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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


Jean-Georges in Puerto Rico


© Cedric Angeles

Now that Johnny Depp has finished filming The Rum Diary and left Puerto Rico, you might think the obsession with the island would be over. Not so fast. Superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is just announcing details of his restaurant in the upcoming St. Regis Resort Bahia Beach, slated to open in the fall of 2010. No, it’s not a J&G Steakhouse (that just opened in Washington, DC), nor is it a J&G Grill (that’s coming in October to the St. Regis Deer Crest in Park City, Utah). His Bahia Beach restaurant has a unique name, Fern, and a menu that will be tailored to the island with some greatest hits from his places around the world. The outstanding black bass he serves at his Manhattan flagship, Jean Georges—crusted with nuts and seeds and served in a buttery sweet-sour mushroom broth—will surely be replaced with a local fish (whether it's grouper or wahoo or dorado is anyone's guess).


Eat Like a Local in Kauai


I’ve been vacationing in Kauai since before I could walk, so when I visited the Hawaiian island last week, I knew where I would be eating before I even collected my luggage:

Hamura Saimin This James Beard "America’s Classics" winner is always my first meal off of the plane. Saimin is a dish that's unique to Hawaii and is a hodgepodge of Japanese, Chinese and other Asian influences; the soup of egg noodles, dashi, scallion and fish cakes is done amazingly well here. I also love their marinated beef skewers, towering lillikoi (passion fruit) pie and malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts). 2956 Kress St., Lihue; 808-245-3271.

Kilauea Bakery & Pau Hana Pizza On the north shore, this bakery turns out piping-hot thin-crust pizzas with a variety of toppings, from Maui onions to smoked ono, a local fish similar to mackerel. I adore their island-style pie with pineapple, ham and chipotle peppers, which I like to follow with one of their chocolate-drizzled coconut macaroons. Kilauea Lighthouse Rd., Kilauea; 808-828-2020.

Koloa Fish Market
Off of Koloa's tourist strip is this small market which has excellent poke, the Hawaiian dish of raw fish, traditionally marinated with sesame oil and shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) and served with sweet onions and seaweed. This market has many variations, and my favorite is the Korean poke, which has a bit of kimchi and sesame seeds mixed in with the ultrafresh ahi. 5482 Koloa Rd, Koloa; 808-742-6199.

Koloa Farmer’s Market
Island life moves slowly, except during Koloa’s Monday farmers' market off of Maluhia Road. Shoppers are kept behind bright orange cones until exactly noon, when they trample in to buy lychees, pineapples and papayas. I always get a fresh coconut for sipping, and purveyors are great about explaining what each exotic fruit is and what it tastes like. Adorable orchid bouquets can be had for just a dollar.


A New Food Must-Read


Au Revoir to All That

© Bloomsbury
Michael Steinberger's Au Revoir to All That

For anyone who cares about food, wine, or France, Slate wine columnist Michael Steinberger's new book, Au Revoir To All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France is required reading. Steinberger has done remarkably thorough research to detail just what has gone wrong in French gastronomy. Drawing on astonishing tidbits like the identity of France's largest private sector employer (McDonald's), Steinberger convincingly explains why so many of its greatest chefs have grown complacent, its greatest gastronomic guide so off-track, and its winemakers just plain broke. In spite of all the bad news, the book is a ripping fun read and is even a little optimistic, as Steinberger points out a few key men and women bucking the trends. I'm posting his list of innovative winemakers over on the Tasting Room blog; after the jump, in honor of Bastille Day, Steinberger lists five chefs he thinks could lead France out of its current rut.



A (U2) Guide to Barcelona Hotels


Hotel Omm's grooy bar and restaurant

When U2 kicked off their insane 360° Tour in Barcelona a week or two ago every single person in the city was focused on the band. Here's what the scene was like at some of the city's top hotels.

Hotel Arts Barcelona The 44-story (the tallest building in Spain!) beachside hotel was headquarters for U2 and their vast, laid-back entourage. For some 48 hours almost everyone in the lobby had an Irish accent (except for LL Cool J) and VIP badges around their necks. The band themselves set up shop on the upper club floors and anyone who spent any time in the 33rd floor private lounge saw key people in meetings and lots of Champagne on ice. Poolside, there was a party after opening night with mojitos and a cake shaped like their four-legged spaceship stage.

Hotel Omm  The supercool boutique hotel has one of the best restaurants in the city, Moo. So it wasn't surprising that Bono and a bandmate or two ate there late night with their families. The hotel was calm about the res; celebrities like Barcelona soccer stars Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o are all over the restaurant and bar.

Mandarin Oriental Barcelona
Since MOBCN doesn’t actually open until the end of the year, U2 didn't spend any time there. Still the property will be amazing–not just because it’s on the Passeig de Garcia, prime shopping territory, but because they're looking to snag the amazing Carme Ruscalleda as their chef (if you don't know her, Ruscalleda has five Michelin stars–more than any other female cook in the world).


Zurich Part II


© Ratha Tep

Yesterday, I wrote about the excellent dining options in Zurich. But perhaps what I love most about the city is its floral scent—created by the 200 decades-old linden trees lining its main street, the Bahnhofstrasse. The new Gartencity Zürich project, running through mid-September all over the city, features exotic plants and trees in 306 large pots by 200 designers (including German artist Hans Langner, a.k.a. Birdman). My favorite: no. 238, a black-cherry plum tree in a pot designed by Markus Wyss and André Gutknecht that resembles the largest reproduction of challah bread ever created (pictured).


Daniel Humm's Zurich


© Ratha Tep
Confiserie Sprüngli on Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse

I just came back from a too-short trip to Zurich, Switzerland. For my culinary tour guide (in spirit, anyway), I enlisted the help of the astoundingly talented Zurich-born chef Daniel Humm, who earned a Michelin star at the very young age of 24 at Gasthaus zum Gupf, about an hour from the city. Humm has since won another rare accolade—an F&W Best New Chef award in 2005—and now heads the elegant Eleven Madison Park in New York City. He still finds time to return to his native Switzerland, as we wrote about in our July issue—and fortunately, for me, he also had time to share his favorite spots in his native city:


Vorderer Sternen Grill Humm says this small outdoor stand has the best bratwurst in the city. It's also refreshingly unpretentious: My delectably moist St. Galler bratwurst came wrapped in paper along with a large, crusty roll and plastic container of spicy mustard (22 Theaterstrasse; 011-41-44-251-49-49).

Confiserie Sprüngli The city has several outposts of this famous confectionary, but its grand flagship is on the Paradeplatz (across the street from the much, much grander Credit Suisse headquarters). I couldn't find the truffes-brioche Humm recommended but I loved the truffes du jour, filled with oozy salted caramel (Bahnhofstrasse 21; 011-41-44-224-46-46).

Restaurant Obere Fluehgasse According to Humm, locals love this tiny out-of-the-way spot for Swiss specialties like Zurich geschnetzeltes (veal cutlets served with rösti). Unfortunately, the restaurant was more out-of-way than I expected—south along the pristine Limmatquai, then up a very steep hill—and the kitchen was closed by the time I got there. Duly noted for my next trip there (Flühgasse 69; 011-41-44-381-111-10).


Burlington, Vermont Peaks


This past weekend, while my cohorts were riding gondolas above Aspen at the Food & Wine Classic, I was off climbing mountains around Burlington, Vermont. To make sure I was at my athletic peak, I fueled up on the best local food I could find. Here’s how to follow my culinary regimen:

Climbing Mt. Mansfield  

Pre-Hike Boost: American Flatbread's blisteringly hot pizza with house-made sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized onions.  
Post-Hike Recovery: Crispy-skinned duck breast and hanger steak swirled in horseradish aioli from F&W Best New Chef 2008 Eric Warnstedt at Hen of the Wood in Waterbury.

Climbing Mt. Abraham
Pre-Hike Boost: Heavenly honey-glazed doughnuts from Dinky Donuts at the Burlington farmer’s market, followed by softly poached eggs over crisp potato rösti at Waitsfield's The Green Cup.
Post-Hike Recovery: The Alchemist's superjuicy blue-cheese burger and a Lightweight, the perfect pale lager for rehydration, in Waterbury.

Hiking to Lake Champlain at Shelburne Farms

Pre-Hike Boost: Soft, sugary blueberry scones from Burlington's City Market.
Post-Hike Recovery: A farmhouse grilled cheese from the Shelburne Farms cart with a salad of just-picked local greens.  


Rick Bayless's Goa


© Rick Bayless
Goa chef Urbano de Rego

Chicago star chef Rick Bayless recently toured India, Tweeting constantly. Last week, I shared his best Mumbai and Kerala Tweets; now, his top Tweets from Goa:

Mapusa food market n Goa. Stellar, teeming. Chile stalls, fab masala/spice stalls, fresh/dried fish, beans (bl-eyed pea family). Almost Mexico

Chef Rego teaches us Goan shrimp curry with tamarind and kokum


Drank nice bottle of Grover La Reserve from INDIA. Cab/Shiraz blend.


Rick Bayless's Kerala


© Rick Bayless
An elephant in Kerala

Star chef Rick Bayless just came back from an eight-day food tour through India with his family, Tweeting all the way. Yesterday, I shared a few of his best Mumbai Tweets; today, highlights from Kerala:

Headed to Kerala spice plantation. First a quick stop to help Mahout [elephant trainer] wash temple elephants in river!

Cooking class meal: chicken curry, cabbage thorin, tamarind fish curry w manioc, yogurt curry w Kerala rice, paratha [Plantation Home Stay, Mundackal Estate; 011-91-485-257-0717]

Kochi airport security: chiles are contraband, could be used as a weapon. Lost all my chiles from Mumbai market.

Check this blog on Monday for Bayless's Tweets from Goa.


Rick Bayless's Mumbai


© Rick Bayless
Mumbai's Crawford Market

Star chef Rick Bayless (part of F&W's first-ever class of Best New Chefs in 1988) of Chicago's Frontera Grill and Topolobampo is busy putting the finishing touches on his newest Mexican spot, Xoco, and participating in Bravo's Top Chef Masters. But before all that, he took an eight-day food tour through India with his family—and Tweeted his way all through it. Here, some of his highlights from Mumbai:

Mumbai 1st imprssn: like sprawling Veracruz City w scent of dried spice n air.
Staying@Taj Mahal Palace&Towers.Gorgeous;sad much still clsd

Explored Mumbai's Crawford Mkt on hottest day o yr. Air so thick, hard 2 breathe. Salvation: alfonso mango seasn.

Hip Ind Fusion rest: Indigo,fave o Bollywood stars. Pasta w Bombay duck (that's fish),squid, pak choy, Ind herbs

Check this blog tomorrow for Bayless’s Tweets from Kerala.

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