It seems like only yesterday we were all marveling at the new wave in techno cooking: the process of sous-vide. The circulators and gadgets looked fancy and complicated and the results were certainly impressive.
Fast forward to the real yesterday and the story in the Huffington Post: How Sous Vide Went From Haute Cuisine To Casual Dining. Writer Carey Polis tells us how large franchises such as Chipotle and Panera Bread have embraced the sous-vide technique and are now featuring boil-in-a-bag items on their menus.
Anybody else out there remember Stouffer’s or Banquet boil-in-a-bag dinners? If so, perhaps your mom was also an early pioneer (Tomasina Keller?) of sous-vide cooking when she slit open a thick plastic bag and poured chipped beef or Chicken ala King over semi-burnt toast.
Recently Applebee’s launched a new ad campaign. (It has Don Draper written all over it!) The tagline is “See You Tomorrow.” According to ADWEEK, it “positions Applebee’s as the champion of a sort of anti-foodie backlash, pitching fare that purports to be tasty, and simple, but still somewhat classy—for example, new summer dishes like Lemon Shrimp Fettucine and Florentine House Sirloin.” The TV commercials feature “chefs” with names like “Carl” who wax poetic over their ingredients only to be stopped by a voice from above: “Carl, you’re doing it again. You’re talking about tomatoes like they’re your children.”
The money quote from the piece: “It’s classic food porn with a faux-haute twist—a dinner bell for the happily apathetic.”
Fascinating stuff. Check out how many people it took to pull this campaign together: four Content Managers, three Cognitive Anthropologists, seven Creative Directors, and scads of “Peggys,” “Rogers,” and “Petes.”
One question. What is classic food porn? No, make that two. Are you happily apathetic?12 Comments »
The Southwest Foodservice Expo 2012 at the Dallas Convention Center began yesterday and continues through today. The massive trade show is must-go for restaurants, institutions, chefs, retailers or anyone whose life revolves around food service. I attended the first day to look for trends and new or interesting things. The miles of aisles were filled with vendors displaying cooking equipment, restaurant furniture, and cleaning equipment, along with food and liquor samples. Jump to read about some food items you may see on local menus soon.1 Comment »
I’m a bird lover and a lover of fried chicken. Yes, it’s an anomaly I shove to the back of my brain when I dine. I’m also a dog lover but, because I consider them pets, I don’t eat them. Yes, it’s a fine line or stone’s throw (insert your favorite cliche here) away from hypocrisy. Many people are raising chickens in their backyard and their reasons for doing so are varied. Some like to eat a lot of eggs. Others raise and sell their chickens. It’s a marvelous way to keep in touch with the food supply and an excellent family project.
In this month’s D Magazine, photojournalist Misty Keasler profiles several families who raise chickens in their Dallas backyards. You’ll see gorgeous hen houses, eco-friendly backyards, and cute kids gathering eggs. However, I can’t get that famous Thanksgiving scene in the movie Giant out of my brain.
Every once in a while, usually in a doctor’s office, I come across a magazine article that compels me to tear it out and save for future reference. Thankfully, this piece titled “The Truth Behind Food Labels” is not only in print, you can read it online. In the May-June issue of Audubon magazine, Gretel H. Schueller writes a straightforward guide, for lack of a better word, to the labels on food items that promote an array of feel-good, environment-friendly assertions. You see “cage free,” “hormone free,” “all natural,” “organic,” “fair trade,” and “biodynamic” in stores everywhere. Which designations are authentic? Schueller details the good, bad, and the ugly truths behind the label and the greenwashing of food items. Bullet points:
Free Range: When it comes to “free range” and “free roaming,” all a poultry farmer needs to show is “that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside,”… The animals may get only short periods outside in a cramped area—the USDA considers five minutes adequate to approve use of the claim. There are no restrictions regarding what the birds can be fed.
American Humane Certified: A program of the American Humane Association, this label permits both caged and cage-free options for egg-laying hens. A caged hen can be crammed into a space the size of a sheet of paper. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed.
Dolphin Safe: This is a partially certified claim because the National Marine Fisheries Service verifies only tuna caught from a specific region—the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean—and not all tuna. Tuna from this designated area might bear a label that includes the additional phrase “US Department of Commerce.” Tuna caught outside this area and labeled “dolphin safe” has not been independently substantiated. To muddy the waters further, the dolphin-safe label is not licensed by any single organization, so there are no universal standards in place and most companies have developed their own logos.
The bottom line: If you see Cruelty Free, Cage free, Environmentally Friendly, Nature’s Friend, No Chemicals, Vegetarian Fed on a package, disregard it. The vague labels mean nothing and have no standards to back them. Anybody can say any of those things about anything. Trust is gone. (This post was written in a certified caged and toxic environment.) READ THIS NOW.7 Comments »
Many feel Copper River salmon is best wild salmon in the world. Others think it’s a fine fish with a fabulous marketing department. Seafood snobs refer to it as Stupid River Salmon because they feel it is over-hyped and over-priced. Three years ago, SideDish conducted a blind tasting of salmon. Jammin With Wild Salmon took place at TJs Market. Twelve SideDish readers compared Atlantic farm-raised salmon, ocean-caught wild troll king salmon, and Copper River salmon. You can read the reults here.
The good news for Copper River salmon groupies is that some CRS did arrive in Dallas earlier this week, BUT nobody obtained king salmons because nobody caught any. Makes sense, right? I mean they are called wild for a reason. They show up when they show up. Rick Oruch of Sea Breeze Market expected a shipment of kings yesterday but there were none available. However, I guess the kings showed up yesterday at the Copper River. Jon Alexis from TJs Market is at the airport picking up his order as I type. Brace yourself, the king runs around $45 a pound. Who cares! It’s Memorial Day Weekend! Omega-3s for all!
D Magazine intern Erin Ahlfinger files this report.
As you drive down W. Davis Street in the heart of Oak Cliff, a field of sunflowers is the last thing you’d expect to see tucked among the single-story brick buildings, just blocks from the thriving Bishop Arts District. The fact that it’s so out of place in its surroundings is part of what makes this display of farming as public art so charming.
The project is a collaboration of the agricultural and artistic expertise of art dealer Cynthia Mulcahy and artist Robert Hamilton, who run Mulcahy Farms. They began looking for a site over a year ago, and chose the 1.6 acre plot in Oak Cliff for its location and visibility. The land was cleared and prepared for planting in March. Seventeen hundred and sixty Aztec Gold sunflower seeds went into the ground in a grid pattern under an ominous sky on a North Texas spring day. Days passed, and farming as art became entertainment as area residents and passerby took notice and began to express interest. Police, firemen, and bus drivers now honk in approval as they pass through their daily routes. “It really is like street theater,” notes Hamilton. “The traffic slows down.”5 Comments »
Greetings from Spiceman,
In case you haven’t heard, Mitch Kauffman at Urbano and I are throwing down what looks to be a sold-out wing ding in my garden at FM 1410. There may be some sections C (compost bin) seating or section R (red ant pile) seating available but I’m not certain about that. The event is next Thursday May 24th BYOB, 6:pm doors open, 6:30 pm Food (buffet) 7:pm Music, some seating (chairs) available but bring a blanket for sitting down on the garden floor. Some Urb-an’ Spice in the garden so to speak. My gumbo, his Chef Ke’o is pitt roasting a pig (w/out lipstick) and we’re both coming up with sides a couple of which I plan to make ala vegetarian (fresh shelled peas, salads, corn bread and mo’) .Ladies, please where garden flats/shoes, and dudes…. please, no spike heels and certainly no leather chaps cuz it may be a bit too warm.
Unedited inventory list below. Continue reading "From Tom Spicer’s Keyboard to Your Eyes: Spiceman’s FM 1410 Report"
The dates for one of the area’s most interesting events is set. On August 12- 13, the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas will host the 8th Annual Texas Sommelier Conference. The three-day conference includes educational sessions, wine tastings, and social media workshops. The 2011 TexSom conference featured the largest contingent of Master Sommeliers at a public event. This year should be no different. However, you don’t have to be any kind of sommelier to buy a seat. Some of the names you can rub shoulders with include:
Scheduled Master Sommeliers include James Tidwell, Drew Hendricks, Wayne Belding, Brett Zimmerman, Guy Stout, Tim Gaiser, Laura Williamson, Keith Goldston, Nate Ready, Melissa Monosoff, Brian Cronin, Cameron Douglas, John Szabo, Geoff Kruth, Laura DePasquale, Jay Fletcher, Andrew McNamara, Peter Neptune and Greg Harrington. The speaker lineup also includes James Beard Award Winners Rajat Parr and Paul Grieco, Master of wine Christy Canterbury, wine marketer Paul Wagner, Union Square Hospitality Group Wine Director John Ragan, and Leonetti Cellar Owner Chris Figgins.
The seminar topics, times, and various ticket prices are listed below. For more information or to register, click here. Like, fast. Continue reading "The 8th Annual Texas Sommelier Conference: Registration is Open!"1 Comment »
Last week it was announced Rusty Taco was taking over the Lily Pad space at Main Street Garden. Moments ago, Robert Wilonsky reported the deal is dead. John Crawford, CEO of Downtown Dallas, has some splaining to do. It sounds like they caved in to DRG’s owner Mike Hoque, operator of Wild Salsa across the street. In Wilonsky’s story, Crawford says he has reevaluated the situation and has “decided to spread the wealth.” Maybe it will be a burger joint? No, Hoque’s got Chop House Burger. Steak Shack? Nope, Dallas Chop House is down the street. Hmm, too small for pizza. Do you live downtown? What would you like to see in the space?9 Comments »
Earth Day Dallas is hosting the DFW Truck Farm 5K Race on April 22 at 8:30 AM, right before it kicks off Sunday’s festivities at Fair Park. Proceeds from the race will go to the Truck Farm, which is used as a teaching tool to help kids in the community learn how to grow local foods and garden in small spaces. Marilyn Simmons and her daughter, Donelle, drive the Truck Farm around, organizing workshops in their mobile classroom.
Kids of all ages are welcome to participate in the 5K Run (you’re allowed to walk, too), but they must be accompanied by their parents. Donelle says there will be four different learning stations for the kids as well, so there’s also a learning component involved! Continue reading "It’s Not Too Late to Sign Up for the DFW Truck Farm 5K Race Happening on April 22"1 Comment »
Chef/manager Mark Wootton of the Garden Cafe has some new female friends, but they’re not human. They’re hens, and their names are Francesca, Violet, and Sunshine. The think-sustainably family over on Junius Street partnered up with its neighbors (The Lab and Little Bean) to install a chicken coop in the back garden.
Cluck after you jump. Continue reading "Garden Cafe Gets Some Chickens"
Get ready for Central Market’s yearly culinary salute to foreign food. In 2010, we celebrated Argentina (Hi, Francis!). Last year we pigged out on Spain (Hola, Paco!). This year they are throwing a two-week soiree for France, specifically the southern region of Provence, which will begin on May 9 and run through May 22.
Here’s a little poop I learned: Zee hottest ticket will be a seat in the outdoor tent where the kick-off event, “A Taste of Provence,” will feature a sampling of dishes prepared by Chef Patrice Olivon! C’est magnifique! You know Olivon, oui? He’s the cute French dude who won Iron Chef hosts “Dinner is Served,” a lovely show on PBS. It is set for Wednesday, May 9, and begins at 6 p.m.
The menu includes some personal favorites from his childhood (served family-style at long tables), which will be paired with French wines (shocker!). Think: Pissaladiere (thick, pizza-like dish popular in Nice and Marseilles); tomates farcies (tomatoes stuffed with beef, rice & herbs); cod with aioli; roasted lamb with ratatouille; and warm seasonal fruit cooked in red wine served over vanilla ice cream (really?). So frugal Francophiles, get a cheap trip ($35 per person) to Provence, if only for one evening. Tickets can be booked by clicking here or by visiting the Cooking School reservation site for Dallas.
Sancerre! Profiteroles! A truffle in every pot! Vamos, I mean, nous permettre d’aller!
(Below, I will copy and paste an actual MEDIA-ONLY release so you can get an insider’s look on how real food writing works. I will pair it with commentary from a professional media person.5 Comments »
Andrea Bithell has got to be the friendliest rubber-cowboy-boots wearing farmer this Texas soil has seen in a long, long time. There’s dirt caked under her nails, her hair’s flying across her face, and one pant leg is rolled up while the other one isn’t. This is the look of a Paul Quinn farm manager who couldn’t give a cow dung how she looks when it comes to the two acres she’s in charge of. Instead, it’s the farm that matters.
I learned all this when I trekked over to Paul Quinn College last Thursday and discovered that the farm everyone’s been talking about is really an old football field converted into planting beds. In March 2010, ground broke, and the first crop of melons, peas, and okras sprung up that same summer. Now the Paul Quinn Farm employs about 12-14 work study students, sells its crops to places like Greenling, and is the gracious host of A Community Cooks for the second year in a row.
Jump for more Andrea.2 Comments »
Perhaps my headline is a tad overzealous, but boy I got so wound up yesterday at the press conference announcing the new line-up of food items to be served this season at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington I could barely drive home. I wanted to stay, slip on a toga, and feast like a hedonistic Roman tart. But I digress.
I’ve already outlined how the Rangers will win the World Series. I’m now prepared to tell you how to plan your caloric intake when you attend a game. The Yu-Darvish moment of late yesterday took place as the Rangers food service management team—Shawn Mattox, Casey Rapp, Philip Wheatley, execuchef Cris Vazquez—revealed their heavy hitter: The Champion Dog ($26.00 with fries). It’s a 2-foot-long-all-beef hot dog topped with shredded cheese, sauteed onions, and chili. The Champion Dog, also sold as the Boomstick (Hi! Nellie!) in the general concessions area, is meant to satisfy four people. However, I watched an eating competition where D.J. Pridemore, a producer for 105.3-FM The Fan, ate a whole one all by himself. He smoked his opponent, the DMN’s Brandon Formby, who never saw the bun (made by Empire Baking Company) coming. Mr. Formby learned that baseball food, like baseball, is a now game of inches.
So Ranger food fans, here’s is news: Vandergriff Plaza (behind centerfield) has been renovated into a food court with FOUR new restaurants, Ryan’s Express 34, Smokehouse 557, Taqueria, and American Dog. They surround the bronze statute of Nolan Ryan. They’ve also added two smoking hot lounges, the Captain Morgan Club and the Batter’s Eye Club). The Kid’s Zone has been moved indoors (thank you) to the south end of the first floor. And the press box will feature sushi for the Japanese media.
Jump for Food Facts and Fun Pictures For Rangers Fans.5 Comments »
This note just in from the father of foraging, Mr. Tom “Spiceman” Spicer, over at FM 1410. Hear him type:
“Here are few quick peaks at my annual “Easter Grasskets: (living wheat grass in an basket with assorted colors of carrots, rainbow chard and a goose egg). Get ‘em while they’re hot. I have also reserved the artichokes and enough Easter Grasskets for my “Adopt-a-plot” peeps. (peep peep).”
Peep,peep yáll. Easter Grasskets is pretty good. Jump for all of the goodies Spiceman has in his garden. And adopt one of his plots. It’s cheaper than a dog. Continue reading "Spiceman Has The Goods: Get Your Fresh Produce Now for Easter and Passover Cooking"
The efforts to privatize the Dallas Farmers Market have been futile and the city of Dallas’ efforts to energize the DFM have been quagmired in chaos. I’d love to see someone swoop in and make the DFM a destination for residents, framers, and visitors. However, the emergence of Phil Romano’s Trinity Groves project in West Dallas could be the final nail in the coffin of the Dallas Farmers Market if they don’t get their shiitakes together. Romano’s grand plan calls for vendors of all shapes and sizes and he and his partners have the backing to get it done.
Meanwhile, the debate on privatization of the Market and surrounding the Market with permanent housing continues. If you would like to show your support the Dallas Farmers Market, you can join the Dallas Farmers Market Friends. They also have a petition you can sign to try to influence city officials to consider other options for the housing solution. Their goal:
…is to present both sides of the story (via links on the DFMF.org website) so people can get a feel for everything going on. In the end, they’d love to have people speak out, sign the petition and hopefully convince city officials to alter their decision about the supportive housing. They’ve added links to the petition itself to the DFMFriends.org site, and have the links to both sides of the story there, as well.
There is a public hearing this Thursday. Do your homework here, decide which side you’re on, and show up at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library (1515 Young Street) on Thursday, April 5 at 6 PM.11 Comments »
See George hop. Hear George talk. Most importantly, watch George cook.
George W. Brown of the now-defunct GEORGE catering is participating in the Connemara Conservancy Foundation’s “Hops for Habitat” fundraiser series on April 7 at Montgomery Farm.
The first event on April 7 from 7 – 10 PM is designed to “raise money to support the Connemara mission of working with landowners and communities to protect and conserve critical natural landscapes remaining throughout North Texas. Food will be provided by a variety of local farmers and producers throughout the series.”
“This series is designed to bring the community together to celebrate the natural originality of North Texas,” said Connemara executive director Sandra Greenway. “From local brewmasters and chefs such as George, to fun and funky places to party, Hops For Habitat is great way to experience some of the best things North Texas has to offer.”
Tickets are $50 each and limited to 100 attendees. To buy one, go to connemaraconservancy.org.
On Paul Quinn College’s organic farm, some of Dallas’ top execuchefs will be preparing a beautiful dinner set outside where live music, evening stars, and the buds of organic fruit provide an excellent backdrop to their culinary creations.
Celebrate the farm’s accomplishments at “A Community Cooks,” and help raise money to support the farm’s fight against the food desert surrounding Paul Quinn College. Tickets are $75 each and can be purchased here. The event starts at 5 PM with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the farm’s expansion.
Participating chefs include Jeff Harris from Bolsa, Janice Provost from Parigi, Tim Bevins from Craft, Tre Wilcox of Marquee, Jason Maddy from Oak, Matt McCallister from CampO/FT33, Jon Stevens from Nosh/Snack, Randall Copeland from Ava/Boulevardier, Central 214’s Graham Dodds, the Dallas Cowboys’ Orazio La Manna, Brent Hammer from Hibiscus, and more.
Jump for more info. Continue reading "A Community Cooks on April 19th"