© Nigel Parry
Roy Choi's Kogi truck will serve late night tacos at Sundance.
© Nigel Parry
© Jen Murphy
Breakfast of Champions: Chipirones and Cava at El Quim, Barcelona.
In the December issue of Food & Wine, the editors share the most amazing restaurant dishes they tasted in America this year. I had an epic year of globe-trotting and I’ve combed through my notes to recall the most memorable and satisfying things I ate in 2010, both at home and abroad. One thing is certain: I ate extremely well. Here, my favorites:
1. Sea bass in singha broth— a savory reduction of crab and shrimp—accompanied by a tiny copper pot of paella from brilliant young chef Virgilio Martinez at Central in Lima, Peru.
2. Wild hare confit beneath a supersavory reduction sauce enriched with rabbit blood from the distractingly handsome Torres brothers at Dos Cielos in Barcelona.
3. The mozzarella sticks from Torrisi Italian Specialties’ stand at NYC’s San Gennaro festival.
4. The Grains, Seeds, Nuts dish topped with sultana grapes and an amaranth veil and served with a sunflower broth from Curtis Duffy at Avenues in Chicago.
5. Charred leeks, hazelnuts and milk skin prepared by genius chef Nuno Mendes at Viajante in London. (Read more about Mendes in our January issue.)
6. Chipirones a la plancha with olive oil, topped with a fried egg and best paired with endless glasses of cava and a side of fried artichokes, at El Quim de la Boqueria in Barcelona.
7. Kataifi-wrapped langoustines with uchiki kuri squash, pumpkin seed oil and pickled pear from Barbara Lynch prodigy Colin Lynch at Menton in Boston.
8. Cinnamon mille-feuille and cardamom marshmallow with burnt honey ice cream at Commonwealth in San Francisco.
9. The haute version of the middle-class German dish Senfei from Reinstoff in Berlin. Chef Daniel Achilles takes a quail’s egg pickled in Dijon, lightly coats it in a sugar Bautz’ner mustard caramel, and serves it on a savory beet macaroon filled with a smoky blood pudding cream.
10. Lime and chili-cured red snapper with cucumber jelly (almost like a Burmese ceviche) from Burmese chef Bawmra Jap at Bomra’s in Goa, India.
11. The pork buns from Cantina, the hidden restaurant behind Bar Tausend in Berlin, which rivaled even David Chang’s version at NYC’s Ssäm Bar.
© Richard Koek
Over the last few years, the generic hotel gift shop has been rethought into a super-curated retail experience. Now, hotel guests can buy Kelly Wearstler–designed pieces in the Viceroy Miami’s store, Opening Ceremony in the Ace New York and even surfboards at the new Waikiki Edition.
Now, the Surrey hotel on NYC’s Upper East Side has partnered with Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi to exclusively showcase her newest collection of jewelry. The Padma Collection’s Fall/Winter 2010 line was inspired by Padma’s global travels. Guests can purchase pieces, which are on display in a grand armoire in the lobby, directly through the hotel concierge through March 2011.
© Melanie Dunea
Front row from L to R: The Bromberg brothers, David Myers. Back row from L to R: Scott Conant, Costas Spiliadis, José Andrés.
I asked some of the star chefs behind those restaurants what they love most about Vegas, and how they splurge when they’re in town. Here, their answers:
Scott Conant, D.O.C.G. and Scarpetta
“I really admire how this city attracts such great talent, whether it’s chefs or performers. There’s also real appreciation for hospitality, food & beverage and entertainment, and the professional approach they take to this here really resonates with me. Every time I’m here working, I pick a night to go on a restaurant crawl and hit up four of five great places in one night.”
Anthony Meidenbauer, Holsteins
“My splurge in Las Vegas is my recently found new ramen-noodle spot, Monta. It's a little hole in the wall that has amazing food, made in a tiny kitchen.”
David Myers, Comme Ça
“What I love about Las Vegas is the diversity of restaurants and culture, beautiful weather and the incredible realization that this is all in the middle of the desert. My splurge will be the weekend at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas taking in all the great restaurants, with some time at the pool and at the tables. Also, dinner at either Twist or Joël Robuchon at The Mansion.”
Eric and Bruce Bromberg, Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill
“Las Vegas has so many different faces. High-end casino experiences, travelers from around the world, funky Chinatown eateries, great weather, great routes to bike and a 24-hour mentality that makes New Yorkers like us feel right at home. Our favorite Vegas splurge: A great ride in Red Rock canyon by day, some afternoon shopping around town and then hitting all the great restaurants in The Cosmopolitan in the evening. And ending up at Marquee for a late-night blowout.”
José Andrés, China Poblano and Jaleo
“I love Vegas for its energy. Every place has a unique rhythm, and this truly is a city that never sleeps, a place that draws people from all over world for the unique environment it offers. To have so many great chefs in one city, like Robuchon, Boulud, Keller, is amazing. I love the Strip, the casinos, but people need to take the effort to know the real Las Vegas. I go to the arts district, which is genuine and full of great people, as is the local restaurant scene.”
© Amy Rosen
Fried red snapper.
Needing to escape the cold, I recently sought out warmer weather in Grenada, where I had the chance to visit BB’s Crabback Caribbean Restaurant. The chef, Brian Benjamin (hence BB’s), leads hands-on cooking classes. For $100, you’ll get schooled in all of the island’s local ingredients while cooking in the restaurant’s tiny kitchen. “It’s an opportunity for people to cook with foods they’ve never seen,” explains the jovial chef. To wit, we cooked with callaloo (a dark leafy green, like spinach), breadfruit (the texture is akin to a chestnut), shadow benny (a wild herb that tastes like cilantro) and dasheen (a starchy tuber). We made saltfish souse and bakes, fresh fried red snapper and creamy crabback. Then we ate it all and drank the afternoon away as a tropical rain shower swept through the open-air dining room.
© Amy Rosen
Sugarcane being carted to the distillery.
© Jen Murphy
Perfect Pairing: kale & parmesan crisps and Italian beer on tap.
Today, Tasting Table tapped into San Francisco beer geeks’ current love affair with Italian craft beers. The obsession has spread beyond the West Coast and beyond beer geeks. I just got back from a trip to Chicago, where Spiaggia’s star sommelier, Steven Alexander, told me about his new obsession for Italian craft beers. He’s created a remarkable Italian artisan beer list, with more than 15 brews from super-small breweries. I was lucky enough to have a mini tasting, paired with some of chef Sarah Grueneberg’s crispy kale and parmesan crisps and cheese from Spiaggia’s famous cheese cave. Cafe Spiaggia keeps Birra del Borgo’s Re Ale Extra Pilsner and Birrificio Italiano Tipopils on draft. My favorite of our tasting was Demon Hunter Dark Ale. Yes, it has a pretty bad-ass name (and a label that I’m sure some beer lover will mimic as a tattoo), but this dark brew made by Birrificio Montegioco in Lombardy is my perfect winter beer, with notes of chestnuts, caramel, plums and lots of spice. Italy has already tackled wine. It seems like it has now pretty much mastered beer. I hope more US sommeliers follow Alexander’s lead and start showcasing some great bottles.
© Billy Farrell Agency
Preview dinner for Sam Talbot's new sustainable seafood restaurant.
Chef Sam Talbot (the Top Chef heartthrob and chef of Montauk, New York’s Surf Lodge) gave a select group of super-fashionable guests a peek at some of the sustainably minded seafood dishes he’ll be serving at Imperial No. 9, his forthcoming restaurant that will open at the Mondrian SoHo in NYC early next year. The dinner, hosted by photographer Poppy de Villeneuve, was held at Miami’s Mondrian Hotel during Art Basel, and the long communal table was appropriately decorated with de Villeneuve’s photos and Talbot’s own paintings (when he's not cooking, he paints). The menu included fried oysters with chowchow and crispy ham; lemon king crab a la plancha with sweet-and-sour butter and crispy garlic chips; four-hour octopus with chiles, soy and lime; and spicy cucumber kimchi with napa cabbage.
© Stephen Scoble
White porcelain bowls at Jennifer Rubell's Art Basel installation.
While down in Miami for Art Basel, F&W's creative director Stephen Scoble had a chance to experience artist Jennifer Rubell's brilliant installation (pictured). To get to the project, visitors had to step through a hole that was punched through a wall of the building that houses the Rubell family's art collection. Once inside, they walked across a yard to a yellow house that was gutted. Each room in the house had a different installation: a stack of porcelain bowls; a pile of stainless steel spoons; crock pots of Rubell's secret oatmeal recipe; brown sugar packets; and an enormous pile of mini boxes of raisins. The final room that visitors entered—the home's former kitchen—had refrigerators stocked with milk. As visitors moved through the home, they created their own bowl of oatmeal.