© Jason Houston for TEDxManhattan
Chef Michel Nischan
This past Saturday marked the first-ever TEDx Manhattan: Changing the Way We Eat
, a conference devoted to sustainable-food issues. The daylong series of 18-minute talks covered topics ranging from how farmers in Illinois
are dealing with the environmental impact of industrial dairies to how organizations like the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger
are creating amazingly productive community gardens. Elizabeth Meltz, an exuberant former cook who oversees food safety and sustainability for Mario Batali's restaurant group, talked about the challenge of educating the staff about green practices: "We can barely get them not to throw out the silverware." Michel Nischan of the Dressing Room Restaurant
in Westport, Connecticut, described the efforts of his nonprofit, Wholesome Wave
, to make produce accessible and affordable in poor communities. Food & Wine proudly supports Wholesome Wave, and we're raising money now with these awesome Green Passes
to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen this June.
American fruit importers Dan Pearson and Brian Horsley were scouting in the Amazon when, on some farms in a tucked-away corner of Peru's Maranón Canyon, they discovered cacao trees with canary-yellow pods. Even the local farmers were mystified about the identity of these strange-looking trees. So Pearson and Horsley sent some leaves to the USDA
for testing and learned they'd made an extraordinary find: the Pure Nacional breed of cacao tree (left), thought to be extinct since the early 1900s. Pearson and Horsley have been experimenting with the pod's unique white beans (most cacao is purple) to create a distinctly mellow, nutty-floral chocolate. Recently, they were at New York's Institute for Culinary Education
to launch Maranón Chocolate
and chat about the discovery of the beans; the bars are now available online
© Jordan Salcito
Daniel Boulud and Michel Troisgros Make Truffled Eggs at Altitude.
If you ever wonder how famous chefs deal with the limitations of airplane food, especially when they're recovering from an epic wine event, here's a firsthand account from my awesome wine-genius friend Jordan Salcito
(whom you’ll read more about in F&W's April feature on Burgundy). Here’s Jordan:
Say you're a chef who has just cooked for the 10th anniversary of La Paulée de New York
which honors the best domaines in Burgundy with both new and very old vintages (like 1940 La Tâche). And say you’re in a private plane on your way to La Paulée des Neiges in Aspen
to (ski and) drink more wines. How do you re-energize? If you're Daniel Boulud
, the featured chef for La Paulée de New York, and you're France's inimitable Michel Troisgros
, you make 30-second scrambled eggs in the plane's microwave: custardy, truffled scrambled eggs with crème fraîche, plus toast with European butter and more black truffle. And then open another bottle of La Tâche.
I'm always helping my food-loving friends create travel itineraries. Lately, I've been turning to Virtual GDBK, an insidery travel website that writer Valerie Stivers recently launched. The site aggregates best-of-the-web resources for a short list of cool destinations. Stivers curates a list of food blogs for every city and the site's "Eat" section recommends everything from cooking classes to restaurants and food-related events. My favorite aspect is the site's global reach. It not only hits classic spots like Paris and London, but also more exotic places like Douala, Cameroon.
I had the pleasure of appearing on the 4th hour of Today this morning with Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and my good pal Leslie Sbrocco, doing a fun 'he-said-she-said' Valentine's Day wine segment. Leslie and I each presented our picks in four categories—for a romantic dinner, for popping the question, for lounging around in a bathtub (!), and for pairing with chocolate—and Hoda and Kathie Lee chose a winner in each one. Check out this clip to see whose choices got the nod...