The Feed is my weekly round up of interesting food-related stories from newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites.
Washington Post: “What makes a hamburger and other cooked meat so enticing to humans?,” by Marta Zaraska.
Following last week’s story about the lab-grown ground beef, Zaraska dives deeper into the subject of how that meat tasted and what, in general, makes the taste of meat so appealing. It’s a good discussion of animal fats, the Maillard reaction and umami. Great fun for food geeks like me.
Washington Post: “Top Tomato 2013: So good we added more,” by Bonnie S. Benwick.
The Post Food section announced the results of its annual tomato recipe contest with the top three choices being a frozen fattoush, tomato ramen and tomato preserves, plus 13 other honorable mentions. There’s also a nice story from Tim Carman on San Marzano tomatoes, the Italian canned favorite I often turn to myself when tomatoes aren’t in season.
Lucky Peach: “Traveling in the North Country,” by Greg Larson
North Korea is so isolated that the rest of the world knows little about it. Lately, there have been a few windows opening into that world, like Adam Johnson’s masterful Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Orphan Master’s Son and several firsthand accounts from other recent westerners allowed to visit under strictly controlled conditions. Larson offers just such an account, which, since it’s Lucky Peach, has a particular focus on the food, or rather the lack thereof, since North Korea doesn’t produce enough food to feed its people and imports half of what it has from China. Lucky Peach is a quirky, sometimes silly publication, but this is a pretty serious story about what it’s like to visit such an odd place.
Food & Wine: “Taste vs. Price: How to Find Wine Value,” by Ray Isle.
Wine buying has to be one the most challenging of food procurements. It's easy to stick with something you know and love, but venturing beyond that can be very tricky, especially if you're looking to buy at a higher price point. Isle's article is one of the best I've ever read on the subject of wine value: balancing taste and price. He discusses buying in three prices ranges--$10, $20 and $80--and offers good tips on what is currently under- and over-valued. Cabernet from Napa, for example, will carry a premium just for its name, while California cabs from Lake County (an area just north of Napa Valley) and any wines labeled "organic" tend to sell at lower prices, regardless of quality.
New York Times: “Recipe Lab: Getting Started With Blueberry Jam,” by Julia Moskin.
With blueberries so abundant right now, in this week’s Recipe Lab, Moskin offers a recipe for turning the brilliant blue berries into a jam. A bit of lime zest helps recover the berries’ tartness that cooks off quickly.
Wall Street Journal: “Chefs Rediscover the Beauty of Luscious, Old-School Buttermilk,” by Sarah Karnasiewicz.
Buttermilk is making a comeback at restaurants. This isn't the buttermilk you’ll find in the grocery store dairy case, which is generally nonfat milk source by acid cultures, but rather traditional buttermilk, which, as Karnasiewicz explains, is a byproduct of butter production. She references chefs doing interesting things with it, like Hugh Acheson’s (frequent Top Chef judge) pork braised in buttermilk. She includes a recipe for that dish, along with a soup and a panna cotta-like dessert called “blueberry buttermilk fool.”
Bon Appetit: “The 10 Best New Restaurants in America 2013.”
Have you made your reservation for Alma in Los Angeles? Better do it quick: Bon Appetit just named the downtown spot the best new restaurant in America this year. (I checked Open Table: better plan for 4 weeks out unless you want a really early or late reservation on a weekend.) The modern menu sounds quite interesting (how about smoked white bass with peach, avocado and okra?). Also on the list: San Francisco's Saison (#2), Portland's Ava Gene's (#4), and Brooklyn's Aska (#10), although sadly nothing from D.C. made the cut (Daikaya and Table were among the 50 nominees the top 10 were selected from).
The Daily Beast: “Ramen Burger’s Inventor Talks About the Food Craze Eclipsing the Cronut,” by Marlow Stern.
Move over cronut; here comes the ramen burger. Seriously. Keizo Shimamoto, an enterprising ramen blogger and chef, unveiled his creation in Brooklyn recently: a beef patty with shoyu sauce, arugula and scallions sandwiched between two ramen “buns.” It actually sounds pretty interesting and doesn’t look half bad.
Smithsonian Magazine: “This Is What Happens to a Pineapple Over Two Months,” by Rose Eveleth.
This Smithsonian blog post is a short time-lapse video of a pineapple decomposing over the course of 2 months. Then at the end, the video reverses and it “revives.” It’s rather captivating.