From Too Many Chefs -

December 16, 2004
Food Section Digest: December 16, 2004

Our irregular food section digest returns this week. Everyone is thinking about Christmas. What to eat. What to drink. What to buy. I've been meaning to get my Christmas shopping done myself, but when I think of the mall I always need a drink.

The Kitsap Sun roasts pumpkin seeds for a tasty snack. Perhaps they should have run this in late October? And no, I have no idea where you might find Kitsap.

Out in Napa, they're talking about wine. No surprise. A column on wine education links to a helpful website listing wine festivals around the nation. Is it even legal for Salt Lake City to have a wine festival?

The Toledo Blade gives tips for making an annual holiday roast. Do people really only roast once a year? I guess my family only cooked twice a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Having a crowd for Christmas? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel urges you not to sweat the seating arrangement and just serve the meal buffet style. Isn't suggesting that midwesterners adopt a buffet style a bit like suggesting that Americans might enjoy larger portions? Harold McGee has published a new edition of his classic On Food and Cooking. Who knew that McGee got the idea for the book while a graduate student in literature at Yale? Who knew that McGee has his own website?

Baumer Foods, makers of the best hot sauce in Louisiana, have grown their business in recent years by bottling niche sauces for other companies, according to the New Orleans Times Picayune. Outside of Louisiana, their signature Crystal hot sauce is most popular in Saudi Arabia.

Chicago's Daily Herald answers the question, "What do you get when you cross a Russian Jewish father and a Japanese mother?" (I swear, that really is the question they ask.) In the case of Nina Finn Elgin, you get a natural fusion of two radically different cuisines. In produce news, Pomegranates now have a brand name and are growing in popularity.

It's Christmas time, and that means that we all have a duty to prop up the U.S. retail sector. The Baltimore Sun suggests some gifts for cooks. Columnist Rob Kasper learns to "stomach" haggis.

The Boston Globe knows that it's not the holidays without hard liquor. Learn how to make sophisticated cocktails at home. You don't want to drink on an empty stomach, so try the paper's suggestions for a standing rib roast.

The Memphis Commericial Appeal finds John T. Edge, the director of the Souther Foodways Alliance, searching the town for burgers and fries. Leslie Kelly suggests some new books to get the uninitiated up to speed on Southern cooking. Emeril is not the only chef hawking cookware it turns out.

The Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports that recently murdered guitarist Darrel "Dimebag" Abbot used to order his pizza from Charlie's in Dallas. I don't know why they ran this story, and I'm not sure why I'm mentioning it.

Chocolate tasting parties are the new fad, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The paper also reports that chocolate might be healthier than previously assumed, so have an extra piece.

At the mighty New York Times, Mark Bittman aims to satisfy America's lust for fried food by showing us how to deep fry at home. Nothing is more dangerous than a bad knife in the kitchen, so choose your blade wisely following these tips. Fruitcake has a bad reputation, but good candied fruit can make all the difference. Let's face it, most wine lovers are geeks. Several new books will feed their obsession with the obscure and the delicious. On a sad note, the chair of the James Beard Foundation has been indicted for stealing from the organization. All eleven board members resigned. In other hard news, a former-Michelin critic lost his lawsuit claiming that he was fired for critiquing the guide's method. Come on Michelin, what did you expect when you hired a critic?

Regina Schrambling, of the LA Times, savors expense spices. Chocolate can be improved with mint or orange. David Shaw dreams of a white truffle under the Christmas tree.

In the chilly Rocky Mountains, the Denver Post reports that a shaky economy has made life hard for pastry chefs. John Henderson checks out the tailgating fare in Atlanta. Wine columinst Tara Q. Thomas samples lesser know Champagnes and reports that they're all delicious. Obsidian Stout, the Post's beer of the week, will keep you warm on those cold Colorado nights.

Maureen Jenkins, of the Chicago Sun-Times, travels to Tuscany for the olive harvest.

Forget the Golden Globes, the Dallas Morning News has named the winners of their annual Holiday Cookie Contest--Dorothy Lacefield's Key Lime Sables.

Christmas is all about deciding who is naughty or nice, or tasty and tart when talking about wine. The Sacramento Bee names the best California winners for 2004.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigates the Thermomix, a magic device that "chops, grinds, mixes, blends, steams, heats, stirs, weighs, times, kneads, whips, stews, homogenizes." It even washes the dishes.

Dispelling the myth that D.C. is not a serious food city, the Washington Post recommends cook books for "the simple reason that they're huge" and will look impressive under the tree. Elinor Klivens bakes five perfect cookie recipes, guranteed to be the hit of your office party. On a less appetizing notes, the Post touts all the benefits of fiber. Chestnuts are in season this week. Roast some on a fire! The Post also profiles fellow blogger SauteWednesday. Hey, what about Too Many Chefs?

Even in the winter, cooking is all about the heat in Lousiana. The Baton Rouge Advocate tastes Cajun Blast, a local hot sauce. The paper's recipe for Cornish hen contains no hot sauce, but it does use a generous helping of that other Cajun staple--cream of mushroom soup. Try this dish with a side of Savory Sweet Potatoes, which does include a kick of spice.

Forget about the latest cookbooks, the Chicago Tribune asks culinary experts for their choices of the greatest books. Quaff a full-flavored cabernet for Christmas. Personally, when I'm around my family I'll drink anything with alcohol. Jane Ammeson listens to a food audio books about food while preparing dinner. Liz Atwood offers a few appetizers to feed guests while the main course cooks.

What do chefs eat at home for the holidays? The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is on the case. If Deborah Hartz has any say in the matter, they won't be cooking with factory-farmed food.

I hear that everyone is beautiful and hip in Miami, and for Christmas they're drinking cutting edge cocktails. The internets can be dangerous, what with all the porn, viruses and low interest mortgages. The Miami Herald also found a few bad cookie recipes. Sansó, a company confiscated by Castro in 1961, is again producing canned yuca for homesick Cubans.

The Tennessean debunks granny's cooking myths. Is that anyway to treat the family during the holidays?

Down in Palm Beach, Chris Tauber and Tom James debate the merits of KFC's new lunch specials.

That's it for this week. I'm tired and hungry. As always, we welcome any suggestions for food sections worth covering. Hopefully we'll be back next week.

Posted by at December 16, 2004 10:38 AM

Nicely done. Bravo. I'm glad they got rid of that lout who used to write the digest...

Posted by barrett on December 16, 2004 at 2:07 PM

And I did all of this on dial up. This afternoon, though, I got a cable modem!

Posted by Todd in New Orleans on December 16, 2004 at 4:20 PM