Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Food & Drink Podcasts

Food and Drink Podcasts

I've been slow to catch on to podcasts, the web-based format of audio programs available from iTunes and other outlets covering a myriad of topics and produced by professional or amateur "podcasters." Then early this year, my friend Jason told me he was starting one with a friend to cover food and fashion. Then a few months later, my friend Eddie started one on food and drinks with his friend Neil. Suddenly, I've found myself enjoying the medium, an entertaining way to learn new things about food and drinks.

The three podcasts discussed below have a different vibe but a similar format: two friends coming together to talk about their shared love of food, drinks and more. I really like the the dual-host format since the interaction makes the content richer than if it was a single person lecturing on these subjects. It also provides a context for the hosts to talk about more than just the subject at hand, adding a warm personal touch.

Food, Fashion and Fun

"I'm Jason with the appetite. And I'm Jaisyn with the eye for fashion," begins each episode of the A La Mode Podcast. My friend Jason Shriner, who teaches baking classes and blogs about baking on his website, The Aubergine Chef, started the podcast earlier this year with his friend Jaisyn Markley, a stylist and designer. Jason covers mostly food, while Jaisyn covers fashion and style (as well as technology, a fun sub-focus); however, they are not adverse to covering whatever else comes to mind. They also pepper their podcasts with tidbits from their personal and professional lives, giving their show a nice personal warmth, like sitting in on two friends catching up over coffee.

Although their podcasts don't always have a main theme, they do sometimes focus on topical issues. On a recent episode for example, they visited the Naughty Girls Donut Shop in Front Royal, Virginia. Jason had heard about the shop after seeing an article that the shop was subject to boycotts over its name, a reflection of the shop's "risqué" 1950s pinup decor (keep in mind that what was "risqué" 65 years ago probably counts as formal wear in some quarters today). Wanting to support a fellow baker, Jason, along with Jaisyn, visited the bakery and sampled chef Natalie Ramos' baked goods. Another of my recent favorites was their episode where they discussed their favorite cocktails, a nostalgic and entertaining rundown of drinks they've enjoyed for years and the stories behind them.

Bergstrom, Bitters and Byrrh

Speaking of drinks, I've become a willing student of the vast knowledge of all things wine, cocktails and more shared on the My Poor Liver Podcast. This Portland, Oregon-based podcast is hosted by my friend Eddie Creech and his friend Neil Thompson, who works in the Liner & Elsen Wine Merchants store in Portland. Their podcast is a wonderful balance of education and entertainment. Eddie and Neil have developed an engaging and witty repartee, playing up their roles as gay suburbanite dad and gay urbanite traveler, respectively. This creates a natural context for them to share new discoveries: Eddie mixes up the "cocktail of the week," while Neil talks about the restaurants he visited on a recent trip to Vegas, for example.

They've also begun interviewing local talent, providing a fascinating view into the buzzy Oregon food and wine scene through discussions with winemaker Josh Bergström of Bergström Wines and chef Anthony Cafiero of Ración. My favorite thing about their podcast is the knowledge they share about booze, which is vast and expert. They've had wonderful discussions on apéritif winesvermouth, Italian winesgingin, and more gin (after several episodes in a row of gin-based cocktails, they've promised a moratorium in favor of other spirits--we'll see if that lasts). They also make a lot of great recommendations, which is a double-edged sword for me: I'm always hearing about cool things I want to try, but since they are podcasting from Portland and I live in D.C., I'm at a disadvantage. However, it does teach me to keep my eyes peeled (I recently picked up from Schneider's on Capitol Hill a bottle of Byrrh at their recommendation, a red wine-based apéritif made with quinine). I also must thank Eddie and Neil for being supporters of my blog, as they have featured the Last Word cocktail and my Les Misérables Oscar Cocktail in recent episodes. Now it's my turn to share one of their drinks: check out Eddie's St. Germain Cocktail.

Avocados, Anchos and Appetites

Wanting to find a food or drink-related podcast closer to home, I asked the Washington Post Food writers during one of their weekly chats for recommendations. Editor Joe Yonan suggested Big Appetites, a newly launched podcast from local D.C. talents Sally Swift and Pati Jinich. This short-format podcast (each episode is 15 minutes, compared to the 45-60 minutes typical of the other two podcasts) focuses on cooking. Swift is the producer of the radio program The Splendid Table; Jinich is the creative talent behind the Mexican cooking television show and blog, Pati's Mexican Table. Together on Big Appetites they've discussed their love of avocados, chile peppers, tacos and vanilla, sharing their expertise and enthusiasm for each subject.

I'm always on the lookout for other great food and drink podcasts. Do you have one you really like? Please share it in the comments below.

Related: St. Germain Cocktail


  1. Thank you for the shout out, Andrew. I'm glad you are enjoying MPL. We are enjoying producing it week after week. Get ready for the return of mighty Bourbon, as this week we launch The Manhattan Transfer Project

    1. I saw your FB post about the Manhattans, and I'm really looking forward to it. I still feel like a whiskey novice, and would like to learn more about rye vs. bourbon and different types or brands.

  2. oh, just wait... we have a Whiskey Virgin episode coming up. We're taking someone who has never had whiskey before and doing a side by side bourbon vs. scotch vs. Irish Whiskey vs. Canadian whiskey.

  3. Wow Andrew! Thank you so very much for this wonderful write-up and all the kind words! It's true, Eddie and I are having so much fun doing this. We are newbies but dang is a lot of fun learning. And people seem to like it which makes us feel really great about going forward. And thank you for your own excellent content on this wonderful website you've got going. Cheers to all of our futures! - Neil

    1. Thank you so much Neil. I really appreciate all that I'm learning from you guys. It's amazing how "scholarly" learning about cocktails, spirits, wine, etc. is. There really is a rich history and lore to many drinks, and lots of opinions about what's great and what's swill. I'm having a lot of fun being a student and sharing what I learn along the way.