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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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.

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

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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.