Dana Cowin
October 09, 2012

There has never been a better time to eat in America. Small farms are producing magnificent produce and meat, and there are delicious restaurants everywhere, from giant cities to rural towns. We have a lot to be thankful for—gastronomically speaking. In this issue, we show our thanks by presenting some of the best food that this country has to offer. One of the most extraordinary farms must certainly be Lee Hudson’s 2,000-acre ranch in Napa Valley. We visit him for a Thanksgiving meal in which nearly everything was grown, raised and even fermented (he makes incredible wines) on his own property. Former Chez Panisse chef David Tanis, an expert in California cooking, makes ideal use of the ingredients in a dinner that nicely blends classic flavors (bacon–corn bread stuffing) with more exotic ones (a spicy cumin-and-cayenne-spiked beet slaw).

This is also, without a doubt, an amazing time for professional cooks, artisans and bakers. On eating trips around the country, we identified 12 of the most talented young food stars and developed a new book to showcase them: America’s Greatest New Cooks. There’s an exclusive preview of the cookbook, including 10 of their best recipes. Many of these dishes would make great sides for Thanksgiving, though I have to admit that one of my favorites, Belinda Leong’s chocolate cookies, don’t seem to fit the season—except that they’re mind-numbingly good, which is excellent year-round.

Another clear sign of the food renaissance is how many small towns now have terrific venues for eating and drinking. We expect it in a place like New Orleans, where restaurant editor Kate Krader finds enormous promise, but in Round Top, Texas, population 90? Still, perhaps the strongest measure of our food obsession is the number of people who want to make creative, satisfying food at home. People like you! I hope this issue, with 70 recipes, helps you make your table the best place to eat in the country.

Where I’m Coming From: My Recent Expeditions

Moxy: Portsmouth, NH

Lucky this is a small-plates place, as I wanted at least a dozen things on the menu, including johnnycakes with brown-sugared pork shoulder and whoopie-pie sliders. 106 Penhallow St.; 603-319-8178; moxyrestaurant.com.

Atera: Manhattan

Matt Lightner’s ingenious, playful cooking makes for a fun, fascinating meal. I loved the beet “ember,” which arrived at the table looking like a hunk of coal. 77 Worth St.; 212-226-1444; ateranyc.com.

Governor: Brooklyn, NY

Grilled romaine topped with a Champagne-grape-and-sunflower panzanella was one of my favorite quirky dishes here. 15 Main St.; 718-858-4756; governordumbo.com.

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