The recent rage for wine bars reflects a change in the way the French think—and drink.
I’ve been visiting Paris since the 1970’s. But on a recent trip, I noted something radically unfamiliar. At Verjus, a new hot spot by the Palais Royal, a roomful of people were sipping Chinon and Chenin Blanc by the glass, not a dinner plate in sight.
Wine bars have always seemed the antithesis of how the French experience wine. While Americans gravitate toward big-bodied creations with the kick of a cocktail, the French favor restraint, seeing it as a piece of a larger prandial puzzle. An aperitif in Paris has always meant a Lillet, a kir, maybe a beer. Wines by the glass were usually barely drinkable vin ordinaire.
For anyone who’s felt a certain despair when setting out for a transcontinental flight—after being offered nothing but a cardboard box of crackers, cheese and deli meat that most 2nd graders would find gastronomically unsatisfying—there is a vivid outlet for your culinary bitterness.
Airlinemeals.net actually started 10 years ago, when frequent flier Marco t'Hart decided to upload some shots of terrible meals he’s had (if not eaten) aloft, and invited other travelers to do the same.
Today the site has grown 26,000 images strong, and is reportedly getting more attention from airline catering companies, which are sifting through the reviews to help improve in-cabin dining—and which no doubt will enable coach-class food critics even more.
Out of all the places to have a farming renaissance, who would guess uber-urban Hong Kong? But it’s true: concerns about food safety in China coupled with a rising interest in the provenance and quality of ingredients has sparked action. HK Farm is a 4,000-square-foot rooftop farm in industrial Ngau Tau Kok started by a group of artists and designers, with plans to expand. Zen Organic is a former pig farm that a pair of siblings inherited and turned into one of the city’s most sought-after sources of produce. Down with pollution and in with the greens!
Want a definition of great service? Sink into an armchair at £10, the semisecret Macallan scotch bar at the Montage Beverly Hills, and let your barman go to work. He’ll wheel out a mahogany cart stocked with Lalique crystal glassware, chilled soapstone rocks (for those who frown on dilution), and an array of rare single malts, with which he’ll prepare the best damn scotch you’ve ever had. Maybe it’s the distillery’s smoky, spicy 18-year Sherry Oak ($35). Or the Macallan 64 Years Old, a goblet of which will set you back $64,000, not including tip. You should tip well.
While the pyrotechnics of Alinea’s molecular gastronomy and the tweezer-armed chefs at Noma fussing over strands of seaweed may garner all the accolades in the food world these days, other chefs are turning back the clock. They’re going back decades, even hundreds, of years.
Vintage-inspired menus—think Champagne-glazed Virginia hams, Waldorf pudding studded with nuggets of foie gras, poached salmon bathed in creamy French sauces—took off this year when restaurants across the country commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s demise.
At Prime Meats in Brooklyn, diners paid $150 in April to taste the last meal served on the British ship, supposedly crafted under the consultation of Georges-Auguste Escoffier and Cesar Ritz. A Hindenburg dinner may follow.
Members of the band, from left: Ed Droste, Chris Bear, Chris Taylor and Daniel Rossen
Ed Droste—front man of the Brooklyn-based indie-rock band Grizzly Bear, whose long-awaited fourth album Shieldscomes out on September 18—reflects on some of his favorite destinations and findings from around the world.
Q: It’s been three years since the band’s last album, what can we expect from Shields? A: It’s charged, and sort of raw, energetic and exposed. I started out work shopping ideas in Todos Santos, Mexico with our drummer Chris Bear. We often go on little writing retreats together. We went there for a month and wrote ten songs, then the whole band reconvened in Marfa, Texas for a month to start recording.
It’s a city of pop-ups. San Francisco has bred a myriad of mobile food entrepreneurs who blog, tweet and serve up everything from ramen to fish tacos to loyal customers willing to hit the sidewalk. That’s about to change—slightly. Recently, some pop-ups have gone permanent, shouldering leases and outfitting commercial spaces. A few of the city’s newest restaurant fixtures? Radio Africa Kitchen(below), which serves creative Ethiopian food, recently opened up shop in Bayview. Meanwhile, the super-popular ramen/boba tea spot Ken-Ken Ramen has launched in the Mission. If deli is your thing, don’t miss the outpost of Wise Sons Delicatessen(above)for some of the city’s best bialys and challah.
It’s the birthplace of the Cuban sandwich, invented in the suburb of Ybor City in the 19th century by cigar-factory workers, who stuffed flaky white bread with ham, pork, salami, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles. Try one at the Columbia(2217 E. Seventh Ave.; $), Florida’s oldest restaurant.
Set on the waterfront, Bayshore Boulevard has the world’s longest continuous sidewalk, measuring 4 1/2 miles. It’ll take you by the marina and some of the city’s most historic houses.
First you have to learn to pronounce it, so that years from now, when you are old and gray, standing at a counter and in need of the magical potion, it will sound right: granita, rhymes with margarita. If you’re in Italy, you have to add di caffè, a coffee granita. (I won’t discuss other flavors such as lemon, which are also classics.) Here is what it looks like at the Antico Caffè Greco(86 Via dei Condotti; 39-06/679-1700), in Rome: a chalice of frosted silver, bearing a small mound of frothy brown ice with a generous dab of whipped cream (real cream). The recipe is something of a secret (it consists of water and coffee, some sugar—not too much—and in some cases a bit of liqueur). Italians say, “Anche l’occhio vuole la sua parte”—the eye wants its share, too. When I see a granita coming toward my marble-topped table on a hot day, the sight alone makes my temperature drop. The fresh flavor of chilled coffee fills my mouth as the ice melts and mixes with that rich, room-temperature cream. It is a completely addictive combination. I have to have one every summer afternoon when I’m in Rome, at around four, an antidote to the heat.