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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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The New Street-Food Heroes

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Hungry crowds at the first annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards.

© Michael Toolan
Hungry crowds at the first annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards.


Food-truck visionaries, like L.A.’s Roy Choi of Kogi fame and the folks behind NYC's Rickshaw Dumpling Bar, are transforming their cities into street-food meccas. Now, nearly every city in America is undergoing its own street-food revolution. “Philadelphia has a really vibrant street-food culture,” says Helena Tubis, managing director of the New York–based Vendy Awards, “but it doesn’t get recognition.” Inspired by three Philadelphia vendors who visited the 2010 Vendys in New York, the City of Brotherly Love celebrated its own first annual Vendy Awards last weekend, honoring the street vendors who keep Philly well-fed on the go. Finalists included old standbys as well as fresh new faces: Vendy Cup winner Gigi and Big R’s truck has been serving Caribbean-American soul food for 10 years, while People’s Choice Award winner Cucina Zapata, which serves Thai-Mexican fusion tacos, has been open only two months.
 
Now in its seventh year, the NYC Vendys are scheduled for September 24 (tickets available here). New Yorkers have already submitted more than a thousand nominations for their favorite vendors, including  nominees for the new Most Heroic Vendor Award, which recognizes the non-culinary ways street-food vendors contribute to their local communities (such as the vendor who foiled a Times Square car bomb attempt in 2010). As if turning out awesome lunches for thousands of New Yorkers every day weren’t heroic enough.

Restaurants

Museum Food 2.0

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The dining room at Untitled.

© Nicole Franzen
The dining room at Untitled.

 

Museum restaurants are no longer merely traps for exhausted art patrons with low blood sugar: Visionary restaurants like The Modern at the Museum of Modern Art and Palettes at the Denver Art Museum have raised the bar and given way to a second wave of delicious new openings. At New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, a slice of Four & Twenty Blackbirds’ salted caramel apple pie is an awesome mid-afternoon pick-me-up at Danny Meyer’s Untitled, which opened in March. A few time zones away, the brand-new Eddie Aikau Restaurant & Surf Museum opens this weekend in Waikoloa, Hawaii, dedicated to the memory of the beloved big-wave surf legend. (The museum opens July 3, and the restaurant opens on July 4.) Chef Scott Lutey’s contemporary Hawaiian menu highlights ultra-local ingredients in dishes like lacquered kalua pork belly and Molokai watermelon salad with candied macadamia nuts. And on Independence Day, chef John Besh opens his new Soda Shop at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. The casual spot will serve fountain sodas in flavors like melon and pineapple, as well as house-made ice creams like Creole Cream Cheese Red Velvet.

Wine

Music, Food and Wine Pop-Up Parties

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The grounds of Long Meadow Ranch Winery will host the first pop-up party.

© Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead
The grounds of Long Meadow Ranch Winery will host the first pop-up party.


The epic Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival in San Francisco is still more than a month away (August 12–14). This year, the team that produces Outside Lands, Another Planet Entertainment and Superfly Presents (look for them in Food & Wine’s August Hungry Crowd column), decided to create teaser events throughout the Bay Area that will feature the musicians, winemakers and cooks participating in the fest this year. The pop-up food, wine and music parties kick off July 9, with a wine tasting and live performance by Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers at Long Meadow Ranch Winery. Other events include a taco-and-wine picnic at Sonoma’s stellar Scribe winery and a tasting of Kermit Lynch’s extensive rosé collection paired with grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup shooters from The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. For more event details, click here.

Cookbooks

Jonathan Waxman's Way

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Swordfish Carpaccio

© Chris Quinlan
Swordfish Carpaccio

In our July issue, Frank Bruni wrote a great piece about cooking from chef Jonathan Waxman’s new book, Italian, My Way. I was fortunate enough to experience the book with much less effort than Bruni put in—Waxman cooked from it Monday night at the fantastic Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado, as part of their Monday Night Wine Dinner series. Italian winemaker Giampaolo Venica poured some of his hyper-aromatic, unoaked whites, like the Venica & Venica 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Ronco delle Mele, with Waxman’s dishes.

© Chris Quinlan
Waxman and the Frasca team


 

It was the chef's fish courses that really blew me away. (Maybe it was the perfect preparation—Waxman was assisted by Frasca chef Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson (an F&W Best New Chef 2005) and his team—or perhaps it was coming off a meat-centric weekend at the F&W Classic in Aspen). Smoked-trout-and-mascarpone crostini was sweet and smoky, swordfish carpaccio with English pea and herb vinaigrette melted in my mouth and a superlight, tempura-style fritto misto was fantastic. Mackinnon Patterson said it best when he called Waxman “the most soulful chef” he’s cooked with.

Restaurants

The New Rules for Celebrity Restaurants

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The Breslin's Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup

© Lucy Schaeffer
The Breslin's Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup

Celebrities have been frequenting restaurants for a while now—the Algonquin Round Table was in full effect in the 1920s. So we won’t pretend it's news to see a famous person sitting in a dining room. But it’s quite amazing to see how far some restaurants go these days to protect their more recognizable guests. Here’s Ken Friedman, co-owner of such NYC celeb hang-outs as the Spotted Pig and the Breslin, sounding like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. “The first rule at my restaurants is don’t talk about who’s eating at my restaurants.”
 
Here are some other rules we've seen NYC restaurants employ.
 
*Close the blinds to the street when the paparazzi line up outside. (A rule followed by the staff at Marea the second someone like Michael Douglas walks in.)
 
*Seat the best-known people in the corner. At Craft, table #158, deep in the restaurant, is set aside so anyone supremely famous (like LeBron James who rented out Craft's LA outpost for a party) can be escorted right there.  
 
*Seat the best-known people in the kitchen. At his newest restaurant The John Dory, Friedman created a chef’s table in the kitchen. What about the rumor that Jay-Z wanted a chef’s table, with real chairs, as an alternative to the stools that make up the seating in the rest of the restaurant? “We didn't create the table for anyone in particular," says Friedman. "The chef’s table is fun, it’s in the kitchen,” says Friedman. “Plus who wants to sit on stools all the time? I don’t; neither does Charlie Rose.”
 
Related Links:
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Favorite Restaurants
100+ Tastes to Try
Tom Colicchio’s Road Trip
Best Chefs with Hotel Restaurants

(Pictured above: The Breslin's Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup)

News

Bonnaroo Food Redux

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© Nathaniel Schoen


Those lucky enough to have been at Manchester, Tennessee’s epic four-day Bonnaroo festival last weekend are now recovering from their food and music hangovers. Here, festival highlights, stats and insider observations:
 
• The Black Keys hit the Fried Chicken, Champagne and Fireworks party post-show to hang out with Dave Kornell of NYC’s Blue Ribbon. Kornell fried 2,800 pieces of chicken—every piece was eaten—while Buffalo Springfield played right behind him.
• At the party, 36 magnums of Joe Bastianich's Flor prosecco were consumed in about 30 minutes.
• Praters BBQ from Tennessee served 2,000 pounds of pork.
• The Food Truck Oasis had roughly 12,000 visitors a day.
• The Taco Bus from Tampa, Florida, went through 8,000 tacos.
• Eat Box from Asheville, North Carolina, went through 18,000 meatballs—the fan favorite was the Dirty South (meatloaf balls with pepper-crusted bacon, hash browns and bacon-scallion sauce).
• Good You from Kansas City, Missouri, went through 800 pounds of meat for their burgers made with "unicorn meat and Smurf dust."

Restaurants

Frankies Spuntino at the Belmont Stakes

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© Morgan Taylor
Frank Falcinelli & Frank Castronovo are ready to bet at the Belmont Stakes.

What a busy weekend! The Omnivore Food Festival! Midtown Lunch’s 5th birthday party! The Big Apple BBQ!  I just couldn’t make it to see the Frankies Spuntino team in action at the Belmont Stakes. Luckily F&W’s excellent intern Morgan Taylor was there and reports back.
 
As a Kentucky native and horse-racing enthusiast I've visited many racetracks around the country—but never for the food. That changed at this year's Belmont Stakes thanks to Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo of Frankies Spuntino, who brought their Frankies Spuntino menu to Belmont Park for the second time.
 
The Franks, who grew up in Queens and worked in a deli around the corner from Belmont Park when they were kids, began frequenting the track when their boss would send them on gambling runs on their dirt bikes. When the chance to bring the Frankies' menu to Belmont arose, they saw it as an opportunity to contribute to their old neighborhood and to amp up the racetrack’s culinary credibility.
 
Their menu featured dishes from the Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual: buttermilk fried chicken, grilled calamari & shrimp salad. Everything was delicious and their fried chicken passed the test of several Kentuckians—not to mention that I saw my dad wolf down three pieces of their olive oil cake. Unfortunately, neither of the Franks picked the big race's winner, longshot Ruler on Ice, who paid $51.50 on a $2 to win wager. Maybe next year.

Beer

What Will Eminem Be Eating at Bonnaroo?

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New this year at Bonnaroo: The Food Truck Oasis.

© Sean Hunter
New this year at Bonnaroo: The Food Truck Oasis.

 
I’ve just spent the past few weeks interviewing the food-obsessed Superfly Presents team for the August issue of Food & Wine. Superfly is responsible for producing some of the country’s coolest music festivals, including Bonnaroo, which kicks off tomorrow on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee. To celebrate the festival’s 10th anniversary, the Superfly team has gone overboard lining up not only stellar music but also amazing beer and food. Here, some highlights:

*Food Truck Oasis:This new food zone is the parking spot for a dozen food trucks from around the country. Don’t miss the Dirty South-Meatloaf Balls with pepper-crusted bacon, hash browns and bacon-scallion sauce from Asheville, North Carolina’s Eat Box; short rib sliders from Miami’s gastroPod; and tacos and burritos from Tampa, Florida’s famous Taco Bus.

*Broo’ers Festival: I can’t think of anything better than a beer festival within a music festival. More than 20 American craft breweries—including Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project and Abita—will be here.

*Fried Chicken & Champagne: On Saturday, June 11, rock stars like Eminem and Arcade Fire will be backstage at a private party, drinking champagne paired with fried chicken from NYC’s Blue Ribbon.

*Crawfish Boil:
Superfly thanks the Bonnaroo staff by throwing a karaoke and crawfish boil party on Monday, June 13. New Orleans–based Shaggy’s Boil Inc. will be hosting.

*Food Drive: Last year’s food drive brought in more than 7,000 pounds of food donations, which went to the Good Samaritan Food Pantry of Manchester, Tennessee. This year, Bonnaroo hopes to get 10,000 pounds.

Restaurants

Inside Omnivore World Tour with Giovanni Passerini

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In case you missed it, last year’s Omnivore food festival featured René Redzepi (yes, the "best chef in the world"). This year’s festival theme is Young Cuisine, featuring break-out stars like of Rino in Paris, whose restaurant combines Italian peasant cooking (cucina povera is the in-vogue term) with techniques he learned at Paris’s Le Chateaubriand. Passerini is preparing dinner on June 10th with Carlo Mirarchi of Roberta’s in Brooklyn (an F&W Best New Chef 2011). Tickets are available here.

What’s Passerini making for dinner? What will he eat when he’s here? Let’s find out the answers.

Q: What are you making for dinner?

A: Frankly, I still have to decide. I'm sure I'll prepare some ravioli; it's our speciality at Rino. But I still have to decide the kind, the shape.

Q: Let’s talk about cooking with Carlo Mirachi.
A: I'm really curious to meet him. I like everything I’ve seen made by him. I think the spirit of Roberta’s is similar to Rino, though it's just a feeling, because I've never been. But that's enough to make me really excited to cook with Carlo.

Q: Are you excited to try American-Italian food (since you’re Italian)?
A: Of course, I'm so excited to taste my first spaghetti with meatballs! And a good pizza! Probably it's easier to find a good one in NYC than in Rome. And after all, one of my favorite movies is Big Night by Stanley Tucci, about two Italian brothers cooking in the US. So funny!

Q: If you could open another restaurant, what would it be?

A: I really dream about a gazebo in the middle of a crowded street selling Italian street food at a very cheap price: arancini, focaccia stuffed with mortadella, tripe and ricotta sandwiches, fried cod and artisanal Italian beer!

Restaurants

How to Get Free Tickets to Omnivore Master Classes

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First, the bad news about the supercool French food festival Omnivore, which brings its Young Cuisine world tour to New York City on June 9th: The master class series on Friday, June 10th—highlighting New York City’s Carlo Mirarchi (an F&W Best New Chef 2011, hurray!) and John Fraser (What Happens When); Paris's Giovanni Passerini (Rino) and Jean-François Piège (Thoumieux); and Copenhagen's Mads Refslunch (MR)—is for food professionals only. Now the good news: I hear that Omnivore is giving away a few, just a few, Master Class tickets: write to reservation@omnivore.fr and use the code 'young cuisine.'

And, more Omnivore good news: you can actually taste food from these incredible chefs at Omnivore’s The F**** Dinners, at What Happens When, from June 9-11, by going here.

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