Chefs have proclaimed pork their favorite sandwich filling, creating everything from new takes on banh mi to messy pork-belly sliders. But recently I've been spotting uni (sea urchin) on sandwiches all around New York City. Uni-obsessed chef Michael White is serving sea-urchin-and-lardo crostini at his new seafood restaurant, Marea. Chef George Mendes has created a stellar sea urchin toast with cauliflower cream for his menu at the recently opened Aldea. And the Chelsea tapas spot El Quinto Pino does a clever sea urchin panino.
© Melissa Hom
Uni-obsessed chef Michael White.
I got to know Mike Harney when I co-authored his book, The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea. He's fun company, as well as refreshingly unpretentious when it comes to talking about tea, so I'm looking forward to the tea-tasting class he'll be teaching on July 25 at the International Culinary Center of the French Culinary Institute in NYC. During the first part of the class, Deconstructing Earl Grey, he'll serve samples of the different Chinese and Indian black teas that go into the classic blend, along with its signature bergamot citrus. If all goes according to plan, he'll end the evening with tea cocktails from FCI's own mad scientist, Dave Arnold.
I have piles of information to sift through from the NASFT Fancy Food Show—an annual trade show in which food producers display their wares hoping to find distributors and retailers. This gluttonous parade of cheeses, cookies and everything edible you could ever buy in a jar is now at New York City’s Javits Center. I’m not a huge fan of bottled sauces, but I did find two new delicious truffle-based products and a worthy prepared pesto.
- Céline Labaune has been importing truffles and selling them to chefs since 2003. She has just launched a line of products, including a lovely white truffle cream that would be wonderful with a little butter as an almost-instant pasta sauce.
- Acadamia Barilla’s new spread is made with Pecorino cheese from Sardinia, porcini and truffles. It's excellent on crostini or tossed with pillowy gnocchi.
- Sauces ‘n Love, the Boston-based company responsible for well made pasta sauces sold in the refrigerator section of specialty markets, just released a vegan pesto, with tofu standing for the cheese. Its light flavor is perfect for summer.
Late-night memories from Aspen.
Wines $20 to $40
The 2009 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen wrapped up this past Sunday, but I figured I'd blog about one or two highlights from it anyway. One of them, not to blow my own horn, was the slightly crazy blind-burger-pairing-old-world-vs.-new-world-wine-smackdown that I ran as one of my seminars on Friday.
What I did was pick three pairs of wines, one from Europe and one from the U.S. in each case, and pair them with a series of mini-burgers prepared by Ryan Hardy, the immensely talented young chef at Montagna at the Little Nell. The audience—more than 120 people; the room was jammed—tasted each pair of wines with the appropriate burger, then voted on which wine worked best. It was a hoot, unsurprisingly, helped along substantially by the insanely good burgers.
The winners? With a crabcake slider served with a tarragon aioli, the fave wine was from Italy: the 2007 Nino Negri Ca'Brione ($35), a lightly honeyed, spicy, richly citrusy blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Incrocia Manzoni (a hybrid of Pinot Blanc and Riesling), and, even weirder, a small proportion of Nebbiolo fermented without its skins so the juice remains white. White Nebbiolo, you bet. Regardless, it was a lovely wine, and if you happen to be serving crabcakes with a tarragon aioli, go for it.
Bored with plain water and in need of nonalcoholic liquids to help me get over the post-Aspen
cold that's knocked out several F&W editors this week (possibly from late-night parties at 212 House
), I stopped by Green Canteen
, the first restaurant to become LEED certified in New York. After a fragrant house-made ginger soda and a peanut butter-banana milk shake, I'm on the mend and ready for more drinks. Here are a few I'll make this summer, whether I'm sick or just hot:Gingery Fuji Apple Soda
(above)Rhubarb Soda Green Tea SodaAlmond-Tea Milk ShakesPrune Whip Shakes
Yesterday the F&W
staff got a big treat. San Francisco über-chocolatier Michael Recchiuti
came by with tons of candies for us to taste, from his classic, epic sea salt caramels to his new dragée line (the Peanut Butter Pearls are killer) to his coming-in-October Peppermint Thins, made with multiple varieties of mint. (If you're not in the Bay Area, you can find his chocolates at recchiuti.com
.) Michael also talked about this summer’s groovy Taste Project
, a series of multi-sensory tastings he's doing at his factory and other sites, including an intriguing beer-and-chocolate event with Magnolia Pub (MR said his obsession of the moment is hops; I wouldn't trust anyone but him on this tasting). And there’s more: Michael is also working on the outline for a genius book based on baking disasters, and how to recover from them. “Whenever you’re baking and something goes wrong, the recipe is cross-referenced somewhere else in the book, but you have flour and egg on your hands and you can’t turn the page,” he said. As someone with plenty of stained cookbooks at home, I hope he gets to work on this book fast.
A big part of St. Louis’s transformation into a food destination is the creativity of people like Gerard Craft. In a few weeks, the F&W Best New Chef 2008 will open Niche Taste Bar, a small-plates and classic-cocktails joint, in the space that was Veruca bakeshop. He’s Tweeted Taste Bar news obsessively for the past month and yesterday announced that local mixologist Ted Kilgore will head the drinks program (One of Kilgore's best recipes is in F&W Cocktails 2008). As for the food, Craft says everything will be cooked on a hibachi or induction burner or in an immersion circulator—that’s it! There will be things on toast (spicy pork meatballs with radish and parsley) and on sticks (grilled escolar with pineapple and pepperoni). There will also be pork liver and foie gras pâté in crocks and maybe a porchetta for slicing. Craft is even smoking his own country hams. With only about 18 seats at the wooden communal table and bar, space will be tight. My advice: Get there early. It’s sure to be the hottest spot in town.
At the F&W Classic in Aspen last week, chef Traci Des Jardins
announced details of her anticipated restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Highlands Lake Tahoe
, including the name—Manzanita. And other facts: opening date (December 9); number of seats (94 in the restaurant and 70-odd in the bar); some of the dishes on the California mountain menu (grilled cheese with a daily changing cheese selection, rotisserie quail with bread salad and pancetta, red-wine-braised short ribs with horseradish-mashed potatoes). We’ve loved Traci since she was an F&W Best New Chef
back in 1995, but this could be her best food to date. Traci, who’s done runs in Tahoe for 20-something years, says she never cooks better than after a big day of skiing.
© image courtesy of Etsy
Today on Etsy.com
, the world's largest online market for all things handmade, F&W's amazing style editor, Jessica Romm
, picks out some great things to buy for a clambake, including nautical-themed items like this sailboat (left). Over the summer F&W editors will pick more of their favorite Etsy party items; what can we say, when it comes to entertaining, we like to shop as much as we like to cook. For more clambake recipes, click here