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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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!”

Chefs

Le Fooding’s Best New Toy: La Toquera

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Inaki Aizpitarte makes his toquera for Le Fooding

Before the Le Fooding crew came to town, I had no idea what a toquera was. Now I have a new obsession. Alexandre Cammas, who’s here to launch Le Fooding d’Amour Paris-New York—the two-night extravaganza courtesy of the irreverent French foodie group that features crazy-good New York chefs cooking alongside crazy-good Paris chefs, with plenty of Michel Chapoutier wine and LCD Sound System and Paul Sevigny DJing—introduced me to it. (The Le Fooding event, which takes place September 25 and 26 at P.S. 1 in Long Island City is mostly sold out of their $30 tickets—a few are still available if you get there early.)

Anyway, la toquera is a French invention of a chef making a cooking video while holding a camera (toque + camera). By necessity, the recipes are short and easy to follow and invariably hilarious. Le Fooding’s French website has several, from pastry icon Pierre Hermé’s wasabi-and-grapefruit “emotion” to Zoe’s cake from Pierre Jancou of the amazing wine bar Racines. My favorite so far is Toquera #19, Oriental mussels from Inaki Aizpitarte of Le Chateaubriand, who’s in NYC for Le Fooding and who manages to combine his very obvious cooking skill with his equally obvious distaste for being on camera.

Recipes

Dishes by Iconic Eighties Chefs

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© Maura McEvoy

Celebrate the remake of 1980’s iconic arts-school film Fame, opening tomorrow, with dishes by iconic Eighties chefs like Wolfgang Puck’s grilled steaks with sweet-spicy hoisin-ginger sauce (pictured); Johanne Killeen and George Germon’s tangy pasta with shredded zucchini, yogurt and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; and Jeremiah Tower’s vegetable ragout with fresh herbs. Stay tuned for more dishes that celebrate the Eighties later today and tomorrow.

More Dishes by Legendary Chefs
- 10 dishes by F&W’s Hall of Fame Best New Chefs like Suzanne Goin’s mustard-crusted lamb, Shea Gallante’s meat loaf with red wine glaze, and Nancy Silverton’s dulce de leche ice cream pie

 

 

Chefs

Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch

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© Courtesy Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch

A few weeks ago, friends of mine got married at the stunning Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch. The many Brooklynites in attendance (including me) stocked up on food and beer in Boise, but we needn’t have bothered: The bride is a foodie, not to mention the editor of Grant Achatz’s upcoming memoir, Life, on the Line. The ranch’s chef, Andrew Machanic (a New England Culinary Institute grad), knocked me out time and again with his cooking. From hand-dipped caramel apples at check-in to a perfectly seared Lava Lake lamb loin at the reception, I was in heaven and hiked only to pass time between meals. Fingers crossed my friends will be renewing their vows there annually.

Cookbooks

Boxing Lessons with Barbara Lynch

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Last week, I was up in Boston to help host a party with rock-star chef Barbara Lynch and the founders of Fresh beauty, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg. The occasion: To celebrate an article in F& W’s September issue, in which Lynch helped her friends add more flavor to their favorite healthy recipes.

After the party, we headed over to Sportello, one of Barbara's newest restaurants, and the dinner conversation veered to keeping fit. Barbara is on a serious health kick. To keep up her energy (she just finished a new cookbook, Stir, out next month), she’s been obsessively juicing every fruit, vegetable and herb she can get her hands and storing batches in her fridge. Lynch also told me about her new favorite energy bar, Green Vibrance. (Cameron Diaz has been in Boston, filming Wichita with Tom Cruise, and her personal assistant introduced Barbara to the dark-chocolate-covered, vitamin-loaded veggie bar.)

In addition to trail-running with the Sportello staff, Barbara has also taken up boxing. And I don’t mean the cardio-punch classes they offer at fancy fitness centers. Lynch works out at Golden Gloves champion Peter Welch’s super-old-school gym in Southie. After a few drinks, Lev (he actually does the cardio-punch gym classes) and I had agreed to join her in the ring the next day. Lev was a no-show (I think he got scared), but Barbara’s publicist, Sarah Hearn, joined me for an intense hour-long session with a group that looked straight out of Rocky. After throwing uppercuts, jabs and hooks and doing what seemed like endless push-ups, I have a new respect for Barbara Lynch, way beyond her extraordinary skills in the kitchen.

fresh
 

Chefs

Shake Shack with Paris's Coolest Chefs

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When your day starts with breakfast with Pierre Gagnaire at the Mandarin Oriental, you might imagine it’s all downhill from there. Not so fast. At lunchtime, there I was standing on the long line at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park with three of Paris’s coolest chefs: Yves Camdeborde of Le Comptoir, Inaki Aizpitarte of Le Chateaubriand and Stéphane Jégo of L’Ami Jean. They’re in town for Le Fooding D'Amour, a France-comes-to-NYC event that brings together 12 chefs, three mixologists, two butchers, two DJs, a vintner and lots of Champagne at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center this Friday and Saturday night, September 25 and 26. (Tickets, which cost $30, are still available at the door at the event.) Yeah, it’s going to be amazing.
 
At Shack Shack, Inaki (who is generally considered to be Paris’s rock star chef) dipped his fries in mustard; Camdeborde preferred the Shack-cago Dog to the Shack burger; and Jégo ate everything on the table and called it a tasting menu. Afterward we decamped to the new Ace Hotel, had some Stumptown mochas and got a tour of the upcoming Breslin space from co-owner Ken Friedman. Momofuku chef-owner David Chang, who’s an Inaki groupie, tagged along, too. Their friendship goes back to a sustainable food conference in Copenhagen that, from what little I heard, sounds like it was the basis for The Hangover.

Chefs

Breakfast with Pierre Gagnaire

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Gagnaire and F&W Editor-in-Chief Dana Cowin at Asiate

Of course I was nervous before breakfast with Pierre Gagnaire. After all, he's one of the very best chefs in the world, who's known for deconstructing a dish so thoughtfully that it stretches out over five or eight courses. Gagnaire is in New York City for the StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress (which is the reason why you'll see some of the world's other great chefs wandering around the city for the next three days, from Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck in England to Grant Achatz of Chicago's Alinea). Gagnaire has built a small restaurant empire, with outposts from Paris to London and Seoul. Good news for me: His next restaurant, Twist, will be his first in the U.S., at the soon-to-open Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas. Over eggs benedict at Asiate, on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan, chef Gagnaire talked about his myriad influences, from the spontaneity of Jackson Pollock to an old man in Seoul practicing calligraphy to the French national soccer team. In fact, he talked about everything but food. He's the most zen chef I've ever met (and one of the best dressed; he knows exactly what Paul Smith blue shirt matches his eyes). I know I'll get to hear him talk about food at the StarChefs.com conference—including a Generational Discussion of Modern Cuisine—but for right now, I just want to think about him spending an afternoon at the Hopper collection at the Whitney Museum.

Recipes

Perfecting Pizza

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One sure sign the artisanal pizza movement is as strong as ever: F&W Best New Chef 2009 Nate Appleman has just signed on to launch a pizza joint with über-restaurateur Keith McNally in New York City. Here, 15 outstanding pizzas like a Fontina, prosciutto and caramelized onion pizza; a summer squash pizza with goat cheese and walnuts; and a salty-sweet roasted squid pizza with creamy aioli and crushed red pepper.

More Great Pizza Tips:
- Pizza primer from F&W's editor Grace Parisi, including how to preheat a pizza stone and how to work the dough
- Fantastic tips from 24 of the best sommeliers around the country, like an extravagant pairing for pizza

Chefs

Eating in Queens After the US Open

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This past weekend, I was only in Flushing long enough to see Nadal lose, Federer win and to eat flaming ouzo shrimp. But I got some tips on where to eat in the area from Tony Mantuano, chef-owner of Chicago’s prestigious Spiaggia (President Obama’s favorite restaurant), who was at the US Open presiding over the Wine Bar, where I had that killer shrimp. He stayed in downtown Flushing to be near the tennis center and discovered a couple great places. First and foremost, a very no-frills dumpling spot called White Bear (135-02 Roosevelt Ave. #5; 718-961-2322) that’s basically a few small tables, a few folding chairs, a woman making the dumplings and wontons and a man cooking them up. Mantuano recommends the #6: pork-filled wontons with pickled vegetables and chiles. “Every single person gets the #6,” Mantuano says. He also discovered a great food cart on the corner of Main Street and 41st, where a guy grills lamb skewers flavored with cumin and spicy chiles over live charcoal. “This guys knows how to grill,” says Mantuano. “They don’t all know how to grill.”

Pairings

Ommegang's Brew News

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Last night, supertalented chef Bobby Hellen of NYC's Resto teamed up with Phil Leinhart, the brewmaster at Cooperstown, New York’s Ommegang brewery, for a gluttonous, nose-to-tail feast. It was the first of a series of Zagat-sponsored, craft-beer dinners taking place throughout the city this week as part of the second annual New York Craft Beer Week.

Chef Hellen broke down an entire pig and a lamb from Violet Hill Farm and turned them into delicious dishes like crispy pig’s-ear popcorn, porchetta and lamb-topped tomato salad with lamb-heart vinaigrette; to match these dishes, Leinhart poured some never-before-served brews, including a test batch of Adoration, Ommegang’s first-ever winter holiday ale. The dark, Belgian-style brew is made with five spices: coriander, sweet orange peel, grains of paradise, cardamom and mace. I was expecting bold, in-your-face spiciness, but the finish is much more subtle, and despite 10-percent alcohol levels, there was very little alcohol burn—a deceptively potent brew. The beer should be available mid-October.

To go with a plate of excellent house-made charcuterie, Leinhart poured the Ommegang Rouge, a Flemish sour-red ale he made in partnership with Belgium's Brouwerij Bockor brewery. This supertart brew, oak-aged for 18 months at Bockor’s brewery, is one of my favorites. Leinhart broke the news that it’s no longer being produced (Brouwerij Bockor no longer wants to share its yeasts strains). But Ommegang plans to replace it with a brown Flemish-style beer they’re working on with Liefmans brewery in Oudenaarde, Belgium. Leinhart hinted we can also expect many more seasonal beers from Ommegang next year.

resto

© Evan Miller
Ommegang's best and newest brews on tap at Resto.

 

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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.