Do you want to know what’s happening in the food world? Check out the links below for this week’s latest.

Chef Stories

‘Cake Boss’ shows off his bakeryThe Washington Post

Super Chefs Keep Opening RestaurantsSuper Chef

Women Chefs Put Food, Not Minority Status on MenuReuters

Restaurant Stories

The Golden Rules for a Perfect RestaurantThe London Times

Top 10 Restaurant Design Trends That Need to GoEater

Trendy Restaurant Apologizes for Serving Whale MeatCNN

Food Stories

A Taco-Tasting Tour of Mexico CityThe Financial Times

How to Eat like a ParisianThe Chicago Tribune

Venezuelan Ice Cream Parlos Has 860 FlavorsBBC News

Wine and Spirits Stories

Grapevine Moth Forces Quarantine in NapaThe New York Times

Restaurant Wine Ordering No-No’sThe Chicago Tribune

Ten Spots to Tip Your Glass in NYCThe Globe and Mail

Posted by on March 19th, 2010

If you’re hungry, this may not be the best time to look at food photos, but then how can you resist?

Peking Duck from A La Shanghai Chinese Cuisine in Latham, NY

Governor’s Chicken from Joy Yee’s Noodle Shop in Chicago, Il

Bacon Wrapped Scallops from Daniel’s Broiler from Bellevue, WA

Grilled Leek & Sheep’s Feta Tart from Saffron Restaurant & Lounge in Minneapolis, MN

Penang Curry from Grandma Thai Curry in Kent, WA

Posted by on March 18th, 2010

Feijoada is a stew of beans with beef and pork and is considered by Brazil as their national dish.  It’s a recipe that was originally brought to South America by the Portuguese, based on recipes from the Portuguese regions of Beira, Estremadura, and Trás-os-Montes.

Portuguese Feijoada

The basic ingredients of Portuguese feijoada are beans and fresh pork or beef meat. In northwest Portugal (chiefly Minho and Douro Litoral), it is usually made with white beans; in the northeast (Trás-os-Montes), it is generally prepared with red (kidney) beans, and includes other vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage. The stew is best prepared over low heat in a thick clay pot.

Portuguese feijoada is usually served with rice and assorted sausages, such as chouriço, morcela (a blood sausage), farinheira, and others, which may or may not be cooked in the stew.

Brazilian Feijoada

Recipe

The Brazilian feijoada is prepared with black turtle beans, with a variety of salted pork and beef products, such as salted pork trimmings (ears, tail, feet), bacon, smoked pork ribs, at least two types of smoked sausage and jerked beef (loin and tongue).

This stew is best prepared over slow fire in a thick clay pot. The final dish has the beans and meat pieces barely covered by a dark purplish-brown broth. The taste is strong, moderately salty but not spicy, dominated by the flavors of black bean and meat stew.

Side Dishes

In Brazil, feijoada is traditionally served with rice, and accompanied by chopped fried collard greens (couve mineira), lightly roasted coarse cassava flour (farofa) and peeled and sliced orange. Other common side dishes are boiled or deep-fried cassava, deep-fried bananas, and pork rinds (torresmo). A pot of hot pepper sauce is often provided on the side. The meal is often washed down with cachaça, caipirinha, or beer.

Tradition

Since it is a rather heavy dish that takes several hours to cook, feijoada is consumed in Brazil only occasionally, always at lunch time. Traditionally, restaurants will offer it as the “daily’s special” only once or twice a week, usually on Wednesdays, Saturdays, or sometimes on Sundays. (As a traditional holdover from old Catholic dietary restrictions, the Friday’s special dish is more likely to be fish.) However, some restaurants will serve feijoada all week long.

History

A popular myth states that the Brazilian feijoada was a “luxury” dish of African slaves on Brazilian colonial farms (engenhos), as it was prepared with relatively cheap ingredients (beans, rice, collard greens, farofa) and leftovers from salted pork and meat production. Over time, it first became a popular dish among lower classes, and finally the “national dish” of Brazil, offered even by the finest restaurants.

However, historians like Luís da Câmara Cascudo consider that feijoada is a Brazilian version of stews from Southern European countries like France (cassoulet), Spain, Italy and, of course, Portugal. Traditional Portuguese bean-and-pork dishes (cozidos) like those from the regions of Estremadura and Trás-os-Montes are the ancestors of Brazilian feijoada. The earliest printed references to the dish appeared in the mid-19th century, based on menus of upper-class, urban restaurants.[2]

Other Recipes

Other former territories of the Portuguese Empire still retain the feijoada as a major typical dish of their respective cuisines. Angolan and São Tomean feijoadas add palm oil for flavouring.

If you’re looking to try Feijoada for yourself, here are a few restaurants you could check out.

Cypo Cafe
7438 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33141
(305) 865-3811

Delicias Brazil
2315 W Airport Fwy
Irving, TX 75062
(972) 255-3714

Ipanema Restaurant
13 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 730-5848

Rio Brasil Cafe
3300 Overland ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 558-3338

Taste of Brasil
906 S Oak Park Ave
Oak Park, IL 60304
(708) 383-3550

Reprinted from Wikipedia

Posted by on March 12th, 2010

These days, access to foods from all over the world is easier than ever, especially when it comes to exotic fruits. This series will introduce you to some of the world’s most interesting exotic fruits and how you may see it served either at a restaurant or at someone’s home. We’ll start with the Durian, known for its less than inviting smell. The durian is the fruit of several tree species belonging to the genus Durio and the Malvaceae family (although some taxonomists place Durio in a distinct family, Durionaceae).

Widely known and revered in southeast Asia as the “king of fruits”, the durian is distinctive for its large size, unique odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow as large as 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and it typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale yellow to red, depending on the species.

The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and offensive. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust. The odour has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia.

The durian, native to Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, has been known to the Western world for about 600 years. The 19th-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace famously described its flesh as “a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds”. The flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness, and it is used to flavour a wide variety of savoury and sweet edibles in Southeast Asian cuisines. The seeds can also be eaten when cooked.

According to Larousse Gastronomique, the durian fruit is ready to eat when its husk begins to crack. However, the ideal stage of ripeness to be enjoyed varies from region to region in Southeast Asia and by species. Some species grow so tall that they can only be collected once they have fallen to the ground, whereas most cultivars of Durian are nearly always cut from the tree and allowed to ripen while waiting to be sold. Some people in southern Thailand prefer their durians relatively young when the clusters of fruit within the shell are still crisp in texture and mild in flavour. In northern Thailand, the preference is for the fruit to be as soft and pungent in aroma as possible. In Malaysia and Singapore, most consumers prefer the fruit to be quite ripe and may even risk allowing the fruit to continue ripening after its husk has already cracked open. In this state, the flesh becomes richly creamy, slightly alcoholic, the aroma pronounced and the flavour highly complex.

The various preferences regarding ripeness among consumers make it hard to issue general statements about choosing a “good” durian. A durian that falls off the tree continues to ripen for two to four days, but after five or six days most would consider it overripe and unpalatable. The usual advice for a durian consumer choosing a whole fruit in the market is to examine the quality of the stem or stalk which loses moisture as it ages: a big, solid stem is a sign of freshness. Reportedly, unscrupulous merchants wrap, paint, or remove the stalks altogether. Another frequent piece of advice is to shake the fruit and listen for the sound of the seeds moving within, indicating the durian is very ripe and the pulp has dried out a bit.

Durian fruit is used to flavour a wide variety of sweet edibles such as traditional Malay candy, ice kacang, dodol, rose biscuits, and, with a touch of modern innovation, ice cream, milkshakes, mooncakes, Yule logs and cappuccino. Pulut Durian is glutinous rice steamed with coconut milk and served with ripened durian. In Sabah, red durian is fried with onions and chilli and served as a side dish. Red-fleshed durian is traditionally added to sayur, an Indonesian soup made from fresh water fish.

Ikan brengkes is fish cooked in a durian-based sauce, traditional in Sumatra. Tempoyak refers to fermented durian, usually made from lower quality durian that is unsuitable for direct consumption. Tempoyak can be eaten either cooked or uncooked, is normally eaten with rice, and can also be used for making curry. Sambal Tempoyak is a Sumatran dish made from the fermented durian fruit, coconut milk, and a collection of spicy ingredients known as sambal.

In Thailand, blocks of durian paste are sold in the markets, though much of the paste is adulterated with pumpkin. Unripe durians may be cooked as a vegetable, except in the Philippines, where all uses are sweet rather than savoury. Malaysians make both sugared and salted preserves from durian. When durian is minced with salt, onions and vinegar, it is called boder. The durian seeds, which are the size of chestnuts, can be eaten whether they are boiled, roasted or fried in coconut oil, with a texture that is similar to taro or yam, but stickier.

In Java, the seeds are sliced thin and cooked with sugar as a confection. Uncooked durian seeds are toxic due to cyclopropene fatty acids and should not be ingested. Young leaves and shoots of the durian are occasionally cooked as greens. Sometimes the ash of the burned rind is added to special cakes. The petals of durian flowers are eaten in the North Sumatra province of Indonesia, while in the Moluccas islands the husk of the durian fruit is used as fuel to smoke fish. The nectar and pollen of the durian flower that honeybees collect is an important honey source, but the characteristics of the honey are unknown.

As you can see, Durian is actually quite versatile in its culinary uses, so the next time you happen to dine at a Southeast Asian restaurant, ask for Durian.  If you manage to survive the smell, you may find yourself liking this very pungent fruit.

Reprint from Wikipedia

Posted by on March 8th, 2010

Even if you’re not Irish, you may still have the luck of the Irish and win $100.  All you have to do is write a review about a wonderful or not so wonderful dining experience and in the process, you could win some cash!   Three chances to win and if you’re top dog, you win a cool $100.  That’s a nice bit of change that can go towards some fun shopping.  Just put fingers to keyboard and tell us all about your dining experiences, from meal to ambiance to service.  We want to know it all.

Now there’s even more chances to win with both 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes that are available.   The criteria for winning entries will be on how helpful other Menuism’ers find your reviews to be.  So what makes a review helpful?  Check out a past Menuism article called 5 Tips Towards Writing a Great Review for some ideas or you can even  emulate some of our Featured Reviewers, who have done a fantastic job sharing their dining stories with all of us.

In the end, it’s all about quality, not quantity.  So how can you improve your chances? Things to do could include giving dish reviews and uploading pictures and when combined with your informative review, those will definitely get you those “helpful votes.”  You can even encourage friends to sign up to Menuism.com and vote for your reviews and even contribute some of their own.

Now it’s time to get out, dine out and than get your fingers a-typing.  With a total of $170.00 in prize money, think of what you can do with any part of those dollars  Enjoy a Sunday brunch.   Purchase a lovely bottle of wine.  Get that new kitchen gadget you’ve been eyeing. You won’t have a chance of winning, if you don’t even try, so let’s see what you got.

Menuism Restaurant Review Contest

How to Enter:

  • Dine out and than post your restaurant review to the Menuism website.  There are no limits to the number of reviews per month. No need to manually submit your reviews to the contest

Restaurant Review Criteria:

Announcement of Winner and Prize:

  • After the contest due date, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Winners will be  announced the first week of the following month.
  • PRIZES:
    • 1st: $100
    • 2nd: $50
    • 3rd: $20
    • Profile Badge for Each Winner!

Rules:

  • Reviews that are considered inappropriate, vulgar or lacking information will not be considered.
  • Winners who do not claim their prize within 7 days of the announcement of the winner will forfeit prize money, but not the award.

Ready to get started? Sign up for your free Menuism account and start writing reviews!

March is now here, so we’d definitely love to see all of your great quality reviews. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]

Posted by on March 1st, 2010

When it comes to champagne, it’s usually only broken out for a party or milestone, but food and drink is meant to be enjoyed whenever the mood hits.  So if you’re having a good day, why not uncork a bottle of champagne and celebrate.  Life is too short not to.  On that note, here are 10 Things to Know About Champagne.

True Blue 1: Wine can only be labeled “champagne” if it is made in the Champagne region of northeastern France.

Quick! Duck! A cork leaves the champagne bottle at a velocity of 38-40mph but can pop out as fast as 100 mph!

True Blue 2: To be called “champagne,” it must be made only from the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, or Chardonnay grapes which grow in the Champagne region.

Monk-ey Business: Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Hautvillers, is considered to have invented champagne. He allowed the carbon dioxide to build up in the fermentation process, thus creating bubbles.

True Blue 3: True “champagne”, as opposed to other sparkling wines has to have gotten its bubbles by undergoing the fermentation process twice: once in barrels and again in bottles. Champagne can be produced elsewhere, as long as credit it given to the “methode champenoise” on the label.

Caviar Dreams and Champagne Baths: The famous Marilyn Monroe is said to have taken a bath in bubbly. It took 350 bottles to fill the tub!

Designated Driver, Please? The world’s largest champagne glass, unveiled at a festival in Spoleto, Italy, stands nearly 7 feet tall, and can hold the equivalent of 22 regular bottles (558 ounces) of champagne. That’s a lot of bubbly!

Slow and Easy: According to Janis Lightner of the Miramonte Winery in Temecula, California, if you drink champagne too fast, you will swallow all the bubbles and they will go into your bloodstream too quickly – which for many of us results in a headache (or getting drunk way too fast). This can be avoided by taking small sips and letting the bubbles dissipate in your mouth before you swallow. Try it! You will prolong the enjoyment of your champagne, and you’ll feel much better tomorrow!

Under Pressure (Literally): The pressure in a bottle of champagne is 90 pounds per square inch about three times that in an automobile tire.

It’s All About the Cup Size: Legend has it that the champagne “coupe” (a shallow, broad-rimmed goblet) was modeled in the shape of Marie Antoinette’s breast, using wax moulds.

Posted by on February 19th, 2010

Sometimes in my reading foodie stuff, whether through a book or online or a magazine, I come across some quirky food words that make you scratch your head as to what the heck they are, until the definition helps shed some light.  See what I mean below.

apee: Dating back to the 1800s, this soft, sour cream-based sugar cookie takes its name from the initials of its creator, Philadelphia cook, Ann Page.

callaloo 1. the edible young green leaves of a plant (as taro or a member of the genus Xanthosoma) of the arum family used as greens  2. a soup or stew made with greens, onions, and crabmeat or pork

oenophile: a lover or connoisseur of wine

pandowdy: a deep-dish spiced apple dessert sweetened with sugar, molasses, or maple syrup and covered with a rich crust

salmagundi: a salad plate of chopped meats, anchovies, eggs, and vegetables arranged in rows for contrast and dressed with a salad dressing

tomalley: the liver of the lobster

Posted by on February 18th, 2010

When it comes to food or drink, it’s always fun to educate yourself and pick up some culinary knowledge when you can.  Although not much of a wine drinker, I recently went to a Wine 101 Class and picked up some information from a knowledgeable presenter that I’d love to share with you.

Tasting Techniques

When it comes to sampling your wines, it’s a two part process:

  • Swirl and Sniff:  The swirling of the wine in the glass causes evaporation and concentrates the aroma so that you can really get a sense of what the wine smells like.
  • Take a Slurp: Slurping involves  taking a sip and holding the wine on your tongue and breathing in. By breathing in, it agitates, aerates and accelerates the evaporation which allows you to better appraise the acidity, alcohol, sweetness and texture of the wine.

Evaluating the Wines

  • Sight: Hold the wine glass against a white background and make sure the wine is clear and brilliant and not dull, hazy or murky.
  • Smell: Use your nose to check on the aroma of the grape and to ensure that what you smell is actually intrinsic to the grape itself. Does the wine smell fresh and properly fermented? You’re also sniffing for depth and complexity. Can you smell hints of cherry or chocolate?
  • Taste: Does the wine feel smooth, velvety or round on your tongue? What’s the level of astringency coming from the tannins? When it comes to your palate, sweet is detected at the tip of your tongue, acidity on the sides of your tongue, saltiness at the upper front of your tongue and bitterness towards the back of your tongue.

Info About the Grapes

  • There are some 24,000 names for varieites of wine grapes
  • There are 5,000 truly different varieities
  • Only 150 are planted in commercially significant amounts
  • There are only 9 grapes that are considered to be classic.

Those 9 grapes are follows: White Grapes (Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon) and Red Grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah). Other grapes that are also gaining importance include White Grapes like Gewurztraminer, Muscat and Pinot Blanc and Red Grapes like Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Tempranillo.

Fermentation of the Wine

Simply, it’s a natural process where yeasts convert natural sugars to alcohol (which stays in the wine) and carbon dioxide (which dissipates).

  • With white wines, the juice is separated from the skin and seeds after crushing
  • With red wines, the entire grape is used because the skin adds both color and tannins.
  • With  rose and blush wines, the skins are used for a short time to add color and then removed. After fermentation, the wine is put in either wood barrels or steel barrels to age.

To read about the whole process, click this Wikipedia link.

To end, here are the final take aways I got:

  • Dry wines have no sugar
  • Wines that are aged in oak barrels will pick up flavors from the barrel itself
  • The oak for the barrels come from trees between 100 to 150 years old
  • Right now, the running cost of a French oak barrel is around $1000 while an American one is around $300
  • Wines that are aged in steel barrels will have the flavors intrinsic to the grape itself
  • Barrels are used up to 2 to 3 vintages (up to 10 years depending on the wine)
  • Whites are usually aged for 8 to 10 months while Red are aged from 10 months to 2 years or longer.
  • White wines should be stored in 40-50 degree temperature.
  • Red wines should be stored in 60-65 degree temperatures. If it’s too cold, it’ll taste bitter.

Overall, it was a fun and informative class and if there happens to be a Wine Class or any other kind of class about food, you should check it and who knows what wonderful tid bits of information you could learn for yourself.

Posted by on February 7th, 2010

Cemitas Party at Cemitas y Clayudas Pal Cabron

Awhile back, we learned about the Mexican sandwich known as the Torta, but just as popular is the Cemita.  Also known as a Cemita Poblana, this sandwich is usually street food and originated from the city of Puebla.  What differentiates the cemita from the torta is the bread. The torta has its influence from the French baguette while the bread for the cemita is a sesame-seeded egg roll.

When it comes to the ingredients for the cemita, they are usually restricted to sliced avocado, some type of meat, a white cheese, onions and chipotle sauce.  The cheese is often a panela, which is similar to a fresh mozzarella, but at times quesillo, a Mexican string cheese, is also used.

The most popular meat in a cemita is beef milanesa, a thinly pounded and deep-fried piece of beef. Cueritos (pickled pig skin), queso de puerco (pork head cheese), and carnitas (stewed pork) are also well-known ingredients you’ll see in a cemita.  Like most foods, there are regional variations. For example, the Michoacán version of a cemita uses a smooth bread, without sesame seeds, and isn’t eaten as a sandwich. Instead, it’s served with milk or atole.

Now that you’ve learned a little more about the cemita, it’s time to try one for yourself.  Check below for some restaurants to check out.

Cafe Ollin
339 East 108th St
New York, NY 10029
(212) 828-3644

Cemitas Poblanas
805 S 112th St
Seattle, WA 98168
(206) 241-3899

Cemitas Puebla
3619 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 772-8435

Cemitas y Clayudas Pal Cabron
2560 E Gage Ave
Huntington Park, CA 90255
(323) 277-9899

Dorado Tacos & Cemitas
401 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 566-2100

Posted by on February 5th, 2010

February is Happy Heart Month, so why not show how much you heart some of your favorite restaurant by typing their praises?  Or perhaps, you’re not feeling the love a restaurant or two.  In either case, share your experiences with Menuism readers and in the process, you may win some cash!  After all, how often do you have the chance to make some money just by writing about your fun and maybe, not so fun restaurant outings?  Three chances to win and if you’re top dog, you win a cool $100.  That’s a nice bit of change that can go towards some fun shopping.  Just put fingers to keyboard and tell us all about your dining experiences, from meal to ambiance to service.  We want to know it all.

Now there’s even more chances to win with both 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes that are available.   The criteria for winning entries will be on how helpful other Menuism’ers find your reviews to be.  So what makes a review helpful?  Check out a past Menuism article called 5 Tips Towards Writing a Great Review for some ideas or you can even  emulate some of our Featured Reviewers, who have done a fantastic job sharing their dining stories with all of us.

In the end, it’s all about quality, not quantity.  So how can you improve your chances? Things to do could include giving dish reviews and uploading pictures and when combined with your informative review, those will definitely get you those “helpful votes.”  You can even encourage friends to sign up to Menuism.com and vote for your reviews and even contribute some of their own.

Now it’s time to get out, dine out and than get your fingers a-typing.  With a total of $170.00 in prize money, think of what you can do with any part of those dollars  Enjoy a Sunday brunch.   Purchase a lovely bottle of wine.  Get that new kitchen gadget you’ve been eyeing. You won’t have a chance of winning, if you don’t even try, so let’s see what you got.

Menuism Restaurant Review Contest

How to Enter:

  • Dine out and than post your restaurant review to the Menuism website.  There are no limits to the number of reviews per month. No need to manually submit your reviews to the contest

Restaurant Review Criteria:

Announcement of Winner and Prize:

  • After the contest due date, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Winners will be  announced the first week of the following month.
  • PRIZES:
    • 1st: $100
    • 2nd: $50
    • 3rd: $20
    • Profile Badge for Each Winner!

Rules:

  • Reviews that are considered inappropriate, vulgar or lacking information will not be considered.
  • Winners who do not claim their prize within 7 days of the announcement of the winner will forfeit prize money, but not the award.

Ready to get started? Sign up for your free Menuism account and start writing reviews!

February is now here, so we’d definitely love to see all of your great quality reviews. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]

Posted by on February 4th, 2010

Dave Jensen

Dave Jensen
Craft Beer

David R. Chan

David R. Chan
Chinese Restaurant

Nevin Barich

Nevin Barich
Fast Food

Justin Chen

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Menuism Co-Founder

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John Li
Menuism Co-Founder

Kim Kohatsu

Kim Kohatsu
Managing Editor

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