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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Travel

Waikiki for Cooks

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The new Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk is the first luxury beachfront hotel to open in Waikiki in 20 years. But what makes me want to stay there isn't its location but its amenities for cooks. The kitchen puts my Brooklyn one to shame: a Wolf range, Bosch appliances, a Sub-Zero wine chiller, and a Sub-Zero fridge that their concierge will fill with all of our Hawaiian favorites, like pog and poke, before you arrive. For guests who want to barbecue, there are barbecues on the beach. The hotel staff will set up the meat and vegetables of your choice. When finished, just give them a ring and they'll clean it up, too.

Restaurants

Jersey Shore Cheat Sheet

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bungalow

© New World Group
The Jersey Shore's hip new Bungalow hotel.

I sheepishly admit that I call the Jersey Shore my home. I grew up in the tiny beach town of Pt. Pleasant and yes, from the months of June through August, some parts do resemble the MTV reality show, which I stubbornly boycott. But for the most part, many Shore towns are Snooki  and JWoww-free, particularly post-Labor Day. I travel all around the world and still consider it one of my favorite quick city escapes. Here, a hit list of insider’s tips on the real Jersey Shore.

*I had to laugh when I saw the Shrimp Box, a family-run, waterfront restaurant where I spent my summers waiting tables, reviewed in today's Wall Street Journal. Its new patio is where locals head for summer drinks. For food, I prefer Red’s Lobster Pot, a super-casual, BYOB restaurant set on the water just next door.

*Lines for the house-made ice cream at Hoffman’s in Pt. Pleasant spill out the door, but the Coconut Joy and cookie-loaded Coffee Oreo are worth the wait.

*In the Lily Pulitzer-loving town of Bay Head, the restaurant Dorcas is set in an old Victorian house with green-and-white striped awnings. Sit at the old-fashioned soda fountain and watch the counter girls make floats and egg creams. They also serve a quirky “curly” hot dog on a hamburger bun and thick, crispy onion rings with a side of Ranch dressing (a brilliant pairing).

*In the August issue, I wrote about America’s best new hotels by the sea. Among them, Long Branch’s super hip Bungalow hotel from SIXX Design. Just a few doors down is Avenue, a chic restaurant with the Shore’s best raw bar, a 200-plus wine list and a sceney rooftop club.

*In Asbury Park, Bruce Spingsteen’s stomping grounds, Bistro Olé is my favorite spot for insanely good Spanish and Portuguese food like paella and ropa vieja. An added bonus: It’s BYOB and there’s usually live music. Late-night, I head to the legendary rock club where the Boss is known to make the occasional surprise appearance.

 

Cocktails

Adult Slushies at DC’s new Estadio

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F&W's awesome DC stringer Amanda McClements

F&W’s outstanding Washington, DC, correspondent, Amanda McClements, is way ahead of me when it comes to an ingenious plan to stay hydrated during this hideous heat wave. Here’s her early look at DC’s brand new Estadio, featuring a menu of very cool (no pun intended) “slushitos”:

I’ve picked my poison for the dog days of summer, and it comes from a slushy machine. Adult frozen drinks, a.k.a. slushitos, have hit Washington, DC, at Estadio, Mark Kuller’s new Spanish tapas joint that opened on 14th Street last week. Among bar manager Adam Bernbach’s knockout flavors: the Spanish-inspired quince with lemon, paprika, Scotch and sherry. “I was playing around with membrillo, and something about it reminded me of Scotch,” Bernbach says. “I thought it would be really fun.” Also churning in the slushy machine: fresh strawberries with lime, basil, Campari and gin. Bernbach plans to offer new slushito flavors each month.

© Amanda McClements
Estadio's adult slushies

Estadio’s chef is Haidar Karoum, who also heads the kitchen at Kuller’s wine-centric restaurant Proof. Karoum’s menu includes excellent pintxos and tapas like jamón croquetas, a blood-sausage bocadillo with Cabrales cheese, and grilled octopus with potato-and-caper salad. Also moonlighting from Proof is wine director Sebastian Zutant, whose list at Estadio is almost exclusively Spanish. He’s mixing some of the wines into cocktails; I love the Txakoli with lemon soda and orange bitters (will I see it soon as a slushito??). They're served out of spout-shaped glass porrons (wine pitcher) that you tip directly into your mouth—or sometimes, if you’re not careful, onto your shirt.

Travel

London’s Most Fashionable Hotel

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DVF

© Claridge's
One of the glam new DVF rooms at Claridge's in London.



Diane von Furstenberg is one of the Claridge’s most loyal guests. The prolific fashion designer has been staying at the glamorous Art Deco London hotel for more than 30 years (Claridge’s was even the muse for her first cruise collection in 2008). She recently put her stamp on the property by helping design its fabulous new rooms and suites, with inspiration taken from her travels. The in-room cocktail bars resemble jewelry boxes she loved while in the Middle East—even the photos on the walls were taken during her trips. The wall coverings and upholstery will feature her textile collection, which will launch in September.

Farms

The Newest Hotel Amenity: A Farmers’ Market

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The just-opened Andaz Fifth Avenue in NYC may be getting all of the attention with its incredible artwork (it’s worth a trip just to see the eight-foot-high Nick Hornby sculpture) and its ground-level shop selling Blue Bottle Coffee and Mast Bros. Chocolate. But its older sister property, the Andaz Wall Street, is about to one-up it. This Saturday, Andaz Wall Street debuts its very own farmers’ market. All of the participating purveyors (Migliorelli Farm, Beth’s Farm Kitchen, Eckerton Hill Farm) supply the hotel’s restaurant Wall & Water. There will also be live music, plus monthly cooking classes conducted by Wall & Water’s chef Maximo Lopez May. The market will be held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. through November.

Restaurants

36 Hours in Quebec City

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quebec city

© Jen Murphy
Marche du Vieux-Port, Quebec City

 

A travel writing conference recently took me to Quebec City, which I’ve decided may be the perfect long weekend getaway from Manhattan. Just a 90-minute flight and you feel very much like you’re in France (ok, maybe a slightly Disneyfied France). Here, my hit list of what to do:

Book a room at the castle-like Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac which overlooks the Saint Lawrence river. Windows on the sixth floor look out on the chef’s rooftop garden and its four beehives. Each hive contains about 70,000 bees that supply the hotel with a year-round supply of honey.

Start the day with cheese, strawberries and sausages from the Marché du Vieux-Port, the city’s farmers market. Then rent a bike from Cyclo Services, just across the street, and explore the nearly 250 miles of paths that go to Beauport Beach, the Montmorency waterfalls and gorgeous parks. Post-ride, stop for lunch and a beer tasting at Brasserie Artisanale la Korrigane, a new microbrew pub that opened in June in the Saint-Roch neighborhood.

When the sun goes down, check out the Image Mill, an artsy film of Quebec City’s history projected on towering grain silos (the equivalent of 25 IMAX screens) or a Cirque du Soleil performance that’s held at sunset under the Dufferin-Montmorency highway overpass. Both are free!

Call ahead and book a table for dinner at Panache, in L’Auberge Saint-Antoine and splurge on chef Francois Blais's extraordinary wine-paired tasting menu that might include Cote-Nord scallops on the half shell with candied lemon and Champagne granité and Appalachian red venison with pine sprigs.

Farms

Great Barrington’s Great Grocer

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blue marble

© Jen Murphy
Blue Marble ice cream at Rubiner's.

 

During a recent weekend in the Berkshires, I stopped in the cool little town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to stock up on snacks for the ride home and spent nearly an hour wandering around Rubiner’s Cheesemongers & Grocers. Located in an old bank on Main Street, this super-artisanal store is beyond forward-thinking when it comes to what it offers shoppers.

Here, five top reasons to drop in:

1. An insane selection of more than 130 artisan cheeses that ripen in the back cave (formerly the bank vault).

2. Out-of-this-world artisanal foods that include Rancho Gordo Beans, Mast Brothers Chocolates, French salted caramels and house-made country pâté.

3. Rubiner’s works with famed fishmonger Rod Browne Mitchell and Browne Trading Company to run something similar to a CSA for fish. Locals who sign up get an e-mail every Monday night listing the week’s catch. They place an order by 4 p.m. Wednesday and can pick up or (for a small fee) get home-delivery of the same superfresh seafood that goes to chefs like Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller.

4. Farmer’s Discount: Anyone who makes their primary living through farming or the production of artisan foods gets a 20-percent discount.

5. In the summer, Brooklyn’s awesome Blue Marble ice cream sets up shop out front, serving cups and cones of their decadent flavors like Stick o Butter Pecan. Even more delicious, though, are the homemade ice cream sandwiches that are sold inside. Blue Marble’s café au lait sandwiched between two chocolate sugar cookies was perfection.

Farms

Good Eats in the Berkshires

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red lion inn

© Red Lion Inn
The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA.



My crazy wedding season (six this summer) officially kicked off this past weekend. Lucky for me, my friends have all chosen pretty awesome locations in which to get married. Wedding number one took me to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. The wedding was at an adorable place called Santarella in Tyringham that looked like it should have been the hamlet where the hobbits live in Lord of the Rings. I managed to sneak in a marathon eating tour of the area between wedding festivities, and—contrary to a recent Huffington Post story—had some amazing meals. Here, a rundown:

I stayed at the historic, 18th-century Red Lion Inn on a corner of Main Street in Stockbridge. The inn feels like a tribute to Americana with its amazing art collection, Otis Birdcage elevator (which you can really ride on) and even a desk once used by Abraham Lincoln. The restaurant menu in the dining room is a tribute to the area’s local artisans and farmers, including Farm Girl Farm and Berkshire Brewing Company in Great Barrington; Hill Top Orchards in Richmond; and Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. in Old Chatham, NY. Chef Brian Alberg recently introduced separate sustainable menus featuring dishes like an irresistible broken-yolk breakfast sandwich with smoked bacon on thick, toasted Berkshire Mountain Bakery bread. His dinner menu offers some surprises like a roasted eggplant Bolognese that uses quinoa spaghetti and basil oil; and for dessert, a house-made version of my favorite Aussie sweet, Tim Tams.

In nearby Lenox, brunch at the laid-back, two-year-old Haven Cafe & Bakery is phenomenal. I took home the house-made granola and ginger-cardamom scones and stayed for the Eggs “Sardo”—poached eggs topped with sautéed artichoke hearts, spinach and dill hollandaise.

Around the block on Church Street, the Wit Gallery showcases an eclectic mix of art including photography, sculpture and mixed media and recently also started selling artisanal wines from small, family-owned producers like Eric Kent.

Just a few doors away is the barely year-old, 28-seat restaurant Nudel, where chef-owner Bjorn Somlo cooks remarkable seasonally driven food with local ingredients. My braised-Berkshire-pork sandwich with pickled vegetables and spicy sambal aioli had me plotting ways to skip the wedding dinner so I could come back to try his bone-marrow Bolognese or garganelli with ramps and almond pesto.

More tomorrow on my Great Barrington, Massachusetts, finds.

Menus

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.


Menus

What to Eat Before Running 53 Miles?

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I have been told that I have a problem saying no. Case in point, when my running partner asked me to do a 53-mile trail race in Pittsfield, Vermont, this weekend I eventually said yes (despite having to sign a waiver saying “you may die running this race”). So what does one eat before running 53 miles? Probably everything and anything, but I calculated that we could make a slight detour on our drive up and carbo-load at Osteria Pane e Salute in Woodstock, Vermont. F&W declared the tiny restaurant tucked away on Central Street one of the 50 most amazing wine experiences in the country. But they also make insanely delicious thin-crust pizzas and awesome pasta.

Sadly, they stop serving at 8:30 p.m., and with NYC traffic, we had only just reached Albany by then. I phoned to let them know we wouldn’t be making it and asked if they could suggest a place to get a decent meal, as we were running a race the next day. Caleb Barber, one of the owners, explained we were heading into a culinary dead zone and that our best bet was a Chinese place in Rutland, Vermont. My stomach turned at the thought of running with a belly full of General Tso’s chicken. But minutes later, my phone rang. It was Caleb calling back. After thinking over our dilemma, he told us to ring him when we got to the top of Killington so he could heat up two pizzas. “I can’t let you run on empty,” he said. I was relieved to discover that someone other than me had a hard time saying no.

When we finally arrived at around 10 p.m., I expected a box of pizza for us to take on the road, but a table was waiting. They’d kept the restaurant open just for us. Caleb had prepared a duck consommé for “runner’s protein” and two gorgeous pizzas—a black-olive-and-sausage and a mushroom-and-pancetta. It was exactly what we needed, and probably the only reason we survived our race.

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