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John Mariani Misses the "Molecular" Boat

John Mariani Misses the


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"Last year," my esteemed colleague John Mariani wrote recently, in both his regular Esquire column and his weekly newsletter, "chef José Andrés was named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. This year, Pres. and Mrs. Obama celebrated Valentine’s Day [at his minibar restaurant]. With all that success, you’d think that the molecular cuisine Andrés is selling would take the nation’s capital, and the rest of the nation, by storm. But the fact is, despite tremendous media hype… the expansion and influence of that avant garde cuisine has been next to zero."

Now, I don't like silly food, avant-garde or otherwise, any more than Mariani does, and the sight of a menu in which every kind of fruit and vegetable and animal protein has been turned into foams and powders and things that smoke and bubble is enough to send me running to the nearest Dairy Queen.

But Mariani's remarkable contention that avant garde cuisine has had no influence is so far off base as to be absolutely stunning. It reminds me of a preppy-looking soccer dad I overheard, four or five years ago in a park in Greenwich, assuring his tween-age son that "All that rap and hip-hop music is over now. Nobody listens to it anymore."

There are two big things wrong with what Mariani says: First, he maintains that, besides wd-50 in Manhattan and Alinea in Chicago, the "molecular" restaurants in the U.S. — I put the term in quotes because, though it has become common shorthand for a certain kind of cooking, it is essentially a meaningless description, emphatically denounced by the chefs who developed the idiom in the first place — can be numbered on the fingers of two hands. They are, he says, Schwa, Moto, and Grace, all in Chicago; Atelier Crenn and Coi in San Francisco; The Pass in Houston; Catbird Seat in Nashville, and Atera, Eleven Madison Park, and Chef’s Table in New York City, the last three of which, he adds, "are using minimal modernist techniques."

This is a perplexing statement. Surely, Mariani, who travels the country investigating new restaurants almost constantly, has heard of, and probably dined in, oh, say, AnQi Gourmet Bistro in Costa Mesa, California, or, up the coast, Manresa in Los Gatos and Baumé in Palo Alto; Castagna in Portland, Oregon, and Hugo's in Portland, Maine; Spur Gastropub in Seattle, Rogue 24 in Washington D.C., L20 and Tru in Chicago, Clio and Salts in Boston, Sustenio outside San Antonio, McCrady's in Charleston, Adara in Montclair, New Jersey, for heaven's sake, among many, many others. For that matter, Stephan Pyles, one of the chefs Mariani contrasts with the modernist crew in his piece, for "focusing on Texas cookery at Stampede 66 in Dallas," incorporates ginger sand, blue cheese pop rocks, beet sponge with goat cheese espuma, and guajillo chile "roe," among other avant-garderies, into his menus at his Stephan Pyles restaurant, also in Dallas.

Well, yes, Mariani might well argue, but these aren't full-blown "molecular" restaurants, just places that "are using minimal modernist techniques." Aha! That's the second problem with what Mariani is proposing.

Rap and hip-hop are everywhere today, maybe not as much in their old-school forms as they once were, but inserting their accents and devices all over pop music, movie and TV soundtracks, and commercials (not to mention fashion and language). As Jacob Rubin noted of Kurt Vonnegut's literary influence (in a review of a volume of Vonnegut stories in New York Magazine a couple of years ago), rap and hip-hop have become "so ubiquitous as to be invisible." The same is true of "molecular" or modernist or avant garde cuisine.

So Ferran Adrià's "modernist razzle-dazzlements are few and far between in American restaurants," as Mariani suggests? The hell they are. They're everywhere — at least they are if, by "modernist razzle-dazzlements" you mean the use of sous-vide cooking with immersion circulators, liquid nitrogen, anti-griddles, Rotaval distillation units, and other contemporary kitchen tools (which are, by the way, no more revolutionary today than the food processor or the gas range were when they were first introduced). They are if we're talking about the incorporation of techniques like spherification (which in effect turns liquids into tender solids enclosed by gelled layers of themselves) and the production of those much-maligned foams, and the addition of "chemicals" like carrageenan, xanthan gum, gellan, agar, sodium alginate, and calcium chloride to foods. (Can anybody explain, incidentally, why calcium chloride is a "chemical" and sodium chloride — table salt — isn't?)

Almost every serious chef in America today — that is, any chef who is attempting some level of haute cuisine — uses at least some of these tools. Thomas Keller does. Daniel Boulud does. David Chang does, even though he's best known for roast pork butt and savory buns. "Molecular" cuisine may or may not be thriving in its (highly) original sense — though I'd argue that it is, at least as much as experimental theatre or electronic music or any other artistic form that by nature and design appeals mostly to an audience of the initiated. Its influence, on the other hand, far from being "next to zero," is next to impossible to avoid.


The Best New Restaurants in America, 2012

For the twenty-eighth year, I've scoured the U.S. in search of the very best new restaurants for our November issue &mdash twenty of them, including the single, very best of them all, Chef of the Year, Restaurateur of the Year, Design of the Year, and Dish of the Year, along with five chefs to keep your eye on, and a few more restaurants you don't want to miss. Not to mention our Hostess of the Year.

The variety &mdash of both cuisine and geography &mdash has more breadth and depth than ever before: great Mexican food at Barrio Queen in Scottsdale, Arizona unexpected Italian excellence at Campo in Reno, Nevada knockout Austrian wursts and beer at Bierbeisl in Beverly Hills and a completely novel take on bar fare at Sobou in New Orleans.

Innovation was rampant, with American dim sum at the weirdly named State Bird Provisions in San Francisco and way advanced gastropub food at the Macintosh in Charleston.

There was splash and dash, too, from the sensational design of Juvia, overlooking Miami Beach, and the barn-like grandeur and great American seafood at our Restaurant of the Year, the Optimist in Atlanta. At Underbelly, chef-owner Chris Shepherd is giving us all a lesson in what it calls "The Story of Houston" through his cooking, while at the Nomad in New York City, Daniel Humm has literally transformed all our traditional ideas about roast chicken with his masterpiece version, stuffed with foie gras and truffles. And, after four decades, Roberto Donna of Al Dente in Washington, DC, proves himself still to be the best Italian chef in America.

It only occurred to me well after writing the story that there was no bonafide French restaurant on the list, which would have been a serious, even stupid omission in the past. But it just wasn't a big year for la cuisine francaise, except to say that just about every chef that did make our list is deeply indebted to the precision, technique, and respect for ingredients that is the basis of French cuisine.

So-called "molecular cuisine" and "modernist cuisine" have still not proven to be much more than pricey gee-wizardry when it comes to taste and delectability, and the current fad by chefs to forbid guests any choice in food or beverages on a pre-set menu is not likely to make much traction except as very expensive novelties.

When I made my final list, based on scores of visits to restaurants in twenty American cities, I was looking for great, distinctive food that people will delight in eating, places you'll want to tell your friends about, take your loved ones to, use the expense account on.

These are places where the owners count on you to become a regular and make you happy. Tell them Esquire sent you. That will make them happy.

Click on to read about all of Esquire's Best New Restaurants 2012.


1. King Cake at Laurel Street Bakery

King Cake is a braided sweet bread shaped into a circle and covered with icing and colored sprinkles&mdashtypically green, representing faith, purple for justice, and gold for power. The treat is customarily enjoyed from Three Kings Day, also known as Epiphany on January 6, leading up to Mardi Gras and the start of the Lenten season, when people tend to abstain from such indulgences.

Laurel Street Bakery makes it from scratch with brioche dough that's hand-braided with cinnamon and sugar, and filled with cream cheese, apple, strawberry, or praline. Owner Hillary Guttman prides herself on creating a space that organically gathers the community. After Hurricane Katrina, the bakery was among the first places residents could go for a cup of coffee and sense of belonging, she says. That spirit of conviviality is precisely why Laurel Street Bakery has become a special place for New Orleanians. Civic leaders are regular patrons and the Mayor's Office even used the bakery as a location for a recent video shoot.


Easy Alternative to Antifouling Paint

Some time back, in the 1980&rsquos, the French Navy were moored for a week on Biscayne Bay, off the coast of France. When they pulled up anchor and left, the fishermen found their oysters in very poor condition. The toxins from the huge fleet&rsquos antifouling obviously had a devastating effect. Thus a Canadian, innovative, marine group set about developing a unique, underwater, &ldquoFoul Release&rdquo wax that helps prevent attachment and provides a more easily cleanable surface as a much better environmental alternative.

Since then, Easy-On Bottom Coating has been used by over 100,000 boaters globally. This unique, clear coating forms an instant molecular bond to any hull be it fibreglass, aluminum pontoons, wood, inflatables or fenders. Easy-On can also be used over old, sound, hard antifouling paint. The THINNER it is applied, the BETTER it works! You can treat a 24 ft boat &ldquoin minutes&rdquo with just a soft cloth and one 15 Oz bottle of Easy-On, MSR $49.95.

Friction is also reduced, and the hull tends to self clean as it moves through the water, so you are getting increased performance and using less fuel. The New Zealand Coast Guard reported up to 2 MPH better top speed over a measured mile with this product.

Easy-On kept 98 % of Zebra Mussels off static plates in a Lake St Clair test, done by a leading University researcher. It is rated full season freshwater and intermittent salt water use (racked and trailered boats). Fountain boat enthusiasts and competitive boaters have used Easy-On for years.

A boater&rsquos tip: During the season, if you see any fuzz develop, pull over to a sand bar and sponge wipe the boat clean. Each year, no need to remove the wax, just clean the hull as usual and apply one more THIN, THIN coat, allow 12 hours to cure, and launch. How Easy-On is that!

Available at leading marinas in Canada and USA , or for those in out of town areas, by mail order in days.


Taste of a decade: 1980s restaurants

Despite an off-and-on economy, the 1980s was a decade in which Americans ate out more often than ever before. Gone were the days when people indulged in a nice restaurant dinner only when traveling or celebrating a birthday or anniversary. Now no reason was needed at all. Restaurants were for convenience, but also for entertainment, pleasure, new experiences, and sometimes only incidentally for nourishment.

A food elite emerged, composed of frequent restaurant-goers with insatiable hunger for new cuisines and unfamiliar foods. Paralleling the growth of the food elite were chefs who became famous as they gave interviews, dashed off cookbooks, and demonstrated cooking techniques on the dais and the small screen. “Food is now the stuff of status,” said wine and restaurant critic Robert Finigan in 1983, comparing the public’s adoration of chefs to their awe of fine artists.

A growing interest in healthier diets influenced restaurant menus, which began to feature less red meat and more pasta, fish, and chicken dishes. Concern with smoking and drunk driving brought changes too, as restaurants set aside non-smoking sections and saw their liability insurance premiums rise even as drink orders declined.

The food fashion cycle quickened as diners discovered a taste for arugula, radicchio, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, sushi, crab cakes, Pad Thai, mesquite grilling, and fresh ingredients. Meanwhile old favorites such as steak and baked potato, tossed salad, and cheesecake seemed dull.

Though shunned by the food elite, corporate chain restaurants continued to grow and thrive. By the middle of the decade 540 chains managed 60,000 fast-food restaurants, employing over half of the nation’s restaurant workforce. Restaurant groups proliferated, ranging from those that owned a dozen or fewer restaurants in one city to groups controlling hundreds of franchises throughout a region. Independent restaurateurs, too, found it increasingly attractive to operate more than one restaurant.

Traditional eating places, from the humblest to the grandest, suffered from intense competition. Losers included coffee shops, Cantonese Chinese and red-checkered Italian restaurants, and even sanctums of haute French cuisine.

Black men, who formed the basic waiter corps of the 19th century, largely disappeared from restaurant dining rooms and kitchens, replaced by immigrants, white college students, and white women. A 1981 study conducted in NYC found that Black workers rejected the low pay and poor conditions typically found in restaurant kitchens, preferring to take better jobs in industry if they could. Racial discrimination also kept them from waiting jobs in some instances and the limited number of Black-owned restaurants prevented widespread training in kitchen skills and entrepreneurship.

Though conditions were improving, women also faced continuing discrimination in restaurant work. Many luxury restaurants rejected them as waitstaff in the belief that patrons attributed higher status to male servers. Other objections were their alleged “boyfriend problems” and lack of “tableside” skills such as meat carving and salad making. An article in the trade journal Restaurant Hospitality noted that while more women had become bartenders, chefs, and managers by end of the decade, “For women, the American foodservice industry is still rife with barriers.” In the kitchen, women tended to be confined to pastry and pantry. Some women chefs said the solution was to open their own restaurants even though they might have to take on a male partner to get financing.

1981 Social indicators – small families, working women, projected long-term increases in real income and leisure, and more single-person households — promise growth in restaurant going according to a Bank of America Small Business report.

1982 Having introduced nouvelle cuisine at Ma Maison in Los Angeles, Chef Wolfgang Puck presents “California cuisine” to patrons of his new chic-casual Sunset Strip restaurant, Spago. Pizza with Duck Sausage wins quick stardom.

1983 The Food Marketing Institute reports that 2/3 of all fish consumed in the U.S. is eaten in restaurants. In Seattle, Colonial-themed Mad Anthony’s executes a style and cuisine turnabout, replacing a beefy Steak & Kidney Pye-style menu with seafood. Onto the auction block go pewter plates, crocks, jugs, and replica muskets, along with a Nacho Cheese Dispenser.

1984 With the opening of Spiaggia in Chicago, Chicagoans learn that Italian doesn’t inevitably mean spaghetti and candles in Chianti bottles, as they sample pumpkin-stuffed pasta and goose carpaccio with shaved white truffles. With dinner for two easily totaling $100 [about $228 now], they learn it often means higher prices too.

1985 Even as restaurant patrons in much of the country search out new restaurants and cuisines, Southerners remain loyal to cafeterias, with five major chains operating from 84 to 149 units each. In Milwaukee, taverns continue to do brisk business serving deep fried fish on Friday nights.

1986 Most restaurant reviewers contributing to John Mariani’s Coast-to-Coast Dining Guide report that their towns have better restaurants and a wider selection of ethnic cuisines than ten years earlier. A number of cities lag behind, though, including Minneapolis and Chicago where many cling to meat and potatoes, and Columbus OH which has the dubious distinction of serving as a test market for fast food chains.

1987 With new laws holding restaurants responsible for customers who cause drunk driving injuries, rising numbers of liability lawsuits against restaurants, and ballooning insurance premiums, American Express promises protection to restaurants that accept its charge card.

1989 The “largest ever” bias lawsuit involving a restaurant chain is filed against the 1,500-unit Shoney’s and its head Ray Danner. The suit by the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund charges that Shoney’s sets limits on how many Black workers can be hired in each outlet, keeps them in jobs out of public view, and punishes white supervisors who refuse to go along with the program.


The Best Breakfast Places in America

Our unranked, incomplete, and unimpeachable list of the best breakfasts across the country. No brunch allowed.

Our unranked, incomplete, and unimpeachable list of the best breakfasts across the country. No brunch allowed. Does your favorite joint make it? Plus: Dishes chefs make in the morning, the ultimate pantry, and our all-you-can-eat guide to breakfast

The lines are long, and the service is perpetually overwhelmed, but the Waysider offers a subtle red-eye gravy and the most straight-up cheese grits in the free world.

1512 Greensboro Avenue 205-345-8239

The corned-beef hash comes out perfectly round and at least as good. Also, the homemade strawberry preserves for the biscuits come in a squeeze bottle. Somehow, it works.

805 Donaghey Avenue 501-327-5447, stobys.com

If you've never had a Japanese breakfast, give yourself over to the gohan (rice with raw egg), sliced fish cakes, broiled salted salmon, pickles, spiced seaweed, and miso soup &mdash a sane and fortifying idea for breakfast, as it turns out, particularly if you'll be climbing San Francisco's hills.

I always get the perfect seat and don't have to ask twice for coffee. I don't know if it was deliberate on their part, but the community table in the open kitchen makes good on its promise by seating 11, so it can't be all twosomes. The chef is Amaryll Schwertner, who studied neuroscience before turning to cooking. She makes the classics, but she proves that breakfast isn't routine with preparations that sound fancy but are worshipful of the flavors of breakfast: hot beignets with yogurt and rosemary-scented raspberry sauce ricotta with coffee-poached dates, pistachios, and sunflower honey and poached eggs with Dungeness crab, sesame oil, and Japanese sea salt. &mdash Francine Maroukian

1 Ferry Building Marketplace 415-399-1155, bouletteslarder.com

*After breakfast on a Saturday, you're only a few steps away from one of the biggest farmer's markets in California. Find Blue Bottle Coffee &mdash they'll take a few long minutes to craft your cup, but it will change the way you think about coffee.

Walk up to O'Groats early on a weekend morning and there is a sure sign that the place is good: By 7:15, they have an urn of coffee and a cooler of water set up on the sidewalk to sate the crowds that will soon line up for breakfast.

We couldn't figure out what LewMarNel meant, but we're thinking Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, and something else. If Bonnie is working, ask her what to eat. If not, get the pancakes.

901 Park Avenue 530-542-3468

Park your bike by the berms of sand blown from Hollywood Beach down the street. Sit at the counter &mdash always the counter &mdash among the regulars from the Navy base. Observe the patriotic murals and the collection of American flags, five of which have flown over Iraq. Then order one of the bazooka-sized breakfast burritos, or the French toast with cool strawberries, or the huevos rancheros with their soft chunks of tomatoes and jalapeños. Ask for the home fries, the thick ones grilled all morning in paprika, garlic salt, Parmesan cheese, and probably some other stuff. On summer Sundays, sing along as Brim, the owner, leads the whole packed Hut in a chorus of "God Bless America." It won't seem weird at all. &mdash Mattew Belloni

117 Los Altos Drive 805-985-9151

Larry King had quintuple-bypass surgery more than 20 years ago, and that makes a man diet-conscious. His usual breakfast, on page eight of the menu at Nate 'n Al, is the Larry King Matzo Brei. It's fried matzo with egg whites using very little oil. Just don't order it the way Larry does &mdash burnt. "I was raised on well-done," King says. "I like steak well-done. I like fish well-done. I like my toast burnt. I was eating in a French restaurant in New York once. I ordered a cheese omelet. I never order eggs. I hate eggs. So I said, 'I want it burnt. A lot of cheese, and burn it.' The chef came out holding up the slip with burnt cheese omelet written on it and said, 'Who ordered this?' I raised my hand. He said, 'You! Leave!' " Nate 'n Al's will serve it the way you like. Even burnt. &mdash Cal Fussman

414 North Beverly Drive 310-274-0101, natenal.com

The waitresses call the regulars by name, guys like Vic and Lou, as in "No lotto ticket today, Lou?" They come for the country-fried steak, smothered in sausage gravy and so tender you can cut it with your fork.

1100 South Santa Fe Drive 303-733-0795

A few years back, a group of locals rallied to save the Quaker's famous sign when it was threatened by zoning laws for being too big. They did it because the sign represents the simple magnificence of the place &mdash the hash and eggs, the pancakes, the toast, all peerless for miles. They were fighting for their breakfast. And they won.

Across from Oakland Cemetery, where Margaret Mitchell is buried, tatted-up chef Ria Pell (the one on her neck says HATE) plays around with Southern classics while respecting the basics. Worth the small-parking-lot hassles and long wait.

421 Memorial Drive SE 404-521-3737, riasbluebird.com

CLICK HERE for the fish and grits recipe from Ria's Bluebird

The Heap comes in its own skillet. Spuds. Onions. Cheddar jack. Green peppers. Two eggs. Two slices of bacon. The Heap warms the soul. Especially when you add a quarter bottle of Tabasco.

1617 White Way 404-768-3776

The breakfast burrito is open to interpretation, which is both its genius and its potential downfall. Using the kitchen-sink approach, anything that can be jammed into a tortilla along with eggs &mdash rice, bacon, beans, onions, sausage, sour cream, enough cheese to pave a road &mdash is considered a fine addition. But as the cooks at Mana Foods demonstrate each morning, the key to perfection is restraint. Mana's contains only organic scrambled eggs accented with just enough cheddar to let you know it's there, small potato chunks sautéed in butter, and a sprinkle of diced green pepper. &mdash Susan Casey

The tender corned beef, cooked on the premises by a loving Irish chef, is served best as hash, beneath two fried eggs and a frothy hollandaise, alongside the local favorite, the inexplicable, unbeatable Irish mimosa, a three-layered glass of orange juice, champagne, and Guinness.

The original burned down, but the Inn lives on through second-generation owner and professional clown Dave Panther. Dishes like the Hawkeye Hog (eggs, sausage, hash browns, cheese, gravy) exhibit the kind of nasty glory that hones the famous midwestern physique. &mdash Jennifer Wilson

214 North Linn Street 319-337-5512, hamburginn.com

Were it not for Ann Sather's restaurants, I'd know nothing about Swedish cooking. Actually, I still know almost nothing, except that the Swedes evidently like turkey necks. But the only food that matters at Ann Sather is its spectacular cinnamon buns, the size of a baby's head. They're the backbone of the business, a local legend, more beloved at Chicago offices than any box of flaccid doughnuts. It is a great and simple truth: This is what happiness is. Sugar. Flour. Spice. And butter. &mdash Ted Allen

*They aren't set up to handle mail order &mdash overnight shipping for two dozen of the famous cinnamon buns can come to $100 &mdash but call Andy at the minichain's Belmont restaurant and he'll help you out. (773-348-2378)

If you know the real Chicago, you know Manny's Coffee Shop and Deli. You knew it when Jefferson Street and Roosevelt Road were gritty stretches of schmatte shops and dress boutiques southwest of the Loop. Now, if you really know Chicago, you knew Manny's back when it was Sunny's, before the Raskin family bought the joint in 1942 and figured they'd save money buying just two letters instead of a whole new sign. If not, no matter. It's the same as ever, that certain kind of cafeteria-style Jewish deli that will never go out of (or into) style. Fluorescent lights and Formica tables. Cops, tradesmen, and local pols. Plastic trays and blistering-hot coffee. And, of course, great steaming piles of scrambled eggs and potato pancakes. &mdash Ted Allen

1141 South Jefferson Street 312-939-2855, c

*The golden-fried potato pancakes are $65 for two dozen at tastesofchicago.com

Let me say one thing: bacon pancakes. Let me say another: potato pancakes with both applesauce and sour cream on the side. Let me say one more: whipping cream for your coffee. You know this place. You saw it in Ordinary People. It's where Timothy Hutton last sees his friend before she kills herself. It's the original pancake house, and it's better than any pancake house since. &mdash David Granger

The sides arrive on paper plates and the photos hang crooked, but fresh biscuits appear every few minutes. At Kentucky Derby time, old horseplayers and owners, celebrities and cops, trainers and backside workers all head to Wagner's for ham and eggs, a side of tomatoes, and a glass of malted milk.

3113 South Fourth Street 502-375-3800

There are no cars on Monhegan, ten miles off the Maine coast. No paved roads. There are 50 or so year-round residents, old houses, and cliffs facing the sea. At the Island Inn, a beautiful rambling old thing on the hill above the ferry dock, the breakfast includes endless buffet trays of scrambled eggs crowded with chunks of buttery lobster which came in on the boats you can see out the window.

CLICK HERE for the recipe to The Island Inn's lobster scrambled eggs

You'll feel like you're in a John Waters movie among the kitsch, but order the bacon, avocado, and Havarti omelet, home fries, and a shake and you'll be fine.

227 West Twenty-ninth Street 410-889-4444, papermoondiner24.com

Tucked away on a quiet, wooded stretch of Route 23, this borderline-ramshackle roadhouse serves the usual breakfast basics and serves them well. Ask a local, though, and he'll tell you to settle at one of the half dozen cozy tables, start in on a strong cup of coffee, and order the postcard-worthy pancakes &mdash auburn, pillowy, and available in three sizes, the largest of which handily eclipses the plate on which it's served. It's gluttonous, but for a good cause. For 30 years, Roadside has been owned and operated by nearby Gould Farm, a community for people with mental illnesses, and staffed by its residents under the supervision of seasoned restaurant people. Service is what you might call "variable," though always friendly, and the farm-fresh food is worth whatever time you spend perusing the Berkshire Eagle while you wait. &mdash Kendall Hamilton

275 Main Street 413-528-2633

Al's claims to be the narrowest restaurant in town, though the blueberry and buttermilk pancakes are the real draw (with or without corn or sour cream). Paul Westerberg's wife used to wait the counter at this classic neighborhood hash house, where regulars can use coupons instead of cash.

413 Fourteenth Avenue SE 612-331-9991

Surrounded by original Ralph Steadman art, wolf down homemade bison-sausage bread made with toasted walnuts, black currants, and coffee. Or Mahnomin Porridge, adapted from the journals of 19th-century trappers &mdash men who knew how to survive &mdash made with Ojibwa-harvested wild rice, dried berries, and cream. &mdash Jennifer Wilson

*Hell's Kitchen's Toasted Sausage Bread, stuffed with homemade bison sausage and excellent for breakfast, is available through the Website by mail order as part of a gift box that includes homemade ketchup, among other things.

When I visited my grandparents, who were farmers, we'd all sit around the table, half asleep, eating pancakes, eggs, bacon, biscuits, and corn bread every morning. And some days before school my dad would take me to a diner in New Orleans with a short-order line where everyone was screaming and there were bursts of fire and knives flying and excitement. When I opened Big Bad Breakfast, I wanted to serve foods that taste the way I remember them. I use butter and bacon fat. We make our own sausage and bacon. And I don't serve a Denver omelet, because I'm not bringing in bell peppers that'll go bad right away. Instead we serve the Awesome &mdash an omelet made with any ingredient you can find on our menu. It's fun, the way breakfast used to be before we all got too busy for it. I'm not going to retire and buy a house in the south of France on breakfast. But by God, I'm not going to let it die on my watch. &mdash Owner John Currence, as told to Meryl Rothstein

719 North Lamar Boulevard 662-236-2666, bigbadbreakfast.com

Six kinds of bread, baked fresh each morning: oatmeal, cinnamon raisin, anadama, whole wheat, cayenne cheddar, and whatever other kind Serina feels like baking.

121 Congress Street 603-430-2154

*They don't officially do mail order, but call and they'll be glad to head down to the post office and send you a loaf made fresh today. It's worth it.

Greek civilization seems to have peaked a while back, at least in terms of philosophy, science, and epic poetry, but that doesn't mean they don't honor the tradition of serving a killer breakfast in dozens of diners across the breadth of northern New Jersey. It's a heritage: In Plato's Symposium, there's a dialogue between Socrates and some yold named Agathon, clarifying the true nature of the feta-and-spinach omelet. Agathon finally yields to the logic behind the bagel on the side instead of toast, there being nothing to sop up.

"I can't find any way of withstanding you, Socrates," he says. "Let it be as you say."

"Not at all," says Socrates. "It is truth that you find impossible to withstand. Truth, and the way the butter melts, filling the bagel's creviced form."

This ancient expertise is on display around the clock at two of the three local diners I frequent, the Nevada and the Tick Tock. I can't vouch for the Eagle Rock's hours or breakfast: I eat there only after bowling with my son, which means two or three sides of bacon, fries, a vanilla shake, and a spirited dialogue about gutter balls and anger management.

The Nevada and the Tick Tock both offer vast menus, gigantic plates, and lousy coffee. The major difference is that the Tick Tock is on Route 3, a major artery between here and New York City, which means it attracts a breakfast clientele ranging from seething truckers just beginning their day to seething drunks just ending theirs the Nevada is a local joint packed by seething Bloomfield cops. At both diners, what the waitresses lack in beauty they make up for with grim indifference, not that you really want another cup of that coffee &mdash you're just waving hi to the drunk with the torn, bleeding earlobe.

I'm telling you, none of this matters. I've never had a breakfast at either place that wasn't superb. Omelets of many nations, pancakes the size of hubcaps, sausage links fat with flavor, eggs over easy atop mounds of corned beef &mdash all hot, all tasty as hell, and plenty of it.

I can't honestly say that the hash browns are as crisp on top and tender below as I like them every time, or that the kitchen won't short the lox in my lox-and-onion omelet once in a while. It happens, but not often. And if it should happen to you, blame me. Just don't stiff the waitress &mdash not unless you want your tires slashed. &mdash Scott Raab


Latest Updates

CureVac lagged behind. C.E.P.I. provided the company with $15 million, but CureVac would require far more. “If you do this, you need a considerable amount of cash,” Franz-Werner Haas, the chief executive of CureVac, said in an interview. “And the considerable amount of cash was not there.”

In March 2020, German newspapers reported that President Donald J. Trump had offered CureVac $1 billion to move its operations to the United States. CureVac denied the reports, but the chief executive suddenly left, to be replaced by Dr. Haas.

CureVac’s researchers moved ahead with their limited resources, designing an RNA molecule encoding a protein found on the surface of the coronavirus, called spike. Experiments on hamsters showed that it could protect the animals from the virus.

In June, the German government invested 300 million euros (about $360 million) in CureVac’s Covid-19 research, and other investors soon followed. In December, after promising data from early safety studies, the company started its final, so-called Phase 3 trial, recruiting 40,000 volunteers in Europe and Latin America. The company will get its first look at the data when 56 volunteers develop Covid-19. If most of them are in the placebo group, and few in the vaccinated group, it will be proof that the vaccine works.

Dr. Haas said he expected to have that data by mid-May. There is no way to know in advance how CureVac will fare. But given the performance of other RNA vaccines, along with CureVac’s own early results, some scientists have high expectations.

“I would just be really surprised if it didn’t work well,” said John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York who has collaborated with CureVac on an RNA-based vaccine for H.I.V.

Still, CureVac’s vaccine is facing a challenge that Pfizer and Moderna didn’t have: new variants that may be able to blunt its effectiveness. Experiments in mice have suggested that the vaccine works well against the B.1.351 variant, which first emerged in South Africa.

Last year, CureVac partnered with a number of large companies to scale up production of its Covid vaccine, in case its clinical trials turned out well. The company also negotiated a deal with the European Union for 225 million doses, as well as an option to add another 180 million doses in subsequent months.

But now it is not clear who might receive the CureVac vaccine if it becomes available next month. In January, the European Union gave emergency authorization to a vaccine from AstraZeneca, planning to rely on that company for most of its supply. But AstraZeneca fell drastically short of its supply promises, prompting the bloc to retaliate with a lawsuit.

In April, the European Union finally fixed this shortfall, negotiating with Pfizer and BioNTech to get 1.8 billion doses of their vaccine between now and 2023. That arrangement has left analysts wondering how much demand will be left for CureVac.

“They’re going to miss the boat on the major, advanced-economy markets,” said Dr. Kirkegaard. “The U.S., Europe and Japan are going to be largely vaccinated using these Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.”

Dr. Haas countered that most of the bloc’s doses from Pfizer-BioNTech won’t come until next year. “CureVac sees itself as a major player in ending the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe and elsewhere,” he said.

But CureVac will also have to contend with a worldwide shortage of the raw materials needed for RNA vaccines. The shortfall is particularly acute for the company because imports from the United States are limited by the Defense Production Act. Unlike Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, CureVac has no U.S. facilities.

“The U.S. Defense Production Act has been one factor affecting our access to some materials and supplies,” Dr. Haas said. “However, we do not currently expect it to substantially influence our manufacturing projections for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.”

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said that if the CureVac vaccine worked, it would be in the mix, thanks to two advantages: It is an mRNA vaccine, and it was created in Europe. It is also possible that individual European nations will make side deals with the company.

Billions of other people in low- and middle-income countries have yet to receive a vaccine, and experts say that CureVac may meet some of their demand. “We still need a lot of vaccine globally,” said Florian Krammer, a virologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. “I think a lot of people can benefit from it.”

The vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are challenging to distribute in the developing world because of the equipment and power supply required to freeze these vaccines. CureVac’s RNA vaccine can stay stable for at least three months at 41 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can sit for 24 hours at room temperature before it is used.

“The stability is a real advantage,” Dr. Jackson said. C.E.P.I. is “in very active discussions” with CureVac, he said, about distributing the company’s vaccine through Covax, an initiative to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.

But CureVac is also designing a new generation of vaccines with a goal of eventually moving into markets in the United States and other wealthy nations. Because its potent RNA requires only a small dose, the company could potentially create vaccines for different variants and mix them in a single shot.

But such possibilities are meaningless until CureVac can prove that its vaccine works. Mary Warrell, a vaccine researcher at the University of Oxford, is reluctant to speculate about the fate of the vaccine before that milestone.

“Prediction during this pandemic has rarely been profitable,” she warned.


I LOST WEIGHT IMMEDIATELY

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I tried this cleanse myself, and within 48 hours my waist was measurably smaller, and I felt lighter, more alert, and yet more calm. I shared it with my mother, and her 7-day journey brought her blood sugar under control, and her weight down by a shocking 9 pounds. And then she and I shared it with our friends, and the results were the same across the board. In just 48 to 72 hours, our friends reported noticeable changes in their body shapes, as though the tea were flattening their bellies from the inside.


3 Cocktail Recipes from the Best Bar in the World: Langham London's Artesian

And when yours has been named “ The Best Bar in World” for three consecutive years, you know that your watering hole is the latter: more elevated in nature and in a league of its own—and that the pressure is on to create extraordinary cocktails with (mindblowing) twists.

But for Alex Kratena—head bartender at Artesian in Mayfair’s Langham London—it's more about passion and fun than anything else. Although he would argue that it wasn't passion that first ignited his love affair with the complex fusing of flavors: It was starting from scratch and learning along the way.

Alex Kratena, Artesian's Czech-born head bartender, came to the UK in 2006 and worked his way to the . [+] top of his field.

Before all the fanfare, the Czech-born mixologist actually started as a dishwasher in Maryland before moving to New York to work a number of odd jobs. And it was in 2006, when he got his first bartending job in London (the one that eventually led him to Artesian that same year), that he found his calling.

Since then, the 33-year-old Kratena and his team have been experimenting and innovating incessantly—creating cocktails that astound both the palate and the eye. Using handcrafted glassware exclusive to Artesian and unconventional molecular mixology techniques, the team always manages to create liquid works of art. For instance, the bar's £245 Valentine's Day cocktail comes in an engraved flask-like vessel. And Camouflage—one of Artesian's signature drinks—is housed in a golden pineapple.

The bar's special Valentine's Day cocktail (£245) comes in a bespoke vessel that your sweetheart can . [+] take home.

Here, Kratena talked to ForbesLife about his libation of choice, the book every amateur bartender needs to read, and four of his favorite bars around the world. And of course, he shared the recipes to some of his most ingenious creations.

ForbesLife: How did you get into mixology?

Alex Kratena: I started bartending out of necessity—to make money. Passion only came later. I wasn't looking to become a bartender at the very beginning, but I quickly got absorbed into the world of different and exciting flavors.

FL: What's your hands-down libation of choice?

AK: I absolutely love Americano Bolognese invented by friend of mine, Daniele Dalla Polla. It blends Campari style bitters and vermouth with tonic.

FL: What should first-time Artesian visitors order?

AK: Anyone who comes to Artesian must start with our signature drink: the Camouflage, which blends gin, Americano, cold-press carrots, and sandalwood syrup topped up with fermented tea. It's a light, refreshing, fragrant, and aromatic drink—served in a beautiful golden pineapple.

The Camouflage—one of Artesian's more avante-garde concoctions—is housed in a golden pineapple.

FL: Artesian has been named the World's Best Bar for three years in a row now. so your bar must be very high. Which ones—around the world—would you recommend?

AK: I absolutely love the NoMad in New York City by [beverage director] Leo Robitschek, perfect balance of great drinks and genuine service. I love The Aviary in Chicago for its amazing creativity and insane logistics. There’s also Sager and Wilde in London where I learn about wine and enjoy great food. And Gen Yamamoto in Tokyo, to explore new ingredients.

The Langham London's Artesian, headed by Alex Kratena, has won the distinction of being the World's . [+] Best Bar three years in row.

FL: For us who have big ambitions about making mindblowing cocktails at home, what bottles, bitters, or ingredients do we always need to have handy?

AK: If you want to make amazing drinks at home, don't worry about stocking huge numbers of bottles recommended by lifestyle magazines—they are all paid for ads anyway. Instead, ask yourself what style of drinks you enjoy and start from that. If a Manhattan is your cup of tea, all you need is decent rye, vermouth, and bitters. If you prefer refreshing gin cocktails, there's no need to spend huge amounts of money on premium vodka. A great point to start with is buying a book by Jeffrey Morgenthaler called The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique. It contains all the information you need on how to make any drink from scratch. And by taking this approach, you will save hundreds of dollars. You're welcome!


Jalepeño Poppers with Sun-dried Tomatoes

I&rsquod venture to say that anyone who likes spice, loves a good bacon-wrapped jalepeño popper. But why eat a good jalapeno popper when you can eat a BOMB jalepeño popper? Amiright?

These jalapeño popper are bomb!

So, what makes these a particular jalepeño poppers so different, so special, so BOMB? The short answer is: sun-dried tomatoes.

The science of flavor

But there&rsquos a long answer and it gets a little scientific. Are you ready? Because you should be. Good food is a science. And art of course too but there is a true science to flavor and once you unlock a few little flavor secrets your world as a home cook is going to open up like a little ray of sunshine peaking through two fluffy clouds. Sound interesting? I thought so! I can&rsquot be the only food nerd out there. ?

The Flavor Chart

I found this this sweet little flavor profiles chart over at CookingSmarts.com. I really like how it shows the science behind flavor profile combinations in a simple way. Check it out (click to enlarge):

Breaking down flavor combinations

It&rsquos simple but it&rsquos also kind of complex. So let&rsquos break it down a little and relate it to this recipe for jalepeño poppers.

Looking at the chart, you might notice is that tomatoes are rare in that they appear in two different flavor profiles &mdash savory/umami and also under sour. Tomatoes also naturally contain sugar so you could potentially say they fit into three of the profiles. Obviously tomatoes are not as sweet as other fruits and veggies but they do offer enough sugar to add in that extra layer of flavor.

So by simply adding this one ingredient, you get a whole bunch of flavor! It&rsquos likely why you see tomatoes in so many delicious things from pizza to salads to soups. Its savory qualities add to the flavor without the need to add more salt. So the tomatoes intensify both the flavor and saltiness of the bacon without actually having to add any salt.

Spice without the sting!

Another factor at play here is the molecular bonds. I told you this was going to get sciencey. The protein in cream cheese actually breaks the bond that forms between the spicy oil and your nerve receptors. So you get the flavor from the spice without the sting. Pretty slick.

Things to think about

So next time you&rsquore cooking with jalapenos or something spicy, think about what you might be able to add that is milk based. And next time you want to add some flavor to a an otherwise boring dish, try throwing in some type of tomatoes.

If you love these jalepeño poppers as much as we do, please leave me a review and tell us what you liked about them or who you enjoyed them with. We&rsquod love to hear your feedback!

Other recipes you might like:

These bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers were featured on Hearth and Soul!