>> In this town, a featured event is often only part of an evening out. To show you how attending a great event can multiply itself when you take time to poke around, here's an example.
As a birthday present to myself (March 15), I signed up for Bacchus Wines' "California Dreaming." This particular wine-tasting event also featured Alysia Reiner, the actress who played nasty Jack's fiancee in Sideways, the popular 2004 movie pairing exploitive human behavior with California wine worship. Wow!
Unfortunately, when the day arrived, my schedule was rearranged, forcing me to attend Bacchus' pre-Alysia session. This meant that I had to taste and run, but even so, I knew I was in for a good time.
Now, the logistics between Bacchus (West 70th and Broadway) and my office (51st and Lexington) are complex. What should be a short trip requires a number of subway connections. Fortunately, just 30 short blocks from my starting point there's a crosstown bus, so I decided to walk to it.
Sara - Japanese Pottery and Porcelain
During my stroll up Lexington, I noticed Sara - Japanese Pottery, a shop that imports top-line, Japanese pottery, dinnerware, and brand new, miniature, Ikabana baskets.
What better birthday surprise could I want? First, I collect antique Ikabana baskets, so Sara's front window sucked me right in. Second, to complement a Starbucks coffee pot I received as a gift, I was in the market for small, white, mug-style coffee cups that would hold just enough strong coffee to keep people alert without requiring antacid chasers.
Naoki Uemura (Now-Key Ooo-A-Mu-ah), Sara's owner, graciously showed me around, telling me about Japanese porcelain companies and their artists. (For more information on Japanese porcelain, check: www.e-yakimono.net)
When he showed me a very rare, six-mug set by Masahiro Mori of Hakusan Studio, I knew that my 30 block stroll paid off. Each three-inch high mug featured a different texture (strips, swirls, dots) with traditional handles that fit large or small hands perfectly. I bought the set without hesitation! ($150)
Ah, but shopping delayed me and then I discovered that the crosstown road was closed. . . In a panic because of my now inconvenient location, I caught a rush-hour cab which very slowly inched itself around Central Park to arrive at Bacchus Wines exactly on time.
Bacchus Wine Tasting Made Simple
Wine tasting at Bacchus feels like a townsquare party. In its case, the party is held in a 900 square foot, rectangular room decorated with a Mediterranean touch. During a tasting, the wine-cased walls are fronted with serving tables.
The first thing you'll notice when entering are stacked cases of Riedel Crystal Vinum Extreme Stems and the evening's host. Bacchus gives you a stem to use during the tasting, which is yours to keep. After several events, you amass a significant collection of extreme stems!
The second thing you'll notice is a beautiful, floor-to-ceiling painting of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine (Dionysos to the Greeks), a wine maiden, and a cloven Satyr, all creations of a California artist.
Although most guests attend with friends, at least a quarter of the them, like me, were alone. That said, I found everyone friendly, from the winery reps to those like me who were tasting in earnest.
If you want to meet new people, this type of event is a great way to do it, whether you live around New York, or are visiting. The crowd contained a relaxed mix of ages, from 20s up through 70+, dressed in office casual, classic "dress up" jeans, and traditional suits.
While most people focused on wine around the tasting tables, those refreshing their pallets with crusty bread conducted broader conversations at the snack table. (For this event, bread, cheese and olives were prepared by the Caffe La Fenice on 2014 Broadway.)
Of all the presenters, I especially enjoyed Glenn Vogt, President, Pelloneda Select Fine Wine Estates, who had me sample his select short runs. With as few as 50 bottles per batch (and no batch repeated), the tastes were so unusual that in my mind, these estate wines provided tasting experiences far beyond conventional long-runs. I recommend that when you attend a wine tasting, find out whether estate (and boutique) wines will be present.
Neighboring Bacchus is the most unusual body and bath product store in New York. With its doors wide open, you'll immediately notice a huge, old-fashioned, multi-spigot sink. Even though I did not need any more cream, curiosity about the sink washed over me.
Sabon is an Israeli-owned company featuring creams and bath products made from Dead Sea minerals. Of course, the shop smelled great (just like every cream shop in New York), but what was with the sink?
An enthusiastic clerk, speaking in slightly broken English, told me that I MUST try Sabon's Body Scrub. With that, I wet my hands and she poured mineral salt into them, telling me to scrub. When done, I was absolutely amazed at how soft my hands felt; far softer than they would by using cream alone.
Well, I was sold! I purchased Sabon's Lavender Apple Body Scrub ($30) and its related Lavender Apple Butter Cream ($25). I've since purchased other products, including their Face Polisher which contains antiseptic mint oil and pulverized minerals. Amazingly, the polisher significantly evened out my mottled skin making it a big "must have forever" on my list ($27).
Sabon has other shops, but as of this article, this location is the only one with the fabulous fountain. It's a must see and experience place.
Tom Otterness on Broadway
Obviously, I felt wonderful as I headed down Broadway to 42nd Street where I catch a New Jersey-bound bus. Clutching rare mugs, a crystal stem, and pretty, tissue-wrapped beauty products, plus feeling slightly tipsy from the tasting, I thought my night was perfect.
Not perfect enough, it turns out, because there was a little more to come. I managed to catch one of the last days of a Tom Otterness bronze statue exhibit; one I would have never seen had I not been out and about.
Tom Otterness is an internationally-known artist who lives and works in Brooklyn. Manhattan has several of his statues on public display, including tiny figures in the 14th Street subway station and two- to three-foot high "money lovers" placed around the front and back doors of the 42nd Street Hilton. (Note: I'll be doing an article on Otterness later in 2005.)
Anyway, finding an amusing-but-temporary public art exhibit was a delightful way to end my very enchanted evening!
Going out with friends, of course, increases the enjoyment of any adventure. But in New York City, if you poke around by yourself, you are bound to meet fascinating people as well as see enriching things that provide experiences that extend well beyond your expectations.
While I purchased things as I went along (I planned on buying cups and lord knows another jar of cream is always welcome), I would have had roughly the same experiences had I just sampled and looked. Don't let budget be a constraint. Make a point of going into New York City shops. Many provide retail versions of world-class museums and galleries.
Questions or comments?
~ FEATURED IN ARTICLE ~
Bacchus Wine Made Simple
Sara - Japanese Pottery and Porcelain
Sabon - Skincare Products
Tom Otterness - Bronze Sculptures
SARA, A JAPANESE POTTERY AND ACCESSORIES STORE, IS OWNED BY NAOKI UEMURA AND HIS WIFE.
BOTH OWNERS ARE DEVOTED TO THE ARTS AND REGULARLY BRING NEW ITEMS TO THEIR SHOP AS WELL AS SUPPORT GALLERIES AROUND TOWN.
952 LEXINGTON AVENUE
BETWEEN 69TH AND 70TH STREETS
NEW YORK, NY 10021
BACCHUS WINE TASTING MADE EASY IS OWNED BY LISA GROSSMAN, WHO ALSO WRITES FOR LITTLEVIEWS.
LISA WAS INSPIRED TO OPEN A SHOP OF HER OWN BY A FRIEND WHO HAS A SIMILAR SHOP IN CALIFORNIA. SHE LOVED IT SO MUCH, IN FACT, THAT SHE HIRED HER FRIEND'S MURAL ARTIST, WHOSE WORK YOU SEE HERE.
THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL AND AMUSING PAINTING. IF YOU ARE IN THE AREA (MAYBE GOING TO THE LINCOLN CENTER) STOP BY JUST TO SEE IT.
BACCHUS' EVENTS TAKE PLACE IN THREE AREAS, ALONG EACH SIDE AND DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORE.
I PARTICULARLY LIKED TALKING TO THE WINERY REPS LOCATED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORE AS THEY WERE A BIT EASIER TO GET TO. ALL AREAS, HOWEVER, WERE COMFORTABLE.
NOTICE THE EXTREME STEMWARE IN THESE PICTURES. THE GLASSES ARE YOURS TO KEEP!
GLENN VOGT (ABOVE, RIGHT) IS THE PRESIDENT OF PELLONEDA SELECT FINE WINE ESTATES. HIS COMPANY PURCHASES AND BOTTLES SMALL QUANTITIES OF CALIFORNIA BOUTIQUE WINES, SOME OF WHICH REPRESENT VERY EXPENSIVE BOTTLINGS UNDER DIFFERENT LABELS.
THE WINES HE PREVIEWED AT BACCHUS WERE HIGHLY VARIED, WITH SOME MIXES SO UNUSUAL THAT THEY DEFY DESCRIPTION.
BACCHUS WINES MADE SIMPLE
2056 BROADWAY AT 70TH STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10023
I RETURNED TO SABON ON A DIFFERENT DAY TO TAKE PHOTOS FOR THIS ARTICLE, WITH ANAT ROITBERG BEING KIND ENOUGH TO POSE FOR ME.
THE SINK IS A TRADEMARK OF SABON. ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTE! THE PICTURES I CHOSE FOR THIS ARTICLE SHOW IT OFF NICELY.
DEAD SEA MINERALS SOAKED IN OIL ARE PICKED UP WITH A LITTLE WOODEN SCOOP AND PUT IN THE PALM OF A WET HAND. SCRUB FOR ABOUT A MINUTE, THEN RINSE.
THE RESULTS ARE AMAZING. MEN'S VERY ROUGH HANDS ARE TRANSFORMED IMMEDIATELY AND WOMEN'S HANDS, EVEN THOSE WELL CARED FOR, COME OUT FEELING MEASURABLY IMPROVED.
OF ALL THE CREAMS, I LIKE THE "BUTTER" VARIETY THE BEST. THEIR FACE POLISHER, WHICH CONTAINS ANTISEPTIC MINT OIL, SIGNIFICANTLY EVENED OUT MY SKIN TONE. WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE BLOTCHY SKIN, HOWEVER, WASHING WITH IT IS NON-DRYING EVEN THOUGH IT CONTAINS MINERALS.
BTW 70TH AND 71ST STREETS
NEW YORK, NY 10023
TOM OTTERNESS PRODUCES HIGHLY REFINED, COMICAL, BRONZE SCULPTURES. SOME ARE EXTREMELY SMALL, ABOUT THE SIZE OF CHILDRENS' DOLLS, OTHERS ARE ABOUT THREE FEET HIGH, AND STILL OTHERS, GIGANTIC. KIDS LOVE TO CLIMB ON OR PET HIS WORK. ADULTS LOVE THE HUMOR.
THIS GROUPING, CALLED "TRIAL SCENE," IS OF A DOG LAWYER ADDRESSING THE JUDGE (AN OWL), WITH MEMBERS OF THE JURY LOOKING ON; ONE OF 20 INSTALLATIONS ALONG BROADWAY (THIS ONE IN A SMALL, TRIANGULAR PARK AT 72ND STREET AND BROADWAY). THE EXHIBIT CLOSED ON MARCH 18, 2005.