Friday Faves No. 147

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

If you're going to watch a cooking show, it should be this funny: Patti LaBelle cooking show highlights: branzini is a “bougie fish” and "These are so good, honey, I could slap myself” about her crab cakes. The video after the link is well worth the three minutes. (Gawker)

As the number of golfers declines, a Chicago-area country club gets into the hyperlocal food game by raising their own veggies, chickens and honeybees — and they're starting a trend (Crains Chicago Business via Specialty Food)

The devil is always in the details! After 100 years, Alabama's first legally distilled whisky comes to market (AL.com)

Move over craft beer — it's time for single estate spirits. "These distilleries represent an emerging category that focuses on provenance, a concept traditionally associated with wine. 'We treat our potatoes in the same way winemakers treat their grapes, noting the aspects of each variety and the vintage,' says David Stirling, brand director at Arbikie Highland Estate. Historically, consumers didn’t really care about where their spirits came from, but the good food craze has prompted people to question the origins of these products.'" (Guardian)

How people not driving is good for business: Here's evidence that more of you are reaching for that second bottle of wine, thanks to Uber. (LA Times)

Friday Faves No. 126

our favorite finds from the front lines of food


A new way to wear your dinner (above). "Hatanaka, a Japanese manufacturer specializing in highly realistic plastic food replicas for restaurants, recently entered the fashion business with their line of food replica jewelry and accessories on their website." (Laughing Squid)

Further confusing consumables and wearables, a new fabric has been created using Harris Tweed that will permanently give off the smell of whisky. (BBC)

If your meal was good, but your server stinks, this restaurant in LA will let you tip just the cooks. (Food & Wine)

Budget Problems? Kentuckyand Elsewhere Find Answer in Bottle “'A key factor is the growing interest in American whiskey,” said Frank Coleman, a spokesman for the Distilled Spirits Council. 'Then obviously you have all these ancillary economic impacts,' he said, such as sales of bottles, corn used to make bourbon, and tourism." (New York Times)

Made in China, the boutique version. "The conventional wisdom—or cliché—is that China can reproduce Western manufacturing or technology overnight, but European artisanal culinary delicacies that have evolved over generations are all but impossible to replicate. And yet, even apart from wine, there are dozens of small producers in China who are now attempting to do just that, with surprising success. Truffles, burrata cheese, prosciutto, feta, Roquefort, baguettes, foie gras—almost every Western gourmet item has been tackled by Chinese entrepreneurs for a new audience of adventurous diners." (WSJ via Punch)

SciShow Explains the Chemistry Behind What Makes Spicy Things Taste ‘Hot’ and Minty Things Taste ‘Cool’  (via Laughing Squid)

To the theme of what's (really) old is new again: Mead  (Food & Wine)

Friday Faves No. 121

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Bug Power: Cricket Flour and power bars (above): "With Millennials particularly adventurous when it comes to food and the protein trend still on the upswing, these products have a decent chance of gaining traction." (JW Intelligence)

I'm not a chef, but I play one on TV: why stars are lining up to play chefs? Bradley Cooper is in London playing a chef in a movie that follows a spate of documentaries starring some of gastronomy’s most esteemed avatars  (Guardian) 

Go ahead and blame your parents: Scientists say DNA determines coffee consumption.  (PBS Newshour)

A new restaurant concept allows New Yorkers to sample the fare of talented chefs from all over the country. (New York Times)

Jancis Robinson Swears by Milk Thistle Supplements, Says Mexican Wine Is the Future (Food & Wine)

Is Scotch Whisky the new liquid gold? A rare whisky index is compiling data.  (Telgraph)

If you're trying to be the happiest place on Earth, a little bubbly never hurts. Disney get's its own branded Champagne. (Drinks Business)

Friday Faves No. 116

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Not just for extreme sports anymore, a GoPro camera films the poaching of an egg, above. (via Food Politic)

Five Ripple Effects from Russia's food ban. In Finland "Putin cheese" is flying off the shelves. (Modern Farmer)

Food politics go micro as Brittan rages over the Bakes Alaska Incident. Really, the only thing better than a baking smackdown is one that's televised, and then narrated by social media.  #GBBO (BuzzFeed)

Are Broccoli Stalks the Next Kale? If you're looking for tomorrow's hot ingredients—and today's top values—start with the compost bin. How different foods go from trash to treat to trite. On whether trends can have lasting impact: Of course, there is a limit to how long any ingredient can command the full glare of the spotlight. "Look at olive oil," Mr. Sax offered. "It probably peaked as a trend sometime in the late '90s, but extra-virgin olive oil is now the oil everyone has in the cupboard. The novelty has worn off, and it has become part of the culture." (Wall Street Journal)

Our default image of the new farmer should probably be a woman. The article 'Mother Nature’s Daughters' explores why almost everyone working in urban agriculture is female. (Seriously, almost everyone.) Some theorize that it's the lack of cash: “People don’t expect to be paid very much doing this work...It’s a labor of love to a certain extent. I don’t think we’ve come up with a hard and fast model to pay people exceedingly well for doing nonprofit urban-farming work.” (New York Times)

Glad someone is thinking seriously about how we're going to live in space: Ardbeg distillery anticipates zero gravity single malt's return to Earth to study the aging process. "This is one small step for man but one giant leap for whisky, and the team hope to uncover how flavours develop in different gravitational conditions - findings which could revolutionize the whisky-making process." (Guardian)

Back on Earth, diner chain Denny’s, staple of the American road trip, is opening its first restaurant in Manhattan, an "upscale" location featuring a $300 Champagne ‘Grand Slam’ (Laughing Squid)

Friday Faves No. 112

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

We don't need much of an excuse to see a movie about food, but Helen Mirren certainly seals the deal. She's staring in the upcoming feature (trailer above) The Hundred-Foot Journey, about a young Indian chef in the south of France and his neighbor/rival French restaurateur. (Tasting Table)

Poland takes the bite out of Russian apple ban Prominent Poles post tongue-in-cheek photos on social media to endorse campaign against Russian ban on fruit imports (Guardian)

Another item in the category "Food is Politics" — South Korean activists launch 'Choco Pie' balloons Choco Pies – banned as a capitalist symbol by North Korea after being traded at inflated prices – carried in balloons across border  (Guardian)

Chefs Move Beyond New York The phrase "only in New York" may no longer apply for many great culinary experiences. A new awareness and engagement with food in cities across the country has given chefs more options — and the rest of the country better food. "What has changed significantly is the audience that greets chefs elsewhere.” (New York Times)

Finding the difference that a grain makes to whisky: A project to determine the perfect grain of barley for distilling whisky could pave the way for barley ‘vineyards’, viewed in much the same way as the world’s wine regions. "This project will analyse which compounds in barley contribute to desirable flavours in whisky, many of which come from the grain." (Drinks Business)

Agriculture is always at the mercy of the elements, sometimes to the point of complete destruction. After years of horrible storms, Burgundy winemakers trial anti-hail nets (Decanter)

If you can't grow bigger, grow better and smarter. What's a producer to do with global competition when their traditional grounds are hitting their max, Champagne makers are wondering. ''We have to increase the quality and increase the technical gap between Champagne and other regions.''  (Good Food)

Friday Faves No. 111

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

The Whisky Bar has been turned into the Whisky Library in some US cities (as photo on right), with more an more bottles for the aficiando to try. '“The traditional business model for a bar, you don’t want to sit on inventory,” said Alan Davis, an owner of Multnomah. “Our business model is to have a massive inventory. We take the ‘library’ word very seriously.'” (New York Times)

We're not quite sure what to think and feel about this one, but the conversation (and probably many conversations) about meat must be had. Janice Tseng Lau imagines travelling abattoir to expose the reality of meat production (Dezeen)

See Every Food That’s Been Called The “New Cupcake” in the Last 8 Years There are some worth encouraging (macaron, pie, canelé) and some not so much. Yes, cake pops, we're talking about you. (First We Feast)

Your garden is watching you. On Point Radio looks at the new science of what plants feel, smell, see – and remember, and it even includes the color of your shirt when you're gardening. (On Point/NPR)

And another great food story from On Point this week, Why Americans Are Pie People PIE, SO MUCH PIE! Every kind of fruit, every kind of crust — bring it on. (On Point/NPR)

Friday Faves No. 109

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Peruvian donuts.png

Peruvian food (like the excellent doughnuts at right) is on the rise in Hong Kong "When Hong Kong does eventually catch up, it may come as a surprise just how much local and Japanese influence there is on that far away country's cuisine." (South China Morning Post)

Bring on the Haggis! Scotland to petition US to bring back haggis UK environment secretary to ask opposite number to end decades-old ban and import meat dish once again Maybe haggis should come with video instruction for the intimidated. (Guardian)

Ritz-Carlton Thailand is creating how-to, interactive cooking videos tutorials for guest to use in their home kitchens as a way to continue the guest experience and build brand loyalty.
 (Luxury Daily)

The big guys go small as some mega-retailers try out the small grocery store model  (Seafood Source)

A Museum Devoted to Roast Duck Opens in Beijing Discover the culinary history of roast duck through sculptures and imitation dinners at the newly-opened  (First We Feast)

Prince Charles wants to turn fisheries into investment opportunities New report from prince's sustainability unit says investment in fisheries could be an effective way of saving the world's oceans "It is now time to explore a new approach to investing in the transition, an approach which involves all types of financial capital – from philanthropic to public to private. Each can play an important role and through coordination and integration, different types of capital can work together to finance the transition to self- sustaining fishery systems.” (Guardian)

Baijiu is coming to America, but will the popular Chinese liquor go down smooth? Some people consider it a drink. Some people consider it a form of hazing. "Broadly speaking, Chinese baijiu is a type of super-strong booze distilled usually from sorghum, but other grains as well. It might be medicinal, or not." (The World /PRI)

Whisky, on the other hand, is so popular that fraud is costing the industry. Whisky detective hunts and exposes sham drams  “Water that falls in the Cairngorms is different from water that falls in the Lowlands, and water that falls in Islay is different to water that falls in Orkney. And we can measure the difference. We’ve mapped out the isotopic fingerprint of all the fresh water in Scotland – we call it the isoscape.” (Scotsman)


Friday Faves No. 106

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

We've got a lot o beverage stories this week. Hey, it's a summer Friday.

Now sophisticated pets can join happy hour with their own specially-blended beer for dogs and wine for cats. Pet cocktails (pet-tails?) are obviously next.  (Drinks Business)

Open Source Seeds: "Inspired by the open-source software movement, the Open Source Seed Initiative has quietly spent the last two years developing a cache of seeds that they released to the world at a launch event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May." Said Irwin Goldman, a University of Wisconsin researcher leading the initiative: “We decided to essentially create a national park for seeds, a protected commons. We feel there is a window of time. We need to do this now or else we won’t be able to do it.” (Fast Company)

San Francisco – and Sean Penn – show a city’s heritage bars are worth saving (Guardian)

San Francisco Bay Area folks can go drink some history with this list

Demand for (Very Expensive) Customizable Whisky on the Rise Diageo PLC, maker of Johnnie Walker, can create a customized blend of whisky tailored exclusively to your palate for $130,000, according to The Wall Street Journal. (Punch)

A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...“Edible escapism” is how Brits are getting themselves through the slow economic recovery.  (Anxiety Index)

This really isn't good for anyone: Global Hunger for Protein Fuels Food-Industry Deals. "The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has projected that by 2030 the average person will consume about 99 pounds of meat a year, versus 86 pounds in 2007 and 73 in 1991." (Wall Street Journal)

Friday Faves No. 104

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Kitchen table social history in old USSR: "This is how this subversive thought grew and expanded in the Soviet Union, beginning with free discussions at the kitchens."  (NPR)

France’s legendary House of Moët & Chandon has made its initial foray into India with the premiere release of Chandon India "Nashik’s diurnal temperature creates an ideal growing condition for Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc — wines perfectly suited for India’s hot weather and spicy foods." (Zester Daily)

We were particularly struck by this radio interview with James Beard Award winning chef Daniel Patterson. His thoughts on why food commands such dedication for those who work with it (despite how difficult it can be) spoke to us, as well as his thoughts on finding your voice in the kitchen. (Forum)

This week the world lost a remarkable voice as poet Maya Angelou dies at age 86. Many of us know her poetry on the page, but she was also a poet in the kitchen, as this tribute explores. "She took as much care with her cooking as with her writing. And to her they were similar exercises. You have to know the way a red pepper will act in hot oil, she said, as clearly as you know how a particular verb will behave in a sentence." (American Food Roots)

Weird Britain: Brave Daredevils Roll With the Cheese in Annual Cheese Rolling Race – Video (Anglotopia)

Coupe d’État: The Rise & Fall of the Champagne Flute What the evolution of Champagne's drinking vessel—from coupe to flute to wine glass—says, not only about how the wine has changed, but how we, the drinkers, have changed. (Punch)

Sorry guys, you can't have all the whisky. The Top 10 Women in Whisky (Drinks Business)

Friday Faves No. 92

atomic whiskey 01.png

We went into the history vaults for this week's image: Atomic Whiskey. "This whiskey of the future now" the label brags. "Aged 30 days by radiation...This is the world's first whiskey to be aged by atomic materials. It's 30 day process is equivalent to 40 years of standardized 19th century aging." Distilled in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (home of the Manhattan Project). I'd love to see the guys on Mad Men get this account.

French government endorses Burgundy vineyards, Champagne for UNESCO status "'We are different... 'It's not because we are French, it's because of our geology, our climate and centuries of knowledge.'" (Decanter)

A Degree in Beer, Wine, and Kombucha “When I tell people that I'm doing fermentation sciences, they're like, 'Oh, you're just drinking beer.'”  (Atlantic)

Artisan toast — now how much would you pay? The $4 slice of toast, a trend started in San Francisco, was probably due for some international mocking. "Is pricey toast a symbol of everything that's wrong with a trend-obsessed food culture? Or are well-made basics worth paying for?" We eat DIY artisan toast in our own kitchens all the time. And if a baker can get people with disposable cash to pay up... (Guardian)

The headline Bringing sexy (cabbage) back flashed in our inboxes this week. Talk about turning basics into hip food. Maybe it's time for trendy kale to take a seat. (Tasting Table)

Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 85

weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food

  • Singing the praises of masa, from pupusas (above, from a NYT slide show) to arepas and tortillas. "Without the tortilla, there is no taco. And, as the Mexican saying goes: Sin maíz, no hay país. Without corn, there is no country." (New York Times)
  •  An OpEd on how states can help Keep Farmland for Farmers by the founders of the National Young Farmers Coalition highlighted the difficulty faced by farmland turning into second homes for the wealthy. "Easements are intended to protect farmland, water, animal habitat, historic sites and scenic views, and so they are successful in keeping farms from becoming malls and subdivisions. But they don’t stop Wall Street bankers from turning them into private getaways, with price tags to match....one-quarter of the land trusts that oversee these conservation easements have seen protected land go out of production. Why? A nonfarmer had bought it." (New York Times)
  • In Scotland two of our favorite industries are joining together to turn the byproduct of whisky into salmon feed. “Distillery effluent can be damaging, but also contains potentially valuable nutrients and micronutrients. The waste can also be used to produce a microbial biomass which has the potential to be a cheap and sustainable source of protein-rich feed." (Food Magazine)
  • Marcella Hazan, teacher, cookbook author and guide to Italian cooking for scores of Americans, died this week at 89. Her New York Times obituary quoted her husband on her notoriously strident style: "'A lot of people had encounters with her because she knew in her mind, in her heart, exactly how things were supposed to be,” Mr. Hazan said on Sunday. “That is what made her cooking great. Marcella wasn’t easy, but she was true. She made no compromises with herself with her work or with her people.'” (New York Times)
  • Ever want a taste of that cake you're bringing to a party later but can't think of a way to cover up where you snuck a taste? Of course you do. The solution to that dilemma has been found in the Nibble, a cake pan with a tiny sidecar for sampling. (Laughing Squid)


Sing Along Snacks: John Barleycorn (Must Die)

 It's never too early or too late for a snack, so crank up that volume on your computer.

John Barleycorn is an old British folk song that tells the story of whisky making through the character of "John Barleycorn." Scottish poet Robert Burns published his own version of the ballad in 1782, and it's a story that writers and musicians can't stop coming back to.

Here Steve Winwood sings an acoustic version of Traffic's John Barleycorn (Must Die).

the lyrics:

There were three men came out of the west, their fortunes for to try
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn must die
They've plowed, they've sown, they've harrowed him in
Threw clods upon his head
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn was dead

They've let him lie for a very long time, 'til the rains from heaven did fall
And little Sir John sprung up his head and so amazed them all
They've let him stand 'til Midsummer's Day 'til he looked both pale and wan
And little Sir John's grown a long long beard and so become a man
They've hired men with their scythes so sharp to cut him off at the knee
They've rolled him and tied him by the way, serving him most barbarously
They've hired men with their sharp pitchforks who've pricked him to the heart
And the loader he has served him worse than that
For he's bound him to the cart

They've wheeled him around and around a field 'til they came onto a pond
And there they made a solemn oath on poor John Barleycorn
They've hired men with their crabtree sticks to cut him skin from bone
And the miller he has served him worse than that
For he's ground him between two stones

And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl and his brandy in the glass
And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl proved the strongest man at last
The huntsman he can't hunt the fox nor so loudly to blow his horn
And the tinker he can't mend kettle or pots without a little barleycorn

Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 59

weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food


  • International style reigns: The Liberation of Paris  Vibrant, young, adventurous, international chef shake it up (in glamorous slides from the New York Times).
  • View the other worldly Vanishing Spirits: The Dried Remains of Single Malt Scotch "'After first noticing the patterns left behind in his glass, Button began experimenting with other Scotch residues, shining different colored lights on them and photographing them up close. The results were strangely beautiful. 'A little celestial, or extraterrestrial, almost,' says Button."

Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 58

weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food 


  • Picking wine and other alcohol off a list is everywhere, but picking a particular breed of beef that way is news. Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland has started to offer a breed book for diners to choose their beef. "While this makes our job a little more complicated because we have to source from farmers from all over Scotland, having a weekly change of breed gives us a chance to be more flexible," said Mr Howie. "There are issues with low breed numbers for the likes of Galloway or Highland cattle so, in some instances, we will wait until the time is right, while larger herds such as Luing or Aberdeen Angus are more readily available."

Friday Faves — notes from the new gastroconomy, No. 52

weekly round-up of our favorite finds from the front lines of food


  • Do we really even need to explain what's wrong with the packaging above? Let's just say that a trip to the store this week pushed us a purse too far, and pulling together these examples was way too easy.
  • Whisky makers are taking notice of their largest untapped market, even in Scotland: women. Glasgow women say whisky is no drink for old men. "Long typecast as the definitive male tipple, whisky has a growing appeal for women enthusiasts and in Glasgow a new women's whisky club has been set up, to the delight of distillers." A message to distillers from a couple of whisky-loving women: don't get cute with us. Shoes and purses are lovely, but they do not belong in packaging for grownups. (For what not to do, see above.)