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Ask a Bartender: ‘I Shouldn’t Have Given Them That Last Drink’ – serious eats

Stabbing someone with a salad fork, falling onto a candle, throwing a shot back right into your eye… all probably signs you’ve had a drink too many. We asked 16 bartenders about a time they realized that they really shouldn’t have given someone one last drink. Here’s what they had to say.

Where’s My Food?
“The time I had a guest dining who enjoyed her entire dining experience, then after clearing her plate she proceeded to tell me how hungry she was and inquired if she was ever going to get her food… This continued until she enjoyed her cab ride home.” — Lauren Festa (FT33)

by CAREY JONES
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Chefs find creativity, economy in preserves – nation’s restaurant news

The inventive flavor mash-ups help restaurants make the most of seasonal berries

Chef Kym Delost wasn’t really interested in making jams or preserves — until about eight years ago when she over-reduced a sorbet she was making. “That’s when I started to appreciate [them],” said Delost.

Now, “I really like jam [and preserves]… It gives the ability to present different flavors in different ways,” she said.

Delost’s dessert menu at Storefront Company in Chicago features traditional preserves, such as apricot preserves with a chocolate, almond and rosemary crepe, as well as more unusual variations. Those include a crumble with grapefruit pate de fruit; a white chocolate cheesecake with basil cream, blood orange jelly, blood orange gel, meringue and basil blossoms; and poached rhubarb and rhubarb sherbet with angelica jelly.

Across the country, chefs are finding pleasure in using seasonal berries and other ingredients to create interesting flavor mash-ups of traditional jams, jellies and preserves.

Michelle Lee, the new pastry chef at Restaurant 1833 in Monterey, Calif., takes advantage of the region’s abundant produce to reduce flats of berries and then combine them with herbs and other ingredients for her work-in-progress dessert menu. For example, Lee recently added to the menu a raspberry lemonade sorbet with strawberry meringue, olive oil cake, candied lemon, vanilla cream and an elderflower blackberry jam.

“I love, love, love rustic desserts,” said Lee. “[Jams] are unique to have. It’s familiar, but it’s something you can play with as well.”

The cheese board with house-made bread and jams from FT33

Lee, who keeps a “big idea book” filled with flavor combinations waiting to be realized, plans to add one or two more desserts to the menu in the coming months, perhaps including a pate de fruit made from blueberries.

Other chefs are finding that adding jams and preserves is not only creative, but also economical. They can buy fruits and berries in bulk when they’re in peak season and the cost is low, and then turn them into something else to be served well beyond the season.

“It’s a good way to control costs,” said chef Trevor Higgins. “Besides just having a berry as it is, you can add flavors … cinnamon, star anise, garlic. You still have these products in a different form, a little more unique.”

This winter Higgins made a lot of blackberry preserves that are now starting to appear on the menu at Roost, a local, organic, seasonal Southern-food restaurant in Greenville, S.C. Currently, Shoo Fly Pie topped with blackberry preserves and chipotle, cayenne, bourbon gelato is on the menu. A four-layer chocolate mousse cake with blackberry preserves was a recent special, and Higgins plans to take advantage of the upcoming peach season next.

“Growing up in Tennessee, we always had preserves,” said Higgins. “I used to help my grandma can. [It’s] part of the up-bringing of Southern food.”

For chef Matt McCallister of FT33 in Dallas, playing with preserves is an extension of his nose-to-tail philosophy of cooking. Preserved items in all forms appear in every section of his seasonally driven menu — from pickled kumquats to Moroccan preserved lemons.

“I don’t like to waste anything. If I have a part of a fruit or a vegetable I’m not using, I’ll always try to preserve it,” said McCallister. “I love the flavor of preserved stuff.”

His dessert menu features a classic strawberry shortcake with strawberry preserves, as well as a variety of jams, including rhubarb, carrot, beer and red currant, served as part of a cheese board.

by FERN GLAZER
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Smoked Potatoes Pair Well with Rioja – Wine-Enthusiast

Try pairing a smoky Tempranillo with the hearty heat of this easy-to-make vegetable dish.

While the humble potato gets a gourmet upgrade in this recipe, the centerpiece is the Kewpie mayonnaise, a silky Japanese rice vinegar-based spread that has fast become the darling of new-school Western chefs. “We use Kewpie for its velvety, smooth texture,” says Matt McCallister, executive chef and owner of FT33 in Dallas’s Design District. “The creaminess, heat from the Sriracha and acidity of the mayo balance the smoke and heartiness of the vegetables. This is one side dish that can really stand on its own.”

To Make the Potatoes and Mushrooms:
2 cups mixed fingerling potatoes
Salt, to taste
¼ cup cherry-wood chips, for smoker
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
4 heads of maitake mushrooms, each broken into 3 pieces
½ tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, for garnish

Place the fingerling potatoes in a 6-quart pot. Fill with water and season aggressively with salt. Bring to a simmer for about 15 minutes, or until you can pierce the potatoes with a fork without resistance. Remove the potatoes from the water and set aside. Add the cherry-wood chips to a smoker and ignite the chips. Next, place the potatoes in the smoker and smoke heavily for 8 minutes.

Heat the grapeseed oil in a saucepan over high heat until lightly smoking. Sear the maitake mushroom pieces in the pan until they’re nicely caramelized. Add the potatoes to the pan and season with salt to taste, and then pour in the lemon juice. To finish, add the butter and minced chives to the pan. Remove the mixture from the heat and toss for a few turns. Pat down with a paper towel to remove excess oil before serving.

To make the Chili-Kewpie Mayo:
¼ cup Kewpie mayonnaise (available at most Asian supermarkets)
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons sweet pimentón
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt, to taste

Combine the mayonnaise, Sriracha and sweet pimentón in a bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste, and reserve for plating.

To finish:
Serve as shown, or space out dollops of the mayonnaise on each plate and arrange the mushrooms and potatoes around each dollop. Garnish with the oregano leaves. Serves 4.

Wine Pairing
“We like to pair smoky, hearty Tempranillos with this dish,” says Ryan Tedder, sommelier and general manager at FT33. “For a local option, we really enjoy the Pedernales Cellars 2009 Tempranillo from Stonewall, Texas. [It] sings with this dish because it has big flavors without big tannins. For a Spanish option, we enjoy the Bodegas LAN 2005 Viña Lanciano Reserva Rioja for its brightness paired with its power.”

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10 Must-Try Green Dishes From Around the U.S. – zagat

It’s not just the Irish bars and restaurants that get into the green theme around this time of year. With spring’s bounty of fresh produce, it’s easy to create something beautiful and verdant. Click through to see how chefs across the country have gone green just in time for St. Patrick’s Day and beyond with dishes that herald the arrival of a new season.

by TAMARA PALMER
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Texas Tipples: The Hottest 6 Drinks From the Lone Star State – the daily meal

An ode to the cocktail scene in Texas (just in time for SXSW)

The SXSW festival is almost all grown up, celebrating 20 years of music, art, and tech innovations this week in the funkiest town in Texas. So with all eyes on Austin from March 8 to 17, we wondered what tipples they’re drinking deep in the heart of Texas these days… and discovered it’s so much more than margaritas. “Out-of-towners seem to think that when they are in Texas, they should order a margarita, because of our close proximity and historical ties to Mexico,” says Trevor Landry of Dish in Dallas. “There is nothing wrong with the classic margarita, but we have a few variations on our menu.”

Indeed, clever twists on classic cocktails is trending in Texas — like everywhere else on the mixology map — and Landry’s strawberry-basil margarita is a good example of a potation punched up, Texas style: It features a tasty balance of sweet and sour notes with a hit of bright, herbaceous basil, making the drink perfectly refreshingfor a hot Texas night. Or, of course, there’s the Texas Cosmo. One of the most anticipated restaurant openings in Dallas last fall, FT33, has hit the mark with the fresh, artisanal, and often surprising dishes by chef Matt McCallister — so it’s hardly a surprise the libations created there,like the Texas Cosmo, are equally notable. The Texas Cosmo gets an update with Tito’s handmade vodka (an Austin-made vodka), Spruce Goose Pinot Noir Juice, and lime.Other tipples, like The Oracle from Bar Congress in downtown Austin, pay homage to some of the biggest trends in mixology this year, highlighting ingredients like amaro, vermouth, and mezcal, resulting in a seductive, serious sip.

If you can’t make it to Austin for the SXSW festival, bring a taste of Texas home with six of the Lone Star State’s hottest cocktails.

The Strawberry Basil Margarita

The Champagne Supernova Cocktail

The Oracle Cocktail

The Champs-Élysées Cocktail

The Spiced Pear Cocktail

The Jallarita

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Restaurant Review: FT33 in Dallas Design District

Matt McCallister likes to eat at Mission Chinese Food when he’s in New York City, and he once found a baby snake while foraging for spring onions. He runs 6 miles on a treadmill to take the edge off when he’s had a rough day. His wife, Iris, owns a small brownie-making concern. She is picky about the soaps she uses in her bathroom, and she got an awesome new computer for Christmas. I know these things about the McCallisters because I read Facebook and pay attention to Twitter.

I find it fascinating that so much of McCallister’s success—or, at the very least, his name recognition—has been generated through social media. Certainly his bio doesn’t suggest that he has done as much “gutter time” as other local talents. I’m not saying the man isn’t talented. But I do think he is the first prestigious Dallas chef to earn his celebrity status with food blogs and social media, before he opened his first restaurant. After just seven years in the business, he stands in the kitchen of the most talked-about restaurant in Dallas, FT33.

by NANCY NICHOLS
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Where to Eat Now: and the year’s best new restaurants are . . .

Numerous factors account for the urbanization that has transformed Texas over the past forty years. But perhaps the most important is an amendment passed by the state legislature in 1970 that paved the way for restaurants in Texas to sell liquor by the drink. It seems odd, but before then, alcohol was not such a kingpin in the world of upscale dining (today, many restaurants with bars count on making a third of their revenue from the sale of cocktails, beer, and wine). By underwriting the cost of fancy chefs, lavish ingredients, and designer interiors, liquor by the drink bankrolled the fine-dining explosion that continues to this day. On the following pages, you’ll find a list of the best new restaurants of 2012 in each of our major cities, along with examples of where people were eating out four decades ago. (To be considered for our best new restaurants list, a place must have opened between November 1, 2011, and November 1, 2012. Second locations are not eligible.) What a difference one law has made.

Austin

The country club set repaired to Green Pastures, a gracious historic home, for milk punch and prime rib at Sunday brunch. At the Barn, steaks and giant blocks of Swiss cheese cheered many a dad on his birthday. The Old Pecan Street International Café introduced crepes and quiche to folks who weren’t entirely sure how to pronounce the words. There was also the Capital Oyster Company, a New Orleans–style seafood spot where people table-hopped till the wee hours. And that was about it. Forty years later, Austin supports a thriving culinary scene, exemplified by last year’s best new restaurants.

Elizabeth Street Café

The best seat in the house is the table in the front corner, especially in the morning, when sunlight is pouring through tall windows onto aqua-blue banquettes. Snag that spot for a breakfast bánh mì; one version comes layered with fried eggs, crispy pork belly, avocado, and mint. A lunchtime tête-à-tête with your smartphone at the bar calls for the house special, bún bò huê, a pile of soupy noodles zapped with lemongrass. In the evening, check out the bánh cuôn, squishy crepe-like noodles filled with savory pork and wood ear mushrooms. Owner-chefs Tommy Moorman and Larry McGuire, of Lamberts and Perla’s, understand Americans’ tastes, but the final effect is charmingly exotic. 1501 S. First (512-291-2881). B, L & D 7 days. elizabethstreetcafe.com

Salty Sow

When people are scraping their plates for every last bite of candied pork belly and collard greens with soy-balsamic syrup, it hardly matters that some folks think the craze for pig parts is passé. Chefs Harold Marmulstein and Richard Velazquez blew into Austin from Sarasota and Atlanta, respectively, early in 2012, bringing with them the Deep South’s salty, crackly, piggy flavor profile. The two tricked out a modest space on Austin’s East Side and forged a menu that focused on Dixie, with frequent liberties taken. Their oyster boudin fritters, for instance, come with a dollop of pink chipotle rémoulade. Their frilly brussels sprouts leaves are tossed with golden raisins and pecorino. We Texans love us some barbecue, Tex-Mex, and steaks, but Southern traditions speak to our souls too. 1917 Manor Rd (512-391-2337). D 7 days. saltysow.com

Honorable Mentions:

Clark’s Oyster Bar, Lenoir

Dallas

In Dallas in 1973, a three-course dinner at a nice restaurant would set you back $5 to $8 a person—$10 if you went crazy. Wine was another $5 to $12 a bottle. Where would you go? Arthur’s and Jamil’s were the default steak destinations. The Old Warsaw, Ewald’s, Patry’s, and Mr. Peppe had a lock on the French-continental end of the spectrum, while Taxco and Ojeda’s could be counted on for Mexican food. What difference have four decades made? Back then, classic recipes were set in stone. Today—as our selection of the past year’s top new restaurants shows—rules are out the window and may the best chef win.

Oak

The year’s best restaurant art may well be the color-shifting video oak tree at, of course, Oak. Its trembling leaves turn from azure to magenta as you scan a menu that throws everyday expectations to the wind. For a mod surf and turf, try chef Jason Maddy’s braised octopus and crispy pork jowl with dabs of cilantro purée and a pert aji panca vinaigrette. For a contemporary boeuf bourguignonne, check out the tender wagyu cheek in a deep-flavored red-wine braise, cozied up to carrots, cipollini, and pudgy quark spaetzle. At the end of the evening, you may find yourself reluctant to leave, so comfy are the Nutella-hued leather couches, so serene the spacious dining room. Don’t fret; you will be back. 1628 Oak Lawn Ave (214-712-9700). D Mon–Sat.

Driftwood

It must be the Year of the Octopus. Get the critter in the form of a carpaccio appetizer kicked up by a garlicky Meyer lemon vinaigrette, or go all out with an entrée of smoky char-grilled octopus with marble potatoes that have been wickedly roasted in duck fat. Modest, sometimes cacophonous, always interesting, Driftwood has become Dallas’s seafood destination of choice in gentrifying Oak Cliff. You can order a land animal like milk-poached chicken or a duo of rabbit, but why would you when chef Omar Flores’s Naked Cowboy Oysters in Rio Red grapefruit mignonette beckon so brazenly? 642 W. Davis (214-942-2530). D Tue–Sat.

Boulevardier

“French but not too French” is the way co-owner Brooks Anderson and chef-owner Nathan Tate describe their hit bistro. It occupies a sunny ninety-year-old building in Oak Cliff, where gilt-framed mirrors hang on the walls (French) but the waiters wear plaid shirts (not too French). The menu, too, goes its idiosyncratic way. Knowing his audience, Tate puts hot sauce in the casino butter that melts over smoky grilled oysters, and he cooks tender Berkshire pork cheeks in a root beer braise. Most shockingly, he ditches bouillabaisse’s hallowed Mediterranean fish broth for one based on lobster stock. Dallasites are lapping it up, mais oui. 408 N. Bishop Ave (214-942-1828). D Tue–Sun. B Sun.

Fort Worth

Fort Worth has always self-identified as both an oil town and a Western one. By 1973 that duality had spawned two parallel but very different dining trends. Cattle barons, oil millionaires, and other would-be swells congregated in clubby dining rooms (that is, when they weren’t at their actual clubs). Of those restaurants, the best known was the Carriage House, dishing out trout amandine, veal milanese, and thick, juicy steaks. Catering more to the average joe were eating places that rose out of the working-class side of Texas’s cattle culture, with its strong vaquero element: Angelo’s barbecue joint, Cattlemen’s steakhouse, and Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican food emporium (all three of which are still open, by the way). Our choice for the best new restaurant to have opened in Fort Worth this past year draws on both parts of the historic divide.

Woodshed Smokehouse

Size matters. At the Woodshed—chef-owner Tim Love’s modern spin on Texas’s barbecue and Mexican traditions—a whole bone-in beef shank known as the Shin is the menu’s crowning glory. Weighing in at a minimum of three and a half pounds and borne ceremoniously to the table on a cutting board, the monster feeds a small army. After recovering from shock and awe, recipients grab the accompanying house-made tortillas, spicy ricotta, Mexican limes, and more and turn the hickory-smoked beef into bulging tacos. Unquestionably, meat is the raison d’être at this casual spot, with its roll-up garage doors and open-air courtyard, but the accommodating menu also offers oak-smoked redfish in parchment, baby artichokes doused with lemon and Parmesan, “fancy mushrooms,” and a fantastic white-fish-and-cream-cheese dip. You don’t have to be a carnivore to love Texas. 3201 Riverfront Dr (817-877-4545). B, L & D 7 days.

El Paso

Back in 1973, the best dining in El Paso was in Juárez. You could walk across the international bridge and down curio row, a.k.a. Avenida Juárez, without a care in the world. A night on the town started with a margarita at the Kentucky Club. Then it was on to Julio’s Café Corona for salpicón, a dynamite cold meat salad, or to classy Casa del Sol for first-rate seafood. On the American side, folks headed to Jaxon’s for pub grub or trekked nearly forty miles for a top sirloin at Cattleman’s, in Fabens. After 2000, drug-trafficking violence along the border eventually made Juárez off-limits. Today, contemporary El Paso restaurants like Red Mountain Bistro, one of our favorite new places of the year, combine a variety of trends into one package.

Red Mountain Bistro

At Red Mountain, old wooden beams from a once grand El Paso building have been repurposed into a bar, and the charming patio includes part of a giant sign from a now-defunct newspaper. A creative seasonal menu matches the rustic-hip decor. A side sauce of chipotle-spiked crème fraîche mellows out deftly skewered nibbles of “Still Smoking Salmon,” while fresh figs with balsamic-mascarpone cream on toast points make a sweet-tart preamble to tender grilled rack of lamb sided by Swiss chard and currants. Lobster—arriving live daily—is beautifully poached, and Sunday brunch always includes Red Mountain’s famous brisket machaca blended with asadero cheese, scrambled eggs, and spicy, but not blistering, peppers. 631 N. Resler (915-585-6940). L & D Mon–Sat. B & D Sun.

Houston

Forty years ago, a fine meal out in Houston meant steaks, seafood, or—zut alors!—French and European cuisine. When folks wanted to put on the ritz, they went to Maxim’s (French-Belgian) and Tony’s (French-Italian and still going strong). Except for cornball theme joints like Sonny Look’s popular Sir-Loin House, nice restaurants resembled proper dining rooms. For everyday eating, though, you went to a homegrown gem like the Hobbit Hole (which still exists, as the Hobbit Cafe). Embracing the health-food movement, the Hobbit Hole specialized in hearty soups and crusty, sprout-laden sandwiches. You can even say it anticipated the locavore movement that informs our choices for the best new restaurants to have opened in Houston this past year (eligibility rules are on page 103).

Oxheart

There are no secrets when you’re sitting a few feet from a kitchen where someone is arranging nasturtium blossoms on a plate with tweezers. Not all of the thirty seats in this tall, gauzy-curtained room are quite that close to the action, but everyone can see husband-and-wife chef-owners Justin Yu and Karen Man hard at work. Some of their creations are wild, like cucumber-spiked beef tartare under a crystal-clear aspic lid. Some are sublimely simple, like a lush persimmon, squash, and almond soup. And as for Man’s sweet frozen Greek yogurt with bracing grapefruit curd and mint meringue, just shut up and eat. 1302 Nance (832-830-8592). D Thur–Mon.

Roost

Glance around at your fellow diners in tiny, welcoming, humble Roost. Fully three fourths of them will be chowing down on the fabulous roasted cauliflower and pine nuts in miso dressing, with its crown of surreally waving bonito flakes. The creativity of 27-year-old chef-owner Kevin Naderi doesn’t stop there; it continues throughout his eclectic international menu, where you’ll find the likes of a gorgeous filet of Patagonia salmon dappled with truffled goat cheese and a fig-and-ricotta risotto heady with red wine. Little space, big talent. 1972 Fairview (713-523-7667). D Mon–Sat.

Triniti

“The eyes eat first,” the saying goes. If that includes gazing around a lofty room outfitted with sleek blond furniture, sculptural lights, and a striking two-toned floor, you might be full before you even open the avant-garde menu. What turns chef Ryan Hildebrand on is culinary magic, like tiny balloons of mango purée in transparent skins or an earthy mushroom mousse formed into clever cylinders. But many things are simple, and simply delicious. The colorful charcuterie platter alone is worthy of a pedestal. 2815 S. Shepherd (713-527-9090). L Mon–Fri. D 7 days.

Underbelly

Chris Shepherd is the Mario Batali of Houston—a big, brawny, passionate advocate for this city of more than two million hungry people. He embraces the region’s farmers and ranchers (sometimes literally, in his mighty bear hug); he champions its seafood, especially the underappreciated bycatch. But most of all, he lauds its ethnic cuisines and homespun traditions, on display in the sprawling modern farmhouse that is Underbelly. One bite of his tilefish on masala-seasoned baby okra or Mama Shepherd’s zucchini bread and you too will believe. 1100 Westheimer Rd (713-528-9800). L Mon–Fri. D Mon–Sat.

San Antonio

The most surprising thing about San Antonio’s dining scene circa 1973 is not that it was dominated by Mexican food but that it wasn’t. Yes, enchilada palaces like Karam’s and Casa Rio ruled the roost, but the city boasted competing Italian restaurants (Naples and Paesanos), the all-American Earl Abel’s (famous then, as now, for fried chicken and apple pie), a stellar Chinese emporium (King Wah’s), and La Louisiane (which was swathed in burgundy velvet drapes and specialized in French classics like trout amandine and crepes Suzette). Today, the best new restaurant in the city packs multiple cuisines onto one wide-ranging menu.

Bliss

You’ll think “bliss” after a single bite of the lobster risotto. To make one of the year’s most sumptuous dishes, chef-owner Mark Bliss folds together creamy carnaroli rice, chanterelles, aromatic green leaflets of Mexican mint marigold, and gorgeous chunks of fresh lobster. When he left San Antonio three and a half years ago, the locally renowned chef seemed tapped out. The leave restored him. Now he’s ensconced in his own place, where gleaming stainless- steel shingles set off rustic brick walls. His menu mirrors that contrast. Vegans grow faint over a gorgeous array of roasted beets, Calabrian peppers, and much more in a bright oregano vinaigrette, while meat lovers tear into rosy duck breast napped with a black pepper–orange gastrique. The most compelling theme may be no theme at all. 26 S. Presa (210-225-2547). D Tue–Sat.

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