Whenever I visit a city, I always check to see if there are any interesting wine bars that have garnered some great reviews. I have found it is a great way to discover some new wines – whether local or imported and meet people who share a passion for the grape.
I did a 30-hour pop in to NYC, well-known for having some stellar wine bars. Casellula on West 52nd street is a gem in Hell’s Kitchen. The wine selection is creative. I loved the Matchbook Tempranillo – one of their staples from California. Or Frank’s on 2nd Avenue in the Lower East Side where I found a Tuscan favourite called Salcheto.
But New York also makes me think of my dad, Alberto Travers, who introduced me to the city many decades ago.
He was a fighter in the Italian resistance and to him, New York was the dream. As a teenager during the Second World War, Alberto fought alongside American soldiers, smoked their cigarettes, read their copies of Life magazine with a dictionary in hand and heard stories of the greatest city in the world.
Years later, my father would drive from Montreal in a van typically full of his children, our friends and visiting European relatives. We all jammed into the same hotel room, though hotel is a bit generous for this downtown place.
The Times Square Motor Inn was a favourite of my dad’s mainly because it included parking. We found out the “hotel” had a second vocation as a temporary shelter for the homeless and home to some really big bugs and the odd rodent. But you couldn’t beat its location, next door to the New York Times on 43rd where the delivery trucks rumbled down the street after midnight. It was an impressive sight for a wannabe journalist of 14.
Coincidentally on my latest visit, I ended up staying at a hotel right across the street. The New York Times moved around the corner, and the Inn was no longer open for business.
Those NYC trips were magic. From Broadway musicals like Chicago and A Chorus Line, to the late night improv clubs, to his own self-created Mafia landmark tour including Umberto’s Clam Bar where mobster Joe “Crazy” Gallo met his maker, My father shared his stories and gave us experiences we will never forget. The only rule: order the cheapest thing on the menu.
My father passed away 25 years ago in May but all four of his children inherited his love of New York. One daughter and three grand daughters live there now. The rest of us visit when we can. Relatives still talk about those adventures, many of them over a glass of wine.
It is one of the many gifts he left us.
A sign painter by trade and a fan of fonts – my father lived life in capital letters and taught us to do the same.