Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Prosecco Seeks the Spotlight

It is sometimes gets lumped in with the likes of Asti Spumante and other sparkling wines that you see people drop a sugar cube into.

But the people who produce Prosecco are hoping to change that. According to the N.Y. Times:

With its fresh flavor, pleasing bubbles and gentle price tag — it typically sells for $10 to $20 a bottle — prosecco has gained many fans worldwide. Global sales have been growing by double-digit percentages for 10 years, to more than 150 million bottles last year.

And with consumers in an economizing mood this holiday season, prosecco is an increasingly popular alternative to Champagne, which has been soaring in price.

But unfortunately there is an image problem:

Because prosecco is the name of a grape, like chardonnay or cabernet, anyone can use the name.

Today, about 60 percent of all prosecco — some eight million cases — comes from producers outside the traditional prosecco-growing region of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, a cluster of villages about a half-hour’s drive north of Venice.

. . . The newcomers are not held to the same strict production standards as the traditional producers, which are tightly governed under Italian wine laws.

One product, Rich Prosecco, is made by an Austrian company whose ads feature Paris Hilton. In some, she is naked and spray-painted gold. What’s worse to some producers, the product is sold in a 6.8-ounce can, in gas stations as well as stores, for around $3.

“It’s absolutely vulgar,” says Vittorio Zoppi, marketing manager for the prosecco consortium

An Unflattering Phrase

In World War II, the U.S. military wrote and distributed a special booklet entitled "Instructions for American Servicemen in France."

The booklet provided an overview of the culture of la belle France, including a description of the kinds of food and drink that U.S. soldiers would likely encounter. Here is one excerpt that amused me — an excerpt that seems most appropriate as champagne bottles are readied to celebrate the new year:

Champagne is that expensive fizzy processed white wine.

Fizzy processed white wine. Not exactly the words that Madison Avenue would use to sell champagne.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Linzer Torte

It's one of several culinary treasures that I hope to enjoy during my brief trip to Vienna over the New Year's weekend.

Bread dumplings, Wiener Schnitzel and apple strudel are some other tasty dishes that I can think of.

All That Leftover Food

If you no longer have a household full of relatives or friends, and you won't come close to eating all of the holiday leftovers that are still sitting in your refrigerator, what should you do? tackles the question in this post.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fruitcakes: The Scourge of Xmas

I had thought that fruitcake had virtually disappeared. That it had gone the way of shag carpeting and pet rocks. But, no — a fruitcake was one of the "gifts" brought to my in-laws' house from visitors during the week of Christmas.

It looked every bit as unappetizing as they have always looked to me.

I began to wonder where the hell people were getting these things they call "fruitcake." Were they making them at home or buying them at stores or online? I did a quick online Google search and discovered a host of companies that make, sell and ship fruitcakes.

Shameful. It's one thing to make and sell such insidious contraband, but it's a whole 'nother to profit from it.

There are good things that can come from combining fruit and cake -- Black Forest Cake, Hummingbird Cake, etc. -- but "fruitcake" isn't one of them.

Whenever I see a fruitcake with those hideous, artificially colored, red-and-green candied fruits (that look like bad imitations of JuJy Fruits), the only polite thing I can do is to sigh.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Holiday Hiatus

Foodphoria is going to take a brief holiday break. We'll return with fresh posts on Monday, Dec. 29th.

Buying Bubbly

The foodie website has this list of the "Top Ten Budget Champagnes." Their prices range from $27 to $40 a bottle.

That may not sound like "budget" champagne to you, but the Euro-dollar exchange rate has made it tougher and tougher to find reasonably priced champagne.

Below this list of "budget" champagnes, you will also find links to other "top tens" of sparkling wine.

Wondering what's the difference between a blanc de blanc and a blanc de noir champagne? Here is a good cheat sheet that explains the different varietals of champagne.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dining at the Clinton Library

I was in Little Rock, Ark., this past week visiting members of my family, and I happened to eat lunch at the restaurant in the Clinton Presidential Library. The restaurant is appropriately named Forty-Two.

The restaurant looks out over the Arkansas River and also has a view of an old railway bridge that traverses the river. The menu is somewhat eclectic, sporting entrees such as fried catfish and a variety of salads.

My Thai chicken salad had an excellent vinagrette, but it featured only a few tiny pieces of chicken. The rice noodles could have been wonderful, but they were undercooked -- enough so that I seriously considered asking our server to take it back to the kitchen.

My companion's entree was so-so. (That was both her opinion and mine.)

This did not inspire us to eat dessert, but it's a good thing we decided to take a chance on it because the dessert that we split was superb. We ordered the green apple crumble with cinnamon ice cream. The texture of the apple crumble was very similar to a bread pudding. Extremely moist.

For what it's worth, here's another review of Forty-Two.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ode to Cookies

Tired of listening to the ongoing debate about the state of the auto industry? Or the state of the housing market? Then read what Slate's Sara Dickerman has to say about the state of the cookie. Here are some of her observations and declarations:

It's hard to imagine a world without Thin Mints! Although everyone I know is cutting back in one way or another, I think this could still be a good year for cookies.

. . . over the past decade or so we've watched our chocolate get better, our access to organic eggs and higher-fat butter grow, and our sugar options diversify.

And on the subject of sugar and butter and health: Dorie and David, I agree that cookies can be part of a healthful diet, even as I stay wary of "healthy" cookies. For the most part, I've been doing my best to replace mediocre sweets with smaller bites of more intensely flavored goodies. One delicious square of brownie is better — and, I wager, better for you — than omega-3 fortified biscuits by the handful.
Everybody raves about chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies, but I would still take a molasses cookie or a butterscotch-ice box cookie over them any day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Key Is the Butter

When it comes to making holiday cookies that tickle the taste buds, the N.Y. Times' Julia Moskin explains why butter is the key.

The most common mistakes made by home bakers, professionals say, have to do with the care and handling of one ingredient: butter. Creaming butter correctly, keeping butter doughs cold, and starting with fresh, good-tasting butter are vital details that professionals take for granted, and home bakers often miss.

Butter is basically an emulsion of water in fat, with some dairy solids that help hold them together. But food scientists, chefs and dairy professionals stress butter’s unique and sensitive nature the way helicopter parents dote on a gifted child.

. . . For mixing and creaming, butter should be about 65 degrees: cold to the touch but warm enough to spread. Just three degrees warmer, at 68 degrees, it begins to melt.

. . . Cold butter’s ability to hold air is vital to creating what pastry chefs call structure — the framework of flour, butter, sugar, eggs and leavening that makes up most baked goods.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Restaurant Review: Adour

Well, here's my take on Adour, Alain Ducasse's Washington, D.C. restaurant.

First, let me say that I had a little "intelligence" going into this dining experience -- only a few days before, the Wash Post's Tom Sietsema had written this review of Adour.

The atmosphere at the restaurant is pleasant. The ornate, coffered ceiling that pre-existed Adour is still there, but the window treatments and lighting below have a more subtle, contemporary look.

There are two foie gras dishes on the list of appetizers. Both were excellent, but the seared foie gras with an "onion belt" was the best of the two. For what it's worth, the two diners next to our table both ordered the hamachi appetizer. It looked really good, but (obviously) looks aren't conclusive.

For entrees, my significant-other and I had the duck breast and the beef tenderloin with short ribs. Although the tenderloin was simply good but not great, the short ribs made the beef entree superb. The short ribs had been braised for several hours, and they were absolutely succulent. The duck was good, but not exceptional.

Neither of us ate dessert. (Well, what I mean is that neither of us ordered dessert.) But, as is the custom at many upper-crust restaurants, we received some complimentary petit fours. These included homemade macaroons, which are in a class far above anything that I have ever heard called a macaroon before. Both the chocolate and the raspberry macaroons (pictured above) were utterly sublime. The filling is like an intensely flavored ganache.

So, as shocking as it may seem, the best thing we ate at Adour was gratis.

The wine list at Adour deserves a lot of credit for diversity in price and varietals. We had a Nuit-St.-Georges that was excellent.

I was pleased with Adour, but I wasn't wow'd by it. Sure, I'd go back to Adour, but its menu prices won't make it easy for me to do so. It's worth a splurge when you have one of those special occasions, or if you're dining on an expense account.

P.S. - Adour should have tried to create a bathroom that's located in the same zip code as the restaurant itself.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Anticipating Dinner

I am treating my significant-other to dinner this evening at Alain Ducasse's Adour at the St. Regis Hotel here in Washington, D.C. I'm looking forward to what should be a gastronomic tour de force.

I'll share observations about the dinner in a post tomorrow.

But I have one quick comment about the website -- where's the wine list? Adour has a paragraph about how its wine list is

a hand-picked seasonal selection of over 400 wines, showcasing a variety from main wine producing regions around the world, tailored to the seasonal mood
and menu.
Blah, blah, blah. Glad you're so impressed with your wine cellar, but it sure would be nice for your diners to know what's actually in your cellar. Adour should at least provide a wine list on its site just as most other high-end restaurants do. 'Nuff said.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cravin' 'Em in Houston

From what I can tell, the cupcake craze has made it to just about every large metro area of the country.

Over the weekend, I was in Houston for a wedding and was strolling in a shopping area on the city's west side when I stumbled on Crave Cupcakes. They have all of the traditional cupcakes -- vanilla with chocolate frosting, chocolate with vanilla frosting, lemon, and strawberry.

But they also have 2 more interesting (perhaps seasonal?) flavors: gingerbread and pumpkin. A friend and I did a little tasting of our own. Gingerbread with cream cheese frosting was our favorite.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Only Martha Stewart Has Time . . .

. . . to do what the L.A. Times recommends -- namely that ordinary Americans this holiday season consider "baking" their gifts to one another:

Make a stack of shortbread cookies spiced with your neighbor's favorite lavender, then tie them up in cellophane the color of her kitchen. Or wrap up a tin of brownies in the sports page for a friend who's a rabid Lakers fan . . .

Use antique bottles found at flea markets (sterilize them first) to show off a rich caramel sauce spiked with Cognac or a batch of vinegar you've infused with thyme and peppercorns.
Isn't this what gourmet shops like Dean & Deluca and Williams-Sonoma are for? If you've actually got time to make own vinegar by infusing it with sprigs of thyme and then placing it in some decorative bottles, then you must have too much time on your hands. Sorry, but that's my theory. Christmas is stressful enough without encouraging ordinary people to start behaving like they're Martha Stewart. Chill out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Cost-Conscious Diner in NYC

Finding a "great" meal for two people in New York City for under $100? Including tax and tip?

That sounds like a pipe dream, but N.Y. Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni has recommendations in this article for where diners in the Big Apple can find it. In these economically shaky times, something tells me this article will be read very closely.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brioche and Coffee

Yesterday, I stopped for a late breakfast at Bread & Chocolate, located just off the corner of 23rd and M Streets in D.C.

It's one of the few bakeries I've seen in Washington where you can find brioche. Real brioche, like what you'd find in Europe. Marvelous with a cup of java.

Their apple croissants are also excellent. And they serve cappuccino in a simple white, but wonderfully large, ceramic mug. Nice froth on top.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What (Truly) Goes With Chocolate

The food blog Method is featuring this recipe for strawberry-chocolate chip cupcakes. I can't decide if that's too weird or not. I like Neapolitan ice cream, but I must admit that the idea of combining chocolate with strawberry in a cupcake just sounds slightly strange.

But why is that?

I guess it's really just a matter of what we're used to eating or seeing on menus.

Chocolate is often paired with cherries. Or raspberries. Occasionally orange. But few other fruits seem to make the cut when it comes to what we'll match with chocolate. Ever heard of a dessert featuring chocolate and apples? Or chocolate and peaches? Of course not -- and for good reason.

But does strawberry deserve to make the cut? The foodie-caterer at the blog Bash! could have made this chocolate cake with a strawberry ganache, but instead she made it with a raspberry ganache. (She even went to the trouble of substituting the raspberries for a recipe that originally called for strawberries.)

Looking beyond fruits, it can get even trickier. The chocolatier Richart of Paris is pretty blunt about its assessment:
One of the most interesting aspects of fine chocolate is that it doesn't much like company.
Richart has a web page entitled "Chocolate Harmonies" that offers advice on which wines, liqueurs and other drinks go well with chocolate. They correctly recommend pairing port with chocolate.

Anxiety in the Land of Vanilla

Most people who have cooked with real vanilla bean know that the crème de la crème of vanilla bean is found on the island of Madagascar. But, as the Associated Press reports, a deadly crop fungus could jeopardize the world's most prized vanilla crop.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Chose Beef Bourguignon . . .

. . . over a Moroccan chicken recipe, and I wasn't disappointed by my decision. With snow flurries falling on Saturday afternoon, Beef Bourguignon proved to be a wonderful comfort food for a relaxed dinner.

I developed a recipe that leaned heavily on two recipes that I had found in recent days. If it looks like my Beef Bourguignon has a lot of carrots, it's because my significant other doesn't care for carrots so I happily took more than my fair share. Anyway, here is the recipe I used:

Beef Bourguignon (serves 4)

6 oz. can of tomato paste
2 cups of dry red wine (not “cooking wine”)
2 cups of reduced fat, lower-sodium beef broth (reserve an extra 1/4 cup for other uses)
1/4 cup of canola or vegetable oil
1-1/2 lbs. of beef chuck or sirloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-1/2 to 2-inch cubes
1/4 cup of Cognac or brandy
1/4 cup of flour, minus one tablespoon
3 tablespoons of butter
2 carrots, diced
A dozen Cremini or white mushrooms, sliced
A dozen pearl onions, peeled
4 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
5-6 slices of bacon, cooked and then crumbled into small pieces
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 tablespoons of veal or beef demi-glace (available at Williams-Sonoma)


1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk 2/3 of the tomato paste (4 oz.) together with a 1/2 cup of the red wine. (Set aside the remaining tomato paste.) Then add the remainder of the red wine. Transfer the tomato paste-wine mixture to a dutch oven or large oven-proof casserole.

2. Pour the beef broth into the dutch oven and stir slightly just to incorporate.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, place the beef cubes in the skillet and sear them. In about 6 or 7 minutes, once the meat is browned, turn the pieces of beef over. Continue cooking for a few more minutes and then add the Cognac, turning the skillet slightly to ensure that it spreads throughout the skillet.

4. Reduce the heat to medium and then sprinkle the flour over the meat. Use a spatula to incorporate the flour into the beef and pan juices. Remove the skillet from the heat and use a spoon to place the beef and all the pan juices into the dutch oven.

5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

6. Return the large skillet to the burner, reduce heat to medium-high and add the butter to it. Wait for the butter to melt and then add the carrots and mushrooms. Sautée the vegetables for 5 minutes and then spoon them into the dutch oven.

7. Add the pearl onions to the dutch oven. (Trim the root end of the pearl onions, but leave the root ends intact to hold the onions together as they cook.) Add the garlic, crumbled bacon, thyme and oregano to the dutch oven. Soften the demi-glace by placing it with a tablespoon of beef broth either in the microwave or in a small saucepan over very low heat. Then spoon it into the dutch oven, stirring well.

8. Place the dutch oven (covered) into the oven for 60 minutes.

9. After the beef has cooked for 60 minutes, turn down the oven to 300 degrees and remove the dutch oven. Give the beef mixture a few stirs, re-cover it and place it back in the oven, allowing it to cook at 300 degrees for another 60 minutes.

10. After the second 60-minute period of cooking, remove the dutch oven and test the carrots to make sure they are done. Check the consistency of the Beef Bourguignon. It should have thickened to the consistency of a sauce. If it’s not thick enough, spoon the remaining (2 ounces) tomato paste into a metal mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons of beef broth. Use a whisk to combine the paste and broth, and then add it to the dutch oven, stirring thoroughly.

11. Serve the Beef Bourguignon over egg noodles or couscous. Drink a good red wine with it — a French Burgundy or Syrah will pair nicely.

Beef Bourguignon, Part II

As a follow up to the recipe posted above, I have a few observations to pass along. I've learned there are two keys for a good Beef Bourguignon.

The first key is the meat you choose. Do not — repeat, do not — buy what grocery meat sections label as “stew meat” or “beef stew.” Most of these pre-sliced pieces are scraps leftover from a variety of other cuts of beef. You never know exactly what you’re getting. If you look closely at “stew meat,” what you see is uniformly red — almost none of the beef is marbled. That may be good for reducing fat, but it’s a disaster for a long-cooking dish like Beef Bourguignon in which the fat within the meat bathes it and keeps it from drying out.

(Trust me: I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.) So go with beef cuts like chuck roast or sirloin that are slightly marbled. You’ll be glad you did.

The second key is the cooking temperature. Resist the temptation to “hurry up” your meal by raising the oven temp. Although the dutch oven is covered and even though the beef itself is covered in a broth-wine mixture, you don’t want the ingredients inside the dutch oven to reach a hard boil.

Remember: You’re trying to braise the beef, not boil it. Even good cuts of beef can dry out if they are cooked at an excessively high temp.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Dinner Decision

Okay. I have a decision to make tomorrow.

My significant other is returning home from an out-of-town trip on Saturday afternoon. I plan to have dinner ready. I want to make something good and hearty, but not too labor-intensive. So I was thinking of a dish that I can make in a dutch oven.

So should I make Moroccan Chicken or should I make Beef Bourguignon? Decisions, decisions.

I'm leaning toward Beef Bourguignon, which is depicted in the photo above. I've made it before, but that was years ago, and I don't know where I stashed the recipe. I found this recipe on for Beef Bourguignon. It looks good, but I'd probably eliminate the potatoes and just serve it over egg noodles.
Hmmmm . . . . .

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Obsessive About Cocktails

So my friends think I can be a wine snob?

Apparently, there are more than a few cocktail aficionados who put me to shame.

This N.Y. Times article talks about people who are obsessive about their cocktails -- so much so that in at least one case, they decide to make their own ice:

Mayur Subbarao is a serious drinker. This isn’t to suggest that Mr. Subbarao, a 34-year-old environmental lawyer in Manhattan, drinks to excess — he’s openly disdainful of “binge drinking”— but rather that he drinks cocktails with a seriousness that, even he admits, sometimes borders on obsession.

He makes his own block ice, daily, by freezing water in a loaf pan and then carving it into oversize chunks for use in cocktails, and he sometimes travels to Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, to harvest colder, more esteemed cubes of ice from a friend who owns a Kold-Draft ice machine.

. . . While cocktail geekdom is nothing new, the latest faction revels in the same kind of fussiness that inspires home cooks to faithfully replicate Thomas Keller’s chicken stock recipe.

“It all starts with an innocent experimentation with pomegranate juice, trying to make a passable grenadine,” explained Paul Clarke, a Seattle-based cocktail blogger. “The next thing you know, your refrigerator is full of homemade pineapple and raspberry syrups, gomme syrup, made with gum arabic to give it an extra-luscious mouth-feel.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Buzz About Puck's "The Source"

Yesterday, I walked right past The Source (Wolfgang Puck's newly launched restaurant), but I still haven't eaten there yet. The restaurant, located in the Penn Quarter section of Washington, D.C., has been open for about a year.

The Source initially opened for dinner only, but now it is open for both lunch and dinner. Has anyone had an experience at The Source worth sharing?

On his blog, interior designer Patrick Baglino raves about the restaurant's visual appeal:

The design of The Source is razor sharp, super polished, very sleek, sophisticated and cutting edge.

. . . The modern aesthetic design boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that line the restaurant and a two-story, temperature-controlled glass wine wall linking the main floor with the upstairs that holds the more than 2,000 bottles of the restaurant’s impressive collection.
The only two friends I know who have eaten at The Source had very positive comments about the interior space, but both felt the food was not quite up to the sticker-shock prices.

I was disappointed to read that the interior of the restaurant is so noisy that, according to the Washington Post's Tom Sietsema, diners "must speak with (a) raised voice" in order to be understood. Somewhere along the way, America's leading restauranteurs seem to have confused noise with sophistication.

This is a tough economic environment in which to operate a restaurant, even in supposedly recession-proof Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Italy's Lackluster Whites

So after a long day at work, I met a friend last night at Proof for a late-night dinner. As usual, the food was very good. This was the first time, however, that I had medicore vino.

The glass of Tempranillo I ordered with my second course seemed a little musty and never quite opened up. Disappointing.

The other wine disappointment was my own fault because I decided to ignore my decades-long experience and order a glass of an Italian white. (What was I thinking?) It was an unusual varietal, but it was so bland that I'd just as soon forget its name.

What is it with Italy and white wine? The two just don't go together. I can tolerate Orvieto, but let's be honest -- it's no prize. Some Italian vintners produce chardonnays, but I've never been dazzled by any of 'em (full disclosure: I'm not much of a chard drinker anyway).

And even those white wines that seem to work in parts of Italy (like Vermentino, for example) actually taste better when they're produced in Spain.

Wait a second. I just thought of an Italian white that I really think is pretty decent: Vernaccia di San Gimignano. But wouldn't you know it? According to this website, an Italian producer of Vernaccia states: "Vernaccia is really a red wine made from white grapes."

I guess that explains why I like it. (Not that I understood what the hell she meant by that statement.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Cranberry Sauce Tradition

As we sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, CNN's website informs us that the cranberry sauce that will grace most American tables was almost certainly not eaten by the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving:

While the cranberries the Pilgrims needed were probably easy to come by, making cranberry sauce requires sugar. Sugar was a rare luxury at the time of First Thanksgiving, so while revelers may have eaten cranberries it's unlikely that the feast featured the tasty sauce. What's more, it's not even entirely clear that cranberry sauce had been invented yet. It's not until 1663 that visitors to the area started commenting on a sweet sauce made of boiled cranberries that accompanied meat.

There's the same problem with potatoes. Neither sweet potatoes nor white potatoes were available to the colonists in 1621, so the Pilgrims definitely didn't feast on everyone's favorite tubers.

An Interesting Twist on Cherry Pie

I am spending Thanksgiving at a rented home with my in-law's family on the edge of Deep Creek Lake, Md. My assignment for Thanksgiving dinner was to make four pies for dessert. (There are 10 adults and 5 children among us.)

I finished making the four pies last night. Two of them are pumpkin. For the sake of variety, I also made one apple and one cherry. If my fellow diners were as adventurous as me, I would have been tempted to add a twist to my cherry pie recipe by borrowing from this recipe I uncovered recently from the N.Y. Daily News.

I love pistachios, and the use of these nuts in the crumble topping sounds absolutely wonderful.

By the way, the photo above is of the Daily News recipe.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkish Food

The night before we hit the road for Thanksgiving, we were in no mood to cook. So we ate last night at Cafe Divan in Washington, D.C.'s Glover Park neighborhood.

It's a Turkish restaurant. Cozy and comfortable. The food was very good; I had a lamb shank, and the hummus appetizer I had was excellent. But the Turks seem a bit too fond of rice pilaf. It seems to accompany just about every entree. Oh well. Still a good restaurant.

If You're a Mac-N-Cheese Purist . . .

. . . this article by the N.Y. Times' Alex Witchel might make you cringe. He writes about (and falls in love with) a mac-n-cheese made with goat cheese.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Au Bon Pain

An excerpt from an article in last month's Hemispheres, United Airlines' in-flight magazine:

When it comes to bread, the French know best.

Boulangeries can be found at almost every city street corner in France and are stocked with croissants, pain au chocolat, and the most famous bread of them all, baguettes.

. . . Celebrated around the world, the baguette has been a French standard since pre-Revolutionary days.

. . . Even during the devastating food shortages of the 18th century, Parisians refused to eat "bad bread." In May 1775, low-quality breads began popping up in the midst of riots, and Parisians began calling them "black breads."

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Better Pumpkin Pie

I disagree with this statement in the current issue of Cooks Illustrated:

The best thing about pumpkin pie is that you only have to eat it once a year.

I could eat pumpkin pie year-round. But even so I welcome the magazine's article suggesting three ways to add some zing to pumpkin pie. Here they are:

1) Substitute sweet potato puree for part of the pumpkin puree

2) Replace the ground ginger with freshly gated ginger

3) Substitute maple syrup for a portion of the sugar

Each of these ideas sounds good to me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Where's the Beef?

I have heard that the hamburger was invented in New Haven, Conn., so I was surprised to read this blog post from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Referring to Seymour, Wisc., the blog post explains:

It was there that 15-year-old Charlie Nagreen decided to flatten the meatballs he was hawking at the 1885 Outagamie County Fair and slap them between two pieces of bread to make the meal easy to carry around.

After coining the term "hamburger," he became known as "Hamburger Charlie" and continued to market the meal well into his 80s.

The town of Seymour has a Hamburger Hall of Fame, adding an exclamation point to its reputation. If you ever get lost trying to find the Hamburger Hall of Fame, just ask someone: "Where's the beef?"

Two Very Different Yelps

Courtesy of, here are two reviews for the same restaurant in San Diego -- a place called Etna:

First, here is Dinah P.'s sour opinion of Etna:

No, thanks. Shabby location, shabby service. Waiters and waitresses don't look like they want to be there, and make you wait forever. The food is not good, very bland tastes, and is pretty pricey for quality of service and food. Overall, this place deserves negative stars! It's gross, the end.

But Kailey I. gives Etna 4 stars and lavishes praise on it:

My Favorite Italian Resturant for Pastas! We love Etnas and our waiter Henry made the experience enjoyable and even took his time to sit down and chit chat with us. The plate is huge enough to bring home for the next day. I can only say I love everything I tried here so far and the Garlic Toast is to die for!
It's fascinating how differently people can look at the same eatery. I guess if we loved the same restaurants, it would be awful time to find a seat, eh?

(P.S. - I must say that I find Kailey I.'s review annoying. Is it something to praise when a waiter takes "his time to sit down and chit chat with us"? I don't go to a restaurant to make new friends; I go there to eat and hang out with current friends.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

ISO: Perfect Turkey Gravy

Nothing is more celebrated, yet so elusive, on Thanksgiving afternoon than producing the perfect gravy.

In this article from the N.Y. Daily News, Martha Stewart's advice is to save the turkey neck and gizzards for use in making a stock to enhance the flavor of the gravy.

Now I have heard this explanation for many years, but I have never known anyone who succeeded at it. From what I can see, the reason is that the neck and gizzards don't produce much in the way of juice or drippings.

My mother was a good Thanksgiving cook, but even she couldn't seem to coax much of value out of the turkey neck. She'd leave it in a small pot with about a 1/4 cup of water over it, and then she'd let it simmer.

Sure enough, the water would evaporate and little of anything would be left to add to the turkey gravy. According to the article I've cited:

Says (Martha) Stewart: "It's not difficult to make a delicious gravy if you start with a really nice, rich stock."

That means you shouldn't throw out the gizzards, liver and neck when you put the bird in the oven. Instead, simmer these with some leeks, carrots and fresh herbs while your turkey's roasting. The stock is then strained, and skimmed of fat.

I have never seen anyone do this and yield anything more than a negligible amount of stock. Maybe we weren't going about this the right way, but I'd be curious whether anyone has had genuine success in this area.

Kudos to Quaker

Kudos to the executives and other employees at Quaker Oats! Let me explain why.

A month or so ago, I sent the company an unsolicated email praising their multigrain chewy granola bars. I saluted them for creating a granola bar that's lower in fat and sugar than most other granola bars, and -- most importantly -- one that tastes great. (I am partial to the cinnamon-brown sugar flavor.)

These granola bars make excellent snacks, especially when I'm heading to the airport during a work-related trip.

Anyway, I had forgotten about sending that email when, a few days ago, a box arrived at home. It was a thank-you note from Quaker's Marketing Dept., along with some free products and coupons. Very classy, and smart.

Hey, Quaker Oats, could you please tutor the execs of GM, Ford and Chrysler? I have a feeling they could learn a lot from how you think and operate.
Now excuse me while I go eat my oatmeal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turtle Soup

Perhaps the very thought of it sounds disgusting to you.

But I started thinking about it the other day, not so much out of my own appetite, but more out of a sense of curiosity.

In other words, whatever happened to turtle soup? It used to be considered quite a delicacy. Now it's very hard to find on any menu, especially if you are dining anywhere but the Low Country or the Gulf Coast. Even in the Gulf Coast, Ralph Brennan agrees that one is unlikely to find it on a restauant menu. Brennan offers a reason for this:

While supplies of fresh water turtles, the only kind lawfully sold as food, are abundant in the New Orleans area to make Turtle Soup; in other parts of the country, the dish is illegal.
Turtle soup recipes in The Big Easy tend to be thicker, tomato-based versions. (Here's an example.) Yet even in New Orleans, turtle soup is rare to find. Maybe this reflects how much tastes have changed over the past couple of centuries. Turtle soup was considered a delicacy in colonial America. In one of the oldest English novels, The History of Tom Jones, the author writes:

The tortoise — as the alderman of Bristol, well learned in eating, knows by much experience — besides the delicious calipash and calipee, contains many different kinds of food . . .
Presidents must have loved turtle soup. At an 1843 reception for President John Tyler, turtle soup highlighted the first course. Abraham Lincoln served turtle soup at his inaugural event. Ten months earlier, during the Buchanan administration, the first Japanese delegation to visit the White House reportedly "relished" their meal, which included turtle soup.

This White House cookbook published in 1889 contains a recipe for mock turtle soup. Amazingly, recipes for turtle soup seem to have survived the passing of time. In fact, earlier this year the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found a local resident who has 15 different recipes for making turtle soup.

How's that for variety?

I've had turtle soup before, and I thought it was pretty good. But I don't know how authentic the version was that I was served. (In other words, did it bear any resemblance to what an upper-crust American would have eaten had he or she prepared turtle soup in the 1800s?)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's Gotta Be Maple Syrup

I love maple syrup. How much? Sometimes when I'm dining out for breakfast or brunch, I won't even order pancakes or waffles if the eatery doesn't serve them with real maple syrup. I have found that the cane sugar syrups (Log Cabin, Aunt Jemima, etc.) have a one-dimensional, bland taste.

Last week, a graphic from USA Today listed the top 5 states for maple syrup production. Below is the total production in gallons, and the figure in parentheses is the percentage of growth in production:

Vermont . . . . . . . 500,000 (11%)

New York . . . . . . 322,000 (44%)

Maine . . . . . . . . . . 215,000 (-4%)

Wisconsin . . . . . . 130,000 (73%)

Ohio . . . . . . . . . . . . 118,000 (57%)

I was under the impression that maple syrup wasn't such a profitable business, but the fact that most of these states saw solid jumps in production suggests that there must be some money in it.

Nearly everything you could want to know about maple syrup can be found on this web page, courtesy of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers' Association.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Spam Is a 4-Letter Word

You know times are tough when you find yourself at the grocery store, reaching toward the shelf for this blue-colored tin.

When I was growing up in the late 1970s, much to my chagrin, my father would trudge off to the grocery store on a weekend morning and occasionally come back home with a tin of Spam. His purchasing decision had less to do with my family's economic status than it did with the fact that my father was born without taste buds.

According to the N.Y. Times, Americans may be opening a lot more tins of Spam in the days ahead:
The economy is in tatters and, for millions of people, the future is uncertain. But for some employees at the Hormel Foods Corporation plant [in Austin, Minn.], times have never been better. They are working at a furious pace and piling up all the overtime they want.

The workers make Spam, perhaps the emblematic hard-times food in the American pantry.

Through war and recession, Americans have turned to the glistening canned product from Hormel as a way to save money while still putting something that resembles meat on the table. Now, in a sign of the times, it is happening again, and Hormel is cranking out as much Spam as its workers can produce.

Spam, a gelatinous 12-ounce rectangle of spiced ham and pork, may be among the world’s most maligned foods, dismissed as inedible by food elites and skewered by comedians who have offered smart-alecky theories on its name (one G-rated example: Something Posing As Meat).

. . . Hormel declined to cooperate with this article, but several of its workers were interviewed here recently with the help of their union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 9.

Spam “seems to do well when hard times hit,” said Dan Bartel, business agent for the union local. “We’ll probably see Spam lines instead of soup lines.”
Now, there's one line you never hope to be standing in.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Voting Had Its Just Desserts

Over at, I just noticed this blog entry on the New York City page which had been posted on Election Day:

The City Reliquary Museum and Civic Organization will host an Election Party tonight from 7 pm until the choosing of our next President!

. . . tonight they will be hosting an election watch event with, “two separate projectors and will live-broadcast the State-by-State Roll Calls, on both indoor and outdoor screens, courtesy of On the grill we’ve got all American burgers, dogs and veggie dogs at ‘08 Recession prices, as well as Brooklyn beer and soda available for donation. All American Apple Pie will be served with proof of vote cast, and since this is one of the most patriotic of nights, make sure you BYO American Flag!”
You gotta love that -- apple pie served with proof of having voted. So I guess Starbucks' promotion was trumped after all.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Holiday of Carbs

Crusty dinner rolls. Mashed potatoes. Bread or cornbread stuffing. Corn. Each of these carbohydrate-ridden items adorns most American dinner tables on Thanksgiving Day.

But have low-carb zealots rained on our Thanksgiving parade? That's a question that is explored indirectly in this article by Melissa Clark in the N.Y. Times. Clark writes:

A decade ago, the breadbasket was pushed off my family’s Thanksgiving table. It was banished. Barred. Forbidden from showing its yeasty face.

. . . My father had developed diabetes, and the refined white flour that had made up the backbone of his homemade crusty French baguettes and anadama bread wreaked havoc with his glucose levels.

. . . This year, with my dad’s diabetes under better control, anadama bread seemed due for a revival at Thanksgiving. I volunteered to play bread baker.

In honor of the breadbasket’s triumphal return, I decided to bulk it up. Although one could argue that more carbohydrates are the last things a Thanksgiving meal needs, they’re also in keeping with the holiday’s spirit of excess.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A True Retro-Salad

The year was 1948. We were not yet chanting "I Like Ike." There was no color TV. This was the year when the N.Y. Times first ran a recipe for Green Goddess Salad.

But the Green Goddess Salad is actually much older than the year that the Times first published this recipe. The salad first claimed fame in 1923 when it was served by San Francisco's Palace Hotel.

I found it interesting to read in this recent Times article that today the Palace Hotel still serves more than 50 Green Goddess salads every day. Am I missing something? A basic dijon-based vinaigrette is generally my preference.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fond Memories of Lavandou

Lavandou was one of my favorite restaurants in Washington, D.C., during the early 1990s. Located in Cleveland Park, the Provencal food was so good that patrons were even willing to eat in the bistro's narrow tunnel-like entry hall.

The pate made with Marc was amazing. The simple peasant bread they brought to your table was excellent -- a nice crusty exterior, but a chewy interior. Everything they prepared (from Soupe au Pistou to the salade composée with smoked duck breast) was delightful.

The wine list was not filled with the great clarets of France, but the selection was diverse and offered good value.

When Lavandou made a deal to acquire the space next-door, its patrons were excited. The bistro's reopening was anxiously anticipated. We all waited quite patiently.

The new space was marvelous, and, best of all, the things we'd loved about the old Lavandou remained -- efficient service and superb bistro food.

Like its sister bistros in Paris, Lavandou shut down for most (if not all) of the month of August. But we took that fact in stride. I kept eating there, as did the restaurant's many other loyal patrons.

We were sure that Lavandou would always be Lavandou. Alas, we were in for a let-down.

Somewhere along the way, the chef and/or management of Lavandou changed. The service got a bit off-kilter. The menu was expanded far too much. Then it was shrunk dramatically. Most importantly, the quality of the food became inconsistent.

Why am I telling you the story of Lavandou? Basically because I have a decision to make. I feel just a little like the jilted lover who was so devoted to a restaurant and then betrayed in some way. I opened my email this morning to find this email from Lavandou.

This week, we are serving one of the oldest specialties from the South of France and one of the most appreciated:

The delicious CASSOULET!

This classic has slowly stewed white beans and various meats and it is backed under a crispy breadcrumbs topping. Le Cassoulet certainly calls out for a robust wine with enough tannin to match the hearty strength of the dish. Grenache-based wine of Gigondas is the perfect accompaniment to this dish. Located high in the hills above the Rhone Valley, Gigondas is known for rustic, untamed wines that we usually find too raw to be enjoyable, but when paired with a dish like cassoulet, a muscular, inky Gigondas is sublime.

We have it by the 1/2 bottle and bottle.

I am tempted to give Lavandou another try. But should I?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This Twinkie Is No Imposter

Maybe it's a sign of the times, but it appears that everyone is down-sizing these days. Even the people who makes Twinkies. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me this A.P. article:

Hostess Twinkies are becoming the latest product remade and repackaged into 100-calorie snack packs, a product some analysts say could do well given that more people are packing their own lunches in the slumping economy.

The maker of the golden yellow, creme-filled cake is launching "Twinkie Bites" nationwide in stores . . .

And while Leavitt notes that the original Twinkie came in at 150 calories, people asked for a lightened version and the company got to work. They didn't want to just shrink the Twinkie, known for its elongated shape, Leavitt said, so they created three, miniature round versions. Leavitt said people enjoy having multiple bites rather than just the one product.

"It's not some imposter like some portion control products would be," Leavitt said. "From that standpoint it eats like a Twinkie, it smells like a Twinkie, it tastes like a Twinkie."
Is that supposed to reassure consumers?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lost in Coffee Hell

That's how I felt this past weekend. I had left a convention and was driving for about an hour to reach the Pittsburgh airport.

I stopped at a few diners or restaurants that were located along a rural stretch of Highway 30. Both times the coffee that I purchased "to go" was utterly undrinkable.

It continues to amaze me how many Americans seem willing to put up with coffee that manages to be both bitter and watered-down at the same time.

Dunkin' Donuts doesn't make great coffee, but it's okay. Unfortunately, there were none of 'em around.

Americans need to realize that they don't have to drink bad coffee. Really. They don't.

Review: Bardeo

I had dinner last night at Bardeo, the smaller and less formal next-door cousin of Ardeo restaurant.

Bardeo has been open at its Cleveland Park location for many years so this review is more of a check-in or progress report for an eatery with which many Washington, D.C. residents are familiar.

This is a place where you can get a choice of about a dozen small plates -- proscuitto-wrapped fig and risotto balls, for example -- as well as a good choice of wines by either the full glass or half glass.

All three of the reds I drank last night were fine; I'd probably grade them each as a B or B+. I ordered mussels steamed in a creamy white wine and butter mixture. (Yeah, yeah, I know . . . . mussels with red wine? Well, I just wasn't in a white wine mood.) Anyway, the mussels were not impressive. I enjoyed dipping my bread into the liquid, but the mussels were simply "okay." They were big, but not nearly as tasty as P.E.I. mussels.

My other dish was the star of the night: the potted foie gras, which was infused with (I'm guessing) with cognac or armagnac and served warm with grilled bread.

The interior is very pleasant -- sleek and post-modern. But I never like to sit too close to the entrance, especially in cooler weather because of the draft that sweeps in whenever someone enters.

I always have a good meal at Bardeo, but rarely a great one. But that's fine. Bardeo's is what it is -- a nice casual bar-eatery with upscale food that is served in unfussy ways. It's not a restaurant that's trying hard to impress anyone, but when I want something good to eat and drink that isn't too far from my neighborhood, Bardeo often comes to mind.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Giddy About Goat Meat

John T. Edge writes the column “Food from the Edge” that appears in USAirways in-flight magazine.

I enjoyed the column that Edge wrote for the magazine’s October issue. Here is an excerpt:

I had eaten goat before. At Jamaican restaurants that specialized in jerked goat. And at barbecue festivals in western Texas, where goat is the meat that, after a parboil and a mesquite smoke, emerges from the pits as succulent as pig, as tender as chicken, and just a tad wild and raunchy.

But goat suffers from a bad rap among mainstream eaters — except for goat cheese, which has in the past two decades gone from boutique exclusive to grocery-store

Mention goat meat, however, and most folks bleat out a protest. Something about goats being scavengers. Something about goats eating tin cans. All of which is patently untrue.

As America diversifies to accommodate immigrants from all over the world, goat meat — often referred to these days by the more formal and appetizing term “chevon” — will go mainstream. And some white-tablecloth chefs are already leading the way.

At Komi in Washington, D.C., Johnny Monis is serving milk-roasted goat ragù atop a nest of homemade pasta . . .

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ducasse's Discount

Lately, I've been wondering a lot about the extent of the "hit" the restaurant industry is likely to take from the severe economic downturn.

Several days ago, in this article USA Today's Jerry Shriver wrote:

Is this the bargain of the year, or an indicator of how desperate things are — and are going to get — in the upscale restaurant industry?

Multi-Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse, who operates some of the priciest eateries in the world, offers a $1 appetizer at his Benoit bistro in New York. The "egg mayo," on the menu since the April opening, resembles a deviled egg and comes with a slice of toasted French bread and a lettuce leaf.

Maybe this tasty morsel is just Ducasse's wry commentary on the state of the economy — all of the other appetizers cost an average of $14. Or it could be that he's pulling out all the stops to keep customers coming through the door of his restaurant, which is located on some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

If it's the latter, he's joining the legions of restaurateurs across the country who are lowering prices, adding low-cost bar menus, offering coupons and two-for-one specials and expanding their open hours to keep traffic flowing.

The Scoop on Doughnuts

For its "Chewing the Fat" series, Serious Eats (SE) sat down with Alton Brown and got him talking about doughnuts. The interview is here.

SE also provides this link: A Guide to the Best Doughnuts in New York City. (This link is worth clicking on if only to check out the beautiful, luscious close-up photos of doughnuts.)

SE also features this National Honor Roll of Doughnuts. I've been to a few of these places, but SE doesn't seem to pay appropriate homage to apple cider doughnuts. Maybe that's because they are generally made and sold only at orchards and rural markets, not big-city retail shops.

But under the listings for Michigan, how could they leave out the Franklin Cider Mill? It makes marvelous apple cider doughnuts, and only 45 minutes northwest of Detroit. This real estate agent seemed to love their doughnuts as much as I do.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Starbucks' Pro-Voter Promotion

Yesterday, I overheard more than one voter chatting about Starbuck's promotion on Election Day. It was one of many promotions by food and beverage companies. But according to

Starbucks announced Saturday that stores would be offering a free "tall" coffee to anyone who voted [on Election Day]; Krispy Kreme promised a doughnut with red, white, and blue sprinkles.

. . . Wait a second, isn't this voter bribery illegal? Yes, though it probably wouldn't be prosecuted.

Federal law states it's a crime to offer, solicit, or accept any "expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote." Those who violate the rule are subject to imprisonment for up to one year, a fine, or both. (At least three of the companies offering Election Day giveaways — Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, and Ben & Jerry's — have since changed their offers. Now they're offering free stuff to everyone, not just people who claim to have voted.)

The federal ban against voting quid pro quo only applies to national ballots. . . . In California, for example, it's perfectly legal to reward voters for showing up to the polls in a local election — but it's against the rules to buy a vote for a specific candidate. (In theory, Starbucks could hand out cups of coffee — or, indeed, wads of cash — to induce turnout among California voters as long as no federal candidates were on the ballot.)
And I found this snippet amusing:

In 1999, California State Assembly candidate Elihu Harris and the state Democratic Party sent mailers to predominantly African-American neighborhoods offering a free chicken dinner for anyone who could prove that they voted.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Welcome Package

When I returned home from a work-related trip to Wisconsin, I was pleased to find that a package had arrived in the mail from Rhode Island. It was six bottles of coffee syrup from Autocrat, a company based in Lincoln, R.I.

In the early 1990s, I spent a few months in R.I., and became rather fond of coffee syrup. I tend to add it to my coffee instead of granulated sugar. It adds sweetness, as well as intensifying the depth of the coffee flavor.

Coffee syrup is also pretty good drizzled over ice cream or frozen yogurt. Rhode Islanders use coffee syrup mostly to make what they call "coffee milk," which is a glass of milk with a few spoonfuls of coffee syrup stirred in.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Brownies and the Krauts

I was surprised to learn from reading this N.Y. Times article that the brownie has made its way to Germany. According to the article's writer, Anna Winger:

. . . [My friend Cynthia] has a popular American bakery in Kreuzberg and is widely credited for bringing Der Brauny to the city. Virtually no one was baking brownies when the wall came down, and now they’re everywhere.

She often complains about the German competition: too soft, too dry, too sweet and undercooked. The frustrating thing about serving brownies to Germans, she says, is that they insist on eating them with a fork.

. . . [In the year 2006] my friend Patti from St. Louis opened a cafe across town (in Berlin). Patti was baking brownies, too, and so inevitably, in a city with about 13,000 American inhabitants, people made comparisons.

Which one was better, and more important, which one most authentically American? “Cynthia paved the way,” Patti told me. “I’ll give her that. But mine are better.” Cynthia just said, “Patti who?”

. . . It seems to me that there is room for two good brownies in a city of nearly three and a half million Germans who are just going to eat them with a fork.

Is Ketchup Heart-Healthy?

According to this article by cardiologist Steven Kang at the Cholesterol Network website, ketchup may help to prevent a heart attack.

The average American consumes about 17 pounds of fresh tomatoes each year and more than 60 additional pounds of processed tomatoes in the form of ketchup or tomato sauce.

The article points to the presence of lycopene, which acts as an antioxident. Tomatoes are very rich in lycopene.

But, according to the article, tomato juice and ketchup actually have higher concentrations of lycopene per ounce than do fresh tomatoes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Maple Syrup and Pancakes

That wasn't what I ordered for breakfast in Milwaukee a few days ago. That, if you can believe it, was a flavor of ice cream — um, I mean frozen custard — that I tried at Kopp's Frozen Custard.

Frozen custard is very popular throughout Wisconsin, as the ubiquitous Culver's chain demonstrates. (BTW, Culver's is the originator of the famous ButterBurger, a source of pride in the state known as "America's Dairyland.")

It would be hard to drive 15 miles in any direction in Wisconsin without seeing a Culver's. But Kopp's has only three locations, each one is in metro Milwaukee. And any foodie from Milwaukee is likely to insist that an out-of-towner make at least one trip to a Kopp's, especially for its frozen custard.

There were other flavors that sounded interesting — Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie and Strawberry De Leche, to name a few — but the idea of Maple Syrup and Pancakes frozen custard made me very curious so I just had to try it.

My verdict? It was strange, but sort of good. There were small strips of pancake dough within the custard.

Kopp's normal-sized hamburger is huge. Don't order the larger burger unless you have a voracious appetite.

One thing I like about both Culver's and Kopp's is that when you order a burger, one of your options is to order it served with raw onions or fried onions.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dinner at Tornado Club

I had a great meal at the Tornado Club Steakhouse in Madison, Wisc., located just off Capitol Square. I had the on-the-bone tenderloin, which was something I had never seen on a menu before.

It was cooked perfectly.

This restaurant has a great ambience -- the exterior neon sign, the music inside and the dark pine walls give it a wonderfully clubby 1950's vibe.

I also took advantage of the restaurant's very patron-friendly corkage policy -- only $20 a bottle (so long as it's not a wine that they have on their wine list).

The wine I brought along was a 2005 Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon. Excellent, although I'm sure it would drink even better if it cellared for 2-5 more years.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Eco-Friendly Eating

I saw this N.Y. Times article about restaurants in London serving eco-friendly food. Here is an excerpt:

There is a new crop of green restaurants around London, run by chefs who may want to be at one with the environment but also don’t want to limit their customers to vegan fare.

These eco-friendly chefs — who unabashedly serve plump fish, marbled meats, hearty wines and gooey cheeses — are not only working to reduce their carbon footprint by buying local produce whenever possible, but are also trying to expand their businesses by teaching customers that eating green does not have to be a culinary sacrifice.

. . . Oliver Rowe’s restaurant, Konstam at the Prince Albert, gets over 85 percent of its produce from in and around Greater London. It is written in small print on the bottom of the menu, along with the fact that 50 pence from each soup sold in October goes to a charity to fight hunger.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

". . . And I Approved This Message"

If anyone who visits this blog is wondering why I am spending so much time in Wisconsin, let me quel your curiosity.

The reason for my extended visit to "America's Dairyland" is provided herein. (Just in case any lawyers are prowling my blog, let me offer the appropriate disclaimer: "These cupcakes were not baked, paid for, frosted or authorized by any candidate.")