Food | A Continuous Lean.

The Lowcountry Oyster Roast.

Apr 21st, 2014 | Categories: Food | by John Peabody

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South Carolina’s Lowcountry seems to sit just about six inches above sea level. It’s the flat coastal marshland area that stretches north from the Georgia border. Tall pines, oak trees draped in spanish moss and old plantations mark the landscape. It’s a gorgeous place to find one’s self in the spring.

And it’s then that I try and go every year to see family and take part in a purely southern tradition: the oyster roast.

The oysters that grow in the Lowcountry are long and flat with barely any undulations along the shell, far different from the deep scooped mollusks in the Northwest or even those in New England. They grow in the endless river and creek beds near Bluffton and Hilton Head and the surrounding area, where banks of them are exposed at low tide, waiting to be picked.

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A Guide to New York’s Least Pretentious Coffee Shops.

Apr 3rd, 2014 | Categories: Food, Jake Gallagher, New York City | by Jake Gallagher

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When it comes to a quality cup of coffee, we’ll admit that New York City has been traditionally late to the game. Unlike our West Coast counterparts, who have always been armed with a more acute understanding of how beans and brews work; we don’t have a long history of destination coffee shops, and rare roasts. It’s not that coffee has not played a significant role in daily life here in New York, rather it’s that coffee has been historically been known as more a functional fuel, rather than a culinary pursuit. Like gas to a car, coffee has literally powered New York for as long as anyone can remember, but until the past couple decades, there hasn’t been a very visible coffee culture here in the city.

All that began to change with the inescapable onslaught of Starbucks, followed shortly by the steady rise of independent coffee shops which has now propelled New York into an age where you could quite literally step outside your front door and find a great cup of coffee just a few blocks away. Unfortunately, the by-product of this dark-roasted, slow-pressed, high-ticket coffee mania has been the ever-present sense of pretension that surrounds New York coffee. Snobbery abounds on both sides of the counter in many of New York’s most popular shops, and so for all of you that enjoy a great cup coffee with a splash of milk not arrogance, we give you the five least pretentious quality coffee shops in New York. It’s a shame a list like this would even need to exist.





The Butcher.

Nov 26th, 2013 | Categories: Food, Italy, Wine | by Michael Williams

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Dario Cecchini is not a butcher, he’s the butcher. He’s unlike anyone I have ever encountered. As part of our whirlwind one-day adventure in Tuscany, Fontodi owner Giovanni Manetti took us for lunch in Panzano at Dario’s place, a lunch on a warm Italian afternoon which ended up being a life changing event. The butcher shop is forever changed after an afternoon with Dario Cecchini.

Dario’s shop is actually three places in one: a butcher shop on the ground floor, a steakhouse upstairs and a casual terrace restaurant out back. The whole place has to be Panzano’s most significant tourist attraction. It’s a destination for hospitality, a dose of Dario’s legendary energy, and of course, a temple for red meat. If ever you find yourself in Chianti, your presence is required at Dario’s table. Trust me, you’ve never seen anything like this before.

Upon arrival Dario —who is probably the world’s most famous butcher thanks in part to his appearance in Bill Buford’s Heat— proceeded to instantaneously grab (read: pick up into his arms) Giovanni like he was a long-lost friend. It looked like they hadn’t seen each other in years, but it had only actually been a few days since they celebrated Giovanni’s 50th birthday together. I know this because they were talking about the massive steaks that Dario butchered and cooked for the party. A second later an iPad mini appeared with Dario holding two of the most massive chunks of beef that I have ever seen.

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Feeling Super Tuscan | A Visit to Fontodi.

Oct 24th, 2013 | Categories: Food, Italy, Wine | by Michael Williams

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When people think about the food in Italy, it’s probably safe to say that steak is not the first thing people would call out. Though, the pleasure of Bistecca Fiorentina and a bottle of Super Tuscan are rarely out shined.

The massively thick chunk of rare meat paired with a delicious wine is a meal that I enjoy roughly twice a year in Florence if I am lucky. And while I only get to enjoy this meal a handful of times, it’s something I constantly crave it throughout the year. Every New York steak house is blunted by my desire for super thick and rare beef with crispy edges. No matter how good the steakhouse, no matter how delicious the bottle, nothing compares to having the real thing in Italy.

On my most recent trip to Italy, I decided that the best way to spend my last day would be to make the roughly hour drive from Florence to Chianti Classico near the town of Panzano to spend the day at the Fontodi winery with its owner Giovanni Manetti. A visit to Fontodi was a recommendation by the respected Italy-based food writer Faith Willinger. She extolled Fontodi as both an excellent producer and also an estate that is known to be extremely beautiful. Both of these facts were quickly confirmed. Looking back, Faith couldn’t have suggested a better place to visit and it would be difficult to find a vineyard that is more hospitable.

Situated in some of the best grape growing land in Tuscany, the area is referred to as “Conca d’Oro” (the golden shell), due to the way it is situated to receive extended exposure to the sun. Fontodi is best known for Flaccianello, its excellent Super Tuscan. The flagship wine is made using a delicate process that has been refined and masted over several generations by the Manetti family. The family is also a long-time maker of terra cotta and many of the orange tiled roofs of Florence have been made by the family for hundreds of years.

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Charting Classic N.Y. | Hawking Hamburgers at J.G. Melon

Oct 19th, 2013 | Categories: Food, Jake Gallagher, New York City | by Jake Gallagher

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A pungent scent has begun to blanket New York, and no I’m not referring to that funky smell coming from the Lower East Side, I’m talking about the alluring aroma of sizzling burgers that’s rising up from griddles all across the city. Between the now numerous Shack Shake stands (respected, but generally overwhelmed with tourists), the East Coast debut of Umami Burger [delicious to the power of the magical fifth sense, but easier to just enjoy in LA), and the “bespoke” burger which can be found at high end (and high ticket) eateries New York has been swept up in full blown burger mania. The great burger debate has now become a relentless pastime for gourmands throughout the five boroughs with no consensus in sight. While you might be harboring your own unwavering patty preference, the common ground on ground beef lies in history, and no burger joint is more fit for the history books (or at least in the Preppy Handbook) than J.G. Melon.





ACL Appreciation: Francis Mallmann

Oct 7th, 2013 | Categories: David Coggins, Food | by David Coggins

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The master in New York, and in his element.

Man likes to cook over fire, that is his nature. Whether on a spit, fieldstone grill or Weber, he is predisposed to turn over a steak, rack of lamb, and maybe some salmon, eggplant, and, hey, why not peaches in season? He drinks while he does this, he enjoys the company of other men and properly feels that all is right with the world.

So we were very excited when grill maestro Francis Mallmann recently came to town to cook dinner at Reynard. The Argentinian, perhaps South America’s most famous chef, is author of Seven Fires: Grilling Argentine Way (Artisan). It’s a terrific book, even if you’re not planning to put a splayed lamb over a fire for seven hours this weekend.

Written with the stalwart New Yorker, Peter Kaminsky (himself a devoted fly fisherman), the book is filled with incredible photographs from Patagonia that are better than a Ralph Lauren mood board. Mallmann, who trained in classical French kitchens, has moved away from that refined technique in favor of the simple payoff of cooking over wood fires. The recipes are straightforward enough, but the judgment that comes from experience is key, especially if you’re going to cook a salmon under a bank of coals.





When in Copenhagen: Eat at Geist.

Sep 10th, 2013 | Categories: Copenhagen, Food | by Michael Williams

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Tell anyone you are going to Copenhagen and invariably they will mention the restaurant Noma. With its status near the top of all restaurants in the world, Noma represents the best of what to expect in the Danish capital. Good luck getting a reservation.

The interesting thing about Copenhagen, which is admittedly a little unexpected, is that the food in Copenhagen all around is pretty spectacular. On a recent trip a friend and I had an incredible lunch at Geist which helped to further confirm the city’s status as one of the most enjoyable cities in Europe.

The restaurant sits overlooking a beautiful square (Kongens Nytorv) in the heart of Copenhagen, and it is perfectly set away from the tourist crowds down the road. The menu is arranged as a series of small plates that are centered around fresh ingredients. Not knowing much about the restaurant going-in, when we looked at the menu for the first time it didn’t make all that much sense. That wasn’t a huge problem, we were in for an experience, so we just started ordering small plates just to go for it and see what we will get. Our server advised that we probably ordered too much, but since we were such a long way from home and unlikely to be back soon, we figured “what the hell” and tried as much as we could in our short visit.

Every dish that came out of the kitchen was better than the last. Lobster took a shape I have never seen before (the purple plate seen below), so did potatoes and everything else. It was all inventive and everything tasted delicious. The meal turned out to be one of my favorites in 2013. And I’m not just saying that because it was enjoyed in a far off place.

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