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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


NYC's Best New Outdoor Dining


© Diane Bondareff

There aren't any of Southwest Airlines' famous rapping flight attendants at The Southwest Porch, the airline-sponsored pop-up dining patio in New York City's Bryant Park. Instead, there are some great new sandwiches from 'wichcraft, the popular Bryant Park kiosk that's part of the Craft family of restaurants.

“We thought it'd be fun to do interpretations of iconic foods from each city on Southwest Airlines' new flight routes from New York,” says Sisha Ortúza, 'wichcraft's chef and co-owner (with star chef Tom Colicchio). Ortúzar came up with a menu that includes an NYC meatball parm sub, a Chicago bratwurst with sweet sautéed onions and (my favorite) a Baltimore soft-shell-crab sandwich with watercress and a tartar sauce made with lemon aioli and house-made pickles.

Now if only Southwest would offer the sandwiches on their flights, I might be inspired to bust a rhyme—although a couple of the ginger margaritas at The Southwest Porch might do the trick.


Daniel Humm's Zurich


© Ratha Tep
Confiserie Sprüngli on Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse

I just came back from a too-short trip to Zurich, Switzerland. For my culinary tour guide (in spirit, anyway), I enlisted the help of the astoundingly talented Zurich-born chef Daniel Humm, who earned a Michelin star at the very young age of 24 at Gasthaus zum Gupf, about an hour from the city. Humm has since won another rare accolade—an F&W Best New Chef award in 2005—and now heads the elegant Eleven Madison Park in New York City. He still finds time to return to his native Switzerland, as we wrote about in our July issue—and fortunately, for me, he also had time to share his favorite spots in his native city:


Vorderer Sternen Grill Humm says this small outdoor stand has the best bratwurst in the city. It's also refreshingly unpretentious: My delectably moist St. Galler bratwurst came wrapped in paper along with a large, crusty roll and plastic container of spicy mustard (22 Theaterstrasse; 011-41-44-251-49-49).

Confiserie Sprüngli The city has several outposts of this famous confectionary, but its grand flagship is on the Paradeplatz (across the street from the much, much grander Credit Suisse headquarters). I couldn't find the truffes-brioche Humm recommended but I loved the truffes du jour, filled with oozy salted caramel (Bahnhofstrasse 21; 011-41-44-224-46-46).

Restaurant Obere Fluehgasse According to Humm, locals love this tiny out-of-the-way spot for Swiss specialties like Zurich geschnetzeltes (veal cutlets served with rösti). Unfortunately, the restaurant was more out-of-way than I expected—south along the pristine Limmatquai, then up a very steep hill—and the kitchen was closed by the time I got there. Duly noted for my next trip there (Flühgasse 69; 011-41-44-381-111-10).


The Next It Sandwich? Sea Urchin


Chefs have proclaimed pork their favorite sandwich filling, creating everything from new takes on banh mi to messy pork-belly sliders. But recently I've been spotting uni (sea urchin) on sandwiches all around New York City. Uni-obsessed chef Michael White is serving sea-urchin-and-lardo crostini at his new seafood restaurant, Marea. Chef George Mendes has created a stellar sea urchin toast with cauliflower cream for his menu at the recently opened Aldea. And the Chelsea tapas spot El Quinto Pino does a clever sea urchin panino.


© Melissa Hom
Uni-obsessed chef Michael White.



Healthy Eating in Harlem with François Payard


© Baltz & Company
Francois Payard at Hans Christian Andersen Complex.


© Baltz & Company

Last night, legendary New York City pastry chef François Payard headed from his lavish Upper East Side Payard Patisserie & Bistro to the Hans Christian Andersen Complex, an elementary school in Harlem, to give a vegan cooking demo to kids and their families. The event was sponsored by the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food. Yes, the French chef seems like an unlikely proponent of animal-free food, but his marketing director (and now girlfriend), Fernanda Capobianco, is a devoted vegetarian, and since they've started working together, he's been cutting back on meat in his diet and experimenting with vegan dishes.

For the easiest pizza ever, he showed everyone how to spread tomato sauce (store-bought is fine, he said) on whole-wheat pita and topped it with ribbons of basil and crumbled tofu to mimic the cheese. Then he made a quick chocolate mousse with soy milk, whipped silken tofu and melted chocolate while batting away excited little fingers. Even I, as a dairy lover, thought the mousse was delicious and even more intensely chocolaty than a milk-based version. Through next month, François will donate $1 from every Soy Chocolate Mousse sold at New York City's Payard to the Coalition. 



Burlington, Vermont Peaks


This past weekend, while my cohorts were riding gondolas above Aspen at the Food & Wine Classic, I was off climbing mountains around Burlington, Vermont. To make sure I was at my athletic peak, I fueled up on the best local food I could find. Here’s how to follow my culinary regimen:

Climbing Mt. Mansfield  

Pre-Hike Boost: American Flatbread's blisteringly hot pizza with house-made sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized onions.  
Post-Hike Recovery: Crispy-skinned duck breast and hanger steak swirled in horseradish aioli from F&W Best New Chef 2008 Eric Warnstedt at Hen of the Wood in Waterbury.

Climbing Mt. Abraham
Pre-Hike Boost: Heavenly honey-glazed doughnuts from Dinky Donuts at the Burlington farmer’s market, followed by softly poached eggs over crisp potato rösti at Waitsfield's The Green Cup.
Post-Hike Recovery: The Alchemist's superjuicy blue-cheese burger and a Lightweight, the perfect pale lager for rehydration, in Waterbury.

Hiking to Lake Champlain at Shelburne Farms

Pre-Hike Boost: Soft, sugary blueberry scones from Burlington's City Market.
Post-Hike Recovery: A farmhouse grilled cheese from the Shelburne Farms cart with a salad of just-picked local greens.  


Paul Kahan's Next Project


© Michael Stryder
Kahan and Madia

If there's one guy who was stalked by the meat-focused 2009 Best New Chefs at the F&W Classic in Aspen, it was '99 BNC Paul Kahan (yeah, Momofuku’s Dave Chang got stalked, too). Everyone, including Frank Bruni, loves, loves Kahan’s newest Chicago spot, Publican, which spotlights pork and beer (and, to a lesser extent, oysters). If you were paying attention to Time Out Chicago’s blog last October, you know that Kahan has yet another project in the works: He and his excellent partner, Donnie Madia, have taken charge of the former Pontiac in Wicker Park, notable for its huge outdoor patio bar. And if you were shamelessly eavesdropping one late night while Kahan talked to some of his BNC stalkers, you’d know that he he's decided on a concept for how to reinvent the place. Here’s what Kahan, who once upon a time worked at Chicago’s Topolobampo, had to say: “I'm gonna serve tacos and cheap American beer in an old gas station in Wicker Park.”


St. Louis Food Crawl


When I lived in St. Louis 10 years ago, the food scene wasn’t inspired. But on a recent visit I ate some seriously tasty new food, including from F&W Best New Chef 2008 Gerard Craft, who’s got expansion on his mind (more on that later). Some highlights:

Pi (6144 Delmar Blvd.; 314-727-6633) and The Good Pie (3137 Olive St.; 314-289-9391)
Pi serves cheesy deep-dish and thin-crust (my favorite) pizzas on crunchy cornmeal crusts. The Good Pie’s wood-burning oven turns out perfectly bubbly, charred and chewy Neapolitan pizzas.

Bobo Noodle House (278 N. Skinker Blvd.; 314-863-7373)
It’s best known for wok-fried noodles and pho, but the secret is its addictive rolls—crispy pork spring rolls and minty shrimp summer rolls, served with a chile dipping sauce.

Sidney Street Cafe (2000 Sidney St.; 314-771-5777) and Monarch (7401 Manchester Rd.; 314-644-3995)
These two local favorites have been revitalized, thanks to enthusiastic young chefs. At Sidney Street, chef Kevin Nashan (who trained at Spain’s Martín Berasategui and NYC’s Daniel) serves elevated dishes like five-spice halibut over ramp-and-fiddlehead risotto. Monarch’s Josh Galliano (who most recently worked at An American Place) utilizes local products, like the peas and chanterelles in a rich carbonara. 

Stuffed, I couldn’t make it to the one last spot I wanted to try—Pappy’s Smokehouse (3106 Olive St.; 314-535-4340), which I’m told has the best barbecue and is worth the sometimes hour-long wait. Not to worry, I’ll be back soon. 


Rick Bayless's Goa


© Rick Bayless
Goa chef Urbano de Rego

Chicago star chef Rick Bayless recently toured India, Tweeting constantly. Last week, I shared his best Mumbai and Kerala Tweets; now, his top Tweets from Goa:

Mapusa food market n Goa. Stellar, teeming. Chile stalls, fab masala/spice stalls, fresh/dried fish, beans (bl-eyed pea family). Almost Mexico

Chef Rego teaches us Goan shrimp curry with tamarind and kokum


Drank nice bottle of Grover La Reserve from INDIA. Cab/Shiraz blend.


Rick Bayless's Kerala


© Rick Bayless
An elephant in Kerala

Star chef Rick Bayless just came back from an eight-day food tour through India with his family, Tweeting all the way. Yesterday, I shared a few of his best Mumbai Tweets; today, highlights from Kerala:

Headed to Kerala spice plantation. First a quick stop to help Mahout [elephant trainer] wash temple elephants in river!

Cooking class meal: chicken curry, cabbage thorin, tamarind fish curry w manioc, yogurt curry w Kerala rice, paratha [Plantation Home Stay, Mundackal Estate; 011-91-485-257-0717]

Kochi airport security: chiles are contraband, could be used as a weapon. Lost all my chiles from Mumbai market.

Check this blog on Monday for Bayless's Tweets from Goa.


Rick Bayless's Mumbai


© Rick Bayless
Mumbai's Crawford Market

Star chef Rick Bayless (part of F&W's first-ever class of Best New Chefs in 1988) of Chicago's Frontera Grill and Topolobampo is busy putting the finishing touches on his newest Mexican spot, Xoco, and participating in Bravo's Top Chef Masters. But before all that, he took an eight-day food tour through India with his family—and Tweeted his way all through it. Here, some of his highlights from Mumbai:

Mumbai 1st imprssn: like sprawling Veracruz City w scent of dried spice n air.
Staying@Taj Mahal Palace&Towers.Gorgeous;sad much still clsd

Explored Mumbai's Crawford Mkt on hottest day o yr. Air so thick, hard 2 breathe. Salvation: alfonso mango seasn.

Hip Ind Fusion rest: Indigo,fave o Bollywood stars. Pasta w Bombay duck (that's fish),squid, pak choy, Ind herbs

Check this blog tomorrow for Bayless’s Tweets from Kerala.

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