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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Cocktails

How to Support Gulf Coast Fishermen

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train

© Patrón Tequila
Patrón Tequila Epicurean Express


    
The St. Bernard Project, a Louisiana-based nonprofit that helped rebuild homes after Hurricane Katrina, is now helping the fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill. Their goal is to raise $75,000 to rebuild houses and provide mental health services for fishermen and their families. To raise funds, they’ve partnered with The Patrón Tequila Epicurean Express, a restored 1926 railway car that will be traveling to Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, New Orleans and Los Angeles this month. Top chefs and mixologists from each city will host Patrón-spiked cocktail parties and dinners aboard the train.

Currently in Chicago, the train's next stop is Track 31 in Washington D.C.’s Union Station June 8th and 9th. Louisiana chefs like Brian Landry of Galatoire’s in New Orleans will be teaming up with DC-area stars like Jeff Tunks, Todd Thrasher, David Guas and Robert Wiedmaier to create Southern-inflected menus that will feature seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.

Click here for tickets and future dates.
 
 

Cocktails

Drinking Vodka Cocktails with the Dallas Cowboys

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© Kate Krader
Dallas Cowboys Kyle Kosier and Jason Witten dwarf chef Tim Love

I’ve seen a lot of cocktails recently. After all, F&W's outstanding and just-out Cocktails 2010 required a lot of tasting and testing. Still, my most recent highlight was co-hosting a party at the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Fort Worth, Texas, to launch Belvedere's brand-newest vodka, Pink Grapefruit. How's this for a party, which featured cocktail pairings all the way through dinner?

The Food Texas rock star chef Tim Love making crazy-inspired dishes ranging from pillowy ricotta gnocchi with rattlesnake sausage to Kobe beef cap with crispy fried salsify.
The Cocktails Belvedere’s head mixologist Claire Smith paired all the food with genius, not-too-sweet drinks. That gnocchi, for instance, was served with Cerveza Preparada, a mix of orange vodka, blood orange juice and local micro-brewed wheat beer.
The Guests Local editors, chefs, mixologists. And the Dallas Cowboys! Well, two of them, namely adorable Pro Bowler Jason Witten (the best tight end in the NFC) and guard Kyle Kosier.
The After Party At the funky White Elephant Saloon, complete with shots of Tuaca from their very own Tuaca machine.

Chefs

First Summer BLT

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Black Pig Meat Co.

About a month ago I went to a Sonoma County event and came away with a rare treat: some Black Pig Meat Co. bacon. The company, founded by Sonoma chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Zazu and Bovolo, makes a mean bacon.  They dry-cure heritage-breed, hormone-free pigs for up to three weeks, then finish them off with applewood smoke. The country has long been nuts for swine, using it in everything from cocktails to chocolate, but for me, the only way I was going to eat this bacon was in a BLT. I froze my stash in anticipation of summer tomatoes at the Grand Army Plaza farmer's market in Brooklyn, and this weekend I was rewarded: I only needed two of the thick-cut slices and the thinnest sliver of tomato to make the perfect sandwich. It'll be hard to get me to stray from this classic combo, but these F&W variations on the BLT have definitely caught my eye.

Aspen

Mario's Amazing Aspen Charity Party

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Mario Batali, right, ready to party with Jose Andres.

There are two things that top my wish list for F&W’s upcoming Classic in Aspen 2010. The first is to party with Mario Batali. The second is to try and do something charitable in the middle of all the ridiculous chefs’ demos and wine tastings and general craziness. Well, Mario’s making this very easy for me this year by hosting his second annual T-Bones & Tequila party on Thursday, June 17, to benefit the Mario Batali Foundation for kids. (“I’m excited to be kicking off the Aspen Food & Wine Classic with my kick-ass party,” he says.) Basically, it’s going to be the ultimate house party, and here’s why:

1. It features some of Mario’s best Italian grilling recipes. (Maybe, just maybe, he’ll preview some dishes from his upcoming Eataly market in NYC.)
2. It’s got all kinds of tequila drinks and a tequila-tasting bar.
3. It boasts a musical performance by the inimitable Joe Bastianich, Mario’s business partner and resident wine genius.
4. It takes place at the impossible-to-get-into Two Twelve house.
5. It benefits MBF, Mario’s excellent foundation, which works to ensure that kids are well read, well fed and well cared for.

Tax-deductible tickets for Mario's excellent party are $175. They’re available at mariobatalifoundation.org or by calling 630-618-4756.

Restaurants

Tom Colicchio and the Children of Bellevue

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© Alessandra Bulow
Craft’s morel-stuffed lamb with spring vegetables and ramp vinaigrette

Earlier this week, proud papa Tom Colicchio, chef-owner of Craft Restaurants, showed off pictures of his adorable 9-month-old baby boy Luka while hosting the Children of Bellevue’s Toast to the Children Fundraising Benefit in New York City.

“Seventeen years ago, my first son Dante was born eight weeks early and weighed only 2 pounds, 5 ounces,” he said. “He spent two months in Bellevue Hospital’s neonatal ICU.”

When Colicchio was preparing to take Dante home, he was approached by a social worker who asked him if he had a crib, diapers and air conditioner at home. “I was kind of annoyed at first, but then I asked, 'What if I said no?’ ” After learning that the hospital’s Children of Bellevue program provides assistance to families of in-patient and out-patient children, Colicchio knew he wanted to get involved. Over the past 13 years, he's helped turn the organization’s cocktail party fund-raiser into a gala benefit that includes the participation of 20 fantastic NYC restaurants. “For all the success I’ve been lucky enough to have, this is the work I’m most proud of,” Colicchio said.

Chefs from two of Colicchio’s own restaurants were there: Craft chef de cuisine James Tracey cooked morel-stuffed lamb with spring vegetables and a ramp vinaigrette (pictured) and Colicchio & Sons pastry chef Stephen Collucci served vanilla-rose panna cotta with poached rhubarb and a pistachio puree.

Also in attendance was actress Uma Thurman, who volunteers at the hospital’s teen psychiatric unit, and F&W’s own amazing editor in chief Dana Cowin, who was presented with an award for her outstanding support of the food industry and for her charitable work, including her advocacy for cancer survivors.

Click here for more information about Children of Bellevue.

Chefs

Monterey Bay Aquarium's Cooking for Solutions

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© Monterey Bay Aquarium/Randy Wilder
The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Outer Bay exhibit.

With the seemingly unstoppable oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there has never been a better time to talk about sustainable seafood than right this moment. Luckily, this happens to be the weekend that the Monterey Bay Aquarium hosts their sensational annual event, Cooking for Solutions. Earlier this week, I met with Ken Peterson, the aquarium’s PR director, who told me what CFS events he’s especially looking forward to, plus general thoughts about the state of sustainable seafood right now.

* On whether the oil spill will dominate the conversation this weekend: “Probably, but in passing. It’s big. It’s a tragedy. But it’s a regionalized disaster. Fishing practices and ecological change are the long-term problems that we’re focusing on. But I’ll say this: It couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Everything is spawning: bluefin tuna, blue crab, shrimp; sea turtles are trying to swim through oil right now to lay eggs.”

* On the CFS gala dinner: “We have 120 chefs and wineries serving sustainable and organic food and wines. Suzanne Goin is our chef of the year; Rick Bayless is being honored, too. Top Chef’s Kevin Gillespie will be barbecuing seafood. Everyone gets so fired up. John Cleese might be there; he’s a big fan of the aquarium.”  

* On the CFS panels he’s most excited about: “Well, they’re all great. But I always love Stories of Sustainability [moderated by F&W’s excellent contributor Jane Black]. We’ve got great presenters like Ingrid Bengis [Thomas Keller’s fishmonger] and Michel Nischan. He's a thought leader. There are always some stories of hope from that panel.”

[More]

Restaurants

Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation

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© Alessandra Bulow
Scandinavian-style crispbread with truffle butter and house-smoked venison on a bed of grains from Aquavit’s Marcus Jernmark

Committing to a restaurant for my birthday dinner is a challenge. Good thing that I didn’t have to choose just one this week when I attended Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation in New York City, a culinary benefit that helps to raise the critical funds needed to end child hunger.

Chefs from more than 50 restaurants in New York created tastings for the event, including Aquavit’s new chef Marcus Jernmark, who served Scandinavian-style crisp bread with truffle butter and house-smoked venison on a bed of grains (pictured), and Maialino’s Nick Anderer, who stewed supertender tripe in a spicy tomato sauce and topped it with mint grown on the Gramercy Park Hotel’s yet-to-be-opened rooftop garden.

Also in attendance were some of the city’s top mixologists from bars like PDT (Jim Meehan, deputy editor of the F&W Cocktails guide represented), Clover Club, Death & Co., Dutch Kills and newcomers Cienfuegos and Painkiller.

Chefs and mixologists throughout the United States are donating their time, talent and passion at nearly 40 Taste of the Nation culinary events this spring and summer. Click here for more information about how to help end child hunger in America by attending an incredible tasting event in your community.

Wine

Telepan Helps Open Ooh La La

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Ooh La La Restaurant—chef Bill Telepan's recent, um, extremely high-pressure consulting gig—opened for breakfast today at 9 a.m. and closed at 10:30. Tomorrow it will be open again for the same hours. Then it will shut its doors forever.

 That's kind of an odd approach for a restaurant, but when your staff is comprised of kindergartners, you do have to make some adjustments. Ooh La La Restaurant is located in NYC's PS 87 on the Upper West Side and is the culmination of several months of culinary research by a gang of pretty impressive seven-year-olds. Prices here are in quarters: three quarters gets you either French toast, French bread with butter or a blueberry muffin. The profits benefit City Harvest, a great hunger-fighting charity. And each item comes with a heaping side order of cute.

Ooh La La Restaurant

Unfortunately, Ooh La La is only open to parents and fellow students. So my suggestion is that people just walk 10 blocks down to Bill Telepan's own terrific restaurant, Telepan, instead. There may not be any blueberry muffins on his Spring menu, but there is his spring paella, one of the best things I've eaten so far this year. Telepan cooks rice, peas, asparagus and lobster with braised fresh bacon and a mix of clam and chicken stocks; adds scallops and additional fresh bacon; steams clams over clam stock and adds those; then finishes the dish with an herb oil incorporating parsley, chervil, tarragon, chives and dill. Not quite paella and not quite risotto, its flavors are as bright as May sunlight; it's ideally springtimey and utterly delicious. (It also, like most of Telepan's food, focuses on locally sourced and Greenmarket produce.) But while waiting for that paella to arrive, try to cajole the server into bringing out some of Telepan's not-on-the-menu foie gras sliders, each a slab of foie and a schmear of zingy-sweet rhubarb jam sandwiched between two pieces of toasted brioche.

Finally, make sure to let wine director Aaron von Rock to weigh in on what to drink with your meal. His wine list is full of unusual, moderately priced, intriguing choices, enough to excite even a jaded wine writer. For me, springtime always feels like white-wine time: Try the citrusy 2008 P. Escudero Fuente Milano Rueda from Spain by the glass; by the bottle, go for Clelia Romano's peach-plus-anise 2008 Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino. Or just ask von Rock to suggest something. He has an unerring sense of what wine will bring out the best in each of the chef's dishes—an expertise which, admittedly, is something you wouldn't be able to get at Ooh La La, however charming it may be.

 

Menus

A Wine Geek's Dream Wine Bar

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anfora

© Jamie Tiampo
Gabe Thompson and Joe Campanale.

I'm a regular at NYC’s Dell'anima and L'Artusi, the two awesome wine-centric West Village Italian restaurants run by chef Gabe Thompson and sommelier Joe Campanale. Their newest project, Anfora, officially opens tonight. I got a sneak preview of the wine bar at friends-and-family on Friday. Here, the highlights:

1) Campanale has organized his wine list by producer, with an emphasis on sustainable, biodynamic and organic wine. And instead of simply listing wine names and vintages, he has included a photograph of every producer, along with information about the producers and the wines.
2) The stellar by-the-glass selection includes two anfora-aged wines, including Cantino Giardino's Coda di Volpe, an ancient grape grown in Campania since Roman times. (An anfora is a traditional earthen wine vessel used to store and transport wines).
3) Food highlights include lamb ragù sliders with Pecorino Romano and an intense Italian hero with mortadella, soppressata, speck, aged provolone, aioli, mustard and pepper relish. Plus, pastry genius Katherine Thompson has developed amazing sweets, like a rhubarb zuppa inglese.
4) There are also great cocktails, like the Farmer's Friend (rum, rhubarb, mint) and local craft beers on tap.
5) Just two doors down from always-crowded Dell’anima, this 50-seat spot may be the cushiest waiting area in the city with its super-comfy Cabernet-colored banquette seating. And the über-wine-geek will love the quilted topographic maps of wine regions like the Mosel hanging on the walls.

Restaurants

Montauk's Surf Lodge Kicks Off Summer

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surf lodge

© Joe Termini
The Surf Lodge, Montauk.

This weekend, the Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York, opens for its third summer season. The laid-back, Endless Summer-vibe and beachy-chic decor make it one of my favorite hotels. As always, the hotel has a stellar lineup of music talent scheduled (G. Love, Mishka and the Beautiful Girls, to name a few). Top Chef Season 2 star Sam Talbot is still in the kitchen, but this year he’s introducing a Hawaiian lunch menu. Also new is the debut of the Food Stand, which will serve fish tacos, lobster rolls and Hawaiian plate lunches late-night, from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. Another addition for 2010 is the Store at the Surf Lodge, a supercool boutique curated by boutique owner Bethany Mayer, featuring clothes by the awesome eco-conscious designer Rogan Gregory; his label, Loomstate, collaborated with the Surf Lodge and Bloomingdale's to create a capsule collection of surf-inspired clothing; the Surf Lodge staff will also be rocking Loomstate Organic uniforms this season. The store opens Memorial Day weekend and will sell a mix of pieces from designers like Jill Platner, Surf Bazaar (a new line designed for and sold exclusively at the Surf Lodge), Loomstate for the Surf Lodge and Tracy.

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