EAT HERE NOW – NEW ORLEANS 2014

A Local’s Guide to Where to Eat in New Orleans 2014
By Abigail Gullo

New Orleans narrow alley slightly larger

Welcome back, my Tales brothers and sisters! Did you survive last year? Good. How will you survive this year? By filling up on some of that good New Orleans cuisine. And guess what? Most of these places have very fine cocktails as well so you don’t have to stop the Tales of the Cocktail party!

I don’t know if you have heard, but New Orleans is the food capital of the world; and has been for some time, if you ask anyone from here. They’ll tell you that this is the last holdout of truly unique regional American cuisine. They’ll tell you there is nothing more American the melting pot of culture that you have in Cajun and Creole cuisine. And there isn’t. What there is is a host of places that have opened up since I gave you some solid advice last year. And there are new old places I have discovered and fell in love with here in my third year as a Nola resident. So here is a rundown of some of my favorites:

People asked me if I missed the Chinese food of NYC when I moved down here. How could I when there is such amazing Vietnamese food available here?! It’s no wonder since New Orleans and the surrounding areas have the highest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam. Since the 1970’s they have merged their culture into the continuing flux of cuisine here in NOLA and most of the best places can be found on the West Bank across the river, including the mind-bending Hong Kong Market (www.hongkongmarketnola.com). If you have a friend with a car, get them to take you here – it is a warehouse full of groceries, snacks and drinks that you would have trouble finding outside of Asia otherwise. I get my supply of Lady Slimming Beauty Tea here too. Yup. It’s all there in the name, folks. The market also has a noodle house, a sandwich shop and bubble tea so you can shop and fill your belly with a tasty Banh Mi or “Vietnamese Po Boy.”

You don’t have to wander far to get a taste of the authentic Vietnamese food New Orleans has to offer. Crasian is a new place that opened on Canal Street just a short walk away from the Hotel Monteleone (www.hotelmonteleone.com). It has some of the biggest Garden Rolls I have ever seen! They also have a nice selection of frozen bubble tea that will be perfect on a hot day. Remember, pouring some sample booze from Tales into your bubble tea to go is perfectly legal here in New Orleans. Personally I am looking forward to trying the Jasmine Green tea with some Tanqueray Old Tom Gin. Or any one with Mezcal… Seriously….any one.

Speaking of boozy Bubble Teas, Mopho (www.mophonola.com) up by City Park does a handsome business in modern Vietnamese food with a Nola twist and even has some booze filled Bubble teas on the menu. The Guns and Roses, with strawberry and Mezcal is my favorite, but there is nothing like a good Piña Colada and the Beachbum, served with either Flor de Cana or a spiced rum, is amazing. Also, the chicken wings there will change your life.

You should rent some bikes and do a chicken wing tour. Bike up my favorite street, Esplanade Ave until you hit City Park. Get some wings and cool drinks at Mopho and then bike down Orleans to Willie Mae’s Scotch House (www.zagat.com/r/willie-maes-scotch-house-new-orleans) for the world’s greatest fried chicken. Seriously. They hold the title, and for good reason; the chicken is Read the full article here »

PPX – Nicholas Maracz, GM, The Palm Restaurant

Iconic NY Restaurant’s Secrets To Success Uncovered
By Richard Crawford

The Palm Nick Maracz longer shot

For tourist and native alike, New York City offers more choice, diversity and style of cuisine than any other city in the world. It’s a utopia of sensory experience for the millions of diners who visit and frequent the thousands of eating establishments located on every street and avenue. From fine dining to the street cart vendor, choices are abundant, but ask any proprietor of an eatery, bistro, café, diner or restaurant will tell you it is no easy task keeping the lights on and the doors open.

Ultimately there are significantly more failures than successes in the NYC restaurant business. There are countless pitfalls and sometimes even the most minor infringement can be the kiss of death to a restaurant whose very foundation encompasses the heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears of its owner.

When you realize the odds against the success of a restaurant in New York City, it imparts a greater appreciation for some of the more iconic establishments that have weathered everything that the city has thrown at it, and the original Palm Restaurant is a prime example.

Established in 1926 and still operating in its original location at 837 2nd Avenue, New York, The Palm lays claim to a success and longevity that is unprecedented, especially in the playing field of fine dining which typically holds higher standards and expectations. The original Palm is an establishment that is so successful it now boasts 28 other locations throughout the country, as well as an additional couple of international locales.

One of the more fascinating facts about the original Palm is that despite the transient nature of the restaurant industry The Palm has had only seven General Managers since it opened in 1926. That is a pretty impressive 88 year run and it wasn’t until the 1960s that Read the full article here »

ANATOMY OF A DRINK MENU

By Effie Panagopoulos

Photo courtesy of Avua Cachaça

Photo courtesy of Avua Cachaça

*****This story sat in the INSIDE F&B vault for four years, waiting for just the right moment to see the light of day. That day is now; and once we dusted it off and took another look at it we discovered it was just as fresh and relevant today as it was back then when it was written. Of course some things have changed; Gianfranco Verga is no longer the Beverage Director at Louis 649, and the Louis 649 TNT program is currently on hiatus as it undergoes a refresh, but despite these minor things that happened as time marches on it is interesting to see that some things never change.

Read it for yourself. And then attend a seminar at Tales (www.talesofthecocktail.com) like “The Art & Science of Cocktail Menus” (www.talesofthecocktail.com/events/art-science-cocktail-menus/) or “For Profit Consumer Education? Yes!” (www.talesofthecocktail.com/events/profit-consumer-education-yes/) and see what positive changes you can make happen in your bar, all because of a finely tuned menu…

Tuesday nights have become the new industry night, spurred by almost a year full of consecutive Tuesday Night Tastings at East Village cocktail bar, Louis 649 (www.louis649.com). Pioneered by Gianfranco Verga, Beverage Director at Louis 649, and going almost a year strong every Tuesday, the TNT’s like their eponymous song, and Good Times’ Jimmy Walker –are pretty darn dyno-mite. Every week offers the chance to try a wine or spirit you’ve never tasted; learn something new about a spirit you may always drink yet never knew anything about, or like on this chance evening, get to meet a leader in the industry and find out what makes him tick. What started as a weekly gathering of an industry-only crowd, has refreshingly become an ever-changing group of imbibing enthusiasts– a feat in and of itself.

A few Tuesdays back, I rushed over to get to my 7:00 feeding, for what I assumed would be an intimate presentation by one of New York’s preeminent poster boys for all things cocktail, Jim Meehan. But “rushing” in Greek-people-time means I got there at 7:05 (5 minutes late), and to my dismay Louis was already packed to the gills for their TNT (Tuesday Night Tastings). Well, Jim was only voted American Bartender of the Year last year, and it was only fitting that the cocktail community and common folk alike came out in droves to hear the secret workings of the mastermind behind the cocktail program at neighboring watering hole, PDT www.pdtnyc.com. You could taste the anticipation in the air as Jim, and his apprentice for the evening, Pernod Ricard’s (www.pernod-ricard.com)Jamie Gordon, were scurrying about to get the amuse-bouche drink to the thirsty, ornery crowd. Jim brushes past me and I am quickly reminded why I and the roomful of people like this guy so much. Tray of drinks in hand, he smiles a quick hello to me along with everyone in a 3 foot radius. You’d never know there was an ounce of stress in his body, as he acknowledges us with the warmth and grace of Mr. Rogers welcoming you to Read the full article here »

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL® ANNOUNCES TOP FOUR FINALISTS FOR THE 8TH ANNUAL SPIRITED AWARDS®

Tales of the Cocktail 2014 Logo with New Orleans

Coming to you from a webcam in an apartment in NYC Simon Ford and Jacob Briars initiated the inaugural broadcast of the top four finalists in each category of the 2014 Spirited Awards. As Ford notes, “Millions tune in for the Oscars, and we are going the same route for bars. There are more bartenders than actors [out there].”

And speaking of more…Briars explains, “This was the biggest and most comprehensive Tales Awards nominations pool ever.” With over 2,000 individual nominations and over 50 countries being represented with at least one nominee, the 135 judges were hard pressed to whittle it down to a list of four per category. Let’s see who we’ll be cheering on Saturday night at Tales during the Black and White themed 8th Annual Spirited Awards® show (although you know you’re all winners).

AMERICAN CATEGORIES:
American Bartender of the Year
• Jeff Bell (New York)
• Marcovaldo Dionysos (San Francisco)
• Bobby Heugel (Houston)
• Sean Kenyon (Denver)

Best American Brand Ambassador
• Brooke Arthur (House Spirits)
• Chris Patino (Pernod Ricard USA Portfolio)
• Neyah White (Suntory Japanese Whiskies)
• Angus Winchester (Tanqueray Gin)

Best American Cocktail Bar
• canon (Seattle)
• The Dead Rabbit (New York)
• Smuggler’s Cove (San Francisco)
• Williams & Graham (Denver)

Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar
• Employees Only (New York)
• Honeycut (Los Angeles)
• Polite Provisions (San Diego)
• Trick Dog (San Francisco)

Best American Restaurant Bar
• Clyde Common (Portland)
• Gramercy Tavern (New York)
• The NoMad (New York)
• nopa (San Francisco)

Best American Hotel Bar
• Clyde Common (Portland)
• The Hawthorne (Boston)
• Sable Kitchen & Bar (Chicago)
• The Spare Room (Los Angeles) Read the full article here »

GAZ GOES BALD WITH BARTENDER SUPPORT FOR CLEAN WATER

Regan’s “Just One Shift” Fundraiser – From May 12-18 – Will Builds Wells That Provide Clean Water

JustOneShiftbarbluebird

It all kicked off this year on 5/12 behind the bar at the World’s Best Bar – The Dead Rabbit (www.deadrabbitnyc.com) – where legendary finger-stirring bartender, Gaz Regan, took up a shift and donated his tips to the charity Wine to Water, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Doc Hendley, ex-bartender and CNN Hero from North Carolina (www.winetowater.org).

This is the second year that Regan has implored fellow bartenders to take part in the annual JustOneShift (www.justoneshift.com), a week-long push to raise funds for WineToWater, which builds wells that provide clean water to underserved regions. Today, nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean water, and every 20 seconds a child dies for this reason.

gaz regan, the bartender previously known as Gary Regan, is pleased to announce the return of Just One Shift, which plans to raise $100,000 for charity in a one-week time period by inviting bartenders worldwide to donate all or part of their tips from just one shift.

The first step to joining forces with some of the country’s finest individuals is for bartenders to sign up on the Just One Shift site which will maintain a running list of participating bars sorted by state, as well as a calendar of shifts. At the end of the given shift, the bartender will personally make the donation online. If unable to attend any of the listed shifts, anyone may make a donation online.

In 2013, its inaugural year, 327 bartenders in 34 countries participated, raising $40,000. The charity reports this amount can save 40,000 people from death due to water-borne illness for a full year. Specifically in Uganda, $40,000 can provide 10,000 people with clean water for 10 years.

gaz, who has a network of over 20,000 social media followers, says, “Bartenders can change the world and last year’s success has proved it. If we meet this year’s goal I will shave my head.”

For more information, please visit www.justoneshift.com and www.facebook.com/gaz-regan; @gazregan will also tweet; refer to the hashtag #justoneshift.

Now get out and drink. And tip.

JustOneShifttipslip

ODD JOB

By Danilo “Dacha” Bozović

Danilo Bozovic Odd Job cocktail close shot

After working behind bars, and hanging (and drinking) in others, you notice that there are liquors that sell themselves with little help required and some that just sit, waiting to be used from time to time.

In most cases, cocktails are the main agents promoting sales of any kind of drinkable ingredient- not just spirits, liqueurs, and bitters, but even juices and sodas.

Cocktails like the Moscow Mule, Cosmopolitan, Black Russian, and Harvey Wallbanger (to name a few) have increased the demand and sales of their branded main ingredients and made them staples behind most bars.  The Black Russian has done a lot for the popularity of the coffee liqueurs, in particular Kahlua. The Cosmo promoted Absolut Citron, Ocean Spray Cranberry and Cointreau. The Moscow Mule helped lead growing vodka trend in the 1950′s and also brought ginger beer to the main stage of cocktail ingredients. Likewise, the Harvey Wallbanger helped introduce Galliano, a delicious Italian liqueur with delicious herbal notes, a sweet vanilla flavor and just enough anise to play with your taste buds.

The Harvey Wallbanger, but more importantly Galliano, are the inspirations of this post about a delicious and admittedly “boozy” cocktail called “The Odd Job.”

The Odd Job is a cocktail created by my good Read the full article here »

DON’T MISS – PERFECT PUREE SAMPLERS

Perfect Puree sample size and pack

Price of limes driving you nuts? So nuts that you know that the price savings to be found in ordering a packer’s case won’t do the trick and you’re just going to re-engineer the menu a little sooner than later or raise your prices?
Well, stop pulling your hair out trying to figure out if you can pull one over on your guests by substituting lemons for limes like that sneaky Thai restaurant did to your Pad Thai on Wednesday and consider some new flavors for your drinks.

Perfect Puree has a lot to choose from, but best of all, you can give them a whirl without a lot of commitment and waste, thanks to the brand’s new sampling size, a sealed 2 oz. cups* that replaces the 3 oz sample cups that were non-sealed, not one time use and couldn’t be left behind by foodservice distributor reps because they needed them for another call.

Michele Lex, Director of Marketing and Sales Operation, explains, “We are excited to ring in 2014 with the launch of our new direct sample program for foodservice professionals! So much of what we learned last year going from city to city and talking to bartenders and chefs helped us to create this program which is really an iteration of what we have done for 25 years, deliver flavor. Now we bring it to their doorstep. We switched it up going all direct sampling and took the sampling away from the food distributor level so now you can order samples directly.”

Those direct samples, which will be shipped out every weekday but Friday, will arrive promptly, up to eight at a time. That many flavors gives chefs and bartenders a nice opportunity to play around and experiment with various recipes. Lex comments, “Now it is something a bartender or chef can play with at their leisure. They can do it with their team and have some fun with it.”

The fun begins when the order is placed, as Lex explains, “When we get a request for samples we pick up the phone and call them back and engage in that dialogue to ask “what are you doing?” so that we can really provide them with the most efficient use of the sampling program. Plus, it is a way for us to have a touch point for their thinking outside the box.”

With myriad flavors to choose from, plus two seasonal flavors to be launched in May and September now is the time to start thinking about ordering directly through www.perfectpuree.com and finding your fruit inspiration. Who knows, you and your recipes may end up featured on the Perfect Puree website.

*Zests and ginger and roasted red pepper samples, traditional commercial use flavors, come in full jars to accommodate the needs for manufacturers and bakers who require a larger sample size for test recipes.

SIMON SAYS…

Kerry Simon Says Fight MSA Event
By E.C. Gladstone

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 rock and rolling active with Bill Murray

A few days ago, Bill Murray made headlines for taking ten seconds out of his Academy Awards appearance to pay tribute to his deceased collaborator Harold Ramis. But just three nights prior, the actor spent an entire, lengthy evening February 27 clowning onstage and off as co-host of a Las Vegas fundraiser for another former collaborator, Chef Kerry Simon.

What got the relatively publicity-shy Murray involved in Simon Says Fight MSA? This was more than just a random good cause: He and Simon started their respective careers making pizzas as teenagers at a Little Caesars in Evanston, Illinois. “He was a blues guitarist, I was trying to be an actor, and we were both starving,” Murray recalled, ruminating on the joys of eating raw pizza dough. The comedian spent much of the night cracking up the audience (most of whom paid $500-1000 to attend) and gently roasting Simon, including leading everyone in a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to the chef–about four months early–and referring to him as Jerry and Barry at times.

Murray was far from the only luminary to appear at the Keep Memory Alive Event Center that evening. Chefs attending and cooking included some of the biggest in the industry: Simon’s mentor Jean-Georges Vongerichten , Daniel Boulud, Michael Mina, Charlie Palmer, and Wylie Dufresne, as well as several of the Vegas Strip’s most prominent names. On the liquid side, Francesco Lafranconi assembled a who’s-who of Vegas mixology to helm the bar, including Tony Abou-Ganim, Max Solano (Emeril’s Restaurants), David Cooper (Carnevino) and Chris Hopkins (Wynn/Encore resorts) , each of whom served original cocktails with spirits donated by SWS.”The room was full of people that have a personal, vested interest and a true love for him,” Palmer told Inside F&B afterward. “It says a lot for the kind of person Kerry is and how many lives he has affected.”

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 chef group image 2

If you’re getting the picture that this event was a bit different than the average culinary charity gala, here’s why: Simon, who owns and operates restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago and the Dominican Republic, is not only raising awareness for Multiple Systems Atrophy, a degenerative neurological disorder similar to, but more severe than, Parkinson’s Disease. He was also recently diagnosed with the condition, for which there is no established treatment or cure. His diagnosis was announced in a column by Robin Leach only about ten weeks ago. “Once that happened, there was this, crazy outpouring and overwhelming show of support,” Simon business partner Elizabeth Blau tells Inside F&B. “So many people saying they wanted to do something.”

Simon, once dubbed “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Chef” by Rolling Stone for his many connections to the music world, managed to assemble a list of performers that would rival a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame event, including Vince Neil, Alice Cooper, Slash, Sammy Hagar, Todd Rundgren, and Lisa Loeb, who performed separately and together, including a closing ensemble cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together.”
Considering that they donated their own food (according to Blau), the chefs certainly weren’t skimpy with what they served. The menu included thick-cut black-jack spiced lamb chops from MacPherson, Kona kampachi tacos in taro root shells from Rick Moonen (RM Seafood), and an incredible leek vinaigrette with carrot confit and soft poached quail egg from Boulud, among many other refined bites. Balanced, of course, by a healthy offering of Simon’s own “junk food platter” recreations, one of the many ways in which the chef helped kick off the creative comfort food trend.

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 cotton candy junk food

“This wasn’t some promotional event,” Blau emphasizes, noting the event came together in less than two months’ time. “Daniel Boulud flew in that morning and out the next [just so he could participate].”

Although Simon once defeated Cat Cora in an episode of Iron Chef America, in the era of celebrity chefs he has been a relatively low-key presence considering his pedigree, including running the Plaza Hotel’s Edwardian Room, earning four New York Times stars at the Drake Hotel, and having his first Vegas restaurant, Simon Kitchen & Bar, named one of “America’s Best New Restaurants” by Esquire in 2003.

“He’s always very generous, with his time and his knowledge,” Dufresne told Inside F&B of Simon, under whom the WD-50 chef worked at Vongerichten’s Prime. “He’s like my guardian angel.”

Kerry Simon benefit 2014 Kerry in wheelchair

Nearly $525,000 was raised during the evening, co-organized by Simon business partners Elizabeth Blau and George Maloof, including funds from silent and live auctions. An after-party at Simon Restaurant & Lounge, with Murray and many of the chefs and rockers in attendance, went into the wee hours.

Donations to Simon Says Fight MSA can be made through Keep Memory Alive at www.keepmemoryalive.org.