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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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.

Cocktails

A Style-Minded Cocktail Collaboration

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© Crafted
The Sidebar Project: cabinet and cocktail glasses


Anna and Andrew Hellman of Teroforma and Darin Montgomery and Trey Jones of Urbancase had design-savvy home mixologists in mind when they dreamed up the Sidebar Project, a liquorcabinet with its own complementary barware set. Making its debut at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, the piece is the first in a new collaborative program, Crafted. The idea behind Crafted is to have established design studios step out of their area of focus and work with Teroforma to create new concepts for the home. The Sidebar Project, was born from a conversation the four designers had about how tough it is to design when you don't know the context of where your piece will "live" as well as a mutual appreciation for a well made cocktail.  For the collaboration, Urbancase designed the retro-style cabinet with a decorative motif that reappears as the cuts in Teroforma’s cut-crystal tumblers and cocktail glasses. At ICFF, the designers gave away drink recipes specific to each Sidebar cocktail glass. Click here for more cocktail ideas.

Cocktails

Cocktail as Fashion Muse

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© Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design

 

Former Food & Wine intern Jenna Pelletier sends an update from Providence, Rhode Island on a new exhibit that examines how drinking trends have influenced the last six decades of American style:
 
I have to admit: Few things make me happier than a well-mixed drink and a fabulous dress. But I hadn’t given much thought to how the two might be related until checking out a new exhibit at the Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Called Cocktail Culture: Ritual and Invention in American Fashion, 1920-1980, the show surveys the influence tippling had on fashion and design from Prohibition through the disco era. Objects range from kitsch (a 1948 custom-made tiki bar) to fabulously functional (a 14-inch sterling silver Art Deco cocktail shaker) to super glam (a Swarovski Crystal-and-pearl necklace worn by Audrey Hepburn in the movie Sabrina). The highlight, though, is a collection of about 50 cocktail dresses, including LBDs, flapper, Mad Men-esque and ‘70s styles from the likes of Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga. It’s no secret that the rise of social drinking was liberating for those doing the sipping, but, according to RISD curators, it also pushed designers to shake off their own inhibitions. Cheers to that. – Jenna Pelletier

Cocktail Culture is on view through July 31 at RISD Museum of Art, 20 North Main St., Providence, 401-454-6500, risdmuseum.org.

Cocktails

How to Drink All 34 Cocktails at LuckyRice's Opening Night Cocktails

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© Richard Patterson
LuckyRice Opening Cocktails 2010

We’re in the midst of LuckyRice, the NYC festival that celebrates so many facets of Asian cooking, from a Night Market in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood tonight to the big gala dinner on Saturday night, La Fête Chinoise, with Daniel Boulud and Susur Lee. (Tickets for some events are still available.) The festival more or less kicked off last night with Opening Cocktails hosted by Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon at the Bowery Hotel. Among the 1,000-person crowd were chefs like WD-50’s Wylie Dufresne and Top Chef star Angelo Sosa, fashion dignitaries like Phillip Lim. And oh-so-many mixologists.

© kate krader
Adam Schuman Demonstrates the Correct Way to Do a Pickleback Shot.

Me, I didn’t try anywhere near the 34 cocktails on offer, but I can vouch for Má Pêche’s Ay Hue (a mix of fried shallot vodka, lime juice and Sriracha hot sauce). I can also speak from experience about Fatty Cue’s self-serve pickleback shots, a creation of bartender Adam Schuman that involves a big bottle of Evan Williams bourbon. But LuckyRice creator Danielle Chang has me beat. Not only did she sample all 34 cocktails, she made it to the LuckyRice after-party at Theatre Bar, where Dave Chang and Inaki Aizpitarte of Paris's Le Chateaubriand were pre-partying for their week of James Beard pop-up dinners.

Cocktails

Best New Chefs 2011 Party: The Recap

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© Sylvain Gaboury/FOOD & WINE
F&W's 2011 Best New Chefs with F&W's Dana Cowin and Chris Grdovic

We now have our official Best New Chefs, Class of 2011! Glasses up for Bowman Brown & Viet Pham (Forage, Salt Lake City); Jason Franey (Canlis, Seattle); Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine, Austin); Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat, Chicago); James Lewis (Bettola, Birmingham, AL); George Mendes (Aldea, New York City); Carlo Mirarchi (Roberta’s, New York City): Joshua Skenes (Saison, San Francisco); Kevin Willmann (Farmhaus, St. Louis); and Ricardo Zarate (Mo-Chica, Los Angeles).

We had a little party at Bohemian National Hall to celebrate those chefs last night, with superstars like former Best New Chefs Wylie Dufresne, Andrew Carmellini and Laurent Gras and non–BNC stars like Aziz Ansari, Kyle MacLachlan and Andrew Zimmern in attendance. More former Best New Chefs, like Jonathan Benno and Rocco DiSpirito, cooked for the party while opera singers rapped for entertainment and later Geoffrey Zakarian's new place the National poured Moscow Mules for the after-party.

© kate krader
F&W Best New Chefs practice for the Irish Car Bomb drinking contest.

We’ve learned a lot about our Best New Chefs in the last few days. Here are some little-known facts about several of them. We won’t name names, but you’ll find answers to most (but definitely not all) of these who-did-what stories in our July Best New Chef issue.

*Which BNC almost drowned off an Australian beach, and had only one thought in his/her head: "I can’t believe the last thing I’ll have eaten is a mediocre falafel sandwich."

*Which BNC could start a side business designing fishing rods?

*Which BNC had an eye-opening culinary moment in “France” at Florida’s Epcot Center?

*Which BNC got his/her start at Benihana?

*Which BNC also worked as a home loan officer for Washington Mutual?

*Which BNC thought it would be a good idea to take the BNC after after-party to New York Dolls (a Manhattan strip club)?

*Which BNC blew away the competition in an Irish Car Bomb (beer with a shot in it) drinking contest at the after-after-party at Fitzpatricks? (For the record, I came in 9th out of 9. And found out later that the winner had a history of winning Club Med chugging contests.)

Cocktails

Early Look: Ferran and Albert Adria’s 41°

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Terry Zarikian with Albert Adria, left, is living my dream at 41°.

I’m in the middle of interviewing F&W's Best New Chefs 2011 (announcements coming April 5th!), and one question I'm asking is: What’s your dream meal? Right now, my dream meal is in Barcelona and begins with drinks and appetizers at 41°, followed by tapas at Tickets, two amazing, new adjacent spots from chefs Ferran and Albert Adria. Terry Zarikian, creative director of Manhattan’s very cool new Spanish restaurant Bar Basque and a long-time friend of the Adria brothers, is living my dream. Here’s Part I of his report:

I had strict orders: Arrive promptly at 41° at 7 p.m.

I did. I was met by a doorman (in a ringmaster costume, just like the circus) with a short list of names. Once inside, I checked out the mostly classic drinks, from Manhattans to margaritas  and, believe it or not, Cosmos. All were meticulously mixed. Even the gin-and-tonics section was detail-oriented: There were more than two dozen gins, and a separate section of tonics, all served over little icebergs carved from a block of ice.

The food at 41° includes their version of traditional bar snacks: oysters with topping like soy tapioca “caviar” or “Schrencki” osetra, a special caviar from the Amour river on the Siberian border.


Pistachios wrapped in sour yogurt "skin" at 41°.

But Albert served us a selection of elBulli–inspired snacks: The renowned, gel-filled spherical olives (here, called Las Olivas Rellenas del 41), flavored with rosemary and garlic; pistachios wrapped in a dry “skin” of sour yogurt; and puffed grains of wild rice seasoned with curry that's poured from a black tin box into a black coal–like ceramic bowl. Mini hollowed-out baguette-like crackers came wrapped with warm, translucent slices of Iberian pancetta seasoned with pimentón and pearls of liquid mozzarella with a basil leaf. More than fantastic were the mini seaweed cones, filled with a spicy tuna tartar and a mysterious puffed grain—it was so delicious, no one cared what it really was.


41° Iberian pancetta wrapped around baguette-like crackers.

And that was just our appetizers at 41°. In my next report, I’ll tell you what I had at Tickets.

Cocktails

F&W Exclusive: Inside Atlanta's H&F Bottle Shop

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Inside H&F Bottle Shop in Atlanta.

It's not hard to figure out what Atlanta's H&F Bottle Shop will be selling when it opens soon (as in, hopefully, February 21). The store will offer boutique wines and spirits that customers love at Holeman & Finch and Restaurant Eugene, but can’t find anywhere else—items like the house-blended Finch’s gin. Look for in-house wine concierge Ashley Hall, a Kermit Lynch alum, who can do anything from choosing a bottle for a dinner party to building a wine cellar. In the spirit of an apothecary, which the space evokes, the Bottle Shop will also have old-time card catalogues holding wine information and favorite cocktail recipes—maybe chef Linton Hopkin's DCV, a Sidecar like drink you'll also find in the upcoming F&W Cocktails 2011. (You’ll also be able to buy the house-made brandied cherries that garnish the drink, as well as other condiments and H&F's amazing Bloody Mary mix.) And if you come prepared with a cocktail-inspired playlist, the staff might let you play with the albums and turntable in the back of the store.

Cocktails

Sundance’s Star-Studded Silver Restaurant

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© Mitch Allen
Ellen, Demi and Kate at Park City's new Silver restaurant.

The Sundance Film Festival is already half over, and I missed my chance to see my heroes Michael Voltaggio and the Kogi team keeping everyone well fed during the premieres. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still want to be in Park City, or that I’ve given up on my dream of being the local restaurant critic. That’s because of all I've been hearing about the town’s newest restaurant, Silver, designed by none other than David Rockwell. The crowd at Silver this week has been remarkable: James Franco and Paul Rudd ate there over the weekend; Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth and Ellen Barkin were there the other night for a Belvedere party for their new movie Another Happy Day. If I could possibly get there on Friday night, apparently I'd see Al Pacino and Katie Holmes at some gala, end-of-festival dinner.

But I wouldn’t just go to be a crazy celebrity stalker. The drinks list has a contribution by Lindsay Nader, who happens to be the phenomenal deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails 2011 (coming in April); she created the Silver Fox, a mix of tequila and Aperol in an absinthe-rinsed glass. Then there's the menu. I understand Demi had pan-roasted salmon and every single side dish, including mac and cheese and roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta and crispy sage. And chocolate cake (yay, Demi!). Personally, I'm going to have the local trout with ponzu brown butter when I finally get there.

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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.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.