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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Travel

Chilean Olive Oils Are Coming

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© Joshua David Stein
Olisur's groovy, eco olive oil factory in Chile.

Normally, a trip to an olive oil factory isn’t one of my vacation highlights. But when I was in Chile last week, I had a great visit at Olisur in the Colchagua Valley (it’s the wine that usually gets the attention), set scenically between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Since Chile just seems to have discovered that it can produce great olive oil, Olisur is one of a few labels that are starting to hit the U.S. market. (At New York City’s Co. pizza, Jim Lahey has started to market Chilean olive oil, too.) Olisur has distinguished itself by winning big at a prestigious olive oil tasting in Italy last year (its Premium extra-virgin oils did better than Italy’s and Spain’s in a competition that some people compared to the Judgment of Paris, when California wines beat their French counterparts in 1976).

But back to the factory. It’s set on a vast property–6,500 acres—where eight types of Spanish, Italian and Greek olives are grown. They’re harvested with an innovative machine, which looks like it’s straight out of Transformers, that gently shakes the trees to gather the olives. (Usually, that machine was used to harvest grapes.) One reason to like the oil: It’s pressed within two hours of the olives being picked, so it tastes superfresh (also nicely peppery and grassy). Another reason: The reasonable price tag. A one-liter bottle of their O-live line is about $10.99; 500-ml bottle of the Premium and Limited-Edition Santiago labels costs about $14.99. And here’s one more reason I liked Olisur: its eco-profile. A local journalist called the mill Chile’s greenest operation, because it uses geothermal temperature control in the factory and recycled olive pulp to fertilize the groves and they're in the process of installing solar panels.

If you’re not on your way to Chile, Olisur olive oils will be hitting grocery-store shelves in the U.S. in early June.

Restaurants

Montauk's Surf Lodge Kicks Off Summer

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surf lodge

© Joe Termini
The Surf Lodge, Montauk.

This weekend, the Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York, opens for its third summer season. The laid-back, Endless Summer-vibe and beachy-chic decor make it one of my favorite hotels. As always, the hotel has a stellar lineup of music talent scheduled (G. Love, Mishka and the Beautiful Girls, to name a few). Top Chef Season 2 star Sam Talbot is still in the kitchen, but this year he’s introducing a Hawaiian lunch menu. Also new is the debut of the Food Stand, which will serve fish tacos, lobster rolls and Hawaiian plate lunches late-night, from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. Another addition for 2010 is the Store at the Surf Lodge, a supercool boutique curated by boutique owner Bethany Mayer, featuring clothes by the awesome eco-conscious designer Rogan Gregory; his label, Loomstate, collaborated with the Surf Lodge and Bloomingdale's to create a capsule collection of surf-inspired clothing; the Surf Lodge staff will also be rocking Loomstate Organic uniforms this season. The store opens Memorial Day weekend and will sell a mix of pieces from designers like Jill Platner, Surf Bazaar (a new line designed for and sold exclusively at the Surf Lodge), Loomstate for the Surf Lodge and Tracy.

Events

Gail Simmons’s Excellent Charity Party

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These days, Gail Simmons is all about dessert—look for her fabulous new Top Chef spinoff, Just Desserts, this fall. But tonight (Thursday, May 13), Gail is taking a break from sweets to host a fantastic charity party at Housing Works Bookstore Café in Manhattan’s Soho. (We especially love that because F&W's July Chefs issue is devoted to charity.) For the event, called A Taste of Home, Gail is bringing along a bunch of great NYC chefs, including Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country Barbecue, Brad Farmerie of Public and Double Crown, Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter restaurant and Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern (or, as Gail refers to him, "the legendary Mike Anthony"). There’s also wine, beer and Intelligentsia coffee.

The party starts at 7 p.m., tickets are just $60 and proceeds go to help AIDS patients and the homeless. Everyone come.

Restaurants

Early Look: Má Pêche Beef Seven Ways

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© Ben Leventhal
Má Pêche's cote de bouef extravaganza.

No, I didn’t need another reason to sit down at a Momofuku restaurant. But I got one anyway now that Má Pêche, the new David Chang-owned restaurant in midtown Manhattan, is launching its answer to Ssäm Bar’s bo ssäm and Noodle Bar’s fried chicken party platters. In fact, chef Tien Ho has picked a whole new protein—beef—which he’s serving seven ways. (Let’s note that Ho’s commitment to quality beef is so strong that he picks seven different kinds of beef—from Creekstone in Kansas to Four Story Hill Farm in Pennsylvania—for the Vietnamese-style feast.)

Course 1: Tongue salad with spinach, basil and a sweet-tangy plum vinaigrette, plus just-seared wagyu with a version of Momofuku’s signature ginger-scallion dressing.

Course 2: An over-the-top platter of ridiculous côte de boeuf and chunks of lemongrass-and-Thai-basil beef sausage. (Here’s where you’ll see Momofuku’s first-ever steak knives.) There’s a circus of accompaniments, including lettuce leaves, pickled vegetables, fried garlic and shallots and a key bottle of fish-sauce vinaigrette.

Course 3: A monster beef shank braised with crab paste and chiles, served with soy- and sherry-infused oxtails. The accompaniments stay on the table, so you can eat a hunk of beef shank by itself or wrap it up in lettuce with whatever else you want.

Course 4: A dainty cup of full-flavor beef bouillon with herbs and lime.

Super-Bonus Course 5: A round of perfectly ripe Époisses cheese, which is served dripping off spoons with a perfectly warm baguette.

NBC’s Feast has even more details and photos.

Restaurants

Santiago Restaurants: Part I

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© Joshua David Stein
The A Team at Santiago's Fuente Alemana

I’m just back from Santiago, Chile, where I did an embarrassingly minimal amount of eating around. So here, with more coming over the next few days, are my highlights from the handful of places I went over a 48-hour period. (That included Mother’s Day Sunday, which a local told us translated as “the Most Boring Day.”  I think he was kidding.)
 
Fuente Alemana
Santiago’s epic sandwich shop has a fantastic old-school environment (the waitresses/cooks dress like old-world maids). Yes, everyone loves the lomito (sliced pork loin in gravy that you can get with sauerkraut, tomatoes and more mayonnaise than you would dare to dream about). But my favorite item off the short menu was the rumano, a fantastic, garlicky beef-pork burger with crushed avocado topping, plus a crazy amount of mayonnaise. At lunchtime the place is packed with businessmen; you can call it Santiago's answer to Shake Shack but I prefer to think of it as their DB Bistro Moderne. I just wish they had a branch in the States; that way we could have included it in our lunch roundup in the May issue of F&W.
Ave. Pedro de Valdivia, 210; 011-56-2-233-4705.

More of my picks to come, including one that involves Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and cow’s hoofs.

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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.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.