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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Cult Japanese Design Pops Up in L.A.

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Playmountain, one of Japan’s coolest design and home-interiors stores, has opened a 90-day pop-up shop at fellow tabletop obsessives Heath Ceramics in L.A. Founded by lauded designer Shinichiro Nakahara, Playmountain is known for its constantly revolving collections, many of which are created by traditional Japanese craftsmen. The summer pop-up is open until September 5 and will be selling, among other things, Playmountain’s newest line, Chin Jukan Pottery. This collaboration between Nakahara and Korean potter Hyejeong Kim was inspired by and fired in a historic 400-year-old Japanese kiln.

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Preview of The (Food) Situation on MTV's Jersey Shore Season 2

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© Alessandra Bulow
Biscotto Oreo, Ronnie from MTV's Jersey Shore's favorite flavor from Lecca Lecca Gelato Caffe in South Beach

In April, when I heard that the cast of MTV's Jersey Shore was working at Lecca-Lecca Gelato Caffe in South Beach while taping the second season of the runaway-hit show, I immediately called the Italian-ice-cream shop and was promptly hung up on by Sammi "Sweetheart." So when I visited South Beach recently, of course I stopped by to try to see the gang in action. Sadly I missed them by a week (they've gone back to Seaside Heights, NJ, to "beat up the beat" and finish taping the season) but I did get the scoop on their favorite gelato flavors at the shop:

Muscle-head Ronnie may have had to hit the gym harder than usual because he was constantly dipping into the Biscotto Oreo gelato (cookies-and-cream with crushed Oreos and Nilla wafers, pictured).

Mama’s boy Vinny stuck to the traditional chocolate.

Ladies’ man DJ Pauly D favored the tiramisu gelato (its name means “pick me up” in Italian).

The house’s resident cook, Mike "The Situation," preferred the mango, a lighter gelato to keep him looking “like Rambo with his shirt off.”

As for Snooki, she ate the café's sandwiches but didn’t like the gelato, or working—in true Snooki style, she often napped during her shifts and oddly slept inside a shelf under the store’s front counter.


Restaurants

Montauk's Surf Lodge Kicks Off Summer

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surf lodge

© Joe Termini
The Surf Lodge, Montauk.

This weekend, the Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York, opens for its third summer season. The laid-back, Endless Summer-vibe and beachy-chic decor make it one of my favorite hotels. As always, the hotel has a stellar lineup of music talent scheduled (G. Love, Mishka and the Beautiful Girls, to name a few). Top Chef Season 2 star Sam Talbot is still in the kitchen, but this year he’s introducing a Hawaiian lunch menu. Also new is the debut of the Food Stand, which will serve fish tacos, lobster rolls and Hawaiian plate lunches late-night, from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. Another addition for 2010 is the Store at the Surf Lodge, a supercool boutique curated by boutique owner Bethany Mayer, featuring clothes by the awesome eco-conscious designer Rogan Gregory; his label, Loomstate, collaborated with the Surf Lodge and Bloomingdale's to create a capsule collection of surf-inspired clothing; the Surf Lodge staff will also be rocking Loomstate Organic uniforms this season. The store opens Memorial Day weekend and will sell a mix of pieces from designers like Jill Platner, Surf Bazaar (a new line designed for and sold exclusively at the Surf Lodge), Loomstate for the Surf Lodge and Tracy.

Restaurants

Boston's Hippest Hotel Restaurant

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woodward
 

I recently had a chance to check out Boston's superhip new Ames hotel. Though the hotel is located in the historic Ames farm-tool-company building, its interior is far from New England  colonial kitsch. David Rockwell and the Morgans Hotel Group collaborated on the chic, smart design. In the lobby, there's the dramatic "Mirror Cloud" installation--a fragmented sculpture designed by artists Sophie Nielsen and Rolf Knudsen of London's Studio Roso; in the hotel's restaurant, Woodward, there's the Victorian-inspired "Cabinet of Curiosities" filled with bizarre sculptures. Chef Mark Goldberg's tavern-style farm-to-table menu has already earned Woodward a loyal local following. The perfect late-night pairing: His duck-confit flatbread topped with goat cheese and dried cranberries with a pint of crisp, cumin-and-cardamom-laced Woodward Ale, brewed exclusively for the restaurant by New Hampshire's Smuttynose brewery. The awesome hash selection on the breakfast menu--lobster-and-leek or mushroom-and-truffle--paired with eggs and a cup of La Colombe Coffee, may be the best breakfast secret in downtown Boston.

Travel

Great New Boston Design Shop

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shop

© Jen Murphy
Butcher-chic design at J.E.M. in Boston's South End.


I was in Boston for the weekend and while bakery hopping through the South End I stumbled upon a fantastic new design shop called J.E.M. The store has a very John Derian-esque feel to it with cool pieces like organic ceramic pots from Susan Raber Bray, and apothecary bottles and bar carts made from reclaimed steel. It felt like a quirkily curated curiosity shop-cum-museum.

J.E.M. has also started hosting in-store salons with artists and designers. South End artist Isabelle Abramson, who sells her gorgeous, delicate, doily-patterned porcelain bowls there, will be in-shop this Thursday.

The store also doubles as a showroom for owner/designer Jane Miller who is responsible for the awesome furnishings made from repurposed wood and metal. In addition to enormous chunky dining and coffee tables, there are clever pieces like a terrarium that Miller crafted from a broken table. My favorite piece was an enormous sign (pictured) salvaged from Faneuil Hall Marketplace that embraces Boston’s current butcher and beast obsession. Apparently it’s been confusing some South End shoppers. “We had an elderly couple come in and try to order lamb chops the other day,” the girl behind the counter told me. I can’t help but think a design-butcher shop would probably be a great new trend.


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Painkiller Tiki Drink Preview

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Cradle of Life flaming cocktail at Painkiller

© Alessandra Bulow
Cradle of Life flaming cocktail at Painkiller.

I can’t stop talking about tiki. Not because of the Tiki Barber sex scandal, but because I recently got an exclusive preview of the tiki drinks that Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzalez (Dutch Kills) are going to be making at their supercool new bar Painkiller, which is opening in early May in New York City.

In addition to smooth daiquiris, flights of mini zombie drinks and all-you-can-eat hot dogs (“They’re not going to be fancy, Grade-A or kosher, but they’ll be free,” said Boccato), they’ll be serving fantastic rum-based flaming cocktails like the Cradle of Life (made with spiced rum, white rum, lime and orange juices and almond syrup; the green chartreuse on top is set on fire, pictured). The menu will also include communal drinks served in custom-made ceramic vessels called Scorpion Bowls. Each Scorpion Bowl will be named after a 1970s NYC street gang, like the Electric Coffin, a large coffin-shaped bowl that will billow steam from a hidden chamber for dry ice in its underbelly.

Boccato got the idea for the Scorpion Bowl names while narrating a friend’s documentary about the gangs and he's continuing the urbanized-oasis theme by asking some of NYC’s classic old-school graffiti artists to tag the walls of the bar.

“Half of tiki is about presentation,” said Boccato. “Tiki bars usually look like a dive, a Disney ride or Grandpa’s basement. We’re going for something different.”

Entertaining

D’Artagnan’s 25th Anniversary Party

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© Alessandra Bulow
Tom Colicchio, Drew Nieporent, Daniel Boulud & Rick Smilow rocking out at D'Artagnan's 25th Anniversary Party.

"Ariane Daguin, the owner of D'Artagnan, is the head of the French chefs' mafia," said Anthony Bourdain at the artisanal-foods company’s 25th anniversary party in New York City last week.

Daguin was the master of ceremonies at the fête, enthusiastically organizing a Bobbing for Prunes in Armagnac contest and leading a synchronized Paquito el Chocolatero dance with about 100 of the mostly French-speaking guests, many wearing red and white clothing—the colors of D'Artagnan.

Looking a little bit like a made man in a well-cut black suit, a red silk tie and a matching pocket square, Bourdain was just one of the superstar chefs at the event, where tables were piled high with the company's fantastic terrines, pâtés and French kisses (foie-gras-stuffed prunes) and the passed hors d'oeuvres included seared foie gras and delicate quail legs.

Tom Colicchio broke out his guitar and was joined onstage by Daniel Boulud (wearing tight red pants—hot!), restaurateur Drew Nieporent and Rick Smilow, president of the Institute for Culinary Education. The group performed Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Green River.”

Over the past 25 years, Daguin has built a family of chefs and foodies who genuinely appreciate and love her and her company—a feeling that was palpable at the party.

"She's a mother to us all," said Bourdain.

Restaurants

Food Stars Come Out for C-CAP

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© Rory Tischler
F&W Publisher Christina Grdovic Baltz & Chef Marcus Samuelsson at C-CAP 20th Anniversary Benefit

Before they headed to Miami for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival last week, Food & Wine's fantastic publisher Christina Grdovic Baltz presented chef Marcus Samuelsson with an award at the 20th Anniversary Benefit of The Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a nonprofit organization that works with public schools across the country to prepare underserved high school students for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

"I began my involvement with C-CAP 15 years ago because I felt a responsibility to kids who wouldn't otherwise know about the culinary field,” said Samuelsson. "They're the next generation of chefs, and it's so important for them to have exposure to the restaurant world."

C-CAP students helped prepare food for the event alongside more than 30 New York City chefs, including Alfred Portale (one of Samuelsson's mentors and tennis partners) and Jason Hall from Gotham Bar & Grill, who served an amazing cauliflower custard topped with sea urchin, trout roe and aged soy sauce, and F&W Best New Chef 2006 Christopher Lee from Aureole, who made the restaurant's signature sea scallop sandwich with seared foie gras, passion fruit and sugar snap peas.

Restaurants

David Bouley's New Japanese Obsession

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bouley

© Danielle Falcone
Bouley's Japanese bites on imari porcelain.

 

Last night, star chef David Bouley  turned his fabulous Tribeca test kitchen into a showroom for the latest interpretations of Imari porcelain, a style of porcelain made in the tiny town of Arita in Japan’s Saga prefecture. Young artists and designers like Tsuji Satoshi are making cool new designs inspired by traditional style. Bouley plans to use many of the pieces at his forthcoming Japanese restaurant. And of course, the dishes weren't left empty. Bouley, along with chefs Isao Yamada and Tadao Miakmi (Bouley Upstairs), Noriyuki Sugie and chefs from the Tsuji Culinary Institute of Japan prepared some ridiculously good dishes using wild Japanese ingredients like barafu, a leafy green that looks like it's covered in dew, with a salty taste and great crunch.

Recipes

Yoga & Food

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As Julia Moskin reports in this week’s New York Times Dining section, many yoga traditionalists are not pleased with all the eating and drinking now happening at yoga studios around the country. While austerity is at the core of many traditional yoga practices, personally I’m hungry after a 90-minute Bikram yoga session in a 110 degree room (even if it smells like stinky, sweaty feet).

Here, some fantastic recipes from my favorite chef-yogi (and an F&W Best New Chef 2009), Jeremy Fox from Napa Valley’s Ubuntu restaurant and yoga studio:

Carrot Macaroni and Cheese (pictured)
Lemony Quinoa Salad with Shaved Vegetables
Broccoli à la Catalan

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