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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

beer-pint-150.jpgFancy an IPA or an Extra Special Bitter? Lovers of bitter beer, beware – a large fire Tuesday at a hop storage warehouse in Washington State destroyed approximately 4% of the country’s entire hop harvest. Only time will tell whether or not this will translate into higher prices for certain brews that use large quantities of the delicate buds to add bitterness and aroma. Though hops are actually flowering vines, what brewmasters are really after is the tiny amount of sticky, yet highly flavorful resin that forms on the petals of the buds. Apparently this resin can also be highly combustible. Who knew that beer could be so dangerous?

But then again, there’s always prosecco. Woman of many talents, Paris Hilton, is the new spokesperson for a brand of bubbly-in-a-can called Rich Prosecco. paris_prosecco.jpg Though the fizzy beverage is all-Italian, it will be sold solely in Germany for now, with the possible addition of other foreign markets – apparently, it’s not legal to sell prosecco out of aluminum in Italy. While Miss Hilton declares the beverage “yummy,” Rich Prosecco owner Guenther Aloys has a more complex reason for selecting Hilton: “Nobody else currently embodies carefree lust for life as convincingly and glamorously as Paris Hilton. That’s why she’s matches Rich Prosecco so well.” Lest we forget, the heiress was arrested in early September on drunk driving charges.

If you think that most rice comes magically from a man named Uncle Ben, the Christian Science Monitor is ready to reeducate you on the dying art of harvesting wild rice. While most “wild” rice today comes in fact from cultivated paddies, some Minnesotans are keeping the tradition alive by hand harvesting the grains. For those in other parts of the country, Native Harvest – a project of the White Earth Indian Reservation – offers mail order for local wild rice, as well as other traditional food staples, such as hominy and maple syrup. The reservation also manages a handy website about the perils wild rice currently faces.

fresh-pork-dumpling.jpgSlate writer Tim Wu searches for authenticity of another sort in his feature about how to find real, honest-to-god Chinese style dumplings. Wu breaks down the regional differences between various types of dumplings, and he also elaborates upon the “magic ratio” that quality dumplings must achieve – the perfect balance between meat and dough. Whether five-for-a-dollar or upscale Asian fusion, the road to dumpling making is lined with potential landmines.

In case you missed it, last weekend was the 21st Farm Aid concert. Though it may seem somewhat surreal, this year’s concert was held in the urban jungle known as Camden, New Jersey. willie_nelson_marijuana_american.gifConcert organizers pointed out that the concert is also meant to draw attention to urban farming projects, as well as the problem of poor nutrition in the inner city. And heck, NJ is the Garden State after all. At any rate, Willie Nelson was able to spring the slammer in order to join pals Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, among others, on stage.

And it looks the Farm Aid money will be much needed this year for many small, family farmers in the Midwest, who are facing the second warmest year on record since 1895. The high temps have led to a severe drought across much of the country, which has also dried up harvest profits. Many small scale farmers are not eligible for the same subsidies as the big boys, so get out to the local farmers’ markets to show your support!

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schooldesk2.jpgWhen I walked out my front door this morning, uniformed children were galloping in through the gates of the school across the street, lunchboxes swinging in little hands. The air was just a touch cooler, the sun a bit more golden. Combine those facts with the box of ginger snaps sitting in my cupboard, and there’s one indisputable conclusion. Summer’s over! Today was day number one at my new job. I’m working in the office at a fancy schmancy wine importer in Manhattan, where I’ll hopefully begin to learn about the business of importing and distributing fine wines across the New York area and beyond. The importer’s portfolio is pretty nice — heavy on the Old World wines with a definant slant towards modern vineyards that employ traditional, natural methods. And there’s even a few loony moon worshippers in the mix.

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What does it all mean?

Spotted on my walk home a few months ago, propped up against a lamppost on the sidewalk…

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And then yesterday evening, I walked along the edge of the marina. On the left, a fence guards the stone walkway from the brackish water. On the right, baby trees nestled in woodchips stand before white balconies that peer down upon the ranks of sailboats. Out of the darkness a bench jumped into view. One of these things is not like the other… Piled in front was a haphazard stack of vintage clothing patterns – a size 6 here and size 12 there – perhaps 60 worn-edge packages in all. On this otherwise manicured path, the musty pile stood as a rebuke to everything ordered and ordinary. I sat down and picked up the pattern lying on top.

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Honey, I’m home!

Well, hello there. I’ve been home for about a week, but since my updating took a serious nose dive while away, look for some updates (as well as photos on every entry!) filled in down below this entry. One of the great things about WordPress is that you can easily alter your timestamp on entries. So in case you’re thinking, hey, I don’t remember that entry from August 15th being there, it probably wasn’t. I’m sneaky and added it in recently. So do keep checking for ‘older’ entries to be posted in July and August, as well as new entries posted. There are a few new things I’m anxious to check out in New York… newly opened wine stores, Slow Food walking tours of Red Hook, and what’s all this with the return of the Automat on St. Mark’s place?

I’m also keeping myself busy looking for a new job, preferably in the wine and food field. I am an ‘advanced sommelier’ after all now! There are a few directions this new skill could go in, so cross your fingers! To get the inspiration going, I cracked open a bottle of 2001 Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux that’s been vacationing this summer inside my fridge. I’m thinking the wine will flow from my palate straight through to my fingertips, creating the most inspired food writing you’ve ever read. And, after all, doesn’t everyone sip Bordeaux while job hunting?

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One of my fondest memories of childhood was my Fisher Price toy kitchen, tucked away in my parents’ basement. With plastic burners and a tiny faux oven, I could make imaginary 9-course meals. Well, okay, I did use the little freezer compartment in my refrigerator as a luxury penthouse for my Barbies, but mostly, it was an excellent place to hone my cooking skills at an early age.

And now, I’m pleased to see that I’m not the only one reminiscing about play food. A few months ago, I received a wind-up bowl of pho from a special someone…

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…only to have it followed by an entire set of wind-up sushi – including fatty tuna and salmon roe!

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Yay! Now I can amuse myself by racing the fatty tuna against the shrimp (I’m thinking that the shrimp’s tail must give some sort of aerodynamic edge, no?) All of these gadgets came to me via Austin’s Toy Joy, perhaps the bestest toy store in the entire state of Texas.

On another note, KCRW’s Good Food podcast ran a feature with David Hoffman, author of a new cookbook entitled The Easy Bake Oven Gourmet. Hoffman solicited 26 top-notch chefs across the country to come up with a gourmet meal that could be cooked in one dish inside an easy-bake oven. Most of the recipes — Queso Fundido with Roasted Poblano Vinaigrette, Warm Kumquat and Date Sticky Toffee Pudding, and Roasted Quail Breast with Wild Mushrooms — sound a whole lot better than the runny brownie mix the oven comes with. I, sadly, never received an Easy Bake, though I wanted one very badly. Perhaps it’s time to update my kitchen.

And finally, because I’m an omnivore and do consider many of our animal friends to be food, check out this other piece of kitsch I picked up from work. Since we deal with sustainable agriculture, the office contains many animal-themed goodies. See, if you look at my new keychain straight on, it’s a cute cuddly little pig.

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Turn it around, and there appears to be, well, poo.

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But wait, it gets better. When you squeeze the pig, the poo begins to, um…

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Gross! Ewww! But hey, I’m all for keeping reality close at hand. I think that if you’re going to be a responsible omnivore, you should recognize that the animals we raise for food do in fact live and breathe in much the same way we do. What’s the point of pretending our meat is born in Styrofoam trays and plastic wrap?

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