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Category: travel

Dill Restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland

Dill, located in Downtown Reykjavik the capital of Iceland is the first and only restaurant in the small country to receive a Michelin star. I visited before further travels into nearby Scandinavia when the realization hit me that the Michelin system is far too generous in the Nordic countries.

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Tasting Menu at Benu

Early this year I did the tasting menu at Benu in San Francisco. It seems that I’m interested in doing expensive dining less and less these days. The bar is set so high for the experience when a high price is required. However, there are a few places that I know won’t fail to amaze, that I would be happy to revisit anytime my wallet can handle it.

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2015 – The State of M.A.N

2015 was a fascinating year in a multitude of ways. The most prevalent and profound themes I found were that our social networks have become too powerful to ignore, our societies aren’t as peaceful as we’d prefer to think, and human created changes to the chemistry of the ocean (very likely all coral reefs will collapse in my lifetime) and atmosphere (something I began writing about in 2013)  have let to an acceleration of the holocene mass extinction.

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On a lighter note – I would like to share a few of my key learnings and thoughts about my year. 

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Gary Indiana – City Of The Century

Elbert H. Gary was the chairman of the board of U.S Steel is the architect of Gary Indiana, in Lake County on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Thirty miles south of the Loop of Chicago. Gary Indiana was founded in 1906, several years before Henry Ford began production of automobiles at his Highland Park Ford Plant in Detroit. Gary was an inexpensive location for a massive new steel production center, the site of rampant land speculation it was billed as, “The Magic City”, “Steel City”, and “The City of the Century.”

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The poor planning led Gary to develop burgeoning slums fueled by waves of Southern blacks and Mexican immigrants in the 1920s and 30s, with Blacks constituting as much as 20% of the population in 1930. Unskilled immigrant steelworkers flooded the city from Southern and Eastern Europe until Federal restrictions limited their settlement; Mexican’s were the encouraged heavily to settle, and as many as ten thousand called East Chicago and Gary their home by 1920.

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The Great Depression which crippled the city with it’s over reliance on industry, as well as several steel strikes, segregation, and labor problems gave Gary a national spotlight as being a troubled mixing pot. Revived by the WWII boom in steel production the city continued to grow with a dramatically changing composition. By 1950, 30% of the population identified as Black. This was around the time my Grandfather movied to Gary from Natchitoches ParishLouisiana for an opportunity to work in the Steel Mills.

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Sage at The Aria

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I used to do Vegas all wrong; I used to hang out in the casinos, walk around aimlessly, and wander in and out of the clubs. These days when I visit Sin City I only go for a couple reasons: the restaurants and the pool parties (and the opportunity to find a bathtub I can actually fit in, which is rare).

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When I heard that Chef Shawn McClain put together the menu at Sage flanked by a Master Sommelier built wine program I was certainly interested.

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One of the things I really liked about Sage was how affordable it was overall (on the fine dining level) $59 for an early evening menu and $90 for the tasting menu. Why waste your time gambling when you can eat your hard earned dollars?

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It also helps to travel with lots of pretty women – this kind of thing is actually quite common in Vegas with Sheiks rolling around with their entourages of beautiful girls. If there was a place to buy a Sheik outfit I would’ve certainly picked one up, but alas all I had was a sport coat. 

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M. Wells Steakhouse

Every so often I have an experience that just leaves an unsavory taste in my throat. As a foodie i’m supposed to have an acumen that allows me to filter and find the places that are not just wearing the emperors clothes and lacking the emperor; M. Wells Steakhouse was an experience that left me embarrassed and rather light in the pocket book.

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Everything I’d read about the M Wells was positive, a mecca for meat lovers in a hidden former auto body shop in Long Island City ( A place I had never been, nonetheless) Queens, lauded Canadian Chefs in an eye catching space. I was pumped as this was to be my final reservation on a whirlwind NYC dining trip.

Things started off well, as my companions were impressed at my navigational abilities in finding the virtually hidden space (no sign whatsoever) – we walked in the glowing and warmly lit open space with an almost cathedral like feeling. The walls have elegant wall paper and the ceilings have intricate details.

Our waiter sauntered over after a few moments too long of waiting without greeting, a large heavyset man of some age and experience he began to croon the specials in an old manner reminiscent of the steak houses of yore. My excitement began to build as he overtook the the personal space of the table with his fluid hand motions, swooping his arms through the air describing luxurious cuts of offal and head cheese. I scribbled incessantly in my notebook to keep up.

We decided, as we were probably going to be tieing quite a few drinks on this evening that we should stick with the cocktails (true to form, we ended up in a gay club in the Meatpacking district dancing to Beyonce at 3 am), though I had read the wine program was exemplary. It wasn’t hard to spot the sommelier in a smartly cut suit dashing back and forth across the room. Tragically he never stopped by, but I got a chance to hear him in action at the lovely table of two next to us.

After some deliberation he brought back a bottle of ; I’m guessing this was Malvasia di Candida, and obscure bottle from the Canary Islands grown on mostly volcanic soil. I thought this was a daring pairing for a Canadian styled steak house. He decanted the wine away from the table and brought it back in a decanter, placing it on a pedestal just to my left. I was struck by the fact that neither he, nor any server brought any stemware to the table. Ten, twenty, and thirty minutes went by as the ladies finished their nearly empty cocktails before they flagged a waiter inform that they were ready to drink the bottle. The sommelier didn’t seem all that occupied standing off to the side chatting with a server, never once did he return to the table to check on anything – it certainly seemed he was spending more time on his vertical hold hairstyle than his wine service.

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