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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Restaurants

Florida: America's Next Regional Barbecue?

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© Courtesy TrésKoi PR

Orlando cuisine in my experience has been chain restaurants and fast-food spots, peppered with theme-park snacks. But John Rivers (left) has opened up something entirely different in nearby Winter Park: a barbecue joint. The Floridian married a Texan and became infatuated with brisket; he began smoking his own about 20 years ago and later started selling it at fundraisers to help victims of childhood cancer. The brisket drew such huge crowds that in the fall of 2009, Rivers opened up a brick-and-mortar spot: 4 Rivers Smokehouse. The lines start early and don't let up during the day, so Rivers just opened a second location across town in Winter Garden to keep up with demand and will likely open more in the future. Those not in Florida can now buy his sauce and rubs online, too.

Bars

48-Hour Houston Food Tour

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hoops

© Jen Murphy
Food and hoops in Houston.



When I visited Houston last weekend to watch the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships, I knew I’d be running into some hoops stars. What I didn’t expect was that I’d be hanging with so many rock stars and chefs. Here, some highlights:

*The city of Houston organized an unbelievable line-up of free concerts in Discovery Park to coincide with the Final Four. The Kings of Leon put on a rockin' show Saturday night. Afterward, we shared a bottle of 2007 Dominus Estate Napanook with the band and reminisced about the first time we heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Nathan Followill, an F&W subscriber, also told me about his special infused-butter recipe.

*F&W Best New Chef Bryan Caswell took us to what may be the greatest Texas dive bar, the Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club, for some live music and Texas-two-step lessons. Late-night, we feasted on enchiladas and margaritas at El Real Tex-Mex Café, which Caswell just opened with Robb Walsh.

* Houston chefs Chris Shepherd of Catalan Food and Wine, Monica Pope of T’afia and Randy Evans of Haven took us on a five-hour ethnic-food crawl. Highlights included charcoal-roasted cabrito (goat) at El Hidalguense, a no-frills Mexican spot; soup dumplings at Fu Fu Café in Chinatown; and goat biryani and stir-fried okra from the great British-Indian restaurant London Sizzler.

*Fort Worth, Texas–based chef Tim Love of the Lonesome Dove and Love Shack was in town to judge the Coach’s Cook-off. He invited us to hang backstage with his friend, country musician Pat Green. Post-show, we had a nose-to-tail dinner at Feast that ended with a stellar dish of crispy roasted pork belly with red cabbage and potato cakes.

Restaurants

Houston’s Best New Market

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houston

© Jen Murphy
Houston's new locavore market, Revival.

 

I made my first-ever trip to Houston last weekend to watch the Final Four. The final match-up between U Conn and Butler turned out to be one of the most disappointing performances in college basketball history, but my trip still turned out to be stellar, thanks to some seriously awesome eating and music experiences (more on that tomorrow). One of my best finds of the weekend was the new Revival Market in the Heights neighborhood. Opened at the end of March, Revival was originally planned as a butcher shop but ended up being so much more. In addition to an in-house butcher and the city’s first retail dry-cure room for charcuterie, there’s a coffee bar, manned by baristas making perfect lattes with beans from local roasters like Katz, Amaya and Fusion. The grocery section is like a mini farmers' market, selling local eggs, produce, artisanal bread, cheeses sourced by Houston Dairymaids, honey from the Heights and milled grains from outside Waco, Texas. Then there’s the deli where chef-owner Ryan Pera has created a menu of delicious sides (Asian duck slaw) and sandwiches (a turkey club garnished with chicken skins) to-go, or to stay and eat at one of the few tables. Sandwich to try: Revival Dog, a Mangalitsa hot dog served on a pretzel bun and topped with green tomato relish.

Cocktails

Best New Chefs 2011 Party: The Recap

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© Sylvain Gaboury/FOOD & WINE
F&W's 2011 Best New Chefs with F&W's Dana Cowin and Chris Grdovic

We now have our official Best New Chefs, Class of 2011! Glasses up for Bowman Brown & Viet Pham (Forage, Salt Lake City); Jason Franey (Canlis, Seattle); Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine, Austin); Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat, Chicago); James Lewis (Bettola, Birmingham, AL); George Mendes (Aldea, New York City); Carlo Mirarchi (Roberta’s, New York City): Joshua Skenes (Saison, San Francisco); Kevin Willmann (Farmhaus, St. Louis); and Ricardo Zarate (Mo-Chica, Los Angeles).

We had a little party at Bohemian National Hall to celebrate those chefs last night, with superstars like former Best New Chefs Wylie Dufresne, Andrew Carmellini and Laurent Gras and non–BNC stars like Aziz Ansari, Kyle MacLachlan and Andrew Zimmern in attendance. More former Best New Chefs, like Jonathan Benno and Rocco DiSpirito, cooked for the party while opera singers rapped for entertainment and later Geoffrey Zakarian's new place the National poured Moscow Mules for the after-party.

© kate krader
F&W Best New Chefs practice for the Irish Car Bomb drinking contest.

We’ve learned a lot about our Best New Chefs in the last few days. Here are some little-known facts about several of them. We won’t name names, but you’ll find answers to most (but definitely not all) of these who-did-what stories in our July Best New Chef issue.

*Which BNC almost drowned off an Australian beach, and had only one thought in his/her head: "I can’t believe the last thing I’ll have eaten is a mediocre falafel sandwich."

*Which BNC could start a side business designing fishing rods?

*Which BNC had an eye-opening culinary moment in “France” at Florida’s Epcot Center?

*Which BNC got his/her start at Benihana?

*Which BNC also worked as a home loan officer for Washington Mutual?

*Which BNC thought it would be a good idea to take the BNC after after-party to New York Dolls (a Manhattan strip club)?

*Which BNC blew away the competition in an Irish Car Bomb (beer with a shot in it) drinking contest at the after-after-party at Fitzpatricks? (For the record, I came in 9th out of 9. And found out later that the winner had a history of winning Club Med chugging contests.)

News

Food & Whine on The Fabulous Beekman Boys

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© Planet Green
Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge are The Beekman Boys.

 If you ever wanted a behind-the-scenes look at a Food & Wine photo shoot, here's your chance. Last summer, in the midst of a barn raising, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell of the "Fabulous Beekman Boys" reality show hosted a small party while an F&W photographer documented the event. The story will be in our August issue, but the episode about the shoot airs tonight on Planet Green at 10 pm ET (how meta). I haven’t seen the episode, titled Food & Whine, but I hear our shoot adds some drama to the day and that F&W’s Creative Director Stephen Scoble makes a cameo. Those without the Planet Green channel, like me, can download the episode on iTunes after it airs.










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