As a hamburger authority, I am often called on to make top 10 lists, judge hamburger contests and otherwise make value judgments about the things. No one wants to hear “each one is different” when asking what the best burgers are; people want a straight answer, and I always give it. But that’s because I know what I am looking for in a hamburger. Do you? Read more >
The coconut water boom has ushered in something of a coconut milk renaissance. With its delicate tropical flavor and luscious texture, coconut milk remains an enduringly popular dairy alternative and a go-to pantry item for home cooks who love curry. Here, more ways to put the can in the cabinet to work. Read more >
How can you judge a pasta master? After an Eataly seminar during the Italian cooking conference Identità New York, F&W chatted with Mario Batali, chef Cesare Battisti of Milan's Ratanà restaurant and pasta producer Riccardo Felicetti (of Monograno Felicetti) about their personal tests. Here, they reveal the dishes that show true artistry best. MORE >>
Education is where you find it, and as an indolent nerd growing up, I learned a lot from gangster movies. I found out about safe houses, and how to get rid of your victims, and exactly how RICO predicates work. But along the way I also learned some very useful cooking tips. Here, the five best. Read more >
Having been battered by Eatocracy commenters who found my previous listicle the Seven Sins of Steak Houses “too negative,” I thought I might correct that with a sequel: things to look for in a great steak house. I agree that you can’t just complain and walk away, unless, like me, your dream is to live on an Icelandic sheep pasture. We all love steak houses, and we all want to have great experiences there, and we are even willing to pay for them. But how do you know where to go? Here are some pointers. (I’m assuming your primary desire in a steak house is to get great steak. If you are after romantic atmosphere or Dover sole, you are reading the wrong man.) Read more >>
If you’ve never heard of mooncakes, the baked pastry that is typically given as a gift during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, now is the perfect time to seek them out. The festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth month, which, according to our handy Chinese lunar calendar, is today! So laugh it up like chef Yip Wing Wah (left). Chef Yip is The Peninsula Hotels' dim sum ambassador and he recently showed us how to make the sugary calorie bombs on his first US mooncake tour. Here, bizarre mooncake trivia to prepare for celebrations this week.
1. A 4-inch mooncake has roughly 1,000 calories; a Big Mac contains 550.
2. You can buy mooncakes for puppies in Hong Kong.
3. Häagen-Dazs makes an ice cream mooncake.
4. Luxury mooncakes encrusted in gold and stuffed with shark fin have been used to bribe corrupt officials
5. Chef Yip makes 400,000 mooncakes each festival and sells out in one day.
To borrow from Stephen Colbert, there is a "truthiness" about Riesling that unfortunately overshadows the truth. The truthiness is that Riesling is inherently sweet. The truth is that most Rieslings are so dry that the Garden of Eden would lose all its foliage if watered with a magnum. So let's start another conversation about Riesling, focusing on four things: balance, delicacy, complexity and sense of place.
We sometimes think of balance as one-dimensional. In fact, balance in wine requires a multiplicity of things—acids, sugars, pH levels, alcohol, magic dust—all in perfect alignment. And the cool thing about Riesling is that when one of these factors moves across the spectrum, the others shift to maintain equilibrium. There is no precise formula to measure balance; we just know it when we feel it. And what we feel with a glass of Riesling in our hand is what tightrope walker Philippe Petit feels every day at work.
Delicacy does not mean fragility or excessive sensitivity. Ultimately, the delicacy we yearn for in wine is a physiological rallying cry leading from one sip to a second. The palate should be so intrigued by what the wine has done to the taste buds that it cannot resist the opportunity to experience it again. With Riesling, one taste begs for another.
Complexity Put on your seat belt, because the journey through the various aromas and flavors of Riesling is a thrill ride that even Six Flags could not map out. Around every bend are citrus fruits, stone fruits, fruits that haven't even been named yet, coupled with floral overtones and buttressed by minerality that's like a quarry of boulders.
A grape's ability to express the land in which it's grown is one of the world's great mysteries (slightly below our fascination with Kim Kardashian). We recognize the existence of terroir when we line up five glasses of Riesling, from different places, and recognize the differences between them. That is Mother Earth screaming at us in liquid form!
Ultimately, the measure of truthfulness in Riesling is the happiness it creates. Your brain reels after every sip; your toes tingle so much you cannot put your socks on. As Ben Franklin famously said, wine is constant proof that God loves us. And with Riesling, we know God loves us absolutely.
Paul Grieco is co-owner of Hearth restaurant and Terroir wine bars in NYC.
Here, F&W's executive wine editor suggests five top picks for $12 or less.
2012 Vega Sindoa Tempranillo ($9)
A tiny cooperative of eight Navarran families grows the grapes for this bright, crisp Spanish red.
2010 Vale do Bomfim Douro Red ($11)
This blend of native Portuguese grapes from the Douro Valley is surprisingly complex.
2012 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc ($12)
A perennial value, Dry Creek's Chenin Blanc offers layers of citrus-melon flavor.
2010 Il Molino di Grace Il Volano ($12)
A fresh, herby Tuscan red, it's a blend of Sangiovese with 2percent Merlot.
2011 Novellum Chardonnay ($12)
This fragrant Chardonnay is made with hand-harvested grapes from France's Côtes Catalanes region.
Last year when barman extraordinaire Jim Meehan did his list of the Top 10 New Bars around the country, I said it was one of the best times in recent memory to be drinking great cocktails.
I was wrong. This is the best time in recent memory to be drinking great cocktails, whether it's a perfectly stirred Negroni or a Cosmo that you ordered after putting on your best shoulder-padded jacket. Drinking is more fun than it's been in a long time.
Here to tell you more is Jim Meehan, the manager of Manhattan's outstanding bar PDT and the editor of F&W's cocktail books. To see more about what he's drinking, follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @mixography.
The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog (New York City)
Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry spent years researching for the Dead Rabbit, a multilevel tavern that seems to have time traveled to the heart of Manhattan's Financial District straight from the 1850s. The downstairs Taproom is the place for beers and whiskeys. The second floor Parlor has a menu with dozens of über-classic cocktails and communal punches; when you sit down, you're served an “appetizer”: a teacup of a featured punch. The assortment of cool old-school cups even includes ones with mustache guards. @deadrabbitNYC
Pouring Ribbons (New York City)
Over on Avenue B in Manhattan's East Village, Joaquín Simó, Troy Sidle and Toby Maloney opened this second-floor bar. The menu features 15 house drinks and 15 classics; they're arranged on a grid that lets you figure out your cocktail profile, from Refreshing to Spirituous and Comforting to Adventurous. The Two Trick Pony, made with whiskey, bourbon and the Champagne of beers is one of the more Adventurous drinks here. @pouringribbons
Range (Washington, DC)
Chef Bryan Voltaggio's sprawling 300-seat restaurant has eight separate, fully functional kitchen stations that produce everything in-house for the adventurous menu. Barman Owen Thomson uses the restaurant's very cool resources to make the 25 house cocktails (he and his team choose spirits by blind tasting). Another thing I love about this place: It's one of the country's best new restaurants and best new bars. And it's in a mall. @volt_range
Barmini (Washington, DC)
For his first cocktail-centric spot, renowned chef José Andrés employs many of the avant-garde techniques that made his neighboring restaurant Minibar famous. (Don't forget he pioneered the Salt Air margarita, too.) Head bartender Juan Coronado scours the globe for antique glassware—some dates to the 1920s—for his classic and modern day concoctions. The table behind the bar, where bartenders work as chefs do, is genius. @barminibyjose
Paper Plane (Decatur, GA)
Behind Victory Sandwich Bar, a place that's known for it's Jack & Coke frozen slushies, is this sort-of hidden lounge with walnut veneer paneling and black vinyl booths. Local hero bartender Paul Calvert has a short, well-chosen cocktail list that ranges from sherry-based drinks to the Bottle of Smoke. It's a mix of mezcal, house-made raspberry syrup, lemon, Cynar and sparkling wine, and it's delicious with the wild striped bass panzanella, made with hunks of brioche seared in duck fat, from Paper Plane's food menu.
No Vacancy (Hollywood)
Jonnie and Mark Houston spent three years restoring a century-old Victorian-era Hollywood house, then transformed it into an early 20th-century club that blends Wild West saloon with a gentlemen's club. The gin- and whiskey-forward cocktail list was curated by barman Sean Hamilton. He chose a dozen bartenders to contribute recipes for the opening menu. I gave them a white rum, lemon and ginger liqueur drink with a hit of curry. The entrance is the single greatest bar experience ever, but I won't ruin it for you. I will say that if you're going to have aerialist “dancers” at a bar, you might as well have it in L.A., where they know what they're doing. novacancyla.com
Trick Dog (San Francisco)
In the Mission, San Francisco's hottest new bar shares the same space as a couple of the city's other cool spots, Sightglass Coffee and Central Kitchen. The two-story bar, the handiwork of Scott Baird and Josh Harris, features 25 house creations listed on a menu formatted like a 45 rpm record book (The Clash's “Bankrobber” is a Wild Turkey rye–based drink). Chef Chester Watson's concise bar menu—cracklins, shrimp cocktail with house Bloody Mary mix—is available late into the evening. @trickdogbar
Polite Provisions (San Diego)
Behind the bar here is San Francisco drinks expert Erick Castro. The place is a craft cocktail bar with a beverage program modeled after an early 19th-century neighborhood soda fountain. The bar shares the same trendy address as Soda & Swine, a meat-focused concept by the Michelin-starred chef Jason McLeod. I'm not big on happy hours, but I'd hit this one, which runs from Monday through Thursdays. @politeSanDiego
Three Dots and a Dash (Chicago)
Guests entering the alley of this bar can follow a thin trail of blue lights to the entrance. Barman Paul McGee and chef Doug Psaltis headline the team behind this glammed up modern tiki bar, named after an old Don the Beachcomber cocktail. The beautifully illustrated menu features classic and modern tiki cocktails (including its namesake, made with aged rhum agricole, Guyanese rum, honey and falernum), along with large-format offerings that serve three to 12. A small food menu of island fare (luau chips, beef negimaki) is available, next to tikis gathered from former Trader Vic's outposts in Chicago. @ThreeDotsCHI
Broken Shaker (Miami)
Initially opened as a pop-up, Elad Zvi and Gabe Orta's Bar Lab team has made this South Beach's most soulful bar. Not that hard, but this is an all-time great bar. Located in the Freehand hostel, the Broken Shaker serves handcrafted cocktails prepared from ingredients grown in its own garden. The space is indoors/outdoors; you can sit by the pool and drink the Rhum and Funk, made with Cocoa Puffs–infused rhum agricole.