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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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.

Menus

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.

Restaurants

How to Celebrate a World's Best Restaurant Win

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© Ditte Isager
World's #1 chef Rene Redzepi.

How exciting to be in London for the big announcement of S. Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants. And hear that Rene Redzepi’s Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, was once again #1. And that Manhattan’s Eleven Madison Park was one of the biggest climbers, up 26 places to #24—hurray for chef Daniel Humm & team!
 
But I wasn’t in London to hear the announcement and see those crazy celebrating chefs. Instead I relied on my friend Terry Zarikian, the creative director of NYC’s Bar Basque, to tell me the highlights. Here’s what he reports:
 
Yes, for the second year in a row, Noma took first place. For me, what’s truly exciting is the brand-new #2: the splendid El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain (I predict it will be #1 next year). And a new #3, also from Spain: Mugaritz in San Sebastian (Andoni Luis Aduriz deserves it after all he did to reopen after their huge fire). Another San Sebastian restaurant, Arzak, came in at #8, making SS the only city with two restaurants in the top 10. Of course I’m proud; I’ve been promoting Basque chefs for years.
 
Arzak’s owner, Juan Mari Arzak, also received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for being the father of modern Basque cooking (his daughter, chef Elena Arzak, presented the award to him). How did he celebrate? With plenty of gin martinis at London's Sanderson hotel, followed by fish and chips (what else would the world’s best chefs eat in London?).

Recipes

A Cookbook from Italy’s Most Dreamy Resort

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apple tart

© Jen Murphy
Apple tart at Castello di Vicarello

Earlier in the year I had a chance to spend a weekend cooking with the amazing Aurora Baccheschi Berti at her dreamy 12th-century castle-turned-hotel, Castello di Vicarello, in Maremma, Tuscany. Staying at Vicarello is like staying at fabulous friend’s home with nonstop food, wine and adventure (Aurora’s husband, Carlo, takes groups wild-boar hunting at his nearby lodge, Valle di Buriano. Aurora and Carlo spent years in the textile business and have quite an eye for design. The seven rooms and villas of Vicarello are outfitted with unique antiques, old issues of Art Forum, oversize bathtubs and quirky touches like a zebra-skin rug. But it’s the kitchen that’s truly the heart of the house, and that’s where guests gravitate. Carlo and Aurora, and often their three charming sons, are the perfect hosts, offering up glasses of Brunello and slices of wild-boar prosciutto. Aurora hosts impromptu cooking lessons, and dinners are a two-hour-plus affair. I got a taste of the Tuscan winter on my visit, but Aurora’s just-released cookbook, Tuscany My Way, gives me a chance to recreate recipes from all four seasons at Vicarello. Inspired by the castle’s gardens, the book has more than 100 recipes organized by season, like carbonara withfava beans and apple tart. It’s one of the most transporting cookbooks I’ve seen and the next best thing to a trip back to Tuscany.
 

Restaurants

Florida: America's Next Regional Barbecue?

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© Courtesy TrésKoi PR

Orlando cuisine in my experience has been chain restaurants and fast-food spots, peppered with theme-park snacks. But John Rivers (left) has opened up something entirely different in nearby Winter Park: a barbecue joint. The Floridian married a Texan and became infatuated with brisket; he began smoking his own about 20 years ago and later started selling it at fundraisers to help victims of childhood cancer. The brisket drew such huge crowds that in the fall of 2009, Rivers opened up a brick-and-mortar spot: 4 Rivers Smokehouse. The lines start early and don't let up during the day, so Rivers just opened a second location across town in Winter Garden to keep up with demand and will likely open more in the future. Those not in Florida can now buy his sauce and rubs online, too.

Restaurants

Houston’s Best New Market

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houston

© Jen Murphy
Houston's new locavore market, Revival.

 

I made my first-ever trip to Houston last weekend to watch the Final Four. The final match-up between U Conn and Butler turned out to be one of the most disappointing performances in college basketball history, but my trip still turned out to be stellar, thanks to some seriously awesome eating and music experiences (more on that tomorrow). One of my best finds of the weekend was the new Revival Market in the Heights neighborhood. Opened at the end of March, Revival was originally planned as a butcher shop but ended up being so much more. In addition to an in-house butcher and the city’s first retail dry-cure room for charcuterie, there’s a coffee bar, manned by baristas making perfect lattes with beans from local roasters like Katz, Amaya and Fusion. The grocery section is like a mini farmers' market, selling local eggs, produce, artisanal bread, cheeses sourced by Houston Dairymaids, honey from the Heights and milled grains from outside Waco, Texas. Then there’s the deli where chef-owner Ryan Pera has created a menu of delicious sides (Asian duck slaw) and sandwiches (a turkey club garnished with chicken skins) to-go, or to stay and eat at one of the few tables. Sandwich to try: Revival Dog, a Mangalitsa hot dog served on a pretzel bun and topped with green tomato relish.

Cocktails

Best New Chefs 2011 Party: The Recap

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© Sylvain Gaboury/FOOD & WINE
F&W's 2011 Best New Chefs with F&W's Dana Cowin and Chris Grdovic

We now have our official Best New Chefs, Class of 2011! Glasses up for Bowman Brown & Viet Pham (Forage, Salt Lake City); Jason Franey (Canlis, Seattle); Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine, Austin); Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat, Chicago); James Lewis (Bettola, Birmingham, AL); George Mendes (Aldea, New York City); Carlo Mirarchi (Roberta’s, New York City): Joshua Skenes (Saison, San Francisco); Kevin Willmann (Farmhaus, St. Louis); and Ricardo Zarate (Mo-Chica, Los Angeles).

We had a little party at Bohemian National Hall to celebrate those chefs last night, with superstars like former Best New Chefs Wylie Dufresne, Andrew Carmellini and Laurent Gras and non–BNC stars like Aziz Ansari, Kyle MacLachlan and Andrew Zimmern in attendance. More former Best New Chefs, like Jonathan Benno and Rocco DiSpirito, cooked for the party while opera singers rapped for entertainment and later Geoffrey Zakarian's new place the National poured Moscow Mules for the after-party.

© kate krader
F&W Best New Chefs practice for the Irish Car Bomb drinking contest.

We’ve learned a lot about our Best New Chefs in the last few days. Here are some little-known facts about several of them. We won’t name names, but you’ll find answers to most (but definitely not all) of these who-did-what stories in our July Best New Chef issue.

*Which BNC almost drowned off an Australian beach, and had only one thought in his/her head: "I can’t believe the last thing I’ll have eaten is a mediocre falafel sandwich."

*Which BNC could start a side business designing fishing rods?

*Which BNC had an eye-opening culinary moment in “France” at Florida’s Epcot Center?

*Which BNC got his/her start at Benihana?

*Which BNC also worked as a home loan officer for Washington Mutual?

*Which BNC thought it would be a good idea to take the BNC after after-party to New York Dolls (a Manhattan strip club)?

*Which BNC blew away the competition in an Irish Car Bomb (beer with a shot in it) drinking contest at the after-after-party at Fitzpatricks? (For the record, I came in 9th out of 9. And found out later that the winner had a history of winning Club Med chugging contests.)

News

Food & Whine on The Fabulous Beekman Boys

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© Planet Green
Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge are The Beekman Boys.

 If you ever wanted a behind-the-scenes look at a Food & Wine photo shoot, here's your chance. Last summer, in the midst of a barn raising, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell of the "Fabulous Beekman Boys" reality show hosted a small party while an F&W photographer documented the event. The story will be in our August issue, but the episode about the shoot airs tonight on Planet Green at 10 pm ET (how meta). I haven’t seen the episode, titled Food & Whine, but I hear our shoot adds some drama to the day and that F&W’s Creative Director Stephen Scoble makes a cameo. Those without the Planet Green channel, like me, can download the episode on iTunes after it airs.










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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.