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Relais & Châteaux’s Inaugural GourmetFest

Relais & Châteaux’s Inaugural GourmetFest
Brian Canlis

It’s one thing to travel around the world to taste Michelin-starred chefs’ brilliant creations. It’s another entirely to have many of them all in one place ready to serve you. In honor of Relais & Châteaux’s 60th anniversary, the collection of fine hotels and restaurants will kick off a yearlong celebration with the inaugural GourmetFest (March 27–30)—a four-day wine-and-food festival in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, hosted at the hotel L’Auberge Carmel.

The fine-dining affair spotlights 15 curated events. Winemakers from the likes of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Krug, Weingut Dönnhoff and Weingut Künstler hold wine and Champagne tastings. Chefs host demonstrations and talks, such as a primer on caviar. A wild mushroom hunt takes guests across 20,000 acres of the Santa Lucia Preserve.

But the highlight, of course, is a number of gourmet meals prepared by some of the world’s best chefs, like Michael Tusk (Quince, San Francisco), Michael White (Altamarea Group, New York), Barbara Lynch (Menton, Boston), Christopher Kostow (the Restaurant at Meadowood, Napa Valley) and Jean-Michel Lorain (La Côte Saint Jacques, France).

“This is about a quality and unique experience for food lovers,” says David Fink, founder of GourmetFest and owner of L’Auberge Carmel. “It would be impossible to have this level of Relais & Châteaux chefs in one place with the incredible wine estates in attendance and many of the owners and winemakers present. [It is] a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Tickets start at $160; 831-622-5907; gourmetfestcarmel.com.

Ladurée Opens a SoHo Tea Salon

Ladurée Opens a SoHo Tea Salon
Courtesy of Ladurée

Sweets lovers, rejoice! Famed French macaron purveyor Ladurée has officially opened its long-awaited tea salon in New York’s SoHo. The new venue—encompassing a retail bakery, a tearoom, a garden and a full-service restaurant (serving breakfast, lunch and dinner) with two dining rooms—sets a sumptuous scene, featuring details like pastel china, marble, blue velvet banquettes and a frescoed ceiling.

“Our Madison store was like a jewel box,” says Ladurée USA president Elisabeth Holder of the first New York boutique, located on the Upper East Side (864 Madison Ave.; 646-558-3157). “The new tea salon is a trip to Paris in the 18th, 19th century, inspired by our muses like [interior designer] Madeleine Castaing and [mistress of Louis XV] Madame de Pompadour.”

The menu touches on classic French dishes (lamb gigot, foie gras, vol-au-vent), savory items inspired by pastries (goat-cheese mille-feuille, truffle religieuse) and, of course, various sweet treats, including its famous rose-flavored Ispahan cake and macarons.

“We provide the Ladurée dream, which consists of the French art de vivre in every detail,” says Holder, “from food to decor.” 398 W. Broadway; 646-392-7862 (boutique), 646-392-7868 (restaurant); laduree.com.

Three Must-Try Ramen Restaurants

Three Must-Try Ramen Restaurants
Courtesy of Ippudo

Perfect ramen is well worth the wait, proven by the lines of hungry New Yorkers who frequently stand by for an hour or more for springy, chewy noodles nestled in rich broth. The three restaurants below are at their soul-satisfying best during the cold winter months—pick up your chopsticks and get ready to slurp.

Ippudo
Upscale Ippudo is an import from Japan with an original East Village outpost (65 Fourth Ave.; 212-388-0088) and a second midtown location (321 W. 51st St.; 212-974-2500). Go early—possibly a couple of hours before you actually want to eat. (The restaurant will text you when a seat is vacant.) The minimal dining room has an open kitchen and a helpful staff that will walk you through the menu. Best known for the Japanese-style tonkotsu pork broth (pictured above), Ippudo serves up rich, intensely satisfying bowls with thin, straight noodles made in-house. ippudony.com.

Totto Ramen
A line of Japanese expats often forms before Totto Ramen (366 W. 52nd St.; 212-582-0052) even opens its doors. Write your name on the clipboard outside and join the queue or venture a few more blocks to its second location (464 W. 51st St.; 646-596-9056), which has more seating and shorter waits. Here the popular paitan ramen gets its intense flavor from a rich yet light chicken stock that cooks for hours. The noodles are spot on. Our paitan topped with chicken, kikurage mushrooms and bamboo shoots made an ideal Saturday lunch. tottoramen.com.

Yuji Ramen
The mezzanine level of the Whole Foods Market Bowery is the unlikely home of one of New York’s most exciting bowls of ramen. After sparking long lines at Smorgasburg (a massive food market held in various Brooklyn locations), Yuji Haraguchi found a home for his popular mazemen—a newer style of ramen made without broth—in the grocery store. This no-frills counter promises a flavor-packed experience. Order the mazemen with smoky bacon, a poached egg and thin ribbons of kale, stir all the ingredients together and dig in. 95 E. Houston St., 2nd fl.; 212-420-1320, ext. 281; yujiramen.com.

A Recipe for the Chinese New Year

red bean pudding
Photo by InterContinental Hong Kong - Yan Toh Heen

In celebration of the Chinese New Year, which began on January 31, the InterContinental Hong Kong’s Michelin-starred restaurant Yan Toh Heen (18 Salisbury Rd.; 85-2/2313-2323; ihg.com) is offering an authentic way to experience the holiday. As a follow-up to the special New Year meal Yan Toh Heen hosted in-house, the restaurant offered a selection of homemade desserts, led by pudding with red beans served with Japanese brown-sugar syrup. Common year-round in China, the pudding is particularly popular during New Year festivities.

Thanks to chef Lau Yiu Fai, adventurous cooks can attempt to recreate the seasonal dish at home using his traditional recipe. (Ingredients can be found in most Asian grocery stores.)

New Year Pudding with Red Beans
makes 2 puddings

26.5 oz (about 5.5 cups) glutinous rice flour
8.5 oz (about 1.75 cups) yam flour
20 oz (2.5 cups) coconut milk
8 tsp peanut oil
25 oz (a bit over 3 cups) water
10.5 oz black cane sugar
19 oz yellow cane sugar
8.5 oz (about 2 cups) cooked red beans

Mix the glutinous rice flour, yam flour, coconut milk and peanut oil in a bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the black and yellow cane sugars and stir until the sugars are completely dissolved. Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and add in the cooked red beans. Mix thoroughly. Lightly grease 2 equally sized pans and divide the mixture evenly between them. (If using aluminum-foil pound-cake containers, do not fill them to the top with the mixture as the pudding may not cook through completely.) Cover the pans and place on a rack over a pot of boiling water or in a steamer. Steam for 80 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares. Serve.

A Vegan Supper Series in L.A.

A Vegan Supper Series in L.A.
Courtesy of Crossroads

Crossroads, a fine-dining vegan hotspot in Los Angeles, is adding something new to its menu this winter. On December 15, chef/co-owner Tal Ronnen kicked off a new Sunday Supper series (5–10 P.M.; $80, $110 with wine pairings), which will run every week in collaboration with a range of visiting chefs.

“I started missing other foods that I used to cook,” says Ronnen of the inspiration behind the dinners. “The series allows me to deviate from our traditional Mediterranean menu.”

Each prix fixe is themed according to the guest chef’s expertise. Celebrity chef Art Smith’s inaugural southern-style tasting menu featured highlights like sweet-potato biscuits with maple butter and ricotta fried green tomatoes. Other notable chefs will include Theo Schoenegger of Sinatra (located in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas) and his classic Italian fare (February 16); Adam Fleischman of Umami Burger (February 23); and Ricardo Zarate (of Paiche, Picca and Mo-Chica in California), who will offer a Japanese-Peruvian–inspired spread (March 2).

And while the series will add diversity to the touted contemporary seasonal cuisine at Crossroads, it won’t abandon the eatery’s vegan ethos. “It gives people a chance to try plant-based dishes from a professional or highly respected chef or restaurateur who is not recognized for cooking this way,” says Ronnen. “It is a one-of-a-kind experience.” 8284 Melrose Ave.; 323-782-9245; crossroadskitchen.com.

The Recipe: Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Chocolate Cake

The Recipe: Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Chocolate Cake
Relais & Châteaux

While there’s nothing finer than an exquisite dessert at a first-class restaurant, there’s something even sweeter about making what a chef might whip up for themselves at home. Chefs at Home Desserts ($30; 877-334-6464), the newest cookbook by Relais & Châteaux, gives you the chance, offering 73 favorite recipes from some of the world’s most prestigious culinary geniuses, including Michael White, of Marea in New York; Michael Tusk, of Quince in San Francisco; and Normand Laprise, of Toqué! in Montreal.

Here, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten shares the method behind his famous chocolate cake. “This recipe was the result of what I thought was a catering disaster,” he writes in the book. “I was serving warm chocolate cake to guests at a party, but when I saw them taking their first bites, I realized that all the cakes had been undercooked. It was the best mistake I ever made.”

Chocolate Cake by Jean-Georges
Serves 4

½ cup butter, plus some for buttering molds
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp flour, plus more for dusting

1. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. While that’s heating, beat together the eggs, yolks and sugar with a whisk or electric beater until light and thick.

2. Beat together the melted chocolate and butter; it should be quite warm. Pour in the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined.

3. Butter and lightly flour four 4-oz molds, custard cups or ramekins. Tap out the excess flour, then butter and flour them again. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat, for up to several hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking.)

4. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Bake the molds on a tray for 6 to 7 minutes. The centers will still be quite soft, but the sides will be set. Invert each mold onto a plate and let them sit for about 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately with a smear of chocolate sauce, chocolate crumbs and vanilla-bean ice cream.

Dinners Par les Femmes in Paris

Dinners Par les Femmes in Paris
Jeanne Detallante & Twice

The peripatetic food and music festival Le Fooding, known for pop-up events in cities like New York and Los Angeles, is in Paris for its latest offering: Le Clan des Madones (November 15–17; lefooding.com)—a three-night dinner series in a repurposed parking garage celebrating the country’s female chefs, sommeliers and winemakers.

Two seatings each night (7 P.M. and 10 P.M.) will offer three courses, each prepared by a different cook. Camille Fourmont, of the beloved Parisian eatery La Buvette (67 Rue Saint-Maur; 33-9/83-56-94-11), will prepare canapés; sommelier Laura Vidal will oversee a course-by-course pairing of wines by Catherine Breton of Domaine Breton. Other participants span a range of restaurant styles and food, including Adeline Grattard of French-Chinese eatery Yam’Tcha (4 Rue Sauval; 33-1/40-26-08-07; yamtcha.com); Federica Mancioppi, of Italian restaurant Caffé dei Cioppi (159 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine; 33-1/43-46-10-14); and Anna Trattles, of the coffee shop Ten Belles (10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles; 33-1/42-40-90-78).

“Restaurant cuisine has for a long time been dictated by guys,” says Le Fooding founder Alexandre Cammas. “The women that we selected are all courageous, talented and even pioneers in a certain way.

If you want more, Le Fooding Guide 2014, the organization’s 13th annual collection of restaurant reviews (complete with art by top illustrators) just debuted. (A supplement featuring chic hotels, from Bordeaux to Corsica, is included.) And Lefooding.com, an excellent resource for restaurant inspiration in Paris and throughout France, should be fully translated into English by the new year.

Holiday Dining with the World's Best Chefs

201311-dd-meadowood-12-days-of-christmas-sign.jpg.jpeg
Courtesy of Meadowood

The world’s best restaurants have spectacular holiday dining down pat, but the dinner event Twelve Days of Christmas at Meadowood Napa Valley (December 6–7, 10–14 and 17–21) steals the show. In its sixth year under Christopher Kostow, chef at the resort’s Michelin three-star restaurant, the series partners with 11 notable chefs to create 12 meals that span as many days and are matched with wines from (you guessed it) 12 vintners.

“Initially the chefs I invited would provide me with the dishes they wanted to serve and I would cook their menu with them,” explains Kostow. “Now they send me some of the dishes and I come up with other ones on my own to complement them.”

Participants this year include Rodolfo Guzmán from Boragó (Santiago, Chile); Ashley Christensen from Poole’s Downtown Diner (Raleigh, North Carolina); and David Chang of Momofuku (New York). Each meal features between seven and 12 courses, and this year’s festivities kick off at the Relais & Châteaux property with dishes prepared by Kostow and Andy Ricker, of the popular Thai eatery Pok Pok in New York and Portland, Oregon. (Exact menu details are being finalized, but we hear Kostow will prepare a Thai-inspired catfish dish.) The wines for the evening will come from the local Grgich Hills Estate; the winemakers themselves will attend.

While food is the undisputed star of the event, philanthropy also plays a role. Since beginning in 2008, the dinners have raised more than $230,000 for Share Our Strength to help fight childhood hunger in America. This year Meadowood is giving back locally by donating $2,000 in honor of each participating chef and 20 percent of every dinner ticket sold to the Holly Cranston Foundation (hollycranstonmemorialfund.org), which helps children with disabilities, and Napa Emergency Women’s Services (napanews.org), which gives shelter to women dealing with domestic violence. Dinner tickets start at $395; dinner and overnight packages are available from $1,315; 900 Meadowood Ln.; 855-953-2435; reservations@meadowood.com; meadowood.com.

A Hotel in Spain Celebrates Truffle Season

A Hotel in Spain Celebrates Truffle Season
Courtesy of Hotel Arts

Few ingredients garner the celebrity status that truffles enjoy. The homely fungi with the sky-high price tag is beloved year-round, but particularly in the fall. In a nod to the season, Michelin two-star restaurant Enoteca at Hotel Arts Barcelona will serve two exclusive white-truffle tasting menus—seven courses ($260) and six courses ($220)—beginning November 1.

Enoteca’s chef Paco Pérez has big plans for the truffles, which are dug up in the Piemonte region of northern Italy and revered for their particularly earthy flavor. (The chosen few cost roughly $5,000 a pound.)

“White truffle is a unique product highly respected and appreciated by all chefs,” says executive chef Roberto Holz. “The secret lies in its unforgettable fragrance and flavor, combined with the fact that it can be introduced in the menu from appetizer to dessert.”

Pérez’s signature risotto pairs the white truffle with the ou de reig (or Caesar’s mushroom), which hails from Catalonia. Other dishes include sweet-potato gnocchi with shrimp; a low-cooked egg with Iberian ham parmentier and sea urchin; forest consummé; and Wagyu beef with sauce, mushrooms and potatoes—all incorporating truffles. Sommelier Albert Escofet and his team can match wines from the restaurant’s cellar with the menu.

How best to enjoy the bounty? Holz suggests taking it slow. Somehow we don’t think that will be a problem. Through November 28; Marina 19–21; 34-93/483-8108; hotelartsbarcelona.com.

Food Photography for the Ages

Food Photography for the Ages
Courtesy of Juergen Teller

“I think I may have overdosed on the hotel,” joked Juergen Teller at a recent banquet in New York announcing the release of the lavish new cookbook Eating at Hotel Il Pellicano (Violette Editions; $60). The photographer, best known for his portrait and fashion work, indeed spent a lot of time at the fabled Tuscan retreat (one of the world’s most glorious seaside resorts), turning his lens to a new subject: food.

Over the course of three years, Teller returned repeatedly to the property to shoot and reshoot dish after dish, transforming chef Antonio Guida’s modern, seasonal fare (which has earned him two Michelin stars) into stunning food porn. The chef’s work—with its bright primary colors, iridescent sauces and frequently scattered flowers—lends itself well to the photographer’s raw sensibility, translating seamlessly to the book’s oversized glossy pages.

More art book for ogling than practical volume for cooking, Eating at Hotel Il Pellicano also features wonderfully purple prose by British novelist Will Self. “At Il Pellicano,” he writes in his introduction, “the past and the present are adjacent plots in a garden of gentle topiary and sweet smelling lemon trees.”

The recipes are divided into thematic menus, each dedicated to a loyal and prominent guest. The Missoni menu, for fashion heiress Margherita, features saffron risotto topped with tuna tartare and suckling pig paired with Campari-soaked beets. Mike Mills of the band R.E.M., who vacations at Il Pellicano with his friend Mario Batali, has his own entry, too, featuring squab breast with foie gras and polenta and a Strawberry Fields Forever dessert of berries, tomatoes and yogurt ice cream. Available for pre-order at amazon.com; violetteeditions.com.

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