© Dove Chocolate Discoveries
Dove Chocolate Discoveries Party
© Dove Chocolate Discoveries
The next time you dine at A Voce in New York City, you may want to pay extra attention to the person walking you through the wine list. The restaurant, now helmed by incredibly talented executive chef Missy Robbins, is bringing in rock stars of the wine world and challenging them to assume the duties of a sommelier for a night. Axel Heinz of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto and Marchese Piero della Rochetta of Sassicaia have already moonlighted as sommeliers. Michael Mondavi will be walking guests through the wine list and pouring on June 12, and Lamberto and Ferdinando Frescobaldi will be working the floor in September. The guest-sommelier program, which is the brainchild of A Voce's wine director Olivier Flosse, will continue at the second A Voce location at the Time Warner Center when it opens this fall.
How do you become the next Coen brothers or Francis Ford Coppola? Let a guy take you to lunch. For the last two years Mike Plante, a film programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, has bought lunch for 50 filmmakers. In return for the free meal, they must create a short film for the price of the lunch. The plot of these “lunchfilms” must be based on the lunch conversation, and the contract is hashed out on a napkin. Today, the shorts are screened at film festivals around the country and include works by Sharon Lockhart (Bill: $74.70 at Don Cuco), George Kuchar (Bill: $31.15 at Brandy Ho’s). The next selection of lunchfilm shorts will be shown May 16 at Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles. Check here for future screenings.
Lauren Rothman, our fantastic food intern and lover of Mexican foods, managed to dine on authentic Mayan dishes, catch a speech by Harrison Ford, and learn something about archaeology, all in one night. She reports:
Being a food intern at F&W has its perks: On Tuesday night, I got to attend the Archaeological Institute of America’s 130th Anniversary Gala held at the Chinatown event space Capitale. The dinner honored Harrison Ford, whose famous role in the Indiana Jones movie franchise, archaeologists at the event explained, inspired countless young men and women to join the field. Taking his inspiration from the exotic locales shown in the films, Capitale’s executive chef Jason Munger created a Mayan feast to celebrate the AIA, consulting with Mayan food archaeologist Patricio Balona. Having traveled—and eaten my way—across Mexico, I was excited to get a taste of the ancient foods that are the foundation for the country’s modern-day cuisine.
When I told friends that I was going to a Mayan dinner, a lot of them joked that I would be eating corn, corn, and more corn. I shrugged it off as a stereotype, but they were right about one thing: corn was central to the Mayan religion. In fact, Mayans believed that humans were created by maize gods out of a mix of the gods' own blood and corn flour. In light of this information, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the first course was a seared corn cake topped with sweet potato puree, roasted duck and tomatillo salsa. But the rest of the (amazing) meal was corn -free, including the dessert, a Mayan banana split. This south-of-the-border reworking of the classic featured soft, sweet fried plantains topped with three different sorbets--creamy coconut, spiced pumpkin and lush avocado--and was finished with crispy plantain chips.
Yesterday’s unseasonably warm weather left me craving a beer after work, so I headed over to Resto, which has arguably the best Belgian beer selection in New York City. I was at the bar contemplating a recent craft beer story that will appear in F&W’s June issue. The story examines the phenomena of beer pilgrims—obsessive beer geeks who go to great lengths to try a new beer or visit a cult brewer, even if it means hopping a plane to Japan. The story (as you’ll see) reveals some fascinating brewing innovations going on around the world, but I realized what it was lacking was women. Where are all the female brewers and beer pilgrims? We’ve made our mark in the kitchen, the wine world and even in the world of butchering. So where are all the female brewers and beer geeks?
One happened to be hanging out at Resto (discussing possible beer-dinner collaborations with the owner), and we got to talking over a bottle of Glazen Toren Jan De Lichte Imperial Belgian white ale. Maggie traveled the world drinking great brews and then enrolled in the University of California-Davis’s Master Brewers Program (she was one of only two women in the class). Instead of opening her own brewery when she got back to the U.S., she founded Beer Ethos, a company dedicated to promoting beer appreciation and cultivating a savvier beer community in NYC. Maggie offers beer services (from leading tasting sessions to offering menu-pairing suggestions for dinner parties) and leads classes at cult places like Murray’s Cheese. She also puts in time in the beer room at Whole Foods on the Bowery, where she leads home-brewing workshops.
Next up, Maggie’s looking to open a retail/tasting-room space in Manhattan that will be dedicated to craft beer. (Think of it as the wine version of Vino.) Why not Brooklyn? “Brooklyn is so far ahead of Manhattan in terms of beer. I’m trying to get the rest of the city up to speed.” I’ll drink to that.
F&W Best New Chef 2007 Steve Corry of Five Fifty-Five in Portland, Maine, really knows his beer: He has a brewing certificate from the American Brewers Guild and has worked as a brewer at Harpoon in Boston and at San Francisco Brewing Company. On May 5th, he'll be blending his twin passions for beer and food with a beer dinner thrown with Allagash Brewing Company's brewmaster Rob Tod. What to expect: ingenious takes on traditional pub food ("fish and chips" = house-smoked sturgeon served with parsnip chips) and beers like the Allagash White. "It's the quintessential summer beer," Corry says. And he should know ($75; 207-761-0555).
If you’re concerned about the problem of hunger in New York City, you’re in excellent company. At the 6th Annual Food Bank for New York Can-Do Awards on Tuesday evening, some truly awesome people showed their support. It’s a good thing—four million New Yorkers access food-assistance programs these days. Event chair Mario Batali, emcee Stanley Tucci, Jon Bon Jovi (the evening’s honoree, and more on him later) and a few special guests did an amazing job of raising money and awareness for such an excellent cause. Of course there was a lot going on; here are some highlights.
* To win one of the supersonic live-auction items—dinner for 24 cooked by Mario, chef/Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio and Momofuku’s Dave Chang—you need to be intent on outbidding Mariska Hargitay and Emeril Lagasse. You also need $60,000. Who’s got that going for him?? Jimmy Fallon.
* To win tickets to the launch of U2’s 360° world tour in Barcelona—yes, with first-class Delta tickets and hotel accommodations—you need $45,000. And for tickets to see Billy Joel and Elton John, you need some $35,000. Anthony Bourdain was out of luck after the price went over his $10,000 bid.
* A few things to know about Bon Jovi: He is absolutely passionate and informed about the issues of hunger and low-income housing. He is very funny (i.e., calling his presenters, Kenneth and Maria Cuomo Cole, Sonny & Cher). And he is absolutely gorgeous.
* To be unofficially voted Best Dressed for the evening, it helps to be wearing a gorgeous fuschia pink Zac Posen dress—and to be Katie Lee Joel.
*Table conversation is amazing—you'll hear off-the-record updates on who's headlining 2009 New York City Wine & Food Festival (which also benefits the Food Bank). And details of People magazine's poll on whether Susan Boyle should get a makeover. (We weren't the only people talking about the Britian's Got Talent phenom. At the party, Bon Jovi told Extra he hopes she wins, saying "After pursuing the dream and never giving up, good for her." Boyle, being told this, said she thought Bon Jovi was "fantastic.")
* At an event like this, the house band will feature REM’s Mike Mills.
* At an event like this, REM frontman Michael Stipe will introduce the special guest: Bill Clinton.
* At an event like this, the only thing that could possibly be more exciting than hearing Clinton talk to an energized crowd about fighting hunger, and thank his friends Bon Jovi, Stipe and Batali, is when he steps off the stage and Bono is standing there to greet him.
* If you ask a tall Secret Service guy who’s towering above the crowd to take a picture of Clinton, Bono and Bon Jovi, he’ll look at you like you’re crazy (and refuse).
* At a silent auction, Colicchio will always bid on a John Lennon photograph by Bob Gruen. Sometimes against Rocco diSpirito.
* At the after-party at—you guessed it—the third floor of the Spotted Pig, there will be virtually no corner of the room that you can stand in without talking to a very famous rock star—at the bar, Bon Jovi; in the corner, Bono; on the banquette, Stipe. It had the makings of the most epic music video.
* If an unnamed reveler falls off their bar stool, Bono will be the first person there to help them up. And tell them that he's been on the pub floor more than once himself.
In the past month, I’ve hopped around from Germany to Colombia to Utah, and I am leaving again tomorrow for a quick trip to Boston. My travel-survival secret is Emergen-C. I’ve convinced myself that the vitamin-packed fizzy drink fends off airplane germs, and I stash packets of the drink mix in the pockets of all of my suitcases, duffel bags and purses. This way, I always have one on hand to pour into my water bottle while on the road.
Since I’m addicted, I was superexcited to learn about Emergen-C BLUE, a new berry flavor that hit store shelves yesterday. Fifty percent of proceeds from every packet of Emergen-C BLUE go to one of my favorite organizations, the Surfrider Foundation. Surfrider and Emergen-C are having a launch party for the new flavor out in Malibu, California, next week, timed around Earth Day. Maybe I’ll make a 24-hour trip and swing by.
© Alacer Corp.
Opening week at Minetta Tavern: Madonna. Gwyneth. Me.
OK, I didn’t really sit with Madge and Gwyn. But I was there on Monday (a few nights before they showed up), checking out Keith McNally’s revamped Minetta, which is suddenly everyone’s favorite restaurant in NYC. Some years ago, Minetta Tavern was my parents’ favorite Saturday date-night restaurant, their place to escape and savor a simple Italian meal and some much-needed quiet time.
When my sisters and I were old enough, they took us along. We loved every moment, from the crusty bread and basil oil to the big bowls of spaghetti and clams. The dark, sleepy dining room was usually empty but full of character—a mural of the Washington Square neighborhood was the backdrop for rows of framed caricatures crowding the walls. It felt so cool, though in retrospect the food was pretty standard Italian-American.
The new restaurant is not the one I knew. But that’s okay. A brassy jazz soundtrack, a fabulous bistro menu and, most importantly, a sleek makeover have helped make this reincarnation a success. The energy just a week in is intoxicating.
The tired feeling is gone, razed with a couple of walls, to reveal a more open floor plan and better light, thanks to new street-to-ceiling windows in the front (thankfully, sketches and mural are intact). It’s even possible to watch the kitchen action through a long slit cut into a tiled back wall—something you might not have wanted to do when I was growing up.
Even better, chef-partners Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson (who, as alums of Balthazar and Pastis, are used to running popular restaurants) are already turning out some great dishes, including tender Berkshire pig's trotter mixed with mushroom duxelles and pork forcemeat that’s deep-fried and crispy. It’s a classic French dish that fits seamlessly with the bubbling café vibe. Juicy lamb saddle with belly meat intact is excellent, and so is a bright, billowy Grand Marnier soufflé flecked with orange sections.
After dinner, I lingered at my table, taking in the action as couples dressed in their downtown best packed in, eager for a seat. Nostalgia for the old Minetta, as much as I loved it, didn’t stop me from reveling in the excitement and conviviality of the new place. I’m happy to say that the change doesn’t make me so sad. I might make it my own Saturday night date spot, that is if I can keep scoring what is now the toughest reservation in town.
© Chris Quinlan
Moscow Mule and Champagne Cobbler at Apothecary Bar & Lounge
Friday, 5:30 p.m.: Apothecary Bar & Lounge
Had early cocktails at this laid-back lounge with serious mixologists. The Moscow Mule—with vodka, ginger beer and lime juice, perfectly garnished with a lime wheel and a slice of fresh ginger—was refreshing, while their take on the Champagne Cobbler—a blend of Champagne, Creole curaçao, Fee’s lemon bitters and crushed ice—was fruity and delicate.
Friday, 7:30 p.m.: Chifa Restaurant
Headed to chef Jose Garces’s latest restaurant for a blend of Peruvian and Cantonese cuisine. The name comes from the phonetic pronunciation of the Chinese character that represents the shared cuisine. If fusion feels a bit early ’90s, Chifa is a modern take on it. I could have made an entire meal of the chewy yucca-flour-and-manchego-cheese buns served with house-made Sriracha butter. I also loved their take on breakfast, Desayuno, an arepa topped with braised oxtail, egg and panca (a Peruvian chile pepper) emulsion; the Hot Pot, glazed cod in a smoky broth with beech mushrooms and tofu; and the Pulpo, grilled Spanish octopus with a spicy chile-pepper puree and sweet and tangy purple olive escabeche.
Friday, 9:30 p.m.: Race Street Café
With Philly Beer Week in full swing, I headed to the Race Street Café to sample some fantastic Lagunitas beer—like Hairy Eyeball, Maximus and IPA—and to meet the brewer, Jeremy Marshall.
Saturday, 3ish a.m.: Ritz Carlton
Crawled into bed at the Ritz and was thrilled to be instantly swallowed up in the cocoon-like feather-top mattress and supersoft sheets for some much-needed sleep.