The restaurants, cafés, dishes and produce worthy of note this month.
Based in the eastern Austrian region of Burgenland, known to locals as “castle country”, the Rohrauer’s family farm has been producing honey for four generations. Georg Rohrauer (pictured), 28, developed his passion for the land thanks to his grandfather, a coalminer who kept bees to make a living. Now Rohrauer has 150 beehives of his own, as well as harvesting apples, apricots, beetroot, almonds and peaches.
Dazu means “added on to” in German; the company makes jams, mustards, vinegars, pestos and a regional speciality influenced by neighbouring Hungarian kitchens: chilli paste. Rohrauer recently opened a small store in Vienna to sell his wares as well as a range of organic products made by friends and neighbours.
Pour your scotch and bourbon down the sink: 2014 is set to be the year of rye whiskey. Waving the flag high is WhistlePig distillery, found on a farm owned by entrepreneur Raj Peter Bhakta. Here, 200 rolling hectares provide the whiskey’s one ingredient: the spirit is only made from rye, unlike its competitors.
“We produce a complex whiskey with notes of allspice, ginger and caramel,” says master distiller Dave Pickerell.
With the rise of food intolerance (at least in the West) and environmentally aware consumers, sales of non-dairy alternatives have risen by 40 per cent year on year from 2012. Armed with this knowledge, Natali Stajcic and her business partner Chi-San Wan launched The Pressery this March, selling fresh, homemade almond milk.
“Many of the almond milks on shop shelves are very sugary and made from pasteurised almonds with synthetic vitamins added to them,” says Stajcic. “We wanted to create an unprocessed alternative with integrity behind it.” The numbers speak for themselves: 165g of organic, cold-pressed almonds are found in every litre bottle.
One of many new food and drink draws on Manhattan’s lower east side is Skál, an Iceland-inspired restaurant and bar opened by Óli Björn and his business partners in late 2013. “Our food is inspired by northern seasonal ingredients,” he says.
On warmer days, the windows fold away and diners sit streetside, sipping biodynamic wines. There’s a Malaysian beef jerky joint across the street but Skál’s version is preferable: it’s made from salmon and cured with beer. The only thing lacking from this Icelandic oasis is Brennivín: a traditional liqueur from the motherland. “Unfortunately nobody imports Brennivín to the US,” says Björn – but he’s counting down the days till they do.
Chelsea Grace Miller began making handcrafted cheese and chef knives in 2011 as a way to work alongside her father, a carpenter and blacksmith. “I felt compelled to spend time with him in the way that made most sense for us: through making things,” she says. Miller produces unique blades out of horse rasps (files used for trimming horse hooves) that she collects at local farriers. She grinds, sands and tempers the grated metal before applying wooden handles fashioned from cherry, maple and applewood that grows on her parents’ farm. Last February, Miller expanded her operation to a new workshop in Brooklyn – one that will soon include its own forge.
Bar Isabel’s signature grilled octopus is all about communal eating: it serves up to 10 people. Toronto chef and owner Grant van Gameren opened his restaurant on College Street (right across from Monocle’s bureau, no less) last year, inspired by Spanish sojourns.
“Steaming is the best way to showcase the flavour and we grill it whole for deeper depth,” says Van Gameren. The octopus is then tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, roasted potatoes and grilled dandelion greens. Van Gameren recommends a pint of Québec craft brewer Le Trou Du Diable’s Saison Du Tracteur as an accompaniment.
Establishing your favourite scones and butter cookies might be tricky but don’t stress about the tea: if you have Bellocq in your pantry you’re all sorted. Even if the brew wasn’t delicious, (which it is) the cans are beautiful enough to justify buying it. The herbal mixes in Bellocq are made with ingredients sourced in China and India, producing flavourful teas such as the Siam Basil Lemongrass and Krishna Tulsi, made with holy basil.
Hirotaka Meguro, owner-chef of Italian restaurant Al Fiore in northeast Japan, is a stickler for local ingredients. The seasonal dishes he creates based on diners’ requests showcase the work of small farms in the disaster-hit Tohoku region. The Italian meats he cures are from pigs raised 30 minutes’ drive away and the miso he works into dishes is made from soybeans that he grows himself in among 100 types of organic vegetables.
Tato Giovannoni, Buenos Aires’ renowned mixologist, has created Argentina’s first quality gin, made with eucalyptus, pink grapefruit, coriander seeds and yerba mate, a herbal infusion loved by Argentineans. His Príncipe de los Apóstoles brand has been an instant hit; he expects to sell 40,000 bottles this year. And the man behind Buenos Aires’ coolest bar – Recoleta’s Florería Atlántico – has more drinks planned: a dry vermouth and two craft beers are up next.