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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Wines Under $20

Wines for Weddings (and other big parties, for that matter)

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The #1 question I received leading up to my wedding this past weekend: What are you going to drink? Me? Well, my new husband and I opted for the lightly toasty, strawberry-inflected NV Gatinois Rosé Champage ($40; find this wine), but we couldn’t exactly afford to serve it to all of our guests. We did, however, want to serve wines that we wouldn’t mind drinking and more important, would please a range of palates. Here is where we landed:

NV Botter Prosecco Spago ($10; find this wine): This apple-scented sparkling wine has just a touch of residual sugar, making it delicious with all the salty hors d’oeuvres, like pigs in a blanket and mushroom-and-onion tartlets with blue cheese.

2009 Domaine Gaujal de Saint Bon Picpoul de Pinet ($10; find this wine): We wanted a zesty unoaked white that was a little more interesting than cheap Pinot Grigio but not as grassy as Sauvignon Blanc. Picpoul is minerally and citrusy but with an ever so slight floral character that was nice with the lobster-sherry broth in our fish dish.

2008 Bodegas Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell ($9; find this wine): Since people would be drinking this wine both with food and without, we wanted a red with no rough edges. This blueberry-rich Monastrell (the grape is known as Mourvedre in France) is fruity enough to drink on its own but has enough guts to stand up to the steak that was served.  

Restaurants

Brunch Italian-Style at L’Artusi

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I was thrilled when Joe Campanale told me they were introducing Sunday brunch at his awesome Manhattan restaurant, L’Artusi. I got a preview last weekend. It’s hard to single out favorites, but here were some dishes that I’ll be back for:
- Creamy Polenta with a Poached Egg and Amatriciana Sauce
- Panino with Braised Pancetta, Fried Egg and Pickled Chiles
- Everything sweet from talented pastry chef and co-owner Katherine Thompson, especially the cherry scones.

- The Texas Mimosa, inspired by Campanale’s Texas friends, chef Tim Love and F&W Best New Chef 2009 Bryan Caswell. It’s made with fresh grapefruit juice, sparkling wine and tequila.
- The L’Artusi Bloody, a spicy mix of tomato juice, Hudson Valley Vodka, Mezcal-infused chiles, Sriracha and market vegetables.
Brunch starts this Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Cookbooks

More Notes from the NYC Wine & Food Festival

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© Lou Manna
Rocco DiSpirito

My colleague Kate Krader recently blogged about her three highlights from last weekend's New York City Wine & Food Festival.  I'm going to add two more to the list.

* My friend Cricket Azima taught a kids' cooking class on Saturday, part of the Kids Get Cooking! segment of the festival.  She deftly led 50 kids (some even clad in chef jackets) in making panzanella.  Nothing beats seeing a bunch of kids happily dicing veggies, all yelling "Mangia, mangia, mangia!" ("Eat, eat, eat!" in Italian) in unison. 

* On Sunday, Rocco DiSpirito cracked jokes during his culinary demo, as he shared secrets for making over comfort foods from his latest book, Now Eat This!  Rocco related how he wanted to find a way to have real fried chicken, while cutting out a lot of the fat: "Who needs another baked chicken recipe?" he said.  He consulted Harold McGee, father of all things scientific in the kitchen, and discovered that less time in oil = less fat absorbed. So, he came up with the idea to poach chicken in broth until almost cooked through, dunk it in the requisite buttermilk bath and flour coating, then flash-fry it very quickly in hot oil.  Chicken that's crispy and lower in fat: genius!

Restaurants

Barbara Lynch Gets Fancy in Boston

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© Justin Ide

For the past few years, prolific chef Barbara Lynch had been telling me about her idea for a fine dining restaurant to add to her mini Boston empire. It would make you want to put on your Manolos and new Lanvin dress. It would be elegant without being stuffy. And it would be French. Last week I finally got to experience what took five years to realize. Menton, named for a tiny French village, is next to two other great Lynch spots, Drink and Sportello, in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood. The fabulous space is glamorous without being at all girly. Designed by Jeffrey and Cheryl Kates (they’ve designed everything from Lynch’s home kitchen to her restaurants No.9 Park and Stir) it has beautiful touches like Ted Muehling candlesticks and a Murano glass chandelier that hangs above the silver leather reception. The monochromatic paintings were created by Matt McClure, an American artist and former No. 9 Park bartender who now lives in Burgundy. The food from young Lynch prodigy Colin Lynch (no relation) is outstanding: refined, flavorful, unexpected. Highlights of the chef’s tasting menu included a butter soup studded with chunks of lobster and topped with caviar and a touch of honey (excellent with a glass of Champagne) and kataifi-wrapped langoustines with pickled rhubarb and pumpkin seed oil. Lynch has taken Boston’s fine dining scene to a new level. As dramatic as the dining room is, I hope I can land a seat at the chef’s table on my next visit. The glass-fronted room looks out on the stainless steel Molteni kitchen and is done up in malachite wallpaper with a huge silver banquette and is definitely the best seat in the house.

Wine

Highlights: New York City Wine & Food Festival

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© Joshua David Stein
Andrew Zimmern and Michael White in action at Carts in the Parc

On the CBS Early Show the morning after the close of the spectacular/crazy/non-stop New York City Wine & Food Festival, Bobby Flay said he couldn’t pick a highlight. I sympathize – there was a lot to choose from. But I did manage to pick my 3 favorite brand new (and parties) events from NYCWFF.

*Sommelier Showdown
– On Saturday morning, the country's best (and it would seem most hungover) sommeliers, plus some adventurous wine fans, congregated at Del Posto for a superfun blind-tasting contest, complete with elimination rounds, performances by new wine-rapping star Justin Warner and a big win by Bar Boulud’s Michael Madrigale.

*The Cosmopolitan After Party
– Yes, I was excited for a late-night party from the opening-soon Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (I’m partial to any party that has the prefix "after"). And this was pretty much the kind of party I dream about — superb sushi from Blue Ribbon, no line and great drinks at the bar, good DJ, sweet rooftop option and an old-school photo booth that let you choose black-and-white or color (always b&w).  
 
*Carts in the ParcAndrew Zimmern, F&W’s new favorite TV food star, played host to a genius afternoon party at the very cool, just opened FoodParc and invited 24 of his favorite food trucks to park there. In less than five minutes I managed to eat a killer tongue slider from chef Michael White, a Biryani Cart superspicy kati roll and a Treats Truck peanut-butter cupcake. Eater’s Joshua David Stein has more hilarious highlights.

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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.