Agenda: Nimble Noshing, Real Men Drink Cans, New Amsterdam Market, and the Fancy Food Show

FEATURED EVENT

Istock_smoked_salmon_bagelRuss & Daughters: A Taste of Appetizing
Join 3rd generation slicer and R.A.L.S. (Royal Academy of Lox Slicers) member Mark Federman of Russ & Daughters (179 East Houston Street), his family's famous appetizing shop, for an evening of storytelling and noshing.  Federman will share many stories from the culinary landmark as well as offer up samples of their famous lox, herring, and more. The event will take place on Thursday, June 26th at the Astor Center Gallery (399 Lafayette Street) from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  Tickets: $45/person.

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Growing Vegetables by the Square Foot

Box #2

My Square Foot Garden: Top row, left to right, Vintage Wine, Brandywine, and Hillbilly tomatoes; middle row, left to right, "little finger" eggplant, rosemary, and Italian large leaf basil; bottom row, "spicy globe" basil, plus room to plant two more crops.

I don't know exactly how it happened, but somehow I came across a series of photos of "square foot gardens" on flickr and, before long, I was completely drawn in. I must have been searching for information on growing vegetables, since I've been wanting to plant them, but have been daunted at the challenge. I'm a completely new to the art of gardening, but when I came across the square foot gardening method, I was fascinated.

Here was a system which not only simplified the process and made gardening more manageable, but works beautifully (using so many flickr photos of bountiful gardens as evidence). Grow 16 different crops in just a 4x4 foot space? Sure! Grow as many as 16 carrots within just one of the tiny squares? Amazing! The garden is a vision of serious outdoor organization. With a place for everything, it's gardening for the perfectionist. And, let's face it, they're also adorable. I was hooked.

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Agenda: Honey History, Whisky Classic, and Green Spirits

FEATURED EVENT

Honeycomb

Honey: History and Gourmet Tasting
The 92nd Street Y (1395 Lexington Avenue) presents "Honey: History and Gourmet Tasting" led by food writer and consultant Francine Segan. The lecture will explore the history and many distinct flavors of honey. Learn to differentiate the subtle differences of a dozen types of honey, including French lavender, blueberry blossom, Hawaiian honey with tones of butterscotch and vanilla, and tulepo honey. The event will take place Wednesday, June 18, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets: $35/person.

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The Five Percent Solution

Total5150gI've long been a fan of Total yogurt, the strained yogurt imported from Greece. It's thick, dense, creamy, and delicious. The 2% fat version is what I eat almost every day. The non-fat yogurt is a little too chalky for my taste, and I save the full-fat version (which contains a whopping 20 grams of fat per container) for special occasions, like a planting a big spoonful on top of fresh berries. But, I just discovered another version, Total 5%, which may just be the perfect yogurt. It's almost as creamy as full-fat Total, but without being a fat bomb (it contains 8 grams of fat), and it weighs in at only 130 calories per container.

 


Gastronomics: The Hanging Brochette

Brochette

Recession Special: Brasserie Julien wants to attract budget-minded customers with a vertical skewer of "smaller, more cost-effective pieces" of expensive meats.

According to several recent reports, the abysmal economy, increases in the cost of doing business, and rising food prices are starting to make their impact felt on the restaurant industry and consumer spending on food. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, chefs at premier dining establishments are finding it difficult to strike a balance between quality and cost. Signaling the fluidity of food costs, Chef David Chang has just just raised the price of a prix fixe dinner at his coveted Momofuku Ko  from $85 to $100. And, the New York Times brings news of a boom in vegetable gardening by Americans trying to save money on groceries.

Into this changing food environment comes news of the latest in food marketing ploys to targeting current economic conditions: enter the "hanging brochette." According to a press release we received in our inbox yesterday, the restaurant Brasserie Julien is promoting this new menu item as a dining option designed specifically for the budget-minded customer. Can't afford an entire entree of lamb, filet mignon, fish, or game? Then order "smaller, more cost-effective pieces" of these expensive meats served on a skewer dangling before you. Does this PR stunt represent the first in a new wave of "recession specials"? What's coming next?

The complete press release after the jump.

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Agenda: Julia Child, Food Films, Bar Basics, and Star Chefs

FEATURED EVENT

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Julia Child: Culinary Revolutionary
The New School for General Studies is presenting a discussion, "Julia Child: Culinary Revolutionary," in which an expert panel will discuss Julia Child's impact on the culinary world and American pop culture, particularly in the mediums of television and cookbooks. Panelists for the evening include Judith Jones (Child's editor at Knopf), Molly O'Neill (former New York Times Magazine food columnist), Joan Reardon (author, M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child and Alice Waters: Celebrating the Pleasures of the Table), and Laura Shapiro (author, Julia Child). The event will take place on Thursday, June 12th, at the Anna-Marie and Stephen Kellen Auditorium, Sheila Johnson Design Center (66 Fifth Avenue) at 6:00 p.m. Tickets: 212.229.5488 or [email protected]. $8/person, Free/New School students, faculty, and alumni with proper ID.

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James Beard Awards: Best Bites

Silverton

Mozzarella maestro Nancy Silverton slicing baby burrata at the James Beard Awards Gala.

As I noted earlier, shooting at the red carpet and covering the ceremony for nearly five hours left me famished. Next up was the gala reception, two entire floors of food and drink tasting stations. Despite the deep crowds and the difficulty of navigating, eating, and drinking without spilling, this was ultimately the best part of the night.

Redandblack The picture doesn't do it justice, but Back Forty, the East Village offshoot of Savoy restaurant, served an incredible sweet, spicy, and salty cocktail called "The Red and the Black" (after Stendahl, nach). The drink combined muddled strawberries, tequila, lime juice, and black pepper simple syrup. What's more, the rim was coated with sugar, salt, and pepper. If you're into savory/sweet combinations, this was the perfect drink. In fact, I had two (need to learn how to make this at home).

Cheese_2TFS hero Nancy Silverton represented L.A.'s Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza with two amazing mozzarella dishes at her station. Burricotti (right) -- described to me as a "mozzarella balloon" filled with ricotta -- was paired with a braised baby artichoke stuffed with pine nuts and currants.. Equally delicious was burrata served with braised leeks and a mustardy vinaigrette. The dish was topped with crunchy toasted breadcrumbs, a genius (and delicious) contrast to the rich and creamy cheese and leeks. I'm filing this technique away for future reference.

Tamales Maricel Presilla of Hoboken's Cucharamama served corn tamales with a fava bean relish and a generous helping of sweet thick-cut smoked bacon. I really need to go have dinner at the restaurant. Now that I live in New Jersey, I have no excuse.


This post concludes The Food Section's coverage of the 2008 James Beard Awards: Want more?
»James Beard Awards: The Red Carpet
»James Beard Awards: The Winners
»James Beard Awards Live!

 


James Beard Awards: The Red Carpet

Beardmontage

Clockwise from left: Todd English, the family Bastianich, and Tom Colicchio walk the red carpet.

The Beard Awards ceremony was preceded by an hour's worth of chefs, restaurateurs, and other food industry types strolling across a Hollywood-style red carpet.

Confused tourists traversing Lincoln Center stopped and gawked as everyone from established print media like the Wall Street Journal to web TV ventures you've probably never heard of, snapped pictures and shot footage of the arriving guests. I wedged myself in with paparazzi and took some shots of my own.

This has become a very glitzy affair, and while food stars may not dazzle or work the red carpet as effortlessly as movie stars, one minor gastro-celeb seemed to know how to strike a pose for the paparazzi: that would be Marcel Vigneron, the villainous runner-up from "Top Chef," season 2. Below, a slideshow of the many faces of Marcel:

After the jump, a complete gallery of my red carpet snaps:

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James Beard Awards: The Winners

Changdufresne

Wylie Dufresne, nominee, and David Chang, winner of the award for Best Chef, New York City.

Listed below are the major winners from yesterday evening's James Beard Awards. Grant Achatz took home the prize for Outstanding Chef, Gramercy Tavern won for Outstanding Restaurant, Central Michel Richard was awarded Best New Restaurant, and Gavin Kaysen of Cafe Boulud won the Rising Chef of the Year Award. The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was named Cookbook of the Year. The complete results are listed at jbfawards.com.

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR AWARD
Joe Bastianich/Mario Batali
Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca

OUTSTANDING CHEF AWARD
Grant Achatz
Alinea, Chicago

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT AWARD
Gramercy Tavern, NYC
Danny Meyer

BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Central Michel Richard, Washington, DC
Chef/Owner: Michel Richard

RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR AWARD
Gavin Kaysen
Café Boulud

NYC OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF AWARD
Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson
Tartine Bakery
San Francisco

COOKBOOK OF THE YEAR
The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Ten Speed Press)

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James Beard Awards Live!

Thomaskeller

Thomas Keller makes his debut on the red carpet at Lincoln Center for the James Beard Awards.

7:17 p.m.: We're here at Lincoln Center live blogging the James Beard Awards. We've actually been here since 5:00 p.m., but technical difficulties delayed our start. Alas, here we are. To catch up, briefly, the ceremony began with an introduction by Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro followed by the introduction of the co-hosts Bobby Flay and Kim Cattrall. Not surprisingly, there were several Sex and the City references, all of which fell a little flat.

8:03 p.m.: The big news thusfar is that David Chang (of Momofuku fame) has yet again been honored for Best Chef, New York City. The man is invincible. Look for inevitable wave of pro-Chang praise and backlash tomorrow.

8:16 p.m.: So, where are we? We're in the press room, which is adjacent to the main hall. Basically, almost everyone is ignoring the live video and seems to be discussing where the best parties will be. In fact, a reporter from a major daily newspapers is sitting next to me and just told me, "It's more boring than watching the Golden Globes at home." Hmmm. We're heading toward the last third of the program.

8:38 p.m.: Thinks have actually calmed down in here, and, this is amazing, the live video feed is actually showing activities on stage rather than a powerpoint-style display of the nominee and winners. we're closing in on the major awards of the evening. Starstruck moment: Thomas Keller just brushed by me.

8:44 p.m.: Outstanding Pastry Chef award has been given to the crew at San Francisco's Tartine: Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robinson, who takes the stage with baby in tow.

8:49 p.m.: Blogger sitings: Amanda Kludt and Ben Leventhal of eater.com, Josh Ozersky of New York magazine's Grub Street (with medal around his neck for his win at Friday's media awards), and Jennifer Leuzzi of Snack.

8:58 p.m.: Best new restaurant award just went to Central Michel Richard in Washington, DC. He bests Mario Batli and Nancy Silverton's Mozza. Richard, who happens to be enormous, bear hugs Danny Meyer, who presented the award. More bear hugs. Then, before leaving the stage, Meyer announces that Richard will receive a one-year lease on a Lexus. The audience cheers. It ws a beautiful moment when he won, but this is a little cheesy, don't you think?

9:01 p.m.: Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali receive the award for "Outstanding Restaurateur" and Bastianich accepts on behalf of Batali (who does not show). He thanks his mother, Lydia Bastianich, for teaching him to be a restaurateur and thanks his wife for "letting him be a restaurateur."

9:06 p.m.: The outstanding restaurant award goes to Gramercy Tavern and its owner Danny Meyer. Meyer gives a shout out to former Gramercy Tavern chef Tom Colicchio.

9:11 p.m.: The final award of the evening, for outstanding chef, goes to Alinea's Grant Achatz. Rather than thank specific people, he wants to tell the story of when he was starting out, 22 years old at The French Laundry. "I was in awe," he says. He lauds Thomas Keller and talks about his amazement with "the push" in Keller's kitchen. "I pulled that in thinking it would make me a great chef," he says. "What I didn't know is that it would actually save my life." Achatz, who suffers from a form of tongue cancer, talks about what this meant for his battle with disease. He thanks the audience for their support. "I'm kind of in awe. It's an amazing honor, and I really appreciate it."

9:16 p.m.: That's it. The ceremony is over, and everyone is heading to the gala to eat (finally).

9:29 p.m.: The press room has emptied by half. I'm starving, dehydrated, and light-headed. I'm going to get some food, some drink, and then head home. This is just the beginning of the evening for all the partiers. Look elsewhere for reports on the party scene Monday.

Updated 6/09: Read more live blog coverage:

»Liveblogging The 2008 James Beard Awards [eater]
»Liveblogging The 2008 James Beard Awards Continued! [eater]
»Live from the JBF Awards [Official James Beard Foundation Blog]