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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Holidays

12 Days of Wine Bags, Day 12!

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© North Wood Blanket Co.

On the 12th Day of Wine Bags my true love gave to me, a tote made from an old sleeve.

Hooray! We've made it the twelfth and final bag in this holiday wine carrier spectacular! I've had a fun time tracking these things down, and it's been exciting to see the endless design possibilities for carrying a bottle of wine.

Which brings me to today's wine-bottle gift-bag: Ontario designer Lori Norwood of North Wood Blanket Co. repurposes the sleeves of old sweaters, turning them into vibrant, cozy, little wool bags that will hug your wine just like a sleeping bag.

Now, what to go in these bags? This time of year I gravitate toward Loire Valley Cabernet Franc for the herbal qualities it takes on—when it's good—and for the brambly berry notes it almost always has. Lately, I've been particularly into the rosemary-scented 2007 Charles Joguet Cuvée Terroir Chinon ($18, find this wine), perfect for holiday roasts and sipping by the fire.

Travel

A Treadmill for the Food Obsessed

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Most treadmills tell you your heart rate and the number of calories you've burned, but apparently in food-obsessed Japan, treadmills flash images of ice cream cones and decanters of sake to show how hard you're working out. In today's New York Times Op-Ed section, Roger Cohen notes his amusement at seeing "an egg-topped sandwich suggestive of a Croque Madame" on a treadmill's screen when he hit the 450-calorie mark in his workout. The question: Were these suggestions of foods to avoid, or ideas for what he could eat later—"a visual projection of a no-pain-no-gain philosophy?"

News

The Next Tasting Room You Visit Will Be Red

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In one of the stranger studies I've run across recently, UK's Daily Telegraph reports that German researchers have determined that people find wine to taste fruitier and sweeter in rooms lit with red light, as opposed to white or green light (not that many of us spend times in rooms suffused with green light). Moreover, people are apparently willing to pay more for wine in rooms with red or blue light. I'm predicting a big run on red light bulbs in wine country in the near future...

News

Super Tuna at NYC’s Blue Fin

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Once upon a time (actually, February 2008), I remember reading about kindai tuna and thinking that, like a fairy tale, it was too good to be true. On his superlative L20 blog, Chicago chef Laurent Gras shared details of the sustainable bluefin tuna that’s bred from an egg in a college laboratory (at Kinki University in Oshima, Japan, south of Osaka, to be precise). The tuna is then raised with more room to swim than most farmed fish. Gras called it the best of both worlds—farmed and wild. Given the dire predictions from organizations like the World Wildlife Fund (in three years, the Atlantic’s breeding population of bluefin tuna could be wiped out), I’d eat sustainable tuna even if it didn't taste so good. But when I got to try a few slices of kindai at Times Square’s Blue Fin restaurant (thank you GM Tom Piscitello), it was unbelievably tender and fatty. And I wished I could have had more. Apparently, though, only three kindai tuna make it to the United States each week, and only one of them gets to New York City, where elite places like Masa fight over it. How that kindai tuna made it to Times Square I have no idea, but here’s hoping it will keep coming, and we'll all live happily ever after.

Holidays

12 Days of Wine Bags, Day 11

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© Container Store

Last Friday, I finally made it to the bar at the new Breslin at NYC's Ace Hotel (you know, the newest place from the Spotted Pig cohorts Ken Friedman and F&W Best New Chef 2007 April Bloomfield) I was really lucky to get there on the early side because by 6 p.m., the place was packed with fashionable folk clamoring for Pimms Collinses and scrumpets and expertly fried, thrice-cooked chips. The pubby feel of the Breslin practically demands that you have a beer, so I chose a cask pour of the Breslin's very own Aberdeen Scotch ale, made exclusively for the restaurant by Brooklyn's superstar brewery Sixpoint Craft Ales. Cask-conditioned ales are served a little warmer than the average draft pour and have nice soft bubbles so that you're able to fully take in all of the flavors and aromas of the beer. The Aberdeen is incredibly round with some caramel notes and perfectly balanced malts and hops.

What does this have to do with 12 Days of Wine Bags, you ask? Well, while sitting in the Breslin waiting for my friend, I was able to really investigate all of the little details of the place—including the excellent little red tartan plaid lampshades, which reminded me of these terrific plaid wine totes from the Container Store. Plaid seems to be a pretty big fashion fad these days, and these let you take your wine in style, too. I'm mostly opposed to paper and plastic bags but these are sturdy enough to be gifted and regifted over and over again. And for a mere $4 a pop, you can outfit all of your colleagues in the office with them.

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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.