Chefs have proclaimed pork their favorite sandwich filling, creating everything from new takes on banh mi to messy pork-belly sliders. But recently I've been spotting uni (sea urchin) on sandwiches all around New York City. Uni-obsessed chef Michael White is serving sea-urchin-and-lardo crostini at his new seafood restaurant, Marea. Chef George Mendes has created a stellar sea urchin toast with cauliflower cream for his menu at the recently opened Aldea. And the Chelsea tapas spot El Quinto Pino does a clever sea urchin panino.
© Melissa Hom
Uni-obsessed chef Michael White.
This past weekend, while my cohorts were riding gondolas above Aspen at the Food & Wine Classic, I was off climbing mountains around Burlington, Vermont. To make sure I was at my athletic peak, I fueled up on the best local food I could find. Here’s how to follow my culinary regimen:
Climbing Mt. Mansfield
Pre-Hike Boost: American Flatbread's blisteringly hot pizza with house-made sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized onions.
Post-Hike Recovery: Crispy-skinned duck breast and hanger steak swirled in horseradish aioli from F&W Best New Chef 2008 Eric Warnstedt at Hen of the Wood in Waterbury.
Climbing Mt. Abraham
Pre-Hike Boost: Heavenly honey-glazed doughnuts from Dinky Donuts at the Burlington farmer’s market, followed by softly poached eggs over crisp potato rösti at Waitsfield's The Green Cup.
Post-Hike Recovery: The Alchemist's superjuicy blue-cheese burger and a Lightweight, the perfect pale lager for rehydration, in Waterbury.
Hiking to Lake Champlain at Shelburne Farms
Pre-Hike Boost: Soft, sugary blueberry scones from Burlington's City Market.
Post-Hike Recovery: A farmhouse grilled cheese from the Shelburne Farms cart with a salad of just-picked local greens.
© The Original
The Original's Voodoo Doughnut Burger
Even sweets freak Christina Tosi
of NYC's Momofuku Milk Bar might go into a sugar coma after eating at the Original
, a mod diner that recently opened in Portland, Oregon. Chef B.J. Smith’s menu includes wacky creations like Froot Loop pancakes topped with crème fraîche and homemade syrup, house made Pop-Tarts and sweet-and-spicy root beer cake with root beer frosting. My favorite, though, is the Voodoo Doughnut Burger (a nod to Portland's cult Voodoo Doughnut shop
), which swaps the bun for a glazed doughnut.
Chefs all over the world are creating empires comprised of both white-tablecloth flagships and casual restaurants. On my recent trip to Belfast, I discovered Northern Ireland's chef-emperor, Michael Deane. I had an exceptional lunch at his Michelin-starred Deanes, featuring pan-fried wild halibut filets held together with edible glue (a trick Deane's executive chef, Derek Creagh, picked up during a stint at England's pioneering Fat Duck). Later, I stopped by the casual wine bar for the first of its new Friday night happy hours. The space—half wine shop, half restaurant—has live music from 5 to 7 p.m. every Friday, as well as a fantastic (and free!) spread of tapas—Irish cheeses, cured meats, olives, homemade breads and spreads. It's a Northern Irish take on Italy's aperitivo, and the best dining value in Belfast.
How three new restaurants in New York City made me laugh recently:
1. Conjugal advice from Minetta Tavern
The outgoing message: "For reservations, please press 0...For directions and hours, please press 3...For problems with your marriage, please call me at home."
2. Goodfellas-style salumi slang at Locanda Verde
First menu I've seen with "gabagoul," phonetic slang for capocollo—a seasoned Italian meat found between the hog’s head (capo) and shoulder (collo). This is the same cold cut that triggered one of Tony Soprano's panic attacks in an episode of The Sopranos.
3. The Ménage à Trois at DBGB Kitchen and Bar
From Daniel Boulud, the chef who introduced the $50 hamburger at DB Bistro Moderne, here $45 gets you a trifecta of beef patties with the works: The Yankee (Vermont cheddar and crispy bacon), The Piggie (Daisy May's BBQ pulled pork with jalapeño mayonnaise) and The Frenchie (crispy pork belly and caramelized onions). Check out more Boulud recipes like his skate with mushrooms and hazelnuts (pictured).
Yesterday’s unseasonably warm weather left me craving a beer after work, so I headed over to Resto, which has arguably the best Belgian beer selection in New York City. I was at the bar contemplating a recent craft beer story that will appear in F&W’s June issue. The story examines the phenomena of beer pilgrims—obsessive beer geeks who go to great lengths to try a new beer or visit a cult brewer, even if it means hopping a plane to Japan. The story (as you’ll see) reveals some fascinating brewing innovations going on around the world, but I realized what it was lacking was women. Where are all the female brewers and beer pilgrims? We’ve made our mark in the kitchen, the wine world and even in the world of butchering. So where are all the female brewers and beer geeks?
One happened to be hanging out at Resto (discussing possible beer-dinner collaborations with the owner), and we got to talking over a bottle of Glazen Toren Jan De Lichte Imperial Belgian white ale. Maggie traveled the world drinking great brews and then enrolled in the University of California-Davis’s Master Brewers Program (she was one of only two women in the class). Instead of opening her own brewery when she got back to the U.S., she founded Beer Ethos, a company dedicated to promoting beer appreciation and cultivating a savvier beer community in NYC. Maggie offers beer services (from leading tasting sessions to offering menu-pairing suggestions for dinner parties) and leads classes at cult places like Murray’s Cheese. She also puts in time in the beer room at Whole Foods on the Bowery, where she leads home-brewing workshops.
Next up, Maggie’s looking to open a retail/tasting-room space in Manhattan that will be dedicated to craft beer. (Think of it as the wine version of Vino.) Why not Brooklyn? “Brooklyn is so far ahead of Manhattan in terms of beer. I’m trying to get the rest of the city up to speed.” I’ll drink to that.
I may have exaggerated last week when I said that I spent my entire Miami Beach weekend lounging poolside. Full days of sunning and swimming left me surprisingly hungry and ready for two fabulous dinners in the city’s Design District.
I most enjoyed my meal at Michelle Bernstein’s five-month-old Sra. Martinez (4000 N.E. 2nd Ave., Miami, 305-573-5474), where I ate plate after plate of tapas, including patatas bravas reinvented as miniature potato skins with crispy jamón and spicy aioli, the lightest fried artichokes with lemon-coriander dip (one of Bernstein’s favorites) and corn off the cob with lime, chipotle and ricotta salata. A standout featured foie gras wrapped in phyllo-like dough topped with brown butter apples and braised pork.
The next night I landed a table at the now-iconic Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (130 N.E. 40th St., Miami, 305-573-5550) where I loved sweet and spicy pork belly with peanuts, kimchi and pea shoots and puffy, sugared donuts for dessert.
My last morning in town I treated myself to a Sunday breakfast on the porch of the just-renovated and newly sparkling Betsy Hotel (1440 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach, 305-531-6100), overlooking Ocean Drive and eating a popover stuffed with ham, spinach and béchamel at BLT Steak. It was a fitting way to say goodbye to South Beach, taking in the ocean view with my morning coffee.
My friend Katherine is not a girly beer drinker. A man once bought her a framboise lambic and after one sip of the slightly fizzy, fruity brew she replied quite firmly, “Sir, I like my beer to taste like beer.” So she surprised me this weekend when she ordered a 22-ounce bottle of Pretty Things. Not only was the name girly, but the beer had a whimsical, cartoon-like label that made it extra-girly. We were having dinner at Hungry Mother, the awesome Southern-inspired Cambridge, Massachusetts, restaurant by F&W's Best New Chef 2009 Barry Maiden, whose support of local artisans extends to his well-edited beer list; further questioning revealed that Pretty Things is actually a brand-new craft-beer company based in Cambridge.
A few sips of , proved that Katherine hadn’t gone girly on me after all. It was a supersmooth, intriguingly complex Saison-style brew. And that character on the label (which I thought was an egg with a mustache) is actually a grain of barley drawn by Pretty Things founder and brewer Dann Paquette.
Paquette not only makes a damn good beer, but he is also doing it with a sense of humor. The name Pretty Things, he explained to me, is a bit of a joke. “Beer is made out of grass, barley and hops, which, for the most part, are weeds now in this country—and yeast is a fungus,” says Paquette. “The name reflects the idea of making beautiful things out of basically the stuff you’d find under a rock.” This week he debuts his first seasonal beer, Baby Tree, a strong, dark beer brewed with dried California plums.
Right now Pretty Things is available in liquor stores and restaurants in Massachusetts, but it will soon be making its way in limited batches to Philadelphia, upstate New York and Rhode Island. And bad news for Katherine: some “crazy, fruity beer” is in the works too, according to Paquette.
© Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project, Inc.
Pretty Thing’s flagship brew, the Jack D’Or.
© Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project, Inc.
Pretty Thing's first seasonal beer, Baby Tree.
Sunday morning: If you only have 36 hours in Bogotá, then you have to rally from a late night out (the city is known for its nightlife). After a few hours of sleep I made my way down to the complimentary breakfast at 104 Arts Suites. After I downed three con leche with my arepas and fresh fruit (mango, pineapple, papaya), I headed to the city's main square, Bolivar Plaza, in the historic La Candelaria neighborhood. This is the perfect cultural jumping-off point, central to the city's main museums (all of which are free on Sundays). I started at the Museo de Arte (grabbing yet another café con leche at the museum’s Juan Valdez café) to see the fascinating photography exhibit documenting botanist Richard Evans Schultes's journeys into the Amazon. Next door is the Museo Botero, showcasing the famed portly sculptures by Colombia's best-known artist, Fernando Botero. A few blocks away is the newly opened Museo del Oro (“gold museum”), which is unexpectedly compelling and features one of the world's largest collections of precious metals. While in the neighborhood, I was hoping to check out Anderson’s, a much-buzzed-about new restaurant opened by Nebraska natives Martha and David Myers that serves Southern-inspired American home cooking (house-made bacon and sausage, baby back ribs, bananas Foster). Unfortunately it’s closed on Sunday, so I’ll have to save it for my next trip.
Afternoon: I hit Las Pulgas, the Sunday flea market in Usaquen, another neighborhood lined with restaurants, bars and cafés. I met up with Felipe Vasquez, one of Bogotá's restaurant entrepreneurs. Felipe and his brother are responsible for Osaki, an Asian-inspired restaurant with three locations, and Sipote Burrito, a Mexican chain modeled after Chipotle. The brothers recently teamed up with chef Andrew Blackburn on two fine-dining ventures. I met Andrew and Felipe for lunch at the first of the two, 80 Sillas (“80 chairs”—though Andrew admitted they have added a few more since opening). Even at 2 p.m. there was a line out the door at the upscale cevicheria. We ate our way through more than a dozen preparations of ceviche (I thought the most interesting was the signature, dressed in a mix of red onion, tomato, coconut vinegar, Tabasco, lime juice, ketchup and mayo. It sounds like a flavor disaster but worked brilliantly).
Early evening: Most restaurants are closed on Sunday evenings, but because Monday was a holiday Felipe told me he was keeping his and Andrew’s second venture, the year-old Central Cevicheria in Zona Rosa, open. So I popped in for a light dinner—a tiradito (a Peruvian spin on ceviche). From the 15 styles of ceviche I chose one topped with coconut milk, ginger and Sriracha served in a cute sundae dish. I was officially in ceviche overload when I left that evening for the airport.