Tag Archives: Scotch

Mary Queen of Scots is a Better Restaurant than Lady

Mary Queen of Scots

 

Mary Queen of Scots is one Jenny Jones-worthy episode of a lady. Crowned at nine months old; married to her first cousin then promptly strangled him to death; forced to abdicate to her one-year old son; fled to England to seek protection from Queen Elizabeth, then attempted to claim the throne as her own; and finally was tried and executed for treason after 19 years in custody. That’s what happens when you are raised without good parents.

All of that sounds like a perfect recipe for an exciting restaurant muse. It’s no secret that Highlands is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC {it made my Favor8 list}, so when they took over the old Allen & Delancey space to open a new restaurant and bar, Mary Queen of Scots, it became a must try.

The menu alludes to both Scottish and French cuisine with items such as the rataouille vegetable tart or house smoked scottish salmon. I had a fantastic salad of pickled beets, caramelized yogurt and toasted hazelnuts that I would highly recommend to anyone. The wild striped bass with potato bacon terrine, mustard greens and white wine cream came highly recommended and certainly sounded like a winner, but was sadly not warm by the time it reached my table and was underseasoned. I did have food envy with the MQS burger though. Served with house cut chips and spicy pickles, this is a sure thing {is that french or scottish?}

MQS Burger

 

The Skim: Overall, Mary Queen of Scots was a good meal out, but it did not dethrone Highlands, which in my opinion serves up far superior fare. Both have great bars and an inventive cocktail menu though, so if you’re looking for a cool place to lose your head, MQS is a fantastic hideout.

Map: 115 Allen Street {N of Delancey}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212.460.0915

Good Tartan Times:
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand
8.ate@eight’s Boozy Robert Burns Bash w/ The Tippling Bros. & Highland Park
Water of Life Whisky Wednesday With The Macallan

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8.ate@eight Presents: A Robert Burns Night With The Tippling Bros. | @1.22.11.8pm

The Tippling Bros. Introduce Mixology 101

8.ate@eight Presents: Robert Burns Night with The Tippling Bros.
Saturday, January 22nd, 2011, 8:00pm
Handcrafted Cocktails, Scottish-Inspired Noshing and Scottish Lore

Location to be revealed just prior to event

What is Robert Burns Night with the Tippling Bros. you ask? First off, it’s an event NOT to be missed. It’s unlike any past 8.ate@eight — I’m opening up the evening to triple the fun with 24 spots and I’m switching up the itinerary. It’s an evening that will involve celebratory contributions of a traditional Robert Burns Supper (though it’s not a sit down dinner) mixed with a healthy dose of superb cocktails handcrafted by the Tippling Bros., renowned mixologists and perpetuators of libational enjoyment!

What’s a Robert Burns Supper? You may think you haven’t heard of the great Scottish poet before, but think again when the clock strikes midnight on 12.31. In addition to writing many great poems, Robert Burns can be thanked for contributing auld lang syne to our annual celebration of the New Year. In his honor, Scots (and non-scots alike) gather each January for an evening of uproariously informal drinking, noshing and maybe a little poetry recitation to pay tribute to the Scottish Bard.

Tell me more about the Tippling Bros.? I met the Tippling Bros. at the New York Wine & Food Festival and since then we’ve been brainstorming a great evening to do together. The Tippling Bros. are world renowed mixologists who specialize in the art of the drink. They are planning 5 handcrafted, scottish-inspired cocktails for the evening, and will be slinging spirits in the midst of the other Scottish fun — they will not only teach you about the history of the cocktail, but will make this a hands on event so YOU too can become a master Tippler.

Getting Tipsy with the Tippling Bros. @NYCWFF Mixology 101

See here for a recap of past 8.ate@eight events:
A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite
Big Southern BBQ Meets Small Northern Rooftop
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic

Reservation policy is first come, first serve. When I reach 24 guests, the list is closed for the evening. Please feel free to invite guests or forward to friends. A mixed crowd is encouraged!

RSVP HERE!: 8ateATeight@gmail.com

Hope to see you in your finest plaids!
Christina

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Water of Life Whisky Wednesday With The Macallan

The Macallan Whisky Wednesday

Admittedly I’m not much of a Scotch drinker. I have previously thought of it as the kind of thing that puts hair on your chest — and well, as a woman that’s not so attractive. But on Wednesday night I went to The Macallan Single Malt Scotch tasting and may have discovered a new love.

The evening opened with a welcome reception, some passed appetizers and The Macallan Fine Oak 10 Year Old, the lightest and easiest to drink of the line-up. If you’re new to the Scotch drinking world and want to ease your way in, this is the perfect starting point — it’s extremely smooth and delicate and makes for a simple sipping companion.

The Macallan 10 Year Old Fine Oak Scotch

As our glasses were drained, we headed to a seated set-up for a schooling on Scotch tasting and Scotland 101. With The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year Old pour in hand, a lovely smooth selection with a hint vanilla that Macallan is known for, we learned that this mahogany hued Scotch is exclusively aged in Sherry-seasoned Spanish oak casks for a minimum of 12 years.

We also learned what makes a Scotch Whisky and the difference between “blended” and “single” malts — interesting trivia facts to keep in the back pocket:

  • ‘Scotch Whisky’– In order to be classed as a ‘Scotch’ Whisky, the spirit, must have been matured in an oak cask in Scotland for a minimum of three years. It must also be bottled at a minimum strength of 40% alcohol.
  • ‘Blended’ Scotch Whisky — is Scotch Whisky distilled at more than one distillery from a combination of malted barley and other cereals.
  • Blended ‘Malt’ Scotch Whisky — is Scotch Whisky distilled at more than one distillery entirely from malted barley.
  • Single’ Malt Scotch Whisky — is Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery entirely from malted barley.
  • You will also notice that Irish and American Whiskeys have an “e”, whereas Scotch Whisky does not.
  • Whisky or Whiskey means “water of life” — of course it does!

If only every class we took involved note taking and spirits, we might all be better students. After The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Year Old Scotch arrived we started to enter the zone of more viscous and impactful flavors. 60-70% of the flavor in a Whisky comes from the wood, so it’s not surprising to learn The Macallan spends $20M each year to create their casks, which amounts to ~$1,400 per cask. Now here’s an interesting fact — the 70+ other distilleries only spend $10-15M collectively and the bourbon industry only spends an average of $200 per barrel.

Given those kind of numbers, it’s not surprising to also learn that The Macallan’s premium quality spirits just broke a record, selling a rare 64 year old whisky at auction for $460,000 {read more HERE}. The good news is, all proceeds go to charity: water, an organization that provides access to clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. And so “the water of life” comes full circle.

Kick off 2011 in Good Spirits…

And so I am a convert. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the tastings and could see how all that investment in the casks pays off in the bottle. I’ve been inspired so much by our Scottish friends, that I may just have some news to share about an upcoming winter 8.ate@eight event. I won’t reveal anymore now, but it will be an event not to be missed and will kick off 2011 in good spirits. Stay tuned…

More Good 8.ate@eight Drinking :
Getting Tipsy with the Tippling Bros. @NYCWFF Mixology 101
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails
8.ate@eight #3: Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ
NY Craft Beer Week, Get Your Goggles On

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Reliably Good American Bar and Bites @ Rye House

RYEHOUSE: 11 West 17th Street

Sometimes you just want a good reliable NYC bar and restaurant — a place you can grab lunch mid-week, a cold beer after work with friends or a handcrafted cocktail on a saturday night with intriguing ingredients such as orange blossom water, egg white and small production rye. It’s hard to find all those things in one destination, but Rye House has succeeded in creating a reliable bar and restaurant menu with reverence for traditional American spirits and cuisine.

I met my friend for lunch on a cold rainy day and shook off the chill with a soup and sandwich combo. It pleasantly reminded me of something I may have been able to order if I sauntered in off the cobblestone street of New York City circa 1850. The Spring Onion Potato Soup with a sourdough crouton and provolone was served in a sturdy handled bowl and was just the hearty starter I needed.

RyeHouse Spring Onion Soup

The “Pittsburgh” sandwich was the perfect pairing to go with the simple flavors of the onion soup and had its own warming qualities with a unique combo of grilled andouille sausage, provolone, house slaw, fries all stacked together and served on a wooden plank. The spice of the sausage was nicely mellowed out by the crisp slaw, and while the fries weren’t exactly necessary on the sandwich, they added a different sort of salty, crispy bite that made this a lunch to remember {lunch menu HERE}.

RyeHouse Pittsburgh

The Skim: With a long welcoming bar placed near the front and high tables along the wall, the casual atmosphere of Rye House invites you to stop in for whatever you’re in the mood for — a good craft draft, a creative cocktail or memorable, but simple American cuisine. Rye House also holds weekly beer tastings featuring a changing selection of craft brews, so this may just be the perfect place to discover some of the names appearing at NY Craft Beer week.

Map: 11 West 17th Street {Btw 5th & 6th Ave.}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212.255.7260

Pour Some More Por Favor:
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails
Not so Standard Biergarten
Mission Dolores {Accomplished}: Great New Brooklyn Beer Garden
Wilfie & Nell: Not Your Grandpa’s Watering Hole

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NY Craft Beer Week, Get Your Goggles On

NY Craft Beer Week is an annual celebration of New York City and its craft beer community. The week’s events range from neighborhood beer walks and bar promotions to tasting festivals, food pairings and beer dinners. So when I was invited to the NYC Brewer’s Choice event at City Winery this week, I grabbed my drinking stein and shoes and headed downtown for what was sure to be a hop-ping good time. City Winery rolled out the wine barrels and rolled in the kegs to throw the best beer bash I have ever been to {even if you count college}. The space was packed with beer aficionados and regular eager amber samplers like myself, who had about 20 breweries to sip suds from and several artisan food purveyors generously pairing our brew with some tasty bites.

Patience and a penchant for tipping back a glass swiftly is what it took to power through the crowds and extensive selection in order to cover the spread thoroughly. There were definitely some highlights and unique brews worth making note of and keeping on your short list for the next time you visit the local pub.

Crafting Crowd

Empire Brewing Company: Roasted Pumpkin Ale (Syracuse, NY)
Made with over 100 lbs of fresh roasted pumpkins from Critz’s Farm in Cazenovia, NY. The pumpkins are added to the mash and then the beer is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and clove. Deep amber in color, this autumn ale is the perfect cross between a cream soda and a pumpkin pie. It is a DE-LIC-OUS draft!

Ballast Point: Navigator Dopplebock (San Diego, CA)
Brandy barrel-aged, this brew was deep brown with a thick foamy head and strong chocolate and coffee flavors. It was easy to drink and the brandy added a complexity that paired very nicely with the 70% Mast Brothers dark chocolate they were serving.

Ommegang: Cup o Kyndness (Cooperstown, NY)
Appropriately named after a line from Scottish poet, Robert Burns’, poem Auld Lang Syne, this Belgian-Scotch style ale was a wee bit smokey and reminiscent of, well, a glass of scotch. One of the more unique pours of the evening, I would highly suggest this on a cold, rainy evening or when you’re looking for something a little different to warm the soul.

Stillwater Cellar Door (Baltimore, MD)
A light golden color, Cellar Door, exhibited hints of tangerine and sage, two delightfully refreshing flavors that made this brew a selection I could sip on a stellar summer day or as a perfect pairing with some salty cheeses or seafood.

Turns out I’m actually bad about taking pictures of drinks, so you’ll have to settle for snapshots of some of the highlights from the food pairings.

Betty Brooklyn, a brooklyn based private chef and caterer, whipped up some amazing deviled eggs with pancetta topping off the delicacy. The yolk was incorporated with some of the rendered pancetta fat homemade mayonnaise and dijon to create a salty, creamy, smoky pillow of flavor in one bite.

Betty Brooklyn: Deviled Eggs

Mama O’s Premium Kimchi was cookin’ up some crazy good kimchi chili and kimchi salsa. That makes so much sense — hot peppery, gingery, pickled Korean flavor goodness meets American classics — why hasn’t anyone done that before!

Mama O's: Kimchi Chili and Salsa

Orwasher’s Bakery crafted some creative crusty breads using Six Point Ale, combining old world technique with new world flavors to create a super soft center surrounded by a crust that echos when you tap it…just how good artisan bread should be!

Orwasher's Artisan Rustic Beer Breads

Clearly a evening to remember — if I can after all that beer. So next time you visit your local Cheer’s, ask if they carry any of these craft drafts and give these suds a sip or two to suit your mood.

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Gone Fishin’ :: Back in a Week…

Farewell Bachelorhood!

As I referenced in a previous post, I’m off in San Francisco to be the best groom’s girl I can be in my brother’s wedding this weekend. Jackie, my soon-to-be sister-in-law, works for Ghirardelli. She’s pretty darn sweet as a person, but it also doesn’t hurt that she brings a dowry consisting of a lifetime supply of chocolate. Welcome to the family!

I’m sure I will have no shortage of things to blog about upon my return — I promise it will be more interesting than a post about rice and will include musings from Napa. In the meantime, visit some old favorites…

Make A Delicious Dinner For Friends:
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries {bottom of post}
More Recipes >>> EAT@HOME

Keep Busy in the City:
Do This!: Artisanal Premium Cheese & Wine Classes w/ Jessica Wurwarg
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table
NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage
NYC Best: Take the Dull Out Of Cooking {Knives} with Samurai Sharpening @ Chelsea Market

Enjoy a Cold One in the Garden:
Not so Standard Biergarten
Mission Dolores {Accomplished}: Great New Brooklyn Beer Garden
Nothing says Warm Weather Like a “Gut Biergarten”

And in the Spirit of Weddings, Go on a Date!:
Summer Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails
The Red Cat: Comfortable Quarters & Cuisine
Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat
August in April
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo
barmarche: Some Clever Crudites

Eat Up!
Christina

Sibling Fun in Tokyo

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Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails

Highlands Bar NYC

A brief glance at the Highlands menu might have you scratching your head wondering what it all means and WHY anyone would sample Scottish food. Pork Faggot, Haggis, Neeps, Tatties, Cullen Skink…either I’ve had one too many Scotch cocktails and the words have gotten all mixed up or I need one of those fine plaid-clad bartenders to provide a wee bit of foreign translation assistance. But be not afraid, if you are envisioning a plate of unappetizing, unrecognizable food, you are in for a real treat when you order from the menu that was created to showcase modern Scotland. The atmosphere itself will clue you in that this contemporary gastropub is both authentic, but cutting edge at the same time.

Scottish Art?

Highlands is split into two quaint rooms. A dining area equipped with brick walls, close-set tables and a strange painting featuring a young boy with wolves hung over a faux fireplace. And the bar {where you can also order food}, with plaid-clad bartenders and backlit blond wood shelves showcasing some of the finer imports from Scotland:  Scotch, Malts, Gins and Ales. If you plan to eat at the bar, I suggest you get there early, because the bar draws a large crowd eager to imbibe unique hand crafted Scottish cocktails such as the Lucky White Heather {Famous Grouse Scotch, Rosemary Star Anise, Lemon and Egg White} or the Blood and Sand {Glenrothes Special Reserve, Cherry Herring, Orange Juice, Lemon and Bitters}. It’s a great place to expand beyond your usual vodka soda or Amstel light order, while exploring the young and vibrant patrons.

A Menu Must: Lamb Sausage Roll with Mint, Upland Cress and Harissa Aioli. It’s hard not to like when a mini sausage is wrapped in a flaky warm crust and served with a spicy sauce for dipping. I’d like to call it an upscale pigs-in-a-blanket, and well, who doesn’t love those!

Highlands Roast Chicken

I also had the roast chicken breast, that was both crispy and juicy and can be enjoyed whether it’s 90-degrees out or 20. And in case you’re wondering what all those other items are that I referred to, here’s a little cheat sheet. Go ahead and give it a go!

  • Pork Faggot: Kind of like a Scottish meatball, pork mixed with fresh herbs and sometimes breadcrumbs
  • Haggis: Traditional Scottish dish containing sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal’s stomach for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach. {You may need a strong stomach and sense of adventure for this one}
  • Neeps: Yellow turnip
  • Tatties: Potatoes
  • Cullen Skink: Thick soup made with haddock, potatoes and onions

The Skim: It’s friendly, it’s cozy with great drinks, great food, great bar and great atmosphere. Clearly I think it’s great. I’ll go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite NYC restaurants and bars. You can be as adventurous as you dare, but the menu serves all interests and will give you a taste of traditional Scottish fare with some modern twists. Go to eat or just drink, but either way, go.
Map: {150 west 10th St. btw Waverly & Greenwhich Ave.}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212-229-2670


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Wintry Wine & Whiskey Warm-up @ Vintry

Vintry Wine & Whiskey Bar

Ok, so I just got back from a weekend in Palm Springs, followed by a weekend in Miami. I tell you this, not to make you jealous, but to lay the foundation that my body temp has long-adjusted to 80+ degree days from our unseasonably warm NY April and said destinations. So imagine the shock when I saw the mercury dropping to a mere 40 degrees yesterday and a fine mist start to fall. Brrrrrr. What better way to warm up than by paying a visit to a Wall Street watering hole. Well, maybe there is a chill in there too these days, but if you find yourself in the shadows of lower Manhattan’s concrete towers looking for a place to take the edge off, try Vintry Wine & Whiskey. With over 90 wines by the glass and 150+ whiskey/scotch selections to choose from, as well as a list of whisky/bourbon based handcrafted cocktails, you most definitely will not have a problem finding something to imbibe. And for warmer weather, Vintry is located amongst a long line of Old New York bars and pubs on the quaint cobblestone Stone Street, each with communal picnic tables out front — looks like the makings of an awfully fun post-market close happy hour destination {although that may depend on where the Dow closed}.

The Skim: If you’re looking to catch yourself a pinstriped suit that still carries a business card emblazoned with a Wall Street address or just want a swirl of a good scotch on a cobblestone street with an Old NY kind of feel, check out Vintry Wine & Whiskey. {57 Stone Street, btw Wall & Broad St.}

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