There’s nothing quite like going home for the holidays. For me and all the other transcendentalists, that means hopping on a flight to the North East. Good ole colonial New England! Often, New England is thought of as a summer time destination for outdoorsy folk seeking a beach getaway or a canoe. But if you're a swamp yankee like me, you’re all too familiar with the short lived summers that are abruptly followed by the endless damp freeze that is the other 8 months of the year. There is rain, snow, more rain, slush, mud, and ice. It’s like a winter wonderland that is constantly melting at an unbearably slow rate. Home sweet home.
Most notable in winter are all the “closed for the season” signs that splinter and chip at my heart every time I want some chowder in February. But even in the darkest months, there are little gems beaconing warm refuge from the bitter cold. One of which is Phil’s Diner on Main St. If you happen to stumble into Phil’s before 8 AM, the early bird special is yours (2 eggs, home fries and toast) for only $2.75! Beat that Jack in the Box.
Another treasure that comes to mind is Calvitto’s Pizza and Bakery. Calvitto’s has been serving a local staple in these parts for almost 30 years, and they’re about as South County as it gets. While they make beautiful pastries and calzones, Calvitto’s pièce de résistance is their unique pizza strip. The freshly baked dough is slathered with homemade red sauce and served at room temperature. At first glance, the strip is bizarre, almost unfinished, but the taste is refreshingly simple. I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t fall in love with these garlicy magic carpets after a single first bite.
While cruising around and devouring my sauce bread, I embrace the ghost town my home becomes during these months when the roads are salty and the grass is frozen. I repeatedly get lost in my old stomping grounds like a stoned teenager until I find myself pulling into Sweet Cakes. Sweet Cakes Bakery is an adorable little coffee/sandwich shop located in the heart of Peace Dale. They have baked goods like cupcakes and cookies, and what’s this? Are those what I think they are?Empanadas?! And what’s even more enthralling is that they have a chicken pot pie filing! It’s 2 degree outside and I just found a Latin pastry filled with British chicken gravy, in my little town, who would’ve thunk? I claim to know this place like the back of my hand, but I know nothing Jon snow.
All warm and toasty on the inside, I finally make my way back home. I need to get some good rest tonight, my grandparents will arrive early in the morning to retrieve me. We’re heading North.
I wake to see my grandparents have already arrived and are eager for the journey to begin. After quickly packing up the car in whatever meticulous madness my Pa arranges, we’re off, but not before a bagel and a coffee from Bagelz. “Jesus Christ, what’s taking so long? They making the bagels from scratch?” “Why yes Pa, they are.”
Since the days when my cheeks were freckled and innocent, my family and I have made the six hour trek North to Warren, Vermont, where my grandparents keep a humble second home on Sugarbush Mountain. Although much of this landscape has changed over the years, the drive remains everlasting and beautiful. It’s worth mentioning that I have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery during the thirteen plus stops we make so my Pa can take a piss and get more coffee that will make him have to piss again. No journey to Vermont would be complete without our usual pit stop at the New Hampshire state liquor store, so we can grab a burger and stock up on enough tax free booze for a sailing trip across the Atlantic. Only three hours to go.
Slowly, the vast New Hampshire freeways shift into quaint Vermont backroads, accented with frozen babbling brooks and antique buildings buried in the snow. I see signs for Mad River Glen, Waitsfield, Moretown, and the glorious Sugarbush.
After the long drive, no one is in the mood to cook anything other than a dry martini. We order some pizza from a Pizza Soul, a tiny mountainside bungalow with a stickered front door, a pizza oven, and a single Pizza baker in between. The thin blackened crust and baseball sized pepperoni pieces make me feel right at home. By my 7th slice I can’t help but harp on the fact that even this hillbilly pie trumps anything that I can find out West. It's just so good. I drift in and out of a food coma until the thoughts of tomorrow’s groomed slopes ease me into a cozy slumber.
Boom. Just like that, it’s 8 am and there isn’t a sound in the condo other than my grandmother slurping her coffee at the kitchen table. The first chair opens at 9, so I have just enough time to get my shit together and run over to Paradise Deli for an egg sandwich and a newspaper. I’ve been coming to the Paradise for what feels like my entire life. I leave and travel and change, but no matter how long I’m gone, someone will always be behind this counter cooking hot food for the locals. The little bell rings as I swing open the door and I stomp the snow off my boots. “One sausage, egg, and cheese with everything please,” I request, of course that already is everything, I just like saying “wth everything” when I order sandwiches I guess. After collecting my goods, I head to the slopes.
Strapped up and riding up the chairlift, my tinfoil insulated sandwich is steaming in my breast pocket. I’m back in one of my happy spaces, and although these days often fly by too fast, I try and soak in the glory of the moment. It’s been a while since I’ve carved up the north face, but it doesn’t take long to familiarize myself with the crunchy morning powder. After a couple hours of freezing my tits off, I’m ready for a beer and some lunch. Mutha Stuffers is the ski-bumb's sandwich shop that’s located in Sugarbush Village, right by Pizza Soul. They're a classic east coast deli, no frills, just cold cuts and condiments. You can order any of Mutha Stuffer's signature sandwiches "hero" style for $16, and it's a 2 foot long beast. It’s been a long weekend of eating, so I think I’m just going to stick with the 12 inch half sandwich.
After my second sandwich of the day, I head back up to the summit for a few more runs. The crystal snow and the vast purple sky could not have a been better backdrop for a single day of skiing after a 5 year hiatus. Tonight is New Year’s Eve, and there will be a parade at the base of the mountain with a ceremony and fireworks. It’s great to be back up here with my family and celebrating the holiday. Friends are popping bottles in New York City or sucking face in San Francisco, but I’m happy to be here. It’s important to do these trips in while we all still can. Who knows how many many more opportunities I'll have to cram my girlfriend, parents, grandparents and two siblings all into a two room condo? Happy New Year!
We wake up early the next morning, tidy up and start to journey South in what feels like only hours after we’ve arrived. We continue to catch up for a few hours before I'm dropped off at Logan airport. I have a date with 2018 back in San Francisco, and I'm ready to kick it’s ass! What another lovely Christmas in New England.
Mom's Christmas Cookies
Early Bird Special $2.75 at Phil's
Pizza Strip $1 at Calvitto's Pizza & Bakery
Chicken Pot Pie Empanada $3 at Sweet Cakes
Pumpernickel w Lox Spread $2.50 at Bagelz
Coffee $2 at Bagelz
Cheeseburger $6.50 at The Common Man Roadside
Classic P-Soul 12" $10 at Pizza Soul
Sausage, Egg, & Cheese $3.95 at Paradise Deli
The Guido $9 at Mutha Stuffers
This is the best beef jerky I have ever had. Period. I am certainly not an expert on dried meats, I just know what I like and the people at Fatted Calf are crafting a product that tickles all my fancies. This jerky is lean and fatty with an ideal toughness. It's like chewing succulent leather, pure bliss. Fatted Calf takes finesse and in fact it's places like this that are responsible for Poor Young Gentleman's conception. At $40/lb, this jerky is a little bit of a splurge, but who buys a pound of jerky anyway? What this stuff truly represents is another example of excess in moderation. My friends, I am telling you, this concept will change your life. I’m not going to buy a pound of this jerky, but I’m certainly not going to tell myself I can’t afford it either. At $8-$13 a sleeve, one is more than enough to quench your beefy cravings. We can do anything we want as long as we know what we can get away with. Indulging is just a healthy response to your gentlemanly disciplines, so stop doubting yourself and go get some fucking jerky for God’s sake.
The single most gratifying feature of any marvelous metropolis is the dense concentration of diverse cultures. San Francisco is far from the exception. This city is a melting pot of neighborhoods that are built on the backbone of local businesses. From barber shops to dry cleaners to corner stores and local restaurants. From real estate offices to travel agencies, and then the beloved grocery store. If you’re like me, you have a catalog of stores that you frequent for a handful of different reasons. I’ve got my cheese place, my deli, my bakery, my fish market, and my late night beer spot, and of course, the grocers. I'm talking about the real shit, authentic Korean, Indian, Japanese, French, Russian, ETC are essential for cheap household staples, be it spices, frozen dumplings, or instant soups. Cookies for tea time or crispy snacks for the game. The small local markets run by local immigrants are by far the perfect places to save a buck and introduce yourself to some really special ingredients.
Look at this thing! I mean just look at it, it’s beautiful! A brand new red Helly Hansen slicker for nine bucks. Nine dollars! Are you kidding? This is what I love about Community Thrift. It may seem vast and a little shabby at first glance, but there is no other haystack I’d rather go needle hunting in. Because the place is so massive, there is quite a bit of turnover and something new is always popping up. I’ve spent many afternoons being sucked into Community Thrift’s gravitational pull and grazing the isles for anything from antiques to quirky handmade folk art. I always visit for their vintage and outerwear sections, which obviously aren’t always a guarantee but certainly worth a glance. People like to shit on thrift stores like this because the stuff is dirty and used. My Helly Hansen still had the tag on it….bitch
I'm about 3,700 miles away from San Francisco on my way to a tiny 8 mile stretch of land called St. John, and I’m on the last sweaty leg of my thirteen hour commute. The smells of home begin to vaguely tingle my senses, like a dream I recognize but can’t quite remember. It’s late October or maybe early March, I’m not exactly sure to be honest, the fact is, the time of year has lost all of its relevance to me at this point. For years now it has become a custom for me to make the journey down here as often as I can. A close friend of mine moved down here with his family when we were just chiclets, and ever since this magical oasis has been close to my heart.
The warm midnight mist kisses my face like an old companion who’s happy to see me while the Red Hook ferry chariots me into Cruz Bay. With subconscious euphoria pumping through my veins, I'm almost to nowhere to forget who I am for a few days. Fucking yes!
I bob back and forth like a cork in a tub for about 30 minutes and the only thing keeping down my plane peanuts is the prospect of plopping down in a plastic white lawn chair, kicking off my shoes and guzzling down an ice cold one. Literally steps away from port are Beach Bar and Joe’s Rum Hut, my go-to’s for cheap spiked smoothies and seaside ambiance. It's not long before the late night heat starts teasing my appetite for something fruity and refreshing. It doesn’t matter if there is no other time or place on earth where I would find myself drinking a milky, limey, frozen cocktail, all that matters is where I am right now and the perfect cocktail for this moment. Someone very special to me (who is more exceptional of a drinker than I am) changed the way I will drink forever by giving me one simple piece of advice: drink in context. It's become a philosophy I now live by. Bring it on!
Some live music and a couple bidis later and it's time to hitch a ride up Center Line to Coral Bay, where my cliffside bungalow awaits. Up the hill I go, bouncing around the back of a Toyota pick-up, engulfed in echoing night chirps and a thick tropical breeze. At Upper Carolina I jump out and after a quick "thank you" and a dark walk up into the trees, I've finally arrived. Charlie and his parents greet me with affectionate astonishments of how I’ve grown and changed. We chat for a while but quickly we’re off to bed like I never left at all. Tomorrow the real fun begins.
We wake up around 6 AM for a small hike through Salt Pond and up Ram Head to catch a view of the rising sun. After our morning jaunt along jungle shorelines, it’s time for a quick breakfast before we address our agenda. One of the newer additions to Coral Bay is a small sandwich shop, Pickles in Paradise. A quick sausage egg and cheese, a 12 pack of beers from Love City and we’re off to the beach.
From here, I’m afraid, it’s painfully simple; just how I like it. We find our spot, park for the day, and that’s pretty much it folks. Ass in the sand with spliff in hand. You sit and then you sleep. You wake up, take a dip, and take a sip. It’s a very personal space and a part of the experience that I can’t really teach or even describe. Charlie and I have both been blessed to have opportunities to bring loved ones and close friends down here with us and this is my favorite time of all. Us all together on the beach, all day, there is nothing better. The full effect of paradise only comes to life when surrounded by those you who you truly love. It doesn't hurt to know a few locals either. Head over to Hansen beach and if your lucky enough, maybe they’ll be a country style boil happening around lunch time. The days heat up and drip along like melting molasses but always seem to come to an end a little too soon. I have everything I could ever need, complete and utter bliss.
Everyday around 5 pm we pack up camp and, if we’re in the mood, head to town for happy hour. There’s nothing like a couple greasy fried treats and $2 cocktails after a long hard day. Charlie’s parents will be getting dinner ready for us soon (their favorite part of our visits) and we don’t want to be late, so we make our way back home to rinse off. After a nostalgic home cooked meal and a couple tiring rounds of Cranium or Cards Against Humanity, everyone is ready to hit the sack. We need our sleep, we’ve had a long day of doing nothing and we have another doozy tomorrow. One of the number one necessities down here is sleep, it is crucial when maintaining this grueling schedule.
The long days slowly drift along until before I know it, in a flash, my week is over. As you can imagine, this isn’t an enjoyable place to leave, so quick good-byes are always best in this case. After hugs, kisses and fervent chatter of the next visit, Charlie and I descend back to Cruz Bay where he’ll see me off. Not before a quick detour to Sam and Jacks Deli for a Ting and one last bag of their homemade potato chips for the road. A hug for Charlie and back onto Red Hook I go. It’s funny how a boat can evoke such strong emotions, an even more peculiar, the emotions are vastly different depending on the direction your traveling. Same vessel, same bay, very different tears.
It doesn’t matter if we’re drinking smoothies on Jost Van Dyke or eating clam cakes and chowder on Narragansett’s seawall, home always tastes its best when you’re eating with family.
Joe's Rum Hut Smoothies - $4
Breakfast Sandwich at Pickles in Paradis - $5
Country Style Boil at Hansen Beach - $10
Champagne Sorbet at Scoops - $6
Ting at Love City - $2
House-Made Potato Chips at Sam & Jack's Deli - $2.50
Cheese Burger at 420 to Center - $6
Combination BBQ at Uncle Joes World Famous BBQ - $13.95
This beautifully worn Lee Jacket has everything going for it. Its faded, frayed, beat up, and best of all, it's not Levi's. When vintage shopping, look for the brand or style that is just a step to the right, or maybe the left of the norm. Everyone has Levi's, everyone has ray bans, new and old. Search for the pieces that have the same epoch allure with an unique twist, odds are they'll be cheaper and you'll be the only cat with it on the block.
Traveling home for summer vacation or winter holiday always reassures me that the simpler time in life, that I can only vaguely remember, still exists and is right back where I left it. A place where much less time is spent hustling, budgeting, and accommodating the fast paced customs of the city. It reminds me of a time when being a poor young gentleman wasn't a lifestyle choice, or a brand for that matter, but just an unwritten daily practice.
Driving right past my parent's house, I head straight to Monahans in Narragansett. The hugs and kisses can wait, I’ve been on a plane all day and I only have one thing on my mind, good Seafood. There is nothing quite like a fresh lobster roll and a cup of chowder to make me feel right where I belong. Sitting at the weathered wooden picnic table and inhaling my indigenous fare, I gaze upon surfer silhouettes floating in the late afternoon swells until I rush home to say hi to my Mamma.
It’s easy for me to forget that the small communities of my rural Rhode Island dwellings sell local food not because it is in vogue but just because. They don’t need a reason, the food is there and they’re hungry, so they eat it. You want oysters? We’ve got about 14 species to choose from in Rhode Island alone, and then another billion going up and down the coast. You want lobster and scallops? We’ve got them and guess what, they’re still breathing. Looking for some quahogs or snails? Tell me how much time you’ve got and I’ll tell you where to go pluck them from the mud yourself. The briny inventory never ends. The small farms provide locals with corn, apples, eggs, blueberries, squash and whatever seasonal yield our little state can muster. What is truly inspiring is how easy it is to continue a healthy lifestyle without being a prick. It doesn’t take a stitch of pretentious effort to afford a lifestyle that benefits the environment, economy, and health of the community.
From Rhode Island to the Cape, antique stores and flea markets riddle the seashores offering novelties, folklore, and wampum not as over-appraised fossils but as affordable artifacts preserving our seaside heritage. Nothing is more fun than picking up some old nautical tools and native souvenirs along my travels to clutter my living space and remind me of home. New England and its aesthetics have been inspiring my jeu de vivre before I realized I had one.
Driving down ocean road, the Atlantic on my left and miles of sod on my right, it's hard to remember why I ever left in the first place. But it’s not long before I faintly hear a familiar voice. It’s my old friend City Streets calling to remind me that a bourbon and some trouble are waiting for me at my favorite bar.
Lobster Roll ($16)
Cup of Chowder ($3)
3 Clam Cakes ($2)
Del's Lemonade ($2)
Allie’s Donuts Half Dozen ($4.50)
Oyster Shooter ($7)
Yarmouth Scallop (Fished)
Ocean Catch Seafood Stuffies ($1.50 a piece)
Deviled eggs are already a gift from God and I recommend eating them as often as possible; you never know when you'll be eating your last one. Biergarten's deviled eggs are some of my favorite in San Francisco. Biergarten already has an amusing menu, so I usually like to try something different whenever I stop by. That being said, I cannot seem to have a snack at this place without starting with these friggen eggs. What's the best way to start a pretzel knot or bratwurst? How about with a mouthful of tart and spicy purple ecstasy?
Dickies have been a longtime favorite chino of mine. Not only because I can find a pair in just about any color, but they are often roughly around thirty bucks. The Dickie's skinny straights are a nice form fitting pant that look great with a t-shirt, oxford, blazer and tie, the list goes on. It's important to be ready for any occasion but everyone can't own ten pairs of designer pants. Dickie's are a cheap durable choice and you don't have be afraid of wearing them out.
Here is another example of the beauty in finding something handmade. This handsome ceramic soap dish was not only made by some stranger I'll never meet, but there isn't another one like it anywhere. I am the only person on planet Earth with a fish soap dish made in 1979 by Gary, and for that I am so grateful. Community Thrift will never disappoint in the random and bizarre department and I hope that never changes.
Picked up this little number at Crossroads Trading Co. today. This Jack & Jones premium striped tee makes me want to hoist up the John B's sail. A classic nautical is an essential in any t-shirt collection. The T-shirt is a beautiful thing that is always invited as long as it's appropriate and in context. A night out, a day at the beach, working in the backyard or working the fuck out of a suit, when it works, it really works. Just do me a favor, don't wear an old waxy white t on a date after reading this and expect to get lucky. Keep it clean and flattering. A quilted nautical stripe with a built in pocket is a great summer piece for your repertoire, and for ten bucks? Ahoy bitches.
This delicious French custard on-the-go is one of my favorite coffee companions in San Francisco. I get them at Castro Coffee, a gem of the Castro district, and exactly the kind of coffee shop every neighborhood needs. I'll take the French roast, hold the bourgeoise.
I found this great vintage thermos today at the treasure trove that is Community Thrift. I always pick up little pieces like this one when I get the chance, not only because I'm a collector by nature, but because of how easily they can be reused as something decorative. This thermos will look bitchin on almost any surface in the house. A nice tall and functional artifact from 60+ years ago is way cooler on bookshelf then anything you'll find at Homegoods. Decorate with things that are real, things that evoke nostalgia and have stories dating back before they fell into your possession. Odds are, if you're searching in the right places, almost everything you find will be way cheaper than a repro. You will also start collecting your own stories of how all this cool stuff found its way into your home. Start collecting and decorating with what you find. Some things, like this classic Stewart Plaid Vacuum Bottle, will never go out of style.
I know what you may be thinking, “I’m not a bartender, I've never even worked in service, how could I possibly attempt to tackle the vast and exclusive science of mixology?" To this absurd notion I respond, why the hell not? You’re capable, why shouldn’t you be able to make yourself a libation fit for the astute brass rail? How often are you hanging out at home with friends, lovers, or on our own and find yourself sipping on a bottle of beer or a glass of wine? The next time you’re at the packy skip the refrigerated wall and take a gander at the booze behind the counter. Avoid the usual Jack Daniels or Captain Morgan instincts and try something new. Go for some medium shelf bourbon or gin, whatever poison is speaking to you at that moment and next pick out a cordial or liquor that pairs well with your hooch. A bottle of vermouth or triple sec will add to your growing liquor cabinet and also save the day when it’s past closing time and you need a night cap. Start with the classics and what you like, martinis, manhattans, margaritas, the list is long and there’s plenty to try. Before you know it, you’ll have an impressive selection of alcohols and a homemade menu of favorites. Keep crafting until they’re perfect and you'll know exactly why. Repeat the process until you, my friend, are your favorite bartender in town. It's a nice thing to know what you like and why you like it, and it doesn't hurt that it looks good too. Still buy beers.
I like to take advantage of Zara, the poor thing. Visiting this international chain isn't usually the kind of place I would send anyone for cheap quality goods. That being said, I have been wrong in the past, and with dear Zara I was gravely mistaken. At twenty bucks a pop, I can go in there and leave with a whole new pile of pants for under $100. I don't know exactly what they do with this denim but it fits like a glove. To be honest, I don't even want to know what they do with this denim, as long as they keep it up. So go get some cheap and simple slacks that will make you look and feel like you actually know what you’re doing.
Summer 2016 has been an evolutionary one for the t-shirt, which is ready for fall more than ever. Let's face it, not everyone can pull this off and the common T can easily be a lazy and unflattering. The time has come for the t-shirt to assume a more prominent position amongst its zippered and buttoned companions, which tend to get the lead role around this time of year. Gravitating to the realm of boxy and spacious, the T’s latest métier wins in both class and comfort. Oak and Fort, the minimalist brand out of Vancouver, is murdering the game with their earthy monochromatic tones and futuristic simplicity. Oak and Fort has turned the t-shirt into a confident statement. The bold blend of polyester, rayon, and spandex create a thick matte facade while keeping the shirt’s angles at attention. This $58 peice is made for a sophisticated evening out and is sure to put the man blouse to shame. Another slightly more affordable option is American Apparel’s $34 short sleeve sweatshirts that are made with 100% thick sun faded cotton and come in cool blue/green grays. If you’re just not ready to start layering up yet, these shirts are built for late summer days as they ease into early autumn nights.
Please excuse me while I address the elephant in the room, but I am proud to say this is the first of hopefully many articles in which Poor Young Gentleman is promoting new garb at retail prices. These items are not vintage, classic americana, or even a steal, but that is not all of what being a PYG is about. Style is continuously evolving and we must grow with it while both learning from and loving its past. And like I’ve said before, sometimes spending a little extra on something effortless and new can contrast you’re vintage swagger superbly. Now back to the t-shirt.
The most important quality of a well fitted t-shirt, above the color and pattern, new or old, is the texture and length. Maybe more than any other article of clothing the fit of a t-shirt's torso and sleeves determine its attitude and are responsible for its painless look. A t-shirt that hangs and drapes like this bad ass denim Cotton:On from Crossroads Trading Co, should have a deep neckline and interesting material for a sexy oversized look.
Like anything else, with an ever-growing affection comes a relentless pickiness, and the T is no exception. This fall, before you pack away your summer expectations, hold on a little longer and bulk up with some t-shirts that will keep you cool.