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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Cookbooks

Tomahawking Champagne for the Holidays

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© Lois Ellen Frank
The Basics for Tomahawking Champagne.

In Part II of my occasional series, Don’t Necessarily Try This at Home (Part I featured two-year-old vintage eggnog from Jonathon Sawyer of Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland), I’d like to spotlight tomahawking Champagne as a potential holiday trend. I first heard about this from Holly Arnold Kinney, who owns the iconic Rocky Mountain restaurant The Fort, outside of Denver. Instead of the classic, and dramatic, French practice of “sabering” Champagne—hitting the bottle neck with a saber at just the right angle so the cork pops off—the Fort uses a tomahawk to do the same job.

In her cool new coffee-table book, Shinin’ Times at the Fort, Kinney goes into even more detail: “My dad taught his pal Julia Child how to tomahawk a bottle of Champagne, and later that week, she taught Jay Leno how to do so when she was a guest on The Tonight Show.... [but] the bottle Julia used was weak and broke all over the set! Although she grabbed a second bottle and tomahawked it perfectly, NBC decided to use the broken-bottle take to promote the show.”

Recipes

The Wahlberg's Macaroni Salad

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The very young Wahlberg family (Mark is bottom center; chef Paul is far left, second row)

I know December isn't prime time for pasta salad. And I doubt Mark Wahlberg ate this macaroni salad to get into such sick shape to play champion boxer Micky Ward in his film The Fighter. But thanks to his brother, chef Paul Wahlberg, we’ve got the recipe for the Wahlberg family macaroni salad. Mark says that no one makes the dish as well as their mother, Alma. But you can give it your best shot (here's the recipe, below). Or go to Paul’s cool new Mediterranean-Italian restaurant, Alma Nove in Hingham, Massachusetts, where the macaroni salad is on his menu at his brother’s request. At least in pasta salad season in summer.

  
Alma’s Macaroni Salad
10 to 12 Servings;  Total: 25 min

1 pound elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced celery
3 tablespoons diced red onion (optional)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente. Drain, then rinse the macaroni until cool. Drain very well.
2. In a large bowl, toss the macaroni with the oil. Add the garlic powder, celery salt and mayonnaise and toss to coat. Stir in the green pepper, celery, onion and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill before serving.

Wines Under $20

Holiday Wines: Fox Business & CBS Early Show

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'Tis the season to do TV appearances on wines for the holidays, apparently! I was at the CBS Early Show last weekend offering wine & spirits gift-giving strategies, and on Fox Business News last Friday with some great wine values for holiday entertaining.

Also, if you need a last minute stocking-stuffer for the wine geek in your life, you could definitely do worse than the Twistick ($9.99), which may well be the world's smallest corkscrew. You can put it on your keychain for wine emergencies (they do happen!), and while it's not the easiest corkscrew in the world to use, it's a lot better than biting off the top of the bottle with your teeth.

Recipes

Mark Wahlberg’s Favorite Dish

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Paul & Mark Wahlberg in the kitchen at Alma Nove.

I know exactly what I would have done if I’d been at the after-party for the acclaimed new film The Fighter. I would have won the raffle for the signed boxing gloves that Mark Wahlberg wore in the film (benefits going to the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation). And I would have eaten all the food prepared by Paul Wahlberg (brother of Mark), including countless mini cod cakes and steak crostini. Paul didn’t cater the party to keep costs down; he’s a chef who’s cooked all around Boston before opening his six-month-old restaurant, Alma Nove, in Hingham, Massachusetts. (Alma is the Wahlberg family matriarch; nova is nine, for her nine children.)

There’s another reason Paul catered The Fighter party: He’s worked as Mark’s personal chef on films ranging from Max Payne to The Lovely Bones and knows what his brother likes. One thing that Mark really likes: old-school macaroni salad. Paul tells the story this way: “One day, Mark said, ‘You know what I’d really like? Macaroni salad. Call up Ma and get the recipe.’ I made her recipe, Mark tasted it and said ‘Call her again.’ I realized I wasn’t thinking in Ma’s terms; I was using a really nice olive oil, she used vegetable oil. I had to put my head back to Dorchester [Massachusetts], where we grew up in the '70s; I had to go back to those ingredients. So I made it right, and Mark said, ‘It’s better, but Ma still makes it best.’”

Coming tomorrow: Alma Wahlberg’s macaroni salad.

Menus

A Phone that Translates Menus

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I am always finding myself in awkward ordering predicaments when roaming the globe eating at restaurants. On a recent trip to Peru, I found myself staring at a fist-sized Amazonian snail in one of Lima's top new restaurants. My rusty Spanish had obviously failed me as I thought I had ordered Amazonian cod (that would have been paiche, oops). Until my Spanish improves, I'm relying on Word Lens to prevent future menu blunders. The new iPhone app translates printed text on-the-fly. If you point the phone's camera at something written in Spanish, and it shows up in English on the screen. It's not 100% glitch-free (wrong words will flash on the screen when the text you're reading isn't perfectly clear), but it definitely works. It only translates Spanish for now and while the app itself is free, the Spanish-to-English capability is a $4.99 in-app purchase (so I'm assuming more languages are coming).

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