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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


Wannabe Cheesemaker’s Dream Vacation



© Murray's
A cheese lover's heaven.

A few years ago, I had a brief love affair with the notion of running away and becoming a cheesemaker somewhere green and beautiful. Now, Murray’s is offering its first cheesemaker tour to give wannabe cheesemakers like me an insider's look into the art of cheesemaking, right at the source.

Murray’s Director of Education, Taylor Cocalis, is leading a group of no more than 20 around the Swiss region of Bad Ragaz June 8 to 13 with stops at traditional farmstead cheesemakers, Swiss farms and tours of 400-year-old aging caves. And of course, fabulous cheese tastings, wine-paired dinners and overnights at a luxe hotel and spa are included. Check out the full itinerary here. If this first trip is a success, Murray’s plans to lead more trips in the future.


© Murray's
Bad Ragaz Switzerland.


Devouring San Francisco


It’s debatable who among the F&W staff is the ultimate foodie. F&W’s supertalented senior designer, Mike Patti, is definitely in contention for the title. His recent trip to San Francisco revolved entirely around food. Here, he shares highlights from his aggressive eating itinerary:

Perfect picnic: Sentinel's smoked salmon and fennel sandwich and spicy pork sandwich stuffed with sweet peppers and celery root made for a great, affordable lunch in Golden Gate Park.
Artisanal snacks: Tartine's oversize black pepper-cheddar gougère was the standout of my morning. I finished the day with two scoops of brown sugar ice cream with ginger caramel swirl from Bi-Rite Creamery.

Ferry Plaza food marathon: A basket of perfect strawberries from a vendor at the Ferry Plaza market and a cup of Blue Bottle coffee (each cup is individually dripped) was the ultimate breakfast. Dinner at the Slanted Door included a superlight, unexpectedly crispy Vietnamese pancake with shrimp and extraordinarily flavorful wood-roasted clams with pork belly, chiles and Thai basil.

Incredible pizza: At A16, Nate Appleman, one of our 2009 Best New Chefs, prepared fantastic grilled fava beans with chiles and an awesome pizza topped with lemon, asparagus, ricotta and prosciutto. We loved the little honey pot filled with chile oil that came with our meal.

Cocktail revelation. I decided to try Alembic, a cocktail lounge in Haight-Ashbury featured in our new F&W Cocktails 2009 book. My friend is still thinking about the surprising shot of celery juice in her gin-based Southern Exposure.


© Mike Patti
Pastries at Tartine.



The Perfect Miami Beach Food Weekend Part Two


I may have exaggerated last week when I said that I spent my entire Miami Beach weekend lounging poolside. Full days of sunning and swimming left me surprisingly hungry and ready for two fabulous dinners in the city’s Design District.

I most enjoyed my meal at Michelle Bernstein’s five-month-old Sra. Martinez (4000 N.E. 2nd Ave., Miami, 305-573-5474), where I ate plate after plate of tapas, including patatas bravas reinvented as miniature potato skins with crispy jamón and spicy aioli, the lightest fried artichokes with lemon-coriander dip (one of Bernstein’s favorites) and corn off the cob with lime, chipotle and ricotta salata. A standout featured foie gras wrapped in phyllo-like dough topped with brown butter apples and braised pork.

The next night I landed a table at the now-iconic Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (130 N.E. 40th St., Miami, 305-573-5550) where I loved sweet and spicy pork belly with peanuts, kimchi and pea shoots and puffy, sugared donuts for dessert.

My last morning in town I treated myself to a Sunday breakfast on the porch of the just-renovated and newly sparkling Betsy Hotel (1440 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach, 305-531-6100), overlooking Ocean Drive and eating a popover stuffed with ham, spinach and béchamel at BLT Steak. It was a fitting way to say goodbye to South Beach, taking in the ocean view with my morning coffee.


New Fenway Frank Gets Chefs' Approval


New York’s fancy new baseball stadiums may have some stellar (and pricey) new dining options, but there is something to be said for the old-school days of watching a ball game in rickety bleacher seats, with a beer and a hot dog. That’s why I have a soft spot for Boston’s Fenway Park. The Red Sox’s 97-year-old stadium has preserved the best of the old days by making subtle rather than grand enhancements. Case in point: The big F&B shake up this year wasn't a celebrity chef outpost, but simply a new Fenway Frank. The new dog, made by the local, family-run company Kayem, has caused debate in the Boston food world.

I was recently in town for a game and tried it myself, then I asked some of Boston’s chefs and bartenders what they think of the new Fenway Frank and what they’d serve if Fenway ever turned into the next Citifield.

Ken Oringer, chef at Clio and La Verdad Taqueria
“I’ve been to a couple of games, and the new frank is definitely quite an improvement: meatier, tastier. It has a nice snap to it and is well seasoned. It’s a darn good dog, and hot dogs are probably one of my favorite foods.”

Oringer’s awesome taqueria is right across from the ballpark (and wins my vote for best pre- or post-game place to grab a drink and a bite). What would he put on the menu at Fenway? “La Verdad’s cola-marinated carne asada tacos and the chicken milanesa torta, a messy sandwich stuffed with chicken cutlets, refried beans, molasses-chipotles and Oaxacan string cheese.”

Tony Maws, an F&W BNC 2005 and chef at Craigie on Main
“The one game I had tickets to was rained out, so I haven't tried the new dog yet. But if I was cooking at Fenway, I'd serve pork bellies! Talk about ‘batter up’--I'd say it'd be ‘belly up!’”

Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli, mixologist at Craigie on Main
“I went a couple of weeks ago to the game and I ordered one and it was so good I even ordered a second. The old hot dog was smaller. This new one seemed plumper and had the slightest mustard seed taste to it. Overall, I would say improvement--moist and plumper, though I will admit the steamed dogs at the ballpark never compete with those grilled at home.”

Lydia Shire, chef at Scampo

Shire might be the most die-hard hot dog lover I’ve ever met. She got her first taste of the new Fenway Frank while watching the Sox sweep the Yankees this past weekend. The verdict: “Just so you know, I won a hot-dog-eating contest once and outate eight guys. I am the truest fan of all hot dogs. I made a beeline for the dogs when I got to the game and it was quite delicious. I think the Fenway Frank is now a winner. It tasted like an all-beef hot dog -- I happen to love the regular Kayem natural casing dog that has pork in it, because I worship pork. The best thing that happened while I watched the game in the EMC club was when I ordered the hot dog with extra butter on the roll they did it!”


The Perfect Miami Beach Food Weekend Part One


With my Miami plane tickets booked, I knew just who to ask for food and restaurant recommendations. Lourdes Castro, a Miami native, splits her time teaching in Florida and New York. In between writing her first cookbook and creating an alluring spread of Cuban classics like vaca frita (crispy shredded beef), fried, sweet plantains and rice and beans for our May issue, Castro drew up her own Miami version of F&W's Go List:

Puerto Sagua: “Have a Cuban breakfast—two fried eggs, Cuban toast, and café con leche—at Puerto Sagua.” (700 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-673-1115).

Joe’s Take Away: “The famous Joe’s Stone Crab has a Take-Away annex near the beach so you can make a picnic. Some of the food is priced just below the menu and you don’t have the long wait for a table.” (11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305-673-4611).

David’s Cafe: “Stop for a Cuban coffee at David’s on Lincoln Road. Have a shot of café Cubano (black and sweet) or a cortadito (sweet, with milk). (1654 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach, 305-672-8707).

Epicure Market: “The last Jewish institution on South Beach. Epicure is a specialty food market with very high end products and a great deli counter offering staples like whitefish salad and smoked salmon. The bakery is awesome!” (1656 Alton Rd., Miami Beach, 305-672-1861).

The Frieze Ice Cream Factory: “The Frieze serves amazing house-made ice creams and sorbets. My favorite is the coconut sorbet. Everything is made in that store.” (1626 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach, 305-538-0207).

Las Culebrinas: “I took Harold McGee here for dinner when he was in town. He loved the food and ambience. It’s authentic, filled with Cuban locals. For me, it’s the best Cuban dinner outside my house.” (2890 SW 27th Ave., Coconut Grove, 305-448-4090)

List in hand, I landed in South Beach and promptly planted myself at the Raleigh Hotel’s sprawling Art Deco pool. And that’s where I stayed most of the weekend. I only managed to hit two of Lourdes’s spots—the Frieze, for a superbly tart cup of pink grapefruit sorbet, and David’s Cafe, which I visited six times over three days for many piping hot cortaditos, my new favorite coffee drink. I'm saving the rest of her places for my next trip to Miami, which cannot come soon enough.

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