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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Cocktails

Zak Pelaccio’s New Fatty Pop-Up

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zak

© Kate Telfeyan
Zak Pelaccio testing out a burger for Fatty Johnson's.


I was super bummed when I heard that Cabrito, the awesome little West Village Mexican restaurant from chef Zak Pelaccio, was closing. But tomorrow, Pelaccio opens Fatty Johnson’s in the old space. This supercool, pop-up restaurant will have a regularly changing menu that revolves around all things ham. The idea stemmed from a dive bar Pelaccio had dreamed up called Hammy Johnson’s that would only serve whiskey cocktails and ham and butter sandwiches. “Fatty Johnson’s is a slightly more evolved concept … slightly,” says Pelaccio. During its short, six-week life, the space will host different guest bartenders. Cocktail wiz Dave Wondrich will be behind the bar tomorrow for opening night. “We’re not taking it, or ourselves, too seriously—this is just about having fun until the new permanent concept lands at 50 Carmine,” says Pelaccio.

Bars

How Do The Cosmopolitan's Chefs Splurge in Vegas?

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Front row from L to R: The Bromberg brothers, David Myers. Back row from L to R: Scott Conant, Costas Spiliadis, José Andrés.

© Melanie Dunea
Front row from L to R: The Bromberg brothers, David Myers. Back row from L to R: Scott Conant, Costas Spiliadis, José Andrés.

Yesterday, Tasting Table mapped out a strategy for eating one’s way through the 13 hot restaurants on the third floor of the just-opened Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas.

I asked some of the star chefs behind those restaurants what they love most about Vegas, and how they splurge when they’re in town. Here, their answers:

Scott Conant, D.O.C.G. and Scarpetta
“I really admire how this city attracts such great talent, whether it’s chefs or performers. There’s also real appreciation for hospitality, food & beverage and entertainment, and the professional approach they take to this here really resonates with me. Every time I’m here working, I pick a night to go on a restaurant crawl and hit up four of five great places in one night.”

Anthony Meidenbauer, Holsteins
“My splurge in Las Vegas is my recently found new ramen-noodle spot, Monta. It's a little hole in the wall that has amazing food, made in a tiny kitchen.”

David Myers, Comme Ça
“What I love about Las Vegas is the diversity of restaurants and culture, beautiful weather and the incredible realization that this is all in the middle of the desert. My splurge will be the weekend at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas taking in all the great restaurants, with some time at the pool and at the tables. Also, dinner at either Twist or Joël Robuchon at The Mansion.”

Eric and Bruce Bromberg, Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill
“Las Vegas has so many different faces. High-end casino experiences, travelers from around the world, funky Chinatown eateries, great weather, great routes to bike and a 24-hour mentality that makes New Yorkers like us feel right at home. Our favorite Vegas splurge: A great ride in Red Rock canyon by day, some afternoon shopping around town and then hitting all the great restaurants in The Cosmopolitan in the evening. And ending up at Marquee for a late-night blowout.”

José Andrés, China Poblano and Jaleo
“I love Vegas for its energy. Every place has a unique rhythm, and this truly is a city that never sleeps, a place that draws people from all over world for the unique environment it offers. To have so many great chefs in one city, like Robuchon, Boulud, Keller, is amazing. I love the Strip, the casinos, but people need to take the effort to know the real Las Vegas. I go to the arts district, which is genuine and full of great people, as is the local restaurant scene.”

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Preview: New York Craft Beer Week

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beer

© NY Craft Beer Weej
NY Craft Beer Week

The third annual New York Craft Beer Week officially kicks off today and runs through Sunday, October 3. I asked event director Josh Schaffner to help me navigate my tasting schedule. Here, his cheat sheet:

1) The first annual Brewer’s Bash at Eleven Madison Park is being billed as the beer version of the restaurant’s insanely fun Kentucky Derby party. “The goal is to recreate the Derby party for beer,” says Schaffner. “Eleven Madison Park came to us to collaborate, and they are really serious about the beer at their restaurant.” The draw: Six brewers and their craft beers, two live bands, a cask tasting with Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver and six beer cocktails paired with chef Daniel Humm’s beer pretzels and beer cheese, foie gras terrine, pickled vegetables and other beer-friendly foods.
2) As awesome as the Brewer’s Bash sounds, Schaffner’s pick for the must-hit event of the week is the beer-pairing dinner at Mas Farmhouse on September 29. Roving chef-brewer Sean Z. Paxton is teaming up with Mas chef Galen Zamarra for a six-course meal that will pair beers from six different breweries with dishes such as orange-glazed escargot.
3) Must-try beer: Pretty Things will be debuting a brew from Edwardian times at Swift Hibernian Lounge.
4) New brewery to seek out: Schaffner is excited about the beers being made by Barrier, a tiny new brewery in Oceanside, New York. Try them all week at Dive Bar.

Bars

Where to Eat, Drink and Sleep in Toronto

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The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is now in full swing: The dramas! The comedies! The thrillers! And that’s just half of what happens at the parties participating in the TIFF extended bar hours. (Instead of 1 a.m., many bars and restaurants associated with TIFF are allowed to stay open until 4 a.m. during the 10 days of the festival.)

Here are the best spots in Toronto to eat, drink and sleep:

Victor at Le Germain Hotel Try the Social 52 menu, which emphasizes the diversity of neighborhoods—and cuisines—in the city. Dishes could include Korean-inspired ribs and kimchi or Portuguese grilled sardines.

Scarpetta at the Thompson Hotel Star chef Scott Conant's Toronto outpost offers seemingly simple but utterly spectacular spaghetti with tomato sauce, and creamy polenta with truffled mushroom stew.

One at the Hazelton Hotel Where else can you find Clive Owen, Juliette Lewis, a trio of Raptors players and a renowned environmentalist, all under one roof? An absolutely divine starter: the butter-braised lobster spoons.

Avenue in the Four Seasons Toronto Ground central for TIFF for most of its 35 years, the hotel is closing up and moving around the corner in the near future. But for now, it’s still your best shot at hobnobbing with Hollywood—and for a terrific burger with Parmesan frites.

The Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt Best bar in the city, bar none. It offers amazing panoramic views of the skyline—as well as an elegant Old World room with a fireplace. Have one of the veteran bartenders prepare a classic Canadian cocktail, like the Caesar.

Bars

Philadelphia’s Bespoke Craft Beer

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© Philadelphia Tourism
Summer Love Ale

Philadelphia is quietly establishing itself as one of the top craft-beer cities in the country. To help get the word out, the tourism board teamed up with Victoria Brewing Company to create the city’s own limited-edition craft beer called Summer Love Ale. It was so popular that Victory brewed a second batch, which they were nice enough to ship up this week to share with New York City. I had a chance to taste it last night at the Victoria Tap Takeover at NYC craft-beer mecca the Blind Tiger. The delicious golden ale—made with pale malts, German hops and Brandywine Creek water—is also on tap for a limited time at other great NYC beer bars like the Pony Bar , Bierkraft and Swift, as well as at Whole Foods on the Bowery.

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A Wine Geek's Dream Wine Bar

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anfora

© Jamie Tiampo
Gabe Thompson and Joe Campanale.

I'm a regular at NYC’s Dell'anima and L'Artusi, the two awesome wine-centric West Village Italian restaurants run by chef Gabe Thompson and sommelier Joe Campanale. Their newest project, Anfora, officially opens tonight. I got a sneak preview of the wine bar at friends-and-family on Friday. Here, the highlights:

1) Campanale has organized his wine list by producer, with an emphasis on sustainable, biodynamic and organic wine. And instead of simply listing wine names and vintages, he has included a photograph of every producer, along with information about the producers and the wines.
2) The stellar by-the-glass selection includes two anfora-aged wines, including Cantino Giardino's Coda di Volpe, an ancient grape grown in Campania since Roman times. (An anfora is a traditional earthen wine vessel used to store and transport wines).
3) Food highlights include lamb ragù sliders with Pecorino Romano and an intense Italian hero with mortadella, soppressata, speck, aged provolone, aioli, mustard and pepper relish. Plus, pastry genius Katherine Thompson has developed amazing sweets, like a rhubarb zuppa inglese.
4) There are also great cocktails, like the Farmer's Friend (rum, rhubarb, mint) and local craft beers on tap.
5) Just two doors down from always-crowded Dell’anima, this 50-seat spot may be the cushiest waiting area in the city with its super-comfy Cabernet-colored banquette seating. And the über-wine-geek will love the quilted topographic maps of wine regions like the Mosel hanging on the walls.

Bars

Sneak Peek: Cocteleria in New York City's East Village

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Cocteleria, the about-to-open rum punch bar and Cuban restaurant.

I’m with Urban Daddy on this one. The East Village did not need another great bar. But they got one anyway: Cocteleria at Cienfuegos, the about-to-open Cuban restaurant and rum punch bar that’s upstairs from the Cuban sandwich shop Carteles.  I haven’t been—it’s soft opening Thursday and officially opening next Monday—but F&W Cocktails 2010’s excellent deputy editor Joaquin Simo got in the door. He loved the distressed walls and the Old Havana ambiance. He also loved mixologist Charlotte Voisey’s punches (they’re all rum-based!), particularly Movable Feast (a Voisey original with silver rum, vermouth and dry French cider). He loved that the punches are served in different sizes, from single servings to much larger amounts (“$100 buys punch for the whole family,” Robert Simonson smartly blogged). And he loved the menu, especially the roast pork–filled tamales. “It’s a great bite when you need to take the edge off your hunger,” Simo said. "And to justify ordering another round."

 

More of Cocteleria's awesome-sounding menu after the jump.

[More]

Entertaining

Kentucky Derby Day Juleps

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The Tupelo Julep

© Daniel Krieger

This Saturday is the Kentucky Derby, and even though I know it's all about the horses, who can blame me for thinking of refreshments instead, when the contenders have names like Sidney's Candy and Ice Box? If I were in Brooklyn this weekend I'd get my julep fix at the Vanderbilt, Saul Bolton's six-month-old Prospect Heights restaurant, which put a julep variation on the menu a few weeks ago. My Kentucky-born, bourbon-loving husband might chastise me for liking their well-balanced Tupelo Julep, made with rye, cognac and apricot-mint syrup instead of the traditional bourbon and mint, but he would agree that the bartender, Brian Patrick Floyd, gets the ice perfect, so that the glass frosts over as the drink slowly melts. Variations of the julep abound; here are a few to try at your own Derby party:

Mint Julep
Blanca Julep
Parsley-Gin Julep
Champagne Julep

Cocktails

Mumbai Nightlife

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Aer

© Red Lion
Aer at the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai.

Thursday is the night to go out in Mumbai and I had India’s top fashion photographer, Farrokh Chothia (he shot the striking photos hanging in Vermillion restaurant, escorting me past the ropes of the city’s newest bars.

Farrokh met me at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, which will be reopened in its entirety this July, once the tower wings have been restored (they suffered damage in the 2008 terrorist attacks). The hotel’s legendary Harbour Bar (it became Mumbai’s first licensed bar when it opened in 1933) just reopened at the end of March with a great list of Prohibition-era cocktails that are theatrically mixed and poured, plus there's also an extensive selection of single malts and whiskeys.

After watching a night polo gam at Mahalaxmi raccourse, we checked out Tote on the Turf next door. Malini and Rahul Akerkar, the couple behind Indigo, opened this enormous new restaurant and bar last September. Up-and-coming architect Kapil Gupta is responsible for the space, which has 40-foot vaulted ceilings designed to look like tree branches. Its lineup of DJs and a smart drink list that includes the signature Tote Mary (a Bloody Mary with balsamic vinegar and crushed cucumbers) has made midtown suddenly cool.

For the best view of the city, we went to Aer, the posh new bar on the roof of the Four Seasons Hotel. Elsie Nanji is responsible for the futuristic design and great accents like Ross Lovegrove’s Love bench as well as chairs and stools from Driade’s Tokyo-Pop series.

After three supertrendy spots full of beautiful people, I was ready for something more laid-back. Farrokh took me to Blue Frog,  an awesome live-music venue in an old warehouse in Lower Parel that’s been brilliantly redesigned. We ended our night there, rocking out to a Pearl Jam tribute band with some of Farrok's friends from Vogue India.

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Painkiller Tiki Drink Preview

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Cradle of Life flaming cocktail at Painkiller

© Alessandra Bulow
Cradle of Life flaming cocktail at Painkiller.

I can’t stop talking about tiki. Not because of the Tiki Barber sex scandal, but because I recently got an exclusive preview of the tiki drinks that Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzalez (Dutch Kills) are going to be making at their supercool new bar Painkiller, which is opening in early May in New York City.

In addition to smooth daiquiris, flights of mini zombie drinks and all-you-can-eat hot dogs (“They’re not going to be fancy, Grade-A or kosher, but they’ll be free,” said Boccato), they’ll be serving fantastic rum-based flaming cocktails like the Cradle of Life (made with spiced rum, white rum, lime and orange juices and almond syrup; the green chartreuse on top is set on fire, pictured). The menu will also include communal drinks served in custom-made ceramic vessels called Scorpion Bowls. Each Scorpion Bowl will be named after a 1970s NYC street gang, like the Electric Coffin, a large coffin-shaped bowl that will billow steam from a hidden chamber for dry ice in its underbelly.

Boccato got the idea for the Scorpion Bowl names while narrating a friend’s documentary about the gangs and he's continuing the urbanized-oasis theme by asking some of NYC’s classic old-school graffiti artists to tag the walls of the bar.

“Half of tiki is about presentation,” said Boccato. “Tiki bars usually look like a dive, a Disney ride or Grandpa’s basement. We’re going for something different.”

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