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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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More Notes from the NYC Wine & Food Festival

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© Lou Manna
Rocco DiSpirito

My colleague Kate Krader recently blogged about her three highlights from last weekend's New York City Wine & Food Festival.  I'm going to add two more to the list.

* My friend Cricket Azima taught a kids' cooking class on Saturday, part of the Kids Get Cooking! segment of the festival.  She deftly led 50 kids (some even clad in chef jackets) in making panzanella.  Nothing beats seeing a bunch of kids happily dicing veggies, all yelling "Mangia, mangia, mangia!" ("Eat, eat, eat!" in Italian) in unison. 

* On Sunday, Rocco DiSpirito cracked jokes during his culinary demo, as he shared secrets for making over comfort foods from his latest book, Now Eat This!  Rocco related how he wanted to find a way to have real fried chicken, while cutting out a lot of the fat: "Who needs another baked chicken recipe?" he said.  He consulted Harold McGee, father of all things scientific in the kitchen, and discovered that less time in oil = less fat absorbed. So, he came up with the idea to poach chicken in broth until almost cooked through, dunk it in the requisite buttermilk bath and flour coating, then flash-fry it very quickly in hot oil.  Chicken that's crispy and lower in fat: genius!

Restaurants

Barbara Lynch Gets Fancy in Boston

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© Justin Ide

For the past few years, prolific chef Barbara Lynch had been telling me about her idea for a fine dining restaurant to add to her mini Boston empire. It would make you want to put on your Manolos and new Lanvin dress. It would be elegant without being stuffy. And it would be French. Last week I finally got to experience what took five years to realize. Menton, named for a tiny French village, is next to two other great Lynch spots, Drink and Sportello, in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood. The fabulous space is glamorous without being at all girly. Designed by Jeffrey and Cheryl Kates (they’ve designed everything from Lynch’s home kitchen to her restaurants No.9 Park and Stir) it has beautiful touches like Ted Muehling candlesticks and a Murano glass chandelier that hangs above the silver leather reception. The monochromatic paintings were created by Matt McClure, an American artist and former No. 9 Park bartender who now lives in Burgundy. The food from young Lynch prodigy Colin Lynch (no relation) is outstanding: refined, flavorful, unexpected. Highlights of the chef’s tasting menu included a butter soup studded with chunks of lobster and topped with caviar and a touch of honey (excellent with a glass of Champagne) and kataifi-wrapped langoustines with pickled rhubarb and pumpkin seed oil. Lynch has taken Boston’s fine dining scene to a new level. As dramatic as the dining room is, I hope I can land a seat at the chef’s table on my next visit. The glass-fronted room looks out on the stainless steel Molteni kitchen and is done up in malachite wallpaper with a huge silver banquette and is definitely the best seat in the house.

Wine

Highlights: New York City Wine & Food Festival

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© Joshua David Stein
Andrew Zimmern and Michael White in action at Carts in the Parc

On the CBS Early Show the morning after the close of the spectacular/crazy/non-stop New York City Wine & Food Festival, Bobby Flay said he couldn’t pick a highlight. I sympathize – there was a lot to choose from. But I did manage to pick my 3 favorite brand new (and parties) events from NYCWFF.

*Sommelier Showdown
– On Saturday morning, the country's best (and it would seem most hungover) sommeliers, plus some adventurous wine fans, congregated at Del Posto for a superfun blind-tasting contest, complete with elimination rounds, performances by new wine-rapping star Justin Warner and a big win by Bar Boulud’s Michael Madrigale.

*The Cosmopolitan After Party
– Yes, I was excited for a late-night party from the opening-soon Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (I’m partial to any party that has the prefix "after"). And this was pretty much the kind of party I dream about — superb sushi from Blue Ribbon, no line and great drinks at the bar, good DJ, sweet rooftop option and an old-school photo booth that let you choose black-and-white or color (always b&w).  
 
*Carts in the ParcAndrew Zimmern, F&W’s new favorite TV food star, played host to a genius afternoon party at the very cool, just opened FoodParc and invited 24 of his favorite food trucks to park there. In less than five minutes I managed to eat a killer tongue slider from chef Michael White, a Biryani Cart superspicy kati roll and a Treats Truck peanut-butter cupcake. Eater’s Joshua David Stein has more hilarious highlights.

Restaurants

Big Numbers for SOS Fund-Raising Dinner

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© Ellen Silverman
Key Players from Harvest Dinner Dream Team

Earlier, we chronicled the debut of Gramercy Tavern's  fantastic, but only-available-as-a-special-at-lunch burger (with homemade burger, bun, everything). Now here's more good—in fact great—news from Gramercy. Their recent Autumn Harvest Dinner, which featured chefs like Grant Achatz from Chicago's Alinea and Sean Brock from Charleston's McCrady's cooking alongside GT's Michael Anthony and pastry chef Nancy Olson, raised an amazing $253,000 for Share Our Strength. Among the highlights: Achatz's Pheasant with Apple Cider and Autumn Fragrance, which came with this advice from the waiter: Don't eat the hay ride (the leaves and grass in the dish's outer bowl). And chef Daniel Humm raising several thousand dollars by spontaneously offering a dinner at the chef' table of his outstanding Eleven Madison Park restaurant.

Restaurants

Another Danny Meyer Burger Comes to NYC

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© Brian Hill
Gramercy Tavern's brand new burger

When it comes time to build the Burger Hall of Fame in New York City, restaurateur Danny Meyer will undoubtedly have his own wing. Back in the day, his Union Square Cafe put tuna burgers on the map; then there's his little chain of Shake Shacks. (In fact, I propose that the BHOF be erected in Madison Park, next to the original Shake Shack.) Now, another Meyer spot is stepping up with a super deluxe burger—Gramercy Tavern. Here’s what chef Michael Anthony does to make GT burgers so stupendous: he butchers, then grinds the beef in-house; sets it on a house-baked bun with cloth-bound cheddar and, among other things, three kinds of onions (wood-grilled charred onions, pickled onions and fresh onions), house-made ketchup and smoked bacon mayo. What with all the in-house work, the burger is a lunchtime-only special, and it might last only until the heirloom tomatoes (another burger garnish) go out of season. So I’d get there soon. And hope that the next order of business is GT’s version of a Shake Shack frozen custard concrete.

And.. here's more just out good—in fact great—news from Gramercy Tavern. Their recent Autumn Harvest Dinner, which brought in chefs like Grant Achatz from Chicago's Alinea and Sean Brock from Charleston's McCrady's raised an amazing $253,000 for Share Our Strength.

Cocktails

Highlights from NYC’s Brewer’s Bash

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© Evan Miller
Brewer's Bash at Eleven Madison Park.



I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to end NYC Craft Beer Week than closing down Eleven Madison Park (which happens to have one of the best craft beer lists in the city) to throw a crazy beer-themed party. Tables were removed from the dining room; picnic tables were added outside and two bands were brought in to jam. Six awesome craft brewers were pouring their beers alongside awesome beer-friendly food from chef Daniel Humm.

Here, the highlights:
*Going back for seconds, thirds and fourths of Humm’s ridiculously delicious fried chicken and decadent foie gras.   

*Fantastic brews from Ommegang, Goose Island, Victory, Captain Lawrence, Allagash and Brooklyn Brewery.  

*Sampling beer cocktails made by Eleven Madison Park’s mixologists with A Voce chef Missy Robbins. My favorite was the Ceylon Sophie, a mix of Goose Island Sophie Farmhouse Ale, amontillado sherry, lemon juice and ceylon cinnamon.

*Hitting up the cask ale tasting led by Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver with L’Artusi’s Joe Campanale and Kevin Garry.

Menus

Santa Barbara Cheat Sheet Part I

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A recent long weekend in and around Santa Barbara turned up some awesome food, quirky new tasting rooms and, of course, phenomenal wines. Here, my cheat sheet:

*Nothing makes me happier than a great breakfast (particularly after a morning surfing the 54-degree waters in Ventura). Locals hit Jeannine’s for the Stumptown coffee, eggs Benedict and a chance to potentially see star surfer Kelly Slater, who is known to drop by after a surf, and D’Angelo Bread for the most perfect triple berry scones.

* Doug Margerum of Margerum Wine Company is back at the helm of Wine Cask (he ran the wine shop–restaurant–wine bar from 1981 to 2007) with a new partner, Mitchell Sjerven, owner of Bouchon and Seagrass restaurants. The wine bar serves seasonal, local dishes like mushroom risotto, roasted beets and goat cheese and duck confit flatbread. There is, of course, an awesome wine list. Doug gave us a taste of a special Margerum M5 Wine Cask blend he’s working on just for the restaurant. The Wine Cask tasting room will most likely become a tasting room for Margerum wines.

*Emma and Justin West, the talented young husband-and-wife team behind the tiny two-year-old Julienne restaurant are getting a ton of buzz for their daring (by Santa Barbara standards) farm-to-table food. The restaurant uses all local seafood from boats out of the Santa Barbara and Ventura harbors; ranch-raised meats (they frequently butcher whole animals in-house) and local produce. Menu highlights include the braised lamb tongue with shaved radishes and roasted garlic; grilled squid with pickled French beans and radicchio, and abalone with potatoes, celery and onion in a saffron-sea broth.

Check back tomorrow for wine country highlights.

Cocktails

Highlights: Day 2 Le Grand Fooding

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© kate krader
Le Fooding celebrities Jeffrey Steingarten and Daniel Patterson.

Saturday night of Le Grand Fooding, the irreverent food event featuring chefs from NYC and San Francisco at PS1, had a different cast of characters, and its very own highlights.

Most-Worth-It Line/Heros of the Night
: Pizza Moto, the Brooklyn-based mobile pizza oven, made pretty much perfect margarita pies for a crowd that stretched across the length of PS 1. And they did so all night, making pizzas way past closing to feed all the event staff.

Celebrity Sighting: Vogue’s Jeffrey Steingarten who camped out for most of the night near San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson, where he critiqued the hay Patterson used to smoke his vegetables.

After Party: At the terrific nearby bar Dutch Kills, Jim Meehan and his crew from PDT previewed a new double shake-to-high-five that you might see if anyone ever does a remake of the movie Cocktail.

Added Benefit: All net proceeds from Le Grand Fooding went to benefit Action Against Hunger.

 

Cocktails

Highlights: Le Grand Fooding

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Aziz Ansari on line for fried chicken at Le Fooding.

For anyone who didn’t score a ticket to the two-day all-out foodie extravaganza at PS1 in Long Island City, NY, it’s hard to understand the allure of Le Grand Fooding. The lines are long, even by NYC Shake Shack standards. The NY vs SF theme was played out nine months ago. (A he said/he said blog between Momofuku’s David Chang and Daniel Patterson, chef at San Francisco’s remarkable Coi restaurant, devolved into nothing; Patterson said Chang was his best friend there.) So why is it such a super fun event? My main theory is that less, not more, top-flight chefs, pizza-makers and mixologists make them all the more memorable. Here are a few other reasons I loved Day 1. My Highlights of Day 2 coming tomorrow.

Most-Worth-It Line: For fried chicken, from Seersucker in Brooklyn, NY.  Some people said they clocked an hour waiting. Still, the chicken was outstanding, crispy and hot and well spiced.

Celebrity Sightings
: Jake Gyllenhaal (in full beard camouflage); Aziz Ansari, who smartly positioned friends in every line so he got to taste everything, then left to go to the secret Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs concert.

MVP: Jim Meehan, the brains behind F&W Cocktail books. He patiently shook about a million Belvedere Parkside Fizz cocktails to fortify the line-standers.

Menus

Preview: New York Craft Beer Week

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© 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.

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