Having drinks last month with Shaw Lash, a Chicago chef, after a steller meal at Frontera Grill (Shaw works for executive chef Rick Bayless, renowned Mexican cuisine authority), and the subject of Cinco de Mayo came up. Shaw, who had a few month earlier showed me how they make their own chocolate, above, shook her head and said, “Don’t get me started.” But she started anyway. I said, “Want to write a guest post for my site?” By Shaw Lash I grew up in Texas, a state that shares a 1,200-mile-long border with Mexico, and “carne asada” and slushy-swirled margaritas were as ubiquitous as longhorns and oil rigs. As a family, we’d take vacations as far past the border as we could get in a comfortable day’s drive.  We’d walk across the bridge, never with passports, to Read On »

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I spotted a tiny news item in this morning’s Plain Dealer, culled from The San Francisco Chronicle reports, and was thrilled to see people like Thomas Keller, Michael Chiarello, Tyler Florence, and scores of other chefs beginning to protest California’s hypocritical and uninformed ban on foie gras that goes into effect this summer. (Watch news story video from KCRA.) While likely begun as self-aggrandizing soap-boxing by former state Senator John Burton in 2004 (read his LA Times op-ed reasoning), as it was done by Chicago City Council Alderman Joe Moore in 2007, embarrassing the city, which repealed the law in 2008, we’re hoping that California legislators evaluate their actual motives for the ban. If they truly care about the humane treatment of the animals we kill for food, they would do this country a better and real Read On »

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  I got an email last week that made my blood boil. Yes, seemingly to boil. Not simmer. A blanching-green-veg boil, a pressure cooker boil. The kind of boil my blood gets when I’m at a restaurant and I hear a woman, grilling the server suspiciously, saying, “I’m allergic to lactose” and then later says, “Oooh, could you wheel that cheese cart over here? Gawd, I love Epoisse.” I’m just minding my own business, a happy Bertie Wooster moment at my desk before work, dreaming of confiting turkey legs, and an email pops into my box and it’s like someone smacked me on the skull with a cricket bat. It was from Heather Clayton, an expat living in southern Germany, trying to plan a meal here in the once sensible USA (West Coast, bien sûr), for Read On »

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TSA restricts passengers from carrying on culinary finds like wines and oils a change is needed, via The Daily Meal.

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The best, I mean the very best and most useful kitchen tools, are almost always the simplest. Yes, you’ve got the kitchen workhorse, the standing mixer, the food processor (I almost never use mine), the hand blender (my favorite small appliance). But really what I love most? Two really sharp knives. A thick flat hard surface that gets really hot. A heavy wood cutting board. And these: Rocks and sticks. Point is: fewer rather than more, simple rather than complex. (One clarification in the video that I failed to make clear at the time. For testing the temperature of frying oil, I use the chopsticks I save from Chinese take out, not really nice ones.) Once again, many thanks to Todd Porter and Diane Cu. I called them saints among us in the last “something to say” Read On »

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