© National Pork Board
German Cuban Reuben Pork Burger
On a drizzly morning last week, I sat next to the Food Network’s Guy Fieri
in a park near New York City's High Line to help the National Pork Board crown the Next Pork Personality. Judging the tastiest dish was easy: It was the German Cuban Reuben Pork Burger from chef Robert Burmeister of CHOW Gourmet
on Staten Island.
First, he marinated pork shoulder with sweet pickle relish and mustard before grinding the meat and forming patties, which he then topped with a bacon-sauerkraut mixture, sliced Bratwurst and snappy rounds of dill pickle. But unfortunately, taste was not a factor in this competition, and each recipe's creativity only counted for so much; instead, the contestants' spiel about their dish was everything. Robert had that natural New York swagger and a thick accent to match—it was clear he loved pork, and not just from his pig tattoo. But it was tough to compete with actress and comedian (and former recipe contest winner) Kristina Vänni’s engaging routine. Although Kristina's "Spicy" Asian Pork Tenderloin, marinated and glazed with hoisin sauce spiked with five-spice powder—was not as impressive as Robert’s burger, she ultimately won the title and the $5,000 prize. But Robert might have received a better reward: Guy gushing about his burger during the awards ceremony.
© National Pork Board
Kristina Vänni wins the Next Pork Personality.
Out this week: Corn Flakes with John Lennon (Rodale Books), in which longtime Los Angeles Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn chronicles his relationship with the legendary Beatle—plus reveals juicy tidbits like Lennon’s habit of eating corn flakes with cream after dinner. Here, terrific British comfort food dishes to honor the Liverpool native like lamb-filled shepherd’s pie (pictured), beef stew with potato cakes, and sticky toffee pudding.
Plus More Great Dishes to Pay Tribute to Lennon:
- 10 excellent white dishes for a White Album-listening party like hot, buttered cauliflower puree and a jasmine rice, chicken and almond stir-fry
- 10 terrific egg dishes to salute the “Eggman” like a warm spinach salad topped with soft-poached eggs and sherried mushrooms with fried eggs on toast
© kate krader
Pam Grier pretends she's eating Bluefin Collar
Last night, I felt like Ashton Kutcher
doing an episode of Punk’d
. I was with Pam Grier
, the iconic 1970s actress and star of Showtime’s The L-Word
(and also my ex-stepsister-in-law), who is allergic to fish, raw and cooked. We were at Marea
, chef Michael White’s
exquisite NYC seafood restaurant. Someone, I thought, would come out of it not looking good. But White was a star—he made beet salad, garganelli with sausage ragù and guinea hen for Pam; I got to eat fish. In particular, I got to eat bluefin collar sashimi: rich red, well-marbled slices of tuna that looked like beef and tasted lightly fishy and sweet, with just a little bit of sinewy bite. Pam couldn’t try it (an ambulance would have shown up), but she got a kick out of how much I loved it. The photo above is Pam, mimicking my spontaneous gesture of tasting happiness, after my first bite.
Of late, I’ve missed my Chicago hot dog. So last week, I made a pilgrimage to Hot Doug’s, Chicago’s most beloved encased-meat emporium. Well, sort of. I, along with dozens of other New York City devotees, attended “The Hot Doug’s Experience,” a tasting at Astor Center’s newest downtown venue, The Lounge. In a nod to the infamously long lines at Hot Doug’s, the evening’s attendees formed a queue (albeit while sipping lager and eating andouille pigs in a blanket). Owner Doug Sohn’s perfectly executed Chicago-style hot dog (mustard, neon-green relish, onion, tomato, pickle spear, hot peppers, celery salt and absolutely no ketchup) justified the wait. So did his departure from Second City tradition: a duck-and-Sauternes sausage topped with foie gras mousse and flaky gray salt. Served in a tender ciabatta-like roll with truffle aioli, it was one of the most pleasingly unctuous things I have ever tasted. Sadly, Sohn confirmed that he is not planning to open a Hot Doug's in NYC and, in fact, one Hot Doug’s is all the world can expect to see. Oh well, some things taste better when you have to wait for them.
© Alex Oliveira/startraksphoto.com
I wish I could have recorded every word out of Anthony Bourdain’
s mouth at the Times Talk
at the New York City Wine & Food Festival
this past weekend. Especially because he had Frank Bruni
asking him super-smart questions. But I only got a few of the highlights. Here they are.
On Kitchen Confidential’
s big break: "A lot of chefs didn’t want to see the industry spotlighted that way. Then Jacques Pépin
got behind it. He said when he was a young chef, if he’d thrown out the bread from a table, his chef would have killed him.”
On the fetishizing of food these days: “It’s a great racket, don’t f*** it up.”
On chefs who might be coasting these days: “It’s hard to be Guy Fieri
, you have to wake up every day and put on all that bling. And Rachael Ray
sent me a fruit basket. I’m not going to talk s**t about her.”
On what’s made him sick during filming of his hit No Reservations
show: “The little taco place with half a pig’s head sitting out under a light — that’s fine. It’s always the breakfast buffet at the Hilton where the trouble starts.”
© Marlo Hunter
Eating Their Words reinvents dinner theater.
The dinner-theater concept sounds like a throwback, but director Marlo Hunter is trying to make it hip again with Eating Their Words. Hunter enlists noteworthy writers and actors for an evening of short plays to be performed at a top NYC restaurant. As part of the action, the actors sit at a table and eat a dish; immediately after the performance, the audience is served everything they've just seen the actors enjoy. The next Eating Their Words event, on Monday, October 19, will be at Tocqueville restaurant, with works by Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck and playwrights Jonathan Marc Sherman and Sam Forman. Tocqueville chef-owner Marco Moreira has created a menu to complement the plays, including schmaltz roasted country chicken and a bittersweet chocolate tort. Tickets must be purchased before Sunday, October 18.
November will be a big month for superstar chef Thomas Keller (an F&W Best New Chef 1988): He’ll release Ad Hoc at Home (Artisan) and has plans to open a Beverly Hills outpost of Bouchon. Reasons to honor him now: his birthday this week, plus stellar dishes like his over-the-top mushroom quiche with buttery pastry shell (pictured), BLT fried egg-and-cheese sandwich, and a whole grilled chicken with arugula.
More Incredible Dishes by Our Best New Chefs:
- Our 2009 Best New Chefs’ easiest dishes like Kelly English’s meat pies with spicy buttermilk dip and Paul Liebrandt’s beet-and-red sorrel salad with nutty pistachio sauce
© Philip Gross for the James Beard Foundation
Zac, Giada and Marcus cook together.
Of all the deluxe events at this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival
, this was surely the most deluxe: Giada De Laurentiis
cooking with fashion designer Zac Posen
cooking with chef Marcus Samuelsson
dinner at the James Beard House
. If that sounds like the most unlikely team, it’s not really. Marcus’s wife, Gate Haile
is an Elite model who has known Zac for years, and Marcus has cooked with Zac at Zac’s house. And Zac apparently loves to cook (a kitchen, he said, is like a “super-speed atelier”). Indeed, he and Giada were in a groove on dessert: While she poached pears in a ginger-honey-and-cinnamon syrup, he made ginger ice cream. If you want more details (Marcus’s slow-cooked chicken, Zac’s crayfish bisque), people.com has them for you
© Philip Gross for the James Beard Foundation
Yes, it's come to this—as the LA Times reports here, wrestling mogul Vince McMahon and his World Wrestling Entertainment company are taking legal action against the Philadelphia-based American Wine Foundation to prevent it from referring to one of its wine classes as the "Sommelier Smackdown." I'd suggest settling it in the ring, but somehow I doubt things would go well for the wine-tasters in that fight...