Let’s be upfront: I’m a Heinz devotee, and I’m not shy about it. When I come across menus that advertise some artisanal house-made ketchup instead, I wonder why the chef doesn’t do something more worthwhile with his time, like build a better french fry. As far as I’m concerned, ketchup was perfected long ago, and you know it when you see the number 57 on the bottle. Heinz’s overwhelmingly popular formula, as the New Yorker astutely observed back in 2004, hits all five fundamental tastes on the human palate: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. You can’t really do much better than that. Complain all you want about high-fructose corn syrup — Heinz has an answer for that, too. Lately, I’ve noticed a few restaurants offering a different kind of ketchup, one with some stuffy-looking mustachioed stranger wearing a monocle and top hat on the label, called Sir Kensington’s. The sheer presence of this dubious parvenu is often enough to make me change my side order from fries to salad. Read my full article at Food Republic.
In the lead-up to Thursday’s big game, Food Republic spoke with NHL forward (and doughnut mogul) Jeff Halpern and restaurateur (and die-hard Habs fan) Joel Tietolman to get a better sense of how both food scenes match-up, regardless of the outcome on the ice. Read the full article here.
“It reminds me of Mrs. Havisham in Great Expectations, the grande dame who’s seen better days,” my perceptive spouse said, noting the fraying pink tablecloth covering our sloppily bussed table, which was strewn with stray bread crumbs and specs of black pepper. “It seems a little worn around the edges.”
The service, meanwhile, seemed remarkably indifferent. When we complained about the large triangular gap in window shading, which cast a blinding beam of afternoon light directly at our table, and politely suggested that something be done about it, our crusty career waiter, dressed in a black suit and pink-and-green-striped bow tie, barely shrugged: “I’ve been advocating for that for 10 years now.”
Here’s to hoping they’ve finally gotten that fixed. Continue reading “Remember the Old Tavern On The Green? How Ornate! How Indifferent!”
In a fancier setting, sliced meats like these — coppa, mortadella, nduja — would merit a fancier menu heading. Amid the candle-lit smug of your average wine-centric corner bistro, this sort of stuff is commonly called “charcuterie” and it typically arrives served on a wood plank with pickles, olives and maybe, if you’re truly lucky, a tiny shrimp fork to stab yourself with. Here at Baltimore’s Parts & Labor, a former tire depot turned butcher shop and beer hall with a big wood-burning hearth, the language is a little different. You find a lot of similar things: salami, country ham, corned beef tongue. On the menu, though, you’ll find them listed under a quainter title: “From the Salt House.” That’s because the bearded guy with the band saw behind the butcher case isn’t especially fond of the usual butcher-board terminology. “To call it ‘charcuterie’ doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me,” says P&L’s executive chef and head butcher George Marsh. Continue reading “Meet George Marsh, the Baltimore Butcher Who Rejects the Word ‘Charcuterie’”
Mike Isabella is probably not the first rookie in the major leagues to take a swing at chicken parm stardom. But the version that he’s bringing to Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. this spring is a significant upgrade on the typical red-sauced cutlets on a roll, he says. Maybe not a whole different animal, per se, though he does claim to use the whole animal. “The difference is, we use the whole chicken,” says Isabella, the Top Chef alum and operator of three D.C. restaurants. Beyond the usual cutlets, the TV chef — who famously invented pepperoni sauce — will also be braising chicken legs to make a ragu, he notes. That goes on the bread first, then the cutlet, then the tomato sauce, then the fresh mozzarella, and then — for a little added contemporary flair —some Thai basil. “It’s big, it’s serious, but it’s the whole chicken,” Isabella says proudly. “There’s not too many chicken parms where you get the chicken ragu on the bun.” If the idea of simmering animal parts doesn’t strike you as the most appetizing option for fourth-inning snacking, no problem. Isabella’s new G Sandwich Stand, a sporty spinoff of his existing fast-casual spot, also offers a vegetarian option: crispy roasted cauliflower topped with romesco, charred scallions and shishito peppers on a sesame roll. “We roast it until it’s a little bit over al dente,” Isabella says of the cauliflower, which is then tossed in a paprika and lemon vinaigrette for extra acid and smoke. It’s a far cry from hotdogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack. Sustainability and farm-to-table ethics at the concession stand? Is this Major League Baseball or a Portlandia sketch? Continue reading “Peanuts to Artisanal Peanut Brittle: A Modern History of Baseball Stadium Food”
Sherry-spiked saucisson, Fernet Branca–spiked salami, Cynar-spiked swordfish: with so much booze in the food, it’s hard to imagine that Cure, chef Justin Severino’s quasi-quaint charcuterie spot in Pittsburgh, started out just two years ago as a bone-dry BYOB. “We had almost no money,” Severino says of his fashionably rustic-looking restaurant’s humble roots. No, Cure’s chef-owner didn’t grow up in a barn. He merely reconstructed one inside an urban retail setting, with interior walls of reclaimed wood and meat hooks for coat hangers. “We opened minimally,” he says. Surviving for so long on food sales alone is a big source of pride for Severino: “We had a year and a half to gain success without selling liquor, and restaurants don’t typically do that that easily.” Nowadays, however, the hooch is in high supply, both at the bar and in the kitchen. And the chef himself couldn’t be happier about having a properly stocked shop from which to sip and to experiment. “I like to drink adult beverages and I tend to be a bit of a snob about what those things are,” he says. Continue reading “Meet Justin Severino, Pittsburgh’s Sultan of Spiked Salami”
Doug Sohn, owner of Hot Doug’s, Chicago’s most glorified hot dog stand, has sold all sorts of sausages over the years, from the classic Windy City–style Vienna beef dog to the “Tuben,” his tubular take on a traditional Rueben sandwich. Sohn’s often obscurely titled franks (“The Shirley Hardman,” anyone?) span virtually every type of meat in your butcher’s repertoire and probably beyond, including an ever-revolving “Game of the Week” special, which spotlights a different wild animal: alligator, crawfish, pheasant, snake — you name it, he’s probably stuck it in a bun, added some unusual toppings for good measure and sold it. Only one weird wiener has ever turned out to be a total dud, according to Sohn: the andouillette, which he explains is the French word for, basically, “intestines stuffed with more intestines.” Continue reading “Hot Doug’s Mastermind Doug Sohn On The Only Sausage He Couldn’t Sell”
Leave it to the hams at José Andrés‘ Think Food Group to find a way to add some fancy Spanish pork to just about anything. Consider “Iberico,” the newest label from Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal. The potent 98-proof varietal gets its name and distinctive flavor, of course, from the highly prized black-hooved hogs of the Iberian Peninsula whose meat is among the world’s priciest. Del Maguey founder Ron Cooper credits this modern Spanish twist on the ancient Mexican spirit to Andres’ deputy Ruben Garcia, the former elBulli chef who now heads research and development efforts for Think Food…. Continue reading “This Mezcal Made With Jamón Ibérico Could Make You Squeal”
Chicago chef Jared Van Camp is perhaps best known for his work with charcuterie. You could say he wears his penchant for pork on his sleeve, with a vintage-looking English butcher’s diagram of pig parts proudly tattooed on his left forearm. Not the type of guy you’d expect to see pushing pints of liquefied kale, carrot and collard greens. “I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination,” says Van Camp. Come springtime, however, he plans to be slinging all sorts of cleverly crafted plant-based concoctions at a fancy new juice bar called Owen + Alchemy. “The timing is right to inject some liquid green vitality into the land of deep-dish and sausage,” says Chicago native Anne M. Owen, a former magazine publisher who is Van Camp’s partner in Owen + Alchemy. The Windy City duo is aiming to capitalize on a trend that’s swept across New York and Los Angeles like a superfood tsunami in recent years and is now spilling throughout urban America. “These days, you throw a rock, you hit a juice bar,” says Melvin Major, Jr., operator of New York’s popular Melvin’s Juice Box, with two locations in Manhattan and plans for a third…. Continue reading “Green Is The New Gold: The Raw Facts On How Juicing Is Taking Over Our Lives”
The recent opening of Villard Michel Richard, tucked inside Manhattan’s Palace Hotel, marked not only its namesake chef’s return to New York after a 40-year absence. It also foisted another gussied-up slab of ground beef onto the city’s escalating up-market burger scene. Behold, the Villard Burger, Richard’s fussy French take on the classic American sandwich. Listed at $26, the burger is a far cry from, say, the outrageous Le Burger Extravagant at Serendipity 3 — that $295 Wagyu-flavored, diamond-toothpick-skewered publicity stunt on a bun which claims to be the world’s most expensive burger. Richard seems to expect real people to actually order his burger. A comparatively affordable option, the Villard Burger falls into the same gourmet category as the popular Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern ($28) and the original short rib-and-foie gras-stuffed burger at Daniel Boulud’s db bistro moderne ($32). It’s also essentially the same burger that Richard serves at his Central restaurants in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. Same olive oil brioche bun, baked in-house. Same tomato confit and homemade garlic mayo. Same crunchy potato tuile on top — a fancy chip that has become one of the chef’s signature ingredients. Only at Villard, Richard’s burger costs $8 more…. Continue reading “Tuile of Fortune: Michel Richard Drops a Ritzy Potato Chip Burger on Manhattan”