Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The 2016 Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Windows

Once the holidays start approaching here in the city there's the excitement of so many things such as the Rockefeller Christmas tree, holiday markets, ice skating and even department store windows. New York City is probably the most popular place for holiday windows - though Paris and Chicago are definitely close - from Macy's to Barneys, but the most famous display of all is Bergdorf Goodman, to the point that they made a documentary about it. Taking the title from a 1990 Victoria Roberts cartoon that was featured in the New Yorker, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's covers the history of the luxury goods department store while following David Hoey, Senior Director of Visual Presentation, and Linda Fargo, ‎SVP Fashion and Store Presentation Director, as they plan and execute the 2011 holiday window displays for the iconic store.

Covering everything from when Herman Bergdorf started a tailor shop in downtown Manhattan to Linda meeting with Ally Hilfiger (daughter of designer Tommy Hilfiger and one half of the iconic Rich Girls), about her latest clothing line to interviews with the store's most successful personal shopper, Betty Halbreich; the film covers a lot. Almost too much. It's all very interesting but there doesn't seem to be any cohesion and because everything is just touched upon, you want more and unfortunately, the film doesn't deliver.

For this year's display, David says he took inspiration from Henri Rousseau and trips to the American Museum of Natural History, that they are to be looked at as magical realist versions of natural history museum dioramas. I took a trip down to Bergdorf's on a cold December night and took a few pictures. If you're in the city, they will be available to view through January 2, 2017 and at the bottom of this post I included a list of companion books to check out.

Pleasure Trip

The Thrill of the Chase

The Only Way to Fly

The Bird's Eye View

The Hitchhiker

Winging It

The Scenic Route

The Book Club

(love the details on this)

This one didn't have a title but I had to include it

Books to check out*:

*Breakfast with the Uncultured is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bottle Shock + Wine tasting

A few weeks ago I went to a screening at the Metrograph of Big Night which was introduced by the one and only Alton Brown and afterwards he did a little Q&A. When asked if he thought any other good American "food" films have been made since Big Night, he quickly said no, but mentioned that Americans are great at making wine films such as Sideways and Bottle Shock. I was honestly surprised he mentioned Bottle Shock since I attempted to watch it a while ago but got bored and never finished it. I figure I'd give it another shot so I invited my fellow wine and film lover friend over for a little wine tasting while we watched the movie (a streaming version is currently available with Amazon Prime).

Bottle Shock is somewhat* based on the true story of the blind Paris wine tasting of 1976 that has come to be known as "Judgment of Paris". Alan Rickman plays Steven Spurrier, a expat Englishman and wine shop owner, living in Paris who decides to hold a blind tasting to not only try and save his shop but to introduce the French to wines from other parts of the world. He travels to Napa Valley where he meets Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), owner of Chateau Montelena. Jim has no interest in being in the competition as he believes it's a set up to be laughed at by the French but his hippie son, Bo (Chris Pine), slips a few Chardonnay bottles to Spurrier and (spoiler alert!) they win the Chardonnay part of the competition. After the competition is mentioned in Time, requests for the Chateau Montelena wine grows and Napa Valley has been recognized.

The story itself is an interesting one yet the filmmakers didn't delve too much into details of the actual competition and its characters but instead introduced unnecessary (and most likely made up) sub plots such as a dull love triangle, and though Gustavo Brambila (played by Freddy Rodriguez) is a real person and did work at Chateau Montelena, it wasn't until after the events shown in the film.

Going back to the idea of "food"films, what makes a lot of those films interesting and fun is the actual food. Spanglish, as God awful as it was, was worth watching for the infamous sandwich scene, and Big Night's unveiling of the food and the guest's reactions are both mouthwatering and entertaining. There are so many films dedicated to food but not so wine and the filmmakers missed an opportunity to not just show the hard work that goes into wine making, the characters loving wine. The closest we get is a few short scenes with Dennis Farina's character visiting Spurrier's shop as he tries what the shop has to offer. The big competition scene itself seemed to only last a few minutes and was ladled with shots of snooty reactions from the judges as they try to guess which wine is from California rather than showing the judging process and close ups of the color and body of the wines against the sun. Oh the prettiness that could have been.

*After reading the screenplay, Spurrier criticized it's inaccuracies and considered it insulting.

Bagged and numbered

This photo is a bit out of focus but I will always take the opportunity to show off the Wisconsin shaped cutting board a friend gifted me. It also seemed appropriate since Dennis Farina's character is from Milwaukee

"palette cleansers" between wines aka any excuse to eat cheese and olives and pickled vegetables

We went with Savignon Blanc splits except one Chardonnay, which of course stood out like a sore thumb (neither of us are Chardonnay fans), but surprisingly, it scored about the same as the others. In the end #4, a Savignon Blanc from Rapa Nui winery won by one single point.

I made the handy dandy "wine mats," which are legal size and available to download here and we used this to help us score/rate each wine.

I think my next tasting will be beer while taking in a viewing of Drinking Buddies.