How Shipwrecked Champagne Is Changing Winemaking: In 2010 Dominique Demarville, cellar master for the champagne house Veuve Clicquot, got what he thought was a joke call: 168 bottles of likely the world’s oldest champagne had been found in a shipwreck beneath the Baltic Sea. Soon Demarville was sniffing and sipping the 170-year-old champagne, which he found sweet and fresh, although some tasters described its initial scent as “wet hair.” The dark, cool sea had preserved it in what researchers called “close to perfect” conditions. Four years later Veuve Clicquot launched Cellar in the Sea. Some 350 bottles were submerged in the Baltic, to be retrieved and analyzed periodically over 40 years.
Why Lucky Peach Is More Than Just a Magazine for Food Geeks: In 2012, Lucky Peach published a story, purportedly based on a series of emails from a writer named Sydney Finch, who claimed to have found evidence that the Chinese invented spaghetti with tomato sauce. It was an amusing, irreverent spoof on the transcontinental noodle rivalry between China and Italy, as well as a loving paean to China’s remarkable culinary contributions to the world. Nerdy and weird in all the best ways, it was also the kind of story Lucky Peach published in each of its quarterly issues. But this week, Eater reported that the critically acclaimed magazine will lay off all its staff and probably fold in May. (Today, editorial director Peter Meehan confirmed the news on Lucky Peach’s website.) When that happens, it will be a loss not just for food lovers, but for people everywhere who appreciate deep, idiosyncratic storytelling.
Rick Stein, interview: I said I’d never open in London so this took a lot of soul-searching: Rick Stein is enthusing about a meal he had recently at McDonald’s in Australia. “I always order a Grand Angus burger,” says the TV chef and restaurateur. “It’s fabulous — really thought-through and a bit indulgent — too much cream, too many chips, but very nice. A lot of my customers wouldn’t go to a McDonald’s but we are all after the same thing in this business: pleasing the customer. I don’t know why people get so aerated about it. I like McDonald’s.”
How hard is it to be a chef and a mother with young children? I’d known Fergus for five months when we got married and three months later Hector was conceived. We were having a great time together cooking at the French House and I continued working hard, but that got increasingly exhausting. My legs were giving out at the stove and I wanted to be in bed at midnight rather than cleaning down a kitchen. I remember crying a lot.
Are pantry schemes the new food banks? Over two hours before the Brinnington Local Pantry opens, Christine arrives to take her seat at the head of the queue. She says she doesn’t mind waiting in line for food: friends and neighbours will join her there, it’s pretty much a social occasion, and anyway, it’s worth getting in early to get the best choice. “The pantry is a lifeline for me; I don’t have much money. If I didn’t have this I would not have food on some days, there’s many a time I would have gone without.”
Anson: The last little guys of Pauillac: It’s not all multi-million euro mansion houses and vineyard estates in this vaunted appellation on Bordeaux’s Left Bank. Jane Anson meets the winemakers who still represent another side of Pauillac.
The Absolute Best Negroni in New York: People think the Negroni is an idiotproof cocktail. They’ll argue that the drink — a simple construct, usually made of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari — is good everywhere you go, because it’s roughly the same everywhere you go, and impossible to fuck up. Nonsense. While it’s rare to find a truly bad Negroni, some are measurably better than others. And the six versions below are New York’s absolute best.
The 38 Essential Tokyo Restaurants: Until you touch down in Tokyo, it is impossible to grasp the sheer size and density of the city — or the depth of its food culture. It is one of the largest conurbations on the planet, with well over 100,000 restaurants to feed its huge, hungry population. And there is so much more to eat than just sushi and ramen. From rarefied kaiseki (Japan’s traditional and often highly formalized cuisine) and French haute cuisine to hearty izakaya taverns and mom-and-pop diners, the sheer variety is breathtaking.
One Wine Glass to Rule Them All: At some point along every wine drinker’s arc of discovery, the time comes to invest in a set of glasses. Choosing the right one may seem complicated, confusing and occasionally overwhelming. The process can be fraught with anxiety, as many different glass styles are available, and points of view clash on what is proper and necessary.