Computer-Driven Food Truck Eats, Ice Cream Stilettos and a Restaurant-Smashing Wave

by in News, March 6th, 2014

Computer-Driven Food Truck Eats and MoreChef Watson is on wheels. In New York City, you can find food trucks that purvey pretty much anything you can think of: Crepes? Curried goat? Schnitzel? Edamame? Ecuadoran fish soup? Check, check, check, check and check. But now, roaming the country (last week in Las Vegas; this weekend in Austin for SXSW Interactive), there’s a food truck that sells exotic delicacies that neither you nor anyone else would probably ever imagine. That’s because the dishes its chefs are whipping up have been conceived by a supercomputer (remember Watson, who triumphed on Jeopardy! a few years back?), to bring together ingredients in unusual combinations too complex for mere humans to come up with. The IBM researchers who’ve teamed with New York’s Institute of Culinary Education to make the truck happen call the process Computational Creativity (or Cognitive Cooking). Diners sampling dishes like Baltic apple pie — which includes pork loin, apples and garlic chips — apparently call it mind-bendingly delish. [NPR’s The Salt]

What’s in a name? Ever wonder how cobb salad, oysters Rockefeller and bananas Foster got their names? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel fills you in on the origins of these and other food monikers. But just so you know: Chef Bob Cobb’s surname was bestowed on the salad he made from leftovers at Hollywood’s Brown Derby Restaurant in the 1920s. Oysters Rockefeller’s buttery sauce, when it was created in 1899, was thought to evoke the richness of ultra-wealthy oil baron John D. Rockefeller. And the famous banana dish, which made its debut in New Orleans in the 1950s, was named in honor of a humble restaurant patron. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Feelin’ hot, hot, hot? If you’d file “hot sauce taste tester” under job responsibilities you’d rather not have, it’s probably a good thing you don’t work at the Food section of the Washington Post. Those good people recently bit the spicy bullet to rate five Sriracha sauces, considering flavor and heat. They went in armed with water and saltines, but still. [Washington Post]

I scream; you scream. Move over, Manolo. Louboutin, you’re licked. The most-tasteful shoes going have to be the handmade dessert-inspired heels and flats at a little online shop called Shoe Bakery. “We love shoes and sweets, so why not put them together?” explain the creators of whimsical shoes that evoke ice cream, cake, cookies and doughnuts. (Alas, no, they are not edible.) After selling out of their last batch, the Shoe Bakery shoemakers have just whipped up a new one, including heels that look like red velvet, triple chocolate cake and (our favorite) vanilla ice cream sundae cones. [Shoe Bakery via Piquant]

Would you like your eggs scrambled, over easy — or all wet? The next time you find yourself getting irritated while dining out, YouTuber Forrest Buchanan’s experience at Moby Dick’s restaurant on a pier in Santa Barbara, Calif., may snap things into perspective. While waiting for his breakfast to arrive one Saturday morning, Forrest noticed the tide rising outside his window. After a few impressive swells, a particularly aggressive wave smashed through a window and washed into the restaurant, setting off mayhem. No one was seriously hurt, thank goodness. Forrest got the dramatic interlude on video, which instantly went viral and racked up more than a million views. On the bright side, Forrest notes, “There was no charge for breakfast.” [YouTube via Los Angeles Times]

Quote a cheese maker.  “There’s this experience of biting into a fresh ball of mozzarella. The juice dribbles down your chin like a fresh peach,” says buffalo mozzarella cheesemaker Craig Ramini, of Tomales, Calif. His water buffalo are all named after aging rock stars like Joan Jett and Roy Orbison — except the one that’s named after his wife — on the sensual pleasures of eating artisanal cheese. [San Jose Mercury News]

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