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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Farms

Good Eats in the Berkshires

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red lion inn

© Red Lion Inn
The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA.



My crazy wedding season (six this summer) officially kicked off this past weekend. Lucky for me, my friends have all chosen pretty awesome locations in which to get married. Wedding number one took me to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. The wedding was at an adorable place called Santarella in Tyringham that looked like it should have been the hamlet where the hobbits live in Lord of the Rings. I managed to sneak in a marathon eating tour of the area between wedding festivities, and—contrary to a recent Huffington Post story—had some amazing meals. Here, a rundown:

I stayed at the historic, 18th-century Red Lion Inn on a corner of Main Street in Stockbridge. The inn feels like a tribute to Americana with its amazing art collection, Otis Birdcage elevator (which you can really ride on) and even a desk once used by Abraham Lincoln. The restaurant menu in the dining room is a tribute to the area’s local artisans and farmers, including Farm Girl Farm and Berkshire Brewing Company in Great Barrington; Hill Top Orchards in Richmond; and Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. in Old Chatham, NY. Chef Brian Alberg recently introduced separate sustainable menus featuring dishes like an irresistible broken-yolk breakfast sandwich with smoked bacon on thick, toasted Berkshire Mountain Bakery bread. His dinner menu offers some surprises like a roasted eggplant Bolognese that uses quinoa spaghetti and basil oil; and for dessert, a house-made version of my favorite Aussie sweet, Tim Tams.

In nearby Lenox, brunch at the laid-back, two-year-old Haven Cafe & Bakery is phenomenal. I took home the house-made granola and ginger-cardamom scones and stayed for the Eggs “Sardo”—poached eggs topped with sautéed artichoke hearts, spinach and dill hollandaise.

Around the block on Church Street, the Wit Gallery showcases an eclectic mix of art including photography, sculpture and mixed media and recently also started selling artisanal wines from small, family-owned producers like Eric Kent.

Just a few doors away is the barely year-old, 28-seat restaurant Nudel, where chef-owner Bjorn Somlo cooks remarkable seasonally driven food with local ingredients. My braised-Berkshire-pork sandwich with pickled vegetables and spicy sambal aioli had me plotting ways to skip the wedding dinner so I could come back to try his bone-marrow Bolognese or garganelli with ramps and almond pesto.

More tomorrow on my Great Barrington, Massachusetts, finds.

Cocktails

San Francisco’s New Burritt Room

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The Kerouac Cocktail at The Burritt Room in San Francisco.

© Kristin Donnelly
The Kerouac Cocktail.

On a recent trip to San Francisco, my fiancé and I mapped out a cocktail crawl. On the list: the whiskey-focused Rickhouse, Michael Mina’s Clock Bar and the brand new, much-buzzed-about Comstock Saloon. Our first stop, however, was the two-week-old Burritt Room in the new Crescent Hotel, where Kevin Diedrich (a veteran of Bourbon & Branch, PDT and Clover Club) designed the drinks. We loved the red velvet bar stools, the spooky white piano and the exposed brick walls, dimly lit by chandeliers. The perfectly balanced Kerouac Cocktail, a mixture of reposado tequila, Aperol, Cointreau and grapefruit and lemon juices was a great way to start the night—but we became so enamored with Diedrich and his cocktail list (each drink is only $10, and the descriptions are written up like old-fashioned recipes) that our crawl came to a standstill as we ordered more drinks.

News

Amazing Caramels

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Sweet Revolution Caramels

© Dunja Dumanski

While out in San Francisco the other week, a college friend of mine handed me a dangerous package: a box of San Francisco's Sweet Revolution caramels. The name makes sense, as the caramels are uniquely made: They contain no cane sugar or corn syrup but only maple, dairy, honey, sea salt and vanilla bean. The result is a deep honey flavor and a soft, chewy caramel that doesn't stick to your teeth. This spring, Sweet Revolution introduced a new variety, toasted almond (each caramel is topped with a perfectly browned nut). The only thing more perfect than the flavors is the packaging: stamped paper boxes tied up with twine and sealed with bright red wax for the candies, and a short mason jar for the maple-honey-caramel spread.

Menus

World Cup Street Food

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soccer

© Langham Hotels
Coconut-curry millet puffs at the Langham Huntington.

 

World Cup soccer madness officially kicked off today, and I’m loving how many chefs, restaurants and bars are hosting viewing parties and developing special menus. In Los Angeles, the bar at the Langham Huntington s serving haute versions of street foods from countries represented in the World Cup: duck-fat-fried fish and chips for England; Calabrese sausage in yucca buns for Brazil; Manchego–serrano ham churros with Manchego sauce for Spain. To represent the host country, South Africa, chef Erik Schuster made coconut-curry millet puffs that are meant to look like soccer balls.

Menus

Preview of The (Food) Situation on MTV's Jersey Shore Season 2

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© Alessandra Bulow
Biscotto Oreo, Ronnie from MTV's Jersey Shore's favorite flavor from Lecca Lecca Gelato Caffe in South Beach

In April, when I heard that the cast of MTV's Jersey Shore was working at Lecca-Lecca Gelato Caffe in South Beach while taping the second season of the runaway-hit show, I immediately called the Italian-ice-cream shop and was promptly hung up on by Sammi "Sweetheart." So when I visited South Beach recently, of course I stopped by to try to see the gang in action. Sadly I missed them by a week (they've gone back to Seaside Heights, NJ, to "beat up the beat" and finish taping the season) but I did get the scoop on their favorite gelato flavors at the shop:

Muscle-head Ronnie may have had to hit the gym harder than usual because he was constantly dipping into the Biscotto Oreo gelato (cookies-and-cream with crushed Oreos and Nilla wafers, pictured).

Mama’s boy Vinny stuck to the traditional chocolate.

Ladies’ man DJ Pauly D favored the tiramisu gelato (its name means “pick me up” in Italian).

The house’s resident cook, Mike "The Situation," preferred the mango, a lighter gelato to keep him looking “like Rambo with his shirt off.”

As for Snooki, she ate the café's sandwiches but didn’t like the gelato, or working—in true Snooki style, she often napped during her shifts and oddly slept inside a shelf under the store’s front counter.


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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.