Keeping up with the latest food news, entertainment, and commentary (so you don't have to)

February 25, 2007 - March 3, 2007

Chris Cosentino Loves Offal

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Chris Cosentino, executive chef of San Francisco's Incanto, is a well-known fan of offal: he serves dishes like pig’s trotter cake and salt-cured pork liver in his restaurant, is working on an offal cookbook, and runs a site called Offal Good, "a guide and informational source for proper handling and cooking techniques for working with these lost cuts of meat. You will find recipes, food porn, and places to buy and eat offal." On April 22, he'll be on Iron Chef battling Mario Batali, offal's most famous proponent and afficionado in America. Ladies and gentlemen, set your TiVos!

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me There Were Roast Pork Cookies?

"chinese BBQ roast pork is one of my favorite foods because it’s delicious and so easily accessible in chinatown, as nearly every block will have a shop that has fresh roast meats in the window. i love anything made with it : roast pork buns, roast pork flaky pastry called “char siu so”, roast pork rice crepe, and scrumptous barbeque roast pork on its own, but i have never seen a flat roast pork cookie before." Jo Jo of Eat 2 Love discovered what sounds like may potentially be my new favorite savoury pastry treat.

Ice Cream As Fertility Aid?

"Ben & Jerry might help you get pregnant, but not in the usual way. A diet rich in ice cream and other high-fat dairy foods may lower the risk of one type of infertility, a study suggests. It sounds too good to be true and probably is, some doctors say. But the findings are bound to get attention because they are from the well-known Nurses Health Study at the Harvard School of Public Health and were published Wednesday in the European journal Human Reproduction."

Sushi For Hina Matsuri

Maki Itoh says, "Tomorrow, March 3rd, is Momo no sekku or Peach Day in Japan. Peach blossoms usually start blooming around this time, signifying the coming of spring. It’s also the day for hina matsuri, the Doll Festival or Girls’ Festival." She then suggests making two kinds of pretty, delicate sushi in girly colors that match those traditionally associated with the festival (yellow, pink, white and green), the Hamaguri-zushi (clam sushi) and the Smoked salmon temari zushi (ball-shaped sushi). They both look so good (and so tasty) that you'll be probably be making them for dinner parties in the future, even if you don't make them tomorrow.

Foodies In Space

Astronaut Sunita Williams was making sushi aboard the International Space Station when she squirted wasabi out of a tube—it started floating around everywhere and hitting the walls. Oops! The wasabi was part of her bonus container, a personalized package of favorite foods given to astronauts to help make the months they spend in zero gravity with mostly MRE-type food more bearable:

Williams, whose father was born in India, has several Indian dishes in her bonus container, including Punjabi kadhi with pakora — vegetable fritters topped with yogurt and curry — and mutter paneer, a curry dish. The dishes are packaged to have a long shelf life in space.

Her U.S. crew mate, astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, is an even bigger "foodie." Lopez-Alegria, who was born in Madrid but grew up in California, had Spanish muffins known as magdalenas, chorizo pork sausage and latte in his bonus container.

Throw A Doughnut Party

doughnutparty.jpg "I love makin' doughnuts. People love 'em, no matter what they say. Every culture fries dough for some purpose, sweet or savoury. This last weekend's donut gathering was a local affair. I invited everyone I knew who lived within 20 miles of my house. I opened cupboards and invited others to concoct sugars of their wildest imaginings." Shuna threw a doughnut party and so can you, with her pate a choux recipe.

The Diving Pig

kohlerspig.jpg A full third of the Serious Eats staff* owns prints of this lovely painting by German artist Michael Sowa. You can get one for yourself for $19.99 at Art.com, or you can get the hardcover book Sowa's Ark and see the Diving Pig plus 54 more of his animal paintings for $24.95 from Amazon.

* Two people, but we carry big sticks.

Things You Can't Do In Your Home Kitchen: The Boil A Cow Edition

It's tricky because they're so big, but cows are roasted on spits whole all the time. Boiled? Not so much. According to Weird Asia News, "during a Food Festival in Sheng Yang China, one company boiled a 1,500 lbs cow. It was 1.3 meters long and 2.5 meters high." The boiler itself was capable of containing three tons of water, and it took ten hours to boil the cow.

(The photos might make you squeamish, so if you're in doubt don't click through!)

Alinea's Grant Achatz Will Read Your Blog

Chicagoist has a really fantastic interview with Grant Achatz of Chicago's highly-acclaimed Alinea, talking about all sorts of things like his philosophy as a chef and restauranteur, and how his creative process works in his kitchen and with his colleagues. This was my favorite thing to read:

C: What food-related websites or media do you keep an eye on, for ideas and feedback?

GA: I do it a lot less now, but I used to be really into all the blogs, like eGullet, LTHForum, all of those. I don’t read them so much anymore, I don’t know why. I feel that some of it is that they’re losing some credibility. There’s a lot of good, honest material there, then there’s a lot of … bullshit. You know, where, at the beginning (of these sites), there was a lot of useful information, honest information. Now, somehow, I feel that maybe it’s a lot of people using it as a microphone to hear themselves. Then it becomes less credible. But what I’ve always enjoyed about it is it's the voice of the guest. If people come here and have a lousy time for a particular reason, are they ever going to come back to the kitchen and tell me? No, it’ll never happen. You might get a phone call the next day, or the occasional letter. But, if they immediately go online and list their complaints, I’ll know and then I can fix it. So it was always about the instant understanding of how people perceive the experience. That’s why I read them.

Every once in a while I read interviews with chefs or owners talking about how much they hate that people can so easily write negative things about their food or their service on the internet, and every single time I've immediately put their names and establishments on my "never give them a dime of my money" list. Don't they realize they're badmouthing customers? And, in my case, turning off potential customers? Heaven forbid I eat at one of their restaurants and the food is bad or my waiter rude—what's to make me think I'm going to be treated any better if I complain about it there? My list of places that I know for sure will do right by me is pretty long, and life is too short for me to spend any of my time or money somewhere that might treat me like dirt.

Getting poor reviews for what you've basically put your entire life into is hard and hurtful, no matter what industry you're in. If someone's just talking smack, life is too short to spend time worrying on what crazy people think—let it slide right off your back. If the criticism is valid, then it does you a service to learn from what's been said and move forward.

Related: Danny Meyer on fixing mistakes, Danny Meyer and hospitality

Eating Local Food When Eating Out In Los Angeles

"So, I'm one of those post "The Omnivore's Dillema" people who got all excited about eating local food and ethical meat and all that, but I haven't been able to find a good resource to help find "local food" restaurants here locally in L.A. Anyone have any favorites?" This thread on Chowhound is short but slowly turning into a great list for people in the L.A. area.

[via Eat Local Challenge]

Should You Go To Culinary School?

David Lebovitz worked at Chez Panisse for 12 years, so people considering professional careers in kitchens ask him all the time for advice, like whether or not they should go to culinary school. He says, "There are some very good culinary schools, but in general, I think it's worth getting some experience either in a restaurant kitchen or bakery before you decide to invest a lot of money in education. Perhaps the work is far more challenging than expected or the pay is going to be far (very far) lower than what you're making as, say, an anesthesiologist." He goes on to lay out the pros and cons of the life of a professional cook, schools to consider and other sites (communities and blogs) to read so you can get a better idea of what you'd be getting yourself in for.

Meet & Eat: Anthony Bourdain

Today marks the debut of our Q&A feature on Serious Eats. Each Friday we'll be asking various food lovers what makes them tick. Here, we're happy to have chef and author Anthony Bourdain kick off the series.

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The Lechon Of La Loma

Filipinos like to eat pork and so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the number one dish expected at any big party or holiday feast in the Philippines is lechon: an entire suckling pig stuffed with herbs, slow-roasted for hours over charcoal, and served whole, its skin turned golden-red and crispy but the meat inside still moist and delectable. Sidney Snoeck has a mouthwatering set of photos from the district of La Loma, the lechon capital of the Philippines, where much of the neighborhood lives and works in compounds dedicated to roasting pigs year-round.

Bacon Is A Vegetable

baconisavegetable.gif Bacon is a Vegetable: the slogan that started out as a Diesel Sweeties strip can now be purchased on t-shirts, aprons and stickers. What, no tiny hipster buttons?

Bubba

porkrindpig.jpg At right is a piece titled Bubba by SF Bay Area artist Stuart L. Wagner, a pig made out of pork rinds and wood. Finally, a sculpture Homer Simpson can appreciate!

A Renaissance Of Pork

Carolyn Jung of the Mercury News, on why 2007 is a good year for pork:

Foodies have long found today's conventionally raised pork too dry and flavorless to swallow. Many of them now seek out heritage breeds to deliver the full-on porky flavor they've been missing. Just as discriminating Americans learned to zero in on Kobe and Wagyu breeds for top-quality, ultra-marbled beef, so, too, are they now gravitating toward Berkshire and Duroc breeds for exceptional pork.

Although the National Pork Board has no firm figures on how large this niche pork market is, it is one that is definitely growing.

"The kind of short-lived trend of thinking leanness meant health and quality led to the pig being ostracized somewhat," says Patrick Martins, co-founder of New York's Heritage Foods USA, which sells artisanal products from small farms. "But the desire for taste, and the understanding that all things are good in moderation, has led to a renaissance of pork in the United States."

Get Those Little Pork Buns Baking!

goldpiggybanks.jpg SF Gate's Jeff Yang and his wife are trying to have a second child, so they're thinking about fertility and reproduction all the time, but "nothing prepared us for what we've dealt with since the coming of Lunar New Year: a nonstop barrage of stories about the fact that giving birth to a child this year, the year of the so-called "Golden Pig," is like hitting the astrological Lotto. Golden Piglets are destined for fortune and prosperity, because pigs are a symbol of wealth, and the "golden" designation puts lipstick on this pig, or makes a silk purse out of a sow's ear, or, well, insert your preferred porcine pun here. And because of that promise, Chinese, Korean and other Asian women all over the world are doing their best to get little pork buns baking. In short, our quiet little march toward Babyville has intersected with the Boston Marathon."

Hong Kong has almost 7 million residents, a rapidly aging population and a very low birth rate, and yet is expecting over 70 thousand babies to be born this year!

The Greatest Porkers In Pop Culture History

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retroCRUSH says, "2007 is the Chinese Year of the Boar. It's a year of fertility that will be lucky for people giving birth during this time (unless you're in China and have a baby girl). What better way to honor this ancient and silly superstition than by paying tribute to the great pigs in pop culture history?" I have to confess I'd totally forgotten about both Gub Gub and Hen Wen, despite loving them when I was a kid.

Thousands Of Kids Don't Know Pork Chops Come From Pigs

Recent research by the Dairy Farmers of Britain suggests that a significant number of children don't know where their food comes from: "At a time when the government is overhauling school dinners to encourage children to eat healthy meals, the latest findings suggest that changing school dinners may be only half the battle - there is also a need to educate children about the origin of their food. More than one in ten (11%) 8 year olds don't know where pork chops come from, and many more have no idea where yoghurt (18%) or cheese comes (11%) from."

Paul Gauguin's Ham

gauguin-theham.jpg The post-impressionist still life of a ham at right "pays homage to Cezanne and Manet while equaling both in its rigor and sensuousness," and was one of the painter Paul Gauguin's first real masterpieces, painted in 1889 before his famous move to Tahiti.

The Ham is now part of the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., but Fine Art Prints On Demand will happily sell you a print if you'd like one for your wall.)

Four Thoughts On The Humble Pig

schwein.jpg "Pigs are very beautiful animals...There is no point of view from which a really corpulent pig is not full of sumptuous and satisfying curves."
- G.K. Chesterton

The pig is "an encyclopedic animal, a meal on legs."
- Grimod de La Reynière

"I've long said that if I were about to be executed and were given a choice of my last meal, it would be bacon and eggs. There are few sights that appeal to me more than the streaks of lean and fat in a good side of bacon, or the lovely round of pinkish meat framed in delicate white fat that is Canadian bacon. Nothing is quite as intoxicating as the smell of bacon frying in the morning, save perhaps the smell of coffee brewing."
- James Beard

"But I will place this carefully fed pig
Within the crackling oven; and, I pray,
What nicer dish can e'er be given to man."
- Aeschylus

Bacon Maple Doughnut: A Handful of Yes

baconmaplebar.jpg If you find yourself in Portland, Oregon, make your way to Voodoo Doughnuts after 6 p.m. and congratulate yourself on your good luck and good timing, because you'll be in the right time and right place to taste their famous Bacon Maple Bar. a) The name is misleading, it's more doughnut than bar, b) it's maple-glazed and topped with two strips of crispy bacon, c) it's about a dollar, d) it's delicious. As Yay Hooray user CowboyX says: "haven't you ever had pancakes and your syrup gets all over your bacon? it's a handful of Yes."

Bacon's New Sizzle

Aleta Watson of the Mercury News, on how bacon is even more popular than ever: "The attraction of bacon is virtually universal, suggests Bay Area cookbook author and food consultant Bruce Aidells, who notes that the tantalizing aromas and savory flavors touch something deep in our core. "I think bacon is essentially the meat lover's version of chocolate," he says. "It does the same thing to people." Good-quality bacon brings so much to a dish that even diet-conscious cooks often are willing to trade the higher fat content for increased satisfaction at the table. Chefs note that the mention of bacon in the menu description of a dish tends to draw more orders."

Cuts Of Pork

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If you've ever wondered which part of the pig your favorite cut of pork comes from, thank Wikipedia user GameKeeper for working up diagrams of both the British and American common cuts of pork, as described in Larousse Gastronomique. Personally, nothing comes close to the pork belly. Mmmm, delicious bacon.

30 Days of Pork

20061222kelso.jpgAmanda Kelso was a 12-year veteran of vegetarianism when she went AWOL. She blames pork. "Bacon was a temptress to me," she says in her 30 Days of Pork series on photo-sharing site Flickr.

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The 'Pig Heaven Honor Roll'

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Here at Serious Eats, we have decided to go whole hog on National Pig Day. National Pig Day, you ask? Sure enough. Serious Eats general manager Alaina Browne's pig-themed calendar, Pigs on Parade, tells us that today is a red letter day in the porcine world. So what better way to celebrate than to turn the whole site over to pigginess for a spell? Eventually our goal is to make National Pig Day an official national holiday through an act of Congress, but we realize that it’s probably a little too soon for that. So for now, we're going to elevate National Pig Day by instituting the Pig Heaven Honor Roll, something we hope is a precursor to being inducted into the Porcine Hall of Fame.

Though exhaustive, this honor roll is by no means complete. We couldn't possibly eat at every barbecue joint in the nation in search of the perfect rib or Chinese restaurant for the most succulent suckling pig. If you have a nomination for the list, we'd love to hear it!

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Momofuku Ando, To Infinity And Beyond

"The late inventor of instant noodles was symbolically blasted off into space at a funeral ceremony attended by thousands in Osaka, western Japan. The event was a tribute to Momofuku Ando's creation of Space Ram, a noodle soup that works at zero gravity. Mr Ando, who died in January aged 96, created the instant noodle in 1958 and worked hard on the vacuum pack that was taken into space in 2005. " Requiem In Paces.

Race Day Grub: Recipes From the NASCAR Family

racedaygrub.jpg The Denver Post's Ellen Sweets reviews Race Day Grub: Recipes From the NASCAR Family: "Replete with race-related catchphrases - "Speedy Starters," "Raceworthy Main Courses" and "Sweet Victories" - the 140-page cookbook gives entertaining insight into the lives of those who drive the circuit and how they eat on the road. The anecdotal material is engaging, and the recipes ain't half bad. Not all are off the beaten track ("What's Left in the Cabinet?" grilled chicken, sauerkraut pizza, "Conch and Jimmy Chowder") or made with prepared/ canned/packaged ingredients, either."

Three recipes to check out; the Crabmeat au Gratin and Shrimp and Vegetable Risotto look pretty good, but the Spicy Beer-Brined Pork Loin is practically calling my name.

Ed's Last Meal In The Village Voice

The Village Voice's Nina Lalli on our very own head honcho, Ed Levine: "When we asked him to paint us a picture of his perfect last meal, we weren't surprised not to hear the words "foie" and "sous vide." But we wonder whether, in his giddiness, he just forgot to include bacon and pastrami." Ed Levine's Last Meal calls for the cosmic oneness of perfect fried chicken.

Anthony Bourdain on Chodorow VS Bruni

Just one week after restauranteur Jeffrey Chodorow bought a pricey full-page ad in the New York Times declaring war on food critic Frank Bruni for dissing his new steakhouse with a starless review the week before, Bruni visits Robert's Steakhouse, the restaurant of the Penthouse stripclub in Midtown and gives it a very positive one star review. Anthony Bourdain weighs in: "Maybe I'm being cynical here but the Message seems to be: "Even a freakin' strip club--where you get lap dances offered between courses is better than your soulless, overpriced meat-emporium. I'd rather spend time in a hot tub with Bob Guiccione than you!" Subtext? "Don't Fuck With Me!"

Previously: Mimi Sheraton on Chodorow VS Bruni, You Win Some, You... Get Really, Really Mad At Some?

Top Ten Ads With People Dressed Up As Food

foodguys.jpg Most of the selections from Adfreak.com's top 10 ads with people dressed up as food are funny or at least somewhat charming, and all of them have YouTube links so you can either watch the actual ads again or see them for the first time. Number one is probably one of my favorite commercials to watch in recent history.

The World of Competitive Cooking

The Chicago Tribune's Robin Mather Jenkins, on what it's like in the world of competitive cooking:

People who enter cooking contests form an unusual subculture of the food world. They follow a different calendar than the rest of us: At the end of December, when we're getting ready to celebrate New Year's Eve, they anxiously anticipate the announcement of the finalists for the National Chicken Cooking Contest. At the end of September, when most of us are watching college football, they're holding their breath for a phone call from Pillsbury to say that they're going to "the big one": the biennial Bake-Off.

They even have their own language. They call themselves "contesters," not contestants, and their activity is "contesting." The recipes they develop use "product," not ingredients. When talking among themselves, you'll hear mutters like "my first beef," "PBO" (Pillsbury Bake-Off) and "at Chicken '06."

The World's Tastiest Tapwater Comes From Ohio

"For the third time in four years, the town of Montpelier, Ohio, can claim bragging rights to the world's tastiest tap water. Bosnian waters also performed well, winning four of the five top spots for sparkling water." Who knew?

Culinary Tourism

According to a recent study, 27 million Americans "have recently taken a food tour, enrolled in a cooking class, toured a winery or otherwise participated in culinary activities as part of a vacation" in the last three years. That's still only one out of every six leisure travellers, but the numbers are growing. "The interest in culinary tourism has accompanied a rise in emphasis on food throughout American culture, said Barry Glassner, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California and author of the book "Gospel of Food," published last month. "We define ourselves by how we eat. We show others and we show ourselves what kind of people we are by how adventurous we are about food," he said."

Verrines: Luxury In A Glass

strawberryverrines.jpg Luxury in a glass by Betty Hallock of the LA Times:

A verrine is an appetizer or dessert that consists of a number of components layered artfully in a small glass. (The word verrine refers to the glass itself; literally it means "protective glass.") Intriguingly composed, they're a study in textures, flavors, colors and temperatures. A beautiful glass might be filled with a layer of mushroom flan, sautéed wild mushrooms, a julienne of prosciutto, parsley gelée, wild mushroom emulsion and topped with a potato and prosciutto galette. Another will have clementine and mint syrup, fresh clementines and a gingerbread "crumble." American chefs are just starting to catch on to the verrine. But in France it's a culinary trend that's captured just about everyone's imagination — including home cooks.

If verrines sound like something you might like to try out for a fancy dinner at home, Hallock includes three recipes, two of them savory and one sweet; the latter is adapted from the emotion exotic created by the celebrated pâtisserie chef Pierre Hermé.

Gender And Molecular Gastronomy

Laura Shapiro on gender and molecular gastronomy in the New York Times, Kitchen Chemistry Is Chic, but Is It a Woman’s Place?:

Maybe all the machines and chemicals are contributing to a revolution other than the one about frozen air and warm gelatin. “Restaurant kitchens were organized like military brigades, because that was the only way to turn out such a volume of work and make all the fast decisions that were necessary,” said Mr. Goldfarb of Room 4 Dessert. “Now it’s more like the modern military, using technology as opposed to brute strength.”

But many women dreaming of a restaurant career still may not see the appeal of a laboratory kitchen. Ms. Yung and Ms. Sanchez have been struck by how few women are in high-end restaurant kitchens of any sort. “We’re always wondering where the girls are,” Ms. Yung said.

If you've read recent articles about women in technology, this article pretty much runs through the same old tropes as those do, just set in kitchens instead of boardrooms.

Becoming Fashionable

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Photographs by The Paupered Chef

The cocktail party is an estimable but endangered social institution. Its demise may be blamed on factors as various as the waning popularity of hard liquor, the regrettable decline of the sibling arts of conversation and flirtation, and the growing acceptance in this country of the European idea that dinner by itself is sufficient diversion for an evening. (The cocktail party, remember, is an American invention.) We steadfastly defend the cocktail party, however, both as an abstract notion and as an uncomplicated and extremely pleasant means of entertaining. —The Joy of Cooking

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Now At Krispy Kreme: Hot Fresh Whole Wheat Doughnuts

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Krispy Kreme introduced their newest doughnuts yesterday: they're glazed, caramel flavored... and made of whole wheat: "The company called the new doughnut an alternative for health-conscious consumers, with 180 calories. The original glazed has 200 calories, according to the company's Web site."

Seriously, a saving of just 20 calories? Sorry, but that's the same vein of ridiculous as people who order gallon-size Diet Cokes along with their buttered popcorn at the movie theater because they think it's going to help them lose weight. Have the real thing occasionally as a treat—you won't feel deprived, and perhaps even more important, you won't be fooling yourself about your nutrition.

[via yumsugar]

Tonight: Watch Michael Pollan and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Michael Pollan, author of last year's bestselling The Omnivore's Dilemma are talking tonight at UC Berkeley's Wheeler Hall Auditorium after a presentation by Mackey called "The Past, Present, and Future of Food". There aren't any more tickets for the event but it will be a live webcast—it starts ten minutes before the event at 7 pm PST/10 pm EST. You can read more about how Mackey and Pollan's long-running conversation got started over at the Ethicurean.

Chain Restaurants and X-Treme Eating

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is pointing the finger at chain restaurants for the proliferation of X-treme Eating: "[The Cheesecake Factory's] Chris' Outrageous Chocolate Cake combines brownie, pie, and cheesecake into 1,380-calorie pudding. The CPSI says this is "the equivalent of eating two [McDonald's] Quarter Pounders plus a large fries - for dessert". "Since those chains make almost zero nutrition information available on menus, their customers don't have a clue that they might be getting a whole day's worth of calories in a single dish, or several days' worth in the whole meal," the centre says."

One item mentioned in their press release is Uno Chicago Grill's Pizza Skins, but come on, if the menu says "We start with our famous deep dish crust, add mozzarella and red bliss mashed potatoes, and top it off with crispy bacon, cheddar, and sour cream" how can you not know what you're getting? No one disputes that chain restaurants make insanely unhealthy foods, but it's also true that no one forces you to eat at them or to order the fattiest things on the menu. At the end of the day, we can only hold ourselves responsible for what we've chosen to put into our bodies.

How To Make Your Own Bacon

"Making your own bacon at home is not difficult. You will need pork belly and a brine of some sort. The most important ingredients are salt and TIME." Well, most important after the pork belly.

The Really Big Guide To Secret Menu Items

Consumerist's finally gotten around to posting their Really Big Guide To Secret Menu Items—a list of fifteen big chain restaurants and the secret items you can order from them. Caveat emptor, they say: "Before reading this please note that this article has not been fact-checked. This report is based purely on reader suggestions. We are posting them entirely without confirmation and are not going to try to order any of this crap in order to confirm its existence. We would die of heart disease, be broke, and our ass would be the size of Texas."

Lazy Ravioli

Marce from Pip in the City, on her lazy ravioli: "I was too tired to make the ravioli dough from scratch, so I grabbed a pack of won ton wrappers I had in the freezer and made some huge ravioli with a shitake-panko-potato flakes-onions-parmessan filling with a mozzarella cube in the center, served with a very simple tomato sauce." Necessity is the mother of invention, and also in this case of tastiness.

[via not martha]

Thomas Keller's Favorite Simple Roast Chicken

thomaskellerroastchicken.jpg Thomas Keller's recipe for My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken from his cookbook Bouchon is up on Epicurious, and boy is it simple—six ingredients total including the chicken, and the thyme is optional. The writing is great too: "Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be superelegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You'll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it's so good." 183 user reviews on Epicurious, and 94% of them would make it again.

[via Drive-Thru]

When Dining Rooms Upstage Menus

Novel Noshing: When Dining Rooms Upstage Menus by Fodor's Katie Hamlin discusses six different restaurant concepts from around the world. Most of them are old hat (kitchen tables and conveyor belt sushi, especially) but I'd love to eat at the Fukuoka branch of the Zauo, The Fishing Boat Café chain, a restaurant that has "500 seats on two giant boats "anchored" side by side in the restaurant's massive indoor pond. After casting your pole (there is one stationed by each seat) and making your catch, your fish or lobster is wisked away to the kitchen for proper cooking." (There's also a Belgian restaurant that lifts your dining table 50 meters in the air, but I'm not really one for heights.)

Honeybees Are More Important Than You Realize

An alarming number of bees are inexplicably going missing across the USA, and if you're tempted to make an alien abduction joke, first consider how important they are to the food supply: "A Cornell University study has estimated that honeybees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts. “Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food,” said Zac Browning, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation."

A 20% loss of bees in the offseason is normal, but West Coast beekeepers have been losing 30 to 60%, and beekeepers on the East Coast and Texas more than 70%. Is it the cold weather? Mites? Viruses? What's going on with the honeybees?

Is the Cookbook Obsolete?

In Salon today, Jonathan Beecher Field wonders if the cookbook has passed its expiration date:

"With the proliferation of clearinghouse Web sites like Epicurious.com, not to mention the enormous number of food blogs that spring up daily, any recipe you can think of is no farther away than the nearest computer. If, as of Sunday, Feb. 25, Epicurious.com serves up nine recipes for "Yorkshire pudding," and Allrecipes.com has 43 for "black bean soup," and Googling "vichyssoise" generates 265,000 results, who needs an all-purpose cookbook like "Joy [of Cooking]" with only one or two recipes for each of these dishes?"

Gourmet Genesis

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Photo credit: iStockphoto.com

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. He created light and day and water and, eventually, trees, flowers, animals, and man. The man's name was Adam, and he liked to eat things in the garden, Eden. Soon he had a wife, Eve, and she made most of their dinner reservations. "Where do you want to go for our anniversary?" she'd pester.

"Let's try the fig tree," Adam said. "I hear it's lovely."

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Tasty Food Is Better For You

According to a new study, it turns out you're more likely to absorb nutrients from food you like than food you either dislike or just don't feel passionately about. You know what this means—no one's ever going to be able to force me to eat asparagus or broccoli ever again!

[via rebecca blood]

How To Buy Good Tortillas

Raul Gutierrez has an amazing photoblog (one of my all-time favorites, as a matter of fact) but the reason I'm linking to him today is his text blog post on how to buy good tortillas: "Good tortillas have 3 ingredients: corn, lime, water. That's it. If anything else is listed in the ingredients you your tortillas are no good. If your supermarket doesn't have tortillas with these ingredients (and these ingredients only), go somewhere else." And yes, he gives you good advice on where that somewhere else should be.

The Truffle Baskets of Lalbenque

As a city dweller most of the food I see is pre-packaged now and in stores, so it's easy to forget farmer's markets aren't just novelties in other parts of the world—they're the way people buy and sell food every day. Pim visited the famous Lalbenque truffle market in France recently and posted photos of the lovely baskets the truffles are brought to market in. I talk to the chefs in my neighborhood who prepare my meals, but seeing these baskets, "some handsome, some old, some new, some quite wretched workmanship, and others a marvel of homemade glory", is a reminder of how rarely I have a human connection with the people who work with the ingredients that make up those meals.

Staple Ingredients of the Chinese Pantry

Barbara Fisher of Tigers & Strawberries put together a really useful post for people who like to cook Chinese food at home, Staple Ingredients of the Chinese Pantry, in which she discusses her favorite brands, what qualities to look for when buying a particular item and how they're generally used in cooking.

What I liked most about her list is that she gives you a short but concise summary of why each item should be a regular fixture in your kitchen. For example, we all know about soy sauce, sesame oil and dried noodles, but have you ever considered fermented black beans? They're "black soybeans which have been cooked, salted and fermented, often with slivers of ginger, and this treatment turns them into flavor powerhouses. They smell somewhat like a good aged cheese, and surprise! They are absolutely filled with natural glutamates. They make whatever they are stir fried, stewed, steamed or simmered with taste amazing. I cannot praise them highly enough."

Man Gets English Breakfast Tattooed On Skull

englishbreakfasttattoo.jpg 19 year-old Dayne Gilbey of Coventry, Wales volunteered to let tattoo artist Blake Dickinson ink his skull with the image of a full English breakfast: "bacon, eggs, sausages, beans and even cutlery."

Frankly, I'd be amazed by Gilbey's foolhardiness except that I'm too busy appalled by how ugly that tattoo turned out to be, especially when you consider how pretty the photo of an English breakfast that ran with Graham Holliday's In Defence of British Food feature today is! What do you make of it?

Marketman's Philippine Fruit Index

Marketman’s Philippine Fruit Index: "I was recently reviewing a reference guide which had a section on tropical fruits from this part of the world and I was surprised to note that I seemed to have covered many of the fruits in the book. Turns out that Marketmanila has already featured over 50 locally-grown fruits in the past two years!!"

(If you read nothing else, make sure to check out his Mango Slicing 101—it's pretty easy once you know what to do.)

Ganso Iberico, The Ethical Foie Gras?

The Spanish company Pateria de Sousa produces a foie gras called Ganso Iberico, which they're marketing as an ethical foie gras because they avoid "the process known as la gavage - force-feeding birds with grain by using a metal tube - by allowing geese to stock up on extra food naturally in preparation for their normal winter migration to Africa. They are slaughtered once they have fattened themselves for their expected long flight south." Ganso Iberico is only produced once a year because of migration, and is even more expensive than traditional foie gras, which costs £10 to its £16 for just 2½oz (70g).

Interesting factoid thrown out in the article: "Although the production of foie gras is banned in the UK, the British remain among the world's largest consumers, with 4,270 tons sold every year." Not that the list of nations that consume foie gras in notable quantities is likely to be very long, but it seems strange (illogical? hypocritical?) that a country that seems to love it so much can also ban national production of the stuff.

Previously: Hot Doug's Falls Foul Of Chicago Foie Gras Ban, NYC Foie Gras Wars. Our Megnut also wrote quite a lot about foie gras last year.

World's Largest Burger?

dennysbeerbarrelburger.jpg Restaurant Says It Has World's Largest Burger: "Weighing in at 123 pounds, this giant burger features an 80-pound beef patty, a 30-pound bun, 12 tomatoes and 160 slices of cheese. Denny's Beer Barrel Pub also throws on a pound each of lettuce, ketchup, mustard and mayo -- and up to five onions. The menu price for the Beer Barrel Main Event Charity Burger comes to $379."

If you think the photo on the left looks terrifying, go see the larger version on the Denny's Beer Barrel Pub homepage—it made me feel queasy, which I assure you is not an easy feat. I wonder if it comes with sides?

(You can read more about huge burgers in A Hamburger Today's megaburger archives.)

Lent's Own Fast Food Sandwich

"In 1962, Lou Groen was desperate to save his floundering hamburger restaurant, the first McDonald's in the Cincinnati area. His problem: His clientele was heavily Roman Catholic. In those days, most Catholics abstained from meat every Friday, as well as during Lent, the 40-day period of repentance that begins this week with Ash Wednesday. His solution: He created the Filet-O-Fish — a sandwich that saved his restaurant and eventually would be consumed at a rate of 300 million a year."

I've never really given much thought to the classic items on the McDonald's menu so it was a trip to discover that the Filet-O-Fish was invented by a franchise owner and not headquarters—the same is true of the Big Mac and the Egg McMuffin, as it turns out! And while it seems like a no brainer to me that Hawaii leads the US in weekly Filet-O-Fish consumption, I'm kind of surprised that Ohio comes in at number two, even if it is the Filet-O-Fish's home state!

In Defence of British Food

20070226fullenglish.jpg
The full English: bacon, eggs, sausages, toast, tomatoes, fried mushrooms, and baked beans. Composition may vary from region to region. Photo credit: iStockphoto.com


In a sense French President Jacques Chirac was right when he said, "One cannot trust people whose cuisine is so bad" He was talking about us. The British that is. But... well... the thing is. He's wrong. It's not that British food is bad—because it jolly well is not—the perception problem stems from what masquerades as British food and not what British food is.

Continue reading »

Mimi Sheraton on Chodorow VS Bruni

We mentioned last week that restauranteur Jeffrey Chodorow declared war on the New York Times food section after their food critic Frank Bruni panned Chodorow's new steakhouse Kobe Club and gave it a starless review; former NYT and Time Magazine food critic Mimi Sheraton recently weighed in on the debacle for Slate:

Chodorow, of course, was an idiot to have run such an ad. For one thing, it does worlds of good for the critic, indicating he or she has a strong following, and that his or her words can make or break a dining place—in itself a measure of proven dependability. Chodorow questions Bruni's credentials, but one might also ask: What qualifies Chodorow to be a restaurateur? Simply having eaten out a lot since childhood, as he explains on his new blog, doesn't quite do it. Considering his hit-or-miss record—with disastrous results at the defunct Rocco's, Caviar, and Banana, and two previous incarnations of Mix in New York, yet his successful results at China Grill, Asia de Cuba, and Ono (despite lackluster food)—one might well question his erratic judgment.

Oh snap!