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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Chefs

This Year's Pebble Beach Food & Wine

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I think I must have been dazed by an overdose of Montrachet (a statement that will get me little sympathy from anyone), because it's taken me several days to get a handle on this wrapup post for the big event at Pebble Beach a week or so ago, Pebble Beach Food & Wine. As in years past, several thousand wine lovers converged on this idyllic spot for three days of rampant wine tasting. Highlights for me were the various tastings I helped host:

 (1) an eight-vintage retrospective of Bordeaux's Château Palmer (deal alert: 2008 Alter Ego de Palmer, a thrilling wine that, at about $50, costs a fifth of what Château Palmer itself costs).

 (2) a tasting of 2005 and 1999 Montrachets from Drouhin, Bouchard, Marc Colin, and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (really non-deal alert: 2005 DRC Montrachet. Pretty much nectar of the gods but it does run a cool $4500 a bottle or so...)

 (3) a tasting of the wines of the Rhône's Château Beaucastel with Marc Perrin, one of the family members who own the estate. Beaucastel is arguably the benchmark Châteauneuf-du-Pape-the wines were unsurprisingly wonderful. I particularly like the aromatic, garrigue-y 2001.

 Finally, my other highlight event was the dinner we hosted—along with the good folks at Robert Mondavi Winery—to celebrate our top sommeliers of 2011 (click through for the article). Good wines, well-deserved applause for the somms, and fantastic food from some of Napa Valleys star chefs: Richard Reddington, Ken Frank, Tyler Florence, Jeff Mosher, and Masaharu Morimoto (who came out and sang, accapella, a traditional Japanese fisherman's song).

Anyway, the event is over for this year but it will be back next year. If you're in the Bay Area and you like wine, you'd be crazy not to go.

News

Royal (Yes, Them Again) Wine

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So, were they waiting till after the wedding to make this announcement? According to England's The Daily Mail, the royal family is going to start producing sparkling wine from one of its estates, Windsor Great Park. Apparently they'll plant more than 16,000 grapevines there in the next couple of weeks. Sparkling would be appropriate, of course—Pol Roger Brut Champagne was served at the recent royal wedding reception (much to my chagrin, as I'd predicted it might be Bollinger when I was on the Today show the Wednesday before the wedding).

Chefs

The Vongerichtens Premier Kimchi Chronicles

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© Frappé Inc.
The Vongerichtens and Jackmans Cook Together.

If you've checked Eater or Grub Street recently, you've probably seen the preview clip of Kimchi Chronicles (featuring a Hugh Jackman cameo). But if you haven't seen it, and this is the first you're hearing of KC, here’s some background. Marja Vongerichten premieres her amazing new TV show this weekend, which follows her as she travels around Korea (she’s half Korean and was born there) with her husband, the illustrious chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. You’ll see them in a big food market in Seoul, and in Sokcho, a port that’s very, very close to North Korea.

© Frappé Inc.
Bibimbop, one of Marja Vongerichten's favorite dishes.

You’ll also see them making bibimbop, the excellent stone pot rice dish made with meat, vegetables, you name it (Marja loves it as a way to use leftover side dishes). And you’ll also see them back at home in New York cooking with their good friends and upstairs neighbors Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra (they often have dinner parties together, but I’m not sure if they’re always group cooking like this).
 
Kimchi Chronicles premieres on Sunday, May 8 in NYC on WNET (channel 13) at 4 pm EST.

Restaurants

Inaki Aizpitarte and Christina Tosi Rock Pop-Up Beard Dinner

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© kate krader
Inaki Aizpitarte Helps Count Down the Beard Pop-Up Dinners.

Boy, is the James Beard Foundation on fire with their 27 days of pop-up dinners. Last week, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo from LA’s Animal got me addicted to foie-gras biscuits. And last night, Iñaki Aizpitarte, the chef of Paris’s ultra-cool Le Chateaubriand, and Christina Tosi, with her exceptional team from NYC’s Momofuku Milk Bar, stepped up and cooked. On the menu: Tosi’s chicken and lime soup dumplings and brilliant seven-minute rhubarb with black-pepper gravy (that was dessert; seven minutes is the length of time the rhubarb spent in the microwave after being cooked sous-vide with cherry puree).

© kate krader
Momofuku Milk Bar Team plus Dave Chang.

It helps to eat this kind of ingenious meal with two chefs who have cooked at Copenhagen's singular Noma: If you wonder out loud where the parmesan is that’s part of Inaki’s white asparagus with finger lime, mozzarella and sorrel, they’ll say, pretty much in unison: “Granita; parmesan granita.” Likewise they can identify all the mystery pickles on Iñaki’s lamb with burnt eggplant puree (for the record, apple, turnip and and squash).

Cocktails

How to Drink All 34 Cocktails at LuckyRice's Opening Night Cocktails

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© Richard Patterson
LuckyRice Opening Cocktails 2010

We’re in the midst of LuckyRice, the NYC festival that celebrates so many facets of Asian cooking, from a Night Market in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood tonight to the big gala dinner on Saturday night, La Fête Chinoise, with Daniel Boulud and Susur Lee. (Tickets for some events are still available.) The festival more or less kicked off last night with Opening Cocktails hosted by Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon at the Bowery Hotel. Among the 1,000-person crowd were chefs like WD-50’s Wylie Dufresne and Top Chef star Angelo Sosa, fashion dignitaries like Phillip Lim. And oh-so-many mixologists.

© kate krader
Adam Schuman Demonstrates the Correct Way to Do a Pickleback Shot.

Me, I didn’t try anywhere near the 34 cocktails on offer, but I can vouch for Má Pêche’s Ay Hue (a mix of fried shallot vodka, lime juice and Sriracha hot sauce). I can also speak from experience about Fatty Cue’s self-serve pickleback shots, a creation of bartender Adam Schuman that involves a big bottle of Evan Williams bourbon. But LuckyRice creator Danielle Chang has me beat. Not only did she sample all 34 cocktails, she made it to the LuckyRice after-party at Theatre Bar, where Dave Chang and Inaki Aizpitarte of Paris's Le Chateaubriand were pre-partying for their week of James Beard pop-up dinners.

Restaurants

Top Chefs Cook for Tibet

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© Sonam Zoksan
Host chef Eric Ripert, right, with Richard Gere and Laurent Manrique.

Where were so many of New York City’s top chefs last Thursday night? April Bloomfield, Dave Chang, Tom Colicchio, Mark Ladner and Anita Lo, among others, weren’t in their kitchens; were they en route to London to surprise Prince William and Kate Middleton? No, they had joined their friend Eric Ripert, the host chef, to cook at the Tibet Fund’s gala dinner at the Pierre Hotel to celebrate 30 years of great work for the people of Tibet. And those chefs were cooking fantastic food right at the long dinner tables. I got to sit at Bloomfield’s table—close enough that she could hand me my sublime three-bean soup with spring vegetables (you’ll soon see it on the menu at The Breslin). If I’d sat at Ladner’s table, he would have handed me hen-and-egg braciole (and asked, “Which came first...?”); and if I’d sat at Chang’s table I would have had Momofuku’s shiitake buns.

© kate krader
Here's How Close I was to April Bloomfield (with her plaque from Tibet Fund).

I already felt lucky to be eating Bloomfield's just-served soup. Then one of the night’s honorees, Richard Gere, told a story about a Tibetan meal he once had that started with a two-hour prayer (he said he stopped being hungry after the first 20 minutes). I asked Ripert, who is a Buddhist, if it would be hard for him to have two-hour prayers before meals. “Maybe,” he said, laughing.

Bars

London's Newest Spot to Toast the Royals

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© Courtesy Hawkins International PR

I would hardly consider myself a royal watcher, but if I were in London today I know exactly where I'd raise a glass to Kate and Will. Dukes hotel has long drawn crowds to its Dukes Bar, whose martini supposedly inspired Ian Fleming to create James Bond's request to have his cocktails "shaken, not stirred." The 90-room property just this week added PJ Lounge, which serves Perrier-Jouët Champagne by the bottle or glass, along with Champagne cocktails. The carpet in the room was inspired by the iconic flowers on the Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque label; the cocktail I've got my eye on is also inspired by the label: the Flower of Champagne, with rose liqueur and Lillet.  

Farms

San Francisco’s New Artisan Hot Spot

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Smitten Ice Cream's new Hayes Valley home.

© Joseph Perez-Green
Smitten Ice Cream's new Hayes Valley home.


In San Francisco, unclaimed space never sits empty for long before fabulous food artisans move in. Since the city closed Hayes Valley’s Central Freeway off-ramp a few years back, it hasn’t been able to afford to develop the abandoned land—but now, it’s offering the space to creative people willing to accept a limited lease time before possible construction begins eventually. Hayes Valley Farm put down roots last year to explore sustainable urban garden strategies, and the supercool new Proxy project will infuse the funky neighborhood with pop-up cafés, art installations and retail shops. Ritual Coffee will soon begin serving seasonal espressos in one of the “pods”—repurposed metal shipping containers—along with newcomers like Smitten Ice Cream, which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze flavors like Meyer Lemon Gingersnap and Brown Butter Candied Apple one amazing scoop at a time. Sadly, the rumors of a forthcoming Pizzeria Delfina pop-up are untrue—owners Craig and Anne Stoll say they’re just too busy opening up Locanda this weekend (so we’ll forgive them).

Restaurants

Highlights of Animal’s James Beard Pop-Up

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© Nigel Parry

Kudos to the James Beard Foundation. They’re doing such a great job of using the about-to-be-played-out concept of pop-up restaurants to promote their big gala awards on May 9. Last week, they featured F&W Best New Chef 2002 Laurent Gras; next week comes Paris rock-star chef Inaki Aizpitarte of Le Chateaubriand. And last night I got to see Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the heroes of L.A.'s Animal restaurant, serve dinner at long communal tables in a pretty room in Chelsea Market (home to all the Beard pop-ups).

© kate krader
Animal's crazy foie gras biscuit at their Beard pop-up dinner.

Chef Tom Colicchio was in the kitchen and comedian Aziz Ansari was in the house for the night. Shook and Dotolo's menu ranged from yellowtail sashimi with garlic mojo and sunchoke chips (on the menu at their new fish spot, Son of a Gun) and an outrageous foie gras biscuit with maple sausage gravy, plus a new Animal dish, Thai BBQ quail with cashews and yogurt. (On Friday night, when they team up with another amazing chef team, Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronova of Frankies Spuntino, the menu will be totally different.)

Speaking of pop-ups, if you’re lucky you can see Ansari doing impromptu sketches at comedy clubs around the city. And get an early look at his upcoming summer movie 30 Minutes or Less; trailers will start running in theatres this weekend.

Restaurants

The Dutch: Late-Night vs. Regular Menu

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© Jacque Burke
Dutch owners Andrew Carmellini (Dutch), Luke Ostrom (The) and Josh Pickard.

The paper is off the windows at The Dutch! Chef Andrew Carmellini’s much-anticipated (by me and Eater.com, anyway) restaurant in Manhattan’s Soho officially started offering its late-night menu at 11 p.m. last night. The crowd included chefs like Corton’s Paul Liebrandt, Dell’anima’s Joe Campanale and Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, all the way from Animal in L.A. (according to Carmellini, he did 150 covers that first hour). Word has it The Dutch will start serving its regular dinner menu very, very soon. Lunch is coming after that, breakfast and brunch after that, and one day, look for a breakfast take-away counter at the Prince Street entrance. Meanwhile, a few observations:
 
* The place to sit in the front room is the long wood table, aka "the playpen" (speaking from experience, more than a dozen people is very tight fit). In the swanky back room, the black leather banquettes are especially cool.
 
* The regular menu isn’t so different than the late-night menu—no matter what time you're eating, you can and should have the scrumptious fried-oyster sandwiches, eggplant dip with potato chips and smoked-ricotta ravioli and fried chicken with ridiculously good biscuits. Go earlier, and you can also have rabbit potpie and assorted steaks and rib chops; on the late-night menu, there’s a cheddar-cheese burger and something awesome called “sloppy duck.” For a side-by-side menu comparison, though, you’ll have to ask the sister of one of the owners; he allegedly made her eat the regular menu and then the late night one back-to-back.
 
* If you can’t get to The Dutch in the next little while, amuse yourself by watching the video on its website (and note that Carmellini wrote and performed the soundtrack). Right now, you can also watch a funnily absorbing pie-making video; tomorrow comes the steak video outtakes. And of course, there are the awesome recipes Carmellini did to preview The Dutch in the November 2010 issue of Food & Wine.

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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.