Tag Archives: men

Chop Style: Grilling Aprons

Now that baseball season is officially underway, we’re about to see all the hallmarks of Summer in Baltimore unfold rapidly. We’re on the cusp of several months of crab feasts, Arabbers, festivals, open fire hydrants, stoop sitting, and all the other things that make Summer in the city such a wonderful time.

Last week wasn’t just the beginning of baseball season, it was also the de facto start of the grilling season. Whether you favor Esskay dogs or Ceriello steaks, charcoal or gas, it’s time to get cooking. If you’ve read this blog before you probably know that we’re very careful about choosing clothes and getting dressed, and we aim to keep the A1 and the Pickapeppa far away from our shirts this Summer. How? By being careful about choosing an apron.

Sure, you *can* grill without an apron. We don't recommend it though.

Aprons still have a bit of a feminine connotation attached to them, and while there are plenty of patterns and designs available out there, few of them are suited to men. In choosing one for yourself, you should be guided by the same principles that inform the rest of your wardrobe. Pick something that’s made of quality cloth in a classic color or pattern that works for all occasions. Most importantly, stay away from stupid novelty aprons. Whatever it looks like, your apron should not distract from the rest of your outfit. Here are three choices for your Summer cookouts which are damn near foolproof.

Dean and DeLuca apron. $24.

The thing about aprons is this: even the fanciest ones you can possibly buy are under $30. This one from Dean and DeLuca is plain white and perfect for outdoor use. Even if you’re just serving up hot dogs and ketchup, the prominent label will lend you a little gourmet credibility and your cookout guests will come away thinking ‘Oh he shop at Dean and DeLuca. He think he fancy, huh?’

Williams Sonoma Marseille apron. $24.

The Marseille apron from Williams Sonoma does in fact have a bunch of flowers all over it, but we’d dare anyone to call it girly. The pattern is so tight and the color so muted that it falls squarely into the ‘classic’ category, and at $24 it might be the least expensive item in any Williams Sonoma store.

Sur la Table Black Muted Stripe apron. $19.95

Of course, there are few things more masculine than butchering, and if you’re the kind of backyard chef that literally likes to go whole-hog, then this butcher-striped apron from Sur La Table should be right up your alley. It may not have the prominent branding of the D & D apron, but if any of your guests should ask about it you have the added enjoyment of getting to pronounce Sur la Table which can be a launching pad to a five minute comedy routine complete with Julia Child impression if you’ve had a few Summer cocktails.

One final word: Although we fully endorse aprons, and even aprons from fancy-schmancy stores like the ones listed here, we would caution anyone against going the extra mile and wearing a chef’s coat at home. Nothing screams ‘I’m a pretentious asshole and am only cooking for you to feed my own ego’ like wearing a chef’s coat outside a commercial kitchen. Plus you’ll look like a sweaty jerk wearing a full coat in the middle of Summer. If you’re hosting a cookout, you can always fold an apron down to the waist, grab a beer and mingle while the grill is going. In a chef’s coat, you’ll look more like the help than the host, and be at a remove from your guests until you take the damn thing off.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chop Style

Chop on the Spot: Dan Brothers Shoes

Now that the holidays have come and gone and the dead-of-winter hibernation period has fully set in, we’re beginning to make subtle preparations to go a-traveling again. One of the most important of those preparations is the acquisition of a new pair of solid-yet-comfortable everyday shoes that can withstand many hours of standing still in comfort.

We settled on these chukka boots from Johnston and Murphy, which feature a crepe rubber sole and sheepskin lining, and which were comfortable the moment we tried them on, and won’t really require any breaking in at all.

These boots were made for... standin' around.

This isn’t a post about shoes though: it’s a post about a shoe store. When we first set out to shoe shopping, we began by going into Benjamin Lovell in Harbor East, and were sorely disappointed. Their stock was so depleted, and the store featured so many empty shelves that in another neighborhood you might think it was a drug front. As the only customer in the shop we were double-teamed by the staff, who after not having our size of the one shoe we sort of liked, made a point of saying “Well, if there’s something else you need we can order it for you.” Really? No shit? There’s a new invention called the internet. We can order shoes from it without you, thanks.

Since we were downtown anyway, and already had one of those little parking meter slips for the dashboard we stopped by Famous Footwear and, well, that’s 3 minutes of our life we’ll never get back. Don’t ever go to Famous Footwear. Unless you want to buy a pair of Sketchers. Then go.

Which brings us to Dan Brothers. Over the years, we’ve been by there dozens of times, but never really been drawn in. (There’s not much in the way of window displays.) We’ve even been to their website, which is not a particularly good website, and could use a redesign.

The store itself though is outstanding. The large inventory is beautifully displayed and runs the full range from smart-casual to business to formal, even including exotic skins and boots, and a clearance section with shoes you might actually want to wear. Dan Bros is about as old-school Baltimore as you can get, and the friendly, local staff gives the place more the feel of a neighborhood barbershop than a shoe store.

In 70 years they claim to have sold shoes to everyone from William Donald Schaefer to Muhammad Ali, and we can see why. If you want to be the sort of bastard that walks in someplace, orders a good Scotch, puts your feet up on the table and hears someone ask “Whoa, where’d you get those shoes?” Then you’d do well to swing by Dan Bros. It took some self-control for us to walk out of there with only one pair, and we’re certain our first visit will be the first of many.

1 Comment

Filed under Chop on the Spot