© Jen Murphy
The mille-feuille at Zum See.
There are two things I love about skiing in Europe: One, the sheer size of the mountains and endless possibilities for going off-piste. Two, the Europeans’ leisurely on-mountain afternoons which include a two-hour lunch and, if the sun’s out, sunbathing in lounge chairs on the deck. I recently got back from an outrageously delicious week in Zermatt, Switzerland, where I ate at some of the world’s top slope-side restaurants. Here, some of our best meals from the slopes:
Zum See Midway down the slope from Furi to Zermatt is a blue sign for this 70-seat restaurant that’s been run for more than 20 years by Max and Greti Mennig. Their son Markus and his girlfriend Marion are often there, bringing out food from the tiny kitchen. A cord has been strung above the tables so skiers can hang their helmets while they eat Swiss beef carpaccio, calf’s liver rösti or homemade pastas. Greti is responsible for the Italian- and French-focused wine list, and Markus makes the restaurant’s popular mille-feuille, a decadent puff pastry layered with cream (It's so good that many skiers stop in just for a slice).
Bergrestaurant Blatten Located just a bit farther down the slope from Zum See, this tiny restaurant in a charming wooden chalet is a favorite amongst the local mountain guides. The husband-and-wife owners met while summiting the Matterhorn, and their kids help run the place. The wild mushroom soup in a puff pastry shell is a must-order.
Chez Vrony This farmhouse-turned-restaurant is run by the parents of the quirky artist Heinz Julen, and is located on the Sunnegga side of the mountain. Not only does the family make its own sausages and cheeses, but they also raise, slaughter and butcher their own grass-fed cattle. All of the risotto dishes are ridiculously good, particularly one studded with cèpes and white truffle shavings.
Adler Hitta Also on the Sunnegga side of the mountain, this restaurant may have the most spectacular views of the Matterhorn from its deck. We ended up here twice for lunch. A large oven had a spit roasting chickens for a special one day, and my friends got a kick out of the “pasta for men” dish which was a simple spaghetti with pepperoni, salt and pepper and olive oil.
My favorite slope-side lunch required us to ski over to Italy, which we did twice because the food was so good. More on that tomorrow.
© Nigel Parry
Jonathon Sawyer, vintage egg nog expert.
I’m not saying anyone should try this home. But while the food world freaks out over old things—Rene Redzepi
’s vintage carrots
, Heston Blumenthal’s
upcoming Dinner restaurant
at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London
that will feature dishes based on hundreds-of-years-old recipes—I’ve found something really truly crazy (in the best way). Jonathon Sawyer, an F&W Best New Chef 2010
at Greenhouse Tavern
in Cleveland, recently showed off a "vintage Hartzler Family Dairy eggnog pot de crème" at a dinner at New York City's James Beard house
. And when he says vintage, he means 2008, meaning that 2 1/2 years ago, Sawyer infused eggnog with Lagavulin Scotch
and then put it away in the refrigerator. I admit, I was scared to taste it—I have suspicions about what letter grade the Health Department would have given it. But of course it was delicious. “It seems wrong, but it’s so right,” his wife, Amelia Sawyer
, accurately said.
If you’re too impatient to squirrel away some spiked egg nog for a couple years, my colleague Kristin Donnelly did a great job of rounding up other novel vintage things, from cookbooks to wines; they’re in F&W’s December issue
I’m fairly certain I have the most fun job in the world. Yesterday I attended a chocolate-and-wine pairing
event hosted by Green & Black’s
, the UK brand of organic, fair-trade chocolate. Micah Carr-Hill, the company’s Global Head of Taste (how’s that for a title? His job might be even more fun than mine) guided a group of journalists and bloggers through a pairing of six different chocolates, with wines ranging from a lychee-scented Gewürztraminer for the Peanut & Sea Salt Chocolate (my favorite) to a spicy Amarone-style red with the 85% Dark Chocolate. This was experiential learning at its best: We discovered through tasting that floral whites often complement milk chocolate’s sweetness, and more astringent reds can bring out vanilla notes in bitter dark chocolate. I’ve always assumed that big, tannic reds are chocolate’s best match, but my new favorite chocolate-friendly wine was actually a raisiny sherry, which played on the chocolate’s earthy, nutty flavors. Green & Black’s has also published a new book of chocolate-dessert recipes, just released in the US last week, available here
. I’ll be showing off my new pairing inspirations when I try out the recipes at our holiday party this year.
© Jen Murphy
The Supply Room at the Presidio Motel.
Santa Barbara, California’s Presidio Motel has gotten a super-hip makeover since Kenny Osehan and Chris Sewell took over the space about five years ago. They started the transformation by asking University of Santa Barbara art students to reimagine the motel’s 16 guest rooms. Some fun results: whimsical origami mobiles and purple cloud murals. Live bands come play on the upper deck, which is outfitted with bright orange chairs—and, sometimes, an inflatable kiddie pool filled with bottles of local craft beer. The newest addition is a funky little boutique that opened in July called the Supply Room. Reminiscent of Opening Ceremony’s space at the Ace Hotel in NYC, the Supply Room carries indie designers from the Santa Barbara area, as well as from Brooklyn and L.A. When I stopped in, the store was stocked with fun beaded jewelry from local designer Camilla Bourbon, handmade sheepskin slippers made in Bodega Bay and Osei-Duro clothing from Ghana. There are also fun travel items like vintage postcards and Japanese toothpaste. With the Supply Room now open, Osehan and Sewell have turned their attention to their next project: a 1956 Shasta Trailer RV that will most likely be turned into a happy hour lounge in the parking lot.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
© Michael Turek
Jason Wu learns the secret to perfect macarons.
kicks off in New York City tomorrow and anyone who has been following the September fashion magazine previews should know that the hourglass figure is in this season
. To celebrate the backlash of the über-thin model and the comeback of curves, here are some delicious recipes from food-obsessed fashion designers. Asian party recipes
from the boundary-pushing team at Opening Ceremony.
Michelle Obama’s design darling, Jason Wu
, is addicted to François Payard’s French macarons.
An over-the-top dinner party menu
of braised veal osso buco, saffron risotto and sautéed broccoli rabe from entertaining and design genius Naeem Khan
. Southern-inspired potluck dishes
from Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin
and her closest food and fashion friends.
I thought it was impossible for the cupcake to be reinvented even more. I’ve seen colossal
and wacky savory cupcakes
. And now, Sprinkles Custom Cakes
in Winter Park, Florida, has introduced a hybrid cupcake in push-up pop form called a CakeShooter
. It almost looks like a layer cake squished into a pop shape with alternating layers of cake and icing. Flavors include vanilla Bavarian cream mixed with pineapple and coconut filling and yellow-raspberry cake layered with cream cheese frosting. The cupcake pops also come in gluten-free and vegan versions.
© Courtesy of the Cake Committee
ceramicist Peter Ting
is also one of the most obsessive bakers I know. Looking for an excuse to indulge his baking passion and give back, he started a group in London called the Cake Committee
, which hosts what I like to think of as grown-up bake sales. Members bring their best homemade sweets, mostly cakes
, and select a charity to donate the profits to. The cake sales have been such a success that Ting has helped set up committee chapters (he calls them “slices”) in Singapore, Maine and now New York City. The first meeting of the NYC chapter is tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Maccarone Gallery
. The $20 entrance fee will be donated to the Friends of the French Culinary Institute
and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center
. RSVP to email@example.com to eat cake for a cause.
© Jen Murphy
Blue Marble ice cream at Rubiner's.
During a recent weekend in the Berkshires, I stopped in the cool little town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to stock up on snacks for the ride home and spent nearly an hour wandering around Rubiner’s Cheesemongers & Grocers. Located in an old bank on Main Street, this super-artisanal store is beyond forward-thinking when it comes to what it offers shoppers.
Here, five top reasons to drop in:
1. An insane selection of more than 130 artisan cheeses that ripen in the back cave (formerly the bank vault).
2. Out-of-this-world artisanal foods that include Rancho Gordo Beans, Mast Brothers Chocolates, French salted caramels and house-made country pâté.
3. Rubiner’s works with famed fishmonger Rod Browne Mitchell and Browne Trading Company to run something similar to a CSA for fish. Locals who sign up get an e-mail every Monday night listing the week’s catch. They place an order by 4 p.m. Wednesday and can pick up or (for a small fee) get home-delivery of the same superfresh seafood that goes to chefs like Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller.
4. Farmer’s Discount: Anyone who makes their primary living through farming or the production of artisan foods gets a 20-percent discount.
5. In the summer, Brooklyn’s awesome Blue Marble ice cream sets up shop out front, serving cups and cones of their decadent flavors like Stick o Butter Pecan. Even more delicious, though, are the homemade ice cream sandwiches that are sold inside. Blue Marble’s café au lait sandwiched between two chocolate sugar cookies was perfection.
While out in San Francisco the other week, a college friend of mine handed me a dangerous package: a box of San Francisco's Sweet Revolution caramels
. The name makes sense, as the caramels are uniquely made: They contain no cane sugar or corn syrup but only maple, dairy, honey, sea salt and vanilla bean. The result is a deep honey flavor and a soft, chewy caramel that doesn't stick to your teeth. This spring, Sweet Revolution introduced a new variety, toasted almond (each caramel is topped with a perfectly browned nut). The only thing more perfect than the flavors is the packaging: stamped paper boxes tied up with twine and sealed with bright red wax for the candies, and a short mason jar for the maple-honey-caramel spread.
Here at Food & Wine
we sample all sorts of high-end products, from truffle butter to Champagne. So I find it highly amusing that one of the items that gives our staff happy fits is Q.bel
candy bars. The bars are the best kind of Halloween candy: crunchy wafer rolls and bars covered in Belgian chocolate
, meticulously sourced from all-natural ingredients. Bars vanish within seconds of being put out for testing, with editors hiding stashes in their desks and absconding with them for family members. Q.bel's two newest flavors, double dark chocolate and mint, were no exception. And at less than $2
a bar, they're an indulgence almost anyone can partake in.