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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Beer

Rock-Star Road Food

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Eating their way across America: Bluesy rockers The Stone Foxes.

© Rochelle Mort Photography
Eating their way across America: Bluesy rockers The Stone Foxes.

San Francisco indie rockers The Stone Foxes were in New York recently for the annual CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival. Haven’t heard them yet? You probably mistook them for the Black Keys in a recent Jack Daniels commercial in which they covered Slim Harpo’s bluesy “I’m a King Bee.” I sat down with the band between shows for a rundown of their favorite eats from their last few months of touring (they’re also documenting the tastiest bites on their Facebook page).


Where's your favorite preshow meal these days?

Aaron Mort, bass: Being a vegan on the road is definitely pretty challenging. Going through the South for a week, iceberg lettuce with barbecue sauce was pretty much all I ate, but The Grit is an amazing vegetarian place in Athens, Georgia. Spence got the Mediterranean platter, and the hummus was insane.

Spence Koehler, lead guitar: The Shed in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, is just a shack on the edge of a swamp with a barbecue pit and picnic tables, but its baby back ribs are some of the best I’ve ever had.

Shannon Koehler, drums: I tried blood sausage for the first time at the Sweet Afton pub in Astoria, New York. It freaked me out, but I had to trust my bartender’s recommendation. It was glorious. Amen.

Elliott Peltzman, keyboards: I tried the vegan “Chik’n Parmigiana” at Foodswings in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and I swear it tasted exactly like a real chicken parm. It even flaked like real chicken when you pulled it apart.

 

What are you washing it all down with?

Spence: I was blown away by the Four Peaks Kilt Lifter Scottish style ale we tried in Phoenix. It’s superstrong but extremely flavorful.

Elliott: We took the locals’ advice and tried Terrapin Brewery in Athens, Georgia. Its IPA is excellent.

Aaron: And of course, the Bay Area has great beer. I love Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder.

 

What are you excited to eat when you get back to San Francisco in a few weeks?

Spence: I’m baking pumpkin pies as soon as I get home. That’s number one.

Joe Barham, band manager: I’m stoked for organic Mexican food at Gracias Madre. It’s a block from my house, so I go there I lot.

Aaron: I’m going to break my vegan streak for the boozy Secret Breakfast ice cream at Humphry Slocombe. It tastes like the bourbon pound cake my mom always makes for Christmas.

Recipes

A Fried-Chicken Upgrade for John Travolta

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Warning: Test Kitchen Tease snapshots may cause cravings, lip-smacking and an unshakeable desire to cook.

Fried Chicken from Austin's Uchiko

The UK’s Daily Mail reports that actor John Travolta’s representative tried—without success—to reserve two seats at a West Sussex KFC. A spokesperson for the fried-chicken chain expressed regret: “In hindsight, of course we would have reserved a table for him. It’s not every day you get a Hollywood star eating in your restaurant.”

Johnny-boy should have called the F&W Test Kitchen. This week, we tested some killer fried chicken (left) from Austin’s Uchiko. The eclectic Japanese-American restaurant recommends marinating the chicken in buttermilk, Thai chiles and ginger, then dusting it with a mixture that includes Madras curry. The result: super-juicy, flavorful meat and deliciously crispy skin. The recipe will be featured in F&W’s Cocktails 2012 book, but in the meantime, try these incredible Fried-Chicken Recipes, including Grace Parisi’s Beer-Battered Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

Restaurants

Biscuit-Topped Chicken Potpie to Straighten Out the English

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Chicken Dance spotlights a fantastic Food & Wine chicken recipe every day.

Chicken Potpie

© Quentin Bacon
Chicken Potpie

Though Brits and Americans speak the same language, kitchen terms can easily get lost in translation. In a piece for NPR, Alison Richards writes about a frustrating attempt to make star-shaped cookies when she first moved to Washington, DC, from England. After multiple batches of unyielding dough, she realized her mistake: Richards had been making biscuit dough. In England, biscuit means cookie; but in America biscuit means biscuit. There's no mistaking the real, flaky biscuit that tops this Chicken Potpie—a recipe that even a British cook could love.

Related: More Chicken Recipes
Bread and Biscuit Recipes
More Chicken Dance Posts

Wine

Early Look: Bellus Wines at Parm

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© Cynthia Grabau
Jordan Salcito and Lucy Liu celebrate Salcito's new wine Bellus.

Two things I’m really looking forward to this fall: The release of my friend Jordan Salcito’s new wine Bellus and the opening of Torrisi Italian Specialties’ outpost, Parm. Well, earlier this week I got to have my Bellus and eat my meatball subs, too, at the wine’s launch party at the soon-to-open Parm.

Salcito’s inaugural wine, Girasole, is a 2007 Tuscan red; a mix of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It’s got flavors of cherry, pomegranate, herbs and cinnamon. And it happened to be insanely good with Parm’s fresh-from-the-deep-fryer mozzarella sticks and the accompanying marinara sauce.

I’m not the only person who was excited to celebrate the Bellus/Parm pairing. Superstar actress and author Lucy Liu was there; she’s lovely. Hip-hop executive Lyor Cohen smartly positioned himself by the open kitchen, near the sausage-and-pepper heros and pizza knots. Also there: Beyoncé, who’s got to be the world’s most beautiful pregnant woman. And I’m not just saying that because she and Jay-Z shared their meatball parm subs and zeppole with us. Beyoncé was drinking ginger-ale, not Bellus. But she smelled her husband’s wine. “It smells delicious,” she said. “I can’t wait to be able to drink it.”

Restaurants

5 Signs You Got a Bad Deal

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As the blogger behind The Bad Deal, Bloomberg News food critic Ryan Sutton chronicles some of the silliest and most deceptive dining offers on daily deal sites. Here, he reveals the warning signs that accompany bad restaurant deals.

Ryan Sutton

© Courtesy Ryan Sutton.
Ryan Sutton knows bad deals.

1. Your deal is a brunch deal. It’s Saturday morning. You’re hungover. You want to be in bed. But you purchased a deal that's only valid at brunch. And that deal expires today, which is too bad because most people pay in US dollars; greenbacks never expire. Maybe your coupon locks you into a dessert, which is pointless because you never eat dessert at brunch. Maybe your voucher involves multiple courses, like a recent New York event where six different breakfast courses were served at half hour intervals—that's three hours of brunch. Most brunch foods are already cheap, so is it really necessary to pay extra for something you don’t want?

2. Your deal includes mandatory wine pairings. Deals that come with a wine pairing for every guest may seem like a good value. But are you and your date going to be smashed after six pours of wine? Most likely. It’s usually cheaper to have the sommelier create an individualized selection of wines tailored to your own budget and alcohol tolerance. If you decide to stop drinking a pairing halfway through a meal, most good restaurants won't charge the full pairing price. But if you pay up front with a deal, that financial escape plan isn't an option.

3. You ordered a tasting menu at a neighborhood restaurant that never serves tasting menus. A ten-course, three-hour meal is a delicate ballet. Without rigorous pacing and precise portioning, you’ll overdose on food before the feast is half-over. These menus, whether cheap or expensive, are best ordered at restaurants that specialize in them. So it’s unfortunate that deal sites are turning tasting menus into ubiquitous commodities, an excuse to restrict choice and increase the bill at eateries that typically serve just appetizers, entrees and desserts. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If your tasting menu is only available through the dealsite, skip it. If you want something fancier, go to Le Bernardin.

4. The deal includes all-you-can-eat or all-you-can-drink. Do you usually leave restaurants feeling hungry and ripped-off? Do you think portion sizes in our diabetes-plagued country are too small? Do you want to be drunk during an 11 a.m. brunch? If you answered yes to these questions, then maybe you do actually want an all-you-can-eat-and-drink deal. For the more rational folk occasionally drawn to the offer of endless tacos, consider the following: Restaurants regularly impose strict fines if anyone else takes a sample from your never-ending basket of fries, a policy that defeats the communal experience of dining that attracts us to restaurants in the first place. Here’s a revolutionary alternative to the unlimited offer: Order something big and share.

5. You didn’t read the fine print. As economists often say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. That means a deal isn’t a gift, it’s a trade-off. In exchange for a promised discount, you’re giving up certain freedoms, like the ability to eat on certain days of the week, or to order off the full menu. Those trade-offs are almost always buried in the fine print—read it. Another necessary step is comparing the deal's price with the restaurant's regular prices. Deal sites can overestimate savings by hundreds of dollars, and a restaurant's everyday offerings are often more affordable than the deal. So comb through the menu; getting your restaurant information from daily deal sites is like watching infomercials to learn about world affairs.

Related: 5 Signs You've Picked a Bad Restaurant
Cheap and Delicious Recipes
Bargain Wines

Cocktails

Adult Slushies (aka Shaketails)

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It’s a tough time for anyone with at least one eye on the wildly fluctuating stock market. So here’s something to make everyone feel better – or at least those adults who want to drink like children, and have valid id in case the bartender asks. Adult slushies (aka shaketails) have become wildly popular around the country. Here are a few great places to find them.

Tristan, Charleston. Cocktail popsicles are available in weekly changing flavors like Watermelon, White Balsamic Mojito and Firefly Southern Peach. Whether you want to down them as an aperitif or an extra chilled Happy Hour snack is your call.

Holsteins Shakes & Buns, Las Vegas. Located in the super-fun Cosmopolitan, Holsteins has a whole section of "bam-boozled" milkshakes on their dessert menu like the Cereal Bowl with vanilla vodka, Cap’n Crunch and Fruity Pebbles. The brand new "sorbet" shake is made with watermelon, bubblegum vodka and, surprise, liquid nitrogen. 

The Ritz-Carlton Downtown, Atlanta. Atlanta summers are so hot, it’s no surprise that the local Ritz came up with a super fun adult slushie. That would be their boozy, vibrantly colored snow cones,like Passionfruit with Lemon and Bourbon and the locally minded Moonshine-spiked one with Blackberry and Honey.

Village Whiskey, Philadephia. In July, chef Jose Garces premiered milkshakes at his two-year-old spot, which guests can order spiked or not. The long list of ingredients in the Irish Car Bomb includes rum-soaked devil’s food cake, whiskey-infused chocolate pastry cream and vanilla and chocolate ice creams; to make it even more appealing (to me anyway), it’s topped with a piece of cake.

Burger, Tap & Shake, Washington DC. Jeff Tunks, chef at this soon-to-open tavern, coined the term ‘shaketails’ and he’s taking it seriously enough to make almost everything in the drink in-house. The Dr.’s Cure mixes vanilla bean vodka with coffee liquor and vanilla ice cream. I’m not sure how the Teacher’s Pet got its name, but it combines apple brandy, ouzo, root beer with more vanilla ice cream.

La Esquina, Brooklyn. At the new outpost of the groovy Mexican restaurant in New York City, pastry chef Pichet Ong is creating a list of alcohol-soaked ices to serve to the Williamsburg locals. He’ll start with shaved ice and flavor it with tropical fruits like a pineapple margarita, flavored with fresh fruit puree, cilantro, tequila and, as is necessary for all good margaritas, salt.

Related: 20 Refreshing Drinks
Best Ice Cream Spots in the U.S.

Restaurants

Curry Chicken from One of Joe Jonas’s Favorite Chefs

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Chicken Dance spotlights a fantastic Food & Wine chicken recipe every day.

Susan Feniger

© Photo courtesy of Border Grill
Susan Feniger

Joe Jonas is quite the foodie, according to today’s New York Times profile of the pop star. The middle Jonas brother, who appeared on last season's Top Chef as a guest judge, discussed his desire to start a food blog, his new solo career, and how he idolizes chefs like Ferran Adrià, Mario Batali, Tim Love and Susan Feniger. "If there’s a chef I really like, I will freak, because I think their talent is so different from what I do," Jonas said. Don't freak, but Feniger’s sweet, sour and spicy curry chicken recipe should get you excited too.

Restaurants

How to Embarrass Yourself in a Nice Restaurant

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Upscale restaurants get busier in the fall as diners snap out of the summer's casual mode and start getting excited for serious food prepared by top chefs. Here, five mistakes to avoid if you want to come away like a dining-out pro.

© Theo Morrison
Wine pairings may offer more than a buzz.

1. Underdress. It's easy enough to call ahead to inquire about a dress code, but even if the suggestions are fairly vague, like “business casual,” you can try to show some decorum. No one wants to see a man's hairy legs in shorts (Mario Batali being exempt from this), and if a woman's dress is cut down to here or up to there, you can bet the line cooks have already heard about it. Also, forget flip-flops.

2. Fake an allergy. The topic of how restaurants deal with food allergies turned up on Grub Street and Inside Scoop SF recently, and both articles touched on finicky eaters who feign allergies to avoid dislikes. In top restaurants, chefs will often individualize tasting menus so allergy-prone diners can fully experience the cuisine (see: Thomas Keller’s gluten-free brioche). This takes a lot of effort. So, if you demand a gluten-free menu because you’re trying to avoid carbs, you better not get caught tucking into the breadbasket.

3. Drink the finger bowl. If a small, pretty bowl containing hot water scented with lemon or herbs comes between courses, it’s not a palate cleanser or an under-seasoned soup. Drinking this is the fine-dining equivalent of eating a Wet-Nap.

4. Heavy petting. Sweet displays of affection might include a nuzzle, hand-holding across the table, and a kiss or two, but it’s best to keep your hands and mouth focused on the food. Footsie and bathroom adventures might be popular these days, but it’s unwise to experiment in a restaurant you might like to return to someday.

5. Get drunk. The likelihood of the above happening, along with every classic blooper (toilet paper on your shoes, skirt tucked into your tights, FALLING), rises exponentially with your consumption of alcohol. Many wine pairings provide more alcohol than diners can tolerate, so even if you paid as much for the pairing as you did for dinner, try to mind your limit. Plus, the lasting value of an amazing meal dwindles if portions of your memory are blacked out.

Related: 5 Signs You've Picked a Bad Restaurant
5 Ways to Screw Up a Wine Pairing
More What Not to Dos

Restaurants

Party Time at Mandarin Oriental Paris

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Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx made the Mandarin Oriental Paris's party food.

I hate to miss a good party. And it sounds like I missed a pretty spectacular one last week, as the Mandarin Oriental Paris celebrated its official launch. Among the people I would have liked to hang out with: Liam Neeson and Maggie Cheung, and Pierre Gagnaire, one of the world’s all-time great chefs). Michelin-two-starred chef Thierry Marx did the party food—of course he did, he does all the food for the hotel, most especially the impossible to get into Sur Mesure par Thierry Marx.

© kate krader
Thierry Marx's outrageous brioche.

But don’t feel too sorry for me missing the party, because I did get to see the Mandarin Oriental Paris earlier this summer and was just fine. I loved the Swarovski-crystal-lined walls in the lobby, the Diptyque shampoos in the bath and the outrageous brioche in the breakfast bread basket and at the Cake Shop. And I found my new hero, hotel concierge Adrian Moore, who knows every single thing about the Paris food scene and has an excellent blog to prove it.

For more on the Mandarin Oriental Paris, and the fantastic hotel scene in Paris right now, check out the awesome Paris Travel Guide in the October issue of Food & Wine.

Restaurants

Top 5 Trends in Restaurant Desserts

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Since I'm pretty obsessed with finding great desserts, I spend a lot of time examining pastry menus from all over the country. Here are some of the biggest trends turning up on early fall menus.

Upside-Down Cake Recipe

© Tina Rupp
Upside-Down Cake.

1. Black pepper. Salt continues to be popular, but now pastry chefs are experimenting with pepper, which adds a mild heat to desserts like tuiles, sablés and even cheesecake.

2. Brown sugar. Obviously brown sugar is nothing new, but now it's being called out as the title ingredient in pavlovas, tea cakes, pound cakes and cookies. This recipe for simple Iced Brown Sugar Cookies from Baked in Brooklyn is a great way to embrace the trend at home.

3. Chocolate crémeux. The French word just translates to "creamy." The silky, pudding-like dessert seems to be the new darling on pastry menus. For an Italian take on this classic, try this Milk Chocolate Cremoso recipe.

4. Duck fat, lard and foie gras. These fatty faves are adding a savory element to cookies, profiteroles and even s'mores.

5. Upside-down cakes. Pluot, peach, blueberry, black plum, and of course pineapple are some of the fruits starring in this easy cake. The most interesting fruit in rotation has to be tomato, seen at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon. Here's our recipe for the perfect upside-down cake.

Related: 30 Beautiful Desserts
Delicious Chocolate Desserts
Fabulous Apple Dessert Recipes

 

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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.

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