THE UPPER HOUSE GOES GREEN AND HI-TECH WITH iPADS

Guests will be able to check-in at The Upper House using iPads

The Upper House will be the first hotel in Hong Kong to use iPads for guest registration. Already known for a paperless arrival and departure experience the hotels’ Guest Experience team is able to provide services such as concierge, guest relations, bell and cashiering at any location throughout the house using portable PCs. The iPad will be a welcome addition to this unique style of service at The Upper House.

There are also iPads available for guests to use during their stay and the hotel has an iPod-touch® in each of its 117 guestrooms and suites, offering a comprehensive source of house information, room service, games, music, local area information, weather, news and feedback forms at the touch of a screen, replacing printed hotel directories.

In this digital age, The Upper House is aware of the importance of keeping guests connected also providing complimentary wireless high-speed internet from the house’s energy saving Lexus RX450H hybrid cars to guestrooms and public areas, ideal for business and leisure travelers on the move.

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TAJ CAPE TOWN’S HISTORIC CITY CENTER BUILDINGS CELEBRATED IN STYLE

Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces Creates a Contemporary Luxury Hotel While Preserving the Past

A year ago, few people could have imagined that two historic buildings in the Cape Town city center would host international investors, local business leaders and celebrities at the grand opening of a five-star Taj hotel.

Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons, RK Krishnakumar, executive director of Tata Sons and vice chairman Indian Hotels Company Limited, and Raymond Bickson, managing director and chief executive of Indian Hotels, officially inaugurated the Taj Cape Town at a red-carpet event on Saturday, August 28, 2010.
"We are delighted to announce our foray into South Africa with Taj Cape Town," said Raymond Bickson, speaking at the ceremony. "This is in sync with our strategy to continue our vision of growth in key international destinations. Cape Town is an increasingly popular tourist and business destination and this is yet another step towards establishing a significant presence for brand Taj across the globe with its exemplary combination of product and service."

Joint venture partners Tata’s Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces and city center developers Eurocape spent two years and over R500 million (US$69 million) restoring the original South African Reserve Bank and Temple Chambers buildings.
Eurocape successfully developed the neighboring Mandela Rhodes Place and is actively pursuing a project to create a multi-billion rand mixed-use development in the inner-city. Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces has considerable experience in marking and operating iconic city center hotels. Its portfolio includes The Pierre in New York, 51 Buckingham Gate in London and its flagship property, the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai.

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Highpoint Bistro and Bar Brings Giggles of Delight With Presentations . . . But There’s Nothing Funny About the Kitchen, Which (At These Price-Points) is As Good As It Gets

highpoint interiorIMG_5495

Highpoint

216 Seventh Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets in Chelsea.

Open for lunch (11.30 am to 3.00 pm ) and dinner from (5.00 pm to 10.30pm) daily from Sunday to Thursday and serve weekend brunch on Saturday & Sunday from11.30 to 4.00pm and dinner from 5.00pm to 11.30pm on Friday and Saturday.

For reservations, call 646-410-0120 or to browse the menu visit www.highpointbb.com.

There is nothing like a NY neighborhood restaurant. With intended exceptions, each has its own character and doesn’t travel (even a few blocks N, E, S or W). Chelsea restaurants are known for their casual feel, dependable food and lowish prices.  You might walk past this local addition with its minimalist decor. But don’t, You’d be making a huge mistake.

At its core, Highpoint aims to make dining fun again, at any point throughout the day. The food is playful, interactive, and creative; the ambiance is casual but cool, flexible (and affordable) enough to accommodate dinner, daytime lunch, coffee breaks and late night drinks with equal panache.

It starts with seasoned operators: born into a family of restaurateurs, the Singh brothers proved their talent early by turning their parents’ single successful venture in India into an empire of 23 establishments. Wanting to tap into the United States market, they teamed up with Preet Takhar (a local restaurateur from the United States) and formed Earthen Grill Inc. to open two restaurants in the tri-state area, including Raaz, a popular Indian eatery in Jersey City, before embarking on Highpoint, their foray into American cuisine in New York City. The same drive and determination that propelled them to mega successes in India and across the river now stands behind their latest pursuit—and it shows.

Perhaps their best decision was to give Phil Deffina. a stage for his passion and creativity, a result of years of inspiration under famed chef David Burke and at San Francisco’s much-loved 4-star restaurant, La Folie. By merging the laid-back casual cool of California cooking with the sophistication and cheekiness of New York culture, Deffina creates food that’s quintessentially, unpretentiously Modern American.

All appetizers are a hoot. Start with the Buffalo Chicken Lollipops—they may sound like wings by any other name, but they’ll be a good first surprise. Spiced chicken meatballs get wrapped in a crispy wonton skin and fried on a lollipop stick—finger food that doesn’t get your fingers dirty. They’re served with blue cheese fondue and spaghetti-cut pickled carrots, a blend of tangy, sweet and savory flavors that’s at once comforting and novel. On our visit, there was a special of Kobe Dogs, which arrived on a surrealistic metal tree, surrounded by winding fresh herbs that made our table gasp in amazement. (It may go on the menu so be aware).

highpoint Tuna Tartare Tacos

So it goes with the Tuna Tartare Tacos, whose inspiration goes more the Asian route than the Mexican. Fresh yellowfin gets marinated in chili and sesame oil for a subtle punch; then it’s packed into thin and crunchy taco shells with spicy mayo, avocado mousse and a sparkly, salty kick of tobiko. Another starter of flatbread pizza, perfect to share, is made with bread from a tandoor oven—it’s used to make much of the restaurant’s bread—and topped with smoky, slow roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, a drizzle of basil oil resting in the center and offering it extra flavor is lemony dressed olive arugula and shallot salad. With all these dishes, there’s a sense of playfulness in merging the highbrow with the low, the familiar with the surprising—it’s the something that makes you feel at home without feeling like you might as well have made it at home.

Cold Noodles With Pond Prawns (Below)  may have disappeared by the time you visit, but I hope the  The “Iceburger” Salad, so named because it mocks a burger. The lettuce is sliced in half and stuffed with thick cut bacon, tomato, blue cheese, red onion filling. The bacon is freshly cook and the whole definitely represents more than the sum of its parts. Chelsea Chowder corn, chorizo, clams, potato dumpling  is beautifully sectioned in a large bowl and the heady broth is poured on tableside.

Cold Noodles with Pond Prawns_

Entrees follow suit, and range from handmade pastas to steak with polenta to vegan-friendly dishes, providing ample options for groups of picky eaters. Fettucini is made daily and topped with prosciutto meatballs and a hearty Sunday gravy—a real classic—while Steak au Poivre (Below) goes meatless highpoint watermelon steak by subbing in watermelon glazed with black peppercorns, vinegar and honey. A more composed vegan entrée than what’s normally available on omnivorous menus, the fruit takes a full-bodied, smoky char that strangely, and rather successfully, mimics that of a good steak. With a jicama slaw mixed with avocado, grapefruit essence, and slices of the pink citrus, it’s a summer BBQ fest that anyone—meat-eating or not—can get behind.

Seafood lovers can’t go wrong with the chef’s Seared Day Boat Scallops, (Below)highpoint Seared Dayboat Scallops sweet and perfectly cooked, plated with a delightfully smooth corn puree, strips of chorizo, and sautéed baby leeks. The surprise addition? Popcorn, which lends the dish texture and fun while playing off the corn that’s already present.

Our two favorites were the best “Under $20” Roasted Chicken on any NY restaurant menu. (*SEE RECIPE BELOW) Seawater brine lends a haunting taste, tenderness and moisture and the accompanying fingerling potatoes and sautéed spinach are delicious. Also, Stuffed Suckling Pig with charred Jersey peaches, celery root, frisée  and baby turnips is stuffed with succulent forcemeat and an exemplary rendition of this, often disappointing dish.

If all that isn’t enough, go family style by ordering sides for the table. Banana Fries served in a mini shopping cart are the lovechild of French fries and patacones, while Crazy Corn is served on the cob (grilled after being boiled) with cilantro, butter, lime and cotija cheese—Mexican “elote loco” with its own Highpoint style.

highpoint Creme Brulee Egglings

Dessert, perhaps as the most interactive part of the Highpoint experience, begins with a trio of crème brulee egglings. It is a favorite, in part because of its fun flavors—banana rum, raspberry and vanilla—but also because of its funky presentation. Inspired by the ingredient that’s the basis of any good custard, each one is piped into its own hollowed out eggshell and set on mini terracotta planters, a hilarious presentation that makes the dish as charming and fun as it is smooth and decadent.

highpoint Caramel Experiment

Tough as it may be to beat, it’s one-upped only by the Caramel Experiment, wherein a luscious caramel stream is poured onto a Himalayan salt slab, a constantly evolving flavor experience to be enjoyed with a comprehensive spread of fruit, popcorn, and assorted baked goods. It’s a testament to the fact that nearly anything sweet is made better with salted caramel.

Wine and cocktails add to the fun, with an emphasis on affordability that sees bottles priced in three tiers ($25, $35, and $45). We loved the Pinot Blanc Gustav Lorentz, 2009, from Alsace. Cocktails are designed and executed by up-and-coming mixologist Paul Huber, whose background spans some of the city’s well-known cocktail hotspots, such as Bar Milano, Pranna Lounge and ‘inoteca. They feature local ingredients, like the fresh plums mixed with pomegranate liquor, lemon juice, Cointreau, gin and absinthe in the Plum Crazy. Also popular is the Sunny Day in Chelsea, made with pink grapefruit vodka, elderflowers and honey.

Their is an air of warmth, friendliness and conviviality that is undeniable at Highpoint. Service, starts with a smile from manager Sean McCloskey and continues throughout the evening from the helpful staff. The ambiance encourages the same laid-back, fun-forward feel. Something about the space feels lived in, versatile, with lots of light by day and a welcoming glow by night. Comfortable seats and banquettes are perfect for a long visit with lots of laughs, while drop-down copper lamps by the bar add a touch of vintage coziness. The décor has New York written all over it, both literally and figuratively: black and white images of street signs and iconic buildings fill up the long, narrow dining area creating that local-comfy quality that evokes so many famous sitcom sets. Thankfully for us though, this one’s the real deal.

Copyright 2010 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved

Disclosure

Roast Chicken Recipe:

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THE ALGONQUIN HOTEL JOINS THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION

AlgonquinMarriottRibbonCutting

First New York City Hotel Inducted into Collection

The Algonquin Hotel, New York City’s famed literary landmark hotel located at 59 W 44th Street, announced today their official affiliation with the Autograph Collection, a portfolio of upper-upscale, independent hotels and resorts, each with distinctive personalities. The Algonquin Hotel is the first New York City property to become a part of Marriott’s new collection of distinctive hotels and resorts. 

The Autograph Collection, a new collection of hotels within Marriott International, Inc’s (MAR: NYSE) global portfolio, takes an innovative approach to selecting iconic hotels with distinctive personalities that promise guests a unique experience. Hotels in the Autograph Collection can fall into the resort, historic, boutique or urban hotel categories.

“We are thrilled that The Algonquin has become a part of the Autograph Collection,” said Ted Darnell, chief operating officer of HEI Hotels & Resorts. “We pride ourselves on the unique experience we offer our guests, whether they are here for business or leisure travel. The Algonquin’s unique features, history and extraordinary service are in perfect alignment with the Autograph Collection’s commitment to distinction and elegance.” 

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RODNEY STRONG OFFERS QUALITY AT A DISCOUNT

Wine On Line Special Recommendation

 

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2 0 0 7  ALEXANDER Valley CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Estate Vineyards
www.rodneystrong.com
Place Matters
Sonoma County, California

HISTORY
Rod Strong recognized the Alexander Valley as an ideal place to grow cabernet
sauvignon as far back as 1971, when he planted our first cabernet vineyard on a
hill known as Alexander’s Crown. Today we proudly farm over 200 acres of estate
cabernet on the benches and hillsides above the valley floor, where cabernet
displays the finest expression of the Alexander Valley terroir.

I N  THE  V I N E Y A R D S
The 2007 vintage started off with a very dry spring, which tended to make for
smaller clusters, smaller berries, and less canopy overall. The growing season was
about as perfect as any winegrower would want, with warm afternoons and cool
evenings, and a complete lack of hot or cold spells. With no weather problems at
harvest time, few are surprised with the exceptional quality of this vintage, which
will likely go down as one of the best in recent years. Our estate cabernet harvest
commenced on September 15th, and concluded on October 24th.

TASTING NOTES

The Alexander Valley signature style is
evident in this delicious cabernet: bold
fruit aromas and flavors centered on red
plum and boysenberry, and a rich and
mouthfilling texture with soft tannins,
all of which we’ve framed in the finest
oak barrels for 18.5 months. Enjoy over
the next 3 – 6 years.
Wine maker Rick Sayre
Alcohol 14.2%
Residual Sugar 0.08%
TA 0.60gm/100ml
pH 3.58
Appellation Alexander Valley
Blend 93% cabernet sauvignon, 4% merlot,
2% malbec, 1% syrah
Cellar & Fermentation 18.5 months in French and American oak barrels
2007

SRP: $22. Full of fruit to enjoy with lamb, game, assertive cheese,

Copyright 2010 Wine On Line. All Rights Reserved

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SONY MASTERWORKS RELEASES George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

Porgy%20and%20Bess%20Cover Live Recording Conducted By Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Available September 21

In celebration of his 80th birthday, acclaimed conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt decided to make a recording of George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess as a gift to himself. He fulfilled a life-long dream of conducting the famous opera at the Graz Festival in Austria in early 2009. It was a sensation with both the public and press, with one of Germany’s leading critics writing, "Harnoncourt’s…concentrated interpretation…achieved a density and intensity that took the audience’s breath away.“ On Tuesday, September 21, Sony Masterworks releases the live recording of Porgy and Bess conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the premiere of Porgy and Bess on Broadway (October 10, 1935).

Harnoncourt considers Porgy and Bess to be the American opera, noting with enthusiasm that it is, for him: "important music for society at large… Whenever I hear anything about this work, I am always moved.“

Harnoncourt’s preparation for this production of Porgy and Bess was meticulous.

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