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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Chefs

Driving to Montauk for Animal’s Pop-Up Restaurant

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© Nigel Parry

I don’t usually drive out to the Hamptons just for dinner—in fact, like most people who know the general quality of the food out there, I do that never. But last night, my friends and I made the traffic-ridden trip to Montauk from Manhattan just to eat at Animal’s pop-up restaurant at Sole East. Ben Leventhal has all the details of the terrific food on Grub Street: that Animal’s Jon Shook (an F&W Best New Chef 2009) is doing the cooking while his co-chef Vinny Dotolo (also an F&W BNC 2009) holds down the fort at their L.A. restaurant; that Jon’s serving seven dishes (“the stuff everyone talks about,” Jon says); and that he’s got an excellent bottle of tequila on hand in case of emergencies. The best-seller so far (Jon’s cooking at Sole East through August 18): the cayenne-dusted fried hominy with lime, followed by the balsamic barbecued ribs, which are “selling off the Richter scale.” My favorite dish: the insane foie gras loco moco, which is based on a Hawaiian surf dish and includes the foie, a Niman Ranch burger, Spam, Carolina gold rice, homemade teriyaki sauce, foie gras jus and Sriracha chile sauce, all topped with a fried egg. Here’s the only upside to eating Animal food and then heading home instead of to a sweet Hamptons beach: There’s no way you want to put on a bathing suit after foie gras loco moco.

Restaurants

Batali Disciple in Cartagena

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For the last two years, foodies have been talking about the exciting restaurant scene in Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá, particularly its hot food ‘hood, Zona G (which has restaurants from Peruvian star chefs Rafael Osterling and Gastón Acurio). I got to experience it for myself last March. I also spent a week eating around what I believe may be Colombia’s next great food city, Cartagena.

The historic walled city by the sea has finally started to get some excellent restaurants. The most recent addition, Vera, opens next month in Latin fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi’s amazing new seven-room boutique hotel. Vera means truth, as the food will be authentic coastal Italian prepared by chef Daniel Castaño, a Mario Batali protégé who is also the head chef at Bogotá’s popular Emilia Romagna and co-founder of the Brooklyn-based supper club social experiment A Razor, A Shiny Knife. Opening menus will include a classic seafood risotto loaded with clams, mussels and shrimp and pollo al peppe, black-pepper-crusted chicken breast served with confit thighs and a date, watercress and macadamia salad. Castaño's food will be complemented by a 100-plus-label wine list of bottles from Italy, Spain, Chile and California.

Vera

© Tcherassi Hotel + Spa
Vera restaurant in Cartagena's new Tcherassi Hotel + Spa.

 

Farms

Heirloom Tomato Crisis

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F&W Best New Chef 2002 Dan Barber, the chef and co-owner of New York City's Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York, strikes again with another insightful op-ed in the New York Times. This time, the subject is late blight, the pesky, fast-spreading plant disease that's made finding flavorful organic tomatoes across much of the Northeast harder this summer than in seasons past. While Barber names several culprits for the disease's severity, he also turns the tables and blames...himself. "It’s a nostalgia I’m guilty of promoting as a chef when I celebrate only heirloom tomatoes on my menus," he writes. (It turns out that 70 percent of heirloom tomatoes have fallen victim to late blight.) Barber's vision of the more resilient farm of the future? One that grows multiple crops, with multiple varieties of the same vegetables—a few heirlooms, yes, but also new varieties bred to resist diseases. Perhaps that vision might cause a ripple of shock across the Slow Food movement, but it may be what's necessary to ensure flavorful produce for the future.

For those lucky enough to get their hands on a ripe, juicy tomato, we offer tomato recipes here. We also offer recipes for other seasonal produce, like corn, eggplant and watermelon.

Chefs

Tom Colicchio's New Baby

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© Robert Whitman

By now we should all have memorized the name of Tom Colicchio and wife Lori Silverbush's nine-day-old baby boy—Luka Bodhi Colicchio (thanks, People magazine). So here's what Silverbush and Colicchio ate after she gave birth: burgers from New York City's Spotted Pig. Apparently, Colicchio texted a request to the Pig's co-owner Ken Friedman from the hospital. No, Silverbush didn't want anything from one of Colicchio's multiple Manhattan Craft dining rooms, she wanted a medium-rare, blue cheese–topped Pig burger. So the restaurant put a bunch of burgers in a taxi (with some orders of their ricotta gnudi and crispy pig ears just in case) and sent them across town to the hospital.

Chefs

A Lard Soap We Love

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Boccalone's Lard Soap

© Emily Kaiser
Boccalone's Lard Soap

Tomorrow at Boccalone in San Francisco (and soon online at boccalone.com), Incanto chef Chris Cosentino and his wife Tatiana Graf debut their latest nose-to-tail creation, this angelic lard soap, scented with peppermint oil. We received an advance package here at the F&W offices, and can report it leaves your hands soft and lightly scented. Supplies limited ($8; boccalone.com).

Chefs

Las Vegas's Bartolotta

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© Wynn Las Vegas

I know how weird it sounds to say that you went to Las Vegas to eat fish. I’m especially aware of it because I drove hundreds of miles through the desert from L.A. to do it (and to see Beyoncé, but that’s another story). But I was determined to try the much-talked-about seafood at Bartolotta at Wynn Las Vegas, especially since Paul Bartolotta racked up yet another James Beard Best Chef award this spring. I ate some 17 varieties of seafood, including tubular mezzi pasta with scorpion fish and eggplant, butter-poached turbot with langoustines and my new favorite thing, grilled slipper lobster. I’m not sure any of the seafood was local—in fact, the chef was in Italy sourcing ingredients while I was at his restaurant—but it was amazing. This being Vegas, dinner is occasionally accompanied by entertainment: Steve Martin recently ate there and said the presentation of the fish reminded me of a  skit. He then asked for "the ugliest fish for dinner." They served him the turbot.

Chefs

In L.A., Suzanne Goin's New Tavern

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Personally, I love Los Angeles. I love the food scene there, the farmers' markets and especially the restaurants. And especially Tavern, the new restaurant/bakery/prepared food store from Suzanne Goin (an F&W 1999 Best New Chef). I went there for lunch, sat in the sunny atrium and had farro tabbouleh with gorgeous roasted baby carrots and beets served in an adorable wooden bowl, and the supersonic Spaniarde sandwich, filled with melted Mahon cheese, lomo pork and quince and topped with a fried egg. It was so good, I went back for dinner. Not just to eat, but to see my friend, pizza hero Chris Bianco, who I knew would be eating there, too. Here’s what he was having with his friend Jimmy Kimmel (they’re pizza buddies): colorful heirloom tomato salad with fried mozzarella (“fantastic”); beef daube with carrot puree and confit tomatoes (“exceptional”),  plum crostada (“really well done, really on point”). My only problem with Tavern is that the bakery is closed at night: I’d spent all afternoon deciding whether to order the chewy or crisp chocolate chip cookie—there’s smartly the option of both. But that just meant I’d have to go eat at Tavern for the cycle, and hope they were serving the cookies for breakfast.

Chefs

Lollapalooza Food

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graham

Ben Harper, the Decemberists, Band of Horses and the Killers are just a few of the stellar bands gathering in Chicago this August 7–9 for the annual Lollapalooza music festival. Another highlight: amazing food cooked by F&W Best New Chef 2004 Graham Elliot Bowles. Snacks—all $9 or less—will mimic the whimsical dishes Bowles serves at his eponymous Chicago restaurant but with a state-fair bent: lobster corn dogs, buffalo chicken with blue-cheese foam, black-pepper-parmesan-truffle popcorn.

Bowles, something of a music junkie himself (he recorded some of the songs that play at his restaurant) will also be cooking a VIP dinner for Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell and his band, Jane’s Addiction, who will be taking the stage Sunday night.

Chefs

The Ultimate Cake-Off

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© Eric Biermann
Tariq Hanna and his blue cake

As one of the few people in the world not caught up in the saga of Jon & Kate Plus 8, I don’t usually watch TLC on Monday nights. Tonight, though, and for the rest of the season, I’ll tune in to TLC—and that’s because the network is airing a sneak peek of an addictive new show, the Ultimate Cake-Off. As addictive as Jon & Kate, which is on right before it? Definitely, if you’re obsessed with wedding cakes that look like a replica of the gazebo where he proposed. Contestants, who run the gamut from housewives to professionals, have nine hours, a bunch of power tools, and every food coloring in the rainbow at their disposal to make a cake that’s a minimum of five feet tall. At the end of each episode, a client picks the winning cake, with input from a panel of star judges. My friend, the extraordinary cake designer Margaret Braun, is one of those star judges, and she says the show is amazing. “You see cakes that run the gamut from really scary to great,” she says. So far, all I’ve seen is the bright turquoise blue cake from Tariq Hanna and I can’t wait to see which category—scary or great—it falls into.

Chefs

Dave Chang's F&W Thanksgiving

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© kate krader

I would totally trust NYC's Momofuku chef David Chang with any piece of pork on the planet. Leftover turkey...not so sure about that. But no surprise, I found out yesterday that he's genius with that too. For what might be my favorite F&W Thanksgiving story of all time—coming out in our November 2009 issue, just about the same time as the release of the Momofuku cookbook—we challenged Chang and his outstanding pastry chef, Christina Tosi, to make a meal with whatever T-day leftovers we threw at them. Among the foods we gave them: cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, kale and brussels sprouts. Chang and Tosi didn't ask for much except for some Rice Krispies, Sriracha sauce and Malden salt (and yeah, a few other things, too). Then we photographed the pair in action. All I can say is that the results are awesome and you'll be able to see for yourself when F&W's November issue comes out.

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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.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.