Six Questions w/ Exalted Peruvian Chef Pia León

 

 

Chef Pia León may not yet be the most recognized name in New York’s culinary scene, but in her hometown of Lima, Peru she’s a legend. Named 2018’s Best Female Chef in Latin America by World’s 50 Best Restaurants, she’s taken the rich food culture of a diverse nation to create something utterly new. Kjolle, her first solo restaurant, has become renowned for plating simultaneously familiar and yet also surprising gastronomic experiences to the Peruvian palate.

Now she’s brought those flavors to NYC. Indeed, thanks to the Priceless pop-up on St. John’s Lane, featuring some of the best bars and restaurants in the world. And thus, a taste of Lima has never been more at hand.

 

 

Chef León has been since 2009 cooking at Central, generally regarded as the best restaurant in Peru – and possibly all of  Latin America. But Kjolle, named for a hearty mountain flower, is where she established the uniqueness of her own cuisine, reflecting her passion for her home country’s ingredients. Peru, for instance, boasts around 4,000 indigenous varieties of potatoes and tubers – sourced from the towering Andes to the Amazonian jungle – as well as many hard to find grains and unique herbs.

We enjoyed a chat with her, before she generously revealed the secrets behind two of the most popular dishes currently being rhapsodized over by diners at Kjolle.

 

 

 

 

So what can diners expect at the New York pop-up?

Fresh baked bread and butter topped with cacao nibs and local salt, raw scallops with guanabana pulp and lime, or a tart of layered and thinly shaved roots in a delicate pastry shell made of a mixture of Peruvian grains. Even the pork belly is paired with cassava, yucca and and mole, but topped with locally sourced rocket and edible flowers.

What inspired you to come to New York and set up at Priceless?

It’s a great platform to communicate our concept and ideas about Kjolle to a different audience. It has been a really positive experience working with such a very professional and dedicated team, that is willing to understand and show Peruvian products in a way that hasn’t been done before.

How is the dining experience different from back home?

It’s very similar actually, since the idea was to replicate the restaurant in New York, and for people to feel like they’re in Lima. We even brought part of the team from Lima to NYC. But we also had the opportunity to make it different by mixing Peruvian ingredients with local ones we have access to here in the city, which has been exciting.

How have the local products been received?

The local products have been of very high quality, and we’ve been glad to work with different ingredients and adapt them to our menu in our own way.

What ingredients are exciting you right now?

The quality of the meat here in NYC is great, the fish we’ve been receiving is so fresh and tasty. Most importantly, the vegetables and roots are amazing, between all the colors, quality and variety. And a big plus is to be in a city where you can find so many different ingredients from around the world!

What are your goals for expansion, if any?

I would like to eventually replicate Kjolle and share our concept with many other cities for short periods of time. I haven’t thought about making something permanent outside of Peru…but you never know.

 

 

 

 

SHORT RIBS AND BURNT CORN

To cook the short ribs, start with an andean dressing. You will need:
  • 5kg yellow pepper
  • 100g chincho
  • 100g Huacatay
  • 100g Muña
  • 50g garlic
  • 300mL White vinegar
  • 10g Pepper
  • 10g Cumin
  • Salt
Blend all the ingredients together. Reserve.
Clean the short ribs. Take each rib and cover them with the andean dressing. Place them in a pot, and cover half of the pot with water (even better if you have a chicken stock). Slow cook the meat for 8 hours, or until the meat softens.
Once the meat is cooked, take the ribs out and use the cooking juice to make a sauce. Strain the fat out of the cooking juices, reduce what’s left and add demi-glace sauce to serve.
You can let the entire rib for each plate, or you can cut in in cubes to make a smaller and more presentable dish.
For the corn garnish:
  • 1L Cream
  • 200g Butter
  • 10g garlic
  • 20g White onion
  • 1kg Blended corn
  • 200g Corn kernels
To make the corn pure, start cooking the garlic with white onions in a frying pan with a little bit of oil. Once everything is cooked and soft, blend all of the ingredients adding the butter and cream.
Reserve the pure in a pot, cover with film paper until needed.
On the other side, cook the corn kernels in salted water. They must be cooked but still firm. Strain the water out of the corn kernels, place them on a trail. You can either use a torch or a frying pan without any kind of fat, to slightly burn every corn kernel on each side.
Reserve the burnt corns.
To plate, place the Short ribs in the middle of a round plate and cover them with hot sauce. Coat the piece of short rib with the corn pure. Use the corn kernels to decorate. You can save some of the herbs to burn them and use them as a decoration too.

 

 

 

Razor clams from Huarmey

INGREDIENTS
Razor clams
  • 160 units razor clams
Purple tiger milk
  • 150g razor clam broth
  • 80g lime juice
  • 60g pickled mashua juice
  • 10g salt
  • Olive oil
Razor clam stock
  • Razor clams shells
  • White wine
  • White onion
  • Celery
  • Green apple
Pickled black mashua
  • 500 mL water
  • 500 mL White vinegar
  • 500g sugar
Pickled Macre pumpkin
  • 200g macre pumpkin
  • 100g panela sugar
  • 100ml wáter
  • 100ml White vinegar
Amazonian chalaca sauce
  • 50g cocona
  • 1 sachaculantro leaf
  • 50g tomato
  • 50g red onion
  • 15mL lime juice
  • 15g salt
Preparation
Razor clams
  1. Clean the razor clams and reserve the shells for the stock.
  2. Cut the razor clams in small pieces (1cm long)
  3. Reserve the razor clams in cold storage with a towel to keep them dry
Razor clams stock
  1. Cut the onions, celery and apple in mirepoix
  2. In a pot, cook the vegetables and apple with some vegetable oil.
  3. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the white wine, and before it evaporates, add the razor clams.
  4. Pour some water (until it covers the razor clams), let it boil. Strain and reserve in cold storage.
Purple tiger milk
  1. In a small bowl, pour all the ingredients.
  2. With a hand mixer, emulsify the liquids with olive oil. It has to have a consistent yet liquid texture.
Pickled mashua
  1. With a mandoline, slice thinly your mashua form the longest side.
  2. Pour the ingredients of the pickling juice in a pot and boil them.
  3. Once the pickling juice is ready, poru them on to the mashuas so they can briefly be cooked. Keep them in cold storage.
Pickled macre pumpkin
  1. In a pot, mix the sugar, water and vinegar. Let it boil.
  2. Once the pickling juice is ready, let it cool down.
  3. Cut the macre pumpking so you can slice it through a mandoline. We recommend in pieces of 10 cms long and 2cm wide.
  4. Pour the pickling juice in the sliced macre pumpkin. Vacuum everything together so the pumpkin can absorb the juice.
Amazonian chalaca sauce
  1. Dice all the ingredients in a small brunoise.
  2. Mix them all together and add the lime juice and salt.
  3. To finish the sauce, cut thinly the sachaculantro leaf and add it to the sauce.
Plating
  1. Place around 8 units of cut razor clams in a wide-open plate. Put some sea salt on the top of each piece of razor clam.
  2. Pour some of the purple tiger milk.
  3. Strain the macre pumpkin and the pickled black mashua. Roll them and place them in 5 different spots in the dish (5 pieces of mashua and 5 pieces of pumpkin)
  4. Top your dish with some of the chalaca sauce, it should cover all the spots where you can see the purple tiger milk.
  5. To finish your dish, as a garnish, burn some jungle nuts and slice them really thinly with a mandoline. Place around 8 slices per plate.

 

 

 

 

Epicurean Montreal: Where to Eat Now in Quebec’s Culture Capital

Above image: Capsa

 

 

Montreal is a small city with a large reputation – a rep that has mainly to do with the quality of life, which includes rolling green parks, stunning architecture, friendly people…and a bountiful food scene. Much like the rest of Quebec Province, Montrealers take immense pride in using local and sustainable ingredients whenever possible, giving their cuisine a uniquely regional flavor. Not to mention the locally brewed beers and local wines sold in specialty shops around the city.

With almost six thousand restaurants and three hundred gourmet food markets, there is always something uniquely delicious waiting just around the corner. And while change comes in Montreal at a manageable pace, we made another visit recently to discover some new fave dining spots – and as ever, were not disappointed.

 

Dandy

Branded the “new brunch spot for Vieux Montreal” (meaning, the historic part of the city), this light and airy restaurant crafts coffee and cocktails with an Italian influence. And some of the best biscuits and baked goods in the city, along with their specialty œufs pochés all are perfectly complemented with a Campari spritz or two. Also, don’t miss the Vol-Au-Vent Du Moment. The strikingly designed space features dramatic arches, globe lamps, bright orange banquettes and mod schoolhouse chairs.

 

 

Beau Mont

Beau Mont is the latest venture from Normand Leprise, famed chef and restauranteur of Toque and champion of Quebecois ingredients. Located off the beaten track in Parc Extension, the sprawling but welcoming dining room is the setting for local market cuisine, featuring seasonal vegetables and refined techniques – plus, there’s an extensive wine list. The space is a work in progress, with a dedicated area acting as a showcase for the growing pool of local artisan-producers.

 

 

Pullman Wine Bar

Sophisticated design, lush décor and a fascinatingly staggered interior make for a place of uniquely low-key luxury. Pullman claims to have over 350 wines, sold by the glass or bottle, including an impressive selection of natural and hard to find bottles. Snacks come sweet or salty, yet all are simple and refined and change seasonally. The grand aioli has a rotating variety of seasonal vegetables from fresh to pickled, and the steak with chimichurri is uncommonly tender and well cooked. Servers are extensively schooled in pairings, ensuring that plats are enjoyed with a perfectly matched cuvée.

 

 

Capsa

This garden level restaurant brings dazzling Portuguese flavors to the city’s Latin Quarter. Located in the hip new Boxotel, it features a daily three-course-menu lunch offering, with dishes like vegan mushroom risotto and braised pork with clams. Highly recommended is their Francesinha, basically a Portuguese croque monsieur, made with house chorizo and a shimmering pan sauce. Capsa is located a little of of the way, but it’s worth the detour for their fresh “crafted” salads alone.

 

 

Spade & Palacio

This is the locally founded company that puts on “non-touristy tours,” taking guests to parts of Montreal they may not otherwise see. These include visiting various murals painted by local artists, bike tours and a variety of unique food tours. One of latter, the Beyond the Market Tour, begins in a handful of small, local restaurants like Los Planes on Bélanger Street, where Salvadoran pupusas (flatbreads) are filled and hand shaped, then drenched in sauce and spice at the eater’s discretion. The tour shifts to a local beer and cheese bar, multiple stops at the Jean-Talon market and a fried chicken picnic in Little Italy. With samples of locally made cheese, gelato and even 5th Wave coffee, no food corner is left unturned.

Are ‘Sound Aged’ Spirits the Next Big Tippling Trend?

Images courtesy of Quadrant Bar & Lounge

 

 

For better or worse, trendy cocktails have gotten very…sciency. But what if actual science could be applied to aging the booze itself?

As it turns out, Chris Mendenhall, lead drinks alchemist at Quadrant Bar & Lounge, tucked into the Ritz Carlton Washington D.C., realized the possibilities of aging liquor not with time, but with sound. A self-proclaimed curious mixologist, he was “always seeking ways to expand [his] knowledge. Sound-aged liquor was a journey down a ‘Google black hole’ that led to learning about technology that is being introduced into the spirit world.”

So, what is sound-aging? It’s a way of infusing sound waves into spirits, which mimic the effects of, well, aging. Mendenhall has a special process that injects wood into the spirit directly, pushing it through like a sieve. Sounds easy, right?

 

 

But according to him, “It took my team and I about a year to develop the recipes and ratios using the device we purchased.”

So what’s the benefit of sound aging? As far as he’s concerned, it’s educational. “The sound waves allow us to impart characteristics of time and help educate the guests on what whisky is, how it’s made, what re-casting is and why it all takes time.”

His most favored cocktail so far is the sound-aged negroni which he describes as, “a negroni for those that don’t like negronis, and a new twist for those that do.”

By pushing the liquor through the wood itself, all the subtle characteristics of that wood are that much more prevalent. Chris introduced a combination of wood soaked in cabernet to round out the sharpness of the newer liquor, and created a caramel-like aged flavor which mellows the finish.

 

 

So, what are the best sound-aged liquors?

“My favorite is the sound-aged Bourbon #1,” he says, “It is best showing guests just how whisky is made and what time does to whisky.”

It also happens to be made with 120-proof nine-year-old Kentucky bourbon that he processes with a customized homogenizer that “ages” spirits in under thirty minutes. According to him, the best way to enjoy it is, “neat with a sample of the unchanged base.”

The Quadrant Bar & Lounge itself is a testament to the changing face of downtown Washington D.C., which although steeped in history, has lately been enthusiastically embracing innovation. Though he doesn’t much care for “cocktails that use crazy ingredients, but instead those that you see and taste, and know that someone put a lot of thought and effort into creating – whether it be simple or complex.”

For our further enlightenment, we asked him to further elaborate on four of more popular sound-aged spirits.

 

Bourbon Style #1

An example of a pure age reflection, this bourbon shows the true power of the machine without added variables such as wood chips to mimic a cask. The“base” is a 120 proof, nine-year-old Kentucky bourbon. After being sound-aged, the “change,” yields a more mellow bourbon with pepper, leather, and vanilla notes.

Bourbon Style #2

This seven-year-old Kentucky bourbon has a “base” of 107 proof, and after being sound-aged with American Oak chips soaked in a 10-year port, the “change” yields a sweeter, richer bourbon with caramel notes.

Whiskey Style #1

The “base” is a 90 proof Tennessee sour mash whiskey. After being sound-aged with French oak chips soaked in sherry, the “change” yields an incredibly smooth whiskey with notes of corn and vanilla.

Rye Style #1

The “base” is a 100 proof, four-year-old American rye whiskey. After being sound-aged with French Oak chips soaked in cognac, the “change” yields bold hints of pepper, orange and chocolate.

 

New Favorite Cocktail: The ‘D.C. Flower Delivery’ at Cherry @ the W Washington D.C. Hotel

 

 

When we hit the reopening party for the W Washington D.C. hotel in July, there were a few really good take aways from the festivities. First, that they have one of the best room service burgers in the world, something which we happened upon via a conversation with Queer Eye‘s Antoni Porowski, who was also in attendance, enlightening us that, “You can tell a good hotel by the quality of a room service burger and fries. They have wedge fries, steak style cut, crispy AF – and you can get a raclette burger. I love a good raclette, it just oozes right off.”

We were also reminded that if you ask in the right way, you can get celebrities to do really strange/hilarious things (though we pretty much always knew that).

“[The W] had the brilliant, weird, quirky but awesome idea to do a [room service] mukbang video,” Porowski told us – and the decadent results are forever parked on the hotel’s YouTube channel.

 

Cherry restaurant

 

Perhaps more importantly, Chef de Cuisine William Morris’ of the W’s stylish new Cherry restaurant, makes a cherry pie (he gave us the recipe) that you would possibly sell your soul for. As Porowski described it, “Crispy, beautiful lattice, vanilla bean ice cream. It’s perfect, I was genuinely excited to eat it.”

But we also discovered a new favorite cocktail for fall, the extravagantly titled DC Flower Delivery. Its festival of flavors, from elderflower to peach to fennel, certainly make it a singular creation in terms of taste. But it was the presentation that ultimately seduced us – with its edible flower garnish, and elegant tissue paper wrapping.

We highly recommend sipping it in situ. But should you not have plans to make it to D.C. any time soon, we at lat convinced the Cherry team to give up the secret formula behind this ethereal creation, so you might significantly dazzle your guests at your next dinner party.

 

DC Flower Delivery

1 oz Civic Vodka
1 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
0.75 oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
0.75 oz Don Ciccio & Figli Finocchietto Fennel Liqueur
2 dashes peach bitters
Method: Add ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and strain into a coupe glass.
Add edible flowers as garnish, and tissue paper to the outside of the glass to look like a flower
bouquet.

 

BlackBook Exclusive: Modern Médi Recipes From Terrance Brennan’s Chefs Club Residency

Chefs Club

 

Multiple James Beard Award winning chef Terrance Brennan opened Picholine to instant acclaim in 1995 – but it now almost seems like a whole other lifetime ago. In the interim, his beloved E. 32nd St. restaurant Artisanal (closed in 2017) was the first in the US to have its own cheese aging cave inside.

But 2019 finds him the current resident at the epicurean temple that is Chefs Club, where he’s created the refined but approachable Côte Médi. The malleable space has been transformed into a seafood lovers paradise, filled with sizzling pans and open flames that result in exquisite char grilled langoustines and seared jumbo scallops with sabayon and black truffle.

 

Chefs Club

 

Considering he’s practically a New York culinary icon, it’s funny to see him back on the line working night after night in the kitchen. But Brennan is lit up with new vitality, practically buzzing – and working side by side with his talented sous chefs and cooks he says, “fills [him] with energy. And the sophisticated clientele invigorates me!” It’s all a prep for his next big move, which is a permanent location for Côte Médi in the city.

He maintains, “it’s all about the ingredients.” But of course, locally sourced sea urchin for fondue or tender tentacles of grilled octopus don’t come easily. He boasts relationships with local fisherman, farms and artisans, which provide the freshest products possible.

 

Chefs Club

 

So other than a new home, what’s next for him and the Côte Médi team?

“In terms of specific ingredients,” he enthuses, “I’ve been really excited about a few dishes I’m working on with various kinds of plankton. It’s the foundation of the ocean’s ecosystem, producing fifty-percent of the world’s oxygen! It’s a unique ingredient.”

Chef Brennan’s team is at Chefs Club through September 28th. But should you not be planning to be in Gotham between now and then, he was gracious enough to share a few of his most coveted recipes with BlackBook.

 

Melon Granite with Lime Espuma

Ingredients
2c cantaloupe juice, from one small melon
¾ of sweet desert wine
Juice of limes, about 1/4c
Zest of 1 lime
1c heavy cream
1Tbs sugar
Procedure
1) Mix the melon juice, wine and half the lemon juice and place it in a shallow not reactive
plan and place in the freezer. Using a fork scrap the granite every half hour until the
granite is frozen, about 2 hours
2) Bring the lime juice and sugar to a boil and mix until the sugar is dissolved, chill
3) Add lime sugar mixture and zest to the heavy cream and place in a isi canister and
charge two times
4) Divide the granite into 4 small bowls and top off with lime espuma, serve immediately
**If one does not have an isi canister you can whip the cream using a whisk or machine

 

 

Cucumber Gazpacho with Crab Salad

Ingredients
3c peeled medium diced cucumber
1c white grapes
¼ Greek yogurt
1/2c cashews, raw
2ea garlic cloves
1/4c olive oil
Salt
Cayenne pepper
Procedure
1) Place cashews in pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 min, drain
and chill
2) Place all the ingredients in a blender and process for 1 minute, strain through a fine
mesh chinois and chill
3) Divide soup into 4 soup plates, place crab in center of bowl and pour soup around

 

Crab Salad

Ingredients
6oz lump crab meat
3tbs Greek yogurt
2tsp sumac
1tbs lemon juice
1tbs shallots, finely diced
2tbs dill finely chopped
2tbs extra virgin olive oil
Procedure
1) Gently mix all the ingredients together, being careful not to break up the crabmeat,
refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Amaro Trending: A Connoisseur’s Guide w/ D.C.’s Secretive ‘Society’ Bar

 

 

 

Washington, D.C. is having a hospitality moment. Multi-million dollar investments are the order of the way for a plethora of downtown hotels; and one of the newest, and most impressive, is the makeover of the Hamilton Hotel at 14th and K.

The grand Art Deco lobby, complete with towering columns has been restored, as have the marble adorned dining rooms. And just on the other side of the many-Emmy-winning HBO show’s finale, a Veep themed oval office suite just begs for a scandalous political tryst. And the Hamilton’s Via Sophia restaurant has already made the Eater “15 Hottest Restaurants in D.C.” list.

 

 

However, we were most excited for relatively hush hush (and sexy) Society, an intimate, fourteen seat cocktail lounge. Tucked away in a hidden hallway near the main lobby, and full of snogging-friendly nooks, the space is modeled after the Yale’s notorious Skull and Bones meeting hall, The Tomb.

Part social space and part library, with wood-paneled walls and carefully handcrafted moldings, the décor serves as a nod to the renowned French-born architect Jules-Henrí de Sibour, who originally designed the Hamilton in 1922, and who (wink wink) happened to be a member of Yale’s secret society.

 

 

The cocktail program, helmed by beverage “Majordomo” Maurizio Arberi is more glorious than notorious, with creative takes on Italian classics and regional spirits trends. To wit, a pair of rums from local distiller Cotton & Reed (at Union Market) are a standout feature. But, nodding to the influence of Italia, amaro is treated as the star here. Arberi, who hails from Southern Italy, explains, that “in traditional Italian culture, amaro is considered an everyday drink, typically consumed after a meal, and mainly after coffee, on the rocks or neat accompanied by orange or lemon zest.”

The inherent complexity of amaro, which can be flavored using herbs, flowers, or fruit peels, lends itself to a variety of complex and surprising cocktails. And global trend chasing has led to amaro becoming, as Arberi states it, “a go-to spirit for curated craft cocktails all over the world.”

So, which ones do we drink and how should we drink them?

“I personally love to work with the six below,” Arberi enthuses. “Each are quite unique, produced in the motherland or right here in D.C.”

 

Amaro Delle Sirene

Don Ciccio e Figli / Washington, D.C.

Eucalyptus, Chicory, Passion flower, Chamomile
I found this Amaro here in D.C. through the owner Francesco, and this is probably my favorite. The smoothness and elegance the barrel gives to this amaro, makes it easy to combine with most of all spirits and liquor. This is great with nocino (Walnut) or in a Negroni, but is also fantastic on the rocks.

Vecchio Amaro del Capo 

Caffo / Calabria, Italy

Bitter Orange, Licorice, Tangerine, Cinnamon
Amaro del capo is an icon. From Calabria, where my mother is from, this used to be one of the most popular. For a while, it disappeared from the bar scene, and now it can be found virtually everywhere. It’s very easy to finish a bottle of this, it’s like a nectar. Best kept in the freezer and served straight,

 

 

 

 

Santa Maria al Monte 

Santa Maria al Monte, Genova, Italy

Aloe Ferox, Angelica Root, Myrrh, Ginseng
This amaro is very different from the others, high in proof (80) like a liquor, as the sirene is aged in barrel for a year. Very full and intense flavor, I love to drink this after dinner on the rocks with a slice of lemon; but it is also good with sodas.

 

Ramazzotti 

Pernod Ricard / Canelli, Italy

Galangal, Star Anise, Cinnamon, Kola Nut
Amaro Ramazzotti, not to be confused with the famous Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti, is an iconic amaro in Italy, and now all over the world. This one is also nice with tonic water and a slice of lemon.

 

 

 

Zucca Rabarbaro 

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II / Milan, Italy

Cardamom, Chinese Rhubarb, Orange, Angelica Root
This Amaro is more of an aperitivo and less after dinner drink. I still remember the commercial was everywhere when I was growing up in Italy. Over there, it’s as popular as Campari. This is an overall well balanced amaro with a flavor of rhubarb. As with many amaros, you can combine the Zucca Rabarbaro perfectly with soda water, tonic and ginger ale or sprite, and some even like it with coke. I like it on the rocks simple.

 

Amaro Cerasum 

Don Ciccio e Figli / Washington, D.C.

Three types of Cherries, Sakura Blossoms, Gentian, Orange
This one is a revolutionary amaro with a very interesting complexity, between the bitter hint you can find in Campari and the sweetness of the cherry. It was presented a few years ago in honor of the cherry blossoms here in D.C. This is great in a negroni instead of Campari, and I personally like it with mezcal. 

 

Aquatic Opulence: NYC’s Lavish New Lamia’s Fish Market Redefines Nautical Style

 

 

 

One generally doesn’t associate fish with opulence. But the lavish new Lamia’s Fish Market, named for owner and restaurateur Lamia Funti (who was named for a Greek goddess) was actually conceived as an artistic showcase for her artfully presented coastal Mediterranean cuisine.

She says the concept behind LFM was to devise a menu “that’s just as fun and sexy as the environment. It was my long-time dream to create a restaurant with a seductive setting, designed with women in mind.”

 

 

The centerpiece is a fantastical mural by Michela Martello, depicting the tale of the mythological sea goddess Lamia, adorning an original brick wall. The space is lit by Sailor Jerry tattooed lighting fixtures, handed painted by artists Bryan Farrell and Elle Gregg. The walls also hold thematically appropriate artworks by Will Kurtz, John Coca, Dave Vasquez and Michael Delfino.

A self dubbed “seafood-centric eatery,” this plush Poseidon’s lair feels like a deep dive under the blue. Even the ceiling, an undulating incoming wave, incorporates a suspended coral reef installation, layering starfish with slabs of wood from Indonesia and Japanese fishing float lights. Conceived by former costume designer Dara Young, founder of Aviva Collective and 4FRONT Hospitality Development – who brought with her a unique background in costume design – it features a prodigious raw bar at its heart.

 

 

Mother of pearl displays, a living moss wall and a hand painted barnacle sculpture give you an idea of the commitment to theme here. While statues of water nymphs keep watch over guests enjoying a daily rotating selection of oysters and ceviches.

Even the bar, thoughtfully sourced from recessed salvaged portholes, deck lights, and steel, is the perfect nautical setting for sipping the specialty Mermaid Sangria, made with seasonal berries and cinnamon.

But for all the dazzle, the food easily rises to match it. There’s an intriguing selection of ceviches and crudos, as well as Madagascar prawns and red snapper taquitos. For the main event, diners are encouraged to pick their own fish from the ice laden bar and decide how they would like it prepared (just don’t be clever and ask for branzino wellington).

The kitchen was kind enough to share a couple of its signature recipes with us. But, really, you just have to go and see the place.

 

Salt Baked Fish

  • a whole fish at least 2lbs (preferably a branzino or red snapper)
  • lemons
  • garlic cloves
  • rosemary & thyme
  • 1lbs kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
Stuff fish with sliced lemons, smashed whole garlic cloves, rosemary and thyme
Set it aside
Beat 3 egg white until stiff
Add one pound of kosher salt to the egg whites, fold slowly
Put a layer of the mixture on a pan large enough to cover the bottom of the fish
Place the whole fish on top
Cover the fish with the mixture until fish is completely covered
Set the over to 400 degrees
Bake the fish for 20 minutes
Take it out
Let it sit for a couple of minutes
Smash the hard salt cover
Enjoy with your favorite side

 

Spicy Mignonette

  • 1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon la-yu chili oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pickle diced red onions and Persian cucumbers on the aide
Mix all ingredients together (but the onions and cucumbers)
Let it sit for an hour
Pour the mignonette on top of oysters
Dress with picked onions and cucumbers

 

 

Tiki Trending: Exclusive Summer Cocktail Recipes From Brooklyn’s New ‘Yaki Tiki’ Pop-Up

 

 

Confirming a fairly reliable but welcome cycle, tiki drinks are one of this season’s hottest imbibing trends; and no surprise, as temps continue to soar, the crushed ice and rum begins to flow. But leave it to the impressively creative team behind Sunday in Brooklyn to combine their love of both tiki and yakitori to conceive Yaki Tiki, which will surely be an insanely popular pop-up at the A/D/O building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn every weekend this summer.

Here, their award winning cocktail magic highlights whimsical takes on classics – to wit, using shochu, a classic Japanese liquor, as well as traditional rum. Kitschy tipples are served in hollowed out pineapples, empty honey bears or even frozen into boozy popsicle form. And JT Vuong, one of the masterminds behind the Yaki Tiki concept enthuses of the inspirations, “one of the most beautiful aspects of living in New York is being situated at a cultural crossroads.”

 

 

 

And of course, the yaki portion of the menu is a selection of Japanese yakitori: assorted meats and vegetables that are skewered and grilled to order.

It’s all a warm up for when the Sunday Hospitality Group opens Rule of Thirds later this year. There, Brian Evans, Director of Bars, plans on featuring, “American classics that draw on Japanese influence for techniques and flavor.” Chef George Padilla (Okonomi / Yuji Ramen) calls it, “a dream project for me that connects the dots between so many talented people.”

Should you have no plans to be anywhere near Greenpoint between now and September, we asked Evans to turn us on to the secrets behind some of his grooviest Yaki Tiki drink creations.

 

Umami Grog

1.25 oz Tequila Reposado
0.75 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
0.5 oz grapefruit juice
0.5 oz lime juice
0.5 oz miso-honey syrup*
0.25 oz cinnamon syrup**
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
MOP: Whip ingredients with a few pellets of pebble ice until combined. Pour contents into plastic Honeybear bottle and pack with pebble ice. To garnish, wrap a long pineapple frond around the neck of the Honeybear bottle and pin with umbrella skewer to hold in place.
*For the Miso-Honey Syrup:
200g honey
100g yellow miso
200g very hot water
MOP: Stir miso and hot water until combined, then add honey and continue to stir until combined.
**For the Cinnamon Syrup:
400g very hot water
400g caster sugar
50 grams crushed cinnamon sticks
MOP: Bring crushed cinnamon sticks and hot water to medium heat and let steep for 10 minutes, then stir in sugar until combined. Keep in the refrigerator overnight unstrained until ready to use.

 

 

 

Blue Kawaii (pictured top)

0.75 oz Plantation 3-star Rum
0.5 oz Wray and Nephew Overproof Jamaican Rum
0.5 oz Giffard Blue Curacao
0.5 oz Jokigen Yuzu Sake
0.25 oz Coconut Milk
0.25 oz Coco Lopez
0.25 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Mango-Pandan Shrub*
MOP: Whip ingredients with a few pellets of pebbled ice until combined. Pour into tiki mug, top with more pebble ice, and garnish lavishly.
*For the Mango-Pandan Shrub:
2 pandan leaves
300g mango, cut in small pieces
300g rice wine vinegar
300g caster sugar
MOP: Combine pandan leaves and rice wine vinegar into a medium-sized pot and heat on medium for 15 minutes, then stir in sugar until dissolved. Reduce to medium-low heat and let mango chunks cook down for an additional 15 minutes. Let ingredients steep in the refrigerator overnight, then strain.

 

Watermelon Popsicles (Boozy)

Makes 20 3oz popsicles
6 cups strawberries, tops removed
6 cups watermelon, rind removed and cut into cubes
2 cups kiwi, skin removed
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 cup white rum
1/2 cup water
1 cup chocolate crisps pearls
MOP:
  1. Cook strawberries, sugar, and salt in a pot on medium heat until strawberries begin to break down.
  2. Transfer to a blender and pulse until smooth.
  3. Add cubed watermelon and rum, and continue to blend until fully incorporated.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until fully cooled.
  5. Mix in the chocolate pearls.
  6. Fill popsicle molds leaving approximately 1cm unfilled at the top. Freeze for 1 hour.
  7. While the watermelon mix is freezing, blend kiwis and water until smooth.
  8. Once watermelon mix is frozen to the touch, fill the remaining space in each mold with the kiwi mix.
  9. Now that the popsicles are firm enough, you can insert the popsicle sticks and they won’t move around.
  10. Continue to freeze for at least 4 hours.
*To make this non-boozy, just add an additional 1.5 cups of watermelon.

A Mezcal Union Guide to Authentic Mexico City Nightspots

 

 

Despite the speed of liquor fads these days, still trending high in the spirits world this season is smokey, sultry mezcal – with its roots in Oaxaca and generations of tradition. And one of our favorites is Mexico’s Mezcal Union, whose Alejandro Champion we had the chance to chat with about their overall philosophy.

Of course, with popularity comes demand, and with that, the fear of lost quality for quantity is always a concern – something that Mezcal Unión has actively addressed. How? Their mission of “uniting Oaxaca’s farmers and producers.” Which has made it possible for agave, which is a finicky plant, to thrive. All with the end goal of improving their palenques (distilleries) and ensuring more top quality mezcal production for years to come.

As Champion puts it, he and his partners “decided to come together to make a product they and their country could be proud of, by creating a ‘union’ meant to benefit the indigenous families of Oaxaca.”

 

 

Is their plan working? The numbers speak for themselves. At least 255,000 brand new agave have been replanted in the the past three years alone.

The company has also expanded to a series of restaurants, bars and events, spreading across the globe. They refer to it as the “Archipélago” because “it is a large company made of up of many smaller projects.” One such new partnership for this summer will be Cafe Paraíso, an offshoot of the Mexico City nightspot, this one located in the backyard at Roberta’s in Bushwick. It will be a season-long homage to the intense but elegant spirit.

And though we’re planning to spend quite a bit of time at the Brooklyn Paraíso in the coming months, we took the opportunity to actually ask Champion about the best places to drink mezcal in his beloved Mexico City. Here are his five recommendations, and what to drink at each.

 

Cicatriz Cafe

Cocktail: Yoko (Mezcal Union El Joven, Grapefruit Juice, Aperol, Sparkling wine) / Bartender: Jake Lindeman

Cicatriz is a place created by five authentic persons, whose personalities, taste and spirit are represented in every detail of this cafe. It is a very unique place in Mexico City, a casual cafe, restaurant and cocktail bar, all in one. In my opinion it brought a very different vibe to the city. Very simple menu, but everything on it is simply delicious. And the atmosphere is very international. You see people from different countries, cultures, but all enjoying and creating one great scene.

 

 

Café Paraíso

Cocktail: Maurito (Mezcal Unión El Joven, Lemon juice, Guava pure, Tonic water) / Bartender: Edsel

A fun, tropical dance bar, it’s located in the heart of Colonia Roma. If you feel like dancing and sweating away the stress, having some good tiki vibe cocktails and mezcal, in a very casual, non pretentious atmosphere, this is the place. The music program is one of my favorites, very eclectic:  cumbia, salsa, reggaeton, hip hop. Transports you to a crazy party on an island, when in fact you are in the middle of Mexico City.

 

 

Páramo

Cocktail: Pepino (Mezcal Union El Joven, Macerated Cucumber, Lemon juice, Ginger Syrup, Rosemary and Sparkling water)

Páramo is a family business, which is what I love the most about it. There are not many times you get to see mom and sons running the show. It exemplifies the core of Mexican culture in a very contemporary way, yet it is authentic to the bone. A place where you can sit down, drink mezcal, and eat the best antojos Mexicanos. It’s a cantina vibe, but very comfortable, the architectural design and details transport you to the most mystical aspects of Mexican Prehispánica culture. A place to hang, laugh and have a good time.

 

 

Contramar

Drink: Straight Mezcal Union El Viejo with oranges and worm salt / Chef: Gaby Cámara

Gaby Cámara is one of the persons that I admire the most. A young woman who has represented the values of Mexico from an early age, through her kitchen and hard work. Contramar exemplifies the core of Mexican hospitality, and Mexican cuisine. A place that proves that Mexico is warm hearted culture, with extraordinarily good food. A must to visit when in CDMX.

 

 

Limantour

Cocktail: Mezcal Stalk (Mezcal Union El Joven, Pineapple juice, Agave syrup, Worm salt) / Bartender: José Luis León

Limantour happens to be the first relevant cocktail bar in CDMX, a pioneering place that has represented Mexico throughout the world, and an institution for the industry. It is a Mexican cocktail bar, which defied all odds by venturing into a category when no one was really looking for it. A cradle of the new world bartender culture.