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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Two Stellar Brunches in Los Angeles

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I just returned from a quick trip to L.A. where I had two fantastic brunches.

Gjelina in Venice makes killer scones (moist and covered in a layer of crisp sugar), pizzas (try the one with grilled radicchio, fontina, bacon and tomato confit), BLTs (on thick slices of grilled bread with a fried egg on top) and butterscotch pot de crème (with salted caramel and crème fraîche).

Tavern in Brentwood is not just a fantastic brunch spot but it's also good for lunch, dinner, cocktails and takeout, too. Try the sticky bun Suzanne-style (topped with two slices of crisp Neiman Ranch bacon!), chorizo and eggs, wild mushroom frittata, lemon-ricotta pancakes and the turkey burger. Be sure to pick up some pastries to go from the larder on your way out.

Some inspiring F&W brunch recipes:

White Bean Huevos Rancheros

French Toast Stuffed with Ricotta and Strawberry Jam

Scrambled Eggs with Herbed Croutons

Smoked Trout Spread with Capers

BLT Fried Egg-and-Cheese Sandwich

Spicy Honey-Glazed Bacon

Sherried Mushrooms with Fried Eggs on Toast

Lemony Cornmeal-Cherry Scones

 

 

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Perfect Pairings Menu Campaign

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© Perfect Pairings
Look for the Perfect Pairings logo on menus throughout October.

 

I recently went to a kick-off party at NYC's Bar Boulud celebrating the launch of the Perfect Pairings Menu Campaign, a great and delicious new initiative to help fight hunger. Throughout October, nearly 100 restaurants in New York City, San Francisco and South Florida will feature special food-and-drink pairings on their menus, designated by the Perfect Pairings fork-and-bottle logo. Every restaurant will donate one dollar from each order to Meals-on-Wheels. I can’t think of a better reason to start experimenting with new food and wine, cocktail or beer matches.

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The Standard Hotel’s Beer Garden

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Kurt Gutenbrunner ringing the bell at the Standard Beer Garden.

© Jennifer Salerno
Kurt Gutenbrunner ringing the bell at the Standard Beer Garden.

It's not every day that a famous Austrian chef hand-feeds you a weisswurst, but that's what happened to me last night at New York City's Standard Hotel's Beer Garden.

Wearing lederhosen in honor of Oktoberfest and a jean jacket personally given to him by the fashion designer Helmut Lang, Kurt Gutenbrunner (The Upholstery Store, Café Sabarsky, Blaue Gans and Michelin-starred Wallsé) handed out huge rock-salt-encrusted pretzels baked by Amy's Bread to trendy New Yorkers and taught me the proper way to eat a weisswurst (peel off the skin, dip in sweet mustard and devour with or without utensils).

Gutenbrunner rang a bell behind the beer garden's sausage bar throughout the night ("In Germany we ring the bell to call people to eat," he said). But he was upstaged by a German street-cart favorite called curry wurst: a juicy grilled bratwurst topped with ketchup and curry powder and served in a bun on a bed of sauerkraut.

Hotelier André Balazs gave Gutenbrunner carte blanche to select the garden's Schaller & Weber sausages and German beers (the chef's favorite is the Bitburger Pils, which he describes as "a golden beer that tastes like Champagne, a slight bit of lemon and a touch of banana"). Balazs even named a sausage on the menu after the chef: the Cheddar "Kurt"wurst–a bratwurst oozing with the creamy cheese.

"I've never met anyone with a bigger vision than André, or anyone who cares so much about making the beer garden experience here as authentic as possible," said Gutenbrunner before leading patrons in a chant of a Bavarian drinking song that loosely translates to "One More Beer."

Here are 7 more amazing sausage recipes from the F&W archives, perfect for any Oktoberfest celebration.

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Genius Pierre Gagnaire Lunch

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Gagnaire's amazing "Zezette" broth.

© Alessandra Bulow
Gagnaire's amazing "Zezette" mushroom broth.

Sure, my colleagues ate breakfast with chef-god Pierre Gagnaire the other day. I did them one better—I ate a meal that he himself cooked. As a preview of the menu he'll be serving at Twist at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas, opening in December, he hosted a lunch in the 36th floor ballroom of the hotel’s New York City location, overlooking Central Park.

The meal started with an amazing dish that I'd never seen anything like before—lightly fried strips of Dover sole with spinach, accompanied by bowls of white vegetable velouté and bocconcini ice cream. Gagnaire topped the fish with a large, very thin disk of "Kientzheim" butter—a funny name for a butter he flavors with reduced fish stock, shallots and Champagne—that melts into the fish when warm sauce is poured on top.

Another dish, named "Zezette" after a good friend of his, was an earthy-sweet and rich mushroom broth (pictured) served with roasted duck, braised turnips (which turn deep pink after soaking in beet juice and Campari) and "Yoyo," basmati rice–Parmesan gratin named after his friend Yolanda, who also makes this dish.

Now I'm back in my cubicle, dreaming about my incredible experience and thinking that I know exactly what I'd call a dish named after Pierre Gagnaire: “Genius!”

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