Fresh Ideas Month from Tasting Table

Now that the holidays are out of the way, Tasting Table wants to start the New Year by thinking about how we'll eat and drink in 2011 and beyond. We're happy to announce that January is "Fresh Ideas Month," in which we'll be covering the people, places and things that will make the winter months a little less gray. We'll round up future articles for both our local and national editions here, but watch your inbox all month long for Fresh Ideas coverage.

New York Central

One, Two, Punch

The talented chefs at New York Central

New York Central had us at salted bread. As part of a barrage of appetizers at the newly reincarnated restaurant at Midtown's Grand Hyatt, we ordered foie gras torchon ($18). A fine torchon is always delicious, we thought. Then the purity of chef Christian Ragano's cured liver and the citrus-laced depth of its accompanying black tea and prune jam... more

Cava Mezze Grill

Pita Party

Cava goes casual with its new Mezze Grill

Wherever you are in the DC area, good hummus isn't far from reach. That's due in large part to the ambitious expansion plans of the people behind Cava. With their excellent Mediterranean restaurants and line of dips and spreads at local grocery stores, the restaurateurs turn your chickpea dreams into a silky reality at the new Cava Mezze Grill in ... more

Back To the Roots

Fungi Farm

Drink coffee; eat mushrooms

Foraging for mushrooms, while adventurous, also poses a very real risk. The familiar-looking growths you find in shady spots may well turn out to be lethal. Now, Back to the Roots' oyster-mushroom kits provide access to homegrown, fresh mycelium--minus the edible Russian roulette. Even more ingenious than the indoor crop itself is what it grows in... more

The Butcher & Larder

Whole(y) Cow

Go nose-to-tail at The Butcher & Larder

Chicago has its share of butcher shops. But our lack of rock star butchers always seemed incongruent with the city's love of meat. Enter The Butcher & Larder, Noble Square's new destination for local meat, cut to a lively soundtrack (Kanye when we were there) by young guns with sharp knives. The shop is a carnivorous labor of love from Rob L... more

The Finish Line

Boris Portnoy's desserts gone wild

You might think that moss, red cedar and caraway have no place in dessert. If so, Boris Portnoy, the new pastry chef at the celebrated Meadowood Napa Valley, will prove you wrong. Portnoy creates desserts as multifaceted and unique as the savory dishes prepared by chef Christopher Kostow. Portnoy's cerebral plates, inspired by ingredients from th... more

Grindhaus

Pulp Fiction

Try Grindhaus's specialty sausages

In Los Angeles, it's usually the food truck that meanders its way into being a brick-and-mortar establishment. Grindhaus, the sausage-centric butcher shop that opened on Hollywood Blvd. this month, is doing it the other way around. The shop is already selling its cased meats, mustards and pickles to customers under the watch of the giantess from T... more

Maple Lattes

Sticky Situation

Sweeten your morning with a maple latte

It seems as though summertime coffee has all the fun; that's when java lovers can take advantage of the added benefits of special brewing gear and a range of intricately spiced iced coffees. Winter's answer to this one-sidedness? Maple-syrup lattes sweetened with the finest locally tapped elixirs. Here, a guide to New York's sweetest--and stickies... more

Kaldi

Greek Lesson

Kaldi brings the tastes of Greece to town

When nostalgic food cravings hit, some people call Mom. A pair of local brothers, Greg and Peter Kaldes, however, opted for a more permanent solution: Kaldi, the duo's line of Greek oils and tomato sauces shipped straight from the brothers' homeland, Greece. The pair's unfiltered olive oil ($13) is extracted from the Mediterranean country's lesse... more

Tasting Table

Comfy Confit

A homey French staple cozies up to American classics

Few foods are more indulgent than duck confit, a fact our French friends have known for years. Now this preparation, in which duck meat is stewed slowly in fat until it has the texture of butter in the sun, is embarking on an American comfort-food tour: Chefs are dotting classic dishes--from hot dogs to tater tots--with this French export, and the... more

Coffee School

Become a java master with DarkCloud's free classes

Plenty of coffee joints open their tastings to the public. But few approach coffee education as intently as DarkCloud, Lincoln Park's new source for serious java. The shop fills all the third-wave coffee requirements: It features a rotating selection of beans from micro-roasters around the country; tests each roast to determine the best brew meth... more