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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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?

Restaurants

Eating at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas with Jay-Z and Chris Martin

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© 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, Beyonce, 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".)

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.

Events

Shopping for a Cause

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© 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.

Restaurants

Preview from Sam Talbot's Seafood Restaurant

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miami preview dinner

© 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.
 

Travel

Jennifer Rubell Turns Oatmeal into Art

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bowls

© 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.

Travel

Art Basel Redux

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art basel

© 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.

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