I’m not a big fan of delayed gratification. I think there’s only one thing better than getting something you know you want right away, and that’s getting something you didn’t even know you wanted.

This was pretty much what I thought when I spied Stone’s 07.07.07 Vertical Epic Ale ($5.99) in the beer section at Whole Foods. The story is thus–every year the San Diego, California brewery releases one “larger-than-life, heroic adventure” (according to the label copy) on 02/02/02, 03/03/03, 04/04/04, etc. up until the year 2012. Each brew is different and meant to be aged until 12/12/12, on which date the careful collector is urged to do a “vertical tasting” of every blend in order, resulting in said epic. Presumably sometime before 12/21/12, or Mayan Doomsday, to be on the safe side.

Genius. But because I have an annoying habit of being honest with myself I knew I couldn’t horde it until 2012 and cracked it open as soon as I got home. This year’s edition draws inspiration from Belgian Saisons and Golden Triples, clocks in at 8.4% alcohol, and packs a flavorful punch of spices–ginger and cardamom, and something like pumpkin. It’s tasty stuff and I only wish I knew how it will stack up five years’ hence.

A review of Vertical Epic.

Vertical Epic 07.07.07 while supplies last at Whole Foods on Houston St.


Tonight, when I called Caracas Arepa Bar for takeout, there was no hello. Instead the receiver hovered within hearing-range of vague, delighted sounds–people enjoying buttery, cheesey arepas and beers. The second and third times: busy signal. This was not the first time this had happened.

And this is how I know I’m in deep with a snack obsession, because instead of pulling out another dog-eared menu, I threw on pants and ran out with shower hair, slinking past all the pretty people spilling out from bars. Because I need arepas and Caracas can’t ignore me if I’m standing there in the flesh, demanding them. (more…)


Today while wandering through Soho I happened upon my favorite New York street performer/salesperson, Peeler Man. I call this a performance because his impassioned schtick is a notch or two beyond your average QVC spokesman. I mean, not just anybody can sell vegetable peelers to busy New Yorkers passing by on the street. (more…)


The next time you’re pub crawling in the East Village with someone you really want to impress and they say “where to next,” here’s what you do. Head over to Crif Dogs on St. Mark’s Place, a high-traffic dugout peddling franks and fries with gut-busting toppings. On the left-side wall pull back a sliding door to reveal a booth straight out of a David Lynch film, glowing red and empty except for a white plastic phone. Lift the phone, press the buzzer and wait. Do this like you know exactly what you’re doing. (more…)


I don’t realize what copious amounts of dairy I consume until I’m out with someone who can’t eat it without getting an upset stomach. I feel a reciprocal pang in my tummy as they scour a menu at some place I’ve raved about, looking for any item not slathered in cream sauce or cemented by gobs of cheese. It’s true, I am woefully under-prepared for adult-onset lactose intolerance.

So I was intrigued when I heard about the pizza at Grandaisy Bakery, served up at room temperature in cheeseless squares. The pomodoro especially interested me, as it consists only of sauce and crust; and as I peered at it under glass it looked kinda unfinished and possibly not good. But one taste changed my mind. The crust is crisp and light, and the sauce thick and slightly sweet. It highlighted the two elemental pizza ingredients in a refreshing way, and at $2.75 makes a great snack. (more…)

ALT Coffee


While I was tied up with work and vacation, my usual East Village neighborhood coffee haunt/internet cafe, shuttered, to re-open at some point as Hopscotch, a “family-friendly” establishment. (more…)