Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Good Serves at 13th BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis

Aerial view of the green carpet during the 13th Annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis at the W New York Hotel. Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images.

Head’s up: In late August, the U.S. Open owns New York City. To that end, VEVLYN'S PEN pays homage to the last grand slam of the year with a Chow TALK column dedicated to tennis–related eating/drinking goings-on.

IT’S always a crush at the W New York Hotel when the stars of the tennis court and the stars of the culinary universe partner to serve up good eats for a good cause.

And so it was on the green carpet and at “The Centre Course” during the 13th Annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis. Among those seen and heard from the world of tennis: Victoria Azarenka, James Blake, Mike & Bob Bryan, Brad Gilbert, Tommy Haas, Sam Stosur, and appearing very briefly, Golden Girl Serena Williams!

Holding it down from the world of food: Jehangir Mehta, Marc Murphy, Brian Ray, Gail Simmons and Jonathan Waxman (See photos below).

Proceeds from the 13th Annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis benefit the New York Junior Tennis & Learning. (

Brad & Serena
While gold medal winner Serena Williams, right, was striking a pose on the green carpet, Shaman of the game Brad Gilbert was busy handing out plates of Chef Brian Ray's (Buddakan) fresh and delicious Tuna Tartar Spring Rolls w/Crispy Shallots and Ponzu. Chef gave Yours Truly to know that he bought the tuna that very morning. Meanwhile, BG whose wife throws down organic, gourmet and "very eclectic" fare, looks like he could use a beer. What's his potion? "Bud Ice – that’s my favorite." And he also has a thing for Stella!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Photos by Yours Truly and Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

Main Lobster & Ricotta Cavatelli
Ricotta Cavatelli w/Marsala Braised Mushroom Ragu from Chef Craig Wallen (Spasso), left, and Maine Lobster w/Jersey Corn from Chef Chris Leahy (Lexington Brass). Photos by Yours Truly.

Gail & the Bryan Brothers
Gail Simmons and the gold medal winners, Bryan Brothers – Bob and Mike – are so happy from the cocktail they had earlier that it is not clear that they fired up the stove. Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images.

Sam & Chef Kerry
Defending U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur and Chef Kerry Heffernan ("Top Chef Masters") made some magic w/Heirloom Tomatoes and Buratta w/Majoram. According to Sam, her job was handing out plates while Chef held forth on the anatomy of good cooking. It all boils down to simplicity and fresh ingredients. That works for SS whose favorite food is Japanese. “I love the cooked yakitori. I love the noodles or sukiyaki," she said thoughtfully. "Pretty much anything they make from that country, I’m willing to try it. But what's her favorite cheat food? French fries! "It’s the worst thing you could ever eat and I try not to do it too much." Note that SS said, "try not to." Photos by Donald Bowers/Getty Images and Yours Truly.

Chefs Marc Anthony & Marco
Chef Marc Anthony Bynum (M Bynum Creations) plates his Pressed Chicken Terrine and Pickled Vegetables, while Chef Marco Porceddu (Asellina) stirs his Roasted Fig w/Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Fresh Herbs. Photos by Yours Truly.

Where Azarenka Mixes, 'Champions Drink Responsibly'
Victoria Azarenka and Pamela Wiznitzer mix a winning mocktail at "Champions Drink Resonsibly." Photos by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images.

SHE can mix it up off the court, too.

World women’s No. 1 player Victoria Azarenka proved it when she stepped behind the bar at Above Allen Bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side for “Mix With Victoria.” VA set about recreating mocktails from five of New York’s most popular bartenders. Afterwarad, she picked the one she liked best. The winner:  “The Champions Mix” conceived by Pamela Wiznitzer (L’oubil) and created for Rafa Nadal.

The judging and contest are part of the Bacardi Limited "Champions Drink Responsibly” campaign> It advocates responsible drinking, hence mocktails instead of cocktails. VA pinch hit in this role for the ailing Rafa Nadal. )The Belarusian was not the only tennis player working the bar last week. The Bryan Brothers spent some time learning Heineken’s “The Serve”; see )

Victoria Azarenka, with the New York skyline in the distance, is an ambassador for drinking responsibly.

“I had a fun evening, learning how to make some delicious mocktails from the best in the business here in New York” VA said of her experience. “The ‘Rafa Berry Smash,' the original signature mocktail, is a hard act to follow, but I am really pleased with 'The Champions Mix'. I want everyone to enjoy their nights out and try some mocktails as a delicious alternative to soft drinks or water.”

The Champions Mix
1.5 oz fresh apple juice
0.5 oz honey water
0.75 oz lemon juice
Non-alcoholic ginger beer
A slice of apple and a sprig of mint for garnish

Combine the apple juice, honey water and lemon juice together then shake well in a cocktail shaker.
Strain over fresh ice in a tall glass and top with non-alcoholic ginger beer.
Give it a quick stir and garnish with an apple slice and sprig of mint.

Visit to learn more about Champions Drink Responsibly.

Sugarpova for Maria Sharapova's Sweet Tooth (and Yours)

SUGARPOVA is aptly named. After all, its creator is very sweet.

The new candy line from Maria Sharapova was revealed to the world last week at a splashy party at Henri Bendel. Naturally (which can’t be said of the candies), MS was at the center of it all. (See video above in which MS talks about the genesis of the line; video of the Bendel launch is below).

The Olympic silver medalist is a confessed candyholic, so why should she not brand her own candy, the latest of her successful off-court endeavors? It was 18 months in gestation.

The 12 different types of gummies, sour gummies, gumballs and soft chews come in various shapes and bear catchy names, along with pithy messages. All reflect some element of the Russian’s personality.

Sassy Sour and Flirty are right up Maria Sharapova's alley. Photos from Sugarpova.

Flirty (“Lips like sugar”) is shaped like lips, while Splashy (“Dive right in”) is shaped like sea creatures. Sassy Sour (“Sweet smile, fresh attitude”) is shaped like various fruits; Sporty (“The taste of victory”) is shaped like tennis balls, and Chic (“Some style for your smile”) like pumps and handbags.

Reflecting the fact that their maker is the world’s highest paid female athlete in endorsements, some of the candies are already (at this writing) sold out online. Buyers will have to wait for new supplies of Flirty, Sporty and Chic.

Each Sugarpova candy costs $5.99 each, 4 for $19.99 or 12 for $49.99. At the moment they are only available at Henri Bendel and IT'SUGAR stores the United States. However, they can be purchased online from anywhere in the world and will begin to appear in stores around the world next year.

Speaking of buyers, beware! This is candy, with no good health benefits. The first two ingredients in each flavor are corn syrup and sugar. Clearly, MS does not know better – at least one hopes. The fact that a portion of sales from Sugarpova goes to the Maria Sharapova Foundation ( only partially offsets this bitter reality. Note that MS did not win a career slam on a steady diet of this sort of thing.

Enjoy Sugarpova in extreme moderation only.

Visit to learn more about Sugarpova.

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