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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Restaurants

Blake Lively Wants Contraband Hot Sauce

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© Cochon Restaurant
Cochon Restaurant's house hot sauce.

At the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival a few weeks ago, I became a huge fan of Donald Link, the New Orleans chef/owner of Cochon and Cochon Butcher, and his commitment to cooking with chiles. (At his demo, I learned the very useful tip that the best cure for a too-spicy pepper is a piece of chocolate.) It turns out I’m not the only one who appreciates his way with chiles. In the current issue of Glamour magazine, cover girl Blake Lively says that she gets really excited when she finds a new sauce. And then says this: “I wanted a sauce from New Orleans, and they wouldn’t send it because the FDA didn’t approve it. I called the restaurant and I said, ‘OK, can you buy a teddy bear and cut it open and put it in and send it?’ They’re like, ‘No, we are not the drug cartel; we’re not sending you your sweet potato sauce in a teddy bear.’” (How much do we love Blake Lively and her dedication to food and contraband sauces?!) It turns out she’s talking about Cochon’s habanero–sweet potato sauce, which by all accounts is addictive. And also not for sale outside the state; although their regular hot sauce is (long story involving FDA regulations).

So next time I’m in New Orleans, I’m picking up a bottle of Cochon’s habanero sweet potato sauce for Blake Lively. And meanwhile, I can report that Cochon is working hard to ship the sauce to out-of-state fans like Lively.

Farms

The One Really Dead Food & Dining Trend

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© Courtesy of The Breakers Palm Beach.
Let's Retire the Farm-to-Fill-in-Blank Phrase

At Food & Wine, we might respectfully disagree with some of the items on Eater NY’s recent dead trends list (small menus are working quite well for NYC's Torrisi Italian Specialties and Mile End, among other spots). But there is a ubiquitous phrase that we’re very ready to say good-bye to: farm-to-everything. (Credit to Frank Bruni, the New York Times's newest Op-Ed columnist, for sounding the alarm on Twitter: “Today someone said, re cocktails, ‘from farm to tumbler.’ May be time we all retired the ‘farm to fill-in-blank’ construction.”)

Don’t misunderstand: We are not knocking the concept of fresh ingredients straight from the farm. We’re just tired of the very overused phrase. Here, then, is our list of just some of the farm-to-anything/everywhere claims, complied by F&W’s new senior digital editor, Alex Vallis.

Farm to Cubicle: A report from Crain's on corporate CSAs.

Farm to Cup
: “Delicious coffee straight from the farm” from Stanford Business School students.

Farm to Friends
: CSA cooking series at the New York Wine & Culinary Center. (They’re repeat offenders: They also offer the Farm to Plate series.)

Farm to Fuel: The Florida-based initiative to promote renewable energy from local crops.

Farm to Fork: A marketing stunt from the international seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred and the Soyfoods Council.

Farm to Bakery; Farm to Factory: Two mentions in one article from the New York–based community organizer Pratt Center about the honorable push to get New York State grains into New York City bakeries.

Farm to San Francisco: From the community-building, California-based organization Project Fresh.

Farm to Folk
: An Iowa CSA.

Farm to Consumer: A Virginia-based non profit that spotlights sustainable farming.

Farm to Glass: Cocktails featuring straight-from-the-garden ingredients.

And a dishonorable mention to our very own F&W for:
Farm to Bottle: An item about spirits infused with, you guessed it, ingredients from the garden, that you'll see in our upcoming August issue.

Restaurants

HBO Documentary Gets Into the Mind of a Chef

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© Photo by Allison Anastasio/Courtesy HBO
Chef Paul Liebrandt in 'A Matter of Taste.'

Consider your last decade. Now imagine it was filmed, discreetly, by a friend fascinated by your job. This is the chef documentary A Matter of Taste, premiering June 13 on HBO at 9 p.m. New York’s Paul Liebrandt met director Sally Rowe in 2000 at Atlas restaurant when, at 24, he became the youngest chef to earn three stars from the New York Times. Compelled to shoot Liebrandt’s avant-garde style of cooking with unheard-of combinations like wasabi and green apple, Rowe followed his career through a painful progression of short stints: Papillon, a West Village bistro, where post–9/11 drinkers wanted burgers and fries; cocktail consulting; the bottom-line-focused Gilt at the Palace Hotel. His current gig as chef-partner of Corton with restaurateur Drew Nieporent finally provided a happy ending. At a preview of the film, we asked Liebrandt about his biopic.

What convinced you to let someone film you for a decade? It's not like Sally came to me and said "Right, we're going to shoot for 10 years." It was as simple as: Her husband Ben, then boyfriend, was the wine director at Atlas.

How did it progress? He said, “My girlfriend is into film.” She said, “I find what you do interesting. Do you mind if I shoot?” And she did it and it went on, and on, every month, slowly but surely. Five years in, I was like "Seriously, what is happening with this?” Eight years in, “Okay, what is happening?” Finally she said, “Okay we're editing.” I lived life; she just filmed it.

What’s it like to watch yourself grow up over an hour? The Papillon stuff, I was so young. We've all been young, but most people don't have it caught on camera. My hairstyle certainly goes up and down. It's interesting to see the progression of the food as well.

Where do you think food is going in the next 10 years? It's becoming more localized. It's good because people are more aware of what's around. It used to be the case that you had to be in New York, London, Tokyo or Paris. Now there are chefs in tiny little towns getting noticed and I think that's really good. If you're a chef in the middle of France or Spain, and you’re a young guy trying to put yourself out there, it's important.

Restaurants

How to Get Free Tickets to Omnivore Master Classes

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First, the bad news about the supercool French food festival Omnivore, which brings its Young Cuisine world tour to New York City on June 9th: The master class series on Friday, June 10th—highlighting New York City’s Carlo Mirarchi (an F&W Best New Chef 2011, hurray!) and John Fraser (What Happens When); Paris's Giovanni Passerini (Rino) and Jean-François Piège (Thoumieux); and Copenhagen's Mads Refslunch (MR)—is for food professionals only. Now the good news: I hear that Omnivore is giving away a few, just a few, Master Class tickets: write to reservation@omnivore.fr and use the code 'young cuisine.'

And, more Omnivore good news: you can actually taste food from these incredible chefs at Omnivore’s The F**** Dinners, at What Happens When, from June 9-11, by going here.

Books

Ferran Adrià’s $5 Meals

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Ferran Adria's upcoming cookbook has meals for $5 a person.

You’ve got to love a book party that features the Ace Hotel’s DJ Huggy Bear (his card says, “I accept hugs, not requests”). So Phaidon’s fall preview party, at its Soho store, had excellent music. And following the success of Noma by René Redzepi, it's no surprise that they have a terrific fall cookbook lineup as well. That includes a new edition of the best-selling Silver Spoon book and The Art of French Baking, with adorable illustrations by Chocolate & Zucchini blogger Clotilde Dusoulier. Best of all, in my world, is The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià. The book will feature 31 staff meals from Spain’s El Bulli (Meal 7: Waldorf Salad, Noodle Soup with Mussels and Melon Soup with Pink Grapefruit). I plan to cook my way through all of them, especially because these meals average out to about $5 per person (which is about one-tenth of the cost of a cab ride to El Bulli from the nearest town). I’ve especially got my eye on Meal 4, wherein I’ll learn the secrets to Adrià’s Caesar salad and cheeseburger with potato crisps.

Restaurants

Highlights, Chefs Cook for Japan

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© Dean Roman
Masaharu Morimoto in Action at Chefs Cook for Japan fundraiser.

Last night's supersonic "Chefs Cook for Japan" fundraising dinner in NYC raised an astonishing $100,000 for the Japan Society’s Earthquake Relief Fund. The dinner's highlight featured participating chefs—like Jonathan WaxmanMarcus Samuelsson and Paul Bartolotta—jumping on stage during the live auction. Spontaneous auction packages included Jose Garces and Masaharu Morimoto’s Iron Chef dinner (the two Iron Chefs will cook for a dinner party using a themed ingredient) and  Daniel Boulud and Morimoto creating a package that starts with sushi, sashimi and saki from Morimoto at DBGB followed by burgers, bangers and beer before going out to what will surely be a ridiculous night of karaoke with Boulud and Morimoto. Bonus highlight: Morimoto's karaoke preview of What a Wonderful World for the crowd.

Chefs

René Redzepi’s Favorite Scandi Designers

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© SPACE


Designers Signe Bindslev Henriksen and Peter Bundgaard Rützou are the darlings of Copenhagen’s star chefs. The duo behind the firm Space Architecture & Interior Design has designed nearly every restaurant of note in the city, from René Redzepi’s famous Noma to Bocuse d’Or winner Rasmus Kofoed’s Geranium. While in NYC for International Contemporary Furniture Fair they dropped by to tell me about their most recent project, star chef Bo Bech’s newly opened restaurant, Geist.
 
“We work very closely with every chef,” says Rützou. “Geranium feels very James Bondish, and we reinvent Noma each summer, but it always reflects René’s vision of staying true to Denmark and local roots. With Geist, the design is a bit wild and flamboyant.” Geist is divided into two rooms, one with lounge chairs and tables, the other all bar stools. “Designing a bar stool comfortable enough to sit on for an entire meal was a challenge,” says Henriksen. The resulting stool is part of the new Spine Collection that SPACE debuted last month at Salone del Mobile in Milan; it will soon be available in the US here. The Spine lounge was used in Noma and the Spine high chair (above) in Geist. My favorite piece is the new double bar stool that seats two. “Bar eating always lacked that intimacy, so this is like our take on the dating chair for the bar,” says Henriksen.

© SPACE

 

Restaurants

All-Star Chefs Cook For Japan

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© Peter Hopper Stone
Chef Morimoto Is Hosting Chefs Cook for Japan Fundraiser.

In the F&W Test Kitchen right now, we’re testing Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s sushi, and we wish he were here to taste it. But Morimoto is busy right now: He’s gearing up for a big gala charity dinner on Wednesday, May 18, called Chefs Cook for Japan, to raise money for The Japan Society’s Earthquake Relief Fund. And when they say ‘Chefs’ they mean an A-list group that includes (drumroll...) Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelsson, Ken Oringer, Anita Lo, Jonathan Waxman, Jose Garces and, coming all the way from Las Vegas, Paul Bartolotta. Two of NYC’s top mixologists—Julie Reiner of the Clover Club and Katie Stipe of Vandaag—are mixing cocktails.
 
Now is the time to buy tickets: They're at chefscookforjapan.com.

Chefs

This Year's Pebble Beach Food & Wine

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I think I must have been dazed by an overdose of Montrachet (a statement that will get me little sympathy from anyone), because it's taken me several days to get a handle on this wrapup post for the big event at Pebble Beach a week or so ago, Pebble Beach Food & Wine. As in years past, several thousand wine lovers converged on this idyllic spot for three days of rampant wine tasting. Highlights for me were the various tastings I helped host:

 (1) an eight-vintage retrospective of Bordeaux's Château Palmer (deal alert: 2008 Alter Ego de Palmer, a thrilling wine that, at about $50, costs a fifth of what Château Palmer itself costs).

 (2) a tasting of 2005 and 1999 Montrachets from Drouhin, Bouchard, Marc Colin, and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (really non-deal alert: 2005 DRC Montrachet. Pretty much nectar of the gods but it does run a cool $4500 a bottle or so...)

 (3) a tasting of the wines of the Rhône's Château Beaucastel with Marc Perrin, one of the family members who own the estate. Beaucastel is arguably the benchmark Châteauneuf-du-Pape-the wines were unsurprisingly wonderful. I particularly like the aromatic, garrigue-y 2001.

 Finally, my other highlight event was the dinner we hosted—along with the good folks at Robert Mondavi Winery—to celebrate our top sommeliers of 2011 (click through for the article). Good wines, well-deserved applause for the somms, and fantastic food from some of Napa Valleys star chefs: Richard Reddington, Ken Frank, Tyler Florence, Jeff Mosher, and Masaharu Morimoto (who came out and sang, accapella, a traditional Japanese fisherman's song).

Anyway, the event is over for this year but it will be back next year. If you're in the Bay Area and you like wine, you'd be crazy not to go.

Bars

Best New Ballpark Chefs

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At the risk of exposing a deep, dark secret of my marriage, I’m coming clean: I don’t care much about baseball. My husband would never know this by the enthusiasm with which I greet baseball season, but in reality, it’s the food that draws me to the ballpark. Many of F&W's past Best New Chefs are bona fide baseball fans, though, and they’re raising the bar for awesome stadium food around the country. In Houston, Bryan Caswell is serving his famous fresh-ground burgers at the Astros’ Minute Maid Park, and Seattle chef Ethan Stowell’s beer-marinated hot dogs are a huge hit at the Mariners’ Safeco Field. In San Francisco, Traci Des Jardins’ new Public House, next door to AT&T Park, serves Anchor Steam-battered fish and chips alongside local cask ales and Humphry Slocombe ice cream. Baseball food’s getting a serious makeover—and as far as my husband’s concerned, I’m even more of a die-hard fan.

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