Tag Archives: Food

Just Another Night at the Farmer’s Market

Tonight I walked to the downtown farmer’s market. I had an evaluation and comparison on my mind. A few weeks ago I discovered that McLintock’s sold the best pulled pork I’ve ever tasted. The sandwich is massive and wonderful. McLintock’s always has the longest line of all the food stands. The line stretches past one of their neighbors, The Rib Line, and they make a strong effort to entice people to bail on McLintock’s and eat at The Rib Line. The stands represent restaurants, and according to Yelp McLintock’s gets a 3.5 star rating while The Rib Line gets a 4.0. On UrbanSpoon McLintock’s gets an 88% and The Rib Line gets an 87%.

Tonight I wanted to see how The Rib Line’s pulled pork compared to McLintock’s. And the verdict is that there is no comparison. On a 10 point scale McLintock’s rates as a solid 9 (the best I’ve had, but I’ll leave room for a 10 that might change my life). My standard for a 1 is The Great Pulled Pork Disaster of 2007 when I made 5 lbs of pulled pork that smelled like heaven but was entirely unpalatable due to a liberal application of liquid smoke. The Rib Line pulled pork sandwich rates at a 5.

I feel I must clarify that I was just comparing the pulled pork sandwiches. I have no idea how the ribs or tri-tip fare.

The last time I stopped by the market I noticed a little stand advertising authentic Thai iced tea. So after picking up a sandwich I stopped to get a glass of iced tea. it was the first Thai iced tea I have tried. The flavor fascinated me because it tasted very familiar and very foreign at the same time. The familiarity was due to the Ceylon tea flavor, the sweetened milk flavor, and a hint of tamarind. What made it seem foreign was that I had never experienced these flavors together. And I noted that the aftertaste reminded me of a Yoo-hoo. It was good.

While I ate I listened to a guy in an alien spacesuit play rock cello. He was intense. His electric cello was pretty cool.

The Lord of the Cello rocks at the Thursday Night Farmer's Market in SLO.

The Lord of the Cello rocks at the Thursday Night Farmer’s Market in SLO.

He has a website at www.lordofthecello.com. I notice he has recorded with KISS, which is easy for me to believe.

As a random note, I’ve now lived here long enough that I expect to see people I know when I go to the downtown market on a Thursday night. It’s one of the beauties of living in a small town.

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In Defense of Food: Michael Pollan

I like to eat. Thankfully I’ve been blessed with a metabolism that is a rock star. The only special diets I have ever attempted were to gain weight, though my metabolism foiled those plans. My premise is that eating should be enjoyable. Thus I am a proponent of savoring food and not getting paranoid about nutrition.

A few weeks ago I read Michael Pollan’s wonderful argument for this in In Defense of Food. His main thesis is “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Good advice.

I appreciate Pollan’s through research and ability to take scientific material and present it in a manner that is easy to read. I also enjoy the way he presents an argument, not claiming to be impartial or an absolute authority, but rather an interpretor of facts and clues and information. His conclusions aren’t a collection of rules, as witnessed by the thesis statement I wrote above.

On page 157 Pollan managed to use the phrase “. . . silence of the yams . . .” which further solidifies him as my hero.

In the book Pollan examines the current obsession with analyzing nutrient intake, as well as providing a few thoughts on healthy eating. I found the background on nutritional studies fascinating. The advice on healthy eating did not radically change me, but it did make me think about unit bias and quantity versus quality. I am guilty of eating whatever is in front of me (I tend to cook for a family of three and then eat it all). As a practical step in responding to this I’ve been changing some of my portioning in cooking; I still have not overcome my aversion to most leftovers (which fuels my motivation to eat everything I cook at once).

In closing, here is an amazing coincidence I must tell you about. I read frequently. I have no idea how many books I have read, but it’s a long list. Prior to reading In Defense of Food  I read George Eliot’s Middlemarch (I finished the book on March 14, which I am certain you will agree is quite close to the middle of March, and once I realized my timing it gave me great pleasure. But this is not the coincidence that I referenced earlier, it is far more dramatic than that.) I heard of Middlemarch for the first time this past fall, when it was recommended to me three times. So I read it. I enjoyed it. The characters are very rich and real (my favorite being the noble, bug-collecting, gambling, clergyman Camden Farebrother). One of the characters in the book is Dr Casaubon. It is Dr Casaubon that is the coincidence, for he is referenced explicitly by Pollan in In Defense of Food. This is not a passing mention, Pollan compares the work of researchers on omega-3 fats with the research of Dr Casaubon (which is most unflattering for the omega-3 researchers). That is amazing to me. I have gone through my life unaware of Middlemarch, then I finally read it and the very next book I read (which is a non-ficiton book about food) has a direct reference to it*. Crazy.

If you had given me the opportunity to wager on a direct reference to Middlemarch appearing in In Defense of Food before I began reading the book I would now be penniless, for I would have bet everything I own against it**.

*You might be thinking, you only noticed the reference because you just read the book. You may have encountered other references in the past that you missed. To this I would say, that is unlikely sir or madam, highly unlikely. I am the sort of reader that feels compelled to investigate references and passing mentions. Had I encountered Middlemarch before I would have remembered it.

**If I were a betting man.

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Chipotle is Coming to State College!

Today I heard the news that a Chipotle Mexican Grill is officially coming to State College. I had no idea this was happening, so it was a pleasant surprise. According to the Centre Daily Times the local Chipotle should be open by mid-to-late August. 

I have eaten at two different Chipotle establishments and both of them were very favorable experiences. I rarely eat at restaurants, but when a Chipotle is in town it must be visited from time to time. It’s the right thing to do.

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Goodness thy name is Chipotle.

 

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The Art of Bacon Weaving

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Bacon weaving restraints

Several weeks ago my friend Paul introduced me to the concept of bacon weaving by sending me a link to an enlightening blog post. Shortly thereafter my sister Becca sent me a link to a New York Times article that featured bacon weaving, sausage, and barbeque sauce. Then last week my friend Ryan sent me a link to a blog post that showed pictures of the sausage-filled woven bacon topped with barbeque sauce.

As soon as I heard  about this noble pastime I knew I had to try it. The only way to prevent this from occurring would have been to restrain me in a Hannibal Lecter-like fashion (or Mr. Burns-like).

But on Super Bowl Sunday as evening approached I was unrestrained and unsupervised. My bacon vice took hold.

I started by weaving a square of thick sliced bacon.

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A simple bacon cross weave

The next step was a careful inspection to make sure the weave was nice and tight.

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This bacon inspected by: 2514

I baked it at 400° until the bacon reached the wonderful state of slight crunchiness while maintaining its flexibility. After removing the bacon from the oven I used an alarming number of paper towels to soak the grease from the bacon mat.

I then scrambled a half dozen eggs, which were placed on the bacon quilt. I coated the eggs with shredded cheddar cheese.

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Some assembly required

The rolling up process was relatively easy. I tucked the seam on the bottom side, and suddenly I had a bacon roll.

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The finished product

And here is another angle (to show off the bacon weave).

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It looks like a tasty scarf

I exercised self control and only ate half of the bacon roll.

Bacon weaving is an art form. Someday I might attempt to make the sausage-stuffed bacon roll that gets slathered in barbeque sauce and smoked. But for now the bacon, egg, and cheese model will be sufficient.

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Have you ever woven bacon, Clarice?

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Thanksgiving Dinner Approacheth

This year I have two Thanksgiving dinners to attend, one on Thursday and one on Saturday. I’ve been pondering what the best part of a Thanksgiving meal is. I’m talking exclusively about the food. What is the best?

I believe the players are turkey, stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. You can throw in miscellaneous salads and vegetables, but they are mere foils. Here are the grades:

Turkey: Apart from Thanksgiving my turkey consumption is limited to sliced turkey coldcuts. So roast turkey has a novelty factor in its favor. I’ll give the big chicken a solid B+.

Inquiring minds want to know if consuming turkey will really make you tired. Well turkey does contain a fair amount of tryptophan, which is an amino acid involved in the production of seratonin (a chemical linked to sleepiness). However, tryptophan works best on an empty stomach. If have eaten a considerable amount of food, the various amino acids compete and the production of seratonin is slowed. So if you eat a big meal and feel tired on Thanksgiving afternoon I’d blame overeating and being sedentary, not the poor bird. 

Stuffing: There are many kinds of stuffing. In my humble opinion the best style is the type baked separately from the bird. My grandmother makes a stuffing that contains oysters. It is the only “seafood” I can actually say I like (if you selected one hundred people off the street and had them do a taste test, not one of them would guess oysters were in it . . . unless they were allergic to them . . . in which case they would have a reaction . . . which would clue them in). I only have this style of stuffing at Thanksgiving, so the novelty factor is high. I give it an A.

Candied Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are all right. Alone they do not rank very highly on my list of foods. But some brilliant person thought of chopping sweet potatoes up coating them with caramelized brown sugar. Genius. From mediocrity to an A-.

Pumpkin Pie: I’ve never really appreciated pumpkin pie. If pies were presidents pumpkin pie would be Warren G. Harding. I give pumpkin pie a rather uninspiring C.

Thankfully my Thanksgivings are graced with a pumpkin pie alternative. My Aunt Rose makes a pumpkin roll that is spectacular. It has a pumpkin flavored cake-like layer with a creamcheese-based filling rolled up in it. It’s more like an Abraham Lincoln.

Conclusion: So my conclusion is that stuffing is the best part of Thanksgiving dinner. It is also worth mentioning that turkey, stuffing, and gravy have a synergistic effect. The sum is greater than the parts.

So what’s your opinion? What is the best part of Thanksgiving dinner?

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