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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


Sean Brock Guest-Chefs at Aldea


brock, mendes, boulud

© Courtesy of Aldea
Sean Brock, George Mendes and Daniel Boulud.


I’m a huge fan of George Mendes, the extraordinarily talented chef at NYC’s Aldea restaurant, not only for his fantastically delicious food (like his awesome duck rice) but also for the true camaraderie he shares with his fellow chefs. Mendes has recently been inviting chefs from around the country to take over his kitchen and cook insanely good dinners. It's a wonderful way to exchange ideas and innovations, and a way for diners to experience some seriously good food without having to hop a plane. Sunday night, I was lucky enough to score a seat for a dinner prepared by Southern talent Sean Brock of McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina. The scene was like a supercool Sunday supper with guests that included chefs Daniel Boulud, Nate Appleman  and Paul Liebrandt, alongside other food-obsessed New Yorkers.

Highlights included Brock’s molecular take on classic shrimp-and-grits, studded with Benton’s sausage; a ridiculously flavorful 18-month country ham (made from pigs raised on Brock’s farm) wrapped around goat’s-milk cheese and pimento and paired with a shot of bourbon; and the most divine, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly (supplied by Bev Eggleston) served with heirloom beans.


Sous Vide Sealers


In our July issue we shared some simple sous vide recipes to try out with new countertop sous vide machines, and a few readers wrote in asking where to get vacuum sealers to try the technique at home. We can recommend two options:

1. The makers of the SousVide Supreme have come out with a terrific countertop vacuum sealer that's sturdy and easy to use, as well as certified food-grade bags (certified to be free of Bisphenol-A, lead and any phthalates). It's great not only for cooking sous vide but for keeping foods fresh in the refrigerator. $130;

2. Resealable freezer bags also work, if a little less elegantly. At a recent class at the French Culinary Institute, food science whiz Dave Arnold demonstrated the following ingenious method: insert the item to be cooked into the bag and close all but 1/4-inch of the seal. Submerge all but the unsealed corner of the bag in a large, deep bowl of water and let the water press out all of the air. Close the seal and transfer the bag to the prepared water bath.


Daring Pairing Ideas


proof on main

© Proof on Main
Proof on Main


Last night, an all-star lineup of wine-and-food talents gathered at Proof on Main, the restaurant at 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, to host a dinner of unconventional wine pairings. Proof on Main’s chef, Michael Paley, along with chefs Kevin Nashan from Sidney Street Cafe and F&W Best New Chef 2008 Gerard Craft from St. Louis, Missouri’s Niche restaurant teamed up with master sommelier and author Evan Goldstein to create a menu inspired by Goldstein’s newest book, Daring Pairings. The book explores the pairing potential of 36 emerging grape varietals, matching each grape with recipes from star chefs. Each pairing of the five-course menu was designed to engage one of the basic tastes: tart, bitter, sweet and salty. Here, a few of the excellent pairings from the dinner:

2008 Martin Codax Albariño with pickled and puffed vegetables on raw-milk ricotta
2009 Dona Paula Torrontes with crispy Greenwood Farm pork belly and a bourbon mustard  

2008 Paolo Scavino Alba Barbera with O'Fallon-5-day-IPA-poached spot prawns with olive-oil-cured black olives, fennel and grilled new potatoes

We offer more great pairing ideas from the F&W archives.


“Recycling Ingredients” at L'Artusi


Wasting food is one of my biggest pet peeves. So I'm always looking for new ideas to get extra use out of leftovers or scraps. One of my favorite Manhattan restaurants, L’Artusi, inspired me this week with its resourcefulness. To make his stellar day-boat halibut with grilled corn, cherry tomatoes and basil, chef Gabe Thompson poaches the halibut in whey, the byproduct of the process they use to make their own ricotta cheese. It makes the fish silky-smooth and creamy, in addition to being a useful “recycled” ingredient. The dish will be on the menu through Sunday.


The Newest Hotel Amenity: A Farmers’ Market


The just-opened Andaz Fifth Avenue in NYC may be getting all of the attention with its incredible artwork (it’s worth a trip just to see the eight-foot-high Nick Hornby sculpture) and its ground-level shop selling Blue Bottle Coffee and Mast Bros. Chocolate. But its older sister property, the Andaz Wall Street, is about to one-up it. This Saturday, Andaz Wall Street debuts its very own farmers’ market. All of the participating purveyors (Migliorelli Farm, Beth’s Farm Kitchen, Eckerton Hill Farm) supply the hotel’s restaurant Wall & Water. There will also be live music, plus monthly cooking classes conducted by Wall & Water’s chef Maximo Lopez May. The market will be held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. through November.


An Artist's Version of a Top Chef Challenge


jane hotel

© Benoit Pailley
Chef Patric Criss with his watermelon and cantaloupe juice shots.


Last week, I had the chance to preview the New Museum’s fantastic new three-floor exhibit A Day Like Any Other from Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander. As if the “I Wish Your Wish” installation (click here for an interactive version) weren't cool enough, Neuenschwander dazzled our senses one step further by re-creating her performance art piece "Gastronomic Translations" at the Jane Hotel (this Wall Street Journal story likens it to a Top Chef challenge). For the piece's inception in 2003, Neuenschwander took a shopping list found in a supermarket in Frankfurt, Germany and mailed it to two chefs in São Paulo, Brazil; each then used the items on the list—from cashews and coffee to bananas and oranges—to create a meal, comprising varied dishes and influences. For our meal, Neuenschwander gave chefs Benedetto Bartolotta and Patric Chriss, of the catering company Indulge by Bene, the same challenge (and the same shopping list). Despite the absence of salt, the chefs created brilliantly delicious menus that were starkly different, e.g., Bartolotta created a banana-and-cashew tart with a coffee glaze, while Chriss made cashew-crusted banana skewers with an orange-reduction zabaglione.


Marcus Samuelsson’s World Cup Eats


Editor's Note: Marcus Samuelsson has been a very busy star chef. Earlier this month, he won Season 2 of Top Chef Masters; almost immediately afterward, he represented South Africa at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen (yes, he brought a vuvuzela, the World Cup's noisy stadium horn). Because of his busy schedule, he couldn't actually be at the historic World Cup in South Africa. But the Ethiopian-born, soccer-obsessed chef is still carefully following the games and reporting on them for Food & Wine. Here's his first World Cup installment.

I am a huge soccer fan and have been intensely following the 2010 FIFA World Cup on the screen. It was especially exciting to watch this past weekend. During the Germany-England game, the passion among the players was palpable, and it was crazy to see the well-known England players go home at the end. As for U.S.-Ghana, the Americans played a good game and they should be proud, but still, it was great to see the Ghana team celebrate.

To feel like I’m right there at the games, I prepare delicious South African dishes like “bunny chow,” which is like a bread pocket stuffed with delicious curry. It’s perfect game-day food because you can eat it with your hands. I also discovered boerwors (traditional South African sausages) during one of my trips. Eating it makes me feel like I’m sitting in the stadium with a painted face, blowing my vuvuzela with all my might. Check back here soon for my sausage-patty recipe. Plus, find more of my recipes from the F&W archives here.

To hear more of my thoughts on this year’s World Cup and food, follow me on Twitter: @marcuscooks.


Food & Wine Classic 2010: Top Three Highlights


© Rory Tischler
Food & Wine Classic Chefs Go Direct to Aspen

How many highlights do I have from this year’s Classic? A million. They won’t all fit here. But there were a few brand-new experiences that I hope become key to all Classics.

Private Bombardier Jet to Aspen
All I’ll say is that if you want to make the flight to Aspen one of your highlights, this is how to do it. See if Tom Colicchio, Dave Chang, Morimoto, Jacques Pépin, Joe Bastianich, Drew Nieporent  and Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi can come, too. And make sure you’re open to drinking some Dom Pérignon.

Jean-Louis Chave Tasting
The legendary Rhône winemaker came to Aspen for the first time. And he brought his 2000 Hermitage Blanc and 2004 Hermitage Rouge with him (plus several other outstanding vintages). It was so extraordinary that Best New Chef 2010 Jonathon Sawyer had to be there—even though his BNC dinner was just two hours away.

Mario Batali’s Best of Ligurian Cooking/Charity Demo

So, Mario’s demos are always the best. But this year, he closed it out with an unprecedented double fund-raising event. KitchenAid auctioned off Batali-signed mixers in part for their Cook for the Cure (which supports the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation), and also for Batali’s newest cause: Help for Jose, which is raising money for his employee Jose Mendoza, who lost both his legs in a subway accident. (The good news: It’s not too late to send messages to Jose or to donate to the cause.)


John Besh on His New TV Show


John Besh

© Courtesy of American Express Video Presents Insider City Guides
Chef John Besh

A new food-TV show debuts tonight that I'm looking forward to watching. Last week, before John Besh took off for the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, I got to speak with the F&W Best New Chef 1999 about his new series, Inedible to Incredible, which premieres tonight on TLC. Besh modestly insists that the episodes are so good because they're not about him: They're about the people he teaches how to cook. "I walked away from each episode feeling like I’d made a difference," he says. Modeled on another TLC show, What Not To Wear, the new show features the former Marine and chef/owner of several of New Orleans's best restaurants staging interventions with flailing home cooks—and getting delicious results. In tonight's episode, he meets a woman who garnishes overcooked flank steak with Fig Newtons. Besh teaches her how to cook a steak to medium-rare, then shows her an easy fig glaze. "I’ve heard from her several times since," he said. "She's moved on to different steaks and glazes. Something clicked, and she got it."

Indedible to Incredible premieres tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern on TLC.

Here, incredible John Besh recipes from the F&W archives. 


Good Eats in the Berkshires


red lion inn

© Red Lion Inn
The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA.

My crazy wedding season (six this summer) officially kicked off this past weekend. Lucky for me, my friends have all chosen pretty awesome locations in which to get married. Wedding number one took me to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. The wedding was at an adorable place called Santarella in Tyringham that looked like it should have been the hamlet where the hobbits live in Lord of the Rings. I managed to sneak in a marathon eating tour of the area between wedding festivities, and—contrary to a recent Huffington Post story—had some amazing meals. Here, a rundown:

I stayed at the historic, 18th-century Red Lion Inn on a corner of Main Street in Stockbridge. The inn feels like a tribute to Americana with its amazing art collection, Otis Birdcage elevator (which you can really ride on) and even a desk once used by Abraham Lincoln. The restaurant menu in the dining room is a tribute to the area’s local artisans and farmers, including Farm Girl Farm and Berkshire Brewing Company in Great Barrington; Hill Top Orchards in Richmond; and Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. in Old Chatham, NY. Chef Brian Alberg recently introduced separate sustainable menus featuring dishes like an irresistible broken-yolk breakfast sandwich with smoked bacon on thick, toasted Berkshire Mountain Bakery bread. His dinner menu offers some surprises like a roasted eggplant Bolognese that uses quinoa spaghetti and basil oil; and for dessert, a house-made version of my favorite Aussie sweet, Tim Tams.

In nearby Lenox, brunch at the laid-back, two-year-old Haven Cafe & Bakery is phenomenal. I took home the house-made granola and ginger-cardamom scones and stayed for the Eggs “Sardo”—poached eggs topped with sautéed artichoke hearts, spinach and dill hollandaise.

Around the block on Church Street, the Wit Gallery showcases an eclectic mix of art including photography, sculpture and mixed media and recently also started selling artisanal wines from small, family-owned producers like Eric Kent.

Just a few doors away is the barely year-old, 28-seat restaurant Nudel, where chef-owner Bjorn Somlo cooks remarkable seasonally driven food with local ingredients. My braised-Berkshire-pork sandwich with pickled vegetables and spicy sambal aioli had me plotting ways to skip the wedding dinner so I could come back to try his bone-marrow Bolognese or garganelli with ramps and almond pesto.

More tomorrow on my Great Barrington, Massachusetts, finds.

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