Cancer Schmancer ! ! !

Celebrating her 7th anniversary of being cancer free, Fran Drescher recently launched a new organization/movement called Cancer Schmancer. The mission statement behind the group is to promote awareness of women's cancer issues to help them get diagnosed when they are in stage 1 and treatable. Go on to the site and have a look around to show your support! I've already ordered my t-shirt!

The Cure

I can't believe they are still hanging in there, but The Cure are back and about to release their 13th studio album. They will be playing Madison Square Garden on Sunday September 23rd. Tickets ($45-$75) for the presale go on sale tomorrow at 9am (use code BABIGSHOW) and the regular onsale is Thursday at 9am.


Food & Wine Classic In Aspen

It’s back to business after having the luxury of spending the weekend at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. I have to say this was one of the greatest, most high quality and most organized events I’ve ever been to. It was first class all the way.

My 4 day journey began with a 6am flight on Thursday morning out of La Guardia. While I was waiting to board the plane Bobby Flay walked up so I knew the show had begun. Also spotted on the flight were Best New Chef April Bloomfield and one of last years BNC’s David Chang. I arrived in Aspen at 10:30am with NO flight issues whatsoever, checked into my condo and headed straight to shopping and then lunch at D19. I decided to keep it light due to the altitude and knowing how much food I would consume throughout the weekend and went for the smoked chicken salad with blue cheese and raisins. The salad was delicious (if not a bit small and overpriced at $18) and it was great to sit outside on the patio in the sun and watch the world go by. Too bad the service was absolutely horrible!

Thursday night began with the Welcome Reception in the courtyard of The St. Regis. Much of the food consisted of various flatbreads prepared by Todd English. The setting was beautiful and the crowd happily indulged.

After the party my group headed over to Kenichi for dinner. Overall, the food there was a bit disappointing to me. The sushi rolls were short on the fish and heavy on the rice. None of the multitude of appetizers that we ordered really struck me either. I ordered a pomegranate martini that was completely unacceptable and had to switch back to Sapporo. The only really notable part of the dinner occurred mid-meal when the town of Aspen shot off an awe-inspiring fireworks display over Aspen Mountain to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Classic.

Friday morning I was up bright and early to catch Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali on Good Morning America. From there it was straight into the wine seminars. First up was “Bargain Red Burgandies” led by Mary Ewing Mulligan and her husband Ed McCarthy, authors of Wine For Dummies. To me, some of the price tags were not so “bargain”, but I sure did enjoy the 2004 Louis Jadot Pommard ($27)!

Next it was off to the first Grand Tasting, held under the tents in Wagner Park. Row after row of vintners from all over the world offered up tastes of their Jesus Juice. Honestly, I tried so many different ones I sadly can’t recommend any one specific one!

After a liquid lunch it was back to the seminars, this time sitting in on Mark Oldman's “Looks Like Red, Acts Like White”. This wine seminar was by far my favorite. Oldman was really fun and kept it fresh and easy. He started off by having us taste “Chateau Le Tay” which was really a class of tea to demonstrate tannins. Then he had us smell various items such as plums, dirt and bubblegum so that we could more easily detect these smells in the wines being served. From this batch of “pivot wines”, my favorites were the 2005 Remy Chinon ($15) and the 2004 Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Petit Ruche ($25). A unique addition to the group for sure was the 2004 Bailly-Reverdy Sancerre Rouge.

After another brief stop at the Grand Tasting Pavillion to get books signed by Giada de Laurentiis & Bobby,

it was on to the Publisher’s Anniversary Party on top of Mount Aspen. As the sun was setting the gondola decadently whisked the guests up to the lodge at the top of the mountain where a spread of king crab legs, shrimp, various organic meats and antipasti awaited. Even more exciting was the trip back down the mountain. For me, after MANY glasses of champagne, the gondola was almost transformed into a glass spaceship heading straight for the town of Apsen!

Up bright and early again for Saturday morning to hit the last of the wine seminars. This time it was “Tuscany’s Classic Trio”, again led by Mary & Ed. Most of these Chianti wines were a bit too tart and acidic for me, but of course the $85 bottle of 2000 Castelgio Condo di Frescobaldi Riserva suited me just fine though!

In the afternoon it was all about the cooking seminars. First up was “Secrets Of The French Laundry” with Thomas Keller. The only secret I was really able to make out was that a lot of the food at French Laundry is poached in special plastic baggies (and that Thomas Keller is definitely better suited in the kitchen than hosting a seminar). After yet ANOTHER quick stop at the Grand Tasting, this time to get a book signed by Emeril,

I headed off to my final seminar “Celebrating Mesa Grill” with Bobby Flay. Now this was more like it. He made his signature dish of shrimp and roasted garlic corn tamale with fresh corn and cilantro sauce as well as the ancho chile-honey glazed salmon with a spicy black bean sauce, tomatillo salsa and roasted jalapeno crema. YUM! He was a really funny and fun while remaining extremely informative, really showing why he is a master behind the camera.

Saturday night was the Best New Chefs party, held at the newly opened Doerr-Hosier Center at Aspen Meadows. VERY cool space – reminded me of a contemporary art museum. Each of the best new chefs had a station set up with a signature dish. My favorites were definitely the pappardelle with milk roasted baby goat ragu from Johnny Monis, the carmelized onion and bone marrow sandwich from Gabriel Rucker, and the guilded chocolate from Gabriel Bremer.

After the BNC party it was on to some serious partying. First up was Skybar at the Sky Hotel. The atmosphere was very Miami meets ski lodge filled with a hip no-attitude crowd. From there we headed over to Two 12, a private clubhouse for the foodie crowd. I was hesitant at first to go there due to the strict door policy (I didn’t feel like dealing with the whole velvet rope/Bungalow 8 thing) but once inside it proved to be amazing party. Everyone was there from celebrity chefs to Top Chefs to Best New Chefs.

I’ll end it there since my head hurt to much after all of that to process anything more. All I know is I’m already reserving my spot for next year!





Saturday night i had dinner at Palma withMark, KK and her b.f & mom. We sat outside in the back garden, which I will say is one of the most lovely I've seen in Manhattan (they also have a small farmhouse behind that which can be rented out for private parties).

We started with the fried calamari, crispy artichokes and rice balls - all of which were VERY good (quite possibly some of the best of these items I've had at a mid-priced Italian). For mains around the table were garganelli pasta bolognese, agnolotti pasta filled with spinach and buffalo ricotta, linguine with clams:

free range chicken roasted in a light cream lemon sauce with sautéed greenmarket vegetables:

and grilled imported sea bass with greenmarket vegetables:

Almost everyone really liked their dishes, although to me none of them were THAT notable (I defintely thought the appetizers were better). The only dislike came with the seabass which was served whole and then fileted tableside (sadly, the job of fileting was not well done and there were WAY too many bones left in to make the dish enjoyable). My only problem with this place was that to me the food was overpriced for what it was ($18 for a small plate of bolognese and $30 for the seabass seemed a bit excessive - especially for the portion size). Service was good though and the outdoor garden may have in the end made it worth it. In any case, it's definitely a romantic date spot if you're outside.

East Village Happy Hours

Friday after work I tried 3 East Village places for happy hour. First up was Bar On A. It was rather empty but with a good crowd of random East Villagers. My favorite parts were the complimentary delish snack mix and the $3 Stellas. And the bartender was a very cute and pleasant girl!

Next up was new rock-n-roll bar Angels And Kings, evidently owned by Fall Out Boy (whoever they are - the lead singer evidently dates Ashlee Simpson). Again, I really liked this place - the have PBR and a cheap happy hour as well. Luckily it wasn't too crowded but I'm sure it does at night (when the old men like me vacate for all the young'ns looking for a teenseltown sighting!).

The final stop of the night was at the new hidden speakeasy at Crif Dogs called PDT (which stands for "Please Don't Tell"). To access the bar you have to go into Crif Dogs and go into the phone booth and pick up the phone. Someone will then come to the door (which is the other side of the phone booth) and greet you. They first asked if we had reservations (which we didn't). She then took my cell number down and said she would call us when they had room (it's tiny). To their credit, we actually DID get a call about 1/2 hr later. However, once we went in it went DRAMATICALLY downhill. The drinks are TINY and WAY overpriced (who wants to pay $11 for a tiny coctail on THAT block of St. Marks!). Not to mentioned NONE of us liked what we ordered! It all sounded good but then wasn't. Also, one of the waitresses was EXTREMELY rude & stroppy (and she wasn't even waiting on us - we were at the bar and she had to run her mouth to us when she overheard that we didn't like the drinks!). The only plus is that they do actually serve the food from Crif Dogs in there (then again you could just get it to go and bring it into other bars on that strip like my friend Suz does and save yourself the trouble!). Thankfully, the bartendar was very nice and picked up our tab since he knew we hated everything. All I can say is, they better not worry about word spreading about how good it is. In our case, they should be thinking Please Don't Tell everyone you know about how much this place sucks!


Travis @ Irving

Tickets went on sale this morning (still available at posting time) for Travis July 14th & 15th at The Fillmore @ Irving Plaza (yes, they've recently renamed the place after the one in San Francisco). They will be in town supporting their new cd The Boy With No Name. I've seen this band 3 times already and each time they put on a great show. Being that they're playing a much smaller venue than usual, this one should really be a treat.

Keane @ SummerStage

Wednesday night I went with K.K. and her Honey along with The Lady to see Keane at SummerStage in Central Park. Thank god it was a gorgeous night. It only added to the fun. The good news - we arrived just before Keane came on (about 8:15pm) and didn't have to wait long for the show to start; the bad news - we arrived just before Keane came on and it was almost inpossible to see anything! Now I remember why I haven't seen a show there in 10 years (that and the fact that it takes like 1/2 hr to get a beer or go to the loo)! Anyway, luckily about 1/2 way through the show we found a decent spot. They played all the hits we wanted to hear - everything from "Somewhere Only We Know" to the finale of "Bedshaped". It made me laugh because a few times Tom Chaplin (whose voice was dead on) held out the microphone for the crowd to sing the chorus. You could barely make out what people were singing. Really, I don't think they knew what they were singing! All I kept thinking was if we were at Wembley you would've heard it loud and clear. In the end I really enjoyed the show, but I will need to see them again a little closer to stage to see more of the "performance". I'll leave you with this funny note. A girl came out of the jiffy john ahead of me and asked me to hold her beers so she could do up her pants. Then she goes to me "there's no toilet paper in there but I'm a total clean freak so I unrolled my jean cuff down and used that". Cut to the D.N.A. test . . .