Archive for the ‘Barn Nights’ Category

On this evening barn goers were greeted with Lousiana Blues music and a table full of Cajun Cooking from the Bayou restaurant in Fleetwood.  But the highlight of the evening was a heart-wrenching presetation by Dave Stevenson, the golf pro at Lake Isle.  Dave shared his experiences in the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While we were all watching it on TV, Dave drove down there to help out in any way he could. He cooked meals using his Dutch ovens and gave moral support to folks who lost their homes and in some cases their loved ones. Dave’s audio/video presentation contained photos and videos of the devastation and faces of those whose lives were changed forever.  We were all very taken by this and impressed by Dave’s selfless spirit. Hopefully it encouraged all of us to get out and do something to help others. Dave has set up a charity to help the victims. Details are in the Philanthropy section of this site.

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Pablo Sanz conducted a wine tasting specializing in decent wines that sell for less than $15 per bottle. Pablo was born and raised in Europe, so he has extensive experience drinking wine going back to his childhod.  He handed out sheets with the names of each of the wines on it, with spaces to enter ratings and perceived cost. At the end, Pablo told us the actual cost of each wine and in many cases we were surprised with how inexpensive they were. He advocated sampling different wines and going with whatever you like. He never said that any wine was good or bad, but just shared what he enjoyed. All the wines we tasted were puchased from Varmax, Pablo’s favorite wine shop in Portchester. He also brought some amazing cheeses and baguettes from a shop in Larchmont. Following are the wines we tasted:

2005 Louis M. Martini – Cabernet Sauvignon

2005 J. Lohr – Cabernet Sauvignon

2005 Redwood – Zinfandel

2005 Bogle – Zinfandel

2005 Rosenblum – Syrah

2007 Montes – Pinot Noir

Colosi – Sicilia

Salice Salentino – Taurino

A complete list of Pablo’s Best Wine Picks Under $15 can be found in the Wine section at the right hand side of this blog. 

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Some have called this the best barn night ever. Dave McLaughlin and John Sirabella co-hosted this charity event to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). We had 3 tables set up: craps, blackjack and roulette, all manned by croupiers in tuxedos. Attractive waitresses served beer, mixed drinks and cigars, further adding to Vegas-like atmosphere. Each man contributed $100 at the door and received $1,000 in chips to gamble. Some increased their holdings and some decreased them. About half way through the night a buy in opportunity was presented to bring some of the losers back into play. Prizes were awarded to the 3 men with the most chips at the end of the evening. The first place winner, Bill Supik, in an act of amazing generosity, initiated a spontaneous raffle of his prize (an iPod). This resulted in hundreds of dollars in additional donations. At the end of it all, everyone had a great time and we raised $1,740 for the JDRF. Charity events will undoubtedly become an annual tradition at the barn.

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Wayne Cimons, attorney and barn night enthusiast gave an in-depth presentation on Family Law, with particular emphasis on Marriage and Divorce. Coming from a decidedly pro-marriage perspective, Wayne explained the ins and outs (horrors?) of divorce law in New York State, covering issues such as alimony, child support, property distribution, selecting an attorney, and what one can expect in the courtroom. Noting how the overwhelming majority of divorce cases are initiated by women, he described the daunting challenges facing fathers in the process; or he has put it, “While there are usually negative ramifications for breaking a contract, marriage may be the only place where the person breaking the covenant not only can receive a financial windfall-but one that’s paid for by the abiding party!” Wayne shared his personal experience on the breakdown of his own marriage and the negative consequencs experienced by fathers and their children when a family is split apart-noting that kids from broken homes have a much higher propensity to underachive in school, partake in drugs, alcohol, and early sex, and having their own marriages fail. He remarked with sadness on how the culture is flooded with materials and attitudes encouraging divorce and how many marriage “counselors” assume that divorce is inevitable and even encourage it. However, Wayne cited with hope several pro-marriage resources providing useful tools for strenghtening marriages and emphasized that it was critical to constantly apply these tools before trouble brews. Such sites include, www.divorcebusting.com, www.smartmarriages.com, and www.marriagebuilders.com.

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John M, P.E. gave a thought provoking presentation on firearms. John is an engineer who presently consults for Henry Repeating Arms, a rifle manufacturer in Brooklyn, NY. He also consults for Sikorsky Helecopters. John used a Power Point presentation with photos, videos, and 3D AutoCAD renderings of rifles being developed in the factory. He also brought in a wide array of rifles and shotguns which we passed around and discussed. One of them was a Winchester from the 1950’s with beautiful gold ornamentation. John estimated its value at $10,000. On the topic of gun safety, John shared insight one could only witness from a manufacturers perspective. As with any mechanical device a certain percentage of faulty guns are released each year. This sometimes leads to the user getting injured. John urged anyone purchasing a firearm to have it proofed by a gunsmith before using it to insure its safety. The discussion was rounded off a brief show-and-tell by 3 other gentlemen who brought guns. One passed around some interesting pieces and spoke to the group about home protection. Two others passed around their shotguns and discussed firearms from the hunters perspective. This combination of experiences led to a very well rounded session.

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The barn went high-tech as Tom Watson led us on an exploration of the new ways the Internet is being used. Tom brought a guest speaker, Howard Greenstein of the Harbrooke Group. Howard is a nationally recognized speaker on social networking, Web 2.0 technology, and online communications in general. Tom gave a brief intro on his own blogging experience and then Howard gave a lively presentation on wikis, photo-sharing sites like Flickr, search engines like Technorati – and he showed some hilarious videos from YouTube. There were a lot of questions about blogs, Google, feeds and the like. After officially kicking off bensbarn.com, the discussions continued downstairs over beers and cigars, and then the barn band swung into some blues numbers to close things out. Here are some of the sites Tom and Howard mentioned:

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Mike Santoliquido co-hosted the barn’s first cigar tasting. He invited John, Dave and Brendon, owners of NY Cigar Co here in Eastchester. John gave an highly informative and entertaining talk on cigars as we enjoyed samples of their excellent cigars. We dedicated the evening to David Gutierrez, who passed away this week. David loved coming to the barn events and will be missed dearly. John donated a humidor and organized a raffle to raise some money for David’s childrens’ education. As a further act of generosity, the folks from NY Cigar Co. pledged 50 cigars for every barn night. What a great bunch of guys! Hopefully the barn goers will continue patronize their fine establishment.

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Steve Quigley, who grew up in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, conducted a wine tasting of wines from the Finger Lakes.

The wines we tasted are, in order:

1) Dr. Frank Pinot Gris

2) Hosmer Dry Riesling

3) Anthony Road Semi-dry Riesling

4) Castel Grisch Trammentine

5) Miles Pinot Noir

6) Six Mile Creek Ithaca Red

The wines that had the best response from the group were Nos. 1 and 2.

As I mentioned, Finger Lakes wines are difficult to find around here.  However, most, if not all Finger Lakes Winerys will ship.  Some sources to check out are: www.fingerlakeswinegazette.org, www.senecalakewine.com, www.cayugawinetrail.com, and www.keukawinetrail.com.

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Phil DeSantis, an accomplished carpenter and contractor led a practical discussion on home improvements, renovations, remodeling, etc. He began with a very inspiring story about how he discovered his calling to be a carpenter while in high school wood shop. Phil gave us the inside scoop on local contractors, touching on some controversial topics such as overcharging, illegal immigrant workers, and organized crime. Phil shared the saga of Ben’s Barn renovation project, which he spearheaded. The barn was about to collapse before he shored up the foundation and reinforced the walls and floor. Besides becoming emotionally attached to barn, Phil had a scaffolding accident in the barn which almost killed him. Whenever we enjoy the barn we can be grateful for Phil’s hard work and dedication to the restoration of this historic neighborhood landmark.

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Mark Nello, leader of the Barn Band, led a lively discussion of the History of Rock and Roll. As he mentioned a particular artist, he played a lick on his electric guitar, evoking the unique characteristic of that sound. Mark’s presentation spanned from the 50’s through present day. But there were so mavy questions, anecdotes and interruptions from the group, he never made it past 1969. Of particular interest was the meaning of the words to the song American Pie. Quite a lively debate ensued, including an assertion that the lyrics include a reference to a bar in New Rochelle called The Levy. Needless to say the evening ended with an enthusiastic performance by The Barn Band. We were shut down by the police at about 1am.

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