Culture Features Profiles SAVEUR 100’s People and Places Published Jan 13, 2010 10:00 AM Culture SHARE David Tanis I’ve never met him, but David Tanis, a chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, has inspired me nonetheless. I first read about him in an article in the November 2005 issue of SAVEUR, which was about a meal that he made in that city, where he lives for half the year. He described preparing roast pork with fennel, garlic, and herbs. The dish seemed as if it would be hard to make, but Tanis made it easy; I followed his instructions, and the results were wonderful. It gave me the confidence to keep trying new things in the kitchen. When Tanis’s cookbook A Platter of Figs (Workman, 2008) came out, I bought it right away. The book, which is really about the pleasures of making and eating meals with family and friends, has many simple and elegant recipes, and it makes me want to cook. Just as with the roasted pork, his rabbit in mustard sauce, seemed more demanding than anything I’d normally cook. I’d never thought of cooking rabbit that way, but it’s now one of my favorite dishes to make. –Elena Zovatto, Hamilton, Ontario Christopher Hirsheimer Kasma Loha-Unchit For more than 20 years, my cooking teacher, Kasma Loha-unchit, has dedicated herself to teaching Westerners about Thai food and culture. For her, it’s not enough simply to give her students new recipes and techniques. When I first took a class in her Oakland, California, kitchen, Kasma told us, “If you want to make Thai food, you should learn to eat like a Thai.” And so we tested the astringency of banana blossoms on our tongues, we ratcheted up our tolerance for searing-hot Thai chiles, and we learned to appreciate the piney fragrance of galangal. We also learned to balance the hot, salty, sour, and sweet flavors that make Thai food so delicious. Kasma’s cooking is authentic Thai home cooking. Now, in my own home, I come to the table with dishes like curried fish mousse in banana leaves and crispy duck salad with lemongrass and cashews. My friends and family say, “Wow!” –Donna Yee, Walnut Creek, California Barbara Ries Harumi Kurihara The cookbook author and television host Harumi Kurihara is as well known in Japan as Martha Stewart is here. But she’s a stranger to most Americans. That’s too bad, because her cookbooks-three have been translated into English-are fantastic. My favorite is Everyday Harumi (Conran Octopus, 2009). Many of the recipes call for only five or six ingredients, and she suggests substitutions for items you might not have on hand. Now dishes like mackerel in miso, quick-pickled cucumbers, and green beans with sesame sauce are in regular rotation at my house. Thank you, Harumi. –Christopher Michel, Brooklyn, New York Courtesy Octopus Publishing Group Anne Kearney This chef is my culinary hero. Not just because I loved Peristyle, the French-Creole restaurant in New Orleans that she used to own, until 2004. And not just because of her awards from the James Beard Foundation and other organizations. She’s my hero because she returned to her roots in Ohio, her native state. When she left New Orleans and came back to her family’s farm in the small town of Lebanon she started raising organic produce, taught at the Midwest Culinary Institute in Cincinnati, and got diners interested in Ohio’s local and artisanal food products. In 2007 she opened Rue Dumaine, a bistro in Washington Township, a suburb of Dayton. Her food feels more classically French now, and I love everything on the menu: the pan-seared sea scallops with roasted fingerling potatoes; the crisp herbes de Provence frogs’ legs; the cabernet-braised beef short ribs with remoulade slaw. It’s a hidden gem where Anne continues to make magic. –Greg Holtkamp, Braintree, Massachusetts Bruce Crippen Gaston Acurio When I moved to Peru two years ago, I knew all about ceviche, but thanks to a chef named Gaston Acurio, I learned that there is much more to Peruvian cuisine. At his restaurant Astrid y Gaston in Lima, I tasted dishes that were unlike anything I’d expected to find in South America-specialties like lomo saltado, sliced beef stir-fried with potatoes, soy sauce, and aji chiles. Soon I started watching Acurio’s TV cooking show and reading his cookbooks, and I became fascinated by the fact that so many techniques and ingredients in Peruvian cooking (like the soy sauce in my lomo saltado) had been brought here by immigrants, from China, Japan, Africa, and beyond. Now Gaston Acurio has restaurants throughout South America, in Europe, and in the States, and he’s letting the world know what I had to move here to learn: that Peru has some of the most exciting food on the planet. –Andrea Doyle, Lima, Peru Ines Menacho Fish Sandwich At The Ravenous Pig, Winter Park, Florida Here’s my candidate for the best fish sandwich on Earth: at the Ravenous Pig restaurant in Winter Park, Florida, they sear a thick filet of local grouper, mahimahi, or wahoo with butter, garlic, and thyme until it’s crunchy outside but terrifically moist within. Then they place that on a freshly baked brioche bun with a little gribiche sauce made with chopped egg, capers, and cornichons. They top it all with buttery Bibb lettuce and sweet, slow-roasted tomatoes. The Ravenous Pig has made national headlines for its other great food, too, but that sandwich-washed down with any of the tasty American microbrews they have on draft-is worth a road trip to this part of the Sunshine State all on its own.-Rob Sharpstein, Maitland, Florida Larry Nighswander Astor Center The ultimate culinary cultural center, New York City’s Astor Center offers terrific seminars, demos, and classes. On my first visit it was the food scholar Andrew F. Smith lecturing about the history of Thanksgiving. Recently they had the Chicago chef Grant Achatz talking about the role of aromas in cooking. You can taste wine with master sommeliers, see films, learn how to mix cocktails-you name it. –John Dryzga, Hoboken, New Jersey Courtesy Astor Center Bearnaise and Fries at the Glass Onion If you’re visiting Charleston, South Carolina, be sure to go to the Glass Onion, an outstanding restaurant serving Lowcountry and New Orleans-style food. Before you even order your drinks, get a basket of the french fries with bearnaise sauce. The twice-fried potatoes are so perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside that they’d be stars all by themselves, but the creamy, tarragon-rich bearnaise is the best dip imaginable for french-fried potatoes. –Rachel Levkowicz, Charleston, South Carolina Todd Coleman E. Dehillerin Cookware Shop, Paris I sincerely hope that, if you find yourself in Paris, you’ll go to E. Dehillerin, the 190-year-old kitchen supply store on the rue Coquilliere, near the Louvre museum. You might be underwhelmed initially: the façade is plain as can be, the aisles are narrow, the shelves are cluttered, the floorboards are creaky, and some of the best merchandise is displayed in the cramped basement. But the store is always crowded with restaurateurs, students from the Cordon Bleu cooking school, and even a few non-pros like me. If you can’t make it to Paris, you can always visit Dehillerin’s website (www.e-dehillerin.fr). You’ll still get the best tools out there. But nothing can replace the thrill of navigating those narrow aisles, packed from floor to ceiling with everything a cook could want. –Frank Galella, Denville, New Jersey Landon Nordeman El Abd Bakery, Cairo This is one of Cairo’s most famous bakeries. Jostle your way to the counter and pick your treats: mini semolina cakes studded with hazelnuts, maybe, or Turkish delight dusted in confectioners’ sugar. Maybe some crunchy, sticky sesame bars or a chilled custard or cream pastry. And certainly the shredded phyllo-dough birds’ nests dripping in honey. I can’t get enough. –Anne Anderson, Capetown, South Africa Todd Coleman Seafood Chowder This creamy seafood chowder features haddock, scallops, clams, and lobster. Hot Doug’s, Chicago Of all the hot dog joints in Chicago, none are as good, or as “out there,” as Hot Doug’s, a small corner shop on the city’s Northwest Side that earns its self-declared title of “sausage superstore.” While the owner, Doug Sohn, who always works the counter, makes a great Chicago-style dog, topped with the usual pickles, mustard, tomatoes, sport peppers, and celery salt, it’s all the other creative combinations that make the place extraordinary. He changes his menu almost daily, to include specials like bacon sausage with creme frai che, caramelized onions, and double-cream Brie; and chicken sausage with Sriracha mustard and sesame seaweed salad. The only thing that bothers me about Hot Doug’s is the ever present line around the block, but then, I always make the time. –Carolyn Gordon, Chicago, Illinois Beth Rooney Quince Restaurant When I first ate at Quince, the Italian-inspired restaurant in San Francisco opened by the chef Michael Tusk and his wife, Lindsay, in 2003, I was impressed right off the bat with the incredible service: I counted more servers than guests (and the dining room was full). Wine? The sommelier suggested smart, unexpected pairings and brought us small tastes. More butter for the bread? It was there before I even knew I needed it. But it was the food that really took my breath away: the vibrancy of the ingredients and the way the chef was attentive, but not beholden, to his Italian theme, offering dishes like black trumpet mushroom and salsify sformato (a savory and succulent baked custard), and tortelloni filled with sweet Maine lobster and English peas. The main dish was a delicious John Dory with creamed leeks and winter black truffle, whose amazing aroma reached our table before the plates were placed in front of us (which was simultaneously, of course). And I’ll remember the dessert of citrus soup with coconut gelato and sweet riesling for the rest of my life. In 2009, Quince moved to a new space in the financial district, and I can’t wait to visit it. –Nicole Garrett, Houston, Texas Barbara Ries Sacred Heart Church Ravioli Dinner The Sacred Heart Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been putting on a ravioli dinner twice a year since 1910, and my family has been going for five generations. It’s everything a big church supper should be. You show up, get handed a number, and take your seat at a long table while kids from the neighborhood bring you your food. And you make small talk with your neighbor. How long have you been coming? (Since I was born.) How is the sauce this year? (It’s always good.) How is the wine? (Cheap but drinkable!) As for the ravioli, they’re plump, tender, and delicious, stuffed with ground veal, pork, spinach, and ricotta cheese and served with tomato sauce that’s simmered slowly in huge pots. My grandmother always brought her own shaker of crushed red pepper, which she passed around her table. Today, the organizers provide little packets of red pepper, but not much else has changed. –Theresa Wolke, Cincinnati, Ohio Bruce Crippen Padang Brown Food Court, Penang My first stop whenever I return to my home country of Malaysia is Padang Brown, a food court in George Town, on the island of Penang. There are bigger hawker centers (as food courts are called in Malaysia), but this one, which hasn’t changed much since it opened, in the 1960s, is full of great childhood memories for me, and I think it’s still the best. I always go for the popiah, spring rolls stuffed with julienned vegetables, loads of sweet crabmeat, and juicy shredded pork. And I never miss the cheh hoo, a Chinese version of the Malaysian salad called pasembur: jicama, carrots, cucumbers, prawn fritters, and crunchy slivers of jellyfish topped with a spicy-sweet potato sauce¿refreshing and filling at the same time. When I was a kid, my dad’s favorite was yong tau foo, a meat- and vegetable-packed consomme. I can still picture him wielding his chopsticks over the stall’s boiling cauldrons and picking out pieces of pork and tripe for the hawker to cut up with his ancient shears and put into the broth with fried garlic. For dessert, it has to be cendol-“worms” made of mung bean flour and pandan leaf-flavored gelatin swimming in coconut milk and palm sugar. I’m hungry just thinking about it.-Yvonne Khoo, Summit, New Jersey Howard Tan Sweetwater’s Donut Mill Doughnuts You haven’t had a real doughnut until you’ve had one from Sweetwater’s Donut Mill in Kalamazoo, Michigan. These colorful, gooey pastries are glazed, frosted, covered with sprinkles and shredded coconut, filled with custards and creams and jellies, drizzled with icing, dusted with sugar, and garnished in plenty of other creative ways. The company makes 55 different kinds, from the standard crullers, twists, fritters, and longjohns to over-the-top peanut butter creme-frosted doughnuts with milk chocolate filling. Thankfully, Sweetwater’s is open 24 hours a day (they also do mail order), so you never have to let your cravings go unsatisfied.-Rachel Billings, Holland, Michigan André Baranowski Farmhouse Dinner at Talula’s Table, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania Yes, you need to make your reservation a year ahead of time, but the farmhouse dinner at Talula’s Table in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia, is worth the wait. Talula’s is a cafe and market by day, but at seven o’clock every evening, chef Bryan Sikora and his wife, Aimee Olexy, transform the place into a restaurant- of sorts. At a single pinewood table that seats 12 guests, an extraordinary, prix fixe BYOB dinner takes place. I’ve had some of the best meals of my life there: eight-course feasts featuring dishes like pan-roasted, tamarind-glazed pheasant with candied turnip gratin, perfectly cooked crab poached in butter with lemon-ricotta ravioli, rich and flavorful house-made pates and terrines, and more. But the magic has to do with more than just the menu. It’s the sense of community; it’s being able to talk with the chefs about their food. For four hours, you get to put everyday life on pause and enjoy an unhurried meal. That’s quite a feat in these times. –Derek Lee, East Fallowfield, Pennsylvania Landon Nordeman La Super-Rica Taqueria La Super-Rica in Santa Barbara, California, is the best taco joint I’ve been to outside Mexico. The tacos are topped generously with chicken, pork, or carne asada, and they’ve got dishes from all over Mexico, such as Mexico City-style pasilla chiles filled with melted cheese and grilled chicken or pork or vegetables. They make the most amazing variety of tamales, including ones stuffed with corn, zucchini, chayote, cheese, and potato, plus a chicken mole version wrapped in banana leaves. Their quesadillas contain their out-of-this-world handmade tortillas, which you can watch the cooks make while you wait in the long, long line. –Jeff Belton, Sunnyvale, California Josh Wand Pok Pok, Portland, Oregon This restaurant is unlike any other Thai place in the U.S. First of all, you can’t get pad Thai here. Second, the chef is not Thai; he’s a white guy named Andy Ricker. Third, the restaurant is in Ricker’s house and yard. More important, the food at Pok Pok is unforgettable. Ricker has spent years traveling and learning to cook in Thailand and loves northern Thai-style grilled street foods. My favorite is his rotisserie game hen, which is super-juicy with a crisp skin, served with a sweet, hot chile sauce and a tamarind sauce. Unlike many Thai restaurants in the States, where dishes often are oversweetened, Pok Pok serves fresh, clean-tasting food, and it has changed the way I think about Thai cuisine. –Jennifer Neumann, Scio, Oregon Kurt Smith Eating at New Orleans Jazz Fest Getting to see some of the best jazz, blues, zydeco, and gospel musicians in the world is a fine reason to go to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which will take place this year (for the 41st time) in late April and early May. But what keeps this Crescent City resident coming back to Jazz Fest every spring is the food. In addition to the 12 stages, there are more than 60 booths run by local cooks and chefs. Among the delicacies I devoured at last year’s Jazz Fest: a gumbo chock-full of pheasant, quail, and andouille sausage; deep-fried boudin balls; tender alligator tail meat in a red pepper “sauce piquante”; pasta in a creamy crawfish sauce; po’ boys stuffed with softshell crab and suckling pig; delicious etouffee and jambalaya; fried green tomatoes with remoulade sauce; superfresh Vietnamese spring rolls; and shaved-ice “sno-balls.” I’m hoping to outdo myself this year. –Jamie Cangelosi, New Orleans, Louisiana Chris Granger Den Gyldene Freden, Stockholm Every child in Sweden knows about Den Gyldene Freden, the cozy old restaurant in Stockholm, which opened in 1722. Its name, which means the golden peace, appears in many poems and songs-hardly a surprise, because the restaurant has always been a gathering spot for Swedish authors, musicians, and artists. This is one of the best places on Earth to learn about traditional Scandinavian cooking; the dishes respect old-fashioned Swedish tastes but aren’t heavy or bland: meatballs with lingonberries, pickled cucumbers, and creamy potato puree; veal tartar topped with shavings of black truffle grown on the Baltic island of Gotland; cheesecake with vanilla ice cream and cloudberries. When you’re dining in one of the many gracefully decorated rooms, seated at a table covered in unbleached linen and lit with the glow of candles, it could be the 1700s all over again. –Charlotte Jenkinson, Stockholm, Sweden Charlie Drevstam Fernandez & Wells Wine Bar, London There’s no shortage of posh little places to sip rioja in London these days, but the Fernandez & Wells Wine Bar, which opened in 2007 in the Soho district, near where I live, is everything a small neighborhood restaurant should be. It’s cozy and welcoming, with a chalkboard out front and a warm glow inside that pours through the big picture window onto Lexington Street. But it’s the fine food at this unassuming spot that makes it so special. The menu draws mostly on Spain, but the last time I was there, I had a lovely rabbit rillette and an elegant red wine from Portugal’s Douro Valley. Their freshly baked focaccias and baguettes are some of the best I’ve ever had, and the variety of sandwiches and crostini, made with great ham, aged cheeses, and more, is fantastic. Recently I found out that the same people who run the place have also opened a cafe and an espresso bar in the neighborhood. Lucky me. –Krista Nannery, London, England James Fisher Arthur Avenue The Arthur Avenue neighborhood in the Bronx is New York’s real Little Italy. Growing up nearby, I had no choice but to become addicted to good food. Nowadays I have to drive an hour from my current home in New Jersey, but, for me, the best meals still begin with shopping on Arthur Avenue.-Frank Galella, Denville, New Jersey Landon Nordeman Tea at the Landmark London Hotel I had my first formal afternoon tea years ago at this grand old hotel overlooking Regent’s Park. I fell in love with the ritual: the fresh flowers on every table, the starched aprons on the servers, the bone china cups, the three-tiered silver serving tray. There were tiny smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches and exquisite cakes with cream or jam. And then there was the tea itself. I chose Earl Grey because, well, it sounded the most British. I was served a beautiful loose-leaf brew with a sweet fragrance of bergamot that lingers in my mind to this day. –Sissy Carter, Gatesville, Texas Todd Coleman Wisconsin We’ve got some of the best sausage around (like the Schublig and Mettwurst from Ruef’s Meat Market in New Glarus); some of the finest craft beers (like the lambic from New Glarus Brewing Co. and Good Old Potosi Beer, a light-bodied ale); and 600 kinds of cheese (like the Limburger from Chalet Cheese Cooperative in Monroe and the cheese curds from Gibbsville in Sheboygan Falls). But those are just the most obvious of Wisconsin’s culinary charms. The state also has more than 800 miles of freshwater shoreline where you can find delicious fish (like the smoked whitefish from Charlie’s Smokehouse in Ellison Bay). We’ve got thousands of acres of orchards where you can buy ciders and fruit wines and sweet-tart cherries (like the dried ones from Country Ovens in Forestville). We have distillers and winemakers who are putting the state on the map for fine wines and spirits (like the small-batch gin from Death’s Door Spirits on Washington Island). Our family-run bakeries and confectioners make sweets that are hard to find anywhere else, including big, round kringles (like the ones from Racine Danish Kringles in Racine ); old-fashioned chocolates (like the “melty bars” from Oaks Candy in Oshkosh and the wintergreen patties from Kaaps in Green Bay); European-style breads (like the Norwegian lefse from Countryside Lefse in Blair, the marbled rye and pretzel rolls from Miller Bakery in Milwaukee, and the hard rolls from the American Club in Kohler); traditional pies (like the apple pie from the Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago); and Florentiners and Nussknackers (like those from Clasen’s European Bakery in Middleton). And, at places like Koops’ in Pleasant Prairie, we’ve even got tangy D¿sseldorf-style mustard to go with all that sausage, beer, and cheese. –Dan Florey, Middleton, Wisconsin Todd Coleman Features Profiles roundup Travel MORE TO READ RELATED Why Did a Seafood Watch Group Red-List American Lobster—and Cause an Uproar? The rating warns consumers to avoid it. Maine lobstermen are pushing back. READ NOW RELATED How to Choose and Cut a Durian, According to a Grower Don’t be daunted by the spikes—this odorous tropical fruit is a sweet, creamy delicacy. RELATED Reservation Apps Have Come for the Cocktail Bar It’s getting harder to drop in for a drink. Is that a bad thing?