© 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.
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.
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?
© Wire Image / Ethan Miller
Jay-Z and Chris Martin performed (and ate at) Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.
Maybe some people have moved on from New Years Eve. Not me. That's because I got to ring it in at the super-duper deluxe, just-opening Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
. I wasn’t alone. A Coldplay/Jay-Z
concert always draws a good crowd, including just about every celebrity you can think of. And they were all eating their last meals of 2010 at the Cosmopolitan's awesome new restaurants.Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill
The night before New Year’s Eve, Jay-Z
, Chris Martin
, Gwyneth Paltrow
, Alex Rodriguez
and Cameron Diaz
all sat down together at the first Blue Ribbon
to open outside of NYC. (I'm sure Kanye
would have been at the table too, but he got to Vegas last minute
for the NYE show.)
Holsteins Kirsten Dunst and Giada de Laurentiis both had lunch at the casual burger, shake and beer spot on NYE. The next day, Coldplay band members, Paltrow and her kids all snacked on burgers and shakes there.
STK At the sleek outpost of the NYC steakhouse, John Mayer and actors BJ Novak and Kellan Lutz had dinner prior to the concert. (Mayer was powered enough to go stage with Jay-Z for "99 Problems".)
© Wire Image / Ethan Miller
Comme Ça Also before the concert, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and their kids took over the private dining room of the French bistro from F&W Best New Chef David Myers.
More on the Cosmopolitan restaurants, with or without celebrities, coming soon.
© Photo Courtesy Fonté Coffee Roasters
Tonight, Seattle's Fonté Coffee Roasters
will gather some of the city's best food artisans for a Shop Local Holiday Happy Hour at Fonté Cafe and Wine Bar
, which opened
last year. The event includes a tasting with master roaster Steve Smith (who came to Fonté 20 years ago to focus on small-lot roasting after his time at Starbucks); holiday-themed chocolates (like gingerbread chocolate bars) from Theo Chocolate
; and wines from the Small Lot Co-Op
and Heaven's Cave Cellars. A portion of the proceeds from the event go to the Pike Market Child Care and Preschool
, which helps low-income families with care and healthy meals for children. Another bonus: All proceeds from purchases of Fonté's excellent, limited-edition Holiday Blend
(left), a delicious low-acid coffee with citrus notes, go to the same cause.
© Billy Farrell Agency
Preview dinner for Sam Talbot's new sustainable seafood restaurant.
Chef Sam Talbot (the Top Chef heartthrob and chef of Montauk, New York’s Surf Lodge) gave a select group of super-fashionable guests a peek at some of the sustainably minded seafood dishes he’ll be serving at Imperial No. 9, his forthcoming restaurant that will open at the Mondrian SoHo in NYC early next year. The dinner, hosted by photographer Poppy de Villeneuve, was held at Miami’s Mondrian Hotel during Art Basel, and the long communal table was appropriately decorated with de Villeneuve’s photos and Talbot’s own paintings (when he's not cooking, he paints). The menu included fried oysters with chowchow and crispy ham; lemon king crab a la plancha with sweet-and-sour butter and crispy garlic chips; four-hour octopus with chiles, soy and lime; and spicy cucumber kimchi with napa cabbage.
© Stephen Scoble
White porcelain bowls at Jennifer Rubell's Art Basel installation.
While down in Miami for Art Basel
, F&W's creative director Stephen Scoble had a chance to experience artist Jennifer Rubell's
brilliant installation (pictured). To get to the project, visitors had to step through a hole that was punched through a wall of the building that houses the Rubell family's art collection. Once inside, they walked across a yard to a yellow house that was gutted. Each room in the house had a different installation: a stack of porcelain bowls; a pile of stainless steel spoons; crock pots of Rubell's secret oatmeal recipe; brown sugar packets; and an enormous pile of mini boxes of raisins. The final room that visitors entered—the home's former kitchen—had refrigerators stocked with milk. As visitors moved through the home, they created their own bowl of oatmeal.
© Stephen Scoble
Designer Alber Elbaz's wild Art Basel installation.
Food & Wine's creative director, Stephen Scoble, spent the weekend party-hopping in Miami at Art Basel. One of the highlights: The wild food-and-fashion installation Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz created at the Rubell Family Collection.
© Ariel Fernández of Southern-Press
Ambassador of USA in Uruguay, David Nelson, Gabriel Bialystocki, chef Ben Ford, and chef Toshio Tomita.
I’ve always associated Punta Del Este, on the eastern coast of Uruguay, with glamorous beaches rather than excellent food. But Gabriel Bialystocki, founder and director of Punta del Este’s first ever Food & Wine Festival
, is changing that. Bialystocki has collected an impressive lineup of chefs from the US, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to participate in the month-long event. Each Saturday, selected chefs will host special dinners for up to 180 people. The dinners will highlight Uruguay’s local ingredients, and each dish will be paired with Uruguayan wines. Bialystocki e-mailed me an update from this past Saturday’s six-course dinner, prepared by Ben Ford of Ford’s Filling Station
in Culver City, CA; Gastón Yelicich of Isla de Flores
in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay; and Toshio Tomita of Nobu in New York City
. Highlights: Ford’s candied fennel, preserved lemon and mascarpone risotto; Tomita’s tuna sashimi in yuzu-soy sauce with jalapeños, with a garlic puree; and Yelicich’s dulce de leche mille-feuilles with chocolate mousse and sabayon cream.
The November 27 finale will be hosted by Argentinean chef Francis Mallmann, who will cook using his trademark seven fires
, and Bialystocki promises to report on all of the delicious details.
© John Sconzo
Alchemy of Taste and Smell Chefs Included David Chang and Wylie Dufresne.
I don’t know what you all did for dinner on Saturday night. Me, I sat in a small dining room in New York City’s Astor Center
and got showered with vanilla-scented bubbles from a machine that looked like it was borrowed from a Bensonhurst disco while Roberta’s chef Carlo Mirarchi
served luscious sea urchin with carrot granita and vanilla. It was just one of the courses in the Scented Dinner that closed the Alchemy of Taste and Smell conference
, and I was just one of the guests (Ruth Reichl
, Jeffrey Steingarten
and Harold McGee
were there too). And Mirachi was just one of the chefs creating extra-sensory dishes with help from perfumer Mandy Aftel
of Aftelier Perfumes
. Coi’s Daniel Patterson
, the festival’s organizer, cooked beets in hay and then scented them with more hay, and flowers too. Wylie Dufresne
, of WD-50
, infused his outstanding aerated foie gras with just the right amount of pine and then served it on pine paper with a burning edge – long story short, it evoked a big burning fireplace, which was just about the only thing missing from that dinner.