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Letter from the Editor Vol.17

Criss-Crossing the Country with Surprises Along the Way

May 2007

This past month we tasted our way through Austin, Vail and Chicago. In Austin, we finally got a chance to check out Texas Hill Country Festival – a large-scale celebration of regional flavors which has been bringing together chefs, wines and purveyors for the last twenty-two years. The laid-back university town deep in the heart of Texas is growing by leaps and bounds, and has a budding culinary scene. At Uchi, Chef Tyson Cole has a home for his-out-of-the-box culinary style. From a base of traditional Japanese ingredients, techniques and philosophy, he creates dishes like a delicate amuse of Onikoroshi Sake gelée with almost-frozen Muscat grapes and sugar-cured baby kampachi cold-smoked over applewood, paired with green gage plums and juniper. Lambert’s chef Larry McGuire applies a playful and artisan-focused mentality to a classic Texas cooking style barbecue. This means an American Kobe ribeye and maple coriander-crusted Berkshire pork ribs

Due north and a bit west, we noticed a change occurring in the heart of Colorado ski country. Ski–bum style no longer reigns supreme – cuisine is elevated as chefs pay more attention to local ingredients and stylish plates. Vail chef Mike Regrut of Larkspur evokes Michel Bras with a mosaic of beets and scattered just-picked baby radishes and turnips. Chef Kelly Liken serves a New England crab roll that looks like a little present – a cube of crunchy, buttery homemade bread overflowing with creamy crab salad and aioli, plated with two perpendicular first-of-the-season asparagus spears. Itís familiar, but well-executed, fun, and beautifully plated. Dish chef Jenna Johansen has a menu of creative small plates that feature clean flavors – venison sausage with a saffron risotto cake is ski-lodge fare, but sliced in small bites and finished with a port wine reduction, itís sleeker, more playful and made for sharing. At Sweet Basil, Paul Andersís dishes are vibrant: diver scallops with celery two ways and champagne orange vinaigrette, and an American Kobe short rib with tender, sweet spring pea and mascarpone agnolotti.

Now itís back to our hometown: the most vigorous and fast-paced dining scene in the country. Stay tuned for a look at what’s new in New York!

Antoinette Bruno



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