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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Obsessions

Dark Chocolate Dominance

Chocolate Truffles from Batch PDX.

Like a lot of people, I’ve become more of a fan of dark chocolate recently. (The rise in popularity might have something to do with its alleged health benefits; for one thing, it’s high in antioxidants.)

Coincidentally, there’s some great new dark chocolate out there—let’s look at some of them. Read more »

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Obsessions

Stephanie Izard's Cheez-It Wedding Cake

Stephanie Izard's Wedding Cake

Over the weekend, Girl and the Goat star chef Stephanie Izard married craft-beer consultant Gary Valentine in Chicago and celebrated with an over-the-top potluck menu created by local chefs. The Bristol’s Chris Pandel supplied cavatelli with smoked eggplant and heirloom tomatoes, GT Fish & Oyster chef Giuseppe Tentori served red-wine-braised beef short ribs and Goat pastry chef Mathew Rice handled the piece de resistance: a salty-sweet cake that incorporated Izard's favorite junk foods. F&W got an exclusive photo (left). Read more about Izard's out-there wedding cake>>

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F&W Obsessions

What to Eat Late-Night at Chez Panisse

Late-night Steak dinners at Chez Panisse.

The revered locavore restaurant loosens up with late-night steak frites.

One of the more tantalizing anecdotes about Chez Panisse in the mid-1970s (alongside all the sex and drugs and wine-soaked feasting with everybody from James Beard to Jean-Luc Godard) has always been the late-night steak menu that lasted for a few months in 1974. "There was no place to eat late in Berkeley, and it drove me crazy," says owner Alice Waters, who remembers driving all the way to San Francisco's old Vanessi's after work for steak frites. Her solution, bringing in a cook to grill New York strips after the regular staff went home, lost so much money that she banished it to the realm of nostalgia—until last winter. A few months later, when a fire gutted the front of the restaurant, repairs prompted a complete menu redesign, focusing even more attention on the revived late-night steak option.

If a recent Tuesday evening is any indication, bringing back this tradition was a savvy decision. Offered Monday through Thursday, from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. or so (which passes for late-night in Berkeley), this dinner in the upstairs café is an incredible deal. For $25, diners get a glass of house Zinfandel produced by Napa's Green & Red Vineyard and a 100-percent grass-fed steak from rancher Bill Niman, skillet-roasted in the classic French manner, with marrow butter melting on top and red-wine jus pooling all around. On the side are lacy-thin fried potatoes (more shoelace than shoestring) or onion rings, next to extremely tender and tiny watercress or arugula.

At one time, the notion of late-night steak in sleepy, vegetarian-dense Berkeley would have been unthinkable. But now, when you leave Chez Panisse, the streets are filled with post-theater crowds, and the bar next door is roaring, and everything feels just right.

Related: Cooking Like Alice Waters
San Francisco Travel Guide
Star Chef Tips on Grilling Steak

Chicken Dance

What to Expect When You're Expecting's Anna Kendrick Loves Fried Chicken

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Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken

© Tina Rupp

Actress Anna Kendrick plays a food truck cook in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the parenting comedy that opens nationwide today. Off-screen, she’s a bona fide baking fanatic and, recently, a fried chicken fiend. “It’s hard to believe, but I recently tried fried chicken for the first time, at South City Kitchen in Atlanta. I didn’t eat it as a kid, and I just never thought to order it. I had no idea what I’d been missing!” Kendrick would likely love Grace Parisi's amazingly crispy buttermilk fried chicken.

Related: More Fried Chicken Recipes
Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.
The Hungry Crowd: Anna Kendrick

 

 

Restaurants

Cooking Class With Super Star Chefs

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Pastry chef and Top Chef: Just Desserts judge Johnny Iuzzini.

© Trump Hotel Collection
Jean Georges pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini.

With the finale of Top Chef: Just Desserts last week, pastry fans across the country will miss their weekly fix of handsome judge Johnny Iuzzini. Those considering a major holiday splurge can now get up close with the Jean Georges pastry chef and his powerhouse boss, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, in New York City. The Trump International Hotel & Tower recently launched a $9,999 Culinary Master Course package that includes a three-night stay, a private cooking demo by JGV and a personal pastry class with Iuzzini (plus breakfast at Nougatine and a three-course dinner at Jean Georges). While booking the demo, guests choose themes tied to Vongerichten's restaurants: Jean Georges (French), JoJo (Mediterranean), ABC Kitchen (organic and local), Spice Market (Asian) or Perry Street (New American). For the hands-on pastry session, Iuzzini teaches the basics of cake baking, tuiles, ice creams and sorbets.

An intimate demo with chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

© Trump Hotel Collection
An intimate demo with chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

 

Beer

Craft Beer in Cans

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It’s very easy to imagine some beer-drinking alien from the planet Xorx arriving on Earth and saying, “Let me get this straight. You have 1,716 independent small brewers in your ‘country’—whatever that is—and until now they never thought of putting their beer in cans? Hmmm. You really are lesser beings, aren’t you. I shall now vaporize your cities.”
 
Thankfully, the craft brewers of America are finally relenting on this bottle-only approach to beer, which (a) will save us all from early vaporization, and (b) will allow people like me to drink their beer at the beach. 

Now it’s possible, even likely, that beer purists will insist that the bottle is theonly way to go, that the complex nuances of a fine beer are made flat and anemic by aluminum. I will insist in turn that coming across Brooklyn’s Six Point Brewery’s terrific Bengal Tiger IPA in cans at my local supermarket is a mighty fine thing indeed.
 
So if you meet a Xorxian (blue, tentacles, loves pale ale), offer him/her/them/whatever a fine craft beer in a can. Unless you want to be known as the dope who got our fair nation wiped from the face of the planet. Here are a few that ought to do the trick.
 
New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale. The craft-ale-in-can movement has proved so successful for Fort Collins, Colorado’s New Belgium that it just announced the addition of a 16,000-square-foot canline to its brewery. Fat Tire is malty and on the richer side: a good burger beer.
 
Six Point Craft Ales Bengali Tiger IPA. Sixteen-ounce cans for this one, and why not—it’s a terrific beer (as noted above), balancing its piney hops notes against a fair amount of richness. It’s particularly appealing because Six Point’s ales haven’t been available in either bottles or cans, just on tap or in growlers, until now.
 
Anderson Valley Brewing Company Hop Ottin’ IPA. Classic West Coast India Pale Ale with a zingy dose of citrusy hops. I’m a little sad the Anderson Valley folks retired their Poleeko Gold Pale Ale in cans in favor of this IPA, but it’s still a darn fine brew.
 
Harpoon Summer Beer. This is a kolsch-style beer, which basically means it’s a lighter Germanic ale—an ale that drinks a bit like a lager, if you will. If you were on a boat on a scenic lake with a cold six-pack of these cans and a fishing rod/book/tuna sandwich/whatever makes you happiest, then your life would be an enviable one.
 
Porkslap Pale Ale. That is it about the name Porkslap that says so elegantly, “Buddy, are you kidding me? Of course I'm in a damn can”? Regardless, this lightly gingery ale from New York’s Butternuts brewery was way ahead of the curve—the first release was in 2005. And yes, it is sold only in cans.
 
Related Links: Best American Beer, Bourbon and More
Great Beer Pairings
Cooking with Beer Recipes

News

A Mouthwatering Fall Film Festival

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A full house at the 2010 NYC Food Film Festival.

© Ryan Jensen
A full house at the 2010 NYC Food Film Festival.


This fall’s NYC Food Film Festival, which just announced its October 13–16 lineup, promises to be another awesome year of food obsessions, both on-screen and off. Non-celluloid food notwithstanding (which will surely be awesome, with a new Taco Takedown and something they’re calling a Food Porn Party), the film selections look killer — Truck Farm, on the inspiring mobile garden project F&W reported about a few months back, Mistura: The Power of Food on the Peruvian food festival that chef Dan Barber is raving about and a profile of beloved Brooklyn pizza legend Dom DeMarco of DiFara, entitled Best Thing I Ever Done. We’ll be there, but we’re leaving the stale popcorn at home: If the food offerings are anything like last year’s (pig’s blood popsicles, anyone?), we know we’re in for some good movie-watching munchies.

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

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
 

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