The Feed is my weekly round up of interesting food-related stories from newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites.
Washington Post: “Store brands, the (now) welcome option,” by Bonnie S. Benwick.
Store brands have a bad reputation, the common assumption being that they are of lesser quality than name brands—an effort to shift volume at low cost. Benwick looks at how attention to store-brand marketing and quality is changing the reality driving that assumption, as well as how a small national chain, Aldi, is changing the playing field with its own off-name brands. Benwick also rates a selection of Aldi store products after using them in her home.
Washington Post: “The Gibson, a cocktail with movie-star status,” by M. Carrie Allan.
Here’s yet another example of how Carrie Allan has an uncanny knack for writing about exactly what I’m interested in. A few days ago I was reading the Scandi Gibson cocktail recipe in Savory Cocktails, which calls for cocktail onions. Not quite sure what that involves, I tweeted at Allan seeking her opinion on whether said onions are better homemade or bought. Her response? “This is the next column!” How cool is that?! Her column is all about the Gibson, the martini famous for its pickled pearl onion garnish. Nodding to the upcoming Oscars, I love that she recounts the Gibson’s star turn in North by Northwest, my favorite Hitchcock film. And the answer to my question? Homemade of course. She also includes a tempting recipe for a garnish-less Gibson made with red onion shrub.
New York Times: “A Taste You Hate? Just Wait,” by Frank Bruni.
Bruni’s essay looks at how our taste evolves over time. How sometimes we might “hate” something when we’re younger and then later love it. He includes a mention of Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema, who apparently used to loathe fennel, but now likes it.
New York Times: “Rich Comfort Food to the Extreme,” by Melissa Clark.
Given that it snowed today (again), I could really go for some of Clark’s Meat and Potato Skillet Gratin, which she likens to a marriage between shepherd’s pie and potato gratin.
Wall Street Journal: “Disco-Era Cocktails Are Groovy Again,” by Kara Newman.
I’m so ready for some ‘70s-style cocktails after reading Newman’s article. I’ve made a Harvey Wallbanger before, but now I’m ready to try these others, like The Grasshopper. I see a cocktail theme week in my future.
Food & Wine: “Mad Genius Tips: Just the Excuse You Need to Make Ginger Cocktails,” by F&W Editors / Justin Chapple
Using just a spoon and fork Justin Chapple, F&W’s mad genius, makes easy work of grating ginger, a task I’ve found to be a big pain with other methods (love my microplane, but not for that).
Thrillist: “Do Bottled Waters Actually Taste Different? We Found Out,” by Dan Gentile.
You may scoff at the notion of tasting bottled water, but in a world where there are actually water sommeliers, it actually makes sense. Gentile runs down the minerality and mouth-feel of a number of popular brands.
Los Angeles Times: “Your guide to 5 IPAs: Decoding the different styles of this hop-intensive beer,” by John Verive.
Verive offers a useful guide for understanding the differences between IPA styles. Particularly helpful to learn what Imperial IPA is.
Slate: “Unacceptable Ingredients: How many of the groceries sold at Walmart would be banned by Whole Foods?” by Ben Blatt.
Whole Foods won’t sell products containing things like high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and MSG, among a list of 78 banned ingredients. Some may cry foul—after all, they still sell soda with sugar, for example—but in general it's nice that the store pays attention to potentially harmful ingredients.
James Beard Foundation: “The 2014 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists,” by JBF Editors.
Check out the list of this year’s semifinalists—the next cut, the finalists, will represent the “nominees.”