I’m several thousand miles above the Earth as I compose this, on my way into Chicago. What’s currently possessing me to head into what Chicago is calling the “worst storm in 50 years?” …Moxie son, moxie!

Ok, its a work-thing. But lets pretend its moxie and that I couldn’t pass it up. I lived in Chicago for six years and frankly I don’t ever want to go back to standing on the L platform in 10-below horizontal snow with my eyelids freezing shut.

Meanwhile, my exploration of films on great brands, their history and manufacturing process continues…

All the rough weather we’ve been getting has me thinking about the nature of quality. This Film CRAFT is heavy on shoemakers because I’m very hard on my shoes and its time I start investing in quality shoes that will last or that I can get resoled year after year.  Perhaps I should have included Florsheim, a venerable Chicago brand, but they’ve outsourced for years now.

Speaking of Chicago…great things: Horween, deep-dish, Goose Island Brewery, Vienna Beef.

Redwing “It’s almost like you’re building a house…”

Duluth Pack “They become like a family member…”

Schott “It was about building function…they took a life on their own.”

Allen Edmonds “It’s really truly an art-form.” I just bought a pair of Black Calf Bayfields…I intend to swap out all my dress boots with Allen Edmonds over the course of the next year or so…

J. W. Hulme Company

Leatherman – I own two Leatherman’s, so that means I can probably repair a space shuttle if I had a manual.

Pendelton Woolen Mills “They had the desperation, or the ambition, or the guts to do what they had to do…”

Brooklyn Will Always Suprise Me

I’ve had the pleasure of eating at a few great Brooklyn eateries lately that I thought I would pass along.

RYE (williamsburg)

Chef Cal Elliot (of Dumont, Dressler fame) served up freshest oysters and a killer meatloaf sandwich which two could easily share. The 100 year old oak bar is a gem. It really feels like a 19th century NY saloon. No pretenses either.  A good place to take the visiting parents. The waiter was exceptionally patient while we tried various wines.

LA PIAZETTA (east williamsburg)

Don’t sleep on this Eye-talian joint on Graham Ave tucked under the BQE. Ignore the plastic plants, hideous wall art and occasional Mexican football match, the food is classic and perfect. The Bolognese is sinful and save room for Tiramisu.

DEAN STREET (prospect heights)

One of the partners Rob Gelardi literally traded in a six-figure mid-town job to follow his dream. Chef Nate Smith (Spotted Pig) served up delicious “toasts” –we actually had every app on the menu. My fav, the goose liver drizzled with honey. We had the roast chicken which was crisp, moist and hearty. Dean St. has only been open for a few days now, so support this new joint–though they may not need it–the place was PACKED on a Thursday at 9pm. Thanks Rob for “expeding” a table for us!

HENRY PUBLIC (cobble hill)

This “old timey” saloon is tiny, necessitating at 6:30pm arrival for a table, but damn did we hold it DOWN til like 930. The “Moonstone” oysters from Rhode Island were fresh and bright and a dozen just wasn’t enough. Moonstones come from Judith Point off Rhode Island…and when it comes to East Coast oysters, I’m always on the look-out for a nice briney sweet one.

But handsdown, the HIT was the Turkey Leg sandwich, dark meat on grilled texas toast, with a mound of crisp fries. The gravy soaked the bread perfectly… The atmosphere is lovely and I especially liked the decor which featured black and white prints from the 19th century–AND black folk! Imagine that, you never see black folk from that era featured in decor. good on you Henry P.

[via Flickr: cherrypatter]

On the way to Henry Public after a nice tipple (a Prospect Park Rye Sour) from the Clover Club, there was a light snowfall that sprang up from nowhere. On Atlantic Avenue there’s quite a few Halal restaurants, bookshops, teashops and even a butcher or two. I peeked into one butchershop and couldn’t quite believe my eyes. Hanging halal lamb. Brooklyn will always surpise you if you keep your eyes open.

The Boatman’s Manual

I’ve been thinking about getting a boat up on Kensico Reservoir, a Westchester County reservoir about an hour from my home in Brooklyn. Nothing fancy of course, as there are no motors (gas or electric) allowed, and the spots (tags) are hard to come by. You buy it, lock it up and leave it and bring your oars when you want to fish. Anyway, while I bide my time for a spot to come up and since its winter and the lake is frozen over til like March, I figure I’ll be ready. I picked up the Boatman’s Manual on my last trip to Vermont. About 90% of it is for the serious small “yachter” and although a Jon Boat is just a 12′ flat-bottom, the entire first chapter is dedicated to handling a boat under oars so I’ve gotten alot out of it already. I imagine any angler today could do with an easy to read and complete manual written with a practical point of view. Written by Carl Lane and published in 1942, the manual is concise, without narrative and well-illustrated.

Boatsman Manual with my Rogues Gallery Keychain

Blocks and Tackles

Nautical and Yacht Flags

Angling between Continents

Last year in October, my wife and I went on our honeymoon to Turkey for two weeks. We had a blast–its hard to put into words how amazing a country Turkey is and how lovely its people are. We experienced thousands of years of culture and literally walked the bridge between Europe and Asia. And wouldn’t you know? There were fishermen on it.


"Istanbullus" fishing from Galatasaray Bridge in Istanbul


Istanbullus of all ages were fishing for smelt



The fresh caught smelt are sold to the dozen or so fish restaurants that line the lower platform of the Galata Bridge. They are fried-up and served in Balik Ekmek- a fish sandwich with salad and lemon juice. The bridge itself is relatively new, built in 1992 to replace an older iron structure. The next few pics I didn’t take myself, but I wanted you to see the kinds of fish being caught and how they were being served. Sadly, I’m not a big fan of smelt so I abstained…but I’m definitely going back to Istanbul in the future, so will man-up and go for it next time. Forgot to mention, the best thing about the bridge…you can RENT poles and buy bait right there!





The Beer That Grew With the Great Northwest

I love the ice-fishing and pike fishing cans in particular from the “Famous Outdoor” series from the 1970s…but I know, you’re thinking, if Schmidts beer was from St. Paul, why was it known as “the Beer that Grew with the Great Northwest” (as in the Pacific Northwest)? It’s because when Jacob Schmidt founded the brewery in1901, land west of the Mississippi was still known as the Northwest. Over time, the beer became known as the “Official Beer of the American Sportsman.”.

Other notable contemporary craft breweries with fish themes:

Beer and fish, what else is there?

Hangover Cured by Angling Films

Owwwww, my head. Spent a lazy Sunday watching angling films online recovering from a 3am bender at my local, Lady Jays. Owner Sam Mason is a great host and if you’re a foodie you know him from his transcendent eatery Tailor in Soho (now closed) where he was also the chef. If you’re into music you may know him as the host of IFC’s Dinner with the Band. Thanks for the whisky and pickle back (that’s a pickle juice chaser and honestly its really good)!

So, because I really couldn’t do anything else today, I started watching the fly-fishing films to get a sense of casting technique, but soon I was drawn into the story and cinematography. These short and full-length documentaries could be classified as outdoor adventure films, not unlike Dick Proenneke’s masterpiece Alone in the Wilderness.

Quite a few of the angling films are extended trailers for films in production or DVDs. Fly-fishing journal The Drake, runs an annual film festival so I got caught up watching those too. Of the films, I am really looking forward to seeing– Low and Clear stands out. “Drift” and “Rise”, both by Confluence Films (I’ve ordered on DVD) tell stories of special guides and rivers from all over the world, bringing a good human story to the films.

You’ll see these films have a few things in common, beautiful landscapes and scenery, drama, great fishing action, and adventure.

Here are the best of the selection I viewed today. Surely there are more great angling films–and if you know of them, let me know, leave a comment with name and a link.


“Low & Clear”

“Eastern Rises


The intensity of the Tarpon fishing action in this, the closeness, just blew me away.


“No Passport Required”


“Redfish Can’t Jump”

“Once in a Blue Moon”

You’ll never look at a mouse the same way, I promise.


Short Films

“Alpine Bass”

“North Woods”

“Desert Bass on the Fly”

“The Heart of the Marsh”

This fantastic short was made in response to the BP Oil Spill about the resilience of the Lousiana marsh. I fished the gulf in September and it was amazing and clear, Cobia and Amberjack were healthy and delicious.

“Musky Country: Zero 2 Hero”

I’ve never gone Musky fishing, but its now officially on the bucket-list.

“Red Like Winter”

City Mouse Country Mouse

So a couple of things I learned recently, don’t talk taxes before you go to bed. It makes your wife upset, gives you indigestion, and psychotic dreams. I almost didn’t make it into work today. Since its tax season and I’m a) bent on saving for and buying a country home, but b) have to plan for other things, and c) I’m impulsive, well you can guess I’m a bit cagey. Second big mistake–actually breaking down the various taxes I pay for living in NYC. I know, you say don’t whine, people would kill to be in your place, but let me whine a little. Federal, state, and city tax–I learned more than half my salary goes to taxes! That doesn’t include property taxes because I don’t even own. Makes you wanna beat someone like they stole something! But what are you gonna do?

City Mouse: Move to the country thats what!

Country Mouse: It’s not all that its cracked up to be…New York City’s surrounding counties (Westchester, Rockland, Union, Nassau, etc.) have the top 10 of highest property taxes …in the US. And a number of those counties have seen upwards of 50% increases in property taxes in the last five to ten years alone.

City Mouse: I think I could just as easily be content with 20 acres and an 1 1/2 hr commute as say 900 sq. ft (my apt size) and commuting on the subway (which has also seen unprecedented rate hikes).

Country Mouse: But Brooklyn speaks dozens of languages–knish, kim chi, North Carolina BBQ, food trucks! BAM, McCarren Park, Barneys, and Barnes & Nobles!

City Mouse: Median home prices in NYC according to Trulia are 1.1 mil!  Dutchess County, 260K. Dutchess County too far? How about Putnam County? 375K. Doable! My wife being an architect and interior designer, I keep sending her links to modern, minimalist renovated and prefab country homes…wear her down.

Country Mouse: You could be accused of wanting your cake and eating it too…

City Mouse: I’m just afraid like every other mixed professional couple in NY we’re gonna wind up moving to Ft. Greene and blowing a wad on private school and a brownstone. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Country Mouse: But what if I could build something like this right in the city (the one in the middle)…building is cheaper than buying.

City Mouse: …and maybe we’ll have enough left over for a cabin! Then I’d want to look into a company like Form & Forest. F&F are doing award-winning prefab flatpack cabins with a modern aesthetic that are easy to construct. Just need the land, permits and a good contractor.

Country Mouse: I like this one even better.

Third mistake! Obsessing over living in the country vs. living in the city when good is good enough. I’m sure the internal debate will rage on, but I’ve got to let it go somehow. Excise it… until we’re ready to buy, its all just food porn I guess. When the time comes, we’ll make our home wherever our heart is.

Vermont Ice Fishing on New Year’s Eve

While spending a couple of restful days at the Woodstock Inn over the New Year, I took in a day on the hardwater with George of Pickett Hill Guide Service in Bennington. Besides giving me my first taste of bear sausage (sinfully good), and serving up a mean venison burger, he taught me the fundamentals of ice fishing. George was a great and patient teacher. 7 largemouth bass and double-digit chain pickerel.

Some things I’ll take away…

  1. Set up your tip-ups at least 9-10′ apart because winter bass and pickerel are territorial
  2. Bass suck in the bait and seldom run, requiring finesse when setting the hook
  3. Pickerel like to run and can get you fouled up in stumpy water
  4. Typically the tip-ups go off at the farthest distance from where you’re standing!
  5. Don’t waste a ton of money on expensive tip-ups, there easily fixed and vintage gear can be great
  6. Come armed with a variety of size bait, small bait = perch, medium bait = bass, big bait = pickerel and lunker bass
  7. Don’t go out on ice less than 2″, but just 8″ will support an ATV no problem
  8. Don’t go alone, it’ll be worth getting a guide instead of sitting on a bucket with no clue freezing your balls off
  9. Sound your depths for each hole and stay above the weedline
  10. Don’t forget to dress in layers, bring polarized sunglasses, and bring a camera
Sunrise over the mountains of Vermont

Tip-up is set, the reel is submerged
First Bass of many
2 and 1/2 pounder
Chain Pickerel started in on us
Frozen pond below the mountain
We fished over stumpy water
Bloody holes, an increasingly good sign of a great day


Shadows getting longer
One more