© Michael Diskin
Chef Tiffani Faison.
I spent the weekend stuffing myself with some of America’s best barbecue at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party in NYC. The takeaway: People take their ’cue very seriously. That’s why Tiffani Faison, the season one Top Chef contestant and chef of the recently closed Rocca, is doing her homework before she opens her barbecue spot named Sweet Cheeks near Boston’s Fenway Park later this summer. “Barbecue is one of those democratic American foods that everyone gets. It’s a food my family gathered around to eat, and I wanted a place like that in Boston to take family and friends on a Sunday afternoon. It’s missing from the restaurant scene.” Faison, a self-described Army brat, grew up bouncing from Oklahoma to South Carolina to Texas. In a few weeks, she will travel to Texas’s barbecue capital, Lockhart, to do some due-diligence eating. But she won’t be adopting one particular style. “I want it to be organic. I think there’s this barbecue-fusion world that people are afraid of. Each style of barbecue has its hardcore fans, but I think I can make it uniquely New England—though I’m not sure what exactly that is going to be yet.” One thing is certain: It won’t be down-and-dirty barbecue. “I want this to be chef-driven, without being annoyingly cheffy,” explains Faison. She says she’s been brainstorming menu items like house-made hush puppies and “white trash fruit salad,” which she says is inspired by ambrosia: “It’s a little kitschy, but reminiscent of what I ate as a kid.” There will also be a beer garden, communal picnic tables and a porch swing outside. As for the name, “It’s just what we used to tease the line cooks with when they were lagging at Rocca,” she says. “We’d yell, ‘Let’s pick it up, sweet cheeks.’”
I wouldn’t really consider myself a “serious athlete.” Sure, I’ve done a few triathlons, and a half marathon always seemed like a great accomplishment. But when I found out about the Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon, happening on Sunday, July 10, I didn’t think twice–this is the one for me!
Set in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, the course winds through the gorgeous vineyards in the Dundee Hills. In addition to being acclaimed for producing top Pinot Noirs, I can’t think of a more spectacular setting for a half.
The best part, though, is the after-party, which will feature wines from some of the top producers in the region, including Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Serene and Lange Estate, to name a few. Says winemaker Jesse Lange: “While there are plenty of rolling hills to tackle, your source of infinite inspiration will be the world-class wines that await you at the finish line. And this is also your chance to put highfalutin winemakers in their place by leaving them in the red dust of our volcanic soils!”
The official motto of the race is “You won’t run your best time, but you’ll have your best time!” I know that a glass of amazing Pinot will be the proverbial carrot on a string to get me to the finish line.
PS: Stay tuned for reports from the road…
© Bill Milne
Chef Michel Nischan.
One of my favorite parts of my job is chatting with chefs like Michel Nischan, founder of Wholesome Wave
and chef at Dressing Room
in Westport, Connecticut. Nischan will be discussing his commitment to sustainability in the kitchen at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen
next week, and he recently shared shared his smart and simple approach to eco-friendly cooking at home:
“I like to cook everything out of one vessel. That way, you’re minimizing dish soap, water and fuel energy—things that have a hidden impact on our environment. A good cast-iron pan is very eco-friendly because it lasts forever and uses heat very efficiently. I start by frying very thinly shaved garlic chips, then sautéing onions and kale. I scoot the kale aside and move the pan half off the heat, and then sear chicken or rabbit on the hot side of the skillet. You can do the same thing with a roasting pan: Roast something and keep adding vegetables and starches at different times throughout the process. That’s how really great cooks cooked a century ago because they only had one cooking vessel. We need to move forward by looking back. It takes longer, but my belief is if you take a little bit longer to get from start to finish, and you’re standing over one pot, smelling the food and watching it develop, it makes you hungrier and you’re more in touch with the dish when it’s finished. That’s what brings true joy to cooking.”
© Erica Simone
The custom kitchen at Jay Kos.
New York City fashion designer Jay Kos finds shopping for clothes boring. "We all have what we need, but we shop because we love to express ourselves creatively. The experience should also be creative." To make the shopping experience at his new menswear store, which opens today on Mott Street, more fun for both him and his clients, he's installed a fabulous custom green-glass kitchen designed by Italian manufacturer GD Cucine. The food-obsessed fashion designer, known for his preppy haberdashery, is often inspired by the colors of produce in the green market. He will also use the farmers' market to inspire the dishes he cooks at the shop, though he says the signature dish will be an omelet with artichoke hearts, which he learned to make in Italy. A Russian baker friend will also be baking tarts starting next week.
© Sean Hunter
New this year at Bonnaroo: The Food Truck Oasis.
I’ve just spent the past few weeks interviewing the food-obsessed Superfly Presents team for the August issue of Food & Wine. Superfly is responsible for producing some of the country’s coolest music festivals, including Bonnaroo, which kicks off tomorrow on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee. To celebrate the festival’s 10th anniversary, the Superfly team has gone overboard lining up not only stellar music but also amazing beer and food. Here, some highlights:
*Food Truck Oasis:This new food zone is the parking spot for a dozen food trucks from around the country. Don’t miss the Dirty South-Meatloaf Balls with pepper-crusted bacon, hash browns and bacon-scallion sauce from Asheville, North Carolina’s Eat Box; short rib sliders from Miami’s gastroPod; and tacos and burritos from Tampa, Florida’s famous Taco Bus.
*Broo’ers Festival: I can’t think of anything better than a beer festival within a music festival. More than 20 American craft breweries—including Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project and Abita—will be here.
*Fried Chicken & Champagne: On Saturday, June 11, rock stars like Eminem and Arcade Fire will be backstage at a private party, drinking champagne paired with fried chicken from NYC’s Blue Ribbon.
*Crawfish Boil: Superfly thanks the Bonnaroo staff by throwing a karaoke and crawfish boil party on Monday, June 13. New Orleans–based Shaggy’s Boil Inc. will be hosting.
*Food Drive: Last year’s food drive brought in more than 7,000 pounds of food donations, which went to the Good Samaritan Food Pantry of Manchester, Tennessee. This year, Bonnaroo hopes to get 10,000 pounds.