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Omnivore Food Blog By Suzanne Podhaizer

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June 2008

June 27, 2008

Live Blogging Chew Chew Fest...See Blurt!

Hey there...I'm down on the Burlington Waterfront at Chew Chew Fest doing some live blogging of everything I eat. Check it out on Blurt!

June 17, 2008

Random Collection of Stuff

Sometimes, when I'm too busy to post, I keep every interesting food news item I come across in its own little Firefox tab so I don't forget about it.

There are a couple of downsides to this, the most significant of which is that I can't turn off my computer until I suck it up and write a blog post. Since I apparently haven't turned the machine off since May 30th (sorry Don), I think it's time for a food news roundup...

~ The first item that caught my eye was about a beer, made by the Japanese company Sapporo, that will use barley descended from grandpa and grandma barley seeds that spent time on the international space station. They're calling it "space beer," and are planning an initial run of 100 bottles. The biz isn't sure how they will dole out the brew, but don't plan to sell it...for now. I presume they eventually will, and for an, umm, astronomical price.
    I hate this kind of meaningless gimmick. After all, the beer is gonna taste exactly the same as any similar brew. Do you think in the Wright brothers' day, companies made special products from ingredients that had flown on planes?  "Stratosphere beer," perhaps? Or maybe folks could take sandwich ingredients to the bottom of the Mariana trench and made "submarine submarine sandwiches!"
    What I do find interesting on the space beer frontier is this article on the NASA website, which indicates that it may actually be possible to brew beer in a gravity-free environment.

~ But surely the space beer couldn't possibly cost as much as a 17-pound, black-skinned watermelon that was sold for $6,100 at an auction. Less exceptional specimens of the  "Densuke" variety, which only grow on the island of Hokkaido, often go for nearly $200.
    But these babies got nothing on a pair of cantaloupe, which sold together for $23,500.

~ A new book, Sex & Bacon: Why I Love Things That Are Bad For Me, sounds like fun. Here's a Q&A with the author, Sarah Katherine Lewis. What I appreciate most is her stance on pseudo-foods: "You know, fake foods are really like fake orgasms. They don't do anyone any good at any time. Eating fake food is basically a self-loathing and pointless activity that results in constant hunger..."

~ Although I'm not big on the Stovetop version, I am fond of various types of poultry stuffings. I make a mean one from roasted-poblano cornbread, and an even better, sage-laced version studded with bits of sausage and freshly roasted chestnuts.
    But unlike Simsbury, Connecticut's finest, I've never seen a chicken stuffed with an explosive. Last week, an innocent bystander discovered a "roaster a la pipe bomb" by the side of the road. Luckily, the fowl was detonated by the cops before anybody could be hurt.

I think that's enough for now...time to give my computer a well-deserved nap.

June 10, 2008

I Feel Like a Winner!

This post, as you will soon realize, clearly falls under the "tooting one's own horn" category, but I hope that's o.k...

Seven Days belongs to a professional group called  the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN). Each year, member papers submit their best pieces to AAN, which doles out a variety of prizes for writing, art, web design, etc. in a variety of categories. The prizes are split up based on newspaper size: We're in the smaller, "circulation under 55,000" group.

Back in January, I selected my favorite food stories from '07, and my editors winnowed the list down to three stories: Shuck & Awe, His Daily Bread and Newfound Ground Round. They submitted them to the competition. A few weeks ago, I learned that I was chosen as one of four finalists.

I was sure I wouldn't win. After all, I am kind of a new kid on the block. Plus, there were fun & snappy entries from the competition, all of whom are excellent writers (you can find links to their stories below) -- but I was really pleased to be chosen as a finalist.

I didn't attend the award ceremony, which was in Philadelphia as part of AAN's annual conference, but a few of my co-workers did. I was convinced I had no chance of winning, so I didn't really think twice about it. I was wandering around the Burlington Farmers' Market, oblivious to the fact that the awards lunch was in progress, when I got a text message telling me that I'd gotten 1st place!!!

If I had to guess why Seven Days won, I would relate it to the breadth of our food writing. A lot of newspapers have excellent critics, but fewer mix up their culinary coverage with features on agriculture, profiles of interesting folks in the industry and occasional silly stuff. I'm really lucky because my editors see that there is lots more to food than just eating.

For information on other Seven Days winners, see Blurt

FOOD WRITING circulation under 55,000

First place -- Seven Days: His Daily Bread, Newfound Ground Round and Shuck and Awe by Suzanne Podhaizer
Second place -- Nashville Scene: The Sign of Paradise, Heckuva Job, Chappy and Get Your Goat by Carrington Fox
Third place -- Monterey County Weekly: Miles to Go Before I Eat (PDF) by Mark C. Anderson
Honorable mention --
North Bay Bohemian: First Bite: Sky Lounge, First Bite: Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar and Saint Elsewhere by Carey Sweet

June 04, 2008

Pickle in a Bag!

Img_1806 On my whirlwhind trip to the Southern U.S. a couple of weeks ago, I came across an old favorite food packaged in an unusual way: A single, chunky dill pickle, swimming in brine, inside of plastic bag.

Since my two siblings and I are fanatical about pickled foods (artichokes, olives, cucumbers, beans and so on), I just had to invest the $1.49 it cost for me to acquire the 5 calorie, "cholesterol-free" delight, which also boasts a generous quantity of yellow #5.

Img_1808 I brought PIB home to Vermont with me, where I was able to wow my co-workers. "A pickle? In a bag?" They chorused.

It turns out that my very own pickle in a bag was flavored with "hot dill." It was firm of texture, although not as crisp as a Claussens model, and was spicy enough to make my mouth tingly for a few minutes. Since the pickles are shelf-stable for up to two years, it could be good to stock up on these, along with duct tape and flashlights, in case of emergencies such as blizzards or terrorist attacks.

If you want a PIB (or a whole stash) of your very own, you can find them online. The maker, Freestone, has been around since 1903 and is a "proud member of the Pickle Packers International trade association." They also run a 24-hour-a-day pickle store, because "loyal Freestone pickle fans [read: pregnant women] crave pickles at all hours."

What they neglect to mention is that Freestone can't beam your pickles to you via teleportation and the US postal service doesn't give a shit about your late night hankerings, so you probably won't get that late-night pickle you crave for several days. A dream deferred.

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