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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


Montauk's Surf Lodge Kicks Off Summer


surf lodge

© Joe Termini
The Surf Lodge, Montauk.

This weekend, the Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York, opens for its third summer season. The laid-back, Endless Summer-vibe and beachy-chic decor make it one of my favorite hotels. As always, the hotel has a stellar lineup of music talent scheduled (G. Love, Mishka and the Beautiful Girls, to name a few). Top Chef Season 2 star Sam Talbot is still in the kitchen, but this year he’s introducing a Hawaiian lunch menu. Also new is the debut of the Food Stand, which will serve fish tacos, lobster rolls and Hawaiian plate lunches late-night, from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. Another addition for 2010 is the Store at the Surf Lodge, a supercool boutique curated by boutique owner Bethany Mayer, featuring clothes by the awesome eco-conscious designer Rogan Gregory; his label, Loomstate, collaborated with the Surf Lodge and Bloomingdale's to create a capsule collection of surf-inspired clothing; the Surf Lodge staff will also be rocking Loomstate Organic uniforms this season. The store opens Memorial Day weekend and will sell a mix of pieces from designers like Jill Platner, Surf Bazaar (a new line designed for and sold exclusively at the Surf Lodge), Loomstate for the Surf Lodge and Tracy.


Early Look: Má Pêche Beef Seven Ways


© Ben Leventhal
Má Pêche's cote de bouef extravaganza.

No, I didn’t need another reason to sit down at a Momofuku restaurant. But I got one anyway now that Má Pêche, the new David Chang-owned restaurant in midtown Manhattan, is launching its answer to Ssäm Bar’s bo ssäm and Noodle Bar’s fried chicken party platters. In fact, chef Tien Ho has picked a whole new protein—beef—which he’s serving seven ways. (Let’s note that Ho’s commitment to quality beef is so strong that he picks seven different kinds of beef—from Creekstone in Kansas to Four Story Hill Farm in Pennsylvania—for the Vietnamese-style feast.)

Course 1: Tongue salad with spinach, basil and a sweet-tangy plum vinaigrette, plus just-seared wagyu with a version of Momofuku’s signature ginger-scallion dressing.

Course 2: An over-the-top platter of ridiculous côte de boeuf and chunks of lemongrass-and-Thai-basil beef sausage. (Here’s where you’ll see Momofuku’s first-ever steak knives.) There’s a circus of accompaniments, including lettuce leaves, pickled vegetables, fried garlic and shallots and a key bottle of fish-sauce vinaigrette.

Course 3: A monster beef shank braised with crab paste and chiles, served with soy- and sherry-infused oxtails. The accompaniments stay on the table, so you can eat a hunk of beef shank by itself or wrap it up in lettuce with whatever else you want.

Course 4: A dainty cup of full-flavor beef bouillon with herbs and lime.

Super-Bonus Course 5: A round of perfectly ripe Époisses cheese, which is served dripping off spoons with a perfectly warm baguette.

NBC’s Feast has even more details and photos.


Fergus Henderson’s Hotel Project



© Laurie Fletcher
Chef-hotelier Fergus Henderson

Legendary nose-to-tail genius Fergus Henderson of London’s St. John and St. John Bread and Wine quietly snuck into town last week with his wife, Margot (also a chef and the owner of the fabulous London café Rochelle Canteen. In between cooking lunch at Barbuto with Jonathan Waxman and helping Margot prepare a dinner at the Artist Space on Saturday night, Fergus and his partner Trevor Gulliver sat down with me at the Breslin to share details about their newest project, the St. John Hotel, which will open this September in London’s still-seedy Chinatown neighborhood. Here, a few teasers:

1. Even though there are only 15 rooms, Fergus assures there will be nothing boutiquey about the hotel. “It will be a not-too-shiny inn,” he says, “because really, we don’t do shiny. No piles of cushions or throws on the beds. Nothing too fancy. I’m calling it a miniature, grand urban hut.”
2. The hotel’s 70-cover restaurant will give Fergus his first real chance to experiment with breakfast. “I’m thinking deviled kidneys, blood sausage and cheeky buttery buns,” he says.
3. The restaurant will serve a very special afternoon tea and “elevenses” (the Brits’ midday snack). “I think everyone can use a glass of Madeira and a sweet cake at 11 a.m.” says Fergus.
4. He says that the ceiling of the bar will look like the belly of a blue whale. The bar will be open and serving food until 2 a.m. and will have a great mix of French wines, craft beers from Meantime Brewing and a nice selection of eaux-de-vie and digestifs.


Chef Cameos at Patois on HBO'S Treme



Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert, Wylie Dufresne, David Chang, Patois, Treme








I’ve been dying to sign up for HBO ever since I heard about the New Orleans-based show, Treme, and now I have another reason: As Eater reported earlier this week, superstar chefs Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert, Wylie Dufresne and David Chang all make cameos on this Sunday’s episode. In the photo here, they are standing at the bar at Patois—a restaurant that makes frequent appearances on the show. Set in a former po’ boy shop in a quiet uptown neighborhood, Patois is where I’d hang out every week if I lived in NOLA. The restaurant has great cocktails (they’re famous for one made with gin and bread-and-butter pickle juice) and terrific food from chef Aaron Burgau, who is such a diehard Saints fan that he showed my friend and me his “Who dat!” tattoo inside his lower lip on my last visit. I especially loved the crab salad: tad chunks of sweet lump meat, fresh hearts of palm and bright local sprouts lightly dressed with a lemon basil vinaigrette. Burgau’s food isn’t all so ethereally light: His smoked rabbit gumbo—dark as black coffee and studded with spicy andouille sausage—made me finally get the appeal of this Louisiana classic. I can’t wait to go back.

In the meantime, I'll be making some of these recipes here and here


Best Dish of the James Beard Gala


Alaskan king crab

© Michael Muser
Curtis Duffy's Alaskan king crab dish.


The past two days have been a blur of eating and drinking as the country's top chefs decended on NYC for the James Beard Awards. Of all the food I've eaten in the last 48 hours I can't stop thinking about the insanely brilliant Alaskan king crab dish Curtis Duffy and his talented crew from Avenues in Chicago were serving after last night's awards gala. I met Curtis earlier in the day and asked if it wasn't a bit ambitious to attempt to pull off a mini version of one of his hyper-creative restaurant dishes for a hungry audience of 1,200. His response: "If I'm going to NYC to cook for the James Beard Awards, I'm going to go big." He certainly did. Lovely chunks of Alaskan king crab were served in a cucumber consommé topped with a delicate three-sugar tuile that was garnished with wild-steelhead roe, kalamansi and lemon balm. The dish was complex, refreshing, artistic and came served in a little plastic cup that conveniently cradled into the top of my wine glass. I was beyond impressed, to the point where I had to have seconds. If that's what Curtis and his team can pull off for a crowd at Avery Fisher Hall, I can only imagine the full-blown version they serve at Avenues.


Derby Drinking and Fight Night Eats



© Eleven Madison Park
Chef Daniel Humm at last year's Derby party.

I couldn’t be more excited about the weekend. During the day, I’ll be drinking mint juleps at Eleven Madison Park’s awesome Kentucky Derby party. Chef Daniel Humm has created Southern-inspired dishes like hush puppies with turkey leg confit and sorrel butter, biscuits with country ham and rhubarb marmalade, and fried chicken and waffles with bourbon maple syrup. The Master Distiller at Maker’s Mark will also be hosting bourbon tastings. (Maker’s Mark gave Humm some moonshine-esque White Dog–unaged Maker’s Mark bourbon–to play around with, and he's created a mignonette out of it for the oysters at the raw bar.)

At night, I’m amped to watch Floyd Mayweather, Jr., take on Sugar Shane Mosley in the boxing ring. After an unhealthy day of Southern-fried indulgence, I’ll be cooking a healthy dinner for friends inspired by dishes from Boston chef (and boxing hobbyist) Barbara Lynch.


Tasty (Mis)Adventures in Vegetarian Red Wine Pairings


Our May story on Bonny Doon and the brilliant chef behind their new Tasting Room, Charlie Parker, inspired me to try pairing vegetarian dishes with big red wines at home. If only I had the professional finesse of Bonny Doon. Earlier this week Ray Isle gave me half a case of big reds from the F&W tasting room for the experiment, which I was about to take on the subway when it started to pour. Since I had to hold an umbrella with one hand, I could only grab two of the six bottles with the other: a 2007 Praxis Lagrein and a 2006 Masi Campofiorin. Then, once I was at home I discovered the Campofiorin was corked.

I made my stuffed red bell peppers anyway, filling them with cooked red quinoa and feta cheese, and simmering them in a tomato sauce spiked with a pinch of chile flakes. Finally I tried them with the Lagrein. They tasted just how you'd imagine stuffed bell peppers would, if they'd been garnished with blueberry jam. I had much better luck with the 2009 Hofer Grüner Veltliner in my refrigerator: the faint floral notes married well with the juicy bell peppers, while the white pepper and zippy acidity lightened the rich stuffing. But there is nothing big nor is there anything red about Grüner-Veltliner, though it may be one of the most vegetable-friendly white wines out there. So I'm going to take a page out of Randall Grahm's book and try again.

Meanwhile, enjoy these brilliant vegetarian pairings from Charlie Parker:

Savoy Cabbage and Sunchoke Pizzas with a Dolcetto

Smoky Ribollita with a Sangiovese

Roasted Turnips and their Greens, with a Syrah


Chefs Cooking and Training for a Cause


Jen Biesty

© Kimpton
Jen Biesty of Scala's Bistro.

Kimpton Hotels recently brought some of its most talented female chefs to New York City to cook at the Dress for Success gala, an amazing event that raised more than $1.1 million for the incredible charity.

I had a chance to hang with two of the chefs: Keira Moritz, the driven Southerner in charge of Pacci Ristorante at Atlanta’s Hotel Palomar, and Jen Biesty, the Top Chef Season 4 alum now heading the kitchen at Scala’s Bistro, at  San Francisco’s Sir Francis Drake hotel. I  was impressed not only by their insane work ethic in the kitchen, but also by their endless energy outside of the restaurant. Moritz signs up for a marathon every time she moves to a new city (she had previously been at Puccini & Pinetti in San Francisco and was most recently at Panzano in Denver). While most chefs get off work and head out for late-night eats with industry friends, Moritz heads to a 24-hour gym to log miles on the treadmill. This year she'll be training for the Atlanta Marathon in November and raising money for the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Biesty opts to train on two wheels and in morning workouts for the AIDS LifeCycle ride. The seven-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles takes place in June, and Biesty is currently raising money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Click here to help her reach her $5,000 fund-raising goal and support a great cause.


Ode to Food-Obsessed Servers



© Telepan
NYC's Telepan restaurant.


I’m always game to have a chef cook for me when I’m at a restaurant. But when it comes to putting my trust in the server to help navigate my meal, I become wary. There is no greater disappointment than being let down after ordering what you've been assured beyond reason is the restaurant’s not-to-be-missed dish instead of your gut order. So I’m truly impressed when my server can not only orchestrate the perfect order, but also do so with contagious enthusiasm. The other night, I was at the great Upper West Side restaurant Telepan. The dining room caters to a sophisticated uptown crowd and isn’t the type of setting where you expect your server to describe a dish as “stupid-silly good comfort food,” but ours did just that. How could I not order the “Southern-style” croque madame after that kind of outburst? Our server, Jeffrey Greene, has known chef Bill Telepan since Telepan's days as a sous chef at Gotham Bar & Grill and he has been at Telepan nearly since it’s opening. Greene had a story to share for practically every dish we asked about ("Chef dislikes saffron, so he uses an herb oil in its place for the spring paella"). And his every suggestion was spot-on, including the dubious-sounding pea pancakes, which he described as "the essence of Spring," served with wild mushrooms, pea agnolotti and spring vegetables (it turned out to be my favorite dish of the night). So I'm giving a quick shout-out to food-obssessive servers like Jeffrey, who help make a good dining experience great by sharing their passion for their chef's food.


Inside the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards


© Cook It Raw/Per Anders Jorgensen
René Redzepi (left), chef of the World's Best Restaurant, Noma.

I get so caught up in F&W’s 10 Best New Chefs in America that I forget about the rest of the world. Luckily, our phenomenal contributor Anya von Bremzen (author of The New Spanish Table) doesn’t. In F&W’s May issue, von Bremzen chronicled food congresses like Madrid Fusión and elite chefs like René Redzepi of Noma who are the stars of those congresses. (This year, she noted, the trend was neo-naturalism.) And now the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards have just been announced, and almost all the chefs von Bremzen featured are on the list. Guess what was the #1 restaurant: Noma. Here are AVB’s thoughts on the 50 Best Restaurant list.

“This award is about current critical opinion. Noma’s #1 reflects a turn away from molecular, toward new naturalism. Definitely, it’s a new direction and a new era. Ferran Adria, obviously everyone knows he’s closing El Bulli, so the vote makes sense [he slipped to #2 this year]. I think the food poisoning news hurt Heston Blumenthal [his Fat Duck fell one spot to #3]. The Roca brothers are big current media darlings; their food is super-technical yet accessible [their El Cellar de Can Roca, up one spot to #4]. And France! Le Chateaubriand went up 29 spots! [to #11], while three-star L’Astrance is down 5 [to #16]. So critical opinion is swaying towards bistronomie.”

Here’s what I’ll say in my defense. Of the seven U.S. chefs on the Top 50 List, six of them are F&W Best New Chefs. Hooray for:  

BNC '02 Grant Achatz of #7 Alinea in Chicago
BNC '88 Daniel Boulud of #8 Daniel in New York City
BNC '88 too! Thomas Keller of #10 Per Se in New York City and and #32 French Laundry in Yountville, California
BNC '06 David Chang of #26 Momofuku Ssäm Bar in New York City
BNC '01 Wylie Dufresne of #45 wd-50 in New York City
BNC '05 Daniel Humm of #50 Eleven Madison Park in New York City

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