Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Breakfast

I rocked Christmas Breakfast bachelorette style (my Dad was tasteful enough to call me up and point out that I'm the only one of three sisters who is not in a committed relationship- thanks for rubbing it in, Dad!!) But I wanted to do something special, so I surveyed the contents of the fridge and realized I had the makings of Latkes, since I'm SUCH A JEW.

My friend Esther (who is a Jew, and an exceedingly lovely one), gave me a recipe for rice cooker applesauce (she lives in Japan), so I got up, turned on the rice cooker and went back to bed for a couple hours. It's super easy- throw cored/peeled (I didnt peel mine because they're organic) apples into a rice cooker with some water/sugar/spices/whatever, turn the rice cooker on, and voila! (I've also heard that you can bake a cake in a rice cooker but I never had much luck in that regard).

I used the Epicurious Latke recipe (with garlic, because it didn't have onions, and I added a little flour to make it stick together), and also made some DIY turkey sausage (add spices to ground turkey and fry it up), and fresh spinach sauteed with garlic. My meal was the bomb diggity!

For dinner I went to my ex-husband's house, as is my holiday tradition. He's a pretty good cook, even if he sticks to a limited meat and potatoes repetoire. He made some damn good lasagne, which we had with cream soda and some kinda so-so garlic bread (I pride myself on making damn good garlic bread with rosemary and parmesan and loads of fresh garlic and butter). Then we watched Season 4 of Weeds and he gave me a 30 day bus pass for Christmas, which is seriously an amazing present!!! Also, I have a ton of leftover lasagne in the fridge. YUM!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Like Vally Val, I faced a non-Grandma Christmas this year. My Grandmother came down with pneumonia this week, so my aunt and I cooked our traditional Swedish dinner today. I don't know how my Grandmother has done it all these years. There were three of us working in the kitchen today (two restaurant pros), and we were still exhausted. And none of us are eighty years old.

I cooked my Grandmother's Swedish meatballs today, without the recipe, for a family of people who look forward to her meatballs all year. No pressure. Like any good cook, I drank a little. I also didn't measure anything. It took years to get the recipe out of my Grandmother, so I used to treat it like a sacrament. I'd measure everything carefully and they never turned out like hers. Well, how often do you see your Grandmother measure ingredients when she's making an old family recipe? I eyeballed everything today, and swore that anyone who complained about the cooking would get a carving fork in the eye. Fortunately, the meatballs were met with contented silence and chewing. My Grandmother even bragged to my Dad that I can make meatballs. I feel like I passed a secret adult test.

A few facts about Swedish meatballs:

* They should never have tomato in them. That's Italian.
* Some recipes call for just beef, but I like a 50/50 beef and pork combo.
* White sauce is the only acceptable gravy. Anything from a packet and you might as well just phone it in. They sell frozen meatballs at Ikea now.
* You must eat lingonberries with your Swedish meatballs. My younger cousins don't get this. They think it's weird to eat fruit and meat at the same time, but they eat Chinese food. Maybe it's just weird to have them separate on your plate. Several spoonfuls of lingonberries on the plate is ideal, so that you can drag the meatballs through them. A bit of twirling action with the fork is good, but you don't want to be accused of playing with your food. This is an especially useful way to avoid awkward eye contact and dodge unwanted personal questions.

pick up your beans and go

Due to her failing health Christmas will, for the first time ever, not be at Granny's :(

I called my aunt and uncle and asked them what I could bring (Granny and I had agreed on me supplying the salad but I make no assumptions and I am in charge of "green beans". I know they are expecting a bag of frozen beans. They will be getting fresh grean beans with onion and bacon. I know I will be asked what is in the green beans, I know it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The New Middle American Diet

I live a pretty healthy, sheltered food life in the SF Bay Area. Discovering a "new food" usually means trying something from another culture like pupusasas (a tortilla stuffed with cheese from El Salvador) rather than a the latest exploding neon colored kids cereal. But I am mesmerized when I see the newest colorful inventions when I visit the big chain grocery stores, like the H.E.B. in the Huston suburb where I am now.
Every thing stops when I see the neon colored cakes. I can hear my nutrition professors sneer in the back of my mind, but my inner six year old wants to stare up close. A cake with a dinosaur bursting out of a volcano! A pink castle cake with princesses doll on each plastic tower! Cakes shaped like pirate ships! Oh my God! You want to play with them, not eat them! The frosting is so bright it looks like play dough. I am in an alternate universe, where image is everything, and the question of what it's made out of is unimportant. Even the pictures on the boxed cake mixes are more vivid than any cake I've made. Andy Worhol would be proud.
I can see how people who think this is food would be afraid to cook. This stuff is to the whole grain chocolate and cherry scones I enjoyed for my birthday what porn stars are to the average, attractive woman. Real food doesn't look like that, and you can get a real complex if you confuse image with reality. It's fun to pretend, just remember that it's not real.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


1) I had a professor once who said, "Eating is the most intimate thing you can do with your clothes on." You're taking something into a bodily orifice and accepting it, trusting it. Supposedly it brings people together. Like sex.

2) Hate-fucking. Common occurrence. People that hate each other bump uglies.

3) If two people hate each other, and they eat a meal together, what happens? Is it the same as hate-fucking? Like, some physical satisfaction, but also something frustrating?

not my kinda pie

Someone brought this into work:

It was brought in half gone, it has remained untouched. This picture doesn't do it justice, its kind of greyish in color and looks like it contains styrofoam. It looks like its starting to disintegrate. I bet it will burst into flames if air hits it.

I, on the other hand, made this because I'm a bad ass:

Friday, December 12, 2008

4 Part Post!

A few recent items of note:

1. Dollar burger night at Big Chicks is fucking amazing. They'll put brie on your burger for a buck extra!
That's Chris and I keeping it real at Big Chicks, naturally.

2. I finally visited the legendary "Pasta Truck" after reading my friend Chris's many paeans to the humble truck where he eats lunch every day. I assume it's linked to some restaurant somewhere, they serve pasta meals in foil take out containers, plus bread and a drink for $4. I had shells with gorgonzola, spinach and some kind of creamy tomatoey sauce. I am not a huge pasta lover as I try to avoid eating huge quantities of white flour, but I gotta hand it to pasta truck- I was not hungry for eight hours after eating it, and for my broke, hypoglycemic ass that's kind of amazing. I did however wind up with impressive indigestion but that might have been the three cups of coffee I had. Come to think of it, that might be why I didn't get hungry, either. I may have to try the ravioli some time.

3. My new favorite drink? The separator. Shosh is responsible for getting me into this one, someone(who?) blogged about it for Mixology Monday and she asked me to get one and write about it. I had it for the first time at Club Foot with my friend Jamal, who also hails from the Yay Area. It's a White Russian with cognac or brandy in lieu of vodka, so named because the Kahlua seperates out from the cream and brandy. And fuck, it's good, if a bit rich.

4. I have managed to avoid my typical winter diet of cookies, popcorn and hot chocolate in favor of living on nabe, Japanese style winter stew. I use a kimchee and miso base for mine. Typically I'll sautee ground turkey on the bottom of the sauce pan (or make meatballs w. garlic and ginger), bring the water to the boil w. whatever vegetables I'm using (frozen pre chopped ones are easy), dried wakame, fresh kimchee w. juice, then once the water's hot, mix in some miso that's been pre-mixed with a little water. Good shit, healthy + easy.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Chocolate fest

I attended the chocolate festival at Chocolatier Blue tonight. I wavered as to whether I would go- strapped for cash, chocolate isn't good for me, I'm designing a talk on how to avoid sugar and I don't want to feel like a hypocrite, etc. After writing for several hours only a couple of blocks away, I grabbed my credit card and decided to attend. I walked into the tiny shop, which was filled with about 2o other people. Everyone looked awkward, I half expected everyone to start grabbing candy behind the counter. The pretty, young counter girl sold tickets to those of us who hadn't bought them in advance. On the back of the tickets was a list of different truffles and desserts which would be checked off as we collected our booty. We entered the festival through a driveway and into a lovely patio edged with roses. I was always irritated by the odd experience of eating mind stoppingly delicious chocolate while standing on the street in front of the Firestone next to the store. This, however, was the perfect environment for enjoying amazing chocolate. Several tables were laid out with each dessert. They projected Willy Wonka a brick wall with the sound off, and a jazz combo played nearby. I was pretty hungry, and eating six truffles, a cup of hot chocolate and two desserts didn't seem like the best idea, besides I had arrived alone. Some of the other guests were beginning to annoy me, so I drank the chocolate and carried the rest of the booty home to share with the boyfriend and house mate, who helped me taste everything. The verdict is out, even Scott who doesn't like sweets verified that it was the best chocolate ever. What can I say, I don't like to drink alone.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

white people manage to screw up white food

Just got back from a baby shower in Indiana. It was held in a church activity room so I should've known better and stopped off at Subway. Hell, beef jerky from a gas station would've been better than what was served. With the exception of the baked goods, NOTHING was homemade. The only vegetable type matter I could find was celery sticks and salsa. For some reason there was onion dip but no potato chips. Warm 2 liters of pop were out. There was no ice. Potato salad and cole slaw were still in the tubs from Jewel they had been bought in.

Don't get me wrong, I am casual. I have served friends tater tots and frozen pizza from Aldi but that was just friends getting together, hanging out in my living room in lieu of a bar. When I have served tater tots to dinner guests you bet your hot ass the meat loaf I made was HOMEMADE and tasty and there was gravy (seriously, tater tots with gravy kicks ass). But for a shower I would expect things kicked up a notch or two.

Christmas will be interesting. I told Granny I will bring salad and I've already been ordered to not spend alot of money like I did last time (I think I spent all of $10 on salad for 10+ people which I think is pretty reasonable). She suggested salad in a bag. Not gonna do it. I also volunteered to bring a side dish. I understand Granny is in her late 80s and I don't expect her to cook but let me if I am willing! She is already talking of just having "one large dish". I know we're going to have a Christmas casserole, I just know it. I'm bringing laxatives for all.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ads that annoy

Although I am a sex positive feminist, certain types of blatently sexual advertising annoys the shit out of me. Such as the above Cabana Cachaca ad (there's a whole gallery of sprawling nudes on their site). Brazilian! Like a waxed pussy! CLEVER RIGHT???? CLEVER AND SEXY!

Or not.

Really, you gotta wonder how the Brazilians feel about having their entire nation reduced to genital waxing. I think the only logical revenge is to dub anal bleaching "getting an American."

Still is it worse than Vincent Gallo's douchetarded Belvedere ads? The jury is out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Foods that inspire fear and loathing.

1. Crisco. Edible vaseline.

2. 100 calorie snack packs. Nice try at portion control, but these packs usually contain tasteless mini oreos or some such crap.

3. Speaking of, Oreos. Dry cookies filled with crisco frosting.

4. The Krispy Kremes with the "kreme" filling. More crisco filling. Why anyone chooses these over custard filled is beyond me.

5. Non-dairy creamer. Read the ingredients and you'll never use it again.

6. "diet" junk food like snackwells. See #2.

7. Swiss miss, or any cocoa that is made with water in lieu of milk.

8. Baloney. Does anyone like this? The smell makes me ill.

9. Most American-made drug store candy. Makes my teeth hurt to think of it.

10. Soda. I can't drink it without feeling artificial sweetener or corn syrup guilt.

Monday, November 24, 2008

lame ass eating

Some of my co-workers eat the lamest food. If I see one more person prissily heating up instant oatmeal for breakfast or taking way too much care to microwave a frickin' Lean Cuisine I'm going to lob Scotch Eggs and my Huge Salads That Cause Unsolicited Comments (tm) over their cubical walls in the hopes they will remember they have taste buds for a reason. Gah!

Friday, November 21, 2008

What the hell is a banoffee pie?

For some reason, the expression "Banoffee pie" has been running through my head on an almost constant basis for the past day or so, like some weird linguistic earworm.

I googled it, and it's a British banana/cream/dulce de leche pie. Sounds good, don't think I've ever eaten it. Am curious how this phrase implanted itself in my head only to reemerge at this moment. Is it a sign from the universe? A message from a departed ancestor?

Queen of saturated fats Paula Deen has a recipe for it.

Maybe I'll make one for Thanksgiving dinner.

too darn hot

I hate overly hot food. A slight steam is acceptable in the case of tea, coffee and soup but I want to be able to sip or slurp it within a minute. I do not understand some peoples' insistence upon mouth blisteringly hot food. Is there any flavor left at that temperature? What is the appeal? Cool it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rutabaga cheese fries

So, I am ashamed to say that I stole this recipe for sweet potato fries from the friggin' Barefoot Contessa:

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into 3 long spears. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil. Spread the potatoes in one layer. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn with a spatula. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve hot.

Only I made it with rutabagas and parsnips too, and the rutabagas and parsnips actually turned out better (firmer) than the sweet potatoes.

Here's another recipe from someone else. Really friggin' good, esp. with melted cheese!

Food trends that do/don't justify the hype

Sometimes a food item becomes so hyped that it almost becomes a guilty pleasure (which is why I tend to get into wildly popular TV shows years after they're wildly popular- allows me a more objective assessment). Here's my opinion of what is and isn't worth the hype.

Guilty pleasures:

1. Donuts- Chicago is sadly unrepresented in this category- Who can resist a warm donut? The market is dominated by Dunkin' Donuts, which frankly sucks compared to Krispy Kreme, Voodoo Donuts in Portland, or the mom n' pop shops in Berkeley (notably King Pin on Telegraph ave...omg). Mindy Segal at hot chocolate does buffalo milk ricotta donuts that are pretty tasty though.

2. Bacon- What is it about bacon and hipsters? I know the occasional Kosher Jew and vegetarian who make exceptions for it too. Bacon has become a parody of itself with bacon chocolate, bacon toffee, bacon apple pie, bacon salt, all you can eat bacon brunch- and yet, it's still that good. Salty meat crack.

3. Craft Beer- am I a pretentious yuppie douche for preferring craft beer? All I know is six months ago I didn't give a damn about beer and now I'm obsessed. And Goose Island makes it easy to indulge since even friggin Giordano's carries it.

4. Brioche anything- really, as pretentious as brioche is, it usually is hell of delicious.

5. Fois Gras- yes, it's cruel. So is factory farming.


6. Sushi- Sushi is for the most part a sad joke in Chicago, and not worth eating. But take me to Itto Sushi or the burbs and it's on. And yes, I secretly like those cream cheese and tempura rolls.

7. $3 Truffles at Vosges or Coco Rouge- delicious, but not really in my budget.

8. Pork belly- zomg delicious but KILLS my gallbladder.

Skip it

9. "Truffled" anything- can you actually taste the truffles? Was it worth the extra $5?

10. Duck fat fries- I really want to like these. But honestly, I don't taste the difference.

Unrelatedly- this is the midwest, and I am seriously befuddled by how many SKINNY chefs, bakers and brewmasters I know here. Probably because they run around like a chicken with its head cut off producing their wares and I just sit around and eat them.

Scotch Eggs!

Just as delicious as I thought they would be.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Here is our splendid dish of walnut prune scones! Something I will definitely make again on my own. I keep imagining how good they would be with dried cherries and dark chocolate pieces. I loved the technique we used to shape them- fill a 1/3 cup with scone batter (it's fairly thick and mold able) and fling it on to the cookie sheet so they hold the scone shape. I think my biggest danger is to eat them all myself, I'll have to keep them in mind for parties.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nut milk for all!

I taught a cooking class with my good friend Lauren who runs a nut milk cottage business called Nutmoo. I've led three cooking classes over the last two months- I can't seem to get more than two participants for a class. Fortunately we always have a lot of fun, and I still make a little something since all I have to pay for are the ingredients. It was awesome playing assistant, having a partner (if we get along well) is always so much more pleasant than going at it alone. It's like having a co-host for a party. You can actually relax and enjoy the party instead of freaking out about whether there's enough ice. I'll have photos soon (Thank you fiancee, resident photographer) but meanwhile here are directions for nutmilk. We also made awesome gluten free, vegan walnut prune scones. The directions are a bit long, but I'll post them if people are interested.

Nut Milk

4 ounces of nuts (about 1/2 cup of walnuts)
Filtered water to cover the nuts
3 cups additional water
Pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon of agave nectar or sweeten to taste

Soak the nuts and refrigerate overnight
Pour off the water
Combine nuts and 3 cups of water in a blender and allow to blend on high between 5-10 minutes depending how powerful your blender is. The mixture is ready when it becomes very opaque and the ground nuts will be very fine. Increasing the ratio of nuts to water will make a richer milk. Strain the mixture with an nut milk straining bag (These are available online. An extra fine hops straining bag from your local brewing supply store will also work.) This bag can be used numerous times.
Add salt and agave nectar, and stir thoroughly. Keep chilled, it should be good for about a week. You can replace some flour for the leftover ground nuts next time you bake.


Monday, November 10, 2008


I did it. I got everything made and the benefit was a success and I've think I've got an idea of a good outlet for my love of baking and generally puttering around the kitchen.

I'm starting a blog about it, just go to my profile and click on it if you are interested.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Scotch is the new echinacea

Fighting germs the fun way!

Twice in the past month I've felt a cold coming on, drank some barrel aged spirits and was magically healed.

The first time was after a distributor gave me some really strong single malt scotch and rum (I wind up puking but my cold was gone).

Then yesterday my nose was running all day and I felt tired and gross, but JR and I made it to the Festival of Barrel Aged Beers anyway. A dozen tastes later, I was fine. And those were strong beers- some were like 13%, and tasted like chinese medicine. (Unrelatedly, putting your boobs on the beer tank is a super effective way to get quicker service from servers, but I didn't tell you that).

I've also noticed that I almost never get sick since I started drinking more frequently for my jobs. My question is- is it the antibacterial properties of the booze, or something in the barrels that knocked out my burgeoning colds?

(I'm sure that Snarky Nutritionist could counterpoint about how booze wrecks your liver and immune system, but I'm super pleased that I'm not sick today!!!)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Baking Fool

I have taken it upon myself to prepare the following for a bakesale tonight:

Candy Brownies
Oatmeal, Apricot & Raisin Cookies
Pecan Shortbread
Triple Chip Cookies
Banana Split Cupcakes
Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cupcakes

The last batch of oatmeal cookies is baking. All that is left to do is make the frosting,stuff, frost and decorate the cupcakes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chocolate cereal is not a health food

I saw cereal that had pieces of chocolate in it today at Trader Joe's. Not chocolate flavored puffs, actual pieces of chocolate. And it was claiming to be healthy because it was fortified with inulin, a trendy low glycemic chemical normally found in artichokes (not chocolate.) It's all about finding ways to let us eat candy all day and pretend it's healthy. Almost as good as the fat-free half and half I saw, which was made out of five different types of creepy. I swear, if a food has "healthy" printed on it in big letters, it's probably worse than the "bad" stuff.

this situation must be remedied

I just learned of the existence of (much less known the glory of experiencing)the marvel that is the Scotch Egg:

A hard boiled egg coated in sausage and then DEEP FRIED. Fuck yes. I need to try one of these.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Apple pie

My friend J.R. and I went apple picking yesterday, except the trees were all finished, we did buy a ton of apples though (plus cider and cider donuts yummmm) so I made an apple pie tonight, which will be consumed tomorrow (I like it better when it's sit for a day) after a dinner of Cornish Game Hen, Asparagus, Sweet Potato Fries and Goose Island Honkers Ale (oh, Goose Island, maker of affordable, delicious local beer!)

I forgot how difficult pie crust is to make (at least if it's been a few years), so it wound up taking up way more of my evening than planned, but hopefully the result will be worth it? I'm going to bed now.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In defense of vodka, part two.

I don't care that vodka is bland (that's what makes the flavored stoli so delightful with soda!), I drink it and I remain level headed and alert with no hangover the next day. (To be honest I'm not that crazy about being drunk, so being clearheaded is a plus for me).

After spending the next morning puking, miserable and headachey after an interviewee (who was a lovely man), gave me samples of two scotches, two bourbons, and rum (and mind you these were small pours in snifters of high quality, high proof spirits, and I hadn't eaten much that day), I'm going to have to say I'll stick to vodka, even if it makes me hopelessly uncool.

Scotch= wood dissolved in alcohol!!!! I understand why people like it and can even appreciate it from a connoisseur's viewpoint but I absolutely hate what it does to my body.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Letting you all know I've started a nutrition blog of my own here:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dick food

Stuff I ate at a bachelorette party last night:

-dick pasta salad (with ham and mayonnaise)

-blowjob shots (amaretto, bailey's, whipped cream, no hands)

-dick cake (actually I didn't eat any)

-cocktail franks with beans

-olives and gherkins threaded on a toothpick to look like dick n' balls

-hot wings


I also got fake-fucked by a stripper named "black magic" with a monstrously big dick. It was ridiculous. I really don't get the whole bachelorette party thing but it was fun in a horrible way. I had the WORST heartburn after though. I guess dick doesn't agree with me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some shameless self promotion.

My article about Japanese food in Chicago is on the cover of the Time Out Chicago site today.

It also gets mentioned here. I feelz famous!

Check it out!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Two things I hate today, food journalist edition

1. PR people and press releases.

No, I am not impressed that Lil Wayne sips your champagne at douchebag nightclubs. (My hatred of douchebag nightclubs and the cult of empty conspicuous consumption could occupy a whole other post). I get a lot of press releases as a food writer, and most of them suck. It's as if they're written to make a product or place less appealing. There are three reasons places seem to hire PR people:

1. Because the scale of their business is so massive that it doesnt make sense to handle marketing inhouse. This is probably the only valid reason, though it's not actually the most common one.

2. Restaurant/product wants to appear foofoo and important. Me= not impressed. When I schedule interviews with bar people I have much more positive initial impression if I set up the appointment with them directly. Yesterday, I had an interviewee "forget" his appointment his PR person scheduled for him. See how well that worked out?

3. Their product sucks or their business is slow and they're trying to drum up interest. This doesn't work so great either because most editors and writers have a natural aversion to press releases.

I do sympathise with PR people to a degree, because being a freelancer and sending queries is a very similar (and frustrating) process. The problem is writers/editors receive so much CRAP that is totally irrelevant that something the good stuff falls through the cracks. And most editors already have an idea of what they want, and it's probably not what you're selling.

2. Booze snobbery: in defense of vodka.

The past six months have been a crash course in booze appreciation for me. Quite frankly, I didn't drink much prior to becoming a booze writer, though a lot of this was due to being poor. I'd enjoy the occasional $6 bottle of Trader Joes wine, and a vanilla vodka soda or PBR on the occasional occasion of going to a bar with friends. $11 cocktails, craft beer and artisanal spirits were simply not in my budget.

The interesting thing about being a journalist is you can basically live at the poverty level and pretend that you're not desperately broke through the miracle of press passes. I've been forced to learn a lot about booze very quickly, which is actually a lot of fun and quite interesting. At this point I'm fairly indifferent to wine, have developed a passion for fancy beer, and have mixed feelings about the whole mixology craze since I find that it's a- get ready for this- MIXED BAG! For every FUCKING AMAZING $11 cocktail I've tried, there have been 3 or 4 just kinda ok ones.

So here's the thing. I LOVE Stoli Vanil, and Stoli Blackberry. I love Stoli Vanil with Dr. Pepper and vanilla ice cream. I especially love it with soda, a smidge of grenadine, and a zillion maraschino cherries, and yes, I realize that's basically a glorified Shirley Temple, and I don't care. However, I have quickly discovered that in the land of pretentious boozeology, vodka is a big socially unacceptable NO NO. While I understand why people adore and adulate whiskeys for all their variation and complexity, blah blah, but I personally don't enjoy the taste of whiskey enough to care. I am not pretending that vodka is the same thing as whiskey. It's a clear, refreshing base spirit that allows other flavors to shine. It's the tofu of the beverage world! Would you accuse an order of thai deep fried tofu of being un-delicious simply because it doesn't have the gameyness of a lamb chop?

Ok, see this is what I don't get- the same mixologists who bag on vodka secretly like it! Regard the following excerpt from Jeffrey Morgenthaler's blog:

I badmouth the spirit in private and trash it in public. I grimace every time you order a vodka martini - “Shaken, up, with three olives” - at my bar. For all of the shit I’ve talked over the years, vodka is my number one guilty pleasure drink - I will always accept a vodka on the rocks after work. I’ll drink a Screwdriver at the airport, and a Greyhound when I get on the plane. And if you’ve got a bottle in your freezer, you’ll catch me stealing straight shots right out of the frosty bottle neck. I love the stuff.

So can we just accept that vodka, while flavorless, is a perfectly acceptable base spirit that is wonderful for infusing with other flavors? Furthermore, there IS a difference when you spend a bit more money on vodka- good vodka tastes smoother, and gives me less of a hangover. Of course, we're talking the difference between well vodka and stoli, but like I said, I'm poor. I can't help but wonder if part of the vodka stigma is the fact that vodka is frequently drunk by women and Eastern European peasants, which makes me wonder if there's some secret sexist/classist agenda going on here.

And while we're at it, mint, vanilla and cucumber (three ingredients a nameless mixologist professed to avoid yesterday since their "overused") are all delicious components in a cocktail and should not be eschewed, dammit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Meet Natto

Natto is what happened when some crazy Japanese person decided to eat the rotting horse feed in some edo-era stable. Natto is a blob of fermented soybeans with a disgustingly stringy texture, that has the same appeal as smelly rotting cheeses- it's good while at the same time disgusting. Most Americans and many Japanese refuse to eat it. It made me throw up to look at it until I developed a taste for it (like many other bizarre Japanese foods that I now crave, like pickled plum, grated mountain yam and burdock root).

I've come to realize I can eat almost anything as long as it's not sketchy meat. (Sketchy meat wrecks my digestion, so it may be a self-preservation thing). But rotten soybeans and fruit that smells like dirty ass? Bring it on!

Speaking of sketchy meat, Mike Sula at the Reader posted the menu for his pig dinner (the Reader bought some kind of heirloom pig with the express intent of butchering and eating it- I guess it's supposed to be some kind of environmentally positive gesture but it's the sort of gesture that would have angry vegans throwing bricks in my hometown of Berkeley.) Anyway, I am less sad about not being able to attend this event because if I tried to eat my way through that much pork, combined with wine, no less, my digestive system would probably stage a hostile revolt (which happened after eating pork belly at Hot Chocolate, as delicious as it was). My digestive system adores probiotics laden natto on the other hand. So that was your TMI for the day.

Ethical Dilemma

I really want to support the independent coffeeshop by my house over starbucks, but they're making it really hard to.

First off, their shit is kind of pricy which I could accept if it were good, but it's not that good. My mocha is too hot and tastes like it was made with swiss miss. My bagel is flaky, not chewy (the sure sign of a goyish bagel) and burnt. Where's the love?

Maybe I should just go to an independent coffeeshop in another neighborhood. Sigh.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What's a Carnivore to do?

I keep falling back and forth between throwing myself completely into marketing my latest weight loss/detox/nutrition program and wanting to giving it all up for a nice, boring day job. I've been known to flip flop within the course of a day, hours even. It's all a matter of what kind of "hard" sounds less painful at the moment.

So I'm back on the business wagon after I got a couple of calls, both from vegans who found my phone number on my college website, thinking I'm the school, and wanting to sign up for my Healthy Holiday cooking class. This is ironic for so many reasons. Both of my professors not only promoted meat (free range, pasture raised organic of course), but also consumption of internal organs and told stories of how Native American hunters ate the raw adrenals of animals immediately after killing them. I still have trouble eating liver if it's not pate, but I can list five nutrients off of the top of my head that are impossible to get if you go vegan.

My class is geared towards avoiding food sensitivities (a lot of people in my field have difficulty choosing sexy, appealing titles for our programs) but I mention that the recipes are dairy and egg free. In my desperation for enrollment, I say yes, these classes are vegan (although it didn't occur to me until it was pointed out.) So I'm accepting dirty vegan money, supporting their anti-animal protein addiction. I'm terrified one of my professors will magically appear and start scolding me. My secret evil plan will be to have plenty of sublingual B12 and rice protein powder for the vegans to sample and purchase if they get faint or cranky, which I've discovered from experience is inevitable.

It will be nice to get one of these programs off the ground at least!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hey Mon Sauces

I was on youtube looking for the Hey Mon In Living Color sketch that pretty much describes my career (Mim always called it "being a jamaican job lady").

I found this instead. It's perhaps one of the most horrifyingly, embarrassingly low budget advertisements ever created.

Carribean Style Holiday Turkey! Oh my.

Booze hate

#1. Bartenders who correct my pronounciation of a beer or beverage when I pronounce it correctly.

Me: Can I have a pint of schpahten?

Bartender (at a phony German bar in Lincoln Square!!!): You want a spay-ten?

(of course, Magaret at the 4am bar St. Pauli club down the road says schpahten, but tourists don't go there)

Me: One Mohjheet please.

Bartender: You mean Mah-deet?

Okay, so I'm a pretentious journalist from California, but if I actually know how to pronounce something correctly, I'm gonna. Just don't correct me back to the American pronounciation, dammit.

#2 Another thing that bugs:

This is a crappy photo booth photo, but it's a Belvedere vodka ad that says "Luxury Reborn" with A PICTURE OF VINCENT GALLO!!!!! How Vincent Gallo became a sex symbol (in his own mind, at least) when he clearly was born to be a wino is beyond me. This man is cut out for stuff like Night Train and Thunderbird, produced by E&J GALLO winery, not foofy top shelf vodka.

People of the world, I beg you- STOP GIVING VINCENT GALLO MONEY. He has nothing to offer you but self important pap!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

convenience or perpetuating uselessness?

NPR ran a bit on "food assembly" businesses, something I had never heard of as I am a grown up and cut up my own veggies and wash my own dishes. Basically rich people pay alot of money ($150 was a quote I heard on NPR) to prepare their meals for the week. The selling point is that one does not have to shop for the ingredients, prep the food or clean up afterwards and that it is healthier than frozen entrees. True but really, how hard is it to cook for oneself? Last night I managed to make (all homemade and the only shortcut was pre-chopped garlic) curried zucchini soup, tomato & cilantro rice, broiled salmon w/ green pepper and tofu w/brocolli; all in the span of about 2 hours. Oh and I made Feminist Popcorn too because I love the stuff and it travels well. I easily have enough meals to last me the rest of the week and I can assure you it didn't cost me $150 to buy all the ingredients. Yeah, I have to wash the dishes tonight but really-how lazy have folks become? Odds are one who can shell out $150 for one week's worth of meals has a dishwasher and can afford all the pre-sliced ingredients most higher end markets sell anyway.
I suspect its another opportunity to "network" (especially after checking out some of the websites Google led me to)or for the rich and busy and self-important to get a kick out of playing like they are regular people all the while still having disdain for them. Kinda like when the higher ups at my office have to pull their turn of dishwasher duty.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Japanese comfort food

Or perhaps more accurately: food to make you poo.

They had burdock root (one of my favorite vegetables, so tender and stringy with its bizarre planty fragrance) at Mitsuwa, so I made kinpira gobo with grated gobo (burdock), julienned carrots and flavorless but chewy konnyaku yam paste. It's supposed to have sesame seeds too but I'm laying off those because of this stupid blood type diet book I read that says their bad for me (they also say tomatoes, pomegranates and persimmons are the devil, so what the fuck).

It's the kind of dish that's really just a mega infusion of fiber, but damn I love it, even if it looks like a bowl of worms.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Whine and Cheese: Chicago Gourmet

I attended Chicago Gourmet at Millenium Park today, and I've got to say, I feel sorry for anyone who actually paid to attend this event (I had a press pass). The highlight of my day was watching Mayor Daley cook a Halibut (and I had to miss a beer and cheese workshop to see this, tragically). Allow me to outline the suckpoints of this event:

-It was touted as being the epicurean "Taste of Chicago." In truth, only a few tents offered food, in miniscule portions, and there was invariably an insane line at these stations. Fox and Obel get kudos for putting out a decent spread of cheeses, olives, meats and chocolate, but it still wasn't, ya know, a meal. You could spend a fraction of the ticket price here on a fantastic meal at somewhere like Hot Chocolate and be much better fed. A friend who attended the $250 gala opening dinner said that it also sucked, that there wasn't enough food and that people were standing around hungry. FOR $250. And the food that was being produced at the Chef's tables- stuff like chili and mac and cheese- was hardly sophisticated enough to justify the insanely high ticket price.

-I have realized that I vastly prefer beer to wine at this point. Which is not to say I don't enjoy wine, I just don't get the same geeky pleasure from imbibing it. Which is too bad, because this really should have been billed as a wine festival. I did get to try Goose Island's Matilda, which was awesome.

-The seminars seemed a little slipshod and poorly organized. I was also told I was "wrong" at the sake seminar when the instructor asked the difference between an Ale and a Lager and I replied longer fermentation time- the answer he was looking for was top fermentation vs. bottom fermentation, but to tell me I was wrong when my answer was in fact correct was kind of insulting especially since I was the only person in the room who raised their hand.

-An appetizer served at one station that appeared as though someone had jacked off on potato chip and honestly didn't taste much better. I'm still not sure what that spooge-like substance was.

-The Whole Foods "Family Village"- a tiny bargain priced gulag that I didn't have a chance to check out before it closed- I don't think it generated much interest

-Dunkin Donuts was a major sponsor. For a WINE AND GOURMET FOOD event. FTW?

Lest I seem overly negative, it was nice to see my colleague Julia from the Reader, hang out with Iron Chef America judge Louisa Chu, catch up with SakeOne rep Dewey Weddington, and taste Mindy Segal's (who hosted the fabulous beer dinner I attended on monday) fabulous cold chocolate drink.

I just hope that if they do this event next year, they'll adjust the pricetag or hold it at a smaller venue. Or just bill it as a glorified winetasting, because that's basically what it was.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bargain beer dinner...

So I attended a super fabulous craft beer dinner on monday, and a thought occured to me- what foods would pair well with PBR and Schlitz? What could one cook with Sparks? I think I would have to appoint Vally Val as culinary chief in such an endeavor, since she has been known to make a spring suprise salad involving mayonaise, cheese and lemon jello, as well as my birthday Watergate Cake which involved Cool Whip and pistachio jello.

I'm thinking- frito pie and pbr. A sparks jello mold. A cake leavened with Miller Highlife! Schlitz pot roast.

How much do you want to bet I could get hipsters to pay money to attend my budget beer dinner? Although they'd probably just sneak in and eat all the food, then leave.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

eat the rich

I just paid almost $11 for hummus, a green pepper, 2 soggy heads of brocolli and some crackers because I didn't have time to pack lunch and didn't want to eat crap. Fuck that. No wonder poor people eat crappy food.

Great food quotes from the previous night

"I had to stage an emergency mushroom visit!"

-Catherine Lambrecht of LTH Forum at the Louis Glunz Beer Culinary Council dinner at Hot Chocolate.

"Do you like your eggs scrambled or fried?"

"Over easy. Are you propositioning me?"

"I was trying to determine if you were a socialist, since they cannot stand the superiority of the yolk held above the white, and prefer scrambled eggs since both are mixed together equally."

-Conversation while drinking with Doug at Ronny's

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Blast from the Past

Do you remember the late 80's/early 90's? When everybody and their fucking dog was afraid of salt?

Remember that? You got it in your mind?

It's back...and it's crazier than before.

For those of you out there who aren't chemistry nerds -- table salt, i.e. sodium-chloride molecules are one sodium atom (Na) and one chlorine atom (Cl) each. The molecules in question may be from France, pale gray and quite expensive, got at an impressively appointed kitchen shoppe, or it could be out of the blue-and-yellow canister with the little kid on, dead white and boring, got from the local mega-mart. You are getting one atom of Na and one atom of Cl. That's the deal. Sure, you could get a few molecules of something else. Particularly if the salt isn't pure, like the afore mentioned sel gris (grey sea salt), or Fluer de sel (course grey sea salt), or Indian black salt, and pink salt from various locations -- but, by and large you get NaCl. The level of trace elements is usually not high enough to appreciably effect the taste or texture of the salt.

So why, why, WHY is Campbell's billing it's "Healthy Request" soup as being low sodium, but better tasting because they use "natural sea salt?" As if NaCl molecules out of the sea is somehow healthier than a NaCl molecule out of the ground.

The stupid. It burns!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Soy rant

So, my revulsion du jour is that disgusting crap "soy sauce" that you occasionally encounter with really bad takeout or in the generic house-brand packaging of your local grocery store (particularly if your local grocery store is in a central Texas town most famous for spawning a doomed would-be Messiah). The first three ingredients are water, salt, and caramel coloring, and there is usually no soy presence whatsoever. There is sometimes some "autolyzed yeast extract" (ARE YOU GIVING ME WATERY VEGEMITE AND TELLING ME IT'S SOY SAUCE?!), but sometimes it really is nothing but water, salt, fake colors, and fake flavors. It's really gross.

While I'm on it, I know that genuine wasabi is really expensive and delicate blah-blah-most-wasabi-is-just-horseradish, and I can deal with that. I'm actually not a wasabi snob. However, when it comes out of the little pouchlet looking like a baby ate two parts green Play-Doh and one part Burger King bun Play-Doh, then pooped it into my plastic takeout sushi tray, we have a problem. Come on, people. I agreed to accept green-tinted horseradish as a suitable condiment. Don't exploit my goodwill with sorbitol, corn oil, and Blue #1.

I know it's my fault for eating grocery store sushi, but where I live it's comparable to anything you could get at the two "sushi" "restaurants" at my disposal.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Taste test: Hitachino Nest Commemorative Ale

I was recently at Mitsuwa shopping center doing research for an article I'm writing, and decided to pick up a bottle of Hitachino Nest Commemorative Ale, from Ibaraki. I am a budding beer nerd and lover of Japanese lagers like Sapporo and Asahi, so I was excited to try this craft beer in it's cute little retro owl adorned bottle. It was hard to choose just one since they make a milk stout, red rice ale and a white beer as well, but at $4 a pop my budget didn't allow it. (I had already dropped $80 at Ikea nearby).

The commemorative beer appears to be a new years themed beer from the Japanese writing on the label, and is "brewed with vanilla beans and spices, coriander, orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon." It's an opaque amber colored ale with a nice, spicy taste reminescent of dried fruit and oranges, perfect for the Winter holidays. However, this beer also suffers from INSANE HEAD. The bottle had been sitting in my fridge, totally inert, and I pour A GLASS OF FOAM, which I make the mistake of sipping, resulting in THE WORLDS FOAMIEST BEER BELCH (seriously disgusting). It's a well known fact that Japanese bars (in Japan) serve you 50% head when you order draft beer, it's just how they roll. I always assumed they were just being cheap, but maybe that's how they like it and this beer WAS ENGINEERED TO HAVE MORE FOAM THAN BEER! It's a great beer but I recommend getting a really big glass and letting it sit a few minutes before drinking less you too experience the belch from hell!

I am looking forward to trying other varieties, assuming they are less head oriented.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My love hate thing with wraps

I hate wraps. They're like some creepy yuppy version of a burrito. I hate going to a coffeeshop and that's all the have to eat. I don't hate sandwiches as much as I hate wraps, I just hate most of the sandwiches you get at restaurants because they're way too expensive for what you get. Milk and Honey is an exception, I had their ham and havarti sandwich while working renegade this weekend and it was crazy good.

So, I actually broke down and bought a package of whole grain wraps because I had v. little food at home and I wanted a hearty, healthy breakfast and decided I should give an egg and veggie wrap a try as a filling breakfast. And it was the bomb diggity! You throw the tortilla thing on a cookie sheet, load it with cheese, meat, whatever and stick it in the oven for a few minutes and voila! Now I am addicted though I still won't eat them while out.

My one disclaimer is the whole grain ones aren't really flexible enough to "wrap," maybe because I'm putting them in the oven which dries them out. I kind of just fold it around the filling to the best of my ability.

This morning I made myself a wrap with swiss cheese, sliced turkey, roasted beets and yams, fresh tomatoes and cottage cheese, because apparently I was channeling my grandma. It was pretty good but I wouldn't wish it on another person.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Don't Fuck with My Coffee

I've been holed up sick (thanks for the "A Simple Cold Turns into The Plague at the Drop of Hat" gene Dad) so I've seen alot of TV and daytime TV at that. Saw alot of ads for flavored coffee non-dairy creamer. Ugh. If I want Blueberry Pie flavored coffee I will have a slice of blueberry pie with my coffee. Don't fuck with the beautiful flavor that is coffee. I can understand a bit of cinnamon or vanilla or things that can enhance coffee but don't add a bunch of chemicals to it and try to convince me its something else.
Hmmmm.......Is this some dieting ploy? I'm not going to want the chocolate fudge brownies if my coffee tastes like that? Never mind that the texture and temperature is way off. It reminds me of all the freaking yogurts that taste like anything besides yogurt. Fuck that, when I brave the effects of having dairy its usually for some good Greek yogurt and not some Creme Brulee Yoplait pink ribbon crap.

I'm going to make another toddy. In fact, I will share the recipe. Dad may have given me Prone to Upper Respitory Infections DNA but he made up for it by taking me to get antibiotics and making me a toddy :)

hot tea (herbal works if you want to be healthy about it)
a shot of whiskey or scotch (as Dad said, "amber alcohol is your friend")

Mix, sip and feel a hell of a lot better.

Meet your authors at Renegade Craft Fair this weekend!

The RENEGADE CRAFT FAIR is happening this weekend on Division St, between Damen and Hermitage. It is totally free and totally AWESOME. Last year was a blast and this year cool bands like Califone and Hey Willpower will be playing in the evening.

I will be running David Murray's awesome SEIBEI teeshirt booth all weekend long with the lovely Vally Val, and David himself will be in town Sunday! If you do not know Seibei, it's the teeshirt line behind the fabulous SANDWICH DINOSAUR shirts seen all over Chicago! He's got lots of new designs and some sweet assed dinosaur necklaces, so be sure to check that shit out! (and give me a hug and bring me some coffee, probably).


Monday, September 8, 2008

You're an asshole and you don't even realize it.

A while back I blogged about the cloying and obnoxious customer service policies of a certain restaurant I had privy to reading the employee manual for.

I just received a comment from a woman calling me classist for implying that the need to feel "loved" (if corporate douchebaggery can truly be called "love"- I know all about that one from working in the service industry) by a the man or woman who takes your dirty dishes away reflects a serious emotional insecurity.

Wow. Just wow.

Honey, that busser doesn't love you, he's just trying to get into your pants!

And honestly, I didn't see the service when I ate there. It took them ten minutes to bring us water, and our waitress spent the better part of the evening trying to work me for journalism contacts. If that's love, I'd rather be hated.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Eating well is the best revenge

Last time I was at Mitsuwa, I stocked up on Kewpie Mayonnaise and Okonomiyaki Sauce to cook Okonomiyaki for my now ex-boyfriend. Then he dumped my ass. So I made Okonomiyaki for myself! I think it's officially a three-way tie between Kewpie Mayo, Okonomiyaki Sauce and Anger for the best Okonomiyaki topping.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pet Peeve of the day

People who can't tell the difference between a weak pour and a drink that's mixed so well that you can't taste the booze. Not being able to taste the alcohol is a good thing!

Unrelatedly I had a (smart) bartender tell me last night that I shouldn't freeze vodka because it "shocks" the spirit and you have to shake it or something. Though really I was kinda toasted when that conversation went down.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What Do I Hate?

Vegan cookbooks.

I mean, is it so hard to write a book *without* trying to create more True Believers?

I'm not reading a cookbook for gospel, I'm reading cookbook for recipes and food information. I don't care how cool or enlightened or exceptional you think your life style is, I just want something interesting to do with beans.

So vegans, guess what? Your cookbooks universally suck. Go read Nigella Lawson, or M.F.K. Fisher, or Anthony Bourdain, or Julia Child, or Thomas Keller, or Michael Ruhlman or Jane Grigson, or Laurie Colwin, or Stefan Gates, or, or, or any number of food writers who really care about food and the way people eat. Learn something. Then come tell me about how cool you are.

Thank you very much

P.S. I'm drunk, don't mind me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Impatient assed counter people take note:

You wanna know what pisses me off? When I'm at a bakery or a cafe or something, checking out the drink list or the bakery case, and nobody's standing in line, and the counter person gets all impatient and demands my order within seconds then stands there looking irate until I make up my mind. I am the type of gal whose day is ruined if she orders the wrong thing due to pressure, and I actually prefer if there's a line because I can leisurely make up my mind. Seriously- give me five minutes, you can go back to texting your friends while I decide what I want, mmmkay?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Work-Related Food Hate

For a bit of back-ground: I work in a movie theater that serves food, beer, and wine. Accordingly, we have a small, not very impressive wine list.

Now, I'm not here to defend our wine list. I know nothing about wine. If you ask me how the (whatever red wine) is -- I will tell you it has good body with notes of cherry and plum, and if you ask me about the (whatever white wine) I'll tell you it has a nice nose with notes of apple and pear. That's my standard line and it freely reflects my ignorance.

But the beer. That is a different story. We have a small, but mostly decent selection of beer, and I know something about them.

That said; I am ASTOUNDED how often some one will quiz me or a co-worker about the Merlot or the Chardonnay or the Shiraz or, or, or. Taste two or three...then buy a pint of Pabst Blue Ribbon.


They pass over everything on the wine list, and everything good on the tap line to buy the cheapest, most watery, least beer-tasting-beer we sell.

Any thoughts on this one?


I went there yesterday. Having tried Starfruit (frozen kefir, though it's now tainted by association with a certain event in my life) and Red Mango (Korean froyo, really good) recently, I decided to suck it up and try the crackberry instead of ya know, eating real food for dinner. I guess that makes me a sorority girl.

I approve of the recent trend of froyo that really tastes sour like yogurt instead of like glorified softserve. They have a pretty impressive assortment of toppings including girl scout cookies, although I felt so rushed by the server that I wasn't even sure what I wanted. Opted for pineapple, strawberry (my favorite fruit) and chocolate chips. That's where I went wrong. Fruit+froyo=great, chocolate chips freeze and become waxy and inedible. So I guess this is a post dedicated to the eradication of chocolate chips as a froyo topping, or maybe they should be re-engineered as chocolate shavings or something so they are still edible when frozen. I guess that's why the chocolate in mint chip is always kind of flat pieces, it has a better texture that way.

And if you ever find yourself at Red Mango, get the green tea froyo with mochi topping, for realz.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lesson learned!

Don't hang around with bartenders (excuse me, *mixologists*) who want to get in your pants. Drinking ten foofy cocktails in the space of 3 hours may *seem* like a good idea, but trust me, it's not when you wind up puking ten times the next morning. (Sorry for getting it in your car, Samantha).

They had me until it was served

Bacon & Egg ice cream. Sounds nummy and custardy with salty bacon as a nice balance. Then they go and fuck with it by serving it all foo-foo:

It's called OVERKILL people!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lunch: the least loved meal.

I would be happy to do away with lunch and just eat brunch and dinner.

Or maybe be European about it, and have tea and a late dinner.

Lunch is highly overrated.

I hate the lunch menus at restaurants. Crappy sandwiches, crappy soup, crappy salads, crappy pasta. Lunch entrees are the entrees that aren't special enough to eat at dinner. Dinner is steaks and grilled fish, buttery vegetables and multiple courses. Dinner is expensive for a reason, while lunch is cheap and forgettable.

While we're at it, let's eliminate breakfast in favor of brunch. Who wants to spend $4 on a bowl of oatmeal or a yogurt parfait? Brunch is salmon benedict at Tre Kronor and oreo flapjacks at the Bongo Room. All restaurants should be required to serve brunch until 3pm, seven days a week. Melissa and I actually walked out of Milk and Honey at high noon because they stop serving brunch at 12pm and neither of us wanted anything from the dismal sandwich menu.(bring out the tiny bobo violins!) I get annoyed by places that only serve brunch on weekends because it's always impossible to get a table on weekends and I want my brunch on a wednesday.

So from now on, I eat brunch, tea and dinner.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Snarky's top 5 food label pet peeves

Here are my top 5 word you find on food labels to fool you into thinking it's "healthy":

1. Natural
"Natural flavorings" is a popular name for MSG

2. Organic
I'm still waiting for them to come out organic candy canes this Christmas. Just wait.

3. Contains real (juice, fruit, etc)
Usually found in fruit flavored products. Which makes you wonder what else is in there.

4. 0% trans fats
I have yet to see a package with this title which doesn't list partially hydrogenated vegetable oil on the ingredient list. It all boils down to what percentage they can legally call 0%. Don't you just love the FDA?

5. Contains no... (major ingredient you would expect in said food.)
Which brings us back to #3. So what the hell is in it anyway? Is it really any better than the missing ingredient?

Which takes us to the moral of the story. Instead of reading the advertising, turn the package over and look at the list of ingredients. How many words are unpronounceable? How many grams of sugar per serving? (30 g = 10 teaspoons of sugar) And of course, does a serving in any way reflect how much you will eat at once?

Bonus fact: Just because you bought it at Whole Foods doesn't mean it's good for you. Sorry.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm just getting started!

Dear Miss B knows I love my food and I love my lists so expect to hear alot of griping from me! This is just the tip of my iceburg of food complaints...

1. bad nachos (how hard is it to fuck up melted cheese and tortilla chips?)
2. gourmet takes on basic sandwhiches, thus making a BLT ridiculously and in excusably expensive (and still just a BLT and usually not as good as one available for much less at a greasy spoon)
3. the disappearance of Butter & Herb Pringles (BEST CHIPS EVER)
4. anything that tastes like licorice besides licorice (especially if there is no warning upfront)
5. having to pay 50 cents for soy milk in my coffee at most coffee shops-I buy soy milk and I know what it costs and the mark up is ridiculous
6. speaking of ridiculous mark ups....ordering pasta at just about any restaurant is a complete rip off
7. Miracle Whip (ewww....why?)
8. Pepsi (nasty shit, just nasty)
9. "upscale" soul food (hello, its soul food and charging any more than a few bucks for greens is worse than going to church with a loose weave)

This was just my warm up ;-)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Stuff I hate, volume 1.

-Vanilla as a savory seasoning. It's innovative, sure. But also kind of gross. It's only acceptable because it's less gross than you would expect, but that doesn't really mean it works.

-People who try to convince me of the superiority of vegan baked goods. Don't get me wrong, I've eaten some that were delicious, but I don't think they taste better (or are really any healthier) than if they had been made with butter and eggs. (Unless you have an allergy, butter and eggs are good for you. Have a problem with factory farming? Buy organic.)

"People get all excited about vegan baked goods. You know what's exciting? DAIRY FAT!" -Mike R.

"People only think vegan baked goods taste good because they expect them to taste bad and they're pleasantly suprised." -Andy C.

Actually, don't get me started on vegan elitism at all, heads will roll.

-Stupid one word bar and restaurant names. Bite. Feed. Sip. Swig. Puke.

-Sushi as an overpriced gimmick. Y'all do realize that that $15 "dragon maki" you're eating is a way to use up past-date fish by hiding it under hot sauce and avocado slices, doncha?

-Having to teach bartenders how to mix basic drinks, like a White Russian. I don't understand why it's so difficult to get bartending jobs when the industry is full of incompetent idiots.

Bringing the hate.

Chicago is a food city. That does not necessarily mean it is a city of good food. There's just a lot of food. A lot of it is bad.

I grew up in Berkeley, home of Chez Panisse and the slow food movement. I lived in Japan for four years, where I got used to being taken out for $100 meals and lavish work banquets with exotic foods. Now I write about food and drink for a couple of Chicago magazines, as well as eating out a lot with friends, and lately, it seems like I spend a lot of time feeling hungry and annoyed. I get mad when I get charged a lot of money for shitty food and crappy service. Hangry, if you will.

A spate of one star reviews on yelp and a few back issues of ANSWER Me! later, this blog was born.

This blog will be a acid tinged paean to the restaurants I love to hate, the douchebaggery that passes for haute cuisine in Chicago, and the culinary concepts gone oh so wrong. A cold glass of haterade. Street justice foodie-style.

I have invited some fellow foodies from around the country to share the hate. Join us if you dare.