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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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.

Wine

Wining and Dining in Hotel Lobbies

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Latitudes Bar

© Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts

 

The hotel lobby is probably not the most memorable experience of most trips, but the Le Méridien hotel chain is changing that with its new LM100 program,  which taps creative minds to rethink the lobby experience through food, wine and art. Each hotel will feature a bar called Latitudes—by day, a coffee bar staffed by protégés of 2002 World Barista Championship winner Fritz Storm, and by night, a wine bar with tasting classes curated by sommelier and author Linda Grabe. For the morning menu, NYC chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has developed signature breakfast dishes like espresso-steamed eggs to serve with “eye opener” juice shots like Cherry Lemon Black Pepper. Creativity reigns, right down to the details: International artists such as Sam Samore and Hisham Bharoocha have created pocket-size artworks for each key card, making them unique, collectible art pieces. Le Méridien Barcelona is the first hotel in the chain that features the new lobby program, which will begin rolling out to hotels worldwide this fall.

Travel

Haute Surfer Food

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© Laurent Garcia


I travel for two things: food and surf. Next on my must-visit list is Europe’s laid-back surf capital, Biarritz, France, which offers the best of both. The Basque city has been getting a ton of buzz this summer due to the recent opening of museum Cité de l'Océan et du Surf, which is dedicated to all things ocean-related, from environmental issues to surfing (it even features a wave tube where wannabe surfers can virtually surf). The radical design was dreamt up by famous architect (and surfer) Steven Holl who decided to place most of the museum underground to mimic the feel of being underwater. Outside, the curved plaza walls look like a half-pipe for skateboarders.

© Laurent Garcia

Most exciting is the food from Michel and Marie Cassou-Debat, who worked at France's legendary Troisgros and who own Biarritz’s stellar restaurant The Sissinou. The ground floor has a casual, cafeteria-style restaurant. Upstairs, the fine-dining restaurant, The Sin, overlooks both the Ilbarritz Castle and the sea, and it features a menu of just-caught seafood and excellent French wines.

Beer

What Will Eminem Be Eating at Bonnaroo?

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New this year at Bonnaroo: The Food Truck Oasis.

© Sean Hunter
New this year at Bonnaroo: The Food Truck Oasis.

 
I’ve just spent the past few weeks interviewing the food-obsessed Superfly Presents team for the August issue of Food & Wine. Superfly is responsible for producing some of the country’s coolest music festivals, including Bonnaroo, which kicks off tomorrow on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee. To celebrate the festival’s 10th anniversary, the Superfly team has gone overboard lining up not only stellar music but also amazing beer and food. Here, some highlights:

*Food Truck Oasis:This new food zone is the parking spot for a dozen food trucks from around the country. Don’t miss the Dirty South-Meatloaf Balls with pepper-crusted bacon, hash browns and bacon-scallion sauce from Asheville, North Carolina’s Eat Box; short rib sliders from Miami’s gastroPod; and tacos and burritos from Tampa, Florida’s famous Taco Bus.

*Broo’ers Festival: I can’t think of anything better than a beer festival within a music festival. More than 20 American craft breweries—including Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project and Abita—will be here.

*Fried Chicken & Champagne: On Saturday, June 11, rock stars like Eminem and Arcade Fire will be backstage at a private party, drinking champagne paired with fried chicken from NYC’s Blue Ribbon.

*Crawfish Boil:
Superfly thanks the Bonnaroo staff by throwing a karaoke and crawfish boil party on Monday, June 13. New Orleans–based Shaggy’s Boil Inc. will be hosting.

*Food Drive: Last year’s food drive brought in more than 7,000 pounds of food donations, which went to the Good Samaritan Food Pantry of Manchester, Tennessee. This year, Bonnaroo hopes to get 10,000 pounds.

Wine

Early Look: Fatty Crab St. John

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Fatty Crab, St. John.

I haven't made it down to Battery Park to check out the brand-new Fatty in the Battery. Needless to say, I also haven't visited Fatty Crab St. John in the US Virgin Islands. But Charles Bieler, one of F&W’s excellent 40 Big Thinkers Under 40 and one of the Three Thieves wine founders, has recently been to Fatty's Caribbean outpost. And shares this report.

St. John already had some eating and drinking classics: Who doesn’t love a Painkiller from the Beach Bar or a burger from Skinny Legs? But three months ago, Fatty Crab began cranking out heady dishes that raise the bar on the island's food considerably. This is the same Fatty Crab that I know and love from New York City, and yes, they brought a lot of their chile-fueled dishes with them. That includes the fiery “salt & pepper” squid, a Thai take on fried calamari with Sriracha sauce. The squid tentacles with fresh house-made cheese and tomato confit is much milder; so is the blackfin tuna tartare with yuzu and sorrel.

Like all Fatty Crabs, pork is the specialty here and the kitchen butchers its own pigs. I went crazy on pulled-pork sliders—a pile of sweet-savory shredded pork with sweet rolls and pickled daikon—as well as the crispy pork with pickled watermelon.

Since I'm a wine guy, I have to shout out importer Michael Skurnik, who is a partner in the restaurant and designed the list (I don’t think he's directed a wine list since his days with Kevin Zraly at Windows on the World). I found out it’s possible to buy bottles at Fatty Crab and take them back to your hotel or house rental, so I’d recommend you load up after your meal. And don’t turn down the assorted rum and mezcal cocktails, designed by NYC mixologist Adam Schuman.

Chefs

The Vongerichtens Premier Kimchi Chronicles

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© Frappé Inc.
The Vongerichtens and Jackmans Cook Together.

If you've checked Eater or Grub Street recently, you've probably seen the preview clip of Kimchi Chronicles (featuring a Hugh Jackman cameo). But if you haven't seen it, and this is the first you're hearing of KC, here’s some background. Marja Vongerichten premieres her amazing new TV show this weekend, which follows her as she travels around Korea (she’s half Korean and was born there) with her husband, the illustrious chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. You’ll see them in a big food market in Seoul, and in Sokcho, a port that’s very, very close to North Korea.

© Frappé Inc.
Bibimbop, one of Marja Vongerichten's favorite dishes.

You’ll also see them making bibimbop, the excellent stone pot rice dish made with meat, vegetables, you name it (Marja loves it as a way to use leftover side dishes). And you’ll also see them back at home in New York cooking with their good friends and upstairs neighbors Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra (they often have dinner parties together, but I’m not sure if they’re always group cooking like this).
 
Kimchi Chronicles premieres on Sunday, May 8 in NYC on WNET (channel 13) at 4 pm EST.

Bars

London's Newest Spot to Toast the Royals

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© Courtesy Hawkins International PR

I would hardly consider myself a royal watcher, but if I were in London today I know exactly where I'd raise a glass to Kate and Will. Dukes hotel has long drawn crowds to its Dukes Bar, whose martini supposedly inspired Ian Fleming to create James Bond's request to have his cocktails "shaken, not stirred." The 90-room property just this week added PJ Lounge, which serves Perrier-Jouët Champagne by the bottle or glass, along with Champagne cocktails. The carpet in the room was inspired by the iconic flowers on the Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque label; the cocktail I've got my eye on is also inspired by the label: the Flower of Champagne, with rose liqueur and Lillet.  

Recipes

A Cookbook from Italy’s Most Dreamy Resort

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apple tart

© 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.
 

Bars

48-Hour Houston Food Tour

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hoops

© Jen Murphy
Food and hoops in Houston.



When I visited Houston last weekend to watch the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships, I knew I’d be running into some hoops stars. What I didn’t expect was that I’d be hanging with so many rock stars and chefs. Here, some highlights:

*The city of Houston organized an unbelievable line-up of free concerts in Discovery Park to coincide with the Final Four. The Kings of Leon put on a rockin' show Saturday night. Afterward, we shared a bottle of 2007 Dominus Estate Napanook with the band and reminisced about the first time we heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Nathan Followill, an F&W subscriber, also told me about his special infused-butter recipe.

*F&W Best New Chef Bryan Caswell took us to what may be the greatest Texas dive bar, the Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club, for some live music and Texas-two-step lessons. Late-night, we feasted on enchiladas and margaritas at El Real Tex-Mex Café, which Caswell just opened with Robb Walsh.

* Houston chefs Chris Shepherd of Catalan Food and Wine, Monica Pope of T’afia and Randy Evans of Haven took us on a five-hour ethnic-food crawl. Highlights included charcoal-roasted cabrito (goat) at El Hidalguense, a no-frills Mexican spot; soup dumplings at Fu Fu Café in Chinatown; and goat biryani and stir-fried okra from the great British-Indian restaurant London Sizzler.

*Fort Worth, Texas–based chef Tim Love of the Lonesome Dove and Love Shack was in town to judge the Coach’s Cook-off. He invited us to hang backstage with his friend, country musician Pat Green. Post-show, we had a nose-to-tail dinner at Feast that ended with a stellar dish of crispy roasted pork belly with red cabbage and potato cakes.

Restaurants

Houston’s Best New Market

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houston

© Jen Murphy
Houston's new locavore market, Revival.

 

I made my first-ever trip to Houston last weekend to watch the Final Four. The final match-up between U Conn and Butler turned out to be one of the most disappointing performances in college basketball history, but my trip still turned out to be stellar, thanks to some seriously awesome eating and music experiences (more on that tomorrow). One of my best finds of the weekend was the new Revival Market in the Heights neighborhood. Opened at the end of March, Revival was originally planned as a butcher shop but ended up being so much more. In addition to an in-house butcher and the city’s first retail dry-cure room for charcuterie, there’s a coffee bar, manned by baristas making perfect lattes with beans from local roasters like Katz, Amaya and Fusion. The grocery section is like a mini farmers' market, selling local eggs, produce, artisanal bread, cheeses sourced by Houston Dairymaids, honey from the Heights and milled grains from outside Waco, Texas. Then there’s the deli where chef-owner Ryan Pera has created a menu of delicious sides (Asian duck slaw) and sandwiches (a turkey club garnished with chicken skins) to-go, or to stay and eat at one of the few tables. Sandwich to try: Revival Dog, a Mangalitsa hot dog served on a pretzel bun and topped with green tomato relish.

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