When Starbucks officially became the ‘new home office’; the independent coffee bars latinized themselves introducing americans to the standing coffee-bar-habit. The excuse was to be social. OK then. I really don’t like Starbucks. And for several reasons, from capitalism to moral to plain taste. But I confess they get it so right at times, it’s amazing. On the day of presidential elections, coffee was free…. Hear Music has always been a fabulous label with the coolest compilations, and one of the first stores where consumers could create their own CDs…. Then the smart consumer gimmick, and “working from home” became synonymous with “working from my neighborhood Starbucks”. Trendsetter they are.
Independent coffee stores, on the other hand, are upgrading their design schemes to facilitate social interaction. As noted by the NYT, Stumptown Coffee Roasters in NYC’s Ace Hotel, Café Grumpy’s new Park Slope outpost, and Intelligentsia in Venice Beach have all found success in this shift away from coffee bar-cum-workspace culture. Maybe it’s that Italian thing (and the recently opened Eataly is their best representation so far), the latinization of habits (um cafezinho….) Anyway, comfy chairs are out, and standing room-only bars are in. The purpose is to make one move away from behind the laptop, stand side by side a fellow customer…..and get social.
Perbacco is a little place on the Lower East Side that after you visit, probably will always remember as one of your most memorable meals…ever. Wow! No, WOW…. Is the most common expression at this trattoria’s dining room. A couple of years ago Frank Bruni of the NYT described it as a “humble setting in the far East Village” –correct!– that was a “a trove of surprises, of dishes that don’t duplicate anything anywhere else in Manhattan.” He was absolutely right. Fortunately even though they’re seven years old, they’re still under the radar!
The chef, although from Modena, is a fan of Ferran Adria, so the meal begins as unconventionally as it might end—perhaps with crème brulee made with aged parmesan in a mousse topped with a thick, crackly shell of balsamic-infused cream. Then green olives stuffed with four different kinds of meat, dunked in breadcrumbs and fried to resemble mini croquettes. El secondo was a vitello tonnato, disguised as sushi, or seared tuna and veal little squares garnished with the slightest sprinkle of sea salt and cracked pepper. Dessert, vin santo. I am addicted.
Slowly New Yorkers are catching on the very civilized European habit of using a bicycle as their main means of transportation. The city is flat so it helps. Added to the fact that transit is chaos and a (good) taxi is a rare commodity, why not right? A bicycle can do just wonders, not only as a device for exercising, but also as a safe and fun alternative transportation. The bike lanes are getting new paint and new routes, new parking spaces are being created and the city is embracing the culture. Fashion is tagging along putting out int he market iconic styles, such as folding bikes that come from Korea and China are super-handy and rarely get stolen; or cruisers, that have a super cool retro style and are known for durability. Not to mention Puma’s Urban Mobility line, the Glow Rider (aka Stealth Visibility Bike) is pretty much the coolest city bike ever.
I think they started showing up less than a year ago. First LA, then NY; and from a gastronomic fad it has turned into a cultural phenomenon…and I can’t get enough of these food trucks! The food is fantastic, the settings are perfect (no tables! no waiters! no walls!) and the marketing is just so much fun! Waffles & Dinges or the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck are simply hysterical. Not to mention the stunts: when would you see Alain Ducasse cooking inside a truck, with Daniel Bouloud or Michael White beside him doing their own edibles for the masses? I really love it, and feel that I’m witnessing art and culture rolling down the streets of NY, LA…. But really they’re all over now.
As the creators of Chocolate Editions, Mary Matson and Matt Even, take inspiration from everything from the canvases of Sol LeWitt and David Hockey to everyday objects like Neapolitan ice cream and rugby shirts. One is a designer and former pastry chef; the other is an art director. So they have united their creative skills to play scrabble with chocolate bars! Simple message and a flare with pop. I love it.
Not very long ago I used to delete any mention of the world “brazil” from my resume, such bias I felt in my industry. America may be the land of freedom, diversity and opportunity; but that Americans are very xenophobe, oh yes, they are. Especially in television. However, and very fortunately, things seem to change; and for the first time in my life whenever I say I was born in Brazil, I feel the immediate sense of excitement. And NOT because of soccer, women or carnaval.
With developed economies struggling and emerging markets thriving, more and more financial deals are being cut well away from the traditional centers. And in the past decade, Brazil, Russia, India and China — BRIC — made their mark on the economic landscape. China may hold the US dept, but with over a billion people and a language being a barrier, it is still a little far off…. Russia will not anyone in very easily. India is, well, India. And Brazil finally is living its glory days as the Land of The Future.
So I’m riding high this allure to all things Brazilian. Fox TV Studios brilliantly open it’s development slate to foreign talent, and I was able to introduce them to three great titles. Hopefully we will seen them on screen in the next few years. It’s fresh and it’s a new business avenue… But I am seeing farther then a studio and want to create a Brazil hub in a talent agency. There’s enough talent to crossover. I’ve met with a few visionaries but opening the mind of an american? It’s a very strenuous task. So let’s see. I may see the results of my efforts only in two or three years; but I have not given up. Thankfully things change.