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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Cookbooks

Kim Severson's New Food Memoir

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Spoon Fed by Kim Severson

© Riverhead Books
Spoon Fed by Kim Severson

A reliable test of a book for New Yorkers is whether it makes them miss any subway stops. Kim Severson's honest, engaging and funny new food memoir Spoon Fed is so absorbing, I missed my stop on three occasions. Severson, who writes about food for the New York Times, recounts her struggles with alcohol and other demons, while profiling eight women in food whom she says saved her, from Edna Lewis to Rachael Ray. Since she knows most of them personally, the profiles are refreshing in their candor (she describes helping Alice Waters rig a microphone onto her underwear for an interview at the Union Square Greenmarket). But along with some hilarious stories, Severson has created a moving, modern canon of women in food. After the jump, F&W recipes from four of the women in the book.

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Chefs

Laurent Gras: World’s Fittest Chef

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Laurent Gras. Body fat 2 (t-w-o) percent.

You wouldn’t expect to find any chefs on a list entitled "The Fittest Guys in the World for 2010" from Men's Fitness magazine (although a lot of them would do really well on the corollary list of least-fit guys). The names run towards athletes like the Real Madrid soccer star Christiano Ronaldo and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, Jr., and actors like Sam Worthington. But there is one chef: Laurent Gras of the super-fantastic Chicago restaurant, L20. Gras says he balances his 90-hour weeks in the kitchen by cycling at least one 100-miler on his day off. Here’s what else Men’s Fitness reports: “To maintain his 2-percent body fat (that’s right: T-W-O), Gras heads to the gym five days a week for 30 minutes of jumping rope, an hour of spinning and some lower-body resistance training.” W-O-W. (My only reference for 2 percent involves milk.) For anyone who wants to at least eat like Gras, some of his terrific healthy recipes are at foodandwine.com.

Cocktails

Mumbai Nightlife

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Aer

© Red Lion
Aer at the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai.

Thursday is the night to go out in Mumbai and I had India’s top fashion photographer, Farrokh Chothia (he shot the striking photos hanging in Vermillion restaurant, escorting me past the ropes of the city’s newest bars.

Farrokh met me at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, which will be reopened in its entirety this July, once the tower wings have been restored (they suffered damage in the 2008 terrorist attacks). The hotel’s legendary Harbour Bar (it became Mumbai’s first licensed bar when it opened in 1933) just reopened at the end of March with a great list of Prohibition-era cocktails that are theatrically mixed and poured, plus there's also an extensive selection of single malts and whiskeys.

After watching a night polo gam at Mahalaxmi raccourse, we checked out Tote on the Turf next door. Malini and Rahul Akerkar, the couple behind Indigo, opened this enormous new restaurant and bar last September. Up-and-coming architect Kapil Gupta is responsible for the space, which has 40-foot vaulted ceilings designed to look like tree branches. Its lineup of DJs and a smart drink list that includes the signature Tote Mary (a Bloody Mary with balsamic vinegar and crushed cucumbers) has made midtown suddenly cool.

For the best view of the city, we went to Aer, the posh new bar on the roof of the Four Seasons Hotel. Elsie Nanji is responsible for the futuristic design and great accents like Ross Lovegrove’s Love bench as well as chairs and stools from Driade’s Tokyo-Pop series.

After three supertrendy spots full of beautiful people, I was ready for something more laid-back. Farrokh took me to Blue Frog,  an awesome live-music venue in an old warehouse in Lower Parel that’s been brilliantly redesigned. We ended our night there, rocking out to a Pearl Jam tribute band with some of Farrok's friends from Vogue India.

News

Video Update: Torrisi Italian Specialties

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Torrisi's interior (not a scene from the video)

I have to admit, I watch the video on the Torrisi Italian Specialties site the way some people watch the three-year-old-crying-over-Justin-Bieber clip. It’s a genius alternative from owners Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone to the blah-blahy bios so many chefs have on their websites, and the video shows everything from one of the owners' grandmother’s 103-year-old lasagna to the inspiration they get from Mama Leone and Thomas Keller. Now, Torrisi and Carbone have added new videos, in which they explain their philosophy of using only American-made products for their outstanding deli lunches and new four-course dinners. (Specifically, the video shows them trying to sell their Italian architect on the virtues of Progresso bread crumbs.) If it doesn’t quite have the symmetry of the Bieber-meets-that-crying-three-year-old segment, it’s still fantastically watchable, and it also features one of the Torrisi guys singing "God Bless America."

Restaurants

Terroir Tribeca

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Terroir Tribeca's terrific chef Marco Canora.

Tonight, Terroir Tribeca officially opens its doors in lower Manhattan. That’s the night after TT’s excellent chef, Marco Canora, master wine director Paul Grieco and their whole crew threw a full-on pre-opening party that included Time magazine’s Josh Ozersky, who came from Fatty ’Cue in Williamsburg; Momofuku’s Cory Lane, who came from Má Pêche uptown; and the Locanda Verde kitchen gang, which came from three blocks away. By the time I got there, any food that might have been was gone, but Canora has added several new items to the menu he perfected at Terroir East Village, including fried meatballs, veal-meatball-and-ricotta sandwiches and double-loin Colorado lamb steak. Meanwhile, Grieco was pouring some of the 150 or so bottles on the TT list, including, I believe, the two wines he now has on tap. Although I’m not sure that counts as "pouring."

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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.

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