The start of the year means the start of restaurant week season. Find out which cities are hosting January 2017 restaurant weeks and make a reservation to dine for less.
It’s New Year’s Eve – time to break out the bubbly. But before you start clinking stems and singing Ne-Yo’s “Champagne Life” at the top of your lungs, consider these new rules for Champagne.
Firstly, don’t feel like you have drink Champagne from a flute. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. “It looks gorgeous and shows off the artsy side, but it doesn’t allow you to absorb the aromas,” says Charles Ford, sommelier of RM Champagne Salon in Chicago, who recommends drinking out of a wider, bowl-shaped Burgundy glass. “The more oxygen the wine sees, the better. Allowing a bubbly to grab on to that much oxygen opens it up and loosens it up.”
Though Champagne should always be served cold, it can be too frosty. According to Kimberly Prokoshyn, head sommelier of Rebelle in New York City, the ideal temperature is 47-49 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure the drinker can appreciate the wine’s nose and full flavor profile.
While celebrants love popping the cork, “that’s not good for the wine,” says Ford. “You want the built-up gas to come out slowly, so the cork should come off with a whisper. The more a bottle gets shaken up, the worse it is for the Champagne. It will lose its effervescence quicker, and it fluctuates the flavor.”
Going one step further, some enjoy sabering off the cork for a showy presentation. “It’s super cool,” admits Brent Kroll, general manager of Proof in Washington, D.C. “However, if you get a faulty glass bottle, it could explode and hurt you or someone else. And there’s nothing cool about holding a broken bottle while being soaked.”
The biggest no-no is calling wine Champagne when it’s made outside of Champagne, France. “Anything else is not quite Champagne,” says Ford. “Even a top-notch Italian sparkling wine can’t quite get there.”Continue Reading
Fat-washing sounds like what we feel like we’re doing when we take a shower after overeating during the course of the holidays. In fact, it’s actually an ingenious infusion technique. Oil, butter, nuts, meat, or another kind of fat is placed into a spirit to rest for a short while at room temperature. Then the mixture is put into a freezer, where the fat naturally separates from the spirit over time. Though the fat is skimmed off, its flavor remains. Here are 7 fabulous fat-washed cocktails that showcase this taste-enhancing technique.
Coconut Negroni, Boleo, Chicago, Illinois
Inspired by Chilean cocktail culture, bar star Jess Lambert conceived the coconut Negroni. Starring a coconut fat-washed Kappa pisco, it’s blended with Campari, sweet vermouth, and an orange oil to brighten it up. The results are faintly tropical, like a hazy memory of an afternoon spent on a beach in Viña del Mar. Make a reservation at Boleo.
It’s Foie-nominal, BLT Steak, Washington, D.C.
Decadence: now in liquid form. Woodford Reserve bourbon is fat-washed with foie gras to add an unctuous depth and then mixed with fig syrup and lemon juice. As if that wasn’t enough, it comes garnished with a port-soaked fig. Make a reservation at BLT Steak.
Chorizo Cocktail, Estrellón, Madison, Wisconsin
Excuse me, is that a chorizo sausage in your cocktail or are you just happy to see me? Featuring chorizo-washed bourbon, Spanish vermouth, maple syrup, orange and lemon juices, and bitters, the drink possesses a slight spiciness that finds a counterbalance in its sweet and bitter tones. Make a reservation at Estrellón.
Duck Hunt, The Fainting Goat, Washington, D.C.
Borrowing its name from what may the greatest Nintendo game of all time, it’s sure to appeal to quack addicts. Beverage director Ian Fletcher fat-washes bourbon with duck fat, and then he mixes it with a nutty oloroso sherry. Concentrate and you’ll uncover hints of cardamom, rosemary, and apple in the canary-colored cocktail. Make a reservation at the Fainting Goat.
Blood & Smoke, Manhattan Beach Post, Los Angeles, California
This is not your average Bloody Mary. That’s because it features bacon-washed Koval white rye whiskey. Need more? It’s garnished with a speck-wrapped dill spear and arrives in a Mason jar with a Sriracha-salt rim. Make a reservation at Manhattan Beach Post.
Basque cuisine has a long history in the western United States, but many chefs across the country have recently discovered the unique ingredients and storied history of the region that straddles northeastern Spain and southwestern France. Traditionalists will revel in the regional flavors that mark Basque cuisine while modernists will exult in new interpretations that are emerging from forward-thinking chefs around the country.
New York-based chef and restaurateur of three Spanish restaurants, Alex Raij, whose Basque restaurant Txikito turns eight this year, has a new cookbook out (with fellow chef-owner Eder Montero) called The Basque Book: A Love Letter in Recipes from the Kitchen of Txikito. The book — and the restaurant — are Raij’s ode to Basque cuisine. “Basque cuisine is remarkably elegant and the ingredient quality is exceptional,” said Raij. “Thanks to chefs like [Ferran] Adrià and [Juan Mari] Arzak, ‘Alta cocina‘-and ‘la vanguardia‘-style cooking put all eyes on Spain.” Cooks like Raij responded with a revived interest and rediscovery of regionally distinct cooking traditions. “Chefs like myself want to bring the same high standards and creativity to the traditional cooking of Spain. We have turned our attention to the distinctive features or each of Spain’s regional cuisines and to me the Basque is perhaps the least understood and yet so easy to love.”
Here are eight Basque-inspired dishes that celebrate the culinary flair of la cocina vasca.
The Gilda Pintxo, Bellota, San Francisco, California
Named for Rita Hayworth’s femme fatale character in the 1946 movie Gilda, this traditional skewered snack of Castelvetrano olives, anchovy, boquerones, and pippara pepper from chef Ryan McIlwraith is the perfect introduction to Basque cuisine. Rather than having to roam the neighborhood, trying snacks at numerous spots, the team at Bellota bring the pintxos, or small snacks, to you on a cart. Gilda pintxo is traditionally served at the start of the evening, a first taste of the heady flavors of Basque country. Make a reservation at Bellota.
Ma Premeire Foie, Teleferic Barcelona, Walnut Creek, California
Every year, the city of Barcelona invites its restaurants to compete for the title of Tapa of the Year. Just before opening their blended Basque-Catalan outpost in America, Teleferic Barcelona won with their tapa, Ma Premeire Foie. Grilled and caramelized foie gras swaddled with a bit of cherry jam in house made toast reaches nirvana with caramelized red onion and a slick of apple mousse. Refresh your palate with a hit of Basque cider, served as a special off-menu item, straight into your mouth from the traditional Basque porron. It’s enough to make a Euskaldunak swoon. Make a reservation at Teleferic Barcelona.
Chistorra in a Blanket, Cooks & Soldiers, Atlanta, Georgia
Its name a tip of the hat to the Tamborrada festival in San Sebastian and the citizen’s defiance towards Napoleon’s occupation, Cooks & Soldiers looks for ways to add contrarian flair to traditional Basque dishes. Pigs in a blanket, a.k.a. chistorra in a blanket, melds Basque and Southern ideas of dough-wrapped sausage. Basque chistorra sausage gets bundled into a cider-glazed croissant and served with a mustard-maple dipping sauce. Or swing vegan with tomato tartare. Chef Landon Thompson reimagined trendy tartare with in-season cured tomatoes, draining the bright red veg to give them a beefy texture and topping the tartare with a modernist, algae reverse purification carrot “yolk.” Once local tomatoes are gone, so too, this seasonal dish is gone. Basque food never had it so good. Make a reservation at Cooks & Soldiers.
Veal Tongue Bocadillo, La Cuchara, Baltimore, Maryland
Chef Ben Lefenfeld at La Cuchara loved the communal dining atmosphere of Basque pintxo bars and set out to recreate that vibe at La Cuchara, where a 40-seat square bar is the heart of the festive space. And, like traditional asadors in the southern Basque region, Lefenfeld does much of his cooking with fire. A signature, asador-inspired dish is his veal tongue bocadillo. Brined for seven days, the tongue is braised then sliced as thin as possible and served on a charred cumin roll with charred cabbage, pimentón aioli, and espelette pepper. The sandwich tastes of Basque food at its finest, an ideal blend of French, Spanish, and Basque flavors, reflecting the seasons and the flavors of the region. Make a reservation at La Cuchara.