Wednesday, December 19, 2007


When it comes to eating food with utensils, I believe there's a natural progression of preferred utensil usage:

  • Plastic Utensils - These things are evil. Not only are the cheap ones manufactured in a way that actually can cut your mouth, but they can ruin a dining experience. It's well worth the effort to take a dirty fork from the dishwasher and wash it by hand.
  • Fork and Knife - There are many fine meals that require a fork and knife, but I like to be able to just dig in. I can't be bothered... all the effort detracts from the stuffing of the pie hole.
  • Fork - Now, we're getting somewhere. Lots of foods can be eaten with just a fork, think Indian Food (already in bite-sized pieces), Jambalaya, Paella, etc...
  • Spoon - Somehow the experience of eating with a spoon is preferable to a fork -- soups, chili, yum!
  • Hands - I'm embarrassed to say that I love eating with my hands. Somehow the food actually tastes better when you're going directly from hand to mouth. In the comforts of home, there are many foods (some that you would not expect) that can be enjoyed with your hands.
  • Build Your Own - Then there's the concept of the build-your-own foods. These are food that you put together (usually with your hands) at the table just before eating them. Somehow putting the ingredients together and stuffing your face makes the eating experience more rewarding.

Maybe my favorite of the build-your-own dishes is Bahn Hoi. If you've ever eaten at a Vietnamese restaurant, you've probably tried those fantastic rice paper roll appetizers (not fried). Often you can order a dish, sometimes called Bahn Hoi, which requires the building of your own rolls. Usually the dish comes with: rice papers, vermicelli noodles, nuac chom sauce, fresh Thai basil, cucumbers, lettuce, pickled cabbage and carrots, and meat (I like lemongrass beef).

Building the rolls themselves can be a bit of a pain, but is quite rewarding. First, you will need a bowl with warm water to be used to soften the rice papers. Dip the rice paper in the warm water, covering it completely. Let the paper sit on your plate as it softens. Then add the rest of the ingredients, pour on some nuac chom and enjoy -- eating with your hands, of course.

Here are some other yummy build-your-own foods:

Bahn Hio and Pho - Vietnamese
Moo Shu/Shi and Peking Duck - Chinese
Korean BarBQ - Korean
Shabu Shabu - Japanese
Fajitas - Mexican.... errr not really Mexican
Fondue - Swiss (see Dawn's earlier posting)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Traditions

Sure, everyone has Turkey for Thanksgiving. And gravy and stuffing. But every family does it a little different. Everyone has their own unique twists on the Thanksgiving meal. What are yours?

Turkey Sandwich on Wonder Bread
Most people wait until Friday for their turkey sandwiches. In our family we have 'em that night. The more synthetic the bread, the better. Covered in gravy.

This is a photo of an open-faced turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy.

Sweet Potatoes with Toasted Marshmallows
Maybe this isn't so unique, but I'm always amazed at the sheer sweetness of this dish. Boil up some sweet potatoes, add tons of butter and brown sugar, top with marshmallows and bake.

This is one insanely sweet dish.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mmmm, Minty Seasonal Miniatures

Chocolate Mint is probably my favorite flavor in pretty much anything, except the short-lived chocolate mint Bubblicious (see the TV commercial link for a Cookie Crisp cross-promo, and what they're wearing - I looked like that too). Back in the day when I chewed a piece of the chocolate mint gum, as soon as I stopped thinking about it I tried to swallow it. Every time. I tossed the pack after 3 pieces, figuring it's better to just divide church and state and keep gum and chocolate mint apart for good before I died trying. I guess they did, too.

Here are a few new-ish chocolate mint candies – I sampled these in the miniature size bars. Andes Peppermint Crunch (photo - top)
Andes brings back memories of trying not to eat a whole row of them when my mother had company over at Christmas. If you close your eyes, you feel the consistency of the regular andes mint in this new vessel of white chocolate and nice crunchy bits. I find this candy my favorite of those pictured, as it's refreshing without feeling "chocolatey", like when you eat a lemon square instead of a brownie and somehow you think it's healthier or better for you - more refreshing.
Hershey's Mint Milk Chocolate (photo - bottom left)
Bravo! This tastes like a york peppermint patty, but with the 'chocolate only' consistency. I am not a big fan of milk chocolate, but this is an impressively good milk chocolate mint.
3 Musketeers Mint with Dark Chocolate (photo - bottom right)
I had the highest hopes for this one when I bit into it the first time. However, my reaction was not unlike the scene in Big when Tom Hanks eats caviar for the first time. I love mint, I love dark chocolate, but man... I never imagined that the consistency of the mint "filling" would play such a huge role. As we know, 3 Musketeers is this fluffy nougat type deal, and usually it's tolerable to good (unless stale, then very bad). For some strange reason the white nougat filling in this is SO distracting to me, the initial horror and surprise is unexplainable - you expect substance from a mint interior (like a peppermint patty or a truffle-weight filling), not this faux mint whip. It felt like someone dipped a piece of Wonder Bread into Godiva Chocolate. To it's credit, dark chocolate is actually quite good which allowed me to eat it - grimacing all along in a state of taste confusion.

In summary, I think that the true 'bar' of chocolate mint to aspire to is still the York Peppermint Patty. Personally, I prefer the snack sized ones (in the bulk bags) as I feel the ratio of chocolate to peppermint is far better than the large one they sell individually. The commercials from the old days were right on, "When I bite into a york peppermint patty, I feel the sensation of...". It's visceral, has a good bite, and a good dark chocolate wavy coat.

Honk if you like mint chocolate!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Buffalo Chips

I'm always up for trying something new. While trolling for impulse buys in the super market, I recently discovered not just one, but two versions of Buffalo Wing and Blue Cheese chips: Doritos and Kettle Chips.

Doritos Collisions - Hot Wings / Blue Cheese
I really enjoyed these chips. The Doritos philosophy has always been about extreme flavor. They appeal to people who enjoy chips with as much flavor as possible. There are a couple different ways that foods can provide optimal enjoyment:
  • There's the delicately balanced foods that are not too sweet , not too sour, not too spicy, etc... Examples include foods like mac n' cheese, sushi and french fries. These are foods that provide a balanced set of qualities.
  • Then there's the extreme flavors that give you as much as you can handle. This could be spicy foods like lamb vindaloo, or sweet foods like rock candy. The philosophy here is that if people like a little, they'll love a lot. Doritos definitely fall into this category.
These particular Doritos took an interesting approach to the two flavors of Hot Wings and Blue Cheese. The bag was made up of 1/2 Hot Wings flavored chips and 1/2 Blue Cheese flavored chips. I found both flavors to be fairly accurate. While they definitely had the high-sodium punch of a Dorito, you could definitely taste the intended flavors in the chips. As a result, I polished a large bag off almost single-handedly in one day.

One more note about eating Doritos. While eating them one chip at a time will definitely provide you with plenty of flavor, there's a way to squeeze out a little extra. What I like to do is to take a new bag of Doritos and literally crush it into teeny pieces. You then 'drink' it from the bag, rather than eating it one chip at a time. Due to the amount of surface area of the crushed chips, you'll no doubt get an extra jolt of Dorito flavoring. In the case of the Hot Wing / Blue Cheese chips, this has the added advantage of mixing the two flavors together.

Kettle Chips - Buffalo Blue
I should start by saying that Kettle Chips make arguable the best pure potato chip around. Additionally, my favorite chip flavor of all time, Spicy Thai, is produced by Kettle. That being said, these chips don't stack up to the Doritos. It's definitely a good, potato chip, but if you're going to get Kettle brand, you should get the Spicy Thai or Salt and Vinegar.

It should be stated, while both of these chips make a good snack, they're definitely no substitute for real buffalo wings.

-He Said

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sweet 'n Starchy

It's 1998. My wife and I are hiking in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I grab a handful from my trail mix. Along with the nuts, raisins, and occasional dried pineapple (yum) there's something else in there... what is it? It's slightly chewy, sweet, and starchy. After a quick review of the ingredients, this yummy thing turns out to be a date.

While the flavor of the date is great, it's the texture that makes it special. The starchy texture spreads out and sticks to your tongue as you enjoy the flavor of date's flesh. After a bit of exploration, I found a few other foods that were also sweet 'n starchy -- and similarly delicious.

Examples include:
  • red bean paste - commonly used in Asian desserts and the sesame seed ball (below) you get at dim sum
  • sticky rice with mango - a dessert you can get at Thai restaurants which includes sticky rice, coconut milk and mangoes
  • this yummy green thing (below) I picked up from a Vietnamese sandwich shop in Boston

Greetings from the Bahamas!

Bahamas - full of turquoise water and all kinds of great fish for the eatin! As my husband and I have been in Little Exuma with friends for the past 6 days, we've eaten Mahi-Mahi, Red Snapper, and Fried Conch (twice). We spent some time in the boat "conching" (snorkeling for them - didn't find any to eat, just horse conch that is used for bait), here's a photo of a conch shell in case you can't place what one looks like. This one measures about 8" top to bottom.

While speeding along on the left hand side of the road passing through Georgetown, we stopped at the SPLASH bar at the Palm Bay Resort in order to partake of their Conch Burgers. The conch in the burger was lightly fried, has the consistency of calamari, with excellent flavor. Topped with tartar sauce, tomato and lettuce on a sesame seed bun, the sandwich was definitely worth the trip.

We also had stopped by Santana's, a roadside cafe along the water for a platter of fried conch, fresh beets, coleslaw and rice! You could either have the conch straight, or with the onion sauce on it. I tried some of each, and both were flavorful with their merits. The Bahamians are great and friendly people who know how to cook.

I spent my birthday here (Sunday 9/16) with some dear friends and amazing carrot cake baked by neighbor Trena, calming beaches, hot sun, rainbows, great food, and amazing thunderstorms. What more can a girl ask for? Off to enjoy the last 2 days... see you back in the states!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Juice Standard

This is a short posting, mainly because of the audacity of a restaurant to serve this swill and charge real money for it. I ordered pineapple juice, and my husband got the grapefruit. When the drinks came, I was completely confused. Where's my pineapple juice? I grabbed the milky one, and it turned out to be grapefruit (which makes you do a spit-take when you expect pineapple). I sipped the cloudy apple juice colored one and low and behold, it was pineapple scented. It was as if someone had taken the juice out of the bottom of the old Dole can, filtered any bits out, and added 2/3rds water. So if you're ever in Littleton MA, don't order the pineapple juice at Ken's American Cafe.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Boardwalk Food - A Summer Must

For someone who just LOVES food that is deemed unhealthy for you by today's standards, then the NJ Shore boardwalk is the veritable 'Streets Paved In Gold' gastric dream-stroll. My summer is never considered complete without a trip to the Jersey Shore - miles of sandy beaches, over 70 degree water, and the various boardwalks with arcades, food, games, and the trendiest trends that you can adhere to a t-shirt. My personal favorite things are:
(a) the claw machine (now in epic proportions
(b) shoot the clown in the mouth (I don't like clowns, and I like to win),
(c) eat a slice of Sawmill Pizza from Seaside (the slice is about 12" x 18"),
(d) get a Kohr's orange-vanilla twist cone (photo right).

For those of you who haven't experienced this east coast phenomenon, it's a good time AND real slice of life. You can also get pretty much anything to eat. Lots of kids learn the hard way about "games" and "chance", I had lost a lot of money and youthful innocence before I figured out the score. One trick - always look at the prizes first so you don't spend $10 trying to win a large comb.

I've included a photo here of one food stand that I thought might be a good representation of the excess of fried options, like Fried Twinkies, Elvis sandwiches, and Oreos. If you don't know what a Zeppole (ZEP-oli) is, it's like a ball of fried dough with powdered sugar on it. Mmmmm! If I hadn't just eaten at Surf Taco down by B&B Department Store, I would have tried the Elvis Sandwich.

Share YOUR boardwalk stories here... and see you at the Shore!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Frozen Coffee Drinks

So a couple of weeks ago, driving home from a wedding in Boothbay Harbor, ME, I made what seemed like an innocent stop at a gas station. I grabbed a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino from the refrigerator -- a decision which would alter my mornings for the foreseeable future. Frozen Coffee Drinks are the crack of the coffee family.

... and so began my quest to explore these highly addictive drinks...

Tuesday, August 7th, Au Bon Pain - Mocha Blast
Rating: B-
While definitely not known for its coffee, Au Bon Pain had the advantage of being located on the first floor of the building my office is in.

In terms of taste, the Mocha Blast was decent, but provided weak coffee flavor. The Mocha Blast shined when it came to texture. The drink was was blended perfectly, not too smooth, not too slushy.

Wednesday, August 8th, Dunkin Donuts - Coffee Coolatta
Rating: B
Anyone who lives in the Boston area knows about Dunkin Donuts. A quick search using the Store Finder on yields 4 locations within 2 miles of my home and a whopping 24 locations within 2 miles of my office.

While the coffee flavor of the Coolatta was tasty, it was weak. The texture was good, but by the time I got to the bottom, there was no trace of coffee -- only slush.

Thursday, August 9th, Starbucks - Mocha Frappuccino
Rating: A-
Starbucks is one of those places you hate to love. It's an icon for a manufactured experience at a chain store. Starbucks is to coffee what the Black Eyed Peas is to Hip Hop. You don't want to like them, but you just can't help it.

The Frappuccino's coffee flavor was great -- the best of all the frozen coffee drinks. Additionally, they used real whipped cream (yes, I got them with whipped cream). The only problem with the Frappuccino was the texture. It was blended too thin. One of the cornerstones of a good frozen drink is the slight icy texture of the drink -- the same thing that makes a slush puppy so great.

Friday, August 10th, Peet's Coffee - Mocha Freddo

Rating: A
Peet's Coffee, primarily located in California, has a few stores in the Boston area.

Like the Frappuccino, the Freddo had great coffee flavor. Additionally, for a little more, they'll up sell you to the higher quality Scharffen Berger chocolate flavor for your mocha. While I'm generally sensitive to being upsold, I can say that this appeared to be a worthwhile investment -- the chocolate flavor was delicious. While Peet's appears to use the same blenders as Starbucks, they solved the over-blending problem by adding a few coffee beans to the Freddo to give it texture.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eating a Cupcake: Lesson from the "He Said" School

First of all, I'd like to lead with saying that it was I who was the generous colleague who provided the Stop & Shop bakery morsels. Additionally, I would like to add that I never got a friggin' Whoopie Pie! They looked perfect -- the 3 days of sweating in the plastic container was just enough to counter the Saharan consistency of the chocolaty discs.

On (another) side note, I'd like to add that I'm generally not a fan of the grocery bakery. My mom was a fantastic baker who spoiled me for life. It should be noted that the cupcakes and whoopie pies were purchased (rather than baked) for a family gathering to meet the Kosher dietary needs of the group -- our kitchen may as well be a porcine slaughterhouse.

Now on to the debate.

First, I have to concede that I wholeheartedly agree with the first 90% of Dawn's approach. Cupcakes suffer from the same fatal flaw as their appropriate-for-breakfast cousins, the muffin. The bottom of both cupcakes and muffins is just too big. Ideal bites consist of a little bit of the bottom and a little bit of the top, but this is physically impossible.

Like Dawn, I like to split the bottom part of the cupcake in half, but then our approaches diverge. I will pop the bottom, non-frosted circle of cake in my mouth, to make way for the true enjoyment that's about to follow. With a shorted bottom, I am now able to eat the cupcake as it was intended, one bite at a time -- a little cake, a little frosting.

Believe it or not, the essence of this discrepancy boils down to the same argument with the pizza (see entries on April 26th) -- it's about how the food enters your mouth. For me, the crux of the enjoyment of eating cupcakes comes from the sweetness of the frosting (sugar and butter -- two of nature's tastiest evils working together). With Dawn's approach, the sweet sensors in your tongue miss out on the initial stimulation when the cupcake enters your mouth. This is a big no-no.

Additionally, while I appreciate the cleanliness of Dawn's approach, she has, IMO, violated a fundamental law -- never let the fear of messiness interfere with the enjoyment of eating.

Happy Cupcaking!


Eating a Cupcake: Lesson from the "She Said" School

Thanks to a generous colleague, a few vessels of grocery store bakery mini-cupcakes arrived just after lunch. After eating a mini-whoopie pie to counteract my greek salad, I opted for the Golden Cupcake variety as a chaser. At that point I engaged in a frosty debate with my fellow food bloggist, Brian. We documented our individual approaches... mine is here.

When you eat a cupcake, no matter the size (mini or regular), there is usually a 2/3 cake and a 1/3 frosting ratio. As most cupcakes are tall, I find myself trying to unhinge my jaw like a python to get the frosting under and past my front teeth (usually unsuccessfully), meanwhile attempting to get the cupcake body in over top of my bottom teeth without changing the angle of the bite. Usually the frosting starts to scrape off while trying to stuff it in my mouth, which sends the following cake into an overcorrected wrong angle (i.e. all frosting followed by cake, eaten tipped towards you at 90 degrees rather than right side up). Forget the fact that many cupcakes have add-ons, which cascade down your shirt and onto every surface within a 3 foot radius. To combat this awkward looking and messy display, I learned a little trick which I'll share.

I split the cupcake portion in half (laterally), and invert the top half (cake and frosting), placing the frosting against the bottom half. This allows you to enjoy the following:
a) frosting is in the middle, no unsightly scraping on teeth - cake will bend or flake effortlessly on top and bottom, or can be compressed by holding it (no mess!)
b) the taste of evenly divided cupcake, 1/3 cake 1/3 frosting 1/3 cake. The frosting is the surprise in the center, my preference.
c) any sprinkles, jimmies, or other items barely stuck to the frosting are now locked in place, not a one scrap lost to the carpet.

Next time YOU have cupcakes, try it! Or heck, use it as an excuse to eat one. Don't forget to comment here on your method of choice, Brian and I are interested in whose approach you all prefer, like, or are opposed to.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Buffet Eggs...

Two words that, while seperately envoke warm feelings of joy, when paired send shivers down the spine of even the most careless dining room patron.

As my close associates can attest to, the biggest "hangup" I have about food is the texture. Buffet eggs not only have a texture (this I can deal with), it's the SOUND of the eggs... that wet, slithery, squishy noise as you dip the monster spoon into the silver chalice of 'henfruit' to select the perfect serving. If you MUST partake of buffet eggs, I've provided a photo guide here of areas to watch out for.
a) the buffet egg puddle: self explanatory yellow liquid. Is it raw egg, or the ratio of egg to milk (or whatever secret liquid they add) that refuses to congeal under heat of the stove or the sterno?
b) glistening parts: you can just hear them when you see this picture. Work the spoon avoiding the glistening areas, around to the dry parts in the upper mountainous regions of the egg pile.

These photos were taken on my recent trip to Atlanta (see June's fondue posting), and I had a chance to eat several days worth of buffet eggs in my quest to conquer my fears. I had to take a photo of the spoon, of course, as it sits with the egg slime resting in it, as if to say "the end".

Lastly, I have to share the most fascinating scrambled egg delivery method and shape I've ever seen. At the Hartsfeld-Jackson airport Terminal C restaurant, I ordered the old "two egg" special. Most people know what two eggs look like - fairly traditional, little cloud-like pile of eggs stacked neatly on each other, next to things like hash browns or home fries and some breakfast meat on a plate.

When this little treat arrived, I shrieked in joy as I couldn't tell if it was eggs, very yellow mashed potatoes, or hot yellow ice cream. How on earth did they get it to hold a scoop shape, and served in a little bowl? Ingenious!

P.S. When it Atlanta, choose biscuits every chance you get.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fondue, the food you don't eat with the skinny fork

Greetings from Atlanta, where I participated in another Top Secret meeting of the Royal Fondue Society. About 20 members from all over the world gathered with our fearless leaders (The Sovereign & His Viceroy who shall remain anonyous) and settled in at "Dante's Down the Hatch" for an evening of fun and fondue. While the famous jazz band was not in attendance it didn't stop us from singing "I'll Have to Say I love You in a Song" along with the solo acoustic guitar dude.

There was a medieval-length table packed with our compadres... those who are fond of the skinny forks and small bowls of food. There were many choices for sampling - the international cheese fondue was incredible, dipping breads, apples, and vegetables. A few of us had the mandarin meats, marinated in an asian way, perfect for stick-ing in oil and eating (but not right away!) and dipping sauces. The cardinal sin of fondue feasting is that you do NOT eat the food with the long cooking forks, you put it on the plate and eat like a normal person. As much as we want to really be like sophisticated pirates, we aren't. I ate mine that way anyhow, I couldn't help it.

Having been a little rusty on my fondue cooking instructions, I was reminded about timing on the simmering duration of the meats, fish, chicken, and pork. My internal clock is great, but you have to account for the temperature of the oil itself, 160 degrees and you start killing the bacteria, and whether shrimp is supposed to be grey or do you leave it in a while. Dante the proprietor himself came over and gave us the "real story" behind salmonella, how you get it and some great "transmission tales" of bacteria. Needless to say, within 30 seconds I was washing my hands.

Who needs tapas when you have fondue? A great meal to share, fun banter when your sticks get mixed up (hint - place 2 different items on to identify your stick, like a mushroom and chicken), and you leave the restaurant smelling like something oily - like a diner but without the smoky bacon reek.

The Sovereign of the Royal Fondue Society and his First Lady of the Fork had given my husband and I a fondue set for our wedding. It's like friendship, fun, and 'the way it oughta be' all boxed up with a silver bow - a real treasure for years to come.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

$200 Krispy Kreme ReHeater

This entry focuses on the microwave. IMO, the only one thing that the microwave does well is reheat Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Eight seconds and they're restored to their magical state. You know what I'm talking about... you have to keep looking at the doughnut to make sure it's not raw. They're the raw cookie dough of the breakfast family. I digress. Point is, this is the only use of the microwave that can't be done better elsewhere.

Ok... I hear you. 90% of you have just said, "What about popcorn?". The truth is, if you think the microwave makes good popcorn, it's only because you eat microwave popcorn all the time, and don't realize what popcorn is supposed to taste like. If you don't believe me, spend $20 and get a Whirly Pop ( You'll remember what popcorn used to taste like... before the microwave, before Jiffy Pop, and before the movies overloaded popcorn with too much salt and gobs of butter. Just a Whirly Pop, 1/2 cup of popping corn, a couple teaspoons of oil, some salt and melted butter (and my personal favorite: yeast) and you'll know what I'm talking about.

At the risk of dismantling my entire argument, I'd like to add the fact that I pretty much wouldn't survive w/o my microwave. As a father of three kids, I definitely give my microwave plenty of use. I'm just not proud of it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pork Roll, the other cookout meat

All Hail Pork Roll! For those of you not familiar with this glorious "meat", allow me to introduce you to the alternate to the hot dog or hamburger at the next picnic (that's what we call 'em in NJ). Why do I wave the pork roll flag high in the air? It's the famous food from Trenton NJ, my official birthplace. The fact that I'm a carnivore, and this treat was born the same place as yours truly is no cosmic surprise.

Pork Roll is one of those comfort foods that while growing up as a finicky kid was on the same culinary playing field as minute steaks and macaroni and cheese (the frozen kind you bake in the pie tin vs. Kraft). It comes in this canvas-like roll that is sliced off and fried up, put on a kaiser roll, often with cheese and mustard (spicy is best). Most popular optional use of pork roll is with an egg for breakfast. The best I can describe the taste is... a spicy spam-like ham variant - it's got a similar tasty zippy kick like a hot dog, but it's a ham foundation.

High school summers were spent working the grill at my neighborhood WaWa market/convenience store, with one location near the Congoleum plant (they made porcelain thrones and more). I'm whipping up Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese (on a Kaiser Bun) for the guys coming out of 3rd shift who are eating dinner at 7am. NOTE - Ween made a song titled as such, you can see the video on you tube.

On my seasonal trips to NJ, I still pick up a couple 4 or 6 slice packs. I've only been allowed to cook and eat Pork Roll sandwiches when alone because the smell, taste, and name offend any citizen from outside the NJ/NY/PA area, including my poor husband. To this day, I have been unsuccessful in recruiting any newbie adult age pork roll fans. Try interviewing anyone to see if they've ever eaten pork roll AND like it, and you'll find a native of that tri-state area. I think you have to be raised on it to enjoy it, there's tons of businesses who specialize in mail order pork roll. Feel free to share your pork roll stories here, you'll find a shoulder to lean on with me - especially those of you who have to resort to the internet to order it.

For those interested, Wikipedia gives an impressive lowdown of the culture and history of Pork Roll.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

How To Make A Peanut Butter Sandwich

Everyone loves peanut butter sandwiches. There's the great peanut butter and jelly vs. peanut butter and fluff debate. As a future adult-onset diabetic, I can truly say I am addicted to sugar. While wine connoisseurs appreciate the fine subtleties of a glass of Cabernet, there is nothing subtle about my ravenous lust for sugar. In the great debate, I say Fluff. Hands down.

(Note: I have run into people not familiar with marshmallow fluff. For your information, check out: I'm proud to say that fluff has some strong ties to New England.)

Below is the secret to my favorite peanut butter sandwich:

  1. Whole Wheat Bread - Although it may not be what you'd expect, a prefer a hearty whole wheat bread for my peanut butter sandwich. Choose something with some thickness that contributes to the sandwich experience.
  2. Toasted Marshmallow - Generously spread the marshmallow fluff on one piece of bread and toast it in the toaster over.
  3. Peanut Butter - Another great peanut butter debate: chunky vs. creamy. Personally, I tend to favor creamy because I don't want the chunks to get in the way of enjoying the sweet marshmallow fluff on my tongue. That being said, I'm definitely not a zealot and do appreciate a good chunky spread as well.
  4. Nutella - If you have not yet discovered this miracle spread or think it's for Europeans only, you are missing out. Like the hot pepper jelly I used to get at a farmer's market in San Francisco, I find myself purchasing things at the supermarket for the sole purpose of being a vehicle for this yummy spread.
  5. Spreading - Immediately after the toasting is done, spread equal parts of peanut butter and Nuttella on the non-fluff piece of bread. The two quantities combined should be approximately how much peanut butter you would put on a sandwich normally. Due to the fact that the toast is still warm, the peanut butter and Nutella should melt a little (yum).
  6. Enjoy - put the two sides of the sandwich together and cut the sandwich in half - diagonally, of course.

- He Said

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ratios and Combining Flavors

At the age of 34, as a relatively adventurous eater, there are few discrete 'flavors' that I have not yet tasted. Therefore, as a general rule, new taste experiences are created by combining multiple flavors. Along with simply finding flavors that blend well together, it's crucial to mix them in the correct ratios.

One such example is the Twix bar. The chocolate, caramel, and cookie in a Twix bar are all optimally proportioned. Consider a Twix with significantly more chocolate. Along with calling attention to the fact that the quality of the chocolate doesn't hold up on its own against a good solid chocolate bar, it would begin to overpower the subtle caramel flavor. The caramel itself is well-proportioned to provide a little chewyness to contrast the cookie as well as provide an injection of sugary sweetness as you bite into the bar.

The cookie, the key to Twix's success, is also perfectly proportioned. Not only does the cookie provide the correct ratio in terms of flavor, but more importantly, it provides just the right amount of crunch. What differentiates the Twix bar from other candy bars is its combination of textures. A thinner cookie wouldn't provide enough crunch while a thicker one would overpower the caramel and chocolate.

An example of the subtleties of ratio can been seen when you look at Twix's crunchy cousin, the Kit Kat. Like the Twix, the Kit Kat is well proportioned for both flavor and texture. Unlike the Twix, the Kit Kat has an estranged big brother, the Big Kat. Released in 2000 the Big Kat is essentially the same thing as the standard Kit Kat, but about four times the size. Somehow, in the process of making the Kit Kat larger, they lost track of the ratios. The larger size is harder to bite and the chocolate on the outside overpowers the wafer.

Sooo... next time you eat, think about not just the individual ingredients, but the ratios of those ingredients and how they work together. Think about the interplay between the elements that make up the food you're eating.

Salad needs dressing and dressing needs salad. Chocolate enhances peanut butter and peanut butter enhances chocolate.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Portion Control - and I mean CONTROL

I'm not sure at what age this came about, but I've been a huge fan of eating my food "evenly" until it is finished. Perhaps it was a fondness for the trio of tastes on my plate, or a culinary match made in heaven, but some foods taste so good you can't bear to eat one first and be done with it - the good feeling must go on! The hardest part is trying to decide what bite you are going to end on...

The photo here is the tail end of a brunch this past Sunday with bacon, scrambled eggs dry (I will write about 'buffet eggs' at some point when I can get a good wiggly wet egg photo of them), and marble rye toast. I must not tell a lie, I had a side of french toast (one slice) that was puddled in butter and only lasted about 8 seconds. For the record, I ended up on the rye toast as a last bite, preferring a crunchy butter bite to greasy meat or eggy eggs. - SHE SAID

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Perfect Candy

While there is no doubt that I am a food lover, I am partial to all things sweet. That being said, one of my favorite candies of all time is the Cadbury Mini Egg. Today I had the good fortune of finding a post-Easter 75% off sale -- 8.5oz bags for $0.75!!! I bought enough for me and extras to bring to the office.

What makes the Mini Egg so special? A great place to start, is by comparing it to the extremely popular M&M. In my opinion, there is no contest.

Let's start with the shell. M&M's have a colorful, shiny shell that, as you know, melts in your mouth, not in your hand. On the other hand, the Mini Egg, has a rougher, thinner shell. The immediate advantage this provides is flavor. Rough exterior implies more surface area. That means more of the sugary coating for your tongue to taste. Additionally, because it's thin, the shell will melt in your mouth faster than the shell of M&M's. In fact, more often than not, the Mini Eggs already have a slight crack along which the egg will split when you start eating it.

The other difference between Mini Eggs and M&M's is the chocolate. IMO, the creamier the better when it comes to chocolate. While the chocolate in M&M's is decent (definitely better than Hershey's), it doesn't compare to Cadbury's. It's creamy and quickly melts in your mouth. Due to this fact, unlike M&M's, you don't have to let them melt in your mouth for a long time to get full enjoyment from them. With M&M's, I generally will let a few of them sit in my mouth for about a minute to let the chocolate start to melt before I chew them. With Mini Eggs, on the other hand, I will chew them immediately and still feel like I'm fully enjoying them.

Future postings may include other 'perfect' candies. On my list, you will find: Kit Kat, Twix, Ginger Altoids and Wintergreen Life Savers.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pizza - The View From the Fold

He Said a lot of great things about pizza (see post below), I second the "decent slice" USA geography (growing up on NY pizza), and the overall aspect of structural integrity, i.e. when to pick up the fork and knive. However, I disagree with the Folding comment. Yes, it's true that when you fold a pizza, you get the crust - but it's not unlike the format of a twinkie, the outside is pretty good but you know that there's a treat on the inside. A saucy reward all bundled up!

Of course you do know that you just can't fold a slice of pizza and eat it, it has to be done at a special angle. This is more crucial when eating a pizza with meat products on it (for the grease). As any pizza eater knows, novice or otherwise, you will have this vivid red-orange grease running down your wrists and off your elbow. You need to angle the pizza so that the grease channel forms right down the center of your pizza, and drips out the cracked fold of your crust over your perfectly placed absorbent plate.

The best part is when you get to the crust, the center portion is grease-dampened (mmm) from the channel action while the edges retain their soft-ish slightly crispy texture. I'm a 100% end of the meal crust-eater, in fact, as a child I would save all the pizza crust to the end, and lay in front of the TV eating crust and watching The Love Boat.

If you want good pizza in Boston, get any Pizzeria Regina slice. Otherwise, drive to New York or NJ (where the New Yorkers live with their families). If you're overseas, go to the island of Capri in Italy, step off the ferry and walk about 40 feet to the little cafe in the center of the port. By far, the best freshest indescribable slice of my life. - Dawn

Pizza - What Better Place To Start

Pizza - What Better Place To Start
In theory, the actual act of eating a slice of pizza should be a fairly straight-forward operation. But, as with other foods that are so clearly a staple in our everyday diets, everyone has his own opinions. This entry outlines my 'school of thought' for eating pizza.

The Benchmark
First off, I should state that as a Boston native, I have no right to claim myself a pizza expert. Don't get me wrong, you can get a decent slice in Boston, it's just not NY or Chicago. This brings me to an interesting point when dealing with foods that are staples. Like your mom's red sauce, the version of a food that you eat growing up becomes the benchmark against which you judge all other versions of that food as an adult.

For example, I grew up on [insert name of town] House Of Pizza joints across the south shore of Boston. These pizza shops specialized in thick, chewy crusts, very oily cheese, and tart tomato sauce - see: Greek Pizza. Along with pizza, these shops (often Greek owned) also carried a wide array of subs including chicken cutlet, meatball, and steak and cheese. Note that all were available with shredded iceberg lettuce and would always be listed on a black board over the counter with removable plastic letters. (Imagine if this was your benchmark! Zante's).

As with everything, I have some particular rules I follow to get the best experience eating my pizza.

Structural Integrity
Pizza was made to be eaten by hand, not with a knife and fork. That being said, occasionally, you will have a slice of pizza that is impossible to eat by hand without folding (see Folding below). This is usually the result of either excessive toppings, or a soggy crust. In this case, I like to use a fork and knife to eat the first few inches of the slice, and then eat the rest by hand.

Folding pizza is a bad idea. Sure it makes sense from a functional perspective, but if you want to enjoy your pizza, don't fold it. An often overlooked component of eating is how you put food in your mouth. Given that taste buds are found on your tongue and palette, you want the tastiest part of the food to touch those surfaces when you put it in your mouth. When you fold pizza, you're surrounding the cheese, sauce, and toppings with the bread. When you first put it in your mouth, all you taste is the bready crust. I therefore prefer pinching to folding. Pinching refers to simply bending the slice at the crust just enough to provide the structural support needed to hold it.

Delayed Gratification
There are definitely different schools of thought with regard to saving the best bite for last vs. eating the best bite first. With saving the best bite for last, you have the advantage of ending on a great bite that will stay with you until you eat something else, but you run the risk of getting too full to enjoy it. Given that I rarely say no to something because I'm too full, I usually opt for the saving the best bite for last. In my opinion, when eating pizza, the best bite is no more than 40% crust, and contains a sampling of toppings. Given that the crust is the widest part of the slice, this can sometimes be a challenge. I therefore will take bites out of the crust from the sides as much as possible while preserving the structural integrity of the pizza.

Hopefully you've enjoyed this window into my gastronomic OCD. This is what happens in life when your only hobby is eating.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Fun Food Fight is Born

Welcome to our neurosis... if you're visiting this blog there's a chance you really dig food in some way, whether it be the dangerously OCD-level fan or more normal 'passing interest' peeps that enjoy a good food debate. This blog hopes to share some of our collective thoughts, either the 'He Said She Said' kind of discussion, or just observations from our couches (complete with crumbs). The idea spilled forth from lunch conversations at FableVision, the creative media studio where we work ( and collaborate on exciting animation, design, and web projects. So please, bookmark this page and join us - we'd love to hear what you have to say!