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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Entertaining

Italian-American Coffee & Cake

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Ed Levine’s review on Serious Eats of NYC's new Torrisi Italian Specialties left me chuckling. To accompany a slideshow of chef-owners Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone’s Italian-American sandwiches, antipasti and desserts, Levine wrote this: “What’s a delicious, moist sour cream coffee cake doing on an Italian sandwich shop menu?” Clearly, Levine doesn’t know everything about Italian-American customs. Until very recently, my own Italian-American family observed the Sunday-afternoon tradition of coffee and cake; we called it simply “Coffee and." My grandmother and her sisters and their husbands gathered at 2:30 p.m., put the coffee on (always in an aluminum percolator) and talked. Same thing every week. Most weekends, my aunt Anna made her famous chocolate sheet cake, which she dusted with powdered sugar and served with whipped cream.

Here, four F&W recipes perfect for "Coffee and."

Olive Oil Bundt Cake

Honey Tea Cake

Jacques Pépin’s Favorite Pound Cake

Cardamom Spiced Crumb Cake

Chefs

New York's French Invasion

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The pioneering artisanal-foods company D’Artagnan was founded 25 years ago this month, when founder Ariane Daguin brought the first fresh foie gras made in the U.S. to chef David Waltuck at NYC's now-defunct Chanterelle. Today, Daguin's company sources every manner of French and American artisanal products, from terrines to truffles to breakfast sausages. Next week, they’ll celebrate their triumphs with events throughout NYC. The 32-Michelin-star food crawl is sold out, but anyone can come watch next Thursday at noon as they try to set the world record for most berets tossed in the air. 

And the reservation lines are still open as some of D’Artagnan’s most loyal customers host some phenomenal Gascon chefs, including Hélène Darroze at Per Se Friday the 19th and molecular gastronomist Thierry Marx at Le Bernardin Saturday the 20th. For more details, click here.

Recipes

Yoga & Food

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As Julia Moskin reports in this week’s New York Times Dining section, many yoga traditionalists are not pleased with all the eating and drinking now happening at yoga studios around the country. While austerity is at the core of many traditional yoga practices, personally I’m hungry after a 90-minute Bikram yoga session in a 110 degree room (even if it smells like stinky, sweaty feet).

Here, some fantastic recipes from my favorite chef-yogi (and an F&W Best New Chef 2009), Jeremy Fox from Napa Valley’s Ubuntu restaurant and yoga studio:

Carrot Macaroni and Cheese (pictured)
Lemony Quinoa Salad with Shaved Vegetables
Broccoli à la Catalan

Farms

Sneak Peek: Jean-Georges Vongerichten's ABC Kitchen

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In February, New York City will get Jean-Georges Vongerichten's take on farm-to-table cuisine at ABC Kitchen, a roughly 150-seat café inside ABC Carpet & Home that will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and fresh juices at a juice bar. Vongerichten is working with ABC CEO Paulette Cole on the design, sourcing as locally as possible; that includes plates from Bella Porcelain, made by Cole's childhood friend Jan Burtz. (There are a few exceptions: The bar is made out of a church altar from Mexico.) The menu is still in progress, but Vongerichten would like to source all ingredients from within 100 miles of the store. Dishes will be dead simple, Vongerichten promises—mostly ones he makes for his own family. "We want to do what Alice Waters did in the 1970s," he says. "Handwritten menus, changing daily, seasonal food." Chef de cuisine Dan Kluger won't churn his own butter, but he will make his own yogurt: They had a test batch in the oven when I stopped by yesterday. Pictures after the jump.

 

[More]

Cocktails

Big Star in Chicago

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When I vacationed in Chicago last weekend, my first stop was star chef Paul Kahan’s latest bar and taqueria, Big Star. The large rectangular bar that dominates the space holds two of Big Star’s three specialties: some 50-odd bourbons and a couple dozen tequilas. The other specialty comes from the kitchen: tacos—hundreds of tacos.

Tapping along to a Loretta Lynn record, I elbowed my way to the bar to order a drink, from a list conceived by the team from the adjacent cocktail haven The Violet Hour. I started with a San Antonio Sling, a bracing combination of tequila, St-Germain and grapefruit. I followed that with the Hud, an Old Fashioned–like lowball heavy on the bourbon and light on the citrus—tangerine, in this case. Then I turned to food. First up was a fondue-like casserole of rajas chiles, house-made chorizo and cheese. A quartet of tacos followed: lamb, al pastor (marinated pork) and my two favorites, poblano with queso (cheese) and pork belly. The food was delicious, and with nothing exceeding five dollars, also a bargain.

When the weather gets warmer, Big Star will offer a huge alfresco dining area. As long as the music remains louder than the nearby El train, Big Star will be a party few will want to leave.

Cocktails

Cocktails for a Cause

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benefit

© Citymeals-on-Wheels
All-star food-and-cocktail pairings for a good cause.

 

In NYC, the Surrey Hotel’s awesome new Bar Pleiades is hosting a spectacular pairing event tomorrow (Wednesday, January 20). Here are three great reasons to stop by:

1)   Mixologist extraordinaire Cameron Bogue, formerly the bar genius at Daniel Boulud’s Vancouver outpost of DB Bistro Moderne, will be making excellent winter cocktails, including a warming brandy shaken with roasted butternut squash puree and Meyer lemon juice.
2)    Look for bar snacks from Café Boulud’s ultratalented chef Gavin Kaysen and guest chefs George Mendes of NYC’s Aldea, Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of L.A.’s meat-centric Animal and Nate Appleman of the forthcoming Pulino's Bar and Pizzeria.
3)    Ticket proceeds benefit Citymeals-on-Wheels. Click here to eat and drink well, while contributing to a good cause.

Restaurants

Dovetail's Haute Onion

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john

© Dovetail
Dovetail chef John Fraser



I’ve eaten some porktastic dishes already this year, including the heart-stopping pig’s trotter at the Breslin and Maialino’s excellent “malfatti al Maialino,” malfatti pasta topped with a suckling-pig ragù. But surprisingly, I’ve been leaving most of my meals gushing over a vegetable rather than a meat dish. My most recent vegetable love affair was at Dovetail. The supertalented chef, John Fraser, recently reopened the place after a renovation and expansion and has also added some very clever new dishes to the menu. The one that I dreamed of when I went home that night was, of all things, an onion. Fraser takes Vidalia onions, halves them and then (leaving the skin on) leafs them out, layer by layer, spreading a little butter and Perigord truffles between each layer. He then pieces it all back together before baking it in a salt crust as if it were fish. The result is tender, caramelized onion deliciousness, garnished with maple brown butter, hazelnuts, frisée and mache. If the blooming onion is the height of trashy onion goodness, then this is the pinnacle of haute onion brilliance.

Menus

2010 Vegetable Obsession

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meringues

© Aldea
George Mendes turns beets into a delicious meringue.

 

I’ve already heard declarations that “the Great Pork Decade has ended”, and as carnivorous foodies prepare to crown the next It beast for the coming decade, my hope is for vegetables to rival—if not surpass—meat as chefs’ newest obsession. Already, one of my most remarkable dishes of the new year was a vegetable-centric dish: George Mendes’s brilliant beet meringue at Aldea in NYC. Mendes cleverly juices fresh red beets, adds egg white powder and aerates it; he then dehydrates the mixture overnight at 145 degrees before topping the bite-size meringues with crème fraîche and American Hackleback caviar. Though just an amuse-bouche, Mendes twisted my perception of what a beet can be in terms of flavor and texture. And in today’s New York Times Dining section, Melissa Clark praised the unglamorous rutabaga and provides a delicious-sounding recipe that I plan to make this weekend. Maybe 2010 will be the year that some ordinary vegetables reach pork bun or fried chicken status.

Chefs

Preview: Chicago's Grahamwich

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At Food & Wine, we’ve been forever astonished at the creativity of Graham Elliot Bowles (or at least, we've been amazed by him since 2004, when we named him a Best New Chef). Now comes word that the awesome Chicago chef is expanding from his namesake restaurant, Graham Elliot, and opening a new place this spring. Grahamwich, as the name suggests, will focus on hot and cold sandwiches like braised pork belly and hoisin mayo on a Hawaiian roll; for dessert, grilled peaches with almond streusel on Wonder bread. Homemade soda flavors will include orange-cardamom and galangal-ginger ale; the seasonally focused soft serve ice creams will have toppings like Pop Rocks and dehydrated berries. There’s no delivery just yet (there isn't even a concrete opening date for the place), but GEB has the genius idea to deploy bicycle messengers armed with fresh-made Grahamwiches to key locations (think Wrigley Field after a Cubs game; Grant Park after Lollapalooza). Could this be the eco version of truck food?

Restaurants

Is Chicken Skin the New Bacon?

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While visiting my parents outside Philadelphia over the holidays, I met up with restaurant critic Joy Manning for a Philly restaurant crawl. At Fish—chef Mike Stollenwerk’s second restaurant (the first is the diminutive Little Fish)— I loved the perfectly cooked skate (nicely crusted outside and moist within) served with golden brown spaetzle and a lush parmesan-truffle sauce. But our fishless starter—an otherwise ordinary beet salad—really struck me because of its garnish: crisp bits of chicken skin scattered like croutons.

Since winning Top Chef Season 2, Ilan Hall has talked about the deliciousness of chicken skin. Now, he’s getting all kinds of press for the gribenes sandwich—essentially a BLT with chicken skin standing in for the bacon—that he serves at his new LA spot, The Gorbals.

And what trend would be complete without a David Chang restaurant to legitimize it? Crispy chicken skin garnishes hand-torn pasta with escargot sausage at NYC's still-impossible-to-get-into Momofuku Ko. (Plus David recently created Turkey Cracklings to accompany Turkey Breast with Ginger-Scallion Sauce in F&W's Thanksgiving Leftovers Challenge.)

Another fabulous recipe: chicken tacos from F&W's Marcia Kiesel with a crispy skin garnish.



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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.