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DAILY BITES
Top Chef: Just Desserts is Back!

Last night marked the return of Bravo’s celebration of all things sweet, Top Chef:Just Desserts. Gail Simmons was back to host the second season and received help along the way from dreamy-eyed, pastry wonderboy man, Johnny Iuzzini. Dannielle Kyrillos and Hubert Keller round out the judges panel and will help select the creamiest of this year’s crop.

CULINARY OCCASIONS
The Taste is (Almost) Here!

Hope you’re hungry, Angelenos. In a swift move of “let’s-all-get-along” behavior, The LA Times and Food & Wine have teamed up to bring The Taste to Los Angeles. The gastronomic glory-fest will run Labor Day weekend, September 2-5, and aims to paint the town foodie.

DELICIOUS DEBUTS
Gilt Taste is Thirsty and Pretty

Gilt Taste, home to the $150 Pantry Essential Kit, recently launched a Wine section that appears equally pricey. The veritable vino will be chosen by a panel made up of some of the youngest and most noteworthy sommeliers in the country.

CULINARY OCCASIONS
San Gennaro Festival Goes Gourmet

The Feast of San Gennaro, the annual 10-day street fair in Little Italy, will go decidedly upmarket when it returns this September. While in the past, the event has been helmed by cheap and classic Italian food merchants, this year’s event promises pop-up spots from some of the cities most heavily-hyped restaurants. Some of the culinary standouts include Rubirosa, Frankie Spuntino, The Breslin, L’Artusi and Stellina.

Much of the push behind the shift to this distinctly gourmet tone can be chalked up to the ever-publicized duo behind Torrisi Italian Specialites, Mario Carrbone and Rich Torrisi. The two set up their own mozzarella stick stand outside their Mulberry Street restaurant last year and, based on its success, will return this year to ring in the revelers.

RESTAURANT 101
Grilled Cheese Martini

Remember when you were a little kid, coming home from school in the rain, dodging bullies, soggy and tired, and your mom would set you up with a steaming bowl of tomato soup and a...grilled cheese martini? No? Bet it would’ve made those hours of studying fly by.

Your savory sandwich wishes and vermouth dreams can be fulfilled at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, now open in the Flatiron. The Seattle-based cheese making store and restaurant, which opened its first Manhattan location in June, is a “living museum where visitors witness the 5,000 year-old art of making cheese.” And eating cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.

DAILY BITES
Bourbon Street- Philadelphia Style

Sometimes your own barbecue just won’t cut it.

No, you want something smokier, more exciting, something with a back-beat that you can really get behind. Fortunately, The Twisted Tail has arrived to fulfill all of those needs.

Part charcoal grill heaven and part blues club, Twisted Tail is set in a “Southern inspired Burbon House and Juke Joint.” Very committed to maintaining an air of down-home authenticity, the clubby restaurant promises a menu that is made completely from scratch. Featuring both Southern standards like Buttermilk Chicken with a waffle-pressed potato roll, sweet pickles and Tillamook cheddar($9) to more contemporary (and vegetarian-friendly) options like a Mushroom Cheese Steak with grilled Vidalia onions and aged provolone ($9), the menu uses local, seasonal ingredients as often as possible. According to their website, Twisted Tail “take[s] care to source [their] meats and vegetables from local farmers and bring the freshness of their products to your plate.” Of course, that freshness is only intensified by their fierce and regular usage of a traditional charcoal grill that is tended to by “skilled chefs [who] embrace the art of live-fire grilling.” Which is particularly fitting in the summer heat but will also be a welcome change in December.

CULINARY OCCASIONS
Le Fooding is Back in NYC

The French are coming! Coming back, that is.

Le Fooding, the culinary organization helmed by noteworthy French and American chefs, is returning to New York to hold its third gastronomic glutton-fest, Le Grand Fooding, with events on September 17 and September 23-25. Following the success of the years’ previous happenings at MoMA PS1 in Queens, this year’s activities will be held, for the first time, in Manhattan.

CHIFA
Peruvian, Chinese, and a Strong Iron

Mix one part Peruvian cuisine with an equal amount of Cantonese specialties. Add one Iron Chef and shake things up. What comes out of this curious recipe? Jose Garces’ Chifa Restaurant, now open in Philadelphia.

Garces, who has appeared on the Food Networks’ Iron Chef America and most recently won The Next Iron Chef, has had a windfall of success since opening his first venue, Amada, in 2005. Currently helming 9 of the cities most highly regarded restaurants under his Garces’ Restaurant Group, his recent venture promises to provide an adventurous and unique culinary experience.

DAILY BITES
The Juice Press Comes to the UES

Just when you were concerned that you’d find yourself on the Upper East Side without an organic smoothie to call your own, The Juice Press comes to the rescue!

The East Village fruity beverage mavens, who recently opened up a second location on East 10th Street and are also available at FoodParc, have announced plans for their next storefront on 62nd Street and Third Avenue. The tony address will be larger than their original 1st street home, but will still offer the same Super-Food Smoothies, Raw Food and fresh Coconut Water as the other locales.

CULINARY OCCASIONS
Beer vs. Wine SMACKDOWN!

Can’t decide if you want that chunk of Manchego with a hearty Cabernet or a mug of pale ale? For $30 you can help answer this question and others on August 25th and 26th with the help of Scardello Artisan Cheese at their Beer vs. Wine SMACKDOWN!

The high-end cheese store, whose products range from designer dairy to complimentary smallbites, describe themselves as “Cheese Enthusiasts.” Constantly aiming to share this passion with their customers, Scardello offers up samples of any product in their case. Just ask. And with around 150 different varieties to taste, including both American and European farmstead cheese, you might want to clear your schedule for the afternoon. Additionally, Scardello is currently offering 21 of the recently named “Best Cheeses in the Country” at their store, including four local Texas varieties.