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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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.

Farms

Coming Soon From a Foodie Filmmaker Near You

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The star of the new film Charcuterie.

© Christian Remde
The star of the new film Charcuterie.

Filmmaker Christian Remde didn’t exactly set out to chronicle Austin’s artisanal food scene when he began the Twelve Films Project, but any foodie could recognize his passion right off the bat. His 2011 New Year’s resolution was to create one film each month for the year, and so far it has yielded seven short pieces, ranging from a 90-second time-lapse homage to Austin’s Pennybacker Bridge to a narrative portrait of a couple debating the merits of turkey bacon. His love for his adopted hometown’s food scene really began to shine through in his May film, Farm to Trailer, which profiles 2011 Best New Chef Bryce Gilmore. "My wife and I moved to Austin from New York City a little over a year ago, and I really fell in love with Odd Duck," says Remde. "Seeing the amazing way Bryce fuses the food trailer scene with 100 percent locally sourced food sparked the idea for the documentary." Working on that documentary was so rewarding that Remde decided to make two more, starting with this month’s simply titled Charcuterie. “Charcuterie is near and dear to my heart,” he says, “and so I wanted to give people some insight into what it is, why it exists and why people love it.” Later this year, he plans to release The New American Farm, a meditation on the return to small-scale family farming. Now that he’s found his food-obsessed voice, we hope his 2012 resolutions will include another year of films. Click here to view each piece on his website.

Wine

A Grape That Could Use Some (Tough) Love: Chenin Blanc

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I have enormous respect for Chenin Blanc, but this is one grape that definitely needs to spend some time in a military academy. Left to its own devices, after a few years Chenin vines sprawl out, get all broad and flabby, and start overproducing like the Octomom. But with a little firm discipline (shoot- and cluster-thinning, which is vineyard-manager-speak for “drop and give me twenty, dogface!”) suddenly they're a source for crisp, complex—and underrated—white wines. Here are five that have been whipped into shape:

2011 Indaba Chenin Blanc ($10) Sales of Indaba’s wines support a fellowship for needy South African students interested in wine-related careers. Like growing more Chenin Blanc, because the place does it so darn well, for instance.

2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc ($12) This peachy wine comes from Clarksburg, in California’s Sacramento River delta. No oak here, just zippy stainless-steel-tank freshness.

2010 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc ($13) More peach notes—it’s sort of a Chenin signature—and a nice hint of spice, from one of South Africa’s top wineries. Plus, how can you not love a place that also makes a wine called “Faithful Hound”?

2010 Pine Ridge Vineyards Chenin Blanc-Viognier ($14) The Pine Ridge folks add about 20% Viognier—another grape that tends towards sloth and dissolution unless you give it what-for—to this melony Chenin, giving it a nice floral note.

2009 Domaine Huet Le Haut Lieu Sec Vouvray ($30, more or less) “Sec” means dry, important to know with Vouvray, since many of the Chenins from this French region can be sweet. “Domaine Huet” means “I make the best damn Chenin Blanc on the planet,” basically. It’s a splurge, but once you’ve fallen in love with this grape, it’s one you’ll want to make.

Related Links:
Top 10 No-Fail Tips for Picking a Stellar Wine off a Wine List
15 Rules for Great Wine and Food Pairing

Restaurants

Jody Adams Tour de Mass

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Jody Adams (second from left, front row) and her PMC Team Rialto at Fenway Park.


Jody Adams (second from left, front row) and her PMC Team Rialto at Fenway Park.

It’s hard not to feel a tinge of guilt eating and drinking around Bordeaux and Paris while the Tour de France is going on. Every morning I’d hop on the bike at our hotel gym and ride along to the Tour coverage on the TV before going off to stuff myself with stinky French cheeses, buttery croissants, macarons and wine from Château Smith Haut Lafitte. After watching the grueling mountain climbs and speedy sprint trials, I have a whole new respect for cyclists. So a huge shout out is in order for Boston chef Jody Adams of Rialto, who is training for the Pan-Mass Challenge bike ride. The two-day ride takes place August 6 and 7, and covers 192 miles from Sturbridge, Massachusetts, to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Jody has been training with Sean Griffing and Eric Papachristos, who are partners in Trade, her new restaurant which opens this fall. Their team has set a goal of raising more than $50,000 to donate to the cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Click here to make a donation and support their ride.

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

Wine

Wines for Junk Food

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Yes, we all ought to be eating our locally-sourced, free-range, antibiotic-free, Mangalitsa porkchops or whatever, but sometimes, you know, you just want a Frito. Particularly if you’re doing something like watching a ball game on TV, or taking a break from hurling a Frisbee around a park. However, just because your cravings currently extend to chips, chicharrones, or Chung King noodles from a can doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a tasty glass of wine alongside. Here are a few off-the-wall (or off-the-convenience-store-rack) pairing suggestions.
 
Potato Chips
Or French fries, or Tater Tots—basically any kind of fried potato object with lots of salt. Go crazy: drink Champagne. The stuff was made for salty fried foods, whether the Champenoise want to admit it or not. (If real Champagne is too pricey, head to Spain for Cava.)
 
Doughnuts
Look, I don’t drink wine with doughnuts, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some madman out there cruising the streets at midnight, wondering what the heck will go with his bagful of Krispy Kremes. If you’re that person, the answer is sparkling wine that’s sweet. (Note: The same holds true for wedding cake, too.) Sugary pastries and cakes make dry sparkling wine taste like lemon juice. Go for ademi-sec Champagne, or the American equivalent thereof.
 
Slim Jims
Don’t even ask what these things are made from, but if you’re eating them and craving a glass of wine—or really if you’re eating any kind of dry sausage, beef jerky or charcuterie—go red. In fact, go red and Mediterranean. Spicy Sicilian Nero d’Avolas, ripe red blends from France’s Languedoc-Roussillon, and Monstrells from Spain’s southeastern coast are all great possibilities.
 
Spaghetti-Os
Seems like red wine would be the answer, but when’s the last time you had Spaghetti-Os? Those things are sweet. So a crisp white wine is actually going to be the better pairing, for instance a Vermentino or Soavefrom Italy (because, um, Spaghetti-Os are Italian. Er, right?) It’s the same rule-of-pairing-thumb that applies to Asian dishes that have a bit of sweetness, akin to squeezing lime juice on pad thai; match them with a white that has good acidity.
 
Deep-Fried Mars Bar
It’s a Scottish thing. Not really ideal for wine. I’d say if you’re self-destructive enough to eat deep-fried candy bars, go ahead and break out the Johnnie Walker with them. What have you got to lose, really?
 
Related Links:
 
15 Rules for Great Wine and Food Pairing
 

Restaurants

Calgary Meets Top Chef Canada

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Top Chef Canada's Chef Connie DeSousa putting the finishing touches on a Stampede steak special.

© Amy Rosen
Top Chef Canada's Chef Connie DeSousa putting the finishing touches on a Stampede steak special.

 

F&W’s Toronto correspondent Amy Rosen reports on Canada’s Top Chef restaurant of the moment:

Last week, still riding the buzz of the recent Top Chef Canada finale, I visited Charcut Roast House in Calgary, Alberta. Top Chef Canada finalist Connie DeSousa (the only female finalist, and by far the best butcher) is co-executive chef and co-owner of the incredibly popular year-old restaurant. The rustic menu includes house-made sausages, cured meats and charbroiled, wood-smoked and rotisserie proteins like a two-pound, bone-in, 40-ounce rib steak special with all the fixin's. Start with the house-baked soft pretzels, which are as warm and buttery as they are salty. Some new items bear the Top Chef logo, indicating recipes that Connie prepared on the show, including my personal favorite, the tuna conserva—tuna and lemon-pickled new potatoes bottled with oil in a small glass jar. The whisper of lemon with the fresh fish and soft potato, along with the accompanying warm brioche toasts, is amazing. The ironic part is that Connie got nailed for this dish on the show. “It tastes like tuna fish,” commented the judges. “No,” she replied in exasperation to the waiter delivering the bad news to the Top Chef kitchen. “It’s beautiful albacore tuna poached in olive oil!”




Travel

Is Canada Home of the World's Best Doughnut?

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doughnut

© Amy Rosen
Eton Mess doughnut from Jelly Modern Doughnuts


Food & Wine's Toronto correspondent, Amy Rosen, reports on Canada's most exciting new doughnut shop:

"New York City may have Doughnut Plant and L.A., The Donut Man, but up here in Canada, where the doughnut is basically our national 

food, we’ve had to settle for Tim Horton’s to satiate our doughy fix. However, this isn’t the case in Calgary, Alberta—not since Jelly Modern Doughnuts opened a couple of months ago. Home to all-natural, preservative-free, hand-dipped and filled doughnuts that follow the Calgary aesthetic of “bigger is better,” Jelly Modern's gourmet doughnuts are not only one-and-a-half times larger than the average Timmy’s, but chef Grayson Sherman dreams up weekly specials in addition to the already elaborate daily lineup that runs from maple bacon to Valrhona chocolate to the spiced carrot cake topped with cream cheese icing and frizzled organic carrots. During Prince William and Kate’s visit to Calgary last week, which coincided with the opening parade for the 99th annual Calgary Stampede, the chef created a doughnut inspired by the Prince’s favorite dessert. This translated into the Eton Mess: A raised doughnut with Madagascar vanilla glaze, Chantilly cream (made from local, organic 53 percent MF whipping cream), crunchy fresh-baked meringues and a fresh raspberry coulis. I found it to be both a perfectly sweet flavor bomb and a creamy, crunchy textural dream. In other words, a doughnut fit for a prince." 


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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.