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Our favorite products, gadgets, restaurants, bars, wine, beer, and food websites and blogs.

Oversaturated SF Pizza Scene Gets Brash Newcomer

Anthony Mangieri attained cult status in New York for the pies at his Una Pizza Napoletana: thin crust, not too many ingredients, very simple dough recipe, quick cooking time in the wood-fired oven. CHOW even did a video about him. He surprised everybody by leaving town at the height of his fame, revealing plans to reopen in San Francisco. Now that day has finally come. READ MORE

Pairing Beer and Pastries

Beer during the dessert course? Maybe so. I recently attended an unusual beer-and-pastry pairing event, put on by folks from San Francisco's Thorough Bread bakery, and the San Francisco Baking Institute. You don't often think about pairing beer with sweet pastry, so I was curious to see if there were any surprises or things to learn. With the exception of the first course, each dish was paired with two beers, but one of the beers would be poured again with the following dish. The idea was that you got to try each beer with two foods, too.

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Hunting For Secret Ovens

Eric and Bruce Bromberg, the brothers behind New York restaurant Blue Ribbon Brasserie and its various spin offs, were in town last week promoting the launch of their new cookbook Bromberg Bros. Blue Ribbon Cookbook. They served some of their greatest hits, including “Northern fried chicken” with matzoh coating and bone marrow with oxtail marmalade, at a party at the Stanford Court Renaissance Hotel on Nob Hill. An interesting moment in the party came when the Brombergs led a tour down to the basement of the hotel. READ MORE

Jerk Your Meat to Win

If you weren't already aware of our burgeoning national jerky craze, the Minneapolis-based restaurant Hell's Kitchen is ratcheting things up a notch by holding an event that it's proclaiming the first annual Jerky Competition on April 5.

Via the press release: "Pros as well as amateurs can enter, with a Grand Prize of $300 cash plus a chance for national recognition. Any type of homemade jerky is welcome, from traditional beef strips to Northwoods venison as well as outlandish varieties such as chocolate-dipped or peanut butter laced."

The Hell's Kitchen contest comes on the heels of the El Dorado, Arkansas, Homemade Jerky Contest, and, of course, Wisconsin's Great Northern Jerk-Off.

Details of the Hell's Kitchen event are available online. Inspired to make your own? Here's DIY jerky.

Partying with Donald Link

Donald Link is one of New Orleans' best chefs, known for his down-home Cajun cuisine at Cochon and his Frenchified Southern food at Herbsaint. His most recent project, the Cochon Butcher shop, is a holy trinity of deli, sWINE bar (that's a pork-focused wine bar), and butcher counter, where Link is serving muffulettas and Cuban sandwiches and selling fresh cuts of meat as well as house-cured salumi. At the bar, you can get a glass of wine and bar snacks such as wings with sweet potato hot sauce and pimento cheese sliders.

Chef Link designed a Mardi Gras menu for us (spiced candied nuts, boudin balls, chile-roasted shrimp, artichokes and pickled shrimp, meat pies, and a satsuma Mojito—delicious!). We caught up with him to discuss how the holiday is really done.

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Michelin Finally Reviews Cheap(er) NY Eats

The 2010 Michelin Guide for NYC was released yesterday, and commenters in the blog world went crazy over the usual stuff: Who lost a star (Del Posto), what unlikely candidates got one (Rhong-Tiam), and so on. “This reads like the list a guy who lived in NY back in the 80s and occasionally reads New York or visits friends in the city on a weekend might write!” ranted one Eater reader.

But, so far, little has been made of the fact that this year’s Michelin looks at cheaper eats, too. It has an expanded Bib Gourmand category, which lists restaurants where you can get two dishes and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (some of my favorite Brooklyn haunts like Marlow & Sons and Prime Meats made the cut), and has an added, even cheaper list featuring 109 restaurants doing $25-and-under meals that Michelins’ inspectors deem worthy.

The guide still feels a little behind the curve. This year it also notes if restaurants has good cocktail programs, but doesn’t have a similar system for rating beer programs. And it has a special “small plates” category, which just feels very 2006. So by that measure, honest-to-goodness “I just got laid off”–style budget options can’t be far behind. I’m expecting next year’s version to contain an ultra-dated-already haute street food section.

Vendys Judge New York Street Eats

New-school faced off against old-school at this year’s hotly anticipated Vendys, also known as the New York street-food-vendor wars. For the first time, they had a dessert category. See all the action in our photo gallery.

Vietnamese Mile High Club

Anyone who’s flown Virgin America knows it’s cool: the purple cabin lights, the cartoon in-flight safety video—they even pipe world music into the bathroom.

And so on a recent flight back from New York, I wasn’t too surprised to see that they’re also on top of food trends, as they’re now serving a banh mi sandwich. Unfortunately, by the time the flight attendants had gotten to 23F, they had run out, but here is the description from VA’s press release:

Banh mi flat iron beef sandwich: A traditional street-vended Vietnamese sandwich made of grilled Asian marinated sliced flat iron steak with shaved cucumber, green leaf lettuce, baby frisée, fresh sprigs of cilantro and topped with a Vietnamese slaw of julienne carrots, daikon radish and red onion. Asian ginger dressing served on the side.

One element they can’t be getting right is the just-toasted, crispy French-bread roll, and there’s no listing of hot peppers. But daikon, cilantro, julienned carrots—it sounds like someone has seriously upped the ante on airplane meals.

Has anyone tried one yet?

Trend-O-Meter Says: Sauerkraut Is In (9/23/09)

Home fermentation has officially blown up, with sauerkraut taking center stage as the garnish-du-jour in hip homes and restaurants. Spotted: as a side at popular Brooklyn barbecue joint Fette Sau; at a sold-out sauerkraut-making class taught earlier this month by Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder at Machine Project in Echo Park, Los Angeles; housemade and served in choucroute garni at farmstead-chic Prime Meats restaurant in Brooklyn; and in a written homage included in the last issue of Diner Journal (article not online), the ’zine put out by Brooklyn restaurant Marlow & Sons.

You can make your own sauerkraut with CHOW, or (if you live in NYC) attend a fermentation class on October 3 in the Village.

Ice Cream Mash-Ups

On his blog Fancy Fast Food, Brooklynite Erik R. Trinidad has made farfalle out of a Subway sandwich (see video below) and an Alfred Portale-esque tower called Le Chicken McConfit from Chicken McNuggets. So when I saw on the blog Midtown Lunch that he’d be creating something from a Mister Softee truck last night, I showed up to see him in action.

Trinidad only uses items sold at the fast food restaurant he’s featuring to make his fancy dishes, with one exception: “I can add a garnish,” he says. In this case, it was a sprig of organic mint adorning the top of chocolate Mister Softee ice cream that had been vigorously mixed with chocolate sauce, and topped with whipped cream to make “chocolate mousse.”

The Mister Softee truck hosting Trinidad was itself a renegade fast-food mash-up machine. Chrissy, aka Miss Softee, offers daily special toppings not on the usual menu, like the Twinkie Crash, made with baco bits and chocolate crumbles, and potato chip chocolate dip. She got into being a Mister Softee driver because people are “always happy” when they’re ordering ice cream. In her off hours she’s writing a Choose Your Own Adventure–type book. Follow her whereabouts on Twitter as summer winds down.