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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meaty cookies: Bacon chocolate cookies

Posted By on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 12:02 PM

The combination of bacon and chocolate have been all the rage for the past few years now. There's chocolate covered bacon, bacon chocolate chip pancakes, bars of chocolate with bacon bits, and anything else you can image. It's about time I join the bandwagon, albeit maybe 2 years too late, and create some sort of bacon/chocolate Frankenstein cookie.

These sweet and salty cookies are an amalgamation I pieced together using a Korova chocolate sable cookie dough and studding it with bits of crispy bacon and dark chocolate.

I used a 70% dark chocolate bar for the chocolate pieces and real bacon, not the bottled bacon bits. The texture of these cookies is slightly sandy, and also crispy too from the bacon. If you can wrap your mind around eating meaty cookies, give these a shot. I think you'll be surprised how good they are.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Get to know some gurgitators

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 4:49 PM

Charlotte welcomes three top-ranked Major League Eaters to town this weekend at the Speed Street festival Uptown. Tim Janus, Bob Shoudt, and Micah Collins will be competing in the Jimmy John's Freaky Fast Sandwich Makers vs. Eaters Contest at 5:30 pm on Friday, May 28.

The competition will pit seasoned professional eaters against Jimmy John's speedy sandwich makers in a face-off to see who can apply their respective trade the fastest.  We wanted to know more about these gastronomes and their sport so we asked them a few questions and Tim, Bob and Micah were nice enough to respond.

Eater X
  • Eater X

Tim Janus

World Ranking:  6

Hometown:  New York, NY

Age:  32

Weight:  165 lbs

Records: 7.72 lbs Boneless Buffalo Wings - 12 minutes

10.5 lbs Ramen Noodles - 8 minutes

141 pieces of Nigiri Sushi - 6 minutes

Q: What food do you prefer to compete with?

A: I don't think that there's anything I wouldn't eat in competition.  One of my goals in life is to eat everything in this world at least once, so I'm a pretty open-minded guy.  I also cherish every opportunity I'm given to set a world record.  I've often said, and I mean it wholeheartedly, that I would eat a roll of pennies if I thought I could set a world record doing it.  That said, it'll be far nicer eating Jimmy John's on Friday.

Q:    How do you train for competitions?

A: My training has really flagged these last couple of years.  Part of it I think is just cyclical fatigue.  And part of it is that my body and mind have banked a lot of experience onto which I'm able to fall back.  These days, if I'm going to train, it's usually more of a reconnaissance mission, checking out the food to be eaten and trying to figure out the best technique with which to tackle it.

Q: What's your strategy for this Jimmy John's sandwich-eating contest?

A: From a technical standpoint, Jimmy John's is a pretty straightforward food.  It's a pick-it-up-and-eat-it kind of thing.  I think the two most important things for our team of eaters on Friday will be teamwork and vigilance.  We're going to have to make sure that we pass the sandwiches down the line with the fluidity of relay racers exchanging the baton.  We can't afford to drop one, and we can't hang on to one too long.  Every eater is going to have to be eating during every minute of the competition.   We're also going to have to get off to a very fast start.  Jimmy John's sandwich makers truly are freaky fast.  I've seen them in action before.  I don't think they're going to slow down at all.   So if we get behind, it's Good Night.

Q:  Do you have a day job?

A: Fortunately, yes.  I do have a job.  I work at a pizzeria in the East Village in New York, and the recession hasn't seemed to dampen anybody's enthusiasm for our favorite dish.  And also unfortunately, yes. I do have a job.  I'm not wealthy enough yet to retire.

Q: How did you get started in this field?  What tips do you have for an aspiring competitive eater?

A: I just kind of fell into competitive eating. It looked like fun.  I thought I could do it. So I gave it a shot, and I'm here. And I think that's my advice to anybody: follow your bliss.  If you're curious about competitive eating or anything else in life, pay attention to that curiosity. Give those things a chance.  Try your hardest.  You never know where you'll end up once you take the plunge.

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What I do at my desk...

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 2:29 PM

When I'm not doing my day job of managing Creative Loafing's website, this is what I do...

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... day dream and sketch out my cupcake designs. Our editor Carlton found these sketches on my desk and called me the dorkiest person ever. (Thanks for that.)

Well, the sketch turned into this:

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These turned out to be a hit with co-workers, so I can say it all comes down to good planning. So there. (I decided to go with the flat-top frosting, nix the sprinkles, and add a strawberry.) For the recipe for these pistachio cupcakes with strawberry buttercream, click here.

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Best I’ve Had all Week: Uncle Scott’s All Natural Root Beer

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Great Scott: a local root brew. A few sodas have their roots here in North Carolina: Pepsi and Cheerwine. Now there’s a new local Carolina soda on the block: Uncle Scott’s All Natural Root Beer – out of Mooresville.

Co-owners Suzanne and Scott Ramsey, and Jeff Fleenor tweaked an old time recipe out of Pennsylvania to develop this robust brew made with certified organic sugar and natural flavors. In fact, the labeling notes licorice root, cinnamon and anise oils, and wood extract. Plus this soda is micro-brewed and doesn’t have any caffeine. Suzanne Ramsey says, “We really wanted to go back to an old fashioned flavor.” For me it was an instant taste flashback to my grandfather’s home brewed root brew from my childhood. He was from western Pennsylvania, too.

Uncle Scott’s has been on the market for three years, but in January their company, Carolina Country Provisions, started bottling large scale and now Uncle Scott’s is available by the bottle, six pack, or case at many area grocery stores, specialty shops, and farmers markets. unclescottsrootbeer.com

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Meat market: learn your cuts of Angus, win a book

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 12:18 PM

The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook landed in our office recently. For those who are like me and are not quite educated on the cuts of meat of an Angus, check out this helpful chart, found on page 60. It's grilling season, so learn your stuff!

Along with the chart, the book contains a slew of recipes including fajitas, tortas, refried beans, picante sauce, ancho hot wings, smoke-braising, and even margaritas and Atomic Deer Turds. Wanna know what Atomic Deer Turds are? Just tweet me at @priscillatsai on Twitter and I'll pick a winner and give you the book!

(Click image for a larger version.)

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Kitchen Chemistry

Posted By on Mon, May 24, 2010 at 4:19 PM

MIT offers OpenCourseWare online for their undergraduate class Kitchen Chemistry. That means you can follow along on your own using the the posted syllabus, readings and assignments for free. You don't get any credits or assignment grades, but it's a great way to educate yourself.

I've just received my textbook for the class "On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen," and the first few pages are pretty intriguing. The first class covers avocados and peppers. As you go through the assignments and reading, you learn stuff like what makes a pepper hot and why avocados brown. Did you know capsaicin (what makes peppers hot), an alkaline, is actually an oil? So drinking water to quell the fire in your mouth actually won't work well. Try milk (a base), bread or rice instead.

Take the class with me by visiting MIT's site for their class Kitchen Chemistry. Assigned recipes for the week include guacamole and salsa.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Munch away in the dark

Posted By on Fri, May 21, 2010 at 4:49 PM

You'll be blindfolded and led into a pitch black dining room and your server will wear night vision goggles. No, this isn't a scene from Hannibal, nor anything kinky.

Maybe you've heard of it, but have never found a place to try it – dining in the dark isn't anything brand spanking new in the global  restaurant scene, but it's definitely new in Charlotte. Will your food taste different and your other senses heightened without your sense of sight? Try it and see.

The Charlotte Good Eats and Meets group has arranged a Dining in the Dark experience at Andrew Blair's on June 17. For $50, the dinner will include 3 courses and a few "surprises." The menu will be be kept under wraps until the dinner. (Beware if you have any food allergies.) A portion of the proceeds will go to the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

To purchase tickets, go to www.meetup.com/goodeats-charlotte.

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Lake Norman Wine and Food Festival

Posted By on Fri, May 21, 2010 at 9:50 AM

Head up to the lake the weekend of June 5 -6 for the Lake Norman Wine and Food Festival. The festival will feature a dozen wineries and six local restaurants.

Participating restaurants will provide up to three signature dishes for sampling. The restaurants included are: Brooklyn South Neighborhood Pizzaria, The Creole House on Main Street, Dressler's Restaurant, Kernel T's Korn Krib, Mayo's Ristorante and Sangram Indian Cuisine.

The wineries that will be participating are: Allison Oaks Vineyards, Brushy Mountain Winery, Daveste Vineyards, Dobbins Creek Vineyards, Old Stone Vineyard and Winery, Raintree Cellars Winery, Round Peak Vineyards, Shadow Springs Vineyard, Shelton Vineyards, Southern Charm Winery, Stony Mountain Vineyards and Uwharrie Vineyards.

The festival will be donating proceeds to Angels and Sparrows, Hope House and the Mooresville Soup Kitchen.

Hours:

Saturday, June 5 – 10:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, June 6 – Noon until 6:00 p.m.

Prices:

General Admission: $9*

Wine Tent: $19* (Includes general admission)

* $2 discount if you bring a canned good. One per person.

Location:

Kenton Place in Cornelius, near the intersection of Sam Furr (Hwy. 73) and West Catawba.

For more info, visit www.lakenormanwineandfoodfestival.org.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Photos from San Antonio's Modern Mexican

Posted By on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Let me just say, San Antonio’s Modern Mexican has amazing drink specials. Amazing. Their $1 margaritas rock, and their $2 sangrias (both wine and red) are pretty tasty too. There's a trick though ... ask for an extra shot of tequila in your margarita (it's only $1 extra!). The $1 margaritas are pre-mixed and come pretty sweet. With the extra shot, the tequila balances the tartness of the mix.

If you're looking for something to munch on while you down those $1 'ritas, go for the chicken nachos. They are loaded with grilled chicken, chili, cheese, tomatoes, and more.

Slideshow
San Antonios, 5/19/10
San Antonios, 5/19/10 San Antonios, 5/19/10 San Antonios, 5/19/10 San Antonios, 5/19/10 San Antonios, 5/19/10 San Antonios, 5/19/10 San Antonios, 5/19/10 San Antonios, 5/19/10

San Antonios, 5/19/10

By Priscilla Tsai

Click to View 10 slides

Read more about San Antonio's Modern Mexican.

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Pistachio cupcakes with strawberry buttercream

Posted By on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 12:38 PM

I'm thinking Lily Pulitzer would approve of these prepster-looking green and pink cupcakes.

These pistachio and strawberry cupcakes were concocted as part of an effort to use up the remainder of my gallon of strawberries from last weekend.

Slightly green, the pistachio cupcake base is made from a Dorie Greenspan white cake recipe which I edited by adding ground pistachios and a splash of almond extract. I created my own strawberry frosting recipe by using a basic buttercream recipe and adding chopped strawberries. A few taste testers have mentioned they like the frosting so much, they'd eat it straight up, minus cupcake. What's good about the frosting is that it's sweet, but not cloying.

To finish the cupcakes off, I rolled the edges of the frosted tops in chopped pistachios and topped them with mini strawberries.

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