News For January 2012

NewspaperWendy’s is expanding to Japan. Why do I mention this? Because they are “adding innovative new menu options created exclusively or the Japanese market, including the Avocado Wasabi hamburger and the [$15] Truffle and Porcini Grilled Chicken sandwich. Our food will be served in a contemporary, inviting atmosphere that we believe will exceed the discerning expectations of Japanese consumers.”

According to Eater, “the newest item on offer is Beef Rossini style with liver pie, a dish of New Zealand Beef topped with foie gras and sliced truffles, served with a red wine demi-glace reduction.”

Meatballs All the Rage

I’ve noted before that meatballs seem to be the big thing for 2012. Forget pizza – so yesterday, and burgers – the day before. It’s all about meatballs. Chef Michel Richard, the James Beard Award-winning chef behind Central Michel Richard has opened an all-meatball restaurant in Penn Quarter. Oh my. Why meatballs? They are comfort food, which seems to be important in this economy, and they are cheap. If you are looking for a good example, the best meatballs I’ve had in a long time are available at the new Oven & Shaker.

From the Huffington Post, “365 Pounds of Caviar Found in Russian Hospital Morgue“.

A morgue employee and a businessman were arrested after the Wednesday discovery, but police said Friday the matter is still being investigated and it is unclear if the men will be charged.

The arrested men said the caviar, or salted fish eggs, was to be a treat for hospital employees at a New Year’s party.

Most of the red caviar was from salmon, but 38 kilograms (84 pounds) of the stash was black caviar from sturgeon, an endangered fish. Amid heavy restrictions on sturgeon fishing, black caviar is increasingly produced and sold illegally.

Tasting notes: Faintly briny seaside aroma, and a clean buttery flavor, with hints of embalming fluid.

Mark Bittman at the New York Times writes about the extraordinary amount of bacteria found in a recent study of various meats.

A study earlier this year by a nonprofit research center in Phoenix analyzed 80 brands of beef, pork, chicken and turkey from five cities and found that 47 percent contained staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can cause anything from minor skin infections to pneumonia and sepsis, more technically called systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), and commonly known as blood poisoning — but no matter what you call it, plenty scary. Of those bacteria, 52 percent were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics. So when you go to the supermarket to buy one of these brands of pre-ground meat products, there’s a roughly 25 percent chance you’ll consume a potentially fatal bacteria that doesn’t respond to commonly prescribed drugs.

This is just one story, but it does give me pause. My New Year’s resolution is to drink more bourbon when I eat meat. That should kill the bacteria.

“The Sea Salt Caramel of Cheese”

Kitchen Daily ran an article last month by NYC cheesemonger Martin Johnson, where he says that Gouda is the most underrated cheese in the world. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but a really good, aged Gouda is easily in my top ten favorite cheeses. I love the little crunch of crystals and the satisfying flavors. Johnson highlights its “very accessible flavors like butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, molasses and even bourbon”. Interesting read.

According to Portland Business Journal, Stumptown Coffee is Headquarters is Moving

Stumptown’s Portland operations will move this summer to the former MacForce building, 100 S.E. Salmon St., and the adjacent 30,000-square-foot building on Southeast Main Street, for a total of 37,000 square feet.
“We’re looking at a home for a long time,” Matt Lounsbury, Stumptown’s director of operations, said Thursday. The company will grow into the new space gradually as it increases production and hires more office workers, but isn’t planning any sudden burst in growth, he said.
The new site consolidates production and management functions currently run out of three buildings in Southeast Portland.
Stumptown employs a little more than 100 people in Portland, and about 100 more elsewhere in the country.

Finally, just for fun, Eater has a roundup of 2011’s Most Scathing Restaurant Reviews. My favorites:

  • Jonathan Gold on the Olive Garden: “What is lasagna fritta? Apparently rolled lasagna sliced into thick discs, crisped in trans-fat-free boiling oil and served with a marinara dipping sauce. Words for once fail me.”
  • Sam Sifton on Imperial No. Nine: “They were pillowy in the sense of the word that describes the taste of a pillow.”
  • Jay Rayner on Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen: “To be frank Bread Street Kitchen is the kind of place only its mother could really love.”

Oregon Represents in Good Food Awards
I’ve never heard of “Good Food Awards” either, but a win is a win. From their website,

The Good Food Awards were created to redefine ‘good food’ as being tasty, authentic and responsible. We aim to set criteria for entry that are realistic and inclusive of food and drink producers who have demonstrated a commitment to be part of building a tasty, authentic and responsible food system, going far above and beyond the status quo for their industry, while not making them so strict that eligible participants are limited to a small handful of products. The Good Food Awards reviews and revises its category criteria each year under the supervision of its Committee Members to ensure that the criteria advance with the advancement of each industry. The Awards are rooted in a belief that by being inclusive, our American food system will more closely embody the principles of tasty, authentic and responsible more quickly.


• Food is delicious, bringing joy to those who consume it.

• No artificial ingredients are used.
• Food is an expression of tradition and culture.
• Seasonality and locality are valued in crafting of food.

• Respect and fair compensation are core values within the production chain.
• Ingredients are grown without synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides and are GMO free.
• Growing practices are chosen to promote healthy soil and biodiversity.
• Local ingredients are utilized wherever possible.
• Water and resource conservation and recycling are practiced.
• Transparency and honesty is practiced with consumers.
• Direct, face-to-face communication is sought out between growers, food crafters and everyone else in the production chain.
• Good animal husbandry is practiced and farm animals can eat and behave according to their natural instincts.

They lost me when they used the word “tasty”, but Oregon scored 11 awards –

Beer –

Charcuterie –

Cheese –

Chocolate –

Coffee –

Preserves –

Spirits –

Little Bird Scores NY Times Review

Finally, the New York Times ran a review (of sorts) last weekend featuring Little Bird. It’s pretty glowing

Of all the dishes served at the Little Bird bistro in Portland, Ore., the charcuterie plate best encapsulates its spirit. On a recent evening there, the plate featured the typical chicken liver mousse, but it also included an unusual and seductive foie gras brûlée, a savory take on the dessert that is so packed with umami and conflicting textures that it’s memorable even without its delicious apricot-Sauternes jam pairing. That the platter has both elements reveals the ethos of Little Bird, where recognizable favorites are served along with more daring choices.

I should try it again. You can read the review here.


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