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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


Rachel Maddow Toast-Fest


How cool is the Society of Gentlemen? For starters, it promotes civility, respect and other gentlemanly behavior and awards scholarships to college-bound high-school seniors. (Its founders include my friend Peter Lindberg, editor-at-large for F&W’s sister magazine Travel + Leisure; director Spike Jonze, who designed the goofy logo of a man who needs help finding his arm; and actors Mike Myers and Dermot Mulroney.) And it quite possibly reached the zenith of coolness on Saturday, when they hosted a Night of Toasts—an Evening of Cocktails and Conjecture at New York's Player's club. There was a presentation about the history and trivia surrounding toasts: Why raise your glass? Why clink? There was a special guest toastmaster: Rachel Maddow. There was an equally star-packed audience (Catherine Keener, Samantha Mathis, Keanu Reeves looking like Serpico with a beard). And yes, there were drinks to toast with, including Manhattan on Toast (Manhattans with flamed lemon peel) created by legendary mixologist Sasha Petraske and the Jack Rose, Maddow’s favorite cocktail, which just happens to be featured in F&W’s brand-new Cocktails 2009.


First Taste—Jacques Torres's New Ice Creams


Unlike my healthy colleague Jen Murphy, I’m not planning a Blueprint Cleanse anytime soon—lucky me. Because I’m just hearing details on Jacques Torres’s new NYC ice-cream store and it’s making me crazy. Starting on Friday at his Hudson Street location—doors open right at 9 am—Jacques will be selling scoops of his fabulous ice cream in cups and homemade cones. Ice-cream sandwiches will be made to order. The marquee ice cream parlor itself will open on May 30th in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood at 62 Water St., next to the original Torres store. (Time Out's The Feed has details on Torres's ice cream carts which he'll deploy at his other NYC stores.) There you’ll eventually be able to choose from among fourteen flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet. Think wicked chocolate flavored with chipotle and ancho chiles exactly like his hot chocolate (but, well, frozen), as well as an outrageous rum caramel ice cream and a very refreshing raspberry sorbet. He’ll also make Belgian waffles and hot fudge—in short, I’ve got a good chance of fulfilling every ice-cream dream I've ever had. I plan to get started at nine am on Friday.


The Julie & Julia Movie


First came the blog, the Julie/Julia Project, where Julie Powell documented the trials of cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Then came the book, Julie & Julia, based on the blog. And now, this August, comes the Nora Ephron movie based on the book starring Meryl Streep as Julia and Amy Adams as Julie.

Julie Powell and I have recently become friends, at least on Facebook, where I follow her hilarious daily musings. I decided to ask my new “friend” what it’s been like to see her words go from the computer to the big screen.

Powell says the most surreal part has been the paparazzi shots of Amy Adams in a Julie wig in front of her old office, at the Strand and a block away from her apartment. “The Julie of the movie bears some resemblance to the Julie Who Is Me,” Powell wrote me. “But, she’s definitely a fictional character.” For one, the movie Julie doesn’t curse as much as the real-life Julie!

Julie & Julia follows the basic plot points of Powell’s book, but is a very different creature. The voice is more Ephron than Powell. According to Julie, “The movie is very much Nora’s baby.” But, “Nora’s done an amazing job of weaving together the parallels between my and Julia’s stories, and how this is about two women finding themselves.”

The highlight for Powell: meeting Meryl Streep, who stayed completely in character—voice, wig, and dress—throughout their conversation about high heels.

Powell second book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession, is due out in December. Always busy, she’s got irons in the fire but says she’s giving up memoirs for now—“while the gettin’ is good.” 



Eat Chocolate and Make Money


© Dove Chocolate Discoveries
Dove Chocolate Discoveries Party

Dove has come up with a new way to sell their delicious confections:the Dove Chocolate Discoveries party. It's similar to a Tupperware party, except you can actually have too much Tupperware. And unlike an Avon or Mary Kay party, you don’t have to lie to your friends and tell them they can’t live without that blue eye shadow that somehow makes their muddy brown eyes just pop! Anyone who decides to have a party can either be the host (and receive free treats) or take on the role of Chocolatier. The Chocolatier earns commissions on everything sold at a party, like the addictive chocolate-covered almonds and pretzels and baking mixes (which make things like chewy chocolate chip gingerbread cookies or chocolate cupcakes). Maybe they’ll even add a chocolate-brown car as incentive, which I would drive over an eye-roll-inducing pink Cadillac any day.


Guest Sommelier Night at A Voce


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.


Make a Film, Get Free Lunch


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.


My Dinner with Harrison Ford


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.


Where Are All the Female Brewers?


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.


A Best New Chef's Brew Party


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).


Bill Clinton Knows How to Rock a Food Bank Party


bon jovi, batali, bono

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.


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