Sunday, August 21, 2005

Celebrity Chef Cookoff

Celebrity chefs have reached rock-star status, and the number of aspiring talent is rising. … But the fast-paced, everyday pressures of the restaurant industry are anything but glamorous as wannabe chefs struggle to climb the culinary ladder. So, who can really handle the pressure of cooking under fire? That's the question PBS will answer in the brand-new prime-time reality series Cooking Under Fire. Served up as "reality TV that feeds your brain," the documentary-style series tracks 12 contestants as they embark on a coast-to-coast cooking competition in four of the nation's culinary capitals - Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, and New York. The show shares an insider's look at the mental and physical challenges and intense pressures faced in the today's highly competitive restaurant industry, and the combination of talent and skills that it takes to succeed. The contestants are judged by famed chefs and restaurateurs Ming Tsai and Todd English, along with author and trained chef Michael Ruhlman (The Soul of a Chef, The Making of a Chef) - as well as an impressive panel of local guest chef judges - as they face cooking challenges, difficult deadlines, and the heated pressure of working against the clock. Those who fail to execute will be "86'd" - taken off the competition menu and sent home. The contestant left standing will win a life-altering culinary prize - a chef position at one of restaurateur Todd English's New York City restaurants. Tune in to find out who can handle the heat!

Cooking Under Fire http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/cookingunderfire/

Friday, August 19, 2005

All Cheese, All the Time

Cheese is nutritious food made mostly from the milk of cows but also other mammals, including sheep, goats, buffalo, reindeer, camels and yaks. Around 4000 years ago people have started to breed animals and process their milk. That's when the cheese was born. No matter how far archaeological finds go, there is evidence that cheese came into being in prehistoric times. Cheese can not really be said to have been "invented". This delicious food must have resulted from the simple observation that milk left in a container ends up by coagulating, even more if it is hot. People living in areas where the climate changed seasonally would also have noticed the effect of temperature on this process: in warmer weather the milk would curdle faster than in the cold. This might be considered the first technological cheesemaking discovery. There are hundreds of different types of cheese that can be differentiated both by the type of milk - raw, skimmed or pasteurised, and by the animal - cow, goat, sheep, buffalo, horse or camel. The cheese.com website is one of the best resources online to learn about the popular dairy product. Visitors can search for a specific cheese by Name, Country of Origin, Texture, or scroll the site's alphabetical list of over 650 cheeses. There are also other fun feature such as Cheese Facts, Recipes, and even a section on Cheese News!

Cheese http://www.cheese.com/

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Fantastic Fruit

Why should we have five to nine fresh pieces a day, organically grown if possible? Because fruit is the ultimate brain fuel, according to this website. When you see a piece of fruit hanging from a tree that tree is telling you something: "Eat my fruits and help me spread my seeds." That’s how nature works. Humans eat vegetables and fruits and consequently help the plants to spread. Humans use animals to work the land to grow the plants and trees that produce these fruits and vegetables. In more and more people's opinion this is the way it was all meant to be. Fruits are nature's dessert, healthy and delicious snacks that make up an essential part of any diet. The Fruit Pages is a great site that's got everything you'd ever want to know about fruit.

Fruit Pages http://www.thefruitpages.com/

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Taking America To Lunch

No one loves collecting both the monumental and (seemingly) trivial aspects of American material culture more than the National Museum of American History, which has created this fine online exhibit to pay tribute to that unsung hero of midday, the lunch box. This website is designed to complement an in situ exhibit that is currently on view in the Museum's lower level. On this site, visitors are greeted by photographs of such notables as Shirley Jones, Meadowlark Lemon, and June Lockhart all placing lunch containers into the exhibit during a recent event at the Museum. The site contains four areas documenting the evolution of the common lunch container, ranging from the early days of the common worker's lunch bucket all the way to the more tranquil "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" lunch box of 1974.

National Museum of American History http://americanhistory.si.edu/lunchboxes/

Sunday, August 07, 2005

For the Serious Coffee Drinker

There is a saying that "Life is too short to drink bad coffee". This website is the ultimate online destination for those of you that take your coffee seriously. Whether you prefer a good old-fashioned cup of Joe or only the finest espresso, CoffeeGeek.Com will point you down the pathway to making the perfect cup of coffee from the comfort of your own home. The site has a ton of great features, including articles by experts, reviews on consumer products, and easy to follow guides for first-time "cuppers". It's put together by a self-styled community of coffee and espresso lovers, based in Vancouver, and the CoffeeGeek website gives people, both consumers and folks in the coffee industry, a place to hang out, read, debate, write, or even ponder the finer aspects of coffee and espresso.

CoffeeGeek is a community website, one that allows active participation by people from around the world. CoffeeGeek's main purpose is to inform, educate and entertain coffee and espresso lovers from around the world. The site provides honest, hard hitting, and objective product reviews that provide a reading experience that is akin to actually owning and using the product. They evaluate every product in a fair and even way from the standpoint of who the product is targeted to. CoffeeGeek puts approximately 120 hours into evaluating, examining, photographing, and writing up a product for the First Look and Detailed Review process. QuickShot reviews get approximately 10 to 20 hours of labour and testing to produce those mini reviews. The goal is to make CoffeeGeek Professional Reviews the best and most trusted source on the planet for evaluative, exhaustive even, reviews on coffee and espresso equipment and accessories.

Coffee Geek http://www.coffeegeek.com/

Friday, August 05, 2005

Digesting Food and Books

The group Mostly We Eat makes food a priority. The members take their motto - Francis Bacon's "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested" - to the fullest. Each discussion is a dinner party in which the food ties in with what they read. By pairing book and food, they add another layer to the discussion, giving each read a distinct, appealing flavor. When they read about Trudi Montag, a dwarf living in Germany during the two World Wars, in Ursula Hegi's Stones From the River, they ate small German foods, and they discussed the mysterious magician of Robertson Davies' Fifth Business over foods that had either a filling or secret ingredient. The Resources section provides good information and links for others wishing to start such a group.

Mostly We Eat http://www.mostlyweeat.org

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Timeline of American Food

Blackjack chewing gum made its debut in 1872, and leads off American Food Century's timeline of American foods. Technically, it isn't a food - but it's hard to keep kids from swallowing gum. In the US, packaged foods took off like those newfangleled flying machines, and many folks never looked back. You can use the timeline to track the phenomenon, or peruse a small selection of what the site dubs Heritage Recipes. A smattering of informative and well written articles describe the history of the American salad (largely non-existent until the 1950s), the cola wars, and one or two other things, but leaves you hungry and wondering when more such content will be added. A small selection of audio clips rounds out the site, featuring, among others, Rocky and Bullwinkle hawking Trix cereal. This is a brief but effective amuse-bouche of nostalgia.

American Food Century http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Rhodes/4190/index.htm

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Wine Tells the Story

For wannabe wine buyers, the more information, the better. New ideas that help them understand what to buy, why to buy it, and how to avoid looking dumb – are worth a listen. Italy’s Modulgraf Printing and Packaging has created a wine label with an implanted RFID chip that transmits audio information about the wine, à la museum or city audio tours. Customers listen via a handheld device. Aside from declaring the vino’s provenance and offering suggestions for accompanying food, the chip will help prevent wine counterfeiting. The talking label will bow at Milan’s wine fair. Modulgraf explains, "The idea is to bring the oenologist to the table so that each wine can explain itself in the first person. It could tell you how to enjoy the wine, where it came from, everything you’d hear from a sommelier. You could even have music” The wine and the device will be available from Berry Bros. & Rudd when released in November 2005.

Modulgraf http://www.modulgraf.net (in Italian)
Berry Bros. & Rudd http://www.BBR.com