The Lotte New York Palace Hotel

The Lotte New York Palace Hotel offers an uncommon approach to the philosophy of hospitality.  From the moment that the din of Madison Avenue evaporates behind you, the experience of visiting this property is utterly breathtaking.  Each detail is carefully choreographed down to the minutia.  From the tasseled umbrellas shielding the courtyard tables from the sun, to the generously adorned landscaping- the immediate experience is memorable. Even the music-scape that dissolves into the background shields the visitor from the street.  The way the former carriage courtyard is set gives the immediate impression to welcome you to the most luxurious accommodations.

Step into the gently restored mid 19th century mansion through the carriage courtyard and experience the air of relaxation for yourself.  Time stands still and one can imagine the opulence and careful attention paid to the architecture of the mansion.  This is a grand building built from the finest materials of the day.  It’s obvious to even the most casual observer that the family who lived within these storied walls spared no expense building the home.

Now, over one hundred years later and a complete ground up renovation, this grand dame of Madison Avenue and fiftieth streets is glowing again.

The Villard Restaurant is handsomely located in the formal dining room of the mansion.  It’s an elegant setting.  From the gilded Latin writing that rings the soaring ceilings to the grand fireplace seemingly plucked from a European castle to the deeply polished, dark wood floor; elegance and seamless, Continental service is the rule of this roost.  But what does Continental mean?  It means elegant conversational service with a smile.  Continental means to me a studied demeanor, not pretentious in any way- but offering a hushed mood that is both calming and relaxing.  This fashion of service is sadly missing from most restaurants.  Villard raises the bar, literally.  How do they do it so well?

Brian, the friendly chap who came by the table made it crystal clear.  He believes in quality of the whole experience.  But not just the auspices of ingredients-because in a setting such as this, the ingredients are on stage because they are brilliant.  You have to offer something that most restaurants wish they could offer.  That is the genuine smile that each person exudes, even while performing their detail oriented, highly polished service.  It’s not easy…  I’ve tried to do this in a five star restaurant.  And not well!  This is a task to make everyone feel cared for, not just served.

Morning brings business people and their meetings, other tables are scattered about with locals and hotel guests who want an uncommonly delicious breakfast in a most exalted setting.

The waiter and service lead for the table- a round, modern seating, set to the side of the grand fireplace was both intimate and private.  The entire room spills forth from the corners and they may well be the best seats in the room with the best view of the swirl of guests and restaurant staff.

Our waiter, an affable and soft-spoken gentleman who made our stay most pleasant, described a decadent plate of shaved white truffles and stone-ground grits.  There is nothing more beguiling than white truffles and grits.  But that dish had to wait in favor of a once or twice per year dish.  What I desired was the classic New York City, brunch staple- the backbone of the term: Grand Hotel Breakfast.  The breakfast that speaks to me clearly of sophistication and relaxation is the classic Eggs Benedict.  My breakfast companion ordered an egg white omelet with avocado and tomato on the side.  A simple repast that made perfect sense in this high style room.

Coffee was ordered and served in perfectly polished pots-holding the steaming liquid from within.  The helpful waiter showed my guest how to open the top so not to spill the steaming contents asunder.  Nice touch!  Orange juice was quickly served,  freshly squeezed from the highest quality fruit.  Sweet and luscious, 4 or so ounces poured into the modern style glassware.   Water was ordered, sparkling- refreshing and crisp, poured into a larger glass of modern design.  Jams and Jellies in a tray was set at the top of the bare table, adorned only with woven table mats and crisp white napkins.  Ultra elegant!  Ultra chic!  It was like haute-chic Paris came to NYC and made herself at home at Villard.

The Eggs Benedict came served with a tangle of perfectly roasted new potatoes, each one redolent of their seasonings, tiny bites, bursting with their own potato goodness.  The eggs, each one cooked into a perfect round, set on top of equally precise rounds of Canadian Bacon and crispy, buttered English Muffins were unctuous and steaming hot. The Hollandaise, a celebration of butter and whisked, farm fresh egg yolk napped the stack of breakfast goodness without overpowering.  Simple and refined are the touchstones at Villard.  My companion’s egg whites, a fluffy mound of health and satisfaction were served with a sliced half of an avocado and several slices of tomato.  Colorful and bold, the touches of love from within the kitchen are obvious.  This is simple food, raised to the highest level.

The beverage menu described a Bloody Mary Bar.  Of course the champions of Bloody Mary history are mentioned here with some twists and turns along the way.  The Wild West Bloody Mary, assembled with Ketel One Vodka, Mezcal, Tomato Juice, Worcestshire, Horseradish, Black Pepper, Fresh Lemon Juice, Salsa, Bell Pepper, Jalepeno, and Peppered Bacon enticed as did the Spanish Daybreak, a compliment of Belvedere Vodka, Tomato Juice, Worcestershire, Horseradish, Black Pepper, Yellow Bell Pepper, Amontillado Sherry, Fresh Lemon Juice, Celery Salt and Tabasco was cheery and bold to my imagination.  But the “Classic” with Grey Goose Vodka, Tomato Juice, Worcestershire, Horseradish, Black Pepper, Fresh Lemon Juice, Celery and Olive.   I didn’t have to go any further.  It was served in a crystal glass, just the right amount of ice- assembled with a smile.  I could feel that friendly nature in every sip.  Such is the way at Villard.  Doing something with passion.  A task, possibly mundane to others is handled with a word that is sadly missing from many restaurant experiences.  That word is “hospitality.”

Villard does this darned well.  And as it turned out, in small talk that our waiter shared with us, he too is influenced by the cocktail arts and worked with the King of Cocktails himself, Dale DeGroff.  Class Act!  Small world, but at the top of this rarified air comes humility and that humility cannot be taught.  It is innate.  Villard shows this generosity with every bite.

Go and experience this lovely room for yourself and take a vacation to Paris without a plane ticket.  Dress up and have fun.  Drink a Bloody Mary or any of their mixology level cocktails while having breakfast.  It’s ok, no one will tell on you, even if it is 10:30 in the morning!img_3910 img_3912 img_3913 img_3914 img_3915 img_3916 img_3917

Warren Bobrow’s Fresh Toast Fizzy

Behold the magic of raspberry shrub and cannabis simple syrup.

Real shrubs are for your cocktail glass. And no, they are not the kind that take up room in your front yard. Shrubs are an almost unheard-of combination of both vinegar and preserved fruit and cane sugar syrup. During the late summer months, they are especially delicious because they are cost next to nothing to make and quite thirst slaking. They also mix really nicely with Cannabis in a cocktail made with rum.

The history of shrubs dates back hundreds of years. They were most frequently used into the mid-1800s. The people who enjoyed them were amongst the working class and mostly because of the utter lack of refrigeration. No electricity, meaning no refrigeration for food preservation means all bad things to the gut.

But everything isn’t gloom and doom. Enter this home-made, vinegar based- fruit syrup. Shrubs were an inexpensive, sweet refreshment that could be added to a multitude of alcoholic liquids. People found that drinking certain kinds of acidulated liquids like these preserved fruit shrubs helped ease their aching bellies from the consumption of ‘certainly compromised foods and drink’.

Drinking these easy to make and easier to enjoy- sweet and tangy beverages were found to give the imbiber quick energy, too. Were they the first energy drinks? Possibly…

Fast forward to today, mixologists have rediscovered the magic of utilizing fresh fruit and vegetable shrubs in their craft cocktails. And now aficionados are starting to toy with them at home because of their ease in production.

Shrubs can be simply made with only three easy-to-purchase ingredients: raw sugar, some kind of vinegar and just over-ripe fruit, plus a bit of fresh water. They have a salty, sea-like undertone after they ferment for a few weeks, but are also sweet and tart. The fruit gives a deeply welcome hit of sweet perfume, the cane sugar (essential) sweetens naturally, and the unmistakable tang of your favorite vinegar makes your lips pucker, and few things are more salutary for the gut than naturally fermented beverages. Shrubs really were the original energy and health drink. And now it looks like this tangy combination of flavors have received their second wind!

Note: These shrubs will remain fresh for 1 to 2 months in the refrigerator, unless until they start to dance the jig and sing in Gaelic, then make a new batch immediately!

Summer Raspberry Shrub
(Makes about 1.5 cups)

This very basic shrub makes all kinds of refreshing combinations. Although the raspberry shrub starts out vividly red, in the end result, after a couple of weeks fermenting; the shrub will have a

pale coral hue. It’s delicious mixed with gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, Madeira, a smoky Scotch, Sherry, white wine, sparkling wine- and of course just plain water like they used to drink in the Colonial period!


  • 1 cup very ripe organic raspberries (they can be bruised and soft, but please, no mold)
  • 1 cup raw cane sugar (Sugar in the Raw or like product)
  • 1 cup raw cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s with the Mother Yeast intact)


  • In a nonreactive bowl made of either ceramic or glass (or possibly stainless), add raspberries and pour sugar over the top.
  • Cover and let sit refrigerated for a few days, stirring and muddling often with a wooden spoon to combine. This mixture should expel lots of liquid, and this is good!
  • After a few days of gentle fermentation, add the apple cider vinegar. Let the vinegar combine with the sugar and raspberries for another week refrigerated. (Cellar temperature if you want to be absolutely authentic)
  • Arrange a fine-mesh strainer over a nonreactive bowl (one with a spout is handy). Pour the shrub mixture into the strainer and mash with a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.
  • Funnel the shrub into sterilized jars, this means submerged in boiling water for at least a minute and removed with sterilized rubber tipped tongs.
  • Cover and refrigerate (or cellar temp) for at least a week more, shaking well before using.

The assertive vinegar flavor will fade over time, leaving you a lightly thick- simple syrup that is tangy, sweet and very noteworthy!

Tip: A simple way to enjoy this raspberry shrub is with a glass of seltzer water and the addition of a few slivers of lemon zest. I also like to add it to gin!

Cannabis Infused Simple Syrup
(Use strain of your choice)


  • 2 cups raw cane sugar – like sugar in the raw
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable glycerin (this helps supercharge the cannabis)
  • 3 or more grams finely chopped, ultra-high-grade cannabis


  • The first thing you have to do is measure out equal parts of sugar and water then bring the water to a boil.
  • Drop the heat down, just a bit- you’ll know when you see the sugar turning to caramel that it’s too hot!
  • Add in your finely chopped cannabis and stir in until the sugar has been completely dissolved.
  • Cover the pot and bring it to a quick simmer (do not boil!) for about 30 minutes.
  • Cool for ½ hour, bring back up to a simmer. Stir in the vegetable glycerin. Strain.
  • Let cool again, and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
  • h-1-warren-bobrows-cannabis-infused-fresh-toast-fizzy
  • Fresh Toast Fizzy
    (Serves 2)


    • large handmade ice cubes
    • 4 ounces independent producer rum- think no chill filtering or any added caramel for color (the real thing)
    • 1 ounce Raspberry Shrub
    • 1 ounce cannabis tincture infused simple syrup (using the strain and amount of your choice)
    • 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
    • splash of fizzy water


    • Fill a cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice.
    • Pour in your rum, your handmade Shrub and the simple syrup (either cannabis infused or not) over the ice.
    • Cover, cap and shake hard for 15 seconds or until the shaker is really frosty.
    • Add a large ice cube to each of 2 coupe glasses. Strain cocktail into each of the glasses, dash the Angostura over the top of each glass (2 dashes each) and serve while icy with a splash of fizzy water of course!
    • Use the Thai spice principle. You can always add more spice- but you can never take it away!

    NEVER more than one per hour…


Barrell Bourbon Batch 009



Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Distilled and aged in Tennessee and Kentucky

Crafted and bottled in Kentucky

112.10 proof cask strength bottling

Aged for 13 years in Char #4 American white oak barrels

Mash bill: 74% corn, 18% rye, 7% malted barley



Appearance: Broiled apricot orange at the core and resplendent warm gold at the edges.  Sunlight reflecting off of burnished copper flashes across the surface leaving iridescent streaks with each swirl.

Nose: Slowly roasted exotic fruits like kiwi, coconut, and Satsuma orange swirled with smoked bergamot tea.  Herbed brown butter dripping over toasted brioche and northwest cherry

Palate: Lively and amusing across the palate, the mellow warmth makes this bourbon easy to enjoy.  Future sips touch all parts of the palate with broad strokes of thick clotted cream.  The glow of the 112.10 proof lurks just out of sight, a welcome but not distracting figure.

Finish: Oven dried stone fruit jam with a hint of citrus oils leads to Caribbean spices.  The multi-minute finish is reminiscent of sweet buttered carnival corn.

With a few drops of water

Bright sarsaparilla gives way to gooey apricot bread pudding fresh from the oven topped with rum soaked raisins.  Each taste leaves almond oil sticking to the back of your tongue.  The cool water spreads nuance and sophistication throughout each pleasurable sip.

Tasting Notes by Warren Bobrow, The Cocktail Whisperer

Oktoberfest Schnapps Tasting!!

Oktoberfest Schnapps Tasting  Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten Asbury Park, NJ
527 Lake Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Oktoberfest continues with a tasting of some of our favorite German schnapps!  Learn the basics of German Schnapps from expert Warren Bobrow!  Tasting includes a guided flight of 4 Schnapps accompanied delicious snacks!

Oktoberfest Schnapps Tasting

Zen and Tonic; Book Review

Zen and Tonic: savory and fresh cocktails for the enlightened drinker

Zen and Tonic is a lovely confection of a book, seemingly happily penned by the talented author, Jules Aron. The book is printed beautifully, reminiscent of Art Nouveau in appearance. Crisp and healthy is her mixology mantra, as each recipe encourages gleeful imbibing! Vibrant photography frames this carefully produced book.

Review by Warren Bobrow(@warrenbobrow1[twitter])
Zen and Tonic mech.indd

A Conversation with Author Warren Bobrow Plus Cannabis Cocktail Recipes!

We hear a lot about cannabis edibles, but what about pot potables? Warren Bobrow’s new book, Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzzworthy Libations (2016, Fairwinds) is now the definitive work on the topic. Beautifully produced and filled with lots of gorgeous full color photography, the hard cover book would make an excellent gift for all your toking and imbibing friends.

The publishers knew what they were doing when choosing Bobrow, master mixologist and creator of the popular Cocktail Whisperer blog, to tackle this topic. What follows is a collection of elegant artisanal marijuana infused drinks. Even better, Warren gives you the building blocks you will need to create your own liquid cannabis concoctions too. Not only will you learn to infuse all your favorite liquors, but also popular drink mixers like simple syrup, milk, cream, coconut cream, and maple syrup. He even teaches you how to make marijuana infused cocktail cherries!

“I tried so hard to make a difference by writing the first book on the topic,” says Bobrow. “I learned a lot while doing. I experimented on myself. It wasn’t always pretty. But I learned. I hope to change the way we do things. My drinks are delicious.”

Bobrow is a stickler for details, which in turn makes his cannabis cocktails drinkable pieces of culinary art. Quality ingredients and artisan techniques are emphasized throughout the book, right down to pairing the proper strain for each drink in order to maximize the cocktail’s full flavor potential. Bobrow is not trying to disguise the flavor of marijuana in his drinks, rather he uses it to actually enhance the flavor of his cannabis cocktails.

I recently had the chance to ask Warren Bobrow some questions about his new book and the controversial topic of Cannabis Cocktails. Here’s what he said.

Interview with Warren Bobrow, author of Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics
Cheri Sicard: What inspired you to combine cannabis and alcohol?
Warren Bobrow: I work in the liquor space, but I prefer cannabis for the feeling I get. I’m not a fan of being drunk, so I hardly drink any longer. I’ve always been fascinated by healing, in its many forms. I grew up on a biodynamic farm in NJ that belonged to my family, so folk healing was always nurtured. I always enjoyed science and found the experimentation enlightening!

Cheri Sicard:. Why does alcohol make such a good carrier for marijuana?
Warren Bobrow: Alcohol works! And it tastes good. And my cocktails absolutely rock the house!! And you do get stoned!! No bullshit cbd oil made from hemp in my drinks thank you!


Cannabis Cocktail: The Future is Uncertain and The End is Always Near

Cannabis Cocktail: The Future is Uncertain and The End is Always Near


Cheri Sicard: What advice do you have for people who are new to imbibing with the combination of both alcohol and cannabis?
Warren Bobrow: Don’t drive. Go slow.

Cheri Sicard: Do you have any special insider tips for those infusing alcohol for the first time?
Warren Bobrow: No open flame! Don’t be that person that blows up your home. I’m serious!!!!! Also, go low and slow. My recipes are geared for holistic healing. Not recreational. I don’t want to send the wrong message, nor make a play for the stoner set. That’s not my game. So healing should be the mantra. Take the Thai food principal. Start with a little spice and add more as you need it. Same thing with cannabis and alcohol.

Cannabis Cocktail: The Future is Uncertain and The End is Always Near

Cheri Sicard: Do you have any words for the critics who think one “intoxicant” is bad enough, now we are encouraging two”?
Warren Bobrow: Drugs are bad. Alcohol is bad. Breathing underwater is bad. Eating fast food is bad. Yelling fire in a crowded theater is bad. My late father, when he learned I wrote a book about cannabis cocktails disowned me. That’s bad too. More? I get angry about the liquor people vilifying cannabis and the cannabis people vilifying liquor. I not so secretly think that they should be together. And guess what? They are delicious together!

Honey Duke Relaxer – Marijuana Boba Tea

Honey Duke Relaxer – Marijuana Boba Tea


Cheri Sicard: What is your personal favorite marijuana cocktail and why?
Warren Bobrow: My favorite cocktail invokes New Orleans and it’s the Vieux Carre. I take absinthe from Lucid and infuse it with about 1/2 oz of Tangerine (a sativa strain) and mix it with Barrell Bourbon whiskey and finish it with some Peychaud’s Bitters for good gastric health. It’s served icy cold, always stirred, never shaken, with a nice slice of orange zest always cut with a paring knife, never a peeler.

Cheri Sicard:. Who is the target audience for you new book?
Warren Bobrow: People who are interested in craft cocktails and alternative ingredients like bitters and shrubs. Those who appreciate craft cocktail ingredients and handmade, delicious concoctions that offer a high level of flavor in each sip. Ages 21 and up, endgame.

Cannabis Cocktail: Honey Duke Relaxer

Cannabis Cocktail – Potato Head Blues

Cannabis Cocktail – Potato Head Blues









Cannabis Cocktail – Potato Head Blues

– See more at: Cannabis Cocktail Recipes from Warren Bobrow’s New Book Cannabis Cocktails
– See more at: – Read more at:

Mamont Vodka Kicks Off in NYC


Empire Merchants hosted Niche Import Co. for the kick-off of Mamont Vodka in New York City. International Brand Manager Tamara Mazur led the sales division through the story of Mamont as they tried the Siberian vodka. Acclaimed author and mixologist Warren Bobrow was also in attendance serving up cocktails with Mezan Rum.

Tamara Mazur led the sales division through the story of Mamont Vodka

Warren Bobrow mixed up a variety of cocktails using Mezan Rum, one of the products in the Niche spirits portfolio

Morning Cocktails With Coffee Liqueurs

Warren Bobrow

It’s never easy to drink cocktails in the morning, unless of course you are correcting your coffee on a weekend. Correcting?  What’s that all about? With the explosion of micro-roasting and micro-distilling there was bound to be a combination of the two cultures.  Hipsters and just plain folk have long combined a bit of lubrication to their morning Cuppa Joe by correcting it with hard liquor.  There is always a place in our collective memory for taking the chill off the morning, or putting courage in the heart of a sailor lashed to the wheel in a storm.

Enter the world of coffee liqueurs. These liqueurs, far removed from the corn sugar augmented, caramel colored and artificially flavored ‘science-class’ concoctions of the 70’s are serious stuff.  They show the quality of the micro-roasted coffee clearly should you choose to drink them on their own.  You might enjoy sipping coffee liqueurs in a classic cordial glass- or perhaps you are like myself- and enjoy the best; in my opinion of course- coffee roasted in NYC since 1907. That is an all-day beverage that I can wrap my fist around. Porto Rico Importing is that brand of coffee that goes in my cup.  A shameless plug, perhaps for their brand (full disclosure: they don’t give me free coffee)- but this is my go/to for flavor. 

coffee liqueursWhen researching an article on American brandy, coffee, coffee liqueur and rum- why not combine all of them in my breakfast. I mean cocktails. I am not usually confused by all this because coffee is the one beverage that goes from morning to night with ease, either hot, iced or served as a base component in my simple, yet aromatic craft cocktails.

There are many ways of using coffee liqueurs in a craft cocktail. First of all I brew the coffee.  Unflavored is my best suggestion.  If you have a coffee grinder, use it with whole beans.  I’ve found that the French Java- with its smoky overtones works best against alcohol.  Fairly priced something like nine dollars a pound, you cannot easily break the bank with this one. I’d freshly grind the coffee beans and make the coffee strong in a French Press.  Always boil your water from cold and let it rest for a few minutes (to taste) for your base ingredient.  You can cold brew it overnight for extra depth as well.  Keep hot or chill to your taste.

They know a thing or two about coffee liqueur in Hawaii and the Koloa Coffee Rum is no exception to the rule of coffee being an enjoyable beverage throughout the day.  From morning to night, this carefully crafted slurp adds more than just refreshment to their already brilliant Hawaiian rum crafted from local cane, bursting with pools of natural sugar.  Simple is the guidance that I suggest for this rum.  The coffee is already delicious- you don’t have to do too much to this rum, woven from Kauai Coffee® and pure Hawaiian Cane sugar.  I like to float it on top of my steaming cup in the morning or for a nightcap.  You can even start a long drink with the Koloa rum at the bottom.  It’s easy to look good with great ingredients!

 Bepi Tosolini, the fourth generation, Italian spirits distiller is bringing their Arabica based coffee liqueur to the USA and with it a taste of Italy.  This vanilla tinged base- woven with soft caramel notes and a long, multi-minute finish is memorable when poured over a Caffè Corretto, which is no more than steaming espresso with a shot of liqueur (or grappa) floated over the top…  Coffee on Espresso?  It’s amazing served steaming hot at the end of the meal- the last flavor on your palate before calling it a night.  Italy in your mind and your belly!

Seattle Distilling Company, located in the veritable ground-zero for hipster coffee roasting techniques- is particularly adept at weaving their brilliantly extracted, local- Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie Orca Blend.  Seattle Distilling believes in purpose, from the grain to glass approach to distilling.  I’m pretty sure that the distilled spirits direction is the perfect combination of smoke to char to roast to sweet to tangy in this mix.  All in one easy to enjoy liquid, which should be your glass.  I’ve found that the perennial favorite, the humble Mocha, built with chocolate syrup, the SDC Coffee Liqueur and salt tinged seltzer water is the Pacific Northwest version of a Manhattan Special.  In this case, this drink is certainly from another parent.

Brandy?  Where does that come in?  Are they all the uncertain varietals in pint bottles that are located next to cheap, flavored whiskey at your local package store?  Absolutely not and I ignore that segment completely.  Raising the quality bar is what is hot right now in American Brandy.  From Germain-Robin in California comes a delightful and well-priced brandy named Millard Fillmore.  Named after the former president of the USA, Mr. Filmore was certainly forgotten by history.  But just like the man- I’m just charmed by this brandy, not because it is inexpensive, but because it is made with the finesse which venerable brands like Germain-Robin brings to your glass.  Sure you can drink it straight up, but I like mine in a coffee drink.  Try adding a tablespoon or more in a float, over your favorite roast of coffee. Or splash some over some vanilla gelato and espresso.  You are in for a sophisticated treat. 

Down in Virginia, Catoctin Creek is building their Distiller’s Reserve Brandy and it’s a magnificent beast.  Brandy from Virginia you might say.  What is that?  Well the Virginia wine world is the unsung hero of the wine scene and how better to experience this terroir then by distillation.  Copper Pot Still chemistry is honed to delightful perfection drop by drop. There is a magnificent depth and softness to the distillate- rested for a time, until it is deemed ready to enjoy by the distillers.  You can make brilliant Brandy Alexander’s with this historically correct brandy.  No more than a couple splashes of dark simple syrup, some heavy cream (whipped just right) a splash of yesterday’s coffee (my way) and that delightful Catoctin Creek Brandy, shaken with ice with some freshly scraped nutmeg to finish?

Oh my!

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in your cocktails is made simple with coffee, coffee liqueurs, and brandy.  Try them, interchange them and enjoy them with moderation and responsible drinking of course!

Andrew Scrivani

Schiller's Restaurant: Photograph by Warren Bobrow

Schiller’s Restaurant: Photograph by Warren Bobrow

I met Andrew Scrivani through our mutual friends Gail Schoenberg and her husband/partner Rich Eldert.  Gail has a marvelous way connecting interesting people to people.  Part of the art of Public Relations is that genuine talent in recognizing this art.

Also at the table was Pichet Ong who is a world- renowned pastry chef.

We dined at the restaurant named the Orange Squirrel in New Jersey.

Andrew and I hit it off immediately and we discussed photography, light and food throughout our meal.  We kept in touch after our repast- something that is often difficult with highly divergent schedules and work demands.  It was almost a year until I saw Andrew again after trading some emails back and forth.

Andrew is also a freelance photographer for the New York Times.

My writing has progressed through the kindness of Joy E. Stocke, my editor at Wild River Review.  Then, a fortuitous meeting took place a couple weeks ago.  Andrew and I bumped into each other at a retail store out here in NJ.  I asked him if he would entertain a conversation about the Times, my writing and the project that will follow (just below) named the Five Questions.

Schiller's Restaurant: Photograph by Warren Bobrow

Schiller’s Restaurant: Photograph by Warren Bobrow

Andrew is a kind and generous, gentleman.  He took me out to lunch in NYC to hash out some ideas, get to know each other- and share a meal at Schiller’s on the Lower East Side.

It was here that I asked him to participate in my project for Wild River Review/Wild Table.  Without further delay, may I present Andrew Scrivani!

Andrew Scrivani: Photo Credit: Soo-Jeong Kang

Andrew Scrivani: Photo Credit: Soo-Jeong Kang

WRR: Where are you from?

I am a life long New Yorker. I grew up on the North Shore of Staten Island and have lived most of my adult life in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  Some of my family goes back 3 generations on Staten Island, proudly before the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was built and the population increased five fold.  The not-so-politically- correct moniker the bridge wore as I was growing up was “The Guinea Gang Plank”.  The only place where there are more people of Italian descent per capita in the world is Italy.

Erselia "Sadie" Milo my great-grandmother courtesy of Andrew Scrivani

Erselia “Sadie” Milo my great-grandmother courtesy of Andrew Scrivani

WRR: Who taught you to cook? Mother? Father? Grandparents?

My main influence in the kitchen was my maternal great-grandmother. She was from Cefalu, Sicily and is the person I dedicated my blog to. In smaller roles were my maternal grandmother who taught me how to bake and my mother who I learned all of the basics from. A bit later on, when I ate vegetarian, my father’s younger brother taught me a bit about eating and cooking that way.

WRR: What are your earliest memories of food?

My first kitchen memory was a traumatic one. My grandmother was baking cookies for me because I was upset that my parents had left me and went on vacation when I was about 3. I climbed up to the counter and put my entire hand on a searing hot cookie sheet. I learned a few valuable lessons there, one, that hot cookie sheets are very, very dangerous…and two, that sympathy cookies had a very powerful effect on my recovery. It was then that I started to realize how food could affect mood and memory.

Pistachio Linzer Cookies: NYT CREDIT: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

APPETITE, Pistachio Linzer Cookies, with Orange Marmalade and Orange Blossom Water, baked and styled by Andrew Scrivani NYTCREDIT: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

WRR: What do you have in your freezer right now?

Most notably, I have a large roll of pigskin that I plan to make a bresaola with and put in a big pot of my grandmother’s Sunday Sauce. I also have 3 bottles of 8 year-old Haitian Rhum Barbancourt Reserve Speciale that my friend David brings home for me whenever he visits his in-laws there.

Maraschino Cherries Photo: Andrew Scrivani

Maraschino Cherries Photo: Andrew Scrivani

WRR: Any cocktail ingredients in your fridge?  Do you cure your own cherries?

I have do have some simple syrup and a jar of maraschino cherries that I cured for a photo shoot a little while ago.

When I was a kid my great-grandmother would grow fresh basil on the side of my grandfather’s house. In the spring, I would play in the yard with my brother and the air was warm and filled with the vibrant scent of the basil. It reminds me of my grandfather, who I was named after and was extremely close to. He died when I was 13 and I think about him a lot. That smell brings me right back to that house every time.

WRR: If you could be anywhere in the world at this very moment, where would that be and why?

In the South of France. I go there in my mind so often. I have such beautiful memories of Nice and Aix en Provence with my family. The light, the smells and the sea all got into my soul. I’ve been to so many enchanting places but it’s there that I wish I could snap my fingers and be there anytime I wanted.

Family shot of Soo-Jeong Kang, Niece Daniela Sabel, Daughter Julia Scrivani in Nice, France by Andrew Scrivani

Family shot of Soo-Jeong Kang, Niece Daniela Sabel, Daughter Julia Scrivani in Nice, France by Andrew Scrivani

WRR: Social media brought us together… (thank you!!!!) Do you use a Smart Phone?  Twitter? (will need link) Facebook? (will need link) LinkedIN?  Anything you want to say about the Real Time Internet and how it’s helped your career?

I am a tech junkie. I use a smartphone, a tablet, my laptop and anything else wired or unwired to communicate with people. I blog (, I am on Twitter (@andrewscrivani), on Facebook (, Instagram and to a smaller degree Linked In. I would have to say that social media has been a definitive game changer for photographers. Gone are the days where the only way you could get an editor’s attention was to send a post card or request a meeting. Now, through all of these outlets you can not only showcase your work but also make personal connections with the people who may want to hire you. They can see more than the work, they can see a bit more of your personality. I think it has helped me greatly because I am essentially a social person and like to get to know people. Social media has provided a gateway for more actual personal interaction. It has been a great icebreaker for me.

Thank you Andrew for your enlightening comments and powerful imagery.  Cheers!  wb

Blue Hill/Stone Barns: Time Exists in Harmony with Nature

On Someone's Dining Room Table? Only if they are dining at Blue Hill/Stone Barns

On Someone’s Dining Room Table? Only if they are dining at Blue Hill/Stone Barns
Photo: Warren Bobrow

photo by Warren Bobrow

I might have been near Normandy in France the way the road opened in front of me with those stone barns set off the lane in the background. Several baby lambs ran beside my car and older sheep chewing calmly dotted the fields. It seemed everything on this farm worked in a specific meter. Each person I met was charged with a task of some kind, which they performed with a purpose, yet a smile at every turn was shared immediately and with meaning. It was a simple lesson in customer awareness, which enriched the scene.

Stone Barns, restored and in a sense re-created as they were 100 years prior in another time…. the drive through leafy forest north of here about an about an hour or a bit more, winding my way off the usual superhighway 287 route…the well beaten path of (old route) 9w through exclusive Alpine, NJ and across the Tappan Zee bridge from Morristown to Pocantico Hills.

The founder of Standard Oil built this living enterprise at one time with no cares as to how expensive or how to skimp on materials-this place for built to endure for centuries… now it is wistfully and lovingly recreated by Chef Dan Barber and team; who to my great delight was tromping across… (With several producers and video cameras in tow) a 50 or so acre-rolling field dotted with the mobile cages of the free ranging chickens. I happened to be walking the estate in the gathering mist and came upon a very animated but soft-spoken man, with time to spend teaching his craft to others… and being videotaped at the same time for some television event in the future. It was completely unscripted and he spoke using his hands for emphasis. He was classically dressed as a gentleman chef/farmer in crisply starched chef whites, white apron and euro-clogs.

photo by Warren Bobrow

I had transcended the decades and was standing about 50 yards away-not hearing his words-only seeing him point softly, calmly, in a gentle fashion at the food raised all around me. Cows patiently waited-sheep ate-goats burrowed and pigs slept the day away. Chickens slept.
Meanwhile, nearby…..

The on site abattoir takes care of the nasty business of slaughtering- but this place, known for the “farm to table” approach to the craft of food-is disguised by few windows and few doors. You cannot see what goes on within, but I cannot imagine a fresher approach to dining.

Surrounding the abattoir, free ranging bird pens were filled with ancient varieties of edible birds, geese, turkey, chickens and ducks- which existed on grasses, and vegetarian grains almost hand fed by a swarm of young, eager farm workers… surrounded by pure soil and a constant variety of free-ranging insects who wander into the cages-then are hungrily devoured by the hungry, waiting birds. This variety shown above seems to have few feathers.. I imagined an “innner zip tab” engineered by ancestors long departed into the breasts for easy removal of all feathers. Chef Barber was pointing out to some young Berkshire Pigs who were napping-blissfully unaware of the restaurant “Blue Hill Stone Barns” just beyond a quiet knoll surrounded by a small pond.

They seemed to be smiling-perhaps they dreamt of warm days in the future there on this sustainable farm, their home and not of the sum of their parts which will grace someone’s farmers feast dinner later in the season?

I continued down the road and came upon the greenhouses. Over 1/2 acre under cover with roof panels which open with the time of day.

Tonight’s salad at Blue Hill was still in the ground.

Several female college students were snacking on a salad of Mache, chervil and faro grains with goat cheese made fresh daily from the farm. A young commis cook from the restaurant was charming them with some freshly picked greens, quickly prepared and served. I wanted to photograph them, but didn’t want to disturb their sense of discovery… The fog took over and I continued back to the front door of Blue Hill. But it was locked!

To my chagrin- Blue Hill/Stone Barns are closed at Lunch, unless it is a Sunday, but this was during the week… So-I enjoyed a visit to their well-appointed cafe. It reminded me a rurally set Chez Panisse. Friendly, smiling college aged girls and guys worked the steaming, spotless espresso machine. The foods were all self-serve, Tuna in water from Italy with chervil served on whole grains with a sprinkling of garden greens, a Frittata of local ramps and farm-made goat cheese-Sweets from classic breakfast treats to more succinct, yet humorous granola made on the farm with local dried berries and nuts, fresh yoghurt, milk from local farms and farm-made goat cheese filled the refrigerator cases-carefully chosen juices and seltzers-strawberry milk, chocolate milk and grand cups of steaming lattes…
… I helped myself to a lovely egg salad sandwich-composed of the day’s fresh eggs from the farm, capers, a simple garlic mayonnaise and then gently spooned over a warm slice of open faced chibatta bread from the estate’s bakery. Although a fine mist flew in my eyes-the energy of the place warmed me deeply. I enjoyed a tall glass of Ronnybrook Farms Chocolate Milk and photographed my lunch as it sat on the long wooden tables in my mind’s eye.

There were preserves to be sampled, made freshly on the farm. I chose an Apricot Jam and a Quince Preserve. Quince is meant to be cooked with, baked into a cheesecake of goat cheese and flaky crust. Not a sweet, but a savory.

The apricot jam made me think of iced summer wines from the Basque region of Spain, the softest bubbly nose…the flavors of stone fruits, some of those roasted apricots; marcona almonds coated in sea salt and drenched in fine olive oil…. the terroir from the soil. Deep in the earth-powerful salty flavors from the fogs, which hang over the ancient vineyards, fresh anchovies caught minutes before and then grilled over hardwood and sherry wine vinegar. Olives freshly crushed until they are a soft paste with garlic and anchovy more olive oil, grey salt and rosemary from the tree over there…. served with good charred country bread.

Creativity is easy to find when surrounded by deliberate provisions.

Lunch was a feeling of contentment. All that was missing was that plate of freshly grilled Anchovies right out of the sea and a glass of Spanish Txomin from the Basque Country to wash it all down.

Paul Bocuse once said-serve great bread and everything is possible.

photo by Warren Bobrow

photo by Warren Bobrow

Greenhouses at Stone Barns

Photo: Warren Bobrow

Photo: Warren Bobrow