All Posts In News

No More Soggy Burger Buns and KFC for the Prom

by in News, April 16th, 2014

Killer Inside Out Burger with Worcestershire Tomato KetchupConscientious Eating: Are you paying too little for ethnic food? Food writer Sarah Henry makes a persuasive case that you just might be. “Mom-and-pop shops and divey diners repping diverse cultures from around the world, slinging seriously tasty stuff for a fraction of the price it costs — and the effort it takes — to make at home” are a “cornerstone of city living,” she notes in Edible San Francisco. However, as we “bite into that banh mi with mystery meat or chow down on Chinese dumplings made by kitchen hands who may earn less than minimum wage,” we may be turning too blind an eye to the “provenance of raw materials or exploitation of food service people, many of them immigrants or people of color.” Sarah asks, “Who cares what goes on behind the kitchen door when food this cheap tastes so good?” We all should, she says. [Edible San Francisco]

Lettuce, Mayo … no Mat: Subway fans who’d prefer to enjoy their sandwiches without azodicarbonamide — a bleaching chemical used in the fast food chain’s bread that, though approved by the Food and Drug Administration and widely used in food products, has sparked concern because it is also used in yoga mats and shoe rubber — rejoice. The eatery says the ingredient will be removed from its bread by next week. Though some food scientists insist the ingredient is not harmful, Subway was apparently feeling pressured by the public outcry. “You see the social media traffic, and people are happy that we’re taking it out, but they want to know when we’re taking it out,” Tony Pace, Subway’s chief marketing officer, told the Associated Press. “If there are people who have that hesitation, that hesitation is going to be removed.” [AP]

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Why Matzo Isn’t Tasteless and Other Interesting Facts

by in News, April 14th, 2014

Throwdown's Matzo Ball SoupPassover kicked off on Monday night, with Jews all around the world sitting down to break matzo — the unleavened “bread of affliction” that commemorates the Jews’ speedy exodus from Egypt, from slavery to freedom, more than 3,000 years ago — with family and friends at the traditional festival meal known as the Seder. Tonight, the second Seder will take place, and for those keeping the Passover tradition, matzo (not to mention matzo balls and matzo ball soup) will become a staple of their diets for the bread-free duration of the eight-day holiday. Here are a few quick clicks about the humble, flat cracker:

Don’t Call It Tasteless: Dan Pashman, creator of the food podcast The Sporkful and co-host of the Cooking Channel Web series Good to Know, is a fervent defender of matzo. “In a typical cracker you kind of have one or two options,” he tells NPR’s The Salt. Either it will be “crunchy but … also be very oily and salty,” or it will be like a “table water cracker, which is plain in flavor, but very flimsy” without a lot of crunch. Matzos, however, are both plain and crunchy. “It’s like a blank canvas,” Dan says; it’s a welcome base for any number of toppings. Dan also says “the degree of charring” differentiates one sort of matzo from another, and the holes are key as well. “There’s a lot of science behind those holes,” he says. [NPR's The Salt]

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What Online Restaurant Reviews Reveal About Those Who Write Them

by in News, April 12th, 2014

RestaurantOnline reviews on sites like Yelp (not to mention Chowhound, Urban Spoon, Zagat, TripAdvisor and others) presumably tell us a lot about restaurants. They also tell us a lot about the people who write them, a new study concludes.

For the study, published by the peer-reviewed online journal First Monday, Stanford University linguistics professor Dan Jurafsky and his co-authors examined 900,000 online restaurant reviews using computational linguistics and “sentiment analysis” to ferret out “the meanings that are hidden in the way people use words and connotations,” Dan explained in the Stanford Report.

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Why Nuke Peeps, Who Was General Tso, and What Decadent Drink Will Starbucks Devise Next?

by in News, April 11th, 2014

General Tso ChickenPeeps — Puffed: If microwaving Peeps — those sugar-covered marshmallow birdies that show up in stores every spring — and watching them do their “best Bruce Banner-meets-Jabba the Hutt impression” is something you’ve never done, the food scientists behind the site Decoding Delicious want you to know you’re missing out. “It’s the closest thing you’ll get to a toasted marshmallow without a bonfire,” they write, adding that it’s also “totally fun to watch” and a good way to make stale Peeps “palatable” again. But why do marshmallows puff when you nuke ‘em? Because they are “basically thousands of minuscule air bubbles surrounded by thin walls of gelatin and sugar syrup,” Decoding Delicious explains. “When microwaved, the water molecules in that syrup begin to vibrate and heat up. They quickly turn to steam and fill the air pockets in the marshmallow, causing them to expand.” It works for kosher marshmallows, too, by the way, so those who celebrate Passover need not miss out on the marshmallow-puffing fun. Learn more ways to put Peeps to work by checking out videos of Whoopeeps and homemade Easter chocolate bowls, and save the leftovers for Easter Candy Bark. [Decoding Delicious]

Tso Intriguing: A feature-length documentary set to screen at the Tribeca Film Festival this month looks to answer two age-old food questions: Who was General Tso? And why are so many people eating his chicken? For The Search for General Tso, director Ian Cheney traveled to Hunan and Shanghai hoping to discover how the sticky-sweet, crispy-tender dish became such an American staple, appearing on the menu of virtually every Chinese restaurant in the United States. “Did he love chicken?” one of the people Ian spoke with asks in a trailer for the film. “We don’t know. Nobody knows.” Ah, a mystery. Check out the film’s website here. [Food Republic]

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A Veggie Rap, the Greatest Grills and Cookbooks on the Map

by in News, April 10th, 2014

Margherita PizzaVeg Out: Do you like vegetables? So does the guy who wrote this rap. Singer-songwriter Parry Gripp and animator Yusuf Iqbal have teamed up to bring the world “I Like Vegetables.” Sample lyrics: “Call Dr. Phil and warn Oprah. I’m gonna eat up all of the okra! I’m notorious. I’m nefarious. I don’t spare one spear of asparagus.” Listen, laugh and then go out there and get crazy on a Brussels sprout. [Parry Gripp via Mashable]

Everything but the Grill? Finally, the long winter is over and it’s getting on toward grill season. If you’re shopping for a new grill on which to cook your meat, fish or veggies (perhaps some nefarious asparagus?) and looking for guidance, AmazingRibs.com, a website dedicated to “the science of BBQ and grilling,” has doled out its Best Value Awards to the 10 charcoal grills, 10 gas grills and 10 backyard smokers it considers the “best of breed in their price category.” Helpful. And once you get your grill, you’ll for sure want to check out Food Network’s Grilling Central and FN Dish Grilling and BBQ posts for recipes and ideas to get you fired up. [AmazingRibs.com via Huffington Post]

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Kosher-for-Passover Quinoa, Scent-Emitting Forks and Lemon-Eating Babies

by in News, April 9th, 2014

LemonsQuinoa Gets a Seat at the Seder Table: Those who adhere to the traditional dietary laws of Passover by avoiding the grains wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt, and swapping leavened bread for matzo, may be interested to know that they have a new option this year: quinoa. For the first time, the Orthodox Union, the authority on all things kosher, has given its “kosher for Passover” seal of approval to certain brands of the ubiquitous superfood. “It’s healthy and tasty, and there’s nothing wrong with eating it on Passover,” rabbi, food historian and cookbook author Gil Marks told NPR’s The Salt. He recommends making stuffed cabbage with quinoa — or using it in matzo ball soup for “protein and body.” It goes well with your grandma’s brisket too. [NPR's The Salt]

What the Fork? Montreal-based MOLECULE-R Flavors Inc. is now marketing a “revolutionary new fork” that emits a scent to make users think they’re eating flavors like ginger, coffee, chocolate or bananas — or, for that matter, lychee, passion fruit, jalapeno, wasabi or truffle. It’s perfect, its maker maintains, for cooks who accidentally forget to add a key ingredient while cooking. “It works by having a capsule of ‘liquid aroma’ underneath the fork’s handle, which is then soaked through a small circle of blotting paper and released gradually as the owner eats their meal,” the company explains in a video introducing the Aromafork. “The user has to apply the ‘taste’ each time using a dropper and put a piece of blotting paper in place.” And you thought the spork pushed the boundaries of good taste. [Molecule-R via Huffington Post]

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Thwarted Cronut® Cravings, Smiley-Face Tip Trick and the Dirt on Dirt

by in News, April 7th, 2014

TippingDelayed Gratification for Cronut® Cravers: After being shuttered by the New York Department of Health on Friday for a “severe mouse infestation” — apparently one little critter was recently videotaped darting across the bakery floor as workers went about their business — Dominique Ansel Bakery, home of the Cronut®, did not open its doors on Monday, disappointing hungry hybrid pastry fans. But after the staff “worked tirelessly” to reconstruct, re-cement and re-fortify, the bakery passed its DOE inspection late Monday and was given the go-ahead to reopen on Tuesday morning. As a nod to its triumph in the face of adversity, the bakery is serving a special Rocky Cronut®, which Eater describes as “a black passion fruit caramelia chocolate Cronut® with a gold star on top.” In a Facebook post, the bakery team said it had listened to the movie theme song all weekend as it did its work. [Gothamist/Eater]

What Turns Us Into Big Tippers: In response to an apparent increase in restaurants with no-tipping policies, the New Republic looked at the ways in which, according to various studies, patrons’ generosity when tipping has little to do with the service they receive. For instance, people tend to tip more when the server touches them or crouches next to their table, when the server is blond, and when a female server wears a hair ornament, wears red or draws a smiley face on their checks. Interestingly, while waitresses who drew smiley faces got bigger tips — :) — male servers who did the same got smaller ones. :( [New Republic]

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Texas-Size Final Four Food, Scientifically Accurate Planet Cakes and Is Coffee Flour the Next Big Thing?

by in News, April 4th, 2014

Jupiter Cake by CakecrumbsFinal Four Food, Texas-Size: NCAA basketball fans heading to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, to watch the Final Four games probably expect to have their eyes glued to the court, but Legends Culinary Team, which provides the stadium’s food, is doing its best to distract them. Among the foods on offer: the Texas Triple Double Sandwich, which includes a burger and a fried chicken breast and bacon, as well as garden veggies, caramelized onions and aged cheddar. The Champion Chicken and Waffles Sandwich comes piled with onion rings, pepper jack cheese, bacon and pecan-maple mayo and is nestled between two waffles shaped like Texas. Way to hog the ball, guys. [ThePostGame]

Out of This World: Want to see what just might be the coolest cakes in the universe? Australian self-taught baker and cake decorator (and zoology grad) Rhiannon, who blogs at Cakecrumbs, has devised a set of spherical concentric layer cakes that fit together to accurately depict the planets Jupiter (pictured above) and Earth in their entirety, from the outside in. You can cut through the frosted outer atmosphere to reveal the crust, mantle and core. Try making yourself with these step-by-step instructions and a video tutorial. 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 … [Cakecrumbs via Wait, Wow!]

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President’s “Killer” Sandwich, Hipster Coffee and a Flying Brisket Pinata

by in News, April 4th, 2014

Reuben SandwichHello, Deli: Zingerman’s Deli has ardent fans in high places — for example, the White House. Before giving a speech Wednesday at the University of Michigan about raising the minimum wage, President Obama took in a little local flavor, stopping by the Ann Arbor eatery to highlight the fact that owner Paul Saginaw pays workers there more than the minimum wage. While there, the POTUS also enjoyed the deli’s “classic #2″ Reuben sandwich (get the recipe here), which he later declared to have been “killer.” [@Zingermans via Huffington Post]

“Half-Caff”? Big Laugh: In the hands of hipsters, a humble cup o’ joe can seem like the most-pretentious thing in the world. But while hearing someone order a “double upside-down mocha macchiato with soy, low-fat, no fat, no lid” that also tastes “like Christmas” may be profoundly irritating if you’re standing behind him or her in line and late for work, over-the-top coffee orders are pretty funny (a latte fun?) when you watch them being sent up by the sketch comedians at Nacho Punch. Watch “Hipsters Love Coffee” here. [Nacho Punch]

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Prince Harry Serves Chicken, Ozzy Issues Warning and Peeps Doughnuts

by in News, April 3rd, 2014

Peeps DoughnutsChicken a la Prince: What does a handsome prince serve when he gets together with his mates? If you are expecting Champagne and lobster, caviar and gold-flecked chocolates, you’ll be royally disappointed. At a “private little get-together” at his members-only London club on Monday night, Prince Harry served his rugby pals a humble, peasant-worthy meal of chicken and fries, albeit washed down with a nice white wine. Maybe the fries were flecked with gold? [Entertertainmentwise]

And Speaking of Princes: Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Baltimore-based brewers of Ozzy beer, a Belgian-style pale ale. Ozzy beer comes in cans featuring a fist with O, Z, Z and Y tattooed below the knuckles — much like Ozzy’s own hand tattoo. Also pictured: a bat, an animal the Black Sabbath singer once famously bit the head off during a concert. According to the The Baltimore Sun, despite the letter, the beer was still for sale as of last week — and orders had increased. [The Baltimore Sun]

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