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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Cocktails

New Projects from Berlin’s Star Mixologist

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Bar Amano

© Hotel Amano
Mario Grünfelder created the cocktail list for the bar at Hotel Amano.

 

For the last few days (and very late nights), I found myself restaurant-and-bar-hopping around Berlin with Mario Grünfelder, the star mixologist of the city’s coolest bar, Tausend. F&W’s European correspondent, Gisela Williams, had been telling me about a number of ambitious projects the Swiss-born spirits genius been working on. He already co-owns Tausend, along with W Imbiss and the superhip Café 103 (which he says will be transforming into something even cooler very soon). Mario is good buddies with the brilliant, semi-maniacal chef Christian Lohse, so we met for lunch at Lohse’s Michelin-starred seafood-centric Fischers Fritz to talk about potential collaborations, which included talk of a 24-hour bar-hopping bus.

Later, Mario invited us to Cantina, the new restaurant in a room behind the bar at Tausend. The former chef of Berlin’s popular Shiro I Shiro is turning out casual Latin-Asian dishes like Peruvian tiradito, tuna tataki wrapped in foie and Momofuku-rivaling pork buns. Over a second round of the stellar pork buns, Mario shared his newest passion, making his own spirits, including an unbelievably smooth wheat-based vodka he’s named Greenfield and Harter 73 (Greenfield being an Americanized version of his last name; 73 referring to his date of birth; and Harter the last name of Tausend co-owner Til Harter). I’m hoping we’ll see bottles stateside soon.

When Tausend gets too crowded late at night, Mario heads to his newest bar project at the chic, affordable new Hotel Amano in the Mitte neighborhood. The low-lit lounge serves late-night snacks and Mario’s cocktails, like the Grischenko (Xoriguer gin, cordial lime juice and Limettensaft bitters) until 4 a.m. The prolific spirits obsessive is now off to Barcelona. Maybe he’ll be opening his first project outside of Germany soon.

Restaurants

Berlin's Hot New Restaurants

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Food & Wine’s super-plugged-in European correspondent, Gisela Williams, is based in Berlin and has been taking me to all the hottest new spots in town. Here, a quick rundown:

Wahllokal is in a somewhat awkward location between the business and tourist sections of Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood. Everything about the space is playful, from the tasting menu (divided into Beforehand, Right in the Middle and Thereafter) to the bleacher-esque, stadium-style seating and the wacky basement bathrooms (with showers instead of sinks for washing hands). The food, however, is more straightforward and very well-priced. Highlights were an ever-so-lightly breaded codfish with ox-muzzle salad and Thai asparagus and the watercress risotto with coconut and pomelo honey.

Raffaele Sorrentino, the miracle-working concierge at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski, recently opened two Italian spots side-by-side. The more casual Antica Lasagneria specializes in huge slices of lasagna from a classic meat-and-cheese to a spicy-sausage-and-broccoli. The dining room feels like a wine store with great Italian bottles literally from floor to ceiling. Il Punto is a Berlin favorite that Raffaele reopened in a new location in June serving stellar Italian classics and top Italian wines.

Daniel Achilles is the incredibly young chef everyone is talking about since he was recently awarded a Michelin star for his cooking at the new Reinstoff. Achilles has designed two tasting menus: "Quite Near" is more classic (calf's tail ravioli) while "Far Away" is much more experimental (scallop tartare with brussels sprouts and oyster emulsion). The wine list highlights Spanish and German producers.

Recipes

Deer Valley's Best Après-Ski

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St. Regis Deer Crest Resort
Our February story on Park City, Utah, was fun to research—but the best part was heading out there last month and experiencing it for myself. One moment I've been reliving in my head is stopping by the St. Regis Deer Crest Resort after a long day skiing. The property, which you can enter via gondola or on skis, overlooks the slopes of pristine Deer Valley. The views were breathtaking as I sat outside, a steaming peppermint tea in my hand, watching as kids in the heated pool below had a serious snowball fight and skiers completed their last runs of the day. The Terrace Café menu (done by Jean-Georges Vongerichten) also had tempting choices like Snake River beef chili and Valrhona chocolate pudding, but next time I go I'll step inside for his Asian burgers at the resort's J&G Grill—or I'll try making them at home with the recipe from our February issue. 

Restaurants

Talisker's New Public Restaurant

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John Murcko

© Photo Courtesy of Talisker
Chef John Murcko

Until very recently, most visitors to Park City, Utah (me included) could only get a passing glimpse at the luxurious world of Talisker. Created by a high-end real-estate developer, Talisker is made up of three private communities whose members enjoy exclusive access to clubhouses at many of the area's ski resorts. But that all changed earlier this year with the opening of Talisker on Main, a new restaurant that's open to everyone. I visited the place recently and found it a sophisticated alternative to downtown's many rustic spots, with pressed-tin ceilings, crystal chandeliers and sheepskin chairs. Chef John Murcko, a 15-year Park City veteran, has some outstanding meats on his menu, like seared Utah elk served over glazed yams, but even though I'm a carnivore, my hands-down favorite dish was the salad of thinly sliced, roasted brussels sprouts with toasted hazelnuts and a touch of Jerez sherry vinegar. I only wish I had been there a few weeks earlier, during the Sundance festival, when I could have spotted Adrian Grenier, Paris Hilton and Joan Rivers.

Wine

Berlin's Big Food Trend

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Michael Hoffman

© Photo Courtesy of Restaurant Margaux
Chef Michael Hoffman

I’m in Berlin this week, and in between business meetings I’ve had some extraordinary meals. One surprise: In a city I normally associate with Wiener schnitzel and currywurst, tons of restaurants are offering really interesting vegetarian options. Chef Michael Hoffman of the Michelin-starred restaurant Restaurant Margaux is perhaps the city’s biggest vegetable champion; he even has a cookbook dedicated entirely to cooking with herbs (an English version is in the works) and a second vegetable-centric cookbook in the pipeline. He and his lovely wife, Kathrin, who runs the front of the house at Margaux, recently planted gardens in nearby greenhouses so they can source vegetables and herbs year round. Hoffman promotes his seven-course vegetarian tasting menu with equal, if not greater, enthusiasm than his regular tasting menu. I was truly impressed with dishes like a seaweed salad with candied lemon and ginger, jus of pumpkin and lime and a savory baked “sushi” of pumpkin and couscous (pumpkin and couscous wrapped sushi-style in a superthin layer of phyllo dough). And his sommelier was up to the tricky challenge of finding perfect vegetable-friendly wines (the remarkable 600-plus-bottle wine list is nearly 70-percent German) with choices like the 2006 Weingut Bernhard Eifel Barriques Weisser Burgunder from the Mosel.

Travel

Park City's Sugar Buzz

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© Courtesy of Sugar Buzz
Park City's Sugar Buzz

Last month, I spent a long weekend in Park City, Utah, hitting the slopes and checking out the emerging food scene we highlighted in our February travel story. One of my favorite finds was the adorable retro-chic candy shop Sugar Buzz, which opened about a year ago, just off of Main Street. The walls are lined with a dizzying assortment of glass candy jars, showcasing everything from licorice to lollipops to dark chocolates to caramels. I loaded up a paper sack with my nostalgic favorite, German raspberries, but also couldn't resist the red velvet cookies, topped with cream-cheese frosting, that were at the bakery by the register. I skipped the Illy espresso this time around but will surely pick one up the next time I am in town.

Recipes

Chilean Wine Post-Earthquake

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Liz Caskey of the Santiago-based tour company Liz Caskey Culinary & Wine Experiences —who just launched an insidery food and wine e-travel guide, Eat Wine Santiago —sent me an update earlier this week on the effects of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated parts of Chile on Saturday. Wineries in key regions like Colchagua Valley and Maule are scrambling to rebuild damaged facilities and equipment right before harvest. Miguel Torres estimates that his winery lost thousands of bottles and 100,000 liters of wine from a single cracked vat.

Caskey is doing her part to help by donating a portion of the profits from Eat Wine Santiago toward reconstruction efforts. She's also urging people to buy Chilean. I'm planning to host a Support Chile dinner party and wine tasting with dishes like these and these and wines like these. And I'm swapping out my Sicilian olive oil for this great new Chilean brand.

Restaurants

Olympic Update: High-Low Dining in Whistler, Part 2

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beer

© Amy Rosen
A sampling of craft beers from Whistler Brewhouse.

 

Whistler's best cheap eats.

LOW:

Splitz Grill: Everything from teriyaki British Columbia salmon to the Saltspring Island lamb burger is grilled to order, and there are 20 toppings including baba ghanouj. 4369 Main St.; 604-938-9300; www.splitzgrill.com

Whistler Brewhouse: The perfect Olympic-watching mix of jumbo screens and brewmaster Dave Woodward’s small-batch ales and lagers, like the smooth, copper-colored Red Truck Ale. 4355 Blackcomb Way; 604-905-BREW; www.drinkfreshbeer.com

The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre: The beautiful new center has a great little café serving a Mountain hoagie layered with bison salami, arctic muskox and wild boar prosciutto. The smoked candied salmon is amazing. 4584 Blackcomb Way; 604-964-0990. www.slcc.ca

Zog's:
Get the poutine at this snack shack—a mountain of fresh-cut fries ladled with Quebec-worthy gravy and cheese curds. There's also a cast-iron pan filled with "help yourself" caramelized onions. 4340 Sundial Cres.; 604-938-6644

The Beet Root Café: A funky lunch spot specializing in healthy dishes including yam quesadillas with chipotle and pumpkin seeds, and pear-and-brie sandwiches with caramelized pecans and spinach. 129-4340 Lorimer Rd.; 604-932-1163

 

Restaurants

Olympic Update: High-Low Dining in Whistler

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Here's where to splurge in Whistler. Check back later today for recession-friendly restaurants.

HIGH:
Fifty Two 80 Bistro: Try the signature seafood platters and perfect steaks seasoned with chef Edison Mays’s “Edison’s Medicine” spice rub. Four Seasons Hotel Whistler, 4591 Blackcomb Way; 604-966-5280. www.fourseasons.com/whistler

Bearfoot Bistro: Chef Melissa Craig prepares extravagant multicourse meals. Short on time? Order oysters at the bar with a glass from owner Andre Saint-Jacques's deep Champagne collection. 4121 Village Green; 604-932-3433. www.bearfootbistro.com

Araxi: Recently featured on Gordon Ramsay's Fox reality series Hell's Kitchen (the show's prize was a job as head chef under Araxi’s chef James Walt), this restaurant serves locally minded, universally delicious dishes—especially the roasted venison with British Columbia chestnuts and red-wine reduction. 4222 Village Sq.; 604-932-4540. www.araxi.com

Restaurants

Olympic Update: Where the Athletes Eat

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Chad Hedrick, Speed Skating, USA: "Rodney's Oyster House has a laid-back atmosphere with excellent oysters and other seafood." 1228 Hamilton St.; 604-609-0080 or rohvan.com.

Alexa Loo, Snowboarding, Canada: The Richmond, BC, native loves Glowbal  
Grill in Yaletown, known for its decadent lobster grilled cheese  
sandwiches. 1079 Mainland St.; 604-629-3424 or glowbalgrill.com.

Evan Lysacek, Figure Skating, USA: The gold medalist had brunch  
at Yew at the Four Seasons Vancouver before his winning skate. 791  
W. Georgia St.; 604- 689-9333 or fourseasons.com/Vancouver
.

Debbie McCormick, Curling, USA: The U.S. curling team member plans on  
visiting the Cellar Jazz Club, which serves snacks like yam  
frites and spicy edamame. 3611 W. Broadway St.; 604-738-1959 or  
cellarjazz.com.

Shaun White, Snowboarding, USA: The gold medalist has been spotted  
celebrating in Vancouver's Granville Entertainment District at the  
two-story Republic club, which has a towering, backlit bar. 958  
Granville St., 604-669-3266; dhmbars.ca.

Hayley Wickenheiser, Hockey, Canada: The three-time Olympic medalist  
was chosen to deliver the athletes' oath at the 2010 opening ceremony.  
Wickenheiser loves Vij's imaginative Indian dishes, like marinated  
lamb popsicles with cream curry, and Miku's aburi-style  
(lightly torched) sushi. Vij's, 1480 W. 11th Ave.; 604-736-6664 or  
vijs.ca. Miku, #2 – 1055 W. Hastings St.; 604-568-3900 or  
mikurestaurant.com.

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