Wednesday, June 8, 2016

An Evening of Tremendous Czech Hospitality and Generosity

I'm a newbie to Travel Massive - the world's largest community of travel industry insiders, leaders, and innovators. And I've just experienced two "massive" events within two weeks. The first was TBEX - the travel bloggers exchange convention - held in Bloomington, MN last week and the second was last night, here in NYC featuring the Czech Republic Bureau of Tourism.

Bohemian Hall

Held at the beautiful Bohemian Hall at 321 East 73rd Street, which is also the Consulate General for the Czech Republic, it was a classy event!

Entry to the venue.
Upon checking in we were greeted and ushered into a gorgeous entryway and then headed into their screening room where we enjoyed a clever and humorous stop motion film with live actors about the frustrations of dining out. Check out their mini cinema!

Screening room.

Up the spiral staircase one flight . . .

. . . and surprise! Contemporary Czech artist Jan Miko Moravian . . .

. . . is painting in "real time" while a pianist is playing on a baby grand. (Depending on the device you are viewing this blog on, you may or may not be able to view this short vid of Jan painting and the music.)

Jan painting accompanied by piano.

Up one more flight and there is currently an exhibit of the very popular Jaro.


A Prague-born geometric abstractionist, the popular and very successful artist immigrated to the US in 1957 and was one of the first artists to work on non square, unique shaped, canvases. On the same floor is a quaint room honoring the famed Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904.) Many would recognize his "New World Symphony", which he wrote here in the US after immigrating.

Up to the fourth floor and we're now in the beer hall. Pilsner, which was first produced in Pilsen,  (Bohemia) is a pale lager. This golden cup of lightness really hit the spot (a couple of times.) And through large paneled doors we enter the wine tasting room.

Exceptionally delightful was their Czech Riesling. It was not too fruity with hints of peach and melon. The Czech wines were courtesy of Noah Lederman of Vino z Czech. And then we were greeted by Lauren Nicholl of Travel Massive and the man of the evening, Jiri Duzar, the director at Czech Tourism.

Lauren and Jiri

After introductions and short speeches we were treated to an extensive buffet catered by Bohemian Spirit Restaurant, which is actually located on the ground floor of the Bohemian Hall. I had never had traditional Czech food before but it was so delectable I can't wait to go back to the restaurant. In particular, the beef stew with mashed potatoes were yumpcious! Then Jiri awarded prizes to certain attendees including a free trip to Prague!!! And of course there was plenty of . . .


Friday, June 3, 2016

Dessert and Drinks at the W A Frost & Company - St. Paul, MN

374 Selby Avenue
St. Paul, MN 

Built in 1889 in the Cathedral Hill district of St. Paul, is the Dacotah.

Originally housing a pharmacy, its bay windows, large arched doorways, copper cornices, tin ceilings, and intricate brick work made it a standout in this booming community.

In 1974, it was converted into a rambling restaurant with an amazing bar . . .
. . . that was rescued from a burned-out building in Wisconsin. There's also a plethora of private dining spaces and one of the largest outdoor patios in the neighborhood.

After crawling through St. Paul gobbling up appetizers, we decided to have dessert here at the historic Frost & Company.

We ordered a Classic Creme Brulée - baked custard with Madagascar vanilla beans. (The first for me.) And it was topped with caramelized sugar, blackberries and mint. It had a luxurious, creamy texture with a great vanilla taste thanks to the Madagascar beans but unfortunately the top layer of sugar was torched a bit too long resulting in a burnt, bitter taste.

We also tried their Ice Cream Sandwich - chocolate cake, chocolate salt, ganache, orange gel, and frozen custard. This is the adult, deconstructed version of the kid's ice cream sandwich. The cake was moist and the ice cream velvety smooth. And the orange gel complimented the ganache brilliantly.

For drinks we ordered the Pinot Grigio, Riff "Tre Venezie" which was a bright, dry white and we also had a Poilly Fumé, Blanchet "Calcite" which had a sweeter, smoother, more buttery taste. Both paired beautifully with the desserts. I would definitely return to experience their full dinner menu.

The restaurant has an award winning wine cellar, standout all American cuisine menu plus it's on the National Register of Historic places. Drop by the very unique W A Frost & Company for a fascinating and delicious trip back in time.


Monday, May 23, 2016

The NYC Appetizer Crawl Continues - Monument Lane - West Village

Monument Lane 
103 Greenwich Ave

Happy Hour with Bar Menu
Weekdays 3pm - 7pm
Weekends 4pm - 7pm 

Pardon my shameless self-promotion but it's demonstrating how much I really like Monument Lane. In my latest novel, Dizzy: A Fictional Memoir . . .

. . . a very important scene in the book takes place in what is called, Farm To Table, which in reality is Monument Lane.

Monument Lane is a charming, rustically decorated restaurant, located in the west village. With an ever changing seasonal menu, they support regional farmers and growers while promoting sustainable culinary practices. It also has one of the most gorgeous bathrooms in New York City. An important barometer when judging restaurants, I think.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the West Village area was pastoral, with marshlands full of mussels and oysters and orchards of apple and cherry trees. Who knew? New Yorkers living in crowded "downtown" escaped the madness of city living by coming up to the "country" on a road called Monument Lane, which is now Greenwich Avenue. The restaurant has a beautiful and romantic dining room . . .

 and bar . . .

but my favorite place to sit is at the large communal table situated in the front corner window. But alas, it was taken. On a beautiful spring day like today, you'd think you were anywhere but in New York City. There are also several quaint tables outside that you can sit at.

Here was today's bar menu . . .

And you can't beat the prices - snacks $3 - $4, NY State wines $8 and Craft beers on tap $5. I ordered the Brussels Sprouts with Bartlett Pear and the Smoked Whitefish with Grilled Bread . . .

And a glass of their Cabernet Franc.

The lightly smoked whitefish was so fresh and luscious when topped on the grilled bread. The bread alone, was crazy delicious. I must get a flame grill for my NYC apartment. Or at the very least, a blow torch. Don't worry, I have a fire extinguisher. I just have to read the directions on how to use it.

And I love Brussels Sprouts and make them all the time but these were insanely addictive. Maybe roasted? Served with shavings of Parmesan and sweet Bartlett Pear and I think a hint of balsamic vinegar. These taste treats vanished within seconds. What a great and unexpected pairing of the vegetable and fruit. And the full-bodied Cabernet Franc was the perfect libation to enjoy with these appetizers.

Having arrived on the early side of Happy Hour, this quick glass of wine and yummy bar snacks hit the spot and held me over till dinner time. Can't wait to return...and I promise I'll have pics of the restrooms!