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.
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.
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.
There’s something magical about a bagel and lox. A bite of crisp, chewy bagel and cream cheese draped with silky sheets of smoked salmon (and maybe some sliced tomato) provides one of the most satisfying flavor and texture combinations of all time. No wonder the sandwich has secured its place among legendary New York City foods like the pizza slice and pastrami on rye. Don’t get me wrong, I love a plain old bagel and cream cheese, but it’s only ever improved by lox.
So naturally, in a city where lox can be found every few blocks, New Yorkers have a lot of opinions about where to get the best. The largest smoked fish factory in the country, Acme Smoked Fish was founded in Brooklyn in 1954 and has been family-owned for four generations. Acme supplies smoked and cured fish to some of the city’s favorite fish counters including Zabar’s, Barney Greengrass, and my go-to spot, which prefers to maintain some mystery about its purveyors. They also ship hundreds of thousands of of vacuum-sealed packages of fish around the country every year. Chances are high that if you’ve ever eaten smoked salmon, it came from Acme.
Going through the John F. Kennedy archives I came across this recipe for New England Fish Chowder. Apparently, chowder was the favorite dish of JFK —pictured here sailing on the Presidential yacht Manitou near Hyannis Port, Mass. which was one of his favorite activities.
Could this be the beginning of an archival food section for ACL? Unlikely. But nevertheless it’s an amusing little piece of history. Someone please follow this recipe and report back.
Images via the John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, MA.
My hypothesis was that the grounds of Scribe Winery in Sonoma provide an exceptional setting for an enjoyable lunch in Northern California. To find out if my theory proved true I challenged myself to make the trip up to the two hundred acre farm to eat and drink with founder Andrew Mariani and the rest of the Scribe camp. It was a tough assignment, but I’m very committed to the truth so I made the trip. I can say with certainty, that after extensive testing of the various Scribe wines throughout the property, it is indeed an outstanding experience.
If you are interested in wine and good food, do yourself a favor and visit Scribe at some point. Take your better half and visit for the weekend. I can assure you that it is one of the better places you will ever discover. If you belong to the Scribe Viticultural Society (their wine club) you can dine with the Scribe folks when you pick-up your wine. Much of the Scribe production sells out, so joining the SVS is a smart move even if you don’t end up dining at the farm.
Carl Edgar Blake II is on a mission to produce the most delicious pig in the world. It’s a bit of a strange pursuit, but I can think of a lot less appetizing adventures.
I came across this story in The New York Times about Blake’s quest to re-introduce the Swabian Hall pig, an old breed of swine that produces meat with a higher fat content than the everyday pork that Americans are used to. You’re thinking: Skinny pig? How does that even make sense? Well, in the pork industries quest to produce “the other white meat,” the fat has been systematically bred out of American pork. Luckily, Carl Blake has our back. Don’t worry, no one is getting skinny. Good Americans like him won’t allow it strictly out of principle.
What really caught my attention in the story was the video which wonderfully captured Blake’s no bullshit style. Oddly, and I know he is going to get pissed at me for saying this, but Blake reminded me of America’s most heroic graphic designer Aaron Draplin. It got me thinking fondly of Draplin and his diatribe about how “America is fucked.” Imagine if we got Blake and Draplin together in one room to put down a few cold ones and eat prosciutto? That’s a reality show I would watch.
Video after the jump.