F&W's Tina Ujlaki, who happens to be known for her Hall of Fame-worthy Super Bowl parties, reveals her top tips for throwing fantastic, stress-free game-day bashes.
As the big game approaches this weekend, Patriots and Giants fans are making final preparations for their Super Bowl parties. Beyond menus to plan and guests to invite, there are wagers to be made. A group of northeast chefs just revealed the terms of their “Super Bowl Restaurant Smackdown” to Food & Wine, pitting New England vs. New York. Representing the Patriots are Jamie Bissonnette from Boston’s Toro and Coppa, Tiffani Faison from Sweet Cheeks, Matt Jennings from Providence’s La Laiterie and Farmstead and Gabriel Frasca of Straight Wharf and Provisions. They’re facing off against New York chefs and Giants’ fans Harold Dieterle of Perilla and Kin Shop, Lee Anne Wong of Vynl and Michael Ferraro of Delicatessen. This wager is not about money, it’s about maximum humiliation. Here are the terms:
For seven consecutive days, the representatives of the LOSING TEAM must:
-Wear the opposing team’s jersey in their restaurant .The jersey cannot be removed during work hours for any reason.
-Wear a Statue of Liberty hat (Boston) or a lobster hat (NYC) in their restaurant. The hat cannot be removed during work hours for any reason.
-Feature pastrami on rye (Boston) or New England clam chowder (NYC) prominently on their menu with the following wording:
“In honor of the greatest football team on earth the Patriots/Giants, [Restaurant name(s)] is proudly featuring [name of dish]."
-Tweet a picture of themselves in their hats & jerseys eating the featured dish in their restaurant all seven days.
The WINNING TEAM will hand deliver the jerseys and hats to the losing teams and taste the featured menu item.
As a Patriots’ fan who now lives in New York City, I’m looking forward to sampling some great clam chowder without the four-hour train ride.
For those of you hosting at home check out some of my favorite game-day recipes from F&W.
© Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Tiffany MacIsaac's Holiday Pie Bar
At Buzz Bakery in Alexandria, VA, she's now offering a DIY Pie Bar package that comes with two pies (like Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan and Classic Pumpkin), house-made ice cream, cinnamon whipped cream, caramel sauce and candied cranberries. Since Buzz doesn't ship its baked goods, MacIsaac shared these tips on how to set up a DIY Pie Bar at home.
1. Make it a group project. Guests usually ask the host how they can contribute to the holiday meal. You can plan a cohesive, pie-centric menu for Thanksgiving and delegate specific components to invitees. If one guest brings pumpkin pie, others can take on gingersnap cookie crumbs and caramel sauce, and non-cooks can be in charge of bringing beautiful cake stands. The display will grow into something fantastically unexpected as the guests arrive.
2. Don't pay for props. MacIsaac repurposes items from around the house for the display. A stack of books works as a pedestal; fallen leaves make an easy accent to scatter around the table; an old frame refines the look of a printed menu. Lighting is especially important. Everyone looks good by candlelight and the same goes for food.
3. Incorporate traditional fall flavors. During the holidays, people look for familiar foods. If you experiment with something new like salted-caramel cream pie, you can also offer a super-old-fashioned option like double-crust apple pie or upgrade a classic, as in a meringue-topped sweet potato pie.
4. Consider textures. You don’t want all mush or all crunch when it comes to a pie or the toppings you set out for guests. With the pie bar, everyone gets whipped cream, nuts, cookie crumbs, sauce.
5. Master the pie crust. Besides the logistics of setting up a dessert display, the most basic rule of a great pie bar is to make delicious pies, and that starts with good crust. MacIsaac likes a nice amount of salt in the dough to balance the sweetness of fillings. And she says you might want to add vodka, not to your glass, but to the water as you mix the dough. It evaporates more quickly, so you’re left with less moisture, which makes for a more tender, flaky crust. In a dough recipe calling for water, MacIsaac subs vodka for about 1/6 to 1/4 of the water.
© © James Baigrie
Barbecued Brisket with Burnt Ends
Brisket. Being a Texan, my heart believes that real barbecue is made from cow, not pig, despite a lot of Southern evidence to the contrary. Anyway, that’s a battle to be fought by diehards. Ignore them. Drive to Louie Mueller’s in Taylor, TX, order yourself some of their sublimely excellent brisket, and then figure out some way to drink a good Cabernet blend with it. The 2008 Cameron Hughes Lot 249 Alexander Valley Meritage ($12) is a fine choice.
Sausage. On the day that New York’s Hill Country BBQ decided it was a good thing to import sausages up from Kreuz Market in Lockhart, TX, the clouds parted, the sun shone, and all was good upon the land. Seriously. And if one were going to pour a glass ofwine to go with these juicy, sublimely spiced links, I think a Zinfandel—itself a spicy number—would be the answer. The 2009 Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel ($12) is an in-your-face example, in a good way.
Pulled Pork. An excellent counter-argument from the South to this whole Texan beef-business. Good pulled pork (Sweatman’s, in Holly Hill, SC, about 50 minutes outside Charleston, is hard to beat) has a sublime balance of porkiness, juiciness, and smoke thatought to make Pierre Gagnaire wonder if perhaps he picked the wrong cuisine to specialize in. In South Carolina the sauce is mustardy and a bit sweet; in North Carolina, it’s more vinegary. I’d eat both with a dry rosé, though honestly if I did that I’d probably get my butt kicked. Try (if you’re willing to risk it) the fruity 2010 Frog’s Leap La Grenouille Rougante ($14).
Ribs. Frank Zappa, in his little-known but much-loved (ok: by a few freaks) anthem “Muffin Man,” intones this immortal line: “There is not, nor ought there be, anything so exalted on the face of God’s gray earth as that prince of foods…the muffin.” Hm. Let’s change that to ribs, ok? I can think of almost no instance when I wouldn’t trade whatever is on my plate for some truly great bbq ribs, like the ones from Mike Mills’ 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro, IL. Lots of flavor, lots of juice, and, admit it, lots of fat—if wine is on the table, make it a big, brawny Syrah, like the robust 2008 Cambria Tepusquet Syrah ($19).
East Coasters lost the last weekend in August to tropical storm (née hurricane) Irene, so the pressure is on to get outside for Labor Day. If the weather cooperates where you live, enhance the best summer activities with these perfect wines:
© Courtesy of Sula Winery
Sula's 2010 Sauvignon Blanc is light and cooling.
Seafood Extravaganzas: For lobsterfests and clam bakes, there are many options beyond the ubiquitous rich Chardonnay, like melony Godello and crisp, citrusy Vermentino.
Sunning Sessions: When the weather is genuinely hot, superlight whites, like Vinho Verde and Albariño, are good bets.
Park Picnics: Awesome portable dishes include shrimp-and-noodle salad in a gingery dressing, which is great with Riesling.
Backyard Cookouts: Grilled foods need assertive wines to stand up to strong flavors. Moderately oaky wines, which can otherwise be tough to pair with food, are often great with smokey meats.
Sunset Toasts: Try wine with some color, too. There are few things more refreshing than Provençal rosé, and low-tannin Beaujolais are among the best reds to serve chilled.
Beach Trips: Pulling corks with no leverage, while sitting in sand, can be troublesome. Try these 10 excellent boxed wines, plus 10 great-value screw-capped wines.
© Leslie Tiano
Wine bottle tumblers from BottleHood.
The other day at the beach, I came across a supercool beer bottle neck that had been so polished down by the waves and sand that it could be worn as a ring. It got me thinking about the many other neat ways to repurpose wine and beer bottles that I've seen lately. Atlanta-based Kathleen Plate transforms recycled glass into jewelry with clean, sleek lines—her new pale-blue chandelier necklace looks like the summer sky to me. The fire escape gardener in me appreciates the compact Grow Bottle, an indoor herb planter crafted from reclaimed restaurant wine bottles. And colored wine bottles look great on the tabletop even long after the last drop has been poured: In San Diego, BottleHood recrafts wine, beer and spirit bottles into unique glassware, from frat-house-ready Red Stripe glasses to funky-elegant green glass tumblers. Its glassware would be perfect on a casual summer table—along with a chilled summer bottle that's still full, of course.
© Courtesy of Dennis and Cheryl Reas
Ice cream cheeseburger
Ice cream cheeseburger, Florida. Here’s why you go to the Florida state fair: because you find something amazing like the ice cream cheeseburger, from Carousel foods. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a cheeseburger, topped with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and, you guessed it, a giant scoop of fried ice cream.Cicada ice cream, Missouri. Sadly, Sparky’s no longer sells this ice cream (the Columbia, MO, health department is weird about desserts with bugs, apparently). But just in case they bring it back, here’s what you get: cicadas that were caught in employees backyards, then boiled and coated with sugar and chocolate and folded into brown sugar ice cream.
Lobster Ice Cream, Maine. At Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium, in Bar Harbor, the owners mix chunks of local Maine lobster into their butter ice cream. It’s one of their most popular items for shipping. Really.Ice cream cone ramen, Tokyo. Kikuya ramen shop precisely cuts a soft serve vanilla ice cream cone in half then sets it on top of a bowl of varying flavors of ramen, including one with classic soy sauce broth (they thoughtfully serve the noodles chilled to keep the ice cream from melting too fast).
Government cheese ice cream, San Francisco. Humphry Slocombe routinely wins best ice cream polls in the Bay Area and around the country. So we have to believe that their flavors, which include prosciutto and foie gras, are good. But we’re just not sure about a government cheese version.
Beef Tongue Ice Cream, Tokyo. In our book, Ice Cream City wins the award for all-around most disturbing flavors. Among their best sellers: beef tongue (which was apparently created for meat lovers), whale and oyster.
I’ve always believed that South Americans are the ultimate hedonists. Talk about a culture that knows how to live well. For example, in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, today, July 20, is Friend’s Day (El Día del Amigo). Locals celebrate by gathering friends around the table to eat and drink. That’s my kind of holiday. In honor of Friend’s Day, I’ll be drinking Bodega Elena de Mendoza Malbec (a fantastic wine from Mendoza that’s newly imported to the States), eating empanadas and watching the COPA semifinals soccer game being played in Mendoza. Here, some other ways to celebrate Friend’s Day:
1. Have an asado (barbecue) with friends. Try these recipes from South American grillmaster Francis Mallman.
2. Host an Argentinean wine tasting. Try these bottles.
3. Host a dinner party and make our delicious empanada recipe.
Courtesy of Louis/Dressner Selections
2009 Vittorio Bera & Figli Arcese ($15)
Before we'd even picked a menu, Liz and I were dead-set on this Italian white—just because we really like it. It's a little of a lot of things: peachy, salty, effervescent, and there's a touch of pleasing funk that mingles with a floral scent on the nose. On top of all that, it has a satisfying crispness that makes it great with food.
2010 Domaine de Pajot Les Quatre Cépages ($10)
We thought this southern French blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Gros Manseng, Ugni Blanc and Colombard would be a safe crowd-pleaser. It's straightforward, with apricot and zippy lime flavors, but also delicious (as well as quenching and thoroughly gulpable).
2010 Thierry Puzelat Le Tel Quel ($17)
This wine, from a brilliant Loire Valley winemaker, beat out a gorgeous Côtes-du-Rhône by Marcel Richaud, a brilliant Rhône winemaker. Puzelat's bottle won for one reason: We could serve it cool. Did I mention that this was New York City in July? A light chill seemed to focus this Gamay's intense raspberry flavor.
We'd been just a bit worried that guests wouldn't go for a chilled red or the slightly oddball Arcese, but they turned out to be big hits. Lesson: Pour what you love.
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
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
Tune in on Wednesdays at 10PM ET for Top Chef: Boston, the 12th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.