© Rodale/design by Jessi Rymill
It’s hard not to geek out on beer this summer with the explosion of beer gardens and radical new micro (and nano) brews. Beer expert Christian DeBenedetti urges beer enthusiasts to take things to the next level and start brewing at home.
“Give a person a six pack, they'll drink for a day," says DeBenedetti. "Teach them to brew…" OK, you know the rest. These days, what was once a messy affair has gotten simpler and way more fun with the advent of smarter books and equipment. Suffice it to say that the joy of tasting your first successful home brew isn't easily put into words. If you can follow a recipe, you can make your own beer, and it's cheaper in the long run, too. If you get really good, you might even show off your skills in cool New York City bars like The Diamond, where, in addition to a Shuffleboard Biathlon, there is the Brew 'n’ Chew, a home-brew and home-cooking competition.
Start with the new book Beer Craft: Six Packs From Scratch by William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill. "Home brewing is easy—you probably already have most of the equipment at home," says Bostwick. "But it's also something you can geek out over and get a gallon of great beer in the process (and mess up the kitchen a little)." The genius of this book is that it takes an incredibly complex topic and boils it down to quaffable parts without dumbing down the key points of becoming a serious homebrew honcho. You've got everything from basic definitions of beer ingredients to detailed yeast strain recommendations and an incredibly helpful primer on off flavors and insights into genre-bending sour beers.
Once you have the book, find a local home-brew shop (some Whole Foods stores carry equipment) or order a home-brew kit and you're ready to go.
Michael Symon Cracking Up While Immersion Blending
Michael Symon gets me. Okay, obviously, plenty of other people feel that way about the absurdly good-natured Iron Chef, but no, I really feel like we speak the same language. He cooked for me—alright, for a lot of people—during a recent Calphalon event unveiling some very handy new cookware. He made an orange-fennel-dill salad using a huge but smartly designed mandolin. (Squeezing the handle lowers the safety guard on the mandolin, so it's always up when not in use; $80). “Oh hello there, Maggie," I swear I heard Symon say. "Please let me address our common Greek heritage through these bright, powerful flavors.” There was a compact countertop fryer with a nifty viewing window, in which he made chicken with garlic and rosemary plunked right in the cooking oil ($130), and a "No Peek" waffle iron (an indicator light lets you know when the waffles are cooked to golden perfection; $100) in which he made me wild rice waffles with a streak of blueberry jam. "I know how you love blueberries,” he seemed to say. I do, Michael Symon, I do love blueberries! This fall, Calphalon will also release an immersion blender that offers thoughtful features like a whisk attachment, a food chopper, and a removable adaptor that makes it safe on non-stick cookware, all for around $80. Clearly Calphalon has heard that an immersion blender is the one tool I am dying to buy. Michael Symon probably told them.
© Bryce Boyd
Region General Store
Anyone who knows me can attest that I'm prone to getting lost while shopping for two things: food and home goods. This is no joke, people—I have a serious problem! Lately, I'm finding it especially difficult to control myself because of my new favorite spot that recently opened: Region General Store in the Catskills, two hours north of New York City and just off the banks of the ultra-beautiful Upper Delaware River.
Luxury-retailer-turned-artisan-goods-junkie Bryce Boyd decided to open his store after building a summer home in the Catskills and realizing that his true passion was for a store of his own—one that would be stocked with things produced within 200 miles. He started plans for a modern take of an old-timey staple: the general store.
His country-chic boutique opened only weeks ago, and with much success. It seems only a matter of time before he'll need to hire a staff of people just to stock the shelves (especially with me on the prowl). Bryce sells specialty foods like an incredible cranberry-horseradish chutney (my personal favorite) from Beth's Farm Kitchen and artisan breads from a small-batch bakery, Flour Power, in Livingston Manor, New York. Also available are handmade home goods like a Halloweenish cobweb broom, ceramic juicers and luxurious soaps and candles from TV's famous Beekman Boys.
Region General Store’s website should be up and running in the next few weeks. Until then you’ll need to stop by, like me, and get lost in a world of chutneys, cheeses and pottery.
Region General Store, 3344 Route 97, Barryville, NY; 845-557-5000 or www.regiongeneralstore.com.
© Nicole Franzen
The dining room at Untitled.
Museum restaurants are no longer merely traps for exhausted art patrons with low blood sugar: Visionary restaurants like The Modern at the Museum of Modern Art and Palettes at the Denver Art Museum have raised the bar and given way to a second wave of delicious new openings. At New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, a slice of Four & Twenty Blackbirds’ salted caramel apple pie is an awesome mid-afternoon pick-me-up at Danny Meyer’s Untitled, which opened in March. A few time zones away, the brand-new Eddie Aikau Restaurant & Surf Museum opens this weekend in Waikoloa, Hawaii, dedicated to the memory of the beloved big-wave surf legend. (The museum opens July 3, and the restaurant opens on July 4.) Chef Scott Lutey’s contemporary Hawaiian menu highlights ultra-local ingredients in dishes like lacquered kalua pork belly and Molokai watermelon salad with candied macadamia nuts. And on Independence Day, chef John Besh opens his new Soda Shop at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. The casual spot will serve fountain sodas in flavors like melon and pineapple, as well as house-made ice creams like Creole Cream Cheese Red Velvet.
We know, this sounds suspiciously like an internet ad that tells you how to make money by selling prescription drugs online. No, this might be even easier. Some cookbooks that you just might have sitting on your shelves are going for quite a bit of money on Amazon.
We’re not talking about super-specialized books like Modernist Cuisine, the recently released, $625, 46-pound compendium by Nathan Myhrvold, nor a first-edition copy of Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food, which went for $1583. (Although if you have either of those books on hand, you’re lucky, and potentially rich.) We’re talking specifically about The Last Course, by pastry goddess Claudia Fleming. Published in 2001, the book ranks just above the 783,000 mark on Amazon’s best-seller list and originally cost $40. Now, a first edition of The Last Course is on sale for $800 on Amazon, with used copies going for $142.
Why is the book, as good as it is, so expensive? Because it was only reprinted in limited quantities. (Maybe also because gilttaste.com marked the book at $400 when Dave Chang recently named it on his curated cookbook list for the website.)
“People always want what they can’t get,” says The Last Course’s co-author, Melissa Clark. “Once a cookbook goes from utilitarian—as in, something to cook from—to cult—as in, something to own—that’s when you get crazy prices. The funny thing is, I recently bought a copy at a thrift shop for $20. Then the price skyrocketed. So now I have two copies, and I’m wishing I’d saved more from my original case of books.” Alright everyone, go check your shelves for The Last Course. Of course we recommend that you cook from it. But whatever you do, don’t put it on the giveaway pile.
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