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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Dr. Vino's Verdict

Wine and Spice Don't Have to Fight

Ever wondered where the experts stand on the best wine practices and controversies? In this series, wine blogger, teacher and author Tyler Colman (a. k. a. Dr. Vino) delivers a final judgement.

Don’t you think spicy foods taste best with sweet, low-alcohol wines? Because alcohol amplifies heat, a fiery dish with a high alcohol wine is the culinary equivalent of a shouting match. To tame the heat in spicy foods, try a white with low alcohol and a little sweetness, for instance a Spätlese Riesling or demi-sec Vouvray.

Related: Wine 101: Riesling
Spicy Recipes
America's Best Riesling

Food & Games

F&W's Fantasy Top Chef Draft

For most of America, this is football season. But for F&W, it’s Top Chef season—the 11th to be exact, and it premieres on Bravo tonight at 10/9c. Along with the usual array of nail-biting and craving-inducing challenges, this New Orleans-based run promises a slew of great celebrity cameos from fried chicken-fanatic Questlove to Cajun cooking master Paul Prudhomme.

Exciting as the show is going to be, we're raising the stakes for viewers this year with F&W's Fantasy Top Chef. This roster ranks contestants based on work experience, cooking style and wild card extras ranging from great hair to Shih Tzu ownership. Here’s more on our algorithm >>

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Restaurant Dispatch

Top Chef Takeover: Jeff McInnis Lands in NYC

Hard-core Top Chef devotees take note: Top Chef season 5 contestant Jeff McInnis (most recently of Yardbird in Miami) and a new cheftestant, Janine Booth, who makes her debut tonight on season 11 in New Orleans, will be helming Root & Bone, slated to open in New York City’s East Village in January. Taking over a site formerly occupied by an old soul food restaurant, the new spot will celebrate Southern foodways through dishes like caramelized brisket meat loaf with smoky plantain crème, sunchoke and house-made ricotta “tater tots” and Carolina Gold rice risotto with butter beans and pickled egg yolk. To pair with the chefs’ modern takes on Southern dishes, the restaurant will serve an all-American beer and wine list with a focus on craft brews from the South. The chefs are also forming a partnership with Mama’s Bar next door to offer a hip, Southern gastropub late-night menu and weekend brunch. McInnis and Booth, his chef de cuisine, arrived in town only a few weeks ago but they are already inspired by the local produce: “I live near the Union Square farmers’ market and the vegetables are just amazing,” says McInnis. “The flavor of a carrot here is so beautiful and bright. It’s very different from what I could get in Miami.” And fanatics of the crave-worthy fried chicken he served at Yardbird can rest easy: He’ll be playing with different variations on the dish at Root & Bone, experimenting with spicy, mild and crunchy versions.

Related: F&W Star Chef Jeff McInnis
Top Chef Challenge: Fresh Corn Grits with Shrimp

Spirit School

Detroit's Spirit Revival

Detroit's Spirit Revival

Less than a mile across in some places, the Detroit River was a haven for bootleggers during Prohibition, as boats would ferry liquid cargo from "wet" Canada to "dry" America. Today, the shipments could be heading in the other direction, thanks to David Landrum and Peter Bailey, the entrepreneurs behind Two James, the first distillery in Detroit since the 1920s.

The longtime friends, who named their company after their dads (both called James), are making small-batch spirits in a former doughnut factory and taxi-repair shop in the Corktown neighborhood. (A tasting room, located in the distillery, serves cocktails and sells bottles.) Distilled with lots of juniper and other botanicals, the duo's London dry gin is inspired by Bailey's father, who grew up above a pub in England. "Wild juniper grows like crazy here, but no one cultivates it. Now we've found some people who are willing to plant it for us," says Landrum. Their rye whiskey, currently in barrels, is made with 100 percent Michigan-grown rye and was inspired by Landrum's dad, who was born in Kentucky.

Despite Detroit's recent bankruptcy, the young distillers are optimistic about the city's future. "I've watched Detroit go through horrible times, but the bankruptcy might actually be a good thing—it's trimming the fat," says Landrum. "And there's a resurgence of people moving back to the city. It's exciting." twojames.com

Related:
Detroit: Soul Food for a Hungry City
Small-Batch Superstars
Ultimate Beer Guide
American Beer, Bourbon and More

Drink This Now

5 Things You Need to Know About Bourbon

I drink a lot of bourbon. I don’t say it as a boast. Every dirtbag with $25 to his name can do the same, and many do. But over the years, I’ve gained brainpower corresponding to my liver damage, and become something of a bourbon geek. Or at least I’ve communed with enough bourbon geeks to pick up a few facts about the greatest of all American spirits. Some are random, some are esoteric, but some you just can’t be without. Here, five things you need to know.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Join celebrity chefs, renowned winemakers and epicurean insiders at the culinary world’s most spectacular weekend, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.