I'm not saying I went to Cuba. But if I had gone, I probably would have spent most of the time eating lots of grilled lobster (the stripey Caribbean kind, not the red Maine kind) in paladares (restaurants run out of magnificent family homes) and over-consuming exceptional rum-based cocktails. As the birthplace of the mojito and the spot where Ernest Hemingway popularized the Papa Doble (a double frozen daiquiri), Havana would inspire any non-heretics to drink copious amounts of each. Again, I'm not saying that I went there, but if I had, these would probably have been my most memorable brushes with alcohol. MORE >
Iconoclastic restaurant pro Brooks Headley (Pastry Chef at Del Posto, New York City) questions conventional wisdom to push the dining scene forward.
Why do restaurant desserts need to be so complicated?
They really don’t have to be so complicated. Is baking a science? Well, yeah, there is some science involved, sort of, but my grandma did not really care about that, she just wanted to make awesome cookies. And she did! Often. Remember, sweet stuff is still food. It needs to be seasoned and cared for, the ingredients championed, the fruit gushingly embarrassed and red-faced at its plump ripeness. Desserts need to be wildly delicious. And simple, in the absolute best possible way.
Negative space is my muse. The stuff that ain’t there. The stuff that does not exist, the stuff that makes all the other stuff, like, totally, way cooler. As the amazing Chris Bianco, of Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, once said: “The greatest ingredient in cooking is restraint.” The dude speaks the truth.
Photo © Sara Julian (Holy Smoke). © Lee McLaughlin (The Smoked Olive).
Courtesy of oliveoillovers.com (Castillo de Canena)
These olive oils are a clever way to add smokiness to all types of food.
Holy Smoke (left)
Smoked over hickory and pecan wood. $15 for 8.5 oz; holysmokeoliveoil.com.
The Smoked Olive Sonoma (middle)
Fruity and a little spicy. $24 for 6.75 oz; thesmokedolive.com.
Castillo de Canena (right)
Fantastic on roast potatoes. $21.50 for 250 ml; oliveoillovers.com.
Try it in a Recipe: Smoky Salmorejo
This chilled, no-cook Spanish soup is similar to gazpacho but blended instead of chopped. Smoked olive oil adds meatiness to the vegetarian dish. GET THE RECIPE »
Iconoclastic restaurant pro Pip Hanson (Head Bartender at The Bachelor Farmer and Marvel Bar, Minneapolis) questions conventional wisdom to push the dining scene forward.
Why do cocktails need to be cold and strong?
Strong alcohol flavors don’t really complement food, and ice-cold drinks aren’t very aromatic, so at Marvel Bar and our sister restaurant, The Bachelor Farmer, we have created something new: hyper-diluted, lightly chilled cocktails.
Here’s the thought process: Like whiskey, cocktails open up as water is added. Hyper-diluted cocktails are extremely subtle and clean, especially compared with the bitter, boozy standard of most cocktails. Similarly, I sometimes prefer whiskey cocktails after they’ve warmed up a bit, because they become more flavorful. So we serve some of these drinks only lightly chilled—we aim for 55 degrees, cellar temperature—to maximize aroma. Once you adjust to the difference in intensity, you find incredible complexity and purity in these drinks. They can be tantalizing.
Here, some of F&W's favorite spice shops in the country.
Spice Ace, San Francisco Peppercorns are usually a simple purchase. Not so at Spice Ace, which carries more than 20 varieties, including the rare Micronesian Pohnpei peppercorn, considered the best in the world—and, at $35 per ounce, one of the most expensive. In total, Spice Ace carries more than 300 spices, all packaged in recyclable glass jars and ground in small batches to maintain freshness. spiceace.com.
Spice Galore, Miami Florida’s tropical climate allows the owners of this shop to grow some of the items they sell, like kaffir lime leaves. Another highlight is the salt selection, with 55 varieties, including flavors like Merlot and green tea. Customers can learn how to use whatever they buy in the large demonstration kitchen, where instructors teach classes on topics like spice-based ice creams. spicegalore.com.
Spice Revolution; Westchester, NY Linzi Jean Fastiggi sells nearly 500 herbs and spices at local markets, and her entire inventory is now online. spice-revolution.com.