Briefings: Patagonia, NBA Analytics, Wine Crime, and Recipes for Spring

Briefings By Photo by GP

This week we’re reporting from Edinburgh, UK, and seeing things through the traveler’s lens (more on Edinburgh in the coming weeks). In that spirit, this week’s picks are all about seeing familiar things from a different perspective. We’ve also got two recipes that celebrate the changing of the seasons, which is exactly what happened this week across northern Europe as countries celebrated May Day, the pagan religious festival marking the beginning of summer. Here in Edinburgh, that means fire, drumming, and screaming naked people painted red.

It’s a big and complicated world. We’re at tips [at] if you think there’s something we should know about.

1. Where to Stay | The Singular, ‘Gonia

The New York Times has a look at The Singular, a hotel wrought of a former sheep processing plant in Puerto Bories, Patagonia, Chile. Instead of sheep pieces, the Bories Cold Storage Plant now houses guests in 54 rooms and 3 suites with floor-to-ceiling views of the Patagonian fjords. “On the outside the hotel and spa looks like a cluster of unkempt farm buildings, but the inside is industrial chic: rooms of polished red brick, hulking steel and wooden beams.” The Singular also staffs a team of guides to take guests on expeditions ranging from birdwatching to trekking in Torres del Paine National Park.

2. What to Scope | NBA Analytics

Hard evidence v. anecdotes, gut feeling. Sabermetrics v. traditional measures of player performance. This was essentially the Billy Beane proposition: Rigorous statistical analysis will ID players undervalued in the market for talent. Wired has the story of a Stanford senior working at Ayasdi, a data visualization company, who mapped player data from the 2010-11 NBA season and used it to come up with 13 new positions that articulate the role of players based on their performance in terms of points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers, and fouls. Since the analysis is on a per-minute basis, it’s possible to compare starters with bench warmers and get a fresh look at their contributions.

3. What to Avoid | Wine Crime

If you’re like us, you’re seldom in the market for bottles of Châteaux Pétrus, Lafleur or Lafite — wines that might cost a few grand a pop. But if you are: beware the fakes. According to Jancis Robinson in the FT, wine crime prevalent, with lots of forgeries and no universal standard for authentication. That’s starting to change as producers are more fastidious about tracking their vintages and merchants avoid multiple middlemen. For our part, we’ll continue to rely on the firm handshake of our Appalachian moonshiner.

4. What to Grill | Calçots with Romesco Sauce

Catalans celebrate the beginning of spring with an onion festival. We’ll be doing the same with an assist from Peter Hoffman, owner of Back Forty West in New York City and one of the earliest practitioners of farm-to-table restaurant cooking. Just toss some leeks on the grill and serve with his romesco sauce. Flamenco music suggested.

Calçots with Romesco Sauce
1 cup almonds toasted
3 slices sourdough bread, preferably fried, but at a minimum toasted
5 cloves garlic
5 anchos chiles
3 cups plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons pimenton
½ olive oil
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced

Grind the almonds, bread, and garlic until fine. Add the anchos, tomatoes and pimenton and
puree in a food processor. Then add the olive oil, vinegar and lemon and season with salt.

5. What to Mix | Strawberry-Rhubarb Julep

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend. (We’ve got a whole lot of Kentucky coming your way in the next few months, by the way.) Thus, your modified julep, thanks to Robert Newton, chef and owner of Brooklyn-Southern restaurant, Seersucker.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Julep
2 oz Elijah Craig
1/4 oz rhubarb simple syrup (recipe follows)
2 sprigs of mint
1-2 strawberries
crushed ice
whole ice

Use a julep cup with a short straw that protrudes just above the packed ice. Pack crushed ice tightly in julep cup. Muddle strawberries in mixing glass. Add bourbon and rhubarb syrup. Add whole ice (not the crushed ice in the julep glass). Stir and strain over crushed ice in julep cup. Garnish with large sprig of mint. Drink abundantly.

Rhubarb Syrup
2 cups rhubarb sliced thin
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Combine all ingredients. Bring to a low boil. Let simmer until the syrup is flavorful and all the sugar is absorbed. Strain, cool, use.