My heart (and taste buds) belong to Portland, despite my many international moves - Italy, Thailand, Haiti, and now Papua New Guinea

  • Location: Papua New Guinea

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This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

What, you take visits from fans?! Wish I had known to plan that into my last NY vacation!

Taste Test: We Try Every SodaStream Soda Syrup Flavor

As Ephraim pointed out, SodaStream is in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. I am a bit disappointed the SE would feature them in a taste test, which acts as a promotion for their products. Much like Kenji did the Chick-Fil-A hack, it would be great to do a SodaStream hack too. Or at the very least, make sure readers are aware that by purchasing SodaStream, they are supporting the continual erosion of Palestinian land rights by Israel.

Vegan: Stovetop-Style Macaroni and Cheese

@MandyEats - What is with all the negative comments on the vegan stuff? Ok, you're a carinvore - no problem! The existence of vegan recipes isn't meant as a personal attack to your own food ethic, so let it go! I for one am thrilled to have vegan month each February, and I am neither vegan nor vegetarian. I find the recipes that appear this month are usually the most creative and interesting all year round! Kenji, great work as always, and as soon as I get in a country where I have access to all these ingredients and equipment, I will be making the mac and cheese stat (I am in Papua New Guinea now...). Is vegan ramen in the works?? (Fingers crossed).

Australian food websites?

Thanks for the great info, everyone! Here in Cairns now and unfortunately no great experiences yet, but I'll peruse the sites you suggested and hope for the best. Cheers!

An Introduction to Modern-Day Australian Food

Crazy, I just posted in forums asking for recommendations on Aussie food websites, so I'll try again here just in case! Does anyone have any recommendations for food sites that do restaurant reviews and food news for Australia? I'll be traveling there frequently over the next year or two (especially Cairns and Canberra) and want to eat well while I am there! Thanks!

Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey With Gravy

Hi Kenji, my oven's max temperature is about 400 (I live in Haiti, we don't have great cooking equipment here...). I saw in the article accompanying the recipe that you don't recommend cooking at a lower temperature, but would 400 work for this? If so, how long do you think it would take to cook? Or, given that it's impossible for us to reach the higher temp, would you recommend that we cook the turkey whole at a lower temp for longer? Thanks so much for your work on the Food Lab; I love it!

Cook the Book: 'Portland, Oregon Chef's Table'

I'm from Portland but living and working in Haiti, where it can be hard to find local food (everything is imported here), but on Saturday I had freshly harvested lambi (conch shell) cooked over a fire right on the beach, flavored with lime and scotch bonnet chili. Heaven!

Welcome to Oregon Month!

Thrilled you are doing a feature on Oregon. I'm still waiting for the day when you have an SE Portland, but for now this is great! Also love the Oregon doodle by Robyn Lee. Would love to have this as a sticker or shirt.

Top 10 Instant Noodles from Around the World

Yeah, I need to add another vote for Mama Tom Yum from Thailand - best ramen ever! It's also common in Thailand to make Pad Mama (stir-fried Mama noodles) - just saute veggies in a wok (I like copious amounts of garlic and greens), add small amount of water and mix in the flavoring plus egg (and mix the egg so it will come out in strands), then add the noodles and saute till water is absorbed. Delicious.

Weekend Giveaway: 'The Food Matters Cookbook'

I'm trying to unite nutritious with sustainable, while still remaining an adventurous, joyful eater. In Rome, we have one farmer's market and I've made it the highlight of my week to create meals around whatever is in season (luckily, in Rome, that's quite a lot all the time). It's a bit of a challenge to find whole grains in Rome (sacriledge to eat whole grain pasta!!!), but I'm finding my suppliers throughout the city little by little.

Grown-Up Ramen Noodles?

I know you're asking about Top Ramen, but the most popular Thai Ramen is Ma-Ma (Tom Yum flavor) and it's fixed frequently as "Pad Ma-Ma" or stir-fried Ma-Ma. Here's what you do with the Ma-Ma, but you could also use Top Ramen for a different (not as good) flavor:
1) Chop some stir-fry greens (however much you want) and pound some garlic (amt. you like) with mortar and pestle. You can also thinly slice some pork if you'd like. Break an egg into a small bowl and beat it thoroughly.
2) Soak two packages of Ma-Ma/Ramen noodles in water. You can actually just open up the tops of the packages, take out the seasoning packs, and pour water in them. Just do this right before cooking, not much ahead of time.
3) Heat oil in a wok, add the pork (if using) and chopped garlic till it browns, then the chopped greens. Take the noodles out of their soaking water and put them in the wok, along with some of the water. Mix it all together, then add 1 (not two!!!) packages of Ma-Ma/Ramen seasoning. Mix it up, then when the water is absorbed, push the noodles and veggies to the sides of the pan and pour in the egg, scrambling it, then mixing with all the rest. You're done!

A question for servers: is it annoying when...?

Good suggestions, all, and many thanks for your responses! Now if I can just learn how to say "are there any signature dishes the chef is known for" in Italian, then I'll be set!

Instead of _______ , I am on SE

instead of writing a paper on food security in uganda, i am on SE. oh, the irony.

Cheap eating options in Paris and Italy (Rome, Florence)

I've been living in Rome for about 6 months now on a student budget, and I'm so broke that I can barely afford to go out to eat, however I do have a few suggestions for you.

As above folks have mentioned, Trastevere in general has pretty good restaurants. In that particular neighborhood, I recommend Forno La Renella for pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice). It's hard to find, but well worth it. Everyone knows where it is, so just ask around how to get there since the winding streets of Trastevere can be confusing. They are a bakery, and the crust on this pizza is the highlight. It's divine. And the toppings are great, too - artichokes with fresh mozerella and arugula, prosciutto cotto, etc., but also plainer options for a picky eater. You can eat there for less than 3 Euros per person. And while there, buy some bread for later. You'll be very happy you did.

Besides pizza al taglio (which varies a lot in quality, so some will be good, and some just plain bad), another great general cheap option for lunch is to go into one of the countless little shops that have a little of everything - cheese, bread, salami, etc - and just ask for a panino (sandwich). You can tell the server what you want and they'll make it for you to take out and eat. They're really good because you can get high quality ingredients (prosciutto cotto, proscuitto crudo, salami, any kind of cheese, roasted red peppers, etc, but I recommend also adding cicoria which is a ubiquitous Italian green to the sandwich. Yum!!) at very cheap prices - each sandwich will be less than 3 Euro. And, unlike pizza al taglio, the quality will always be high.

In terms of trattorie, there's lots of good ones tucked into each little neighborhood. Monti (a neighborhood near via Cavour) has lots of great little restaurants and wine bars, the Jewish Ghetto I've heard has amazing food, while Testaccio has the most authentic Roman food - but if your wife is a picky eater, maybe Testaccio is not so good a place to visit since they specialize in the "fifth quarter" (animal innards). In general, neighborhoods around the Vatican and Colosseum don't have great places to eat so if you know you'll be there around a meal time, do research ahead of time to find out what to choose. Also, the Centro Storico (historic center, area around the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, etc) is really hit or miss - because it's so touristed, there are tons of terrible restaurants there, but because it's the heart of the city, there are also some of the best. So again, do your research on restaurants in Centro Storico. Don't end up paying 12 Euros for a plate of bad Carbonara. Finally, if you want the best coffee in Rome, it's in the Centro Storico just beyond the Pantheon - it's called Caffe San Eustachio. You will be happy you went, it is a truly authentic Roman experience.

If you want to contact me for more info, I'd be happy to give more suggestions if I know more specifically where you'll be staying so I can suggest good restaurants in the neighborhood.

Poll: What Do You Call Cola Drinks?

the word "pop" makes me shudder. naturally, i am relieved to see that soda is winning. go, soda, go!

Poll: What's Your Favorite Grocery Chain?

New Seasons, in the Portland, Oregon area, blows all these grocery stores out of the water BY FAR! Not just in taste and selection, but also in their amazing business practices and commitment to sustainability and supporting the community and their employees. They say it's the friendliest store in town, and it really, truly is. It's just plain fun to shop there! If any of you SE folks come and visit, you need to check it out. It's just that good.

Worst meal of your life

So many bad meals in my life... cafeteria lunches, airplane food, terrible chain restaurants... Additionally, I work with refugee families from all around the world, and while some of those meals have been the best of my life (Nepali food!!!), a meal served by a wonderful, well-meaning Somali family might qualify as the worst. The musty, fatty, rubbery old goat meat served in oil and spaghetti, eaten with no utensils in a communal bowl with lots of kids digging in enthusiastically (I know for a fact this household does not have soap in their bathrooms) made me gag . Especially when I opened their freezer later to see that they store their goat meat without any covering. Just pure, raw goat meat sitting on the floor of the freezer, rubbing shoulders (literally) with whatever other stuff happens to be in there. Ugh.

But only one meal has made me vomit. In Thailand, my sweet host sister served me a thick, gravy-like soup that contained quail eggs, fish stomach, and congealed duck bloood. For breakfast. While she was driving me to school in a rickety old car with a major exhaust problem. Maybe if it had been served for dinner rather than breakfast, and maybe if I hadn't been bouncing along in a car inhaling exhaust fumes, I would have loved it. As it was... i just couldn't handle it, and back up it came.

Taste Test: Frozen Apple Pies

love the doodles! LOVE them! the pies, eh. but the doodles...! awesome.

Dinner Tonight: Proper French Omelet

Just tried the recipe, and I am happy to report that this is the best omelette I have EVER eaten. Thanks for a good, simple, honest recipe. Delicious! Though, yes, I went a little lower on the butter than suggested.

Portland, Oregon: Ken's Artisan Pizza

Love Ken's, but you should really try Dove Vivi (also on 28th, just north of Glisan), a new kid on the block, for delicious cornmeal crust pizza with innovative, delicious toppings. Much cheaper, less of a wait, and waaay friendlier staff.