Swede dreams are made of Midsummer celebrations: Scandinavians ring in the summer solstice by drinking, dancing and, of course, eating. We made a Midsummer feast of pickled herring, dill-laced poached shrimp salad, sweet cucumber pickles and more. Get the recipes, clink glasses of aquavit and just try not to break into dance.
We don't have beef with the gussied-up burgers that are everywhere these days, but the classics are classics for a reason. We can't overstate the glory of a simple, old-school patty, made fresh and served hot in a roadside joint that probably hasn't updated its decor (or its prices) in at least half a century. So when you're in the market for a slice of true Americana, look no further than these seven landmark-level classic burger joints." Park it.
What if melting ice cubes made a drink taste better than just diluting it with water? This genius drink recipe from Edmund's Oast in Charleston involves cubes of frozen sweet tea seasoned with orange blossom water and ginger ale. As the ice melts into the bourbon and amaro cocktail, the drink just gets lovelier and lovelier. Get the recipe.
Every four years, the planet is stricken with a fever that only the most nimble-footed athletes can cure. Nothing quite compares to the thrill of watching the World Cup with teeming throngs of fellow fans. So pick your country, find a bar or restaurant streaming the games and get to drinking, eating and cheering your face off.
When Mother Nature gets it right—like she does with stone fruit, berries and tomatoes in the warmer months—you want to hold on to those flavors year-round. And you can, with the help of our friend Kevin West, author of the forthcoming Saving the Season ($21). Let the master of preserving show you how.
Three new novels we don't feel guilty about toting in our beach bags this summer: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street ($26), which tracks the life and times of the fictional title character across 50 years in NYC; The Glass Kitchen ($26), a fizzy, Southern-fried novel about a female Texas restaurateur who swears off the kitchen; and The Lobster Kings ($20), an intense family saga set in a fictional lobster fishing village.
Last season's frayed brush ain't gonna cut it anymore. Toss it and get yourself the tools that are char and away the best to keep near the coals: metal claws to handle hunks of meat, firewood from a Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel wood, a thermometer that alerts your phone when the meat's ready and more. See them all.
A good margarita is liquid salvation. Put away the sour mix and let Jaret Peña, owner of San Antonio cocktail den The Brooklynite, teach you how to pour a proper marg. His version has a special twist we find especially refreshing (hint: You won't be salting the glasses). Shake one up tonight.
Blaine Wetzel has turned bucolic Lummi Island into an international culinary destination with his restaurant at The Willows Inn. Wetzel, who tied for the Rising Chef award at this year's James Beard Foundation Awards, sources seafood, produce and game from the archipelago—and it is worth the flight, drive and ferry ride to get here. To put us in the mood of summer on the island, we asked Blaine to finish this sentence: "Summer is ..." His answer: "king salmon belly, sunsets and bonfires, green plants and coolers of fish, live music and pressure cookers, grill everything, dresses and juices, vegetarian menus and swimming at midnight." Plan your trip.
It's going to be a really good summer for new restaurants. Over in New Orleans, Cristina Quackenbush of Milkfish has just found a brick-and-mortar home for her Filipino soul food pop-up. The Umami Burger crew has unleashed ChocoChicken in L.A.—the birds are marinated in spices and chocolate before they're fried and dusted with cocoa—and Top Chef finalist Casey Thompson has opened Aveline, her first solo spot, in San Francisco. Check out more openings.
One s'more time: Summer camp is back in session. Check out four retreats for adults looking to relive some of that childhood magic—from survival schools where you can embrace your inner Bear Grylls to a tree house-lined forest where you can live out your Moonrise Kingdom-style camping dreams. This is gonna be the best summer ever. Sign up now.
The words "Let's pack a picnic" conjure an idyllic scene of lush green grass and platters of charcuterie as far as the eye can see. Pack yours in a basket ($125) from A Sunny Afternoon. Woven white ash wood and a checked interior say "classic," but the shape and leather handles give this carryall a decidedly modern look. Pack one today.
It's not always about the destination. Nestled conveniently along Highway 121 in Carneros, California—on the way to both Napa's and Sonoma's sweeping vineyards—is the mind-blowingly charming Fremont Diner. Look for a rusted pickup truck parked in front, then pull over and head inside for a dose of Americana: buttery biscuits, fried chicken and waffles and Hangtown Fry. If you must continue on, order a basket of biscuits to go. You're going to be hungry after all that chard. Find the Fremont Diner. (Photo by Ah Zut/CC BY)
All you need for a shrimp boil party are a few pounds of shrimp (with their extremely flavorful heads on, please!), a bunch of small potatoes and some ears of corn snapped in half. Oh, and a massive pot. One that's deep enough to hold two gallons of water and all the aromatics you have lying around--onions, garlic, a halved lemon, some whole coriander seeds, bay leaves, chile flakes—whatever you've got, get it in there. Open some beers. Cover your table with newspaper. Is that the doorbell? You got this. Make a shrimp boil.
No backyard? No problem. Grab yourself a nifty collapsible grill and take the cookout to the park, the beach or any place else that would benefit from the addition of a few burgers. We're particularly fond of Korin's handsome ceramic Konro set (starting at $62), Brookstone's simple foldable design ($54) and Slatworx's lightweight collapsible models (starting at $90).
For a salad that won't wilt, look back—way, way back to the ancient grain, farro: Once it's soaked, farro can be cooked in less than 30 minutes and it holds up to summer heat beautifully. All you need to do is toss in a ton of fresh herbs (mint, parsley) and cool chopped cucumber for crunch, then dress it with lemon and a few glugs of olive oil. No sweat to make, no sweat to eat. Get our grain salad recipe.
Lattice top? Boring. Make a pretty pie crust worthy of your jammy, fruit-filled canvas. All you need are two hands and a few tools to get the job done. Grab a jigger from your cocktail tool drawer and punch out some holes from rolled out dough to layer them for a chrysanthemum-inspired spread. Or dust off your pasta maker and crank out long, noodle-shaped dough to braid into a beautiful border. But before you go crazy, let's start with the basics. Start with the perfect pie crust.
We picked six of the top brew fests across this great nation, including one that involves seven stops across the country. It's the perfect opportunity to get all hopped up outside, complete with snacks, live music and more. This brew's for you. Start drinking.
If you're doing it right, your fingertips will be stained inky blue and purple: Berry picking is the sweetest and messiest work we know. Find a farm where they'll hand you a bag and let you roam wild, like Alexander's in Maine, where the organic wild blueberries sprawl out endlessly; or Bella Organic in Oregon, where the marionberries are ripe right now and the blackberries will fruit all the way until back-to-school time. But don't think about September right now—there are ripe berries to be picked!
Portland-based butcher Eli Cairo of Olympic Provisions makes some of the finest, fattiest and most delicious bratwurst we've ever tried. Warm the brats in a mixture of water and beer (1:1) and crisp them on the grill to get that extra-snappy skin. It may be the most decadent wienie you've ever put on your grates. Shop at Olympic Provisions.
Summer means grill season, and what does a grill want? A great big steak, of course. Whether it's skirt, New York strip or our favorite cut, rib eye, there a few important rules to keep in mind. First, season early. Second, the fattier the cut, the more salt the meat can take. And finally, let the meat rest after you cook it! Get a sharp knife and dig in.
Hey, you. Yeah, you. Instead of pushing your plate closer to the candle on your table to get "better light," maybe pick up your knife and fork and eat your food instead of taking a picture of it first. At least once this summer, we beg you to put down your phone and taste just one dish (or sandwich, or ice cream cone) completely in the moment. Go on—while you're chewing, enjoy the dish for what it actually is and not for how many likes it's going to get. We know it will be difficult, but we have faith in you. (Illustration by Ted McGrath)
Tacos are a many-splendored thing: endlessly versatile and equally delicious for breakfast, lunch or a late-night snack. The best are somehow both simple and more than the sum of their parts—a fragrant tortilla here, a few slivers of expertly marinated carnitas there. Here are ten of our favorites across the country.
You need a project this summer. Especially one that, once accomplished, leads to long sessions of drinking beer while smoking pork butts and ribs over a wood fire. Sure, you could buy a Big Green Egg and start cooking immediately, but we're for putting the slow into "low and slow" and making your own smoker. The interwebs are full of DIY schemes and how-to videos, including variations on Alton Brown's famous terra-cotta planter smoker and the ever-popular UDS, or Ugly Drum Smoker. It's time to start smoking. (Illustration by Ted McGrath)
The Outside Lands music festival returns to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco this summer with killer headliners—like The Killers—and an impressive roster of eats: PLT (pastrami, lettuce and tomato) sandwiches from Wise Sons, AQ's "highbrow" spaghetti sloppy joes, spicy chicken wings from Nojo and Rich Table's dried porcini doughnuts. You may want to look up from your plate long enough to catch Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Kanye—or simply rock out with your Namu Korean taco out. Plan your snacking lineup.
Long, lazy weekend invitations are inevitable this time of year, and good guests never show up empty-handed. Make sure you're invited back to that Hamptons summer share, groovy lake house or woodsy cabin by bringing the perfect gift (and carrying the perfect bag). Even more this way.
The Garcia brothers of Garcia's Mexican Food in San Antonio, Texas, know their meat; they know good, honest Tex-Mex food; and they know how to make a mean taco. Their smoked brisket tacos take some time, but when the smoky meat is piled high on flour tortillas with some pico de gallo and avocado (nothing more, nothing less), you'll see why low and slow is worth the extra effort. Smoke a brisket.
Even watermelon haters may not be able to resist the sweet, cool, hydrating prowess of fresh watermelon juice. We whipped some up with fresh ginger and lime juice for brightness. Of course, if you added a few splashes of gin or vodka to this very versatile mixer, we wouldn't tell anyone.
Long live the Queen: Nothing in the fast food universe (or any universe, really) compares to the cool, creamy delight of a DQ Blizzard. And with a brand-new two-story outpost in the heart of Manhattan, the DQ empire is poised for a long and delicious reign. But no matter your guilty pleasure, indulge it early and often this summer. (Photo by Ian Muttoo/CC BY)
Who has two thumbs and is spherifying Gatorade? You—after some serious cooking classes. Geek out this summer on four super-niche cooking classes, like ChefSteps online courses that'll teach you how to put that xanthan gum to work or five-hour-long immersive sessions learning the nuances of Afghan and Bengali cuisine at NYC's League of Kitchens. Ferran and your mom would be proud.
Farmers' markets: no longer just the place to shop for greens. Markets like the University District Farmers Market in Seattle, Green City Market in Chicago and the Union Square Greenmarket in New York are attractions in their own right. Load up on lush local produce to cook at home or simply wander and gawk at the beautiful bounty—just don't forget to BYOTB (that's tote bag).
The equation for the coolest, booziest summer dessert is almost too easy: Take three cups of fruit puree, three tablespoons of booze, two tablespoons of liquid sweetener and a tablespoon each of chopped herbs and orange juice; pour into pop molds; freeze. Done. You've got a frozen cocktail on a stick that trumps a plain old ice pop any day. Put the freeze on.
Hit up the Music City (that would be Nashville) Food + Wine Festival this fall for a two-day, stomach-expanding, liver-destroying shindig. Homegrown talent, like Hog & Hominy's Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman and Pinewood Social's Josh Habiger, plus superstar chefs who've adopted the city as their own (paging Sean Brock and Jonathan Waxman), are on food duty, while Kings of Leon hits the stage. Go now.
The building blocks of s'mores haven't changed since you were a kid: graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate. But using better ingredients can bring you to s'mores nirvana (if there were such a place, we'd like to live there). Toss the crumbly, stale graham crackers for a batch from Washington D.C.'s Pollystyle, made with local honey and a touch of cinnamon. Go dark, and we mean really dark, with the chocolate: Look for a nicely bitter 65 percent dark cacao bar. Finally, consider the marshmallow. Try the fluffy, bourbon-infused puffs from Sugarfina to mix things up. Char the marshmallow, sandwich it all together and go in for more. (Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg)
Head to Copenhagen for MAD4, the culinary culture symposium/chef hangout created by Noma's René Redzepi and his merry band of foraging Nordic food nerds, on August 24 and 25. This year's gathering is co-curated by Brazilian chef Alex Atala around the theme "What Is Cooking?" The symposium always sells out quickly, but that shouldn't stop you from getting on a plane and answering the question yourself by checking out the latest additions to the ever-evolving Copenhagen dining scene. San Diego native and former Noma chef de cuisine Matt Orlando opened Amass late last summer to great acclaim. Two more Noma vets, a Swede and an Englishman, recently teamed up to offer their own take on accessible modern Scandinavian food at Bror (which means "brother" in Danish; www.restaurantbror.dk). Speaking of the Noma influence (it's hard not to in this town), check out Noma co-founder Claus Meyer's multi-restaurant-jazz-bar complex called The Standard, housed in an art deco ferry building and featuring Nordic cuisine by a chef from you know where. Find out more.
Sounds crazy, but there was a time when most soda was made from scratch. If you don't have a copy of Stephen Cresswell's fantastic book about making pop at home, try this excellent recipe for root beer. Brewing with sassafras, licorice root and sweet, complex molasses sounds like a lot of work, but trust us, the project is worth the effort. On day two, make sure you have some vanilla ice cream handy to make root beer floats. They're gonna be the best you ever had.
If you've got a pint of vanilla sitting around in the back of your freezer, invite it out to play with your favorite sweet mix-ins. Use a large bowl to fold it with candy, like After Eights, broken up into pieces, or crumbles of fluffy, sesame-rich halva. For a more grown-up combination, if you will, toss in some dark and booze-soaked Luxardo cherries. Spoon it up right away, or delay the pleasure for a more chewy, frozen texture.
If you've ever used a chimney starter to light the coals when you grill, you know that it can be a life-changer. We love ours so much, we've been known to make them for friends—a handy party trick when you're a guest at summer rentals. It's surprisingly easy to do: Use a can opener to remove the top and bottom of a large coffee can; hammer in four of five equidistant nails around the can, about two inches from one end; use a screwdriver to punch holes in one dish and place it back in the can, resting on the nails. Then go on, baby, light your fire.
No need to turn on the oven and bake dessert. At Jean-Georges in NYC, raw pineapple is king. The servers peel and carve the fruit tableside and serve it with a few glugs of Kirsch, a cherry-based brandy, and crushed candied violet flowers. With a little extra flair, a slice of fruit can be a super deluxe dessert.
When corn hits its sweetest point, we look to Mexico for inspiration, grilling the cobs until the kernels have charred and serving them street-style with crema, cotija cheese, lime and chile. But to make this crowd-pleasing dip, Tasting Table's resident chef Dave Kirschner tooks those flavors around the globe. It's a more inspired party snack than salsa and just as easy to prepare. Get the recipe.
If you really want your night to feel like a party, order the biggest, most celebratory cocktails you can find and share them with friends or strangers (they'll be your friends in no time). At The Nomad's new bar in NYC, try a Cocktail Explosion ($90)—a giant bourbon and amaro cocktail tweaked with lemon juice and simple syrup that could easily serve eight. It's just as stunning and refreshing as it is absurd, filled with fruit and bouquets of mint. At David Bazirgan's new San Francisco spot, Dirty Habit, celebrate with a daiquiri for four ($35), mixed tableside. And, hey, even twosomes can go big and boozy: JBird's rum-focused Tiki Oasis Punch ($26), laced with vanilla and cinnamon, is great for when you just want one glass and two straws, please.
This is how we're defining competitive eating this summer: slogging through shuffleboard matches and mandarin orange rum punches. From a Brooklyn hotspot dedicated to retiree-style sports to new bocce-meets-farm digs in Marin County, California, see which six places will fuel your competitive spirit and appetite alike. Check them out now.
No matter how you slice it (or say it), the glorious tomato is summer's farmers' market star. If you aren't going to bite right into one (we won't judge), give it center stage in whatever you cook. Here, a few of our favorite recipes.
Beer in the cooler? Check. Now don't forget to stock your liquor cabinet with the season's new spirits. TT Drinks Editor Jim Meehan of PDT recommends five great ones: the limited-edition Tanqueray Old Tom Gin; Tempus Fugit Creme de Noyaux (a long-lost almond liqueur); Vervino vermouth (made with botanicals on the North Fork of Long Island, NY), Singani 63 (Pisco-like Bolivian brandy by director Steven Soderberg) and a rare and meaty Pechuga Mezcal made with an entire leg of Iberico ham (seriously).
Ever since man discovered fire, we've loved cooking meat with smoke and flame. Get in touch with your primal side with these barbecue classes, which school aspiring pitmasters in everything from smoking basics to competition circuit secrets. Check out Seattle BBQ and Grilling School, The Culinary Institute of America's two-day Grilling and BBQ Boot Camp and the North Carolina Barbecue Society classes.
From Roy Choi to Ludo Lefebvre, from Downtown to Venice, Los Angeles is flush with new restaurants to try this summer. We're crushing just as hard on Choi's latest venture, the unpretentious POT, as we are on the impressive rotating chef lineup at Fifty Seven. Map out the spots that are worth braving L.A. traffic for.
The only thing more refreshing than a dip in the pool? The ice-cold cocktail waiting for you when you get out. We love pools we can lounge beside (or in) with a drink in hand, like the swim-up Serenity Pool and bar at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea and the chic Rocky Mountain poolside bar at Aspen's Sky Hotel. Just remember the cardinal rule: no drinking and swimming.
Wind your way up Route 1, about an hour north of Boston, for the New England road trip of your seafood shack-studded dreams. Start at the historic red booths of the Agawam Diner, a sliver of a spot where the coconut cream pies are sky-high and the cheeseburger clubs are basically perfect. Then it's on to the Clam Box for a snack of crisp fried clams with French fries. Don't pass by Chick's without stopping for a classic roast beef sandwich. After hitting Woodman's for a lobster roll, choose between 60 flavors of ice cream at White Farms. Just make sure you have a place to nap afterward. (Photo by Goosefriend/CC BY)
When the grill is hot and the sun is hotter, chilling your red wines is a great idea. Here's the trick: Choose a wine that's low in tannin and oak, like a young Rioja or a light-bodied Zin. Or, if you're looking for something off the beaten path, look to Greece, where certain reds (like the Skouras Saint George, $15, from Nemea) do well with a light, not-too-icy chill, or to Emilia Romagna, where Lambrusco (like this bottle from Tenuta Pederzana, $15) can be served straight out of the fridge. Read on.
Our neighbors to the north have a food scene that's entirely worth the trip, whether you're in the market for Québécois classics (poutine at La Banquise!) or meaty creations (duck in a can at Au Pied de Cochon?). Don't leave without sampling the namesake pastry at Patisserie au Kouign Amann, swishing a funky natural wine at Le Vin Papillon or grabbing a can of syrup at the sprawling Jean-Talon Market.
A cookout's not a party without a proper soundtrack. Make sure your summer hangouts sound appropriately awesome with these playlists from some of our favorite chefs and DJs. Download them right this way.
You can debate what constitutes the perfect roll until you're red in the face, but we think we've got it just right: a bit of mayo, a smattering of spices, a kick of chile and a buttery split-top roll. Get the recipe.
Chilled pink wine is our go-to in hot weather: It's light, refreshing and it goes down easy with anything you put on the table. We asked one of our favorite wine guys, Thomas Carter of NYC's Estela, to share a few of his favorite rosés from around the world. Pour one of his picks.
"A plateful of fireworks." That's how Martin Morales, of London's Ceviche restaurant and author of a cookbook by the same name, describes Peru's national dish. We'd call it fresh, refreshing and dead easy. Take a load off and let lime juice do all the work for you with Morales' vibrant Drunken Scallops. It's the least-involved "cooking" you'll do all summer. Get the recipe.
Be a Marin County hot-tubber (in George H. W. Bush's famous phrase). Rather, swap the hot tub for a rental car and steer it up twisty Route 1 through West Marin, which contains some of the most dizzyingly beautiful countryside in America and great things to eat at nearly every turn. Some highlights: Shuck your own oyster picnic at Hog Island Oyster Co.; drink good beer and eat dinner in town at Mill Valley Beerworks; eat your weight in BBQ'd oysters and spend the night in a waterside cabin at Nick's Cove. Have dinner in style at Sir and Star at The Olema. Oh, did we mention oysters? Eat more of them at Saltwater Oyster Depot, a cool oyster bar in Inverness.
There's a full roster of new openings to get hot and bothered about in Miami this summer, including an ambitious Cuban-Korean-Peruvian fusion project from the team behind the CubanCube food truck and Alchemy & Science's highly anticipated craft brewery. See the full lineup.
Send your usual brew on holiday and crack open one of the best beers of the season. According to Julian Kurland, beverage director at NYC's beer-and-brat mecca, The Cannibal, these are the five you need to drink: Narragansett Del's Shandy (made with Rhode Island's famous lemonade), Professor Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse (a tart German wheat), Rockmill Brewery Witbier (Belgian-style wheat suited to barbecues), Peak Organic Ginger Saison (spicy and bold saison that actually tastes like ginger) and North Coast Brewing Scrimshaw (crisp and clean for easy drinking). This way for even more. (Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg)
In a sea of bivalves, the oyster reigns king. Instead of relegating the slippery suckers to a quick shot before a meal, plan a whole shuckin' party around them. Don't know your Kumamotos from your Moonstones? Don't sweat it—Brooklyn Oyster Party's got everything you need. Have a shell of a good time.
Order a caffè shakerato anywhere in Italy and you'll get a shot of hot espresso mixed with sugar and shaken into an icy, creamy-yet-dairy-free frappe-like concoction strained into a tall glass. The method of agitating the espresso: a cocktail shaker or, better yet, one of those classic pronged milkshake makers. The key to doing it at home: Use hot espresso (not watered-down filter coffee) and don't forget the sugar. Use as much sugar or simple syrup as you would in a medium-size iced coffee. Shake vigorously; repeat often.
A little fizz goes a long way. Update the drink of the moment, the Negroni, by swapping out the gin for sparkling wine, and you've got an effervescent—but still pleasantly bitter—cocktail that's equally appropriate at the pool as it is after dinner. Learn to make one.
Bask in the claw-to-tail competition and buttered-bun glory of our second annual L.A. Lobster Rumble to crown the finest roll in the land. It's all happening Friday, August 1, 2014, from 7 to 10 p.m., at the Cooper Design Space. Tickets are $100 (plus tax), and the event benefits our longtime partner, Share Our Strength. Get 'em before they're gone, folks. Buy tickets now.
It wasn't long ago that Paul Grieco united restaurants around the country in a summerlong celebration of Riesling. Bring these versatile wines home and enjoy them all season long with his handy guide to worldly styles. Uncork them all.
Read the big-think food book of the season. Sick of the phrase "farm-to-table"? So is Blue Hill chef Dan Barber, and his searching, personal and heavily reported book The Third Plate ($30) documents his quest for an answer to the question of how food can become truly sustainable, healthy and delicious. Buy the book.
You're spending a lot of time in front of the grill, so you may as well make dessert while you're there. When it's kissed on the grill, fruit gets a light, smoky flavor infusion and a nice caramelized crust. Stone fruit, pineapple, honeydew, watermelon—hop it all up and throw it on the grates. After it's gotten nice and sizzled, serve it with some freshly whipped cream. Dessert is done.
Yes. Wine in a box. Relax, snob, it's summer. You don't want to be fiddling with corks during prime tanning hours. You want a steady flow of cold, crisp white or rosé on tap in your fridge, and, for that, there's nothing as easy as the big bag-in-a-box solution. And the quality has finally caught up with the convenience. Check out importer Jenny & Francois' From the Tank line ($36 for three liters) or the Provence rosé from Wineberry. Even more summer wines. (Illustration by Ted McGrath)
If summer mysteries and romance novels don't do it for you, sink into the loveliness of old cookbooks with a literary edge. Patience Gray's Honey from a Weed ($45.50) is a dreamy and transporting read, with aspirational summer projects like making an extra-sweet tomato sauce by letting it sit out in the sun for a few days. Novelist James Salter and his wife, Kay, co-wrote a cookbook, Life Is Meals ($23), which covers each day of the year with a delicious culinary musing. Page through one of them on a warm, lazy afternoon.
There's no better guide to lead us to the best eats in the Pine Tree State (and unofficial lobster mecca) than Robert's Maine Grill, the editor's choice champion of this year's NYC Lobster Rumble. After you savor the restaurant's award-winning, lemon-flecked lobster roll tucked into a buttery bun, follow owner Michael Landgarten for Waterman's Beach Lobster, Primo and more. Stick to the coast.
No, you haven't had too much to drink. That is the gentle swaying of the ocean because you're dining in style—on a boat. In NYC, there's The Water Table (pictured), essentially a floating New England-style seafood shack housed on a historic boat. And we also love The River Café, where you can sip martinis while a gentleman in a tux tickles the ivories on the other side of the cabin.
A big fuzzy blanket is like a swarm of ants and sunshine: You can't throw a picnic without one. Whether you want to go the lightweight, striped nautical route for beachside barbecues or invest in something a little more rugged (hello, Pendleton), you'll beat the spread if you invest in a good picnic blanket. We threw together seven of our favorites. Find your ideal lounge surface here.
Some people travel for the scenery, some for the adventure. Us? We travel to eat and drink, whether it's a secret burger in Atlanta, a classic cocktail in New Orleans or killer tacos in Austin. Follow our lead through some of our favorite American cities. Get your itinerary.
The art of yakitori, or Japanese-style grilling, involves three things. Chicken: Cut the meat into elegant, bite-size pieces. Build all your skewers in advance so you're ready for a party. Sauce: The sweet, salty tare clings to the meat as it cooks, infusing it with flavor and caramelizing over the heat. Grill: a nice hot one. Or, if you gotta stay inside, use a heavy cast-iron grill pan. Get to it.
Basil is the herb of summer. There, we said it. So get yourself a basil plant and start using its first young, tender leaves in salads or to make a bright pesto. As it gets hotter and the leaves get bigger and spicier, chop them up for marinades and dressings. And don't neglect the stems: Use the back of a chef's knife to bruise the stems, then add them to sauces and braises for an intense basil flavor. Get our pesto recipe. (Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg)
When you taste TT Drinks Editor Jim Meehan's fun, fizzy pitcher cocktail that's the color of a tropical sunset, you'll get why we made it our official drink of the summer. Built with light and refreshing wheat beer, an old-school French apéritif known as Byrrh and deep purple cassis, it's a grown-up refresher, but not so boozy that you can't have two (or three) in quick succession. Cheers.
Picking fresh herbs on a rooftop garden is a lovely little excursion, sure, but it's even better when it's for a good cause. Get your hands dirty and give back to the community with five volunteering opportunities here and abroad, whether you're helping assemble one long subway feast with NYC supper club A Razor, A Shiny Knife, harvesting grapes in Italy (hey, that's work!) or building gardens with Edible Schoolyard. You may even get a glimpse of Alice Waters herself.
There's an all-new batch of cookbooks dedicated to our favorite summer treat—ice cream. Ample Hills Creamery has come out with a chronicle ($25) of its nostalgia-inducing recipes (PB&J!) adorned with adorable illustrations, while the ice cream mogul who is Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams shares her tips and tricks for baked goods that go with, well, ice cream ($24). And L.A.-based food truck Coolhaus is teaching us how to stack 'em high in its ice cream sandwich tome ($25). Not to mention, we're buried nose-deep into Scoop Adventures ($20) for a rundown of the ice cream shops that make America great (hello, blueberry kale ice cream!) and Ruby Violet's Ice Cream Dreams ($25) to get a taste of the scoop shop that's taken London by storm.
Blink, and you'll miss them. As soon as sour cherries show up at your market, pull out your wallet and buy as many pounds as you can. Eat a couple until Pollock-like stains have made their mark on your clothing. Then get down to business: Make the tiny fruits into a syrup for cocktails or boil them down for jam with a little bit of rose water. Drizzle either onto fresh ricotta on toast. Then start pining for them as soon as your haul is gone. (Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg)
It's officially time to bust out the Old Bay and bust open some crabs. The crustaceans can be tricky critters to consume, so follow our lead through the "apron" (a.k.a. the underbelly), the innards (yes, you can eat them) and all the hidden meaty parts. Grab a mallet.
No disrespect to the classic hot dog, but we're rooting for the real-deal restaurateurs and chefs who are taking over baseball stadium food. Allegiances aside, the Atlanta Braves' H&F Burger, Phillies' Federal Donuts and more are reason enough to score a seat at the game. Go team.
Juleps are just too good to save for Derby Day. The gleaming towers of cracked ice that wreck us with Kentucky bourbon (usually) and a float or dark rum (sometimes) should be enjoyed all year long, whenever you need a cool rush and a hit of liquor. Try Eleven Madison Park's classic recipe or forget about the rules: At The Dead Rabbit in NYC, there's a killer variation dosed with absinthe and black tea. Either way, you'll want to invest in some julep cups, straws and maybe even a Lewis bag for making crushed ice.
Being sans ice cream maker doesn't mean you can't make the frozen treat at home. Hack the traditional Indian frozen dessert known as kulfi by combining 1½ cups cubed fresh mango with a half can of sweetened condensed milk, 3 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and pop them into the freezer for about five hours. Still with us? Good. Dump those bright, fruity cubes into a food processor and pulse to aerate and break up the crystals, then return the base to the freezer in a large, lidded, chilled container. In a few hours, when the mix has refrozen, you'll have some seriously good mango ice cream on your hands.
Fried chicken should be seasoned all the way to the bone with a luxuriously crisp sheath. Also, it should be eaten with abandon all summer long. Hot. Cold. With or without vegetables. On balconies, in gardens and in front of the fridge door. You get the idea. One of our favorite versions comes from Hill Country Chicken in NYC, where the chicken soaks in a buttermilk marinade, then gets dipped several times in seasoned flour and hot oil. It's a simple technique to master, but you'll need a thermometer and a sense of adventure. Get the recipe.
Overcooked noodles, gloppy mayo, soggy vegetables. There are so many ways a pasta salad can go wrong—but we put a lot of thought into our walnut pesto salad to make sure that it's very, very right. Make a batch for your next picnic.
Put crab on a toast. Add mayo, togarashi and pickled tomatoes. Hello, sandwich of summer. "As a Swede, I love to pickle everything," says Marcus Samuelsson. The quick-pickled grape tomatoes are one of the things we love about the sandwich he made for us. "This sandwich is my version of a BLT," he says. "Served with some Bajan hot sauce and a michelada, this is exactly the kind of thing I want to be eating on the beach this summer." Yes, chef.
We love a basic barbecue sauce as much as the next (wannabe) pitmaster, but our Test Kitchen came up with a sauce so intriguing, we're shelving traditional vinegar-based versions—for now. Ours is made with a traditional tomato base, but a heady dose of Indian spices (coriander, cumin, brown mustard), as well as grated ginger, honey and chopped shallot, give it a depth of flavor that works wonders on steak, chicken and even grilled tofu kebabs. Get the recipe, then mop the sauce on everything in sight.
What, at first, might be slightly terrifying—grilling a whole fish—will result in one of the most delicious (and dramatic) things you can make this summer. And it's way easier than you may think. Let us show you how.
Ice cream is pure, unadulterated summer pleasure. From coast to coast, ice cream shops are making it easier to get your fix, whether that's classic soft-serve or a handcrafted, small-batch churn. We've got the scoop on the best shops in the country, new and old alike. Find out where to have your next sundae funday.
Get back to basics and make sure you're armed with summer's most important kitchen tools: the ones that maximize fresh berry and ice cream consumption. Buy the only tools you need.
We tapped master sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier of NYC's Rouge Tomate to curate our Summer Wine Cellar. The supporter of natural wines came back with some exciting biodynamically grown picks, but we're mostly excited to have the perfect bottles to sip poolside and at our next barbecue. Uncork her selections.
Let the plumes of intoxicating, meat-scented smoke rising from your grill send your neighbors into fits of jealousy. Caribbean-style jerk chicken, which involves cooking meat in a sweet, spicy and habanero-rich rub over charcoal, is one of summer's greatest pleasures. All you need is skin-on, bone-in chicken and a little time. Learn how to jerk. (Pictured: The jerk chicken at Miss Lily's 7A ©Daniel Krieger/Miss Lily's)
Cheering on the World Cup with a caipirinha is just so obvious. We took Brazil's national drink for a spin, adding cucumber and jalapeño to the classic cachaça cocktail. Shake one up.
This sounds like something straight out of Portlandia, but it's true: Artisanal toast is a thing now. And we're into it—at every meal of the day. From Jessica Koslow's thick, jam-slathered, breakfast-elevating toasts at Sqirl in L.A. to whatever delicious thing Greg Vernick is spreading over bread these days at Vernick in Philadelphia, here are four places to cash in on the trend. Get toasty.
Even the biggest die-hard can tire of ice cream. So when we're scooped out, we turn to shaved ice. In Kaimuki, Hawaii, there's Waiola's famed fine, powder-like ice dressed with lilikoi (passion fruit) and lychee. Cool ribbons of fruit-flavored ice refresh at Blockheads in L.A. In Chicago, Beverly Kim has a decidedly modern take on Korean pat bing su at her newest restaurant, Parachute—cucumber ice and condensed milk ice cream crowned with red bean, kiwi and lovage. And you can't go wrong with a classic, like Corona, New York's legendary Lemon Ice King of Corona, where you can sink into a frosty cup of lightly citrusy ice. How chill.
We love a meat-and-three as much as the next, but a new crop of chefs and restaurants are redefining what we think of as Southern food. At Pêche in New Orleans, Ryan Prewitt roasts meaty whole fish over an open flame to stunning effect. Katie Button turns out gorgeous bespoke cocktails and small plates at Nightbell in Asheville, and Mike Lata puts his anything-but spin on Lowcountry seafood at The Ordinary in Charleston. In Athens, Hugh Acheson and Whitney Otawka mix the flavors of the American South with South and Central America at Cinco y Diez.
Tasting Table is the free daily email for adventurous eaters everywhere. Hungry? Sign up:
Tasting Table serves genuine editorial. There is no pay for play. Click here for our editorial policy.
© 2008–2015 TDT Media Inc. doing business as Tasting Table.