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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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'Wichcraft's Dinner Menu: A Must-Try

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A pile of pulled pork with wonderfully crusty edges topped with dill pickle slivers: $8. A heaping plate of blistered two-bite-size shishito peppers and sherry vinegar aioli: $6. Why had I only just checked out the cozy Flatiron location of ‘wichcraft, part of Tom Colicchio’s chain of sandwich shops, for dinner last night? Since last May, chef Sisha Ortuzar has been serving simple, delicious smallish plates with Greenmarket ingredients for insanely inexpensive prices. Last night, it was quiet, with only a few tables taken. How could that be, I wondered, when they were serving the last of the summer menu, including a fantastic tarragon-scented brothy dish of cockles and shrimp with late-season cherry tomatoes, corn and a hit of tarragon? Next week, Sisha will introduce a fall menu, and if all goes well, another ‘wichcraft that serves dinner will open in the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center in November. I can’t wait for both.

If you’re not getting to New York any time soon, try these 'wichcraft-inspired cocktail party recipes from Tom and Sisha.

 

Chefs

Mario Batali’s Excellent Charity

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The New York City Wine & Food Festival is about to bring a million food stars to town in support of two excellent hunger-fighting organizations: the Food Bank for New York City and Share Our Strength. So it’s more than appropriate that chef/hero Mario Batali is unofficially kicking off the weekend with a charity event of his own. Tonight at Del Posto, Mario will host a supersonic dinner and auction to raise money for the Mario Batali Foundation, whose admirable mission is to make sure kids are well read, well fed and well cared for. The guest list: Mary J Blige, R.E.M., Maggie Gyllenhaal and more special guests yet to be announced. The signature cocktail: Batali Rocks (gin, fresh clementine juice, gold flake garnish), created by über-mixologist Tony Abu Gamin who will be there mixing them at the party. The Batali-made menu: shrimp scampi with soft polenta; roast pork with Parma Lambrusco conserva. The auction items: the subject of tomorrow’s blog.

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DB Bistro's Marathoner's Menu

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chef

© DB Bistro Moderne
First-time marathoner and DB Bistro Moderne chef Olivier Muller

 

Olivier Muller, the chef at Manhattan’s DB Bistro Moderne, is known for indulgent French food, not to mention the decadent short-ribs-and-foie-gras-stuffed DB burger. But as the chef is gearing up for his first marathon, the ING NYC Marathon on November 1, he’s decided to create a special dinner menu for his fellow runners based on his own training diet. “I did a lot of reading about which foods give runners the most energy and I’ve designed my menu around them,” says the novice runner. Chef Muller’s three-course, pre fixe Marathon Menu is available during the month of October and includes dishes like avocado salad, housemade whole wheat-and-chicken ravioli and apple-and-raisin clafoutis. Muller is running the marathon to raise funds for and awareness of Malaria No More, which helps African families protect themselves with mosquito nets, and $10 for each $55 Marathon Menu ordered will be donated to the organization.

Recipes

Pasta Sfoglia Cookbook

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cookbook

© Sfoglia
Sfoglia's new cookbook shares the restaurant's best recipes.


The NYC Marathon is one month away, and while I’ve been pretty diligent about getting in my long training runs, I’ve been more lackadaisical about my diet. I’ve learned the hard way that late-night Momofuku pork buns and foie gras ice cream are not the best fuel for a 5 a.m. workout. So I’m making an attempt to cook at home more over the next few weeks, and I’ve found myself turning to the new cookbook from Ron and Colleen Suhanosky, the husband-and-wife chef team behind Sfoglia in Nantucket and New York City. Pasta Sfoglia features more than 100 recipes inspired by Sfoglia’s addictive pasta dishes. While I don’t always have time to make pasta from scratch during the week, I do have the luxury of being able to buy exceptional ingredients, like Sfoglia’s bread and house-made goat cheese, at Tutto Sfoglia, the tiny new market adjacent to the Upper East Side restaurant.

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Boston’s Best Ice Cream

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On a recent trip to Boston, I stayed at the adorable Beacon Hill Hotel, tucked away down Charles Street. Its 12 rooms are right above its street-level restaurant, the Bistro, which is run by Barbara Lynch alum Jason Bond. In addition to the excellent complimentary breakfast, which included vanilla pancakes and a thick French toast topped with spiced crème fraîche, chef Bond makes some of the best ice cream in town. My friend Katherine and I tasted our way through flavors like Ligurian Olive Oil and Banana Rum, but the flavor that had us coming back at midnight for a second scoop was the Chocolate Almond–Smoked Sea Salt, with a pudding-like texture and crunchy bits of cocoa nibs and toasted slivered almonds. Bond shared his secret: Valrhona Guanaha chocolate and Norwegian smoked sea salt. Thank goodness ice cream wasn't on the breakfast menu.

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Two Stellar Brunches in Los Angeles

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I just returned from a quick trip to L.A. where I had two fantastic brunches.

Gjelina in Venice makes killer scones (moist and covered in a layer of crisp sugar), pizzas (try the one with grilled radicchio, fontina, bacon and tomato confit), BLTs (on thick slices of grilled bread with a fried egg on top) and butterscotch pot de crème (with salted caramel and crème fraîche).

Tavern in Brentwood is not just a fantastic brunch spot but it's also good for lunch, dinner, cocktails and takeout, too. Try the sticky bun Suzanne-style (topped with two slices of crisp Neiman Ranch bacon!), chorizo and eggs, wild mushroom frittata, lemon-ricotta pancakes and the turkey burger. Be sure to pick up some pastries to go from the larder on your way out.

Some inspiring F&W brunch recipes:

White Bean Huevos Rancheros

French Toast Stuffed with Ricotta and Strawberry Jam

Scrambled Eggs with Herbed Croutons

Smoked Trout Spread with Capers

BLT Fried Egg-and-Cheese Sandwich

Spicy Honey-Glazed Bacon

Sherried Mushrooms with Fried Eggs on Toast

Lemony Cornmeal-Cherry Scones

 

 

Recipes

The Standard Hotel’s Beer Garden

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Kurt Gutenbrunner ringing the bell at the Standard Beer Garden.

© Jennifer Salerno
Kurt Gutenbrunner ringing the bell at the Standard Beer Garden.

It's not every day that a famous Austrian chef hand-feeds you a weisswurst, but that's what happened to me last night at New York City's Standard Hotel's Beer Garden.

Wearing lederhosen in honor of Oktoberfest and a jean jacket personally given to him by the fashion designer Helmut Lang, Kurt Gutenbrunner (The Upholstery Store, Café Sabarsky, Blaue Gans and Michelin-starred Wallsé) handed out huge rock-salt-encrusted pretzels baked by Amy's Bread to trendy New Yorkers and taught me the proper way to eat a weisswurst (peel off the skin, dip in sweet mustard and devour with or without utensils).

Gutenbrunner rang a bell behind the beer garden's sausage bar throughout the night ("In Germany we ring the bell to call people to eat," he said). But he was upstaged by a German street-cart favorite called curry wurst: a juicy grilled bratwurst topped with ketchup and curry powder and served in a bun on a bed of sauerkraut.

Hotelier André Balazs gave Gutenbrunner carte blanche to select the garden's Schaller & Weber sausages and German beers (the chef's favorite is the Bitburger Pils, which he describes as "a golden beer that tastes like Champagne, a slight bit of lemon and a touch of banana"). Balazs even named a sausage on the menu after the chef: the Cheddar "Kurt"wurst–a bratwurst oozing with the creamy cheese.

"I've never met anyone with a bigger vision than André, or anyone who cares so much about making the beer garden experience here as authentic as possible," said Gutenbrunner before leading patrons in a chant of a Bavarian drinking song that loosely translates to "One More Beer."

Here are 7 more amazing sausage recipes from the F&W archives, perfect for any Oktoberfest celebration.

Restaurants

Le Fooding Kickoff Dinner

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© Andrew Sessa

How do you keep some of the world’s most innovative and crazy foodies entertained? As the kickoff dinner last night for Le Fooding D’Amour Paris-New York revealed, you serve them incredible food cooked by the talented crew at Brooklyn's Vinegar Hill House, like whole roasted German trout with green beans and guanciale-and-crème-fraîche pizza. You pair the food with lots of Veuve Clicquot Champagne (seven cases were consumed!). And you set up a pétanque court, enlist a singing accordion player and hire a seriously good balloon-animal-hat maker.

© Andrew Sessa

My table unanimously voted my hat, a unicorn-like crown, as the most outrageous creation of the night (though David Chang’s gold-and-black tower was a close runner-up). Unfortunately, when Daniel Boulud asked to try on my balloon hat, he popped it!

Click here for more party photos.

 

 

Restaurants

Le Fooding Sneak Preview

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© Adam Schneider/ Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot
David Chang rocks a balloon hat at Vinegar Hill House.

The much-hyped two-night event Le Fooding D’Amour Paris-New York officially starts tonight. But last night, members of Le Fooding—the irreverent French foodie group —gathered at Brooklyn’s Vinegar Hill House for a kickoff dinner sponsored by Veuve Clicquot. Also in attendance: some of NYC’s best chefs and a mix of socialites, celebrities and food lovers like cookbook author Katie Lee , jewelry designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia, Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine and Vena Cava designer Sophie Buhai. If last night’s event is any indication, a carnival-like 48 hours are ahead of us. Just check out the photo below (more explanation to come later today).

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Genius Pierre Gagnaire Lunch

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Gagnaire's amazing "Zezette" broth.

© Alessandra Bulow
Gagnaire's amazing "Zezette" mushroom broth.

Sure, my colleagues ate breakfast with chef-god Pierre Gagnaire the other day. I did them one better—I ate a meal that he himself cooked. As a preview of the menu he'll be serving at Twist at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas, opening in December, he hosted a lunch in the 36th floor ballroom of the hotel’s New York City location, overlooking Central Park.

The meal started with an amazing dish that I'd never seen anything like before—lightly fried strips of Dover sole with spinach, accompanied by bowls of white vegetable velouté and bocconcini ice cream. Gagnaire topped the fish with a large, very thin disk of "Kientzheim" butter—a funny name for a butter he flavors with reduced fish stock, shallots and Champagne—that melts into the fish when warm sauce is poured on top.

Another dish, named "Zezette" after a good friend of his, was an earthy-sweet and rich mushroom broth (pictured) served with roasted duck, braised turnips (which turn deep pink after soaking in beet juice and Campari) and "Yoyo," basmati rice–Parmesan gratin named after his friend Yolanda, who also makes this dish.

Now I'm back in my cubicle, dreaming about my incredible experience and thinking that I know exactly what I'd call a dish named after Pierre Gagnaire: “Genius!”

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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.