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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

Summer Salad and Alton’s Sangria

by in View All Posts, May 13th, 2009


Our new Memorial Day feature is all about getting summer started with classic picnic foods, burgers, hot dogs, and, yes, sangria. I decided to test out the main featured recipe, Aida’s Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad (how could I resist?!) from the Food Network Magazine.

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The Rule when Visiting a Chef’s House

by in View All Posts, May 12th, 2009

Do not, I repeat, do NOT eat before going to Daisy Martinez‘s home. On Friday we went to Daisy’s house to shoot an upcoming FN Dish video, Meet Daisy, for her new round of Viva Daisy! episodes. Within minutes of arriving to her house, Daisy had food in our bellies, and lots of it!

We literally had just put down our film equipment when she kindly lured us into her kitchen, telling us that she was in the midst of testing recipes for her new cookbook. When we told her that we’d eaten lunch before coming over, Daisy made this adorable face (left) and exclaimed, “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to eat before coming over to my house?” Listen….when a chef says, “try my food and tell me what you think,” I’m always a willing participant! Needless to say, I made room in my stomach.

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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

Sliding Doors

by in View All Posts, May 11th, 2009

The Food Network lobby is a happening place. A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting for the elevator, and a golden-blonde woman was pacing in the waiting area. When she turned around, it was Sandra Lee, aka Aunt Sandy. She was obviously awaiting a meeting (probably about her new show Sandra’s Money Saving Meals), and I knew she would not be joining me on my elevator ride to the 1st floor.

But this reality of sharing the lobby with talent, or passing them occasionally in the halls, means that odds are higher than normal, of taking an elevator ride with them. Usually this Food Network Lobby elevator:

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Ace of Cakes is “LOST” on Saturday

by in View All Posts, View Video Only, May 8th, 2009

Calling all Lost and Ace of Cakes (AOC) fans — this Saturday, May 9th, the latter is coming to a close at 9:00 PM ET/PT. (Not permentantly, of course…we’re speaking about the AOC season finale).

Hurley (Jorge Garcia), the jolly Lost fellow whose prime island coping technique is finding the concealed sweets and an avid fan of AOC, secured a delicious dessert for the show’s 100th episode celebration – (check out his blog post about it). With quality taste in mind, Garcia called his fave bakery to make a unique creation.

Duff and his crew not only answered the call, but headed out to visit the Aloha State set to hand deliver the party favor. Sadly, SC didn’t get to join the expedition, but she did get to ask all the probing questions to Charm City Cakes. Find out how the extreme bakery handled getting “lost”:

What Lost character on the cake was the most difficult?
Richard Alpert – his head melted off from the humidity and was then eaten.

Who is the biggest Lost fan on Ace of Cakes?
Lauren! She leaves work early to catch it and invites people over to watch it with her only if they SWEAR to not talk during the episode.

What was the most exciting thing you got to see while on the Lost set?
The props department! The propmaster Rob pulled out items used on old episodes – we saw darma beer, darma soap, Aaron’s cradle, airplane puke bags, luggage, everything. AND he gave Kate’s toy airplane to Erica!

What was your favorite part of the cake?
The characters were definitely our favorite part, and we think the best part. Anna and Elena were able to recreate the cast into sugar form perfectly. The Daniel Faraday figure looked so much like him, it was amazing.

The production company for Ace of Cakes also put together this extended video of their visit to the Lost set. It’s a must see. Super cute:

Charm City Cakes also launched a spiffy new website this week with virtual tours of their store, a blog, and a super chic gallery. Between their new website and the finale this Saturday, all AOC fans will be sure to get their sweet fixes!

Eat Well
Secretary Confidential

Food & Finance: Taking In and Dining Out

by in View All Posts, May 7th, 2009

I’m sure that some of you are surprised by this week’s topic. After all, this is a blog about saving money on food, and we all know that it’s cheaper to cook at home than it is to tote dinner home in a (recyclable) bag or go out to eat at a restaurant.

But everyone deserves to take a break without breaking the bank, and sometimes you just don’t feel like turning on the stove, striking up the grill or even reheating yesterday’s leftovers. Test out the tips below for saving on take out and restaurant visits – just in time for Mother’s Day.

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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

The hottest ticket in town…

by in View All Posts, May 6th, 2009

So I’m standing about 5 feet away from Mario Batali, both an Iron Chef and one of the most successful restaurateurs in New York City. I go up to him and say, “Excuse me, where did you get that hot dog?”

And do you know what he says? “Over there.” Mind you, this guy can cook dishes like fennel dusted sweetbreads with his eyes closed, and yet there he stood, eating a hot dog like we were at a Mets game.

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