The Year in Appetizers


Looking over the past year in Appetizers -- our daily links to food news, recipes, and gastronomical ephemera -- we compiled a year-end list by plucking one notable link from each month. What you'll find is not comprehensive: the spinach crisis, the rise of molecular gastronomy, Gordon Ramsay's arrival in New York, and the food phenomenon that was "no-knead bread" are all absent. Nevertheless, from critical developments in media (blogging going mainstream) to disturbing trends (cloned fish protein in your ice cream), what follows is a month-by-month selection of some of the more interesting stories to emerge from the world of food in 2006.

Saucedispensingchopsticks Gadgets: For the laziest of sushi diners, these sauce-dispensing chopsticks offer a streamlined access route from plate to mouth. Link

Bruniblog Media: New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni launches "Diner's Journal" blog. Link

Krispy_kreme Sports:
Krispy Kreme teams up with Illinois minor league team The Gateway Grizzlies to create "Baseball's Best Burger," a 1,000 calorie cheeseburger sandwiched between a sliced glazed doughnut. The burger has a predecessor in the "Luther Burger" (named for singer Luther Vandross, natch). Link

Matzo5 Trends:
Matzo: It's not just for Jews anymore. "It's a seasonal snack food I really like," says one goyish fan of the bread of affliction. "The way it's marketed in the stores, why wouldn't you buy it? Try some Jewish. It's right up there with any other ethnic food." Link

Unsmost Crime:
Hamburg Umsonst (Hamburg for free), a modern day "Robin Hood gang" in Germany, steals luxe foods like Kobe beef and Valrhona chocolate and gives them to middle-class 20- and 30-somethings stuck in dead-end jobs. Link

Icebergbabies Technology:
A California company (Boggiatto Produce) pioneers "iceberg babies," a diminutive version of iceberg lettuce that is smaller than a softball: "People never grow tired of cute little puppies and kittens, and we're hoping that transfers to these." Link

Ocean_pout Technology: The search for a creamier reduced-fat ice cream leads manufacturers to clone protein from the blood of an eel-like Arctic Ocean fish: "Ice-structuring proteins protect the fish, which would otherwise die in freezing temperatures.... They also make ice cream creamier, by preventing ice crystals from growing." Link

Batalicrocs Style:
Chef Mario Batali keeps 30 pairs of his trademark orange clogs in rotation, washing them in his dishwasher and putting them on while still warm. Link

Catcora Hot or Not?
"Iron Chef" Cat Cora follows in the footsteps of former FHM pin-up Rachael Ray with her own cheesecake photo spread in the lad mag. Link

Michelin Dining: Three stars for The French Laundry, just one for Chez Panisse, and none for Zuni Cafe in the new Michelin Guide rankings of San Francisco restaurants. "To me, the list lacks many of the places that go to the heart of Bay Area dining and define who we are," writes San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer. Link

Casinoroyale Drink: Casino Royale gives a boost to the tiny French producer of Lillet, an aperitif made from wine, fruit liqueur, and quinine that is an essential ingredient in James Bond's signature cocktail. Link

Language: Julie Powell sings the praises of penis (or was that "peaness") on Iron Chef. Link


Agenda: New Year's Eve Edition


Savoy Celebration
NewyearseveAt The Food Section HQ, we tend to celebrate the New Year at home with Champagne, lobster, and  episode after episode of "The Twilight Zone." But, were we to venture out, the prix fixe menu at Savoy -- including Peconic Bay scallops, saffron shellfish bisque, and braised pork loin -- looks like a pretty tempting way to bid farewell to 2006. $90 or $120 with wine pairing (Savoy, 70 Prince Street, 212.219.8570).

For more New Year's Eve dining options in New York City, check out these event roundups:

»Eve-ents [Time Out New York]
»Out With a Bang [New York]
»Where to Eat Before You Get Hammered [New York]
»New Year's Eve Planner [New York Citysearch]


Tray Chic


Look ma, one hand! The New York Times points to this unique self-balancing tray, made of plastic and stainless steel, which will ensure that your New Year's Eve bubbly is transported safely and stylishly. The tray is available in blue or green for $65 at MXYPLYZYK.


Agenda: 12/20 to 12/26


Fish Frenzy
FishfrenzyHad enough of ham? Tired of getting your goose on? An alternative to the typical Christmas Eve dinner is La Vigilia, Italy's traditional seven fish holiday menu.

You can find variations on the Feast of the Seven Fishes theme at these New York restaurants:

»Aroma Kitchen & Winebar $65/person or $95/person with wine pairing (36 East 4th Street, 212.375.0100).
»Gonzo $60/person (40 West 13th Street, 212.645.4606).
»Gusto $125/person, including wine pairings (60 Greenwich Avenue, 212.924.8000).
»Lupa Osteria Romana $75/person (170 Thompson Street, 212.982.5089).
»San Domenico $75/person (240 Park Avenue South, 212.265.5959).

Read More >



Roasted Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes


As much as I may try to resist the Rachael Ray-ificatio of the Dining In category of this site, I'm afraid that fatherhood has wrought a rapid and (seemingly) permanent reduction in the window of time for weeknight cooking.

The great thing about this recipe for chicken breasts roasted with cherry tomatoes, herbs, and garlic (from Bon Appétit via The Wednesday Chef) is that while the dish only takes five minutes (or less) to get ready and cooks for just 35 minutes, it doesn't taste like a quick-cook meal. In such a brief time in the oven, the skin develops a salty, garlicky crunch; meanwhile, as the tomatoes cook and collapse, their juice melds with the chicken drippings and olive oil to form a sauce that constitutes almost a shallow braise, infusing the chicken from below. The result is chicken that is extremely juicy and flavorful.

Kitchen Notes: Cooking the chicken on a baking sheet (with a rim to contain the juices) seems critical, as it allows you to keep everything on one layer. I could not find marjoram, so I ended up substituting fresh oregano, which worked (Luisa from The Wednesday Chef also had success with dried rosemary) [Update: It works nicely with fresh rosemary, too]. Because the pieces of chicken were huge, I cut each breast into two sections to make the dish more manageable. Finally (and reluctantly), I skipped the (crucial) addition of adding crushed red pepper: my wife is not keen on spicy food, and I didn't want to add insult to injury to the teething gums of our baby daughter. Molars are upon us (well, her).



Agenda: 12/13 to 12/19


Sip the Sparklers
BubblyNew York Times wine critic Eric Asimov will lead a tasting of affordable sparkling wines from around the world, including Prosecco and Champagne, paired with a three-course Italian dinner. The event, presented by the wine tasting club Unwind with Wine, will take place on Wednesday, December 13, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at The Jolly Hotel Madison Towers, 22 East 38 Street. $85/person, advance reservation and purchase required (reserve online).

Read More >



A Menu for Hope III

Menuforhope The third annual edition of Chez Pim's online fundraising campaign, A Menu For Hope has returned to the blogosphere. Last year, $17,000 in contributions were raised to support UNICEF. This year, the campaign is raising support to benefit the United Nations World Food Programme, the food aid arm of the UN.

The campaign takes the form of a raffle for food-related prizes offered up by food bloggers from around the world. For every $10 you donate, you may claim one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. The more you give, the better your chance to win, and the more that the World Food Programme will benefit from your generosity. The campaign is scheduled to run from now until Friday, December 22nd, 6:00 p.m. PST.

Oxfordcompaniontofood Oxford University Press has generously donated a copy of the Oxford Companion to Food ($65) towards A Menu for Hope. Originally edited by food historian Alan Davidson and published in 1999, the second edition of this massive culinary reference book was just released this past October under the editorship of food writer Tom Jaine. The new edition, clocking in at 976 pages, includes more than 70 new entries -- from "molecular gastronomy" to "doggy bags" (not to mention "paper-bag cookery").

So, how can you support A Menu for Hope and win a copy of this book or the myriad other prizes being offered?

Read More >



From the Archives: Crispy Potato Pancakes


This post originally appeared on December 16, 2003.

I wish I could say that my potato latkes originate from a family recipe passed down from generation to generation, but this is not the case. Greasy and soggy is how I remember the potato pancakes that my grandmother made. What made them so bad? Too much flour? A heavy hand on the onion? Her embrace of the electric blender, rather than hand-grating the potatoes? Thankfully, I was steered toward a better potato pancake during a summer working at Bette’s Oceanview Diner on Fourth Street in Berkeley, California.

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Agenda: 12/6 to 12/12


The Science of Wine
Scienceofwine2 The second event in the New York Academy of Sciences five-part "Science of Food Series" will feature a presentation by James Kennedy, PhD, whose research is focused on understanding what creates great texture in red wine. The discussion will be followed by a wine tasting. The event will take place on Monday, December 11, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., at the New York Academy of Sciences, 7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich Street. $25/person, reservations required (212.298.8600).

Read More >



Holiday Giving


GIFTS FOR GASTRONOMES Clockwise from right: Mini Mario Batali wind-up toy, Ole Jensen "washing up bowl," and Brazilian agate coasters.

Confounded by what to give for the holidays this year? Here are two guides which should bring some resolution to this annual conundrum:

»The Food Section Holiday Gift Guide: Our list of suggestions for (almost) everyone on your list.

»The Food Section Guide to Holiday Gift Guides: Our annual compilation of links to holiday gift guides published elsewhere on the web.