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.
© image courtesy of Etsy
© Baltz & Company
Francois Payard at Hans Christian Andersen Complex.
© Baltz & Company
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
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