Food & Wine
August 01, 2009

When I went to check out Manhattan’s new Locanda Verde, I was impressed by the exquisitely well-priced Italian wine list. Then I ordered a beer from Brooklyn. I don’t know why I did that, exactly, but it probably boils down to my preference for doing the opposite of what’s expected, my belief in the power of surprise. In this issue, we honor that contrarian approach.

In “Perfect Summer Parties,” we skip generic barbecues in favor of more creative ideas. To celebrate the release of the film Julie & Julia, with Meryl Streep as Julia Child, we suggest a party featuring one of Julia’s favorite foods, quiche, and aprons imprinted with Julia-isms (“Life itself is the proper binge”).

There are lots of other independent thinkers in this issue, including Alain Coumont, founder of the international chain of cafés called Le Pain Quotidien. At his magnificent house in the south of France, he develops delicious dishes for his menus. The surprise is that many of the recipes are vegan. I loved the cool, tangy zucchini soup and the baby artichokes braised in wine.

Our story “Gardens Without Borders” looks at how Los Angeles landscape designer Judy Kameon uses herbs throughout outdoor spaces instead of relegating them to a garden patch. To show how to take advantage of all those herbs, F&W’s Marcia Kiesel created four wonderful recipes, including a chive-sage salt to rub on chicken or sprinkle on roasted potatoes.

When writer Benjamin Wallace traveled to Napa Valley for F&W, his goal was actually to avoid wineries. Instead, he experienced the place as if it were any other amazing vacation destination. He found some terrific alternatives to back-to-back wine tastings—from kayaking on a lake to eating cupcakes. A cupcake-eating contrarian? I think that sounds like the best kind there is.

Follow me on Twitter @fwscout.

Where I’m Coming From

Notes From My Recent Expeditions:

Las Vegas
At this voluptuous restaurant at Encore, dominated by real Botero paintings and sculptures, I loved the perfectly cooked rack of lamb as well as the ingenious cupcakes topped with ice cream.

Beijing Noodle No. 9
Las Vegas
After watching a master hand-stretch the dough, the noodles served with pork and mushrooms were a treat.

Locanda Verde
New York City
Andrew Carmellini’s rustic Italian menu is fantastic. One of my favorite dishes: the calamari stuffed with chorizo and Swiss chard.

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