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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Crazy Pizzas

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© James Baigrie

I just came back from Chicago and when locals there talked about food, guess what they talked about: Pizza. I live in New York City and guess where food conversations invariably go: to pizza. I won’t get involved in debating the top places around the country (although I will always vote for Chris Bianco’s Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Arizona as Number #1). But I am obsessed with all the wacky pizzas that people are calling out now. Are they crazy delicious, or just crazy crazy? You decide.
 
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco.
At this very serious new pizza spot in the Bay Area, they have pizza ovens ranging from 1000° coal fired to 550° gas. Likewise, Tony’s offers a range of pizzas. They’ll only sell 73 Margherita pies a day. There seems to be no such limit on the Fear & Loathing pie, which is topped with slow-cooked pork in tamarind and fresh cactus and agave nectar salsa. Likewise the Campari, with pancetta and goat cheese, has another ingredient I’ve never associated with pizza—Campari-blood orange sauce.
 
Al's Gourmet Pizza, Washington, DC.
This pizza spot is 14 blocks from the Capitol and reportedly got crazy business during the endless debt-ceiling debates. Who knows what the congressmen were ordering, but their choices include the Triple Cheese Steak Pizza (marinated sirloin steak, crunchy onion rings, mushrooms, cherry peppers) and the Triple Cheese Burger Pizza that you can get with ground beef or sausage—on a whole wheat crust for those in congress looking for a healthier diet.
 
Ian’s, Chicago.

Where to start with the menu at Ian’s, which has branches in Madison, Milwaukee and at Chicago’s Wrigleyville. Their all-time best-selling slice at Wrigleyville is the mac & cheese, made with crème fraiche, mozzarella and Cheddar (yay for Wisconsin, the dairy state). That starts to sound reasonable, when you consider that they offer plain noodles like penne and lasagna as an add-on topping. Or that a recent special was biscuits-and-gravy pizza. (Also to note about Ian’s – their Wrigleyville site looks ahead to November 2012 when they’re celebrating the Cubs recent World Series victory.)
 
Mulberry Street Pizza, Manchester, CT.
New Haven, Connecticut, is home to some of the country’s epic pizza places, like Pepe’s. Not far from there is Manchester, home of Mulberry Street Pizza, where they like to employ the names of cult movies, people and places for their pies. The M*A*S*H is a white pizza with ham, jack cheese and mashed potatoes (on top, not in the dough). White Castle is a cheeseburger pizza with lite sauce, meatballs, bacon, lettuce, tomato and ketchup. And the Peter Pan pizza boasts provolone, bacon and, you guessed it, a peanut butter base.
 
Stevi B's, Georgia.
Franchised across the south, and mostly in Georgia, Stevi B’s has a guiding principle: Everything tastes better on top of a Stevi B’s pizza. For the BLT pizza, the garlic-butter-brushed crust is topped with mozzarella, bacon, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, and that key BLT ingredient, mayo. Cheeseburger pizza? Check (it’s finished with crisp dill pickles “to create a burger-lovers dream”). Chicken Fajita pizza? Check. Macaroni and Cheese pizza? You know it. It’s when we get to the Loaded Baked Potato pizza that my stomach starts to hurt: creamy ranch sauce on the crust, baked potato on top, Jack and cheddar cheeses covering the whole thing.

Related:
Best Pizza Places in the U.S.
Awesome Pizza Recipes

(Pictured: Perfect Pizza Margherita)

Cocktails

Beyond the Lemonade Stand

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© Buff Strickland

Maybe you heard about this: A few weeks ago, police shut down a lemonade stand in Midway, Georgia. The stand wasn’t a front for drug dealers; it was a money-making scheme by three young local girls who wanted to go a water park. Apparently in Midway you need a business license for a lemonade stand.

In honor of the Midway Lemonade Girls – who are now selling their product at the Richmond Hill Farmers Market on Tuesdays, no permits necessary — let’s look at some fun lemonades that are keeping folks cool during this long, hot summer.

Lemonade, Los Angeles. Yes, that’s the actual name of the place, which has three locations around LA. They offer 6 or so types of lemonade daily with rotating flavors, like peach-ginger, andblueberry-mint; the newest and most popular one is hibiscus. If you’re looking for a deal, all lemonades are $1 on Tuesdays the downtown Flower Street shop. And if you need relief from lemonade, there’s assorted salads and paninis on the menu, too.

Del's Frozen Lemonade, Rhode Island. I knew lemonade was classic but I didn’t know you could trace it back to 1840, Naples, Italy. At least that’s the origin of Del’s, which claims that the first version of their refreshing sweet-tart drink was made by someone’s great grandfather with wintertime snow, big fat ripe lemons and sugar. Fast forward to now, Del’s has branches in over a dozen states and flavors like watermelon. Their brand newest flavors are grapefruit and pomegranate.

Big City Grill & Lemonade, Indianapolis.
Lemonade isn’t the point here: most people focus on the Philly cheesesteaks (or the Philly buster, made with steak, chicken and ground beef) and the nachos, which you can get with extra cheese by the cup. But everyone loves the lemonade, too, which they say is made with real lemons and a great deal at $2.09 for 20 ounces. I’m not asking if flavors like fruit punch are all-natural.

Mario's Italian Lemonade, Chicago. When its super hot, like it often is in Chicago in summer, it’s great to have a lemonade that’s really a shaved Italian ice. The classic is especially good and it’s dotted with little pieces of lemon, but there’s also melon and even pina colada if you’re going fancier. The place is open straight through from 10 am to midnight, which is a good thing because nights in Chicago are pretty hot, too.

Mister Parker’s Lemonade Stand at The Parker Palm Springs, Palm Springs, CA. You’re poolside at The Parker, thinking you might want to play a game of croquet on the nearby court if only you had some refreshment. Luckily for you, the Lemonade Stand is right there, making drinks like their their excellent frozen muddled vodka lemonade with lemons grown right on the hotel grounds. If you don’t have the strength to get to the stand, they will deliver your cocktail to the hammock area by bicycle.

Related Links:
Lemonade Recipes
Awesome Summer Drinks
Party Punch Recipes

(Pictured: Tarragon Lemonade)

Beer

Bees and Honey Are All the Buzz

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With national bee frenzy growing for some time, new products like honey beer are starting to hit the market. The Obamas were right at the forefront of the movement when they served White House Honey Ale, home-brewed by their chefs with honey from the White House beehive, at a Super Bowl party this year. (Celebrity guest Marc Anthony liked the beer so much, he is reportedly hanging on to the bottle given to him by the First Lady.)
 
Now, Denver’s luxe Brown Palace Hotel & Spa is partnering with Wynkoop Brewing Company to produce a Belgian-style saison beer with the honey from a rooftop bee colony. The hotel will debut the bee-brew during this year’s Great American Beer Festival.
 
A new one-stop bee-inspired shop in Cambridge, MA, doesn't sell beer, but it does have all sorts of treats and trinkets for the modern bee lover. Opened on National Honey Bee Day, August 20, Follow the Honey sources honeys from all 50 states and abroad, and sells beeswax candles and soaps, beekeeping books, bee-inspired artwork and even jewelry.

Related: Fantastic Honey Recipes

Wine

Rockin’ Wine and Spirits

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Justin Timberlake raises a glass of his new 901 Silver Tequila.

© Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Justin Timberlake raises a glass of his new 901 Silver Tequila.

 

I am super-excited that Lady Gaga will be performing at the upcoming MTV Video Music Awards—both for the music and to see what she’ll be wearing. Another version of the meat dress? A tiara of frozen confections to echo the ice cream truck in her newest video? She’s not the first out-there artist to venture into the food and wine world, though. Audacious rocker Marilyn Manson is now making an absinthe cheekily dubbed Mansinthe in Germany (perhaps it induces the sort of hallucinatory effects he employs in his videos). Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, who became enamored with Arizona as a “harsh yet mystical” winemaking terrain, debuted his first wine from his Arizona vineyard, Caduceus Cellars, back in 2006. Justin Timberlake has devised yet another way to get us on the dance floor with his new 901 Silver Tequila. Even Aussie rockers AC/DC are getting in on the action with their own wine label. It launches in Australia this week with hilarious varieties like Back in Black Shiraz, Highway to Hell Cabernet Sauvignon and You Shook Me All Night Long Moscato. Gaga’s currently working on a fashion collaboration with Nicola Formichetti for Barneys. If she doesn’t start making wine, at least maybe she can think about meat dresses for the masses?

Related: Surprising Celebrity Food Products

Restaurants

The Best Sellers at Michael Voltaggio's ink sack

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© Ryan Tanaka

It's one week into Michael Voltaggio surprise sandwich spot, ink sack. A twist on his original idea—a Venice beach sandwich kiosk called Fingers—Voltaggio now has lines down Melrose Avenue for his 4-inch sandwiches. Why so small? "Usually I get bored with eating a big sandwich," says Voltaggio. "Here you can eat two, three different ones. Or you can eat one, and then get in line and order two more of the same. It's kind of like a food truck that way; a food truck that doesn't move."

Which brings us to ink. sack's best selling sandwiches thus far. It's a tie. Best seller #1 is the cold fried chicken. It's made with chicken thighs cooked sous vide with piment d'esplette, then breaded in corn flakes and fried; it's served with ranch dressing (that includes curds of centrifuged buttermilk) and hot sauce. Best seller #2 is the José Andrés, aka the Spanish godfather. It's stuffed with chorizo, lomo and Serrano ham (the only meats Voltaggio doesn't prepare in house) and olives, piquillo peppers, manchego cheese and sherry vinaigrette. It's also got good old romaine lettuce, which apparently comes as a surprise to a few customers. "Some people come in with expectations of avant-garde dining. Do you want liquid nitrogen frozen lettuce on your sandwich? I don't. These are sandwiches the way I want to eat them," says Voltaggio.

ink.sack, 8360 Melrose Ave., No. 107, Los Angeles, CA.

Restaurants

Preview: Le Fooding's 52 Hour Dinner

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Brooks Headley gets ready to cook at 5 am for Le Fooding.

In NYC, you can do so many exciting things all day and all night, and one of the best things to do is eat. Le Fooding, the irreverent, globe-trotting French food festival, gets that about my city in a big way. As part of their third annual NYC event, Le Fooding will premier The Exquisite Corpse rotating meal. Starting at 9 pm on September 23rd, and for the next 52 hours, 13 terrific chefs from around the world will cook in four-hour shifts, using something left over from the preceding chef. (The term 'exquisite corpse' will mean something to you if you're familiar with French Surrealism.)

Food & Wine has a pre-sale link to those Exquisite Corpse tickets, here. (They're $100 for each meal, plus a half-bottle of Veuve Clicquot and there's only 40 tickets available for each dinner.) Among the rotating chefs are Italy's Massimo Bottura, France's Adeline Grattard of Yam'Tcha and New York City's Andrew Carmellini.

To get a sense of just how cool this Exquisite Corpse dinner is going to be, let’s spotlight Brooks Headley, the awesome pastry chef at NYC’s del Posto. He’s got the 9th shift of the series, starting at 5 am on September 24th. “That's totally the witching hour in New York City,” says Headley. In keeping with that thought, Headley is making dishes like Green Fennel Ravioli-Filled Live Potato Ears in Tomato Broth. And then, for his main course, a vegan chocolate staff meal, which might look a little like the amazing (vegan) chocolate crème brulee he made with the band No Age for Eater a few weeks ago. Here’s more from Headley: “Since it will be like, 7 am, by the time we get to chocolate staff meal, it will be served (and some of it even made) in the style of a Del Posto staff meal. Which will be hands-on interactive, and hopefully kind of hilarious.”

I can't wait to be part of Headley's vegan staff meal. And see how many of Le Fooding's 52-hour meal I can stay up for.

Menus

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.

Restaurants

Grilled Cheese and A Cheesy Summer Meltdown

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© Con Poulos

When it gets so hot outside, everyone starts obsessing over ice cream sandwiches. Not me. Instead, I want to talk about savory, greasy fried grilled cheese sandwiches. Luckily for me, a lot of people are on my wavelength and they’re making terrific—or at least thought-provoking—versions.
 
The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, San Francisco. AGCK takes their grilled cheese seriously enough to have a breakfast menu: The Breakfast Piglet is filled with sharp Cheddar, ham, egg and apple mustard. At lunch, they serve a no-egg version of it, as well as the Mousetrap, made with cheddar, creamy Havarti, Monterey jack, on artisan sourdough. The place, nearby Candlestick Park, usually closes at 4, but they extend their hours to the first pitch for most Giants home night baseball games.
 
The Grilled Cheese Truck, Los Angeles. In most places, macaroni and cheese and house-smoked BBQ pork are side dishes. At the Grilled Cheese Truck, they’re the basis for the Cheesy Mac & Rib Sandwich. Likewise, the Pepperbelly Melt is filled with housemade chili and Fritos (served with habanero jack cheese, on cheddar jalapeno bread). You can also design your own sandwich with both the BBQ pork and chili but that’s getting a little crazy.
 
Roxy's Grilled Cheese, Boston. In keeping with the theme of grilled cheese places that respect their local baseball parks, Roxy’s offers the Green Muenster, an homage to Fenway Park’s famed leftfield wall. (It’s a mix of Muenster cheese, guacamole and bacon.) Here, too, mac & cheese is considered a sandwich filling: mixed with spicy sausage and caramelized onion it's called Mac & Chorizo. Among Roxy’s ingenious inventions: they brush the bread with mayonnaise rather than butter before slapping it on the griddle.
 
The Queens Kickshaw, Queens, NY.
This new café uses the amazing ethnic diversity of its hometown Queens to inspire the menu. Sandwiches include the Greek-influenced feta with roasted red pepper spread, and the French-style Gruyere with pickled and caramelized onions. I’m not sure what country inspires the grilled cheese with gouda, black bean hummus and guava jam, but it sounds tasty.
 
Grilled Cheese & Co., Cantonsville, MD. This mini-chain now has three locations in Maryland. So of course they have the Crabby Melt, melted jack cheese on top of their homemade ‘crabby dip.’ Among their current specials is the Hermanator, designed by NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace: provolone, turkey breast, pickles with honey-mustard sauce.
 
Related Links:
 
10 Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
America’s Wacky Fair Foods
The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipes
Great Recipes with Cheese
Weirdest Regional Foods

(Pictured: Triple-Decker Baked Italian Cheese Sandwiches)

Recipes

Baseball Players' Favorite Foods

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When I’m watching a ball game, I don’t usually care what anyone but me wants to eat. (Another hot dog? No, I’ll switch it up and have a taco.) So I’m not sure why I started to think about what Major League Baseball players like to eat off the field. Maybe it’s the recent book Diamond Dishes: From the Kitchens of Baseballs Biggest Stars. Or maybe I just wasn’t hungry at the moment. Anyway, several heroes from the 2011 All-Star game have strong opinions about what they eat.
 
Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants. Eight Egg White Omelette.
He told ESPN: “I'm an adequate cook. I'm not preparing a five course meal, but I can cook the things I want….For breakfast I'll usually make an eight egg-white omelette with bell peppers, shredded cheese, and slices or ham and turkey ripped up… I probably eat between 54 and 60 eggs a week.”
Here’s why I love Wilson: He name-checked the renowned Bay Area restaurant Gary Danko in an All-Star interview. “If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a 14-star restaurant. It’s got everything that you could possibly want. The lobster risotto—If there was another word for excellent...”
 
Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers. Boca Burgers. 
Guess what – Fielder is a vegetarian. (He got grossed out by meat after his wife gave him a copy of the book Skinny Bitch.) So he loads up his Boca burgers with ketchup; on the road he eats meatless burritos. I’m not sure if they offer them at Brewers stadium but they do have vegetarian hot dogs and fried cheese curds, which sound awesome to me, but apparently not to Fielder who doesn’t love cheese.

Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals. Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich. 
In Diamond Dishes, Berkman says: “One thing I will eat fairly consistently before a game – because you don't want to eat too much before a game – is a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a little honey on it. I like white bread, but sometimes I feel guilty and eat wheat." But when he’s watching football, it’s a different story: "I like the Canadian bacon and pineapple Hawaiian pizza."

Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees.  Fish and plain steamed vegetables.  
Here’s a sampling of Rodriguez’s daily diet: fruit, brown rice and scrambled eggs for breakfast, five slices of turkey, no bread and half a sweet potato pre-game and then fish and steamed asparagus – no oil, butter or salt —for dinner. No, Rodriguez and I don’t have much in common diet-wise. Except that when he was at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas he very much enjoyed the paella at Jaleo and a big platter of sushi at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, and separately, I did, too.
 
Related Links:
Baseball Stadium Foods

Wine

Belinda Chang Takes Over the Monkey Bar

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© kate krader
Belinda Chang is the Monkey Bar's new GM & wine director.

When last we saw Belinda Chang, she was accepting a James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service at The Modern in NYC.  When last we left the Monkey Bar, also in NYC, it was celebrity-studded, with those amazing Ed Sorel murals, but no significant food or wine to speak of.

Now let's celebrate the fact that Chang is back, as the new GM and wine director at—you guessed it—the Monkey Bar! Chang has big plans for the place. "We're going to turn things around, the wine list, everything, is going to be super fun," she says. "The Monkey Bar is a place where
you feel like you're going out, like you're special; the list will feel like that, too." So she'll introduce magnums of as many wines as she can think of, including special ones, made just for the Monkey Bar, served by the glass. She'll also have wines picked out for some famous names who might show up. "For Lady Gaga, I'll serve her some crazy Italian spumante. Maybe an older Erbaluce, which is nutty and voluptuous and decadent. I think she'd love it," says Chang.

Next, look for a notable chef to take over the kitchen, sometime soon.

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