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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Restaurant Seders

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© Lucy Schaeffer

Passover, which begins this evening, kicks off with a dinner called a seder. More and more restaurants and caterers have begun to offer this ceremonial meal, but as my food writer friend Alan Richman points out, “There could be humor in this, as chefs who aren’t Jewish create menus that aren’t kosher, in both the literal and non-literal sense.” So, please, take these suggestions with a bissel (grain) of salt.

 

Abigael’s, New York City In addition to catering more than a dozen seders in synagogues and hotels around NYC, Abigael’s is also offering Passover to Go, with dishes like matzo ball soup accented with sweet peppers and cilantro. abigaels.com.

Spago Beverly Hills, Los Angeles Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant hosts its 26th annual seder tonight, with braised beef short ribs and house-made matzo. Proceeds will benefit Mazon, a Jewish hunger-relief organization. 176 N. Canon Dr.; 310-385-0880 or wolfgangpuck.com.

Sprinkles Cupcakes Candace Nelson’s cupcake empire is serving flourless chocolate cupcakes with a Star of David through April 6th. sprinkles.com.

Plus, from the Food & Wine archives, here are 10 more great Passover recipes, like lemony asparagus soup and honeyed carrots with currants and saffron (pictured).

Restaurants

Stalking Joey Campanaro

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Kenmare owners Joey Campanaro, Nur Khan and Paul Sevigny

This week I feel like Joey Campanaro’s stalker. First I ran into the chef/owner of NYC’s amazing Little Owl at a fundraiser for PS3, the West Village school that happens to be my alma mater. (Campanaro didn’t cook, but he was the only notable West Village chef who didn’t: In the cafeteria-turned-staging-kitchen were Zak Pelaccio of Fatty Crab, Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto, Jason Denton of Corsino, the Dell’Anima team and Mikey Price of Market Table.) So as soon as possible—i.e., Monday, opening night—I trekked to Campanaro’s new spot, Kenmare, on the edge of Little Italy, to see him in action. No surprise, the food is killer, namely pillowy basil gnocchi with a rich short rib ragù and spaghetti fra diavolo with lots of lobster and shrimp. The big-deal dish is the main-course chicken—called The Chicken. Campanaro smokes, then confits the legs so they’re extra-tender, cures the crisp-skinned breast and serves it all in flavorful gravy. The whole menu is new, except, as New York magazine smartly points out, Little Owl's epic meatball sliders. They’re there because Kenmare’s co-owner Paul Sevigny specially requested them. I wonder if he's a Joey Campanaro stalker like me.

News

The Baboon-Grape Dilemma

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Having just finished a column on South African wine (to appear in our June issue), I was disheartened that this bit of breaking news didn't get to me before I filed the story. Baboons, it seems, are becoming a scourge in some of South Africa's wine regions, descending on vineyards and gobbling ripe Pinot and whatnot by the ton (literally). I especially love the strategies South African vintners are using to deter them: blowing horns called 'vuvuzelas,' typically used by soccer fans, and trying to scare them off with rubber snakes. I suggest the vineyard owners read this long-ago essay of mine about being attacked by a wild turkey for inspiration on how to best nature at its own game.

Restaurants

Pulino's Late-Night Burger

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You bet I was excited to try the new late-night burger at New York City's Pulino's yesterday. Time magazine’s Josh Ozersky began Tweeting it up weeks ago and NBC’s Feast revealed a few details (six-ounce patties; just 30 burgers a night, starting at midnight). I’d already gotten a tour of the sacred butchering room from Pulino's chef Nate Appleman (an F&W Best New Chef 2009). I’d heard Appleman would start serving the burgers Wednesday night. So there I was at 11:59 p.m., fresh from Colicchio & Sons (where Jamie Oliver was having dinner! And talking to C&S owner Tom Colicchio about the amazing Hungry in America documentary that Colicchio is executive-producing). Here’s the sad news: There were no burgers at Pulino's, at least not for me. The restaurant was, apparently, just trying out the late-night menu on staff for its friends-and-family test run. So when are those burgers going to be available to the public? Keith McNally told me to come back Friday night at midnight.

Restaurants

NYC's Meatball Shop

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Meatball Sliders

© Chris Quinlan
Meatball Sliders

It was a cold, rainy Tuesday, and my F&W friend and I just wanted a comforting dinner. So we headed to superstar restaurateur Keith McNally’s newest spot on the Lower East Side, Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria, only to find out it doesn't open to the public for dinner until Friday. Of course, being Food & Wine trend spotters means always searching for what's new and innovative, so we couldn’t go just anywhere, even for comfort food. So we walked a few blocks to the Meatball Shop, a new restaurant specializing in, you guessed it, meatballs. Although the concept sounds simplistic, the owners' impressive pedigree includes stints at the French Culinary Institute, Le Bernardin and San Francisco's SPQR. As we pulled out our markers to make our selections on the wipe-away laminated menus—you select a type of meatball, a sauce and a delivery vehicle (bowl, brioche, hero)—I had a glass of rich, fruity 2007 Nicodemi Montepulciano D'Abruzzo from the short, value-oriented wine list. All the meatballs we ordered (and there were a lot of them) turned out to be well seasoned and incredibly juicy, but I particularly liked the spicy pork and chicken versions.

 

Ice Cream Sandwiches

© Chris Quinlan
Ice Cream Sandwiches

 

Even after our tribute to two of the most important food groups, bread and meat, we still eagerly got out the markers again to order two of the ice-cream-sandwich combinations (the sole dessert option, with all components made in-house). The winning combo: chewy gingersnaps with chunks of real ginger—good with vanilla ice cream but probably even better with caramel ice cream. The Meatball Shop is all about comfort food. Guess that's what fat pants are for.

 

 

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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.