© Tina Rupp
Pork with Arugula and Tomatoes
I've spent the last few days in and around Belfast, and I am excited to report that Northern Ireland is experiencing a farm-to-table food revolution. One of its leaders is Noel McMeel, the charismatic chef at Lough Erne Golf Resort in Enniskillen. The Chez Panisse–trained McMeel is working closely with Good Food Ireland, an organization that supports local farmers and artisans, to source outstanding ingredients. His latest obsession is Dexter, a breed of rare, indigenous, miniature cows. When the resort's golf course opens this July, McMeel will debut a clubhouse restaurant with a Dexter-focused menu utilizing all cuts of the super-beefy meat. I got a taste when McMeel made me a brilliant Dexter-beef stew served in a shot glass and topped with liquefied mashed potatoes (the combination of brown on the bottom and tan on the top cheekily resembled a pint of Guinness). The man standing next to me tasted it and warned, "That dish will change your life." It certainly changed the way I think about Irish food.
As I write this, NYC's inimitable Big Apple Barbecue Block Party is 14 days and 9 hours away (there’s a Countdown to ‘Cue on the website). This year's event, on June 13-14 at Madison Square Park, will boast more top pitmasters than ever before—15 of them, including newcomers like Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint of Nashville. Returning favorite Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama will serve his legendary pulled pork (dubbed best in the country by the Wall Street Journal). “It’s definitely crazy fun,” Lilly says. He'll start slow-cooking 3,000 pounds of pork shoulder at 7 pm on the Friday before the event. Does he plan to stay up all night? “That depends how good the party is,” he says.
So even though the bbq-fest is still two weeks away you should start planning for it right now. Because the $100 FastPasses—which will buy you a) $100 worth of killer barbecue, beer and the cool, not-available-elsewhere-in-New-York T-shirts plus sauces that the pitmasters will bring with them; and b) express-lane access to all the food—are only on sale through May 31st at bigapplebbq.org. (Why only until May 31? To limit the number of passes sold; this year the Express Lanes really will be express.)
F&W's ever-curious test kitchen assistant, Brian Malik, discovered a new way to make the best of supermarket peaches. He writes:
When I discovered peaches on sale at my grocery store for 88 cents a pound, I bought nearly three pounds. Unfortunately, they were hard as rocks and tasted like, well, rocks. I scoured the Web for advice on how to ripen the fruit quickly. Some sites said to put the fruit in a paper bag to trap the ethylene gases, which would speed ripening; other sites warned that moisture would collect inside the bag and rot the fruit. I improvised. I laid the peaches on a kitchen towel and covered them with another towel. I figured the towels would contain enough of the fruit’s gases to ripen them, while still allowing any moisture to evaporate. After two days, when the unmistakable scent of peaches permeated my apartment, I felt it was safe to check on them. They were perfectly soft without being mushy and wonderfully peachy tasting—not a rotten spot in sight.
As a native Angeleno, I've long suspected (hoped!) that the reason so many people hate my hometown is because of their terrible entrance into it, via the impenetrable LAX. This mammoth airport has long had the least concession space of any major US hub, making delays a foodie nightmare. But no more! LAX is following a nationwide trend and revamping its terminals, seeking out new food outlets it hopes will be edgier and more representative of LA’s local food scene. Bidders aren’t even confirmed yet, but if LA wants to put its best foot forward and gain some fans, I suggest In-N-Out Burger, Ruen Pair and King Taco. Who’d want to hate on that?
Last week, Grub Street invited readers to decide whether Per Se’s new series of wine dinners—"The American Table at Per Se”—was a deal or a way to make dining at the pricey Michelin-three-star restaurant even more expensive. As far as I’m concerned, if you’ve got $325 (not including tax) to throw around, a good way to spend it is at the inaugural event tonight, with Wells Guthrie of Copain Wines. Not only does Guthrie make exceptional Pinot Noirs and Syrahs (F&W called him a food and wine visionary in 2008), he’ll also pour selections from some of his French influences, like superstar Jean-Louis Chave. Although Guthrie will be too busy pouring wine to cook, he probably
© Photo Courtesy Stephanie Goto
After my appearance on the Early Show this past weekend, I got a number of emails asking for the recipes for the cocktails I mixed, all of which came from our new book, Food & Wine Cocktails '09. I should note that I definitely cannot take credit for the mixology-genius behind these drinks; mostly I hope I executed them in line with their creators' intentions. I can say that they tasted great on the set, though, even with the gale force winds that morning. — R.I.
So, credit where credit is due. Duggan McDonnell of Cantina in San Francisco created the following two drinks for Food & Wine Cocktails '09: