Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Refueling with Tradition... Some Thoughts on Dining in London Part 1

This past March, I made a rather quickly planned trip to London. I probably could have done more to plan for the trip, but I didn't make my bookings until about two weeks before my flight. So with only one week before my departure for the UK, I started drafting plans for my free time.

As with any travel, dining is an important part of our planning process. We can make eat the same thing every day, or we can make an adventure of our dining experiences. I chose the later, attempting to embrace the London experience in a rather traditional manner. Yes I could look for the newest and hottest, but for me, it was a look to the past and those traditional places which still exist throughout London.

While I don't plan to cover each of the places I stopped for a drink or a bite to eat individually, I will mention them all here with some more detailed accounts to come in later posts.

Once on the ground in London, I had a rather tight schedule to keep if I had any hope of visiting each of the many varied locations I wished to see, as well as spending time with family.

I would be in London for four full days, so even jet lagged, I had to keep moving. One of my friends in London recommended my first dining venue, the Cittie of Yorke, located at 22 High Holborn.

This pub is owned and operated by Samuel Smith's Old Brewery, and while this current structure is a 1920's rebuilding of earlier structures, pubs have been on this site since 1430, and the current building features the Henekey's long bar located in the grand hall like back room, a late Georgian or Regency era triangular metal stove, and Victorian style cubicles.

I popped in just as they were opening for lunch which made service fast and easy, as it was not very crowded at that hour.

One of the biggest reasons for my visit was to sample their Old Brewery Bitter which is served from oak casks, the only real ale in London served this way.

And the food was delicious. I tried a pork sandwich, and were I a regular in London, this pub would be a regular destination for me. As it was I had many other places to try, but fond memories of that sandwich and ale remain with me to this day.

Before I returned to my hotel, I popped by a rather hidden gem, The Grenadier located at 18 Wilton Row, .

Originally built in 1720 as the Officers Mess for the First Royal Regiment of Foot Guards, the pub opened in 1818 as The Guardsman Public House. 

Rumored to be one of the most haunted pubs in England, past visitors have attempted to pay off the debt of the ghost of a savagely beaten young Grenadier, who was caught cheating at cards, by attaching money to the ceiling, which after over half a century, has been totally covered by "transatlantic money."

The pub has a wonderful selection of hand pumped ales including Courage Best, Morland Old Speckled Hen and Marston's Pedigree. On the search for some esoteric British real ales, I sat down with a pint of Sharp's Brewery Doom Bar from Cornwall.

You won't find The Grenadier without a map and a mission as it is tucked down a small lane near Belgrave Square. But that makes finding this little treasure all the more worth while. For more information check out their website at https://www.greeneking-pubs.co.uk/pub/grenadier-belgrave-square/c0800/

Finally after a busy day, and quite jet lagged, I decided to visit Trader Vic's that night for a light dinner and a few drinks to help me get some sleep that night, so off to the London Hilton on Park Lane I went. Why a tiki bar in London? 

The original Trader Vic's opened in 1934 in London and franchise locations were opened beginning with Seattle in 1940. The London location opened in 1963 and is today the oldest Trader Vic's location in the world.

In full tiki style, this bar/restaurant hit all the points I needed for a traditional watering hole, even if some might consider this a bit unconventional for my London trip.

From the time I entered the door the barman and manager made me feel very welcome and I stayed there a bit longer than I intended for all the good reasons, because I enjoyed it and I wanted to stay.

I started out my "tour of the islands" with the Menehune Juice. It would not have seems right if I'd made this visit and had not a chance to see the fabled Menehune.

Their menu is full of all the tiki classics, which I do hope see a resurgence somewhere this side of the Atlantic.

I ordered the BBQ spare ribs from their 1972 recipe and they smelled so good I finished the first rib before I remembered to take a photo. My mouth waters just thinking about these as I type this post.

Next up was the Original Mai Tai, based on the 1944 version of this drink. They offer another version, but why anyone would attempt to improve on this classic I have no honest answer. Perfection!

When the London location opened, they crafted a special drink for the occasion, a London Sour, made with Scotch Whisky rather than traditional American or Canadian whiskies. The result was a sublimely smoky finish on this tradition sour.

In each case these drinks were well made. The staff was friendly and have great passion for their drink making. I highly recommend this destination if you are looking for a different traditional London location. For more information check them out here http://tradervics.com/locations/london/

More to come in the next installment of this post...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Taste of Cuba in London... Cuban Cigars and JJ. Fox

I must confess, that while I smoke cigars, I don't smoke them with any regularity. But I do appreciate them not only for the flavour, but also for the relaxation they provide. This is not a quick smoke, it is a ritual in which time must be set aside to enjoy them, time without interruption. And it is that break in the day which affords complete relaxation.

On a recent visit to London, I made a point to stop at a tobacconist and purchase some Cuban cigars to bring back to the States. This is something which has long been denied and on my last trip to Europe, I needed to be sure I'd smoked all my Cuban cigars which I'd bought, before I returned to the States. Oh how I enjoyed those Cohiba Siglo VI Tubos and how I wish I would have been able to bring even one back home to enjoy at a later date. Thankfully times have changed.

I'd done some research before my arrival in London, so I knew that in a very small area in St. James, I could find three excellent tobacconists, Davidoff, Dunhill and J.J. Fox, formerly Robert Lewis.

So on the day before my departure I set aside time in my afternoon and visited J.J. Fox. They have a sampling room, where you may smoke a cigar you have purchased from them, in the theory of sampling it to verify a larger purchase, though that is not required. This would allow me to try an unknown cigar first, and if I enjoyed it, purchase more before I returned to the States.

They have a beautiful shop and a large walk-in humidor filled with an incredibly large selection of Cuban cigars. Its not surprising that with so many Cuban cigars to choose from, the Dominican cigars which I find in the States were not to be seen anywhere in the shop.

I selected a Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No 2 http://top25.cigaraficionado.com/2016/hoyo-de-monterrey-epicure-no-2/ which was ranked the #9 best cigar in 2016 by Cigar Aficionado. The salesman cut and lit my cigar for me and I went upstairs to the tasting lounge. This is beautiful room with with leather chairs and sofas, provided with free Wi-Fi as well as tea and coffee. I settled down for the better part of the next hour and enjoyed this beautiful cigar. I knew almost instantly that some of these would be returning to the States with me.

After I'd finished my cigar, I went back downstairs and purchased a few more of these cigars for myself, a requested cigar for a family member back in the States, and a Partagas Serie E No. 2 for myself. Ranked as the #3 best cigar in 2016 by Cigar Aficionado and the highest ranked Cuban cigar in that ranking, http://top25.cigaraficionado.com/2016/partagas-serie-e-no-2/, it's a bit stronger than my typical smoke, so I'll be trying this at home at my leisure. If I like it, I may well buy more on my next visit to London.

Before you leave J.J. Fox, be sure to visit their cigar museum, filled with such historic artifacts as a box of Winston Churchill's cigars, the oldest box of Cuban cigars, and cigar ledgers for Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill. Even if you don't smoke, this small museum is quite interesting.

Be sure to visit J.J. Fox on your next visit to London https://www.jjfox.co.uk/

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Crossing the Pond... Thoughts on Travel to and from London from America

It has been far too long since I last visited London. This trip was prompted by the need to visit my Uncle who is quite up in years, and was not a visit to be delayed. While the personal family bits aren't quite the stuff for a blog post, I thought some out there might enjoy some of the other bits of the trip. The airfare was the single most expensive bit of the trip, so I was going to make the most of every moment I could while in London.

So, where to begin. Well, this first posting will be about the travel aspect of the trip. I booked my flight about 3 weeks before the trip on British Airways. Having traveled abroad before, I knew that I preferred European airlines and also direct flights. They European carriers tend to have better service in my opinion and I enjoy their food and beverage services. This flight would be 7 hours to London and just over 8 hours returning, so I'd rather not spend any additional time traveling, hence the direct flight. As I would also be traveling with family on the return, I followed in their planning and booked in premium economy. (More about that later)

I packed light. Being premium economy I was entitled to two carry-on bags weighing 51 pounds each and two checked bags weighing 51 pounds each. That would allow me 204 pounds of baggage fully packed! Knowing I might want to bring back some things from London, I packed a light briefcase for my iPad and papers, and a suitcase weighing on 30 pounds packed. I also packed a small duffel bag inside my suitcase if I needed more space or wanted to spread out the weight of anything I bought in London, avoiding a $60 fee for an overweight bag. so there I was with probably 160 pounds of available packing, just in case...

I'm not one to enjoy last minute issues at the airport, so I arrived 3 hours before my flight and had no issues checking in. As I'd downloaded the British Airways App onto my phone, I was aware of my flight time and the planned slightly early departure and early arrival in London. I could also browse the in-flight entertainment and decide how to bide my time on the long flight.

Once we were in the air and on our way, they offered beverages and I enjoyed a rather nice white wine. 

Dinner was then served and I enjoyed another nice white wine.

About an hour prior to landing, we were provided with a very light breakfast snack.

Our plane arrived at Heathrow ahead of schedule and we were parked slightly away from a terminal so that a set of stairs was wheeled to the plane and we then boarded a bus to the terminal. I packed light so that I had only my carry-on brief case. This made this portion of my trip easy. Once at Terminal 5, I went through immigration and when that was complete, my bag was there at baggage claim ready for customs. Checking my bag provided no time delay and given the stairs from the plane, I was much better off and lost no time compared with those who did not check bags.

I'd planned my trip in advance with some research. I had three options to get into London from Heathrow. Taxi, which would be the most expensive but most flexible and in greatest comfort providing door to door service. The taxi will run  £46 - £87 one way and there is no extra charge for additional passengers. I'd recommend this to anyone who might not be able to manage bags very well themselves. (For more information on taxi fares see https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/taxis-and-minicabs/taxi-fares) Another option is the Heathrow Express which is a train line from Heathrow to Paddington Station in London and is the fastest way to go from Heathrow to London. From Paddington to your hotel, you would need to walk, take a taxi, take a bus, or take the Underground. Another option is the Underground which is the cheapest way to travel from Heathrow to London and is part of the Piccadilly Line. With this option I would not use this if traveling into Central London with anything more than carry-on luggage as the gap between the train cars and some platforms, as well as the stairs and escalators in some Underground stations might be problematic to negotiate. And the last would be National Express, which is motor coach service between Heathrow and Victoria coach Station which is adjacent to the Victoria Rail Station. These can be as low as £5 for the 8:50 coach and can be as much as £12.50 for some departures.  (For more information on National Express see http://www.nationalexpress.com/en/airports/heathrow-airport.aspx

Based on my hotel location, I took the National Express, which cost £5 and took about 1:30 to reach the Victoria Coach Station with no transfers. This put me only one block from my hotel which was an easy and quick walk.

As I did have some time to kill before I left Heathrow, I went to the Underground Ticket Counter on the ground floor of arrivals at the terminal. Here I was able to purchase a 

For my return to America, I was not traveling alone but with my mother and uncle. We asked the front desk at our hotel to book us a car, which would allow us slightly more room than a London taxi. The ride took about 30 minutes (we were traveling opposite rush hour commuter traffic) and was just over £40 for the three of us. We arrived at Heathrow three hours before our flight. I'd not arrive any earlier as you cannot check bags more than three hours before your flight. Check-in took no time at all and we then proceeded to the VAT refund station. highly recommended if you've bought items costing over £100. I took my refunds in pounds sterling, which gives me plenty of cash for my next trip to the UK without having to stop at a money exchange before or after my arrival in the UK.

Once through security, we decided to stay in the main part of Terminal 5, rather than go out to Terminal 5B. Terminal 5B has a Starbucks and a Weatherspoon Express, but those are the only food options. for shopping they have a rather tiny Harrods shop, Boots, WH Smith, and World Duty Free among a few other shops. But the main Terminal 5 with the A gates has a much wider selection, which is why I decided to remain there until an hour before my departure time. For food, the main Terminal 5 has a nice sized Harrods shop, three separate WH Smith shops, Boots, Burberry, Cartier, Cath Kidson, Chanel, Dior, Fortnum & Mason, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Montblanc, Mulberry, Prada, Rolex, Smythson, Thomas Pink, Tiffany, World Duty Free, World of Whiskies, among other shopping venues. For food they have a Pret A Manger, Starbucks, Caviar House, Fortnum & Mason Champagne Bar, Itsu, Pilots Bar & Kitchen, and The Crown Rivers. With such a variety, you can see why I didn't make haste to Terminal 5B with so much time to kill in the airport before my flight.

Once in the air and on our way we were offered beverages, followed by a nice lunch, both of which I enjoyed with a glass of wine.

The lunch was quite lovely and before landing we were served a light lunch.

I can't say enough about British Airways or the entire travel experience and am already making plans to return to London, following the same travel arrangements as in this trip.

For travel reservations with British Airways, please visit their website at https://www.britishairways.com/travel/home/public/en_us

Monday, August 14, 2017

Cordings Tweed.... The Perfect Kit for the Fall Season

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned a visit I made to a shop in Piccadilly which I'd not previously had a chance to investigate. As I mentioned, it had been more than a few years since my last visit to London and after some friendly recommendations to visit the shop, it became a must visit this past March while I was in London. My quest was tweed. I have owned a few tweed sports jackets over the years, but this quest was slightly different. This was a quest for the elusive tweed suit. I say elusive from an American perspective. You just don't see tweed suits this side of the pond. I'm not sure why, perhaps it is the climate, personal preference, who knows, but that fact remains, tweed suits are not easily found. Thus with a trip to London on the horizon, finding one was on my list for that visit.

Founded in 1839, J.C. Cording & Company began business as an outfitter and waterproofer. By 1843, Cordings was selling the Mackintosh, which is still sold today. This is a waterproof coat made possible by Charles Mackintosh who perfecting the process of dissolving rubber and binding it to cotton to allow the creation of waterproof garments. They moved into their current location at 19 Piccadilly in 1877.

Cordings was awarded a Royal Warrant in 1909 as waterproofers to the Prince of Wales, and future King George V. In 1922, the Prince of Wales, and future Duke of Windsor adopted Cordings as one of his outfitters. It was at this time that their famous Newmarket boots were patented, boots which were made for Elizabeth, mother of the current Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Windsor, and Mrs Simpson. Unfortunately, Cordings no longer makes these waterproof canvas and leather boots. But it was this time in the 1920s and 30s that Cordings established five core items which they are still known for to this day, the covert coat, Mackintosh, tweed jackets, corduroy and Moleskin trousers, and Tattersall shirts.

In 2003, after weathering the Second World War, the post war years, the rejection of tradition, and the years of outsourcing production from the UK by man businesses, the current management team approached their best customer, Eric Clapton, and asked if he would assist them in a management buyout. “I first became aware of Cordings in my mid-teens,” Clapton explains. “I come from the country and it was the highlight of our week to come up to London and listen to the musicians. It was difficult to get home late, so I would spend that time till dawn just walking the West End. I remembered Cordings. It stuck in my mind as a place of tradition; the heritage of England.”

So, upon my arrival in London, Cordings was my first stop after visiting with family. Upon entering, I was directed downstairs to the gentlemens department, filled with Tattersall Shirts and Tweed. The staff was friendly and extremely helpful. I'd done some research online before my arrival and was already decided on their House Check Tweed. 

The jacket is made of 14 ounce 100% Scottish Tweed woven exclusively for Cordings, and features a three button front, with a single back vent, working four button cuffs, and a ticket pocket. As I mentioned in the previous article, for those who might not be familiar with the "working cuff" this simple means that the cuff button are not decorative, they really do unbutton. And like the linen jacket which I wrote about earlier, this jacket features is functional lapel button hole which allows you to add a lapel pin or flower, as the back of the lapel features loops to secure the lapel flower stem. Small details that many do not notice or even feel they are missing, but details which set this jacket apart from the rest of the crowd.

The trousers are also made of the same 14 ounce 100% Scottish Tweed, are half lined in 100% cotton, and feature a pleated front and button fly.

The weight of this fabric is wonderful, and something not seen in many American off the peg suits with their wispy fabric to attempt to create a four season suit but creates a suit not suitable for much. This is a weighty suit, though not the heaviest weight Cordings offers. This is exceptional for the cooler days of Fall and Spring and excellent for Winter. I don't need a four season suit, that is why I wear different suiting for different seasons, and this Tweed is excellent for the seasons for which it is designed.

The jacket is true to my American size, but the trousers as slightly different. the very helpful staff member suggested a waist size 2 inches larger than my American size and brought both sizes to the fitting room. Needless to say, he was spot on in his recommendation. I decided to not purchase the matching waistcoat, as I thought it a bit much for me, though it does look ever so smart! Perhaps I will get one at a later date, once I am more accustomed to wear a Tweed Suit. As I mentioned earlier, Tweed suits are not easy to find in America and when you wear one, even without a waistcoat, you will stand out in a crowd, well dressed and comfortable.

I should also not fail mention that when I purchased the suit, the trousers required hemming. I opted for turn ups rather than a straight hem. I mentioend that I was happy to have the finished trousers simply shipped to the States. The staff member checked and said that he perhaps could have the trousers ready that afternoon. Well, I still had a few more days in London, so I said that to avoid any rush on the part of staff, I could pick them up two days later on Monday after noon, which I did. Exceptional service, and another reason to make visiting Cordings a must on any visit to London. 

Cordings make a wide range of items in their House Check Tweed, including caps, bags, breeks, and accessories. They also offer a number of other Tweeds in addition to their House Tweed. I would be remiss in mentioning that they also offer Tweed Action Back jackets designed for shooting, which give you superb ease of movement while at the same time retaining the perfect silhouette associated with a cordings jacket, as well as Tweed shooting waistcoats which feature generous bellow pockets for cartridges, Alcanta gun patches on both sides and inside shoulder insert pockets for the addition of a recoil pad.

Returning to America, I have worn the jacket numerous times alone as a sports jackets, as well as paired with the trousers as a suit, and cannot recall a time when I have received so many compliments on my clothing as I have wearing this suit. I look forward to cooler weather when I can once again find occasion to wear it again.

When I purchased the suit at Cordings in Picadilly, being fitted there, Cordings does advertise a "no quibble returns" so as long as none of the clothing has been altered, you may want to take a chance on an order without visiting London, though I can't imagine not visiting their shop in Piccadilly, as it is an experience not to be missed. Also, note that their website prices includes VAT of 20% so this is removed from your order before payment is made. For those buying in London, they will provide you with the paperwork needed to recover your VAT payment at the airport when you are leaving the UK.

You can find Cordings online here at www.cordings.co.uk.

I eagerly look forward to my next visit to Cording of Piccadilly later this year and will be sure to leave space in my luggage for new acquisitions I am positive I will be making!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Staying Cool and Well Dressed in the Summer.... with Cordings...

On a recent trip to London, I had a chance to visit a shop in Piccadilly which I'd not previously had a chance to investigate. It had been more than a few years since my last visit to London and after some friendly recommendations to visit the shop, it became a must visit this past March while I was in London. I'll go into more detail about that which I discovered on that first visit in a future blog post, but with the warm summer days upon us at last, I wanted to share a more recent purchase.

I'd visited J.C. Cordings & Co. in March and had been properly fitted for a suit which I purchased at that time. I can't say enough good things about the staff and the incredible speed with which alterations were offered. More on that as well in a future post, but even if you are in London for a short duration, this is a must visit shop for both men's and women's clothing.

After my return to the States, I've kept an eye to their website and when their summer line was listed, my eye was immediately drawn to their linen jackets and trousers. It did not take much to push me to make my first online purchase and I can't say enough good things about that decision. My first selection was their navy linen jacket. As they clearly state on their website, "Can there be anything more evocative of an Englishman in the summer months than a linen jacket?" Made of 8 ounce Italian linen, it is cut to their classic three button style, with a single back vent, working four button cuff, ticket pocket, and it fully lined in 100% Viscose. For those who might not be familiar with the "working cuff" this simple means that the cuff button are not decorative, they really do unbutton. Another feature of the jacket is the lapel button hole which allows you to add a lapel pin or flower, as the back of the lapel features loops to secure the lapel flower stem. Small details that many do not notice or even feel they are missing, but details which set this jacket apart from the rest of the crowd.

To pair with the jacket, I ordered two pairs of their linen trousers, one in sand and the second in olive green. In American terms, these equate to khaki and British khaki respectively. Also made of the same 8 ounce Italian linen, they are flat front with a button fly.

I've worn these trousers and jacket quite a bit during the few rather warm days we've experienced this Spring and now into the much warmer days of summer. I now can only wonder why it has taken me so long to throw off even the lightest of wool jackets I've worn most of my life, in exchange for linen. Yes, linen does wrinkle a bit more than wool, but both require the same dry cleaning care so I am saving nothing in maintenance from one to the other. But what I am saving is my own personal comfort. And nothing beats these linen suitings on a warm or hot summer day! If you live in places with hot summer days and warm summer nights, this is a wardrobe staple.

I ordered them in the exact same sizes as the suit I purchased at Cordings in March. So, if you get fitted in London at their shop, you can order online with ease and confidence knowing that they remain true to the size of the clothing your bought in London. For those ordering online without visiting Piccadilly, I found that the jacket was the same fit as my American jackets, but that the trousers needed to be ordered two inches larger by size at the waist than my American trousers. (This was pointed out to me in London during the fitting when the staff member immediately suggested the trousers in the larger waist size, but provided both sizes for me in the fitting room. Needless to say he was spot on!)

Cordings advertises a "no quibble returns" so as long as none of the clothing has been altered, you may want to take a chance on an order without visiting London, though I can't imagine not visiting their shop in Piccadilly, as it is an experience not to be missed. Also, note that their website prices includes VAT of 20% so this is removed from your order before payment is made.

You can find Cordings online here at www.cordings.co.uk

I eagerly look forward to my next visit to Cording of Piccadilly later this year and will be sure to leave space in my luggage for new acquisitions I am positive I will be making!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Cufflinks... A Polished Addition to Any Gentleman's Wardrobe

The other month I had the chance to sit down with the owners of CufflinkMonthly.com. I am not sure many men give much thought to them, given the casual nature of American business attire, well attire in general. You might ask, why cufflinks? Why bother? In a world of mass produced everything, where if you are not careful, you look just like everyone else, getting lost on the way to your house, or townhouse, all lined up looking just the same, cufflinks are a very easy and unique way to set yourself apart in the crowd. Subtle and sophisticated, they add a flash of individuality on your cuff in a sometimes very drab world.

Depending on the plan you select, Cufflinkmonthly.com will send you, or a man in your life, a pair of unique cufflinks selected each month based on a carefully selected theme. Sometimes, cufflinks from previous months selections are available for purchase at a later date, but their subscription service delivers the selection on a given monthly interval in a hand addressed box.

Inside each shipment is a letter from the company's owners providing background on that month's theme. They are more than just a fun way to set yourself apart in the crowd; each one has a unique story to tell.

The pair I was given was for April celebrating Earth Day. These cufflinks are high quality pieces designed by and for Cufflinkmonthly.com and feature a swivel back. Now those who wear cufflinks on a regular basis might not go to a swivel back design, but the fact remains, they are much easier to put on and take off, especially in the morning when getting ready for work, or in the evening getting ready for a night on the town. And if something is easier to wear, it is quite likely going to be worn more frequently.

So what if you don't have any shirts for cufflinks? No worries there. Cufflinkmonthly.com has a discount code for 20% off French cuff dress shirts from Paul Frederick Shirt Company.

So set yourself, or the special man in your life, apart in the crowd with cufflinks. For more information and pricing visit Cufflinkmonthly.com. For readers of my blog, enter code "AA10" for a 10% discount on any order.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

It Will Last A Lifetime... Sterling Silver Flatware

Long ago in a galaxy far way, nope wrong story, but those sentiments may seem that way to many. It wasn't too many years ago, and perhaps one or two generations, but sterling silver flatware was not quite as uncommon on some dinner tables as it is today.

If we think about items which hold their value and can be passed from one generation to another, items made of silver are one of those pieces. In the 18th century, silver teaspoons were much more common today, and sometime the only silver found within a household. By the very nature of the metal, silver, they had value beyond the utilitarian nature of their form.

In the 19th century, and into the 20th century, silver flatware (utensils used at the table for eating and serving food) sets became more elaborate, with specialized pieces for all sort of specialized food items. It was quite common for brides to register for silver flatware and be given place settings as wedding gifts by close family friends.

This ended during the social upheaval of the late 1960s, when some women rejected the traditional, and made more difficult when silver prices spiked in 1979-1980, which cause a rise in silver prices and further marking the decline of silver flatware in homes.

In this day of the appreciation for fine dining, both in restaurants, and also in the gourmet kitchens in modern homes, there is no better way to appreciate food that with silver flatware. Why? Because unlike stainless, it affects the taste of food much less, allowing you to enjoy the pure flavors of food, unlike stainless.

As an added benefit, there is the fact that silver, unlike stainless can and is passed down from generation to generation. For those who are concerned about recycling, there is no better way of doing so than passing down items which require no refabrication to ensure they are used again for their intended purpose by a new generation.

Some complain about the high maintenance costs of using silver, but that only happens when it is not used and contrary to many opinions, silver can be placed in the dish washer. And the more often you use silver, the less of a chance for it to tarnish. Tarnished silver is inactive silver and anyone who wears silver jewelry will attest that the more they wear it the less it tarnishes.

According to Beverly Bremer Silver Shop in Atlanta, Georgia, "washing silver immediately after use helps prevent tarnish. Tarnish is caused by sulfides from food, contact with rubber or smoke and gas in the air. If food is left on silver for periods as short as one hour, it can stain sterling. Be especially wary of foods such as mayonnaise, vinegar, and eggs. If you cannot wash your sterling immediately after use, rinse it thoroughly, but do not leave to soak."

They go on to say that "most sterling flatware, except for knives, may be placed in the dishwasher. For best results, remove flatware before the drying cycle begins and dry throughout with a soft, cotton cloth. When you use the dishwasher for cleaning, use a mild, non-citrus detergent, do not overcrowd the flatware baskets, and take care not to place sterling in direct contact with stainless steel. Do not dry on a high heat cycle."

They further recommend the "use of a soft cloth, mild detergent, and hot water to clean silver. Avoid all citrus detergents as they can cause rust spots on silver handles and blades. Never use abrasive pads or steel wool to remove debris. Dry silver immediately after washing with a soft cloth to prevent water spots. Avoid placing silver on hot surfaces such as heating elements, or near open flames."  

Regarding knife blades they state that "the blades of sterling silver place knives are made of a harden-able grade of stainless steel. This grade of stainless, while resistant to most foods or chemicals in the home, is subject to pitting under certain conditions. The conditions that most commonly cause pitting are long contact with chloride-containing foods such as salt, salad dressing, etc. or soaking in water.
Prolonged soaking (i.e. overnight) in water must be avoided especially where several pieces may be in close contact during the soaking period. The “rinse and hold” cycle on an automatic dishwasher is particularly hard on cutlery because the pieces are warm and wet for an extended period of time. Best care for your cutlery is to wash and dry as soon as practical after using, either by hand or on a fast cycle in the dishwasher."

Yes, silver costs more, but so does organic foods and craft made anything. It is not just an investment today, but it is an investment in the future.

You don't need to buy a whole set all at once, but you can buy a piece at a time, seeking out vintage sets. Or you can be creative, avoiding an entire table set with the same pattern, and pick pieces and services you like, mixing and matching vintage and antique to create a unique table setting, while at the same time "recycling" flatware in a way only silver can "recycle."

So don't give up on silver flatware as a thing of the past, unsuited to modern living, explore it as a new way of living with a nod to our past and the craftsmanship of another generation, still adaptable to today's smart living.

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