I HEART BACON
Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

Grateful Palate Catalog

Few things make me happier than when I receive the annual Gift Handbook from the Grateful Palate. A highlight of my favorites in this year’s catalog include:

Cowboy Ciao Bacon Brittle – Yep, that’s right. B-A-C-O-N Brittle. Candied bacon. Bacon crack. According to The Handbook, fights have broken out over this stuff.

Cob smoked bacon – I’ve never had cob smoked bacon, but it sounds pretty damn tasty. I mean if it’s good enough for the Pope, then it’s probably good enough for me.

BLT ring – I am terribly disappointed that this isn’t on the online catalog, so I’m going to attempt to describe it. It’s a sterling silver ring made up of five separate rings. If you laid each ring flat on a table you would see that the outside of the ring is shaped; two are shaped like pieces of bread, one is ruffled like lettuce, one is striated and wavy like cooked bacon and one is round like a tomato slice. But when you stack them on all your finger all you see is one edge and it looks like a normal ring. If it wasn’t $150 I would probably buy it.

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Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

Bacon Spray

A while back I heard about the Flavor Spray™ Diet, which was invented to replace things like toppings, gravies, dressings, and sauces. The line consists of liquid sprays that come in a range of flavors, including bacon. I laughed about it for a while, then curiosity got the better of me and I was compelled to order some.

With eager anticipation I waited for my sprays to arrive. And waited. And waited. A month and several phone calls later my sprays finally turned up. I tore open the box to find two little bottles of spray, one bacon and one parmesan flavored. I was still unclear about how I was supposed to use them. I suspected that I should spray them on food, but I wanted instant gratification after waiting that long. I decided to spray the bacon flavor directly onto my tongue. What could it hurt?

As usual, my naive innocence led my astray. It hurt bad.

It was like bathing my tongue in a tubful of liquid smoke. All I could taste was smoke. Was my tongue on fire? After that came the harsh chemical aftertaste. Choking and gasping for air I made my way to the sink. You know how they make those eye bath cups for chemical burns? I wanted one for my tongue.

I thought that maybe the parmesan one would be better. It was, in fact, even worse. I resisted the urge to throw them both straight into the trash. Instead I put them in my cupboard. They’re still sitting there. I planned to do a real review and try them on food instead of my tongue, but now, months later, the thought of tasting them again makes my taste-buds quiver in fear.

It’s real bacon for this girl from here on out.

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Monday, December 12th, 2005

A Menu for Hope II

Pim of Chez Pim has organized a wonderful event to help raise funds to support the victims of the devastating earthquake in the Kashmir region of India and Pakistan.

This year the fundraiser is in the form of a raffle with some really fantastic prizes. For every five dollars you donate, you will receive a raffle ticket for an item of your choice.

My raffle gift contribution is a jar of Casina Rossa Truffle & Salt (valued at $30). This salt is amazing and packed with truffle flavor. It elevates simple things like mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, fresh mozzarella and French fries to a heavenly level.

To enter, simply choose what prize(s) you want and specify this when you make a donation. This event will end on December 23rd, and the winners will be announced after January 1st 2006.

Click here to make your donation >>

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Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

2005 Food Blog Awards

The moment we’ve all been waiting for… The 2005 Food Blog Awards!

Nominations are now open and you have until Friday to nominate your favorite food blogs (your own or someone else’s). Go do it now at:

http://www.accidentalhedonist.com/index.php/2005/12/05/2005_food_blog_awards

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Saturday, December 3rd, 2005

Gyoza

consumed on 12/3/05

My uncle goes through phases of cooking where he focuses on one thing until he has it perfected. So when he called asking if I wanted to come over for gyoza… that wasn’t a hard one to answer.

There was no cheating; all the gyoza were sealed by hand and the pleats were perfectly uniform (and he’d gotten to the point where he was FAST at closing them up).

They had a pork and shrimp filling with garlic, cornstarch and a touch of wine. He told me about a place in Japan that puts a little lard in each packet so that it fries from the inside as well, which sounds brilliant. Like soup dumplings, but even better.

The revelation came during cooking time. I’ve always fried my gyoza on both sides, but the trick is to pan fry them on just one side, turn the heat up to high, add water, turn back down and steam, covered for a few minutes, then uncover and let the remaining water evaporate. This cooking method really affected the overall texture and the gyoza had a great balance of crisp and soft.

Friday, December 2nd, 2005

Favorite Seattle Food Stores

You know how people like to say “Don’t quit your day job”? Well, in my case I really should quit my day job. I work in web development, and while that’s all well and good, this field requires at least some interest in technology. It requires time spent on keeping current with the latest website technologies and trends. Time which I don’t have because it’s spent obsessing about food.

Anyways, all that to say I found this incredibly cool tool called wayfaring via Miss Ginsu’s website, The Hedonista. I’m sure it’s been around for ages (months in web years), but since I’ve been heads down in food-related things I’ve never seen it before today. It’s based on Google Maps but you can customize it to create your own little world. My world happens to be all about food stores in Seattle.

Check out my map in progress at: http://www.wayfaring.com/maps/show/1379

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Friday, December 2nd, 2005

Indian Goat Stew (a.k.a. Disaster in the Kitchen)

consumed on 9/18/05

I absolutely love Indian food. Love, love, love it. Which is why I’m crushed that I’m so bad at cooking it. About once a year I’ll try to make an Indian meal, and without fail, I have near catastrophic results. I used to blame it on the recipes, but now I’m starting to see the common denominator in all these failures: me.

Laura at the Seattle Weekly recently turned me on to Suvir Saran of Devi in New York; she compared him to Vikram Vij of Vij’s in Vancouver. I’m a huge fan of Vij’s so I was excited to learn about Suvir’s latest cookbook, and was even more excited to see sample recipes posted on his website—a perfect Indian menu handed to me on a platter.

This is where I’d like to state that even the best recipe can end up horribly wrong when executed poorly… or if you start making weird substitutions.

My first mistake was to substitute goat for the lamb in the Lamb Curry with Coriander, Garam Masala and Coconut recipe. (Yes, I actually had goat in my freezer from my last trip out to Exotic Meats.) The goat was way too fatty and overpowered everything in this dish. Plus I didn’t grind my spice paste enough so it was grainy and caught in the back of the throat.

The second mistake was making a half recipe of the Rice Pilaf with Standing Spices, but forgetting to halve the amount of oil. Oops. The rice was barely edible because of the greasiness, but it would have been incredible had I followed the recipe properly.

My third mistake was buying the wrong yogurt for the cucumber raita. Somehow it was too thin (or my cucumbers were too water-logged) and the raita ended up anemic and thin. Next time I’ll get some thick, creamy, goat milk yogurt. Mmmm.

The Carrots with Cumin and Lime recipe was probably the only thing that I made properly. The only problem was that the recipe called for curry leaves. I managed to find them at Uwajimaya but I have to say that curry leaf is one of the most unusual and bizarre flavors I’ve ever tasted. I’m at a loss for words to describe the smell or the taste—except to say it is pungent. Curry leaves rank right up there with the likes of asafoetida and Szechuan pepper in terms of strangeness. The weird part is that I can’t even tell if I love them or hate them. I suspect that I will grow to truly love them over time, but for now I have to take baby steps and use smaller amounts until I get used to the taste.

The last mistake never even made it to the table. This was a recipe for tamarind chutney, which I planned to serve with the papadams I found at PFI. The chutney was actually incredible. Until I burnt the hell out of it.

It’s been over two years since I’ve had a dinner go this wrong, but it was a good lesson for me not to try five new recipes in one sitting. Especially in a cuisine where I’ve proven myself to be completely incompetent.

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