All Posts By Food Network Kitchen

When Food Blogs Attack!

by in View All Posts, May 13th, 2009

I just tried to access a blog review of vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy, and had it blocked by FN’s web monitoring for adult content.* I mean, I’ve heard this was a decadent take on vegetarian food, but really, that decadent? Now I’m going to have to investigate.

*Yes, the name of the blog is “Goodies First,” but I’m pretty sure said goodies refer to dessert, not, like, Ciara. Besides, the firewall was totally ok with “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant,” so I have to suspect something nefarious afoot.  If I mysteriously disappear from the stewardship of the blog, you’ll all know why.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Restaurants and the Recession

by in View All Posts, May 11th, 2009

Reading this piece in New York magazine, I came upon a telling reference to restaurants and the recession:

Even the city’s most upscale restaurants have been humbled. “When the economy goes sour,” says Danny Meyer, the impresario behind Union Square Café, Eleven Madison Park, and Shake Shack, among others, “there are three different kinds of restaurants that do well: the smaller-scale neighborhood restaurants that don’t ask much of you; those that have banked enormous goodwill by offering great value during the boom; and those with proven records of excellence, a sure thing.” I point out to him that two out of three of those types fall into the unpretentious category. “Well, yeah,” he says. “People aren’t going to want to go where they aren’t being hugged.”

And so Molly’s Shebeen, a Third Avenue pub with sawdust on the floor and a bow-tied Irish barkeep, is still doing a brisk business; Cru, which refers to its wine selection as its “wine program,” seems totally dead.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition. In my ideal world there’d be room for both Cru and Molly’s — and, for a brief period around 2004-2005, there was, at least for me. When I worked at Wine & Spirits, I used to love Cru — my colleagues and I would scour the wine list for values ahead of time, and we’d always end up with spectacular meals with interesting wine. Molly’s, meanwhile, is my neighborhood bar and the home of what I consider to be the best burger in Manhattan. There’s no reason why those two can’t coexist in my heart, right?

But at some point a couple of years ago, Cru turned into the kind of place where the waiter found it necessary to admonish me not to steal the silverware (I’m really not that shady-looking, I promise, and besides, I have those knives at home anyway — and yes, before you ask, I did pay for them). And then I broke my ankle, and spent 4 months essentially housebound and on crutches, and Molly’s, despite the slippery-sawdust floors, perpetual-packedness, and spilled-beer potential, welcomed me with open arms for my weekly leaving-the-house excursion. (And Molly’s doesn’t know where I work, but Cru, I’m pretty sure, does, or at least did at one point.)

Should there be room in the food world for both? Of course. But I know where I’m still going to go when times are tight.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

It Came From The Library 8: Crave Man

by in News, May 8th, 2009

Why does a chocolate chip cookie—or vanilla milkshake or cheeseburger, etc—have such power over us? Why are they so hard to resist? David Kessler, a Harvard-trained doctor, lawyer, medical school dean, former FDA commissioner and scourge of the tobacco industry, spent years pursuing an answer. The results of his search, ‘The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite,’ hit bookstores last week.

Kessler’s key insight, as he sums it up: “Much of the scientific research around overeating has been physiology — what’s going on in our body. The real question is what’s going on in our brain.”

His theory in its most simplified form is that salt, sugar, and fat work synergistically in foods to stimulate the brain to crave more salt, sugar, and fat. Instead of satisfying hunger, they alter the brain’s chemistry in a way that stimulates hunger. There’s a growing body of research that backs this up.

None of this is really news to the food industry, which Kessler found has long manipulated this neurological response, designing foods to induce people to eat more than they should — or even want. This is the dark side of Kessler’s story, and the one with far-ranging implications for policymakers.

Kessler does not shy away from a challenge. The man’s a formidable muckraker/public health advocate, and one can be sure ‘The End of Overeating’ has caught the food industry’s attention by laying the groundwork for major regulatory action/legislation.

But if overeating is to end, it will require much more than a little re-zoning and nutrition labeling here and there. Kessler envisions nothing short of a wholesale rewiring of the brain’s relation to food. As he puts it: “What’s needed is a perceptual shift…We did this with cigarettes…It used to be sexy and glamorous but now people look at it and say, ‘That’s not my friend, that’s not something I want.’ We need to make a cognitive shift as a country and change the way we look at food.”

This, of course, begs the question: what tools from the tobacco wars are actually transferable to the food industry battle? And just how was this perceptual/cognitive shift achieved with cigarettes? When you start comparing, the former looks like a cakewalk: with tobacco it was so easy (relatively) to finger a culprit, identify conspiracy, connect cause to devastating effect. Not so for fat/sugar/salt. The former is after all a drug (even before a consensus emerged, it was widely understood to be, at the very least, not not a drug); the latter is food, sustenance, albeit a very poor form of it. Cheap too: you’ve got a whole class thing going on that was probably there in the tobacco wars, but certainly not as explicitly-stated.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Wine Manifestos: Importers

by in View All Posts, May 7th, 2009

I’ve been saying for ages that the easiest way to make a wine-store buying decision is to memorize a short list of importers whose taste you trust. Slate‘s Mike Steinberger has done a substantial amount of the necessary legwork with his fantastic guide to wine importers, which also comes with a handy pocket card for on-the-fly consultations.  Well done, sir — and I’m not just saying that because we have similar taste in importers.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Runaway Cows: 2 is a Trend

by in View All Posts, May 6th, 2009

Now available in Regular, Extra-Crispy, and Halal

by in View All Posts, May 4th, 2009

The Atlantic Food Channel brings us word that KFC is launching a trial run of halal fried chicken in a few branches in London. No word what that’ll mean for the UK’s thriving world of non-Kentucky Fried Chicken; it remains to be seen whether Dallas Fried Chicken, Euro Fried Chicken, New York Chicken and Ribs, Americana Fried Chicken, or Mississippi Fried Chicken will follow suit. (That said, to be quite honest, I have a strong suspicion KFC is the follower, not the leader, on this front).

(There’s actually a whole book on Britain’s everywhere-but-Kentucky fried chicken phenomenon. Sure, I might be a little obsessed, but clearly someone is more obsessed than I.)

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

In cheerier pig news

by in View All Posts, May 1st, 2009

Just recieved the following video from our Senior Vice President Susan:

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

It Came From the Library 7: When Pigs Fly

by in News, May 1st, 2009

Yet again, we’ve got pig on the brain. This time we’re not feeling very hungry.

While health organizations around the world scramble to contain the spread of a swine influenza virus that’s brought us with breathtaking speed to the brink of a global flu pandemic (who says pigs can’t fly!?), relatively little media coverage has been granted to the real, or at least really likely, origins of the epidemic: those oversize petri dishes known as confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs; read: factory pig farms).

Yet the source of the outbreak should come as no surprise to anyone. For years we’ve been warned of the hazards of factory farming, pig farming in particular. It’s not for nothing that the industry that doses healthy pigs with unimaginably vast quantities of antibiotics is ground zero for this outbreak.

Also obscured in domestic reporting on the crisis is the U.S.’s involvement. Before we blame Mexico for incubating the virus, we might want to look a little closer to home. You’d be forgiven for not knowing it, but Granjas Carroll, the Veracruz pig farm believed by many to be the source of the outbreak, is a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.

Speaking of obscurantism, since the start of the outbreak, pork industry groups have waged a remarkably successful attempt to re-brand swine flu as the H1N1 virus. Ultimately, though, our guess is even the pork industry does not possess enough lipstick for this pig.

(Note: the swine flu crisis is dramatically proving the extent to which the recent and controversial study that suggested free range pigs suffer a higher incidence of salmonella and trichinosis than their CAFO-raised cousins completely missed the point.)

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Miracle off Ice

by in View All Posts, April 30th, 2009

So I guess Wayne Gretzky is making wine now. This just arrived in my inbox, for all three of you who are going to be in the vicinity of Acker Merrall & Condit on Saturday and also have dueling interests in hockey and wine:

5pm-7:30pm: Canadian Wines of Wayne Gretzky, Hockey Great, presented by former Rangers goalie Eddie Mio. Yes, Wayne made some great goals, and makes better wine! Try them and taste them with a hockey legend!

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Cheeseburgers at Twilight

by in View All Posts, April 28th, 2009

AHT brings us word of a cheeseburger-themed version of everyone’s favorite romantic vampire teen sensation:

I could almost get behind this iteration.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer