#ProducePlayoff Benefit for #NoKidHungry at Betony: Dish, Drink + Behind-the-Scenes Pics

Produce_Playoff_0126Betony general manager Eamon Rockey and chef Bryce Shuman joined forces with No Kid Hungry on Tuesday, August 25th, at the 2015 Produce Playoff to help end childhood hunger in America. The event was an epic culinary throwdown featuring the season’s best bounty, which the chefs and wine and spirits experts, including Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park), Eli Kaimeh (Per Se), James Kent (The NoMad), Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske (Contra), and Rebecca Isbell (Betony), Jeff Taylor (Betony) and Thomas Pastuszak (The NoMad), personally selected in the #ProducePlayoff draft several days ago. Curious to see what Kevin Denton made with all those carrots? How about what chef Stone created with that lovely baby lettuce? Did the chefs all play nicely together in the kitchen? Check out our slideshow of pictures shot by New York photographer Simon Lewis for a look at how the delicious evening unfolded in the front of the house, in the kitchen, and, randomly, in the middle of 57th Street.

With a menu of Greenmarket-driven food and drink, live music, and words of inspiration and enlightenment from Debbie Shore, founder of No Kid Hungry, the 2015 Produce Playoff is a shining example of the magic that can happen when talented culinary professionals unite. Co-host Rockey noted, “The more talented people there are rallying together behind the same cause, the greater the impact and the more powerful the momentum.” Shuman said of his and Betony’s support for the organization, “No Kid Hungry seriously strikes a chord with me, having a daughter, and they maintain goals that are small enough to achieve and big enough to matter.”

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An Edible Tribute to the Burning Man Festival: 11 Hella Hot Dishes #BurningMan

Right now, tens of thousands of free spirits, innovative artists, and fabulous freaks are flocking to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for the annual Burning Man Festival. Since we can’t take a week off to attend this year, we wanted to commemorate the event from afar. So, we sought out super-hot dishes that will set your taste buds ablaze. Please note: We are not responsible for any discomfort that may arise from enjoying these dishes. Just sayin’. Celebrate Burning Man at a restaurant serving one of these 11 hella hot dishes.

The Cecil, New York, New York
Chef JJ Johnson packs heat into his Portuguese piri piri sauce by using African bird’s eye chilies, which are many times hotter than jalapeños. The fiery condiment accompanies well-spiced, broiled giant prawns resting on a yam flapjack. Please restrain yourself from singing, “It’s getting hot in herre!” while eating it.

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Pepita Cantina, Arlington, Virginia
Chef-owner Mike Isabella loves a good taco. For his version starring stewed goat, he adds citrusy, spicy-sweet candied habaneros to cut through the meat’s richness. We wish he would sell the peppers on their own, so we could snack on them when we needed a proper pick-me-up.

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The Blind Burro, San Diego, California
Bacon makes everything better – even when those dishes are already awesome in the first place. Case in point: these bacon-wrapped, tongue-tingling jalapeños stuffed with chorizo and mozzarella-style queso Oaxaca paired with a zingy chipotle-tomatillo-piloncillo sauce. Muy impresionante!

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Fang Restaurant, San Francisco
Starting with a classic recipe from China’s Sichuan province, chef Kathy Fang wanted to kick her spicy sausage mapo tofu up a notch. So she incorporates plenty of chili, hot Italian sausage, and diced jalapeños to bring the heat. Make sure you have plenty of water on hand, though we find Hainan Punch with pineapple vodka and ginger ale works wonders, too.

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Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, Virginia
Heat-seekers will love this dish. It’s simply called “The Warning,” because it’s THAT spicy! It’s actually scratch-made, hyper-hot Thai panang-style curry that chef-owner Cathal Armstrong packs with house-cured pork belly, soft tofu, and crispy garlic. When you’re sweating profusely and tearing up, you can’t say you weren’t warned. [Ed. note: You may not be able to say anything at all because your mouth will be on fire.]

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Heirloom Tomatoes: 24 Chefs Share Their Favorites

Sure, the end of August signals that summer is almost over, but it also heralds the height of heirloom tomato season across the nation. There are a seemingly endless number of varietals of heirloom tomatoes from which to choose, including Black Krim, Hungarian Heart, and more (and endless debate as to what constitutes an heirloom tomato, which we won’t get into here). To narrow down the field we asked chefs to share their favorites and showcase how they’re serving what is arguably the most delicious ingredient of this year’s harvest.

Philippe Bertineau, Benoit, New York, New York
“Deliciously flavored Sun Gold, Red Currant, and Green Zebra heirloom tomatoes pack more sweetness.”
Order them in: The heirloom tomatoes from Eckerton Hill Farm with red onion, basil, sherry vinegar, and olive oil.

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Eric Brennan, Post 390, Boston, Massachusetts
“We are now getting our heirloom tomatoes from Kimball Fruit Farm in Pepperell, Massachusetts. Owners Carl and Marie Hills grow some great tomatoes, especially the Black Prince, Pink Brandywine, and Green Zebra. After they did some research on other areas that were growing heirlooms, they started their own in 2004 and soon became the award-winning growers of heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes in the state.”
Order them in: Kimball Fruit Farm’s heirloom tomatoes + charred sweet corn with griddled halloumi, fig balsamic, and purslane pesto.

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Matt Christianson, Urban Farmer, Portland, Oregon
“At Urban Farmer, we grow heirloom tomatoes on the restaurants’ rooftop garden. My favorite variety is the Indigo Blue Berries tomato because of its rich, dark color and because they are high in anthocyanins, which protect against a myriad of human diseases.”
Order them in: The heirloom tomato salad.

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Kevin Cuddihee, TWO, Chicago, Illinois
“In-season tomatoes are one of my favorite ingredients, green zebras have a great natural acidity that goes great with burrata, and the red onion basil vinaigrette rounds out the dish nicely. We like to let the ingredient shine on the plate and in- season heirloom tomatoes are the perfect star.”
Order them in: The Green Zebra tomatoes with burrata cheese, Vidalia onions, and red onion-basil vinaigrette.

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Laurence Edelman, Left Bank, New York, New York
“Any heirloom tomato that is perfectly ripe is going to be the best tomato you’ve ever had. There are a few that are particularly beautiful. There’s an heirloom tomato that is shaped like a heart called Hungarian Heart. It’s a good mix of flesh and juice and they’re really big and cool looking. Sometimes they are so big that one tomato could be a light meal.”
Order them in: The heirloom tomato salad with Spanish goat cheese and marinated eggplant.

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Michael Ferraro, Delicatessen, New York, New York
“The Cherokee Purple are my favorite because they’re very plump, juicy, and large in size. Plus, they’re very flavorful and taste a bit less acidic than other heirloom tomato varietals.”
Order them in: The heirloom tomato + burrata salad with green olive pesto and focaccia croutons.

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Michael Goodman, Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada
“I like the versatility of Brandywine tomatoes. This sweet tomato has a pinkish flesh and a wonderful acidity that is great for salads. Seared or grilled, they work very well with a nice, cold pressed extra virgin olive and sea salt and paired with a sexy white wine.”
Order them in: Zucchini “spaghetti” with zucchini pesto and heirloom tomato tartare.

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Todd Kelly, Orchids at Palm Court, Cincinnati, Ohio
“I prefer the smaller Black Cherry heirloom tomatoes because they are sweet and juicy with a more moderate acidity, making them very versatile. “
Order them in: The heirloom tomato and mozzarella “balloon” caprese salad with saffron tomato gelée, pickled onion, arugula, and shallot lavosh.

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Michael Kornick, mk, Chicago, Illinois
“I love Brandywine tomatoes because of their rich flavor. Brandywines have a balanced amount of acid and are thick and meaty with a delicious juice. Their skin peels easily for quickly cooked pasta sauces and with freshly grilled fish.”
Order them in: The colorful heirloom tomato salad with watermelon, pineapple, mint, oil-cured olive, and a buttermilk crisp.

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Chris Macchia, Labriola Ristorante, Chicago, Illinois
“My favorite type of heirloom tomato is the Cherokee Purple because it has fantastic tomato flavor—and of course, it’s fun to say!”
Order them in: The caprese salad with tomatoes, pesto powder, heirloom tomato sorbet, buffalo mozzarella, and basil foam.

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Aaron Martinez, Intro, Chicago, Illinois
“The Sun Gold tomato is always consistent in flavor and texture. Very sweet tomato and not mealy. I chose this tomato for a melon dish because of its sweetness that pairs so well with the seaweed-infused tomato water. The savory and sweet combination really balance each other out.”
Order them in: The tomato and summer melon plate.

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Tory Miller, L’Etoile, Madison, Wisconsin
“We use a large variety of heirlooms for this dish, but my choices this year are Cherokee Green, Cherokee Purple, Yellow Brandywine, Jaune Flamme, and Aunt Ruby’s German Green. I pick tomatoes with low acid and small seed to meat ratios. Then, all you have to do is add salt.”
Order them in: Part of the seven-course tasting menu, Miller serves Snug Haven Farm heirloom tomatoes with baby cucumber, radishes, peekytoe crab, and pine nuts.

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Go Fish: Restaurants That Cook Your Catch

Blog BahrsLandingFluke copyIf you are like my husband, the perfect summer day is one spent on the open water fishing. This works out just fine when we are home — we have a boat. He can fish to his heart’s content, come home, and fillet his catch and cook it up. Easy peasy and delicious.

So, what is the avid angler to do when he or she goes on vacation and wants to savor the spoils of the day? Coastal marinas are chock full of charter fishing boats that will take you out to the local hot spot and let you fish away. Each captain sets his own terms; some are strictly catch-and-release, some charters retain the keepers, and others, if you are lucky, will scale, gut, and fillet your fish, and give it back to you. Now what? We found a number of restaurants that cook your catch. If you’re fishing in other destinations, ask the charter captain who can accommodate you. They are in-the-know locals who will not only put you on the best fishing locations offshore but will also steer you to the best kitchens, often a stone’s throw from the marina.

Bahr’s Landing, in Highlands, New Jersey, is a Jersey shore landmark. Run by the same family since 1917, Bahr’s has been a destination for generations of seafood lovers, including the likes of Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio, Mel Torme, and even the cast and crew of HBO’s The Sopranos (Tony once suggested to a depressed Carmella, “Come on, we’ll go down to Bahr’s and get some lobsters.”). Known for the freshest clams, oysters, lobsters, finfish, and chowders, Bahr’s also operates a full-service marina. Eager anglers can jump on any of a number of six-passenger charters or board their own 40-passenger boat for a half day of fishing.

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Catch a keeper striped bass, bluefish, fluke, sea bass, or cod, and the mates will fillet it and get it to the kitchen where the chef will prepare it to your liking. Owner Jay Cosgrove tells us that deep-fried fish-and-chips style is the most popular, served with “our famous coleslaw, fries, and cocktail sauce.” While you are waiting, he advises, “Grab a cup of our chowder and a cold beer.” With a per person price of $8.95 at their outdoor Moby’s Lobster Deck (a bit more in the restaurant), “Bahr’s is the best way to experience a day of fishing on the Jersey coast,” according to Cosgrove. I am almost tempted to test out my sea legs!Continue Reading