One reason I love the world of food & wine is that you can have terrific experiences at any price. Among my favorite restaurants, for example, are a dirt-cheap pasta spot and an exorbitantly priced sushi place; my favorite wines are a $12 Australian Shiraz and a $75 Volnay premier cru. I enjoy them in equal measure, for different reasons and different occasions. In this issue, we celebrate the democracy of taste and showcase spectacularly good food and wine values.
Great dishes begin with great ingredients, so we dreamed up a challenge for three super chefs who are so focused on fresh produce that they've attached markets to their restaurants. Each chef devised a menu for less than $30 using items from his or her own shelves—not easy at a fancy specialty store. The results include a wonderful Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Crisps and Braised Chicken with Farro Risotto, from Barbara Lynch of Boston's Butcher Shop. We asked F&W's Test Kitchen pros to create five pairs of recipes in which both dishes—one pricey, the other inexpensive—share a main ingredient. Perhaps the most remarkable transformation occurred with veal: Grace Parisi came up with a decadent chop, while Melissa Rubel made tender stuffed meatballs.
For amazing restaurant values, turn to "Where to Go Next: Big City Value Eats," incredible insiders' guides to New York, London and Paris. To find out what's going on in Tokyo, possibly the most important food city in the world right now, we sent travel editor Salma Abdelnour to take a look. She came back with reports of gorgeous Buddhist dishes and spectacular soba, sushi and "standing bars." Senior editor Ray Isle took on the wines of Bordeaux, another expensive locale, and found 15 terrific bottles for $25 or less. Given that top Bordeaux can cost $75 and up, these are huge deals. Whether you want to save or splurge, we hope you'll find much to enjoy in this issue.
Where I'm Coming From
Notes from my Recent Expeditions:
Casellula Cheese & Wine Café (New York City)
Cute little wine bar near the Theater District with fun, quick food like a goose-breast Reuben paired with a Malagousia from Greece. 401 W. 52nd St.; 212-247-8137.
Niche (St. Louis)
At this hip spot in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Benton Park, I loved the thick, handmade pappardelle tossed with a sensational ragù of smoked pork shank. 1831 Sidney St.; 314-773-7755.
Alto (New York City)
Chef Michael White's Italian cooking reaches its apogee at Alto. One perfect dish: shredded radicchio and pioppini mushrooms wrapped in aged beef carpaccio. 11 E. 53rd St.; 212-308-1099.