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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Travel

Leaf Peeping & Eating

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I just returned from a long weekend in northwestern Vermont, where I spent as much—OK, more—time eating as I did leaf peeping. Here, the highlights from my trip:

Muddy Waters and Penny Cluse Cafe in Burlington are always packed with University of Vermont students and other locals. They come to Muddy Waters for superb coffee drinks made with beans from Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co. and Dean’s Beans in Massachusetts. Penny Cluse serves the ultimate Vermont breakfast: the Bellber, a two egg–two pancake combo with thick-cut bacon. Don’t forget their crunchy-buttery biscuits.

Pizza on Earth, a short drive south on Route 7 in Charlotte, serves delicate wood-fired pizzas that rival American Flatbread's. Owner Jay Vogler, former Roger Vergé apprentice and art installer at NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art, makes every pizza to order with local produce. His house-made English muffins are the best I’ve ever tasted.

Red Hen Baking Co. supplies the area with dark-crusted and chewy artisanal breads baked in Middlesex. Last year, they opened a retail counter where they sell their breads and other treats. I could not resist the flaky ham-and-Gruyère croissant made with local cheese and a superlight apricot coffee cake. On my way out, I hit up Nutty Steph’s Chocolate Shop next door for a bag of Magic Chunks, cinnamon-scented granola mixed with dark chocolate that Nutty Steph herself describes as “less-evil candy.”

Fat Toad Farm in Brookfield is where I stopped on the way home to buy goat’s-milk caramel—a superrich caramel made with organic sugar and goat’s milk.

Pairings

Red Wine & Fish, or Why I Love Science!

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So it seems that researchers in Japan have determined the cause of that horrible metallic super-fishy taste that occurs when some red wines are paired with fish. It's iron. Specifically, the amount of ferrous ion present in the wine. You can read all about this discovery here in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Admittedly, you'll have to be willing to plow through sentences like "Metal ions were analyzed by a postcolumn reaction with 4-(2-pyridylazo)resorcinol reagent combined with spectrophotometric detection," and "Total phenolics of wines were estimated according to the Folin-Ciocalteu method expressed as gallic acid equivalents," but what the heck, it's Wednesday afternoon and you're probably bored at work anyway, right?

If you do manage to wade through the article, you'll hit the payoff which is that tannins—long the scapegoat of bad fish-and-red-wine pairings—are entirely innocent. Yes, tannins are the Dreyfus in this whole fishy affair; blame not the tannins, friends. Instead, stick the onus on iron. Of course, there is one small hitch. As Mssrs. Tamura, Taniguchi, Suzuki, Okubo, Takata and Konno put it with appealing delicacy, "In daily life, it is difficult to predict the iron content in a bottled wine without opening it."

And, one might add, without subjecting it to a postcolumn reaction combined with spectrophotometric detection—but then, who doesn't do that sort of thing, these days?

Bars

First Official Late Night at Death + Company

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It’s official: Death + Company, the destination bar in NYC's East Village manned by Joaquin Simo (also the supersonic deputy editor of the book Food & Wine Cocktails), has extended its hours thanks to a new liquor license. (How has the almost-three-year-old establishment survived without an actual liquor license for so long? Good question.) Simo reports from the front line on the first day of their new hours (Sunday–Thursday, 6 p.m.–1 a.m.; Friday–Saturday, 6 p.m.-2 a.m.): “That first night, a busy Friday, was kind of crazy. We had a great night, even getting Phil Ward to come down the block from his agave emporium [Mayahuel] to stir himself up a Manhattan behind the bar he helmed for so long.”

News

Your Tongue & Bubbles

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There's a fascinating article in the NY Times today about how the tongue perceives the particular taste of carbonated beverages—a category that includes sparkling wines. Evidently, it isn't the prickliness of the popping bubbles that gives things that 'fizzy' taste, as one might think, but the receptors in the tongue that perceive sour flavors, which, as it turns out, are also tuned to sense carbon dioxide. The article (and the research paper in Science, which it reports on; only available with a subscription) is mainly concerned with soda and whatnot, but Champagne lovers might get a kick out of it as well.

Events

First Look: The Breslin

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© Joshua David Stein
April Bloomfield in action at the Breslin

The good news: The Breslin, the new restaurant in NYC's Ace Hotel from my Spotted Pig heroes Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield, was opening with a FergusStock dinner, followed the next day by FergusStock Hangover Brunch. (FergusStock, for the uninitiated, is an annual dinner featuring Fergus Henderson, the chef at London's St. John and author of The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating; his pro-meat approach to cooking should be pretty clear.) The dilemma: Which meal to hit? The answer: Both. Friday night featured Fergus’s trotter, prune and rabbit pie (for one, two or four) and April’s roasted halibut with anchovies. No surprise, the kitchen also went through about 30 pigs, including their pot-roasted heads. Saturday’s aptly titled hangover brunch included ridiculously indulgent custard-filled sugar doughnuts and Cheddary-beery welsh rarebit. And both meals had my new favorite thing on the menu: April’s very crispy thrice-cooked chips. For even more highlights, the New York Times’s The Moment Blog has great descriptions, plus amazing illustrated photos (with even better pics here)

© Joshua David Stein

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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.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.