Burns My Bacon: Cheflebrity Pseudo-Locavorism

There are plenty of controversies in the food world, but one thing pretty much everyone agrees on (except maybe Sarah Palin), is that the proliferation of local and seasonal ingredients on restaurant menus is a good thing. Even if you don’t care about counting carbon miles, it’s hard to deny that vegetables grown nearby and eaten in the correct season just taste better. Even if you love McDonald’s, it’s difficult to not be at least a little grossed out by factory-farmed meat. So every foodie should be excited that the farm-to-table ethos has expanded from homey, reclaimed-wood-paneled spots in places like Brooklyn and Portland to restaurants run by some of the nation’s most celebrated chefs. Right?

Maybe not.

I recently ate at ABC Kitchen, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s vegetable-centric, farm-to-table restaurant in Manhattan. Now when I say farm-to-table, I mean outrageously, over-the-top, down-to-the-tiniest detail farm-to-table. There is the requisite rooftop garden growing the eatery’s herbs, and everything down to the soy-based candles is organic. The tables themselves are made from salvaged northeastern woods. Decor consists of discarded tree branches and photos from local artists who understand how to put a bird on it. The menu has two sides: the first lists the dishes, while the flipside relates where every single ingredient is from. And we’re not just talking about sourcing the fish and the tomatoes. Literally every ingredient is accounted for. Thinking about ordering the pretzel-dusted calamari but need to know which artisan pretzel establishment makes the pretzels that generate the dust? They’ve got you covered.

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Cocktail O’Clock: The Ultimate Latte

See that cuppa in the picture? Ordinary, right? Wrong.

That’s a kicked-up latte with, hello . . . bourbon and butterscotch. Yes, if you’ve been paying attention, that’s the same post-dinner beverage offered at JG Domestic in Philly. This drink kinda brought it home for me, especially since it’s not often — okay, never have I shared a latte with 8 people. Yes, we all could have ordered our own but after a full dinner of plate after plate of food; sips were good for the time being. The operative phrase there is “time being.” So like any good recipe-jacking food-a-phile, I made a few notes to replicate the latte at home. The challenge was: could I make it as good without a fancy machine?

Guess what? It’s damn good and pretty damn close to what you will find at Jose Garces’ restaurant. The foam, which I thought would be most challenging, was not at all. So here you have it. I even included step-by-step pictures, so really you have no reason not to try this.

Bourbon Butterscotch Latte

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The Endless Road Trip — Philadelphia’s Top 10 Eats 4. Duck in a Pot

On the second night of our Philadelphia adventure, the intrepid ES crew was treated to a feast at JG Domestic, Iron Chef Jose Garces’ farm-to-table restaurant anchored in the bottom of Cira Center. Supposedly a small plate, made-to-share type of joint, we found that most of JG’s offerings were fairly large and satisfying… not that it didn’t stop us from trying almost everything on the menu!

But… BUT…

There is one item that stands above the rest. I’m not even saying it outshines everything at JG Domestic, I’m saying it outshines almost any meat-based appetizer I have ever eaten. And trust me, there have been a bounty of them in my years as an insatiable epicure.

Allow me to introduce you to the Hudson Valley Potted Duck with foie gras mousse and orange gelée, served with cornichons and crostini.

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