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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Books

Michael S. Smith’s Kitchen Decorating Tips

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Interior designer to the Obamas at the White House, Michael S. Smith, will release his third book next month: Kitchens & Baths. In it, Smith shares design inspiration for "the busiest and most personal rooms in the home." For a sneak preview, we asked Smith for his top kitchen decorating tips.

Kitchens and Baths

© Courtesy Rizzoli New York

What are some easy ways to update your kitchen?
I think paint is the number one thing. If you have a kitchen that can be repainted, you can do that yourself. You can paint the ceiling a beautiful color. It's a bit more work, but if you have a wood floor, you can stain it, either in a pattern or one color. And many stores sell inexpensive hardware that you can install yourself, or you could change out the front of your cabinets.

How do you optimize space in a small kitchen?
Think about what you really need. If you live in an apartment and have a small kitchen, but don't cook that often, maybe refrigerator drawers instead of a whole refrigerator would be best. Make it charming and utilitarian. Like a boat: very efficient with no space left unused.

How do you approach giant kitchens?
Big kitchens tend to be filled with too much. Do you need a huge refrigeration space? I'd rather have a great bookcase with glass doors to store and protect cookbooks. Or a great niche with a sofa and ottoman so someone can hang out and talk with you while you cook.

What's your favorite kitchen trend?
Reusing things: refurbished stoves, old St. Charles cabinets, and lighting being reused. It is great environmentally and it gives the space charm.

What design elements are you obsessed with?
I really am obsessed with countertops. I think there are so many good options. People get into really expensive marbles. There are some pretty and really inexpensive stones, though keep in mind care issues. Butcher blocks can be inexpensive. CaesarStone is impervious to stains and is terrific. In my own kitchen, I have zinc countertops.

What are some kitchen decorating mistakes?
Trying to give your kitchen an entirely different look than the rest of the house—like if you walk into a fairly traditional house and the kitchen is Tuscan-style, and filled with sunflowers. That's wacky. Know what your house is like and what works. The things that come out of the kitchen, the food and conversations and all of those things matter—the look is important and should be attractive and cheerful.

More Kitchen Design Ideas:
Six Ways to Personalize a Kitchen
F&W Editors Kitchen Wish List
Food Bloggers' Best Kitchen Design Ideas

Cocktails

Beyond the Lemonade Stand

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© Buff Strickland

Maybe you heard about this: A few weeks ago, police shut down a lemonade stand in Midway, Georgia. The stand wasn’t a front for drug dealers; it was a money-making scheme by three young local girls who wanted to go a water park. Apparently in Midway you need a business license for a lemonade stand.

In honor of the Midway Lemonade Girls – who are now selling their product at the Richmond Hill Farmers Market on Tuesdays, no permits necessary — let’s look at some fun lemonades that are keeping folks cool during this long, hot summer.

Lemonade, Los Angeles. Yes, that’s the actual name of the place, which has three locations around LA. They offer 6 or so types of lemonade daily with rotating flavors, like peach-ginger, andblueberry-mint; the newest and most popular one is hibiscus. If you’re looking for a deal, all lemonades are $1 on Tuesdays the downtown Flower Street shop. And if you need relief from lemonade, there’s assorted salads and paninis on the menu, too.

Del's Frozen Lemonade, Rhode Island. I knew lemonade was classic but I didn’t know you could trace it back to 1840, Naples, Italy. At least that’s the origin of Del’s, which claims that the first version of their refreshing sweet-tart drink was made by someone’s great grandfather with wintertime snow, big fat ripe lemons and sugar. Fast forward to now, Del’s has branches in over a dozen states and flavors like watermelon. Their brand newest flavors are grapefruit and pomegranate.

Big City Grill & Lemonade, Indianapolis.
Lemonade isn’t the point here: most people focus on the Philly cheesesteaks (or the Philly buster, made with steak, chicken and ground beef) and the nachos, which you can get with extra cheese by the cup. But everyone loves the lemonade, too, which they say is made with real lemons and a great deal at $2.09 for 20 ounces. I’m not asking if flavors like fruit punch are all-natural.

Mario's Italian Lemonade, Chicago. When its super hot, like it often is in Chicago in summer, it’s great to have a lemonade that’s really a shaved Italian ice. The classic is especially good and it’s dotted with little pieces of lemon, but there’s also melon and even pina colada if you’re going fancier. The place is open straight through from 10 am to midnight, which is a good thing because nights in Chicago are pretty hot, too.

Mister Parker’s Lemonade Stand at The Parker Palm Springs, Palm Springs, CA. You’re poolside at The Parker, thinking you might want to play a game of croquet on the nearby court if only you had some refreshment. Luckily for you, the Lemonade Stand is right there, making drinks like their their excellent frozen muddled vodka lemonade with lemons grown right on the hotel grounds. If you don’t have the strength to get to the stand, they will deliver your cocktail to the hammock area by bicycle.

Related Links:
Lemonade Recipes
Awesome Summer Drinks
Party Punch Recipes

(Pictured: Tarragon Lemonade)

Recipes

Baseball Players' Favorite Foods

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When I’m watching a ball game, I don’t usually care what anyone but me wants to eat. (Another hot dog? No, I’ll switch it up and have a taco.) So I’m not sure why I started to think about what Major League Baseball players like to eat off the field. Maybe it’s the recent book Diamond Dishes: From the Kitchens of Baseballs Biggest Stars. Or maybe I just wasn’t hungry at the moment. Anyway, several heroes from the 2011 All-Star game have strong opinions about what they eat.
 
Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants. Eight Egg White Omelette.
He told ESPN: “I'm an adequate cook. I'm not preparing a five course meal, but I can cook the things I want….For breakfast I'll usually make an eight egg-white omelette with bell peppers, shredded cheese, and slices or ham and turkey ripped up… I probably eat between 54 and 60 eggs a week.”
Here’s why I love Wilson: He name-checked the renowned Bay Area restaurant Gary Danko in an All-Star interview. “If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a 14-star restaurant. It’s got everything that you could possibly want. The lobster risotto—If there was another word for excellent...”
 
Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers. Boca Burgers. 
Guess what – Fielder is a vegetarian. (He got grossed out by meat after his wife gave him a copy of the book Skinny Bitch.) So he loads up his Boca burgers with ketchup; on the road he eats meatless burritos. I’m not sure if they offer them at Brewers stadium but they do have vegetarian hot dogs and fried cheese curds, which sound awesome to me, but apparently not to Fielder who doesn’t love cheese.

Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals. Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich. 
In Diamond Dishes, Berkman says: “One thing I will eat fairly consistently before a game – because you don't want to eat too much before a game – is a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a little honey on it. I like white bread, but sometimes I feel guilty and eat wheat." But when he’s watching football, it’s a different story: "I like the Canadian bacon and pineapple Hawaiian pizza."

Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees.  Fish and plain steamed vegetables.  
Here’s a sampling of Rodriguez’s daily diet: fruit, brown rice and scrambled eggs for breakfast, five slices of turkey, no bread and half a sweet potato pre-game and then fish and steamed asparagus – no oil, butter or salt —for dinner. No, Rodriguez and I don’t have much in common diet-wise. Except that when he was at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas he very much enjoyed the paella at Jaleo and a big platter of sushi at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, and separately, I did, too.
 
Related Links:
Baseball Stadium Foods

Entertaining

Wine Bottles Reincarnated

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Wine bottle tumblers from BottleHood.

© Leslie Tiano
Wine bottle tumblers from BottleHood.

 

The other day at the beach, I came across a supercool beer bottle neck that had been so polished down by the waves and sand that it could be worn as a ring. It got me thinking about the many other neat ways to repurpose wine and beer bottles that I've seen lately. Atlanta-based Kathleen Plate transforms recycled glass into jewelry with clean, sleek lines—her new pale-blue chandelier necklace looks like the summer sky to me. The fire escape gardener in me appreciates the compact Grow Bottle, an indoor herb planter crafted from reclaimed restaurant wine bottles. And colored wine bottles look great on the tabletop even long after the last drop has been poured: In San Diego, BottleHood recrafts wine, beer and spirit bottles into unique glassware, from frat-house-ready Red Stripe glasses to funky-elegant green glass tumblers. Its glassware would be perfect on a casual summer table—along with a chilled summer bottle that's still full, of course.

Recipes

Jessica Simpson Birthday Gift: Tuna Salad Upgraded

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Courtesy of Antonis Achilleos

As Jessica Simpson turns 31 on Sunday, we hope she’s learned more about food since 2003, when she famously confused Chicken of the Sea brand tuna fish with actual chicken on an episode of MTV’s “Newlyweds.” In honor of the star, we offer 10 sophisticated takes on tuna salad like a version with butter beans, tuna and celery (left); a tuna-and-cucumber salad seasoned with fish sauce; and a fresh tuna steak salad with black olives and avocado.

Beer

Things To Do At A Restaurant—Besides Eat

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If there’s one thing I want to do in a restaurant, it’s eat something amazing. But if I get to eat something good and beat my friend at ping pong, well then things are going really well for me. Happily, there’s a whole new world of restaurants that decided to take the Dave & Busters concept to another level, combining great food with superfun extracurricular activities.
 
Fly Fishing at the Restaurant at the Little Nell, Aspen – The hotel hasn’t actually installed a river in the middle of their dining room. But they do take guests out for a fly-fishing lesson and chef Robert McCormick will serve a waterside lunch on fine china, along the lines of salmon crostini and housemade ice cream sandwiches.  Starting this summer, they’ll make trips in a gorgeous new made-in-Montana wooden boat. thelittlenell.com
 
Surfing at Casa del Mar, Santa Monica – The name, Surf with Chef, says everything you need to know. You get a surf lesson with a private instructor and chef Jason Bowlin (chef at the hotel’s Catch restaurant; let’s assume he’s a good surfer); then Bowlin will slide in and serve lunch made with ingredients you’ve caught…. No! from the nearby farmer’s market, where he’ll make dishes like roasted beets with burrata. hotelcasadelmar.com
 
Rocking out at Sam’s, Boston – Sam’s co-owner, guitarist Drew Parsons (of American HiFi) often plays live sets on Friday nights at the restaurant. Extra credit to Sam’s: they also have a bocce court where groups can compete and sample dishes like black pepper patty burgers, and drink a Captain Hilt, a mix of bourbon, chartreuse and raspberry puree. samsatlouis.com
 
Ping-Ponging at Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club, NYC – Down at South Street Seaport, chef Jason Mayer serves German bratwurst on a pretzel bun (also hand-stretched pretzel snacks and cinnamon-sugar pretzels for dessert). There’s live music (George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at the end of July!) and a rec room dream assortment of ping pong, foosball and pool. beekmanbeergarden.com
 
Related Links
 
America’s Wacky Fair Foods
 
America’s Weirdest Regional Foods
 
American Beer, Bourbon and More

World’s Weirdest Restaurants
 
World’s Top 10 Life-Changing Restaurants

Entertaining

A Country-Chic Boutique in the Catskills

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Region General Store

© Bryce Boyd
Region General Store

Anyone who knows me can attest that I'm prone to getting lost while shopping for two things: food and home goods. This is no joke, people—I have a serious problem! Lately, I'm finding it especially difficult to control myself because of my new favorite spot that recently opened: Region General Store in the Catskills, two hours north of New York City and just off the banks of the ultra-beautiful Upper Delaware River.
 
Luxury-retailer-turned-artisan-goods-junkie Bryce Boyd decided to open his store after building a summer home in the Catskills and realizing that his true passion was for a store of his own—one that would be stocked with things produced within 200 miles. He started plans for a modern take of an old-timey staple: the general store.
 
His country-chic boutique opened only weeks ago, and with much success. It seems only a matter of time before he'll need to hire a staff of people just to stock the shelves (especially with me on the prowl). Bryce sells specialty foods like an incredible cranberry-horseradish chutney (my personal favorite) from Beth's Farm Kitchen and artisan breads from a small-batch bakery, Flour Power, in Livingston Manor, New York. Also available are handmade home goods like a Halloweenish cobweb broom, ceramic juicers and luxurious soaps and candles from TV's famous Beekman Boys.
 
Region General Store’s website should be up and running in the next few weeks. Until then you’ll need to stop by, like me, and get lost in a world of chutneys, cheeses and pottery.
 
Region General Store, 3344 Route 97, Barryville, NY; 845-557-5000 or www.regiongeneralstore.com.

Books

How to Make Money from Your Cookbook Shelf

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We know, this sounds suspiciously like an internet ad that tells you how to make money by selling prescription drugs online. No, this might be even easier. Some cookbooks that you just might have sitting on your shelves are going for quite a bit of money on Amazon.
 
We’re not talking about super-specialized books like Modernist Cuisine, the recently released, $625, 46-pound compendium by Nathan Myhrvold, nor a first-edition copy of Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food, which went for $1583. (Although if you have either of those books on hand, you’re lucky, and potentially rich.) We’re talking specifically about The Last Course, by pastry goddess Claudia Fleming. Published in 2001, the book ranks just above the 783,000 mark on Amazon’s best-seller list and originally cost $40.  Now, a first edition of The Last Course is on sale for $800 on Amazon, with used copies going for $142.
 
Why is the book, as good as it is, so expensive? Because it was only reprinted in limited quantities. (Maybe also because gilttaste.com marked the book at $400 when Dave Chang recently named it on his curated cookbook list for the website.)
 
“People always want what they can’t get,” says The Last Course’s co-author, Melissa Clark. “Once a cookbook goes from utilitarian—as in, something to cook from—to cult—as in, something to own—that’s when you get crazy prices. The funny thing is, I recently bought a copy at a thrift shop for $20. Then the price skyrocketed. So now I have two copies, and I’m wishing I’d saved more from my original case of books.” Alright everyone, go check your shelves for The Last Course. Of course we recommend that you cook from it. But whatever you do, don’t put it on the giveaway pile. 
 
Related Links
 
Amazing David Chang Recipes

10 Recipes from Cookbook Legends

Best Cookbook Authors’ Best Recipes

15 Cheap and Delicious Recipes

Great Cookbook Gifts

Restaurants

The New Rules for Celebrity Restaurants

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The Breslin's Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup

© Lucy Schaeffer
The Breslin's Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup

Celebrities have been frequenting restaurants for a while now—the Algonquin Round Table was in full effect in the 1920s. So we won’t pretend it's news to see a famous person sitting in a dining room. But it’s quite amazing to see how far some restaurants go these days to protect their more recognizable guests. Here’s Ken Friedman, co-owner of such NYC celeb hang-outs as the Spotted Pig and the Breslin, sounding like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. “The first rule at my restaurants is don’t talk about who’s eating at my restaurants.”
 
Here are some other rules we've seen NYC restaurants employ.
 
*Close the blinds to the street when the paparazzi line up outside. (A rule followed by the staff at Marea the second someone like Michael Douglas walks in.)
 
*Seat the best-known people in the corner. At Craft, table #158, deep in the restaurant, is set aside so anyone supremely famous (like LeBron James who rented out Craft's LA outpost for a party) can be escorted right there.  
 
*Seat the best-known people in the kitchen. At his newest restaurant The John Dory, Friedman created a chef’s table in the kitchen. What about the rumor that Jay-Z wanted a chef’s table, with real chairs, as an alternative to the stools that make up the seating in the rest of the restaurant? “We didn't create the table for anyone in particular," says Friedman. "The chef’s table is fun, it’s in the kitchen,” says Friedman. “Plus who wants to sit on stools all the time? I don’t; neither does Charlie Rose.”
 
Related Links:
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Favorite Restaurants
100+ Tastes to Try
Tom Colicchio’s Road Trip
Best Chefs with Hotel Restaurants

(Pictured above: The Breslin's Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Syrup)

Style

NYC's New Food Fashionista Hangout

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The custom kitchen at Jay Kos.

© Erica Simone
The custom kitchen at Jay Kos.

 

New York City fashion designer Jay Kos finds shopping for clothes boring. "We all have what we need, but we shop because we love to express ourselves creatively. The experience should also be creative." To make the shopping experience at his new menswear store, which opens today on Mott Street, more fun for both him and his clients, he's installed a fabulous custom green-glass kitchen designed by Italian manufacturer GD Cucine. The food-obsessed fashion designer, known for his preppy haberdashery, is often inspired by the colors of produce in the green market. He will also use the farmers' market to inspire the dishes he cooks at the shop, though he says the signature dish will be an omelet with artichoke hearts, which he learned to make in Italy. A Russian baker friend will also be baking tarts starting next week.

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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.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.