You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.
So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.
NV Lini Labrusco Lambrusco ($14) It’s purple, it’s fizzy, it comes from Italy, and it’s really good, the latter part being what separatesit from most Lambruscos.
2009 Crios de Susanna Balbo Malbec ($15) Malbec was made for grilled meat (that may explain its popularity in Argentina, where people eat something like 125 pounds of beef each year, per person). Susanna Balbo, one of Argentina’s greatest winemakers, has a knack for the grape, which this juicy, lightly spicy red makes clear.
2009 Foxglove Zinfandel ($14) Bob and Jim Varner make high-end, terrific wines under their own name, and inexpensive, also terrific wines under the Foxglove label. There’s a little Petite Sirah in this, which adds some backbone to Zinfandel’s lush fruit.
More Burger Pairings
Best Burgers in the U.S.
10 Favorite Burger Recipes
Top 10: Fast Burgers
15 Rules for Great Wine and Food Pairing
(Pictured above: Cheddar-and-Onion Smashed Burger)
Ferran Adria's upcoming cookbook has meals for $5 a person.
© Marcia Kiesel
Grilled opah with jalapenos.
I had a chance to taste various Hawaiian fish last week, sent to us by Honolulu Fish Company which was shipped to the Food & Wine test kitchen. We needed to test a recipe for our "Chefs Know Best" column that called for opah, a large, beautiful Pacific fish. I also decided I should develop some recipes using opah and a few other varieties that the company offers.
The Honolulu Fish Company offers a unique variety of Hawaiian fish, freshly caught and delivered overnight. The company integrates environmentally conscious practices of no net fishing (hook-caught wild fish only), and all fish are of proper maturity with no fish waste. (All fish parts are recycled into agricultural supplements or distributed to local food processors.) There are no bycatch issues, so no other species are harmed.
Here is an opportunity to try a selection of delectable, unusual fish for $20.00 per pound plus shipping. That is less than many varieties sold here. Granted the shipping wasn't cheap but if you invest with other fish-fanatic friends, it turns out to be a rare and wonderful experience.
Okay, onto the tasty part. Opah was our number one favorite. Even when cooked through, it was the most juicy, rich-tasting and melt-in-your-mouth fish. Maybe the best fish ever! We also loved the emperor black cod, or sable. This black cod was properly rich but slightly lighter on the palate than west coast black cod and the flake of the flesh fell into thick, silky slices. We also tried the striped marlin which had a gorgeous orangey, flesh that was very mild and lean.
I found certain methods and ingredients that work best with each fish. The opah can be seared on one side only, close to sashimi, serve with jalapeño slices macerated in soy and lemon juice. It is fantastic just sautéed in butter, letting the butter brown, then adding a few capers, white wine or even kernels of fresh corn. It grills beautifully. Top it with sautéed garlic, anchovy and some hot pepper, adding parsley leaves at the last moment to slightly wilt. The black cod pan-fries nicely. I loved the richness with some sautéed shallot and rehydrated porcini, deglazed with sherry. Serve with a garlic aioli on top. Killer. Or pan-fry, remove, and add little neck clams with a pinch of saffron and garlic. Off the heat, swirl in some butter. The marlin made an exquisite, very clean-tasting ceviche. It was made with a dressing of soy, lime and sesame oil and was tossed with tomato, avocado and toasted sesame seeds. I served it with crisp rice crackers.
There are many fish varieties to choose from and availability depends on seasonality but it ranges from several types of tuna, groupers, marlin, snapper and swordfish to special Hawaiian species besides the opah: kaku (barracuda), walu (escolar) and rainbow runner (a hamachi). Minimum orders are for twenty pounds. So gather a group, divide up the catch and have a unforgettable fish feast. Check out the website: you can drool over the close-ups of glistening hunks of each fish being expertly carved.
© Jen Murphy
Apple tart at Castello di Vicarello
Earlier in the year I had a chance to spend a weekend cooking with the amazing Aurora Baccheschi Berti at her dreamy 12th-century castle-turned-hotel, Castello di Vicarello, in Maremma, Tuscany. Staying at Vicarello is like staying at fabulous friend’s home with nonstop food, wine and adventure (Aurora’s husband, Carlo, takes groups wild-boar hunting at his nearby lodge, Valle di Buriano. Aurora and Carlo spent years in the textile business and have quite an eye for design. The seven rooms and villas of Vicarello are outfitted with unique antiques, old issues of Art Forum, oversize bathtubs and quirky touches like a zebra-skin rug. But it’s the kitchen that’s truly the heart of the house, and that’s where guests gravitate. Carlo and Aurora, and often their three charming sons, are the perfect hosts, offering up glasses of Brunello and slices of wild-boar prosciutto. Aurora hosts impromptu cooking lessons, and dinners are a two-hour-plus affair. I got a taste of the Tuscan winter on my visit, but Aurora’s just-released cookbook, Tuscany My Way, gives me a chance to recreate recipes from all four seasons at Vicarello. Inspired by the castle’s gardens, the book has more than 100 recipes organized by season, like carbonara withfava beans and apple tart. It’s one of the most transporting cookbooks I’ve seen and the next best thing to a trip back to Tuscany.
© Petrina Tinslay
National Velvet (1944)
Twelve-year old jockey Velvet Brown’s namesake dessert: Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Ice Cream (pictured). Bonus: her horse’s name was Pie.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Spicy recipes that could have been served by Maggie the Cat at Big Daddy’s revelatory birthday party in New Orleans, including Chicken and Smoked-Sausage Gumbo and Creole Shrimp with Garlic and Lemon.
Food fit for a queen: Egyptian Spiced Carrot Puree and Okra in Tomato Sauce.
© Kana Okada
A Mariah Carey pregnancy food favorite: Pork chops
She’s giving in to her pregnancy cravings by cooking and eating comfort foods like “smothered pork chops, collard greens, red beans and rice and pecan pie with homemade whipped cream,” says her husband, Nick Cannon, in an interview with People magazine.
Check out more super-satisfying recipes in our Southern Comfort Food slideshow.
The very young Wahlberg family (Mark is bottom center; chef Paul is far left, second row)
Alma’s Macaroni Salad
10 to 12 Servings; Total: 25 min
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced celery
3 tablespoons diced red onion (optional)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente. Drain, then rinse the macaroni until cool. Drain very well.
2. In a large bowl, toss the macaroni with the oil. Add the garlic powder, celery salt and mayonnaise and toss to coat. Stir in the green pepper, celery, onion and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill before serving.
Paul & Mark Wahlberg in the kitchen at Alma Nove.
There’s another reason Paul catered The Fighter party: He’s worked as Mark’s personal chef on films ranging from Max Payne to The Lovely Bones and knows what his brother likes. One thing that Mark really likes: old-school macaroni salad. Paul tells the story this way: “One day, Mark said, ‘You know what I’d really like? Macaroni salad. Call up Ma and get the recipe.’ I made her recipe, Mark tasted it and said ‘Call her again.’ I realized I wasn’t thinking in Ma’s terms; I was using a really nice olive oil, she used vegetable oil. I had to put my head back to Dorchester [Massachusetts], where we grew up in the '70s; I had to go back to those ingredients. So I made it right, and Mark said, ‘It’s better, but Ma still makes it best.’”
Coming tomorrow: Alma Wahlberg’s macaroni salad.