Eye Candy: Beet Meringues with Crème Fraîche and Caviar

George Mendes, who has earned raves for his Iberian-inspired cuisine at Aldea, prepared these ethereal beet meringues at his recent Beard House dinner. Click here to see more photos of his gorgeous menu.

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Eye Candy: Bombster Scallop Crudo

Chefs Richard Garcia and Matthew Maue prepared this gorgeous bombster scallop crudo—accompanied by whipped salsify, blood orange, caramelized pears, lime, and marcona almond gremolata—at their Beard House dinner earlier this month. Click here to see more photos of their celebration of Spanish cuisine.

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Eat this Word: Lapsang Souchong

WHAT? Smoky sipper. Enjoyed a cup of lapsang souchong with your afternoon cookie lately? If you’re like most Americans, the chances are slim. Lapsang souchong is a strong black tea with an assertive smoky flavor that has been likened to the taste of single-malt Scotch whiskey and cigars. Real lapsang souchong hails from Mount Wuyi in the Fujian province of China and is quite rare, but the name is often applied to black and oolong tea leaves of indiscriminate origin that have been treated with smoldering pinewood ash. According to legend, the smoking process was discovered by accident in a small village during the Qing dynasty when a group of soldiers took over a tea factory filled with fresh, unprocessed leaves. By the time the townspeople were able to get back into the factory, they didn’t have enough time to dry the leaves before market day, so they used pinewood fires to

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Eat this Word: Cherimoya

WHAT? Apple of their eye. In Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables, Elizabeth Schneider describes this knobby, gray-green fruit as "stunning," and writes that it tastes "heavenly." Mark Twain was also a fan. Upon trying the sweet, delicately flavored fruit, he pronounced it "deliciousness itself." The cherimoya originated in the Caribbean, and was conveyed around the world by Spanish and Portuguese colonists. Its leaves, roots, and seeds have long been used in traditional medicine as a cure-all for any number of ailments from diarrhea and itchy skin to fainting spells and rheumatism; it was also used to repel lice. We prefer to eat it. The flesh is white, pulpy, and slightly granular, and its taste has been likened to pineapple, banana, papaya, vanilla, and custard. In fact, cherimoya also goes by the name custard apple, as do several other closely related tropical

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Eye Candy: Peeping Tom

Tom Colicchio keeps a watchful eye over the Beard House kitchen as chefs from his various restaurants prepare a tasting menu for diners. Click here to see more photos of our celebration of the Colicchio empire.

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Eye Candy: Brotherly Love

The Voltaggio brothers work together to plate a course of shima aji with salsify, quinoa, and morels. You can view more photos of the Top Chef finalists' thrilling dinner by clicking here. (Click here to see our clip of Michael discussing his pigeon pastrami.)

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Eat this Word: Kuku Sabzi

WHAT? Iranian frittata. The herbs used to make kuku sabzi symbolize rebirth and the eggs fertility, which is why this Persian omelette is traditionally eaten at Noruz, Persian New Year. The herbs (sabzi), in fact, are key to the celebration; they are one of seven traditional items-symbolizing seven guardian angels—that are part of every table setting for the New Year's feast. According to Margaret Shaida's Legendary Cuisine of Persia, kuku sabzi is the most famous and popular of the many varieties of kuku (omelette). It can be eaten hot or at room temperature. Iranians cook one side of the omelette in a frying pan, then cut it into wedges before flipping each slice to brown. When done, the outside of the kuku should be a crispy bronze, the interior tender and green from generous handfuls of cilantro, dill, mint, chives, and other herbs. Chopped barberries (a sour red

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Eye Candy: Savory Madeleines

savory madeleines JBF Award Winner Georges Perrier and Nicholas Elmi—both of the acclaimed Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia—served these delicious savory madeleines at their Beard House dinner last month. Click here to see more photos from the elegant menu. (And check out the madeleine recipe here).

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Eye Candy: Vermicelli Panna Cotta

panna cotta For his dessert course, Kuldeep Singh of Origin India Restaurant served this vermicelli panna, topped with a layer of alphonso mango jelly. Click here to see more photos from his modern Indian Beard House dinner.

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Reel Food: Michael Voltaggio Talks Pigeon Pastrami

In a month full of deli delectables at the Beard House, Michael Voltaggio's interpretation of a pastrami sandwich could be the cleverest. In the video after the jump, the Top Chef winner describes the inspiration behind the dish and its components (make sure your computer's volume is up; the multitasking chef had our Kitchen Aid churning during this interview): Here's a look at the final plated dish:

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