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By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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What to Eat Late-Night at Chez Panisse

Late-night Steak dinners at Chez Panisse.

The revered locavore restaurant loosens up with late-night steak frites.

One of the more tantalizing anecdotes about Chez Panisse in the mid-1970s (alongside all the sex and drugs and wine-soaked feasting with everybody from James Beard to Jean-Luc Godard) has always been the late-night steak menu that lasted for a few months in 1974. "There was no place to eat late in Berkeley, and it drove me crazy," says owner Alice Waters, who remembers driving all the way to San Francisco's old Vanessi's after work for steak frites. Her solution, bringing in a cook to grill New York strips after the regular staff went home, lost so much money that she banished it to the realm of nostalgia—until last winter. A few months later, when a fire gutted the front of the restaurant, repairs prompted a complete menu redesign, focusing even more attention on the revived late-night steak option.

If a recent Tuesday evening is any indication, bringing back this tradition was a savvy decision. Offered Monday through Thursday, from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. or so (which passes for late-night in Berkeley), this dinner in the upstairs café is an incredible deal. For $25, diners get a glass of house Zinfandel produced by Napa's Green & Red Vineyard and a 100-percent grass-fed steak from rancher Bill Niman, skillet-roasted in the classic French manner, with marrow butter melting on top and red-wine jus pooling all around. On the side are lacy-thin fried potatoes (more shoelace than shoestring) or onion rings, next to extremely tender and tiny watercress or arugula.

At one time, the notion of late-night steak in sleepy, vegetarian-dense Berkeley would have been unthinkable. But now, when you leave Chez Panisse, the streets are filled with post-theater crowds, and the bar next door is roaring, and everything feels just right.

Related: Cooking Like Alice Waters
San Francisco Travel Guide
Star Chef Tips on Grilling Steak

Wine Wednesday

What to Drink with Dessert

Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

It’s quite something to take a brisk walk on a cool September morning through Soho in New York City and come across a line of at least 150 people waiting patiently for the opportunity to buy a cronut. For me at least, the sight of all these cronut-loons raises a number of questions. One is, “Really? That’s how you’re going to spend your morning?” Another is, “Wow—is civilization doomed?” Then there’s the crucially important, “Gosh, I wonder what wine would go with a cronut?” READ MORE >>

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Video of The Week

Off With Their Heads

We'll forgive you if up until now the name Mitch Ancona hasn't rung any bells. But pending review by an international governing body, Ancona is the new Guinness World Record holder for most bottles of Champagne opened with a saber in one minute. Ancona, who owns Ancona's Wines and Liquors in Ridgefield and Wilton Connecticut, decapitated 35 bottles of Piper Heidseick Champagne at a fundraiser, beating the previous record of 32 bottles.

Related: Fantastic Champagne Cocktails
Reinvented Classic Cocktails
Delicious Cocktail Party Recipes

The Hungry Crowd

Yo La Tengo's Ultimate Food Guide

Earlier this year, the legendary Indie rockers Yo La Tengo released their first video in 15 years, which featured them cooking up a delicious-looking tortilla soup. Anybody who knows Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew couldn’t have been surprised, considering that they’ve spent the better part of the past 30 years touring the world and seeking out good food. In the old days they were armed with an atlas, a marked up copy of Jane and Michael Stern’s Road Food, and a grease-stained 10-year-old BBQ-themed issue of Texas Monthly. Today, the bandmates are the experts themselves, as musician friends—such as Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan, who referred to the band as his own personal Zagat guide—seek out YLT for restaurant tips. A few weeks ago they played the FYF Festival in Los Angeles in support of their new album, Fade (Matador Records); before the show they sat down with blogger Zach Brooks to talk about eating on tour, barbecue and the sad state of food in their hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey. A portion of the interview is below; to download their entire talk, head to foodisthenewrock.com.

What are some of your favorite food cities?
Ira: San Francisco is almost too good. There is genuine stress of “How are we supposed to possibly go everywhere we want to go?” We do go back to a lot of the same places just because we love them so much. It becomes a “I don't know if I could be hungry again” thing. That’s a good one. Chicago.

James: Nashville is great. In the mid- to late-’90s when we were there I had the best Salvadoran food that I’ve ever had. And there was a Persian restaurant that a friend of ours took us to, and really good Thai food and great Vietnamese food, and it seemed like a town where it was cheap enough for small mom-and-pop places to just set up. And it was insane how great it was. It was cheap and it was amazing and you had your pick of the foods of the world. There was that great place in the market, that Taiwanese couple who ran that lunch stand. But they were these super gourmet chefs, it was amazing. It’s a psychedelic journey that town.

You guys have been touring for almost 30 years, do you feel like you’ve seen this crazy change in the food served in cities you tour through?
Ira: I mean we’ve seen a lot of changes. When we started touring we had a copy of Jane and Michael Stern’s Road Food.

Georgia: And the barbecue book, too.

Ira: Yeah, Vince Staten’s Real Barbecue.

On the tour bus?
Ira: On the tour van. It’s always easy to kind of romanticize certain things

James: Like getting lost trying to find those places Ira: And then finding out they don’t exist anymore. That was so traumatizing.

Georgia: It’s about as bad a feeling as you can have.

Ira: We still have all those books and in the case of the Sterns, there were so many editions. And all the pages are falling out, and our notes are written on them. Georgia: I still have that Texas Monthly from 10 years ago, and it’s just covered in grease stains with pages all over the place.

So what are the barbecue cities you like traveling through?
James: Chicago. It’s been a long time, but we’ve had great experiences at Leon’s on the South Side. “Bulletproof barbecue” at 2 o’clock in the morning or so is a great experience. I think some of our legendary places are gone. Pa & Ma’s in Indianapolis was a regular stop for us always and was probably the best sauce that ever existed.

Ira: I though Pa & Ma’s came back.

James: It came back as more like a soul food place but it was different. Same location, but really different. I remember one time we pulled up at Pa & Ma’s and the guy at the counter remembered us from a previous visit and I just never felt like more of a celebrity in my life. What an amazing place that was, I miss it so much.

How long have you been in Hoboken?
Ira: We moved there in 1981. It’s funny. We were the enemy when we moved in, we were the people who were ruining the town. And now we’ve been there 31 years. The food options in the city are really not that good, shockingly.

Georgia: Considering how close it is to Manhattan.

Ira: Everything that happened in Brooklyn, where the people who couldn’t afford the risk of opening in Manhattan went out to Brooklyn and Queens to try it out. You would think, What’s wrong with Hoboken? We’re rather close too. And it just hasn’t worked out that way.

But the food in Hoboken has gotten better, right? You guys have any favorites?

Ira: There’s a place we love in Jersey City that’s opened up fairly recently. And that’s sort of what I’m saying, you actually see more signs of that in Jersey City than in Hoboken. This place 30 Acres is great.

Do you guys all like cooking?
Ira: Well, Georgia and I just finished our two-week trip to the beach where we just cooked all of our meals. We didn’t eat out ever. Grilling fish, making our own lobster rolls, and our own clams casino.

Georgia: Yeah, that was a new one. And lobster rolls are hard to make good.

So, first off, butter or mayo?
Georgia: Both. Ira: We butter the roll.

Georgia: Yeah, a lot of butter. A lot of melted butter, you need. And then not that much mayo. Some mayo. You’ve just gotta get it right. It’s not that easy.

Related: America's Best Lobster Rolls
Delicious Grilled Fish
The Hungry Crowd: Olivia Wilde

Chefpocalypse

Mike Brown’s Emergency Tortilla Plan

Corn Tortillas

F&W asked chefs around the country how they would prepare for an apocalyptic situation, a la The Road. Some went for luxury goods—others focused on survival. Here, Mike Brown, resourceful co-chef of Travail Kitchen & Amusements in Robbinsdale, Minnesota masterminds his emergency backpack.

"I’d pack dried pasta, hot dogs and I always like to have tortillas on hand. Anything you find, you just wrap it up on a tortilla," says Brown. He also can't live without Sriracha. Best thing about his pack? "If you run out of TP, a nice flour tortilla would do the job. Sriracha and tortillas would get me through World War III," he says.

Related: Spicy Sriracha Recipes
America's Best Hot Dogs
Incredible Tacos

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