Pear Almond Tart

I started making dough with my hands when I started making pies and tarts. At one point, I switched to a Cuisinart because it was efficient, but rolling out the dough was not easy. Emily pointed me in the direction of a crust she had been using, which is essentially what I used to do: use the hand. I am never returning to the Cuisinart.

We had a dinner party with a French twist, so something with pears seemed appropriate. This recipe is delicious. I made the crust above and pre-baked the shell. The key is slicing the pears. Otherwise, it is quite easy.

  • pre-baked tart shell
  • 8 bosc pears, peeled and thinly sliced all the way through and then fanned out
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 7 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375. Layer the pears in the tart. Whip together the sugar, eggs, cream, vanilla and almond extract, and flour. Pour into the tart until just filled. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned. Let cool and serve with whipped cream or perhaps a little confectioner sugar sprinkled over the top.

Winner!

Commerce Keeps the Economy Going

The most important aspect of every business must be about the impact on our planet. Unfortunately, our economy is built on commerce. That applies to everything. Technology has impacted everything from golf clubs to ski boards, so you want to buy the latest and greatest. Styles reflect the times. Women no longer wear jackets with large shoulder pads, and men’s suit lines have also changed. Who wants to be still wearing outfits circa 1990?

I have saved many items over the years that have returned to my repertoire for a night but not daily. I appreciate those who shop at vintage shops for the “reuse” model. They are helping save the planet by reusing and re-wearing. It is still a commerce transaction, but it is unclear how many would wear everything from the days of yore. Once in a while, you do need a new pair of sneakers.

Every item, clothing, and golf clubs has to figure out how to reuse the materials in these items over and over again. Melt them down, bring the materials to their original state, and make them again. Products, people, and styles evolve, and consumer behavior is tough to change.

There are many who have tried to make less of an impact on our planet, such as my friend Lauren Singer, who lived a zero-waste life for years. New companies like Nextdoor allow us to gift our neighbors with items, one persons trash is someone else’s treasure.

We love things, we love treating ourselves, and climate change is something we must all care about. That is why I am a huge fan of companies like Evrnu, which takes old clothes and breaks them down to their original molecules to create new fabrics. Those new fabrics are beautiful and were made with old materials, but still create what the economy needs: consumerism, which is not only about the payment for the product but also the people who get paid making the product.

Changing consumer behavior is hard, and it impacts the economy. What would be interesting is if all companies could be built with a focus on a circular economy by taking materials down to their primitive stages and reusing them for the products of today.

That is one of the reasons I do not understand why budget cuts in NYC would cease compost. These are the types of initiatives that must blossom. Short-term costs for long-term gains. We all need to start thinking like that.

Why Do We Assume It Was A Man?

Have you ever noticed that when someone brings up an industry, be it current or historical, the first thing that comes to mind is what man is behind it, started it, or came up with it? Why? Is it because patriarchy is a Ponzi scheme?

A friend shared Anu Atluru’s substack with me that asked the question, “Why Are All the Public Intellectuals Men? I have thought about that question for a very long time. Not only do women network differently, they have different priorities that keep their public successes under wraps. It is something that is locked into a narrative that has been set for centuries. When narratives are established, people follow suit. The media sets the standard every single day.

The media has pushed men to the top by simply citing men as the “experts.” It is easy to find the men, not as easy to find the women but trust me, they are out there. All of this begins at a young age. Look at the film industry and what children watch from a young age. How many strong female characters are there? Women are still being represented stereotypically, although those stereotypical models are not necessarily steeped in reality anymore. Were they ever?

I started with three new career changes during the COVID lockdown: opening up Gotham, Chairing (although that was not the starting plan) the Public Housing Community Fund, and creating a documentary series called Walking Through Walls. The first two have been achieved, and the third one, although thoroughly researched and ready for prime time, has yet to happen.

Walking Through Walls highlights women throughout US history who have had a massive impact on our lives, connecting with women leaders today. We began with entrepreneurs, but of course, there are sports figures, playwrights, artists, and any vertical has game-changing women at the top that few know about. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Most of our impressions start at a young age. You can’t be it or even understand it if you can’t see it. Young men and women need to learn more about the female thought leaders throughout history to change the next generations’ look at the world. It is a problem worth solving.

I still need to make the trifecta in my COVID career changes. I do hope I get there.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I made this dish the other night. I always forget that making Japanese or Chinese food takes longer than you think. A few steps. This recipe is a win. Simple, a few steps, but worth it. This serves 4 with some side dishes and rice.

  • 1 lb boundless skinless thighs (I used with skin, and it is fine)
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch and 1 tsp
  • 1/2 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium carrot cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 sweet onion cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 red pepper cut into 1/2″ pieces

Cut up the chicken into 1″ cubes and combine with 2 tbsp soy sauce, sake and ginger. Put this in a ziplock bag and let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 1/2 day.

When ready, drain the chicken and discard the marinade. Transfer to a medium bowl and sprinkle the cornstarch over the chicken, making sure that each piece is evenly coated.

Line a large plate with paper towels. In a non-stick medium skillet (with a lid), heat the oil until it shimmers, then add the chicken one layer at a time until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown each side. Lay the chicken on the paper towels to drain.

Now add the carrots to the skill and stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Put the carrots on the paper towels too. Pour out the oil and add just a little more before adding in the onions until soft. About 3 minutes, and add the peppers about one minute into the onions to soften.

Add the balsamic vinegar sugar, mirin, remaining 2 tbsp soy sauce, and 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl. Return the chicken and carrot to the onions and pepper, stir in the sauce, cover the skillet, and simmer for about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp cornstarch with 2 tsp water to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the dish, stirring constantly until thickened.

Serve with rice!

Store Shopping

E-commerce has changed our lives, as have many technology innovations and companies, but I will focus on shopping.

Being able to order from a computer and have everything show up at your door within a day or more is game-changing. Whatever you need is at your fingertips. Sometimes, you don’t even realize you need it until that item shows up in your Instagram feed. I am at a loss trying to think of what I haven’t purchased online.

This past weekend, Fred needed to replace his winter coat. He likes to go into a store when he shops. He knows what he wants, so shuffling through racks is not in his DNA. We went to Stone Island, where his last coat was from, to buy a new one. The store is not overwhelming, well organized, and soothing in vibe with attentive salespeople. It was a great experience. It’s kind of great to walk in, find the coat, try it on, buy it, and leave with the purchase in hand.

Then, later in the evening, we had some time to kill time after the movie and before dinner. We walked up to a store I go to on Bond Street, Dear Rivington because Fred needed something else. Again, it was an incredible experience. He tried on a few things, and they worked. The owners are lovely. We went to a store that we knew would have the type of thing we were looking for, and that makes all the difference in the world.

The importance of retail at the street level will never go away. It has been here for thousands of years and will continue. There is something about purchasing and walking out with it in your hand. There is something about engaging with a good salesperson. There is something about community that you can feel in the right store.

The importance of keeping a mixture of ground-floor retail on the streets of NY or any big city sets the tone for the neighborhood. We loved our retail therapy weekend.

One Year in Cannabis

Of course, plenty of work went on before we were awarded a dispensary license, but the real work began the day we got the license.

Last year, the week of Thanksgiving, we were in Mexico City. Walking with friends into an Adidas store, I got a call from Roy Castro, the co-chair of Strive, our partner in Gotham, shouting in the phone that we got the license. After hanging up, I stood outside the store and savored the moment before calling Fred and Alex (my chief of everything). Alex has been at my side through over a hundred plus investments, multiple residential build-outs (personal and business), a small quasi-hotel, the women’s entrepreneur festival, and much more. What a year we were about to have.

The one thing that I have learned after my involvement in so many start-ups is the first year is critical. Do not hesitate once you made a decision. Waiting costs time and money. You are on a race to get to the place where things are humming. It is like climbing a mountain. The first mesa is a bit disorganized, but eventually, everyone packs their bags to get to the next mesa, where there is some structure.

Cannabis is not like anything I have ever been involved with. The legal documents alone around this store are mind-boggling. Besides being a regulated drug (of choice), the industry is nascent in NY, where we have witnessed and been involved in the ever-changing landscape. Who would have thought that our competition would be thousands of illegal dispensaries?

We built the store and opened for business in less than six months. The case lines alone were a time suck. We hope it won’t take as long on the next go-round if we are awarded more licenses. Our top executives didn’t make it through the year, although they were good until they weren’t. The Gotham line had a hard reboot, too. Mistakes have been made, and success stories have been made.

We now have an executive team of 12 people and over fifty working in the store. This includes delivery, cannabis growers’ showcases, inventory oversight, Gotham goods, Gotham merchandise, marketing, events, an eye toward new stores, and global domination (I had to say it).

It has been quite the year. It’s not always seamless or easy, but it has been fun. We have incredible people working throughout the store who are enjoying the journey. Our turnover in the store has been beyond low. Everyone who works full-time has full healthcare without buying into the system, and I am very proud of that. We have promoted from within, giving new opportunities to our team. We have created a strong brand that resonates with customers who continue to come back repeatedly.

The year ahead should be even crazier, but the systems are in place, the vision is there, the team is ready, and here we go. So many stories to tell, one day, perhaps, a book.

Community Boards and Cannabis

In the 1963 City Chapter, Mayor Robert Wagner began neighborhood governance. In 1990, they were granted more power regarding development in each district. I believe that community boards have their place, but I have witnessed many people who have been deemed the “power” that most people in the community might be concerned with. Ends up that people involved in politics, like power and community boards, are very political.

When given a cannabis license from the state, you must send the information, with your address, to the community board. At one point, you will be called in front of the community board for them to weigh in on the location. If you have already been granted a license tied to a locked lease, then the community board, much to their demise and unfortunately unaware, that they have zero choice. If they knew that, the conversations would be more fruitful and worthy.

This past October 4th, the state began to take another round of dispensary applications. This is open until November 15th. They suggest having a lease in hand tied to your application is a bonus. It makes sense because you will open sooner than later. There are many rules to follow, and we followed them all, including getting two leases that we are paying for while we wait with our fingers crossed to get two more licenses. We have proven ourselves already once.

There was a community board meeting this past week in one of the neighborhoods our lease is. Two applications to present to the community board were tied to two locations. I know both locations well. One of them is too close to a school to have a store, and because of that, nobody in cannabis can lease there. We have a lease on the other one, so whoever is going in front of the community board probably sees an open space and hopes to rent that place. Unclear, but how many people will go in front of community boards without leases that might never get those spots and are, in turn, wasting the community boards’ time?

I don’t think this is going to end well. It’s just another day in the world of cannabis.

Vinepair Podcast

I did this podcast a few weeks ago; it came out this past Friday.

You can listen to it here

I had such a great time, and the podcast came out great!

In full transparency, I am an investor in Vinepair, which has been growing profitably for ten years!

Cannabis Stats

More and more cannabis research is finally being done in the United States. The stats are not surprising to someone like me, who has been consuming for a long time.

Let’s start with the emergency rooms. Multiple conservative senators have touted (and I sure have never got stoned) that Federally legal cannabis will overwhelm our emergency rooms. WRONG! Visitations to the emergency room are 50% lower in legal cannabis states vs illegal cannabis states.

Seniors are choosing cannabis over pharma products. Let’s start with anyone over fifty who is absolutely thrilled that they can buy legal weed because many were smokers back in the day. Many are on pharmaceuticals and are willing to try something else. Ends up Oxi did not do the pharmaceutical companies any favors. Everyone I know is a bit wary of taking pharma drugs, particularly around pain and sleep, where cannabis fits the bill.

Many stoner celebs, except for Seth Rogan, are turning to edibles. Different strokes but smoking weed is still number one, but edibles are coming in these days as a strong second.

And last, although not weed-related, again, not shocking. Companies that have flexible work policies outperform companies that do not. Giving people control of their lives is better for everyone.

Data is always the shining light these days with the social media doom and gloomers. And for all those Senators who are opposed, and that includes Biden, hit me up, let’s go smoke a joint together. Maybe we can knock some sense of reality into your head.

Returning Home

Going away is always good, but coming home after a real vacation is the best. We got to walk, eat out, see art, buy a few goodies, read books, and work, vs. my everyday life of work, walking, eating out, reading books, seeing art, and buying some goodies pretty much in that order.

Walking lets me feel part of the city. The vibe changes from neighborhood to neighborhood. Some hoods are changing, and some remain the same. It is educational

We settled in at home, and Fred went to get us a seat at Via Carota, worth the wait time. I walked over to meet Fred, and we spent some time roaming the West Village. I am here to tell you that NYC is alive and well. Unclear what we are all seeing on social media these days. Is it real, or is it false? Is the economy good? The numbers say so, but maybe it’s not. The angry narratives being pushed at all of us every day are killing all of us.

But on the street level of downtown NYC, it is humming.  The West Village is rocking with new stores and new spots, and they are all packed. I would love to know what they are all paying in rent. We are real estate owners and landlords, but it is not okay that the real estate owners are the puppeteers of this town.

Some buildings on the street have been empty or under construction for too long. They are eye sores. The city should give each building permit an amount of time to complete their project. If they don’t finish it, they start to get fined daily. It puts the onus on the landlords who found themselves short of cash to complete the project or have decided to wait until they get the rent they want.¬†Unfortunately, I do not see how this will ever happen unless someone in the mayor’s administration makes it a priority.

After being in Amsterdam and Paris last week, where the beat of the street feels completely different. You do not see empty buildings, buildings under permanent construction, or shoring up a structure for eternity. Those cities are beautiful, and so is NYC, and it would be even more beautiful if there were limits on construction projects and rent expectancies.

Regardless, it does feel insanely good to be home.