I woke up on a recent morning, like every morning, thinking about toast. I knew that if I kept thinking about toast—not French toast, or toast points, but traditional white toast like you eat at breakfast—I would work myself up into a towering wrath. And there was nothing to be wrathful about! I had fallen asleep at the St. Cecilia hotel in Austin listening to Neil Young records, and woke up knowing that I was about to have breakfast outdoors with a grackle, one the city’s ubiquitous, crow-like carrion birds, at Jo's up the street. (I was in Texas to do the press conference for Meatopia Texas in San Antonio, and also to eat at Qui, which, by the way, is AWESOME.) Once at Jo's, I ended up with a world-class breakfast taco, which I shared with the friendly corvid. In Texas, excellent tortillas seem to take the place of toast much of the time, but I had wanted toast. And I couldn't get it. Because, in Austin as in so many great American cities, our restaurants all fail the Toast Test.
The TV star and F&W contributing editor shares the best places around the world to try every single part of the chicken—from the head to the feet.
Bird Land, Tokyo Chef Toshihiro Wada's Bird Land tops my list for yakitori in Tokyo. Every part of the bird is served here, including the heart, a lean, tender organ that only takes a minute to cook over the superhot binchotan charcoal. Most people think of offal as too funky, but the heart is a great introduction to the odd bits: It's slightly chewy and takes on a nice char. ginza-birdland.sakura.ne.jp.
HEADS + NECKS
Va Villa, Mexico City At this stall in the Barrio Tepito district, heads and necks are fried in lard and then swaddled in salsa verde, queso blanco, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes. Laid on top of crispy fried tortillas, they almost look like little chicks sleeping. Fray Bartolome de las Casas (West Of Aztecas), Barrio Tepito.
BUTTS (POPE'S NOSES)
Shilin Night Market; Taipei, Taiwan Walking through this market, you will bump into vendors grilling skewers of unusual chicken parts: unlaid eggs, feet and chicken butts, the flappy bit at the end of the animal where a huge nugget of fat holds the massive plume of feathers. Try any vendor; grilled hard, these chewy nuggets become a crispy, delicious bite and are my single favorite part of the chicken. Jihe Rd, Shilin District.
Chez Georges, Paris
My grandmother's chopped chicken liver has no equal, but Chez Georges's chicken liver terrine is close. Smooth, rich, fatty, minerally and dense, it has all the qualities I love in liver. Get extra bread. 1 Rue du Mail; 33-1-42-60-07-11.
New Lane; Penang, Malaysia
New Lane is the greatest street-food stroll in the world, partly because it's the only place to get these chicken wings—glazed with a sticky sauce of sugar, soy, rice wine, cinnamon and star anise. Look for a stall with the longest line of locals. Lorong Baru, Georgetown.
Kokekokko, Los Angeles The chefs at Little Tokyo's Kokekokko have yakitori down to a science. They also nail the art. Try skewers of non-traditional parts, like keel bones, the rubbery wedge between the chicken breasts. It has great smoky flavor and the perfect crunchy, yielding feel. 203 S. Central Ave.; 213-687-0690.
Bukhara, New Delhi One of the best restaurants in India, Bukhara serves richly seasoned, tandoor-cooked red-gold chicken thighs that are buttery, spicy and crisp in all the right places. Diplomatic Enclave, Sardar Patel Margs; 91-11-26112233.
Willie Mae's Scotch House, New Orleans Located in the Treme neighborhood, the restaurant is run by Willie Mae's granddaughter, who serves some of the best fried chicken. It's the only place where I ever order breasts, because frankly, it's one of the few spots that knows how to cook them. 2401 Saint Ann St.; 504-822-9503.
Husk; Charleston, SC Southern chefs aren't afraid of fat, so it makes sense that chicken skin shows up in a few different incarnations at Sean Brock's Husk (as a salad garnish or with pimento cheese). The absolute best use of the skin, however, is as an appetizer, where it's buttermilk-marinated and deep-fried. huskrestaurant.com
Scotchies Restaurant; St. Ann, Jamaica The chicken is bathed in a flaming-hot seasoning of Scotch bonnet peppers and spices. After a day in the rub, the birds are smoke-roasted on stacks of pimento wood. I ask for piles of legs and a coconut water. N. Coast Hwy., Drax Hall.
M. Wells Dinette; Long Island City, NY Inside the Museum of Modern Art's PS 1 outpost, this spot is renowned for Hugue Dufour's fat-on-fat Quebecois food. I always order the crispy and chewy buffalo-style chicken feet—drenched in hot sauce and, of course, maple syrup. momaps1.org
Twenty-five years ago, an outdoor, word-of-mouth, pop-up dinner was thown in Paris. It was BYO table, chairs, wine and food. The dress code: all white. Now held in 40 cities around the world, the secretive Dîner en Blanc dinners (the location is only revealed on the day-of) are also the subject of a new documentary, Diner en Blanc: The World's Largest Dinner Party. The trailer can be seen above. The film will be screened at the Newport Film Festival on September 5 and the Williamstown Film Festival, which takes place September 19 to 22. It is also available for pre-order here. While there's no dress code for those watching the film, we think it would probably be best enjoyed dressed in all white (robes count) with a good bottle of Champagne. New Yorkers who want to experience the real thing will be able to in September—exact date TBD.
Le Grand Fooding 2013: Time Mach'Inn. Image © Art Work Love.
The mad geniuses behind the funky French food festival Le Grand Fooding are bringing their special brand of awesome back to New York this September with my favorite theme yet: Time Mach’Inn. On September 27 and 28, 100 diners will travel back in time over 30 years of food and drink history with New York chefs Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo, Parisian chef Yves Camdeborde and New Zealand chef Peter Gordon as their culinary tour guides. The chefs have created a four-course menu focusing on three periods: the Fusion Cuisine Years (1991-1999), the Bistronomy Years (1998-2007) and the Farm-to-Table Years (2008-2013). A crew of superstar mixologists, including the inimitable Tristan Willey of Booker and Dax, is set to pair Jameson whiskey cocktails with the dishes, and best of all, 10 percent of ticket sales will benefit the food-rescue hero City Harvest. I can’t think of a more delicious way to time travel.
When: September 27-28, at 7 p.m.
Where: 372 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY
Price: $100, including four courses, three cocktails, Stumptown coffee and surprises.
Tickets go on sale to the public in September, but Food & Wine is offering an exclusive pre-sale for the event here.
It’s easier than ever to fake your way through a summertime cookout. You’ve heard about the test tube burger; you had to, it cost $33,000. Meanwhile, sales of alternative meat products, like faux hot dogs, continue to rise (to more than $550 million last year). The one cookout staple that doesn’t easily lend itself to veganism is ribs. So, before someone comes up with a test tube version, let’s shout out epic pork and beef ribs around the country.
Texas star chef Tim Love, whose restaurants include the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro and Love Shack, happens to be a ribs expert. He kindly provided a list of his favorite ribs spots—both pork and beef. Believe it or not, he’s got his eyes wide open enough to find a go-to place in Toronto.
Bludso’s; Compton, CA
This is a storefront with bad-ass pork ribs in a neighborhood I knew only from rap songs. (Now there’s a new branch of Bludso’s in Hollywood.) The ribs are Texas style: They’re not covered in too much sweet sauce, which is one reason I was attracted to them. It turns out that the owner, Kevin Bludso, comes from a Texas barbecue family. He uses just a little bit of a rub, enough to take it beyond salt and pepper and make the meat really good. bludsosbbq.com
JT’s Bar-B-Que; Del City, OK
JT’s is like a real old-school men’s club inside. I think they just got a women’s restroom a few years ago. The ribs are really, really good. JT’s makes them Texas style and uses spareribs; they’re a little thicker than baby backs, which is typically what you see in Oklahoma. The meat just pulls right off the bones. You’ll just see ribs on everyone’s plate. jtsbarbque.com
The Joint; New Orleans
While I love New Orleans and its amazing fusion of Creole and seafood, I just don’t think of it as a great barbecue destination. But this at this place, the pulled pork and pork ribs were off the chart. You can always find BBQ in a BBQ city but to find it in a non-BBQ city is amazing. They use baby backs with a kind of Cajun rub to it, almost like a blackening seasoning. alwayssmokin.com
Jojo’s Barbeque; Potosi, TX
I found this place when I was in San Angelo for my son’s baseball tournament. It is the middle of friggen’ nowhere, a family-run business with kids working the counter. I got the Trinity plate. The brisket is fine, the sausage is pretty good. But the ribs, they were so tender, it was almost as if they were braised. They weren’t, they were smoked with just a little salt and pepper on them. If you find yourself rolling 15 minutes outside that giant city of Abilene, you’re lucky you get to have these ribs. jojosbarbeque.com
Barque Smokehouse; Toronto
If you’re this far north and you want to have respectable ribs, I’ve got a place. Barque looks more like a restaurant than a BBQ spot, though there’s a massive smoker in the open kitchen. David Neinstein puts a little bit of sauce on his ribs, then grills them so they’re really crispy. They’re not too messy or too saucy—I just don’t like those ribs. My dad is from Canada, which is how I first found these ribs. I’m a pretty tough dude to please when it comes to meat, and I was impressed. Definitely worth the wait to get into this place. barque.ca
Woodshed Smokehouse; Fort Worth, TX
This is my spot. We use baby back ribs, which we rub with pure cane sugar, chile powder, toasted cumin, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. We’re real particular, we use pecan wood, and we smoke the ribs for 3 hours and 15 minutes, and serve with zero sauce. That’s really important to me. The herbs are crispy, the meat is nice and tender. woodshedsmokehouse.com
Lockhart Smokehouse; Dallas
You can only get beef ribs here on certain days, so you better know what those days are. Here, they smoke beef shoulder, and about once a week they have beef ribs, which they sell until they run out. They’re seasoned with just straight salt and pepper, and they offer all kinds of pickles to go with them from the pickle bar. The ribs are really meaty, the edges have an awesome crispness. lockhartsmokehouse.com
Smoke Restaurant; Dallas
The chef Tim Byres serves what is basically a giant beef short rib; he calls it The Big Rib. It’s got a thick coating of salt and pepper; the crust is most ridiculous thing you’ve ever had. Tim slow smokes that meat for a long, long time. It’s one solid rib, and it sure as hell looks good, too. smokerestaurant.com
Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que; Llano, TX
Cooper’s has a couple of different locations, but I’m going to talk about the one in Hill Country. They’re famous for their Big Chop, which is a center-cut pork chop. I like their beef ribs that they sell about once a week. Cooper’s does open-pit smoking. They use direct heat, calm the coals down, then put the ribs over them. The meat is a little chewier than some other beef ribs, but it has the most intense smoky flavor. coopersbbqllano.com
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