© 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.
© 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.
© 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.
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.
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.
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
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© Nicole Franzen
The dining room at Untitled.
Museum restaurants are no longer merely traps for exhausted art patrons with low blood sugar: Visionary restaurants like The Modern at the Museum of Modern Art and Palettes at the Denver Art Museum have raised the bar and given way to a second wave of delicious new openings. At New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, a slice of Four & Twenty Blackbirds’ salted caramel apple pie is an awesome mid-afternoon pick-me-up at Danny Meyer’s Untitled, which opened in March. A few time zones away, the brand-new Eddie Aikau Restaurant & Surf Museum opens this weekend in Waikoloa, Hawaii, dedicated to the memory of the beloved big-wave surf legend. (The museum opens July 3, and the restaurant opens on July 4.) Chef Scott Lutey’s contemporary Hawaiian menu highlights ultra-local ingredients in dishes like lacquered kalua pork belly and Molokai watermelon salad with candied macadamia nuts. And on Independence Day, chef John Besh opens his new Soda Shop at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. The casual spot will serve fountain sodas in flavors like melon and pineapple, as well as house-made ice creams like Creole Cream Cheese Red Velvet.
We know, this sounds suspiciously like an internet ad that tells you how to make money by selling prescription drugs online. No, this might be even easier. Some cookbooks that you just might have sitting on your shelves are going for quite a bit of money on Amazon.
We’re not talking about super-specialized books like Modernist Cuisine, the recently released, $625, 46-pound compendium by Nathan Myhrvold, nor a first-edition copy of Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food, which went for $1583. (Although if you have either of those books on hand, you’re lucky, and potentially rich.) We’re talking specifically about The Last Course, by pastry goddess Claudia Fleming. Published in 2001, the book ranks just above the 783,000 mark on Amazon’s best-seller list and originally cost $40. Now, a first edition of The Last Course is on sale for $800 on Amazon, with used copies going for $142.
Why is the book, as good as it is, so expensive? Because it was only reprinted in limited quantities. (Maybe also because gilttaste.com marked the book at $400 when Dave Chang recently named it on his curated cookbook list for the website.)
“People always want what they can’t get,” says The Last Course’s co-author, Melissa Clark. “Once a cookbook goes from utilitarian—as in, something to cook from—to cult—as in, something to own—that’s when you get crazy prices. The funny thing is, I recently bought a copy at a thrift shop for $20. Then the price skyrocketed. So now I have two copies, and I’m wishing I’d saved more from my original case of books.” Alright everyone, go check your shelves for The Last Course. Of course we recommend that you cook from it. But whatever you do, don’t put it on the giveaway pile.
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© Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead
The grounds of Long Meadow Ranch Winery will host the first pop-up party.
The epic Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival in San Francisco is still more than a month away (August 12–14). This year, the team that produces Outside Lands, Another Planet Entertainment and Superfly Presents (look for them in Food & Wine’s August Hungry Crowd column), decided to create teaser events throughout the Bay Area that will feature the musicians, winemakers and cooks participating in the fest this year. The pop-up food, wine and music parties kick off July 9, with a wine tasting and live performance by Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers at Long Meadow Ranch Winery. Other events include a taco-and-wine picnic at Sonoma’s stellar Scribe winery and a tasting of Kermit Lynch’s extensive rosé collection paired with grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup shooters from The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. For more event details, click here.
Wines Under $20
There are people out there—and they know who they are—who missed Father's Day. You forgot to call, you were traveling, the gift got eaten by the dog; whatever the case, now's a good time to make it up to dear old dad. In fact, speaking as a father myself, it's always a good time to give gifts to fathers. Nothing warms the cold cockles of the heart more than a thoughtful present from a dutiful child, except maybe an all-expenses-paid trip to a Caribbean island plus a speedboat-driving butler, but hey, that's hard to come by. In any case, should dad be a wine-lover, here are some handy gift ideas, good for any occasion whatsoever.
Affordable: 2010 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Joven Campo de Borja ($8)
This robust Spanish red is a great partner for burgers off the grill.
Sky’s the Limit: 2007 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($100)
A benchmark Napa Cabernet. Velvety, rich and deceptively powerful, it’s drinking great right now—especially with some sort of troglodyte-size T-bone.
Affordable: 2009 Fetzer Valley Oaks Zinfandel ($9)
A juicy red from one of the world’s largest farmers of organic grapes.
Sky’s the Limit: 2008 SokolBlosser Estate Cuvee Pinot Noir ($50)
Sokol Blosser farms organically, participates in salmon-safe run-off programs, uses biodiesel fuels and has solar panels in its vineyards. Plus, its Pinot Noir is terrific.
Beach Dad (no glass bottles)
Affordable: 2008 Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon ($8)
Dark fruit and lots of flavor in a one-liter cardboard Tetra Pak.
Sky’s the Limit: 2009 Wineberry Chateau du Chatelard Bourgogne Blanc ($45/3 liter box)
New York–based Wineberry packages small-production French wines in cool wooden three-liter boxes.
Affordable: 2009 Arnold Palmer Cabernet Sauvignon ($11)
A straightforward and appealing red from a golf great.
Sky’s the Limit: 2008 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon ($85)
Former NFL star Drew Bledsoe grew up in Walla Walla, Washington, with Chris Figgins, whose family owns one of the state’s top wineries, Leonetti. They reunited to create this structured, intensely flavorful Cabernet.
Affordable: Mionetto Il Prosecco ($9)
A lively Italian sparkler from one of the best-known Prosecco producers.
Sky’s the Limit: 2002 Dom Pérignon ($140)
Dom Pérignon lives up to its reputation, especially in the terrific ’02 vintage. Plus, dad will definitely impress his friends with his bottomless wallet (well, your bottomless wallet, but who’s counting?).
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