The Feed is my weekly round up of interesting food-related stories from newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites.
Washington Post: “Popcorn 2.0: How to up your home game,” by Bonnie S. Benwick.
Reading through replies of the Complete Pantry’s snack-themed #PantryChat on Twitter yesterday got me thinking about how popcorn makes a really great snack—my mom and I used to eat popcorn together a lot when I was a kid. We never put butter on it—just a little salt. Which is a great way to have it, except that there are lots of ways to flavor popcorn besides just butter that makes it interesting. Just in time to satisfy my curiosity, Benwick has this article on creative popcorn, which features D.C. popcorn food truck Stella*s Pop Kern and its operator Kristina Kern. The story includes five recipes from Kern and others, which all sound delicious, especially Kern’s Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn and Cheesy Popcorn Bread, a cornbread recipe that uses ground popcorn.
Eater New York: “Chefs, Restaurateurs, and Writers on VIP Treatment,” by Gabe Ulla.
Last week, The Feed covered New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells’ knocking Daniel down to three stars from four. This week, Eater New York interviews several chefs and a former Times food critic about the review and restaurant practices when they critics are in the room. The story also touches on how restaurants treat certain customers—friends, VIPs, regulars—differently than other guests, which is eye opening. I felt so sorry for the couple at Dirt Candy who were surrounded by friends of the restaurants who were getting all sorts of freebies and they were not. Seems like something the servers should have been aware of and rectified.
Wall Street Journal: “London's Cocktail Renaissance,” by Elizabeth Gunnison Dunn.
Pimm’s Cup is a classic English cocktail that the current renaissance of classic cocktails is unlikely to embrace. Overly sweet and overly garnished, it eschews current trends towards more balanced and bitter flavors, being comprised of the gin-based Pimm’s liqueur and lemon soda garnished with mint, cucumber and fruit. Dunn describes it as “Skittles dissolved in gin,” which isn’t very reassuring. Leave it to a group of London bartenders who are out to rescue Pimm’s Cup with modern twists on the old drink, including skipping the Pimm’s brand altogether in favor of house-made infusions, fresh juices and, yes, those popular bitter flavors, like aperitifs.
Bon Appetit: “The Vegetable Revolution,” by David Tamarkin.
No longer content to be a side to a meaty main, vegetables have really stepped out into the limelight lately. Tamarkin’s story, plus its informative sidebar, highlights many ways that vegetables are getting their due these days. He mentioned Eleven Madison Park’s carrot tartate, for example, which Chef Daniel Humm created as a vegetable alternative to steak tartare but ended up being a big hit (I wish the recipe would have been included).
Smithsonian Magazine: “Sorry, Wolfgang, Fusion Foods Have Been With Us for Centuries,” by Natasha Geiling.
When you hear “fusion” applied to cooking, it generally evokes trendy urban restaurants that serve things like Korean tacos or wasabi-spiked guacamole. Although a popular trend in recent years, Geiling recounts how the cross-cultural recipes actually have a long history. Pasta, for example, is a common example of how noodles—a Chinese invention—have been fused via Italy with Western ideas about vegetable, cheese and meat sauces. She details how even so-called “national” dishes often have fusion origins, like Indian vindaloo.
Los Angeles Times: “Master Class: Chef Thomas Keller explores ratatouille's possibilities,” by Thomas Keller.
For the L.A. Times’ Master Class series, top toque Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon) throws out ideas for serving summer staple ratatouille in new and interesting ways, such as pureeing it into soup or using it as a chunky pasta sauce. The ratatouille spread with a little mustard and hot sauce served with pitas sounds particularly tasty.
Eater: “The Chez Panisse Renovation: A Tour With Alice Waters,” by Amy McKeever.
Alice Waters’ Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse is one of America’s most beloved food institutions. So there was no question it would return after being damaged by fire in March. McKeever talks with Waters about the remodeled space, which got a bit of a makeover in the process of repairing the damaged space for last month’s reopening.
NPR: “Palm Oil In The Food Supply: What You Should Know,” by Allison Aubrey.
Reacting to the anti-trans-fat movement, fast food titans have replaced the deadly fat not with something arguably less bad (like vegetable oil), but palm oil, which is still high in saturated fat. While technically not trans fat, Aubrey cites a study where participants who ate a diet high in palm oil still saw their bad cholesterol levels rise in similar fashion to what a diet with trans fat would do.
The Guardian: “Top tastes: chefs' favourite flavours,” by Amy Fleming.
Chilies, anchovies and garlic are among the flavors chefs love to use, according to this Guardian survey. Makes sense if you’ve seen a restaurant menu lately. This articles, based on an informal survey, explains why each of these ingredients is an important flavor contributor.
Tasting Table: “Oven, Off - A fruit salad that defies stereotypes.”
Tomatoes, berries and watermelon are three of the essential tastes of summer. They are great in salads and, although generally found separately, in this dish Chef Chris Amendola of Fleet Street Kitchen in Baltimore has thrown them all together with basil, ricotta and a raspberry vinaigrette. Sounds like a delicious seasonal dish.