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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


Sydney Restaurant News


Australia chef Neil Perry has had a busy year—not only did he open the spectacular Rockpool Bar & Grill, but in a subterranean space just below, he launched Spice Temple, where he serves his take on Chinese food. It’s a sexy spot, with dim lighting, a sultry red glow and portraits of gorgeous Asian women on the walls and menus. It seems out of place in sunny, laid-back Sydney, but the restaurant was packed for a Tuesday lunch a few weeks ago. (When I ran into Neil Perry later, I wasn’t surprised to hear that he’s thinking of opening another location in Los Angeles.) Dishes to try: Cool silken tofu with funky preserved eggs that are given a lively kick with a chile-inflected soy-ginger dressing. The hot-and-numbing chicken, which is poached and served cold, hits some of the same flavor notes, with the added element of lip-tingling Sichuan peppercorns.

At the new Sepia, chef Martin Benn, formerly of the venerable Tetsuya, is turning out some seriously ingenious dishes. Barbecued eel with licorice-flavored powder was such a clever combination that I wondered why I've never used anisey flavors in barbecue sauces before. Earthy buckwheat risotto became luxurious when topped with mustard butter, sweet spanner crab meat and a shellfish foam. A delicious meatless version of surf and turf.


More Ilse Crawford Design News


In London, Ilse Crawford’s incredible design firm, Studioilse, is hosting a series of "Kitchen Table Talks" at Leila’s Shop restaurant, starting tonight and running through October. Crawford has gathered a Who’s Who of design, food and eco-mindedness to discuss the link between growing food and building community. The lineup includes Randolph Hodgson, founder of Neal’s Yard Dairy; Dennis Paphitis, founder of cult beauty brand Aesop; and Tristram Stuart, author of Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal. Click here for dates and details.


Ilse Crawford Design Debut


At the London Design Festival, which runs through this weekend, prolific Brit designer Ilse Crawford debuted her new furniture collection, cheekily named Seating for Eating. The solid chestnut settles (long, high-backed benches), stools and benches, made by De La Espada, were inspired by vernacular English furniture. The collection will be will be at the restaurant, Leila’s Shop, (for viewing and seating) through November 1.


Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch


© Courtesy Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch

A few weeks ago, friends of mine got married at the stunning Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch. The many Brooklynites in attendance (including me) stocked up on food and beer in Boise, but we needn’t have bothered: The bride is a foodie, not to mention the editor of Grant Achatz’s upcoming memoir, Life, on the Line. The ranch’s chef, Andrew Machanic (a New England Culinary Institute grad), knocked me out time and again with his cooking. From hand-dipped caramel apples at check-in to a perfectly seared Lava Lake lamb loin at the reception, I was in heaven and hiked only to pass time between meals. Fingers crossed my friends will be renewing their vows there annually.


Boxing Lessons with Barbara Lynch


Last week, I was up in Boston to help host a party with rock-star chef Barbara Lynch and the founders of Fresh beauty, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg. The occasion: To celebrate an article in F& W’s September issue, in which Lynch helped her friends add more flavor to their favorite healthy recipes.

After the party, we headed over to Sportello, one of Barbara's newest restaurants, and the dinner conversation veered to keeping fit. Barbara is on a serious health kick. To keep up her energy (she just finished a new cookbook, Stir, out next month), she’s been obsessively juicing every fruit, vegetable and herb she can get her hands and storing batches in her fridge. Lynch also told me about her new favorite energy bar, Green Vibrance. (Cameron Diaz has been in Boston, filming Wichita with Tom Cruise, and her personal assistant introduced Barbara to the dark-chocolate-covered, vitamin-loaded veggie bar.)

In addition to trail-running with the Sportello staff, Barbara has also taken up boxing. And I don’t mean the cardio-punch classes they offer at fancy fitness centers. Lynch works out at Golden Gloves champion Peter Welch’s super-old-school gym in Southie. After a few drinks, Lev (he actually does the cardio-punch gym classes) and I had agreed to join her in the ring the next day. Lev was a no-show (I think he got scared), but Barbara’s publicist, Sarah Hearn, joined me for an intense hour-long session with a group that looked straight out of Rocky. After throwing uppercuts, jabs and hooks and doing what seemed like endless push-ups, I have a new respect for Barbara Lynch, way beyond her extraordinary skills in the kitchen.



Sydney’s Best New Restaurant


On my way to the buzzing restaurant scene and surrounding wine regions in Melbourne, Australia, I spent two days in Sydney, tasting through tons of local seafood and Asian dishes of all sorts (more on those later). There haven’t been many exciting new openings in Sydney this year—locals blame the city's taste for flashy restaurants, which are tougher to build in down times. But the economy didn’t stop chef Neil Perry from opening the Sydney location of Rockpool Bar & Grill six months ago. The $35 million restaurant, set in a former bank, has a moody Art Deco style, with soaring ceilings, gorgeous green marble columns and racks upon racks of wineglasses that glitter like chandeliers. The wine list is spectacular, thanks to Perry’s friend and business partner, David Doyle, the American owner of Quest software, who supplied part of his 60,000-bottle collection to the restaurant. (Everyone I met in Australia loved to tell me how Doyle chartered flights to have his wine—which includes some of the world’s rarest bottles—flown to Sydney.) Perry’s menu is inspired by American steak houses, with lots of simply grilled meats and well-prepared, easygoing sides, like potatoes cooked in wagyu-beef fat and mac and cheese. Perfect for letting the wine and space shine.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.