Food and Drink

Noma Talent in Brooklyn, Bespoke Dinner Parties, and Libations for All

Plus, not-to-miss wine in the Azores, department store omakase, and how to bring Italy home.


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Pop the Cork

Luxury accessories for the serious wine lover in your life.

I recently had an illness where I experienced a prolonged loss of appetite. Previously, I had found my appetite a burden — scarcely had I finished lunch, and I was already dreaming of dinner. I wondered, Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t think about food all of the time? Well, now I can tell you. It is not nice. Without an appetite, my life was drained of all joy and color — there was nothing satisfying to punctuate my days. The nutty flavor of olive oil, the umami of uni, the smell of an orange peel — these are life’s true pleasures! Never take them for granted, and always eat your heart out. — Laura Smith

Omakase After Shopping


For a perfect midshop lunch, consider the delightful Hōseki. Located behind a curtain in the subterranean jewelry vaults of Saks Fifth Avenue, this divine omakase is as delicious as it is efficient. Each seating takes one hour, filled with glistening roll after roll of delicacies such as otoro, ikura, and uni. The whole concept feels like a fresh antidote to the sad Caesar salad-leaning department-store lunches of yore. The semi-hidden aspect of Hōseki is also part of the fun, a hushed treat — the cherry atop a day of retail splendor.
Sophie Mancini

Wine Lovers in the Azores

Azores Wine Company

On a summer trip, inspired by editor-at-large T. Cole Rachel’s dispatch from the Azores, I explored Pico, a lesser-known volcanic island in the Portuguese archipelago. I am here to tell you that this charming, laid-back, spellbinding destination is worth the escape from São Miguel, the Azores’ largest and most popular island. Similarly worthwhile is Azores Wine Company, which is also Pico’s premier boutique hotel. Its handful of rooms and tasting spaces sit on 1,000 lovingly restored hectares of vines, a decade-long conservation project. Lovers of wine and design, you may find peace inside this intimate, stone-clad, monastery-inspired architecture. You may lose hours gazing at the island’s extraterrestrial landscape: mazes of hand-stacked volcanic rocks, known as currais, that protect the grapevines and wild flora from heavy winds. And you will certainly sip Azorean wine varietals so unique and exclusive that they almost went extinct (ask for the Terrantez do Pico). After all, AWC (and its co-founder, winemaker António Maçanita) is the reason Azorean wines achieved global reverence in the past decade. After an afternoon of whale watching and cave tours (plus a rooftop drink at nearby Cella Bar), try the winery’s tasting menu, led by head chef José Diogo Costa, and count yourself lucky if buttery, locally sourced limpets — served with a wow-inducing algae mayonnaise — appear alongside sinfully fluffy vodka bread. — Cooper Fleishman


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An Excellent Year

Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 2009

Unlike wine, Champagne is most typically a non-vintage delight, meaning it’s usually a blend of different grapes from different years to provide some consistency of taste no matter when it’s produced. Not so for my very favorite Champagne, Dom Pérignon, which is always sold as a vintage, meaning each different stock has its own complexity and unique spirit, depending on when it was harvested. Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 2009 is particularly special, born from what seemed like it was going to be a rough year for grapes: intermittent snowfall in the winter, a rainy spring that risked mildew, pure sunshine all summer, and then wild hailstorms in early September. By the harvest on September 12, though, the conditions were perfect and, perhaps thanks to the ups and downs of a wild season, manifested a wine with depth and maturity. This is a delightful, delicious wine to uncork on a special occasion, and, thanks to the specificity of its birth, it gives you a great story to all the friends you plan to share it with. — Alex Frank

A Night to Remember

The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel

The Beekman is one of my favorite hotels in New York City. Impeccably designed, it has all the things I love in a hotel: respect for the building’s original architecture, romantic mood lighting at all times, and flawless styling. It’s the kind of place I’d like to live in, the aesthetic backdrop for the style of life I wish I were actually living at all times. It was with no small amount of glee that I recently dined with a few of my Departures cohorts at one of the hotel’s amazing rooftop spaces, which adjoins one of The Beekman’s most incredible Turret Penthouse suites. As a part of Thompson Hotels’ “A Taste of Thompson” series, which involves allowing a Thompson property to design a bespoke dinner party for you and a few friends, our meal was not only beautiful (a swoony outdoor space that felt like dining in a cocoon of flowers), but also delicious. Our meal was created by Chef Tom Colicchio and arranged via the hotel’s incredible restaurant. Each course was paired with a different bubbly. It all made for a decadent and unforgettable night during which everyone at some point said, “I wish I could just live here.” — T. Cole Rachel

Italy at Home

Zia Pia

I was transported to Italy earlier this month after adding some Zia Pia products into the mix. The boutique Italian kitchen-staples importer only works with family-owned producers whose products are steeped in tradition. Zia Pia has a very robust collection of olive oils — my personal favorite is the Fantasia Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which comes in a gorgeous reusable ceramic container that’s covered in colored speckles (very traditional in the Italian region of Puglia) painted by local artists, making it an elegant piece to leave on the counter, and the olive oil is delicious. One of Zia Pia’s more unexpected imports is tea, which I never pinned as an Italian staple. The teas come in several varieties and, like the olive oil, arrive in gold tins that shouldn’t be hidden in your pantry. Other items include sweets such as biscotti (yum), olives, capers, sauces, and pasta. Zia Pia makes for a lovely gift for anyone who is obsessed with Italian cuisine and beautiful things. — Elissa Polls

The menu riffs on classic Manhattan steakhouses from the 1950s and ’60s.

“Mad Men” Vibes

The Press Club Grill

Midtown Manhattan has no shortage of fine establishments, and I found an oasis housed inside the Martinique New York hotel, a stone’s throw away from the bustling Koreatown. The Press Club Grill is one of Hospitality Department’s newest ventures, alongside Point Seven in the MetLife Building, that oozes old New York charm. The Press Club’s nods to the city include a mural featuring New Yorkers and vintage typewriters in the private dining room inspired by the boardroom from “Mad Men.” The menu riffs on classic Manhattan steakhouses from the 1950s and ’60s. As we savored the beef Wellington for two, with a side of elevated tater tots slathered in bacon-onion marmalade and whipped cheddar, I found myself carried away to a different era, where my only worries were finishing the bananas foster crème brûlée with brown butter, rum, and caramel that we ordered for dessert. — Annie Lin


Smooth and Sweet

Curious Elixirs Booze-Free Cocktails

Last month I tried an assortment of alcohol-free cocktails from Curious Elixirs. Ordering a variety of flavors added some much-needed delight to my day-to-night transition. As someone who no longer drinks but who works from home and misses the end-of-day marker that comes from having a glass of wine post-workday, I have deeply enjoyed swapping in a mocktail. Curious Elixirs produces eight different nonalcoholic flavors, but my favorite is Curious Elixir No. 1, which is made with pomegranate and infused with rhodiola — inspired by the Negroni Sbagliato. I find it smooth with just the right amount of sweetness. — Hailey Andresen

Unexpected Colors and Botanicals

Empress Gin

I was first introduced to Empress 1908 indigo gin when a bartender poured a few dashes over some ice, creating a surprising purple cocktail that was as delicious as it was beautiful. I love introducing people to Empress 1908 because the coloring is unexpected and adds a playful twist to an otherwise boring-looking cocktail. I most recently tried Empress’ latest release, an elderflower rose. Whether mixing with tonic, soda water, or both, this new flavor is blended with nine additional botanicals, including juniper berries, orange peel, red-rose petals, and even black carrot. The taste is smooth and floral and will brighten your average gin and tonic with a splash of red-and-pink color and a subtle taste of sweetness. — Elissa

Cask Life

Macallan 25-Year

I was never a whisky drinker, but I am gradually starting to appreciate the complex spirit, thanks to The Macallan. After many tastings of the brand’s Double Cask 12-, 15-, 18-Year-Old and limited release offerings, I finally found my favorite dram in the Sherry Oak 25 Years Old matured in Oloroso sherry-seasoned oak casks from Jerez, Spain. I had the pleasure of experiencing the robust single-malt whisky during an invite-only private tasting, where I learned about Macallan’s nearly 200-year history that traces back to Scotland’s Speyside. There’s something about the long, lingering smoky finish on my palette that reminds me of a warm winter’s evening by the fire. The bright citrus and spicy ginger kicks capture the energy of celebration and have the entire table exclaiming “slàinte mhaith!” (a traditional Gaelic toast that means “good health”). It’s a bottle that encapsulates the master craftsmanship of whisky-making and centuries of culture. While it’s a rare occasion to sip through the ages in one night, loyalists of The Macallan Society can do just that and more. — Annie

It’s like being inside of a spaceship (the spot is 6,000 square feet with soaring ceilings — not one picture I’ve found on the internet does this cathedral justice).

Worth the Frenzy


I audibly gasped walking into Ilis, the most hotly anticipated restaurant in Brooklyn. It’s like being inside of a spaceship (the spot is 6,000 square feet with soaring ceilings — not one picture I’ve found on the internet does this cathedral justice). It’s abuzz with pedigree; executive chef and owner Mads Refslund was one of Noma’s founding chefs. And his newest concept carries the spirit of Noma in many ways: playful dishes rendered in painstaking detail, with a poetic sense of place. Speaking of playful — Ilis is changing up the restaurant structure. There’s no front of house or back of house. The kitchen is smack in the middle of the restaurant, and the entire team is composed of chefs, alternating between servers and cooks every two weeks. There were two stars of the night for me, in terms of dishes. One: the fire-roasted trout in birchbark with roe butter and Brussels sprouts. Smoky and salty, the fish’s oily, velvety flesh was nostalgic — like the cured fish of Jewish brunch spreads and godeungeo gui, a Korean salted mackerel dish. Snappy Brussels sprout leaves made to be dipped into that decadent roe butter, skewed more classically French, a fun bit of briny, fatty side theater. The second star was a cocktail simply entitled “Grape.” Containing genziello (a blend of gentian root and limoncello), navy-strength gin, grape, and dry vermouth, it was one of the most delightful cocktails I’ve had all year — slightly tart, thirst-quenching, fresh, curiously cloudy, and pale green in color, like the inside of its namesake. I fantasize about wandering in and posting up at the bar one night this winter when the media frenzy has subsided a bit (delusional to think that will happen by winter, but, hey, this is my fantasy). In this little dream, I take in the spectacle of the central kitchen’s flaring fires, admire the fashionable bodies photographing their dishes, and say to the bartender, “May I please have a Grape?” — Sophie

Let Them Eat Cake

Lady M x Oishii

My friends and I swear by Lady M when it comes to birthdays, graduations, and every celebration in between. Among their delightful cakes, my favorite growing up was always the green-tea mille crepes. It was a slice of heaven whenever I needed a pick-me-up. So, when I had the opportunity to try its collaboration with Oishii berry, the Oishii Omakase Berry Mille Crepes, my inner child lit up. The lightness of the endless layers of crepes intertwined with the freshness of the strawberries created a symphony of flavors. This fall, they crafted a pumpkin brûlée mille crepes that I can’t wait to try with a warm cup of chai. To say that I love Lady M cakes is an understatement; I will always have a special mille crepe-shaped corner in my heart. — Annie

Our Contributors

Laura Smith Writer

Laura Smith is the deputy editor of Departures. Previously, she was the executive editor of California magazine and has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, and many more. Her nonfiction book, The Art of Vanishing, was published by Viking in 2018.

Sophie Mancini Writer

Sophie Mancini is a New York based writer. Under the New York Times’ creative agency, she helped lead the relaunch of Departures Magazine, where she then went on to become the food editor. Her background spans editorial, brand, and books.

Cooper Fleishman Writer

Cooper Fleishman is Senior Director of Audience Development at Departures. Based in Brooklyn, he is a writer, editor, content director, and growth strategist with more than a decade’s experience in digital media. He previously led news and audience for MEL magazine, directed technology and culture news at, and managed the New York bureau for the Daily Dot. He writes about style, travel, technology, and music.

T. Cole Rachel Editor-at-Large

T. Cole Rachel is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media. He is currently an editor-at-large at Departures.

Alex Frank Writer

Alex Frank is a contributing editor at Departures. Based in Manhattan, Frank previously worked at as deputy culture editor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, New York Magazine, Fantastic Man, and the Village Voice.

Elissa Polls Writer

Elissa Polls is the head of production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Polls has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.

Annie Lin Writer

Annie Lin is the social editor at Departures. A writer and content strategist based in New York City, her work has been featured in Time Out, Resy, OpenTable, Women’s Health, Elite Daily, CNBC, and many more.

Hailey Andresen Writer

Hailey Andresen is the guides editor at Departures. A New York–based writer and editor, she founded the digital lifestyle publication Household Mag and has spent more than a decade in the hospitality industry.

Jess Rotter Illustrator

Jess Rotter is a Los Angeles–based illustrator and artist. Rotter’s work has frequently featured in the Washington Post. Her clients range from Natalie Portman to Questlove.


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