We’ve taken up part-time residence in Manhattan and discovered that our downstairs neighbor is Tobin Ludwig, one of the partners in Hella Bitters. We were having cocktails in his apartment when he passed around some exquisite cantaloupe. In season, it was juicy and sweet; chewing, Tobin said, “This would go great in a cocktail.” And the challenge was on. He would follow the local and seasonal in creating an elegant summer cocktail using cantaloupe and the basil that is in full flourish, infusing reposado tequila, made from the highly vegetal cactus plant, with this herbaceous leaf. “Basil is a great cocktail ingredient,” Tobin says, “because it’s so versatile. It can go savory or sweet.” To infuse spirits with herbs, combine torn leaves with the spirit of your choice for 48 hours and strain. For basil Read On »

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Donna and I arrived in New York last Tuesday to begin setting up our city outpost in the West Village, and we were struck anew by the extraordinary dining scene there. I plotted three very different theatrical performances, and they parallel the dynamism and diversity of the traditional, quirky, experimental food of NYC. I wonder if these traits cause coincidences. Last year I had a surprise encounter with my news mentor, Arthur Gelb, returning me to the Times, formative if unhappy years. This year we arrived in Times Square to have a pre-show cocktail at Sardi’s. We hadn’t been there a few minutes, and I don’t know what we’d said other than placing an order for a wine and a martini, but we’d struck up a conversation with a woman seated catty-corner to us. She said, “You Read On »

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Learn more about the food trucks rolling around the streets of Detroit, Hour Detroit.

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Returned from one full week in Charleston feeling as never before what an exciting food town it has become. While I was there to film more Le Creuset demos at their new headquarters with Taste Five Media, as part of the fun I got to explore the town some more. By chance the Spoleto festival was underway and my dear mum was in town with friends. She’d booked a table at Cypress where Craig Deihl continues to serve house-cured salumi that is second to none in the country that I’ve tasted. My favorite was the Braunschweiger, smoked liverwurst. Most interesting charcuterie note was that for his emulsified sausages, such as the mortadella on the left, he grinds the meat five times rather than using a powerful chopper called a Buffalo chopper. Charleston is one of Read On »

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