This Mezcal Made With Jamón Ibérico Could Make You Squeal

IbericoLabelLeave 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”

Green Is The New Gold: The Raw Facts On How Juicing Is Taking Over Our Lives

MILFChicago 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”

Tuile of Fortune: Michel Richard Drops a Ritzy Potato Chip Burger on Manhattan

VillardBurger1The 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”

It’s Not ‘Myron’s Chicken,’ But Pride & Joy BBQ Moves Forward in NYC

Pride&JoyHorizontalEAST VILLAGE — A Southern-style barbecue spot is still in the works for the former Lucky Cheng’s space on First Avenue — even after celebrity chef Myron Mixon left the project and sued. Pride and Joy BBQ just won a liquor license to open a sprawling two-level, 220-seat “draft house” and “honky-tonk” featuring three bars along with plenty of barbecue, according to documents submitted to the State Liquor Authority. Read my full article, “Pride And Joy BBQ Wins Liquor License for Lucky Cheng’s Space Amid Lawsuit,” at DNAinfo here.

Here’s How Mezcal Finds You

Adam LernerMezcal mogul Ron Cooper sources his small-batch, high-end hooch from remote villages in Mexico. The job takes him over some pretty interesting terrain. On one adventure, the founder of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal is steering his jeep along some back roads in Oaxaca when he and his crew rumbles into a lush canyon – “with the most beautiful wild agaves, growing straight out of vertical walls,” he recalls.

All of sudden, there are eight Indians with rifles, right in front of us. And these two guys [in the Jeep] scream. I go, ‘Namaste. Take it easy, take it easy…’

The first thing I do, I roll down the window and I say in Spanish, ‘Hey, what’s the name of that agave growing up there?’ And this Indian walks up to me and goes, ‘You like agaves?’ I go, ‘Yeah, I like  mezcal.’ I always have a clay cup on the center console of my Jeep, so I hold it up and I ask him, ‘Have you ever heard of Rio Minas?’ And he goes, “I’m the maker of mezcal in Rio Minas.” And he mumbles to his buddies in their Mixtecan tongue and one guy shakes a water bottle, brings it up, opens the bottle and pours me a sip of his incredible elixir.

“That’s the perfect embodiment of You don’t find mezcal, mezcal finds you.’”*

*Excerpted from an earlier interview no longer available online @stationtostation

Here’s the full Q&A: Continue reading “Here’s How Mezcal Finds You”

Cracking Wise: Some Background on Lafayette’s Chef de Cuisine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArguably the biggest restaurant opening of the year, Andrew Carmellini‘s French revivalist brasserie Lafayette has been racking up the star ratings of late. (As ably aggregated by Eater: “Platt gave it two, Sutton gave it two and a half stars, and Cuozzo gave it three.”) This week, the Times‘ Pete Wells knocks the Carmellini love down a peg or two, with a single star review best summed up by the phrase: “I don’t love it.” Mostly displeased about the service–noting, for instance that staffers had trouble pronouncing “simple French words on the menu”–Wells did have some nice things to say about Carmellini’s chef de cuisine, Damon Wise, whom the critic described as anace technician.” Continue reading “Cracking Wise: Some Background on Lafayette’s Chef de Cuisine”

Scarpetta, Home of Scott Conant’s $24 Lady-Killer Spaghetti, Turns Five

conant“Frankly, when I was single, I’d get dates with this dish,” chef Scott Conant once told me about his signature $24 spaghetti. (Read the full article, “Tomato King Scott Conant Resurrects Roman Regime,” in the Observer here.) Conant’s flagship restaurant Scarpetta turns five this week. During our chat, Conant also dished up what Grub Street later described as the “most detailed look yet into the mechanics of Conant’s signature spaghetti.” Herewith, the skinny on Conant’s special sauce, in the chef’s own words: Continue reading “Scarpetta, Home of Scott Conant’s $24 Lady-Killer Spaghetti, Turns Five”

Cicadas Are Coming! And They’re Ready For Sex

LoveBugs2The East Coast is bracing for the largest swarm of cicadas to arrive since Brood X surfaced in 2004. Time to look back at the definitive article on the impressive sexual habits of these periodical insects: “Love Bugs: Cicadas fuck like they haven’t gotten it on in 17 years“—a classic B-feature from the Washington City Paper archives, penned by yours truly. Of course, the best part of the original piece is the accompanying illustrations by the brilliant Emily Flake, which included a hilarious homage to the sexy pottery scene from the movie Ghost. Sadly, those drawings do not appear with the online version of the story today. So I have scanned and posted the dead-tree version here for posterity. Continue reading “Cicadas Are Coming! And They’re Ready For Sex”

Grilles Gone Wild [VIDEO]: A Frontal View of the 2013 New York International Auto Show

Photos and collage by Micah Schmidt
Photos and collage by Micah Schmidt

The first thing you notice about the Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept is its imposing face. That futuristic four-bar grille is hard to ignore. It’s big. It’s aggressive. It’s complex. The glinting flat lines feature thin needle-like eyes on either side. Look closely between the lines to see the truly intricate design work — a rugged range of pyramid-shaped pits and peaks in perforated dark metal. “It’s a bit brutal, it’s a bit out there,” said Christopher Chapman, chief designer for Hyundai Design North America. “We’re kind of shark-nosing at front a little bit.” A striking snout no doubt, but not entirely non-traditional, according to Chapman: the shape of the polished stainless steel grate stays true to Hyundai’s usual hexagonal look, if just barely. Left and right lines bend very subtly to make it a full six sides. “This is a concept car,” Chapman said, “so we’re allowed to play around a little bit with the materials.” By the looks of things at the 2013 New York International Auto Show, designers have been playing around a lot, especially with regard to the grille. Continue reading “Grilles Gone Wild [VIDEO]: A Frontal View of the 2013 New York International Auto Show”