• Location: The middle of NJ. By the beach.

The Tea Cup and the Dragon: Secrets of China's Favorite Green Tea

As a fellow tea nerd, I would love to see more of your writing about the subject. Do more tea. Do lots of tea, on location.

Easy 30-Minute Pressure Cooker Chicken and Chickpea Masala

Ok, just promise me sous vide apple wood smoked bacon wrapped mutton stuffed with river trout next time.

Poll: What Soda Do You Like to Drink With Your Pizza?

When I was growing up, nothing was more "Friday night" than walking to the local pizza joint for a slice and a can of RC.

What ever happened to Drinking the Bottom Shelf?

Bring back Will! :(

Special Occasion Drinking

Weekends. Now. When the house is empty, and I'm alone. Then I bust out the good bourbon.

Red Sauce Summer, 10 Years Later: Park Side and the Lemon Ice King of Corona

This reminds me why you're one of my favorite remaining writers around here. Evocative, and a delicious read.

Bad Food Anger

I'm still mad over a meal I had more than 12 years ago. It was my 23rd birthday, and we were po' so poor, we couldn't afford the rest of the word. Most nights, dinner was box mac and cheese, hot dogs or tuna. So, for my fancy birthday dinner, I wanted to go to a local gastro-brewpub. I'd eaten there once before, when my best friend was visiting from out of state, and the meal really stuck with me. It was expensive, but I dreamed about it. So, that's where I wanted to go for my birthday. I was envisioning flights of beer for tasting, delicious small plates of great bar food.

Uh. They recently had a big changeover that I wasn't aware of. They went from really great bar food and beer to a stuffy Italian joint, with no beer on the menu anywhere. We soldiered on, and I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, a plate of penne in vodka sauce for a whopping $22. This was 2001, and that was pretty much my grocery bill for the week. Husband got the veal parmigiana. Our waiter carried two ENORMOUS plates out, the plates were literally the size of my kitchen sink, so I thought hell, this will be great, good food, huge portions! He set the plate down, and there were 14 noodles in a little cluster in the center of this gigantic plate, swimming in what looked exactly like Campbells tomato soup. And tasted that way. I almost broke down in tears. Husband's veal was, I shit you not, two patties chopped and formed, under a scant bit of cheese, floating in watery tomato puree, with a meager handful of spaghetti.

We ate our garbage. Paid the extravagant-to-us bill, and left feeling horrible. I mean, really horrible. Like everything was a huge prank, and we were the butt of the joke. These days, I wouldn't stand for it, but back then? I just felt lucky going into a place like that, and that maybe I was missing something about "haute cuisine".

What really burns my ass, is to this day, people are always raving about it, recommending it as one of the finer eateries in a town with lots of great places. The place is THRIVING. People love mediocrity. I still don't get the joke.

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Food Moments in Movies

I just watched the Darth Vader/Penne Arrabiatta thing *again* last night. HILARIOUS. "this one's wet. This one's wet. This one's wet. This one's wet..."

Gadgets: Measuring Colander

I have a small mesh strainer, but I find myself going for the huge colander, because I hate cleaning the fine mesh screen, and it doesn't sit on the counter upright if I need it to. But then...I also hate washing an enormous colander. I can see a use for this, totally. Sometimes, all you need is to drain one can of beans.

Where (oh where) has my fake BFF Will Gordon gone?

I can't even...

His writing. I looked forward to it every week, more than any other column here. This is very upsetting.

What is the most expensive/least used tool in your kitchen?

Definitely the ice cream maker. Who has room in the freezer for the huge canister? To make ice cream just requires so much forethought. I trot it out a few times a year, like for summer barbecues, and sometimes holiday meals where pie is present (there is no better partner to hot apple pie than homemade cinnamon ice cream). But still.

What is your favorite shape of pasta or noodle?

For one choice, a nice basic mid-thickness spaghetti, like good old Ronzoni #9 , the pasta of my childhood. For two choices? Add rigatoni to that. Fatter and more substantial than penne, with sort of careless chewy "too fat to stay tubular, don't care" kind of attitude. Awesome.

Poll: Sriracha on Pizza, Way or No Way?

If the pizza is leftovers, or really shiteous, yeah. Otherwise, hot pepper flakes all the way.

WFO Dream Job--I'm in mine finally, what's yours?

I work as a sensory panelist for a flavor/fragrance company. I taste and sniff things for a living. I would LOVE to like, take my talents to a small craft brewery and be on a taste panel developing and testing new beers. That might be my dream job. Or maybe a high end distillery.

In Our Community Corner: Meet Michael Therieau (aka: 'Pavlov')

Yay! I am right there with you on the bread thing. Cheese forever!

This Is What the Line for Pliny the Younger Looks Like

I feel pretty lucky, a friend stood in line at the brewpub last week, and while he was there, he picked up a case of Elder. Sent me a few bottles, which are rare as anything in my area. I finally got to try Elder, it was a good experience.

Canning Question

My main concern is preventing it from spilling. I'd rather a lightly screwed lid than a little metal hat perched on a jar of runny preserves.

Canning Question

@Redfish, in my case, it was a weird little shaped jar. Not worth the effort., it's ok, it'll be ok. There's always a morning after. You're a good person. I think you were a bit misguided about safety issues, but I do like having the ring around for resealing, then refilling, is all.

Canning Question

See, I agree with the OP, and here's why. I got an excellent jar of blackberry jam as a hostess gift when I had house guests. No ring. How am I gonna reseal it? I had to transfer it into a plastic pint takeout soup container. For whatever reason, that took much of the appeal out of the jam. Tasted fine, but, I don't know, it lost something. Just because I knew they were stingy, I washed and returned the jar. They took it.

Next time, give me the damn ring, and I'll refill your jar with something good, like a spice rub, or my own preserves.

Essential Dumplings of Flushing, NYC

I just announced to the household, instead of my usual Williamsburg birthday beer crawl (starting at Brooklyn Brewery, hitting anywhere interesting in between, and ending at Radegast)...I just told them we're going on a Flushing dumpling crawl instead. I had to explain it like three times, but I think they're game.

Best coffee on a budget

If you have a grinder and a Costco membership, their Colombian, in the silver bag is quite good. The Kenyan in the royal blue bag is pretty hard to beat, too. They run like $11-12 for a 2 pound bag.

Ask a Bartender: Are There Cocktail Trends You Hate?

Oh I am so on the bandwagon for hating flavored vodka. I love vodka. I was raised in a very Polish household. I love my vodka. I love it icy cold in shots. Or sometimes with tonic if I'm feeling fancy. I like it to taste like potatoes and pain, or on the higher end...nothing. Every time I head into that row to pick up my bottle of Zyr, I get irrationally angry. Swedish Fish vodka? REALLY!? They're marketing it to fifteen year old kids. For fucks sake. Oh, here I go again.

Can you polish off a pint of ice cream in a sitting?

No, couldn't possibly. I'm lactarded. The very idea...

Which Is the Best K-Cup Coffee?

We have one of those machines at work, a huge industrial number. They stock a lot of the Green Mountain kinds, but not the Kenyan, which is actually decent. So far, besides the hot water that I can pour from the side of the machine, the best is the Hazelnut at double strength. I make it with just about equal milk, and a pound of sugar. Nutella in a cup. Who needs cookies?

Will Gordon's Whiskey Battle: Bulleit Rye vs. Rittenhouse Rye

They're letting you touch stuff on the higher shelves! Oh happy day! Our little Will *sniffle* drinking good rye.

I have problems with waffles.

I want to buy a waffle iron. I want to eat big square, thin, crispy waffles. The kind that cover your plate. The kind that you can make an X on top of with bacon. The kind that goes good with fried chicken.

I do not want round ones, or doughy Belgian waffles, or heart shaped, Disney, Texas (?!) shaped monstrosities.

Does anyone know of a waffle iron that can do this for me? Amazon has been disappointing, but maybe I'm not searching properly. Come on, SE, I know you can do it.

Lots of "comment pending" issues lately

Maybe half the time I post, I've been getting the comment pending notice, which never used to bug me, but now, when that message appears, the comments don't show up at all. I get comment notifications like I participated, but often my comments don't show, on the threads. It's becoming a crapshoot, and I feel a little discouraged about posting, lately.

Any one been to one of those food hostess party things?

I got invited to one. A room full of strangers, two close friends, and -from what I gather- lots of packaged processed food. I've been to candle parties and "adult toy" parties, but never one of these with the foodstuffs. I'm feeling all xenophobic about a group of people that gather in a home to buy drink mixes, and dip. I have to go, one of my closest friends is hosting. I'll eat anything, though. I ain't too proud for convenience food.

Is it any good? Tell me about your experiences at these things, and what to expect, please? What to look for? What to avoid?

How to get that BBQ started?

This came up in a discussion, recently. Here's the scenario, you've got company coming, let's say for some outdoor entertaining, for dinner at 6:00. Do you wait till guests arrive to "get the party started" so to speak, or do you have the stage set, already?

I'm in the second camp. If I know my guests are arriving at 6, I try to have everything assembled, organized, and ready to go (in a perfect world) by 5:30. I want to be outside, relaxed, with the music playing, tiki torches and lanterns lit, drink in hand, maybe already nibbling on some chips or nuts. I feel like it's less awkward for them to walk in, there's no waiting around for things to happen. They walk right into the yard, right into cold drinks, snacks, and the rumor of good food coming. When they arrive, after settling in with a drink and chatting awhile, then I start bringing out the appetizers or first course, or just more chips or whatever depending on the nature of the gathering. Sure, it's a little self serving, but I like to feel relaxed and a little unwound before people start showing up.

The person I was talking to feels like that's rude, and that my guests maybe feel like they've arrived "late" because I've already started on my first beer, and the party's going already with or without them, and that everything should start when the company comes, like "oh, you're here now, let's put on the tunes, and have something to eat." That I should wait till guests arrive to put anything out, and wait to start in on everything.

So, SE folks, what's your style? What's the etiquette? What's your mentality? This doesn't necessarily apply to just barbecuing, although it was the topic of discussion. Start your party a little early, or wait till they arrive?

Eggplant "Ricotta" Stacks From 'Nom Nom Paleo'

This trio of eggplant, tomato, and ricotta cheese makes for a hearty, if not terribly exciting, twist on a caprese salad. Give the appetizer a Paleo twist, though, and the dish transforms into something far more interesting. Michelle Tam's recipe in her new cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo, pairs eggplant slices (coated in ghee and broiled) with thick tomato steaks, a balsamic and shallot reduction, and her own macadamia nut-based ricotta "cheese." More

Easy 30-Minute Pressure Cooker Chicken and Chickpea Masala

What I know about you: You like fast. You love easy. You lurve chicken. You're pretty wild about recipes that taste awesome. You like gadgets. This recipe for a pseudo-Indian chicken channa masala hits every one of those points. It takes about half an hour, it's easy enough that a very large and particularly precocious child could make it, it features chicken, it tastes incredibly awesome with a creamy and tangy spiced tomato sauce (think: chicken tikka masala), and it's made in a pressure cooker to boot, delivering long-simmered flavor and tender chicken in a fraction of the time. More

Graham Cracker Figgy Pudding

Rich in diced figs and spices, this pudding gives a hint of fruitcakey-ness, but with a flavor that is far superior. The figs give it a mellow, almost honey-like sweetness, and keep it just moist enough to be slightly sticky, but not so sticky that it sticks to your teeth. More

Peach Snickerdoodle Cobbler

Peaches—peeled, sliced and macerated in a mixture of dark brown sugar, ground ginger and bourbon—are crammed into ramekins and topped with golf ball-sized chunks of sugar-and-spice crusted snickerdoodle dough. More

Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny marries both British and Indian ingredients to form a soup that is a bit spicy, a bit sweet, and very satisfying. There are many versions of this popular soup - some contain rice, some coconut milk, others are vegetarian while some include meat. The important elements are spice, sweetness, and in my opinion lentils. More