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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Farms

Favorite New Tool for Summer Preserves

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© Deborah Jones

As farmers' markets burst with tomatoes, blackberries, peaches, plums and nectarines, I unpack and dust off my summer preserving tools. I buy new rubber gaskets for my canning jars, cheesecloth for straining berries, and enough sugar to bury a small animal.

By far my favorite tool for preserving is the food mill. In years past, when making fruit jams or tomato sauce, I would simmer fruit, mash it, then strain it through a fine-meshed sieve—entirely too much work for me nowadays. With a food mill, though, I can combine the mashing and straining into one step. The resulting puree is silky smooth and free of skins and seeds.

In "The Primary Pantry" in our August issue, I preserve a whole bunch of summery things—beans, garlic, tomatoes, corn, chiles, herbs and berriesand recommended a food mill for preparing the tomato sauce and fruit butters

At a recent All-Clad press event, I was super impressed by their brand-new food mill and wished it had been available when I was developing these recipes (in the dead of winter). The discs have tiny raised teeth to catch the skin and seeds as the handle is spun, allowing more of the puree to be passed through. The legs are rubberized for better stability and the knob feels great in my hands. Luckily, with summer in full swing, there’s no lack of fruit and tomatoes to pass through my new food mill. (I got a prototype, but you can get yours in just a few weeks—it lauches in early September, peak tomato and peach month!)

 

Farms

The Newest Hotel Amenity: A Farmers’ Market

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The just-opened Andaz Fifth Avenue in NYC may be getting all of the attention with its incredible artwork (it’s worth a trip just to see the eight-foot-high Nick Hornby sculpture) and its ground-level shop selling Blue Bottle Coffee and Mast Bros. Chocolate. But its older sister property, the Andaz Wall Street, is about to one-up it. This Saturday, Andaz Wall Street debuts its very own farmers’ market. All of the participating purveyors (Migliorelli Farm, Beth’s Farm Kitchen, Eckerton Hill Farm) supply the hotel’s restaurant Wall & Water. There will also be live music, plus monthly cooking classes conducted by Wall & Water’s chef Maximo Lopez May. The market will be held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. through November.

Farms

Great Barrington’s Great Grocer

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blue marble

© Jen Murphy
Blue Marble ice cream at Rubiner's.

 

During a recent weekend in the Berkshires, I stopped in the cool little town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to stock up on snacks for the ride home and spent nearly an hour wandering around Rubiner’s Cheesemongers & Grocers. Located in an old bank on Main Street, this super-artisanal store is beyond forward-thinking when it comes to what it offers shoppers.

Here, five top reasons to drop in:

1. An insane selection of more than 130 artisan cheeses that ripen in the back cave (formerly the bank vault).

2. Out-of-this-world artisanal foods that include Rancho Gordo Beans, Mast Brothers Chocolates, French salted caramels and house-made country pâté.

3. Rubiner’s works with famed fishmonger Rod Browne Mitchell and Browne Trading Company to run something similar to a CSA for fish. Locals who sign up get an e-mail every Monday night listing the week’s catch. They place an order by 4 p.m. Wednesday and can pick up or (for a small fee) get home-delivery of the same superfresh seafood that goes to chefs like Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller.

4. Farmer’s Discount: Anyone who makes their primary living through farming or the production of artisan foods gets a 20-percent discount.

5. In the summer, Brooklyn’s awesome Blue Marble ice cream sets up shop out front, serving cups and cones of their decadent flavors like Stick o Butter Pecan. Even more delicious, though, are the homemade ice cream sandwiches that are sold inside. Blue Marble’s café au lait sandwiched between two chocolate sugar cookies was perfection.

Farms

Good Eats in the Berkshires

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red lion inn

© Red Lion Inn
The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA.



My crazy wedding season (six this summer) officially kicked off this past weekend. Lucky for me, my friends have all chosen pretty awesome locations in which to get married. Wedding number one took me to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. The wedding was at an adorable place called Santarella in Tyringham that looked like it should have been the hamlet where the hobbits live in Lord of the Rings. I managed to sneak in a marathon eating tour of the area between wedding festivities, and—contrary to a recent Huffington Post story—had some amazing meals. Here, a rundown:

I stayed at the historic, 18th-century Red Lion Inn on a corner of Main Street in Stockbridge. The inn feels like a tribute to Americana with its amazing art collection, Otis Birdcage elevator (which you can really ride on) and even a desk once used by Abraham Lincoln. The restaurant menu in the dining room is a tribute to the area’s local artisans and farmers, including Farm Girl Farm and Berkshire Brewing Company in Great Barrington; Hill Top Orchards in Richmond; and Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. in Old Chatham, NY. Chef Brian Alberg recently introduced separate sustainable menus featuring dishes like an irresistible broken-yolk breakfast sandwich with smoked bacon on thick, toasted Berkshire Mountain Bakery bread. His dinner menu offers some surprises like a roasted eggplant Bolognese that uses quinoa spaghetti and basil oil; and for dessert, a house-made version of my favorite Aussie sweet, Tim Tams.

In nearby Lenox, brunch at the laid-back, two-year-old Haven Cafe & Bakery is phenomenal. I took home the house-made granola and ginger-cardamom scones and stayed for the Eggs “Sardo”—poached eggs topped with sautéed artichoke hearts, spinach and dill hollandaise.

Around the block on Church Street, the Wit Gallery showcases an eclectic mix of art including photography, sculpture and mixed media and recently also started selling artisanal wines from small, family-owned producers like Eric Kent.

Just a few doors away is the barely year-old, 28-seat restaurant Nudel, where chef-owner Bjorn Somlo cooks remarkable seasonally driven food with local ingredients. My braised-Berkshire-pork sandwich with pickled vegetables and spicy sambal aioli had me plotting ways to skip the wedding dinner so I could come back to try his bone-marrow Bolognese or garganelli with ramps and almond pesto.

More tomorrow on my Great Barrington, Massachusetts, finds.

Farms

A Great Foodie Beach Read

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book

© Ben Hoffmann
Manhattanites turned gentlemen farmers.



I’ve recently put together my summer reading list to keep me occupied when the waves are flat this summer at the beach. This past weekend I finished The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers. The witty new memoir from Josh Kilmer-Purcell tells the story of how he and partner Brent Ridge unexpectedly found themselves reviving the dormant Beekman farm in Sharon Springs, NY. They channel Martha Stewart (Brent was vice president at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia) as they make a go at goat-herding, heirloom vegetable gardening and even soap-making. At the beginning, the author cautions that the book isn’t about living your dream: “It will not inspire you. You will not be emboldened to attempt anything more than making a fresh pot of coffee.” But after reading the ups (perfectly ripe Cherokee Purple tomatoes) and downs (dealing with a truck full of stinky, sick baby goats or a tree of dead sparrows) of farm life I was ready to move to the country and start homesteading.

Farms

Chef's Pork-Off

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NYC Winner Chef Adam Kaye

© Chris Quinlan
NYC Winner Chef Adam Kaye


 

Cochon 555, the 10-city tour that celebrates farmers and heritage pig breeds, was back in NYC on March 21 for its second annual cooking competition. New York star chefs Marco Canora, Gavin Kaysen, Adam Kaye, Mark Ladner and Corwin Kave competed for the Prince of Pork title, and a chance to cook at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. I was lucky enough to be in the judges’ room, where the Brooklyn Brewery Local 2 and K Vintners Syrah were flowing—including a special magnum from K Vintners, one of only 200 that winemaker Charles Smith (F&W’s Winemaker of 2009) bottles by hand each year and usually keeps for himself. Adam Kaye of Blue Hill at Stone Barns was the winner—I could eat his famous face bacon (a crunchy, lacy disk made from pig cheeks) at every meal! But I had a lot of other favorites as well, like Marco Canora’s arancini stuffed with heart and kidney and confited leg with fennel salad, and Mark Ladner’s gigantic lasagna—20 layers of pasta, shoulder, sausage, testa, belly, liver and kidney topped with spicy tomatoes and cracklings.

Chef Marco Canora's Dishes

© Chris Quinlan
Chef Marco Canora's Dishes

Chef Bobby Hellen, one of my favorites from last year’s competition and a fellow judge this year, hosted a fantastic after-party at Resto. Not to be outdone by the swine crews, Hellen made Belgian waffles topped with pork whip (whipped cream infused with brining liquid) and cooked three whole lambs for the crowd. Next stop for the tour: Boston on March 28. Next stop for me: Weight Watchers.

Farms

The Butcher & The Vegetarian

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Tara Austen Weaver's The Butcher and The Vegetarian

© Rodale
Tara Austen Weaver's The Butcher and The Vegetarian

Anyone looking for a friendly, approachable survey of the current debate between carnivores and vegetarians might enjoy Tara Austen Weaver’s new memoir, The Butcher & The Vegetarian. The writer, who was raised vegetarian, explores her own feelings about eating meat and doing without, taking a field trip to the certified-humane Prather Ranch, and taking a meat cookery lesson with Guy Prince, a.k.a. Mr. Biggles, the founder of the food blog Meathenge. Weaver even describes her shock at discovering in F&W that vegetarian icon Mollie Katzen now occasionally eats meat. After the jump, Weaver, who divides her time between San Francisco and Seattle, shares her favorite destinations in both cities for carnivores, vegetable lovers and folks in between.

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Farms

Sneak Peek: Jean-Georges Vongerichten's ABC Kitchen

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In February, New York City will get Jean-Georges Vongerichten's take on farm-to-table cuisine at ABC Kitchen, a roughly 150-seat café inside ABC Carpet & Home that will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and fresh juices at a juice bar. Vongerichten is working with ABC CEO Paulette Cole on the design, sourcing as locally as possible; that includes plates from Bella Porcelain, made by Cole's childhood friend Jan Burtz. (There are a few exceptions: The bar is made out of a church altar from Mexico.) The menu is still in progress, but Vongerichten would like to source all ingredients from within 100 miles of the store. Dishes will be dead simple, Vongerichten promises—mostly ones he makes for his own family. "We want to do what Alice Waters did in the 1970s," he says. "Handwritten menus, changing daily, seasonal food." Chef de cuisine Dan Kluger won't churn his own butter, but he will make his own yogurt: They had a test batch in the oven when I stopped by yesterday. Pictures after the jump.

 

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Farms

Day 6: Homeward Bound

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Late that night after dinner at Vetri, we hit the road towards New York City. I hated to skip over my native New Jersey without even a single stop, but six days was a long time to be away from my wife and newborn son, and I missed them both. It was time to go home.

By way of summing up the experience, it's hard to pick favorites. I learned more than I thought I would on this trip, and was glad I had members of my team with me to share in the experience. We all found fresh inspiration in the people we met along the way, all of them committed in one way or another to good food: whether growing it, catching it, distributing it, or cooking it. I enjoyed the chance to form deeper relationships with Anson Mills and Rappahannock River Oysters, and feel that in Cane Creek Farm, Culton Organics, and Samuels & Son I've discovered new suppliers whose products I'm excited to use in my restaurants.

And so, at the end of this six day journey, there's only one question that remains in the back of my mind. Where should I go next?

Farms

Day 6: Dinner at Vetri

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Dinner at Vetri

© Courtesy of Tom Colicchio
Dinner at Vetri

Editor's note: Tom Colicchio, the head judge on Bravo's Top Chef (and a Food & Wine Best New Chef 1991), will be blogging every day this week about his road trip from Atlanta.

Although I've been friends with Marc for years, this was my first time eating at his acclaimed restaurant Vetri. It was well worth the wait, and I came away thinking that his impossibly thin, buttery pastas and tender baby goat could hold their own against any I've had.

As has been the trend during this trip, our menu featured several of the items we saw earlier in the day at Culton Organics and Samuels & Son. Line caught fluke became an amuse of fluke crudo with Culton Organics' Spitzenberg apples and lemon. Swordfish was mixed in with paccheri pasta and tomatoes, basil leaves, and fries cut from Culton Organics eggplant.

Tom Culton's cauliflower was transformed into a flan, served with house cured guanciale and quail egg. His squash became the filling for agnolotti with amaretto cookies and sage. A side of his Brussels sprouts, charred and served with shaved truffled pecorino cheese, accompanied our baby goat course. Tom's cardoons made it into a deconstructed Bagna Cauda, served in a warm bath of anchovy sauce with baby vegetables and salt cured egg yolk.

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