Home Food A Bar-Hopping Tour of New York’s Downtown Natural Wine Spots

A Bar-Hopping Tour of New York’s Downtown Natural Wine Spots


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For Iconic House, which they launched this summer, the tech entrepreneur Thibaud Elzière and his brother Robin Michel seek out what they deem to be exceptional properties and bring on designers to revamp their interiors with the idea of ultimately renting them out as weeklong escapes that come with all the amenities and services, from an on-site spa to curated local experiences, of a premium hotel. The first of these to have hit the market is L’Étoile des Baux, an 18th-century Provençal farmhouse built to the immediate side of a craggy rock in France’s Alpilles mountains. It was reimagined by Josephine Fossey, who drew from Les Baux-de-Provence’s rich artistic history — both Vincent Van Gogh and Jean Cocteau were inspired by the area — and conceived of the space as a maison d’artistes, incorporating nearly 200 works, including ceramics by Thalia Dalecky, photography by Romain Laprade and, in the entry sitting room, a large-scale abstract fresco by Florence Bamberger. There are also midcentury modern furnishings and a professional-grade kitchen. The house sleeps 16, and you and your fellow guests could easily spend a day wandering the well-appointed rooms — but won’t want to miss dips in the pool or the backyard cinema, either. Price upon request, iconic.house.

In a recent self-portrait by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, the artist sits on a patio with her young son on her lap, their bodies partly shielded by the leaves of tropical plants. The quiet scene is dense with detail, its surfaces given additional depth and texture through transfers of photographs from Nigeria, Akunyili Crosby’s place of birth. “I like how transfer reduces the visual sharpness of a photograph,” Akunyili Crosby has said. “It seems symbolic of how information is lost as people move between cultural spaces.” The portrait, titled “Still You Bloom in This Land of No Gardens” (2021), joins three new paintings by the artist in a show opening at Austin, Texas’s Blanton Museum of Art this weekend. In all of them, layered references from different cultures both transport and disorient the viewer, each work a no man’s land that further suggests diasporic identity. (Akunyili Crosby moved to the United States as a teenager and now lives in Los Angeles.) A map of Seneca Village, a Black community in Manhattan that was razed in the 1850s to create Central Park, weaves through images of Nigerian fashion models and outlines of okra plants. Lush rubber trees and plumeria flowers evoke dozens of possible locations at once. “From wherever you’re looking at the work, you may recognize something,” Akunyili Crosby has said. “But you won’t recognize everything.”“Njideka Akunyili Crosby” is on view July 23 to Dec. 4, blantonmuseum.org.

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In downtown Manhattan, there seems to be a new natural wine bar everywhere you turn. Last month saw the arrival of Moonflower, in the West Village, which offers tough-to-find bottles — like Andrea Scovero’s barbera rosato, a complex rosé with ripe fruit, fuller texture and a slightly herbaceous finish — and a tightly curated food menu that relies on whatever its soon-to-be-married owners, Rowen McDermott and Rebecca Johnson, find at the Union Square Greenmarket that week. If you can’t get a seat there, head to Canal Street for Le Dive, which is the restaurateur Jon Neidich’s attempt to make an authentic Parisian-style tabac, not merely an American interpretation of one. Chez Jeannette, in the French capital’s 10th Arrondissement, inspired Le Dive’s custom orange Formica bar top, and Neidich sourced décor from vendors at the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen and other vintage sellers. Many of the wines are from France, too, and go well with the chef Nicole Gajadhar’s steak tartare flavored with cornichons, capers and Dijon mustard. Six blocks away is Gem Wine, a 380-square-foot space formerly used for produce storage. Now, it features communal cherry wood tables, at which guests enjoy meat and cheese plates with the chef Flynn McGarry’s favorite pours from natural winemakers like Austria’s Franz Strohmeier. And then there’s Spēs, Alessandro Trezza’s debut on this side of the East River. It’s a full-fledged restaurant serving nonna-approved classics such as handmade pasta all’amatriciana, but also a plentiful wine selection that focuses on small producers from Italy. My favorite is La Stoppa’s Ageno, a dry skin contact from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region.

“The two main ingredients of concern are oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are thought to contribute to bleaching of the reefs,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in Dermatology at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital, of certain sunscreens. “A third ingredient, octocrylene, is also thought to be harmful to coral and fish.” Thus, mineral-based sunscreens, which tend to lack any of the above, are gaining ground. Pipette’s Mineral Sunscreen with SPF 50 was initially made for babies, which means that the lightweight formula is suitable for even the most sensitive skin. It includes squalane, a naturally occurring moisturizing ingredient, and bisabolol, a calming antioxidant derived from chamomile. Relevant, a new skin-care line from the Thirteen Lune co-founder Nyakio Grieco, offers daily sun protection with its appropriately named One & Done Everyday Cream with SPF 40, which leaves no white cast and is enriched with powerhouse ingredients like the humectant sodium hyaluronate. Developed in collaboration with his own dermatologist, Dr. Elena Jones, Pharrell’s product company, Humanrace, debuted body and face SPFs just this month. Both include the brand’s signature ingredient — snow mushroom extract — which can hold many times its weight in water. The celebrity hairstylist Adir Abergel recommends Eryfotona Actinica from Isdin, a Spanish dermo-cosmetics company that specializes in reducing photoaging, after having used it on a vacation in Brazil. As for Dr. Zeichner, he’s partial to Sonrei’s Clearly Zinq Tinted Mineral Gel Sunscreen SPF 45 on account of its gel base, which makes it easy to apply without it feeling heavy or sticky.

Even if you don’t have an outdoor space suitable for entertaining, you can still nod to summer with just a few items. A dining table is easily transformed with new table linens, such as this one, embroidered with a vine motif in India, or this hand-block-printed one with a green-and-white check pattern and a contrasting border, both from Carolina Irving & Daughters. Pair either with a jute place mat, or a bright blue Raffia version from Cabana Home Collection — and with Belgian linen napkins woven in Lithuania. Handcrafted glassware like these Moroccan drinking glasses or these Belgian hurricanes feel appropriately casual. For other spaces in the house, consider wicker chairs, which give the feeling of a screened-in porch or conservatory, or, if your tastes run more modern, these shapely ones have a Pierre Paulin-at-the-seaside vibe. If you do have a lawn (or a friend with one), a cast-iron fire pit provides a good nighttime activity, and this cabana-striped mat from Portugal will keep your guests from tracking the outdoors in. But even a small city balcony would have room for one of these French garden chairs, originally manufactured in 1889 for Paris’s sidewalk cafes. For more ideas on how to make the most of the season, see below — and read other stories from our 2022 Summer Entertaining issue at tmagazine.com.

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