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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Ice Cream Economics


Toscanini’s Chocolate No. 3

The Boston Globe connects the price of a simple scoop of ice cream at Toscanini’s in Boston to forces all around the world, from the price of oil from the Middle East to the rising demand for milk in China to the price of grain to feed the dairy cows closer to home in Colrain, Massachusetts. Toscanini’s buys its ice cream mix (the base ingredients), made by Hood, from from Rosev Dairy Foods. Hood buys products from Agri-Mark, a dairy cooperative (they make Cabot cheese). Increasing demand in Asia for U.S. milk has caused prices to rise significantly. The price of sugar is high as well following damage to sugar beet crops in Australia, Russia, and the Ukraine. Toscanini’s is paying 25% more this year for that ice cream mix and their flavoring ingredients are also more expensive. They took pistachios off the menu when the nut hit $10 a pound. But customers are willing to pay more than $4 a scoop for premium ice cream, so Tosci’s is continuing along.  And I’m glad that they’re still serving Chocolate No. 3, the ultimate dark chocolate flavor.

Written by ltao

June 20th, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Posted in food

Oh Are Ee Oh


Edible Geography takes a look at the history of the pattern on Oreo cookies and, actually, all embossed biscuits. The Oreo started out in 1912 with a wreath design, added turtledoves in 1924, and settled on today’s four-leaf clover and serrated-edge pattern in 1952. Of course as with any good old-fashioned American icon, there are conspiracy theories about its connection to the Freemasons.

Written by ltao

June 14th, 2011 at 12:54 am

Posted in food,nostalgia

Top Chef Masters: the scientists


MIT Lab for Chocolate Science

On a recent “Top Chef Masters” episode, each chef was assigned a scientific principle and a scientist for the Elimination Challenge. The scientists served as both consultants and sous chefs, explaining the scientific principle each chef had selected and helping to create dishes to demonstrate it. They’re writing about their experiences at the weblog Science Fare. There’s also a set of posts from the artist who created the posters used as backdrops during the demonstrations. The acidity poster lists the pH of several foods (also stomach acid, blood, and bleach) . During the episode, Chef Hugh Acheson made a crack about how his partner scientist, Augustine Urbas, had learned how to fry okra at MIT. It reminded me that I had heard mention of an MIT cooking course. “Kitchen Chemistry” has been taught by Patricia Christie in MIT’s Experimental Study Group since 2000. The 2009 course materials, syllabus and recipes (including Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream!) are online at MIT OpenCourseWare. The textbook is, of course, Harold McGee‘s “On Food and Cooking“. On my recent visit to the MIT campus, I spotted a poster for the Laboratory for Chocolate Science (“the only group on campus that orders more than 500lbs of chocolate a year”).

Written by ltao

June 10th, 2011 at 12:23 am

Posted in education,food

What the Fluff


While researching nuances of New England dialect (more on that in the future perhaps) I came across “A List of Words That are Unique to New England.” It contains an entry for “Fluff-a-nutter” (which is really spelled fluffernutter, but since it’s pronounced with fewer ‘r’s in parts of Massachusetts I’ll let it go) and states that Marshmallow Fluff is a regional delicacy. I had no idea Fluff originated in New England. It was invented in Somerville, Massachusetts by Archibald Query in 1917. Marshmallow crème already existed at the time, but Query created an especially fluffy version in his kitchen and started selling it door-to-door. He sold the recipe for $500 to the Durkee-Mower company who expanded into retail and are still selling it today. In 1960 Durkee-Mower hired an advertising firm who concocted with great success and stickiness the name Fluffernutter for the Fluff and peanut butter sandwiches that had become a New England treat. In 2006 Somerville started celebrating an annual Fluff Festival (2010 site). Events include the crowning of the Fabulous Pharaoh of Fluff and, of course, a Fluff cooking contest with a grand prize of a private tour of the Durkee-Mower factory.

Posted in food,nostalgia

Gardening for the French Laundry


It’s nearly 3 acres in Yountville, across the street from Thomas Keller’s famous French Laundry where its bounty is put to use.  Gardener Tucker Taylor starts by providing seed catalogs to the chefs and eventually informs them of the results in their nightly menu planning meetings.  In addition to vegetables, he grows herbs and edible flowers.  The chefs are not allowed to repeat the same ingredient in more than one dish of the menu so they appreciate a variety of fresh choices. (Related article: a day/night in the French Laundry kitchen)

Posted in food,plants

nom nom massage


Expensive spa treatments typically include exotic ingredients, but the local food movement has contributed to the new treatment trend of fruits and herbs from local farms. Guests at the Ojai Valley Inn in California can get scrubbed with Pixie tangerines.  Spa Hotel Healdsburg features the same wine, honey, and Meyer lemons found in its restaurant.  As often is the case, don’t expect local to equate to cheaper prices than the exotic stuff.

Posted in food,plants

Jelly Belly Labs


Jelly Belly has four food scientists who concoct the 100+ flavors of jelly bean to match the original subject as closely as possible. At tasting sessions the candidate beans are sampled alongside the fruit, food, drink that they intend to mimic (presumably “barf” flavor was tested slightly differently). I doubt I was the first or only person to suggest pomegranate as a new flavor, but it is enlightening to see how much care they took to perfect it: “the group taste-tested juices and fruit from different regions, climates, and providers.” Perhaps all that research was parlayed into the pomegranate cosmos in their new cocktail flavor line.

Posted in food

Canadian Delicacies


The menu for the G-20 Leaders’ Dinner seemed all nicely high class Canadian: Atlantic seafood, filet mignon, and artisan cheese but then I was stumped by the Nanaimo bars for dessert.  I work with a lot of Canadians and I’ve enjoyed all sorts of treats from up north (I’ve even had tourtière) but I just can’t remember if I’d had a Nanaimo bar.  It looks very familiar and I may have seen it in any number of potluck and party situations without knowing it had a Canadian origin.  Of course the best way to positively resolve this situation is to bake some myself.

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars by ai.dan, on Flickr

Written by ltao

June 29th, 2010 at 2:00 am

Posted in food

Subway With a View


A Subway restaurant is rising above New York along with 1 World Trade Center.  Housed in a movable pod that will move up as the skyscraper grows, the Subway franchise saves the ironworkers a trip down and back up for lunch out.  The unit also has bathrooms, a 500 gallon water tank that is refilled weekly by a tanker on a crane, and, coming soon, a great view.

Written by ltao

June 17th, 2010 at 1:29 am

Posted in food

Maple Bar PR


In a presumably unintentional publicity stunt, a Seattle Seahawks player was caught by police entering a Top Pot Doughnuts at 3 am from a back entrance off a hallway in the building he lives in.  He was given a warning by the police and his coach commiserated “I do understand the allure of the maple bars.” Oh, and by the way, Top Pot Doughnuts are now sold at Qwest Field during Seahawks and Sounders games.

Written by ltao

June 9th, 2010 at 12:23 am

Posted in food,sports