September 2015

By the time we attend the first event in this newsletter, some of us will already have been back from our trip to Austin & San Antonio. A trip that has been on my mind for about a year. It is amazing to think about a future event, plan it, get excited for it and then it passes on as time speeds past. I’m now looking forward to our New Year’s Eve in Madrid and Barcelona. It seems like yesterday we were in Rome when one of the members asked, “Where are we all going next year?” I quickly said, “My favorite city in the World, Barcelona!” Well now this New Year’s Eve seems just around the corner. I guess, time does fly, and since it does, there is no reason not to enjoy it with the Single Gourmet!

The title above says, “September”, but we still have a few things to discuss for August. This Saturday, August 15th, join us at AKBAR PALACE for our first Indian meal in many years. There will be lots of food, lots of flavor and a delicious meal by a newcomer to midtown and to our group. On Friday, August 21st, we have limited space left (3 spots) for our wine class at VINO-VERSITY. This class teaches us in a social and tasting setting, about pairing international wines, jams and cheeses. On August 22nd we visit a long standing favorite, BRASSERIE. Since 1959, this French classic has been a hot spot for NYC nightlife and fine meals and we are excited to visit them one last time before they are forced by their new landlord to move. Finally, on August 30th join us for a 4-course Italian meal at the 24 Zagat rated OBICÀ. This night includes an incredible menu of hot and cold appetizers, salads, cheeses, pastas, meats and plenty of desserts. This is a restaurant that many visited on our Flatiron food tour, and it was one of their favorite spots on the tour.

September starts off with our Austin trip and the first weekend without an event in many years. That doesn’t slow us down though as the first 9 days back from the trip we have 4 events! The first two events come courtesy of the Patina group, who own 25 restaurants in NYC alone. Our first is on Saturday, Sept. 12th, when we dine at Brasserie 8 ½. This midtown French Classic with spiraling staircase and famous works of art has always provided us with an unforgettable meal. The following Wednesday, Sept. 16th, we visit our second Patina classic as we head to La Fonda Del Sol. It’s been years since we dined at this famous Spanish restaurant and this midweek event will be attended by our travel agent and long-time member, Fred Delpozo, to discuss our exciting trip to Spain. What better place than a Spanish tapas and paella midtown restaurant to discuss Gaudi, Las Ramblas and La Sagrada Familia? This will not be an open discussion so no worries if you do not plan on going to Spain, but those who are interested in going will be able to ask questions to Fred regarding the flights, the itinerary, insurance and meet others also interested in Spain. The following weekend we have 2 events, the first was originally recommended last year by a long time member who said this is “a can’t miss” for any music fan and she was right! Join us Saturday, Sept. 19th, for an all you can eat southern buffet brunch and live music at BB Kings as we listen to the world famous Beatles band, “Strawberry Fields”. This concert, performed by the members of the Broadway musical “Beatlemania” is a blast! For over 25 years the band has been performing Beatles songs together, and for 16 years in a row at BB Kings. This show was SO MUCH fun last year that everyone told me we must do it again. There is dancing and singing ‘Sargent Pepper’, ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘All the Young Dudes.’ The following day, Sunday, Sept 20th, we head out to a Williamsburg Walking, History and Food Tour. Join Ben (the tour-guide from the Flatiron tour), myself and others as we walk all through the streets of Williamsburg sampling 7 different types of food and learning about the history of the neighborhood. Meet me at Union Square and we will take the L train over together or meet us at the Bedford L stop in Williamsburg. Finally on Sept. 26th we get to dine at the 25 rated, De Noi. After a small fire in July prevented us from dining here in the past, we will all discover that this 4-course Italian was well worth the wait.

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

1. Akbar Palace-Authentic Cuisine of India- 47 West 55 (5th/6th), Saturday, August 15th.
6:45 pm Optional Drinks, 7:45 pm dinner- $52 Indian feast, gl wine, coffee, tax and tip.
2. Vino-Versity, 1657 1st Avenue @87th, Friday, August 21st 7:00 pm – 9pm. $47
3. Brasserie- 100 East 53rd (Lexington and Park), Saturday, August 22nd, 7:00 pm optional drinks, 8:00 pm dinner, $87. 3-course meal, glass wine, coffee, tax & tip.
4. Obicà- 928 Broadway @21st, Sunday, August 30th. 5:45 optional drinks 6:45 dinner. $70

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

Brasserie 8 ½
9 West 57th (off 5th Ave)
Saturday, September 12th
7 pm optional drinks, 7:45 pm dinner
$87 3-course meal, gl of wine, coffee/tea t&t.

Zagat rated 22 for “how great it is to make an entrance down a sweeping stairway at this subterranean Midtown brasserie that provides delicious French fare and cordial service in charming environs with fine art on display; it’s a decorous nexus for conversational dining”. Winner of Trip Advisor’s 2015 certificate award of excellence and 4.5 stars on Open table review site, this is a can’t miss event at a famous and fabulous restaurant.

La Fonda Del Sol (come out for some Barcelona info)
200 Park Avenue @45th
Wednesday, September 16th
5:30pm optional drinks, 6:15 pm dinner
$88- 3-course, glass of wine/sangria, coffee, t & t
$78- No wine/sangria option

La Fonda del Sol translates to “inn of the sun” and was first opened in the 1960’s. The visionary “theme” restaurant was hailed as ahead of its time with a menu that brought Latin and Spanish cuisine to New York for the first time in a fine dining environment. Today, La Fonda del Sol provides an unprecedented stage for modern Spanish cuisine in New York. Listed in Zagat ‘best restaurants in and near grand central,’ Zagat says “reincarnation of a classic ’60s Spaniard offers both a lively after-work bar serving upscale tapas and a soothing, more sophisticated back room.” Our travel agent, Fred Delpozo, will be here to answer any questions on the New Year’s Eve trip (view below from Parc Guell Barcelona).

BB-Kings Beatles Brunch and 2-hour amazing concert
237 West 42nd @ 7th/8th
Saturday, September 19th (RSVP by Sept 16th)
11:00am- 2pm arrive @11am sharp
$53- Includes Concert, Buffet Brunch, tax and tip.

‘Strawberry Fields’ has been performing Beatles songs for over 25 years!! If you love the Beatles, don’t miss out on this famous cover band, with members of the Broadway Hit Musical Beatlemania, “Strawberry Fields” is a look-a-like, sound-a-like Beatles tribute, dedicated to bringing us as close to a real Beatles concert as we can get. They begin the concert in 1964 complete with mop top hair, black suits, thin ties and The Beatles 1st four albums of music. Next they sing songs from the psychedelic era of “Sergeant Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band” with all the costumes and jackets on the album cover. Finally, they cover songs from the “White Album”, “Abbey Road” & “Let It Be”. This Brunch includes, all-you-can eat southern style brunch, coffees, juices (no alcohol). Please arrive on time!! Speaking words of wisdom, join us!!

Williamsburg History and Food Walking Tour
Same tour group and guide as our Flatiron tour
Sunday, September 20th 10:30am-1:30pm
Front of L train @ Bedford Avenue @10:15
Meet me in front of Citibank @14th and Bdwy
@10am and we take train over together.
(Bedford is first top in Brooklyn on L train)
$50- private group tour
Come hungry, this is enough food for lunch. This is not our average New York food tour. We will feast on delicious foods from some of the best spots in Williamsburg. Learn the history of the neighborhood, enjoy some incredible street art and snap some choice photos out on a waterfront pier of the best view of the NY Skyline. What a perfect way to spend an afternoon! Ben, our guide has prepared a knock our socks off tour filled with incredible treats of Williamsburg. We begin at the Bedford Avenue L subway stop (4 minutes from Manhattan!) and don’t waste any time before we start filling our bellies at Momofuku Milk Bar, The Bagel Store, Odd Fellows Ice Cream, Pies N Thighs, The Best Pizza (that is actually their name) & Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory. The tour is 2.5 hours long and 7 tastings, walking a total of 1.5 miles. Meet me in Union Square at the Citibank @10am.
De Noi- Zagat 25 rated!
Saturday, September 26th
7:00 pm optional drinks, 8:00 pm dinner
$79 3-course meal, glass wine, coffee, t&t.

A whopping 2015 Zagat rated 25, for “old world red sauce cooking like nonna’s …where the crowd is right out of a scene from the Godfather.” A family owned (40 years in the business) highly rated, 5-star service, fine dining Italian establishment and a wildly successful hit in their first 3 locations in the Italian sections of Staten Island and NJ, and voted in Zagat top of the “Best of Staten Island” list. Da Noi opened up in Midtown to raving reviews all across every review site. Family owned and run like the good-ole Italian restaurants of the past, “Da Noi” means “from us” in Italian, putting the family mark on all their recipes. Our 4-course meal includes salads, pastas and Italian classics such as veal, chicken and fish finished off with a dessert trio.

Travel with The Single Gourmet
Sept 4th-7th-10th: Austin & San Antonio -Call me to discuss if interested- semi sold out!9/15

Madrid & Barcelona- Dec 26th –Jan 5th
The Trip is 1 day longer then Italy- Single Occupancy- $6095 (add 2% for AMEX)- 25% due 9/15
This itinerary is subject to change based on days of events and weather, there are still possible additions and changes to it, but this is an almost complete itinerary.

We leave NYC Dec 26th and land the morning of Dec 27th where our representative will be waiting for us to provide a private transfer to the 4+ star hotel Paseo del Prado. Welcome Lunch and reception. The remainder of the day is at leisure, we will be exploring the city and there is an optional Tapas Tour we can partake in.

MONDAY DECEMBER 28 Private Tour of Madrid- Our expert guide will meet us at our hotel and together we will enjoy the architecture, history and anecdotes of Spain’s capital. Enjoy a walking tour that includes some of the capital’s most impressive sights, such as the Plaza de Oriente and the historic quarter including the 17th-century Plaza Mayor, a wonderful Baroque square lined with arcades filled with picturesque cafes. We walk through the peaceful Plaza de la Villa where the City Hall stands and the narrow streets of Madrid of the “Austrias” named after the Austro- Hapsburg dynasty came to rule over in 1516. Much of the Austrias neighbourhood today is a gastronomic centre, with traditional favourites aplenty, including the oldest restaurant in the world. The nuns of the Convento nearby occasionally offer their home made cakes too! The tour will also include an in-depth visit of either the Royal Palace or the Prado Museum. At night we enjoy a Flamenco and dinner show where we experience Flamenco dancing at the highly-rated Corral de la Moreria, founded in 1956 and considered to be the most well-known tablao flamenco in the world. It’s the premier venue in the world, to experience this incredibly physical dance genre complete with unique Spanish guitar accompaniment and impressive displays of hand clapping by the performers. The Corral de la Moreria is featured in the book, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” and has been frequented by international artists, celebrities and various heads of state, including the King of Spain himself. The elaborate costumes alone are stunning!

TUESDAY DECEMBER 29- An Excursion to Toledo with a Private Tour – This morning meet our private driver and guide. Depart for Toledo, about an hour away. On arrival in Toledo, our guide will begin the visit by taking us to marvel at the overwhelming panoramic view of the former capital of Spain. Toledo is a thousand-year-old masterpiece created by various cultures including the Romans, Moors, Jews and Christians. Its heyday was in the 16th century when it became the capital of the mighty Spanish empire. The beautifully preserved buildings of this ancient town provide striking testimony of Toledo’s rich and colorful past. The city of Toledo, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, is located on a rocky headland, bordered by the river Tajo in the very heart of Spain, just 70 kilometers (42 miles) from the capital, Madrid. Although now completely overshadowed by Madrid, it is Toledo and it’s narrow, winding streets and steps, stone and brick houses and churches that embodies Spain’s past. In the Middle Ages, Toledo was built on a “convergence” of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and contains two of the few remaining medieval Spanish synagogues. The two synagogues, which stand in the city today, are powerful reminders of that period of religious tolerance before the Spanish Inquisition. Stop at the parish church of Santo Tomé, and marvel El Greco’s famed Burial of the Count of Orgaz, considered to be El Greco’s finest work and one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. At the centre of Toledo, we will find the soaring Gothic Cathedral, the finest example of Gothic style in Spain. The collection of paintings is also important, above all the excellent collection kept in the Sacristy that contains Christ Stripped of his Garments and the Apostolate by Greco, paintings by Caravaggio, Titian, Van Dyck, Goya, Morales, Rubens, Bassano and many more. An impressive collection of medieval garments and textiles can also be admired. Lunch included.

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 30- Half day tour of Madrid’s Art Galleries – Today with an art specialist visit the famous Reina Sofia and Museo de arte Thyssen-Bornemisza. Following our tour, we will have lunch at a local restaurant. In the evening we have a Private Wine Tasting Experience- With the guidance of a sommelier and expert on Spanish wine, we will have the opportunity to taste and learn about aspects of locally produced wine.
THURSDAY DECEMBER 31 Private transfer to the train station. Board our high speed AVE train to Barcelona. *A tour representative will travel with us and to assist with luggage. Upon arrival, about 2.5 hours later, private transfer to our hotel. Check in at the 4+ Star Hotel Gallery- Private Tour of Barcelona- Our expert guide and our private driver will meet us at our hotel and together we will explore one of Europe’s most fascinating cities. Barcelona, with typical Catalan pride and creativity, remains determined to project itself as Spain’s most innovative city, and offers a staggering array of attractions. Our guided tour stresses the importance of Catalan history and culture. The tour takes in the Passeig de Gracia, the most stylish street of Barcelona, lined with boutique shops and art galleries. Also La Rambla, with its outdoor cafes, flower stands, exotic birds and equally colorful street performers. Just off La Rambla are the antique stalls at La Boqueria, Barcelona’s outdoor market considered to be one of the best markets in the world. We visit Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter which rests on the ancient Roman city of Barcino, today full of buildings from the 13th to the 15th century. The Quarter, where we spend most of the tour, is full of interesting shapes, peaceful plazas and winding alleyways, with its medieval Cathedral and the Picasso Museum. Tonight, celebrate New Years, Spanish Style! Tonight is Nochevieja, which means ‘the old night’ in Spanish. Families and friends often gather together to enjoy a late meal, the last one of the year, before hitting the big parties. According to Spanish tradition, we are supposed be wearing red underwear and eat twelve grapes at midnight, at every chime of the clock in the countdown to midnight. These two are said to bring good luck. Celebrate New Years (Nochevieja) like a local with a festive dinner and party!

FRIDAY JANUARY 1 Day of lesure in Spain, lunch together at a local restaurant.
SATURDAY JANUARY 2- This Morning…A Private Tour of Gaudi & Modernisme Architecture we will spend half a day focusing on the period that was Barcelona’s most vibrant and exciting – the period of visionary architect Antonio Gaudi and his contemporaries, a period of a Catalan Renaissance in the arts and literature. We visit the iconic Casa Milà, a fantasy in stone which appears to have been carved out of the living rock, hence its nickname: La Pedrera, which means “the quarry.” The building is an apartment house on one of Barcelona’s main avenues. Casa Batlló is a home built for a wealthy businessman and an outstanding example of Gaudi’s private work. We will visit the unique and magical Cathedral of Sagrada Familia. The monumental (and still unfinished) El Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia is Gaudí’s most famous work and a worldwide symbol for Barcelon and we visit the Gaudí designed and playful Parc Güell. Many Gaudí aficionados consider this outdoor park his finest work.

SUNDAY JANUARY 3- A Private Cooking Class in Barcelona- The cuisine of the various regions of Spain make some of the world’s finest dishes. Rich in tradition and history (Arab, Jewish, Roman, Aztec, and many other cultures have all contributed methods and ingredients) Spanish cuisine has an identity of its own. It is sensual yet simple, delicate but unpretentious, folklorist yet innovative. Enjoy a hands-on introduction to Spanish cooking with our host, instructor and chef whose infectious passion for food and Mediterranean cuisine will set the scene for a fun way to learn about traditional and contemporary homemade specialties. Start with a walking tour around the famous Boqueria market, getting plenty of tips on picking local, seasonal products, and exploring in depth some of the extraordinary and delicious fresh food that is sold here. We get so much more out of the tour with a chef than we ever would hope to get on our own. From the Boqueria, head to a superbly laid out kitchen, located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter and just a few minutes’ walk from the market – a great spot to cook authentic typical dishes of Spain. With our chef involving us as much as we wish in the preparation of the dishes, prepare a delicious starter, main course and dessert. Finish the adventure enjoying the menu prepared in a casual atmosphere.
MONDAY JANUARY 4- Tour of Dali museum (this was a late addition instead of the winery tour, details will follow) This evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner at Michelin Star Restaurant.

Tuesday January 5th- Following day we check out and head back to NYC….

 

 

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