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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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." 


Wine

NYC’s Summer of Riesling Cruise

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The Riesling-obsessed sommelier of NYC's Terroir, Paul Grieco, with the German Wine Queen.

© Steven Solomon
The Riesling-obsessed sommelier of NYC's Terroir, Paul Grieco, with the German Wine Queen.


You never know what you’re going to learn when you flip through sommelier Paul Grieco’s wine list at Terroir in NYC. In addition to wine descriptions and tasting notes, there might be a love letter to Spain’s FC Barcelona soccer team or a poem about Lindsay Lohan and Justin Timberlake. The other night I stopped in, and after flipping through pages of Rieslings, I came to a page about the Summer of Riesling concert and cruise, taking place July 19. The three-hour cruise around NY Harbor includes three awesome bands and tons of Riesling, and it will be captained by Grieco and the Deutschen Weinkoenigin (German wine queen) from the Ahr region. For tickets, click here.

News

The New Street-Food Heroes

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Hungry crowds at the first annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards.

© Michael Toolan
Hungry crowds at the first annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards.


Food-truck visionaries, like L.A.’s Roy Choi of Kogi fame and the folks behind NYC's Rickshaw Dumpling Bar, are transforming their cities into street-food meccas. Now, nearly every city in America is undergoing its own street-food revolution. “Philadelphia has a really vibrant street-food culture,” says Helena Tubis, managing director of the New York–based Vendy Awards, “but it doesn’t get recognition.” Inspired by three Philadelphia vendors who visited the 2010 Vendys in New York, the City of Brotherly Love celebrated its own first annual Vendy Awards last weekend, honoring the street vendors who keep Philly well-fed on the go. Finalists included old standbys as well as fresh new faces: Vendy Cup winner Gigi and Big R’s truck has been serving Caribbean-American soul food for 10 years, while People’s Choice Award winner Cucina Zapata, which serves Thai-Mexican fusion tacos, has been open only two months.
 
Now in its seventh year, the NYC Vendys are scheduled for September 24 (tickets available here). New Yorkers have already submitted more than a thousand nominations for their favorite vendors, including  nominees for the new Most Heroic Vendor Award, which recognizes the non-culinary ways street-food vendors contribute to their local communities (such as the vendor who foiled a Times Square car bomb attempt in 2010). As if turning out awesome lunches for thousands of New Yorkers every day weren’t heroic enough.

Restaurants

Vamos, Y’all! Mexicue's New Sit-Down Opens Today

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Mexicue's Berkshire Pulled Pork Slider

© Thomas Kelly
Mexicue's Berkshire Pulled Pork Slider

 

We love our food trucks, let that be known. But truth be told, on a hot day I prefer a comfortable, climate-controlled brick-and-mortar restaurant. That's why I am thrilled that NYC's Mexicue truck is opening a real restaurant space. Cofounder Thomas Kelly stopped by the F&W Test Kitchen yesterday with a few members of the sweet-as-molasses Mexicue team to give us a taste of what they'll be charring, smoking and slow-cooking at their new storefront on Seventh Avenue (between 29th and 30th Streets) here in Manhattan. And let me be the millionth person to tell you (their press has been fantastic), Mexicue's food is very, very good. They meld Mexican flavors with the tangy twist of barbecue from the American South, as in their short-rib tacos, where the slight brace of vinegar in the warm-spiced mole is so clearly right. For their pulled-pork sliders, they partially smoke, then braise, Berkshire pork, adding pickled red onions and avocado mashed with salt and lime. We also sampled barbecued-brisket sliders (the favorite of several staffers), smoky bean tacos (vegetarian and intensely satisfying), bright salsas and a killer romaine salad with toasty almonds, dried cranberries and roasted green poblanos in a spicy vinaigrette (our Test Kitchen's Grace Parisi thinks it may be her go-to salad for the summer). In addition to sliders and tacos, the 22-seat restaurant will offer rice bowls for topping with any of their sandwich or taco fillings and, in a couple months, a carefully curated beer and wine list. Best of all (for me, at least), it's only a short walk from the F&W offices, and there are plans for a second location coming soon.

Wine

A Floating Wine Tasting Along France's Coastline

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The bar area of one of SeaDream's ship's upper deck.

© SeaDream Yacht Club
The bar area of one of SeaDream's ship's upper deck.


Cruise-goers no longer have to endure cattle-call, surf-and-turf dinners and “red or white” wine choices aboard luxury cruises: Cruise lines are stepping up their culinary offerings with gastronomy-focused itineraries this summer. SeaDream Yacht Club will offer a seven-night journey from Amsterdam to Bordeaux at the end of July, with lessons on French wines and cuisine to prepare guests for their arrival in Bordeaux (and for their return home, where they can impress friends with their new wine-and-food cred). The ship stops along the way in Caen, where guests can participate in a tasting of local wines, and in St. Rochelle, where the ship’s chef will lead a market tour to shop for regional cheeses, fresh fish and vegetables to prepare for that night’s dinner. In the port of Belle-Île, bivalve-lovers can help the chef select oysters to pair with the afternoon Chardonnay tasting. Of course, cruisers who’d rather leave grocery shopping off their vacation to-do list can let the bounty come to them: Local winemakers will board the ship at many ports to host afternoon wine tastings.

Recipes

Jessica Simpson Birthday Gift: Tuna Salad Upgraded

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Courtesy of Antonis Achilleos

As Jessica Simpson turns 31 on Sunday, we hope she’s learned more about food since 2003, when she famously confused Chicken of the Sea brand tuna fish with actual chicken on an episode of MTV’s “Newlyweds.” In honor of the star, we offer 10 sophisticated takes on tuna salad like a version with butter beans, tuna and celery (left); a tuna-and-cucumber salad seasoned with fish sauce; and a fresh tuna steak salad with black olives and avocado.

Winemakers

All Good Things

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You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.

So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.

Ray Isle

Beer

Things To Do At A Restaurant—Besides Eat

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If there’s one thing I want to do in a restaurant, it’s eat something amazing. But if I get to eat something good and beat my friend at ping pong, well then things are going really well for me. Happily, there’s a whole new world of restaurants that decided to take the Dave & Busters concept to another level, combining great food with superfun extracurricular activities.
 
Fly Fishing at the Restaurant at the Little Nell, Aspen – The hotel hasn’t actually installed a river in the middle of their dining room. But they do take guests out for a fly-fishing lesson and chef Robert McCormick will serve a waterside lunch on fine china, along the lines of salmon crostini and housemade ice cream sandwiches.  Starting this summer, they’ll make trips in a gorgeous new made-in-Montana wooden boat. thelittlenell.com
 
Surfing at Casa del Mar, Santa Monica – The name, Surf with Chef, says everything you need to know. You get a surf lesson with a private instructor and chef Jason Bowlin (chef at the hotel’s Catch restaurant; let’s assume he’s a good surfer); then Bowlin will slide in and serve lunch made with ingredients you’ve caught…. No! from the nearby farmer’s market, where he’ll make dishes like roasted beets with burrata. hotelcasadelmar.com
 
Rocking out at Sam’s, Boston – Sam’s co-owner, guitarist Drew Parsons (of American HiFi) often plays live sets on Friday nights at the restaurant. Extra credit to Sam’s: they also have a bocce court where groups can compete and sample dishes like black pepper patty burgers, and drink a Captain Hilt, a mix of bourbon, chartreuse and raspberry puree. samsatlouis.com
 
Ping-Ponging at Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club, NYC – Down at South Street Seaport, chef Jason Mayer serves German bratwurst on a pretzel bun (also hand-stretched pretzel snacks and cinnamon-sugar pretzels for dessert). There’s live music (George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at the end of July!) and a rec room dream assortment of ping pong, foosball and pool. beekmanbeergarden.com
 
Related Links
 
America’s Wacky Fair Foods
 
America’s Weirdest Regional Foods
 
American Beer, Bourbon and More

World’s Weirdest Restaurants
 
World’s Top 10 Life-Changing Restaurants

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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.