Anthem House: Baltimore’s Newest $100 Million Apartment Complex Opens in Locust Point

Anthem House: Baltimore’s Newest $100 Million Apartment Complex Opens in Locust Point

anthem house

Photo Credit: Anthem House

Forget what you’ve heard about Baltimore. One of the things this mid-Atlantic industrial town is best known for is its charm—miles of rowhouses, cobblestone streets and the infamous ‘hon’ you’ll hear at any eatery in town can speak to that. It’s not called “Charm City” for nothing. Anthem House, a new $100 million luxury development, is now adding itself among the reasons Baltimore has a growing reputation for cozy, yet quirky experiences.

anthem

Photo Credit: Ray Cavicchio

 

The complex is unlike any in the city thus far, offering top-of-the-line amenities and shared co-working spaces to help foster a feeling of community. There are also well a a litany of perks; a community kitchen that serves handcrafted cocktails, a heated pool with views of the harbor and an around-the-clock concierge. In the lobby, sleek, open spaces flow into the on-site restaurant and bar Amber, which offers healthy grab-and-go fare for those on the run. In addition to an acre of green space on the fourth floor (complete with a grilling station!), the building also provides residents with a 3,800 square-foot gym and wellness area. Pet lovers are also welcome; the facility offers its own dog wash station, as well as a dog run to make sure your furry friend has all their fitness needs met.

anthem

Photo Credit: Ray Cavicchio

 

Part of the inspiration for the complex came from the city of Baltimore itself. Both old and new, historic and propelling itself into the future, the city is never afraid to march to the beat of its own drum. Locust Point, the neighborhood Anthem House is located in, was a significant battleground during the Revolutionary War. In more modern times, it’s a hub for Baltimore’s up-and-comers. The area is also one of the most convenient places to live—it’s easy to get to any of the waterfront neighborhoods in the city via the nearby water taxi or the Charm City Circulator.

anthem

Photo Credit: Ray Cavicchio

 

The complex offers 292 studio, one and two-bedroom upscale apartments with modern finishes and harbor or courtyard views. Residents at Anthem House will be hard-pressed to find a need that goes unfulfilled. In addition to each apartment having its own washer and dryer, select units also provide spacious balconies where you can watch the sunset over the Harbor with friends. When you’re in Charm City, there’s more to see and do than meets the eye. Whether you’re going for a rousing volleyball game at the Sandlot or grabbing a few drinks at Brewer’s Art, Anthem House is becoming a new Baltimore staple and it’s here to stay.

The Most Luxurious Speakeasy in the World: Shangri-La Hotel Paris’s Pop-Up Krug Bar

The Most Luxurious Speakeasy in the World: Shangri-La Hotel Paris’s Pop-Up Krug Bar

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

Photos by Eric Rosen

The word speakeasy historically referred to back-alley bars serving up bootlegged booze to less-than-reputable characters. While the term has lately been appropriated by hipsters and high-class establishments alike, it still retains a patina, albeit a rather wry one, of the unsavory. However, one limited-time pop-up bar is bringing the speakeasy style to another level in Paris.

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

The Shangri-La Hotel, Paris, has launched “Le Bar à Ciel Ouvert by Krug” for the summer. This so-called bar in the sky is a short-lived partnership between two venerable luxury brands to create a one-of-a-kind experience for hotel guests and parvenus alike.

Le Bar à Ciel has been installed in one of the hotel’s large guestrooms with postcard-perfect views of the Eiffel Tower from its 30-square-meter outdoor terrace, and is open now through August 26, 2017. Its regular hours are from 6:00–11:00 p.m. (remember, it’s in a guestroom, so noise is a consideration). Try for around 8:00 p.m. so you can settle in for the sunset views. There is room for 16 guests out on the terrace and 14 guests inside, so be sure to state a preference (terrace!) when making your reservation.

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

Guests must make a reservation in advance and will be given a password to share with the front desk. Don’t worry if you forget it, though, they will also have your name down. Simply arrive at the hotel at the appointed time, stop by reception and you will be escorted up to the room in which the bar is located.

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

Then you’ll be shown to your table or to the bar. The tables on the terrace are rough-cut wooden rounds surrounded by lounge-style outdoor chairs with Krug cushions. Inside, meanwhile, is a small bar top with a few stools, some side seating areas, and standing room.

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

The menu of selections includes a plethora of Krug options including everything from a glass (55 euros) to a bottle of Krug Clos D’Ambonnay 2000 (€4,500). There are also specialty cocktails including a Bleu Carré with Johnnie Walker Blue Lable, Zacapa XO, Buckwheat Liqueur, Old Pedro Ximénes and tonka bitters (€55).

Those feeling puckish can opt for small plates and bites including center-cut smoked salmon served with blinis and condiments, a selection of hand-sliced Iberian charcuterie, and Caviar Gold selected by Maison Kaviari served with all the fixings.

Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

Though Parisians and Paris habitués both tend to roll their eyes at the Eiffel Tower, this singular vantage point and the rarefied tasting experience it includes will have you seeing the City of Light with a whole new perspective.

To make a reservation, call +33 (0)1 53 67 19 98.

See How Hennessy Produces the World’s Finest Cognac, One Bottle at a Time

See How Hennessy Produces the World’s Finest Cognac, One Bottle at a Time

Hennessy

Photos Credit: Hennessy

No other name in the spirits world has the elegance and resonance or commands the amount of respect bordering on reverence as that of Hennessy. For over 250 years the brand has stood for excellence, integrity and quality; it’s not only emblematic of the finer things in life but for many thousands of connoisseurs and casual imbibers both, it’s an essential part of it.

Hennessy

Since 1987, the brand has been a cornerstone of the LVMH luxury goods empire, and over its two-and-a-half centuries has been the favored tipple of everyone from emperors and kings to rap moguls and Wall Street tycoons. While Hennessy has of course produced some brilliant marketing campaigns over the years, these would have no real effect if the product itself were not truly exceptional and iconic, nothing less than the world’s finest luxury spirit.

Hennessy

Since its creation Hennessy’s mission has been “unique savoir faire, a constant quest for innovation, and an unwavering commitment to creation, excellence, legacy and sustainable development.” The world’s best-selling Cognac, the brand sells about 50 million bottles a year (more than 40 percent of the world’s supply of Cognac), making it the largest producer and a true international icon.

Hennessy

But even more amazing is that the Maison has managed to retain its air of exclusivity and still continues to operate in the manner of a boutique luxury brand, sacrificing nothing in spite of its astounding success. Hennessy is still produced using time-honored methods; computers do not control its creation, rather that is chiefly the job of the Maison’s Master Blender and its prestigious Tasting Committee, who bring many decades of skill and experience and taste over 10,000 eaux-de-vie each year.

Hennessy

Hennessy Master Blender Yann Fillioux, who has held the post for the past 50 years, is the seventh generation of the Fillioux family to be involved in creating Hennessy Cognacs, and will soon pass the reins to his nephew, Renaud Fillioux de Gironde, who will take up the legacy as the eighth generation. For over 200 years the Fillioux family has been associated with Maison Hennessy, as producers or as blenders of eaux-de-vie. At the early age of 19, Yann Fillioux trained at Hennessy under the tutelage of his uncle Maurice. He mastered both selecting and blending the eaux-de-vie that make up Hennessy. “Combining these Cognacs that inspire such emotions, blending them to make the ultimate Cognac that surpasses everything we know about elegance, that is great satisfaction,” Fillioux says.

Hennessy

There has never been a better time to make an excursion to Cognac itself, a pleasant train ride from Paris, to see how the legendary spirit is made. The Maison recently unveiled Les Visites Hennessy, its new visitor circuit in Cognac. This innovative new concept, the first of its kind in Cognac, features a contemporary setting within centuries old buildings, and a multi-sensory “360° vision” of the Maison’s universe including its history, know-how (savoir faire), presence, an initiation to Cognac tasting, and a stunning gift shop which is the only place in the world where every expression of the world-famous spirit can be purchased. In creating the new visitors’ center, particular attention was paid to using materials key to Cognac making, including glass, wood, and copper, tying everything in to the Maison’s impressive legacy of craftsmanship.

Hennessy

Each Hennessy visit features an itinerary made up of several stops, starting with a boat ride on the beautiful Charente River, which affords an overview of the city of Cognac which gives its name to the spirit, and its rich history. There are four categories of tours, offering increasingly immersive experiences, with prices ranging from €16 per person to €220 per person, starting with a basic visit and tasting of Hennessy V.S and V.S.O.P.

Hennessy

Then there is the Hennessy X.O Symbole, a 360-degree visit to the heart of Maison Hennessy to discover its history, know-how and particularly one of its iconic Cognacs, created in 1870, Hennessy X.O., positioned at the top of Hennessy’s core portfolio. In addition to the visitors’ center, the Hennessy Exception tour includes a visit to the Chai du Paradis or “cellar of paradise” where rare eaux-de-vie and Cognacs reside, ending with a tasting of Hennessy X.O. and Hennessy Paradis accompanied by appetizers made by David Fransoret, the Michelin-rated Chef at Hennessy’s historic Château de Bagnolet.

Hennessy

Built in 1801, and acquired by the Hennessy family 40 years later, Château de Bagnolet is like something out of a fairy tale, and no visitor will ever forget the thrill of being at the heart of the Hennessy brand. And for a truly exceptional experience there is Hennessy à la Carte, a made-to-measure program covering the Maison’s most exceptional locations and the behind-the-scenes world of Cognac-making at the iconic brand.

Hennessy

The experience includes a private tour of the vineyards where the grapes that become eaux-de-vie are grown, the magnificent Le Peu distillery built in 1962, the (well guarded) cellar where some of Hennessy’s oldest and unique eaux-de-vie, dating back to 1800 are stored, and the barrel-making workshop or cooperage which provides the casks essential for maturing the finest Cognacs, as well as a comprehensive tasting session specially designed for understanding the processes of aging and assembling eaux-de-vie.

What Makes Chardonnay a Chablis?

What Makes Chardonnay a Chablis?

Wine

Photo Credit: Wines of Chablis

The word Chablis is said to derive from two Celtic words: cab (house) and leya (near the wood). The village and surrounding wine region of Chablis is situated near Champagne, France in Bourgogne’s northern extremity between Paris and Beaune. Over 13,300 acres packed with vineyards comprises four appellations that flourish in gray marl and bands of limestone, rich in Exogyra virgula fossils (a small comma-shaped oyster) dating back 150 million years. The soil combined with a semi-continental climate far from maritime influences challenges vines with harsh winters, unpredictable springs, and hot summers yielding highly complimentary balances of sugar and acidity in the grapes.

Wine

Photo Credit: Wines of Chablis

 

It’s easy to keep the varietal of Chablis wines straight since they’re all made from the Chardonnay grape. The common adage that ‘Chablis is Chardonnay, but not every Chardonnay is Chablis’ springs from the purity and wide range of distinct aromatic variations in Chablis that can’t be derived from Chardonnay grapes grown anywhere else.

Wine

Photo Credit: Burgundy Tourism

 

The actual Village of Chablis dates back to the Roman era. Later during the 9th century, Charles the Bald commissioned a small church built at the mouth of Vaucharmes valley dedicating it to Saint Marie in commemoration of his victory in the battle of Fontenoy. Charles later came to the rescue in A.C. 867 providing refuge for Benedictine monks fleeing Vikings advancing up the Loire. They soon established vineyards supporting their mission but ultimately, the Cistercian monks built Chablis into the wine making region you see today.

Wine

Wines of Chablis

 

Fast forward to the 1500s when royal tables in Paris regularly showcased Chablis thanks to the River Yonne trade route long before railways were established. Over the ensuing centuries, setbacks like phylloxera and World War I decimating the vineyard workforce challenged Chablis’ longstanding wine making heritage. But vineyards rose to the occasion reinvigorating blighted vines by grafting phylloxera resistant root stock while the loss of workers in this case thankfully coincided with mechanization. Winemakers also learned to mitigate the hazard of spring frosts killing newly formed buds with chaufferettes (heaters) and aspersion, a technique of spraying water on vines which freezes on contact creating a protective ice cocoon.

Wine

Photo Credit: Domaine Drouhin Vaudon

 

Many vineyards today are multi-generational keeping traditional wine making approaches alive while building on the knowledge and technological advancements acquired by formal training and exposure abroad.

Domaine Drouhin Vaudon – Chablis 2015

Situated in a historic 18th-century watermill straddling the Serein River, Drouhin Domaine headquarters overlooks their 95 acre estate where Chardonnay vines have been planted for centuries. Current owner Joseph Drouhin’s father Robert was considered a pioneer in the 1960s for revitalizing Chablis vineyards when they neared complete abandonment. He implemented Double Guyot ‘Vallée de la Marne’ pruning to resist frost and decrease yield. Grapes are pressed very slowly, capturing the widest range of fruit characteristics while aging takes place in vats for seven or eight months, resulting in an easy-to-drink dry wine full of nuances.

Wine

Photo Credit: Domaine Drouhin Vaudon

 

Fresh aromas reminiscent of lemon and grapefruit buttressed by dry fruity mineral notes give it a long and pleasant finish. A sparkling chalkiness successfully cuts through grilled meats while a biting thirst quenching kick to the back of the throat is made possible by an astringency that reveals juxtaposing characteristics like tart citrus and hints of candied fruit.

Wine

Photo Credit: Domaine Denis Race

 

Domaine Denis Race – 2015 Petit Chablis

This fourth generation estate nestled in the heart of Chablis is planted with vineyard parcels ranging in age from two to 65 years totaling 44 acres. After formal training in 2005, the owners’ second daughter Claire has been working here and plans to take over the estate when the time is right. Pneumatically pressed grapes distinctly exhibit well structured honeyed citrus on the nose with astringent lemon drop limestone on the palate. A slight effervescence pervades the mouth feel with a lively heightened minerality strong enough to pair elegantly with sharp cheeses. Even Holds its own after coffee and chocolate.

Wine

Photo Credit: Domaine Vocoret Et Fils

 

Domaine Vocoret Et Fils – 2013 Chablis Premier Cru

On one of the largest domaines with over 100 acres of vines in Chablis, Vocorets have made wines for three generations still matured in large oak foudres. Michel is now responsible for managing the vineyards while brother Claude is in charge of the wine making.

Controlled alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel yields well-balanced structure and clean filtered chalkiness on the mouthfeel stabilizing on the palate with sharp lemon zest and stone fruit notes. Piercing thirst quenching attributes of tart green apple and fresh greens reluctantly yield to fruitier complexities with hints of ripe peach, cherry, and pear along with a crisp melange of spices defined by whatever dish it’s paired with.

Wine

Photo Credit: Vignoble Dampt Freres

 

Vignoble Dampt Freres Les Fourneaux – 2014 Chablis Premier Cru

Vignoble Dampt Freres represents a collaborative approach to wine making with the domaine encompassing 150 parcels in the three valleys of Yonne, Serein, and Armancon.

Vintners here have a long heritage of taking a holistic approach to grape growing embracing environmentally-friendly viticulture in a big way. Cultivating a healthy relationship between vine, soil, climate, and environment means plants become naturally resistant to pests and diseases while grapes ripen at a more even pace. Instead of weed killers, pesticides, or anti-botrytis, natural treatments like nettle and valerian root are used as natural pest deterrents.

Wine

Photo Credit: Domaine Laroche

 

This genuine approach in the vineyardssets the stage for an exceptional tasting experience. You get a crystalline hue in the glass with a hefty mouth feel uncharacteristic for a white. Yeast pokes through solid lemon with hints of pear and floral notes. Clean and crisp high minerality is tempered with luscious fruit sugars providing a yin and yang duality of sharp freshness with rich fruit nectars enriched by aging.Cuts through and complements fatty grilled lamb and other meats with aplomb.

Chef Shane Robilliard on Lobster Decadence at a Billionaire’s Resort

Chef Shane Robilliard on Lobster Decadence at a Billionaire’s Resort

Fox Harb’r

Photos Credit: Fox Harb’r Resort

Fox Harb’r resort offers sanctuary in many forms. The resort is a culinarian’s delight; situated on the eastern tip of Nova Scotia and about 90 minutes from Halifax, the area is hugged by the Northumberland Strait and Fox Harbour. Whether you decide to fly right into the property via private charter/jet plane or opt for private car service, owner Ron Joyce (co-founder of Tim Horton’s) envisioned a luxury resort that highlighted the natural beauty of Nova Scotia, his home province. From a sprawling, award-winning golf course to indulgent spa retreats and horseback riding to seaside hikes, perhaps the most alluring aspect is the world-class cuisinefound on the property.

Fox Harb’r

There are three options when at the resort: The Willard, Cape Cliff, and In-room dining. The first is in casual, laid-back digs, akin to a seafarer’s bar that includes an outdoor terrace. It’s the ideal place for a happy-hour drinks or post-golfing relaxation especially after tackling the back nine. As well, The Willard is famed for its “Flaming Hole in One Burger” that features seafood chowder, fresh oysters on an open faced beef and roast tomato sandwich topped with aged white cheddar. In-room dining offers a wealth of meal options from Nova Scotia blueberry pancakes with maple sausage, line-caught halibut, to chilled seafood platters.

But for an upscale experience, opt for Cape Cliff, which overlooks Fox Harb’r’s 18th green, and proudly boasts as Atlantic Canada’s first sustainable seafood restaurant. It is here you can indulge in lobster dishes for every meal of the day.

Fox Harb’r

The visionary behind the gourmet dining experience is Chef Shane Robilliard and his culinary brigade. He’s been with Fox Harb’r for three years so far and has built a robust culinary program from the ground up, with a focus on offering sustainable seafood, as well as a self-sustaining organic greenhouse. In fact, his menus are a reflection of the fresh fishery options in Nova Scotia—but the difference here is that all meals are sustainable so that visitors can return and enjoy the same dishes for years to come.

In an interview with Chef, he talks to JustLuxe about his gastronomic passions, working with legend Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and his future culinary projects.

JustLuxe: Was there a culinary program in place prior to you arriving at Fox Harb’r resort?

Shane Robilliard: No, but it was a fantastic opportunity to initiate these ideas and have them take-off. The primary focus was golf before, but today we’re quickly becoming one of the top food destinations in Eastern Canada.

Fox Harb’r

JL: What programming have you initiated?

SR: Here’s an overview: All our food is sourced within a 30 mile radius. We’re one of the only Ocean Wise certified partners, which is a non-profit organization out of Vancouver, Canada; it endeavors to educate people about sustainable food practices for both businesses and consumers. We have our own organic greenhouse and currently, we grow about 40% of all the produce consumed on property. Lastly, we’ve just created a vineyard and will be producing our own brand of wines early next year.

JL: You mentioned earlier that sustainability is a passion of yours. Can you elaborate on this?

SR: Alice waters is one of my food icons (I actually staged with her at Chez Panisse years ago), as well as Dan Barber. In a way, you can say I was inspired by both to initiate farming and sustainability projects on Fox Harb’r. But, we’ve got a way to go. And I’m up to the challenge. Educating people and exercising sustainable food practices overall on the East Coast hasn’t quite caught on yet — especially compared with the pace of the West Coast where practically all restaurants are Ocean Wise certified. Even though cod stocks collapsed two decades ago, all Atlantic provinces are still trying to recover. In the meantime, I’m trying to advocate for sustainable aquaculture and fishing practices. We only use Ocean Wise certified products. For instance, we use in-pond salmon and striped bass; all our halibut is line-caught, and we produce/raise our own trout on the property.

Fox Harb’r

JL: Does farm-raised salmon and other types of fish taste different than those caught in the wild? What about the pens themselves? Do they affect the natural environment in any way?

SR: Ocean Wise was started by the Vancouver Aquarium and so they put a lot of R&D into cultivating and promoting sustainable practices—this includes the “tanks” which are surrounded by rock quarries and always filter in fresh water. It is therefore self-contained and will not negatively impact the natural environment. As well, since the fish are not just lazing about in these pens, the force-flow of water (along with organic and nutrient-dense feed) creates the same conditions of that of the wild—so as a result you get a product, that is in my opinion, far more flavorful than wild- caught salmon, for instance.

JL: Where else do you source ingredients?

SR: As locally as possible. Our jumbo scallops and oysters are from nearby Malagash, our maple syrup comes from Earltown, and chickens from Holdanca Farms in Wallace. I’ll also make a weekly visit to Truro Farmers’ Market to buy fresh produce we’re not growing (yet) in our organic greenhouse.

Fox Harb’r

JL: You’re working with an on-site horticulturist for your greenhouse initiatives?

SR: Yes, it’s incredibly satisfying to use ingredients literally from our own backyard. I work with Michael Stewart who has grown me (in this year alone) 6 tons of head lettuce, three tons of tomatoes, and 1.5 tons of peppers. We’re always expanding the types of produce he grows for the property and it includes cucumbers, herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano, dill, coriander), zucchini, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, and green beans. So far, about 40 percent of all the vegetation eaten is supplied by our greenhouse.

JL: That is exciting. Also, it has been said that you’re raising the profile of the property with a culinary series?

SR: Yes, we’re bolstering the overall culinary “foodie” experience by hosting and collaborating with numerous celebrity chefs. Since we began three years ago, we’ve hosted Chefs Lynn Crawford and Massimo Capra. Next year, we’ll be hosting another Canadian top chef, Vikram Vij. As well, we’ve been involved with the Devour Food Film Festival and its culinary program. And of course, we’re known for our famous lobster boils and feasts… it’s something that guests never want to miss out on.

Fox Harb’r

JL: With Canada offering a wealth of multicultural tastes, how would you describe your cooking style?

SR: I like to cook Italian a lot; I enjoy fresh, clean flavors, but most importantly, to not mess around too much with quality ingredients—my aim is to enhance already delicious produce from our sea. I love to work with seafood, as you can tell. It’s so versatile and it’s probably why I ensure that you can order it any time of day! This is probably the ultimate in experiencing Nova Scotia luxury: tucking into a gigantic lobster drizzled with sweet drawn butter.

JL: What does the future hold for you and Fox Harb’r?

SR: We’re hoping to open an intimate inn: about a 50-seater for more experimental and avant-garde cuisine. Also our Operations Manager, Peter Phillips, is overseeing our vineyard growth and production. Once we produce our own wines, we are hoping to have a food and drink pairing series. Currently, we spotlight great wines from our province, including from the nearby Jost Vineyards.

Once our vineyard is fully operational, we’re probably going to open a food shack right on the shoreline and build a gazebo so people can host events and weddings; it’s all to help spread the word about our hidden gem.

Catching up with Blue Ribbon Restaurants’ Bromberg Brothers

Catching up with Blue Ribbon Restaurants’ Bromberg Brothers

Bruce & Eric Bromberg

Bruce & Eric Bromberg, Photo Credit: Blue Ribbon Restaurants

Bruce and Eric Bromberg of Blue Ribbon Restaurants have been pioneering forces in the culinary industry thanks to their no nonsense menus incorporating contrasting flavors and experiences across their Blue Ribbon portfolio. The Jersey natives carved their foothold in the industry with personal twists on old favorites, infusing tried and true comfort food into upscale settings.

Beginning with Blue Ribbon Brasserie in 1992, the Brombergs have since introduced more than 15 distinct venues into the restaurant group’s repertoire, reaching far past the confines of the Tri-state area. After recently opening a fifth Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill in Miami this year, and with new projects in Las Vegas and New York currently in the works, it’s clear that the Bromberg Bros have no plans of slowing down. We caught up with Bruce and Eric to get their two cents on Blue Ribbon’s past, present and the bright (blue) road ahead.

 

How did you get started in the food industry, and how did Blue Ribbon Restaurants come about?

We come from a family where food was omnipresent. Every trip, every weekend was focused on eating, so that really jumpstarted the whole process. We started cooking together as kids and love working together. We always knew we wanted to make something together, and food seemed like the natural choice. For Eric’s 13th birthday, he got a Benihana Wok—complete with Chef’s coat and knife and holster— which was sort of a catalyst for things to come. We both ended up in Paris for culinary school and it really was full speed ahead from there. In terms of Brasserie, we really just gathered a team of 14 dedicated cooks, waiters and dishwashers (many of whom still work side- by- side with us today 25 years later) and opened a 48-seat neighborhood eatery. We had no preconceived notions of what we were making. It was just another great project that we could work on together.

Bone Marrow & Oxtail Marmalade

Bone Marrow & Oxtail Marmalade, Credit: Blue Ribbon Restaurants

 

JustLuxe: You began with the original Blue Ribbon in 1992, how has your portfolio expanded in cuisine?

Bruce & Eric Bromberg: With the originally Blue Ribbon, Brasserie, in particular, we weren’t making a French restaurant; we weren’t making a Spanish restaurant. We weren’t making a fancy restaurant, or even an “American joint.” We just wanted it to be a good place to eat and drink with friends, and a place that was fun to work at as well. We set out to change all preconceived notions of what a restaurant was and had to be. Since then, we’ve really aimed to diversify, and at this stage, we really feel that each of our now 19 Blue Ribbon Restaurants offers its own unique and authentic dining experience inspired by its surroundings. They range in scope from eclectic brasseries, a wine bar, a Japanese beer garden, casual fried chicken spots, the Brooklyn Bowls and, through our partnership with Sushi Master Toshi Ueki, six unique Blue Ribbon Sushi restaurants.

Seafood Platter

Seafood Platter, Credit: Blue Ribbon Restaurants

 

JL: From where do you draw culinary inspiration?

B&E: Largely from our dad, I would say, and our collective travels growing up. We’re from rural Morristown, New Jersey, about 45 minutes from food- crazy New York City. We didn’t rely solely on frequent trips to SoHo wine bars, Chinatown dumpling houses or even Little Italy’s semi- authentic eateries for inspiration, but also our father’s obsession with everything that is food. Weekends, bed time stories, road trips to summer camp and every vacation the Bromberg family ever contemplated were all guided by one thing only, and that was the search for the perfect meal. The night before we opened Brasserie in 1992, Bruce and I sat down in the dining room and wrote down every dish we could think of that we loved as kids. The only common thread is that we love to cook and eat each and every dish. That was really different then. A restaurant without a specified cuisine. When people asked what kind of restaurant Blue Ribbon was we said ‘A good restaurant.’

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill Miami

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill Miami, Credit: Steve Hill & Blue Ribbon Restaurants

 

JL: Why the dive into sushi? And how did you make that transition so successfully?

B&E: Bruce and I have been obsessed with sushi ever since we lived in Paris, and have worked with some Japanese chefs who have taken us to experience the absolute best places offering sushi and Japanese cuisine. In 1994, we met a master sushi chef named Toshi Ueki, who eventually became a close friend, mentor and partner. We opened Blue Ribbon Sushi with him in 1995 and never looked back. Our love for has just kept growing, as has our number of sushi concepts!

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken, Credit: Blue Ribbon Restaurants

 

JL: The Blue Ribbon fried chicken is definitely a fan favorite, with its unique matzo meal breading. Why the choice to use such a unique breading?

B&E: It sure is! I don’t know that I would call it a “mistake” in hindsight, maybe happenstance…but let’s just say it was an experiment gone right.

JL: What kind of experience do you want for guests when they come into one of your restaurants?

B&E: We want people to feel welcome, and feel comfortable. We’ve always approached every aspect of our restaurants, from the décor to the menu to the staff, with the philosophy of “something for everyone.”

Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Ball Soup, Credit: Blue Ribbon Restaurants

 

JL: What new projects and restaurants are you currently working on?

B&E: In June, we opened a new concept at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas that was inspired by our original Blue Ribbon Brasserie in SoHo, NYC and just recently also opened a new location of Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken on the iconic Las Vegas Strip in the Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s. As a matter of fact, we do have some new projects coming up as well. We have a new Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar location opening up on the Concourse Level of Rockefeller Plaza later this summer, as well as another Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken coming up in NYC, but nothing more to share on that one quite yet.

The 2018 Audi A5 Sportback: A Stunning $60,000 Luxury Car For Only $42,000

The 2018 Audi A5 Sportback: A Stunning $60,000 Luxury Car For Only $42,000

Audi

Photos Credit: Audi

We’ve always been attracted to fastback car designs–sexier than a sedan, not as clunky as a station wagon, the best of both automotive universes. The Audi A7 is one of the top entrants, and now the German automaker has introduced a baby brother of sorts with the new 2018 Audi A5 Sportback, a stunning package of style, design, practicality, performance and reasonable pricing that’s going to give the competition plenty of sleepless nights.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback

Photo Credit: Audi

 

An athletic new edition to the marque’s popular A5 range, it combines beautiful styling and precise, balanced handling with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 252 horsepower. With Audi’s renowned Quattro all-wheel drive system as standard equipment, 35 cubic feet of cargo space with the back seats folded down, and a starting sticker of just $42,600, they just may not be able to make them fast enough to meet demand.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback

Photo Credit: Audi

 

Graceful and nimble, longer and more elegant than the A5 coupe and able to comfortably seat five thanks to an extended sloping roofline and stretched wheelbase, the A5 Sportback is the work of Frank Lamberty, Audi’s brilliant head of exterior design, who also created the brand’s R8 supercar, one of the coolest cars on the road today.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback

Photo Credit: Audi

 

Audi seems intent on delivering the best value for money in its class, and the A5 Sportback is a solid shot across the bows of rivals BMW and Mercedes. Audi’s iconic understated elegance has long rendered it too sober for some while appealing to plenty of others who don’t want or feel the need for rivals’ flashier badges. The brand’s prestige has been steadily rising however thanks to the likes of the A7 and R8, movie placements and motorsport victories, and while it’s still a quieter level of luxury those who seek some measure of status need not worry their message won’t be heard.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback

Photo Credit: Audi

 

The A5 comes in three trim levels: Premium at the base price of $42,600, Premium Plus starting at $45,600, and Prestige starting at $50,200. A sportier version, the S5 Sportback, starts at $54,400, and delivers 354 horsepower with an eye-opening, class-leading 0-60 mph time of only 4.5 seconds, another very attractive proposition.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback

Photo Credit: Audi

 

The tech is truly ahead of the pack with the amazing new 12.3” Audi virtual cockpit system available with the Prestige package, which also gets you a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system among other bells and whistles. The virtual cockpit is futuristic and fully customizable, allowing you to select various configurations of navigation and audio displays and controls, including Google Earth. Spread out over the entire main screen as well as the driver’s instrument cluster it’s above and beyond anything you’ve ever experienced before. The driver assistance systems are also second to none.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback

Photo Credit: Audi

 

We tested out the A5 Sportback in and around Seattle, along some of the same scenic roads featured in the original Twin Peaks, and found it a pure pleasure to drive. The sportback truly shows its versatility in accommodating both urban and rural settings, where you rely on some of its features for daily driving but then need practical transport for getting out of town on weekends. The Pacific Northwest will no doubt be a key market for this alluring new car but we see it being equally popular with New Yorkers who head upstate whenever they can.

Thompson Hotel Seattle

Photo Credit: Thompson Hotels

 

Our home base for the test drive was the new Thompson Seattle, the city’s coolest hotel and home to a top-notch rooftop bar, the perfect perch for unwinding at the day’s end. We were sorely tempted to load up the A5 Sportback’s capacious cargo space with the incredible delicacies on offer at the nearby Pike’s Place Market and simply head for the East Coast. Which we highly recommend doing once you’ve placed your order for this much-needed addition to the automotive world.

6 Gorgeous U.K. Wedding Venues From Film And Television

6 Gorgeous U.K. Wedding Venues From Film And Television

The U.K. is one of the most historically rich destinations in the world, from the castles of Scotland to the iconic country estates dotted around the English countryside, each with their own fascinating story to tell and plethora of famous ex-residents. So varied and culturally significant are these buildings that visitors from all over the globe frequently visit the UK simply to tour some of these stunning locations, from commercial ventures like Warwick Castle through to tourist hotspots like the Tower Of London.

Commonly, some of the most popular destinations are those that make regular appearances in film and television, particularly in popular series such as Harry Potter or Downton Abbey. But did you know that you can actually get married in many of them? Fancy getting hitched in the castle from Downton Abbey? Or the London mansion from Notting Hill? How about the hall from Pride and Prejudice? To help you make your decision, here are six of the most iconic wedding venues from film and TV:

Highclere Castle

Photo Credit: Dutourdumonde Photography / Shutterstock

 

1. Highclere Castle

Located in Highclere Park in Newbury, Berkshire, Highclere Castle is one of the UK’s most instantly recognizable buildings, due in no small part to the prominent role it plays in the ever popular Downton Abbey. Fully licensed for civil ceremonies, the entire castle can be booked for your wedding day, allowing you to take advantage not only of the stunning building but also the in-house catering team and beautiful gardens, located on 5,000 acres of glorious British countryside.

Chatsworth House

Photo Credit: Jason Batterham / Shutterstock.com

 

2. Chatsworth House

Located in Bakewell, Derbyshire, Chatsworth House is frequently voted the U.K.’s favourite country house, and it’s easy to see why. It’s been featured in scores of films, T.V. shows and books, but it’s perhaps most famous for appearing in Pride & Prejudice (both the book and the 2005 cinematic release). A stunning and iconic building, Chatsworth House is home to The Painted Hall, which is fully licensed for civil ceremonies and civil partnerships. As with Highclere, you can enjoy the stunning gardens and talented in-house catering team, as well as the huge collection of famous artwork housed throughout the building.

Durham Castle

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

 

3. Durham Castle

This one is for the Harry Potter fans, as Durham Castle has played a prominent role in the films. This world-famous Norman castle is located in Durham (surprisingly), and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fully licensed for weddings with a range of different venues and locations available, couples can enjoy their wedding day in the historic Grade I Listed castle and take advantage of full in-house caterers, three-course wedding breakfasts and overnight stays for themselves and their guests.

Old Royal Naval College

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

 

4. Old Royal Naval College

The center piece of Maritime Greenwhich, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has often been referred to as the most popular filming location the world. Located in London, this stunning architectural masterpiece has featured in the likes of Les Miserables, Cinderalla, Skyfall, Pirates of the Carribbeanand Four Weddings and a Funeral (as well as scores of others). An absolutely phenomenal location for any wedding, couples can choose to get married in the Painted Hall, or—for smaller affairs—in the Admiral’s House.

Somerset House

Photo Credit: Botond Horvath / Shutterstock.com

 

5. Somerset House

Another of London’s most iconic buildings, Somerset House is located on The Strand, where it enjoys beautiful views of the River Thames. It has featured in numerous films over the years, most notably Goldeneye, Sleepy Hollow and the memorable opening scenes of Love Actually. Fully licensed for wedding ceremonies, couples can take their pick of numerous rooms and wings, ranging in capacity from 80 people right up to 1,500.

Kenwood House

Photo Credit: Eugene Regis / Shutterstock.com

 

6. Kenwood House

Another London venue, Kenwood House is located in the heart of Hamsptead. A stunning mansion that’s an English Heritage site, Kenwood House has been featuring in Notting Hill, Mansfield Park and in Zadie Smith’s hugely popular novel Swing Time. As a wedding venue, ceremonies take place in the Orangery, with receptions housed in the beautiful Old Kitchen or outside in the Flower Garden.

Satellite Headphones Aim to be the High Def Personal Audio System You Have to Have

Blue Microphones, Satellite

Photos Credit: Blue Microphones

Blue Microphonelatest product, Satellite, features a cutting-edge tech, high-quality audiophile experience that syncs wirelessly with your phone, to function as a “personal audio system.” Having a conversation has never sounded so good, becuase now you can do it in high def, with comfy headphones.

Satellite, Blue Microphones

According to John Maier, CEO of Blue, “Traditional noise-cancelling headphones use one pair of drivers for both audio and ANC, which compromises sound quality. Satellite uses separate, dedicated ANC drivers so that our dedicated audio drivers and audiophile amp can deliver high-fidelity sound for no-compromise wireless listening.” One can see the mesh for the face of two separate speakers in each ear of the headphones, and can appreciate the design even more after listening to some good tunes. I personally had the opportunity to compare Satellite with my current studio headphones, and the difference is night and day, with Satellite delivering on the hype.

Blue Microphones, Satellite

The ear pads of Satellite form a cup around each ear to effectively eliminate noise, and they delivers on silencing unwanted exterior distractions. Once in the headphone zone, they will pair wirelessly to your computer or phone to connect to the grid. With the built-in microphone, you can spend hours enjoying phone calls and music. The battery life provides 24 hours between charges, or up to eight hours of amplified sound and active noise-cancelling drivers. Coming from heritage of sound appreciation and engineering, I consider the Satellite to be a must-try if high-quality audio is a priority for you.

Pushing the 2017 Cadillac XT5 Luxury Crossover to the Limits in Death Valley

Pushing the 2017 Cadillac XT5 Luxury Crossover to the Limits in Death Valley

Cadillac XT5

Photo Credit: Cadillac

There are certain things that are to be expected with a Cadillac SUV: interior detailing and state-of-the-art technology, a quiet cabin and stellar sound system, and of course, ease of drivability. After all, there is a reason why the brand is still synonymous with a certain type of easy luxury. But considering Cadillac has been steadily trying to rebrand its new and upcoming fleets as vehicles not solely for our grandparents, I wanted to know how the 2017 Cadillac XT5 luxury crossover SUV actually fares once you leave that Costco parking lot for somewhere a little more rugged. So naturally, I took it off-roading throughout the deserts of Southern California to find its limit. Turns out, its limit is in the Alabama Hills and Death Valley.

Cadillac XT5

Photo Credit: Cadillac

 

The crossover SUV packs a lot of promise within its lightweight chassis, including all-wheel drive and sport configurations, and a punchy V6 with a 24-valve and direct-injected powerplant that offers 310 horsepower at 6600 rpm and 271 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm. Not to mention the high-tech Cadillac Cue system that includes an integrated wireless smartphone charger and 4G wireless connectivity with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. In terms of the bells and whistles, it’s pretty much the same as the Cadillac 2017 CT6 Sedan. Specifically, I drove the 3.6L Platinum model, which starts at $62,895 and boasts everything the Premium Luxury Plus model has, plus features like a micro suede headliner and semi-aniline full leather seats, a hands-free liftgate, and an advanced Security Package with an interior movement sensor.

Cadillac XT5

Photo Credit: Cadillac

 

My first handful of destinations were deliberately tame. I first drove out to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park via the twisty Montezuma Road, looped around Salton Sea to Bombay Beach, stopped off at Salvation Mountain and then took highway 78 back up through the mountains to eat some much-deserved pie in Julian. This route proved successful for the 2017 Cadillac XT5, which is the marque’s replacement of its second-generation SRX and is almost 280 pounds lighter than its predecessor. The SUV handled the curvy mountain roads pretty well and it feels effortless to drive when all you need is basic power. The interior is spacious and incredibly comfortable, which makes it a great choice for quick jaunts around town and for long road trips. With incredibly soft leather and an easy-to-navigate infotainment system, the XT5 definitely sits pretty in the luxury segment. There are also a few design elements that I loved, such as the wireless charging slot, which is under the center console compartment lid. The slot allows the phone to be tucked out of the way, while also enabling charging cords to pass through the slot to plug into the dual USB port within the compartment.

Cadillac XT5

Photo Credit: Cadillac

 

Despite its comfort level, there are details that began to grate on my nerves at this point and those include its stop/start technology that kicks in whenever you stop at a red light. While it does save on fuel, it also results in the car being a little sluggish from the starting gate. If you had the ability to switch this feature off, that would be ideal. The shifter also began irritating me, as no matter how much time I spent with it, I never seemed to get the hang of it. With the need to push a button as you shift—when moving into reverse, it requires a push forward and then a shift to the left—it’s pretty awkward and even after having the car for nearly a month, it still didn’t feel natural.

Cadillac XT5

Photo Credit: Mila Pantovich

 

The next handful of destinations proved to be a little much for the XT5. My first goal was to wake up with dawn in the middle of Alabama Hills. To do that, I chose to fold the rear seats down flat so I could spread out camping pads and sleep in the back of the car. The idea seemed much better than it turned out being, since as roomy as the cargo hold is, turns out that it isn’t roomy enough for two people—especially when one of them is a 6-foot Australian. Oh and that interior movement sensor I mentioned? Turns out, it really doesn’t like when people are in the car after you lock it. Thankfully we were in the middle of nowhere when the alarm rang out…several times. Of course, Cadillac probably never intended for people to sleep in the back, so that’s entirely on me and my romanticized notions of staring up at the stars through the panoramic sunroof.

Cadillac XT5

Photo Credit: Mila Pantovich

 

The endless bumpy dirt roads throughout Alabama Hills certainly posed a challenge to the XT5, since its all-wheel drive offering didn’t help it at all and its safety systems had no idea how to handle rocks and bushes. The poor Caddy basically alerted me to every single thing, even auto braking several times when I got too close to a shrub when backing up. And even after disabling traction control, it was as if the car was still being overly cautious and never allowed me full control.

Cadillac XT5

Photo Credit: Cadillac

 

The XT5’s cautious nature also comes into play when you push the engine to its max, resulting in a disconnect between you and the machine. There is noticeable hesitation in the gas pedal when you press down and the shift from low speed to high speed lags before jolting. This was made the most obvious when driving the steep switchbacks up Mount Whitney after Alabama Hills and again when heading into Death Valley straight after.

Cadillac XT5

Photo Credit: Cadillac

 

It did fare far better on the well-maintained roads throughout Death Valley though, where it is prohibited to drive off marked roads. To be honest, the XT5 became my best friend at this point. With the temperature reaching 130°F by the time I reached Badwater Basin, I utilized the car’s remote start feature every single time I made it back from whatever short jaunt I endured in the stifling, dry heat. There is nothing better than climbing back into a cool car after huffing along Dante’s View. And those seat coolers….

Cadillac XT5

Photo Credit: Mila Pantovich

 

In the end, I really enjoyed my time with the XT5, but ultimately realized that it wasn’t for me. I loved driving it throughout San Diego as I went about my day-to-day life, but it didn’t exactly handle desert drifting all that well. If I’m going to go with an SUV, I want it to be able to handle any weekend adventure that I throw its way. Obviously Cadillac has designed the XT5 for people who do most of their driving in an urban environment and are maybe just looking for enough pep to merge onto freeways, but if a brand is trying to appeal to a younger, affluent market nowadays, the car needs to be able to satisfy on several different fronts.