1) Drink More Good Root Beer at Gleason’s I’ve become obsessed with sodas lately—probably because I was denied them as a child (“They’ll rot your teeth”), and drinking soda as an adult still feels a little naughty. I’m not a huge fan of Coke and Pepsi, so I like that there has been a backlash against their tyranny behind Westchester bars. Places like Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Restaurant North, and Gleason’s are using quirky, locally produced sodas instead of huge, characterless, international brands. At Gleason’s, Drink More Good root beer is a very “rooty” root beer. It’s got a haunting fragrance and elusive herbal note that comes from organic American sarsaparilla.
2) Chicken Liver Parfait at Peekskill Brewery It’s a parfait of organ meats (and a filter food!), which I find just charming. You dig into the ultra-light yet buttery parfait with a pretty little knife and spread it on toast points like it’s the most refined thing in the world. The dish comes with onion jam, red wine gelée, and hazelnuts.
3) Nonino Barrel Aged Grappa at Stephen Paul Mancini’s suggestion A recent trip to Italy had me tweeting Stephen Paul Mancini of Restaurant North. If I were to struggle carrying home a few bottles of barrel-aged grappas (they’re a passion of mine that are nearly impossible to get on these shores), which one would he choose? Ever-sage Mancini’s pick, Nonino barrique aged grappa, clanked all the way home with us. We cracked it open, and it tasted like a Scottish man and an Italian woman met and fell in love.
4) Kouign Amann smuggled by my dear sister My sister’s work frequently takes her to Paris, and, just like me, she is forever stuffing her bags with delicious treats. I’m more of a culatello/grappa smuggler, whereas she’s all about salami and pastry. Anyway, she blew into town with a fresh Parisian kouign-amann. This is kind of like a large, flat croissant, but even more lavishly buttery, and gritty with caramelized sugar on the bottom and top. We ate it for breakfast and then all fell into sugar comas.
5) Heady Topper from Alchemist Brewery A restaurant owner that I know attended a birthday party for another restaurant owner that I know. I need to be circumspect here because Heady Topper is hard to get, and, apparently, its allocation involves a certain level of skullduggery. I won’t say how restaurateur #1 got it and brought it to restaurateur #2’s party, but I will say that I understand some of the hype behind this beer. First, it’s a double IPA and packs a serious wallop at 8 percent ABV. Plus, it offers a delicious balance of grapefruit and caramel with a whisper of pine. I took a sip and passed it to someone who would appreciate it—my husband.