© Baltz & Company
Francois Payard at Hans Christian Andersen Complex.
Last night, legendary New York City pastry chef François Payard headed from his lavish Upper East Side Payard Patisserie & Bistro to the Hans Christian Andersen Complex, an elementary school in Harlem, to give a vegan cooking demo to kids and their families. The event was sponsored by the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food. Yes, the French chef seems like an unlikely proponent of animal-free food, but his marketing director (and now girlfriend), Fernanda Capobianco, is a devoted vegetarian, and since they've started working together, he's been cutting back on meat in his diet and experimenting with vegan dishes.
For the easiest pizza ever, he showed everyone how to spread tomato sauce (store-bought is fine, he said) on whole-wheat pita and topped it with ribbons of basil and crumbled tofu to mimic the cheese. Then he made a quick chocolate mousse with soy milk, whipped silken tofu and melted chocolate while batting away excited little fingers. Even I, as a dairy lover, thought the mousse was delicious and even more intensely chocolaty than a milk-based version. Through next month, François will donate $1 from every Soy Chocolate Mousse sold at New York City's Payard to the Coalition.
Rabelais Books, a terrific bookstore in Portland, Maine, that specializes in books about food and wine (surprising how we love that around here, huh?) has released its first catalogue of rare and antiquarian food, wine and spirits books. It's great fun to glance through, even if you can't throw down $1,800 for a first edition of Agoston Haraszthy's 1862 classic Grape Culture, Wines and Wine-Making.
(As a side note, the catalogue also includes copies of the out-of-print and rare 'in bocca' series of Italian cookbooks, which I recall coming across during my own stint in the rare-book business, back in the early 90s, for about $35 rather than $450, alas. Here's a comment from Mario Batali on the in bocca series from an article in the NY Times, if you're interested).
© Bill Bettencourt
At last weekend’s F&W Classic in Aspen
, superstar sommelier Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Food and Wine
in Boulder, Colorado, said that this economy means there’s never been a better time to be a wine drinker. So funny, because I was thinking there’s never been a better time to be cocktail obsessed in New York City. While it’s still easy to find very pricey drinks (especially if you choose to socialize on hotel rooftops), there are some remarkable cocktails for under $10 all over town. Specifically, the $6 Hudson Sour (bourbon, apple liqueur and lemon) at Damon Wise's Frugal Friday
in Manhattan, the $9 Steinway Punch (rye, lemon, Curacao and soda) at Dutch Kills in Long Island City
and the $9 Applejack Sazarack (applejack, absinthe and bitters) at Prime Meats in Brooklyn
(PM’s $5 daily changing punch can also be terrific, depending on what they're ladling out of the punch bowl that evening).
This past weekend, while my cohorts were riding gondolas above Aspen at the Food & Wine Classic, I was off climbing mountains around Burlington, Vermont. To make sure I was at my athletic peak, I fueled up on the best local food I could find. Here’s how to follow my culinary regimen:
Climbing Mt. Mansfield
Pre-Hike Boost: American Flatbread's blisteringly hot pizza with house-made sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized onions.
Post-Hike Recovery: Crispy-skinned duck breast and hanger steak swirled in horseradish aioli from F&W Best New Chef 2008 Eric Warnstedt at Hen of the Wood in Waterbury.
Climbing Mt. Abraham
Pre-Hike Boost: Heavenly honey-glazed doughnuts from Dinky Donuts at the Burlington farmer’s market, followed by softly poached eggs over crisp potato rösti at Waitsfield's The Green Cup.
Post-Hike Recovery: The Alchemist's superjuicy blue-cheese burger and a Lightweight, the perfect pale lager for rehydration, in Waterbury.
Hiking to Lake Champlain at Shelburne Farms
Pre-Hike Boost: Soft, sugary blueberry scones from Burlington's City Market.
Post-Hike Recovery: A farmhouse grilled cheese from the Shelburne Farms cart with a salad of just-picked local greens.
Yearning for a seasonally inspired lunch last weekend, I made the quick walk from my Brooklyn apartment to Bklyn Larder, the new specialty grocer and prepared-foods shop on Flatbush Avenue. A few blocks from owners Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg’s lauded restaurant, Franny’s, the shop extends its Greenmarket-fresh credo to sandwiches, terrines and other dishes. I loved eating my delightfully buttery sautéed-beet-green-and-ricotta sandwich while gawking at the cheese and meat cases—and anticipating my return for more in-house tastings. This home cook plans to make Bklyn Larder a regular post-Greenmarket stop.
It takes talent to match just the right wine with a dish. Some would also argue that it takes talent to match the perfect handbag or heels with a dress. That makes Elisabeth English, the owner of Nantucket's Current Vintage, super-talented. After selling her interest in Provisions (the island’s beloved sandwich shop) to Amanda Lydon and Gabriel Frasca, English opened this wine-and-fashion boutique. The year-old shop has a tightly edited selection of more than 150 wines with an emphasis on boutique labels and a particularly exciting selection of American Pinot Noirs and Burgundy. English also stocks vintage and designer clothing, jewelry and shoes. Here, she shares her picks for what to wear and drink at quintessential Nantucket summer outings:
Clothes: Vintage 1950s sundress and ankle-wrap espadrille
Wine: Domaine Bart Rosé, Marsannay, France
Madequesham Clam Bake
Clothes: Vintage 1960s Lilly Pulitzer floral maxi and a pedicure
Wine: ’07 Curran Grenache Blanc, Santa Ynez, California
Hulbert Avenue BBQ
Clothes: Vintage 1970s Jordache jeans, embroidered Mexican top and gladiator sandals
Wine: ’05 Kangarilla Road Shiraz-Viognier, McLaren Vale, Australia
© Michael Stryder
Kahan and Madia
If there's one guy who was stalked by the meat-focused 2009 Best New Chefs
at the F&W
Classic in Aspen, it was '99 BNC Paul Kahan
(yeah, Momofuku’s Dave Chang
got stalked, too). Everyone, including Frank Bruni, loves, loves Kahan’s newest Chicago spot
, Publican, which spotlights pork and beer (and, to a lesser extent, oysters). If you were paying attention to Time Out Chicago’s blog last October
, you know that Kahan has yet another project in the works: He and his excellent partner, Donnie Madia
, have taken charge of the former Pontiac in Wicker Park, notable for its huge outdoor patio bar. And if you were shamelessly eavesdropping one late night while Kahan talked to some of his BNC stalkers, you’d know that he he's decided on a concept for how to reinvent the place. Here’s what Kahan, who once upon a time worked at Chicago’s Topolobampo
, had to say: “I'm gonna serve tacos and cheap American beer in an old gas station in Wicker Park.”
Wines $20 to $40
As I seem now to do every year, I stopped last week in Boulder before heading up to the F&W Classic in Aspen for the annual pre-Aspen wine dinner that Travel & Leisure's contributing wine editor Bruce Schoenfeld throws. As usual, it was a crazy grab-bag of wines (and people), many of them extraordinary (both the wines and the people).
Among the standouts? First, a 1982 Associated Vintners Dionysus Vineyard Riesling, notable partly because it was the first single-vinyard Riesling bottled in Washington State—or so I was told—and partly because it was actually still quite alive, with appealing lemon and stone notes. Later, a 2000 Contino Graciano had aromas of earth, leather and ripe black raspberries and was lush and inviting; an interesting development from a wine that's always quite tart, tannic and palate-zapping on release. I loved the 1982 Giacosa Barolo Falletto that came my way—hazy red in color, smelling of licorice, roses and caramel, with flavors that recalled dried spices like cardamom and cinnamon—though for some reason not everybody did. (Go figure. Lunatics, the lot of 'em.) And a 1999 Yarra Yering Dry Red #1—from a winery that made news lately by getting sold—had aromas of tea leaves and kirsch, then luscious berry fruit poised on the edge of age but not quite there. A very pretty wine.
The wine of the night, though, by general acclaim, was a 1991 Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon, which was just fantastic. Aromas of forest floor, spiced currants and graphite led into layers of soft cherry-currant fruit, silky tannins, and more lingering graphite notes. It had aged gorgeously and was in perfect condition, and isn't even Ridge's top Cabernet (Monte Bello is). The current vintage will set you back $40. Not bad. And I like the fact that Paul Draper, on the back label of the wine, suggested that it would age only five to ten years. As it turns out, a very modest prediction.
© Riccardo Savi/Food & Wine Magazine
Hosea, Tom and Jacques
is back in New York (recovering) after our Classic in Aspen
. This year's festival was awesome and action-packed, and there were hundreds of highlights; here are three of mine.
* Best New Chef Party: On Saturday night, our outstanding 2009 BNCs cooked for some 500 guests, who got to vote for their favorite dish via text message. F&W editors loved it all, including Christopher Kostow's roasted corn custard and Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook's pork belly sliders. (The winner: Nate Appleman, the group's most tech-savvy chef, who launched a successful Facebook campaign for his pork meatballs.)
* Top Chef Quickfire Challenge: On Sunday morning, Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard faced off against Season 5 winner Hosea Rosenberg. They each had help—Izard's sous-chef was star chef Ming Tsai; Rosenberg's was the great Jacques Pépin. At the judging table: Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Dana Cowin and Todd from Florida, who donated $15,000 to charity for that judging seat. Highlights included Tsai handing off his American Express black card (who knew??) as a bribe to Todd, and Rosenberg, who knew about Colicchio's secret passion for gummy bears and added the candies to his melon cocktail. In the end, Rosenberg and Pépin and their lobster with coral butter and Wheaties green tomatoes beat out Izard and Tsai's hangover pizza topped with lobster and a poached egg.
* The After-Parties: You absolutely don't need one more party in Aspen. Still, anyone who can get in eventually finds themselves at the members-only, late-night party at 212 House. Some people hate it, but a lot of good stories start with the phrase, "Oh man, last night, at 212 House...." There's a what-happens-at-212-stays-there mentality; I won't be the one to break the code of silence. But I will say that Colicchio and Joe Bastianich's band, who performed everything from the Steve Miller Band's “The Joker” to Oasis's “Wonderwall,” get better as the night goes on; that there are several notable chefs who hopefully won't see themselves dancing on YouTube; and that our Best New Chefs are as good at doing shots as they are at cooking.
When I lived in St. Louis 10 years ago, the food scene wasn’t inspired. But on a recent visit I ate some seriously tasty new food, including from F&W Best New Chef 2008 Gerard Craft, who’s got expansion on his mind (more on that later). Some highlights:Pi
(6144 Delmar Blvd.; 314-727-6633) and The Good Pie
(3137 Olive St.; 314-289-9391)
Pi serves cheesy deep-dish and thin-crust (my favorite) pizzas on crunchy cornmeal crusts. The Good Pie’s wood-burning oven turns out perfectly bubbly, charred and chewy Neapolitan pizzas.
Bobo Noodle House (278 N. Skinker Blvd.; 314-863-7373)
It’s best known for wok-fried noodles and pho, but the secret is its addictive rolls—crispy pork spring rolls and minty shrimp summer rolls, served with a chile dipping sauce.
Sidney Street Cafe (2000 Sidney St.; 314-771-5777) and Monarch (7401 Manchester Rd.; 314-644-3995)
These two local favorites have been revitalized, thanks to enthusiastic young chefs. At Sidney Street, chef Kevin Nashan (who trained at Spain’s Martín Berasategui and NYC’s Daniel) serves elevated dishes like five-spice halibut over ramp-and-fiddlehead risotto. Monarch’s Josh Galliano (who most recently worked at An American Place) utilizes local products, like the peas and chanterelles in a rich carbonara.
Stuffed, I couldn’t make it to the one last spot I wanted to try—Pappy’s Smokehouse (3106 Olive St.; 314-535-4340), which I’m told has the best barbecue and is worth the sometimes hour-long wait. Not to worry, I’ll be back soon.