How A16’s Shelley Lindgren Built a James Beard Award-Winning Wine Program at a Neighborhood Restaurant

A16A16 is a warm and intimate restaurant in San Francisco’s Marina district. It’s known for authentic Neapolitan pizzas made in the traditional pizzaiolo style: crusts blistered in a wood-fired oven, with a few simple toppings that showcase the freshest local ingredients. It’s the kind of place locals come again and again — where you can stop in for a quick bite, or stay for hours sharing pizza, pasta, and carafes of wine with friends.

It is not, at first glance, a restaurant you would expect to have a James Beard Award-winning wine program.

“I’ve always thought that we are such a smaller neighborhood restaurant,” says owner and wine director Shelley Lindgren, who was honored by the James Beard Foundation this year with the Outstanding Wine Program award for her work at A16. “To have so many supporters nationally that voted for us and think that it’s James Beard Award noteworthy — it was really exciting.”

The tome of a wine list at A16 showcases southern Italian bottles, along with California wines, meant to complement the restaurant’s rustic Italian cuisine. Instead of the usual Barolos and Brunellos, you’ll find lesser-known grapes like Fiano and Nerello Mascalese.Continue Reading

Shop Like a Chef: Hush Bistro’s Chef Marc Anthony Bynum Shares His Tips

Ever wanted to shop like a chef? Want no more, as Hush Bistro’s chef Marc Anthony Bynum shares his tips to make the most of your trips to the market.

To market, to market to buy a fat pig…along with a couple of fat hens, some ducks, and maybe a side of beef. Marc Anthony Bynum, chef and owner of Hush Bistro in Farmingdale, New York, only has to stroll down the block to Farmingdale’s Main Street Meats to do most of his daily meat and poultry shopping. The Farmingdale native and two-time Food Network’s Chopped champion opened his first brick and mortar restaurant, Hush Bistro, just seven months ago, embracing both his hometown and local foodshed.

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There is no disputing that the catchphrase “farm-to-table” has become a bit overused, and, at times, misused. Bynum is fully committed to serving his patrons the best from Long Island’s farms, fisheries, and vineyards and visits these producers, ensuring his patrons get “the best of the best.” Idealistic, yet completely realistic, Bynum defines local as 500 miles from Farmingdale, which includes the rich Hudson Valley. In addition to carnivorous offerings from, literally, down the street, Bynum is “switching it up a bit and I am now working with d’Artagnan for some of the best organic meats and delicacies from upstate New York.” When shopping for beef or pork, Bynum recommends knowing the cuts; the best cuts (rump, ribs or loins) come from the back of the animal, while the working (for stews and marinating) cuts (shoulder, flank, and legs) come from the front. Don’t shy away from fat, he cautions. “Fat equals flavor.” A good cut of beef should have plenty of white flecks of fat. “A well-marbled cut is self-basting and will remain tender, moist and juicy. Super lean meats can dry out if not basted continuously,” explains Bynum.

Seafood appears, like most of Hush’s dinner offerings, as specials. Whatever is just-off-the-boat is what’s for dinner. Bynum’s number one rule when shopping for seafood is, “If it smells fishy, it isn’t fresh. Also, avoid finfish that looks slimy and has cloudy eyes, and shellfish that is gaping.”Continue Reading

Lunch Break: Meet OpenTabler Daama Sheepo

DaamaOpenTable seats more than 16 million diners each month via online bookings across more than 32,000 restaurants. Our team of talented engineers helps us meet that ever-growing demand, crafting the code that makes life delicious. Daama Sheepo is one of those folks. He’s an over-caffeinated native New Yorker who knows good food, avoids roadside fugu, and wants to eat at State Bird. Meet OpenTabler Daama Sheepo, discover his dining picks, and find out what’s on his plate in today’s Lunch Break. 

Name: Daama Sheepo

Hometown: New York City

Job Title: Director of Engineering

What that means that I do at OpenTable: Enable the conversion of caffeine to code.

Years at OpenTable: 5  Alma mater: Bard College at Simon’s Rock

I have worked in a restaurant as a dishwasher/prep cook.

The food I can’t live without: Does coffee count as food?

The one food I’ll never try: Fugu from a roadside stand.

My go-to drink or cocktail: Dry cider

The delicious dessert I refuse to share: Chocolate mousse.

My favorite thing about dining out is: Discovering new venues.

If duck is on a restaurant’s menu, I almost always order it.

My last best restaurant meal was at: Dirty Habit.

The restaurant I am a regular at: Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack.Continue Reading

Carnival Classics: 11 Indulgences Inspired by the Midway

Riding the Ferris wheel, shooting baskets for oversized stuffed animals and looking at a wiggly wobbly reflection of yourself in the fun house mirror is only part of the simple pleasures to be found at a carnival. The other part comes courtesy of the heart-clogging, high-sugar foods you’ll find for sale on the midway. This is not cutting-edge cuisine – most of it is quickly cooked in a deep fryer – nor does it pretend to be. It’s just really good food, even if it doesn’t happen to be good for you. Chefs are having fun with these lowbrow, high-calorie treats via refined riffs on carnival classics. Here are 11 indulgences inspired by the midway.

Landmarc at the Time Warner Center, New York, New York
Perhaps no treat is associated with the midway more than cotton candy. Every table at Landmarc gets a free order of the airy spun sugar confection, which comes in a revolving array of poppy colors. For once, it’s acceptable to lick your fingers in between bites.

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Provision No. 14, Washington D.C.
Usually, funnel cake arrives on a grease-dotted paper plate with nothing more than a deluge of powdered sugar. Here it is served as an accompaniment to a whole fried chicken with maple-infused gravy on the brunch menu. Any day that begins with funnel cake is bound to be a good day in our book.

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Fleur by Hubert Keller, Las Vegas, Nevada
There are the unnaturally pink hot dogs of unknown provenance cooked in dirty water at the carnival, and then there’s the one Hubert Keller makes. Forged out of Wagyu beef, it arrives in a pretzel bun with sauerkraut and a zigzag of mustard. Warning: It may spoil all other hot dogs for you, so proceed with caution.

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Anthem Kitchen & Bar, Boston, Massachusetts
Deep-frying is an art and a sport for carnival culinarians. The unhealthier the item you’re dropping in the hot oil, the better. This deep-fried Twinkie is a perfect example. Don’t worry; it comes topped with fresh berries, so you can rationalize that it’s actually good for you.

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Tico, Washington, D.C.
Chef Michael Schlow takes pillows of Manchego cheese and crusts them with thyme-accented panko to create a Latin-ish play on mozzarella sticks. The savory squares arrive with a sweet ‘n’ tangy pomegranate honey sauce for dipping. We recommend getting two orders because just one won’t do.

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Alder, New York, New York
Corndogs are a favorite at the fair. But, of course, Wylie Dufresne wasn’t going to put an ordinary version on his menu. The sausages are made with pork shoulder, chicken liver, poblano, and parsley, speared on sticks, dipped in batter, fried, and served with Meyer lemon mustard and poblano relish.

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Family Meal, Ashburn, Virginia
The joy of the jalapeño popper is biting through the crackly crust and the softened skin of the pepper to reveal the melted cheese core. Chef-owner Bryan Voltaggio has recreated that experience while putting a Southern accent on the flavors by using smoked peppadew peppers and piquant pimento cheese. Y’all will love ‘em.

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Sage, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Pink Cashmere was born when mixologist Craig Schoettler was trying to come up with a fun twist on the Cosmo. He starts by putting a puff of pink cotton candy in a Nick & Nora glass, then pours over it a mixture of Grey Goose Cherry Noir, lime juice, white cranberry juice, and simple syrup. Don’t forget to extend your pinky while sipping it.

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Rosa Mexicana, Oxon Hill, Maryland
This is a heart stopper — though perhaps corazón stopper would be more appropriate. Cinnamon-dusted buñuelos (flour tortillas) are ground up and used as a crusting for deep-fried vanilla-chocolate mole swirl ice cream, which is complemented with guajillo-raspberry sauce and whipped cream. The dessert is finished off with freshly fried churros, a staple of state fairs everywhere.Continue Reading