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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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That’s Right, Vintage Egg Nog

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© Nigel Parry
Jonathon Sawyer, vintage egg nog expert.

I’m not saying anyone should try this home. But while the food world freaks out over old things—Rene Redzepi’s vintage carrots at Noma, Heston Blumenthal’s upcoming Dinner restaurant at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London that will feature dishes based on hundreds-of-years-old recipes—I’ve found something really truly crazy (in the best way). Jonathon Sawyer, an F&W Best New Chef 2010 at Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland, recently showed off a "vintage Hartzler Family Dairy eggnog pot de crème" at a dinner at New York City's James Beard house. And when he says vintage, he means 2008, meaning that 2 1/2 years ago, Sawyer infused eggnog with Lagavulin Scotch and then put it away in the refrigerator.  I admit, I was scared to taste it—I have suspicions about what letter grade the Health Department would have given it. But of course it was delicious. “It seems wrong, but it’s so right,” his wife, Amelia Sawyer, accurately said.

If you’re too impatient to squirrel away some spiked egg nog for a couple years, my colleague Kristin Donnelly did a great job of rounding up other novel vintage things, from cookbooks to wines; they’re in F&W’s December issue.

Entertaining

Food & Wine Gets a Visit from Cypress Grove

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Cult California cheesemaker Cypress Grove recently visited the office. F&W Features intern Chelsea Morse reports on what she learned about her favorite cheese:

When I moved from San Francisco to New York, I was happy to discover that Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog goat cheese is widely available nationwide. It has been my go-to cheese-plate anchor since I first tasted it years ago. Cypress Grove cheesemaker and founder Mary Keehn had these tips to share about my favorite snack:

-Fresh goat cheeses and farm cheeses, which have high moisture content, can be frozen without adversely affecting their flavor. This is a great way to save cheese for future cooking projects.

-Storing semi-soft cheese in plastic wrap is the surest way to ruin it. The rind is alive with good bacteria: Plastic wrap cuts off its air supply and kills it. Parchment paper is a much better wrapping – it's breathable and far less expensive than fancy cheese storage papers.

-Depending on the cheese’s age, it can be crumbly and citrusy or creamy and earthy – as the rind ages, the flavor deepens, and the texture changes. An oozy cheese has definitely not necessarily gone bad.

The Cypress Grove website has much more trivia, tasting notes, and pairing suggestions.

Menus

A Locavore Tribute to Central Park

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carlyle

© Rosewood
The restaurant at The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel.

 

Hard-core foragers like “Wildman” Steve Brill have proven that great ingredients don't have to come from country farms. Now, chef James Sakatos of The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, is going extreme-locavore with his new Tastings of Central Park menu, which debuts tomorrow. The iconic New York City hotel is just blocks from the park, and the menu will highlight park ingredients such as oyster mushrooms, chickweed, sheep’s sorrel and sumac berries. Don't expect to find anything too crazy, like squirrel or pigeon, though. The park produce acts as an accent in dishes like sumac-spiced Amish chicken, sautéed dandelions and potato-crusted black bass with park-sourced braised burdock.

Ingredients

Using End-of-Summer Basil

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© Daniel Gritzer
Poached eggs with basil potatoes

Earlier this summer, a friend brought me a thoughtful house gift: six basil seedlings. They were wispy little things, but once planted in my backyard, they quickly shot up into robust and fragrant plants. For the past few months, I’ve snipped leaves and sprigs as needed, but now that the temperature has started to drop, it’s time to consider harvesting everything before a serious chill ruins all that’s left.

The question, then, is what to do with the sudden glut of the herb? Luckily, it’s easy to turn fresh basil into a puree in a blender with just enough oil to keep things spinning. The puree will keep for a couple of months in the freezer, and once defrosted it can be added to dishes for a wonderful basil kick. It doesn’t have to be too complicated either: I recently tossed boiled fingerling potatoes with a puree of basil, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil (in this case, pounded with a mortar and pestle)—sort of a cheese-less, nut-free pesto (pictured). Bathed with the yolks of two poached eggs, it made for a simple and very delicious brunch.

Farms

Rio de Janeiro's Markets

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Ipanema's Fishmonger

© Ross Todd

I was in Brazil earlier this week and fell hard for Rio de Janeiro and its feiras, or markets. I spent plenty of time wandering the aisles of Zona Sul, the local supermarket chain, picking up cachaça and cheese-filled pastries, but the best part was the farmers’ markets in Ipanema. The fishmonger's catch was incredibly fresh-smelling and beautifully displayed, with tiger-striped fish and pale pink eels. The fruit was also spilling over counters, the more exotic the better: papayas, coconuts and my new favorite, custard apples, which look like artichokes but are filled with large black seeds and a white, creamy flesh. We took one home and ate it in the morning with granola and yogurt for the perfect tropical treat. Does anyone know of any way to get them stateside?

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!)

 

News

Natural Beauty from an Organic Farm

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tata harper

© Tata Harper
Tata Harper skincare line.

 

I’m probably the furthest thing in the world from a beauty junkie. So when I find myself smitten with a skincare line, it’s really got to be pretty darn spectacular. I recently had breakfast with Colombian-born beauty guru Tata Harper, who has launched her own eponymous line of all-natural skincare products. Tata was appalled to find out how many toxins and chemicals are packed into commercial lotions and facial cleansers. In an effort to educate consumers, she and other all-natural-beauty gurus gathered at the Spotted Pig last night for the premiere of The Story of Cosmetics, the beauty world’s version of Food Inc., directed by the Story of Stuff Project. "We are so concerned with what we put in our bodies; why should we also not be equally concerned with what we put on them?" asks Tata. Looking for an alternative to what was on the market, she spent more than four years developing her skincare line, which she makes out of a barn in Vermont's Champlain Valley. And many of the products are made from ingredients grown on her 1,200-acre organic farm, Julius Kingdom. Her products are so pure, she says she didn't even flinch when she caught her young son eating her beauty serum.

Restaurants

“Recycling Ingredients” at L'Artusi

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Wasting food is one of my biggest pet peeves. So I'm always looking for new ideas to get extra use out of leftovers or scraps. One of my favorite Manhattan restaurants, L’Artusi, inspired me this week with its resourcefulness. To make his stellar day-boat halibut with grilled corn, cherry tomatoes and basil, chef Gabe Thompson poaches the halibut in whey, the byproduct of the process they use to make their own ricotta cheese. It makes the fish silky-smooth and creamy, in addition to being a useful “recycled” ingredient. The dish will be on the menu through Sunday.

Menus

An Artist's Version of a Top Chef Challenge

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jane hotel

© Benoit Pailley
Chef Patric Criss with his watermelon and cantaloupe juice shots.

 

Last week, I had the chance to preview the New Museum’s fantastic new three-floor exhibit A Day Like Any Other from Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander. As if the “I Wish Your Wish” installation (click here for an interactive version) weren't cool enough, Neuenschwander dazzled our senses one step further by re-creating her performance art piece "Gastronomic Translations" at the Jane Hotel (this Wall Street Journal story likens it to a Top Chef challenge). For the piece's inception in 2003, Neuenschwander took a shopping list found in a supermarket in Frankfurt, Germany and mailed it to two chefs in São Paulo, Brazil; each then used the items on the list—from cashews and coffee to bananas and oranges—to create a meal, comprising varied dishes and influences. For our meal, Neuenschwander gave chefs Benedetto Bartolotta and Patric Chriss, of the catering company Indulge by Bene, the same challenge (and the same shopping list). Despite the absence of salt, the chefs created brilliantly delicious menus that were starkly different, e.g., Bartolotta created a banana-and-cashew tart with a coffee glaze, while Chriss made cashew-crusted banana skewers with an orange-reduction zabaglione.

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.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.