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Omnivore Food Blog By Suzanne Podhaizer

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August 2007

August 30, 2007

Supermarket Sues Youthful Rappers Over Video

The A&P Grocery Chain is suing two college kids for a million bucks. Yep, you read that correctly. The youngsters, brothers named Matthew and Mark D'Avella who both worked in the produce department at a store in Jersey, filmed a silly and occasionally vulgar rap called "Produce Paradise." In it, they pretend to pee in a box of veggies and stand around with bananas hanging from their flies. The duo lost their jobs (one had worked at the store for 4 years, the other for 6), and now have to go to court.

Sure the video is kind of gross, but suing them seems like the worst PR move possible on the grocery chain's part. Even though the video was recorded at the A&P, I didn't see the store's name when I viewed it (did you?). And guess how many more people are going to watch the thing now that the story has broken...As of Tuesday, according to one article, the video had 500 views on YouTube. Today, Thursday, it has nearly 60,000. Plus, they boys did some pretty clever things with a sales flyer, and for that they deserve to be rewarded. And how many people rap about the food pyramid? If you're not easily offended, check it out for yourself. 


August 28, 2007

"Weird Al" Loves Food

Unless you're share my predilection for parody and all things gastronomic, you may not have noticed that "Weird Al" Yankovic has an awful lot of songs about food. It wasn't until I cleverly picked up on this trend and threw myself into deep research mode that I learned he'd released a compilation of culinary-themed anthems entitled, "The Food Album (1993)" Here are a few tasty verses to whet your appetites:

Taco Grande (to the tune of Rico Suave by one hit wonder, Gerardo)

So give me something spicy and hot, now
Break out the menu, what you got, now?
Oh, would you tell the waiter I'd like to have sour cream on the side
You better make sure the beans are refried...

Spam (to the tune of "Stand" by REM)

Spam in the place where I live (ham and pork)
Think about nutrition, wonder what's inside it now (oh boy)
Spam in my luchbox at work (it's the best)
Really makes a darn good sandwich any way you slice it at all...

The Rye or the Kaiser (to the glorious strains of Survivor's "The Eye of the Tiger")

Try the rye or the kaiser or the wheat or the white
Maybe I can suggest an appetizer
Stay away from the tuna, it smells funny tonight
But you just can't go wrong with the rye
Or the kaiser...

This one didn't make it onto The Food Album, but it's just as scrumptious nevertheless:

My Bologna (to the tune of "My Sharona" by The Knack)

Ooh, my little hungry one, hungry one
Open up a package of my bologna
Ooh, I think the toast is done, the toast is done
Top it with a little of my bologna

Some dude who is not Weird Al has collected the lyrics to all of his songs (that's where I found the above), including a bunch of unreleased ones. Who knows how he got his hands on them. Here are some titles of ones we might see in the future: Avocado (Desperado, The Eagles),  Chicken Pot Pie (Live and Let Die, Guns 'n' Roses),  Don't You Forget About Meat (I better not have to tell you) and Gravy on You (Crazy on You, Heart).

Here's a little contest for you...this is the chorus of an unreleased Weird Al parody of a famous song. Can you guess the song?

Burger King
What's the price for fries
I'll take the jumbo size
I need fast food tonight

If you're really lucky, I may share some of my own gastro-parodies in the future...how about you?
(By "Weird Al" Yankovic)

August 24, 2007

Great 863-TOGO Experience

I don't usually delve into my personal life on this blog, but I have to say that Wednesday was a crappy day. In fact, this whole week has been downright depressing.

So when my car broke down just after the Richmond exit on I-89, as I was on my way to an interview in East Montpelier, it was the last straw. After chillin' on the shoulder for a while, getting towed to my mechanic and calling my mom to get a ride home, I was in desperate need of some comfort food. For me, this is either comprised of fatty meats (preferably smoked), any number of potato dishes, soup or Asian food.

Since I couldn't go anywhere distant and didn't feel much like walkin' at that point, I decided to give the online version of the 863-TOGO delivery service a shot. Basically, you go to their website, select a restaurant (Winooski's Pho Dang, in this case), click on the items you want, and they deliver your food. I can be a skeptic sometimes, so I decided to pay cash, just in case they never showed up.

Right after I ordered, I received a confirmation e-mail telling me that my food would arrive by 9:20 p.m. (I'd placed the order at 8:20). At 8:45, the delivery man knocked on my door with a piping hot container of pho, some veggie rolls and my favorite, weird Vietnamese dessert. 25 minutes!! Wow. Not only that, a special request I'd included was honored (I wanted to make sure I got bean sprouts, herbs and lime wedges with my pho). And the restaurant packaged the rice noodles apart from the soup, so they wouldn't get soggy.

The dinner made my night.

August 21, 2007

Funny Food Laws

Did you know that in L.A., it is illegal to poke a turkey you want to buy to see how tender it is? Or that in Massachusetts, mourners are prohibited from consuming more than three sandwiches at a wake? I didn't either!

I've always been amused by lists of stupid laws, however apocryphal they might be, and so I went out looking for ones that are food related. Here's what I found...

Alabama:
Putting salt on the railroad tracks may be punishable by death
You may not have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time

Alaska:
It is illegal to feed alcoholic beverages to a moose

Arizona:
(Hackberry) A city ordinance prohibits women from eating raw onions while drinking buttermilk on the sabbath

California:
It is illegal to eat oranges in the bathtub
(Blythe) It is illegal to wear cowboy boots unless you already own two cows
(L.A.) It is illegal for a customer of a meat market to poke a turkey to see how tender it is
(Riverside) It is illegal to kiss on the lips in public unless both parties wipe their lips with carbonized rose water
(Rosemead) It's against the law to eat ice cream in public with a fork
(Victorville) It's against the law to shoot open canned goods with a revolver

Connecticut:
In order for a pickle to be considered a pickle, it must bounce

Florida:
(Tampa Bay) It is illegal to eat cottage cheese on Sunday after 6 p.m.

Georgia
(Gainsville) Chicken must be eaten with the hands

Idaho:
Boxes of candy given as romantic gifts must weigh more than 50 pounds

Illinois:
(Chicago) Law forbids eating at a place that's on fire

Indiana:
It is illegal for a liquor store to sell cold soft drinks. Liquor stores are also prohibited from selling milk.
Grocery stores can't sell cold liquor

Iowa:
After lovemaking, men aren't allowed more than three gulps of beer while cuddling with their wives
(Indianola) The "Ice Cream Man" and his truck are banned

Kansas:
It is illegal to sell cherry pie a la mode on Sunday

Louisiana:
The fine for ordering a pizza and sending it to someone without their knowledge is $500

Massachusetts:
It's illegal to give beer to a hospital patient
Candy may not contain more than 1% alcohol
At a wake, mourners can't eat more than three sandwiches
Tomatoes may not be used in the production of clam chowder
(Boston) It is illegal to eat peanuts in church

Maryland:
It's illegal to mistreat oysters

Minnesota:
(St. Cloud) Hamburgers may not be eaten on Sunday

Mississippi:
(Alexandria) It's illegal for a man to make love to his wife with the smell of garlic, onions or sardines on his breath. He must brush his teeth if it's requested.

Nebraska:
It's illegal for bar owners to sell beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup (*)   
(Lehigh) Doughnut holes may not be sold

New Jersey:
(Neward) It's illegal to sell ice cream after 6 p.m., unless the customer has a note from his/her doctor
It is illegal to slurp soup
(Trenton) It's illegal to throw a bad pickle in the street or to consume pickles on Sunday

New York:
(Greene) During a concert, it is illegal to eat peanuts and walk backwards on the sidewalk
(Ocean City) Eating while swimming in the ocean is prohibited
(Ocean City) Raw hamburger may not be sold

North Dakota:
It's illegal to serve beer and pretzels at the same time in any bar, club or restaurant

Oklahoma:
It will not be tolerated for anyone to take a bite of another's hamburger
(Tulsa) You may not open a soda bottle without the supervision of a licensed engineer

Oregon:
Canned corn is not to be used as bait when fishing

Pennsylvania:
Since 1760, it has been illegal to put pretzels in bags

Rhode Island:
It's an offense to throw pickle juice on a trolley

South Dakota:
It is illegal  to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory

Tennessee:
(Memphis) It's illegal to give away pie to fellow diners. It's illegal to take any pie home, all pie must be eaten on the premises.
Bologna can't be sold on Sunday

Texas:
(Houston) It's illegal to sell Limburger cheese on Sunday

Utah:
It's illegal NOT to drink milk
It's legal for restaurants to serve wine with meals, but only if you ask for the wine list
Alcohol may not be sold during an emergency

Virginia:
(Richmond) It is illegal to flip a coin in any eating establishment to determine who buys a cup of coffee
Chickens are prohibited from laying eggs before 8 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

Washington:
All lollipops are banned

West Virginia:
It's illegal to cook cabbage or sauerkraut due to the odors. Perpetrators are subject to imprisonment

Wisconsin:
Cheese making requires a license. Making Limburger requires a master  cheese license
Butter substitutes may not be served in state prisons
Margarine may not be substituted for butter in a restaurant without the customer's request
It used to be illegal to serve apple pie without cheese in a restaurant

Wyoming
(Newcastle) It's illegal to have sex while standing in a store's walk-in freezer

Canada:
Clear or "non-dark" sodas may not contain caffeine

Denmark:
One may not be charged for food at an inn, unless one professes to be full
Restaurants may not charge for water unless it is accompanied by another item, like ice or a slice of lemon

U.K.
With the exception of carrots, most goods may not be sold on Sunday
Any person found to be breaking a boiled egg at the sharp end will be sentenced to 24 hours in the stocks
It's illegal for a lady to eat chocolates on a public conveyance

I found many of these at http://www.dumblaws.com/

August 12, 2007

Making Mozzarella

1093902381_4fc61ea74dThere's nothing like sticking your hands into a warm bowl full of squishy cheese curds. Last Saturday, I experienced this firsthand when I made mozzarella with friends Caitlin and Jeremy.

See that stuff on the left...it was milk just 10 minutes before we took this picture. Cool, huh?

There are two methods for making mozz, and this time around, we opted for the easier one. Instead of carefully cultivating a culture, we used a combo of rennet and citric acid to turn a gallon of milk from Strafford Organic Creamery into lasagna fixin's.
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The recipe we used comes from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company website. It's easy to find and easy to follow, so I'm not gonna write down all of the steps. They also sell all of the necessary supplies, sans the kitchen implements and the milk itself.

This picture shows the stretching process. If you've ever made taffy, you'll find it's pretty similar.

We ended up with 1 1/4 pounds of fresh cheese. At a nearby grocery store, the conventional, non-local fresh mozzarella goes for $7.99 a pound, so 1 1/4 pounds would cost $10. Our cost for the local, organic version: $9.

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We decided to increase the bang we were getting for our bucks by making some ricotta from the leftover whey. We heated the liquid to 200 degrees and strained it through a double layer of cheesecloth. Lo and behold, about 2 tablespoons of ricotta. Oh well! Luckily, Caitlin had made a batch of ricotta with whole milk earlier in the week, so we had enough for our lasagna.

The remaining whey became fertilizer for Jeremy and Caitlin's vegetable garden. If you make cultured cheeses, though, the whey can also be used as a starter for making lacto-fermented veggies such as pickles and sauerkraut.

I had to much fun making the cheese that I ordered some supplies for myself, so check back for more cheesy posts in the near future.


 

August 10, 2007

Turnip Troubles

Right now, I'm fairly sure that the citizens of Wardsboro, Vermont (pop. <900) are wicked pissed at me. I accidentally slighted their favorite vegetable in one of my features last week.

Wardsboro, near the state's Southern border, is the home of the Gilfeather turnip, named after farmer John Gilfeather (1865-1944). Gilfeather developed and grew the crunchy white orbs during the early part of the 20th century. It's one of only a few widely-recognized and officially certified heirloom veggies indigenous to Vermont. In my Q&A with Gary Nabhan, I mistakenly transcribed it as a "gilliflower turnip." The black gilliflower is an heirloom variety of apple, not at all the same thing.

The folks in Wardsboro are so serious about their special root vegetable that they have an annual celebration in its honor. Vermont's Gilfeather Turnip Festival takes place at the end of each October. Admission is free, and so are the tasting portions of turnip dishes that are served between 2 and 4 p.m.

But their adulation goes even further. A turnip song? Yep. A turnip poem? You betcha. You can hear them both in this 23-minute video...

Gonna try cooking with GTs on your own? Here are links to a few recipes:
Gilfeather Turnip Soup with Spinach from the Four Columns Inn and Restaurant in Newfane
Gilfeather Turnip Soup with Sea-Legs, whatever that means
And a couple others.

August 09, 2007

Tasting Dinner at Café Shelburne

For a couple of foodies, sharing a multi-course tasting menu is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion. Eating a slew of small dishes minimizes the risk that one mediocre offering will dampen the mood. And it's kind of sexy to ooh and aah over each course with someone who's having the same deliriously delicious experience at the same time.

But around here, very few restaurants offer them. Sure there's the 3-course prix-fixe option at a bunch of places, but that's different. I'm talking 6+ courses, each one made up of just a couple bites of tantalizing food. The only ones I've been able to find are at Hemingway's, Hen of the Wood and Christophe's on the Green. Michael's on the Hill doesn't appear to have one, but there is a note that they're happy to accommodate "special desires."

As my second anniversary approached, I thought it would be really nice to have a tasting dinner, but couldn't stray far outside of the Burlington area. So, I decided to start calling area chefs to see if any were willing to do a special occasion menu. Luckily, the first chef I spoke with, Patrick Grangien of Café Shelburne, said yes right away. And of course, I asked about the tasting and made the reservation without disclosing my secret identity as "Food Girl." I use my husband's name when I make reservations so chefs don't know who I am...it's the only way to make it fair.

The food was excellent. Everything was cooked perfectly, sauces were mouthwatering, there was a lot of variety and the portions were just right. Here's a run-down of the courses.

 

1) Escargots with prosciutto, Parmesan and garlic butter topped with tiny toast rounds.
2) House-smoked salmon with veggie egg rolls, balsamic reduction
3) Creamy gazpacho topped with zucchini and shrimp
4) Blood sausage ravioli in a Bordelaise sauce with caramelized onions
5) Striped bass with red pepper sauce, snow peas and carrots
6) Duck breast with potato gratin and hedgehog mushrooms, demi-glace
7) Artisan Cheese Plate
8) Currant sorbet
9) Floating island topped with toasted almonds and caramel in a vanilla sauce, garnished with blueberries
10) Apple tart with caramel ice cream

I was particularly enchanted by the creamy gazpacho, the duck and the currant sorbet, which was the creamiest, richest sorbet I've ever had, but like I said, everything was delicious.

I wonder if there are more chefs out there willing to do tastings...

August 01, 2007

Barbecue Free For All!

I'm not posting a story chat for my Get A 'Cue article, 'cause there's not much to talk about. But, I thought it would be great to give people a place to talk about barbecue in general.

Love or hate the local barbecue joints? Got a recipe you want to share? Have strong opinions about vinegar vs. tomato? Feel free to share.

I'm off to meet the cheesemakers at the American Cheese Society conference!

No Reservations/Mostly Martha Story Chat

It's got shrinks, saffron sauce and sexy scene with stock...but is it good? I wasn't a big fan, as you know if you read my "A Few Reservations" article this week. What did you think of No Reservations?

I'm also really interested in whether or not anybody has seen Mostly Martha, which I thought was a  much better film.



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