The fourth part in our series covers family movies. They’re the ones you loved as a kid, but haven’t revisited since because, well, your office buddies don’t want to watch Bartok the Magnificent. But with Thanksgiving approaching, there’s no better time to dust off these old classics with loved ones. Family movies provide lighthearted laughs in abundance, and sometimes tears as well (damn you, Up!) They scrub away the confusion of adult life and remind us what’s important. In fact, some of life’s most important lessons are hidden in their colorful scenes. More importantly, the really good ones are fun to watch at any age. Just try not to start bawling when Mustafa eats it.
Grow Old, But Don't Grow Up
Part II of III in The Mountain Series
For alpinists everywhere, including those confined to armchairs, the name, “Eiger” conjures up excitement, fear and dread. Considered the most daunting climb in the Alps, the mountain’s north face, the “Nordwand”, is a 6,000-foot sheer wall of crumbling, often ice-coated, rock that is continually scoured by rockfalls and avalanches. First climbed in 1938, it has been the scene of countless adventures, tragedies and one Clint Eastwood movie. The name and the image of the Eiger were etched in my brain for years, and I read everything I could about the mountain. So to see it there, across the valley from the sundeck of the Berggasthaus First, seemed like a dream; I could hardly take my eyes off it.
Not far behind the invention of the wheel, in terms of ingenuity, is the wheeled duffel. The problem is, most wheeled duffels are either good at wheeling or good at holding gear, but seldom both; that’s not to mention most have a hybrid appearance that neither looks stylish on the concourse nor rugged in the outback. But that’s not true of the Victorinox Swiss Army Alpineer Wheeled Duffel ($250), a bag we’ve dragged around three countries and four mountain ranges since June.
The everyman's Champagne
In that casual game of preference, Would You Rather, we’re often faced with important decisions, like raising a child at 15 or never having kids, or losing a pinky toe or never eating steak again. During one of these games, when asked about giving up beer for eternity, we came to a realization: while undesirable, the parting of ways wouldn’t be the end of the world — and we could do it without becoming a hard-hitting liquor drinker. How? With a lifetime supply of sparkling wine, and specifically, a style of sparkling wine called pétillant naturel. One glass of the 2012 Lily’s Cuvée Chardonnay ($28) from California’s Donkey & Goat winery and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
In [hot] vino veritas
Mulled wine is the perfect drink for the holiday season: just pleasant and alcoholic enough to warm everyone up, but not like handing out rounds of high-octane Manhattans that could turn Thanksgiving dinner into an episode worthy of Jenny Jones. We tapped the expertise of Jane Elkins, former and current barkeep at some of New York City’s best cocktail haunts, for three variations of mulled wine, each rooted in tradition and brushed up with ingenuity from behind her bar.
Capon, Capon, Goose
The noble, courageous turkey. Subject of paintings by Claude Monet and Norman Rockwell; famed favorite fowl of Benjamin Franklin. For the past century and change, the beloved bird has complemented the traditional Thanksgiving feast. However, as home chefs and weekend warriors become more adventurous in the kitchen, many are eschewing tradition for pomp, presentation and flavor. If you’re looking to join the nouveau-thankful, try embracing one of these five options.
Armed to the Gizzard.
The kitchen is one of the last bastions of respect and order in a society that mostly eschews hierarchy. Snapchat may be run by kids, but grandma’s red sauce is no flash in the pan. Though we’ve proved our chops in the kitchen, for Thanksgiving we decided to bring in one of the big guns of culinary wisdom: Jim Oseland, Editor-in-Chief of Saveur, one of our favorite food magazines. Here’s his essential turkey-roasting kit.
Carving a Winner
The Thanksgiving turkey is the one dish each year that’s make or break, and it’s all yours. Get the turkey right and you’ll be giving warm handshakes and sipping bourbon all night; dry it out and you’ve brought a dark cloud over the extended family. The good news is, roasting the big bird is easier than running the fumblerooski against the in-laws — and that works every year. To find the most direct route to turkey perfection, we consulted with chef Harold Moore for his foolproof recipe.
Are You Not Entertained?
While many of our lives resemble dramas, or comedies, our society has thankfully evolved to a point where many of us avoid daily physical danger. Yet, strangely enough, the human animal craves danger. We get a thrill from adrenaline. To fill the void in our safe, vanilla lives, we turn to action. Is it wrong…
Good Gifts, Whichever Way You Slice 'Em
We get it — everyone is a foodie now. From your buddy excitedly fawning over the new Santoku he just picked up to your dad calling to inform you about the super authentic Ethiopian place he wants to try next time he and mom come to visit, the chances of having a cookie on your holiday shopping list are greater than ever.
But what do you buy them? Your food-focused gift-getter obviously already has the basics — the knives, pans and culinary detritus that make up his obsession — and nothing says, “hey, I’m too lazy to make an effort, but I think I remember you’re into food” like a gift card that ends up only covering half the bill at the restaurant-du-now. Thank Bourdain, we’ve got you covered with a dozen of the best gastronomic gifts for the season.
Gifts for the Continent-hopper
Your friend’s passport has addendum pages for the addendum pages and looks like Costanza’s wallet. It’s easier to count the countries he hasn’t visited than those he has. Travel-weary? Not a chance: this rolling stone likes to be moss-free, so we have the perfect collection of goods to keep your favorite road warrior in fightin’ trim. The tools below cover technology high and low, all to ensure the journey is every bit as enjoyable as the destination. The lucky recipient of your generosity will easily navigate airports, checkpoints (TSA or Syrian Free Army), and resort lobbies with aplomb, arriving refreshed and relaxed, ready for the work (and play) ahead.
When In Russia...
You ever have one of those ideas that seems really good at the time? Like, let’s drop these broken speakers down a flight of stairs, or let’s jump into the mosh pit at a Machinehead concert, or let’s see if we can lure that deer into the car? Just last weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to taste-test a whole load of Russian Imperial Stouts. If you’re not familiar with the style, it’s characterized by high ABVs and huge chocolate, coffee and malt flavors.
Although they’re monstrously strong and typically expensive, Russian Imperial Stouts push the flavor intensity spectrum, offering a look at the sultry, heady, muscly side of beer. For those willing to experiment, they offer a variety of smells, flavors and textures found in few other styles of beer. But take note: if you’re going to try them, don’t make it a marathon. Give them the credit that they deserve. Still, from the pain of my hangover emerged this list of our favorite Russian Imperial Stouts.
The month of September saw Levi’s Station to Station train project rolling from Brooklyn, NY to Oakland, CA in a journey meant to promote art, music, food and fashion. But this wasn’t your ordinary sleeper car/food car locomotive. The guest list was packed with artists and musicians, and videos, performances, on-hand crafts, sculptures, art installations and even a recording studio were on hand or close by, making the journey more of a collective convoy of talent and creativity than a simple cross-country jaunt.
Gifts He'll Actually Remember in the Morning
What to call a man who obsesses over alcohol? A connoisseur? A fanatic? A drunk? We call him The Mixologist, and you know him well. He’s the man whose cupboards are stocked with more bitters than spices, whose basement is reeking of homebrew, whose glass is always half-full — at least. And yours too, for the Mixologist prides himself in the cocktails he makes and the beer he serves. He’s an enabler of fun, an anti-Scrooge, a Holiday MVP. He’s every character in Billy Joel’s Piano Man — in fact, he does a mean Billy Joel if the night goes late enough. So cheers to The Mixologist. Here are a few gifts he’ll cheers to.
Throughout the selection process we kept echoing the same mantra: “Is this really that good?” The answer was consistent: shouts of “it’s hilarious!” were parried just as assuredly by “it sucks!” Comedies, we quickly discovered, are just as diverse and polarizing as dramas. Really the two aren’t so different. The best of both make us…
A taste of the Northwest
Feast Portland is more than just the story of food or chefs in the Rose City. While the bulk of the festival’s events take place in Downtown Portland, Feast is about all of Oregon and its bounties: locally sourced meat and produce; fish from the Columbia River and surrounding waterways; wines of the Willamette Valley; and a craft beer industry that has made Oregon the number one state for brew artists and Portland the state’s epicenter. GP stopped in to enjoy the tastes.
For relaxing times...
Last week hummus and yoga were “in”, and while they’re not out yet, there’s a new top dog in Popularville: Japanese Whisky. Notice the spelling — that’s whisky with a -y, like Scotch whisky, not whiskey with an -ey, the spelling used for U.S. and Irish varietals. Yes, the Japanese whisky industry was modeled after the Scottish single malt industry’s practice of distilling and blending under one roof, but it’s since taken on a life of its own. As a result of several recent victories over Scottish whiskies at blind tasting competitions, Japan’s best-kept secret escaped, and the world is eager to test the hype. We tasted five of the best 12-year-old Japanese whisky offerings, and we can assure you that the hype is warranted.
Life with the dull bits cut out
Good movies bring art to life, combining audio and visuals (and occasionally smells, as in the case of 1959’s disastrous AromaRama and 1960’s Smell-O-Vision, may they forever rest in peace) in ways that push the limits of human imagination. They require little effort to watch, yet have the power to change a life. They represent…
Part I of III in The Mountain Series
The rotor wash from a Bell 212 helicopter is startlingly strong. Though I was getting used to the pick up and drop off routine — kneel, huddle together, cover your face — every time the helicopter landed I was nearly blown off my feet. Peering out the side window as we lifted straight up from a postage-stamp-sized rock atop a peak called “Kickoff”, I noticed that getting blown over here would have meant a very long fall. Note to self: don’t be the guy at the back of the huddle.
Helicopter travel is addictive. Though it’s loud and uncomfortable, it’s the swiftest and most scenic way to get from Point A to Point B in the mountains. There’s also a certain Green Beret appeal to being whisked off a remote peak by a Huey. Purist hikers and climbers may call it cheating (I used to be one of them), but reserve judgment until you’ve hiked for five hours and 5,000 vertical feet in some of the wildest backcountry in the world and can get back to the lodge in ten minutes for a beer by a crackling fire. I came to this newfound appreciation after a week of up and down in the Bugaboo Mountains of British Columbia.
What's old is new
Retro gear is retro for a reason: modern outdoor gear design performs better than its forebears in almost all respects. But we still have a soft spot for the leather, wool, canvas alpine designs of the 1950s and ‘60s — you know, before things got all sleek and neon. After seeing two Gear Patrol favorite brands, Topo Designs and Howler Brothers, collaborate to design a classic climbing pack, the Klettersack ($189), we decided to go all Reinhold Messner and take it to the mountains to see how a retro style pack works in the environment that inspired it.
When it comes to flying, passengers seem to enjoy reflecting on the so-called “golden age of aviation” which, as far as we can tell, just means any time before present day. On any cross-country flight you’ll hear fliers reminisce on days of lax security standards as they’re digitally cavity searched or on the lost glamour of air travel as they’re entombed between the impressive combined girth of 17A and 17C. And it’s true. Flying today sucks. Even first class today sucks. Where’s the $1,000 value in a couple extra inches of legroom and three ounces of booze? Jet Blue tends to agree. The New York-based carrier just introduced an impressive new trans-continental service featuring their totally revamped take on first class: Mint.
Big beer for Bigfoot
Great beers — really great ones — have of late fallen into two categories. Big IPAs make their impression with complex hop mixes, while big stouts levy another piece of the puzzle, malt, for a savory warmth of chocolate, toffee, vanilla, smokiness and even bourbon notes. Great Divide Oatmeal Yeti Imperial Stout ($10) comes from a family of “big” beers, but the simple inclusion of rolled oats and some raisins (among a few other tweaks) in its brewing process makes this beast a different breed. This Yeti went to Yale.
Escape the ordinary... hotel
When looking for a place to stay in Southern California there are a number of beautiful and unique options. However, only one is both an National Historic Landmark and a beautiful resort that’s housed guests as varied as Thomas Edison and David Beckham since 1888: the Hotel del Coronado.
Oldies but Goodies
There’s something to be said for a little maturation. Age yields refinement, which more than compensates for lost youth. Poetic, eh? We think so. Anyways, one only has to look at Bowmore’s 12 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky and their 15 Years Old Single Malt Darkest to see the effects of age in action. We tasted both side by side.
Better Than Average Joe
For those who believe that little things make good coffee, the Brazen Brewer ($199) offers a mid-range drip machine with technology and temperature accuracy most often found on higher-end models. We put it through its paces as our office brewer for a week.
A boutique hotel in Tel Aviv
On Friday morning the scene along Rothschild Boulevard is picturesque: Young parents push their kids along in strollers; beautiful women ride by on Tel-O-Fun rental bikes; kiosks on the street corners serve orange juice squeezed to order; people drink coffee and beer in sidewalk cafes; a group of men play petanque under the looming ficus trees. The weather is in the 80s and sunny with a breeze. Stretching from Neve Tzedek (Tel Aviv’s first neighborhood) by the Mediterranean to Habima Square in the heart of the city, Rothschild Boulevard is a slice of paradise in the Holy Land, and if you’re not paying attention you could walk right by The Rothschild 71, a new boutique hotel tucked back a few yards from the leafy street.
Turn it up to eleven
Luxury adventure company Eleven takes its name from the ‘80s “rockumentary” This is Spinal Tap. In the movie, band member Nigel tells new guy Marty that while other bands’ amps go up to ten, theirs go to eleven: one louder than ten. Staying at Eleven’s Scarp Ridge Lodge amid the Colorado high country of Crested Butte is, well, an eleven experience, full of luxurious comfort.
A new expression from Johnnie Walker
Johnnie Walker presents a good lesson in the way the world really works: the rich drink Blue, the working man drinks Red, and in between there are rungs on the ladder of purchasing power. If you can make it to Double Black, you might just be able to claw your way into a bottle of Johnnie Walker Platinum Label ($110), now available in the United States.
Island hopping in the North Atlantic
My bartering skills need work. Hungry and in search of fresh seafood at the farmer’s market, I sidestep locals blocking my beeline to the solitary oyster stand. Splayed out in front are seven mammoth slurpers of the Ruisseau variety. Countless foam coolers offer the promise of more, but the woman behind the stand brings sad news: the baker’s half-dozen of bivalves will have to do. They are the last she has.
I begin to trundle off, disappointed and craving more of the renowned Ruisseaus, when it happens: Nolan D’Eon, the man behind Eel Lake Oyster Farm, is apparently en route with a huge shipment of more oysters than I could hope to shuck. I blurt “gimme twenty” from behind a smile, newly-minted (molded?) plastic Canadian dollars flying from my pocket. If this were Seattle or Hong Kong I’d swear it was a setup, but in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, victory is mine.
Essentials for a Smooth Trip
Travel pros. You’ve seen them. You’ve envied them. They glide through check-in, make the body-scan look like a photo shoot and sightsee like locals. Sure, part of it might be their passport with 200 stamps, but the right kit makes a world of difference, too. Whether you’re embarking on a shuttle flight or a trip around the globe, there are a few pieces of gear that will improve life on the road dramatically. We’ve got ‘em.