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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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World Leaders' Favorite Foods

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French president Nicolas Sarkozy loves chocolate.

© Kate Mathis
Chocolate Coupe with Cocoa Nib Mousse

Barack Obama: Hamburgers. One of the many DC burger joints he frequents is Good Stuff Eatery, where Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn created the Prez Obama burger and the Michelle Melt for the president’s wife.
 
Nicolas Sarkozy: Chocolate. At least, according to the renowned French chef Alain Ducasse. Ducasse says that the French president likes yogurt, too.
 
David Cameron:  Spicy sausage pasta. That’s the recipe he’s contributing to an upcoming charity book, the Scrummy World Cookbook. In his introduction to the recipe, the UK prime minister thanked the River Café Cook Book, calling his dish a shortened and simplified version.
 
Vladimir Putin: Ice cream. Food & Wine contributor Anya von Bremzen, in Moscow working on her forthcoming book, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, reports that the Russian prime minister is a pistachio ice-cream fanatic. Is it odd to eat ice cream in a place that’s so cold so much of the year? “People of that Soviet generation love ice cream,” says von Bremzen. “We all ate it in winter, even though our parents forbade it because of the cold.”
 
Related Links:
More Presidential Indulgences
Guilt-Free Burgers
10 Delicious Chocolate Cakes
Best Ice Cream Spots in the U.S.
Meaty Pasta Dishes

(Pictured above: Chocolate Coupe with Cocoa Nib Mousse)

Restaurants

Inside Scoop on Tiffani Faison’s New BBQ Project

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Chef Tiffani Faison.

© Michael Diskin
Chef Tiffani Faison.

 

I spent the weekend stuffing myself with some of America’s best barbecue at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party in NYC. The takeaway: People take their ’cue very seriously. That’s why Tiffani Faison, the season one Top Chef contestant and chef of the recently closed Rocca, is doing her homework before she opens her barbecue spot named Sweet Cheeks near Boston’s Fenway Park later this summer. “Barbecue is one of those democratic American foods that everyone gets. It’s a food my family gathered around to eat, and I wanted a place like that in Boston to take family and friends on a Sunday afternoon. It’s missing from the restaurant scene.” Faison, a self-described Army brat, grew up bouncing from Oklahoma to South Carolina to Texas. In a few weeks, she will travel to Texas’s barbecue capital, Lockhart, to do some due-diligence eating. But she won’t be adopting one particular style. “I want it to be organic. I think there’s this barbecue-fusion world that people are afraid of. Each style of barbecue has its hardcore fans, but I think I can make it uniquely New England—though I’m not sure what exactly that is going to be yet.” One thing is certain: It won’t be down-and-dirty barbecue. “I want this to be chef-driven, without being annoyingly cheffy,” explains Faison. She says she’s been brainstorming menu items like house-made hush puppies and “white trash fruit salad,” which she says is inspired by ambrosia: “It’s a little kitschy, but reminiscent of what I ate as a kid.” There will also be a beer garden, communal picnic tables and a porch swing outside. As for the name, “It’s just what we used to tease the line cooks with when they were lagging at Rocca,” she says. “We’d yell, ‘Let’s pick it up, sweet cheeks.’”

Winemakers

“Fueled by Fine Wine” Half Marathon

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Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon

I wouldn’t really consider myself a “serious athlete.” Sure, I’ve done a few triathlons, and a half marathon always seemed like a great accomplishment. But when I found out about the Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon, happening on Sunday, July 10, I didn’t think twice–this is the one for me!

Set in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, the course winds through the gorgeous vineyards in the Dundee Hills. In addition to being acclaimed for producing top Pinot Noirs, I can’t think of a more spectacular setting for a half.

The best part, though, is the after-party, which will feature wines from some of the top producers in the region, including Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Serene and Lange Estate, to name a few. Says winemaker Jesse Lange: “While there are plenty of rolling hills to tackle, your source of infinite inspiration will be the world-class wines that await you at the finish line. And this is also your chance to put highfalutin winemakers in their place by leaving them in the red dust of our volcanic soils!”

The official motto of the race is “You won’t run your best time, but you’ll have your best time!” I know that a glass of amazing Pinot will be the proverbial carrot on a string to get me to the finish line.

PS: Stay tuned for reports from the road…

Restaurants

Ryan Skeen’s Summer Pop-Up Restaurant

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© Zandy Mangol
Ryan Skeen Will Be Back in NYC with a Summertime Pop Up.

Guess who’s back in town for the summer: chef Ryan Skeen, who has thrilled people like me at—before walking away from—such NYC restaurants as Resto, Irving Mill, General Greene and Allen & Delancey, all in the span of 36 months.

Skeen’s new project, with The Restaurant Group, will be a pop-up restaurant at 10 Waverly Place. Starting July 13, Skeen will serve a $50 three-course prix fixe menu four nights a week (Wednesdays through Saturdays). There’s also the option of a chef’s tasting menu for $85 with as many courses as Skeen wants to serve—currently, he’s thinking about Jonah Crab and White Asparagus Soup, Quail with Figs and Smoked Potatoes, and Beignets with Foie Cardamom Custard.

Now, guess what's the name of Skeen’s restaurant: TBD ("because you never know what will happen" according to the press release). Also TBD: the dates for visiting guest chefs (and F&W Best New Chefs) Nate Appleman, Katy Sparks and Michael Psilakis.

For reservations: reservations@tbdatbrads.com.

Restaurants

Inside Omnivore World Tour with Giovanni Passerini

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In case you missed it, last year’s Omnivore food festival featured René Redzepi (yes, the "best chef in the world"). This year’s festival theme is Young Cuisine, featuring break-out stars like of Rino in Paris, whose restaurant combines Italian peasant cooking (cucina povera is the in-vogue term) with techniques he learned at Paris’s Le Chateaubriand. Passerini is preparing dinner on June 10th with Carlo Mirarchi of Roberta’s in Brooklyn (an F&W Best New Chef 2011). Tickets are available here.

What’s Passerini making for dinner? What will he eat when he’s here? Let’s find out the answers.

Q: What are you making for dinner?

A: Frankly, I still have to decide. I'm sure I'll prepare some ravioli; it's our speciality at Rino. But I still have to decide the kind, the shape.

Q: Let’s talk about cooking with Carlo Mirachi.
A: I'm really curious to meet him. I like everything I’ve seen made by him. I think the spirit of Roberta’s is similar to Rino, though it's just a feeling, because I've never been. But that's enough to make me really excited to cook with Carlo.

Q: Are you excited to try American-Italian food (since you’re Italian)?
A: Of course, I'm so excited to taste my first spaghetti with meatballs! And a good pizza! Probably it's easier to find a good one in NYC than in Rome. And after all, one of my favorite movies is Big Night by Stanley Tucci, about two Italian brothers cooking in the US. So funny!

Q: If you could open another restaurant, what would it be?

A: I really dream about a gazebo in the middle of a crowded street selling Italian street food at a very cheap price: arancini, focaccia stuffed with mortadella, tripe and ricotta sandwiches, fried cod and artisanal Italian beer!

Restaurants

Blake Lively Wants Contraband Hot Sauce

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© Cochon Restaurant
Cochon Restaurant's house hot sauce.

At the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival a few weeks ago, I became a huge fan of Donald Link, the New Orleans chef/owner of Cochon and Cochon Butcher, and his commitment to cooking with chiles. (At his demo, I learned the very useful tip that the best cure for a too-spicy pepper is a piece of chocolate.) It turns out I’m not the only one who appreciates his way with chiles. In the current issue of Glamour magazine, cover girl Blake Lively says that she gets really excited when she finds a new sauce. And then says this: “I wanted a sauce from New Orleans, and they wouldn’t send it because the FDA didn’t approve it. I called the restaurant and I said, ‘OK, can you buy a teddy bear and cut it open and put it in and send it?’ They’re like, ‘No, we are not the drug cartel; we’re not sending you your sweet potato sauce in a teddy bear.’” (How much do we love Blake Lively and her dedication to food and contraband sauces?!) It turns out she’s talking about Cochon’s habanero–sweet potato sauce, which by all accounts is addictive. And also not for sale outside the state; although their regular hot sauce is (long story involving FDA regulations).

So next time I’m in New Orleans, I’m picking up a bottle of Cochon’s habanero sweet potato sauce for Blake Lively. And meanwhile, I can report that Cochon is working hard to ship the sauce to out-of-state fans like Lively.

Farms

The One Really Dead Food & Dining Trend

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© Courtesy of The Breakers Palm Beach.
Let's Retire the Farm-to-Fill-in-Blank Phrase

At Food & Wine, we might respectfully disagree with some of the items on Eater NY’s recent dead trends list (small menus are working quite well for NYC's Torrisi Italian Specialties and Mile End, among other spots). But there is a ubiquitous phrase that we’re very ready to say good-bye to: farm-to-everything. (Credit to Frank Bruni, the New York Times's newest Op-Ed columnist, for sounding the alarm on Twitter: “Today someone said, re cocktails, ‘from farm to tumbler.’ May be time we all retired the ‘farm to fill-in-blank’ construction.”)

Don’t misunderstand: We are not knocking the concept of fresh ingredients straight from the farm. We’re just tired of the very overused phrase. Here, then, is our list of just some of the farm-to-anything/everywhere claims, complied by F&W’s new senior digital editor, Alex Vallis.

Farm to Cubicle: A report from Crain's on corporate CSAs.

Farm to Cup
: “Delicious coffee straight from the farm” from Stanford Business School students.

Farm to Friends
: CSA cooking series at the New York Wine & Culinary Center. (They’re repeat offenders: They also offer the Farm to Plate series.)

Farm to Fuel: The Florida-based initiative to promote renewable energy from local crops.

Farm to Fork: A marketing stunt from the international seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred and the Soyfoods Council.

Farm to Bakery; Farm to Factory: Two mentions in one article from the New York–based community organizer Pratt Center about the honorable push to get New York State grains into New York City bakeries.

Farm to San Francisco: From the community-building, California-based organization Project Fresh.

Farm to Folk
: An Iowa CSA.

Farm to Consumer: A Virginia-based non profit that spotlights sustainable farming.

Farm to Glass: Cocktails featuring straight-from-the-garden ingredients.

And a dishonorable mention to our very own F&W for:
Farm to Bottle: An item about spirits infused with, you guessed it, ingredients from the garden, that you'll see in our upcoming August issue.

Restaurants

How to Get Free Tickets to Omnivore Master Classes

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First, the bad news about the supercool French food festival Omnivore, which brings its Young Cuisine world tour to New York City on June 9th: The master class series on Friday, June 10th—highlighting New York City’s Carlo Mirarchi (an F&W Best New Chef 2011, hurray!) and John Fraser (What Happens When); Paris's Giovanni Passerini (Rino) and Jean-François Piège (Thoumieux); and Copenhagen's Mads Refslunch (MR)—is for food professionals only. Now the good news: I hear that Omnivore is giving away a few, just a few, Master Class tickets: write to reservation@omnivore.fr and use the code 'young cuisine.'

And, more Omnivore good news: you can actually taste food from these incredible chefs at Omnivore’s The F**** Dinners, at What Happens When, from June 9-11, by going here.

Books

Ferran Adrià’s $5 Meals

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Ferran Adria's upcoming cookbook has meals for $5 a person.

You’ve got to love a book party that features the Ace Hotel’s DJ Huggy Bear (his card says, “I accept hugs, not requests”). So Phaidon’s fall preview party, at its Soho store, had excellent music. And following the success of Noma by René Redzepi, it's no surprise that they have a terrific fall cookbook lineup as well. That includes a new edition of the best-selling Silver Spoon book and The Art of French Baking, with adorable illustrations by Chocolate & Zucchini blogger Clotilde Dusoulier. Best of all, in my world, is The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià. The book will feature 31 staff meals from Spain’s El Bulli (Meal 7: Waldorf Salad, Noodle Soup with Mussels and Melon Soup with Pink Grapefruit). I plan to cook my way through all of them, especially because these meals average out to about $5 per person (which is about one-tenth of the cost of a cab ride to El Bulli from the nearest town). I’ve especially got my eye on Meal 4, wherein I’ll learn the secrets to Adrià’s Caesar salad and cheeseburger with potato crisps.

Beer

Exclusive Preview: Garrett Oliver’s 'Oxford Companion to Beer'

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© PIKE MICROBREWERY MUSEUM, SEATTLE, WA
Sneak peek inside: c. 1933, Prohibition caused a lack of public knowledge of how to serve alcoholic beverages, an issue addressed in this nationally syndicated photograph.

When American Craft Beer Week concludes on May 22, events will have taken place in every state for the first time in the celebration’s six-year history. No one understands the rise of local beer better than Garrett Oliver. The Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster and award-winning author of The Brewmaster’s Table (2005) is finishing up his latest feat as editor-in-chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer. Considering the honor attached to a first edition in the food reference series, it's funny to hear Oliver's take on the publisher's pitch three years ago. "I went quickly sprinting in the opposite direction. The project seemed so overwhelmingly huge, and obviously I already have a job over here as brewmaster," he remembers. With the encouragement of friends who knew he'd regret the lost opportunity, Oliver embarked on the work over a year ago with a preliminary list of 500 topics;1,120 references and 160 additional writers later, the tome will drop in October. Here, Oliver reveals some of the groundbreaking subjects that will be covered and what he thinks you should be drinking (and eating) now.

© PIKE MICROBREWERY MUSEUM, SEATTLE, WA
A closer look reveals various beer glass shapes.

What convinced you to sign on? There are a lot of subjects that we in the craft-brewing community might use every day that are literally not written down. So if you want to know about, say, dry-hopping—adding hops after fermentation for extra flavor and aroma, which is done by 80 to 95 percent of all the breweries in the United States—there is precisely nothing to read.

What other categories are you breaking ground in? Sour beers. Barrel aging:There's a huge movement all over the world now interested in deriving flavors from wooden barrels. You will read about Amarillo, a hop variety: where it comes from, how it developed, what its genetic parents are, how it grows in a field, and how people tend to use it. But then, right before that, you'd read [an entry called] Ale House, about the history of the ale house from Roman times to its development into the modern pub. So it really covers not only things scientific and technical, but also cultural and historic things.

What's the most surprising country making beer? Of course when we think of Italy, we think of wine. But Italy has 350 breweries, and Italian brewers are really excited, creative and using a lot of their background in food to inform what they do on the beer side. Scandinavia is also a big story. We might think of one or two beers, like Carlsberg, but there are many dozens of breweries in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, etc.

Do you cover foods to eat with beer? What's your favorite pairing? There are sections on food-and-beer pairing. I've done about 700 beer dinners in 12 countries, and I wrote a 360-page book on beer-and-food pairings. But this time of year, for example, I love saison, which is a Belgian-style wheat beer. [At Brooklyn Brewery] we have a new one coming out called Sorachi Ace, based on a particular hop variety of that name, and I think it's really great with grilled salmon and shrimp dishes—lighter dishes you might grill in summertime.

How much has beer culture evolved in the last decade? It's really pretty incredible. When I first started traveling, I would go overseas and say, "Oh, I'm an American brewer," and people would just be dripping with disdain: "Oh, yes, we have heard of your American beer." Because they were thinking about just the mass-market beer. We now have over 1,700 breweries in the United States, and we have the most vibrant beer culture in the world, bar none. What's amazing is that now, we go to Germany and Belgium and Italy and, to a large extent, brewers all over the world look up to the United States. Twenty years ago it was exactly the opposite.

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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.