Peter Hellman

October 18th, 2017 § 1 comment § permalink

Peter has been a loved and admired pal of HG/BSK for many, many decades. HG met Peter when Peter was a young journalist working for New York Magazine. Publicist HG was Peter’s guide in the greedy world of New York real estate and the result was many bylined articles as well as a number of front cover stories. The HG/PH collaboration deepened into a solid friendship. Over the years, Peter’s journalism has enlivened many publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Wine Spectator. His interests are omnivorous as reflected in his seven books.They include crime (“Chief”, the cases of New York’s Chief of Detectives, Albert Seedman; the Holocaust, “When Courage Was Stronger Than Fear”; Israel, “Heroes: Tales From The Israeli Wars”; real estate, “Shaping the Skyline”, the career of the late real estate visionary, Julien J. Studley; wine, “American Wine Handbook.”) HG believes Peter’s true passion (besides family and friends) is for wine. For some ten years he was a contributor to Wine Spectator and a wine columnist for a New York newspaper. His passions have coalesced in his newest book, “In Vino Duplicitas.” The book jacket describes it well: “True crime pairs well with fine wine in the astonishing story of Rudy Kurniawan, perhaps the most notorious–and unlikely– wine forger in history.” Peter has the unique ability to make complex maneuvering exciting and available to the reader. So, “In Vino” is an education in fine and rare wines as well as an absorbing insight into the eccentric world of wine collectors who pay thousands of dollars for a bottle of wine that they may never drink. Besides writing about wine, Peter likes to drink wine. He has a fine palate and is a sipper, not a guzzler. Many years ago, Peter stored a collection of fine wines in the cellar of the Montclair, N.J. home occupied by HG/BSK. The wines were there strictly for storage in a cool environment. During those rare times when HG did not have a good bottle for the evening meal, HG “borrowed” one of Peter’s bottles. These “borrowings” gradually increased into the realm of theft. The wines were glorious and HG did not exhibit restraint. After a year, Peter arrived to find his collection drastically diminished. He forgave HG. The friendship continued.

Peter & Jake

April 14th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

Lucky HG/BSK. Peter Hellman, the distinguished journalist/author/wine authority arrived from New York for a brief visit to the HG/BSK New Mexico compound. And, with him was his son, Jake, an original and cerebral young man who is engaged in doctorate studies at the University of California/San Diego. Peter has been a pal for many, many decades so there was much to talk about. Peter and wife, Susan, are consummate New Yorkers and happy beneficiaries of the rent control system. They occupy a spacious Riverside Drive apartment (excellent river and Palisades views). HG/BSK are pleased that the rent control system enables some writers, artists and intellectuals (too few, alas) to enrich the Upper West Side with their presence. Peter brought with him some Zabar’s (the famed Broadway food and cooking utensil emporium) specialties: A jewish rye bread (with caraway seeds); whitefish salad; gefilte fish. Susan (who, sadly, couldn’t make the New Mexico trip because of work pressures) contributed some goodies from an Italian gourmet shop: A pork-wine-fennel dry sausage and a wedge of superior Pecorino cheese. Peter and Jake did some exploring in the Los Alamos/White Rock area, swam in HG/BSK’s pool, attended a wine tasting at the unique Kokoman shop in Pojoaque. Some very hearty feasting at home. Chicken curry one night and New Mexico pork green chile stew on the next. Farewell brunch was poached eggs (done perfectly by BSK) atop cheese grits. Jake proved to be the ideal house guest. He cleared the dining table after each meal. Scrubbed pots. Stacked dishes in the dishwasher with precision and efficiency (a worthy rival of HG son-in-law, Profesore/Dottore/Uficiale Massimo R., North American champion dishwasher stacker). Peter bought one of BSK’s sculptural pots (a tribute to the Native American and Hispanic cultures of New Mexico). Absent Susan got a gift of a Daumier-influenced head. HG is glad the striking works of art will have a salubrious home in New York.


Julien J. Studley

October 20th, 2015 § 3 comments § permalink

The day started by HG reading the New York Times obituary of Julien J. Studley, a prominent, super successful New York real estate broker. Julien died of brain cancer, age 88. He was HG’s public relations client for many years and HG contributed a great deal to Julien’s prominence. He was also a friend, a dining companion, a partner in a theatrical venture. He made a lot of money (he sold his company to his employees for $20 million dollars and made many more millions through real state ventures and astute securities investments). However, he did not worship money. His early experiences gave him an insight into the impermanence of material wealth. Julien and his Belgian family escaped from the Nazis through following a meandering path through France to Cuba and then the United States. Julien had only a high school equivalency certificate (He often said his real American education was his U.S. military service.) Nevertheless, he not only amassed financial sophistication, he read widely, collected art (had some very good Le Corbusiers), cultivated excellent taste in architecture, furniture and design (He built a superb arts and crafts home in the Hudson River Valley which was featured in Architectural Digest). He was fluent in many languages–English, French, Spanish, German, Polish, Russian and Yiddish. The Times obit said (incorrectly) that his Yiddish helped him obtain his first real estate job, operating in the garment district. It was the fur district where Julien leased lofts to Yiddish speaking furriers. In later years, Julien married Jane, who was Chinese, and became immersed in Chinese culture (HG never knew if Julien spoke or read Chinese). HG and BSK partnered with Julien in producing an off-Broadway play, “World War Two and a Half” by Roger Hirson (He later wrote “Pippin”). Good two person cast: Robert Loggia and Kathleen Widdoes. New York critics loved the play except for but the all important Times. Closed swiftly. Beneath his welcoming and civilized exterior, Julien was a very tough guy. He was a young member of the Irgun and smuggled guns to Israel during the 1948 war. A dangerous activity where he had to deal with unsavory characters. Many years later, Menachem Begin, then the premier of Israel, awarded Julien with an Israeli decoration in a ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Julien visited Paris every year and brought back a haul of excellent cheeses which HG, Julien’s late brother, George; Julien’s real estate colleagues would devour with many bottles of wine. Julien loved poker. Played poker all over the world. Lost more money than he won (he played against professionals). HG asked Julien about his love for poker: “It is one of the best ways to learn a great deal about human character.” HG introduced Julien to Peter Hellman the brilliant journalist, wine critic, author of many books. Hellman wrote Julien’s biography: Shaping the Skyline: The World According to Real Estate Visionary Julien Studley. It’s a fascinating book that captures the essence of a unique individual.


Big $$ For Old Time Treats

May 28th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Eight dollars for an egg cream. You read it right. That’s what that old timey New York candy store beverage costs at Russ & Daughters Cafe, recently opened on Orchard Street in New York’s Lower East Side. Scrambled eggs and caviar: $180. A helping of Transmontanus caviar: $175. Don’t know what a plate of kasha varnishkes costs or the price of bagel-Nova salmon-cream cheese. Presume they are lofty numbers. Since the smoked fish and caviar comes from the venerable Russ & Daughters “appetizing” store around the corner on Houston Street, HG presumes it’s all mighty tasty. But, those prices!! These are noshes meant for Russian oligarchs. The Russ & Daughters store has been a longtime favorite of HG/BSK and family. The store has been around for 100 years and has a devoted, fiercely loyal customer base. SJ is often first on line waiting for the store to open during Christmas season. SJ spends about $200 and gets enough culinary marvels for HG/BSK, the Riva family and SJ’s family to enjoy their gala Jewish/Russian/New York version of the traditional Italian Christmas Eve “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” When HG/BSK lived on Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village, HG was at R & D every Sunday morning. HG often encountered Calvin Trillin, the New Yorker and The Nation writer. Among many attainments, Trillin was the poet laureate of Russ & Daughters. HG’s pal, Peter Hellman, the distinguished journalist and wine authority, performed a similar function for Zabar’s, the megalopolis of smoked fish and much else, located on the Upper West Side. HG will continue to order R & D treats online. Unless there are some price adjustments, HG will stick to take-out and forgo the Cafe.


Drinking Cheap

July 16th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

There’s a snake in very Eden. And, in HG and BSK’s personal Eden, Prince Edward Island, the serpent is the heavy Canadian tax placed on alcohol. This means good wine costs over 20 bucks a bottle and for a guzzler like HG this is prohibitive. So, modest (just a shade above plonk) wine has to be the choice. How to make the tipple drinkable? HG drinks red wine with ice cubes and white wine with ice and soda — a spritzer. For some reason, it works. HG’s pal, Peter Hellman, journalist, author and noted wine authority, would not approve. But, Hellman is a fastidious wine sipper while HG believes in overabundance. A sidebar: Many years ago, Hellman stocked his valuable wine collection in HG’s cool Montclair, N.J., cellar. HG got into the habit, when out of wine, to grab a bottle from the Hellman collection. When the time came for Hellman to retrieve his collection, he found it oddly diminished. For some reason, the friendship survived though many excellent bottles did not. (Here’s an HG post listing Hellman’s books. Moving. illuminating. Entertaining).

Peter Hellman Books

May 26th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

For your illumination and enhancement HG provides you with a list of books by Peter Hellman:

(1) Chief!: These are case histories from the files of Al Seedman, former New York Chief of Detectives. Forget TV nonsense. This is the way detectives really work. 

(2) Avenue of the Righteous (Later re-issued and expanded as When Courage Was Stronger Than Fear ): This is a book to read when your opinion of the human race is at a low point. These are the astonishing stories of Christians who, at great risk to their lives, saved Jews during World War Two.

(3) The Auschwitz Album: Lest we forget, this is a rending book — 187 photos of Auschwitz with text by Hellman.

(4) American Wine Handbook: A book that tells you what you need to know if you want to drink great American wines.

(5) Heroes. Tales From the Israeli Wars: Exciting accounts of combat and heroism.

(6) Shaping the Skyline : The story of real estate visionary Julien J. Studley.

Now search for them on and thank me later.

Wine Cheapo HG Is Vindicated

May 20th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

If you drink wine (and if you read HG, of course you do) don’t miss Peter Hellman’s article “Wine–It’s All In Your Head” in the May 15th New York Post. Hellman does an analysis of our fine wine culture (taste surveys, expert opinions, etc.) and comes up with the conclusion that cheaper wine is often preferable to higher priced quaffs. It all depends on context — where you are drinking, what you are eating; even who your company is.

HG has long felt that his wine palate rules and is not influenced by price, reputation or the opinion of an overbearing sommelier. During these lovely springtime New Mexico days, HG begins drinking Le Ferme Julien Rose at sunset and continues until the first star appears. Then HG makes the transition to a robust red. La Ferme Julien Rose is a blend of Cinsault (50%), Grenache (40%) and Syrah (10%). HG likes it better than Tavel or any of the pricier Roses from Provence and Spain. The Perrin family blends the wine from grapes grown on Mont Vertoux in the Rhone Valley of France. Six bucks a bottle and a true delight.

Talking of delights, check Peter Hellman’s books on He has written informatively, passionately and brilliantly on everything from The Holocaust, the trials and triumphs of Israel, real estate, crime, music, finance, food,design, etc. Look for his wine articles in The Wine Spectator and Wall Street Journal. A toast to you, Peter, of modestly priced wine,of course.

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