended with a gathering in the Old Crown Pub.

Mr Biggs is one of only four of the Great Train Robbers that are still alive.

The others, Gordon Goody, Tommy Wisbey and Bob Welch, were too ill to make the memorial.

The gang of 16 robbers stole £2.6million on August 8 1963 from the Royal Mail’s travelling Post Office train.

It had been traveling from Glasgow to London when it was stopped early in the morning.

Because of the bank holiday in Scotland, the £300,000 in used bank notes usually transported by the night mail had accumulated to the equivalent to £43 million today.

A new book has been published to mark the 50th anniversary, The Great Train Robbery - 50th Anniversary - 1963-2103, said to explain first-hand the complete story of the robbery.

Ronnie Biggs at his 70th birthday party with Bruce Reynolds. Mr Biggs played a small role in the robbery, but gained infamy when he escaped from jail

The Great Train Robbery became infamous, with many of those involved receiving 30 years or more in prison

The £2.6 million stolen by the Great Train Robbers fifty years ago. It was the biggest robbery of its time

Both Mr Biggs and Mr Reynolds contributed to the book, which has been written by Mr Reynolds' son Nick, along with Mr Biggs' autobiographer Chris Pickard.

Reynolds and Mr Pickard said the book was aimed at ‘setting the record straight’, and putting right any inaccuracies in a tale that has become folklore.

A memorial service will also be held on platform 12 of Crewe railway station to mark 50 years since the Great Train Robbery.

Tributes will be paid to Jack Mills and David Whitby, both from Crewe, who were in the train cab when the robbers struck.

Jack was clubbed over the head with an axe handle while driving the ill-fated Royal Mail train.

Police taking measurements at Cheddington Station, Buckinghamshire on one of the coaches of the train

Robbers Roy James, Buster Edwards, Roger Cordery, Jimmy White, Gordon Goody and Jimmy Hussey

Jack's family have attributed his deterioration in health and subsequent death eight years later to the trauma he was subjected to during the vicious assault.

Fellow cab member, David Whitby, was just 25-years-old at the time of the robbery. He later died of a heart attack, aged 34.

‘This is quite a unique event in Britain - in most crimes the sympathy lies with the victims, but the train robbers have almost been turned into Robin Hood figures, while the two victims of a very violent crime have not been given a second thought,’ he said.

'CRIME OF THE CENTURY': WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERS?

Gang-leader and mastermind Reynolds was nicknamed 'Napoleon' and after the Great Train Robbery he fled to Mexico on a false passport and was joined by his wife, Angela, and son, Nick.

They later moved on to Canada but the cash from the robbery ran out and he came back to England.

Five years after the heist, in 1968, a broke Reynolds was captured in Torquay and sentenced to 25 years in jail.

He was released on parole in 1978 and moved, alone and penniless, into a tiny flat off London's Edgware Road.

In the 1980s he was jailed for three years for dealing amphetamines.

After his second release, Reynolds went on to work briefly as a consultant on a film about the robbery, Buster, and published the Autobiography of a Thief in 1995. His son Nick said his father had died in his sleep in the early hours of February 28 2013.

Great Train Robbers all together at the launch of a book. (L-R) Buster Edwards, Tommy Wisbey, Jim White, Bruce Reynolds, Roger Cordrey, Charles Wilson and Jim Hussey

Ronald Arthur 'Ronnie' Biggs played a minor role in the robbery, but his life as a fugitive after escaping from prison gained him notoriety. He was given a 30-year sentence in 1964, but he escaped after 15 months by fleeing over the walls of London's Wandsworth prison in April 1965.

After having plastic surgery, he lived as a fugitive for 36 years in first Australia then Brazil, where he fathered a son Michael.

His health deteriorated in 2001 and he returned to the UK voluntarily where he was sent back to prison.

He was finally freed in 2009 on 'compassionate grounds' by then Justice Secretary Jack Straw who said he was not expected to recover.

He remains in a nursing home in north London.

An ex-boxer, club owner and small-time crook who fled to Mexico after the heist but gave himself up in 1966.

Edwards is widely believed to be the man who wielded the cosh used to hit train driver Jack Mills over the head.

Mills' family say he never recovered, and he died seven years later.

Edwards served nine years in jail and then became a familiar figure selling flowers outside Waterloo station in London.

He was the subject of the 1988 film Buster, in which he was played by Phil Collins.
Edwards was found hanged in a garage in 1994 at the age of 62. Two wreaths in the shape of trains accompanied his funeral cortege.

Wilson was the gang's 'treasurer' who gave each of the robbers their cut of the haul.
He was captured quickly and during his trial at Aylesbury Crown Court in 1964 earned the nickname 'the silent man' as he refused to say anything.

He was jailed for 30 years but escaped after just four months.

He was captured again in Canada after four years on the run and served 10 more years in jail.

He was the final train robber to emerge from prison in 1978.

Wilson moved to Marbella, Spain, where he was shot and killed by a hitman on a bicycle in 1990.

The interior of the mail train after the £2.6 million robbery. It was the largest robbery of its kind

A silversmith and racing driver, James dreamed of investing his share of the loot in new car technology.

He was nicknamed 'Weasel' and was the chief getaway driver.

James left a tell-tale fingerprint at the gang's farm hideout after the heist and was caught following a chase over rooftops in London.

Jailed for 30 years, he served 12 and later sold silver from a market stall before moving to Spain.

James was jailed again for six years in 1993 after shooting his wife's father and hitting her with a pistol.

He died at the age of 62, soon after getting out of prison.

A crooked solicitor who the gang used for the conveyancing when they bought the farm hideout used after the heist.

Field was arrested and sentenced to 25 years, which was later reduced to five.

He died in a motorway crash in 1979.

Clothing and camping equipment found by police at Leatherslade Farm which was used as a hide-out by the gang

An engineer who was arrested with Roger Cordrey in possession of £141,000.
Reynolds said he had never heard of Boal. He claimed Boal was not involved in the robbery and was "an innocent man".

Boal was charged with receiving stolen goods and jailed for 24 years, which was reduced to 14 on appeal.

He died of cancer in jail in 1970.

A bookie and self-confessed 'heavy' whose job in the heist was to frighten the train staff.

Wisbey was sentenced to 30 years and released in 1976.

He was jailed for another 10 years in 1989 for cocaine dealing and later ran a flower stall.

On release from prison he went to live in north London and suffered several strokes.

A nightclub owner who was sentenced to 30 years in jail and was released in 1976.

He was later left crippled after an operation on his leg went wrong.

After jail he became a car dealer and gambler in London. He attended Bruce Reynolds' funeral earlier this year.

A hairdresser who was jailed for 30 years and released in 1975.

Goody moved to Spain to run a bar.

A decorator known as 'Big Jim' who was sentenced to 30 years and released in 1975.

Hussey later worked on a market stall and then opened a Soho restaurant.

He notched up a conviction for assault in 1981 and in 1989 was jailed for seven years for a drug smuggling conspiracy with fellow train robber Wisbey.

He died in November 2012, aged 79, from cancer.

Leatherslade Farm Oakley. The gang consisted of 17 full members who were to receive an equal share, including 15 people who were at the actual robbery and two key informants

Part of the South Coast Raiders gang, Cordrey was a florist.

He was arrested in Bournemouth after having the bad luck to rent a lock-up from a policeman's widow.

He was jailed for 20 years, which was reduced to 14 on appeal.

When he was released in 1971 he went back to the flower business and moved to the West Country. He has now died.

A former Paratrooper described as 'quartermaster' for the robbery.

White was on the run for three years before being caught in Kent and sentenced to 18 years.

He was released in 1975 and went to live in Sussex. He has now died.

A former merchant seaman, Field was sentenced to 25 years, which was later reduced to five.

He was released from jail in 1967 and went to live in north London. Believed to be dead.

A solicitor who was sentenced to three years for conspiring to pervert the course of justice. He was released in 1966 and went to live in Surrey. Believed to be dead.


The Essential Epicurean Guide To Restaurant Week in NYC: Summer 2016 Edition

This is not a drill people, Restaurant Week is once again upon us! Despite what the haters and hipsters have to say, I, for one, am super excited to head over to the greatest city in the world and chow down on some epic eats! This year’s Restaurant “Week” runs from July 25, 2016 to August 19, 2016 (I know that is more than a week, DEAL WITH IT!) and will run you $29.00 for lunch and $42.00 for dinner. Here is a link to all the participating restaurants NYCGO.

However, if picking a restaurant seems more daunting than hitting a Noah Syndergaard fastball, then keep reading. To make your life easier, I have compiled my essential epicurean guide to this event once again. This time, I embarked on a mission to steer clear of the ordinary haunts and attempted to find the spots that are slightly off the beaten path, gastronomically speaking.

These restaurants might scare people off on a regular Monday, due to their rather adventurous cuisine and, let’s be honest, New York City price tags. However, thanks to the beauty of Restaurant Week, we can give these eclectic establishments a whirl without the worry of buyer’s remorse. So, without further ado, let’s take a Gastronomic walkabout around the globe, simply by driving across a river. (The following list is in no particular order, so make sure to scroll to the end)

Cuisine: African

Address: 210 West 118th Street at St. Nicholas Avenue New York, NY 10026

Why You Should Go: The Cecil has basically created a culinary style that is unique to their establishment deemed Afro-Asian-American. Pair that awesome sauce with their chic décor and hip ambience and you have a recipe for a memorable night out.

What You Should Order: Collar Green Salad, Fried Chicken Fried Rice, and Triple Chocolate Cake

Cuisine: American New, Japanese Sushi

Address: 130 West 47th Street, NY 10036

Why You Should Go: This unique and modern eatery flawlessly combines a traditional American Steakhouse with an authentic high end Sushi joint. Tender made my list because of its culinary range, offering everything from burgers to sushi. This restaurant is great for the group that just can’t decide on one type of cuisine.

What You Should Order: Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice, Tender Wagyu Burger, and Crème Brulee

Cuisine: American New

Address: 211 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013

Why You Should Go: Distilled New York is a throwback to a near forgotten era where public houses, pubs, and bars were not just full of D-Bags looking to get drunk and laid. Back in the day, these establishments were home to impromptu town hall meetings and actual political discussions, based on informed opinions as opposed to what party you are affiliated with. Distilled is trying to harness that vibe and reinvent the old school Public House. Not to mention they have a standup beer menu and their food is pretty epic.

What You Should Order: Distilled Wings, Country Fried Duck and Waffle, Night Cap

Cuisine: American New

Address: 275 Mulberry St. Manhattan, NY 10012

Why You Should Go: Brought to you by Food & Wine, this swanky restaurant boasts a collaborative menu from a rotating list of some of the world’s most renowned young Chefs. The Chef’s Club also offers eaters the unique experience of watching the drama of the kitchen unfold before their eyes thanks to their open kitchen, which is located in the center of the eatery.

What You Should Order: Calamari & Giardiniera Salad, Spicy Beef Ribs, and Chocolate Pretzel Whoopie Pie

Cuisine: American New

Address: 283 W. 12th St. New York, NY 10014

Why You Should Go: First and foremost this sexy eatery has just earned itself a Michelin Star, which should be reason enough to visit. However, that is only the tip of the romaine. Blenheim is redefining the term Farm to Table, by literally growing the food that appears on their impressive menu on their own farm, located in the Catskills. Plus, they are serving this amazingly fresh fare in a beautifully inviting atmosphere. Reservations are hard to come by, but try to score one of the outdoor tables which allow you to enjoy your dinner while participating in one of my favorite NYC past times, people watching.

What You Should Order: Poached Farm Egg, Roast Chicken, and Honey Semifreddo

Cuisine: American New

Address: 2751 Broadway Manhattan, NY 10025

Why You Should Go: Smoke Jazz & Supper Club is one of NYC’s most distinguished Jazz Clubs and they just so happen to have a world renowned Chef playing her tunes in the Kitchen to boot. Let Smoke set the mood for your date night with their vintage décor, candlelit tables, soulful live jazz performances, and remarkable food. It is like the Barry White songs of restaurants, if you are picking up what I am putting down.

What You Should Order: Mousse of Foie Gras, Lobster Ravioli, S’mores Brownie

Cuisine: Australian

Address: 226 W 79th St, New York, NY 10024

Why You Should Go: Visiting Australia has always been a dream of mine, alas the never ending plane ride has always scared me away. Thanks to Burke & Willis, I can now try traditional Southern Hemisphere food, without having to endure crying infants, stale air, and 3 inches of leg room for 21 hours twice in 2 weeks.

What You Should Order: Kangaroo Ham (+$5.00), Australian Lamb Rack (+$10.00), Affogato

Cuisine: Belgian

Address: 111 East 29th Street New York, NY 10016

Why You Should Go: Resto’s attempt to replicate the quant bistros that are all over Paris and Brussels is spot on, and the food transports you to these foodie havens as well. Furthermore, Resto offers outdoor seating to add to the already wonderful dining experience.

What You Should Order: Country Ham, Chicken & Liege Waffles Bacon, Honey Panna Cotta

Cuisine: Eclectic

Address: 480 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10017

Why You Should Go: Sticking with the theme of this article, Vermillion’s culinary exploration of the intersection of Indian and Latin-American cuisine is distinctive and playful. The Restaurant Week menu was not available at the time that I published this post, which usually keeps a restaurant off my list, but I am a sucker for Indian Cuisine and their regular menu looked straight up fantastic.

What You Should Order: Your guess is as good as mine…

Cuisine: Hawaiian

Address: 128 First Avenue Manhattan, NY 10009

Why You Should Go: Why shouldn’t you go? Unless you have access to a private jet and unlimited money, I would imagine that you don’t eat traditional Hawaiian food very often. Noreetuh offers a small slice of paradise in this otherwise brick-faced world. Plus they have a decent craft beer list and an impressive wine selection to get you into that serious vacation mood.

What You Should Order: Noreetuh Salumi, Mentaiko Spaghetti, and King’s Hawaiian Bread Pudding

Cuisine: Laotian

Address: 157 Duane St. Manhattan, NY 10013

Why You Should Go: I pride myself on rocking every single style of food that I can literally and figuratively sink my teeth into, and I have yet to have Laotian food. So, to be honest, I am not exactly sure what I would order or if it will be at the level of some of the other spots on the list. However, I am damn sure, that it will be an experience and just a quick peek at their website will show you that although I can’t guarantee anything, I am betting on Khe-Yo punching me right in the taste buds.

What You Should Order: Maine Lobster Dumplings, Steamed Red Snapper in Banana Leaf, Vanilla Rice Pudding

Cuisine: Malaysian

Address: 68 Clinton St. Manhattan, NY 10002

Why You Should Go: It is not a secret here on the internets that I love pork more than the internets loves videos of cats. I have a rule whenever I am searching for a restaurant or bar and it is quite simple follow the pig. While it may have been the name of this eatery that drew me in, it was the pork centric menu that landed it on my exclusive list of where you should eat. Oh, Pig And Khao, you had me at Pork Jowls.

What You Should Order: Grilled Pork Jowl, Pork Belly Adobo, Baby Back Ribs, Turon

Cuisine: Russian

Address: 150 W. 57th St. Manhattan, NY 10019

Why You Should Go: For 80 years, the Russian Tea Room and its ornate décor has been wining and dining NYC’s elite. Much like a baseball fan walking into Wrigley Field, a foodie can feel the culinary history oozing from this legendary eatery. Not to mention they have, arguably, the best Russian Food this side of the Atlantic.

What You Should Order: Team Room Red Borscht, Boeuf à la Stroganoff, Cheesecake

Cuisine: Southern Fare

Address: 200 E. 3rd St. Manhattan, NY 10009

Why You Should Go: Southern food is not for everyone, I respect and acknowledge that. However, I assure you, Southern food is for me and that is why Root & Bone lands firmly on my short list of must visit eateries in NYC. Root & Bone combines high end comfort food, southern hospitality, and culinary expertise to form, IMHO, one of the best true eating experiences the city has to offer.

What You Should Order: Grandma Daisy’s Angel Biscuits, Braised Short Rib Meatloaf, and S’mores

Cuisine: Spanish

Address: 953 2nd Avenue New York, NY 10022 / 284 Mulberry Street New York, NY 10012 / 259 West 19th Street New York, NY 10011

Why You Should Go: What is not to like about Paella? The math is sound folks! Handfuls of amazingly seasoned seafood, meat, and vegetables + perfectly prepared rice + gigantic portions = Hot Damn. Socarrat-Paella Bar brings this amazing dish to Restaurant Week in style with several variations available.

What: Pulpo a la Plancha (Grilled Octopus), Paella de Arroz Negro (Seafood Paella with squid ink), and Churros Con Chocolate.


The Blue Collar Foodie Thais one on in Ridgewood Foodie Style at Malee!

Every foodie in Bergen County is familiar with the Ridgewood Avenue Restaurant row that offers a plethora of cuisine from every corner of the world. The best part of this seemingly endless strip of remarkable eateries is that most of them are bring your own bottle and for the most part a reservation is usually not needed. The latter is the key to this foodie haven because one could potentially park their car in one of the municipal lots and meander through downtown Ridgewood in search of a restaurant that tickles their fancy. I stumbled upon Malee Fine Thai Cuisine, located at 2 East Ridgewood Avenue, in Ridgewood, New Jersey, doing just that many years ago and fell in love with their food, hospitality, and overall charm.

Ever since we happened upon Malee Thai all those years ago, whenever anybody suggests we get Thai food, I instantly recommend this establishment. So when our friend Lorin, whom you may remember from my Blue Moon Café review, came to town and requested Thai, I knew just the place to take him.

The first thing to remember is that Malee Thai is a “bring your own bottle” restaurant, so you should stop at a liquor store on your way, or bring one of your favorites from your personal collection. The second thing to keep in mind is that parking can be a bit of a pain in the arse, but have no fear Malee Thai is situated just minutes away from a municipal parking lot that is located just around the corner. If you are parking in any of the lots or on the street in Ridgewood it is imperative that you read the signs regarding the rules and regulations of your parking space, or you will have a great dinner at one the Ridgewood Restaurants and then have no chariot to take you home for a relaxing after dinner cocktail. Once you are packing a bottle or two of the happy juice, and parked LEGALLY, you can make your way to your destination.

As you approach the restaurant you may notice that there is outside seating located on their patio. You may also notice that this beautiful outdoor region is Train Track Adjacent. I am not saying that you should not dine outside, because on occasion I have been known to choose this option, I am merely reminding you that trains are loud and they will be close by when they whiz by your delicious meal. I have seen too many reviews of Malee, that bring up this point and condemn the restaurant for this seemingly obvious point, as if when they sat down outside the restaurant they were oblivious of the giant train station a mere three feet from their table. On this particular occasion, Kat, Lorin, and I decided that we were in the mood to eat inside due to the noise and the fact that it was at least 215 degrees out.

We visited Malee on a Friday at approximately 8:00 P.M. and did not have a wait at all for a table for three. As soon as we were seated, we were greeted by our amicable server with a smile and our menus as well as three glasses of water, which on a summer evening is always appreciated. After perusing our menus for a rather long time, due to the large selection of variety Malee offers, we finally made up our minds, and it seemed as soon as we placed our menus on the table our server arrived and was happy to take our order.

Lorin, whom is a vegetarian, had an extensive selection to examine before making his decision, which is a welcomed rarity for veg heads like Mr. P. After quite some deliberation, his final verdict was the Vegetable Pad Woon Seng which was described as Bean thread noodles stir-fried with mixed vegetables and egg, for $14.00. Kat, who I was almost sure, was going to order her regular surprised me once again and decided to go with the Pad See Eew which was described as steak stir-fried with thick, flat rice noodles, egg, and broccoli in a sweet brown sauce, for $12.00. As for your fearless blogger, I ordered The Gang Ped Yang, which was described as boneless roast duck simmered in red curry sauce with fresh basil, pineapple, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes, for $19.00. Finally as an appetizer for the table to share we requested the Fried Tofu described as deep-fried, crispy tofu served with a tangy sauce with ground peanuts for only $5.00.

After sending our order off to the kitchen our server returned with a complimentary basket of Shrimp chips, which can be described as simply the best Styrofoam you will ever eat. Try them and you will understand just how tasty they are. Our server also opened the bottle of wine we brought from our personal stock, I recommend bringing a sweet white wine due to the spic that some Thai dishes deliver. With a glass of wine in our hands and tales dripping from our tongues, we anxiously awaited our first course.

As the plate of fried Tofu arrived at our table, we all peered inquisitively at the plate in front of us. None of us had ever had fried Tofu before, but all agreed that everything tastes better fried, so we each took a triangle of our fried goodness from the plate and dipped a corner in the sauce that was provided. The tofu itself was pretty much what we expected, the fried out coating was crispy and fried to perfection while leaving the inside soft and palatable, yet like all Tofu slightly tasteless and bland. Like Superman swooping in to save Louis Lane, the sauce rescued this dish it provided a tangy and vivacious flavor that brought this dish from purgatory to heaven.

After we polished off the 6, which by the way is very good portion size for 5 bucks, fried tofu triangles, we poured ourselves another glass of wine and pontificated until our entrees departed the kitchen and landed on our table. Their arrival caused a pause in conversation due to their brilliant appearance and intoxicating aroma. I should add a small caveat at this point in my review and discuss the heat options that are available at Malee for most of the dishes they offer. If a dish at Malee contains an element that is traditionally spicy they give you the option of mild, medium, hot, or very hot. Believe me, when dealing with ethnic food, one must never be a hero. Unless you have climbed the ladder of spice at any particular restaurant, I recommend taking some caution when ordering hot or very hot from any Thai restaurant. The chefs at these restaurants have a very different idea of what spicy is than their Americans counterpart, so just because you can rock a five alarm chili means absolutely nothing. To be completely honest the “very hot” they serve us, from what I have been told is really their medium. Precede with caution my fellow adventurous foodies, for the hottest I have been able to enjoy is Hot which is what I ordered on this occasion.

The food at Malee Thai is always so fresh and succulent that I am honestly never disappointed in any dish I order, but this was the first time I ordered a duck dish, and I was extremely satisfied. The skin was crisp and the meat was juicy and tender. As with a lot of Indian or Thai plates, my dish came with a side of rice that you place on a plate as a bed for the entree to be placed on. The combination of the rice, the broth, and the duck concoction was tremendous. The heat of the broth was expertly countered by the sweet pineapple and the rice, creating a flawless balanced package on every forkful.

Kat’s and Lorin’s both had noodle dishes that not only looked spectacular but seemed to offer quite a large portion size for their price. They both must have been impressed by them as well, because by the end of our meal neither of them had any food left on their plates. Kat commented that she was full half way through but just could not stop eating because of its phenomenal taste.

Malee Thai offers a wide variety of dishes for foodies to experiment with but I do suggest that anyone that is visiting Malee for the first time try the Pad Thai. Pad Thai is the most commonly eaten Thai meal in the United States, and sadly most people have never had a truly great Pad Thai dish. I have eaten at quite a few Thai spots in my day, and believe me when I say that Malee Thai has the best Pad Thai that I have eaten in the Tri-State area.

When the ambiance of Malee is combined with the food and the staff this restaurant just can’t be beat, and the fact that it is around the corner is a welcomed bonus for any family bound foodies. To top it off, this establishment allows you to bring your own bottle of wine which can save you quite a bit of money. I love eating at Malee, and I think if you give it a whirl, you will too.


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