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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Recipes

California Lifts Infused-Booze Ban

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Fennel and Fig Vodka

© Frances Janisch
Fennel and Fig Vodka

Good news for California cocktail enthusiasts: Governor Jerry Brown has announced the end of a Prohibition-era law that made it illegal for bars to infuse spirits with other ingredients, the New York Times reports. California's bars have been infusing liquor for years with no issues, but recently the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control started cracking down. Celebrate the West Coast’s break from the vestiges of Prohibition by creating some of your own tipsy infusions, such as an aromatic fennel-and-fig-infused vodka, plus more:

Chai-Infused Cognac
Beet-Horseradish-Infused Vodka
Jalapeño Tequila
Jasmine Gin
Nori Apple Brandy
Strawberry Pineapple Pisco

Cocktails

Julie Reiner’s Summer Cocktail Tips

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All-star mixologist Julie Reiner stopped by Food & Wine's Facebook page last week for a live Kitchen Insider chat about cocktails and home-bartending. The force behind NYC's Flatiron Lounge, Clover Club, and now Lani Kai shared these great tips and recipes for Labor Day. 


Mixologist Julie Reiner.

The perfect poolside cocktail for Labor Day weekend, using St. Germain: My sister-in-law is obsessed with St. Germain! She has been making a pitcher drink with Gin, St. Germain, grapefruit and lime juice, and soda. I like to mix a little bit of St. Germain with Champagne or white wine as well.

When it's over 100 degrees: Wow! That is hot. The Southside Royale would be great, but you may want to substitute club soda for the Champagne. With that kind of heat, it's better to cut the alcohol content a little bit. With soda, it is called a Southside Fizz. A Pimm's Cup is another good one, or a simple daiquiri. Also, I made a daiquiri last weekend with Rhum J.M. Blanc which was delicious! It's an Agricole rum. Margaritas are my favorite cocktail with barbecue!

Favorite drinks for a group: When I am entertaining a large group of people, I like to serve a punch, or a pitcher-style drink. They are easy to batch out ahead of time so that you can enjoy yourself as well. I have been making raspberry Tom Collins all summer for groups of friends at the pool. Very simple, but a real crowd-pleaser: Gin, fresh lemon, raspberry syrup and club soda.

Fun watermelon cocktails: Watermelon is certainly refreshing. I find that it blends best with white spirits, but be sure to muddle it into the drink. I once put a watermelon drink on my menu and realized that if you juice the watermelon ahead of time, it begins to taste like cucumber in a very short time frame.

Best mixes to keep on hand for guests to make their own drinks: It's always nice to have a selection of juices, sodas and vermouth. You may also want to put out a cocktail shaker so that your guests can mix their cocktail if they would like to.


Cocktails

Beyond the Lemonade Stand

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© Buff Strickland

Maybe you heard about this: A few weeks ago, police shut down a lemonade stand in Midway, Georgia. The stand wasn’t a front for drug dealers; it was a money-making scheme by three young local girls who wanted to go a water park. Apparently in Midway you need a business license for a lemonade stand.

In honor of the Midway Lemonade Girls – who are now selling their product at the Richmond Hill Farmers Market on Tuesdays, no permits necessary — let’s look at some fun lemonades that are keeping folks cool during this long, hot summer.

Lemonade, Los Angeles. Yes, that’s the actual name of the place, which has three locations around LA. They offer 6 or so types of lemonade daily with rotating flavors, like peach-ginger, andblueberry-mint; the newest and most popular one is hibiscus. If you’re looking for a deal, all lemonades are $1 on Tuesdays the downtown Flower Street shop. And if you need relief from lemonade, there’s assorted salads and paninis on the menu, too.

Del's Frozen Lemonade, Rhode Island. I knew lemonade was classic but I didn’t know you could trace it back to 1840, Naples, Italy. At least that’s the origin of Del’s, which claims that the first version of their refreshing sweet-tart drink was made by someone’s great grandfather with wintertime snow, big fat ripe lemons and sugar. Fast forward to now, Del’s has branches in over a dozen states and flavors like watermelon. Their brand newest flavors are grapefruit and pomegranate.

Big City Grill & Lemonade, Indianapolis.
Lemonade isn’t the point here: most people focus on the Philly cheesesteaks (or the Philly buster, made with steak, chicken and ground beef) and the nachos, which you can get with extra cheese by the cup. But everyone loves the lemonade, too, which they say is made with real lemons and a great deal at $2.09 for 20 ounces. I’m not asking if flavors like fruit punch are all-natural.

Mario's Italian Lemonade, Chicago. When its super hot, like it often is in Chicago in summer, it’s great to have a lemonade that’s really a shaved Italian ice. The classic is especially good and it’s dotted with little pieces of lemon, but there’s also melon and even pina colada if you’re going fancier. The place is open straight through from 10 am to midnight, which is a good thing because nights in Chicago are pretty hot, too.

Mister Parker’s Lemonade Stand at The Parker Palm Springs, Palm Springs, CA. You’re poolside at The Parker, thinking you might want to play a game of croquet on the nearby court if only you had some refreshment. Luckily for you, the Lemonade Stand is right there, making drinks like their their excellent frozen muddled vodka lemonade with lemons grown right on the hotel grounds. If you don’t have the strength to get to the stand, they will deliver your cocktail to the hammock area by bicycle.

Related Links:
Lemonade Recipes
Awesome Summer Drinks
Party Punch Recipes

(Pictured: Tarragon Lemonade)

Farms

Back to School: Culinary Classes

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The September issue reveals some of the hottest new culinary classes that teach amateurs how to make fresh pasta, martinis and more.

Culinary Classes: Pasta Crash Course

© © Antonis Achilleos
Culinary Classes: Pasta Crash Course

Pasta Crash Course: Flour + Water, San Francisco
In the restaurant's Dough Room, chef Thomas McNaughton teaches a three-part pasta curriculum, from beginner (flat noodles) to advanced (stuffed pasta). The fee includes dinner and pasta to take home. Pasta classes, $220.

Pop-Up Lessons: Flash Kitchen; Portland, OR
With sponsorship from Whole Foods, local chefs like Beaker & Flask's Ben Bettinger teach free cooking classes in parks and schools throughout the city. And plans are in the works to expand  to cities like New York City, Chicago and Oakland, California. Free classes; facebook.com/WholeFoodsMarketPortland.

Farm School: Love Apple Farms; Santa Cruz, CA
Blogger Pim Techamuanvivit and famed Manresa chef David Kinch offer tours of his kitchen-garden farm, plus cooking lessons and a meal. Cooking classes, $145.

Cocktails 101: Whistler, Chicago
On Sunday afternoons at his Logan Square bar, mixologist Paul McGee teaches students the cocktail basics—syrups, garnishes, tools. He also serves them three great drinks and sends them off with a copy of his recipe book.Cocktail classes, $95

Related: Gastronaut: How to Make Sushi with Morimoto

Menus

A Menu Edward Scissorhands Would Love

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Tim Burton (American, b. 1958), Untitled (Edward Scissorhands), 1990, Pen and ink, and pencil on paper, 14 1/4 x 9" (36.2 x 22.9 cm), Private Collection

© Twentieth Century Fox, © 2011 Tim Burton
Tim Burton (American, b. 1958), Untitled (Edward Scissorhands), 1990, Pen and ink, and pencil on paper, 14 1/4 x 9" (36.2 x 22.9 cm), Private Collection


As I reported a few weeks back, museum restaurants are undergoing a new wave of innovation—a happy trend for those equally obsessed with food and art, like the amazing trendsetters we profile in our September 2011 issue. In Los Angeles, chef Kris Morningstar geeks out on the chance to get creative with the menu at Ray’s & Stark Bar, the new Renzo Piano–designed restaurant at the L.A. County Museum of Art. For the current Tim Burton exhibition, Morningstar consulted with the famously kooky director to develop menu specials like White Rabbit with Tea in a Mushroom Forest, a bacon-wrapped saddle of rabbit with chanterelle mushrooms and pistachio crumble. “Our goal is not to be pretentious,” says Morningstar, “but we felt that, for Tim Burton, the menu should be a little bit off the wall.” The Burton classic Edward Scissorhands (my personal favorite) meets its culinary counterpart in a dish of razor clams (ha ha) and burnt octopus in squid-olive broth, garnished with a trimmed “hedge” of fresh herbs. If you need a cocktail to get into the macabre mood, try the Dr. Burton at Stark Bar: The rum-and-amaro-based concoction evokes the flavors of Burton’s favorite soda, Dr Pepper. The specials will be available through the exhibition’s close on Halloween. Next up: architecture-inspired plates to celebrate the upcoming California Design exhibit this fall.

Beer

NYC's Greatest Beer Dinner Ever

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Labeling a special beer, Local 11, for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner at Eleven Madison Park.

© Nathan Rawlinson
Labeling a special beer, Local 11, for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner at Eleven Madison Park.

 

Beer is often associated with backyard barbecues and sporting events, but writer Christian DeBenedetti reports on the growing trend of craft beer showing up in some of the country’s best restaurants:


“American craft beer's surge into the spotlight has taken many forms, but until relatively recently, beer dinners in ultra-fine-dining settings were generally considered oddities, one-offs or experiments, rather than the norm. No longer: American brewers from the likes of Allagash in Maine, Oregon's Deschutes and Delaware's Dogfish Head are working with top-tier chefs from Thomas Keller of Per Se to Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns to present beers and foods that are well matched and fun to try together.

Recently the beer dinner concept hit a new high with the collaboration between New York's Brooklyn Brewery and Eleven Madison Park. For the event, brewmaster Garrett Oliver worked with chef Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park general manager Will Guidara and Eleven Madison Park dining room manager/beer coordinator Kirk Kelewae to create a pairing menu almost entirely from scratch.

The dinner included Local 11, a beer made by aging the dark, abbey-style ale Brooklyn Local 2 in 20-year old Pappy Van Winkle whiskey barrels. It had never been tasted outside the brewery before this dinner. "Garrett really opened my eyes in a big way," said Humm. "Craft beer works really well with food; there's so much to it. And it's not just rustic food—sausages and stuff like that—but also really refined food, because the beers are really refined."

Unlike most beer dinners—perhaps any other beer dinner that has ever taken place—the collaboration started with the beers, not the menu. "We're getting a chance to show the real creative evolution of the brewery," Oliver told me as guests sipped on an aperitif beer called The Concoction, inspired by the classic Penicillin cocktail and redolent of whisky, ginger, lemon and honey. "Usually these things are done by e-mail," Oliver continued. "The chef sends me a menu, I send back the pairings. And it often turns out wonderfully. This time, the Eleven Madison Park team came out to the brewery and spent three-and-a-half hours tasting with us. Then they went back with the beers and developed the menu in the other direction. This is a whole new way to do things."

The night’s highlights included a foie gras terrine with strawberry, yuzu and black pepper paired with Wild 1, a beer brewed in 2008 and aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, then refermented with Brettanomyces, the earthy, fickle yeast strain prized by Belgian brewers; and Pennsylvania's Four Story Hill Farm suckling pig with apricot and cardamom, paired with the Local 11. Oliver, for his part, was ecstatic. "I've done about 700 beer dinners, but this is the ultimate."

Here's a photo gallery from former Eleven Madison Park sommelier-turned-professional photographer Nathan Rawlinson along with a short video report.

Beer

Things To Do At A Restaurant—Besides Eat

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If there’s one thing I want to do in a restaurant, it’s eat something amazing. But if I get to eat something good and beat my friend at ping pong, well then things are going really well for me. Happily, there’s a whole new world of restaurants that decided to take the Dave & Busters concept to another level, combining great food with superfun extracurricular activities.
 
Fly Fishing at the Restaurant at the Little Nell, Aspen – The hotel hasn’t actually installed a river in the middle of their dining room. But they do take guests out for a fly-fishing lesson and chef Robert McCormick will serve a waterside lunch on fine china, along the lines of salmon crostini and housemade ice cream sandwiches.  Starting this summer, they’ll make trips in a gorgeous new made-in-Montana wooden boat. thelittlenell.com
 
Surfing at Casa del Mar, Santa Monica – The name, Surf with Chef, says everything you need to know. You get a surf lesson with a private instructor and chef Jason Bowlin (chef at the hotel’s Catch restaurant; let’s assume he’s a good surfer); then Bowlin will slide in and serve lunch made with ingredients you’ve caught…. No! from the nearby farmer’s market, where he’ll make dishes like roasted beets with burrata. hotelcasadelmar.com
 
Rocking out at Sam’s, Boston – Sam’s co-owner, guitarist Drew Parsons (of American HiFi) often plays live sets on Friday nights at the restaurant. Extra credit to Sam’s: they also have a bocce court where groups can compete and sample dishes like black pepper patty burgers, and drink a Captain Hilt, a mix of bourbon, chartreuse and raspberry puree. samsatlouis.com
 
Ping-Ponging at Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club, NYC – Down at South Street Seaport, chef Jason Mayer serves German bratwurst on a pretzel bun (also hand-stretched pretzel snacks and cinnamon-sugar pretzels for dessert). There’s live music (George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at the end of July!) and a rec room dream assortment of ping pong, foosball and pool. beekmanbeergarden.com
 
Related Links
 
America’s Wacky Fair Foods
 
America’s Weirdest Regional Foods
 
American Beer, Bourbon and More

World’s Weirdest Restaurants
 
World’s Top 10 Life-Changing Restaurants

Wine

Early Look: Fatty Crab St. John

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Fatty Crab, St. John.

I haven't made it down to Battery Park to check out the brand-new Fatty in the Battery. Needless to say, I also haven't visited Fatty Crab St. John in the US Virgin Islands. But Charles Bieler, one of F&W’s excellent 40 Big Thinkers Under 40 and one of the Three Thieves wine founders, has recently been to Fatty's Caribbean outpost. And shares this report.

St. John already had some eating and drinking classics: Who doesn’t love a Painkiller from the Beach Bar or a burger from Skinny Legs? But three months ago, Fatty Crab began cranking out heady dishes that raise the bar on the island's food considerably. This is the same Fatty Crab that I know and love from New York City, and yes, they brought a lot of their chile-fueled dishes with them. That includes the fiery “salt & pepper” squid, a Thai take on fried calamari with Sriracha sauce. The squid tentacles with fresh house-made cheese and tomato confit is much milder; so is the blackfin tuna tartare with yuzu and sorrel.

Like all Fatty Crabs, pork is the specialty here and the kitchen butchers its own pigs. I went crazy on pulled-pork sliders—a pile of sweet-savory shredded pork with sweet rolls and pickled daikon—as well as the crispy pork with pickled watermelon.

Since I'm a wine guy, I have to shout out importer Michael Skurnik, who is a partner in the restaurant and designed the list (I don’t think he's directed a wine list since his days with Kevin Zraly at Windows on the World). I found out it’s possible to buy bottles at Fatty Crab and take them back to your hotel or house rental, so I’d recommend you load up after your meal. And don’t turn down the assorted rum and mezcal cocktails, designed by NYC mixologist Adam Schuman.

Cocktails

Bittersweet Summer Beverages

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Tomr's Tonic


Sticky-sweet sodas have never much appealed to me, but fizzy drinks do start to sound tasty as we slide toward summer. I'm always on the lookout for unconventional thirst-quenchers, so I’m excited about a new crop of artisanal syrups popping up with comprehensible ingredient lists and flavors more complex than just “sweet.” My current favorite is Tomr’s Tonic (that’s not a typo—founder Tom Richter’s father called him “Tomr” as a child and the nickname stuck). The elixir was inspired by a 19th-century Peruvian recipe: Richter boils the cinchona tree’s bark to create a mixer that F&W’s Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki calls “bitter in the most pleasant way.” It's an awesome non-carbonated tonic syrup to mix with soda water and gin for the classic G&T, or just with seltzer as a citrusy soda alternative. I’ve found my new summer refresher.

$8.50 for 6 oz at tomshandcrafted.com.

Farms

The One Really Dead Food & Dining Trend

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© Courtesy of The Breakers Palm Beach.
Let's Retire the Farm-to-Fill-in-Blank Phrase

At Food & Wine, we might respectfully disagree with some of the items on Eater NY’s recent dead trends list (small menus are working quite well for NYC's Torrisi Italian Specialties and Mile End, among other spots). But there is a ubiquitous phrase that we’re very ready to say good-bye to: farm-to-everything. (Credit to Frank Bruni, the New York Times's newest Op-Ed columnist, for sounding the alarm on Twitter: “Today someone said, re cocktails, ‘from farm to tumbler.’ May be time we all retired the ‘farm to fill-in-blank’ construction.”)

Don’t misunderstand: We are not knocking the concept of fresh ingredients straight from the farm. We’re just tired of the very overused phrase. Here, then, is our list of just some of the farm-to-anything/everywhere claims, complied by F&W’s new senior digital editor, Alex Vallis.

Farm to Cubicle: A report from Crain's on corporate CSAs.

Farm to Cup
: “Delicious coffee straight from the farm” from Stanford Business School students.

Farm to Friends
: CSA cooking series at the New York Wine & Culinary Center. (They’re repeat offenders: They also offer the Farm to Plate series.)

Farm to Fuel: The Florida-based initiative to promote renewable energy from local crops.

Farm to Fork: A marketing stunt from the international seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred and the Soyfoods Council.

Farm to Bakery; Farm to Factory: Two mentions in one article from the New York–based community organizer Pratt Center about the honorable push to get New York State grains into New York City bakeries.

Farm to San Francisco: From the community-building, California-based organization Project Fresh.

Farm to Folk
: An Iowa CSA.

Farm to Consumer: A Virginia-based non profit that spotlights sustainable farming.

Farm to Glass: Cocktails featuring straight-from-the-garden ingredients.

And a dishonorable mention to our very own F&W for:
Farm to Bottle: An item about spirits infused with, you guessed it, ingredients from the garden, that you'll see in our upcoming August issue.

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