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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


How to Drink All 34 Cocktails at LuckyRice's Opening Night Cocktails


© Richard Patterson
LuckyRice Opening Cocktails 2010

We’re in the midst of LuckyRice, the NYC festival that celebrates so many facets of Asian cooking, from a Night Market in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood tonight to the big gala dinner on Saturday night, La Fête Chinoise, with Daniel Boulud and Susur Lee. (Tickets for some events are still available.) The festival more or less kicked off last night with Opening Cocktails hosted by Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon at the Bowery Hotel. Among the 1,000-person crowd were chefs like WD-50’s Wylie Dufresne and Top Chef star Angelo Sosa, fashion dignitaries like Phillip Lim. And oh-so-many mixologists.

© kate krader
Adam Schuman Demonstrates the Correct Way to Do a Pickleback Shot.

Me, I didn’t try anywhere near the 34 cocktails on offer, but I can vouch for Má Pêche’s Ay Hue (a mix of fried shallot vodka, lime juice and Sriracha hot sauce). I can also speak from experience about Fatty Cue’s self-serve pickleback shots, a creation of bartender Adam Schuman that involves a big bottle of Evan Williams bourbon. But LuckyRice creator Danielle Chang has me beat. Not only did she sample all 34 cocktails, she made it to the LuckyRice after-party at Theatre Bar, where Dave Chang and Inaki Aizpitarte of Paris's Le Chateaubriand were pre-partying for their week of James Beard pop-up dinners.


Top Chefs Cook for Tibet


© Sonam Zoksan
Host chef Eric Ripert, right, with Richard Gere and Laurent Manrique.

Where were so many of New York City’s top chefs last Thursday night? April Bloomfield, Dave Chang, Tom Colicchio, Mark Ladner and Anita Lo, among others, weren’t in their kitchens; were they en route to London to surprise Prince William and Kate Middleton? No, they had joined their friend Eric Ripert, the host chef, to cook at the Tibet Fund’s gala dinner at the Pierre Hotel to celebrate 30 years of great work for the people of Tibet. And those chefs were cooking fantastic food right at the long dinner tables. I got to sit at Bloomfield’s table—close enough that she could hand me my sublime three-bean soup with spring vegetables (you’ll soon see it on the menu at The Breslin). If I’d sat at Ladner’s table, he would have handed me hen-and-egg braciole (and asked, “Which came first...?”); and if I’d sat at Chang’s table I would have had Momofuku’s shiitake buns.

© kate krader
Here's How Close I was to April Bloomfield (with her plaque from Tibet Fund).

I already felt lucky to be eating Bloomfield's just-served soup. Then one of the night’s honorees, Richard Gere, told a story about a Tibetan meal he once had that started with a two-hour prayer (he said he stopped being hungry after the first 20 minutes). I asked Ripert, who is a Buddhist, if it would be hard for him to have two-hour prayers before meals. “Maybe,” he said, laughing.


Highlights of Animal’s James Beard Pop-Up


© Nigel Parry

Kudos to the James Beard Foundation. They’re doing such a great job of using the about-to-be-played-out concept of pop-up restaurants to promote their big gala awards on May 9. Last week, they featured F&W Best New Chef 2002 Laurent Gras; next week comes Paris rock-star chef Inaki Aizpitarte of Le Chateaubriand. And last night I got to see Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the heroes of L.A.'s Animal restaurant, serve dinner at long communal tables in a pretty room in Chelsea Market (home to all the Beard pop-ups).

© kate krader
Animal's crazy foie gras biscuit at their Beard pop-up dinner.

Chef Tom Colicchio was in the kitchen and comedian Aziz Ansari was in the house for the night. Shook and Dotolo's menu ranged from yellowtail sashimi with garlic mojo and sunchoke chips (on the menu at their new fish spot, Son of a Gun) and an outrageous foie gras biscuit with maple sausage gravy, plus a new Animal dish, Thai BBQ quail with cashews and yogurt. (On Friday night, when they team up with another amazing chef team, Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronova of Frankies Spuntino, the menu will be totally different.)

Speaking of pop-ups, if you’re lucky you can see Ansari doing impromptu sketches at comedy clubs around the city. And get an early look at his upcoming summer movie 30 Minutes or Less; trailers will start running in theatres this weekend.


The Dutch: Late-Night vs. Regular Menu


© Jacque Burke
Dutch owners Andrew Carmellini (Dutch), Luke Ostrom (The) and Josh Pickard.

The paper is off the windows at The Dutch! Chef Andrew Carmellini’s much-anticipated (by me and, anyway) restaurant in Manhattan’s Soho officially started offering its late-night menu at 11 p.m. last night. The crowd included chefs like Corton’s Paul Liebrandt, Dell’anima’s Joe Campanale and Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, all the way from Animal in L.A. (according to Carmellini, he did 150 covers that first hour). Word has it The Dutch will start serving its regular dinner menu very, very soon. Lunch is coming after that, breakfast and brunch after that, and one day, look for a breakfast take-away counter at the Prince Street entrance. Meanwhile, a few observations:
* The place to sit in the front room is the long wood table, aka "the playpen" (speaking from experience, more than a dozen people is very tight fit). In the swanky back room, the black leather banquettes are especially cool.
* The regular menu isn’t so different than the late-night menu—no matter what time you're eating, you can and should have the scrumptious fried-oyster sandwiches, eggplant dip with potato chips and smoked-ricotta ravioli and fried chicken with ridiculously good biscuits. Go earlier, and you can also have rabbit potpie and assorted steaks and rib chops; on the late-night menu, there’s a cheddar-cheese burger and something awesome called “sloppy duck.” For a side-by-side menu comparison, though, you’ll have to ask the sister of one of the owners; he allegedly made her eat the regular menu and then the late night one back-to-back.
* If you can’t get to The Dutch in the next little while, amuse yourself by watching the video on its website (and note that Carmellini wrote and performed the soundtrack). Right now, you can also watch a funnily absorbing pie-making video; tomorrow comes the steak video outtakes. And of course, there are the awesome recipes Carmellini did to preview The Dutch in the November 2010 issue of Food & Wine.


Eleven Madison Park Geeks Out on Beer


I always feel a bit sheepish when I tell the sommelier at a high-end restaurant that I’d prefer beer to wine. Luckily, the brilliant team at NYC’s Eleven Madison Park is determined to elevate beer’s status in the fine dining scene. My beer expert friend, writer Christian DeBenedetti, recently directed me to some news he’d read on Brooklyn Brewery’s blog about its beer collaboration with Eleven Madison Park.

The news prompted me to call Eleven Madison Park general manager Will Guidara to get the scoop. “The role of beer in fine dining needs to change,” says Guidara. “Restaurants of our caliber always focus on wine but we’re also intensely focused on cocktails, coffee, tea and right now we’re amidst a full-on beer onslaught.” Kirk Kelewae, Eleven Madison Park’s resident beer expert, along with chef Daniel Humm and Brooklyn Brewery's Garret Oliver, are creating two barrel-aged, bottle-conditioned large-format beers. Nine Pin Brown Ale is named after the game played in the story “Rip Van Winkle” (both beers will be aged in Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon barrels). Local 11 will be a barrel-aged version of Brooklyn Brewery’s popular Local 2. The designer Milton Glaser will create the labels. Guidara says the beer will be exclusive to Eleven Madison Park, with maybe a few cases going to other friends in the industry.

Both beers will make their debut at a special Eleven Madison Park beer dinner June 26, which will also feature other unique beers that Oliver has been experimenting with, like a beer aged on lees from Riesling. “We sold half the tickets within an hour of announcing the event,” says Guidara. Only about 20 tickets are left. Email for a seat.


Richard Blais's Top Pork Recipes


Our fantastic, new editorial assistant in the food department, Maggie Mariolis, recently learned some pork-cooking tips from Top Chef: All-Stars winner Richard Blais. Here, she reports:

Richard Blais (sans liquid-nitrogen tank) enthused about pork's versatility as he seared, sauced and plated some delicious dishes at the Pork Inspiration Café, a one-day pop-up sponsored by the National Pork Board. Like my Tennessee-raised brother said, on a visit to a nude beach in Greece, "This is hawwwg heaven!" Blais' Ham & Herb Schnitzel with 6-Minute Egg (actually, six minutes and 37 seconds exactly, he joked) costarred sweet whipped maple syrup that was perfect with the crispy, breaded slice of ham and runny-yolked egg. For the pear puree that glazed his pork chop, he used the supersmart trick of swaddling the peeled pear in plastic wrap and popping it in the microwave to cook. The man knows what he's doing, and apparently so does the the National Pork Board, a marketing organization promoting US pork consumption, which used this event to kick off its new Pork Be Inspired campaign. For every dish served at the pop-up and every "Like" clicked on its Facebook page, the Pork Board donates one serving of pork to a local food bank. All of Blais' recipes are on, including the we're-not-messing-around-here Bacon Ice Cream.


How to Celebrate a World's Best Restaurant Win


© Ditte Isager
World's #1 chef Rene Redzepi.

How exciting to be in London for the big announcement of S. Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants. And hear that Rene Redzepi’s Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, was once again #1. And that Manhattan’s Eleven Madison Park was one of the biggest climbers, up 26 places to #24—hurray for chef Daniel Humm & team!
But I wasn’t in London to hear the announcement and see those crazy celebrating chefs. Instead I relied on my friend Terry Zarikian, the creative director of NYC’s Bar Basque, to tell me the highlights. Here’s what he reports:
Yes, for the second year in a row, Noma took first place. For me, what’s truly exciting is the brand-new #2: the splendid El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain (I predict it will be #1 next year). And a new #3, also from Spain: Mugaritz in San Sebastian (Andoni Luis Aduriz deserves it after all he did to reopen after their huge fire). Another San Sebastian restaurant, Arzak, came in at #8, making SS the only city with two restaurants in the top 10. Of course I’m proud; I’ve been promoting Basque chefs for years.
Arzak’s owner, Juan Mari Arzak, also received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for being the father of modern Basque cooking (his daughter, chef Elena Arzak, presented the award to him). How did he celebrate? With plenty of gin martinis at London's Sanderson hotel, followed by fish and chips (what else would the world’s best chefs eat in London?).


48-Hour Houston Food Tour



© Jen Murphy
Food and hoops in Houston.

When I visited Houston last weekend to watch the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships, I knew I’d be running into some hoops stars. What I didn’t expect was that I’d be hanging with so many rock stars and chefs. Here, some highlights:

*The city of Houston organized an unbelievable line-up of free concerts in Discovery Park to coincide with the Final Four. The Kings of Leon put on a rockin' show Saturday night. Afterward, we shared a bottle of 2007 Dominus Estate Napanook with the band and reminisced about the first time we heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Nathan Followill, an F&W subscriber, also told me about his special infused-butter recipe.

*F&W Best New Chef Bryan Caswell took us to what may be the greatest Texas dive bar, the Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club, for some live music and Texas-two-step lessons. Late-night, we feasted on enchiladas and margaritas at El Real Tex-Mex Café, which Caswell just opened with Robb Walsh.

* Houston chefs Chris Shepherd of Catalan Food and Wine, Monica Pope of T’afia and Randy Evans of Haven took us on a five-hour ethnic-food crawl. Highlights included charcoal-roasted cabrito (goat) at El Hidalguense, a no-frills Mexican spot; soup dumplings at Fu Fu Café in Chinatown; and goat biryani and stir-fried okra from the great British-Indian restaurant London Sizzler.

*Fort Worth, Texas–based chef Tim Love of the Lonesome Dove and Love Shack was in town to judge the Coach’s Cook-off. He invited us to hang backstage with his friend, country musician Pat Green. Post-show, we had a nose-to-tail dinner at Feast that ended with a stellar dish of crispy roasted pork belly with red cabbage and potato cakes.


Best New Chefs 2011 Party: The Recap


© Sylvain Gaboury/FOOD & WINE
F&W's 2011 Best New Chefs with F&W's Dana Cowin and Chris Grdovic

We now have our official Best New Chefs, Class of 2011! Glasses up for Bowman Brown & Viet Pham (Forage, Salt Lake City); Jason Franey (Canlis, Seattle); Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine, Austin); Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat, Chicago); James Lewis (Bettola, Birmingham, AL); George Mendes (Aldea, New York City); Carlo Mirarchi (Roberta’s, New York City): Joshua Skenes (Saison, San Francisco); Kevin Willmann (Farmhaus, St. Louis); and Ricardo Zarate (Mo-Chica, Los Angeles).

We had a little party at Bohemian National Hall to celebrate those chefs last night, with superstars like former Best New Chefs Wylie Dufresne, Andrew Carmellini and Laurent Gras and non–BNC stars like Aziz Ansari, Kyle MacLachlan and Andrew Zimmern in attendance. More former Best New Chefs, like Jonathan Benno and Rocco DiSpirito, cooked for the party while opera singers rapped for entertainment and later Geoffrey Zakarian's new place the National poured Moscow Mules for the after-party.

© kate krader
F&W Best New Chefs practice for the Irish Car Bomb drinking contest.

We’ve learned a lot about our Best New Chefs in the last few days. Here are some little-known facts about several of them. We won’t name names, but you’ll find answers to most (but definitely not all) of these who-did-what stories in our July Best New Chef issue.

*Which BNC almost drowned off an Australian beach, and had only one thought in his/her head: "I can’t believe the last thing I’ll have eaten is a mediocre falafel sandwich."

*Which BNC could start a side business designing fishing rods?

*Which BNC had an eye-opening culinary moment in “France” at Florida’s Epcot Center?

*Which BNC got his/her start at Benihana?

*Which BNC also worked as a home loan officer for Washington Mutual?

*Which BNC thought it would be a good idea to take the BNC after after-party to New York Dolls (a Manhattan strip club)?

*Which BNC blew away the competition in an Irish Car Bomb (beer with a shot in it) drinking contest at the after-after-party at Fitzpatricks? (For the record, I came in 9th out of 9. And found out later that the winner had a history of winning Club Med chugging contests.)


A Slice of Brooklyn in Berlin



© Jen Murphy
Full-moon water at Little Otik, Berlin.

On a recent trip to Berlin, Food & Wine's plugged-in European correspondent Gisela Williams took me and some of the crew from Tasting Table to one of her favorite new restaurants, Little Otik. The bearded servers, hipster crowd, craft cocktails and seriously awesome, locavore-minded cooking instantly transported me to Williamsburg. I later discovered that the owners, Kevin Avery and Jeffrey Sfire, are Manhattan transplants: Sfire is a DJ and Avery is a former chef at Williamsburg's beloved Diner and Greenpoint's now-closed Queen's Hideaway. When they moved to Berlin two years ago, they caused a buzz with once-a-month dinners for 10 at their Palisaden Supper Club. Last August, they opened Little Otik (named after the Czech surrealist film by Jan and Eva Svankmajerová) in the Kreuzberg neighborhood. Only open Wednesday to Saturday, here are five good reasons even Brooklynites would be happy to make the trip:

1) Little Otik works with a resident hunter who brings in wild game like venison, wild goat, rabbit and the boar Avery uses to make a fantastic ragù with eryngii mushrooms and polenta.

2) Vegetables carry equal weight on the menu, with mains like a chick pea, farro and rapini stew and nearly a half-dozen vegetarian sides like cauliflower with tahini and a killer pickle plate.

3) Avery is a dessert master. Alice Waters might weep over his prune-and-Armagnac ice cream topped with a hazelnut cookie.

4) Its self-published, quarterly fanzine is brilliant and hysterical, sharing Little Otik recipes as well as oddball humor, like food quotes from the '90s sitcom Roseanne.

5) The humor extends to the menu, which offers "full-moon water" (water bottled during the full moon).

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