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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


Mad Hatter Tea at the Mandarin


Mandarin Oriental New York has been in the news this week because of some of their guests (Robert Pattinson gave the hotel a big shout-out on The Daily Show). But at F&W we’re most excited about their brand-new Mad Hatter tea offered every afternoon until the end of April, in celebration of the opening-on-Friday film Alice in Wonderland by Tim Burton. Served in the lobby lounge way up on the 35th floor, the adorable tea includes Tweedle tea sandwiches, like smoked salmon with Meyer-lemon-caper mousse; Tweedle crumb desserts, like the Queen of Hearts linzer tarts; an excellent assortment of candy (plus handy little to-go boxes); and, of course, "Drink Me" teas. So far, there’s no confirmation on whether the movie’s stars will have a fun pre-party there, but Alice (i.e., the actress Mia Wasikowska) has been spotted in the hotel—perhaps they’ll let her have the Cheshire Catcakes for breakfast.

On the other hand, if you choose to host your own Mad Hatter tea party, F&W has assembled our favorite tea-party recipes, from delicate radish-lemon-butter sandwiches to ginger brandy snaps.


Whoopies for Valentine’s Day


Mail-order whoopie pies for Valentine's Day

© Magenta Livengood
Whoopie pies from B. Hall Baker

For anyone looking for a sweet worth mail-ordering for Valentine’s Day, or any day, B.Hall Baker’s new mini whoopie pies are now available online. Washington, DC-based Beryl Hall, a former Hill staffer, keeps the calories low by keeping the pies small (she bakes them in madeleine molds). She gives her red velvet pies a rich tang (and a vibrant red color) with raspberry juice, raspberry extract and powdered raspberries from France. “Whoopie pies are a Yankee thing, but I’m trying to make them Southern,” the San Antonio native says, so this spring she’ll release coconut-cake and bananas Foster versions.


Super-Ultra-Premium Ice Cream


What is up with all the expensive new ice creams? Everyone's favorite dessert has suddenly reached the level of an Hermés Birkin bag. Milk Made, a new ice cream subscription service in Brooklyn, has a waiting list for the privilege of paying $16 a pint ($50 for 3 pints delivered over 3 months). Carmela's (quite delicious) Ice Cream in Los Angeles now sells online for about $11 a pint (with a minimum order of 6 for $70). And Virginia's Perfect Flavor, which makes all-organic custom blends, is charging a whopping $30 per pint (at least 4 pints per $120 order). Perfect Flavor at least attempts to explain the sticker shock,  but if $10 per order goes to a cryptic "everything else," it doesn't elicit much sympathy.


Dulce de Leche Dreams


© Ross Todd
Dulce de leche ice cream at Freddo

My body might be back from my trip to Argentina, but my stomach is still firmly in South America. My friends and I had the requisite beef and Malbec (more on that later), but we also regularly indulged in dulce de leche, which I am still craving. In Buenos Aires we got our fix at the heladerías (ice cream shops), the best of which was Freddo. The shop has locations throughout the city, and their menu has a separate section just for dulce de leche flavors. (My kind of place.) But my favorite vehicle for the milky caramel was alfajores, a traditional South American sandwich cookie with dulce de leche filling. The best ones we had came from our hotel in Patagonia, Edenia. Opened in 2007, the modern, minimalist hotel is located away from the touristy bustle of downtown Calafate and has panoramic views of Lago Argentino. Its alfajores were crispier and less cakey than the ones in Buenos Aires, and I only wish I had packed some to bring home.  


London's Most Fashionable Tea



© The Berkeley
Haute-cookies at the Berkeley hotel in London.

I’ll be blogging this week about discoveries from my recent eight-day trip to London. The city was buzzing with pop-up restaurant/design projects, ambitious new hotels and hip new British comfort food joints. One of my favorite finds was at the Berkeley hotel, which just introduced the fall/winter collection of its super-popular Prêt-à-Portea (the menu changes every six months to reflect the new fashion season). This haute-couture-inspired tea service features edible designs inspired by Christian Lacroix, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. Adorable confections include a Roger Vivier chocolate boot cookie, a Mulberry "Bayswater" white-chocolate-and-coconut-truffle "it" bag and a cinnamon Burberry Prorsum trench-coat cookie with a caramel belt and buttons. All are served on Paul Smith china alongside a proper cup of English tea.


Halloween Countdown: Last Day!


© Ellen Silverman
Michael Anthony is a good source for grown up candy.

To end my week of candy obsession, here are a few people and situations deserving of special recognition.

Most Candy-Obsessed ChefJonathan Waxman. I’m not sure that he eats more candy than I do, but his list of favorites is prodigious. They are, in no order: M&M Peanuts, Planters Peanut Bar, Hershey Almond Bar, Snickers (frozen), Hershey Almond Kisses, Twix, Butterfinger, Almond Joy, Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.

Most Unexpected Trick-or-Treat Spot
Soho House New York. Chef Neil Ferguson reports that last year some 200 kids came through the restaurant—on the 6th floor of a private club. In the course of offering up all that candy, Ferguson got addicted to Sour Patch Kids. ("If you have a tough day, you can bite their heads off and not feel bad about it," he says.) My question: How did the kids get past the doorman?

Best Candy for ParentsGramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony handed out GT's chocolate-covered pumpkin toffee.


Halloween Countdown: Jacques Torres Monster Mash


As I’ve already mentioned, I have a new hero: Paul Rudnick, who, in a New York Times profile, revealed that he lives on candy. (Among his insights: Halloween is about free candy, not diet tips—i.e., people who “dare to put apples in trick-or-treaters' bags.”) He and writer David Colman stopped at the candy aisle of the Food Emporium, Li-Lac and the Hershey store. I wish he’d gone to Jacques Torres, which is my vision of chocolate utopia. For Halloween, Jacques has upped the ante, creating new bars like Monster Mash (a dark chocolate mash-up with Cheerios and corn flakes) and Creepy Crawlers (white chocolate with dark-chocolate-covered Rice Krispies). And Jacques is promising Grinch-themed chocolates for Christmas—just about the time I’ll have run out of Halloween candy.


Halloween Countdown: Pumpkin Cupcake


Even though I’m always all about candy (like Paul Rudnick! In today’s New York Times!), I’ve decided to take a little break to salute alternative Halloween treats. Notably, the holiday-themed cookies and cakes at Bouchon Bakery. The TKOs—Thomas Keller Oreos—are now bat-shaped, with orange crème frosting (the black cocoa in the cookies makes them exactly dark enough to be bats). Sebastien Rouxel, exec pastry chef for TK restaurants has also decorated a big, fat pumpkin cupcake with enough airbrushed orange fondant to look just like a mini pumpkin. And then there’s the Fughedaboutit (I know, not a typical T. Keller name), a Rice Krispie treat with layers of sensational caramel, milk chocolate and fleur de sel. The pumpkin logo on the foil wrapper makes is just enough of a nod to the holiday to make it my new favorite thing for Halloween.


Boston’s Best Ice Cream


On a recent trip to Boston, I stayed at the adorable Beacon Hill Hotel, tucked away down Charles Street. Its 12 rooms are right above its street-level restaurant, the Bistro, which is run by Barbara Lynch alum Jason Bond. In addition to the excellent complimentary breakfast, which included vanilla pancakes and a thick French toast topped with spiced crème fraîche, chef Bond makes some of the best ice cream in town. My friend Katherine and I tasted our way through flavors like Ligurian Olive Oil and Banana Rum, but the flavor that had us coming back at midnight for a second scoop was the Chocolate Almond–Smoked Sea Salt, with a pudding-like texture and crunchy bits of cocoa nibs and toasted slivered almonds. Bond shared his secret: Valrhona Guanaha chocolate and Norwegian smoked sea salt. Thank goodness ice cream wasn't on the breakfast menu.


DIY Lunch Bag


© Quentin Bacon

In the prime upper-right-hand quadrant of New York magazine's always awesome Approval Matrix this week: A super-adorable do-it-yourself lunch bag from Design*Sponge. Full details of the project, including a template and easy-to-follow instructions, can be found here. Here, F&W provides 10 great ideas on how to fill it, including Indian pulled-chicken sandwiches, meat loaf club sandwiches and nutty apple pie bars (pictured).

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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.