My New Project: Eat Kentucky

Eat Kentucky logoFrom pretty early in the life of Pinstripe Pulpit I have posted restaurant reviews from time to time. Since moving back to Kentucky it’s something I’ve become even more interested in. I decided the best option was to create an entirely new website that would allow me to explore food in my native state: Eat Kentucky was born.

Pinstripe Pulpit is still open for business, and I hope the new site will help me refine the focus here. Thanks to all of you for reading here, and I hope some of you will also find Eat Kentucky of interest.

Turnbull & Asser and the Prince of Wales Feathers

TOMB_OF_THE_BLACK_PRINCE,_CANTERBURY_CATHEDRAL

Dating from the fourteenth century and Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince, the royal symbol of three ostrich feathers endures today as the official badge of the Prince of Wales. The badge also in effect serves as a modern logo for venerable Jermyn Street shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser as a result of its role as royal warrant holder for Prince Charles.

Black Prince EscutcheonEdward, Prince of Wales and heir to the English throne, was considered the beau ideal of English chivalry. Edward also was a military prodigy, distinguishing himself against the French at the Battle of Crecy at the age of 16. His nickname The Black Prince developed after his death in 1376 as a result of his armor color. He adopted the symbol of ostrich feathers with the motto “Ich Dien,” or “I serve,” during the mid-fourteenth century. The badge endures on Edward’s effigy at Canterbury Cathedral.

An adaptation of his feathers would be used by future heirs to the throne as the Prince of Wales’s Feathers, the badge of the heir apparent. The Prince of Wales is able to confer upon merchants a Royal Warrant, a designation for official suppliers of goods to the prince. Warrant holders are allowed to use the feathers badge in the promotion of their business. The Prince’s shirtmaker, Turnbull & Asser, was granted a warrant by Charles in 1980, and has since used the feathers with gusto.

Prince of Wales Feathers - T&A

Carved Feathers at Turnbull & Asser, picture via milanstyle.co.uk

Prominent feathers on a T&A sweater label.

Prominent feathers on a T&A sweater label.

The Prince sporting feathers, but not the Prince of Wales Feathers.

The Prince sporting feathers, but not the Prince of Wales Feathers.

That leads to this Prince of Wales Feathers cummerbund I came across recently. Made by Turnbull & Asser for New York’s Bergdorf Goodman, the traditional black cummerbund is enlivened by the Prince’s badge embroidered throughout. An homage to a traditional royal symbol, certainly, but also a de facto symbol for Turnbull & Asser itself.

cummerbund T&A

Turnbull & Asser is famous for having its shirts thrown about by Robert Redford’s Jay Gatsby and making James Bond’s cocktail cuff. But those cinematic icons are but Johnnys-come-lately when compared to the feathers of the Black Prince as borne today by Prince Charles and conferred upon his Royal Shirtmakers.

If You Could Only Have One Necktie: The Navy Grenadine

Grenadine Navy Talbott

Versatility is a wardrobe virtue, particularly when you’re starting out, or perhaps are traveling. It’s also fun to play those games of “if you could only have one….” When it comes to deciding on the One Tie, I think one would be hard pressed to beat the navy grenadine for versatility and elegance. Black grenadine is often pointed to as a “One Tie”, but I find navy more pleasant and versatile.

Solid ties have made a bit of a comeback in the past decade (think James Bond and Mad Men), and grenadines, unsurprisingly, have made an upswing as well. Solid ties can be paired with most anything, but the texture that grenadine offers provides visual interest and contrast to worsted suits. But the texture also allows them to be coupled with rougher cloths like tweed, which simply wouldn’t work with a smooth, satin tie.

Grenadine is a woven fabric that is made to look like a knit. If you compare a knit tie to a grenadine the uninitiated eye might confuse the two, although knit ties typically have a squared off, rather than pointed, end. There are two different versions of grenadine, garza grossa and garza fina. Garza grossa has a larger, bumpier, weave, while garza fina is, well, finer.

Garza grossa (l), garza fina (r)

garza grossa (l), garza fina (r)

I picked up a perfect Robert Talbott navy grenadine recently, and it might just be the perfect necktie. A garza fina, it could be worn with a gray suit at the office, a seersucker suit in summer, or a herringbone tweed and cords in fall. Pack it for a trip and it will be the only necktie you need (I confess to always packing a backup tie just in case I’m attacked by aggressive salad dressing ).

A number of makers, particularly niche makers, offer grenadines (No Man Walks Alone, Sam Hober, Vanda, Kent Wang, Chipp). That said, they can be difficult to find inexpensively as grenadines are always in demand. Chipp is the best budget buy at retail.

If you only had a tie wardrobe of grenadines you would dress far nicer than 99% of the men you come into contact with. And if you only have a navy grenadine, tied in a four-in-hand knot, you will be ready for any situation that comes along.

 

Watch the folks at Sam Hober make a four-fold grenadine tie:

Outerwear: The Rain Shell Raincoat

Rain shell - Sanyo

There are different ways to approach rainy weather. By far the best is simply to go to bed and take a nap. Alas, that’s seldom an option we have. Usually, rain or not, into the outside world we must venture. With the rain falling we need some sort of protection.

Many of us have a raincoat or jacket, the most traditional option being the trench coat. Commonly these have zip or button-in liners that allow for us to adjust to outside temperature. Nonetheless, I find that even trench coats without liners often tend to be heavy, and are by definition double breasted. (Of course there are single breasted raincoats, balmacaans, etc.) When it’s hot, but you need rain protection, you don’t want extra weight.

A couple of years ago I came across a wonderful unlined rain shell made by respected rainwear maker Sanyo of Japan. Its waterproof cloth is lightweight; it adds no real bulk at all when you throw it on. I find it the perfect rainwear solution for late spring through early fall when the days are warm. If you’re in a warmer climate, anyway, it could be the only raincoat you need. Since buying it I’ve worn the rain shell multiples of times more than I’ve worn my trench.

Alas, the problem with rain shells is that they’re hard to find. Sanyo doesn’t even seem to offer one right now. But they are out there, and if you find one now it’s likely to be on sale. When you do find a rain shell, you may very well have a new favorite way to protect yourself from a hot rainy day.

Bibliotheca: The $1.4 Million Bible & The Crave For Beauty

The reality is that consumers crave more than utility.
They crave elegance—even beauty. ~Michael Hyatt

How many niche Bibles have had a $1.4 million dollar budget? My guess is not many, and probably none, ever. But Adam Lewis Greene’s Bibliotheca Kickstarter clearly spoke to people as his initial goal of $37,000, to produce 500 sets, was dwarfed thirty-nine fold. 500 sets have turned into 14,000. Honestly, $37,000 to fund an American Standard Version (never a particularly popular translation) reprint in four volumes was pretty ambitious. Or everyone thought it was.

Bibliotheca stack

What led this explosion? Well, not a few have pointed to the hand of Providence, and I certainly won’t argue. But we can also see that this is the culmination of what has been a growing trend.

J. Mark Bertrand has been beating the drum for better Bibles for years now on his Bible Design Blog. A lot of us have spent a lot of hours there. Bertrand’s push for “reader’s Bibles” has been a constant theme, one that has resonated with thousands of people. Greene has acknowledged his own debt to Bertrand. As a result, we have seen real steps forward with the work from Bible publishers like R.L. Allan, Schuyler, Cambridge, and Crossway. Don’t discount Bertrand’s work as a visionary behind Bibliotheca.

Crossway’s new ESV Reader’s Bible, available delivered for a twenty dollar bill and change, was another great step forward for a commercially produced Bible. I have seen how excited people have been about it. I think one of its keys is its affordability. We all love our Highland Goatskin semi-yapp bindings, but relatively few are going to splurge on such expensive Bibles. And even those Bibles still look “Bible-y” with their traditional leather covers and thin Bible paper.

And that’s where Bibliotheca comes in. Greene took everything to a new level, one of his most radical, and counter-intuitive, decisions was to go with four small volumes. Producing it as traditional, albeit well-designed, cloth over boards books was also a move that opened the type of reader who has never heard of Bible Design Blog, Allan Publishers, or Highland Goatskin. That production approach combined with relative affordability—you can buy the four volume set for $75—clearly touched a chord.

Greene also used a popular, and modern, method to reach out with Kickstarter. His beautifully produced promotional video explains his vision, and also introduces us well to the personality behind the project. Each of these elements was important to Bibliotheca going viral.

Well worth your time is this assessment of Bibliotheca from Michael Hyatt, a well-known success guru, but also former CEO and Publisher at Thomas Nelson Publishers, one of the Big Boys in Bible publishing. His observations are spot on, but I especially appreciated his point number three: “Elegance is always right.”

The Bible, and the search for God, is also a search for divine beauty. Shouldn’t the word of God be presented in as beautiful and elegant a way as possible? That doesn’t have to mean expensive or inaccessible. Adam Lewis Greene embraced accessibility and affordability.

If you missed out on the Kickstarter window, which ended on Sunday, you can still order the Bibliotheca set until the final order is placed with the printer. I honestly believe that the Adam Lewis Green’s Bibliotheca Kickstarter is a milestone project that will not only become legendary, but will cause reverberations in Bible publishing for years to come.

‘Vanity Fair Caricatures’ at No Man Walks Alone

VF-The_Winning_Post

Vanity Fair caricatures have been something of an obsession of mine for the past year and half. I gladly give credit to the urbane Maxminimus for introducing me to the vintage prints through his blog and now Tumblr, where he now usually resides. My meagre collection pales to his.

I’ve written a brief introduction to Vanity Fair caricatures for No Man Walks Alone:

Statesmen and scientists, ministers and musicians, authors and artists, there was hardly a human pursuit without a representative in the caricatures of the late Victorian political and society magazine Vanity Fair. From its founding by Thomas Gibson Bowles in January 1869 until its demise at the dawn of the Great War, Vanity Fair’s forty-five year run produced more than two thousand lithographic illustrations.

Click to read the full post.

VF-Jules-Albert_de_Dion

Review: Does Lexington’s Tolly-Ho Make Kentucky’s Best Burger?

Tolly Ho burger rings

Founded in 1971, Lexington’s Tolly-Ho Restaurant has long been a burger and shake mecca for University of Kentucky students. I went there myself as a UK student a couple of decades ago back at the old location on the corner of Euclid and Limestone.

Tolly-Ho recently received some great press when The Chive ranked the best burgers in each state, crowning Tolly-Ho as maker of Kentucky’s best hamburger. I figured it was time to revisit Tolly-Ho, after all these years, at its new location on South Broadway.

Tolly Ho door

I ordered the flagship burger, a Tolly-Ho with cheese. With fond memories of their onion rings, I chose rings rather than fries. It’s a good thing that Tolly-Ho makes great shakes because they carry Pepsi products, and, well, nobody wants that (they do have Ale-8-One readily available). I tacked on a strawberry shake.

There certainly is no complaining about the quality of the burger. It’s tasty and moist with the right “burger” taste. I ordered mine with cheddar cheese, and I will say it didn’t have that cheddar bite to it. That quibble aside, it was a solid burger experience. The Tolly Ho is, indeed, a great burger.

Tolly Ho Burger bitten

I am also a big fan of the onion rings. They were as good as I remembered. The serving size was generous (maybe too generous considering how badly I don’t need to eat onion rings). The batter was crisp and not crumbly, avoiding frequent onion ring failings.

My wife ordered the cheddar tots as her side, tater tots with cheddar cheese inside. They were good, but I’m not a big tater tot fan so I’m not the best judge. I think if they’re the sort of thing you like, you will like them.

Tolly Ho shakeI don’t want to fail to mention my strawberry shake. It was rich and thick with real strawberry flavor, not the dreaded Strawberry Quick taste. Some strawberry chunks would be nice, as would a dedicated shake glass or mug rather than the standard plastic Pepsi cups. But get the shake.

It was great being back at Tolly-Ho, although I miss the old location across the street from UK’s Student Center and north dorms, not that those dorms are there anymore. If you’re in Lexington and want to try a classic, stop by Tolly-Ho. Tolly-Ho has a great burger with excellent sides, but for the best burger in Kentucky I’m going to keep looking.

Tolly Ho Restaurant
606 South Broadway
Lexington, Kentucky 40508
Open 24 Hours
www.tollyho.com

Tolly Ho sign fern

Tolly Ho counter

 

Old, New, Borrowed, & Blue: Four Dressing Tips For Men

Something BlueWe all know the traditional English rhyme of wedding day advice for women (and also useful for triggering the return of Time Lords wiped from history):

Something old,
something new,
something borrowed,
something blue.

Each item is intended as a token of good luck for the bride. But there is wisdom contained within those words that can serve a style guide for men as well. We can take each of these elements as a helpful principle for men’s attire.

Something Old
“Something Old” are your standards, your wardrobe’s foundation, so buy carefully and slowly. The man’s closet should not be an ever changing carousel of radically different options, chucking last season’s must-have because it is now so very last month. Building step by step over seasons, years, and even decades, a man should purchase well established classics to serve as a rock solid wardrobe foundation.

Alden 909You can safely pull out the grey flannel suit from five years ago because you chose well and carefully at the time of purchase. Your decade old black captoes are kept polished with shoe trees inserted, and while not purchased as part of an “outfit,” go perfectly with your suit. That’s how a well thought out classic wardrobe works. Turning to Something Old is almost always the right place to start.

Something New
When stopping in to explore a men’s shop’s new seasonal offerings, the co-owner said to me, “It’s always nice to freshen things up a bit.” Now of course it was in her best interest for me to buy something, but she was conveying just the right idea. Even the most classic wardrobe will suffer from attrition, old items needing to be replaced. But we also enjoy a bit of novelty, and sometimes we are after something new just to freshen things up.

Classic though we want the wardrobe to be, ossified is something else entirely. It is well that we add in that Something New from time to time. This is often done the in the field of accessories. While one might claim to have a timeless wardrobe, it is an ideal impossible to realize fully. We will always be influenced by what is around us.

It doesn’t hurt to give a nod to shifts in stylistic preferences with a new tie or pocket square. The season’s trend may be toward narrower, printed ties, or muted paisleys, all well within the parameters of tasteful style. Such additions keep things fresh, and buying something small can often sate our urge to spend before we get carried away.

BR shop bows

Something Borrowed
I am an advocate of Generational Style, and that’s what I have in mind here. I love vintage items, and with careful selection, vintage items can be well blended into a classic and contemporary wardrobe. These things are Something Borrowed because we simply serve as custodians of what are being passed down from those who have gone before. Perhaps you have something you inherited—I hope you do—but if not, careful purchasing from eBay, Etsy, and even local antique shops can yield Something Borrowed.

The line to walk is narrow here. I am not advocating period correct reenacting in your attire. While I do happily embrace a certain retro look, and maybe more so than most, one ought to avoid the oft decried “costume” (the decrying of which has itself become cliché).

Like Something New, Something Borrowed might consist of soft accessories like ties and pocket squares. But “hard” items made of precious metals, like Deco cufflinks or lapel pins, or items made of leather, like a vintage briefcase, are excellent choices here. After your time with them is over they can be passed along as someone else’s Something Borrowed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Something Blue
Perhaps it’s the inner Civil War buff in me, but I am a firm believer in the blue and the grey forming the palette foundation for a man’s wardrobe. While shades of brown cannot be discounted, particularly in the cooler seasons, blue and gray will be your cornerstone. And for day to day wear, blue has an even greater versatility than gray. It’s hard to imagine going long without some splash of blue; whether shirt, tie, or pocket square, blue demands to be used.

Something Blue suitI noticed that maker of beautiful ties Vanda Fine Clothing speaks of the power of blue in a blog post, “Every other client that comes through our door says he has enough blue ties – but guess what tie colour he ends up buying…?” There is good reason for that.

All blue all the time would certainly be dull, but if your default is to reach for Something Blue then you are doing well.

Keep in mind, then, that old advice for brides when you dress in the morning. If you are wearing a combination of Something Old/Something New/Something Borrowed/Something Blue you are likely finding the right wardrobe balance.