This year’s recipient of the Julia Child Award, recognizing those who have had an impact on the American culinary scene, is Sean Sherman, a chef, author and the co-founder of the nonprofit North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS) and its Indigenous Food Lab. The award has been given by the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts since 2015, and comes with a $50,000 prize. Mr. Sherman, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe, is also an owner of Owamni by the Sioux Chef, in Minneapolis, an Indigenous restaurant that was named best new restaurant in 2022 by the James Beard Foundation.
An Iconic Test Kitchen Will Be Preserved
Ebony Magazine, which began publication in 1945, had three successive kitchens for testing recipes at its Chicago headquarters in the Johnson Publishing building. The last one, built in 1972, has now been donated to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. The kitchen was all electric and state-of-the-art for its day, designed by Arthur Elrod and William Raiser of Palm Springs, Calif., and was used for testing the recipes that appeared in the magazine. (It ceased print publication in 2019.) The kitchen, which was saved by Landmarks Illinois, disassembled and restored, was exhibited by the Museum of Food and Drink in New York for its exhibit, “African/American: Making the Nation’s Table” last year. Smithsonian’s plans to put the kitchen on display have not been confirmed, but until it is available for public view, it can be seen at in photos and videos on searchablemuseum.com/the-ebony-test-kitchen.
The restaurant Locanda Vini e Olii has spun off a gelato cart, Biddrina Gelato, named for a Sicilian water monster, stationed to the side of its outdoor seating area. Alessio DiGino, a server at the restaurant, and the executive chef and co-owner, Michele Baldacci, developed an array of flavors like Sicilian pistachio; a surprising bright turmeric laced with amerina cherries; and intense chocolate studded with marshmallows and fragrant with cardamom. Three of the nine flavors are plant-based, the others milk-based. Mr. Baldacci, who is from Florence, Italy, returned to his hometown to work with Silvana Vivoli, of that city’s famous Vivoli il Gelato, to up his craft before opening the cart. Scoops are $6, double scoops are $8 and pints are $15.
129 Gates Avenue (Cambridge Place), Clinton Hill Brooklyn, biddrina.com.
A New Sparkler from Southwest France
Long before sparkling French wines made outside the Champagne region were called crémant, and perhaps even before Champagne came to be, there was Blanquette de Limoux. (“Older history than Champagne,” says “Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book.”) In this category is the new Faire La Fête brut, an all-purpose, lightly floral sparkler that benefits from 15 months aging on the lees (compared with the required 12 months) to provide a yeasty, slightly bitter lemon finish. The rosé version is more full-bodied. The traditional blend for this sparkling wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southwest France was dominated by the local mauzac grape. Today’s blends, often called crémant, are more international, relying on chardonnay, chenin blanc and pinot noir.
Faire La Fête Brut, $21.99, Faire La Fête Rosé, $25.99, both 750 milliliters, wine.com.
New Shawarma and Harissa BBQ Sauces
New York Shuk, the Brooklyn company that has been producing Middle Eastern style condiments for the past 10 years, has your outdoor grill on its radar. It has introduced three barbecue sauces — made with chiles, dates, preserved lemon, coriander, cumin, turmeric and more — that veer from the usual sweet or vinegar-spiked tomato concoctions to season ribs, chicken, seafood and vegetables. They’re all thick with some texture, and work as dips as well as seasonings to brush on sizzling food. The ruddy Shawarma glows with warm spices; the mustard-hued Preserved Lemon is properly tangy; and the mahogany Harissa variety, while sweet, delivers a spicy backlash.
Harissa BBQ Sauce, Preserved Lemon BBQ Sauce, Shawarma BBQ Sauce, $12.95 for 13.5 ounces, nyshuk.com.
“Agave Spirits” by David Suro Piñera and Gary Paul Nabhan is a manifesto. It takes a stand against Blue Weber agave, or agave tequilana, and the spirits made from it. The authors explain how the recent monoculture of blue agave, embraced by commercial producers, is agriculturally and culturally unsound, destructive for the environment and, in the long run, unsustainable. The tequilas made from it, they complain, are mostly industrialized and, if not utterly tasteless, lack the complex character of more traditional agave spirits — notably mezcal, which can be made from more than 200 agave varieties. Their book offers a lively and compelling journey through a large swath of Mexico, highlighting the history of agave and mezcal in Mesoamerica going back 10,000 years; the value of the plant’s versatility, taste, nutrition; and its place in Indigenous culture. They offer a positive spin on the future of mezcal, and also make the case for distilling having been used in the region long before the Spaniards showed up.
“Agave Spirits: The Past, Present and Future of Mezcals” by David Suro Piñera and Gary Paul Nabhan (W.W. Norton, $30).