One caveat for anyone reading this blog:
We are fiery, irascible, cantankerous, loaded with passion...so if the grammar is a little sloppy, the jokes are a little crass and some less-than-desirable words sneak in here or there, well, you know what they say: "Queens, is Queens."
We have been reading… lots and tons of delicious material about food, drink, culture, depravity, and well, whiskey! We thought those of you who are interested enough to be reading these words (both of you), might like to take a look at this last year’s library selections. In the interest of time, we will hit some particularly high notes and leave the rest for y’all’s curiosity.
Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! by John McEvoy (2014)
Oh, Mezcal! You are the most raw, delicious, and sexy of all of our passions! To us, with our backgrounds firmly rooted in wine, we feel there exists no other spirit which communicates terroir in such a clear and cravable way! In every drop of Mezcal exists the tempestuous seasons of the agave’s life. The soil, the water, the wind, the heat of the day, the chill of the night ALL are reflected in the finished product. Along with, of course, the blood, the sweat, and the tears of the Mezcalero. The ancient tradition of his technique, the patina of his stills, the smoke of his fire, even the dirt under his fingernails, are there in the bottle. This interesting, concise, funny, and passionate book is truly quite something!
We took away: Maybe the reason terroir is so communicated in Mezcal is that almost every plant we consume as alcohol is one season old—grapes in wine, grains in whiskey. Agave piñas are a minimum of two years old before harvest; many are much, much older…
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (2000)
So yeah, this is the fourth time we have read this book, and many people are familiar with it, but it will get its full dues here regardless. Kitchen Confidential has been amazingly influential to us. Not only us, but to the countless restaurant workers for whom it has offered solace, inspiration, confidence, and the drive to go back to work day after day. This book is a love letter to all of the things we find great in the world, and to the one thing we happen to be at least a little good at, written from the perspective of an inherently flawed and depraved individual. It is also the perfect “fuck you” from all of us, in the trenches sweating it out in front of stoves and over hot coals, to all of them. A "fuck you" to all of the self-appointed critics, the people who see no human element in the cost of their food, and the clueless stockbrokers-turned-restauranteurs. It gives us a reason to live and continue. It should be read again, and again.
We took away: Details and People! This is a complicated thing, this restaurant business, but it all comes down to these two things. Attention to the details—music, lighting, bathrooms—all of these seemingly benign elements add up to the whole: good, bad, or indifferent. And treating people like family, family in whom you put complete and total faith and trust. UNTIL they screw up; then you use your sharpest knife to cut them adrift, promptly and without mercy.
Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2016 by Jim Murray (2015)
Much of what happens at Hand + Foot from a beverage perspective is based on research. In larger cities beverage sales are generally conducted by sales reps, in person and regularly. When in NYC for example, we would sometimes be tasted on products by 10 or 15 reps. PER WEEK. In Corning? Not so much. So when it comes to tomes like The Whisky Bible, we would be lost without them. The Bible contains lucid, critical, comprehensive, and funny reviews for thousands of whiskeys across the entire spectrum. If you love your dram at Hand + Foot, it was likely purchased on the recommendation of Mr. Murray…
We took away: There is more whiskey goodness in the world than we could possibly ever taste or carry. But if we strive to make educated choices, and continue to curate our selections, we are sure to have some spectacular juice on offer.
La Bonne Table by Ludwig Bemelmans (1989)
This book is an extraordinary thing. Many will know Herr Bemelmans from his 1939 children’s classic, Madeline. Many will not know he was actually destined as a boy for a career as a restaurateur. As an apprentice he spent his youth in some of the most amazing kitchens in Europe and the United States. This book chronicles, in short stories, missives, and amazing illustrations, his adventures in the biz, his well-honed passion for hospitality, and finally his later years as a famed dining connoisseur. We purchased this book used and proceeded to enjoy and thusly abuse it, underlining, dog-earing, and the like, only to find out that the used paperback we had paid $40 for is actually worth… nearly triple that. At this moment Amazon has new copies listed for almost $300.
One of the few things we wish we would have done when we lived in New York is go to Bemelmans’ Bar at the Carlyle Hotel. The entire place is decorated with the great man’s illustrations, and must be a sight to see… Sadly the Carlyle has a rigid dress code, and ridiculous principles when it comes to pricing (a plate of Mediterranean spreads, only $22, after the $25 per person cover charge, of course).
We took away: We still cannot afford the Carlyle.
Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin by Kenny Shopsin with Carolynn Carreno (2008)
Our love for this book stems from our love of the documentary film “I like Killing Flies,” which features Kenny in his home environment of Shopsin’s on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In the movie and the book Kenny shares, without pomp or polish, his unique, brilliant, and sometimes vulgar worldview. A worldview, which MUST be experienced by anyone who considers him or herself a human being on this inherently fucked planet of ours. As the title suggests, this book also contains more than 100 recipes which, like Kenny, are unimaginably creative, witty, and wonderful. Kenny compares fusion food to anal sex, which might give you an idea of what you are in for. Not enough of a preview for you? Well click on over to our website’s “Etc.” page and check out “Not So Terrific” where Kenny tells us why he teaches his kids that they are not so fucking terrific, and that that’s okay…
We took away: Food, life, love, family, restaurants, and community are all interconnected and well-stocked with colorful personalities and decidedly good people.
Kitchen Arts and Letters
Should any of this enrichment interest you, surely it is available at amazon. But if you want a truly amazing experience either online or in person there is no better place to look than Kitchen Arts and Letters. This food and beverage bookstore in Manhattan is a lovingly curated wonder of the world. Many, if not most, of their featured selections are signed copies and if you go, there is every likelihood you will be rubbing elbows with one or more of the world’s great chefs, or the kid who will soon be one.
Back in our Orlando days, we made a discovery which has shaped our palates and capped our evenings since—amaro. Amari (plural for “amaro”) are a class of Italian digestives derived from soaking bittering agents in alcohol. The word “amaro” actually means “bitter” in Italian. These spirits find their origins in the shops of alchemists or in the pantries of monasteries where they were used as cure-alls and tonics. Long day at work? Amaro. Hangover? Amaro. Broken heart? Amaro. Yankees lose a series? You get the idea. So, because you are so special, we will give you a tour of the bitter shelf, let you in on a little house secret, and wrap it up with a science lesson.
For the record, most European countries have some sort of bitter domestic spirit in which they specialize, and we do carry a few of those as well, but for now we will focus on the Italians. Amari are commonly drunk straight after a meal or sometimes mixed with soda or tonic water to be used as an aperitif. We also use several as cocktail ingredients.
Amaro Montenegro: The lightest and sweetest of the group. This one originates with a guy in Bologna attempting to recreate a spirit he enjoyed while traveling in Montenegro. It is made from more than 40 herbs and was first introduced in 1885. 46 Proof. $4 Single / $7 Double. Amber colored. Warm, toasty, caramel-sugar, nose reminiscent of Dunkin’ Doughnuts. Nougat, sage, peppercorns, mouth-coating sweetness, grassy, tannic, eucalyptus, menthol. Long spice-laden finish.
Punt e Mes: A disclaimer, since Punt e Mes is made with a wine base, it is technically a vermouth. But because of its luscious bitter characteristics, we prefer to use it as an amaro, and hence it has made this list. Many of the vermouths we offer are lovely and bitter, but not like this treat. (We will get into vermouths soon…) Translating to “point and a half” the name “Punt e Mes” may refer to a ratio of one part sweet to half-part bitter. It resides on the bitterness scale somewhere between sweet vermouth and say, Fernet (more later). 32 Proof. $4 Single / $6 Double. Light in color, light roast coffee. Smells of wine cellar, barrel room, dank, garden mint, salt taffy. Cherry cola, upfront spice, nutty, sherry-ish flavors. Long tannic finish showing very bitter quinine, green stems, sappy, fresh-cut wood.
Zucca Rabarbaro: Originated in Milan in 1845, it was created by a fella named Ettore Zucca. The word “Rabarbaro” refers to rhubarb whose roots lend Zucca much of its bitterness. Other Chinese-style medicinals are added to round out the flavor. 32 Proof. $4 Single / $7 Double. Green vegetables, char, bitter chocolate, coffee beans, leaf pile, and tilled soil take the nose. The sweetness is a surprise (think condensed milk and demerara) and is balanced by ashcan, with sharp and biting and aggressive bitterness. Extra sugar black coffee, vegetal notes, grilled artichoke, flowers, and sea salt round out the finish.
Fernet Branca: Fernet is actually a subset of the amaro category while Branca is the producer. Fernet Branca enjoys a fairly hearty following both here at Hand + Foot, and with chefs and hospitality folks stateside. Here’s our house secret…Fernet is the shift shot of choice at Hand + Foot where we order six bottles bi-weekly and where we sell maybe two shots a month. Perhaps it is superstition? Or maybe we just do need a cure-all to close the night? Either way it’s how we do. 78 Proof. $6 Single / $9 Double. Alcohol, mint menthol, Tom’s toothpaste nose. Thai basil, biting spice, and goldenseal make appearances on the palate. The driest finish of the group, warming, rewarding, with mint and just a hint of chili spice, and a wonderful slightly numbing alcohol presence.
Here’s your science lesson for the day. Bitter is bitter for a reason, generally a warning to the would-be ingestor that what you are about to eat or drink is possibly toxic. Babies, for instance, seem to innately dislike bitter things (making for plenty of rewarding kid’s-first-lemon YouTube videos). But, as we grow into adults, our brains and bodies learn to actually enjoy bitter things. Can you imagine actually requesting Brussels sprouts as a kid? As grown-ups, because of the pleasing metabolic and pharmacological results of bitters’ consumption, we start to see the value in bitter and begin to seek it out. Now, imagine adding alcohol to the mix and you might see how easy it is to acquire a taste for these pleasing spirits. Maybe you should run some experiments at Hand + Foot to see for yourself.
The other day we were doing a little late-night inventory, dutifully counting our wares, under the watchful eye of one of our most discerning customers. For the purpose of this post we will call him “Joe,” because that is his name.
Joe was listening to us count different shelves, and as we did, he kept exclaiming: “What the hell is that?” and “Wait, how many vermouths do you have?” It occurred to us that we have a ton of tasty libations that even our most traveled friends have never experienced. With that in mind, we have decided to do a little blog series of our favorites. We will start with whiskey, and future episodes will feature other categories of deliciousness.
Hand + Foot offers more than 100 whiskeys, so as we look to spotlight our favorites, we will put them into four sub-categories: Bourbon, Rye, Single Malt, and High Proof. We will also introduce a concept we’re calling “High Proof and the Smart Stomach Theory.”
Bourbon is a spirit distilled from a mash bill of at least 51% corn, made in the United States, and aged in new charred oak barrels. Contrary to popular belief, bourbon is not required to be from Bourbon County, Kentucky, and can, in fact, be made anywhere in the US. In the interest of fairness, we organize our menu with the Kentucky bourbons in one group (giving credit where credit is due…).
Eagle Rare 10 Year: Many bourbon drinkers are familiar with Buffalo Trace...this offering is effectively 10-year-old Buffalo Trace. 90 proof. $6 single / $10 double. Light, classic, hot, woody-green underbrush, sappy, a serious value in the 10-year category.
W. L. Weller 12 Year: So you have heard of Pappy Van Winkle, have you? Well, one of the details that distinguishes Pappy from the bourbon field is wheat. Pappy is a wheated bourbon. Weller is made by the same company in the same stills as Pappy; it is aged in the same rack house and it bears the label “The Original Wheated Boubon.” ’Nuf said? 90 proof. $7 single / $11 double. Nutty caramel, creamy, warm, nougat, toasted green seeds, pumpkin. Dry-grass and clover. Very smooth and regal 12-year offering.
Jefferson’s “Ocean” Aged at Sea: When we got this bottle, we desperately wanted to call bullshit on it. It just seems so gimmicky. Select barrels are put into containers and sent around the world on a research vessel. The idea being the constant motion will increase the whiskey’s contact with the barrel and expedite the aging process. Also, the ocean air will interact with the whiskey. But bullshit, this is not. 90 proof. $12 single / $18 double. Salted caramel, background of kelp, not barnyard but wharf, integrated, incredibly smooth, briny, hint of smoke. Reminiscent of young, unpeated Scotch.
Most of the same rules for bourbon apply, but in this case, the mash bill must be more than 51% rye.
Templeton Small Batch Rye: This guy, from Iowa, was allegedly Al Capone’s favorite whiskey. We can’t necessarily back that up, but when it comes to rye this one was our prom date, our first love, an introduction which never truly leaves your memory. 80 Proof. $7 single / $12 double. Granny purse, rose petals, perfume, leather, big league chew, spicy, layered, sweet, rich, elegantly smashable.
Willet 2 Year Kentucky Rye: If we had just one word for this one it would be "quixotic." This very young drink journeys all over the place. Searching, brash, stormy, naive, drunk—it makes the head spin. Somehow though, everything ends up pulled together and packaged into a truly honorable, chivalrous, and life-affirming libation. 111.8 proof. $6 single / $10 double. Raw coffee, peppercorn, Bubblicious, caramel, dry grass, distant brush fire, grape, plum, sap, cilantro, Old Bay and on and on...
Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey: Also from Kentucky, this is an extremely sought after and highly regarded rye. 90 proof. $7 single / $12 double. Very clean, sweet peppermint, candy shop, lumberyard, mouthwatering, unctuous, hay loft, menthol. Lives up to the hype.
SCOTTISH SINGLE MALT
Whiskey distilled in Scotland from nothing but water and malted barley and matured in oak casks for no less than three years.
Glengrant 10 Year: At the entry level price point, accept no substitutes. This single malt is very highly regarded and rightfully so. 80 proof. $7 single / $11 double. Fresh plum skin, boggy, light and effortless. Elements of all things Scotland (brine, peat, smoke). Possessing a singular regality.
Dalwhinnie 15 Year: This one is so unexpected, we love it! 86 proof. $10 single / $16 double. Dried flowers and dewy hayfield, wet stone minerality, barnyard, leather, lanolin. Strangely enough, this guy is reminiscent of top-end Chardonnay from Chablis.
Ardbeg "CorryVreckan" Islay Single Malt: Named after a whirlpool off the Islay coast, and allegedly "the peatiest" of the Islay single malts, this is a barnburner. 114.2 proof. $12 single / $19 double. Like a cadre of mechanics fighting a forest fire. Big, rich, unctuous, tempestuous, mouth-filling, and all the peat and smoke you can ask for. Even with all the funk it still maintains excellent balance and maturity.
HIGH PROOF SELECTIONS, AND THE SMART STOMACH THEORY
We find when drinking high-proof whiskeys that the euphoria they create is so much more complete than their lower-proof brethren, and we've always wondered why. Recently we learned some interesting things about the stomach and its nervous system called the Enteric Nervous System (ENS), and our gears started turning...
All boiled down, "the gut can work independently of any control by the brain in your head—it's functioning as a second brain," according to Michael Gershon, professor and chair of pathology and cell biology at Columbia. "It's another independent center of integrative neural activity." (This is according to an article published here in Psychology Today, 2012.)
The article also says: “With an astonishing 100 million neurons—more than in the spinal cord but a lot fewer than in the brain—arrayed over an intricately folded surface area more than a hundred times greater than that of your skin, he has found, the ENS can work all on its own, without any input from the brain, to control the movement and absorption of food throughout the intestines. No other organ can call its own tune without the baton of that conductor who stands on the pedestal above the neck.”
And, not only can the ENS control its own function, it can communicate directly back to the big boss about how you should feel. The article explains: “It also sends signals north to the brain that directly affect feelings of sadness or stress, even influence memory, learning, and decision-making. It relies on, and in many cases manufactures, more than 30 neurotransmitters, including serotonin, that are identical to those in the brain.”
Got it? OK, so here is where the guessing begins. We think the reason for that high-proof extra euphoria is our wonderful stomach-brains. High-proof booze hits you in the stomach as well as the head, so they create a whole body buzz, which is damn rewarding. We think those 100 million neurons might have something to do with it. If you would also like to research this theory, you certainly can’t go wrong with any of the following:
Redbreast Single Pot Still 12 Year Cask Strength Edition, Ireland: 116.4 proof. $15 single / $21 double. Green grass, brown sugar, coffee house, wet pebbles, searing, mouth coating, numbing, toasted, herbal. By far our favorite Irish whiskey.
Aberlour “A’Bunadh” Oloroso Finnish Highland Single Malt, Scotland: 120.2 proof. $13 single / $20 double. Chocolate-covered raisins and coffee beans, cappuccino, sugared plums, sweet cream, mint, maple forest floor. Just barely hints of smoke and peat interwoven well into the background. Fundamentally delicious in every way. Extraordinary.
Stagg Jr. Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon, United States: 132.1 proof. $7 single / $11 double. Ginger snap, paint store, walnut, almond, fiery, green tea, sugar in the raw, maple icing, bare-knuckled and unapologetic. This limited release will bloody your nose and break your heart and follow you home to sing in your yard.
Stay tuned for future "Let's Talk Favorites" on gin, rum, amaro, vermouth, tequila and mezcal, etc....
We have never been too much into science fiction, not for any particular reason, just not necessarily our thing. But Robert Heinlein? He is a different story. He reminds us of Twain, someone who can write a truly engaging adventure, a thoroughly enjoyable romp, but then stab you in the back with such whitely pointed and direct social commentary. So in honor of the Heinlein we quoted 2.22.14, here is our list: tactfully deal with dumbshits, drive well in the snow, cook kids chicken on a stick, unclog toilets, take apart refrigerators, learn on the fly how to get the gritty shit out of the bottom of a deep fryer, juggle type A personalities, actually juggle, stroke egos, clip wings, make a "pickle back," laugh, DJ, be angry for effect, not be too angry, do boring paperwork, be creative, not be too creative, break up a fistfight, remember orders, smile when folks want to special prep menu items, herd cats, be punitive, have tact, remove snow and ice, count kegs, hound distributors, remain critically minded, notice the details of a place in which you spend every waking hour, talk to everyone, appear tired but not exhausted, maintain the illusion of control, drink, eat, smoke, break away from a conversation, fight fires, plug holes, redirect flood waters, relax, change a keg, paint a ceiling, write blog posts... leave the rest for the insects.
Good god, have we been waiting for this day: the day the Crooked Stave came in. We discovered these beers while working in New York, and we were very excited to find a distributor willing to change their route every two weeks to bring them to us. And then they were OOS (out of stock) for tree months. Finally, we had to call the reps from their parent distributor, and twist a few arms, and exploit a few friendships, and generally piss people off by going over their heads, but now they are ours. Or yours, depending on how you look at it. Out of Denver, Colorado, Crooked Stave ferments beers in these giant oak barrels called foeders. Generally, brewers like stainless steel because it can be rendered sterile and then they can have their way with the the beers' every aspect. At Crooked Stave, the foeders represent the exact opposite of that--they soak up all sorts of yeasts and bacterias, which then inoculate the next batch they brew so that all of that microbial terror is present and yummy. We are carrying their Brettanomyces (earthy yeast strain, all sour and barnyardy) Saison called Vielle. And then two citrus wild beers called St. Brettas. They are labeled by the seasons. This doesn't mean they are meant to be consumed in that season necessarily, just that they were made with the best of that season's citrus. So, Summer is made with Tango Mandarins, and Autumn with Navel Oranges. All of these bottles are really spectacular and hopefully you all will find them worth the wait. We did.
We have gotten numerous requests for French fries, and numerous inquiries (some nicer than others) into our chips of choice. So perhaps a little explanation is in order. We strive to serve the absolute best of everything we can get our hands on. And we find Ruffles to be the most satisfying damn chips on the market. We aren't copping out, we just f**king love them--so salty and savory and crunchy--they are our desert island chips. And as far as French fries go, they are simply too involved to make from fresh ingredients at a high volume, which leaves us with various unsavory frozen options. Yuck. So we hope today's photo will serve as some sort of consolation, for those of you who want something French and Fried. We fry the the French Toast.
This pretty much speaks for itself.
But, if you are enjoying the photos in the bathrooms, they were all taken by Dan's grandfather, and they are available for sale in the gift shop.
We mean it. The Upper East Side is the only neighborhood in NYC. Brooklyn can keep the hipsters, LES can keep the wankers, and UWS can keep Alec Baldwin. We were happy on our little quiet hill. One of the reasons, was a joint that opened up just before we left, called Bondurants. And Bondurants was where we discovered Hillrock Estate Distillery. (We know that was the long way around to arrive at whiskey, but why miss an opportunity to piss on the UWS? Or Alec Baldwin?) Anyway, Hillrock is the jam. When we first opened, we carried their bourbon. Made by the former master distiller at Maker's Mark, Dave Pickerell, and aged in the sherry method called the Solera system. Young distilleries have a distinct disadvantage: good whiskey needs time to mellow, and if you have investors breathing down your neck it is tough for anyone to mellow. So, often young whiskey gets rushed to the market. At Hillrock they cleverly sidestep this problem. Hillrock's bourbon is aged in the Solera system, in which you essentially make a pyramid of barrels and when you drink or sell a little from the top, you mix new stuff in from the bottom. This way their oldest and youngest whiskeys are blended and the product in the bottle is way, way better than most of the other young New York State whiskeys. Oh, did we mention they also grow all of the grain they distill? Yeah, they are gangster like that... We have never tasted whiskeys—hell, spirits—which are this well integrated and terroir driven. Now to the second part of the story... One of our good friends and competitors on Market Street came in and wisely chose Hillrock bourbon for his dram. After thoroughly enjoying it, he decided to carry it in his establishment, which is great! But that means we needed to do better. We got on the phone to the folks at Hillrock and they personally drove us the whole line. We now have bottles from barrels #3 and #4, the single malts, barrel #13, double cask rye, and a tiny bottle of batch #1 unaged rye whiskey (partially made using George Washington's stills at Mt. Vernon). If you can't tell already—we gush for these whiskeys, and we think you will too. Come on in and we will be happy to retell any part of this story and/or provide you with as many whiskey-geek factoids we can fit in before your glass is dry.
Well kids, first we must thank you—thank you for your support, your wonderful, overwhelming support. You all have been complimenting the food and the service and the selection so graciously, it makes our cheeks all rosy. And it makes us think of this place we used to work at—a truly amazing restaurant (which will remain nameless). This place is special in many ways: it is award winning, it is cutting edge without being fancy, and most importantly, it is loved by the community, its owners and its employees. To dine at or to work at this place…heck, to park cars across the street…is an honor. But the chef (dude was also the owner) took a nearly antagonistic approach to compliments. If you gave this guy an award, say, “Best Burger in Town,” he would be PISSED. First of all, because you singled out one dish on a fantastic menu, all he was going to do for the next three months was flip f*%#ing burgers (which he was decidedly NOT excited about). But secondly, it was somehow an affront to his talents. If you say, “His is the best burger in town,” he says, “Bullshit! I can make a way better burger than that.” And he would. The ink wouldn't be dry on the article and he would be bitching at the meat guy wondering why he couldn't get duck fat into the grind. It was amazing. And inspiring. So now that everyone is really enjoying the food, it is time to make some changes: Hippie! Get in here you good little hippie, you are getting a rework. Keep the cheese, keep the smoked carrots, drop the arugula, sub radicchio, and let’s give you a slathering of cherry pistachio chutney. All that moist chutney is going to make you messy for sure, but the cumin involved is going to amp up the meaty savoriness and really give our vegetarian buddies something to crave. So, keep coming back in the cold months ahead, because we are going to reward you by getting better. Always.
Let's talk. This is something no one is drinking, and everyone should be. Holy shit! This is some good juice. Barolo Chinato. Technically vermouth (aromatized and fortified wine), but like no other. The base wine is Nebbiolo from Barolo—Nebbiolo from Barolo made by one of our favorite producers, Roagna. Chinato is expensive but worth it on every level. The minerality is crisp and clear. It offers up sweetness, but is artfully balanced with mushroomy umami elements. Like a roll in the hayloft, it does not disappoint. The use of botanicals introduces bark, spice, marijuana, and wormwood notes to the palate. The finish is extensive and shows medicinal tannins and quinine for days! This wine was traditionally gifted as a sign of hospitality, so it seems only fitting to invite you in to experience both our hospitality and our Chinato (we will give you the hospitality, the Chinato you have to pay for...) whenever you next find yourself in the neighborhood.
We are like the post office round these parts--neither sleet, nor snow, nor rain are going to shut us down. Come in out of the elements and we’ll serve you up a tasty libation.
Oh what glorious stuff this is, this restaurant business. And in all this glory perhaps the most remarkable time is now. When the shift is over. Not because the people have gone and the job is done, but because it is time for deep breaths and work-well-done-congratulations. The show is over. The night was busy and boisterous. People left warm and in good cheer. That is it. That is what we do, and do well. Satisfaction. The kitchen guys feel it, they are happy, they have shift drinks in their bellies. Winding down is an art form. Beer is paint. Everything is quiet. The energy, the clarity, the muscle memory, the precise actions, the direct words of people in battle, all are muted. Reduced to quiet moments, like movie memory montages bouncing about, hiding in the corners, the fringes, sometimes the fridges. All of the equipment is still on, humming a lullaby which will keep the spirit alive 'til morning. The kitchen's metronome, the ice machine, drops a crash of fresh ice into the bin, unnerving the new kid. The veterans don't even notice, just one of the many heartbeats of this place. This quiet kitchen is romantic, in the way Hemingway or Conrad or Kipling are romantic. The kitchen tells stories. It breaks hearts. It boxes ears on beachheads. It is a thing of beauty. A matter of pride. A home.
While we can't promise this will make the menu, we can promise, if it does, you will need to hurry to get one. We really liked this beer, but if you want the truth, we think it is a little spoofilated. We are also going to be getting some better (and cheaper) Rauchbier with more palatable alcohol levels. Take Schlenkerla for example, some crazy Germans in Bamberg (we don't know anything about their psychological states, we just assume they are crazy) make a smoked Marzen which is pretty killer. More importantly, they make a Helles we like even better. The Helles, our "bright" beer, isn't smoked at all, but the place is just so damn smokey it takes on this hint of campfire and minerals which is delish. Put it next to a shot of Joven Mezcal and you will be willing to play your sister in Chutes and Ladders for another round!
We found these beauties, true six-by-sixes, in the barn. They are going to be the perfect under-bar step where you will rest your feet, now that the pigeon shit is cleaned off. And they were our favorite price: FREE.
So, we finally got this passage in the basement blocked up. It separates our spot from the adjacent business. Thank Jesus. Everyone knows how those antiquities dealers like to get loose at all hours. And with nothing stopping them, they might be smuggling out our booze or filming a "Great Escape" reboot in our space. Regardless, the masons must have trapped this Mexican Barking Rat (a rare species: toothless, and with poison breath, tiny brained) on our side of the wall. Someone get the shovel.
Sorry to our followers (both of you), it has been a bit since we have written, which is not fair to you. But take a look at what we have been working on while you try to forgive us... These tin ceiling pieces came out of another joint on Market Street (we...er...ahem... "recycled" them). Anyway, we had to wash them and then set them out to dry, and it reminded us of these crazy battleship steel sculptures by Richard Serra. We first saw them at the Dia: Beacon (which is truly something to do, and soon). When you come in to Hand + Foot, make sure to get us to tell you the story about our best friend Jason getting yelled at in the Met for touching one of Serra's sculptures.
If you were hoping to hold onto that last little vestige of summer, there is no better beer than this beauty. Sure, the 2.7% ABV may turn some folks away, but those will be the fools in the room. This beer is an open-handed slap-on-the-ass of deliciousness. Sour, in the most drinkable way and named after a nuclear test site. Need we say more? Well they might want to, so check-out Gypsy Brewer Evil Twin.
Michael Kay and Paul O'Neill (Go Yankees!) are talking about how they wouldn't want to go the moon, the super moon, because there aren't any palm trees. We are contemplating crown molding while the Yankees don't go to the playoffs in the background. Strange to think, next year we will be behind the bar on this beautiful fall night, lazily chatting up Wednesday folks, watching baseball, mixing drinks and listening while The Band's version of "Atlantic City" or maybe "Madman Across the Water" by Elton John bounce off these bricks. We like rich soulful jams for big moon nights. And if anyone would be comfortable under a crown it would be our man Elton. And Levon was all about the midnight rambling...
Before being home to Hand + Foot, 69 West Market Street was a plastics outlet, a much-loved Irish bar, and even a chocolate factory—but our favorite predecessor was Carmen's. We weren't alive to experience it, but Carmen's looks like our kind of joint. Just grimy enough to leave you wondering which is the more dubious promise: the pizza or the entertainment. A very special "thank you" to the Corning-Painted Post Historical Society and Sheri Golder. This picture leaves us feeling nostalgic for a couple of our favorite bars: Lou's Lounge in Orlando and Biddy's Pub in New York.
Up until today, if you wanted to bring kegs of sudsy alcoholic liquid into the basement of 69 West Market Street, an odyssey would await. You would have gone down some rickety-ass stairs in the antique store basement next door, steered around a jumble of aging surplus and dusty Christmas decorations, and navigated through a hole in the wall in order to reach a rotting miniature walk-in cooler. Today, thanks to Barney Croft and his crew, you just need to go down these fine stairs. Whew. And the sparkling spanking new walk-in arrives soon!
Wondering what goes into opening a bar? This is a photo of Task #345,394,813. We are knee deep in choices as we try to curate the libatory from the three-inch-high stack of portfolios from wine, beer, and liquor distributors. We just get so damn thirsty!
Narragansett Lager, which is sold on merit, and Fratelli Branca's Fernet. They go together like Stephen Colbert and Jesus. Superlatively.
Describing this image requires a level of restraint which we are incapable of, so we will give you just the basic facts and let your minds do the wandering: Double-battered French Toast + Pit Ham + Brie + Red Jacket Orchards Plum Butter = Pleasurable Experience for One.
Yup we got ourselves a baker. Hoagie rolls are all sorted. Pretzel bread for beer cheese happiness is settled. And delicious sourdough for our Hard Egg Sandwich and French Toasty Ham Sammy is all set. Who is this "progressive baker," you might ask? Why the Village Bakery—right up the road in Montour Falls. We are happy to add them to our list of sources, because they are doing one hell of a job.
...and we hope you will...so that we can keep you abreast of the Great State of New York's ABC Laws, and our compliance with them. We are one step closer to being legally allowed to vend The Hooch. And in not too long a time at all, we will all finally be able to get a Fernet Branca and a Banh Mi at eleven in the morning, if we so choose. Oh, Happy Day!
Like this W.C. Fields rumination? Well good, because the "Quote of the Day" will be a, you guessed it: DAILY feature at Hand + Foot. We love sandwich boards a whole heck of a lot but, we feel folks misuse them. We will be filling ours with fun. So if you want to know what the special is, you are just going to have to come inside. But if all you need is to know is how Hunter Thompson or Kurt Vonnegut felt about "the edge," or where Foghorn Leghorn thinks we should bury the hatchet, we will have you covered street side and on Twitter... Oh and if you need a little more William Claude Dukenfield we will hook you up sharpish.
We thought it was coming, and it did. The "push-back." Our contractors work happy, they have the best hammers, and they have their shit together, but they say this project is going to take a little longer. Apparently we are one-third of the way there, so everybody has to hold their damn horses until October (except the contractors, they need to let their horses go all nuts, we need completely bonkers horses from those guys). Sure, we are a little bummed, but this WILL give us the time to really get down and dirty with the food research and to make sure we have the tastiest titillations in town. Anyway stick with us friends, we truly have good stuff comin' and if you need visual proof take a peek at instagram.
Kickstarter won’t let us give away alcohol, so when folks back us at $15, and the reward is a “beverage,” we mean: drink, booze, cup, juice, libation, inflammation, shot, shooter, dart, pint, dram, handle, the most ping pong tiddly in the nuclear sub, old tom.
Or perhaps you’d prefer one of these: intoxicant, hard drink, an open handed slap on the ass, the hard stuff, firewater, rotgut, moonshine, the bottle, the sauce, the stick, the carrot, Hiram Walker’s cousin Barbra.
We’ll also be happy to serve you: hooch, hippy be good juice, slice and dice, slice of life, the bottom bunk, the top bunk, bunk, time in the trunk, tri-color pasta, magic potion, magic carpet ride, coupe, martini, transistor radio.
What are you craving? Back our Kickstarter campaign and we will be happy to serve it to you!
The State of New York was kind enough to drop us a note. They cashed our check. And they wanted us to know that they had handpicked a company who, for the modest price of $202.00, would be willing to analyze our fingertips and verify our identities. They did not mention, however, that this identification would take place at a Horseheads Truck Stop/Holiday Inn Express; maybe we can sell some gold for cash while we are there? What does this all mean? We are one step closer to being able to legally vend alcoholic beverages in the State.
-Mount Morris, NY. We took a drive through dungeons and windmills in search of furniture for our front windows. We made two discoveries: Skittles Dark make you sleepy and are sure to underwhelm, and the range of gaudy Victorian furniture, '50s fishing tackle, and other glow-in-the-dark flotsam in Mt. Morris is pretty impressive. The erectly coiffed and slightly mascaraed dealer added his own authenticity to the experience by introducing us to his toy wire-haired chihuahuas Lenny and Brucie. He also gave us a very fair price on his mother's tearoom things.
We are super excited about this new edition to the menu. Visually this guy is nearly as American as Truck Nutz but we promise the flavors are something else entirely. Sourdough, hard-egg, red wine and baking-spice-pickled beets, iceberg, feta, and turmeric mayo. This one is a barn-burner!
Oh, and if you were hoping for New Edition as in the R&B and Pop group formed in Boston in 1978? We aim to please: Candy Girl
Persona blanca loca! Mole con chile rellenos en un sandwich? Con los chips Frito? ¿Qué pasa con ellos? Si esta mierda no es bueno, entonces alguien debe quemar el edificio abajo!
We aren't pulling any punches with the peppers. If they need to lose their skins, they are losing them the lazy way—straight into the natural gas with you spicy devils! We doubt Jacques Pépin would fully approve, but he seems like a pretty amiable old dude, so who knows? Look for these Hungarian Rellenos to grace the "Sloppy José."
Combining Caton's finest campfire-smellin' smokey-ass bacon with red onions and sugar and then cooking it down all gooey and nice is what makes the world spin and we are damn proud to be part of it. Oh, and this jam (which IS the JAM) is destined for some sort of sweet and funky grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. And although it is still in development we can offer you this: shit's gonna be delicious!
If you are picking up what we are setting down and getting as excited as we are, then check out hfcampaign.com to become a bona fide backer of Hand + Foot. Backing ranges from $15 – $1000 and there are packages available for every fella in the fold. For $15 you can get a free drink. (The teetotalers at Kickstarter make us call it a “beverage,” but let us assure you, that means we’ll give you the tasty libation of your choosing!) If you feel like ballin' out, you can claim one of these here fancy stools. For backing us at the $250 level, we will spray-paint your initials on it. And yes, you could probably just go to industrywest.com and buy yourself one, and sure you probably have access to spray-paint. But then you would have to use it at your house and we all know the whiskey is better at ours.
One of our more troubling duties these days is to drive alllll the way to the beer store, purchase fine brews (from a good-hearted old gentleman), drive allllll the way home, find the damn bottle opener and clean-ish glasses, sit down on the deck (in the light sprinkle of a summer shower) and drink them all (rapidly until relaxation is achieved). Tough life this one... The line-up? Brouwerij Lindemans Cuvee René, Jolly Pumpkin Luciernaga (The Firefly), and Crooked Stave St. Bretta (Spring). There is not enough time to go into them all, but if you see one of these before you get a chance to enjoy one at Hand + Foot, do so. And if you have not yet experienced the pure fucking joy of sour beers, made with the bacterial fauna of their distinct locales, then get ready because we are going to go there dear friend. All the way there...
Do they have leprechauns in Scotland? This is clearly the leprechaun entrance to the old Snooty Pig, but when we titled this post we couldn't help but imagine Billy Connolly saying it. "Aand a Weee Doar." The man makes us happy, what can we say? Email us if you want to offer your opinion on the color scheme for the exterior. (Ignore the brown—that's all going away.)
Well that is pretty much all of them. And we hope the Jackie Brown reference in the previous post wasn't too obscure. Actually, yes we do... Anyway, the space is pretty well gutted at this point and the electricians are in there doing.... ah.... whatever electricians do. We are assuming that means things like watts and amps and car batteries. Or maybe just Lance Armstrong on a stationary bike?
Here we go, when you absolutely, positively, gotta tear down every 2X4 in the room! Accept no substitutes.
"...but only for those with true grit. And we are chock full of that." - Hunter S. Thompson
A noble beast gave his life for these 13 strips of god, damn, perfection. And where might one purchase such porcine transcendence? Some amazing bacon to call their very own? If only there were a clue... Perchance, a photographic image on the vast plain we call the Internet? A needle in a ball of thread, for sure, but... Might this blog maybe contain such secrets?
We care so much about the damn produce in this joint we even do our frying in the garden.
We are quite sure one of these things is illegal… If it isn't the public consumption then surely the deep-frying in the rain is a punishable offense. Either way, this guy is dedicated to crispy little morsels and Genny Cream and a little rain isn't going to stop him, whoever's Brudder he may be.
Tostones (double-fried plantains) in Corning, NY. We are pretty excited about that! We haven't decided what sort of delicious seasoning they will sport, but we are sure they will be served in a brown paper bag, much like the Tall-Boy cans of Bud-Heavy straight out of the ice, all cold 'n refreshing.
Ah yes, the fried chicken, our darling-sexy-dirty-girl. Soft and supple potato roll, black mustard, voluptuous honey breast, gooey sharp-cheddar, and a nice, sweet, pickle. Ahem, oh yes, and thick-cut bacon. Something tells us this trollop will make the menu.
Like every six-minute-abs commercial we need a good "before picture," so here it is... The old Snooty Pig walk-in cooler floor and the grime that goes with it. This place is gonna need some work. Aloe Blac’s singing our theme song these days. Speaking of which, we’re offering naming rights to the 99%. Back us on Kickstarter, and we’ll spray paint your initials on the furniture. Check it out!
OK maybe not the complete "after-pic." This is our "just-barely-subsequential-pic." But whatever. That floor smelled kinda good actually. Maybe we have fallen asleep in too many dive bars, but there is something sorta comforting about the smell of years-old beer, damp and musty, rich in history and wholesome depravity.
Now that's a desk worth sitting behind! Vodka, digital scale, "Whip-Its," what more do you need...to infuse spirits? (Taking the precious bodily fluids from fruits and vegetables and forcing them on the spirit of our choice.) Look for original iSi infusions at Hand + Foot!
Results are in: Sugarsnap martini in Corning, NY. A beverage best consumed while watching someone else mow your lawn. AND for folks from Portland (either one): that pea shoot was completely free range too, raised it in the garage on nothing but sunshine, PBR, and Ira Glass podcasts.
If it weren't for lawyers and landlords we would have been open last Tuesday, but what can you do? We need space and we have it! 69 West Market St, Corning, NY! It is a diamond in the rough, complete with golf-shoe holes in the hardwood and 50-year-old Utica Club cans in the rafters, but it is going to be really great; in something like 64 days, three hours and 24 minutes! (Thank you Corning's Gaffer District for the excellent signs.)
First things first. Need to say good bye to NYC? Who better to say it than John Cheever?
This is where the hammer met the homework and all of the busy words were created, where we defined ourselves for the suits and tried to learn a little something. Under Hunter S. Thompson's picture, at this dim desk, with New York City rumbling by, our pitch was perfected. Hot damn!
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©2018 Hand + Foot | Drinks and Food in Corning, NY.