In my world, fried chicken has officially kicked pizza to the curb. I trace my fixation back to Pete Wells's review of the Redhead in the New York Times a year ago and his description of the buttermilk-fried bird as "picnic-ready." (Today, Frank Bruni said it was "never greasy... and unfailingly accessorized by something perfect.") I'm impatiently waiting for Andrew Carmellini to start serving fried chicken at Locanda Verde, with Karen DeMasco pies no less, but meanwhile, I've got the insane fried chicken at Momofuku Noodle Bar. It's already been endlessly documented, but for anyone who doesn't know, here's what you and four-plus friends get for $100: a platter of pieces allegedly from two birds (though, as a friend noted, they must be genetically mutant birds with extra wings, drumsticks and breasts). The white meat has a super-crispy Old Bay–seasoned crust; the dark meat is triple-fried with a Korean-spiced coating. It's all accompanied by a giant bowl of lettuce leaves and assorted vegetables and herbs (I monopolized the shiso leaves); four dipping sauces (I monopolized the jalapeño-garlic); and moo shu pancakes. Alan Richman describes the whole thing beautifully on his GQ blog, including chef-owner David Chang's ideal chicken-sauce-accoutrement combo and a virtually side-by-side comparison with KFC.
Yesterday on WNYC, radio host Leonard Lopate discussed the subject of running a restaurant during this recession with chefs Daniel Boulud of Manhattan’s DBGB Kitchen & Bar and Sosie Hublitz of Brooklyn’s Watty & Meg, as well as Nation’s Restaurant News editor Pamela Parseghian. Parseghian said the biggest trend has been alcohol—and lots of it. Boulud and Hublitz agreed. It’s no secret that tough times lead people to drink; this time, however, they’re drinking excellent cocktails. That’s good news for restaurants, Boulud said, since the profit margins on drinks are greater than they are for food. Of course, he added, you can’t charge $20 for a martini. That would be pushing it.
While researching a piece on the best wineries near beaches for a story that will appear in our October issue, I discovered that there is a die-hard community of surfing winemakers around the world, from Santa Barbara to Basque country. Perhaps the most serious of the bunch are the winemakers in South Africa’s Cape Winelands, including the guys over at Tokara, Beaumont and MAN Vintners. They all showed up for the 10th annual Vintners Surf Classic, held this past weekend. The two-day event attracted 40 to 50 surfers plus family and industry friends who came for the Champagne breakfast and post-contest barbecue. Contest organizer Miles Mossop, the winemaker at Tokara, e-mailed me the highlights, including the winners in the three different categories. I'm pushing for an international competition—pitting together surfing winemakers from around the world—for next year.
1st Gunter Schultz - Kleinood
1st Johan Reyneke - Reyneke Wines
1st Anton Smal - Villiera
© Eben Sadie
When he's not making wine, Eben Sadie is riding waves.
When I drove out to Montauk, New York, last week for all of 16 hours, it was for one reason: to eat at a pop-up restaurant at the Solé East hotel. Our meal, prepared by Jon Shook, one of the two chefs at Los Angeles's Animal (both F&W Best New Chefs 2009), was awesome. After checking out the N.Y. Times Diners Journal blog, I now know that Steven Spielberg and friends ordered all seven items on Animal’s menu, just like my friends and I did. But where has Shook been going to eat during his weeklong stay in Montauk? His favorite spot: Belly’s Sno Balls, for snow cones, which are dispensed from a bright orange truck. Shook has sampled a bunch of flavors, but his favorite is the coconut-watermelon combo (“artificial flavoring all the way,” he says). He’s about to sample the lobster rolls up and down Montauk Highway, so maybe he’ll find something he likes to go with those snow cones.
© Nigel Parry
My morning ritual has always revolved around an oversize mug of really good coffee (usually Peets or LaMill), which I brew at my apartment and drink while reading the paper before work. But now that I'm training for November’s New York City marathon, my morning runs end at my gym near the Food & Wine offices in midtown. As a result, I’ve found myself purchasing questionable-quality Joe so that I can get my morning caffeine fix.
So I was thrilled last month when I saw that a new coffee shop called Gregorys had opened around the corner from our office on 44th Street and even more excited after I tasted their coffee and incredible espresso. After some sleuthing, I discovered that Gregorys gets its freshly roasted beans from Kobricks, a roaster in Jersey City, N.J. Kobricks imports green coffee beans from Central and South America as well as the East Indies and Africa. The family-run roaster also happens to be the exclusive importer of Antica Tostura Triestina, an espresso roasted in Northern Italy using a 100-year-old wood-oven method.
This is actually Gregorys second store. The original, on Park Avenue and 24th Street, is where all the baked goods (like the excellent granola), sandwiches and salads get made. The staff is currently being trained in latte art, so lattes will come delivered with a heart shape swirled into the foam.
The third season of the AMC series Mad Men, which revolves around a cast of hard-drinking ad execs in the 1960s, debuts Sunday night. What to expect, according to the New York Times: more historically accurate booze. For a Mad Men–themed cocktail party, we offer the following drinks:
Vanilla Old-Fashioned A muddled vanilla bean adds a twist to creative director Don Draper's drink of choice.
Limoncello Collins This updated take on one of tortured housewife Betty Draper's favorite cocktails calls for limoncello, an intensely flavored Italian liqueur made from lemon peels.
Mai Tai Department store head Rachel Menken drinks the classic rum cocktail when out with Don. This version borrows from the recipe by Ernest Beaumont-Gantt (a.k.a. "Donn Beach," the father of tiki culture), and calls for dashes of Pernod and Angostura bitters for complexity.
Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey is one of my favorite baking books. So I am totally thrilled that Chronicle Books is publishing a much-needed sequel: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids. Even though the book is aimed at kids, everything looks insanely good. I'm planning to start by trying the Holy Moly! Strawberry Jam Roly-Poly (sort of like a jelly roll but with a more flaky, biscuit-like dough), and then I'll tackle the Wicked Good Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Cups. The only downside? I can't share the book with friends until October, when it goes on sale. Until then, I'll be baking these great Food & Wine standbys for my kids:
Chocolate Chip–Pretzel Bars
Cookies & Cream Cupcakes
Chocolate Soufflé Sundae
I am a spinach-pie fanatic. Doesn't matter if it's the Greek phyllo variety or the folded-dough Middle Eastern sort; there is no food more perfect in my mind. And just recently, I had a spinach-pie-and-wine pairing epiphany that makes the ultimate even better.
My neighborhood Middle Eastern place, Zaytoons, is BYOB and happily just down the road the from another local fave, Smith & Vine, my go-to wine shop for stuff from excellent small producers world-over. Last week, over the aforementioned spinach pie, my boyfriend Michael surprised me with a bottle of fizzy rosé called Moussamoussettes from one of my favorite Loire producers, Agnès et René Mosse. I'd never seen this wine before, probably because they don't make much of it and it's nearly impossible to find, but it was incredible, with juicy strawberry flavor and an intriguing fennel note. Sparkling wines tend to go really well with salty foods, and this was excellent with the feta-filled spinach pie; the fruitiness was great with the spices, like za'atar, as well.
I sadly won't be able to get my hands on a bottle of Moussamoussettes every time I eat spinach pie, but there are plenty of other sparkling rosés that will go equally as well. Here are a few to try:
2006 Llopart Rosé Cava (about $17, find this wine) This rather rich cava from Spain is excellent year after year. This vintage has a pretty floral aroma and an unmistakable burst of cherry fruit.
NV Riondo Raboso Pink Prosecco (about $10, find this wine) Pale pink with some herbal notes, this delicately frizzante prosecco from Italy's Veneto region is a steal.
NV Domaine Chandon Rosé ($22, find this wine) This juicy rosé from one of California's top sparkling wine producers is loaded with ripe red-berry fruit.
For the last two years, foodies have been talking about the exciting restaurant scene in Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá, particularly its hot food ‘hood, Zona G (which has restaurants from Peruvian star chefs Rafael Osterling and Gastón Acurio). I got to experience it for myself last March. I also spent a week eating around what I believe may be Colombia’s next great food city, Cartagena.
The historic walled city by the sea has finally started to get some excellent restaurants. The most recent addition, Vera, opens next month in Latin fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi’s amazing new seven-room boutique hotel. Vera means truth, as the food will be authentic coastal Italian prepared by chef Daniel Castaño, a Mario Batali protégé who is also the head chef at Bogotá’s popular Emilia Romagna and co-founder of the Brooklyn-based supper club social experiment A Razor, A Shiny Knife. Opening menus will include a classic seafood risotto loaded with clams, mussels and shrimp and pollo al peppe, black-pepper-crusted chicken breast served with confit thighs and a date, watercress and macadamia salad. Castaño's food will be complemented by a 100-plus-label wine list of bottles from Italy, Spain, Chile and California.
© Tcherassi Hotel + Spa
Vera restaurant in Cartagena's new Tcherassi Hotel + Spa.