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

If You Happen To Be In Shoreditch

strutAfter reading this, we had to at least visit the website:

Our journey began with a PASSION FOR HEALTHY EATING instilled by our Eastern Mediterranean heritage. As the family grew, home cooking revolved around grilling and roasting ingredients that are full of goodness, avoiding deep frying or saturated fats.

strut3And on closer look at Strut & Cluck, we are determined to visit the place itself, when we next get the chance:

The mum and family chef, Limor, started experimenting with turkey as a healthy alternative to chicken and a great source of lean protein. She quickly discovered the VERSATILITY AND FLAVOUR OF THIS SUPERFOOD. To achieve its distinctive flavour and fall-off-the-bone tenderness, the meat is marinated for 24 hours, then slow-cooked with our herb & spice blend. Continue reading

Surfing, Farming, Learning

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We have on occasion linked to video shorts offered over at the Atlantic website; this one is worth the seven minutes:

When Pro Surfers Learn to Farm

Video by The Perennial Plate

What happens when a group of professional surfers get tired of the global surfing circuit?

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This charming short documentary tells the story of how three friends abandoned their sports careers for the whimsical calling of growing organic vegetables on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Continue reading

Flavors Of The Place

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Japanese Chemist Dr. Kikunae Ikeda is credited with discovering MSG — one of the eight ingredients Lohman explores in her book. Peter Van Hyning

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Thanks to the salt, at National Public Radio (USA) for this story, How Just 8 Flavors Have Defined American Cuisine, by Alan Yu, which also serves as a review for this book about the history of food in a country not thought to have its own cuisine:

Sarah Lohman has made everything from colonial-era cocktails to cakes with black pepper to stewed moose face. She is a historical gastronomist, which means she re-creates historical recipes to connect with the past.

That moose-face recipe dates back to the 19th century, and it wasn’t easy. She recalls spending hours trying to butcher the moose from Alaska in her kitchen in Queens, New York. She tried scalding the face in hot water to remove the fur, but it didn’t quite work and her apartment stunk of wet moose.

But “at the end of the day, people showed up and ate it, someone actually liked it, and then we ordered a pizza,” she says. Continue reading

New York City Food Heritage

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In a photo from 1945, Broadway and 42nd Street in Manhattan in front of the Horn & Hardart Automat. Credit Andreas Feininger/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

This Travel section interview–Best Eating in New York? A Food Historian Has Some Advice By JOHN L. DORMAN–in the New York Times catches our attention:

9780199397020 When the food writer Andrew F. Smith had an idea for a new book on New York City, he went for an intriguing angle. “We preserve the homes of people who were born here and later became famous, and we preserve all sorts of artwork,” he said, “but people don’t think about preserving a city’s food heritage, which was something that was missing in New York.”

His idea resulted in the book “Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City,” which he edited. The topics range from the culinary history of the Lower East Side to the emergence of Automats, Continue reading

Truffle Cultivation

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Black truffles at La Toque restaurant in Napa, Calif. The owner, Ken Frank, who buys truffles from Australia, backs efforts to grow them in Napa. Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times

Because they are such a mystery, and intersect various of our interests in these pages, we feel compelled to share this:

Has a Start-Up Found the Secret to Farming the Elusive Truffle?

The American Truffle Company has a new technique that it says can expand the range of the Perigord truffle in North America, but success is proving costly. Continue reading

Learning How To Eat

9780007549702When an author of Bee Wilson’s stature publishes it is not surprising to see reviews in the news outlets that we tend to source from in these pages. For the book to the right the first we saw was How Do We Get To Love At ‘First Bite’? on National Public Radio (USA), followed by reviews in the New York Times and the Guardian among others. We had even read the publisher’s blurb:

The way we learn to eat holds the key to why food has gone so disastrously wrong for so many people. But Bee Wilson also shows that both adults and children have immense potential for learning new, healthy eating habits. An exploration of the extraordinary and surprising origins of our taste and eating habits, First Bite explains how we can change our palates to lead healthier, happier lives.

But we had not gotten around to linking out to any of these reviews. Better late than never:

TEACHING GROWNUPS HOW TO EAT

By Nicola Twilley

Until the twentieth century, Japanese food was often neither delicious nor nourishing. Junichi Saga, a Japanese doctor who chronicled the memories of elderly villagers from just outside Tokyo, in the nineteen-seventies, found that, in the early years of the century, most families scraped by on a mixture of rice and barley, accompanied by small quantities of radish leaves, pickles, or miso. Animal protein was almost entirely absent in the Buddhist country, and even fish, as one of Saga’s informants recalled, was limited to “one salted salmon,” bought for the New Year’s celebrations, “though only after an awful fuss.” Continue reading

Salmon, Scientifically Superb

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If you are a salmon-eater, you will want to spend the 101 seconds to see (click above for a short video), and perhaps a couple minutes more to read, this multimedia explanation of how to improve your prep of this fish. Thanks to Wired for this one:

Master the Chemistry of Juicy, Tender Salmon

JENNIFER CHAUSSEE

salmon1IF YOUR PAN-SEARED salmon didn’t quite turn out right, you may be tempted to blame it on the type of salmon you bought—maybe it was farm-raised instead of wild—but none of that should matter if you understand the chemistry of how this colorful fish cooks. For another episode of Edible Science, salmon2Dan Souza, ultra chef-nerd and co-author of the new Cook’s Science by America’s Test Kitchen, shows us how brining and low temperatures can help enhance the flavor and retain the moisture of salmon, no matter what kind you buy. Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2016

2016-11-17_cmi-kapnos-thanksgiving_0555_wide-2edf6f9046c024dc907b0ee3ec9a299c612781e9-s500-c85We have appreciated the salt, a feature of National Public Radio (USA) since we started this platform. Even more so at a time of the year when food, and its significance to culture, is so strong in one part of the world. Their stories are not strictly about the taste pleasures of food, usually; more about the many other pleasures food can provide. So today, which is Thanksgiving Day in the USA, we are particularly grateful for their contributions:

At Thanksgiving, If You Take Sides, Make Sure They’re As Tasty As These

Chef Mike Isabella, a renowned restaurateur, has devised some delectable spinoffs of traditional turkey accompaniments, while staying true to classic roots. Continue reading

Treasure Defined Organically

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Five lots of white truffles on display entice bidders in both Philadelphia and Italy. Kristen Hartke for NPR

It is that time of year again. We are reminded of those expensive mounds that come out of leafy loamy earth in Croatia, Italy, France and we few other fortunate places:

A $112,000 White Truffle?! At Auction, Philly Embraces Fungi Mania

KRISTEN HARTKE

Bowtie-bedecked auctioneer Samuel Freeman was faced with the unusual task of convincing a crowd to buy something he admits he knows nothing about: the Tartufo Bianco d’Alba, or Alba White Truffle.

“I’ve never auctioned food before,” Freeman says, “and I’d never even eaten a truffle until two days ago.” Apparently that first taste won him over. “It was unbelievable.”

At $458 per ounce once the bidding got underway, those truffles better knock your socks off. Continue reading

Thanks To Salt For The Grapefruit

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 If you are a fan of grapefruit, as we are of the salt (National Public Radio, USA) read the entire article:

Grapefruit And Salt: The Science Behind This Unlikely Power Couple

NADIA BERENSTEIN

Grapefruit’s bitterness can make it hard to love. Indeed, people often smother it in sugar just to get it down. And yet Americans were once urged to sweeten it with salt.

Ad campaigns from the first and second world wars tried to convince us that“Grapefruit Tastes Sweeter With Salt!” as one 1946 ad for Morton’s in Life magazine put it. The pairing, these ads swore, enhanced the flavor. Continue reading

Navajo Foodways In Time Of Protest

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Thank you Maria and National Public Radio (USA):

A Navajo Chef Gives A Glimpse Inside The Makeshift Kitchens At Standing Rock

At the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, as a Sioux tribe fights the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the months-long standoff has raised a question: How do you feed the encamped masses? Continue reading