My favorite is probably catfish on a stick, which sounds like a really easy way to eat it actually. Or the giant corn dog that looks suspiciously like a dong due to some incidental shading from the method the consumer used to apply the catsup. Most of these are completely ridiculous. Why would I dump a ball of spaghetti in some batter, fry it up in a ball and stick on a stick? Everyone knows I eat my spaghetti out of a cup.
Current Taco Standings August 28, 2008
1. Valarie’s Potato Taco
2. Las Brasas’ Chicharron Taco
3. Juanito’s Carne Asada
4. Juanito’s Al Pastor
5. Las Brasas’ Carne Asada
Sorry Pico De Gallo, you were bumped, no hard feelings but you’ve joined the ranks of the other tacos at Las Brasas, Juanito’s and Martin’s Chicken Mole
Things just got interesting folks. Cal, Henry and I went to Las Brasas last week and each received a culinary reach around. I’ll add a full review after I go back this weekend but right now I just want to talk tacos. I had a carne asada, adobado (a kind of al pastor-ish pork), cabeza and a chicharron taco. The adobado and cabeza were good, nothing too special, but the carne asada and the chicharron blew me away. The carne asada was grilled on a mesquite grill then chopped and tucked into a fresh flour tortilla. It was gristleless, tender, and cooked to what, yes, perfection. If it were socially acceptable to drape their carne asada around my neck like a lei, I’d wear it to your next Hawaiian themed party. Believe that. However, the chicharron taco was unlike anything I’d ever eaten stuffed inside a flour tortilla. It was perfect semi-fatty, crispy pieces of pork charred and loved like a grandchild. I could’ve eaten fourteen of them. The only previous experience with a chicharron taco was at El Sur and I know now they were decidedly sub standard, those tacos were hard ropey pieces of fatty pork. These tacos were transcendent. I’m serious, if I had the choice of going back in time and meeting someone totally awesome like Paul Robeson or Tesla or eating only one of these tacos for the rest of my life, I’d go taco.
That doesn’t mean they supplant Valarie’s potato tacos though, I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t eat one of those ever again. Part of their appeal is that they’re only available on Valarie’s whim. Which I suppose is really just clever marketing on her part.
Food In The News: I wish I had as much time on my hands is these girls, oh, wait, I mean as much money. August 26, 2008
DNA testing uncovers suspect sushi
- Story Highlights
- Two teenage girls decided to test 60 samples of seafood
- They used a genetic fingerprinting technique to see if the fish were labeled correctly
- Samples were collected from four restaurants and 10 grocery stores
- The results showed 25 percent of the girls’ samples were mislabeled
NEW YORK (CNN) — Two teenage girls used DNA bar coding to determine that some sushi on New York dinner plates was mislabeled with cheaper fish being passed off as a more expensive species.
Results show that half of the restaurants and six of 10 grocery stores sold items that were mislabeled.
Kate Stoeckle and Louisa Strauss were not science majors or even college students when they decided to take 60 samples of seafood and use a genetic fingerprinting technique to see whether the fish were labeled correctly.
The graduates of Manhattan’s Trinity School in New York were inspired by Kate Stoeckle’s father, Mark, a scientist and proponent of the use of DNA bar coding, a technique that greatly simplifies the process of identifying a species.
“Growing up, bar coding was dinner conversation, so I was familiar with it,” Stoeckle said. “And then one night, while out to dinner, I asked, could we barcode sushi? Louisa and I love sushi, and we thought, why not apply the bar coding technology to see what food we’re eating?”
After collecting samples from four restaurants and 10 grocery stores, spending about $300, the teens sent them to the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, where the Barcode of Life project began and where a graduate student had agreed to conduct the genetic analysis.
The girls’ samples were compared with the global library of 30,562 bar codes representing nearly 5,500 fish species.
According to Mark Stoeckle, DNA is extracted chemically. The bar code gene, a chemical code, is amplified in a process called Polymerase Chain Reaction.
A machine examines the DNA sequences called bases, which are a series of letters, A, G, C and T, and then digitally matches them with a library of DNA bar codes or other series of letters. The bar code itself is very long, with 648 letters.
The results showed that 25 percent of the girls’ samples were mislabeled: half of the restaurant samples and six out of 10 grocery store samples.
In every case, less desirable or cheaper fish was substituted for its more expensive counterpart, Stoeckle said. She and her father would not divulge the names of vendors, citing a fear of lawsuits.
“It’s not the fishermen, and it might not even be the restaurants,” she said. “Most likely, the mislabeling is occurring somewhere at the distribution level.”
For example, fish sold as white tuna turned out to be cheaper Mozambique tilapia, flying roe fish was replaced with smelt, and red snapper was mislabeled as Atlantic cod and Acadian redfish, an endangered species.
“They are the first to do it,” Mark Stoeckle said of the girls. “It’s like ‘CSI’ for fish.”
He said the process could become as common as GPS.
“Many people are working on miniaturizing it, bring the cost down and the speed to process up,” he said.
“Sequencing is a chemical process. There is no reason why we can’t check the food on our plate [and] send the signal out to a database electronically. GPS used to be as big as refrigerators and only used by the government. Now it’s a common application in a phone.”
The students worked under Jesse H. Asusubel of Rockefeller University, a champion of DNA bar coding.
They say the project wasn’t work. “It didn’t feel like a chore. It wasn’t time-consuming at all,” Stoeckle said. “I’m hoping to get more public interest so it can become cheaper and more common.”
Asked whether she’s less inclined to eat sushi, she said, “I’ve eaten it, like, 50 times since, so I don’t think so.”
Food In The News: Subway Drops the Hammer August 23, 2008
Subway serves, arguably, the worst sandwiches readily available to the public on a daily basis. Perhaps a case could be made for Mr. Goodcents being the worst, but let’s be honest, the sheer volume of mediocre bullshit coming out of Subway Sandwich shops is astounding. My initial favorite part of this “news” story was when Peterson said that he’s not going, “to pay 12 dollars for ten dollar sandwiches.” Really? I think you actually just paid 12 dollars for a couple of two dollar sandwiches. But then my favorite part turned out to be the reporter doing the take as he walks out of the Subway door and tries to act really incredulous about Peterson calling a second and third time to 9-1-1. He really can’t pull it off. He should have saved some of that incredulity for his hair stylist, I mean, look at that terrible wig he’s wearing.
Viro’s Italian Bakery August 22, 2008
Jessica and Noel invited me to Viro’s Italian Bakery for dinner on Thursday. I had no idea where or what it was but I was intrigued anyway. It’s located at 22nd and Sarnoff or as it’s also known, Bum Fuck Egypt the east side. I have nothing against east side of town specifically but something about it just doesn’t feel right, like it’s in another town. It’s rare that I get over that far east unless I’m looking in vain for farmer’s market that I’m starting to think doesn’t exist. Jessica has a pretty good eye, or is it ear, for finding the east side’s hidden gems so Cal and I packed some provisions and loaded up the car.
Turns out Viro’s is a bakery (no shit) that also serves panini sandwiches, subs and a few hot pasta dishes. Thursday night is spaghetti and meatballs night but since I’m still sort of reeling from the all you can eat extravaganza that is The Elbow Room I opted for the panino vesuvio: Hot sopressata, hot cappocolla, hot cappy, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, red peppers and Viro’s house dressing. They offer the option of having it pressed on the panini press, which I highly recommend. I also got the pasta salad on the side for an extra fifty cents.
The sandwich was fantastic. There perfect quantities of all the fillings, no one out shined the others. The three different meats, which aren’t all that different to begin with, melded well with the cheese and the vegetables were all fresh and crisp. The pasta salad didn’t fare quite as well, though I’m not going to hold that against them, anything held all day in a little plastic cup is going to lose some of its integrity. The meal also came with a chocolate chip cookie which Jessica thought contained just a hint of butterscotch. It was a good finish.
Cal got the pork cutlet sandwich and an order of mozzarella stix (their spelling). I know he fucking loved his sandwich since he basically shut down and quit talking. I think I saw him give it a little kiss, a little fondling, whispered in its ear a little.
The mozzarella stix were a thing to behold. They were perfectly breaded with a real light batter. They broke apart and the gooey cheese extended from mouth to hand. These are, I’m not shitting you in any shape or form, the best mozzarella sticks ever created. I’m serious, these mozzarella sitx deserve a creation myth.
Noel got a chicken parmigiano sub that looked to be just as tasty as everything else. He declared it a full success. Jessica had a panino prosciutto without some veggies I’m sure, which she seemed to enjoy. They were enamored with the mozzarella stix as well. After we finished we all went to browse the desert case. Viro’s has an extensive pastry offering serving everything from cannolis to black and white cookies. I had one of the aforementioned cookies as well as a little tart shaped like a pie.
The pie shaped tart was delicious, every bit as delectable as it was adorable. The black and white cookie was a little spongy and not something I’d get from Viro’s again. Cal got a cannoli. While everyone was decided Cal kept reminding us that he was, “getting his cannoli filled.” Good one, dude. He originally was going to get it to go but then took one look and had to eat it immediately.
Noel got one of the biggest pieces of German chocolate cake I’ve ever seen. He put in a good six or seven minutes of work and only got a quarter of the way through. I think he may have passed out in the middle. Jessica got a mini eclair and a mini cream puff.
The interior of Viro’s is pretty nondescript, they sell a few Italian canned items and offer a deli featuring Boar’s Head meats (who cares). Viro’s is the first east side restaurant that I’d return to for deserts or sandwiches. They also advertised a Friday fish fry and a Sunday breakfast buffet which looked possibly the best breakfast in all of town (sorry giant Bobo’s pancake). I give Viro’s 8.5 mozzarella stixx (the extra x is for extra ass kicking).
Study: Organic food not more nutritional
- Story Highlights
- New study finds organic foods are not necessarily more nutritious
- The organics market in U.S. to exceed $25 billion in sales this year
- Organic farming is becoming more popular in countries like India
London (CNN) — If you’ve ever found yourself in your local supermarket agonizing about whether the organic apples will be a more nutritional and greener choice than the cheaper non-organic ones, you’re probably not alone.
A new study reveals organic foods are not necessarily healthier than non-organic food
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It’s a similar story in the U.S. where — according to the Organic Trade Association — supermarket chains like Whole Foods have helped the organic food and beverage market grow from around $1 billion in sales in 1990 to around $20 billion in 2007. Total sales for organic food and non-food products in the U.S. are expected to surpass $25 billion this year.
However, one possible spanner in the works for the organic sector could be the results of a new study by the University of Copenhagen which revealed that organic foods contained no more nutrients than non-organic foods grown with the use of pesticides.
Researchers studied five different crops — carrots, kale, mature peas, apples and potatoes — which were cultivated both organically (without pesticides) and conventionally (with the use of pesticides) and found that there was no higher level of trace elements in the food grown organically.
Study leader Dr Susanne Bügel said: “No systematic differences between cultivation systems representing organic and conventional production methods were found across the five crops so the study does not support the belief that organically grown foodstuffs generally contain more major and trace elements than conventionally grown foodstuffs.”
This study — published in the latest edition of the Society of Chemical Industry’s (SCI) “Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture” — is the first to assess the nutritional value of organic fruit and vegetables. It should be noted that the study does not make conclusions about the comparative levels of pesticides or chemicals in conventionally and organically grown food or the health effects of consuming such chemicals.
The study results could be seen to support the idea that shopping organically is a lifestyle choice.
When the idea of organics being a lifestyle choice was floated in 2007 by then UK environment secretary David Miliband it drew fierce reaction from proponents of organic food, including the Soil Association, which represents organic producers.
He told the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper in January 2007 that organic food represented a lifestyle choice consumers could make and suggested that the use of chemicals and pesticides in non-organic foods didn’t necessarily mean they were of inferior quality.
So if organic foods aren’t necessarily more nutritional, are they better for the environment?
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, traditional agriculture accounts for around 11 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions each year, and the nitrous oxide found in fertilizers contributes most to these emissions.
Even still, in 2006 the UK’s Manchester Business School assessed the environmental impacts of food production and consumption and concluded that there isn’t a clear cut answer to whether the environmental impact is greater on a trolley full of organic food compared to a trolley full of non-organic food.
Not so, was the response from the Soil Association. It countered that: “Overall, organic farming is better for tackling climate change than industrial agricultural methods. As well as lower average energy use, organic farming also avoids the very large nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer manufacture.”
“Additionally, organic farming builds up soil carbon, removing it from the atmosphere. Organic farming also supports more local food marketing, reducing food miles.”
While the jury might still be out about whether organic farming is, on the whole, better for the environment, there is little doubt that it’s a booming industry which is starting to catch on in other parts of the world.
The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that organic farming now accounts for around 4.1 million hectares in Asian countries like India, China and Russia.
In India where the Green Revolution in the 1940s helped transform it into an agricultural hub, organic farming is slowly expanding in specialist areas like tea and spices. Perhaps an indication of the potential of the organics market there is that the Prince of Wales is looking to expand his organic food business to the sub-continent by the end of 2008.
With a mandate of sustainability, The Energy and Research Institute (TERI) in India developed an organic farm in the small village of Supi in Uttarakhand in 2002. Here, local farmers are given the know-how and technical skills to develop their own organic enterprises.
“Local farmers are involved in cultivating oregano, parsley, thyme, peppermint, rosemary, rose geranium, artimisia, stevia, lemon grass, and several other herbal and medicinal plants,” TERI’s Madhu Singh Sirohi told CNN.
The herbs are commercially available to hotels and restaurants in the area and Hilton Hotel executive chef Kuntal Kumar was so impressed with the quality, he’s authored an organic cookbook which makes use of the herbs.
Chef Kumar told CNN that organic fruit and vegetables only make up around 14,000 tons of the two million tons of food produced by India’s agricultural industry, but that measures like the “Original Organics Cookbook” would help with wider awareness.
“Our approach is two pronged; firstly we are trying to build awareness about organic farming which is in its infancy in India and secondly we are trying to build awareness within the culinary industry in India.”
Kumar is sold on the superior taste, color and texture of the organic foods he uses in his kitchen, and he says the response from diners has been overwhelming.
“The response has been very positive; they are overwhelmed that we are going so close to nature and that their food is fresh from the farmland to the table.”
With increased consumer awareness perhaps it won’t be long before the choice between the organic and non-organic apples will be played out in markets across India.