Ethiopian Options

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I have stated my own preferences for certain pros critiquing and explaining food and the places where you can explore it anew. I have recently been appreciating those like this one–not least because I love Ethiopia, and its contributions to humanity, and in general I am an Ethiopian diaspora fanboy–by the newer reviewer, Nicholas Niarchos and look forward to his providing many more. I am happy to see in the image accompanying his review what appears at first to be popcorn on the lower left, but is more likely a lightly toasted version of a superfood we came to favor when in Ethiopia, (speaking of superfoods):

A Vegan Ethiopian Feast at Bunna Café

The absence of meat and dairy isn’t obvious while you’re there, but when you leave your step will have a new spring in it.

Continue reading

Super Food, If Not Superfood

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The Good Sort. Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Our preferred blank canvas, at least in the morning, has been oats when we have developed new restaurants recently. And we have tended to look at superfoods when we do our scouting and conceptualization for new menu ideas, and that is about food that (we try to ensure) provides health for both humans and the planet.  We have not put congee on any menus, nor has it even been on our radar, but perhaps it should be:

Congee Is the Original Grain Bowl

By Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite

Congee, also known as jook, or rice gruel, has long been the breakfast of billions in China — filling, cheap, energizing, and easily digestible, fit for infants and nonagenarians alike. Some swear by it as a post-exercise pick-me-up; others as a superb hangover cure. Its soothing properties are considered so powerful that congee is even served at funerals. Continue reading

Vermontini & Other Delicacies

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Braun Hughes, a cook, center, stokes a fire while another cook, Andy Risner, keeps watch. Drew Anthony Smith for The New York Times

Last week at Chan Chich Lodge we had guests from Vermont who were on their 6th visit, the first having been back in 1998. This couple started at dawn each day and while primarily birding they witnessed plenty of the other wildlife. Each sunset they enjoyed a classic dry martini with olives, and some conversation with Migde (yes, that is the spelling, pronounced mig-day) the bartender.

By the end of the week watching their sunset ritual, I had the image of a martini we might create in their honor. Instead of their favored olives we would put a few small cubes of chilled Harrington’s of Vermont smoked ham. Perhaps just to humor me, they said they would like to try that during their next visit. In the last few days I have been looking into the matter and I can find no evidence that this is a good idea.

I can also find no evidence that it is a bad idea. So I am continuing the investigation. And today I am happy to see a review related to another form of smoked meat, quite different from that of Harrington’s, in this case at a restaurant in Texas. Pete Wells now holds my attention better than any reviewer, on any topic. Anthony Lane, for a long time, held it on the residual strength of the laughter produced by one film review in 2005; his predecessor Pauline Kael also held it a long time before that. In the era of crowd-sourced reviews, the professional is still relevant for a reason. Today’s restaurant review is a case in point:

AUSTIN, Tex. — “How much brisket are you having?” Continue reading

Accentuate The Positive

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On the flip side, the study found that diets containing low amounts of nuts and seeds were linked to about 9 percent of deaths from heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. John Lawson/Belhaven/Getty Images

All things in moderation. If you follow that general rule, this article may not be of interest to you. But for most of us, the salt’s (thank you National Public Radio, USA) item for us today is worth a glance. After you collect some stardust, sprinkle it on a handful of nuts:

…We know, it may be tough to cut back on foods you love. Bacon is so alluring to many that it has even been called the ‘gateway’ to meat for vegetarians!

But, here’s the flip side: The researchers also found there’s a significant risk in eating too little of certain healthy foods. So, think of it this way: You can start consuming more of the foods that are protective… Continue reading

Coming To A Lodge Near You

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A bright cabbage slaw and a flour tortilla complement corned beef’s fatty saltiness. Credit Melina Hammer for The New York Times

Vegetarians, look away. Guests who have enjoyed the food program at Chan Chich Lodge, and have visited Gallon Jug Farm, normally come to know our commitment to fresh, all natural menu items. Including some of the finest beef in the world. And fresh tortillas. And bright cabbage slaw. Habaneros nearby. And a cold Belikin beer to accompany the meal. As Chef Ram explores all the options that the farm allows for his kitchen, we can imagine him making good use of the book below, brought to our attention by the Food Editor at the New York Times:

What if You Could Make Great Corned Beef?

By

51gO0bcPi8L._SL500_AA300_.jpg…You can do it easily, said Michael Ruhlman, a passionate advocate of the process and the author, with Brian Polcyn, of “Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.” You need only start by corning your own beef. “You can achieve tastes that aren’t available in the mass-produced versions,” he said. “Also, it’s a genuine thrill to transform plain old beef into something so tangy and piquant and red and delicious.”

Corned beef takes its name from the salt that was originally used to brine it, the crystals so large they resembled kernels of corn. Curing and packing plants in Ireland used that salt in the 19th century to cure slabs of beef that went into barrels, later cans, and onto ships to feed, among others, British colonists, troops, slaves and laborers across the globe. Eventually someone in Boston or the Bahamas fished out a cut of beef neck or a brisket and boiled it into submission with a head of cabbage, and that was dinner. Continue reading

Impossible’s Intriguing Inclination

Impossible.jpgMeatless is not even a concept yet for some, but we’re working on that. Many of us contributing on this platform have already started taking it seriously even if not totally converted–reducing meat consumption rather than going all out vegetarian, let alone vegan–for all kinds of good reasons.

We have already expressed our interest as best we can without having yet tasted one of these, but thanks to this Guardian review we are now a step closer to the impossible. We do not need to have tasted it to have high expectations and hopes to match the ambitions of the company:

Impossible Foods is on the cusp of big things. But as the company lines up its first burger chain, it still needs to show it can convert the meat-loving masses Continue reading

Liquid Renaissance

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Sullivan Doh, owner-mixologist at Le Syndicat in Paris.Credit Charissa Fay

We are pleased to read of Mr. Field, in some ways doing in Paris what we have just noted happening with cacao in the Caribbean–a kind of renaissance of beverages that is also on our agenda in Belize:

The Slow Rise of Craft Cocktails in Paris

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28tmag-cocktails-slide-Q0D3-master180.jpgIn her new book, “The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement” ($30, amazon.com), the writer (and T contributor) Lindsey Tramuta documents the creative and cultural shift she has witnessed in the city in recent years. Below is a passage on the rise of craft cocktails there.

To say that cocktails are a new phenomenon in Paris is to overlook a culture of distilling liquors dating back to the 1800s, one that gained greater traction more than one hundred years later during American prohibition, when newly unemployed bartenders came to Europe in droves and landed in some of the continent’s best hotel bars. Continue reading

Eat Your Vegetables, If You Can Find Them

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Vegetables were rationed at supermarkets in the U.K. due to poor weather conditions in Europe. Here, lettuce, broccoli and zucchini were rationed at a Tesco store in London. Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images

Thanks to National Public Radio (USA) and the folks at the salt for this story about the implications of vegetable shortages in the UK:

It started in late January. At my local grocery store in South London, salad seemed to be just a few pence pricier than usual. But I didn’t think much of it.

Later that week, the same market had conspicuously run out of zucchini. I’m not particularly fond of it, but I lamented for the carb-conscious yuppies who depended — and subsisted — on spiralized zucchini spaghetti. How would they cope? Continue reading

Model Mad, Marcus

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[Update: this post was originally published 48 hours ago but it definitely needs further attention so please do listen to Marcus]

This book came out late last year, and ever since I started sharing links to this man’s wonders  a of couple years ago, I keep watching for more reasons to do so; he always moves me. Today, again. Below is a link to a podcast he recently recorded to promote the book above. The conversation is artful. Powerful.

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Marcus is an immigrant to the USA, so his reflections on recent policy shifts in the ultimate country of immigrants are worth a listen even if you are not a foodie. If those observations do not move you, all I can say is wow. It fits the “model mad” theme we have been linking to in recent weeks–people and organizations speaking out and creatively resisting when something is wrong; and doing so at risk of significant loss. Continue reading

You Had Us At Sweet Potato

logoWe have only recently discovered this resource but I expect you will start seeing a flow of interesting stories. sourced from Harvest Public Media, that touch on topics of interest to us here. For example, the mere mention of sweet potatoes was enough to get us interested:

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According to the USDA, sweet potato consumption in the U.S. nearly doubled in just 15 years, from about 4 pounds per person in 2000. (U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr)

Sweet potatoes are undergoing a modern renaissance in this country.

While they have always made special appearances on many American tables around the holidays, year-round demand for the root vegetables has grown. In 2015, farmers produced more sweet potatoes than in any year since World War II. Continue reading

Truffle Entrepreneur, Immigrant Son’s Success

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Ian Purkayastha, the twenty-four-year-old wunderkind behind the luxury-food company Regalis, aims to “demystify this bourgeois product for a new generation.” PHOTOGRAPH BY KRISTIN GLADNEY / WIEDEN+KENNEDY

It could just be that I have had a nearly two-decade love for truffles; or the storyline combining entrepreneurship, economics and food, a mix that I favor; or maybe my being the son of an immigrant explains my response to this post at the New Yorker’s website; probably it is because I can almost picture my own son in such a story, in a parallel universe; whatever, enjoy:

HOW A TEXAS TEEN-AGER BECAME NEW YORK CITY’S PREMIER TRUFFLE DEALER

On a bare side street in Long Island City, Queens, beside Oh Bok Steel Shelving & Electric Supply, the Regalis luxury-food company keeps its goods. Upon entering the warehouse through a small red door, a visitor is immediately greeted by an intoxicating and pungent scent: the unmistakable, and nearly indescribable, odor of truffles. Continue reading

Small Dairy Farm & Value Creation

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Kevin and Ranae Dietzel, owners of a small dairy herd near Jewell, Iowa, named their signature cheese after this cow, Ingrid. Amy Mayer

A lovely little piece from the salt, over at National Public Radio (USA), that illustrates again how the production of artisanal cheeses can add value, in this case to an otherwise economically challenged farming enterprise

On a clear, cold winter evening, the sun begins to set at Lost Lake Farm near Jewell, Iowa, and Kevin Dietzel calls his 15 dairy cows to come home.

“Come on!” he hollers in a singsong voice. “Come on!”

Brown Swiss cows and black Normandy cows trot across the frozen field and, in groups of four, are ushered into the small milking parlor.: Continue reading

Chef Ram At Chan Chich Lodge

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Chef Ram and I have multiple chef colleagues and foodie friends in common, but this is the first chance that he and I have had to work together. I have been looking forward to this opportunity for quite some time.

He will be expanding and strengthening the farm to table program that Chan Chich Lodge started nearly three decades ago. He will work primarily with Amie, whose success with food programming (and places where that food is enjoyed, which has also been widely appreciated) in India since 2010 made sure that the projects got attention. You will see those ideas here, so stay tuned. Continue reading

Heatless Habanero!

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New York City’s Blue Hill restaurant is the biggest buyer of “Habanadas,” a habanero bred to be heatless, so the focus is on its melon-like flavor. Courtesy of Blue Hill

A few reasons to read this include Dan Barber and his Blue Hill being mentioned in the opening sentence; plus the arrival of our new chef at Chan Chich Lodge, hinted at last month; plus the fact that many of our guests cannot tolerate the heat of habaneros; plus our plan to expand the variety of salsas produced at Gallon Jug Farm; plus the fact that the plant breeder responsible for this innovation is in one of our favorite places for agricultural innovation:

For Dan Barber, the celebrated chef of the New York City restaurant Blue Hill, each course of a meal is an opportunity to tell a story. One of these stories is about a pepper — an aromatic, orange habanero without any heat. Continue reading

Made In India, Another Success Story

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A wheel of hard, aged cheese. Aarthi Gunnupuri

Since our setting up shop in India in 2010 we have seen many improvements all around us, all much more important than cheese. But, finally, even the cheese is making life here better. Thanks as always to the folks at the salt, from National Public Radio (USA):

These Monks Have A Calling: Making Fresh Italian Cheese — In India

AARTHI GUNNUPURI

In a monastery tucked away in a quiet back lane of Bangalore, India, Benedictine monks of the Vallombrosian Order are using their European connections to meet rising demand for fresh, Italian-style cheese in this South Asian country. Continue reading

A Spice Primer

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Our work in the land of spices, the Malabar coast of India, has taught us a thing or two about spices, but we never tire of hearing an expert share the fundamentals of their knowledge (click the image above to go to the podcast):

Lior Lev Sercarz, chef and owner of La Boîte, a destination spice shop in New York City, joins us to discuss his book The Spice Companion: A Guide to the World of Spices. He offers ways for home cooks to try new flavor combinations and make custom spice blends with a curated collection of 102 spices. He also details their histories and origins, and includes information on where to buy and store spices, five traditional cuisine pairings, and three quick suggestions for use.

2017, Year Of Wilderness Conservation, Farming & Food

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A few days ago Arnay, the General Manager of Chan Chich Lodge, posted a snapshot of the sightings board just outside the reception area, where guests share what they have seen on any given day while trekking with guides, or trekking solo. 2016 was not exceptional for Chan Chich, but it was another year of exceptional opportunity to witness the abundance that comes with committed conservation.

The big cats made their presence known day after day after day. The entire food chain on which they depend was right there with them, well balanced in the 30,000 acres of forest that Chan Chich protects, surrounded by an additional nearly half million acres that other private conservation-minded land-owners protect in northwest Belize. Continue reading

A Beverage Commentary We Can Relate To

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Blackberry Cooler, Orchid Thief and Mumbai Mule.Credit Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Rebecca Bartoshesky.

We have never before seen an article by this author that would be considered relevant to the themes we write about, link to, and find worthy of promotion; normally she writes about “drinks,” drinking culture, bar stuff. But here she touches on a theme we have spoken of often among ourselves in our day to day work (but would not likely have ever written about here): that ridiculous word “mocktail” — the word police should come and take it away, lock it up and throw away the key.

On the other hand, we have been watching and tasting in amazement as our beverage teams in India, Costa Rica, Belize and Baja all come up with ever-more inventive ways to enjoy liquids that do not intoxicate. Our biggest challenge, after they do the heavy lifting on the chemistry side of the equation is finding words worthy of a name, and worthy of a category that means non-alcoholic. So, hats off to Rosie on this one:

Don’t Call Them ‘Mocktails’

By

I’m always thrilled when a certain former drinking buddy comes to see me at the bar. He stopped drinking alcohol years ago, but he’s as fun to be around as he was when we sat side by side at a corner bar in TriBeCa many nights in the ’90s — probably more so. Continue reading

Better Food, Faster

little-quinoaisthenewbigmac-1200It’s time to change fast food for the better, forever.

Fresh and nutritious food doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take forever to prepare. At eatsa, we’ve upped the taste factor alongside affordability and speed, with bold flavors, seasonal ingredients, and hearty portions. Our commitment to you is simple: faster, nutritious, more affordable and tastier food. Continue reading