Thursday, June 25, 2009

Say no to plumping

do you know what's in your chicken? Read the labels, or better yet, buy from one of the local farmers at one of Richmond's markets. In a clever campaign, Foster Farms brings to light the practice of plumping with, you guessed it, talking chickens. Here are a few basics

PLUMPING= The practice of injecting saltwater, chicken stock, seaweed extract or some combination thereof into chicken to increase its weight and price, while simultaneously increasing sodium content by up to 700%.

Foster Farms created the “Say No to Plumping™” campaign because we have always been committed to providing value and quality to you and your family. In our 70-year history, we have never injected saltwater into our fresh poultry products labeled “100% Natural.” We believe that when you pay for premium, fresh chicken, that’s exactly what you should get.

Plumped chicken is 85% chicken and 15% saltwater.
A person is likely to spend $1.50 per package on saltwater when buying plumped chicken. The average household could waste more than $150 a year on saltwater.
The USDA estimates that plumping can cost American consumers up to $2 billion per year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high-sodium diets often lead to high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a leading factor in the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, stomach cancer and other serious health conditions.
One serving just – 4 oz – of plumped chicken has more sodium than a large order of french fries.

Plumped-chicken labels will have (in small print) a phrase such as “contains up to 15% saltwater.”
According to the FDA fresh, natural chicken should not have more than 70 mg of sodium per 4 oz serving – the amount of naturally occurring sodium in chickens: Hence, the reason you may see “not a sodium-free food” on a chicken package.
Chicken that has been plumped can contain up to 440 mg of sodium.
Almost all frozen and marinated products have either added salt or saltwater.
Fresh and natural chicken should be just that – fresh and natural. No saltwater needed. Almost all fresh, natural chicken contains up to 4% retained water that is the result of processing, which ensures product safety.

To see the talking chickens, click here !

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

dressing up your vegetables

Cucumbers are in, and look what funny things people are doing with them at the South of the James market. I usually wait until later in the season to start dressing up the veggies I am sick of(think squash).

What veggie games do you play ?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some Scoop on Pitango Gelato

The next time I'm in Washington DC, I'll be sure to sample some Pitango Gelato, located on P Street, between Dupont and Logan circles. The owner, Noah Dan is a stickler about ingredients, and used organic milk from Pennsylavania and the purest fruits and nuts he can find. Unlike most gelato, there are no stabilizers or other additives. With almost 20 flavors daily, the variety includes "cantaloupe, mojito and local-strawberry sorbets and Sicilian almond, pistachio and crema, a vanilla custard with a touch of lemon."

get the scoop here from the Washington Post.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A TownHouse to eat in.

A few months back, my friend Vaughn mentioned an amazing meal that he had at TownHouse,a restaurant in the small Appalachian town of Chilhowie in Southwest Virginia. I have had the menu sitting on my desk for months, drooling over Confit of Rabbit Leg, served with morel mushrooms, juniper, salsify and an infusion of wood as well as Tea Smoked Loup de Mer, White Asparagus with Pulled Honey and Cold Smoked Chocolate with carrot, indian curry, coriander, coconut, and mint. I did a little research and understood the culinary context better after seeing their experience at Chicago heavyweights Charlie Trotters and Alinea. And today they were recognized by the New York Times. Check out the great article at

All the Food That's Fit to Eat

Friday, June 12, 2009

FDA = sustainability ?

Slate continues the converasation about the effects of the new administration's food policy on corporate giants and smaller organic farmers. What will the shift to a sustainability policy by the FDA mean for the agricultural landscape? Maybe only Mother Nature knows.

sow some seeds

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Going Coastal

Going Coastal

Westhampton snags a seafood standout.
by John G. Haddad

Succulent shrimp and grits and the seared scallop appetizer are helping Coast build a reputation for culinary finesse. Photo by Scott Elmquist

There are few disciples of food and wine in Richmond as fervent as Gary York. He eats, drinks and breathes the epicurean life and isn’t shy talking about it. As a fan of his first restaurant, the Italian wine bar Enoteca Sogno, I’ve been awaiting the opening of his latest venture, Coast, in the Libbie and Grove neighborhood. I was eager to see how his slavish attention to detail would translate to a new style of cuisine. My visit proved worth the wait.

My wife and I visit on a warm weekday evening. The front door is open to the street, inviting us into the softly lighted space. A blue granite bar anchors one side of the room, bright patterns adorn the walls and a large mirror reflects the sidewalk and street traffic, creating the illusion of a larger space. The plain gray exterior seems incongruent with the aesthetics of the neighborhood, but red patio umbrellas indicate newly available outdoor dining, always a draw in Richmond.

The wine list is diverse, an interesting mix of Californian and European vintages. York had just returned from the Italian wine expo in Verona, Italy, a few weeks earlier, his annual pilgrimage. My wife samples a Liberty School chardonnay, available by the glass or bottle, and is pleased by the oaky buttery flavors. The markup seemed a tad high at $9 a glass for a bottle that retails for around $13. When I couldn’t decide on a red or white, our knowledgeable server suggests a rosé that isn’t yet on the menu. It’s made with sangiovese grapes, and when I inquire about the production, York himself comes to the table to explain in layman’s terms the different methodologies for making a rosé.

As its name suggests, Coast’s menu leans toward seafood, but also includes several land options. We start with a scallop appetizer ($13). Two plump, seared scallops are served on a bed of asparagus purée surrounded by crispy fried shiitake mushrooms. A drizzle of truffle oil finishes the divine combination of flavors and textures.

The mixed field greens are dressed with light citrus vinaigrette ($8). A pistachio-crusted warm goat cheese fritter is the perfectly tangy companion to the slight sweetness of the dressing. My only criticism is that the serrano ham is overly chewy. The heirloom beet salad ($9) combines bright red and yellow chilled beets and oranges over arugula spiked with goat cheese and a sweet orange and beet vinaigrette. The colorful presentation enhances the overall effect.

We opt to stay coastal with our entrée choices: I have skate wing ($21), one of my favorite dishes and rarely seen on a Richmond menu. It’s classically prepared, pan-seared and finished with lemon-caper brown butter, crispy outside with a moist and meaty interior. A side of homemade tagliatelle, finished with butter and fresh thyme, and a serving of caramelized cauliflower with mustard sauce rounds out the plate, simple dishes executed with perfection.

Shrimp and grits are one of my litmus dishes — a benchmark wherever I have the chance. Coast’s rendition ($21) is among the best I’ve had. Perfectly cooked shrimp, tender, coarse-ground grits, roasted tomatoes that deliver pure flavors, and a creamy sherry-roasted garlic finish elevate this Low Country favorite to the realm of haute cuisine. Coast’s lunch menu includes simpler versions of the dinner menu and adds a series of sandwiches including a Kobe beef hamburger and an oyster po’ boy.

Desserts are traditional and seasonal. A strawberry shortcake is moist with just the right buttery density, straddling the worlds of salty and sweet. A vanilla bean crème brûlée channels pure flavors in its creamy interior and has the requisite tap-with-a-spoon crispy top.

Coast feels and acts like a restaurant with experience. Under the watchful eye of a seasoned gourmand, it has a winning, upscale formula that should bring success. The only missing link is waterfront property, but Westhampton is the next best thing. S

5806 Grove Ave.
Lunch: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday, 5:30-10 p.m.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Frivolous Food Lawsuits

Frivolous Food Lawsuits, courtesy of's Food & Think

"Crunchberries are not found in nature. Crunchberries aren’t real fruit?!?

A California woman filed a class-action lawsuit against PepsiCo, the corporation that makes the sugary “Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries” cereal. The front of the box features a perky cartoon sea captain holding out a spoonful of colorful round nuggets that vaguely resemble berries (well, if berries came in colors like teal).

The woman contended that “the colorful Crunchberries, combined with use of the word ‘berry’ in the product name, convey the message that Cap’n Crunch is not all sugar and starch, but contains redeeming fruit…In actuality, the Product contains no berries of any kind…Had she known that the product contained no fruit, she would not have purchased it.”

The judge granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, citing the precedent of a similar case involving Froot Loops. Seriously.

What’s next, someone discovering the shocking truth about Grape Nuts cereal? Or that there are no real rocks in Cocoa Pebbles?"

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

apocalypse cow

With a thank you to the folks at Tasting Table

"Food Inc., which opens in select cities on June 12, is a documentary that looks inside the American agribusiness machine to show us both the gears that make it move (genetically modified crops, industrial meatpackers, McDonald's) and the destruction it leaves behind (indie farmers, exploited workers and unhealthy consumers)."

click here for a taste

Rye Squared

My son Rye

A Recipe for Rye from today's New York Times

Rye Old-Fashioned
Adapted from Rye, Brooklyn

Time: 5 minutes

1 teaspoon Demerara sugar

2 ounces rye whiskey

1 or 2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 or 2 dashes orange bitters

1 strip lemon peel.

1. Spoon sugar into a shaker and add about a teaspoon of very hot water for a simple syrup. Stir until dissolved, adding a little more water if needed.

2. Add whiskey and bitters, and stir again. Add several ice cubes and stir well to chill. Strain into an old-fashioned glass, add 2 or 3 big ice cubes, twist lemon peel over the top and drop it in.

Yield: 1 drink.