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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Cocktails

How to Drink All 34 Cocktails at LuckyRice's Opening Night Cocktails

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© Richard Patterson
LuckyRice Opening Cocktails 2010

We’re in the midst of LuckyRice, the NYC festival that celebrates so many facets of Asian cooking, from a Night Market in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood tonight to the big gala dinner on Saturday night, La Fête Chinoise, with Daniel Boulud and Susur Lee. (Tickets for some events are still available.) The festival more or less kicked off last night with Opening Cocktails hosted by Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon at the Bowery Hotel. Among the 1,000-person crowd were chefs like WD-50’s Wylie Dufresne and Top Chef star Angelo Sosa, fashion dignitaries like Phillip Lim. And oh-so-many mixologists.

© kate krader
Adam Schuman Demonstrates the Correct Way to Do a Pickleback Shot.

Me, I didn’t try anywhere near the 34 cocktails on offer, but I can vouch for Má Pêche’s Ay Hue (a mix of fried shallot vodka, lime juice and Sriracha hot sauce). I can also speak from experience about Fatty Cue’s self-serve pickleback shots, a creation of bartender Adam Schuman that involves a big bottle of Evan Williams bourbon. But LuckyRice creator Danielle Chang has me beat. Not only did she sample all 34 cocktails, she made it to the LuckyRice after-party at Theatre Bar, where Dave Chang and Inaki Aizpitarte of Paris's Le Chateaubriand were pre-partying for their week of James Beard pop-up dinners.

Restaurants

Top Chefs Cook for Tibet

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© Sonam Zoksan
Host chef Eric Ripert, right, with Richard Gere and Laurent Manrique.

Where were so many of New York City’s top chefs last Thursday night? April Bloomfield, Dave Chang, Tom Colicchio, Mark Ladner and Anita Lo, among others, weren’t in their kitchens; were they en route to London to surprise Prince William and Kate Middleton? No, they had joined their friend Eric Ripert, the host chef, to cook at the Tibet Fund’s gala dinner at the Pierre Hotel to celebrate 30 years of great work for the people of Tibet. And those chefs were cooking fantastic food right at the long dinner tables. I got to sit at Bloomfield’s table—close enough that she could hand me my sublime three-bean soup with spring vegetables (you’ll soon see it on the menu at The Breslin). If I’d sat at Ladner’s table, he would have handed me hen-and-egg braciole (and asked, “Which came first...?”); and if I’d sat at Chang’s table I would have had Momofuku’s shiitake buns.

© kate krader
Here's How Close I was to April Bloomfield (with her plaque from Tibet Fund).

I already felt lucky to be eating Bloomfield's just-served soup. Then one of the night’s honorees, Richard Gere, told a story about a Tibetan meal he once had that started with a two-hour prayer (he said he stopped being hungry after the first 20 minutes). I asked Ripert, who is a Buddhist, if it would be hard for him to have two-hour prayers before meals. “Maybe,” he said, laughing.

Bars

London's Newest Spot to Toast the Royals

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© Courtesy Hawkins International PR

I would hardly consider myself a royal watcher, but if I were in London today I know exactly where I'd raise a glass to Kate and Will. Dukes hotel has long drawn crowds to its Dukes Bar, whose martini supposedly inspired Ian Fleming to create James Bond's request to have his cocktails "shaken, not stirred." The 90-room property just this week added PJ Lounge, which serves Perrier-Jouët Champagne by the bottle or glass, along with Champagne cocktails. The carpet in the room was inspired by the iconic flowers on the Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque label; the cocktail I've got my eye on is also inspired by the label: the Flower of Champagne, with rose liqueur and Lillet.  

Farms

San Francisco’s New Artisan Hot Spot

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Smitten Ice Cream's new Hayes Valley home.

© Joseph Perez-Green
Smitten Ice Cream's new Hayes Valley home.


In San Francisco, unclaimed space never sits empty for long before fabulous food artisans move in. Since the city closed Hayes Valley’s Central Freeway off-ramp a few years back, it hasn’t been able to afford to develop the abandoned land—but now, it’s offering the space to creative people willing to accept a limited lease time before possible construction begins eventually. Hayes Valley Farm put down roots last year to explore sustainable urban garden strategies, and the supercool new Proxy project will infuse the funky neighborhood with pop-up cafés, art installations and retail shops. Ritual Coffee will soon begin serving seasonal espressos in one of the “pods”—repurposed metal shipping containers—along with newcomers like Smitten Ice Cream, which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze flavors like Meyer Lemon Gingersnap and Brown Butter Candied Apple one amazing scoop at a time. Sadly, the rumors of a forthcoming Pizzeria Delfina pop-up are untrue—owners Craig and Anne Stoll say they’re just too busy opening up Locanda this weekend (so we’ll forgive them).

Restaurants

Highlights of Animal’s James Beard Pop-Up

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© Nigel Parry

Kudos to the James Beard Foundation. They’re doing such a great job of using the about-to-be-played-out concept of pop-up restaurants to promote their big gala awards on May 9. Last week, they featured F&W Best New Chef 2002 Laurent Gras; next week comes Paris rock-star chef Inaki Aizpitarte of Le Chateaubriand. And last night I got to see Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the heroes of L.A.'s Animal restaurant, serve dinner at long communal tables in a pretty room in Chelsea Market (home to all the Beard pop-ups).

© kate krader
Animal's crazy foie gras biscuit at their Beard pop-up dinner.

Chef Tom Colicchio was in the kitchen and comedian Aziz Ansari was in the house for the night. Shook and Dotolo's menu ranged from yellowtail sashimi with garlic mojo and sunchoke chips (on the menu at their new fish spot, Son of a Gun) and an outrageous foie gras biscuit with maple sausage gravy, plus a new Animal dish, Thai BBQ quail with cashews and yogurt. (On Friday night, when they team up with another amazing chef team, Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronova of Frankies Spuntino, the menu will be totally different.)

Speaking of pop-ups, if you’re lucky you can see Ansari doing impromptu sketches at comedy clubs around the city. And get an early look at his upcoming summer movie 30 Minutes or Less; trailers will start running in theatres this weekend.

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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.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.