Focus on what you CAN do, now, not what you can’t

Focus on what you CAN do, now, not what you can’t

Thanks to COVID-19 the world is facing a crisis unlike any other and try as we might, there’s little anyone can do to change its course. Rather than get bogged down in the exhausting negative narrative, focus on what CAN be done now, at a time like this. As the world slows and all are in a similar position, things you never felt you had time for or that have gotten de-prioritized because other, more pressing issues take the lead are prime for resolution. 
 
Here are 5 things you can do now to stay actively involved, engaged, and, quite frankly, sane:
 
#1 Opportunity: Buff up your website
  1. Get website updates & enhancement done. It’s not often we get the gift of lower website traffic around the globe. Take advantage of this by handling updates, enhancements, and make sure all plug-ins and security updates are done. Be sure you’re sharing data or access with only those who are deemed critical to your site’s operation.
  2. Look at the language and images your site uses. Is it up to date and using the same language, tone, and approach as you and your team? If not, update it. Ask your team what they’d suggest and if you can, also as your closest clientele to share thoughts on how your brand presents itself to the outside world. Start a punch list and work from easiest to hardest so you don’t overwhelm yourself or those you’re asking for input.
  3. Take a look at SEO and how you might be able to attract new prospects or trades to your brand, start a list of keywords, phrases, and competitors you want to monitor closely. SEO MOZ offers a host of free tools and more if you want to pay. https://moz.com/free-seo-tools.
#2 Update your Social Media profiles
  1. Now’s a very, very good time to invest in a wholesale review of you and your company’s social media profiles and overall presence. Are your profiles, contact info, hashtags, URL, and related information still current? Are the images used for the Cover and Profile sections as high-quality and on-point as they should be and do they reflect you and your company’s current offering? Is the language being used appropriate, effective, and targeting your intended audience? Update passwords and initiate 2-step verification where it’s offered.
  2. Do a thorough review of who you follow and who follows you,  and eliminate all that aren’t relevant to you, your company, or its offering. High follower counts do not equal a high-performing feed or following, period.
  3. Check other connections. Look at the platforms and who they or you are sharing your information with. If you don’t recognize any that you see, delete or disconnect them.
#3 Introduce yourself to “adjacent trades”
  1. “Adjacent trades” are those who you or your company may interact with on projects and would include architects, designers, specifiers, etc. Now is a great time to reach out to them with a brief introduction of your services and offering and ways you and your company could be beneficial to them in the future. Don’t pitch or sell, just share and seek a connection down the road.
  2. Offer to do a short 30-minute webinar for the adjacent trades or the contacts you’ve made within them, specifically. Give them the knowledge and resources they need to make you and your firm part of the future work and follow up in 30-days. 
  3. If you’ve got an AIA or other course that offers CEU make that content available to them online, on-demand, etc. 
 
#4 Start a genuine conversation and stay present
  1. As COVID-19 spreads and state and local mandates are evolving rapidly, people are understandably going a little crazy. Take 30-minutes every day to reach out to your team members, clientele, partners, and peers to see how they are, what they need, and how you might be able to help them. Send a text, an email, a DM, or just make a call. Just be genuine, no matter what you do.
  2. Share the services you and your company are able to provide during these times. Now, more than ever, people need strong internet, access to entertainment, and the ability to communicate with loved ones. Don’t be pitchy, but do let people know what’s possible, now. If you offer remote services to troubleshooting, support, etc., share how that works and consider making it free for all during this time. Be the resource your community needs, now.
  3. Find and share funny memes, sayings, etc., to introduce levity into people’s lives and give them something else to focus on. Make sure whatever you share is appropriate for your audience and if you happen to slip-up, be quick to delete (then move on, don’t hold onto that mental baggage).
#5 Take a break
  1. Turn off the TV and step away from your news sources for at least a few hours every day or for as long as you can stand it. Do NOT let the news be your day-long background noise or narrative.
  2. Bodies in motion stay in motion. Start or get back into a workout routine, just get your body in motion. Go for a walk, take the dog out, or just sit in the open air. 
  3. Learn a new skill or take care of honey-do’s. YouTube is full of insightful, educational content and you’ll be amazed by what you can learn in a day, hour, or even 5 minutes. Likewise, you undoubtedly have a list of things to get done around the house. Take the time to get those done and give yourself the gift of time, later.
Last but not least, just breathe. This too shall pass!
 
Katye McGregor Bennett is the owner of KMB Communications and the host of podcasts AV Trade Talk and Connecting Tech + Design.
ISE 2020: It’s the Last One in Amsterdam, Do You Know Where You’re Eating #AVFoodies & #AVTweeps?

ISE 2020: It’s the Last One in Amsterdam, Do You Know Where You’re Eating #AVFoodies & #AVTweeps?

The clock is ticking people! KMB has been coming to ISE for years now, and we only have one left in Amsterdam before the show moves to Barcelona in 2021. While we won’t miss the winter weather in Venice of the North, we will miss the food, drinks, and overall rockin’ good time to be had in this amazing city. So we’re making this year one to remember and will hit all our fave spots, along with some new ones we’ve been longing to try. Allow us to recommend a few. And don’t forget to make reservations, these places can get busy!

Eats & Treats

Mayur Indian Restaurant – Conceived by New Delhi native Pramod Sharma with his son now at the helm, you can trust that the food at Mayur is authentic. Authentic doesn’t always mean delicious, but Mayur does both exceptionally well and at a reasonable price with great service and personable staff. Traditional North-Indian dishes in a warm atmosphere make you feel like you are dining in someone’s home. We love this place.

Katye pre-feast at Mayur in 2018.

Balthazar’s Keuken – We are very excited to hit this spot at Elandsgracht 108 (in old town) with Mark Cichowski, Kevin Main, Steve Haas, and Lisa Slayman. It is a tiny place and the kitchen is literally at the end of the room where the seating is located. It’s a fixed menu so come with a flexible pallet. Wine pairing as well. Mark dined here a few years ago and said “it was exceptional, with a quaint ambiance.”

Balthazar’s Keuken

Casa de Sergio (Italian) – This is a cozy spot with Italian spirit on the Korte Leidsedwarsstraat near the Leidseplein in Amsterdam. You’ll find traditional Italian dishes like homemade Margherita pizza, Risotto ai funghi porcini (yum!), meat and fish, plus delish Italian desserts. Good, solid food, but sometimes service can be inconsistent (gotta keep it real).

Casa de Sergio

Midtown Grill (Steakhouse) – Sometimes after a long day at the RAI you need a little red meat! This steakhouse opened in 2010 and is now known as one of the best in Amsterdam. Add a meticulously curated wine list, craft cocktails, exceptional service, and you’ve got a recipe for an unforgettable evening. They’ve even scratch-made us chicken noodle soup when we / our clients were been sick! (Tim at D-Tools can attest to this.)

Midtown Grill

Oriental City (Chinese) – We always wrap up our ISE experience with a dinner here with friends. Near the Royal Palace, the red-light district, and Chinatown, the restaurant specializes in authentic Cantonese dishes with chefs hired from Hong Kong. Dimsums, roasted meats, and fresh seafood all totally to die for. It’s off the charts.

Oriental City

Restaurant de Utrechtsedwarstafel – Mark Cichowski introduced us to this place in 2019, and we’re going back in 2020. Within strolling distance from Theatre Carré this is the stage of culinary artists Hans Verbeek and Esther van Meerten. Their performance is a ballet of wine and food. Indulge yourself with the culinary compositions by Esther the Chef and the wines of Sommelier Winemaster Hans.

Restaurant de Utrechtsedwarstafel

De Vier Pilaren (Dutch Pancakes) – Poffertjes. You have no idea. These pancakes are so, so good. I mean, c’mon, a thin, European butter-and-powdered-sugar-topped circle of happiness? You can get savory ones as well. Either way, these babies make any trip to Amsterdam a little more special.

De Vier Pilaren

More KMB Foodie Tips

FEBO – Walk up to the counter for fast treats like french fries and hamburgers, or get a Dutch snack out of the automated vending machines, like krokets, frikandellen (a sort of minced meat hot dog), and Kaassoufflés, which are basically cheese, wrapped in dough, and deep fried. Add fries—order those at the counter first—and you’re set.

We love the OJ in Amsterdam. Stop and get a juice at least once during your visit. After all the wear and tear of ISE, the Vitamin C immunity boost will do you good! The food at the RAI is also very good and fresh, try the smoothies for a healthy boost or the high-quality hand-pressed burgers.

Recommendations from KMB Friends

Mike Blackman’s Picks
Mike Blackman, friend and Executive Director of ISE himself, recommends these amazing culinary experiences:

•  Izakaya – Avant garde and exquisite. Just look how beautiful their sushi is below to get an idea of the artistry that goes into this fare.

Izakaya

 212 – Fewer rules, more adventure. During lunch and dinner, former Michelin chef Richard van Oostenbrugge and Thomas Groot create a gastronomic spectacle. Amsterdam’s first no-table-restaurant, get cozy with your neighbors and enjoy!

212

• MOMO – MOMO is still one of the city’s hotspots, offering fusion cuisine in a very fun, fashionable setting. Bento (Japanese lunchboxes) are served at lunchtime, followed by a menu designed for sharing in the evening. Can’t wait to try it.

MOMO

• Pesca – Aka, “Theatre of Fish” offers fish and only fish near the RAI. Their goal is to “make fish accessible again!” A place where can you find good quality fish for a good price in a cozy environment. We don’t often go out for fish, but based on Mike’s rec and the fun video on their site (watch it), we’re gonna try it!

Pesca “Theatre of Fish”

• The Harbour Club – Mike also recommends the Harbor Club, and while KMB has not been there, the look of the wine cellar and funky art is enough for us to get our reservations on! Definitely a must for KMB.

The Harbour Club

David Hiltner’s Picks
From friend, artist, and Executive Director of the Red Lodge Clay Center David Hiltner: “Ciel Bleu (pictured below) was by far the best meal I have ever had… ever! It’s very pricey, but amazing! The Bluespoon was the restaurant in the Hotel Andaz and very good as well. A lot of creative culinary experiments on the menus. On the hand written list shown below are all favorite recommendations of the Hotel Andaz’s bar manager, who is an amazing foodie. Bussia Italian very high-end Italian. Those are my top three.”—David Hiltner

Ciel Bleu Amsterdam
Hotel Andaz Amsterdam – Home of Bluespoon Restaurant
Hand-written recommendations from Bar Manager at Bluespoon. Always ask for local recs, they know what they’re talking about!

Do & See

Markets (Citywide) – On Saturdays, you’ll find large street markets peppered throughout Amsterdam. There are many treasures to be found here. We like Albert Cuyp Markt, which runs through the middle of de Pijp, known for its 19th-Century architecture and culinary scene. Noordermarkt is really three markets in one. On the left side is Boerenmarkt farmers market, to the right, antiques, books, vintage clothing, jewelry, fairtrade bags, etc, and around the corner, Lindengrachtmarkt, one of the best food markets in the city. Nieumarkt still holds a daily market as well as an organic fare market on Saturdays, but we like to go there for the cafés and restaurants, too. On the must-try list is the Ijhallen, a gigantic (700 stalls!) monthly flea market filled with vintage bargains that, we hear, is very worthy of a day trip.

Take a Canal Boat Tour – We never get tired of eating at KMB, but if you are looking for something to do during your time away from RAI outside of grub, you must do a canal cruise at least once in your life. Amsterdam’s history is so deeply intertwined with the canals, it’s a great learning experience and also incredibly fun!

The Anne Frank House – On July 6, 1942, the Frank family went into hiding in the building at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. You can visit it here and learn her story through quotes, photos, and videos in an authentic and subdued environment. Definitely an experience.

The Anne Frank House

Rijkmuseum  – Located in Amsterdam’s Museum Square, the Rijksmuseum is renowned for its world-class Dutch masterpieces that illustrate the story of The Netherlands, with highlights like Vermeer’s “Milkmaid,” Van Gogh’s self-portrait, and Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch.” Get a little culture shot while you are here and see some true masterpieces! Of course, there are many other museums worth checking out, if you’ve got the time….

L&B Whiskey Cafe – This smooth whiskey bar has a collection of more than 2100 whiskeys! Scottish malt whiskeys, Irish, American, Canadian, and Japanese bottlings are all on the list, as well as 100 bottles from all European corners. Single malt, blend, bourbon, cask strength, single cask—all types, sizes, ripening and ages can be tasted here. Bartenders will advise you if you get lost and are also up to snuff on all the new bottlings that haven’t made the menu yet.

L&B Whiskey Cafe

Craft Brew – If you’re in the mood for a cold beer instead, former client and friend Mike Maniscalco recommends these spots for a craft brew! You won’t find Heinekin or Amstel on this list.

We hope to see you at ISE 2020! Let’s make this year one to remember friends!

In the meantime, follow along with us before, during and after ISE by liking us on Facebook!


CEDIA Expo 2019 – That’s a Wrap

CEDIA Expo 2019 – That’s a Wrap

CEDIA Expo has historically been the time and place manufacturers choose to “Wow” home systems integrators and the media with innovative new products, systems, and technologies. This year was no exception. From amazingly vivid displays and smart lighting solutions to motorized window fashions and user-friendly home automation systems, all the “regulars” came out to play during CEDIA Expo 2109, held recently in Denver, with cool new features, functionality, and form factors. This year’s show also served as the coming out party for a few exciting new trends for the home systems industry. KMB Communications was on hand to witness these promising new market disruptors, and many of its clients are leading the charge:

Health and Wellness: In the past when people thought about healthy homes, indoor air quality came to mind. While this is still an important component of healthy living, the ability to create a home environment that’s more serene and peaceful and establishes a closer connection with nature is the current focus. Lighting that simulates sunrise and sunset and syncs with our circadian rhythms is a good first step. Taking the concept further is Rayva. The company’s collection of turnkey home cinemas are engineered and designed with all the best technology and accouterments to deliver a stellar movie viewing experience, but as demonstrated at CEDIA Expo 2019, they can also function as a wellness retreat. With a shift in colored lighting, video, and audio, the room can transport viewers to a forest, beach, or yoga studio. “Wellscapes” are a huge initiative of Rayva’s, offering home systems integrators another avenue of differentiation and end users an exciting new way to utilize technology. 

Home Cinemas Outdo Commercial Theaters? As technology advances, it’s possible for the performance of home cinemas to match if not surpassed the AV quality delivered by commercial theaters. Demonstrating this trend at CEDIA Expo 2019 was Zappiti and Cortex VIP Cinemas. A newcomer to CEDIA, Zappiti draws from years of tech experience designing high-end media servers for the European marketplace, and for its U.S. debut demonstrated the AV industry’s first ISF-certified media player. The certification ensures that the color reproduction and fidelity of content delivered by the Zappiti is accurate and engaging. 

When it comes to the ultimate cinema experience, nothing outdoes a commercial Dolby Cinema theater … unless you consider Cortex VIP Cinemas. The company is bringing a Dolby Cinema experience to home theaters via a groundbreaking new product, the Dolby CP850-C Audio Processor. Demonstrated as a component of Pro Audio Technologies’ Sound Room, the processor paired with specially engineered Pro Audio Dolby Atmos speakers.  The audio improvement over residential Dolby home cinemas was clear … literally, as sound room theater goers could hear Lady Gaga’s footsteps as she walked onto the stage during a clip of “A Star is Born.” Without a doubt, this represents a completely new performance standard for home cinema.

Artistry in Audio:  Speakers are going through a major cosmetic makeover. Models that can be recessed into the wall and ceiling surface are being joined by speakers that double as pieces of artwork. Leading this trend is Leon Speakers, which showcased a remarkable assortment of eye-catching loudspeakers designed to be admired just as much for their visual appeal as their audio performance. Grabbing attention at the booth were wall-mounted speakers covered with grilles customized with images from celebrity photographer Roberto Rabanne and custom metal artwork from Gabriel Urist. The Ente SoundTiles represent a completely new way of looking at loudspeakers—as an art form not just a piece of technology. When speakers weren’t masquerading as fine art at the CEDIA Expo, some were functioning as useful pieces of furniture. Leon’s Horizon Denza Modular Credenza, for example, sounds like a soundbar but looks like the perfect spot to display framed photos, vases of flowers and other decorative items.  

Residential and Commercial Crossover: Home technology products and systems have become so reliable, powerful, and sophisticated, that many of the solutions initially intended for home use are finding their way into restaurants, bars, offices, retail shops, and other light commercial environments. AltasIED is making it easier for residential integrators to transition into commercial through its new line of EZSYS solutions. All of the necessary parts for sound masking, paging, and music distribution are packaged together in a single carton to simplify installation and configuration. 

Networking is another area that’s inspiring manufacturers and integrators to span residential and commercial sectors. As homes become increasingly more reliant on Wi-Fi, networking systems that support bigger bandwidth—the kind historically found in businesses—are making huge inroads in the residential marketplace. Delivering enterprise-grade wireless networking solutions is Access Networks. At CEDIA Expo the company displayed its entire range of products designed for both businesses and homes. The focus, however, was on products designed for the custom residential market, including a new entry-level wireless access point for homes, the A320, and a new line of switches powered by Ruckus.

Behind-the-Scenes Systems Share the Limelight: It’s easy to get swept away by bright, vivid displays; amazing audio systems, and elegant, smart lighting when scouring the CEDIA Expo show floor, but systems that work behind the scenes to ensure the reliability, stability and optimal performance of these products are crucial to the livelihood of the home systems marketplace. D-Tools, for example, has refined its Cloud platform to streamline the development and management of projects for integrators; Torus Power debuted its AVR Elite, a power control system for high-performance A/V systems; while OneVision Resources promoted its tools and programs designed to help integrators step up their level of customer service. 

In Store for CEDIA 2020: From the front of the house with solutions like decorative speakers and high-end home theater systems to back of the house technologies like power control systems, plus business management tools and software, KMB clients at CEDIA Expo 2019 has every inch of the home systems marketplace covered. With a continued emphasis on the unification of design and technology, plus momentum in the kitchen and bath, there’s sure to be even greater diversity and opportunity for integrators to explore at next year’s conference and trade show.

KMB Travels: Top Picks for Denver Dining and Show Floor Escapes During CEDIA 2019

KMB Travels: Top Picks for Denver Dining and Show Floor Escapes During CEDIA 2019

We’re baaacccckkkkk… CEDIA Expo has returned to one of our favorite towns, and we’re here to share some favorite spots to eat, drink and be merry. We invited Expo attendees (past and present) to give us their choice restaurants, bars and touristy things to do; we’ve sprinkled in a few of our own for good measure. As Barrie McCorkle of D-Tools puts it:  “If you like food, you will not be disappointed with this city. It’s a culinary mecca.” Refueling for the show WILL NOT be a problem.  

 

From Jason Vreeman, Director of Cinema Sales, Americas, Dolby

Hailing from Colorado Springs, Jason has a good sense of what’s hot (and what’s not) in Denver. His #1 pick for dining in downtown Denver: Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. 

With a 5-star stellar gourmet menu made from ingredients which are all locally sourced, a bar offering the highest quality cocktails and mocktails, and a retro atmosphere of 60s post Hays Code film deco and live music (or dueling DJs depending on the night), Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is a feast for your eyes, ears and pallet. 

From Barrie McCorkle, Director of Supplier Programs, D-Tools

There is a ton of stuff to choose from as you walk the distance on the 16th Street Mall or just a block away from it. Some of my favorites here include Earl’s Kitchen and bar, Panzano, Elway’s, Tamayo, Cru, Rioja, Tupelo Honey and Jax Fish House. You will not go wrong with any of these. If you go to Earl’s or Panzano, basically everything on the menu is fantastic. If you like lamb, get the lamb lollipops from Cru. The oysters from Jax are incredible, try the creole, yum.  If you want some crazy cocktails and solid southern cuisine with a twist, Tupelo Honey is your place. If you find yourself at Elway’s, the burger is damn good, in addition to their extensive selection of killer steaks and perfectly cooked seafood.

If you want a truly magnificent culinary experience, I have four suggestions for you. First is TAG.  It’s on Larimer Street and you will walk right past it if not careful. This place is magnificent. You know when you have that one dish at a restaurant that has you dreaming about its flavor for days after. TAG has this, but with every single dish they serve. You will find yourself licking the plate at this place. Some must haves are the duck fat fries (you can order as an appetizer), the caramelized butterfish, flash seared Hamachi, and Hong Kong style steamed sea bass. Whatever you do, leave room for dessert. The Sticky Toffee Cake will make you wonder how things this delicious are even possible.

Second on my top list is Cholon. This is an Asian fusion restaurant that makes everything incredible. They also have a late-night happy hour from 9 p.m. to close. Some specialties are the Lobster Saigon crepes, 7x Wagyu Steak, and Ahi Tuna Crudo. But the one item on the menu that is a must-order is their soup dumplings. Somehow Cholon is able to create little balls of dim sum with gruyere cheese, sweet onion and soup, yes soup, inside the dumpling. It is an actual explosion of flavor in your mouth. And yes, you can get them at happy hour.

Third is a little off the beaten path—a hidden gem called Café Brazil. It’s located about 10 minutes outside of downtown on the corner of Lowell and 44th. This is not the Brazilian restaurant you are thinking of where they cut meat off of skewers. No, no, this is traditional Brazilian cuisine with a full rum bar that’s home to over 75 rums from around the world. You can even order rum flights. Once again, you cannot go wrong with anything on the menu, but there is one dish that is a must. Occasionally, they will offer rack of lamb as the special. If you are lucky enough to have this option, ORDER IT. There is none better, anywhere, period.

Last but not least is a place called The Family Jones. They distill their own liquor and make craft cocktails like you’ve never had before. If you’re unsure what to get, trust your server. The entire staff is made up of foodies who will not steer you wrong. All food here is prepared as smaller share plates, so you can sample a lot of different things and get a good variety. Some of my favorites are the Roasted Artichoke Fondue, Upside Down Pineapple Pork, Duck Leg Confit, and the 48HR Beef.

 

From Robert Keeler, Senior Director of Sales, CEDIA

Some people like to slow down with a low-key restaurant after the show floor closes; others need a venue that’s livelier. The latter is what Robert prescribes, and his go-to is Otra Vez Cantina. A relatively new establishment, the restaurant’s slogan is “A great time, every time, and then again.” Say no more. Located on the 16th Street Mall, it’s easy to get to and easy to find something delicious on the menu. Otra Vez Cantina specializes in Mexican fare with South American influences, and offers more than 200, yes 200, tequilas and mezcals, plus wide range of other cocktails. The 20-foot floor-to-ceiling bar connects to a street-side patio. A private banquet area is available for parties and meetings. 

 

From Margot Narum, KMB Friend and Foodie

When Margot is in Denver, she makes a point to visit Gaetano’s and thinks you should, too! Not to put on the pressure, but this establishment, which opened in 1947 was a favorite hangout of the several notorious members of the mob. Mob boss kingpin “Little Caesar” liked Gaetano’s and so did the Smaldone family. Today, this Denver icon retains much of that same flavor, serving up old-school, authentic Italian dishes and Gangster cocktails. Word to the wise, this is a small restaurant where food is made to order. On a tight schedule? Nope. Ready to linger and soak in the ambiance? Yes. 

 

From KMB Communications, Don’t Forget Breakfast 

A hearty breakfast is the best fuel for battling a busy show floor. Snooze specializes in classic breakfast fare in a casual atmosphere. Some of the notables on the menu: 

Breakfast Pot Pie
Snooze’s homemade rosemary sausage gravy smothers a flaky puff pastry, topped with an egg your style (we’d say sunny side up!). You’ve reached breakfast bliss, complete with hash browns.

Ham Benedict III
The classic evolved with our signature English muffin topped with shaved hickory smoked ham, perfectly poached cage free eggs and smoked cheddar hollandaise.

Blueberry Danish Pancakes
Buttermilk pancakes topped with blueberry coulis, sweet cream and almond streusel surrounding a center of lemony cream cheese filling

Abri-ca-lav-ra Mimosa
Wash it all down with a specialty breakfast cocktail of Snooze Sparkling, Abricot liqueur, fresh lavender, honey and lemon juice.

 

The Napa Valley of Craft Beer

Colorado is known as the “Napa Valley of Craft Beer” … and beer in general. The city of Denver definitely contributes to its nomenclature, boasting 6 craft breweries per 50,000 people. Craft beer aficionados John Sciacca and Mike Maniscalo offer their recommendations (as well as breweries they’re eager to try), in no particular order:

From John Sciacca, Principal, Custom Theater & Audio and KMB blogger

I can’t really remember a ton of stuff that I tried in Denver… I remember having some great stuff at Upslope, Crooked Stave is known for sours (blech!), and Odell supposedly makes a solid IPA. Falling Rock Tap House is supposed to have a great tap selection too…..and is one of the very few places outside of Napa-area where you can get Pliny the Younger.

 

From Mike Mike Maniscalco, Better Living Technologies

My faves include Falling Rock Taphouse, Epic, Great Divide and Crooked Stave. I’m looking forward to trying Purpose. 

 

 

Show Floor Escapes

If you have three hours to spare, HA!! Maybe after the show ends, though, you can partake in a tour that takes you to craft brew hot spots in the Lower Downtown (LoDo) District of Denver. During the four stops, you’ll go behind the scenes to experience the brewing process, drink in a brewery founded by the governor, and have the opportunity to pose plenty of questions to the tour guides. Tour stops include Jagged Mountain, The Wynkoop, Falling Rock, and Rock Bottom.

Projection mapping is an up-and-coming application in the home systems biz. See it up close at one of Denver’s hottest new attractions: Beyond. This projection-mapped laser light show is held at the International Church of Cannabis and features guided meditation, an audio visual art installation, and a musical laser light experience. 

 

Fresh air and flora are good for a trade show reset and refresh. Spanning more than 24 acres, the Denver Botanic Gardens provides plenty of this, featuring a wide range of gardens and collections. 

 

We hope you try (and love) some of our recommendations. Tell us what you thought of them in the comment section below. See you in Denver!

ISE 2019: KMB’s Favorite Amsterdam Spots

The clock is ticking people! KMB has been coming to ISE in Amsterdam for years now, and we only have two more left in Amsterdam before the show moves to Barcelona in 2021. While we won’t miss the winter weather in Venice of the North, we will miss the food, drinks, and overall rockin’ good time to be had in this amazing city. So we’re taking the next two years to make sure we hit our fave spots, along with some new ones we’ve been longing to try. Allow us to recommend a few!

Eats & Treats

Mayur Indian Restaurant – With food conceived by a New Delhi native Pramod Sharma (now helmed by his son), you know this food is authentic. Authentic doesn’t always mean delicious, but Mayur does both exceptionally well and at a reasonable price with great service and personable staff. Traditional North-Indian dishes in a warm atmosphere make you feel like you are dining in someone’s home. Namaste ya’ll.

Casa de Sergio (Italian) – This is a cozy spot with Italian spirit on the Korte Leidsedwarsstraat near the Leidseplein in Amsterdam. You’ll find traditional Italian dishes like homemade Margherita pizza, Risotto ai funghi porcini, (yum!), meat and fish, plus delish Italian desserts. All must be accented with a nice bottle of wine, of course.

Midtown Grill – (Steakhouse)You know after a long day at the RAI you need a little red meat! This steakhouse opened in 2010 and is now known as one of the best in Amsterdam. Add a meticulously curated wine list and craft cocktails and you’ve got a recipe for an unforgettable evening.



Oriental City (Chinese) – As un-PC as its name may be these days, to KMB, Oriental City can do no wrong. Near the Royal Palace, the red-light district, and Chinatown, the restaurant specializes in authentic Cantonese dishes with chefs hired from Hong Kong. Dimsums, roasted meats, and fresh seafood all totally TDF.

Restaurant de Utrechtsedwarstafel – Though we’ve not been here yet, Mark Cichowski of the Tech & Business Summits (powered by CEDIA) claims it’s amazing, and by the look of the website, it is. From what we can tell, the menu is based on seasonal produce and the traditions of French master chef Joel Robuchon, with a creative and authentic flare. Can’t wait to have dinner there Thursday, February 7!

De Vier Pilaren (Best Pancakes) – You have no idea. These pancakes are so, so good. I mean, c’mon, a thin, European butter-and-powdered-sugar-topped circle of happiness? You can get savory ones as well. Either way, these babies make any trip to Amsterdam a little more special.

FEBO – Walk up to the counter for fast treats like french fries and hamburgers, or get a Dutch snack out of the automated vending machines, like krokets, frikandellen (a sort of minced meat hot dog), and Kaassoufflés, which are basically cheese, wrapped in dough, and deep fried. Need we say more?

Izakaya
Mike Blackman, friend and Executive Director of ISE himself, recommends Izikaya, so you know it must be the bee’s knees. Just look how beautiful their sushi is to get an idea of the craft and care that goes into this culinary experience.

The Harbour Club
Mike also recommends the Harbor Club, and while KMB has not been there, but the look of the wine cellar and funky art is enough for us to get our reservations on! Definitely a must-be for KMB.

Orange Juice –Katye and John love the OJ in Amsterdam. Stop and get a juice at least once during your visit. After all the wear and tear of ISE, the Vitamin C immunity boost will do you good!

Do & See

Markets (Citywide) –On Saturdays, you’ll find large street markets peppered throughout Amsterdam. Tthere are many treasures to be found here. We like Albert Cuyp Markt, which runs through the middle of de Pijp, known for its 19th-Century architecture and culinary scene. Noordermarkt is really three markets in one. On the left side is Boerenmarkt farmers market, to the right, antiques, books, vintage clothing, jewelry, fairtrade bags, etc, and around the corner, Lindengrachtmarkt, one of the best food markets in the city. Nieumarkt still holds a daily market as well as an organic fare market on Saturdays, but we like to go there for the cafés and restaurants, too. On the must-try list is the Ijhallen, a gigantic (700 stalls!) monthly flea market filled with vintage bargains that, we hear, is very worthy of a day trip.

Take a Canal Boat Tour – We never get tired of eating at KMB, but if you are looking for something to do during your time away from RAI outside of grub, you must do a canal cruise at least once in your life. Amsterdam’s history is so deeply intertwined with the canals, it’s a great learning experience and also incredibly fun!

The Anne Frank House – On July 6, 1942, the Frank family went into hiding in the building at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. You can visit it here and learn her story through quotes, photos, and videos in an authentic and subdued environment. Definitely an experience.

Rijkmuseum  – Located in Amsterdam’s Museum Square, the Rijksmuseum is renowned for its world-class Dutch masterpieces that illustrate the story of The Netherlands, with highlights like Vermeer’s “Milkmaid,” Van Gogh’s self-portrait, and Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch.” Get a little culture shot while you are here and see some true masterpieces! Of course, there are many other museums worth checking out, if you’ve got the time….

L&B Whiskey Cafe – This smooth whiskey bar has a collection of more than 2100 whiskeys! Scottish malt whiskeys, Irish, American, Canadian, and Japanese bottlings are all on the list, as well as 100 bottles from all European corners. Single malt, blend, bourbon, cask strength, single cask—all types, sizes, ripening and ages can be tasted here. Bartenders will advise you if you get lost and are also up to snuff on all the new bottlings that haven’t made the menu yet.

Craft Brew – If you’re in the mood for a cold beer instead, former client and friend Mike Maniscalco recommends these spots for a craft brew! You won’t find Heinekin or Amstel on this list.

We hope to see you at ISE 2019! In the meantime, follow along with us before, during and after ISE by liking us on Facebook!


San Diego Beer: Sciacca’s Top 10 Craft Brews to Drink @CEDIA

Welcome guest blogger John Sciacca on the best San Diego beer to drink during CEDIA!

According to Beer Connoisseur, San Diego has earned props as one of the world’s top craft beer cities. And with more than 140 craft breweries in the area, there is plenty of hoppy delicious to keep your week interesting. Having reviewed over 500 craft beers (http://www.sciaccadrinks.blogspot.com) I have a few favorite breweries that I’d suggest you check out while in town.

Read this list with a big grain (pun intended) of my favorite beer styles being IPA, Imperial IPA, and Triple IPA, especially those with massive, juicy, fresh West Coast style for which San Diego IPAs are particularly well known. When I’m not enjoying a massive IPA, I’m not adverse to pouring an Imperial stout or Belgian Tripel. I think sours are disgusting, and I don’t have any time for light, low-ABC, low-cal brews.

So, here are ten breweries I suggest you check out while in San Diego:

Stone Brewing Company – Stone has a massive array of big, 8+% ABV Imperial IPAs and they are practically all delicious. My favorite Stone IPA is the RuinTen, which is just the glorious perfection of a Triple IPA. From my review: “The beer was a perfect, magical harmony of sublime hops, malt and alcohol that all worked together like a symphony conducted by the very hands of God himself. From look, to nose, to first dash on the tongue, to the lingering finish that was like Mozart creating a masterpiece in your mouth with his fruffy white wig dripping in sticky-icky sweet-juicy hops.”

Green Flash Brewing Co. – Another company that specializes in the West Coast IPA, Green Flash offers several beers that are sure to please, some of which aren’t even IPAs! My favorite is the Green Bullet. From my review: “The smell is just flat-out great. Piney and hoppy and sweet and juicy and mango-pineappley. It’s just totally spot on; not just hitting the bulls-eye but splitting the frickin’ arrow that Palate Wrecker put into the bulls-eye! Can’t wait to taste… My hands are trembling a little bit from the emotion of it, and I just had a panicked moment where I nearly overturned my glass. Dammit, man! Get it together, Sciacca!”

Ballast Point Brewing – These guys are very widely known for the Sculpin, which is a nationally distributed – and quite delicious – IPA. The Sculpin comes in multiple flavors now such as Pineapple, Grapefruit, and Habanero. Yes, Habenero. If you like spicy AND beer, this is for you. From my review: “Wow. I mean, you feel it like an IPA on your tongue but then the spicy heat just kicks you right in the back of the throat. It is like a taco truck just drove through your mouth, dripping all kinds of pepper juices out of its tail pipe and burning out in your throat on the swallow. The heat kind of radiates down your throat and into your belly a bit on the swallow, negating any real bitter on the finish. In fact a belch just brings up more spice and heat.”

Coronado Brewing Company – Surprise! Another brewery I love for their IPAs! Some of my favorites from Coronado have been their anniversary releases, but their year-round brews, like the Idiot IPA, are nothing to miss! From my review: “Nose is rich with big juicy hop notes; sweet with orange juice and grapefruit citrus. First sip and boom! This lands like a bitter bomb right on the tongue, surrounding it and coating your mouth with rich, juicy hop citrus.”

AleSmith Brewing Company – OK, this is for the dark beer lovers out there, as the AleSmith Speedway Stout is all world. Dark, big, and so full and rich! From my review: “Nose is not hitting you over the head, but if you get down into the glass and really breathe it in, you are rewarded with dark, bitter cocoa nibs, and burnt espresso and roasty malts. First sip and it hits the mouth with a silky, velvety luscious creaminess. I feel like my mouth has entered a Japanese bathhouse, been welcomed by two lovely, delicate geisha, and it was then wrapped in a beautiful silk kimono.”

Mikkeller Brewing – Another one for the dark beer lovers, this company makes a beer that rocks 16% ABV, perfect for those times when you want to drink a little something before stumbling into bed. The Black Tokyo is a massive beer. Fortunately, it comes in a small (250 Ml) bottle. From my review: “I can’t tell so much if I poured a beer or someone let out the drain plug on an early 80’s vehicle that has been driving around the country in desert conditions, and this beer oozes thick and black into the glass, produces just a whisper of dark brown foam that vanishes almost as quickly as the bubbles form. Rolling the thick liquid around in the glass causes the viscous fluid to etch itself on to the glass, carving in long, lingering lacing trails wherever it touches. The nose has an edge of sweetness to it, with some burnt, dark-dark roasted coffee but also a salty-sweet edge of soy sauce.”

Belching Beavery Brewery – You got your chocolate in my peanut butter! Well you got your peanut butter chocolate in my beer! And it works! If you’ve ever wanted to try a Peanut Butter flavored milk stout, there is no better place to visit. From my review: “For a beer with this name, it actually drinks surprisingly easy and smooth. I was thinking that it would be overly sweet or heavy, but it is really easy drinking with just a bit of sweetness. At the end of the first glass, the finish is more creamy peanut butter smooth Jif style and less roasted coffee with nuts, but still fairly mild on the peanut flavor.”

Iron Fist Brewing Company – This company makes a Tripel that isn’t all Tripel. From my review: “Nose has that sweet, banana and bubble-gum juiciness that I love from a Tripel, but with a pretty big and nice hoppy undernote. First sip and the beer draws a freeway line down the center of my tongue, as I feel it literally tracing its way through my mouth. There isn’t as much carbonation as I was expecting, but notes of sweetness, that flash of bubblegum juicy, and then an almost burnt malt note and then a lengthy bitterness on the finish that is all IPA. This thing is about as complex as a Rubik’s Cube without a cheat sheet.”

Karl Strauss Brewing – To be honest, I’ve never had any beers from Karl, but his reputation precedes him, and from everything I can see, Karl Strauss is one of the fathers of the San Diego craft scene, and I don’t plan on leaving SD without having some serious glass time with Karl and his brewings!