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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


Natural Beauty from an Organic Farm


tata harper

© Tata Harper
Tata Harper skincare line.


I’m probably the furthest thing in the world from a beauty junkie. So when I find myself smitten with a skincare line, it’s really got to be pretty darn spectacular. I recently had breakfast with Colombian-born beauty guru Tata Harper, who has launched her own eponymous line of all-natural skincare products. Tata was appalled to find out how many toxins and chemicals are packed into commercial lotions and facial cleansers. In an effort to educate consumers, she and other all-natural-beauty gurus gathered at the Spotted Pig last night for the premiere of The Story of Cosmetics, the beauty world’s version of Food Inc., directed by the Story of Stuff Project. "We are so concerned with what we put in our bodies; why should we also not be equally concerned with what we put on them?" asks Tata. Looking for an alternative to what was on the market, she spent more than four years developing her skincare line, which she makes out of a barn in Vermont's Champlain Valley. And many of the products are made from ingredients grown on her 1,200-acre organic farm, Julius Kingdom. Her products are so pure, she says she didn't even flinch when she caught her young son eating her beauty serum.

Wine Shops

Boundary-Pushing Wines


WTF?! Tasting

© Lou Manna
WTF?! Tasting

I recently attended the WTF?! Tasting at Brooklyn Wine Exchange, hosted by a company called WineChap, which is known for its quirky, entertaining events like the astrology-themed Wines for Signs. We tasted six “boundary-pushing” wines, each breaking the mold of conventional winemaking in its own way.

NV Domaine Mosse Moussamoussettes Pétillant ($23) An unfiltered sparkler with no yeast or sugar added.
2008 Red Hook Winery The Electric ($45) The soul of a late-harvest Riesling in the body of a Chardonnay.
2002 Gravner Ribolla Gialla Anfora ($90) An “orange” wine fermented in underground clay amphorae.
2008 Domaine le Briseau Patapon ($28) Made from the rare Pineau d’Aunis grape, put through even rarer semi-carbonic maceration.
NV Pechigo Rouge ($22) An uncommon red blend from biodynamic winemaker Sylvain Saux.
2000 Domaine de Montbourgeau L’Etoile Vin Jaune ($71) An oxidized wine from the Jura, with fino sherry–like flavors.

The tasting booklet’s overall rating for each wine involved choosing its WTF?! Factor— illustrated with one to five unicorns—and came with photos depicting each wine’s wacky aspect (like a centaur for the unlikely blend in The Electric). You might love them or hate them, but you’ll never say they’re ordinary. One sip and you might blurt out…WTF?! 


Eric Ripert and Aldo Sohm's Perfect Pairings


It’s hard to think of a better chef-sommelier team than Eric Ripert and Aldo Sohm, the star cook and wine director, respectively, of NYC’s outstanding restaurant Le Bernardin. They can be very funny (they certainly were when Frank Bruni, with help from Ripert, punked Sohm for an F&W story, "World’s Best Sommelier vs. World’s Worst Customer"). But the two are never less than genius, and so they are in the just-launched Avec Eric: Perfect Pairings web videos. In the short, sweet videos, Ripert challenges Sohm to do things like pick a wine that goes with all the crazy flavors on a charcuterie plate (next week you'll see Sohm rise to that challenge, choosing a light but powerful 2006 Bai Gorri Crianza red).

The videos, a follow up to their popular Get Toasted series (love that name), also preview the Avec Eric: Perfect Pairings wine club inspired by Ripert’s PBS series Avec Eric. Of course, members get a couple bottles of wine a month (Sohm’s picks might include 2007 Pinot Noir Flowers Sonoma Coast, plus his tasting notes.) They also get Ripert’s excellent recipes paired to those wines and web videos that explain that (perfect) pairing. You can drink those wines while watching the Perfect Pairings series and/or while you watch Ripert be a phenomenal judge on Top Chef Season 7 in DC.


Sean Brock Guest-Chefs at Aldea


brock, mendes, boulud

© Courtesy of Aldea
Sean Brock, George Mendes and Daniel Boulud.


I’m a huge fan of George Mendes, the extraordinarily talented chef at NYC’s Aldea restaurant, not only for his fantastically delicious food (like his awesome duck rice) but also for the true camaraderie he shares with his fellow chefs. Mendes has recently been inviting chefs from around the country to take over his kitchen and cook insanely good dinners. It's a wonderful way to exchange ideas and innovations, and a way for diners to experience some seriously good food without having to hop a plane. Sunday night, I was lucky enough to score a seat for a dinner prepared by Southern talent Sean Brock of McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina. The scene was like a supercool Sunday supper with guests that included chefs Daniel Boulud, Nate Appleman  and Paul Liebrandt, alongside other food-obsessed New Yorkers.

Highlights included Brock’s molecular take on classic shrimp-and-grits, studded with Benton’s sausage; a ridiculously flavorful 18-month country ham (made from pigs raised on Brock’s farm) wrapped around goat’s-milk cheese and pimento and paired with a shot of bourbon; and the most divine, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly (supplied by Bev Eggleston) served with heirloom beans.

Wines Under $20

Weekend Today: Wines for Grilling


It's grilling season, and consequently I'll be appearing on Weekend Today tomorrow morning—Saturday—in the eight o'clock hour with some affordable wine recommendations for everything grilled. Malbec with burgers, albariño with grilled fish, zin with ribs, and one of my favorite dry rosés that I've tried recently—the 2009 Mulderbosch Rosé ($11), from South Africa—with grilled chicken breasts. If I don't run out of time (always a risk, since three and a half minutes goes fast), I'll wrap it up with a tangerine-and-peachy, lightly sparkling, lightly sweet 2008 Michele Chiarlo Moscato d'Asti ($14) to serve with grilled peaches. Should be fun, so tune in.

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