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CATCH OF THE DAY

Farm Dining in the Field and at Home

Outstanding in the Field
In 2010, Outstanding in the Field
plans to take its alfresco act to
Europe for a few delicious dinners.

by Bree Shirvell

If you haven't dined at one of Outstanding in the Field's traveling restaurants, it's about time you did. Long communal tables in the middle of wide-open fields are the setting for more than 50 magical dinners at farms throughout North America.

Local farmers, culinary artisans, and community members linger over five-course meals made almost entirely from ingredients produced locally--often only a few feet from the table. It's the chance to meet the people who grow and produce the food, to honor the tradition of the local farm, and to learn about ingredients cultivated close to home.

Can't snag a seat at one of the scheduled dinners (or can't foot the $180 to $220 bill)? Outstanding in the Field: A Farm to Table Cookbook features many of the dishes served over the nearly ten years that the organization has been cookin'. My favorite recipe is the goat's-milk ricotta and spinach gnocchi--it calls for less flour than typical gnocchi recipes, so it's light and almost fluffy. (Find the recipe after the jump.)

Continue reading "Farm Dining in the Field and at Home" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Tipsy Treat: Our Favorite Bahamas Rum Cake Recipe

by Mollie Chen

During the busy season it's near impossible to get a table at the Rock House, one of Harbour Island's prettiest hotels. It sits on a slope, so the open-air dining room is high above the street with a phenomenal view of the harbor. Locals know that the best time to go is around 6:30 p.m. so that the sun drifts lazily below the horizon as you eat. They also know that there is only one way to end the meal: with chef Jenny Learmonth's ultra-rich, boozy rum cake. Ask for a scoop of her homemade honeycomb ice cream on the side--the crunchy crystallized honey gives the dense cake just the right amount of texture.

When I got back to New York, I wanted to recreate the experience for friends so I asked for the recipe. Read after the jump to see how Learmonth makes her rum cake. 

Continue reading "Tipsy Treat: Our Favorite Bahamas Rum Cake Recipe" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Cesare Casella's Salumi Tour of Italy


View Cesare Casella's Salumi Tour of Italy in a larger map

by Julia Bainbridge

A few weeks ago, I invited friends to my apartment for an evening of salumi and wine. Sounds lovely, right? Immediately upon picking up my pencil to write a grocery list, though, I experienced slight panic. Salumi is such a broad term--what, exactly, do I serve?

Cesare Casella is the man to answer that question. In partnership with Italian cured meat producer Parmacotto, he opened Salumeria Rosi, a salumeria con cucina, or a store selling cured meats with a tiny restaurant attached, on New York City's Upper West Side. Since I planned to do a kind of regional salumi tour (on a plate, in my apartment), here's what Casella recommended:

* Porchetta from Tuscany: "A cooked salumi, the flavor is like bacon without the fattiness. Traditionally a street food served in Tuscany, this is made with pork belly and loin, which is marinated in salt, pepper, and rosemary, and slowly braised for 12 hours."

* Parmella Mortadella from Bologna: "Finely ground, cooked pork sausage, considered a staple in Bologna. Rose-colored and dotted with cubes of fat, it has a light flavor. Comes with or without pistachios."

* Prosciutto Crudo from San Daniele: "Salt-cured, aged ham from San Daniele del Friuli, located in northeastern Italy. Generally darker and sweeter than its rival from down south in Parma."

* Guanciale from Abruzzo: "Cured pork jowl. This cheeky salume has a rich, slightly spicy pork flavor. Considered a key to successful pasta alla carbonana or all'amatriciana."

* Bresaola from Valtellina: "This air-dried, salted beef is deep ruby red, with a nice gamy flavor. It's often found sliced paper thin, topped with a little olive oil, lemon juice, and freshly ground pepper."

And if I had wanted a tour of the best salumerias in Italy--not in my apartment--Casella had suggestions there, too. Click on the map above for his favorites.

Further reading:
* The secret of Emilia-Romagna? It's got the best food you'll ever eat.
* Catch of the Day: International noshables

CATCH OF THE DAY

Video: New York's Marea Restaurant

by Mollie Chen

Last year Michael White's New York restaurant Convivio was one of the stars of our Hot Tables list--and with good reason. The chef is a serious talent in a city already spoiled with kitchen wizards. This year he's back with a brand-new restaurant in Manhattan, the sleek and elegant Marea, which takes Italian seafood to new levels. We couldn't resist going behind the scenes with White in his new spot--taking a peek into the freezers and getting a firsthand look at what goes into some of his best-selling dishes.

CATCH OF THE DAY

Masood Ahmed: The Sweetest Paanwala in Delhi

India-paan
One paanwala's coconutty version.
Photo: LexnGr on Flickr using Creative Commons

by Michael Snyder

Masood Ahmed's paan stall is just like any other you'll find dotting the streets of India: shelves of cigarettes behind, packets of paan masala dangling overhead, and in front, a pile of large, green betel leaves. It just so happens that Masood Ahmed makes what is, as far as I'm concerned, the best paan in Delhi (Paan Bandar, 268-B Basti Nizamuddin, on the street leading from Mathura Road to the Dargah).

Much remains unchanged about chewing paan, even though the tradition is nearly as ancient as India herself. Basic paan, betel leaf smeared with lime paste and wrapped around dry areca nut, acts as a palate cleanser and breath freshener, but it's also popular for its mild stimulant effect (akin to a cup of coffee). Beyond the basic, though, is a laundry list of the flavors and scents of the subcontinent; every chewer has his preferences, and every paanwala--at least every good one--has his own inimitable style.

Ahmed has developed a loyal following for his sweet paan. On top of the standard lime paste and areca nut, Ahmed sprinkles fennel seeds, a whole cardamom pod, rose jam, candied fruits, coconut, dried currant, saffron syrup, honey, and shredded areca nut. Then, with his dark-stained fingers, he folds a glistening wet betel leaf into the traditional triangular shape around the whole thing.

The flavor of Ahmed's sweet paan is still with me long after my time in India; I remember it longingly after nearly every meal, as a former smoker longs for a cigarette. More important, though, is the memory of him smiling every day, handing me that perfect green triangle.

Further reading:
* Michael on India's risk-free street food
* Speckled across the Arabian Sea off the Malabar Coast of India, Lakshadweep is an archipelago of atolls, coral reefs, and islands (CNT, July 2008)
* Catch of the Day: International noshables

CATCH OF THE DAY

Top Chef's Spike Mendelsohn Slings Top Burgers in D.C.

Spike-Mendelsohn-Good-Stuff-Eatery
Although he started his career in fine dining, Mendelsohn has turned to recession-friendly comfort food at Good Stuff Eatery.
Photo: Joe Shymanski

by Ashley Cirilli

Former Top Chef star Spike Mendelsohn has had all of Capitol Hill buzzing since he opened his Good Stuff Eatery last year. Mendelsohn opted out of what he calls the "cutthroat" New York restaurant world, bringing his hip burger-and-shake restaurant to D.C. instead. The idea? Simple: Build a better burger. Now he has everyone from members of the Obama family to tourists lining up for his quirky creations: Among them, the Vegetarians Are People too 'Shroom Burger, the Big Stuff Bacon Meltdown Burger, and the Free Range Turkey Burger. There are fresh salads and fries on the menu, plus milk shakes made from Mendelsohn's own frozen custard. In the background, a feel-good sound track of classic rock and oldies plays the day away.

"You're building an experience for the customer and I have people tell me they love my playlist all the time," Spike said. "It's awesome for after a hard day of work as a politician."

Spike-Mendelsohn-Obama-burger
The Obama Burger: bacon, blue cheese, onion marmalade, and horseradish mayo. We're told the president himself prefers the Farmhouse Cheese Burger (with cheddar).
Photo: Joe Shymanski

Mendelsohn's not stopping with the joint that's got Obama's secret service coming in to order the president a bacon cheddar burger. In addition to expanding the Good Stuff Eatery chain, he has a pizza place in the works for Capitol Hill. And somehow he has plenty of time to explore D.C.'s hot spots. Read after the jump for a list of his favorite places to wind down after a day spent over his own hot stove.

Continue reading "Top Chef's Spike Mendelsohn Slings Top Burgers in D.C." »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Your Favorite U.S. Diners, Mapped


View Your Favorite US Diners in a larger map

by Julia Bainbridge

Well, I promised on Tuesday that we'd make a Google map of your favorite diners if I got enough suggestions. And I have! My team and I have been fielding responses here on the Daily Traveler, on our Twitter account, and from anyone who walks through the halls of the Condé Nast Traveler offices. Click on the map above to see what diners are getting thumbs up--maybe you, like me, will find a new love.

Further reading:
* Bemoaning the loss of my favorite diner, Joe Jr.'s, in New York
* James Beard honors five classic American restaurants
* Catch of the Day: International noshables

CATCH OF THE DAY

Favorite U.S. Diners?

JoeJr
Photo: 12th St David on Flickr
using Creative Commons

by Julia Bainbridge

Just last week, I learned too late that my favorite New York diner, Joe Jr.'s, on the corner of 6th Avenue and 12th Street, had closed in early July. (I was out of the country when it happened; no closure nibble of griddle cakes for me.) Restaurant doors are shutting all over my neighborhood--all over the country--but it seemed that they belonged more to the $15-slice-of-raw-fatty-tuna-belly variety than the homey, bottomless-coffee spots like Joe Jr.'s. On a rainy day like today, it was the perfect spot to sidle up to the counter and order breakfast for dinner--corned beef hash and an egg, say, or a "Belgian Waffle Matinee."

Menupages.com user-reviews of the place say things like "the cream of the crop when it comes to NYC diners" and "I was in there one night when the Yankees won and it was free dessert for all!" that speak to the spirit of Joe. Excuse me if I sound a bit melodramatic, but this place was truly great. New York magazine's Joe DeLessio hit the nail on the head as to why:

"In many ways, Joe Jr.'s Restaurant is your prototypical greasy spoon. The brown leather seats of the eight booths don't match the padded purple backs, the brushstroke-patterned wallpaper is peeling, and the floor tiles look as though they've crawled out from the men's room. But there's a camaraderie between customers at the counter and the line cook and the cashier that can make this space feel like a sports bar where small burgers and shoestring fries stand in for screwdrivers and beer."

So, where to go now? Readers, what are your favorite hometown diners? I'm in the market for a new love.

Further reading:
* James Beard honors five classic American restaurants
* Catch of the Day: International noshables

CATCH OF THE DAY

3CUPS, Another Reason to Check Out the Triangle's Food Scene

3CUPS-Photos-Feb-09-002
3CUPS owner Lex Alexander is borderline fanatical about maintaining transparent relationships with his producers--and he has photos of them on the walls to prove it.

by Mollie Chen

A couple years ago I spent a long weekend in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, area, and I've been scheming to get back ever since. It had everything--friendly people, fantastic food, bountiful farmers' markets, fun shopping--and the town's culinary scene only seemed to be getting better. I'm not the only one with Carolina on my mind: Bon Appétit rated Durham the country's foodiest small town last year.

Since my visit, lots has happened to the area. I just learned about 3CUPS, a highly curated coffee, tea, and wine shop in Chapel Hill, when owner Lex Alexander stopped by the office to give me the rundown on his business. A longtime champion of Triangle-area farmers, Alexander started one of the first natural food stores there in 1981 and then went on to work for Whole Foods during the 1990s. Soon after that, the idea for 3CUPS was born. He opened in 2004 with a small, well-edited selection of products sourced directly from farmers, vintners, co-ops, and small-batch producers. "No blends," he says, "just pure roasted beans, loose-leaf teas, high-quality wines."

Stop in on a Tuesday night and you'll likely mix with local farmers. Although Alexander doesn't sell at the farmer's market, he does hang out with a lot of people who do, and he throws a mean party at the store to bring them together. One event that caught my eye: August's "Beer Drinkin', Pink Wine, and Pig Pickin,'" complete with live ukulele music and slow-cooked ribs.

Further reading:
* For those of us who can't make it down to Chapel Hill in August, there are plenty of crisp rosés, Ethiopian coffees, and Japanese green teas available on the 3CUPS Web site.
* Catch of the Day: International noshables.

CATCH OF THE DAY

Pimm's Cup: A Taste of Wimbledon

SohoHouse
Soho House in New York will screen the Wimbledon finals on its roof.

by Ashley Cirilli

With Wimbledon in full swing this week, it seems like the whole world has tennis fever. Even if you don't know your backhands from your forehands, the tournament is a good reason to sample one of Britain's tastiest exports: the Pimm's Cup. Traditionally made from Pimm's No. 1 Cup, lemon juice, a soda like ginger ale or 7-Up (or sometimes lemonade and soda), and garnished with a cucumber, the cocktail first made its mark in the mid-nineteenth century as a British summer favorite. London bar owner James Pimm began serving the concoction as a digestif, and it became so popular that he bottled his own gin-based liquor, Pimm's No. 1 Cup, for sale.

What started as hand candy for British socialites is now the official drink of Wimbledon. Several London restaurants are rolling out their own versions of the classic drink: Mixed Doubles (Pimm's, strawberries, and Lanson Champagne) at Bluebird, for example. And stateside, the New York branch of London's Soho House is serving up the Wimbledon Pitcher. This party-sized Pimm's-with-a-twist includes strawberries, oranges, and some Hendrick's Gin for an extra kick. Not a member? We've got the classic and the Soho House version after the jump so you can make them at home. Just don't attempt to hit the courts afterward.

Continue reading "Pimm's Cup: A Taste of Wimbledon" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Chef's Choice: Andrew Carmellini


The wooded interior of Avec
restaurant, in Chicago,
one of Carmellini's favorites.

Photo: Avec

Who but a chef would cross the globe for his favorite snack? In Condé Nast Traveler's July issue, Eimear Lynch asked Andrew Carmellini, who opened Locanda Verde at N.Y.C.'s Greenwich Hotel this spring, for his tips.

Favorite Global Restaurants: "Last time I went to Avec, in Chicago, I had too many drinks and ordered most of the menu. My favorite? The bollito misto pork shoulder [615 W. Randolph St.; 312-377-2002; entrées, $10-$21]. I get tapas à la pancha and simple seafood at Cal Pep, in Barcelona [8 Placa de les Olles; 34-93-310-7961; tapas, $7-$20], and go to Paris for juicy roast pigeon at L'Ami Louis--it's served with sautéed fois gras and big Burgundy snails [32 rue du Vertbois; 33-1-48-87-77-48; entrées, $52-$87]. Hostaria da Ivan, in Fontanelle, Italy, just outside Parma, has original country dishes like skillet-fried Parmesan curds, and sweet-and-sour duck with mustard fruits [73 Via Villa; 39-0521-870-113; entrées, $14-$28]."

Favorite Food Souvenir: "Wild boar salami from Autogrill roadside shops in Italy--they're the rest stops of my dreams."

Hometown Picks: "My ideal New York afternoon starts with a sandwich at Porchetta [110 E. 7th St.; 212-777-2151; entrées, $6-$14], followed by a thick, dark espresso at Abraco [86 E. 7th St.; 212-388-9731]."

Perfect In-Flight Meal: "My recipe for a salad of marinated beets with grapefruit, pistachios, and goat cheese."

Locanda Verde, 377 Greenwich Street; 212-925-3797; entrées, $18-$25.

CATCH OF THE DAY

Delicious Cities: Community Gardening Gets Serious

La Plaza Cultural community garden in New York City
La Plaza Cultural community garden.

by Mollie Chen

Last week I found myself knee-deep in conversation about compost rotators with Ross Martin, a landscape designer and longtime volunteer at the La Plaza Cultural community garden in the New York City's East Village. We were guests at a special dinner hosted by Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi to celebrate its partnership with the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA).

Yesterday Woodbridge at Mondavi and ACGA launched Giving Through Growing, a nonprofit educational program that will include, among other things, educational programs in five cities, as well as a Web site where you can send "e-seeds" to friends (and Mondavi will kick in $1 for each seed, up to a total of $40,000).

Mondavi couldn't have picked a better time. First lady Michelle Obama gave community gardening a big boost earlier this year when she broke ground on the People's Garden, but grassroots growing has been gaining steam for a long time.

Continue reading "Delicious Cities: Community Gardening Gets Serious" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Uncle Clay's "Slurpees": Real Hawaiian Food

http://concierge.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341c5a2653ef0115711af7a4970b-pi
Non-perishable souvenirs
at Uncle Clay's.

by Mollie Chen

Pacific Rim cuisine is all well and good, but for real Hawaiian food you're talking spam musubi, kahuku corn out of the back of a pickup truck, and, most important, anything with li hing powder. Li hing is a particular Hawaiian fetish, a brick-red powder that is puckery, salty, sweet, and savory. Crack seed shops (wide-ranging candy shops, essentially) sell a huge array of candies, crackers, and dried fruits that have been dipped in copious amounts of the stuff.

This past trip to Hawaii, I tagged along with my cousins to their favorite neighborhood candy shop to meet the famous Uncle Clay and try his offbeat Slurpee-esque concoctions. Uncle Clay is like a cartoon character come to life. For the last 13 years he has run Doe Fang, a small storefront in Aina Haina, selling candies, knickknacks, and these amped-up Slurpees. When I say Slurpees, I don't mean it in a deconstructed haute junk food way (cue Thomas Keller's "Kit Kat"). These are shaved-ice drinks dispensed from an ICEE machine in an array of neon hues. They're not good for you in any way, especially not the way Uncle Clay serves them, mixed with toppings such as his secret creamy sauce (less-thick condensed milk, perhaps?). 

From the slightly wacky collection of jewelry and Pokemon cards on sale to the ever-smiling Uncle Clay, the whole experience is pure Hawaii. You can't come to Doe Fang expecting a quick snack; waiting in line while Uncle Clay catches up with longtime customers or gently interrogates new ones is part of the experience. No one seems to mind, though, and people seem to come as much for the camaraderie as for the sugar rush. And they're aware that old-fashioned places like Doe Fang have to fight to turn a profit. "It's like paying tithings to the church," a regular said as he left a $5 tip on his $4 Slurpee treat. "If you want places like this to exist, you have to do your part to help them survive." 

Further reading:
* More from Hawaii: Alan Wong's Fish-Friendly "Farmers Series"
* Catch of the Day: International noshables

CATCH OF THE DAY

San Francisco Eats


View San Francisco Eats in a larger map

by Julia Bainbridge

You wouldn't think I had lived in San Francisco judging by the way I packed for last week's trip: all sandals and sundresses. But there I was like a tourist, shivering in lightweight cotton getups. Although I had forgotten about the summertime fog, I had remembered San Francisco's great restaurants. So I came prepared for that, at least, with a list of my old favorites and room for some new gastronomic adventures. Click on the map to follow my every nibble.

CATCH OF THE DAY

Bar Harbor Cheat Sheet

Cleonice
Cleonice executive chef Rich Hanson
shows off his paella.

Photo: Cleonice

by Mollie Chen

It's not quite white pants weather, but with Memorial Day around the corner I'm ready for some seasonal escapes. I got a taste of summertime this past weekend when I took a little father-daughter trip up to Acadia National Park. Owing to our poor map-reading skills, Papa Chen and I had more intensive hiking and biking experiences than we meant to. (A word to the wise: Pay attention to those contour lines on the map, and study the trails before you set off!) To replenish all those calories we spent scrambling up ledges and slogging up hills, we sought out the area's best places to eat:

2 Cats Café: This cute café has light-filled dining areas, ultra-friendly service, and a healthy/organic bent. We sat between a table of rugged outdoorsy types plotting their next rock-climbing trip and a family of locals who knew our server by name. The granola at  2 Cats is deservedly famous and comes with thick Greek yogurt and lovingly sliced bananas; fluffy omelets made with farm-fresh eggs are a gorgeous buttery yellow and come with tender homemade biscuits.

Morning Glory Bakery: Down a small side street, this prolific bakery has everything from muffins and bagels to textbook-perfect tarts and fresh sandwiches. Equally appealing for Sunday paper reading--cappuccino and scones, anyone?--or for grabbing picnic supplies.

Continue reading "Bar Harbor Cheat Sheet" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

James Beard Honors 5 Classic American Restaurants


View James Beard America's Classics 2009 in a larger map

by Julia Bainbridge

A couple weeks ago, on May 4, the 19th annual James Beard Awards turned an otherwise rainy evening at New York City's Avery Fisher Hall into quite the glitzy affair. There was Martha Stewart in sequins, Jacques Pepin all tuxed out, Daniel Boulud looking ever the stylish gent in a crisply knotted silver tie, and Lidia Bastianich. (I didn't notice what she was wearing or on whose arm she entered the building; I was in the presence of Lidia Bastianich for the love.) Sure, there were big names among the best chefs (Dan Barber of Blue Hill for Outstanding Chef; Jose Garces of Amada for Best Chef: Mid Atlantic) and some famous five-star restaurants received top honors (Jean Georges for Outstanding Restaurant; Le Bernardin for Outstanding Wine Service), but what stole the show for me were the five America's Classics honorees.

The signature of these honorees is that "they are all restaurants, diners, shake shacks, clam shacks, that really represent America and the heartland," said James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro. "They're community dining destinations that have become a fabric of their towns." In other words, these are down-home joints where everyone ends up on Sunday afternoon to dish on town gossip and indulge in regional comfort food. Read after the jump to find out a little more about each one of this year's America's Classics honorees, and click on the map above for their signature dishes.

Continue reading "James Beard Honors 5 Classic American Restaurants" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

India: Risk-Free Street Food

Haldiram's
One of the many treats on offer
at Haldiram's.

Photo: tasteofparis on Flickr
using Creative Commons

by Michael Snyder

It's a typical situation. You find yourself wandering the congested backstreets of Old Delhi when you experience the sweet and sour smells of pomegranate, tamarind, and yogurt, and the dense, savory scent of deep-fried dough. You turn another corner to find a swarm of people crowded around a particularly popular chaatwallah (a purveyor of some of India's most celebrated street foods), and you are just about to order your very own pani puri when you remember the words of every guidebook and protective Indian auntie you've met: "Don't eat the street food!"

Though most of the warnings against adventurous eating in India are (in my humble opinion) exaggerated, they are not entirely invalid. The chutneys served with many chaats are kept cool with giant blocks of ice made from water of questionable origin, and virtually all chaats are deep fried in oil that, even when perfectly clean, can be heavy enough to throw your digestive juices into a frenzy. The decision to move on is probably a wise one.

Enter Haldiram's. Essentially an Indian fast food chain, Haldiram's uses only light oils and filtered water and is any foreigner foodie's best bet for trying chaat risk free.

Continue reading "India: Risk-Free Street Food" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Buenos Aires: Where to Find Chocolate Con Churros

Lauryn
Photo: jonlk on Flickr
using Creative Commons

by Tara Kalmanson

Any Buenos Aires native will claim churros originated in Argentina, but some say the only thing Argentines added to the sugary Spanish snack is the gooey, caramel-like dulce de leche at the center. Still, saying "chocolate con churros" at any Argentine café will land you at least three sticks of crunchy fried dough and a cup of hot, melted-down dark-chocolate bars. No two experiences with chocolate con churros in Buenos Aires are alike, so you may have to try all three of our picks below. Happy tasting.

Classic: Café de los Angelitos, 2100 Rivadavia
Tourists and upper-middle class locals alike stop at Los Angelitos around 4 p.m. for coffee and dessert, but not many know this café has some of the best churros in the city. Ask for chocolate espeso con churros rellenos and you'll get a couple of dulce de leche-filled churros and melted dark chocolate in a cup with hot milk. Not in the mood for churros? Try the torta de ricotta, an Argentine version of cheesecake made with ricotta.

People-watching heaven: Café Tortoni, 825 Avenida de Mayo
When hip Uruguayans and Brazilians vacation in Argentina, they head for this mainstay in the center of Buenos Aires. Just because the joint is a little more polished (like a museum of 1950s tango-era eye candy) doesn't mean the churros are weaker--they're thicker than usual and extra crunchy. You'll pay more, but you'll get more.

Inexpensive and authentic: La Giralda, 1453 Corrientes
You might walk past this plain café before you notice it hidden behind a subway entrance, but dont judge by the (lack of) decor. La Giralda used to be an intellectual center during revolutionary times, and if you can handle bad service and worse English, you'll spend the afternoon snacking beside the locals: Buenos Aires natives stop in to warm up as winter approaches in the Southern Hemisphere. Ask for chocolate espejo con churros chocolates (or write it on a napkin and show the waiter) and you'll get a cup of heavy, dark hot chocolate and chocolate-covered churros for dunking.

CATCH OF THE DAY

Singapore's Sweet Rings

ParisMetro
J. CO serves green tea, Black
Forest cake, and garlic cream
cheese donuts.

by Manuela Zoninsein

The Lion City might be one of the world's most peaceful places, but that hasn't prevented a baked goods battle from erupting. After standing in line at J.CO Donuts & Coffee for about 20 minutes earlier this month to try one of their crazy frosting flavors, I asked for a neighbor's take on the beignet state of affairs. Mr. Tang, a local telecommunications executive, looked me straight in the eye and openly fretted, "J.CO, they're going down. They used to be so soft . . . you didn't need teeth to eat them."

Tang demonstrates Singaporeans' common zeal for food and for debating the ins and outs of the town's dining scene. Locals are not unknown to queue in anticipation of street snacks--but that's traditionally been in pursuit of Chinese, Indian, Malay, or Indonesian hawker cooking. Now, they will wait several hours, at any time of the day, to get their hands on a specialty donut.

Continue reading "Singapore's Sweet Rings" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Monica Bhide's Modern Spice Lends a Twist to Easter

Savory Cheesecake
Bhide's savory cheesecakes
topped in jewel-toned chutney.

Washington D.C.-based food writer Monica Bhide started out as an engineer. Now, with her latest cookbook Modern Spice, she's on a mission to get people to rethink Indian food and appreciate spices. Bhide was nice enough to lend the Daily Traveler her recipe for Savory Mini Cheesecakes with Red Pepper and Green Tomatillo Chutney, and we think it's just the right appetizer for a modern twist on Easter supper this Sunday.

Savory Mini Cheesecakes with Red Pepper and Green Tomatillo Chutney

"Plain savory cheesecakes provide a great base for showing off spicy chutneys," Bhide writes in the book. "I use my Red Pepper and Green Tomatillo Chutney but you can use any one for this dish. This is always a smash hit at parties and super easy to make."

Makes 30 pieces
Prep/cook time: 25 minutes

Nonstick cooking spray
30 mini phyllo shells
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 medium egg
5 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons Red Pepper and Green Tomatillo Chutney

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the phyllo shells on the sheet.
2. Whisk together the cheese, egg, and sour cream until well combined.
3. Place 2 teaspoons of the mixture into each shell. Bake for 15 minutes or until the filling is firm and set.
4. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
5. Top each cheesecake with about 1/4 teaspoon of the chutney and serve.

Read after the jump for the chutney recipe.

Continue reading "Monica Bhide's Modern Spice Lends a Twist to Easter" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Daniel Boulud Takes a Cue from Beijing

Razak
The chef takes a time-out
from his kitchen.

Super-chef Daniel Boulud opened Maison Boulud à Pékin, his first restaurant in Beijing, last July. Last week, writer and food fanatic Manuela Zoninsein sat down with Boulud to talk Olympics, the restaurant biz, and burgers.

What dish has worked particularly well with the Beijing crowd?

The Red Wine Braised Short Ribs are a hit on the menu here in Beijing. I'm delighted [because] it means one of my signature dishes has translated well across cultural lines.

What lessons have you learned about the culture in terms of fine dining?

While the tradition of delicious food is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, the concept of fine dining in restaurants on a Western model is relatively new to China. Still, the appreciation and enjoyment of good food is so central to life here. Like the French, the Chinese take pride in and devote time to their cooking. Their lives revolve largely around food.

Chinese people, whether from the Mainland, Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, take the pleasures of eating and drinking as seriously--if not more--than any other people anywhere in the world.

I'm sure you've gone out to eat in Beijing. What has been your favorite meal so far?

I believe Da Dong deserves all the praise it has been getting. It's one of my favorite restaurants here in Beijing. They have very authentic Peking duck, and many other dishes are worth trying. I also admire [the chef] because he is always seeking new ways to reinvent traditional Chinese food without losing its essence. The presentations are fascinating.

Read how Boulud plans to work Chinese flavors into his menu after the jump.

 

Continue reading "Daniel Boulud Takes a Cue from Beijing" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Bad Times in Bordeaux, Good Times for Us

Bordeaux
Bottle, Bottle, on the wall.
Who's the most palatable of
them all?

Photo: filtran on Flickr
using Creative Commons

by Clive Irving

Forgive the Global Gourmet for taking pleasure from the distress of others. But when the others are the wine merchants of Bordeaux, the pleasure is, as they say, fruity with a satisfyingly dry aftertaste. Bordeaux wines, principally the reds, are a classic case of a self-deluding brand. In the best years, the great red wines (Petrus, Margaux, Haut-Brion) are peerless. But great years are intermittent and the prices suggest AIG bonus ranking: For example, a 1999 Margaux is currently "on sale" at $695 a bottle.

Last year was a particularly bad one in Bordeaux. The weather was unfriendly. The 2008 vintage will be released for expert tasting in April, and expectations are for a dud. This comes as London merchants, who traditionally pre-order Bordeaux wines in barrel before it is bottled, are sending earlier vintages, like 2002, back at a loss because the market for them is shrinking fast in the economic meltdown.

Maybe at last this will help to do two things. One, bring down prices more in line with real values. Two, lead to the admission that poor Bordeaux vintages are a lot less palatable than far cheaper wines.

You need not go very far from Bordeaux to find two red wines that have always been far better value.  A few years ago, the Global Gourmet discovered one of them in Gascony, the region immediately north of the Pyrenees, while he was tasting a more legendary local hooch, Armagnac.  Gascony's food is powerfully rustic, featuring foie gras (duck and goose livers) and rib-sticking stews.  The wine I found is Madiran, made mostly with a grape hardly seen elsewhere, called Tannat. At its best, Madiran has the tannic base of a Bordeaux with the guts of a far more expensive Rhone red.  About a hundred miles southeast of Bordeaux is the ancient provincial city of Cahors, where another distinctively local red is produced. Again, Cahors is a really satisfying wine for carnivores.

Have your own "stick it to Bordeaux" pleasure with these two picks: Alain Brumont Chateau Montus, 2005, at $25 a bottle from snooth.com; Chateau La Caminade, 2005, at $21 a bottle from klwines.com.

Further reading:
* Introducing the Global Gourmet with London's Modern Pantry
* Catch of the Day: International noshables

CATCH OF THE DAY

Dining for a Cause at Tennessee's Blackberry Farm

Blackberry Farm
The grounds at Blackberry Farm.

by Dorinda Elliott

I am thinking this may be the most delicious dish I have ever eaten: smoked new potatoes, the first of the season at Tennessee's Blackberry Farm, smothered with sour cream and a generous sprinkling of shaved black Tennessee truffles. It is just the first course of yet another amazing meal prepared for a weekend of "wine, women and song" at The Inn at Blackberry Farm (which has to be the most elegant working farm in the world), devoted to raising funds for the Condé Nast Traveler Five & Alive Fund. The fund supports health programs for children in 65 countries.

Sitting next to me, star chef Michelle Bernstein, who opened Michy's in Miami in 2005 and is steadily expanding her culinary empire, is telling me a shocking story about how she made her way in the man's world of restaurant kitchens, how she was knocked around by male chefs (literally), groped (literally), and sabotaged by jealous male competitors who would throw out her prep work or intentionally ruin a dish.

Continue reading "Dining for a Cause at Tennessee's Blackberry Farm" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Streets International Takes Kids from the Streets to the Kitchen

ICE
Kids in the Streets International
program will undergo the same
curriculum as students at New
York's Institute of Culinary
Education, above.

Photo: iceculinary.com

by Mollie Chen

Last week my colleague, Alex, and I had the chance to attend a benefit for a brand-new nonprofit with two noble goals: getting disadvantaged kids off the streets and feeding hungry travelers. Streets International is the brainchild of Dr. Neal F. Bermas, a long-time consultant who teaches courses in hospitality management and entrepreneurship at both New York University and the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE).

Bermas got the idea while traveling in Vietnam, where he saw a demand for tours and organizations with a philanthropic bent, and where he realized the power nonprofits can have to bridge the gap between locals and visitors. His idea expands on the model of organizations like Koto, a Hanoi-based group that teaches underprivileged kids to run restaurants.

Continue reading "Streets International Takes Kids from the Streets to the Kitchen" »

CATCH OF THE DAY

Real Cajun with NOLA Chef Donald Link

Cajun
Chef Donald Link's Real Cajun,
due out April 21.

by Mollie Chen

New Orleans chef Donald Link has been busy these past months. When I met with Link back in December, he was finalizing the details of a wine bar and shop, and the space was still a mess of exposed ductwork and raw concrete. How quickly things change: Cochon Butcher has been open for just a couple of months, but it's already a huge success. The tidy little restaurant has a handful of stools for snacking and sipping, plus a retail counter stocked with house-made charcuterie, specialty products, and baked sweets. Our fantastic intern Katherine Kims was down south recently, and she came back from NOLA raving about Link's ultra-fatty pressed duck pastrami sandwich and his salty-sweet bacon praline. The chef also just finished his first cookbook, Real Cajun. We've got a sneak peek at the book, due out April 21, with one of Link's own favorite recipes. Check it out after the jump.

Continue reading "Real Cajun with NOLA Chef Donald Link" »

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