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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Beer

NYC's Greatest Beer Dinner Ever

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Labeling a special beer, Local 11, for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner at Eleven Madison Park.

© Nathan Rawlinson
Labeling a special beer, Local 11, for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner at Eleven Madison Park.

 

Beer is often associated with backyard barbecues and sporting events, but writer Christian DeBenedetti reports on the growing trend of craft beer showing up in some of the country’s best restaurants:


“American craft beer's surge into the spotlight has taken many forms, but until relatively recently, beer dinners in ultra-fine-dining settings were generally considered oddities, one-offs or experiments, rather than the norm. No longer: American brewers from the likes of Allagash in Maine, Oregon's Deschutes and Delaware's Dogfish Head are working with top-tier chefs from Thomas Keller of Per Se to Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns to present beers and foods that are well matched and fun to try together.

Recently the beer dinner concept hit a new high with the collaboration between New York's Brooklyn Brewery and Eleven Madison Park. For the event, brewmaster Garrett Oliver worked with chef Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park general manager Will Guidara and Eleven Madison Park dining room manager/beer coordinator Kirk Kelewae to create a pairing menu almost entirely from scratch.

The dinner included Local 11, a beer made by aging the dark, abbey-style ale Brooklyn Local 2 in 20-year old Pappy Van Winkle whiskey barrels. It had never been tasted outside the brewery before this dinner. "Garrett really opened my eyes in a big way," said Humm. "Craft beer works really well with food; there's so much to it. And it's not just rustic food—sausages and stuff like that—but also really refined food, because the beers are really refined."

Unlike most beer dinners—perhaps any other beer dinner that has ever taken place—the collaboration started with the beers, not the menu. "We're getting a chance to show the real creative evolution of the brewery," Oliver told me as guests sipped on an aperitif beer called The Concoction, inspired by the classic Penicillin cocktail and redolent of whisky, ginger, lemon and honey. "Usually these things are done by e-mail," Oliver continued. "The chef sends me a menu, I send back the pairings. And it often turns out wonderfully. This time, the Eleven Madison Park team came out to the brewery and spent three-and-a-half hours tasting with us. Then they went back with the beers and developed the menu in the other direction. This is a whole new way to do things."

The night’s highlights included a foie gras terrine with strawberry, yuzu and black pepper paired with Wild 1, a beer brewed in 2008 and aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, then refermented with Brettanomyces, the earthy, fickle yeast strain prized by Belgian brewers; and Pennsylvania's Four Story Hill Farm suckling pig with apricot and cardamom, paired with the Local 11. Oliver, for his part, was ecstatic. "I've done about 700 beer dinners, but this is the ultimate."

Here's a photo gallery from former Eleven Madison Park sommelier-turned-professional photographer Nathan Rawlinson along with a short video report.

Winemakers

All Good Things

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You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.

So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.

Ray Isle

Beer

Things To Do At A Restaurant—Besides Eat

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If there’s one thing I want to do in a restaurant, it’s eat something amazing. But if I get to eat something good and beat my friend at ping pong, well then things are going really well for me. Happily, there’s a whole new world of restaurants that decided to take the Dave & Busters concept to another level, combining great food with superfun extracurricular activities.
 
Fly Fishing at the Restaurant at the Little Nell, Aspen – The hotel hasn’t actually installed a river in the middle of their dining room. But they do take guests out for a fly-fishing lesson and chef Robert McCormick will serve a waterside lunch on fine china, along the lines of salmon crostini and housemade ice cream sandwiches.  Starting this summer, they’ll make trips in a gorgeous new made-in-Montana wooden boat. thelittlenell.com
 
Surfing at Casa del Mar, Santa Monica – The name, Surf with Chef, says everything you need to know. You get a surf lesson with a private instructor and chef Jason Bowlin (chef at the hotel’s Catch restaurant; let’s assume he’s a good surfer); then Bowlin will slide in and serve lunch made with ingredients you’ve caught…. No! from the nearby farmer’s market, where he’ll make dishes like roasted beets with burrata. hotelcasadelmar.com
 
Rocking out at Sam’s, Boston – Sam’s co-owner, guitarist Drew Parsons (of American HiFi) often plays live sets on Friday nights at the restaurant. Extra credit to Sam’s: they also have a bocce court where groups can compete and sample dishes like black pepper patty burgers, and drink a Captain Hilt, a mix of bourbon, chartreuse and raspberry puree. samsatlouis.com
 
Ping-Ponging at Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club, NYC – Down at South Street Seaport, chef Jason Mayer serves German bratwurst on a pretzel bun (also hand-stretched pretzel snacks and cinnamon-sugar pretzels for dessert). There’s live music (George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at the end of July!) and a rec room dream assortment of ping pong, foosball and pool. beekmanbeergarden.com
 
Related Links
 
America’s Wacky Fair Foods
 
America’s Weirdest Regional Foods
 
American Beer, Bourbon and More

World’s Weirdest Restaurants
 
World’s Top 10 Life-Changing Restaurants

Chefs

My Imaginary BFF Michael Symon Demos Calphalon

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Michael Symon Cracking Up While Immersion Blending


Michael Symon Cracking Up While Immersion Blending

 

Michael Symon gets me. Okay, obviously, plenty of other people feel that way about the absurdly good-natured Iron Chef, but no, I really feel like we speak the same language. He cooked for me—alright, for a lot of people—during a recent Calphalon event unveiling some very handy new cookware. He made an orange-fennel-dill salad using a huge but smartly designed mandolin. (Squeezing the handle lowers the safety guard on the mandolin, so it's always up when not in use; $80). “Oh hello there, Maggie," I swear I heard Symon say. "Please let me address our common Greek heritage through these bright, powerful flavors.” There was a compact countertop fryer with a nifty viewing window, in which he made chicken with garlic and rosemary plunked right in the cooking oil ($130), and a "No Peek" waffle iron (an indicator light lets you know when the waffles are cooked to golden perfection; $100) in which he made me wild rice waffles with a streak of blueberry jam. "I know how you love blueberries,” he seemed to say. I do, Michael Symon, I do love blueberries! This fall, Calphalon will also release an immersion blender that offers thoughtful features like a whisk attachment, a food chopper, and a removable adaptor that makes it safe on non-stick cookware, all for around $80. Clearly Calphalon has heard that an immersion blender is the one tool I am dying to buy. Michael Symon probably told them.

Restaurants

Museum Food 2.0

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The dining room at Untitled.

© Nicole Franzen
The dining room at Untitled.

 

Museum restaurants are no longer merely traps for exhausted art patrons with low blood sugar: Visionary restaurants like The Modern at the Museum of Modern Art and Palettes at the Denver Art Museum have raised the bar and given way to a second wave of delicious new openings. At New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, a slice of Four & Twenty Blackbirds’ salted caramel apple pie is an awesome mid-afternoon pick-me-up at Danny Meyer’s Untitled, which opened in March. A few time zones away, the brand-new Eddie Aikau Restaurant & Surf Museum opens this weekend in Waikoloa, Hawaii, dedicated to the memory of the beloved big-wave surf legend. (The museum opens July 3, and the restaurant opens on July 4.) Chef Scott Lutey’s contemporary Hawaiian menu highlights ultra-local ingredients in dishes like lacquered kalua pork belly and Molokai watermelon salad with candied macadamia nuts. And on Independence Day, chef John Besh opens his new Soda Shop at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. The casual spot will serve fountain sodas in flavors like melon and pineapple, as well as house-made ice creams like Creole Cream Cheese Red Velvet.

Books

How to Make Money from Your Cookbook Shelf

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We know, this sounds suspiciously like an internet ad that tells you how to make money by selling prescription drugs online. No, this might be even easier. Some cookbooks that you just might have sitting on your shelves are going for quite a bit of money on Amazon.
 
We’re not talking about super-specialized books like Modernist Cuisine, the recently released, $625, 46-pound compendium by Nathan Myhrvold, nor a first-edition copy of Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food, which went for $1583. (Although if you have either of those books on hand, you’re lucky, and potentially rich.) We’re talking specifically about The Last Course, by pastry goddess Claudia Fleming. Published in 2001, the book ranks just above the 783,000 mark on Amazon’s best-seller list and originally cost $40.  Now, a first edition of The Last Course is on sale for $800 on Amazon, with used copies going for $142.
 
Why is the book, as good as it is, so expensive? Because it was only reprinted in limited quantities. (Maybe also because gilttaste.com marked the book at $400 when Dave Chang recently named it on his curated cookbook list for the website.)
 
“People always want what they can’t get,” says The Last Course’s co-author, Melissa Clark. “Once a cookbook goes from utilitarian—as in, something to cook from—to cult—as in, something to own—that’s when you get crazy prices. The funny thing is, I recently bought a copy at a thrift shop for $20. Then the price skyrocketed. So now I have two copies, and I’m wishing I’d saved more from my original case of books.” Alright everyone, go check your shelves for The Last Course. Of course we recommend that you cook from it. But whatever you do, don’t put it on the giveaway pile. 
 
Related Links
 
Amazing David Chang Recipes

10 Recipes from Cookbook Legends

Best Cookbook Authors’ Best Recipes

15 Cheap and Delicious Recipes

Great Cookbook Gifts

Wine

Wining and Dining in Hotel Lobbies

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Latitudes Bar

© Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts

 

The hotel lobby is probably not the most memorable experience of most trips, but the Le Méridien hotel chain is changing that with its new LM100 program,  which taps creative minds to rethink the lobby experience through food, wine and art. Each hotel will feature a bar called Latitudes—by day, a coffee bar staffed by protégés of 2002 World Barista Championship winner Fritz Storm, and by night, a wine bar with tasting classes curated by sommelier and author Linda Grabe. For the morning menu, NYC chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has developed signature breakfast dishes like espresso-steamed eggs to serve with “eye opener” juice shots like Cherry Lemon Black Pepper. Creativity reigns, right down to the details: International artists such as Sam Samore and Hisham Bharoocha have created pocket-size artworks for each key card, making them unique, collectible art pieces. Le Méridien Barcelona is the first hotel in the chain that features the new lobby program, which will begin rolling out to hotels worldwide this fall.

Cookbooks

Jonathan Waxman's Way

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Swordfish Carpaccio

© Chris Quinlan
Swordfish Carpaccio

In our July issue, Frank Bruni wrote a great piece about cooking from chef Jonathan Waxman’s new book, Italian, My Way. I was fortunate enough to experience the book with much less effort than Bruni put in—Waxman cooked from it Monday night at the fantastic Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado, as part of their Monday Night Wine Dinner series. Italian winemaker Giampaolo Venica poured some of his hyper-aromatic, unoaked whites, like the Venica & Venica 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Ronco delle Mele, with Waxman’s dishes.

© Chris Quinlan
Waxman and the Frasca team


 

It was the chef's fish courses that really blew me away. (Maybe it was the perfect preparation—Waxman was assisted by Frasca chef Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson (an F&W Best New Chef 2005) and his team—or perhaps it was coming off a meat-centric weekend at the F&W Classic in Aspen). Smoked-trout-and-mascarpone crostini was sweet and smoky, swordfish carpaccio with English pea and herb vinaigrette melted in my mouth and a superlight, tempura-style fritto misto was fantastic. Mackinnon Patterson said it best when he called Waxman “the most soulful chef” he’s cooked with.

Restaurants

The New Rules for Celebrity Restaurants

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The Breslin's Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup

© Lucy Schaeffer
The Breslin's Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup

Celebrities have been frequenting restaurants for a while now—the Algonquin Round Table was in full effect in the 1920s. So we won’t pretend it's news to see a famous person sitting in a dining room. But it’s quite amazing to see how far some restaurants go these days to protect their more recognizable guests. Here’s Ken Friedman, co-owner of such NYC celeb hang-outs as the Spotted Pig and the Breslin, sounding like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. “The first rule at my restaurants is don’t talk about who’s eating at my restaurants.”
 
Here are some other rules we've seen NYC restaurants employ.
 
*Close the blinds to the street when the paparazzi line up outside. (A rule followed by the staff at Marea the second someone like Michael Douglas walks in.)
 
*Seat the best-known people in the corner. At Craft, table #158, deep in the restaurant, is set aside so anyone supremely famous (like LeBron James who rented out Craft's LA outpost for a party) can be escorted right there.  
 
*Seat the best-known people in the kitchen. At his newest restaurant The John Dory, Friedman created a chef’s table in the kitchen. What about the rumor that Jay-Z wanted a chef’s table, with real chairs, as an alternative to the stools that make up the seating in the rest of the restaurant? “We didn't create the table for anyone in particular," says Friedman. "The chef’s table is fun, it’s in the kitchen,” says Friedman. “Plus who wants to sit on stools all the time? I don’t; neither does Charlie Rose.”
 
Related Links:
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Favorite Restaurants
100+ Tastes to Try
Tom Colicchio’s Road Trip
Best Chefs with Hotel Restaurants

(Pictured above: The Breslin's Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup)

Restaurants

Frankies Spuntino at the Belmont Stakes

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© Morgan Taylor
Frank Falcinelli & Frank Castronovo are ready to bet at the Belmont Stakes.

What a busy weekend! The Omnivore Food Festival! Midtown Lunch’s 5th birthday party! The Big Apple BBQ!  I just couldn’t make it to see the Frankies Spuntino team in action at the Belmont Stakes. Luckily F&W’s excellent intern Morgan Taylor was there and reports back.
 
As a Kentucky native and horse-racing enthusiast I've visited many racetracks around the country—but never for the food. That changed at this year's Belmont Stakes thanks to Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo of Frankies Spuntino, who brought their Frankies Spuntino menu to Belmont Park for the second time.
 
The Franks, who grew up in Queens and worked in a deli around the corner from Belmont Park when they were kids, began frequenting the track when their boss would send them on gambling runs on their dirt bikes. When the chance to bring the Frankies' menu to Belmont arose, they saw it as an opportunity to contribute to their old neighborhood and to amp up the racetrack’s culinary credibility.
 
Their menu featured dishes from the Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual: buttermilk fried chicken, grilled calamari & shrimp salad. Everything was delicious and their fried chicken passed the test of several Kentuckians—not to mention that I saw my dad wolf down three pieces of their olive oil cake. Unfortunately, neither of the Franks picked the big race's winner, longshot Ruler on Ice, who paid $51.50 on a $2 to win wager. Maybe next year.

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