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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Entertaining

World’s Wackiest Ice Creams

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© Courtesy of Dennis and Cheryl Reas
Ice cream cheeseburger

Hurray for summer cookouts! You can have an all-out grilling marathon, eat unlimited amounts of potato salad and even more ice cream. But wait – there are some frozen desserts you might think twice about before serving. We’re not saying they’re not tasty (though some of them sure sound disgusting). We’re just saying keep the mint chocolate chip handy, just in case.

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. 

Related Links:

Best Ice Cream Spots in the U.S

America's Wacky Fair Foods

America's Weirdest Regional Foods

Recipes

A Reason to Celebrate Wine, Food and Friends

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Empanadas

© iStockphoto.com/jorgegonzalez


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.

Entertaining

Wines for a Hot Summer Wedding

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Courtesy of Louis/Dressner Selections


Courtesy of Louis/Dressner Selections

On a hot, dewy day in Brooklyn earlier this month, I married my extraordinarily lovely wife, Liz. In what seems to be turning into a Food & Wine tradition, I thought I'd write up the bottles we served at the reception.
 

 

 

 

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.

Beer

Things To Do At A Restaurant—Besides Eat

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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
 
Related Links
 
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

Entertaining

A Country-Chic Boutique in the Catskills

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Region General Store

© Bryce Boyd
Region General Store

Anyone who knows me can attest that I'm prone to getting lost while shopping for two things: food and home goods. This is no joke, people—I have a serious problem! Lately, I'm finding it especially difficult to control myself because of my new favorite spot that recently opened: Region General Store in the Catskills, two hours north of New York City and just off the banks of the ultra-beautiful Upper Delaware River.
 
Luxury-retailer-turned-artisan-goods-junkie Bryce Boyd decided to open his store after building a summer home in the Catskills and realizing that his true passion was for a store of his own—one that would be stocked with things produced within 200 miles. He started plans for a modern take of an old-timey staple: the general store.
 
His country-chic boutique opened only weeks ago, and with much success. It seems only a matter of time before he'll need to hire a staff of people just to stock the shelves (especially with me on the prowl). Bryce sells specialty foods like an incredible cranberry-horseradish chutney (my personal favorite) from Beth's Farm Kitchen and artisan breads from a small-batch bakery, Flour Power, in Livingston Manor, New York. Also available are handmade home goods like a Halloweenish cobweb broom, ceramic juicers and luxurious soaps and candles from TV's famous Beekman Boys.
 
Region General Store’s website should be up and running in the next few weeks. Until then you’ll need to stop by, like me, and get lost in a world of chutneys, cheeses and pottery.
 
Region General Store, 3344 Route 97, Barryville, NY; 845-557-5000 or www.regiongeneralstore.com.

Entertaining

Personalized NYC Picnic Service

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Luxe picnic basket service at Andaz 5th Avenue.

© Prue Hyman
Luxe picnic basket service at Andaz 5th Avenue.

Snacking with friends on a picnic blanket is my ultimate summer pleasure. A recent episode of Good Food on KCRW, a favorite podcast of mine, described delicious takeout picnic-food options in Los Angeles, and it had me wishing for some of the same in New York. My wish was granted: The Andaz 5th Avenue hotel launches picnic basket service this week. Baskets start at $60 for hotel guests ($75 for non-guests) for a basic spread (sandwich with prosciutto, schnitzel or tuna, fruit, iced tea), or hotel guests can splurge on the midrange Champagne Basket (with caviar and blini) or an ultra-luxe $2,000 basket (with assorted cheeses, breads, fruit and amazing Pomerol wine). For an extra $150, an Andaz Picnic Host will even scout out a perfect picnic spot and set up the blanket ahead of time—an awesome way to take in a film after work at Bryant Park’s Summer Film Festival, which kicks off next week.

Recipes

Throw a Honolulu Fish Party

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Grilled opah with jalapenos

© Marcia Kiesel
Grilled opah with jalapenos.

I had a chance to taste various Hawaiian fish last week, sent to us by Honolulu Fish Company which was shipped to the Food & Wine test kitchen. We needed to test a recipe for our "Chefs Know Best" column that called for opah, a large, beautiful Pacific fish. I also decided I should  develop some recipes using opah and a few other varieties that the company offers.
The Honolulu Fish Company offers a unique variety of Hawaiian fish, freshly caught and delivered overnight. The company integrates environmentally conscious practices of no net fishing (hook-caught wild fish only), and all fish are of proper maturity with no fish waste. (All fish parts are recycled into agricultural supplements or distributed to local food processors.) There are no bycatch issues, so no other species are harmed.

Here is an opportunity to try a selection of delectable, unusual fish for $20.00 per pound plus shipping. That is less than many varieties sold here. Granted the shipping wasn't cheap but if you invest with other fish-fanatic friends, it turns out to be a rare and wonderful experience.

Okay, onto the tasty part. Opah was our number one favorite. Even when cooked through, it was the most juicy, rich-tasting and melt-in-your-mouth fish. Maybe the best fish ever! We also loved the emperor black cod, or sable. This black cod was properly rich but slightly lighter on the palate than west coast black cod and the flake of the flesh fell into thick, silky slices. We also tried the striped marlin which had a gorgeous orangey, flesh that was very mild and lean.

I found certain methods and ingredients that work best with each fish. The opah can be seared on one side only, close to sashimi, serve with jalapeño slices macerated in soy and lemon juice. It is fantastic just sautéed in butter, letting the butter brown, then adding a few capers, white wine or even kernels of fresh corn. It grills beautifully. Top it with sautéed garlic, anchovy and some hot pepper, adding parsley leaves at the last moment to slightly wilt. The black cod pan-fries nicely. I loved the richness with some sautéed shallot and rehydrated porcini, deglazed with sherry. Serve with a garlic aioli on top. Killer. Or pan-fry, remove, and add little neck clams with a pinch of saffron and garlic. Off the heat, swirl in some butter. The marlin made an exquisite, very clean-tasting ceviche. It was made with a dressing of soy, lime and sesame oil and was tossed with tomato, avocado and toasted sesame seeds. I served it with crisp rice crackers.

There are many fish varieties to choose from and availability depends on seasonality but it ranges from several types of tuna, groupers, marlin, snapper and swordfish to special Hawaiian species besides the opah: kaku (barracuda), walu (escolar) and rainbow runner (a hamachi). Minimum orders are for twenty pounds. So gather a group, divide up the catch and have a unforgettable fish feast. Check out the website: you can drool over the close-ups of glistening hunks of each fish being expertly carved.

Recipes

Mariah Carey Pregnancy Food

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A Mariah Carey pregnancy food favorite: Pork chops

© Kana Okada
A Mariah Carey pregnancy food favorite: Pork chops

Being pregnant with twins seems to have grounded singer Mariah Carey, who at one point reportedly ate a diet of only purple foods.

She’s giving in to her pregnancy cravings by cooking and eating comfort foods like “smothered pork chops, collard greens, red beans and rice and pecan pie with homemade whipped cream,” says her husband, Nick Cannon, in an interview with People magazine.

Check out more super-satisfying recipes in our Southern Comfort Food slideshow.

Entertaining

New Traditions for Winter Holidays

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Cooking New Year's Day dinner with friends


Cooking New Year's Day dinner with friends

 

Over the years, my husband and I have created a funky mix of beloved holiday meals, blending my New England roots with his Southern California sensibilities. We start with Christmas sushi. This ritual began when the chef of the San Francisco restaurant where we met sent us home on Christmas Eve with beautiful fresh sashimi. Next comes roast lamb for New Year’s Eve, a nod to my grandmother’s picture-perfect holiday dish (but minus her fluorescent mint jelly). And my favorite meal of all: Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day, which we’ve adapted from recipes from my mother-in-law, who is from Georgia. We pack a few dozen close friends into our tiny apartment to celebrate with blackeyed peas (to resemble coins) and collard greens (to represent paper bills), which are said to bring good fortune in the new year. Thus fortified, we’ll be ready for 2011.

Cookbooks

Tomahawking Champagne for the Holidays

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© Lois Ellen Frank
The Basics for Tomahawking Champagne.

In Part II of my occasional series, Don’t Necessarily Try This at Home (Part I featured two-year-old vintage eggnog from Jonathon Sawyer of Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland), I’d like to spotlight tomahawking Champagne as a potential holiday trend. I first heard about this from Holly Arnold Kinney, who owns the iconic Rocky Mountain restaurant The Fort, outside of Denver. Instead of the classic, and dramatic, French practice of “sabering” Champagne—hitting the bottle neck with a saber at just the right angle so the cork pops off—the Fort uses a tomahawk to do the same job.

In her cool new coffee-table book, Shinin’ Times at the Fort, Kinney goes into even more detail: “My dad taught his pal Julia Child how to tomahawk a bottle of Champagne, and later that week, she taught Jay Leno how to do so when she was a guest on The Tonight Show.... [but] the bottle Julia used was weak and broke all over the set! Although she grabbed a second bottle and tomahawked it perfectly, NBC decided to use the broken-bottle take to promote the show.”

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