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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


After Hours with Sommelier Patrick Cappiello

Sommelier Patrick Cappiello

At New York City's Pearl & Ash, wine director and managing partner Patrick Cappiello can often be seen whacking the tops off Champagne bottles with a saber. He also oversees a cellar full of extraordinary values.

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Belinda Chang Takes Over the Monkey Bar


© kate krader
Belinda Chang is the Monkey Bar's new GM & wine director.

When last we saw Belinda Chang, she was accepting a James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service at The Modern in NYC.  When last we left the Monkey Bar, also in NYC, it was celebrity-studded, with those amazing Ed Sorel murals, but no significant food or wine to speak of.

Now let's celebrate the fact that Chang is back, as the new GM and wine director at—you guessed it—the Monkey Bar! Chang has big plans for the place. "We're going to turn things around, the wine list, everything, is going to be super fun," she says. "The Monkey Bar is a place where
you feel like you're going out, like you're special; the list will feel like that, too." So she'll introduce magnums of as many wines as she can think of, including special ones, made just for the Monkey Bar, served by the glass. She'll also have wines picked out for some famous names who might show up. "For Lady Gaga, I'll serve her some crazy Italian spumante. Maybe an older Erbaluce, which is nutty and voluptuous and decadent. I think she'd love it," says Chang.

Next, look for a notable chef to take over the kitchen, sometime soon.


All Good Things


You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.

So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.

Ray Isle


Wining and Dining in Hotel Lobbies


Latitudes Bar

© Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts


The hotel lobby is probably not the most memorable experience of most trips, but the Le Méridien hotel chain is changing that with its new LM100 program,  which taps creative minds to rethink the lobby experience through food, wine and art. Each hotel will feature a bar called Latitudes—by day, a coffee bar staffed by protégés of 2002 World Barista Championship winner Fritz Storm, and by night, a wine bar with tasting classes curated by sommelier and author Linda Grabe. For the morning menu, NYC chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has developed signature breakfast dishes like espresso-steamed eggs to serve with “eye opener” juice shots like Cherry Lemon Black Pepper. Creativity reigns, right down to the details: International artists such as Sam Samore and Hisham Bharoocha have created pocket-size artworks for each key card, making them unique, collectible art pieces. Le Méridien Barcelona is the first hotel in the chain that features the new lobby program, which will begin rolling out to hotels worldwide this fall.


Food, Wine & Football



© Max's Wine Dive
Fried Chicken and Champagne at Max's Wine Dive.


It’s frigid here in New York City, and with the long holiday weekend ahead, I plan on holing up and cooking my favorite comfort foods, drinking some great wines and watching a lot of college football. I recently heard about a new wine bar in Texas that combines all three things. Max’s Wine Dive opened in May in downtown Austin with the philosophy of "Fried chicken and champagne? Why the hell not?!"

With its local team, the University of Texas Longhorns, playing for the national championship on January 7, the bar should be packed with fans eating not just fried chicken with Champagne but kobe burgers with Cabernet and oyster nachos with premier cru Burgundy.

Until I find my own NYC version of Max’s, I’ll be replicating their comfort-food-and-wine pairings with ideas from Food & Wine.

Wine Bars

NYC Escape from Shopping Madness


Midtown Manhattan this time of year is one of the more frenetic places one can find oneself, but I've found an excellent escape hatch. Go to the I. M. Pei-designed Four Seasons Hotel on 57th Street, go through the revolving doors, up the stairs, to the right, and you'll find yourself at the hotel's new Garden Wine Bar. It's an oddly serene space—you know you're in a hotel, but because the wine bar is elevated above the main entrance, the main thing you perceive are the enormously high ceilings of the marble-pillared lobby and the leafy branches of the trees that decorate the bar; what you don't perceive is the bustle of people entering and leaving the hotel.

That would be nice but not worth a mention except that the Garden also has a terrific wine list, with almost all of the 200 selections available by the glass or by the bottle. A few examples: at the low end, a crisp 2007 Pra Soave Classico ($12 glass/$48 bottle); in the high-middle range, Slovenian cult producer Movia's fantastic 2003 Veliko Bianco ($25 glass/$97 bottle); and at the truly high end, a gorgeous 2006 J. M. Boillot Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Canet ($40 glass/$150 bottle). Also, unfinished by-the-glass bottles are passed along to other venues in the hotel, which means that once something is opened, it's effectively guaranteed to be poured through within a day or so, an important consideration when you're talking about $40-a-glass wines. 

Admittedly, those prices aren't bargain basement, but this is the Four Seasons, hardly known for a bargain basement sensibility. Throw in impressive cheese and charcuterie offerings—including some terrific, spicy Nduja from Boccalone in San Francisco—as well as a good small plates menu, and you've got an ideal place to take a vinous break before heading out into the maelstrom of last-minute shopping again.

The Garden Wine Bar
Four Seasons Hotel
57 West 57th Street
New York, NY

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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.