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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Restaurants

Dallas's Super Bowl Party Circuit

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My go-to-guy for all things happening in Dallas, Christopher Wynn, a staff writer for The Dallas Morning News and dining editor for its style monthly, FD Luxe, gave me an update on the city’s pre-Super Bowl festivities. Here’s the scoop:

The roads may be glazed and cooking is cautious after a day of rolling blackouts, but Dallas chefs are determined to feed the fans.
 
Last night I hit our Uptown neighborhood for a preview of chef Abraham Salum’s coming-soon contemporary Mexican cuisine spot, Komali. (Just wrap me in steaming handmade tortillas on the way out.) At the same time near downtown, former Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek chef John Tesar cooked at the new Cedars Social cocktail den and restaurant for his weeklong “Supper Bowl.” The chef-driven series of charity dinners culminated with former Top Chef contestant Tiffany Derry in the kitchen. 


Tonight, celeb-u-chefs Mario Batali and Tim Love are hosting their Italian-meets-Texan Spaghetti Western dinner. Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri are among the co-chairs. Tickets to this fundraising event at Love’s Fort Worth Love Shack So7 are $500 each, more details here.
 
Finally, Texas is expected to thaw out just in time for Saturday’s sold-out Taste of the NFL extravaganza in Fort Worth. Dallas’ Kent Rathbun of Abacus restaurant fame is the host chef. The event is celebrating its 20th anniversary and many of the inaugural chefs from the first Taste in Minneapolis will be on hand, including Tom Colicchio, Todd English, Susan Spicer and Dallas’s Stephan Pyles.
 
Here’s a Super Bowl idea for next year: Open a hot toddy stand. 

Events

Edible Conversations at NYC's Roger Smith Hotel

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On Tuesday night I attended the first event in the new Edible Conversations series at New York City’s Roger Smith Hotel, which features authors like Molly O'Neill and food historians like Andrew F. Smith discussing their areas of expertise. I was excited to hear Colleen Taylor Sen speak on the origins of curry, a British colonial creation now prepared in different incarnations the world over. The hotel chef served a curry tasting menu including Norwegian curried herring, an Indian lamb dish similar to a korma, and Japanese pork tonkatsu. Between courses, Sen spoke casually and encouraged the audience to ask questions. No surprise: Speculations on curry’s aphrodisiac properties stimulated the most discussion. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, after all.

Future programs include New York Times columnist Amanda Hesser discussing The Essential New York Times Cookbook, author Kevin R. Kosar exploring the many different types of whiskey, and Laura Weiss discussing ice cream’s global appeal. Recipes for each dish and tickets for upcoming events will soon be available on the hotel’s blog, where future discussions will also be simulcast.

Restaurants

F&W Exclusive: Menu Highlights at Animal's Son of a Gun

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© kate krader
Hugh Hefner with a Prize Marlin Decorates Son of a Gun's Bathroom.

Let's go over some frequently asked questions about the upcoming Son of a Gun restaurant from the epic chef team Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook (with Animal chef Frank Anderson running day to day operations).

What's going to be on the menu?
For a start, the boys are thinking:

Sardines a la plancha with oyster plant, citron, sorrel
Santa Barbara prawns with plum mustard butter, radish
Baked clams "mafia style"
Geoduck, cilantro salsa verde, mandarin
Uni, carrot,  nettle curry vinaigrette, apple
Bottarga taramasalata
Fried chicken inspired by Chick-fil-A and Bakesale Betty
Pimento cheese fries

What's up with the name Son of a Gun?
Says Dotolo:  "On boats, the space between the guns was used as a semi-private place for trysts with prostitutes and wives, which sometimes led to the birth of children with disputed parentage. Another claim is that the origin the term resulted from firing a ship's guns to hasten a difficult birth."

What's the seating situation?
Both reservation and walk ins for the big communal table. Wait until you see the banquette tucked right into the window.

Cocktails

Sundance’s Star-Studded Silver Restaurant

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© Mitch Allen
Ellen, Demi and Kate at Park City's new Silver restaurant.

The Sundance Film Festival is already half over, and I missed my chance to see my heroes Michael Voltaggio and the Kogi team keeping everyone well fed during the premieres. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still want to be in Park City, or that I’ve given up on my dream of being the local restaurant critic. That’s because of all I've been hearing about the town’s newest restaurant, Silver, designed by none other than David Rockwell. The crowd at Silver this week has been remarkable: James Franco and Paul Rudd ate there over the weekend; Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth and Ellen Barkin were there the other night for a Belvedere party for their new movie Another Happy Day. If I could possibly get there on Friday night, apparently I'd see Al Pacino and Katie Holmes at some gala, end-of-festival dinner.

But I wouldn’t just go to be a crazy celebrity stalker. The drinks list has a contribution by Lindsay Nader, who happens to be the phenomenal deputy editor of F&W’s Cocktails 2011 (coming in April); she created the Silver Fox, a mix of tequila and Aperol in an absinthe-rinsed glass. Then there's the menu. I understand Demi had pan-roasted salmon and every single side dish, including mac and cheese and roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta and crispy sage. And chocolate cake (yay, Demi!). Personally, I'm going to have the local trout with ponzu brown butter when I finally get there.

Chefs

Mario’s Pre-Super Bowl Charity Party

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Mario's Famous Friends Might Well Show Up at His Super Bowl Party.

“The Jets will make it to Texas,” predicts superchef Mario Batali. “Not to cook but to play!!!”

Mario also plans to be in Texas for Super Bowl XLV. Not just to watch the Jets (fingers crossed) but to cook. Specifically, to cook for what sounds like the best pre-Super Bowl party in history, in support of both the Mario Batali Foundation and The Moyer Foundation, both of which benefit children in need. Here are details.

WHO: Batali and Texas star chef Tim Love with co-chairs Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri. Plus Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer and Texas Rangers pitcher Tommy Hunter.
Says Mario, “It’s gonna be an all-out football hang with Emeril, Guy, Jamie Moyer and Tommy Hunter, eating, drinking and making Tex-Italian snacks with Tim Love.”

WHO ELSE: Alt-country stars Her & Kings County will perform!

WHAT: The ultimate Spaghetti Western with Batali cooking Italian and Love cooking urban Western, plus cocktails, silent and live auctions and maybe a few surprises.
Says Mario, “There will be a cage-match cooking demo with all of us involved: Some of us have greater capabilities than others.”

WHERE: Love’s famous Love Shack So7, Ft. Worth, Texas

WHEN: Friday, February 4, 2011, 5 p.m.

HOW: Tickets for the limited-space event are $500 per person. To RSVP and for more information, go to www.moyerfoundation.org/events or call 206-298-1217.

Restaurants

Making a Mess Filming The Dilemma

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© Universal Pictures
Vince Vaugn and Sepia Restaurant Star in The Dilemma.

It’s such a good time for food lovers who also love movies. From Julie & Julia to It’s Complicated, the food on-screen has been the kind that makes you crazy hungry. And now there’s The Dilemma, the new Ron Howard movie that notably features Vince Vaugn making a toast in the Chicago restaurant Sepia (as all the blogs have noted, Sepia plays a restaurant called Sepia). Sepia’s executive chef Andrew Zimmerman, who has a cameo as a line cook reprimanded by chef Jennifer Connelly (“I was smart enough to stand next to her so I wouldn’t get cut from the film” he says), did the food styling for Vaugn’s toast scene at the end of a big meal. There was a learning curve, he reports. He started off preparing food that looked nice. “No,” said the movie prop master. “Make food that looks like people have been at it. And don’t make it taste good or the extras will eat it all.” So Zimmerman put aside his years of training in making food look and taste delicious and instead made a mess with half-eaten chocolate cakes, rivers of crème anglaise and raspberry sauce. “And I threw some melted ice cream in there, too,” he says.

Travel

Kogi Is Going to Sundance

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© Nigel Parry
Roy Choi's Kogi truck will serve late night tacos at Sundance.

Boy do I wish I were a Park City, Utah, restaurant critic. Or a celebrity with a new film to promote right now. Last week we heard Michael Voltaggio would be cooking at the Sundance Film Festival. And now, here come my heros on L.A.'s Kogi taco truck, too. The truck will be at the Lift in Park City for two nights serving its exceptional tacos, like short rib, spicy pork, chicken and tofu. While Voltaggio is cooking breakfast and lunch, Kogi will make sure that all the late-night eaters are covered, too.

Menus

First Look: Niko

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© Laura Maniec
Crispy Tokyo Chicken at Niko.

As a rule, I disapprove of restaurant reviews that come before a place has fully opened its doors. So let’s not call this a review of Niko, the Japanese spot in the former, iconic Honmura An space in New York City’s Soho; after all, it isn’t even open yet. Instead, let’s call out what was great about Niko on the very first night of its soft opening.

Crispy Maine sweet shrimp with Sriracha salt. The shrimp were supercrispy, and that little pile of salt (made with dehydrated Sriracha chile sauce) alongside was genius.

Miso-charred octopus. Every octopus should be properly charred with miso glaze.

Crispy Tokyo chicken. Co-owner Cobi Levy says he’s been eating fried chicken for 21 days straight in search of the ideal crust (thanks, Cobi). He serves his with an elegant ginger dipping sauce (as well as a honey-mustard sauce that I pretended wasn't there).

Local hero Josh DeChellis is back preparing Japanese food (the Sriracha salt is his). A sushi chef fresh from Sushi Yasuda behind the sushi bar. Master sommelier Laura Maniec with a bottle of rose Champagne in her hand. Torrisi’s Mario Carbone at a banquette in the back. Nate Appleman, an F&W Best New Chef 2009 and Chipotle’s new burrito maker, at the sushi bar.

Menus

Raclette Night at Anfora

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Raclette Night at Anfora.

© Anfora
Raclette Night at Anfora.

 

I was a little bummed watching the BCS Football Championship last night. For starters, Oregon State lost in the final minutes of the game to Auburn. Even sadder was that the loss marked the end of Monday night football, at least until next season. Luckily, the team at NYC’s Anfora wine bar has found a way to fill my Monday night void. Last night, Anfora hosted its first Raclette Cheese Night. Each Monday, the wine bar will serve raclette in true Swiss style, with heat lamps for melting and plates of bread, boiled potatoes, pickles and charcuterie for dipping. Sommelier Joe Campanale will be pouring unusual white wines, from producers like Jacques Puffeney, to pair with the cheese. I can’t think of a better way to shake off my post-Monday-night-football blues—and get excited for my upcoming snowboarding trip to Switzerland.

Restaurants

Michael Voltaggio Comes to Sundance

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© Ryan Tanaka

Restaurant openings are crazy – just ask Michael Voltaggio who is consumed with his upcoming Los Angeles restaurant Ink. But he’s still going to this year’s Sundance Film Festival to cook at the VIP café The Lift in the heat of the action on Main Street. That’s great news for all of Sundance’s hard-working celebrities (and anyone else with a credentialed VIP pass like filmmakers and studio execs) who historically haven’t had a lot of great food options at the festival.

© Isaac Brekken
Jesse Eisenberg was one of the regulars at The Lift at Sundance last year.

For those lucky VIP pass holders, Voltaggio will be serving both breakfast and lunch. For breakfast: bacon and eggs with Japanese flavors  (poached eggs and braised pork belly with burnt scallion oil and soy caramel). For lunch, his version of chicken shawarma, with pressed chicken thighs, yogurt spheres, fried chickpeas and black-garlic puree. My question: how do I get a Sundance VIP pass?

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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.