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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
 

Entertaining

World’s Wackiest Ice Creams

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© Courtesy of Dennis and Cheryl Reas
Ice cream cheeseburger

Hurray for summer cookouts! You can have an all-out grilling marathon, eat unlimited amounts of potato salad and even more ice cream. But wait – there are some frozen desserts you might think twice about before serving. We’re not saying they’re not tasty (though some of them sure sound disgusting). We’re just saying keep the mint chocolate chip handy, just in case.

Ice cream cheeseburger, Florida. Here’s why you go to the Florida state fair: because you find something amazing like the ice cream cheeseburger, from Carousel foods. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a cheeseburger, topped with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and, you guessed it, a giant scoop of fried ice cream.

Cicada ice cream, Missouri. Sadly, Sparky’s no longer sells this ice cream (the Columbia, MO, health department is weird about desserts with bugs, apparently). But just in case they bring it back, here’s what you get: cicadas that were caught in employees backyards, then boiled and coated with sugar and chocolate and folded into brown sugar ice cream. 

Lobster Ice Cream, Maine. At Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium, in Bar Harbor, the owners mix chunks of local Maine lobster into their butter ice cream. It’s one of their most popular items for shipping. Really.

Ice cream cone ramen, Tokyo. Kikuya ramen shop precisely cuts a soft serve vanilla ice cream cone in half then sets it on top of a bowl of varying flavors of ramen, including one with classic soy sauce broth (they thoughtfully serve the noodles chilled to keep the ice cream from melting too fast).

Government cheese ice cream, San Francisco. Humphry Slocombe routinely wins best ice cream polls in the Bay Area and around the country. So we have to believe that their flavors, which include prosciutto and foie gras, are good. But we’re just not sure about a government cheese version.

Beef Tongue Ice Cream, Tokyo. In our book, Ice Cream City wins the award for all-around most disturbing flavors. Among their best sellers: beef tongue (which was apparently created for meat lovers), whale and oyster. 

Related Links:

Best Ice Cream Spots in the U.S

America's Wacky Fair Foods

America's Weirdest Regional Foods

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

Test Kitchen

Aromatherapy for Your Lips

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Whether intentionally or not, I may have stumbled upon the next big thing-with the help of F&W's Kristin Donnelly, editor extraordinaire and creator of a fabulous new line of all-natural lip balms, Stewart & Claire.
 
As of today, she offers five ready-made balms, four of which are lightly scented with, among other things, basil, peppermint, tarragon, lavender, coconut and mint. I've sampled the Spring (scented with tarragon) and Bare (unscented). Though absolutely luscious on the lips (and remarkably restorative in minutes), Bare interested me a bit less than Spring because of Spring's bright, green tarragon fragrance.
 
I broke out the tube on my subway ride home (always a tactical move to have something pleasant to smell on a crowded subway car, especially in summer) and immediately felt a bit calmer. Then I popped an Altoid and had an epiphany. Wow—olfactory overload in the best way! Minty, herbaceous, soothing yet energizing, it was a day-spa in my handbag. Flavor geek and hard-candy freak that I am, it only seemed logical to try different hard candies, too: greenapple Jolly Ranchers: good (grape: awful); La Vie raspberry pastillines: better; La Vie lemon pastillines: best!
 
I can't wait to try Stewart & Claire's three other ready-made scented balms: Summer, Coconut and Mint. But I'm especially excited about the custom (bespoke) balms they can whip up for you based on your scent and texture preferences-cinnamon, ginger, rose, coriander, etc. Imagine a whole new world of candy-balm parings.  

Restaurants

The New Rules for Celebrity Restaurants

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The Breslin's Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup

© Lucy Schaeffer
The Breslin's Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup

Celebrities have been frequenting restaurants for a while now—the Algonquin Round Table was in full effect in the 1920s. So we won’t pretend it's news to see a famous person sitting in a dining room. But it’s quite amazing to see how far some restaurants go these days to protect their more recognizable guests. Here’s Ken Friedman, co-owner of such NYC celeb hang-outs as the Spotted Pig and the Breslin, sounding like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. “The first rule at my restaurants is don’t talk about who’s eating at my restaurants.”
 
Here are some other rules we've seen NYC restaurants employ.
 
*Close the blinds to the street when the paparazzi line up outside. (A rule followed by the staff at Marea the second someone like Michael Douglas walks in.)
 
*Seat the best-known people in the corner. At Craft, table #158, deep in the restaurant, is set aside so anyone supremely famous (like LeBron James who rented out Craft's LA outpost for a party) can be escorted right there.  
 
*Seat the best-known people in the kitchen. At his newest restaurant The John Dory, Friedman created a chef’s table in the kitchen. What about the rumor that Jay-Z wanted a chef’s table, with real chairs, as an alternative to the stools that make up the seating in the rest of the restaurant? “We didn't create the table for anyone in particular," says Friedman. "The chef’s table is fun, it’s in the kitchen,” says Friedman. “Plus who wants to sit on stools all the time? I don’t; neither does Charlie Rose.”
 
Related Links:
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Favorite Restaurants
100+ Tastes to Try
Tom Colicchio’s Road Trip
Best Chefs with Hotel Restaurants

(Pictured above: The Breslin's Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup)

Restaurants

You Might be a Foodie If…

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Loving food can turn ugly.

© The Delicious Life
Loving food can turn ugly.

The Office's Mindy Kaling ignited a minor Tweetstorm last week when she posted that she's "over foodies," and suggested a name change. "Fooders are foodies but keep a lid on it a little bit," she proposed. "They let you order in under 10 minutes."


 

While "foodies" have been teased in the past, the backlash is intensifying. Chef-author Gabrielle Hamilton, of NYC's Prune, recently called them "a bummer." The Atlantic ran a long piece arguing that food-obsessing crosses into nebulous moral territory. And of course, we recently decried the overuse of farm-to-everything.

F&W staffers have learned to watch out for the moment when simply loving food becomes an ugly obsession, and we helpfully came up with the following list of danger signs. You might be a foodie if…

 

1. It takes more time to decide where to dine than to have dinner.

2. You know the names of meat distributors other than Pat LaFrieda.

3. You ask the waitress to be specific about the kind of kale in the salad.

4. You've paid to eat dinner at a stranger's apartment.

5. You've joined a line with more than five people in it, for a sandwich, from a truck.

6. Your entrée choice hinges more on where it was raised than on what it is.

7. You tweet your meals before dessert.

8. Your coffee has a proper name.

9. You've tasted single udder butter.

10. You've made your own sausage. After meeting the pig.

11. Your closets are being used as cheese caves or beer cellars.

12. Queens is a culinary destination.

13. Your pick-up line asks "What's your favorite restaurant."

14. You've spent more than $10 on a cocktail outside of a club.

15. You roll your eyes at molten chocolate cake.

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