Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Samantha Hunter

Samantha Hunter is carrying a giant box on her shoulder. It’s filled with the fruits of her most recent undertaking, which are not actually fruits, but wines. And not wines made entirely from fruits, but dandelions. Based on a historical tradition, Samantha seeks to update botanical wines like dandelion wine (traditionally just fermented dandelion roots) for a new audience by combining it with red and white grape varietals from upstate New York and California. She hopes her company, Born Dandy, will eventually be an urban botanical winery based in Brooklyn with a 100-seat restaurant and tasting bar, sustainable rooftop vertical farming (of dandelions, botanicals, produce for the restaurant, and more), space to incubate other brands, a wine cellar, and more. It’s ambitious, Samantha says, but she likes to dream big. Today is one more step toward this idea: a tasting. We meet outside Vine Box in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to do a tasting with the store’s owner, a knowledgeable man Samantha has known for a few years now. He tasted the first batch and gave her constructive criticism on how to move forward, she says. Today he is tasting another batch of what is right now seven different dandelion wine varietals: Dandelion Red, Dandelion White, Dandelion Rose, Dandelion Sparkling, Dandelion Honey Mead, Chamomile, and Dandelion Coffee. The latter is made with roasted dandelions, so it tastes like coffee but actually isn’t made with any. Samantha’s hope is that it could take the place of mimosas or bellinis at brunch because of its taste properties. Each wine is sampled, their tasting notes on each label. Feedback is important at this stage because it will help her move forward with production in the future. She’s pleased with the outcome--the store owner offers to sell four of seven wines in the future and packs up the box. We drive to the Lower East Side and stop for a drink at Wassail, a cider bar. Beginning Born Dandy has affected the way Samantha drinks wine, especially the way she pauses to smell everything more than she used to, she says. The food and beverage space is not unfamiliar to her, however--she directed food and beverage operations for the W Hotel Times Square and W Hotel St. Petersburg (Russia), in addition to opening 19 Starwood Hotels around the world and partnering with chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Alain Ducasse. She also has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Working in hospitality for over 20 years, she now owns her own consulting firm, Hospitality Sprout, which includes projects with the Rainbow Room and Untitled Art Fair, among others. We finish our drinks, then head over to the shop Taste Collection not far away. There’s a party tonight held by Diego Leon of the blog Dandy in the Bronx. Samantha is looking to meet dandy dressers from all over New York in hopes of collaborating in the future. Diego is interested. They shake hands and smile: one more step to Born Dandy being on its way.

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Window Shopping VI

This year, the windows at Bergdorf Goodman were themed "To New York with Love," dedicated to celebrating beloved New York institutions like The New York Botanical Garden, The American Museum of Natural History, The Museum of the Moving Image, The New York Philharmonic, and more. The Natural History window was covered, but COVERED in zillions of tiny rhinestones; the New York Botanical Garden window featured tons of felt and embroidery, and the New York Philharmonic window grew brighter and brighter as more neon instruments glowed red every second. And, as ever, elegant mannequins in gorgeous gowns and red lips perched in all of them. I had my favorite windows, of course, so I documented them for you below.

Happy holidays and a lovely new year to you all! May your season be merry and your future bright.


Miss M