Monday, June 25, 2007

Pray that Chocolate Stays Pure

Another battle is brewing over the purity of ingredients and how they affect the essence of a product. And this time the victim may be chocolate.

According to an article in today's New York Times, "Real chocolate is made from crushed cacao beans, which provide not only solid cocoa mass but also cocoa butter that is vital to texture because, quite literally, it melts in your mouth. Industrial confectioners have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to be able to replace cocoa butter with cheaper fats and still call the resulting product “chocolate.” The reason: the substitution would allow them to use fewer beans and to sell off the butter for cosmetics and such."

It's becoming an increasingly prominent issue where market demands often compromise the integrity of what we eat. " Too much of what we eat is already ersatz-virtual, like “farm-fresh” Frankenstein produce or “home-baked” chemical cookies. No one who has savored real chocolate can be eager to see our beloved Theobroma cacao, the elixir of the gods, suffer this fate."

For the complete story, take a bite here.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summertime Popsicles


If Rules Change, Will Camembert Stay the Same?

Mon dieu- there's a battle brewing in Normandy, and what's at stake could set precedents for the preservation of traditional cheese making techniques. Several large cheese producers began treating the milk they use to make 90% of the Camembert in Normandy. Although they cite health concerns, many feel the motive is purely economic, and this change allows them to bolster production. By treating their milk, they relinquished their AOC status ("Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” or “AOC” — is a coveted certification that authenticates the content, method and origin of production of a French agricultural item.) but have recently petitioned that their new method of production does not change their product in such a way to lose its "essence" and they should be able to retain their AOC status.

At least one small producer does not agree: “Camembert that is not made with raw milk may be cheese, but it’s not real Camembert,” said Mr. Durand, who took over the family farm when he was only 19 and has run it for 26 years. “To not know a real raw milk Camembert — what a loss that would be. The variety, the diversity, the flavor of cheese — the very heritage of our country — will disappear.”

For the entire story, click on the cheese

Monday, June 18, 2007

Milk, Eggs, and Vodka

Grocery lists reveal a lot about a person- beyond the most obvious glimpse into one's culinary habits, they can also say something about socio-economic issues, and all in a forum that's meant to be private, not for public consumption. Is that what makes them so interesting? You can read more on this fascinating subject in Bill Keaggy's new compilation, Milk, Eggs, Vodka- Milk Eggs Vodka and on his website The Grocery Lists.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Coming to a theater on June 29th !

Great article in the New York Times today about the new release from Pixar Films, Ratatouille, starring
Remy, a food-obsessed rat with an exceptional sense of smell.

To quote the New York Times " The story is a classic underdog tale that leans heavily on Cyrano de Bergerac. Remy, a food-obsessed rat with an exceptional sense of smell, dreams of becoming a chef. To get there, he teams up with Linguini, a clueless garbage boy at Gusteau’s, a once-great Parisian restaurant that has fallen into disarray since the death of its chef, Auguste Gusteau. Remy teaches the lowly kitchen worker to cook dishes that impress even the powerful food critic Anton Ego, who is given voice by the actor Peter O’Toole."

Monday, June 11, 2007


I had my first Tri-Tip this weekend at my friend Jon Petty's. A slow cook in "The Big Green Egg" yielded a fine steak, tender and tasty. I did some research on the Tri-tip, a cut not often found in Richmond, or the east coast for that matter. But one of Richmond's great new additions, The Belmont Butchery,, never ceases to surprise.

According to a few sources I found, Tri-tip is a small roast cut from the bottom of the sirloin primal. There is only one tri-tip per side of beef, a total of two per animal. Tri-tip also goes by the name "bottom sirloin butt" and "triangle roast", due to its triangular shape. In many parts of the country, your butcher will look at you funny if you ask for tri-tip...they have no idea what you're talking about. ( But not the Belmont Butchery! ) Tri-tip is nicely marbled, tender, and one of the most flavorful cuts of beef you'll find. In The Complete Meat Cookbook, authors Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly write, "In the old days, when butchers cut their meat from the whole beef, they cut sirloins with the bone in, and the tri-tip portion, a triangular chunk of bottom sirloin, ended up as a nondescript part of sirloin steak. Nowadays the sirloin is boned out whole at the packing plant, and the two tri-tips are separated, boned, and sold to butchers whole, thereby creating a new and tender cut."

The Oregon Beef Council tells a slightly different story: "Tri-tip was seldom marketed when carcass beef or beef hind quarters were delivered to retail markets because there is only one per hind quarter. This meant that there was not enough for a case display, so the butcher would grind or cube it. Today, most stores receive boneless boxed beef. If you don't see tri-tip in the meat case, ask for it. Tri-tip roasts can be ordered separately if your butcher knows there is a demand."
Most tri-tip is shipped to the Western U.S. where it is very popular with consumers. Tri-tip is even included in many West Coast barbecue competitions as an optional category. It is often associated with California's central coast region and the Santa Maria Valley in particular, where "Santa Maria-style" tri-tip is the meat of choice. In a tradition going back to the days of Spanish rancheros, the meat is heavily seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, cooked slowly over a red oak fire, then sliced across the grain and served with fresh salsa, cooked pinquito beans, guacamole and warm tortillas.