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By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Recipes

The Wahlberg's Macaroni Salad

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The very young Wahlberg family (Mark is bottom center; chef Paul is far left, second row)

I know December isn't prime time for pasta salad. And I doubt Mark Wahlberg ate this macaroni salad to get into such sick shape to play champion boxer Micky Ward in his film The Fighter. But thanks to his brother, chef Paul Wahlberg, we’ve got the recipe for the Wahlberg family macaroni salad. Mark says that no one makes the dish as well as their mother, Alma. But you can give it your best shot (here's the recipe, below). Or go to Paul’s cool new Mediterranean-Italian restaurant, Alma Nove in Hingham, Massachusetts, where the macaroni salad is on his menu at his brother’s request. At least in pasta salad season in summer.

  
Alma’s Macaroni Salad
10 to 12 Servings;  Total: 25 min

1 pound elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced celery
3 tablespoons diced red onion (optional)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente. Drain, then rinse the macaroni until cool. Drain very well.
2. In a large bowl, toss the macaroni with the oil. Add the garlic powder, celery salt and mayonnaise and toss to coat. Stir in the green pepper, celery, onion and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill before serving.

Recipes

Mark Wahlberg’s Favorite Dish

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Paul & Mark Wahlberg in the kitchen at Alma Nove.

I know exactly what I would have done if I’d been at the after-party for the acclaimed new film The Fighter. I would have won the raffle for the signed boxing gloves that Mark Wahlberg wore in the film (benefits going to the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation). And I would have eaten all the food prepared by Paul Wahlberg (brother of Mark), including countless mini cod cakes and steak crostini. Paul didn’t cater the party to keep costs down; he’s a chef who’s cooked all around Boston before opening his six-month-old restaurant, Alma Nove, in Hingham, Massachusetts. (Alma is the Wahlberg family matriarch; nova is nine, for her nine children.)

There’s another reason Paul catered The Fighter party: He’s worked as Mark’s personal chef on films ranging from Max Payne to The Lovely Bones and knows what his brother likes. One thing that Mark really likes: old-school macaroni salad. Paul tells the story this way: “One day, Mark said, ‘You know what I’d really like? Macaroni salad. Call up Ma and get the recipe.’ I made her recipe, Mark tasted it and said ‘Call her again.’ I realized I wasn’t thinking in Ma’s terms; I was using a really nice olive oil, she used vegetable oil. I had to put my head back to Dorchester [Massachusetts], where we grew up in the '70s; I had to go back to those ingredients. So I made it right, and Mark said, ‘It’s better, but Ma still makes it best.’”

Coming tomorrow: Alma Wahlberg’s macaroni salad.

Bars

How Do The Cosmopolitan's Chefs Splurge in Vegas?

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Front row from L to R: The Bromberg brothers, David Myers. Back row from L to R: Scott Conant, Costas Spiliadis, José Andrés.

© Melanie Dunea
Front row from L to R: The Bromberg brothers, David Myers. Back row from L to R: Scott Conant, Costas Spiliadis, José Andrés.

Yesterday, Tasting Table mapped out a strategy for eating one’s way through the 13 hot restaurants on the third floor of the just-opened Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas.

I asked some of the star chefs behind those restaurants what they love most about Vegas, and how they splurge when they’re in town. Here, their answers:

Scott Conant, D.O.C.G. and Scarpetta
“I really admire how this city attracts such great talent, whether it’s chefs or performers. There’s also real appreciation for hospitality, food & beverage and entertainment, and the professional approach they take to this here really resonates with me. Every time I’m here working, I pick a night to go on a restaurant crawl and hit up four of five great places in one night.”

Anthony Meidenbauer, Holsteins
“My splurge in Las Vegas is my recently found new ramen-noodle spot, Monta. It's a little hole in the wall that has amazing food, made in a tiny kitchen.”

David Myers, Comme Ça
“What I love about Las Vegas is the diversity of restaurants and culture, beautiful weather and the incredible realization that this is all in the middle of the desert. My splurge will be the weekend at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas taking in all the great restaurants, with some time at the pool and at the tables. Also, dinner at either Twist or Joël Robuchon at The Mansion.”

Eric and Bruce Bromberg, Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill
“Las Vegas has so many different faces. High-end casino experiences, travelers from around the world, funky Chinatown eateries, great weather, great routes to bike and a 24-hour mentality that makes New Yorkers like us feel right at home. Our favorite Vegas splurge: A great ride in Red Rock canyon by day, some afternoon shopping around town and then hitting all the great restaurants in The Cosmopolitan in the evening. And ending up at Marquee for a late-night blowout.”

José Andrés, China Poblano and Jaleo
“I love Vegas for its energy. Every place has a unique rhythm, and this truly is a city that never sleeps, a place that draws people from all over world for the unique environment it offers. To have so many great chefs in one city, like Robuchon, Boulud, Keller, is amazing. I love the Strip, the casinos, but people need to take the effort to know the real Las Vegas. I go to the arts district, which is genuine and full of great people, as is the local restaurant scene.”

Chefs

A Cool Cooking Class in Grenada

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Red Snapper

© Amy Rosen
Fried red snapper.


Needing to escape the cold, I recently sought out warmer weather in Grenada, where I had the chance to visit BB’s Crabback Caribbean Restaurant. The chef, Brian Benjamin (hence BB’s), leads hands-on cooking classes. For $100, you’ll get schooled in all of the island’s local ingredients while cooking in the restaurant’s tiny kitchen. “It’s an opportunity for people to cook with foods they’ve never seen,” explains the jovial chef. To wit, we cooked with callaloo (a dark leafy green, like spinach), breadfruit (the texture is akin to a chestnut), shadow benny (a wild herb that tastes like cilantro) and dasheen (a starchy tuber). We made saltfish souse and bakes, fresh fried red snapper and creamy crabback. Then we ate it all and drank the afternoon away as a tropical rain shower swept through the open-air dining room.

Menus

Italian Beer Invasion

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beer

© Jen Murphy
Perfect Pairing: kale & parmesan crisps and Italian beer on tap.

 

Today, Tasting Table tapped into San Francisco beer geeks’ current love affair with Italian craft beers. The obsession has spread beyond the West Coast and beyond beer geeks. I just got back from a trip to Chicago, where Spiaggia’s star sommelier, Steven Alexander, told me about his new obsession for Italian craft beers. He’s created a remarkable Italian artisan beer list, with more than 15 brews from super-small breweries. I was lucky enough to have a mini tasting, paired with some of chef Sarah Grueneberg’s crispy kale and parmesan crisps and cheese from Spiaggia’s famous cheese cave. Cafe Spiaggia keeps Birra del Borgo’s Re Ale Extra Pilsner and Birrificio Italiano Tipopils on draft. My favorite of our tasting was Demon Hunter Dark Ale. Yes, it has a pretty bad-ass name (and a label that I’m sure some beer lover will mimic as a tattoo), but this dark brew made by Birrificio Montegioco in Lombardy is my perfect winter beer, with notes of chestnuts, caramel, plums and lots of spice. Italy has already tackled wine. It seems like it has now pretty much mastered beer. I hope more US sommeliers follow Alexander’s lead and start showcasing some great bottles.


Restaurants

Preview from Sam Talbot's Seafood Restaurant

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miami preview dinner

© Billy Farrell Agency
Preview dinner for Sam Talbot's new sustainable seafood restaurant.

Chef Sam Talbot (the Top Chef heartthrob and chef of Montauk, New York’s Surf Lodge) gave a select group of super-fashionable guests a peek at some of the sustainably minded seafood dishes he’ll be serving at Imperial No. 9, his forthcoming restaurant that will open at the Mondrian SoHo in NYC early next year. The dinner, hosted by photographer Poppy de Villeneuve, was held at Miami’s Mondrian Hotel during Art Basel, and the long communal table was appropriately decorated with de Villeneuve’s photos and Talbot’s own paintings (when he's not cooking, he paints). The menu included fried oysters with chowchow and crispy ham; lemon king crab a la plancha with sweet-and-sour butter and crispy garlic chips; four-hour octopus with chiles, soy and lime; and spicy cucumber kimchi with napa cabbage.
 

Entertaining

Band of Outsiders Dinner Party

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marmalade

© Wired Images
Kevin West's Dewar's-spiked marmalade


The super-hip fashion label Band of Outsiders just opened a cool new design studio in Los Angeles. To christen the space, Band of Outsiders founder Scott Sternberg hosted a dinner party there last week, with cocktails from Dewar’s and food catered by F&W Best New Chefs 2009 Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of Animal.

Among the 100 guests who sat down to the brown-butcher-paper-covered table were actress Marisa Tomei, editor Lisa Love, model Jessica Joffe and author Bret Easton Ellis. A highlight of the night was Kevin West’s take-home gifts: The former W magazine editor turned jam obsessive, founder of West Sweet Preserves, used Dewar’s White Label to make an awesome marmalade with local Valencia oranges, Eureka lemons and Marsh grapefruits. For those not at the party, click here to order a jar.

Wine

Punta Del Este's New Food & Wine Festival

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punta

© Ariel Fernández of Southern-Press
Ambassador of USA in Uruguay, David Nelson, Gabriel Bialystocki, chef Ben Ford, and chef Toshio Tomita.


I’ve always associated Punta Del Este, on the eastern coast of Uruguay, with glamorous beaches rather than excellent food. But Gabriel Bialystocki, founder and director of Punta del Este’s first ever Food & Wine Festival, is changing that. Bialystocki has collected an impressive lineup of chefs from the US, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to participate in the month-long event. Each Saturday, selected chefs will host special dinners for up to 180 people. The dinners will highlight Uruguay’s local ingredients, and each dish will be paired with Uruguayan wines. Bialystocki e-mailed me an update from this past Saturday’s six-course dinner, prepared by Ben Ford of Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, CA; Gastón Yelicich of Isla de Flores in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay; and Toshio Tomita of Nobu in New York City. Highlights: Ford’s candied fennel, preserved lemon and mascarpone risotto; Tomita’s tuna sashimi in yuzu-soy sauce with jalapeños, with a garlic puree; and Yelicich’s dulce de leche mille-feuilles with chocolate mousse and sabayon cream.

The November 27 finale will be hosted by Argentinean chef Francis Mallmann, who will cook using his trademark seven fires, and Bialystocki promises to report on all of the delicious details.

Restaurants

Arsenal’s Awesome New Stadium Food

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arsenal

© Arsenal Football Club
Arsenal's new WM Club restaurant.


I am a huge sports fanatic, particularly when it comes to soccer—or, as the rest of the world refers to it, football. Usually, I find myself watching a match in a pub in London or a bodega in Barcelona, screaming at a TV screen with the locals. But this year I managed to score tickets to see Arsenal take on Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium in London (and, against all odds, lose!). The Brits have taken a few notes from the new haute food offerings at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium and opened three new restaurants and Legends, a cool sports bar with 40 TV screens, at the Club Level. Raymond Blanc protégé Oleg Ibragimov is in charge of the excellent menu at the WM Club restaurant (named for Herbert Chapman’s revolutionary 3-2-2-3 WM formation that looked like a “W” and “M” on the field). I dined pre-game and had my own personal “table concierge,” who delivered foie gras–and–pear compote with crème brûlée spoons; ham hock terrine with crispy quail’s eggs and homemade piccalilli; and Suffolk pork cheek and belly with red cabbage and crispy pork crackling. Before leaving for the start of the match, I was asked to fill out my halftime menu order. Would I like a cheese plate, wine, perhaps a beer? I checked off my menu card, and my snacks were all waiting at my table at the half. Guests can also come back post-game for Angus beef burgers, drinks and a chance to see Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and former players mingling with the fans.

Restaurants

F&W Exclusive: Why Three-Star Laurent Gras Is Leaving L20

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© Shimon and Tammar
Laurent Gras Is Coming to NYC.

First of all, let’s have a big round of applause for Laurent Gras, one of F&W’s beloved Best New Chefs, who is now also a Michelin three-star chef (remember, there are only nine such chefs in the entire United States). Here's what he has to say about his surprise move to leave his epic Chicago restaurant L20, right as the Michelin buzz is in full blast:

“I love L2O and am very proud of everything we achieved there. But [owner] Rich Melman and I have always had different points of view on L2O. In July, we talked about changes he wanted to make, and for me, these changes would alter the character of L2O and ultimately make it a different experience. I let him know then that I would be leaving. It seems sudden, but we worked together these past months to make the transition. For me, the most important thing was to make sure the restaurant stayed open and all my staff remained employed.”

And here’s more applause-worthy news for those of us in NYC: Gras is moving back to Manhattan, and he’s got a very interesting project (or two) up his sleeve. Look for news about it on his new blog, coming soon.

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