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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Dovetail's Haute Onion

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john

© Dovetail
Dovetail chef John Fraser



I’ve eaten some porktastic dishes already this year, including the heart-stopping pig’s trotter at the Breslin and Maialino’s excellent “malfatti al Maialino,” malfatti pasta topped with a suckling-pig ragù. But surprisingly, I’ve been leaving most of my meals gushing over a vegetable rather than a meat dish. My most recent vegetable love affair was at Dovetail. The supertalented chef, John Fraser, recently reopened the place after a renovation and expansion and has also added some very clever new dishes to the menu. The one that I dreamed of when I went home that night was, of all things, an onion. Fraser takes Vidalia onions, halves them and then (leaving the skin on) leafs them out, layer by layer, spreading a little butter and Perigord truffles between each layer. He then pieces it all back together before baking it in a salt crust as if it were fish. The result is tender, caramelized onion deliciousness, garnished with maple brown butter, hazelnuts, frisée and mache. If the blooming onion is the height of trashy onion goodness, then this is the pinnacle of haute onion brilliance.

News

Roger Ebert, Best Food Writer of 2010?

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Roger Ebert, the beloved movie reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times, has been battling cancer for nearly the last decade. In many ways it doesn't seem to have slowed him down; he's about the most prolific Tweeter out there after writer Susan Orlean. Yesterday he posted one of the best food essays I've ever read, a blog post about living "Nil by Mouth" and losing his ability to eat and drink. It's more life-affirming than you'd think. Check it out here.

Menus

2010 Vegetable Obsession

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meringues

© Aldea
George Mendes turns beets into a delicious meringue.

 

I’ve already heard declarations that “the Great Pork Decade has ended”, and as carnivorous foodies prepare to crown the next It beast for the coming decade, my hope is for vegetables to rival—if not surpass—meat as chefs’ newest obsession. Already, one of my most remarkable dishes of the new year was a vegetable-centric dish: George Mendes’s brilliant beet meringue at Aldea in NYC. Mendes cleverly juices fresh red beets, adds egg white powder and aerates it; he then dehydrates the mixture overnight at 145 degrees before topping the bite-size meringues with crème fraîche and American Hackleback caviar. Though just an amuse-bouche, Mendes twisted my perception of what a beet can be in terms of flavor and texture. And in today’s New York Times Dining section, Melissa Clark praised the unglamorous rutabaga and provides a delicious-sounding recipe that I plan to make this weekend. Maybe 2010 will be the year that some ordinary vegetables reach pork bun or fried chicken status.

Entertaining

A Little Caviar Splurge

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Kaviari "Kristal"

© Kaviari
Kaviari "Kristal"

A few months ago, wine editor Ray Isle and I enjoyed some amazing caviar at Atelier Robuchon, made all the more intriguing because Joël Robuchon called it his official caviar and said it came from China. We were hoping someday we'd be able to buy tins of it to serve at parties, and now we've just about gotten our wish. Epicure Pantry, supplier to many of New York's finest chefs, just released a version called Kaviari "Kristal," made from the eggs of Schrencki sturgeon farmed in China, and selected and packaged by the Paris-based Kaviari company. Kaviari is guarded about its sources, but assures that these are among the best fish farms in the world. What we do know: The eggs are plump, briny and buttery, with a lovely pop and a clean finish. They'd be great on their own or on a blini; to offset the splurge-level cost ($138 for 50 g/1.75 oz), pair them with a terrific value Champagne.




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