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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Beer

Bees and Honey Are All the Buzz

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With national bee frenzy growing for some time, new products like honey beer are starting to hit the market. The Obamas were right at the forefront of the movement when they served White House Honey Ale, home-brewed by their chefs with honey from the White House beehive, at a Super Bowl party this year. (Celebrity guest Marc Anthony liked the beer so much, he is reportedly hanging on to the bottle given to him by the First Lady.)
 
Now, Denver’s luxe Brown Palace Hotel & Spa is partnering with Wynkoop Brewing Company to produce a Belgian-style saison beer with the honey from a rooftop bee colony. The hotel will debut the bee-brew during this year’s Great American Beer Festival.
 
A new one-stop bee-inspired shop in Cambridge, MA, doesn't sell beer, but it does have all sorts of treats and trinkets for the modern bee lover. Opened on National Honey Bee Day, August 20, Follow the Honey sources honeys from all 50 states and abroad, and sells beeswax candles and soaps, beekeeping books, bee-inspired artwork and even jewelry.

Related: Fantastic Honey Recipes

Wine

Rockin’ Wine and Spirits

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Justin Timberlake raises a glass of his new 901 Silver Tequila.

© Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Justin Timberlake raises a glass of his new 901 Silver Tequila.

 

I am super-excited that Lady Gaga will be performing at the upcoming MTV Video Music Awards—both for the music and to see what she’ll be wearing. Another version of the meat dress? A tiara of frozen confections to echo the ice cream truck in her newest video? She’s not the first out-there artist to venture into the food and wine world, though. Audacious rocker Marilyn Manson is now making an absinthe cheekily dubbed Mansinthe in Germany (perhaps it induces the sort of hallucinatory effects he employs in his videos). Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, who became enamored with Arizona as a “harsh yet mystical” winemaking terrain, debuted his first wine from his Arizona vineyard, Caduceus Cellars, back in 2006. Justin Timberlake has devised yet another way to get us on the dance floor with his new 901 Silver Tequila. Even Aussie rockers AC/DC are getting in on the action with their own wine label. It launches in Australia this week with hilarious varieties like Back in Black Shiraz, Highway to Hell Cabernet Sauvignon and You Shook Me All Night Long Moscato. Gaga’s currently working on a fashion collaboration with Nicola Formichetti for Barneys. If she doesn’t start making wine, at least maybe she can think about meat dresses for the masses?

Related: Surprising Celebrity Food Products

Wine

A Case for Boxed Wines

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2009 Bota Box Chardonnay.

© Courtesy of DVF Wines
2009 Bota Box Chardonnay.

People have been putting wine in boxes (or rather, in bags within boxes) for years, but it's a relatively new phenomenon that the contents be worth drinking. Last week, New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov covered 10 worthy reds and whites, and for this month's issue of Food & Wine, Ray Isle tasted a slew of boxed Chardonnays and named four winners.

Why look past the cheesy stigma this summer? Boxes are lighter (therefore greener) and easier to close than bottles. That portability makes them great if you're inclined to partake at beach picnics, and researchers in Spain recently suggested that wine could even protect against sunburn (though dehydration is still something to worry about when day-drinking). The biggest advantage is that whites will stay fresh in your fridge for weeks, making it easy to squeeze off a glass whenever a new heat wave rolls into town. Here, surprisingly good boxed wines to drink now.

Wine

A Grape That Could Use Some (Tough) Love: Chenin Blanc

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I have enormous respect for Chenin Blanc, but this is one grape that definitely needs to spend some time in a military academy. Left to its own devices, after a few years Chenin vines sprawl out, get all broad and flabby, and start overproducing like the Octomom. But with a little firm discipline (shoot- and cluster-thinning, which is vineyard-manager-speak for “drop and give me twenty, dogface!”) suddenly they're a source for crisp, complex—and underrated—white wines. Here are five that have been whipped into shape:

2011 Indaba Chenin Blanc ($10) Sales of Indaba’s wines support a fellowship for needy South African students interested in wine-related careers. Like growing more Chenin Blanc, because the place does it so darn well, for instance.

2010 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc ($12) This peachy wine comes from Clarksburg, in California’s Sacramento River delta. No oak here, just zippy stainless-steel-tank freshness.

2010 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc ($13) More peach notes—it’s sort of a Chenin signature—and a nice hint of spice, from one of South Africa’s top wineries. Plus, how can you not love a place that also makes a wine called “Faithful Hound”?

2010 Pine Ridge Vineyards Chenin Blanc-Viognier ($14) The Pine Ridge folks add about 20% Viognier—another grape that tends towards sloth and dissolution unless you give it what-for—to this melony Chenin, giving it a nice floral note.

2009 Domaine Huet Le Haut Lieu Sec Vouvray ($30, more or less) “Sec” means dry, important to know with Vouvray, since many of the Chenins from this French region can be sweet. “Domaine Huet” means “I make the best damn Chenin Blanc on the planet,” basically. It’s a splurge, but once you’ve fallen in love with this grape, it’s one you’ll want to make.

Related Links:
Top 10 No-Fail Tips for Picking a Stellar Wine off a Wine List
15 Rules for Great Wine and Food Pairing

Farms

Farm-to-Table Hotels Get Serious

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Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth's Blanche Neige with Chef Martin Paquet.

© Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth's Blanche Neige with Chef Martin Paquet.


When we predicted the advent of rooftop hotel farms in 2011, we had no idea we’d soon be seeing barnyard animals vying for prime real estate. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts are now taking the farm to table movement to a wild new level, welcoming feathered and four-legged guests into the family. Fairmont Newport Beach’s seven adopted goats – Suzy Q, Snickers, Frankie, Lucy, Cali, Trixie and Taffy – will entertain frequent visits from the hotel’s executive chef, who will serve organic cheese made from their milk at the hotel’s restaurant. In Montreal, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth’s two goats are both named Blanche Neige – “Snow White” – and the mother and daughter duo’s cheese will be available both on the menu at The Beaver Club as well as at the Fairmont Store. The resident honeybees at Quebec City’s Fairmont Le Château Frontenac now have to share the view with a few new tenants: five Chantecler hens, who each produce one egg a day from June through October. Even farmyard guests have to pay for a rooftop garden suite, after all.

Recipes

Outrageous Breakfast Sandwiches

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© Quentin Bacon

You’ve heard it before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Many chefs around the country have heeded the call and are now serving morning meals. Still, that doesn’t mean all their dishes get a nutritional thumbs up. Take breakfast sandwiches, the Homer Simpson of AM food service. Some chefs have created awesome versions that aren’t all available at their restaurants. And many nutritionists will say, thank goodness for that.
 
Tim Love, Lonesome Dove, Ft Worth Texas
“My breakfast sandwich:  I load a griddled hamburger patty up with jack cheese, chili, lamb bacon, sunny hen egg and fresh tomatillo salsa. Then fold a fresh flour tortilla around as much of it as I can. And serve it with a tequila sunrise, of course.”
 
John Currence, Big Bad Breakfast, Oxford, Mississippi
“At my restaurant, I’ve brought a lot of people back from the dead after a long night out with the Pylon: A split, griddle-fried hot dog with chili, slaw, cheddar, mustard, chopped pickles, onion, jalapeño peppers and oyster crackers, all on a sweet waffle.”
 
Ryan LaRoche, NoMI Kitchen at Park Hyatt, Chicago
“I like to take the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the room service menu and deep fry it. It’s like a jelly donut. To take it really over the top, I eat it with my grandfather’s brown butter scrambled eggs. But I draw the line at putting the eggs on the fried pb&j.”
 
Shaun Hergatt, SHO Shaun Hergatt Restaurant, NYC
“I make a breakfast sandwich with Vegemite, avocado, sharp Cheddar Cheese, bacon and eggs, all on rye Vita crisp bread. So it’s kind of healthy. I fly in caseloads of Vegemite from Australia. The only thing I don’t put on the sandwich is gold leaf, even though I do poached eggs with gold leaf at the restaurant. And sea urchin—another thing I don’t put on that sandwich.”
 
And now it’s time to hand out the award for the most outrageous breakfast sandwich. We’re thrilled to give it to Stephanie Izard (Girl & The Goat, Chicago) and Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger, Wellesley, MA) who created a pretty remarkable dish at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen a few years ago. Faced with the challenge of using up leftovers, they took cold pizza, cooked lobster and crisp baconand… piled them on top of each other (no, the pizza didn’t get heated up). It was served with a fried egg on top. “Genius,” recalls Dana Cowin, F&W Editor in Chief, who judged the dish. “It includes almost every food group you’d want to have in the morning. Especially if you’re a college student.”

Related Links
15 Great Breakfast Recipes
20 Brunch Recipes
20 Bacon Recipes
15 Egg Recipes
Tim Love Recipes

Pictured above: Breakfast Biscuit Sandwich

Wine

Wines for Junk Food

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Yes, we all ought to be eating our locally-sourced, free-range, antibiotic-free, Mangalitsa porkchops or whatever, but sometimes, you know, you just want a Frito. Particularly if you’re doing something like watching a ball game on TV, or taking a break from hurling a Frisbee around a park. However, just because your cravings currently extend to chips, chicharrones, or Chung King noodles from a can doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a tasty glass of wine alongside. Here are a few off-the-wall (or off-the-convenience-store-rack) pairing suggestions.
 
Potato Chips
Or French fries, or Tater Tots—basically any kind of fried potato object with lots of salt. Go crazy: drink Champagne. The stuff was made for salty fried foods, whether the Champenoise want to admit it or not. (If real Champagne is too pricey, head to Spain for Cava.)
 
Doughnuts
Look, I don’t drink wine with doughnuts, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some madman out there cruising the streets at midnight, wondering what the heck will go with his bagful of Krispy Kremes. If you’re that person, the answer is sparkling wine that’s sweet. (Note: The same holds true for wedding cake, too.) Sugary pastries and cakes make dry sparkling wine taste like lemon juice. Go for ademi-sec Champagne, or the American equivalent thereof.
 
Slim Jims
Don’t even ask what these things are made from, but if you’re eating them and craving a glass of wine—or really if you’re eating any kind of dry sausage, beef jerky or charcuterie—go red. In fact, go red and Mediterranean. Spicy Sicilian Nero d’Avolas, ripe red blends from France’s Languedoc-Roussillon, and Monstrells from Spain’s southeastern coast are all great possibilities.
 
Spaghetti-Os
Seems like red wine would be the answer, but when’s the last time you had Spaghetti-Os? Those things are sweet. So a crisp white wine is actually going to be the better pairing, for instance a Vermentino or Soavefrom Italy (because, um, Spaghetti-Os are Italian. Er, right?) It’s the same rule-of-pairing-thumb that applies to Asian dishes that have a bit of sweetness, akin to squeezing lime juice on pad thai; match them with a white that has good acidity.
 
Deep-Fried Mars Bar
It’s a Scottish thing. Not really ideal for wine. I’d say if you’re self-destructive enough to eat deep-fried candy bars, go ahead and break out the Johnnie Walker with them. What have you got to lose, really?
 
Related Links:
 
15 Rules for Great Wine and Food Pairing
 

Entertaining

World’s Wackiest Ice Creams

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© Courtesy of Dennis and Cheryl Reas
Ice cream cheeseburger

Hurray for summer cookouts! You can have an all-out grilling marathon, eat unlimited amounts of potato salad and even more ice cream. But wait – there are some frozen desserts you might think twice about before serving. We’re not saying they’re not tasty (though some of them sure sound disgusting). We’re just saying keep the mint chocolate chip handy, just in case.

Ice cream cheeseburger, Florida. Here’s why you go to the Florida state fair: because you find something amazing like the ice cream cheeseburger, from Carousel foods. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a cheeseburger, topped with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and, you guessed it, a giant scoop of fried ice cream.

Cicada ice cream, Missouri. Sadly, Sparky’s no longer sells this ice cream (the Columbia, MO, health department is weird about desserts with bugs, apparently). But just in case they bring it back, here’s what you get: cicadas that were caught in employees backyards, then boiled and coated with sugar and chocolate and folded into brown sugar ice cream. 

Lobster Ice Cream, Maine. At Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium, in Bar Harbor, the owners mix chunks of local Maine lobster into their butter ice cream. It’s one of their most popular items for shipping. Really.

Ice cream cone ramen, Tokyo. Kikuya ramen shop precisely cuts a soft serve vanilla ice cream cone in half then sets it on top of a bowl of varying flavors of ramen, including one with classic soy sauce broth (they thoughtfully serve the noodles chilled to keep the ice cream from melting too fast).

Government cheese ice cream, San Francisco. Humphry Slocombe routinely wins best ice cream polls in the Bay Area and around the country. So we have to believe that their flavors, which include prosciutto and foie gras, are good. But we’re just not sure about a government cheese version.

Beef Tongue Ice Cream, Tokyo. In our book, Ice Cream City wins the award for all-around most disturbing flavors. Among their best sellers: beef tongue (which was apparently created for meat lovers), whale and oyster. 

Related Links:

Best Ice Cream Spots in the U.S

America's Wacky Fair Foods

America's Weirdest Regional Foods

Beer

NYC's Greatest Beer Dinner Ever

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Labeling a special beer, Local 11, for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner at Eleven Madison Park.

© Nathan Rawlinson
Labeling a special beer, Local 11, for a once-in-a-lifetime dinner at Eleven Madison Park.

 

Beer is often associated with backyard barbecues and sporting events, but writer Christian DeBenedetti reports on the growing trend of craft beer showing up in some of the country’s best restaurants:


“American craft beer's surge into the spotlight has taken many forms, but until relatively recently, beer dinners in ultra-fine-dining settings were generally considered oddities, one-offs or experiments, rather than the norm. No longer: American brewers from the likes of Allagash in Maine, Oregon's Deschutes and Delaware's Dogfish Head are working with top-tier chefs from Thomas Keller of Per Se to Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns to present beers and foods that are well matched and fun to try together.

Recently the beer dinner concept hit a new high with the collaboration between New York's Brooklyn Brewery and Eleven Madison Park. For the event, brewmaster Garrett Oliver worked with chef Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park general manager Will Guidara and Eleven Madison Park dining room manager/beer coordinator Kirk Kelewae to create a pairing menu almost entirely from scratch.

The dinner included Local 11, a beer made by aging the dark, abbey-style ale Brooklyn Local 2 in 20-year old Pappy Van Winkle whiskey barrels. It had never been tasted outside the brewery before this dinner. "Garrett really opened my eyes in a big way," said Humm. "Craft beer works really well with food; there's so much to it. And it's not just rustic food—sausages and stuff like that—but also really refined food, because the beers are really refined."

Unlike most beer dinners—perhaps any other beer dinner that has ever taken place—the collaboration started with the beers, not the menu. "We're getting a chance to show the real creative evolution of the brewery," Oliver told me as guests sipped on an aperitif beer called The Concoction, inspired by the classic Penicillin cocktail and redolent of whisky, ginger, lemon and honey. "Usually these things are done by e-mail," Oliver continued. "The chef sends me a menu, I send back the pairings. And it often turns out wonderfully. This time, the Eleven Madison Park team came out to the brewery and spent three-and-a-half hours tasting with us. Then they went back with the beers and developed the menu in the other direction. This is a whole new way to do things."

The night’s highlights included a foie gras terrine with strawberry, yuzu and black pepper paired with Wild 1, a beer brewed in 2008 and aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, then refermented with Brettanomyces, the earthy, fickle yeast strain prized by Belgian brewers; and Pennsylvania's Four Story Hill Farm suckling pig with apricot and cardamom, paired with the Local 11. Oliver, for his part, was ecstatic. "I've done about 700 beer dinners, but this is the ultimate."

Here's a photo gallery from former Eleven Madison Park sommelier-turned-professional photographer Nathan Rawlinson along with a short video report.

News

The New Street-Food Heroes

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Hungry crowds at the first annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards.

© Michael Toolan
Hungry crowds at the first annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards.


Food-truck visionaries, like L.A.’s Roy Choi of Kogi fame and the folks behind NYC's Rickshaw Dumpling Bar, are transforming their cities into street-food meccas. Now, nearly every city in America is undergoing its own street-food revolution. “Philadelphia has a really vibrant street-food culture,” says Helena Tubis, managing director of the New York–based Vendy Awards, “but it doesn’t get recognition.” Inspired by three Philadelphia vendors who visited the 2010 Vendys in New York, the City of Brotherly Love celebrated its own first annual Vendy Awards last weekend, honoring the street vendors who keep Philly well-fed on the go. Finalists included old standbys as well as fresh new faces: Vendy Cup winner Gigi and Big R’s truck has been serving Caribbean-American soul food for 10 years, while People’s Choice Award winner Cucina Zapata, which serves Thai-Mexican fusion tacos, has been open only two months.
 
Now in its seventh year, the NYC Vendys are scheduled for September 24 (tickets available here). New Yorkers have already submitted more than a thousand nominations for their favorite vendors, including  nominees for the new Most Heroic Vendor Award, which recognizes the non-culinary ways street-food vendors contribute to their local communities (such as the vendor who foiled a Times Square car bomb attempt in 2010). As if turning out awesome lunches for thousands of New Yorkers every day weren’t heroic enough.

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