October is my favorite month, not only because it is my birthday month (and Juliane’s- I need to throw that in), but it is often the best time to get out and enjoy nature before heading into the cold days of winter. As you receive this newsletter, Juliane and I will soon be flying off to Europe for a few weeks (maybe to scout out a future trip for TSG), so please try to reach me via email or if you call me, keep in mind that we might be in a pub in Munich  with a 6-hour time difference. We will be back October 2nd. Also keep in mind not to send a check for any of the events without also letting me know via voice mail that you are joining that event. I will check voice mail. Finally, Cuba still has 2 rooms left, so please let us know ASAP if interested in this trip.

September continues this Wednesday, September 14th at BISTRO VENDOME. This gem tucked away on the East Side in a beautiful townhouse is a favorite amongst our members who belong to a French Group which dines here all the time. If they choose to dine here often, then we know it is great. The following Saturday, September 17th, we head to STELLA 34. Don’t let “inside Macy’s” scare you, this is a top rated 4-star YELP, Zagat and Michelin Guide recommended restaurant. You do not even have to enter Macy’s, just look for Stella 34 on the corner of 35th and Broadway and enter through the doorway, the elevators to the restaurant are on the right. Our wine and cheese pairing on Friday, September 23rd is now SOLD OUT. If you RSVP’d already you are paid and expected. Just ask for Eric when you arrive, he is the owner and is running the wine tasting.

Our October dates starts off with a recently launched Inter-borough History Walking Tour. Ben our favorite tour guide for our past food tours (Flatiron and Williamsburg) has put together an incredible tour of 2 boroughs. We start off touring Grand Central, then take the 7-train to LIC and tour that neighborhood and then we ferry down to Wall Street and learn even more history. This is a non-meal event. Ben is such a passionate and knowledgeable tour guide that when he told me he put together this tour, I knew it would be great. On Wednesday, October 5th ,we head downtown to Roni- Sue’s Chocolate Making Class. Rhonda Kave who is well known in the chocolate world, will teach us how to make chocolate truffles and ganache while cleansing our palates with champagne. If you love chocolate, raise your hands and join us for this event. That following Saturday, October 8th, join us at the very popular and successful SUTTON IN. Chef Scott Grewe is a rising superstar in the culinary world and his restaurant is highly recommended by many members who insists we had to dine here! The following weekend, Sunday Oct 16th, we attend a flamenco dance and Brazilian music brunch at the Highline Ballroom. We keep doing brunch events here because it is always a great show. World renown Brazilian artist Barbara Martinez leads this amazing show and she has been in the flamenco scene for decades. That Wednesday, October 19th we return to one of our all-time favorite places, SHUN LEE PALACE. This is the east side location where we dined last year enjoying their incredible Beijing duck. If you have never been to Shun Lee, you have no idea what the best of the best taste likes. The following Sunday, October 23rd, we head to an old-style classic Italian/Croatian in midtown, VILLA BERULIA. New York Magazine says, “You may not find a wise guy in the joint, but you get the feeling Tony Soprano would approve… A gratifying mix of mafioso camaraderie and hearty Northern Italian fare attracts a casual, over-45 crowd to this Midtown throwback.” Finally, on Halloween, join us for our traditional French Halloween celebration at Café Centro. What better way to avoid giving out candy to a bunch of costumed kids than to join us for some delicious French food? That alone is a scary thought to me. I will be in costume, but if it is like last year, I will be one of the few. Costumes optional!

The following September events are still available for Single Gourmet Members and their guests:
1. Bistro Vendôme – 405 East 58th Street (East of 1st Ave), Wednesday, September 14th, 5:30pm optional drinks; 6:15pm dinner $69- 3-course, glass wine, coffee, tax, tip
2. Stella 34- Patina Group- 151 W 35th 6th floor of Macy’s (elevator 35th), Saturday, September 17th. 7:00pm optional drinks, 8:00pm dinner, $83- 3-course, glass of wine, coffee/soda,tax & tip
3. Le Grand Triage- Wine and Cheese Event- 1657 First Avenue (86th/87th), Friday, September 23rd- 7:30 SHARP- 917-475-1212 (store number)- $55- wine and cheese pairing. SOLD OUT

The following October events are available for Single Gourmet Members and their guests:

Inter Borough Walking Tour
Grand Central to LIC to Wall Street
Saturday, October 1st @ 10:15am (starts 10:30am)
Meet Ben @ Northwest corner of Park and 40th
3.5 hour history walking and ferry tour
$40 NOT including- $6 ferry or metrocard

Ben, our EXCELLENT food tour guide for all our Flatiron and Williamsburg walking tours has created this 3+hour walking history tour. This tour will be in depth and take you from the Beaux Arts glamor of Grand Central Terminal to the quaint sophistication of the upcoming Queens neighborhood of Long Island City. You will then be whisked down the East River on a ferry boat, past sweeping vistas of the Manhattan skyline to Wall Street where this 3+ hour tour continues. This is an in depth tour, months in the making. Look for Ben holding the Interboro Tours Sign on the corner of 40th and Park. I will be in Berlin and will NOT be on the tour with you, but Ben has run 5 tours with us and is professional and an amazing tour guide. IF sending a check, please call me to let me know! He will he holding a sign at the location @ 10:30am.

Roni- Sue’s Chocolate Making Class
148 Forsyth Street
(2 blocks South of Houston between 1st /2nd)
2.5 blocks from JZFBD, M21, M15,M103,B39,
Wednesday, October 5th 6:30-8:30pm
$75- Truffle Making Workshop w/ Champagne

Rhonda Kave, a member of Les Dames d’ Escoffier, has been making chocolates for over twenty-five years and after being taught by master chocolatier Jean-Pierre Wybauw and visiting the cocoa farmers in Belize, she opened Roni-Sue’s in October 2007. We begin this make-and-take class with a guided bean-to-bar chocolate tasting and learnng class, diving deep into our favorite subject. We’ll geek out as much as you like about the magic bean! And of course, you will have some bubbly as a palate cleanser in between the chocolates! Next we get into the kitchen hand-rolling and finishing some dark chocolate ganache truffles and making a batch of fresh ganache to take back home. You’ll leave with a lovely box of a dozen (plus any samples) of your own handmade truffles and a container of chocolate ganache to make more. Written up in dozens of newspapers and magazines such as NY Times, New York Mag, Gothamist, Edible Manhattan, Bon Appettit, Travel, Newsweek and Martha Stewart, this is a chocolate lovers dream class.

Sutton Inn
347 E 54th Street (1st and 2nd Avenue)
Saturday, October 8th
6:00pm optional drinks, 7:00 pm dinner
$82- 3-course, gl of wine, tax and tip

Highly recommended by many members, this seasonal American menu is one of the top restaurants in Sutton Place. Executive chef Scott Grewe has worked at some of New York City’s best restaurants, including Jean-Georges and Charlie Palmer’s Aureole. Scott’s many years of experience in renowned fine dining restaurants led him to become Executive Chef at Sutton Inn. Since opening in November 2014, Sutton Inn has earned three open table diner’s choice awards for best American restaurant in Manhattan. 4 stars on yelp. 4.8 stars on google reviews, 4.5 on Trip Advisor. Our menu is seasonal so it is not created yet.

Highline Ballroom Brazilian Flamenco Brunch
431 W 16th St (9th Ave / 10th Ave)
Sunday, October 16th
11:30 am brunch, music 1230-2pm
$59- Brunch Entrée, coffee, show, tax and tip

Venezuela-born, New York City-raised, Barbara Martinez is a flamenco dancer and singer with serious chops. The Philadelphia Inquirer called her sounds “achingly beautiful” and The New York Times said she makes “something fresh of the Latino style.” Martinez has danced with the Metropolitan Opera in shows like Carmen and La Traviata, and now this passionate performer comes to the stage at the gorgeous Highline Ballroom. Settle in with food from the full brunch menu and get ready for an intimate show of Brazilian jazz and flamenco. Recent reviews of her, “Among the extraordinary singers is the beautiful flamenco sounds of Barbara Martinez.” -Philadelphia Inquirer; “The haunting voice of Barbara Martinez seems to be the secret force that binds the dancers entirely to the shifts in melody, volume, mood.”- NYTheater.com; “The high point for me was the vocalist Barbara Martinez. She is a charming presence on stage.” -Theater Online; ” Barbara Martinez is considered one of the most important representatives of flamenco.” -El Universal. Join us for some great food, dancing and music.

Shun Lee Palace
155 East 55th (Lex and 3rd)
Wednesday, October 19th
5:30 pm optional drinks, 6:15 pm dinner
$74 dinner, tea, tax & tip (no wine).
Shun Lee is the mother ship of haute Chinese! Our very first event happened 34 years ago at Shun Lee and we continue to enjoy each of our annual returns. Zagat rated 23, saying, “Michael Tong’s venerable circa-1971 Eastsider remains a grande dame of fine Chinese dining, delivering exceptional dishes via outstanding staffers in elegant environs– it’s among the classiest of its kind.” Our menu is always great and includes: chicken soong, szechuan boiled dumpling, grilled scallops, xo prawns, Beijing duck, chicken w/broccoli & sugar snap peas, kung pow beef, yeung chow fried rice and tiramisu with fruit.

Villa Berulia Restaurant- 25 Zagat107 E 34th St (Park and Lex)
Sunday, October 23rd
5:30pm optional drinks, 6:30pm dinner
$82- 3-course, glass wine, coffee, tax and tip

Since 1981, Villa Berulia has been serving delicious Croatian & Italian food in a hidden gem tucked away right out in the open on 34th street. Zagat rated 4.5 (25) they say, “exceptional hospitality is the strong suit of this Murray Hill family affair that follows through with excellent Italian fare.” The elderly brother and sister owners will insist on shaking your hands and offering a very warm welcome and thank you. Recommended by many members of our group over the year, this 4-star on YELP and 4.5-star on Tripadvisor will be an amazing meal in a classic, tuxedo service old-school restaurant. Our menu includes choices of mozzarella & tomato caprese, grilled calamari or eggplant rolatini; entrees such as grilled whole branzino, breast of chicken sautéed with white wine, sundried tomatoes, asparagus & mushrooms or slow-braised short ribs followed by Italian inspired dessert, coffee and a glass of wine.

Café Centro- Halloween
200 Park Avenue @45th Street (Metlife)
Monday, October 31st
5:45 pm optional drinks, 6:30 pm dinner
$83 3-course meal, glass wine, coffee, t&t.

It is Halloween night so join us for a not so scary French meal at this bustling French brasserie with a style that echoes the glamour of Paris in the 1930s. Guests can watch executive chef Ted Rozzi prepare French-inspired cuisine in the glass-enclosed display kitchen. A richly elegant Grand Café in the classic Parisian tradition – set in the iconic international style landmark MetLife Building – Café Centro offers a select menu of French favorites with a Mediterranean twist. Join us on Halloween as we celebrate with candy and costumes (if you want.)

December 27-January 3rd

PRICES: Airfare is separate and is currently $849 direct + $85 tourist card +$20 handling + $25 airport fee- Airfare Subject to change and must be booked by September 27th however all paperwork must be in prior to this.

Not Including Direct Air- Staying at the historic Nacional Hotel for 1 week – $4100 double occupancy $4900 Single occupancy standard rooms. We have 1 hotel only, and 3 rooms left in it.

The Nacional Hotel: is a historical landmark in Havana! Built in 1930, by the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White, which features a mix of styles. It opened when Cuba was a prime travel destination for Americans, long before the United States embargo against Cuba. In its 80+ years of existence, the hotel has had many important guests. The Nacional is considered a symbol of history, culture and Cuban identity. The Hotel was declared a National Monument and it was inscribed in the World Memory Register. With its privileged location in the middle of Vedado, the center of Havana, it stands on a hill just a few meters from the sea, and offers a great view of the Havana Harbor; the seawall and the city. The Hotel stands out due to its refined elegance and its ancient splendor, which since 1930 has attracted a large number of personalities! Pretty cool! Keep in mind that the hotel was last renovated in 1992. It is ranked #6 on Trip Advisor. The rooms have old-world decor, and include minibars and TVs. Room service is available 24/7. The hotel has air conditioning, 3 restaurants, a casual cafe and 3 bars. Other amenities include 2 outdoor pools, a tennis court and a fitness room with a sauna.

DAY 1: TUESDAY DECEMBER 27 -Hello Cuba: arrival at Havana’s José Martí International airport, change money into Cuban Convertible Pesos while waiting for your luggage, meet your guide and bus driver after you exit Cuban customs, enjoy a group welcome dinner with your guide at private restaurant. EVENING SPECIAL ACTIVITY: “¡Noche de fiesta cubana!” party and dancing class with live music at Club Chévere.
DAY 2: WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 28 -EXPLORING OLD HAVANA, OUR COMMON HERITAGE: Breakfast in hotel, followed by a walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll visit four of the five historic plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere. We will see: Cathedral Square, Square of Arms, Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, Palacio del Segundo Cabo, Museo de Artesanía at Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the oldest remaining fortress built by the Spaniards in the West Indies, San Francisco Square, and Plaza Vieja to only name a few! We will then have lunch at a bayside fish joint (it is the latest newcomer to the city’s list of upscale eateries). After lunch, we visit Callejón de Hamel (Hamel Alley) to see the artwork of famed Afro-Cuban Artist Salvador González and we will return to our respective hotels. We will have dinner at a private restaurant and our EVENING HIGHTLIGHT is a performance by Buena Vista social Club at Café Taberna!
DAY 3: THURSDAY DECEMBER 29 -HEMINGWAY: Breakfast in hotel, followed by a visit to Finca La Vigía (House and farm of Ernest Hemingway Museum). Then we are going to Cojímar, a small fishing village -one of Hemingway’s favorite’s places. For lunch, we have a cooking class and lunch prepared by private restaurant El Ajiaco (#1 in Cojimar). After lunch, we will visit Hotel Ambos Mundos’ room 511 where Hemingway used to stay and then we will return to the hotel. After dinner at a private restaurant, we will go to la Zorra y el Cuervo (The Fox and the Crow) where top jazz players perform on a nightly basis. It’s the place to hear Cuba’s best jazz musicians!
DAY 4: FRIDAY DECEMBER 30 -VIÑALES VALLEY / PINAR DEL RÍO PROVINCE: Breakfast in hotel, and morning departure to the western agricultural province of Pinar del Río! Morning tour of Viñales Valley: Viñales village is a picturesque town in the heart of Cuba’s prime tobacco growing region. The town itself sits in the center of a flat valley surrounded by stunning karst hills formations known locally as mogotes. Mogotes are irregularly shaped steep-sided hills that can rise as high as 985 ft. and have bases ranging from just a few hundred yards in diameter to as much as a couple of kilometers in length. Many consider this the most beautiful nature spot in Cuba. We will visit: Cueva del Indio [Indian caves], mural de la Prehistoria followed by lunch at El Balcon del Valle restaurant (with view on the mountains). After lunch, we will visit tobacco farmers and tour the town square of Viñales village before returning to Havana. Tonight’s dinner and evening are free time for you to explore the city!
DAY 5: SATURDAY DECEMBER 31 -HAVANA/ DAY EXCURSION THE ART OF RUM AND THE AFRO-CUBAN RELIGION: Breakfast in hotel, followed by a day excursion about the art of Rum! We will learn everything about the origin and development of the rum production in the island. We will visit to the Rum Museum, we will have a tasting of the Havana Club Rum, we will have a cocktail-making lesson where the barman will teach us how to prepare our own Cuban cocktail. Then, we will tour of the most famous bars of the old town: the Floridita and the Bodeguita del Medio including the tasting of a cocktail at the Ambos Mundos or the Beltrán de Santa Cruz hotels. After our boozy morning, we will have lunch, followed by a visit at the Afro-Cuban Church of Regla Municipality. We will then return to our hotels and get ready for our special night!!! We will enjoy a ride in old American classic cars to our New Year’s Eve dinner and show!
DAY 6: SUNDAY JANUARY 1ST -VARADERO: Breakfast in hotel and morning departure to Varadero! Varadero is an uninterrupted 20km stretch of blonde sand that is undoubtedly one of Caribbean’s best!! It is a gorgeous beach resort with a lot of shopping! En route we will stop at Puente de Bacunayagua, the highest bridge in Cuba, with a spectacular view of the landscape over the Yumurí Valley and the Atlantic Ocean. We will do a panoramic tour of Matanzas city and then visit “Botica Triolet” Museum Pharmaceutical of Matanzas, the oldest drugstore that remains in Cuba! Then continue to Varadero, visit the city and have lunch. We will have some free time (sight-seeing and shopping!) before returning to Havana. Dinner tonight is not planned, meaning, more free time to explore beautiful Havana!
DAY 7: MONDAY JANUARY 2 -LAS TERRAZAS: Breakfast in hotel and morning departure to Las Terrazas, a small community and nature reserve. It is located in the Sierra del Rosario mountains, which was designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1984. We will visit a rural village called Rancho Curule and Cafetal Buena Vista, the ruins of an ancient coffee plantation run by African slaves. Our lunch is going to be exclusively vegetarian at the #1 restaurant in town: El Romero! We then have some free time to explore before returning to Havana. We are having dinner at a top rated private restaurant. This evening is free to explore the sights and sounds of the city. Your guide will keep you posted on evening entertainment options.
DAY 8: TUESDAY JANUARY 3 HAVANA—- GOODBYE CUBA- Breakfast in hotel, check-out of hotel, and transfer to José Martí International Airport for flights home!
To reserve at any or all the events please go to our website and view your dashboard event calendar or call us at (646-825-0268), email us at singourmetny@aol.com or mail checks to:
The Single Gourmet, c/o Aaron Lefkowitz, 69 west 9th Street Apartment #6A, New York, NY 10011