I love learning about hybrid cuisines that are shaped by a convergence of languages, countries and cultures. One cultural exchange I had never considered was the influence of Mexican food and Chinese cuisine on the US border. This is not a new mash-up either, with cultural exchange going back as much as 100 years. Mexicali, Mexico, right across the US border, is home to as many as 200 Chinese restaurants. Fascinating!
It’s no secret that Franklin BBQ in Austin, Texas is one of the most popular and acclaimed barbecue restaurants in the country. The waits are so long, that the line to get inside even has its own Twitter account. If you, like us, are nowhere near Austin, we have found something to tide you over: a BBQ-centric YouTube series by Aaron Franklin, “Barbecue with Franklin,” which covers BBQ tips, recipes and techniques.
Here, in the first video, Aaron walk us through the process of preparing a brisket! This series is putting us in the BBQ mode, so hopefully some BBQ weather will be right around the corner.
Some croissants are straight while others are crescent shaped…. but does it MEAN anything, or is it just decorative? Turns out France actually has laws about what each shape indicates. According to Everywhereist, in France, only all-butter croissants are legally allowed to have a straight shape (as seen below)! Any croissant, even those made with part margarine or other oils, can be crescent shaped. There’s your strange fact for the day.
Pourover coffee is having a moment, but now Starbucks in Japan is taking it one further with their “origami” single use pourover kit. Seems like a pretty cool way to brew coffee, and we certainly prefer it over the more common single-serve coffee method of K-Cups or freeze dried coffee powder. What do you think – would you use origami?
Filed under Coffee, Links
In Oaxaca we were floored by the delicious chocolate, and its almost-ubiquitous presence. There was even a chocolate street, Mina street, where you can load up on chocolate in all forms (definitely worth a future post). Many of the stores on Mina street demonstrate how chocolate is made right in the front of the shop. We were surprised to see how (relatively) easy it is to make, though the huge quantities are a little daunting. Saveur has a short instructional video showing you how it’s done, though you do need a grinder, even at home.
Inspired by both our hunt for the perfect gyros, and our undying love for al pastor trompos, we were excited to this video about how the emblematic Kronos gyros cone is made. If you are from Chicago, the sometimes-cheesy “Kronos” gyros signs are nearly ubiquitous.
There have been several high-profile stories in the past few months about the rise of upscale restaurants and dining culture in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. A new development in Rio is Regina Tchelly’s Favela Orgânica project, which is changing the way food is used and thought about in the Babilônia favela. Tchelly’s mission is to take the parts of ingredients that are mostly thrown away, and use them in new and interesting ways. Seems like a mission that can – and should – expand throughout Rio and beyond!
Apparently Southern Australia is undergoing something of a food renaissance, thanks in part to the tireless work of an expat Scotsman. We are very interested to hear about this development in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, since Australian cuisine usually flies under the radar, especially outside of some mentions of Sydney and Melbourne.
We have come across recipes calling for something called “Maggi” or “Maggi Seasoning” in Latin American, Asian and European recipes alike, and it had always wondered about this mystery ingredient. So what IS Maggi?! Turns out Maggi seasoning is a thin, salty and savory sauce somewhat like soy sauce. Also like soy sauce, the role of Maggi is to give a savory umami kick to any dish. We were incredibly interested to learn that Maggi was originally a Swiss product, and was created in 1872. Maggi is now a huge international brand name which was bought in the 1940s by Nestle, and hosts a ton of other products like bouillon cubes, ramen and sauces under its banner. However, the most famous Maggi product is probably still the seasoning sauce, Maggi-Würze. You can find Maggi in a diverse array of stores given its international popularity and we have seen it in German, Chinese, Mexican and Russian food stores (the formulations may also vary by country). So what do you do with Maggi? How about make a quick Vietnamese steak, Indian-style noodles, Malaysian black pepper chicken or a Mexican michelada.
We first learned of the Post Office’s celebrity chef stamps at Chicago Gourmet this year, where you could pick up a postcard with one of the stamps and fill in your favorite dish by the chef. The chefs featured in the stamp series are: James Beard, Julia Child, Joyce Chen, Edna Lewis, and Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, who are profiled in the LA Times. At Chicago Gourmet people, posted a range of dishes inspired by each chef, and I had to give a nod to Southern chef Edna Lewis’ Shrimp and Grits. The post office also recently featured a Farmer’s Market stamp series, and we certainly appreciate the foodie turn of our recent letters.
I recently stumbled across the James Beard Award-winning Perennial Plate, an excellent blog and video series which is self-described as “dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating.” Though the series started in Minnesota, they have now gone worldwide and feature videos about food and food culture from around the world: Japan to Ethiopia and beyond. Check out all of the Perennial Plate videos on Vimeo. It is hard to pick out just one to highlight! To keep with the theme of winnowing down, below is a video that is “Two weeks in Morocco boiled down to three minutes.” Having spent a little time in Morocco, this certainly captures the feeling of sensory overload. I’m definitely going to be catching up on this backlog of videos ASAP!
[Via Metafilter] We recently came across an absolutely fascinating video depicting a master fake food maker in Japan. That’s right, FAKE food, known in Japanese as sampuru, which is derived from the English word “sample.” In many restaurants in Japan, as well as Japanese restaurants abroad, enticing fake food is put on display to give potential customers an idea of what they will get. Creating the food itself is an art, and sometimes it’s even a little hard to tell real from fake.
Scouring the farmer’s markets for seasonal fruits and veggies is always fun, and assures the freshest and best ingredients. Naturally, this seasonal approach is even applicable to pie. The Modern Farmer has a visual guide for a seasonal pie for every month, even those months where produce may seem like a distant memory (think chocolate for February, like the chocolate chess pie below from Hoosier Mama below). October is apple season, so it’s time for a trip to the orchard for pie supplies.
Hoosier Mama Chocolate Chess Pie
During the World Cup this summer we talked a little about 538’s International Food Association World Cup for the best national cuisine (the winner was Italy, by the way). This time around, the data-hungry minds at 538 have turned their analysis to the best burrito in America. In some ways this seemed like a potentially even more daunting task, given the vast regional differences and preferences for burritos. However, 538 was able to develop a shortlist of 64 finalists, and burrito tester Anna Maria Barry-Jester actually went from coast to coast (and Hawaii) tasting the burritos first-hand. The burritos were ranked on five parameters – Tortilla, Principal filling, Other ingredients, Appearance and Flavor profile – each out of 20, for a best possible score of 100. The results are in, and 538 has selected a winner of the coveted “best burrito” honor: La Taqueria in the Mission district of San Francisco. This was a pretty rigorous study and I commend 538’s thoroughness, for the sports/rankings geeks, check out the bracket view. Do you agree with the results?
Filed under Links, Reviews
You know how fond we are of dessert at ETW. Further fueling our post-lunch dessert cravings, Slate wrote a blog post picking one emblematic dessert for each state in the USA. Illinois’ chosen dessert is the Brownie, which was invented in Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair, purportedly at the request of society magnate Bertha Palmer, who wanted a portable cake-like treat. What do you think of the dessert assigned to your state (if you are in the US)? Do you agree?
Brownie A la Mode (In Brazil!)
We write a lot about food on this blog, but we don’t often touch on the design experience related to dining. When it comes down to it – there is a lot of design involved in every step of the eating experience – from the restaurant/kitchen, the table setting, right down to the shape of a teacup. Fast Company has an interesting piece by John Brownlee about what role design plays in the Turkish tea experience in particular.
One of the things we are looking forward to most in London is the vast variety of British cheeses (and nice cheese shops). The video below is from Neal’s Yard Dairy, one of England’s foremost artisinal cheese shops, which specializes in local cheeses from all around the British Isles. We can’t wait to visit! In this short video below, we get to visit some local producers making St. James, Tymsboro and Montgomery Cheddar cheeses. What are some of your favorite British cheeses to recommend?
Filed under Cheese, Links
We are extremely intrigued to learn about Suppli, a Roman fried rice ball that is a cousin of the Sicilian arancini. Suppli traditionally have a cheese filling (MOST traditionally with chicken giblets), while arancini have a filling of meat ragu and peas. Of course the fillings of each can vary wildly depending on the creativity of the chef. Overall, arancini tend to be bigger (sometimes even baseball sized) while suppli are smaller. Both suppli and arancini were traditionally found in fried snack shops, but now are popular antipasti at pizzerias and other casual restaurants. We are dumbfounded that we did not have any suppli while in Rome (we need to correct that error ASAP). In any case, we think the US needs some more fried rice treats, whether suppli or arancini.
We wrote a little bit earlier about 538 Blog’s International Food Association World Cup, where users could vote for their favorite national cuisines. While the World Cup of Futebol has been over for a while, the Food Cup just ended. The four teams making it into the semi-finals were Italy, USA, Thailand and Mexico, which seems like a pretty solid match-up. The final round was between the USA and Italy, and Italy eventually prevailed. Not too surprised with the result – who doesn’t love Italian food?
Italian Pastries – just one of the country’s many culinary delights
We love our mofongo, and we are grateful that Chicago has a bunch of great Puerto Rican restaurants. Despite its deliciousness, Puerto Rican cooking flies a bit under the radar in the US. However, we have grown to love it and are looking for a good basic cookbook. Apparently much like Joy of Cooking for the US, Puerto Rico has an iconic tome, Cocina Criolla, by Carmen Valldejuli that has pretty much every recipe you need to know. This Puerto Rican classic has inspired journalist Von Diaz to get in touch with the soul of Puerto Rican cuisine by cooking her way through it, a la Julie and Julia.