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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Baking

Terrific Passover Desserts

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© Quentin Bacon

I've always viewed Passover desserts as a bit like magic tricks, since no flour or leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda are allowed. But there are still plenty of fantastic desserts, from chocolate cakes to macaroons (one of the secrets to amazing unleavened desserts is in the wrist action involved in making snowy whipped egg whites). Here, five desserts for the five nights of Passover still left, like strawberry-red-wine sorbet with crushed meringue, flourless chocolate almond cakes and Mexican chocolate pots de crème (pictured).

Pairings

Don't Jerky Me Around!

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Well, that headline doesn't actually mean much, but it was hard to resist. The point is, I've discovered my new favorite wine snack: the beef jerky that chef John Schenk (F&W Best New Chef '95) has added to the bar menu at the Strip House steakhouses in Houston and New York—and will in theory soon be adding to all the other Strip Houses around the country.

Strip House Beef Jerky

This tiny photo doesn't quite do it justice. What Schenk does is take prime strip loin, cut it into strips, pound it lightly till it's thin, then marinate it in minced garlic, ground coriander, curry powder, dark brown sugar, black pepper, soy sauce, oyster sauce, thyme, chopped cilantro, lime juice, and red wine vinegar—whew—for at least 24 hours. He pulls it out of the marinade, dries it in a 200 degree oven for somewhere up to 40 minutes or so, cools it, refrigerates it, then fries it to order in goose fat. (Because, you know, why the heck not fry it in goose fat?) And it's served with fried onions. It's slightly sweet, tender and chewy at once, excellently beefy, much more reminiscent of Hong Kong-style beef jerky than of the leathery, black, mesquite-smoked stuff I remember from being a kid in Texas. And I can tell you, it goes fantastically well with a big red wine.

If it sounds intriguing, you have two options: go to Strip House and order it, or, if you just have a general hankering for jerky, wait till our June issue when we're running a whole jerky article. Your call.

News

Hello Kitty Wine

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There's been plenty of buzz about this in the past day or so, but it's still such an oddball concept that it bears—well, I'm not sure what it bears. But anyway, some company called Innovation Spirits has released a Hello Kitty line of wines, complete with that ultra-kawaii kitty cat on the label (on the sparkling wine, it's dressed in what looks like pink-leopard-print footie pajamas with a hood, a bit like Kenny's outfit on South Park—but we all know what happens to him). I haven't tasted them yet. I suppose it's my duty as a wine journalist, but I have to admit I'm kind of terrified.

Recipes

Goodbye, Gelfite Fish

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© Tina Rupp

While gefilte fish has no symbolic reason for being invited to the Passover table, one cannot underestimate the power of nostalgia. And that’s gefilte fish’s main virtue. (The dish was originally prized for its economy: It stretched a bit of boneless white fish with fillers such as matzo meal, carrots and sweetened fish stock that turned to jelly.) I’ve concluded that the best way to get people to love gefilte fish is not to serve it at all. For the six remaining nights of Passover, here are six delicious alternatives: herb-broiled fish with lemon aioli (pictured), grilled halibut with tomato butter, and tilapia with tomato and artichoke sauce.

Wine

An Oscar-Worthy Meal

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© Jordan Salcito
Daniel Boulud and Michel Troisgras share an Oscar.

The current April issue of Food & Wine features two of my favorite people: Jordan Salcito, who wrote a terrific piece about Burgundy winemaker Jean-Marc Roulot, and star chef Daniel Boulud, who cooked an epic dinner with artist Vik Muniz. So this seems like a good chance for Jordan to tell a funny story about her recent adventures at La Paulée earlier this month. (La Paulée, for anyone who doesn't know, is the world’s best BYOB party. The annual U.S. event originated in Burgundy to celebrate the end of grape harvest.) Here's Jordan's story:

On a drizzly Friday afternoon, I started my La Paulée weekend at a vertical tasting featuring dozens of Burgundy producers in the elaborate ballroom of the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. That’s where I bumped into famed Burgundian chef Michel Troisgros, who offered me the chance of a lifetime.

It turned out Michel would be cooking with Boulud that night for a private wine dinner featuring the storied wines of Domaine Dujac.  “Why don’t you cook with us?” he asked me. That night, while we prepared squab stuff with foie gras and bok choy and Thai pheasant sausage with lemongrass, my husband, wine director Robert Bohr, snuck back with glasses of wine for the cooks to try—1985 Domaine Dujac Clos St-Denis and 1989 Domaine Leflaive “Les Pucelles.”

Then something unexpected happened.  A tall, lanky gentleman walked into the kitchen with a gold statuette.  

“Is it real?” everyone wondered.

“It is,” said the man.

It was Pete Docter, a dinner guest, who had recently won an Oscar for his animated film, Up.  He praised Daniel, Michel and all of the winemakers and sommeliers at the dinner that night.  “You all deserve the Oscar!” he announced.

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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.