I love movies that let you peek inside a subculture that you might not be able to access otherwise: Word Wars, which follows competitive Scrabble players, and Spellbound, which featured the kids vying to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, are two that come to mind. I'd say that SOMM, which will be available on iTunes on June 21st, has more in common with these movies than wine documentaries like Mondovino or flicks like Sideways.
Choosing wine for someone else is tricky, but if your dad's really an oenophile, he'll probably appreciate the effort...and maybe even open the bottle to share with you.
Buying a liter of vermouth is not that different from buying a gallon of milk: if you don't have a house full of thirsty drinkers, you're better off sizing down.
It's just the beginning for Mason Pacific, which opened last week in San Francisco's Nob Hill at (you guessed it) the corner of Mason Street and Pacific Ave. But I can say this: it's a nice place to have a glass of wine and the fanciest potato skins you've ever tried.
When last we checked in with him, Manny Torres Gimenez was serving fresh pasta and two different prix fixe menus at Roxy's Cafe in the Mission...all without much of a kitchen. At Roxy's, he could basically only boil water on an induction burner; now, he's moved into the old Palace Steakhouse on Mission and Cesar Chavez, and installed a real kitchen, complete with rotisserie, broiler, and grill. The chef, who trained at Nobu in New York and SPQR, Quince, and Coi in San Francisco, says of the new space, "Here, this is like my dream. Now I can use my entire imagination."
This time of year, it's easy to feel like you should always be grilling. Got fava beans? Asparagus? Throw them on the grill. Chicken? Who roasts anymore? But grilling adds a layer of flavor to food, and the best drink accompaniment will be different than if you prepared these ingredients another way. We asked 14 sommeliers for advice on the best wines to pair with grilled food.
It may be that 3-martini business lunches aren't the norm anymore, but many of today's companies see some value in gathering the staff for an end-of-week drink. What's happy hour like at Food & Wine or Saveur? What about the offices of Campari or Anchor Brewing?
Though summer nights elsewhere might have you craving a tall, frosty Tom Collins, the truth is that even the warmest San Francisco days dissolve into cool evenings. What's a bar manager to do? For Danny Louie and Ethan Terry of Alembic on Haight Street in San Francisco, the answer is to craft seasonal drinks—"but not too seasonal," says Louie. You'll see ripe strawberries, but not in a highball. There's a tart tequila drink, but it has added complexity from Oregon-made coffee liqueur, Mexican Fernet, and Spanish brandy.
Firestone Walker's recently released Pivo Hoppy Pils was influenced by Czech and German pilsners, but was actually inspired by a dry-hopped pils from Birrifico Italiano in Northern Italy.
Lillet has released a few vintage bottlings in especially good years for white Bordeaux wines, and one of those, 2009, has just reached the market. The blend is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels that are 225 liters. (Regular Lillet is aged in large oak vats ranging from 8,000 liters to 20,000 liters.)
San Francisco: 17 Sips and Bites from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market's 20th Anniversary Cocktail Party
This week marks the 20th anniversary of San Francisco's iconic Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and we were invited to celebrate with cocktails and bites inspired by the season at last night's outdoor 'Cocktails At The Farmers Market' event. We sipped our way through the offerings, which included cocktails made with spring peas, strawberries, beets, and rhubarb from the bartenders of 15 Romolo, Tradition, Trick Dog, Lolinda, Hard Water, and others.
The Margarita, Caipirinha, Cuba Libre: "These Latin drinks have a long history," says Chris Lane, bar manager of the Mission's Lolinda and its new rooftop bar and restaurant, El Techo de Lolinda. El Techo's cocktails are meant for relaxed outdoor drinking, but you'll find that there's a craft-cocktail touch here and there.
While citrus season in San Francisco has been a pretty good time, fruits and vegetables are starting to get much more exciting. Last Thursday's farmers' market highlights included ripe apricots (!) and peaches (!!) as well as an assortment of berries.
Portland, Oregon's Salt & Straw is known for churning up unusual ice cream flavors. We're big fans of their Coffee Bourbon ice cream, though we found last fall's rich and savory foie gras flavor a little challenging. In honor of Father's Day, they're launching a sixpack of beer-inspired ice creams featuring local breweries.
Though 'burrito' isn't really the keyword you're usually looking for on a dim sum menu, this particular item, the Shredded Duck Burrito ($6.90) is a must-order at Koi Palace. It's essentially a set of two flaky, just slightly-greasy, tender scallion pancakes, rolled around moist, rich slices of duck and spears of cucumber.
We could just drink pink from here on out: crisp pale coral wines from Provence, fresh California rosés, magenta-hued bottles from Spain...there's a whole rainbow of pink to keep our thirst quenched for the warm months. But which wines should we look for? Which are the most delicious? We asked 15 sommeliers from around the country for their favorite rosé wines, as well as tips for what to eat alongside a glass (or three.)
Premixed cocktails are tricky to do right. Citrus flavor often comes out oily and lacks the bright acidity that is needed to cut through sweetness. But this premixed cocktail, poured over ice, has more tartness than I expected, moving it toward balance. The only problem: a weird aftertaste from the artificial sweeteners.
If you've read up on mezcal and you really want to get into it, there's a world of cocktails out there for you: savory ones with Scotch, rich ones with ginger, cool variations on classics and original cocktails popping up in bars around the country. Here are 9 recipes we love from top cocktail programs around the country »
You might have experienced a cheese cart or a chocolate cart, but what about a tableside basket of after-dinner bitter liqueurs? At Maialino in the Gramercy Park Hotel in NYC, bar manager Erik Lombardo recently introduced amari service, including a 16-bottle list and a few digestif bottles offered tableside for post-dinner sipping. We asked Lombardo a bit about the program and his picks for amari novices, plus the weirdest bottles and his personal favorites.
These 7 dry rosés were made with an eye toward balance and character, and the results are elegant, refreshing, and just darn delicious. They'll make you want to get out an ice bucket and blow off work for the afternoon. (And since they're all pretty low in alcohol, you can pour yourself another glass or two.)
If you're a Campari junkie, or you've been flirting with Fernet, it's time for your next step. Vergano's Americano is one bottle to seek out.
Ever try to really challenge a bartender who offers 'bespoke' cocktails? The folks at Zagat recently did just that: they went to Sable in Chicago and ordered up custom cocktails made with energy drinks (not the easiest ingredient to mix with.) Could Sable's fancy bartenders rock the Red Bull?
Which wines work well with a plate of juicy carnitas or a carne asada burrito? We asked 17 sommeliers for their advice.
Start your morning off with a margarita-flavored beer, or a bit of philosophy related to winemaking. Try the Elephant Dung coffee stout at your own risk.
Though shrubs are super-trendy now, they date back to colonial America; before there was refrigeration, vinegar was a handy tool for preserving fruit. It's pretty rare that we'd eagerly recommend any bottled cocktail mixer, but we recently sampled a line of shrub syrups from Shrub & Co and we're really big fans.
Making ice cream. Cooking up a pot de creme, pudding, or mousse. These are just some of the baking culprits that will leave you with extra egg whites. But don't throw them out! Many delicious desserts—souffles, meringues, and financiers, to start—rely on egg whites for height and texture. More ideas right this way.
From hand pulled noodles doused in a savory sesame paste sauce, to a bowl of Chinese bacon and smoked peppers, to tender Afghan mantoo dumplings, Chinatown's offerings go far beyond the wide ranging variety of Chinese cuisines. Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Middle Eastern restaurants all hold court here.
Rice cakes are odd little things. Straight from the packaging they look sort of like plastic cylinders; raw, they sort of taste like them, too. But sauté rice cakes and they develop a crackly crust, while the insides become tender and almost creamy.
We love the charred, crisp, and just-sweet leaves of roasted brussels sprouts. The sprouts are a perfect canvas for just about any blanket of flavors, even the seemingly crazy combination of caraway, lime juice, mint, and cilantro Bar Tartine's Nicolaus Balla suggests in Food and Wine's new cookbook America's Greatest New Cooks. Balla's seamless blending of Eastern European and Southeast Asian tastes are fully realized in this vibrant vegetable side.
The key to a great kale Caesar salad is to marinate the kale in straight olive oil while you prepare the dressing and the croutons. The olive oil helps break down the leaves, turning them from tough to tender-crisp.
I don't know what happened on your end over the holidays, but over here not a lot of self-control was exercised. So, at least this week, I'm eating lighter than usual to make up for the craziness of the last few weeks. But I'm far from depriving myself of delicious things, though. This mushroom laab (or lap, most often spelled 'larb') you're looking at right here? Not exactly deprivation.
This crème fraîche custard pie is just what I'd always wished Clafoutis could be: a lightly sweetened, creamy custard (made better with tangy crème fraîche) that's filled with juicy, tart apples, and baked inside a crispy crust.
These days, everybody and their grandmother has heard of brining, and more and more folks are doing it at home before Turkey Day. But it's not all pie and gravy. There are a few distinct and definite downsides to wet-brining, and many folks are making the switch to dry-brining (A.K.A. extended salting). The question is, which method works best?
San Francisco and New York are often mentioned in the same breath when it comes to the nation's great food cities, and are often compared as such. Growing up near San Francisco but having lived on the East Coast for nearly a decade, I can't say that there's one that strikes me as "superior"—and suggestions of a rivalry seem rather silly. They're just so different. So I couldn't choose one favorite food city between them. But, having just spent a fantastically delicious week by the Bay, I do know that there are a lot of foods from San Francisco I'd take back to New York with me if I could. Here are 10 of mine. What are your favorite SF eats?
The recipe is easy. I mean, it's fried rice. This one is particularly easy because Nam Prik Pao helps add a bunch of complex flavors. Everything made with Nam Prik Pao tastes like you've just slaved over the stove for hours when the fact is anything but. No wonder Thai restaurants love using it so much.
While in Portland for the Feast festival (see our event recaps here), Maggie and I explored the city, from one food cart pod to another, with many nights ending in ice cream. After a weekend of feasting, we hit the road and do some more feasting elsewhere in the great state of Oregon. Stay tuned for a new dispatch from Oregon each day this month!
This is how you should cook an updated version of the classic stir-fried rice cakes dish.
These sweet and slightly spicy corn cakes may not have the same sought-after elasticity of classic Thai fish cakes, but the sweetness of the corn and the crispiness sure make up for it.
Hear the word gratin, and my mind often drifts towards rich, cheesy potato casseroles served up in the cold depths of winter. I was pleasantly surprised, then, to hear James Peterson wax poetic on a simple Tomato and Herb Gratin in his Vegetables. Made only with ripe summer tomatoes, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and herbs, the dish is the simplest (and lightest) in a long line of more recognizable baked tomato dishes like lasagna and eggplant parmesan.
Rich but delicate, this cheesecake is perfect for summer, especially when it gets a double-dose of juicy peaches roasted in brown sugar and smoky Bourbon.
My favorite way to eat ice cream must not be shared with my wife, who would be truly appalled if she read this. So mum's the word, but listen up.
Scott Conant is the chef at Scarpetta in New York, a restaurant known for refined yet soulful Italian food. This recipe, published in Esquire magazine, takes a slim list of ingredients and creates something special from them: to me, the hallmark of a great pasta dish.
This moist, buttery quick bread is flavored with key limes and poppy seeds then covered in a sweet-tart key lime glaze.
Salty, spicy, briny, pickled, hot, sour; lately all I want to do is eat foods that are intensely savory. This sandwich came out of that craving.
[Photograph: David Loftus] What Worked: Starting a recipe three days in advance is going to require some planning but it's worth it for these out of this world Gnudi. Just make sure to read the direction well before beginning the...
We visited Balaboosta's Einat Admony to learn how to make gondi, a Persian chicken and chickpea dumpling, which she'll be serving at a special Passover Seder. The dish is an unforgettably delicious and totally comforting alternative to Ashkenazi matzo ball soup.
Sriracha's lovely. Harissa is a fiery punch in the mouth with flavor to match. But if you're looking for a sweeter, funkier flavor from your chiles, gochujang (pronounced go-choo-jong) is the thing for you.
My mother is one of the loveliest, kindest, most generous people you will ever meet. With a ready and Colgate ad-perfect smile, friends and strangers flock to her. But this charmer has a dark side. Ask her for her carrot cake recipe and she'll reply with a short and decisive "No." It's too bad, really, because—scout's honor—it is the best carrot cake in the world.
Kale is one of those winter stalwarts—we love its hearty, green flavors and reliable presence in the produce section, but sometimes we run out of creative kale ideas. To counter any kale ennui, here's a Lemony Kale Caesar Salad from Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food, a bright, unexpected take on our winter go-to green.
This bright and clean salad is made of shaved mushroom, Parmesan, and parsley, and spiked with lemon, olive oil, and sea salt.