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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Big Bad Burgers

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Bacon Burger on Brioche Bun

© John Kernick
Bacon Burger on Brioche Bun

There’s something about a big burger blow out in the fall, when you feel the need to grill as many burger patties as possible before it's freezing outside. Maybe, though, you’ve already hung up your grilling spatula for the season—maybe you feel like eating dressed up burgers without doing any work. These places are for you.

Le Burger Brasserie, Las Vegas. The marquee dish here is the 777 burger; that name alludes to its $777 price tag. It's a burger made with beef (kobe) that's topped with lobster (from Maine), balsamic vinegar (100–year aged) and brie (imported). But the thing that really rachets up the price tag is the bottle of Rosé Dom Perignon that’s served alongside; apparently the burger is just $60 without the Dom. We hear it’s very popular with people who literally just hit the jackpot.  

Flip Burger Boutique, Atlanta. Among the less conventional toppings that Top Chef winner Richard Blais puts on the burgers at his Flip chain in Atlanta and Birmingham: Swiss cheese foam; seared foie gras; Coca-Cola ketchup. (Not all on the same patty.) Then there’s the steak tartare burger, a mix of hand-chopped filet mignon with garlic, chilis, pickled shallot, smoked mayonnaise and a 6-minute egg.  If and when we turn our attention to dressed-up hot dogs, we’ll surely be looking at Blais’s upcoming Atlanta HD-1 Haute Doggery.

Hubcap Burgers, Houston. Recently I heard rumors of a waffle burger here, specifically a burger patty on a waffle with syrup. Turned out, that was just a special. Not to worry, Hubcap has any number of nifty full-time options, like the sticky burger, with bacon, cheese and peanut butter. The sticky monkey burger, adds grilled bananas to the mix.

M. Wells, Long Island City, NY. This hip diner garnered a fair amount of attention during its year-plus life. M.Wells shut its doors at the end of August but that doesn’t mean we can’t memorialize their 24-ounce, $42 burger. The burger was a blend of beef and lamb, generously dressed with cheese, caramelized onions and aioli, served on a correspondingly giant toasted roll. The final touch is genius: onion rings stacked on the large steak knife that stabs the middle of the burger.

Related: Best Burger Recipes Ever
Best Burgers in the U.S.
Best Pizza Places in the U.S.
(Pictured: Tyler Florence's Bacon Burger on Brioche Bun)

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A Menu Edward Scissorhands Would Love

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Tim Burton (American, b. 1958), Untitled (Edward Scissorhands), 1990, Pen and ink, and pencil on paper, 14 1/4 x 9" (36.2 x 22.9 cm), Private Collection

© Twentieth Century Fox, © 2011 Tim Burton
Tim Burton (American, b. 1958), Untitled (Edward Scissorhands), 1990, Pen and ink, and pencil on paper, 14 1/4 x 9" (36.2 x 22.9 cm), Private Collection


As I reported a few weeks back, museum restaurants are undergoing a new wave of innovation—a happy trend for those equally obsessed with food and art, like the amazing trendsetters we profile in our September 2011 issue. In Los Angeles, chef Kris Morningstar geeks out on the chance to get creative with the menu at Ray’s & Stark Bar, the new Renzo Piano–designed restaurant at the L.A. County Museum of Art. For the current Tim Burton exhibition, Morningstar consulted with the famously kooky director to develop menu specials like White Rabbit with Tea in a Mushroom Forest, a bacon-wrapped saddle of rabbit with chanterelle mushrooms and pistachio crumble. “Our goal is not to be pretentious,” says Morningstar, “but we felt that, for Tim Burton, the menu should be a little bit off the wall.” The Burton classic Edward Scissorhands (my personal favorite) meets its culinary counterpart in a dish of razor clams (ha ha) and burnt octopus in squid-olive broth, garnished with a trimmed “hedge” of fresh herbs. If you need a cocktail to get into the macabre mood, try the Dr. Burton at Stark Bar: The rum-and-amaro-based concoction evokes the flavors of Burton’s favorite soda, Dr Pepper. The specials will be available through the exhibition’s close on Halloween. Next up: architecture-inspired plates to celebrate the upcoming California Design exhibit this fall.

Farms

Farm-to-Table Hotels Get Serious

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Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth's Blanche Neige with Chef Martin Paquet.

© Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth's Blanche Neige with Chef Martin Paquet.


When we predicted the advent of rooftop hotel farms in 2011, we had no idea we’d soon be seeing barnyard animals vying for prime real estate. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts are now taking the farm to table movement to a wild new level, welcoming feathered and four-legged guests into the family. Fairmont Newport Beach’s seven adopted goats – Suzy Q, Snickers, Frankie, Lucy, Cali, Trixie and Taffy – will entertain frequent visits from the hotel’s executive chef, who will serve organic cheese made from their milk at the hotel’s restaurant. In Montreal, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth’s two goats are both named Blanche Neige – “Snow White” – and the mother and daughter duo’s cheese will be available both on the menu at The Beaver Club as well as at the Fairmont Store. The resident honeybees at Quebec City’s Fairmont Le Château Frontenac now have to share the view with a few new tenants: five Chantecler hens, who each produce one egg a day from June through October. Even farmyard guests have to pay for a rooftop garden suite, after all.

Recipes

Outrageous Breakfast Sandwiches

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© Quentin Bacon

You’ve heard it before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Many chefs around the country have heeded the call and are now serving morning meals. Still, that doesn’t mean all their dishes get a nutritional thumbs up. Take breakfast sandwiches, the Homer Simpson of AM food service. Some chefs have created awesome versions that aren’t all available at their restaurants. And many nutritionists will say, thank goodness for that.
 
Tim Love, Lonesome Dove, Ft Worth Texas
“My breakfast sandwich:  I load a griddled hamburger patty up with jack cheese, chili, lamb bacon, sunny hen egg and fresh tomatillo salsa. Then fold a fresh flour tortilla around as much of it as I can. And serve it with a tequila sunrise, of course.”
 
John Currence, Big Bad Breakfast, Oxford, Mississippi
“At my restaurant, I’ve brought a lot of people back from the dead after a long night out with the Pylon: A split, griddle-fried hot dog with chili, slaw, cheddar, mustard, chopped pickles, onion, jalapeño peppers and oyster crackers, all on a sweet waffle.”
 
Ryan LaRoche, NoMI Kitchen at Park Hyatt, Chicago
“I like to take the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the room service menu and deep fry it. It’s like a jelly donut. To take it really over the top, I eat it with my grandfather’s brown butter scrambled eggs. But I draw the line at putting the eggs on the fried pb&j.”
 
Shaun Hergatt, SHO Shaun Hergatt Restaurant, NYC
“I make a breakfast sandwich with Vegemite, avocado, sharp Cheddar Cheese, bacon and eggs, all on rye Vita crisp bread. So it’s kind of healthy. I fly in caseloads of Vegemite from Australia. The only thing I don’t put on the sandwich is gold leaf, even though I do poached eggs with gold leaf at the restaurant. And sea urchin—another thing I don’t put on that sandwich.”
 
And now it’s time to hand out the award for the most outrageous breakfast sandwich. We’re thrilled to give it to Stephanie Izard (Girl & The Goat, Chicago) and Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger, Wellesley, MA) who created a pretty remarkable dish at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen a few years ago. Faced with the challenge of using up leftovers, they took cold pizza, cooked lobster and crisp baconand… piled them on top of each other (no, the pizza didn’t get heated up). It was served with a fried egg on top. “Genius,” recalls Dana Cowin, F&W Editor in Chief, who judged the dish. “It includes almost every food group you’d want to have in the morning. Especially if you’re a college student.”

Related Links
15 Great Breakfast Recipes
20 Brunch Recipes
20 Bacon Recipes
15 Egg Recipes
Tim Love Recipes

Pictured above: Breakfast Biscuit Sandwich

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Eleven Madison Park Geeks Out on Beer

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I always feel a bit sheepish when I tell the sommelier at a high-end restaurant that I’d prefer beer to wine. Luckily, the brilliant team at NYC’s Eleven Madison Park is determined to elevate beer’s status in the fine dining scene. My beer expert friend, writer Christian DeBenedetti, recently directed me to some news he’d read on Brooklyn Brewery’s blog about its beer collaboration with Eleven Madison Park.

The news prompted me to call Eleven Madison Park general manager Will Guidara to get the scoop. “The role of beer in fine dining needs to change,” says Guidara. “Restaurants of our caliber always focus on wine but we’re also intensely focused on cocktails, coffee, tea and right now we’re amidst a full-on beer onslaught.” Kirk Kelewae, Eleven Madison Park’s resident beer expert, along with chef Daniel Humm and Brooklyn Brewery's Garret Oliver, are creating two barrel-aged, bottle-conditioned large-format beers. Nine Pin Brown Ale is named after the game played in the story “Rip Van Winkle” (both beers will be aged in Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon barrels). Local 11 will be a barrel-aged version of Brooklyn Brewery’s popular Local 2. The designer Milton Glaser will create the labels. Guidara says the beer will be exclusive to Eleven Madison Park, with maybe a few cases going to other friends in the industry.

Both beers will make their debut at a special Eleven Madison Park beer dinner June 26, which will also feature other unique beers that Oliver has been experimenting with, like a beer aged on lees from Riesling. “We sold half the tickets within an hour of announcing the event,” says Guidara. Only about 20 tickets are left. Email beer@elevenmadisonpark.com for a seat.

Recipes

Mariah Carey Pregnancy Food

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A Mariah Carey pregnancy food favorite: Pork chops

© Kana Okada
A Mariah Carey pregnancy food favorite: Pork chops

Being pregnant with twins seems to have grounded singer Mariah Carey, who at one point reportedly ate a diet of only purple foods.

She’s giving in to her pregnancy cravings by cooking and eating comfort foods like “smothered pork chops, collard greens, red beans and rice and pecan pie with homemade whipped cream,” says her husband, Nick Cannon, in an interview with People magazine.

Check out more super-satisfying recipes in our Southern Comfort Food slideshow.

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Food & Wine Exclusive: Animal's New Restaurant Son of a Gun

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© Nigel Parry

Let's get some facts straight about the new restaurant from two of our awesome F&W Best New Chefs, Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook.

*It will be called Son of a Gun (cute story involving gun racks and prostitutes).
*The menu will be seafood. Look for versions of baked clams and lobster rolls; also look for funkier items like fish collars and halibut “feathers” from Animal chef Frank Anderson, who will oversee the SOG kitchen.

© kate krader
A nautical wall at Son of a Gun restaurant.

 

*Look for amazing Walton Ford art on the walls (it helps to know Benedikt Taschen). It will be juxtaposed with items, like inscribed life buoys, from Dotolo's grandfather's boat, Big Daddy. And fantastic old photos of a young Hugh Hefner holding up a giant marlin (men's room) and Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart with their own prize catch (women's room)
*Look for awesome cocktails from Lindsay Nader, deputy editor of F&W's forthcoming Cocktails 2011.
*Look for SOG to open in the next month for dinner; and for lunch a little bit later.

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First Look: Niko

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© Laura Maniec
Crispy Tokyo Chicken at Niko.

As a rule, I disapprove of restaurant reviews that come before a place has fully opened its doors. So let’s not call this a review of Niko, the Japanese spot in the former, iconic Honmura An space in New York City’s Soho; after all, it isn’t even open yet. Instead, let’s call out what was great about Niko on the very first night of its soft opening.

Crispy Maine sweet shrimp with Sriracha salt. The shrimp were supercrispy, and that little pile of salt (made with dehydrated Sriracha chile sauce) alongside was genius.

Miso-charred octopus. Every octopus should be properly charred with miso glaze.

Crispy Tokyo chicken. Co-owner Cobi Levy says he’s been eating fried chicken for 21 days straight in search of the ideal crust (thanks, Cobi). He serves his with an elegant ginger dipping sauce (as well as a honey-mustard sauce that I pretended wasn't there).

Local hero Josh DeChellis is back preparing Japanese food (the Sriracha salt is his). A sushi chef fresh from Sushi Yasuda behind the sushi bar. Master sommelier Laura Maniec with a bottle of rose Champagne in her hand. Torrisi’s Mario Carbone at a banquette in the back. Nate Appleman, an F&W Best New Chef 2009 and Chipotle’s new burrito maker, at the sushi bar.

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Raclette Night at Anfora

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Raclette Night at Anfora.

© Anfora
Raclette Night at Anfora.

 

I was a little bummed watching the BCS Football Championship last night. For starters, Oregon State lost in the final minutes of the game to Auburn. Even sadder was that the loss marked the end of Monday night football, at least until next season. Luckily, the team at NYC’s Anfora wine bar has found a way to fill my Monday night void. Last night, Anfora hosted its first Raclette Cheese Night. Each Monday, the wine bar will serve raclette in true Swiss style, with heat lamps for melting and plates of bread, boiled potatoes, pickles and charcuterie for dipping. Sommelier Joe Campanale will be pouring unusual white wines, from producers like Jacques Puffeney, to pair with the cheese. I can’t think of a better way to shake off my post-Monday-night-football blues—and get excited for my upcoming snowboarding trip to Switzerland.

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A Phone that Translates Menus

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I am always finding myself in awkward ordering predicaments when roaming the globe eating at restaurants. On a recent trip to Peru, I found myself staring at a fist-sized Amazonian snail in one of Lima's top new restaurants. My rusty Spanish had obviously failed me as I thought I had ordered Amazonian cod (that would have been paiche, oops). Until my Spanish improves, I'm relying on Word Lens to prevent future menu blunders. The new iPhone app translates printed text on-the-fly. If you point the phone's camera at something written in Spanish, and it shows up in English on the screen. It's not 100% glitch-free (wrong words will flash on the screen when the text you're reading isn't perfectly clear), but it definitely works. It only translates Spanish for now and while the app itself is free, the Spanish-to-English capability is a $4.99 in-app purchase (so I'm assuming more languages are coming).

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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.

Join celebrity chefs, renowned winemakers and epicurean insiders at the culinary world’s most spectacular weekend, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.