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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Farms

Great Barrington’s Great Grocer

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blue marble

© 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.

News

Amazing Caramels

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Sweet Revolution Caramels

© Dunja Dumanski

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.

News

Best Cheap Candy Bar

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Q.bel Candy Bars

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.

News

Food as Art in L.A.

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Scott Hove's cakes bite back.

© Scott Hove
Scott Hove's cakes bite back.

As a kid, I always loved to play with my food. But none of my creations ever came close to the wild food art that’s part of “Palate,” a new exhibition opening May 22 at L.A.’s Scion Gallery. The title is a play on the artist’s palette and the tasting palate. It includes Jeff Vespa’s huge Polaroids of fast-food burgers and a series of photographs from James Reynolds documenting death-row inmates’ last-meal requests. Wacky food artist Clare Crespo has crocheted a seafood smorgasbord of oysters and shrimp po’boys, and Tamara Kostianovsky uses clothing to create sculptures that resemble slabs of meat. I love the sweet and scary Cakeland collection from Oakland-based artist Scott Hove. His cakes, sculptures and installations are meant to juxtapose the sense of desire and fear with elements like teeth and horns adorning pretty pink cakes.

Menus

A Wine Geek's Dream Wine Bar

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anfora

© Jamie Tiampo
Gabe Thompson and Joe Campanale.

I'm a regular at NYC’s Dell'anima and L'Artusi, the two awesome wine-centric West Village Italian restaurants run by chef Gabe Thompson and sommelier Joe Campanale. Their newest project, Anfora, officially opens tonight. I got a sneak preview of the wine bar at friends-and-family on Friday. Here, the highlights:

1) Campanale has organized his wine list by producer, with an emphasis on sustainable, biodynamic and organic wine. And instead of simply listing wine names and vintages, he has included a photograph of every producer, along with information about the producers and the wines.
2) The stellar by-the-glass selection includes two anfora-aged wines, including Cantino Giardino's Coda di Volpe, an ancient grape grown in Campania since Roman times. (An anfora is a traditional earthen wine vessel used to store and transport wines).
3) Food highlights include lamb ragù sliders with Pecorino Romano and an intense Italian hero with mortadella, soppressata, speck, aged provolone, aioli, mustard and pepper relish. Plus, pastry genius Katherine Thompson has developed amazing sweets, like a rhubarb zuppa inglese.
4) There are also great cocktails, like the Farmer's Friend (rum, rhubarb, mint) and local craft beers on tap.
5) Just two doors down from always-crowded Dell’anima, this 50-seat spot may be the cushiest waiting area in the city with its super-comfy Cabernet-colored banquette seating. And the über-wine-geek will love the quilted topographic maps of wine regions like the Mosel hanging on the walls.

Baking

Reviving Freezer-Burned Ice Cream

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ice cream maker

© Michelle Shih

A few weeks ago, my house lost power for two days. My coffin freezer was pretty packed, so most things made it through okay, but the ice cream developed a granular texture. It was still good for milkshakes, but I wanted to eat regular ice cream. And I had about 10 pints of Ben & Jerry's and Häagen Dazs, so I didn't want to throw them all away (I'd bought them on sale; what can I say, I love a good deal). The Harold McGee in me thought, what if I melted the ice cream, then refroze it in an ice cream maker? Success! The zombie Cherry Garcia (pictured) was slightly denser than the original, but still delicious. Grace Parisi in the F&W test kitchen had another great suggestion: using melted ice cream in bread pudding instead of milk or heavy cream. Recipes after the jump:

[More]

Baking

New Gluten-Free Baking

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Gluten-Free Brownies

© Photo Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

A close friend of mine has celiac disease, which means he shouldn't eat gluten—so usually no pizza, no pasta, no crackers, no beer. He's long been my (very willing) guinea pig for every gluten-free product that floats through our office. Most of these have left me very thankful for my own gluten-tolerance, but a few, like Mary's Gone Crackers seed crackers, have made it into my own pantry. The latest batch of baking mixes to get rave reviews from him is from an unexpected source: King Arthur Flour, the 200-year-old flour company, which has started to roll out its gluten-free line nationwide. According to my guinea pig, the brownies (pictured) rose up to twice the height of the batter and remained gooey and sweet even after cooling down. Most tellingly, his friends came back for seconds. For the cookie mix, he found that he got the elusive chewy texture he craved by freezing the dough into balls before baking. The only caveat: You have to buy your own chocolate chips.

From our recipe archives, here are seven great ideas for gluten-free dinners to accompany these desserts.

News

Delicious New Natural Licorice

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New Natural Vines licorice

© American Licorice Company
New Natural Vines

A worthy addition to the candy aisle: In May, the American Licorice Company, better known as the maker of Red Vines, will release a new Natural Vines line of licorice that's pretty terrific. Both the black licorice and strawberry variety, which come in one-inch twists, have great bright flavor and perfect chewy-yet-soft texture, and come in conveniently resealable bags. Best of all, they both use entirely recognizable, genuinely natural ingredients like molasses and wheat flour—there's nary a guar gum or carrageenan or even high fructose corn syrup to be found.

Baking

Colossal New Cupcake

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© Kate Heddings
Colossal red velvet cupcake from Crumbs.

 

I don't think anything makes me as happy as baked sweets—give me a brownie, blondie or cupcake and I'll be your new best friend. So I don't know what could possibly make my day more than the new Colossal Crumb—a gigantic sugar-lover's dream cupcake from Crumbs . It's four pounds, six-and-half inches tall and six-and-a-half inches wide. It comes in a variety of Crumbs' awesome flavors, like Peanut Butter Cup, Devil's Food, Vanilla Coconut, Red Velvet, and my personal favorite: Squiggle (a.k.a the Hostess cupcake). At $35 per, er, cake, it's not cheap, but it's supposed to feed up to eight people. Until you go out and splurge on this insane treat, try some of my all-time favorite F&W cupcakes:

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Espresso Meringue
Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling
Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Filling
 

Recipes

Springtime for Chefs

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© Con Poulos
Rice Pudding with Poached Rhubarb

Tomorrow is the first official day of spring and Tom Colicchio is all a-Twitter about ramps. “It’s spring in NY bring on the ramps,” he Tweeted yesterday. He’s not the only chef excited about spring ingredients: At a recent benefit event for C-CAP, Shaun Hergatt from SHO Shaun Hergatt told me that he can't wait to cook with spring peas and is planning to serve them with sous-vide lamb; Craig Koketsu of the seasonally-driven restaurant Park Avenue Spring is impatiently anticipating rhubarb.

Here are a few recipes for ramps, spring peas and rhubarb to help kick off the season. Plus, check out these 100+ recipes in F&W’s Guide to Fresh Spring Produce:

White Cheese Pizza with Ramps
Spring Peas with Mint
Rice Pudding with Poached Rhubarb (Pictured)

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