The people behind Food Inc., one of the most compelling documentaries ever done on agribusiness and the corporate food world, has just compiled a list of 100 places across the U.S. where food is done right: “We’re celebrating the small, food-focused businesses that embrace principles we admire: local, sustainable, organic, humane and unprocessed,” writes TakePart, the organizational arm behind Food Inc. They asked food journalists to nominate ten places in each of ten cities, and they just announced the winners, among them, Kings County Jerky in Brooklyn, who said: ”We’ve built our business on quality ingredients and meticulous production methods. It’s costly and time-consuming, but the final product is something we’re really proud of. Being on the Tastemakers list means the care and effort we put into our jerky really does matter to people.” Go to Tastemakers for the full list.
Category Archives: Restaurants & Chefs
Anytime I get a chance to mix three of my favorite passions–food, travel, and museums–I am in heaven. To be able to feed the soul and then the stomach is one of life’s great pleasures. My recent trip to Russia gave rise to the idea of doing an article on this very topic, hence this week’s story, The World’s Best Museum Restaurants, in Gourmet Live’s Style Issue. The Hermitage was my personal favorite of this group, followed by Bilbao, because the artistry and creativity of the plate nearly equalled the exquisite architecture and that which is hanging on the walls. And while St. Petersburg restaurants are growing in quality and stature, it can still be hard to find a good meal, making the Hermitage Restaurant all the more appealing. Tell us which museum restaurants you love in the comment section.
The macho-ization of cooking is at its apex in Adam Perry Lang’s new book, Charred & Scruffed: Bold New Techniques for Explosive Flavor On and Off the Grill. Fiery, salty, sizzling—and that just describes the photos of Lang. He introduces innovative new techniques to get the most out of the grill: Some of those include using more salt than in the Dead Sea and more butter than Homer Simpson can eat in one sitting.
For more on the Charred & Scruffed book and for some recipes, check out our sister site, Epicurious.
To watch Adam Perry Lang pound a hunk of meat, check out the video on our sister site, Bonappetit.com.
Few cities in North America are as multicultural as Toronto and that’s reflected in its food scene. This city of 2.6 million has a thriving Chinatown, a food hall bursting with artisan cheeses, charcuterie, and cakes, and as many restaurants as the CN Tower is high. But if you only have time for three meals, here’s where to eat:
Breakfast: Go inside the bustling St. Lawrence Market and head straight to Carousel Bakery and Sandwich Bar for its peameal bacon, cheese, and egg sandwich on a sourdough roll. Peameal bacon is a local delicacy in which back bacon was originally cured with yellow peas, but is now cured with cornmeal. The result? The ultimate McMuffin. Finish it off with Portuguese custard and maple syrup tarts from the stand. (23 Front Street East; 416-563-4247)
Lunch: After checking out the Royal Ontario Museum, stroll over to Chinatown; a few steps into this neighborhood and you will forget you’re in North America. All signs are in Chinese and the restaurants serve every type of cuisine, from dim sum to bbq meat to a straight up Cantonese, Szechuan or Fujian menu. Go to the House of Gourmet Seafood and order shrimp with honeyed walnuts, fried wontons, and shrimp dumplings. Be sure to check out the fried duck legs on the way out–but not the way in. (484 Dundas Street West; 416-217-0167)
Dinner: Feast on nouveau Indian at Dhaba on lively King Street. Classic dishes expertly prepared include fenugreek dusted soft shell crab, tandoori tiger prawns, saag paneer, crispy seafood samosas, lamb marsala, and buttery, warm garlic naan. Finish with a refreshing mango lassi or a glass of Indian wine. (309 King Street West; 416-740-6622)
In the last month, I’ve been to two unassuming places that follow this philosophy: Danji (pictured above), on the outskirts of New York City’s Theater District, is a tiny Korean spot with a big heart. With only 36 seats, and decor comprised of spoons and strung lights over communal tables, Danji excels with a very focused menu. Chef/owner Hooni Kim, formerly of Daniel and Masa, prides himself on doing these few things very well: Homemade tofu, with a crunchy exterior but soft interior, is dressed with a ginger-scallion vinaigrette; double-fried vegetable dumplings are filled with sprightly herbs; sliders come packed with braised spicy pork belly or beef; the dish of the moment, chicken wings, are coated in honey and chiles before being roasted. And then there’s the kimchi–piquant, pungent, and powerful, this is what cabbage is made for. (346 West 52nd Street, New York City; 212-586-2880)
Twenty-five miles up the Hudson River is Harper’s Restaurant and Bar. Focusing on farm-to-table cuisine, enhanced with artisanal cocktails that would be at home in any Williamsburg, Brooklyn bar, this sophisticated Dobbs Ferry restaurant stands apart for its commitment to freshness. Chef Christopher Vergara lives the locavore ethos as much as possible, serving up ultra fresh chicken liver with shallots and walnuts; goat cheese ravioli with golden beets; crispy duck with white beans and caramelized onions; and wild greens from the area. This is served up in an old tavern with a farmhouse feel–distressed wood, wallpaper made from old newspaper ads, and a gorgeous blue room that makes diners feel like they are sitting in a Van Gogh painting come to life. (92 Main Street, Dobbs Ferry, NY; 914-693-2306)
Working on the recent Past Perfect issue of Gourmet Live got me thinking about a 2002 article I wrote for the trade publication Restaurant Business Magazine about restaurants that have stood the test of time. For the article, we asked the proprietors of 10 ancient restaurants, “What’s the secret to staying open forever?” One of the featured restaurants was Louis’ Lunch, opened by Louis Lassen in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1895 and often credited as the “birthplace of the hamburger.”
For the article, I interviewed Louis’ grandson, Ken Lassen, who had started grinding meat for the restaurant when he was a young boy. “There are a lot of things that 85-year-old Ken Lassen doesn’t like,” I wrote. “He doesn’t like the crass language that boys use these days. ‘The knuckleheads don’t have any respect for women,’ he says. He’s even less pleased that girls are ‘getting to where they speak the same way.’ He doesn’t like it when highways tear through town obliterating everything in their paths. He doesn’t like the ‘damn’ tax increases. He doesn’t like air conditioning. He doesn’t like the fact that cows raised for food are given growth hormones and aren’t allowed to stay in the feeding pen–he says it makes the meat taste less meaty. He especially doesn’t like fast-food burgers, which he says are so tasteless they have to be drowned in ketchup to get them down–which brings us to ketchup, another thing Lassen doesn’t like one bit.”
Ken Lassen is one of the memorable (and quotable) interview subjects of my career, but what’s stuck with me the most is his disdain for factory-farmed meat. He was speaking out against practices derided by Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation, first published in 2002 (and who I also interviewed for Restaurant Business). But while Schlosser talked about the harm to humans and animals, Lassen was focused on flavor.
Since those two interviews, I’ve sought old-fashioned meat–grass-fed and free-range–whenever I make a burger, steak, or meatloaf.
Pictured: the Ultimate Burger (apologies to the Lassens for the ketchup).