Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why I Love The Guardian

Because of writing like this:

Watching [Marco Pierre White] microwave bacon is like catching your dad cheating at scrabble - the disappointment makes respect impossible.

Tim Hayward writes that he watched last night's edition of Marco's Great British Feast, with "hot, salty tears in my eyes" as Marco Pierre White ordered his bacon microwaved. His disappointment is palpable and beautifully expressed.

If you don't already have the Word of Mouth linked in your Google reader, do it now. It's a must for a food lovers and fans of well-crafted writing.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sites to Bookmark

National Geographic has a fantastic roundup of stories covering what they term as the world's worst food crisis in decades.

Leading the pack of stories today is a video about whether allowing misshapen fruits and vegetables into supermarkets can ease the world food-price crisis, as the European Union's farm chief has said.

Another excellent focus on this subject is being produced by the CBC radio show "The Current." The segment - called Diet for a Hungry Planet - looks at India in particular, a country where huge and rapid economic growth is contrasted against an acute food security situation.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ask the Cheesehead: What is a controlled designation of origin and what can it guarantee about a cheese?

Controlled designations of origin are a series of systems in place in Europe to protect food products and wine. France was the first country to initiate such a program, with a law passed in 1919 that was a predecessor to its current Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC). Italy instituted a similar system, known as the DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), in 1963, followed by Spain, Portugal, Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

Excessive demand for popular products has led to a profusion of poor imitations. For producers, the designations protect their products from impostors who may use a product or geographical area's name to promote lesser quality goods. For the consumer, the labels are an assurance that products are exactly as specified on the label.

Camembert is a perfect case in point, and an example of how complex controlled designations can be. 'Camembert de Normandie' is a genuine camembert, covered by an AOC obtained in 1983. The cheese must be made in its terroir of origin (Normandy, in northwestern France) from the unpasteurized milk of the Normande breed of cows, hand-ladled into molds and drained naturally. It should be soft, but not runny, and is best when it is young – before it overferments. It is made by only 11 producers in the region. A cheese labeled 'Camembert fabriqué en Normandie' may be made with raw or pasteurized milk and only the cheese dairy needs to be located in Normandy. The milk can originate elsewhere. A label that simply reads 'Camembert' is not controlled by AOC designations so its authenticity cannot be verified, making it a far cry from the real deal.

Purchasing a cheese with a label such as AOC or DOP is not a guarantee of taste. But a consumer can be sure of several factors, including: 1) that the milk and the cheese originated from a specific geographic region; 2) that, in certain cases, the cheese is produced using a traditional recipe or method that may date back thousands of years; 3) that specific characteristics of the cheese (size, shape, texture) must be met; and 4) that the producer has been approved by the governing body of the country, which guarantees authenticity and quality.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What is Canadian Cuisine?

Fifty years ago Harland Sanders, Kentucky's king of fried chicken, visited Canada. When asked by a reporter if he had discovered anything distinctive or characteristic about Canadian food, he had this to say:

"Well, I would say no. Not any outstanding characteristic ... I found here a lot of good and a lot of bad. Perhaps a little more bad than you do good."

I suspect that even now, 50 years later, the words 'canadian cuisine' aren't bandied about often at culinary events. It's not fare that makes headlines around the world.

I was catching up on some podcasts this weekend and heard an interview from the CBC with Gordon Ramsay. The host, Jian Ghomeshi, asked the chef how Canada can become a presence on the international stage and Ramsay had an interesting perspective. He said that Britain had been asking itself the same question for years

"The kind of crap I had to go through in Paris with the arrogance of the French and Roast Beef and Fish and Chips and Steak and Kidney pudding and 'O-la-la, your food is terrible.' So you're going through exactly what we went through. I think you are evolving, there's no two ways about that, but your exit is going to be in 10 or 15 years time when you can really implement a proper Canadian cuisine rather than a fragmented cuisine."

With all the fish, game and unique produce that we have in Canada, there really is no reason why we can't be forging a name for ourselves on the global culinary scene. Part of the challenge is overcoming our vast regional disparities and widening out our specialized ethnic cuisines to put a uniquely Canadian mark on them.

The CBC has produced a very interesting interactive map of Canadian regional foods which is a handy starting point for a discussion of what makes Canada's food distinctive. From French-inspired Pâté à la viande in the east to caribou stew in the northwest, not to mention poutine and butter tarts, we're off to a pretty good start!

Why You Should Care About Honeybees

Because bees pollinate about one-third of crop species in the U.S.

Because without this pollination we'd be left with only plants that can be wind-pollinated - things like wheat. Imagine a diet of only bread and meat. Fun for a week, maybe.

Because the loss of more than a quarter of the country's 2.4 million bee colonies - tens of billions of bees - due to Colony Collapse Disorder is projected have an $8-$12 billion effect on America's agricultural economy.

Because without the bees to pollinate our plants, we would be left with little choice except to pollinate them ourselves - BY HAND.

There was a documentary on PBS last night that described hand-pollination, which is currently taking place in a part of southern Sichuan province in China where the bee population was killed off because of overuse of pesticides. They now have to painstakingly remove the pollen off each flower, allow it to dry for two days and then crush it to a powder. Then, using a brush made of chicken feathers to replicate the bushy body of a bee, a farmer lightly dusts each blossom of a tree. One person can do about 30 trees in a day. A bee can do about 3 million blossoms.

Ten things to do to help honeybees (, May 2008)
Silence of the Bees (PBS, June 2008)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Eating the Big Easy

A few of the things I ate during the past week in New Orleans:

A fried seafood platter from Deanie's, a touristy restaurant in the French Quarter. It was a heaping mound of fried stuff - you couldn't tell what was what by looking, or even by tasting it. It was all fried in the same oil so it came out tasting the same. Not recommended.

Barbecued shrimp from Emeril's place in the Warehouse District. In New Orleans, this dish consists of shrimp cooked stovetop with cajun spices and lots of pepper and then coated with a spicy brown sauce. No barbecue enters the picture. These were served with a small rosemary biscuit, which to me was tastier than the shrimp.

Crawfish cheesecake, an intriguing and delicious appetizer at an Uptown restaurant called Dick & Jenny's, which serves upscale versions of creole classics. We were worried at first by the menu, which seemed a bit too ambitious, but we were not disappointed by what we were served, including a yummy gumbo and a fantastic lemon meringue pie.

Red beans and rice, at the Dillard University dining hall. This was NOT what they served me when I was in school! Considering the location, it was not half bad! And the server was a gem... a real Southern charmer who announced "Order in the window" as she passed your styrofoam plate to you across the heat lamps.

Ribs, brisket and a pulled pork sandwich at The Joint in the Bywater. This little place was amazing. You could smell the smoke for blocks. Inside there was nothing but an old Wurlitzer and some picnic tables, which was essentially all you needed. The barbecue was awesome and was served with optional vinegar-based or tomato-based sauce.

A muffaletta sandwich from Central Grocery on Decatur Street. Salty and yummy and stuffed with huge cerignolas. You have to have one of these when you're in New Orleans. I bet a better, less hyped version, exists but you still have to have one from here.

Eggs and grits with black ham from Mother's Restaurant on the corner of Poydras and Tchoupitoulas. This place is packed on weekend mornings and is famous for its baked ham. The restaurant has created its own vocabulary - Black Ham = the crisp, caramelized crust from the baked ham. Debris = the roast beef that falls into the gravy while baking in the oven.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Why Mr. Kimchi is so Popular...

Mmm... cabbage... red peppers... delicious salted fish. Aged to perfection at just the right temperature... It's Korean Kimchi!

Ahhh... Mr. Kimchi is so popular.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ask the Cheesehead: What makes a cheese vegetarian?

An essential ingredient in the cheese making process is rennet, which is a substance used to coagulate the milk. Rennet contains enzymes that work to separate milk into solids and liquid. Many rennets were traditionally derived from animals, specifically from the stomach of a slaughtered, unweaned calf or kid.

Cheeses that are made without the use of animal rennet are considered 'vegetarian.' This can mean that the cheese is made with a rennet that is synthetically developed or that comes from vegetable sources, such as thistles or wild artichokes. The technique of using thistles in cheese production is common in Portugal and Spain and can be seen in cheeses like Serra da Estrella or Azeitao. Microbial enzymes are used in cheeses such as Lord of the Hundreds or Westfield Capri.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The origins of Ketchup

The following historical recipe is courtesy of the Culinary Historians of New York

By Andrew F. Smith

Many people think of ketchup as a bright-red, tomato-based condiment that was invented by Americans. The word itself derives from kê-tsiap, which meant "fish pickled in brine" in Chinese dialect. The first located ketchup recipe was published in England, and it is for mushroom ketchup. Although many 18th and 19th century recipes were for mushroom ketchups, other varieties, including walnut and ketchups made from a wide range of fruits,such as apples, blackberries, peaches and tomatoes, were also popular. Early ketchups were used for flavoring savory pies, meats and other sauces.

To make Mushroom Ketchup

Take the Gills of large Mushrooms, such as are spread quite open, put them into a Skellet of Bell_Metal, or a Vessel of Earthen-Ware glazed, and set them over a gentle Fire till they begin to change into Water; and then frequently stirring them till there is as much Liquor come out of them as can be expected, pressing them often with a Spoon against the side of the Vessel; then strain off the Liquor, and put to every Quart of it about eighty Cloves, if they are fresh and good, or half as many more, if they are dry, or have been kept a long time, and about a Drachm of Mace: add to this about a Pint of strong red Port Wine that has not been adulterated, and boil them all together till you judge that every Quart has lost about a fourth Part or half a Pint; then pass it thro' a Sieve, and let it stand to cool, and when it is quite cold, bottle it up in dry Bottles of Pints or Half-Pints, and cork them close, for it is the surest way to keep these kind of Liquors in such small quantities as may be used quickly, when they come to be exposed to the Air, for fear of growing mouldy: but I have had a Bottle of this sort of Ketchup, that has been open'd and set by for above a Year, that has not received the least Damage; and some Acquaintance of mine have made of the same sort, and have kept it in Quart-Bottles to use as occasion required, and have kept it good much longer than I have done. A little of it is very rich in any Sauce, and especially when Gravey [sic] is wanting: Therefore it may be of service to Travellers, who too frequently meet with good Fish, and other Meats, in Britain, as well as in several other parts of Europe, that are spoiled in the dressing; but it must be consider'd, that there is no Salt in this, so that whenever it is used, Salt, Anchovies, or other such like relishing things, may be used with it, if they are agreeable to the Palate...

Source: Richard Bradley, The Country Gentleman's and Farmer's Monthly Director. Fifth edition. London: Woodman and Lyon, 1728. 1:142-43.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Food Crisis: World Roundup

Britain's The Independent has a roundup detailing how the global food crisis is affecting different parts of the world. In China, for example, food prices have risen 21 percent this year. The World Food Programme is warning of a potential repeat of the famine that hit North Korea in the 1990s, killing millions.

Leaders from Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba flew to Venezuela this week to announce a joint $100m scheme to combat the impact of rising food prices on the region's poor. Riots tore through Ivory Coast after the prices of meat and wheat increased by 50 per cent within a week, and violent protests were also seen in Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Senegal. Hundreds of thousands of poor Africans in Uganda and Sudan are to lose out on a vital source of food after World Vision, one of the world's largest humanitarian organisations, said it was cutting aid to 1.5m people.

The government of the Philippines has been desperately trying to secure alternative sources of rice to counteract the decision of a number of nations, including India, to halt rice exports.

In the U.K. the government's estimates that grocery bills have gone up by an average of 12 percent over the past 12 months. And in the U.S., two of the country's largest warehouse stores this week announced that they would limit the number of bags of rice each customer could buy, in an effort to prevent people from stockpiling.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Backyard (and Frontyard) Farming

If you haven't been paying close attention, you might be surprised to know that scores of people across North America are responding to soaring food and fuel prices and product shortages by turning to urban agriculture. This is a phenomenon that has been covered fairly extensively in the media - but it's not easy to keep up with all the stories. So here's a little compendium of some of the best stories I've seen so far:

Cuba's organic revolution

From The Guardian
Cuba could be seen as the mother land of urban agriculture, since the country was forced to become self-sufficient in the early 90s, when it lost the large majority of its trade with the former Soviet Union. An urban gardening culture sprang up almost overnight.

Urban Back-to-the-Land Movement
From The San Francisco Chronicle
Urban sustainability projects in San Francisco, including the Institute of Urban Homesteading, which teaches city dwellers urban farming techniques and Sustaining Ourselves Locally, a collective of nine people maintaining a 5,000-square-foot urban garden.

Life (Mostly) Off The Grid

From The New York Times
A video featuring the Dervaes family, who live a green life on 1/5 of an acre in Pasadena, Calif.

Eat Your Lawn
An all-encompassing story about the move towards converting urban yards to sustainable growing lots.

Green Acres II: When Neighbors Become Farmers

From The Wall Street Journal
For one man, a front yard was not enough. So he got his neighbors together and co-opted their lawns too.

The Face of the Global Food Crisis: The Colbert Report

The answer might be sitting right next to you!

The Secret to Perfect Pizza

Wired Magazine has a great article by Joe Brown, a New Yorker transplanted to San Francisco, who wonders why he can't get the flavor of a New York slice in any SF pizza joints.

It could be in the water... Or in the oven.
"Californians do a lot of great stuff with their green-market goods," fellow pizza nerd Mario Batali says, but "some of it's just not pizza." I called the Iron Chef to help me figure out why San Francisco — a formidable food town — can't birth a respectable pie. Part of the reason, of course, is that while Rice-A-Roni and zinfandel are native to Northern California, pizza is not.

"New York has a grand tradition of pizza making and holds it dear," Batali says. Which means institutions like Arturo's have been using the same equipment for decades. "An oven captures the gestalt of beautifully cooked pizza. And it imparts that."

I'm not comfortable attributing a pizza's quality to gestalt — it sounds like something a California pizzeria would list as a topping. But Batali's theory makes sense to David Tisi, a food-development consultant who has spent much of his career studying pizza.

"As you cook, some ingredients vaporize, and these volatilized particles can attach themselves to the walls of the baking cavity," Tisi says. "The next time you use the oven, these bits get caught up in the convection currents and deposited on the food, which adds flavor." Over time, he says, more particles join the mix and mingle with the savory soot from burned wood or coal — the only fuels worth using — to create a flavor that you can't grow in a garden: gestalt, if you will.

Why though, Brown wonders, does that not hold true of some of SF's older pizzerias, which have been making pizza for generations?
"Water," Batali says. "Water is huge. It's probably one of California's biggest problems with pizza." Water binds the dough's few ingredients. Nearly every chemical reaction that produces flavor occurs in water, says Chris Loss, a food scientist with the Culinary Institute of America. "So, naturally, the minerals and chemicals in it will affect every aspect of the way something tastes."

The Face of the Global Food Crisis: U.S.A.

Today's New York Times is reporting that warehouse stores like Sam's Club and Costco are imposing limits on how much rice customers can buy.
American rice futures are hitting record highs amid global food inflation, although one rice expert said the warehouse chains might be reacting less to any shortages than to stockpiling by restaurants and small stores.

Sam’s Club said it would limit customers to four bags at a time of imported jasmine, basmati and long-grain white rice. The limits affect 20-pound bags, the kind that most retail customers are not likely to buy. Costco could not immediately be reached for comment on its limits, which apparently affect bulk purchases in some stores.
A Sam’s Club spokeswoman, Kristy Reed, said she could not comment on whether the problem had been caused by short supplies or by customers stocking up in anticipation of higher prices.

A USA Rice Federation spokesman, David Coia, said there was no rice shortage in the United States. A smaller chain, BJ’s Wholesale Club, said it was not imposing limits for now.

The Face of the Global Food Crisis: Japan

I posted an article a few days ago about the lack of rice in Liberia and how that is affecting the regular diet. In Japan, the problem is not with a shortage of rice but of butter.
Domestically produced butter is scarce at retail stores because of a shortage of raw milk and higher prices of butter imports.

A shortage of butter for commercial use began to hit cake shops and restaurants last fall. The problem has now spread to homes.

Worse, butter makers are planning to raise retail prices in April, when raw milk prices are set to increase. The move will likely keep butter off more mealtime tables.

A second-tier supermarket chain in Tokyo put up a notice at outlets that states: "Butter stocks may run out due to a drop in production."


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

(Almost) Free Ice Cream

Baskin Robbins is honoring America's Firefighters by selling ice cream for $.31 cents per scoop on Wednesday, April 30th between 5 and 10 pm.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Face of the Global Food Crisis: Liberia

An interesting article from the BBC News discusses a change in the traditional Liberian diet, as global rice prices have soared.

Standing behind the wooden counter of his roadside restaurant, Emmanuel Biddle heaps piles of Liberian-style bolognese onto the plates of customers.

When the Liberian chef first added pasta to the menu of his traditional chop house, he didn't expect much success.

But as surging rice prices threaten to halt progress in fragile countries like Liberia, local people are changing life-long habits and switching to cheaper staple foods such as spaghetti.

Liberia imports 90% of its rice from Asia and the US.

The story reports that the price of rice has more than doubled in the last six months, making it unaffordable for many ordinary Liberians. Restaurateurs who serve jollof rice, a traditional West African dish, have been suffering.

Viola Nelson charges customers $2 for a plate of jollof rice, but she says she barely covers her own costs.

"I'm not making a profit these days. I should be raising my prices but I don't want to lose any more customers. If the food crisis gets worse I will be left with nothing," she says.

At the buzzing Old Road Market on the outskirts of Monrovia, the price of a 50 kg bag of rice has shot up to $34.

A crate (40 packets, which provides a similar amount of food to 50kg of rice) of maize or millet-based spaghetti, imported from the US, is sold for $12.

Rice vendor Augustus Geepo, perched on a pile of unsold bags, says sales have dropped dramatically as a result of the food crisis.

A year ago, he could easily sell 40 bags of rice a day. Now he is lucky if he shifts 10.

What's your thirst worth?

If you've been following the news lately, you've likely heard about the skyrocketing prices of grain and other crops and the severe food shortages in places like Korea and Haiti.

But you may not know that your favorite frosty beverage is also imperiled. That's right... a beer famine might be next, according to environmental experts. Climate change is affecting barley yields, and is already threatening the Australian beer industry.

But the problem is not limited to Australia. Growing demand for biofuels and a poor harvest have already increased malting barley prices in the UK, according to the British Beer and Pub Association, and a shortage of hops is increasing the price of a pint in North America as well.

We're already living in a world where a gallon of gas costs nearly $4, which is now the same price as a loaf of organic bread. A gallon of organic milk is nearly twice that.

So what's a little liquid relief going to cost now? At the Whole Foods Market Bowery Beer Room in New York, draught beers range from $6.99 to $13.99 for 64oz. The Heartland Brewery serves 23oz. draughts for $8.50. A 6-pack of 12 oz. bottles of Amstel Light at D'Agostino's is up to $9.99.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why is my cheese crunchy?

A chemistry lesson, courtesy of The Kitchn:

Ever wonder about the whitish spots of crunch in your cheese? People have a wide variety of theories on those little crystalline bits. No, it's not salt, it's not something deliberately added during cheesemaking, it's not that the cheese is old and it's starting to dry out, and it's not a cheese mite. Today we're setting the record straight in a big reveal of the little known component in some of your favorite cheeses.

Those bits are called tyrosine, and they're actually amino acid clusters that form with age. Tyrosine clusters are signs of a well-aged cheese, which is why you'll find them in some of the world's most loved cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, aged goudas, and mountain cheeses like gruyere or Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid found mainly in casein, the dominant protein found in milk. The word itself is from the Greek tyros, meaning cheese.

What's most fascinating (from a dorky cheese fanatic perspective) is the reason that these protein clusters form. When cheese is made, fats and proteins are trapped within chains of proteins that have bonded together during acidification. Groupings of these fats and proteins make up the solids, or curds, that form cheese. When cheese spends a long time aging, these protein chains begin to unravel, leaving small, crunchy deposits behind. Tyrosine lends a distinctive textural charm to cheese, and is a welcome interruption within the body of an otherwise smooth paste. And sometimes it even compliments the beverage you may be drinking with your cheese, as in the case of pairing a full-bodied stout with a super-aged cheddar; the crunchiness of the cheese somehow matches the fullness of the beer by contributing its own textural intensity.

Tyrosine is not to be confused with the crunchiness you can find in some washed-rind cheeses. Since this category of cheese is usually washed in some kind of salt water brine, residual salt crystals are often left behind on the crust of these cheeses. When you take a bite of rind and inner paste together, the crunchiness from the outside can be mistaken for existing on the inside. Now go and impress your cheese-loving friends with your new vocabulary word!


Friday, April 11, 2008

Water. The New Wine?

Have you ever wondered what the most expensive bottled waters in the world were? I didn't think so... I wouldn't have thought that many people would spend much time thinking about it, but I always forget how many people there are with more money than brains.

Michael Mascha hasn't forgotten. In fact, he wrote a book called Fine Waters: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Most Distinctive Bottled Waters. The book, he says, introduces people to "the epicurean delights of water."

Bottled water is the next wine, Mascha tells Forbes Traveler. Like wine, he says bottled water has terroir, or a sense of place.

While this insanity rages, charity: water is trying to raise awareness about the lack of safe drinking water in so many parts of the world. They've released a fairly provocative PSA produced by the director of Hotel Rwanda. The video, embedded below, shows a mother in New York City walking to Central Park with a jerry can to collect water from the lake, just as millions of people in the developing world do every day.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Not a drop to drink

Who needs horror films when reality is this scary? The above clip comes from a movie called FLOW: For Love Of Water. I don't know whether people will see this movie and, even if they do, whether it will make an impact. But it's another resource to add to the list of "things that are running out."

Just today, the news came out that a number of city restaurants are banning bottled water. "It takes 41 million barrels of oil a year to make, transport and refrigerate water bottles," the New York Post article, reports, and "a crushing 30 million plastic water containers end up in landfills each day."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ice Cream - Past and Present

There is something oddly melancholy about watching ice cream melt in real time. It's almost as though it takes a deep breath and then lets out a big ... SIGH!

I think I just got goosebumps!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How to Cook Moist and Tender Chicken Breasts

Many a kitchen disaster begins with boneless skinless chicken breasts. What seems like it should be the utmost convenience food is actually quite a tricky cut to cook well. Cook it badly and you can easily end up with a mouth full of dry, chewy meat.

Our friends at The Kitchn offer a method that they say makes "unfailingly juicy and succulent" breasts. They say it came from the old Joy of Cooking, which gave it a special label: 'Cockaigne' - reserved for only their personal favorite and best recipes.

Moist and Tender Chicken Breasts

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, of even thickness
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
Handful of herbs (optional)
Olive oil and butter

If you have a little time before cooking dinner, lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts. It's great if you can do this the night before, but it's not necessary.

Mix about a half teaspoon of salt in with the flour along with a little pepper. Chop the herbs finely, if using, and mix in as well.

Dredge both sides of the chicken lightly in the flour.

Heat a large heavy skillet (with a lid) over medium high heat, with a little olive oil and about half a tablespoon of butter. Quickly sear both sides of the chicken breast until just faintly golden; you don't want the insides to cook much at all.

Cover tightly and turn the heat down very low. Cook for 10 minutes without lifting the lid. Remove from the heat and let sit for another 10 minutes, still tightly covered.

Remove lid and serve. There is usually just enough chicken fat, along with pan juices, to make a simple sauce, too.

'Reach for the stars' Bourdain tells Food Network

If you've ever wondered what Tony Bourdain sounds like when he's had a few drinks, watch this video, in which he lets a few expletives fly (sadly cleansed by the Food Network powers-that-be), proclaims that Giada De Laurentiis "doesn't suck," advises that Velveeta on a cracker "doth not an hors d'oeuvre make" and says he finds Ina Garten's friends "creepy."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Late night cookies to the rescue

Maybe you've been working late... You're wired but you can't sleep. What you really want is a cookie. A nice warm cookie, fresh out of the oven. And maybe a glass of milk. And what you want more than anything is for someone to bring it right to you so you don't have to get up.

Help, in the form of Insomnia Cookies, is on the way. The company was started by Seth Berkowitz while he was a student at UPenn, as a delivery service for fellow classmates on campus. These days, the delivery zone takes in a dozen college campuses around the country and the company will even deliver to some off-campus residents in downtown Manhattan. Franchise opportunities are also available.

So how much would you pay for hot cookies delivered to your door? Most cookies are about $.90 each and the delivery minimum is &6.00. And is the price worth it? The smell of freshly baked cookies alone is practically worth it. The cookies are not bad, although they could be likened to a glorified Mrs. Fields. They are soft when warm but crisp up quickly when they cool off. So if this is the kind of indulgence you find yourself reaching for in the wee hours, order just enough for the night and eat them quickly!!

- NY Magazine, Restaurant Openings Week of March 31

Monday, March 17, 2008

World Wars in Food

At first this video seems like an awful lot of effort and time (the creator says it took him three months to do) for very little payoff. But watching it past 20 or 30 seconds, I started to realize that it's actually pretty clever.

Food Fight is an abridged history of American-centric war, from World War II to present day, told through the foods of the countries in conflict. Watch as traditional comestibles slug it out for world domination in this chronologically re-enacted smorgasbord of aggression.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What cops really think of doughnuts...

They LOVE 'em!!! Duh.

"Once I not only had a warm Krispy Kreme, I ate six of them at one time," says Andrew Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department. "And I’m willing to bet I could eat a dozen if I had a Diet Coke to wash it down."

Also, pilots are apparently just as unimpressed as the rest of us by airline food. And teachers like it when students give them an apple. Just a roundup of good information, in case you were wondering, courtesy of Good Magazine.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The new face of food television?

Lizzie Marie is an eight-year-old Girl Scout and queen of her own culinary empire. At age 6, she began baking and selling goodies at a local farmers' market to raise money for riding lessons. A year later, she launched a website offering recipes and video demonstrations and she seems to have really settled in to the role of TV hostess.

She is natural and self-possessed and clearly watches a LOT of cooking shows on TV. When she tastes her dish at the end of this video, she looks just like a mini-Giada deLaurentis. "All the colors are so pretty and it smells AMAZING. It's a little tart from the lemon, and it has all the right flavors. Mmmmmm..."

Lizzie is committed to healthy and organic eating options and will hopefully prove to be a real role model for other kids.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Why do so many people drink tomato juice in the air?

An interesting question, no doubt. Sadly, not an original one, as Food and Wine Travel Editor Salma Abdelnour demonstrates in this blog post. "I've always wondered what the deal is with tomato juice on airplanes," she says. "I mean, why so many people feel compelled to drink it in the air, but almost never on the ground. Ditto ginger ale, but tomato juice is the bigger mystery because I've actually witnessed ginger-ale consumption at ground level."

Someone must be drinking it on the ground though, because back in October 2007, La Guardia airport was flummoxed when someone spilled tomato juice on an X-ray machine. Unless that juice was just being transported to the plane for in-flight consumption.

And while few people may be drinking tomato juice as is, back in 1997, The New York Times reported that Bloody Mary mixes were a growing craze. "There are now dozens on the market, ranging from sweet, ketchup-like concoctions to incendiary brands spiked with chilies. With so many different tastes in the bottles, you have to pick a mix just the way you'd pick a favorite bartender." The article also reports that Bloody Mary mixes, "have been part of air travel since the 1960's, when an American Airlines executive tasted the mix and ordered small containers of it for in-flight service. Other airlines followed suit."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bourdain bites back

There are some people out there who are pretty excited about the Travel Channel's new ad for 'No Reservations' in High Definition.

Anthony Bourdain is not one of them.

On his blog today, he writes that the photo was taken:

after a horrifying night of drinking in Iceland, huddled, near naked in the Blue Lagoon, pondering whether to throw up or simply sink beneath the surface and die. Is this enticing? Does this make ANYONE--even longtime convicts--feel compelled to tune in? Some Things May Indeed Be Better in HD. My puffy, drink ravaged face and 51 year old naked torso would NOT be one of them.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cheeseburger in a Can UPDATE: How does it taste?

Apparently, "Sort of beef-esque, in a way that would only fool someone who never actually eats beef."

Yes, some poor sap actually ATE one of these. Without a gun pointed to his head. For the sake of the public good...

See and read the full gory details here.

(Photo courtesy of AV Club)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Food is like a dog — it smells fear."

The Moment, the blog spinoff of The New York Times' T Magazine, has a brief but humorous interview with Anne Burrell, the chef at CentroVinoteca, about making ragù.

An excerpt:

How often do you stir while browning?

You need to treat it like a stepchild: back off for a minute! I am a stepchild, by the way. Sometimes you just need to back off, and that’s really cooking. Food is like a dog — it smells fear. When you’re cooking, if you’re nervous, guess what your food is going to be?

Read the entire interview.

(Photo courtesy of Morgue File)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Free Cookbook offer

Download a free copy of The Celebrity Italian Table Cookbook and Barilla, the Italian pasta company, will donate $1, up to $100,000, to America's Second Harvest, a national charity that secures and distributes more than two billion pounds of food products annually.

The cookbook features recipes created by super-chef Mario Batali and inspired by celebrities like Marisa Tomei, Stanley Tucci, Debra Messing and Natalie Portman.

Free swag, a good cause and Marisa Tomei ... how can you beat that?

Friday, February 08, 2008

12 Commandments of Eating

From Michael Pollan's book "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto"

1. "Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
2. "Avoid foods containing ingredients you can't pronounce."
3. "Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot."
4. "Avoid food products that carry health claims."
5. "Shop the peripheries of the supermarket; stay out of the middle."
6. "Better yet, buy food somewhere else: the farmers' market or CSA."
7. "Pay more, eat less."
8. "Eat a wide variety of species."
9. "Eat food from animals that eat grass."
10. "Cook, and if you can, grow some of your own food."
11. "Eat meals and eat them only at tables."
12. "Eat deliberately, with other people whenever possible, and always with pleasure."

News from the World of Bacon

You are what you eat

Do it yourself bacon?

Do it yourself bacon alarm clock!

Bacon martinis!!

Strawberry-flavored gummy bacon (what? no bacon flavor?)

Send your sweetie a bacon Valentine

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fast Food's Dirty Little Secrets

It's 2008. The holidays are over but the spare tires linger. Bathing suit season is still a reach, but now is the time when millions of us start thinking about getting back in shape.

Here are a few little secrets, courtesy of Men's Health magazine, that the restaurant industry does not want you to know:

- a medium-size fruit-and-yogurt smoothie at Dunkin Donuts has more than four times the sugar of a chocolate-frosted cake doughnut
- one Omelette Feast at IHOP will satisfy about 150% of your daily fat requirement and 300 percent of your suggested cholesterol intake
- an order of Outback's Aussie Cheese Fries has 2,900 calories. Outback's website reports that: "we take pride in our 'No Rules' approach to accommodating our customer's specific dietary needs."

I'm worried.

Read the full report here