Formaggio autentico

Parmesan and oliveCheesy, but exciting: Parmesan now has authenticity.

The European Court of Justice ruled yesterday that Parmesan cheese can join the ranks of Champagne and true Balsamic vinegar as a food that’s only legit if it comes from a certain city or region. For Parmesan, the place is Parma, Italy, where folks have been making the popular hard cheese for almost a millennium.

This was spurred not so much by Parma wanting more validity and marketability for its cheese but from resenting Germany’s use of their name and rep.

But now I wonder what will become of all those menus with chicken, eggplant, and veal Parmesan? Does the stuff covered in marinara and melted mozzarella also have to include authentic Parmanese Parmesan?

Next time you’re at an Italian food joint, why not have a little fun? Flash a fake badge from the European Union Commission on Culinary Restrictions, feign the European accent of your choice, and start interrogating them. I especially recommend this if they serve veal parm.

Thanks to Hui, photographer, designer, and blogger, for the yummy photo!

The good goods

Greater Goods logoZero impact non-consumption is the trend of the day among green folks. But sooner or later you’ll have to buy, and at that moment you should get on over to Greater Goods.* It’s a one-stop shop for greener stuff and a cleaner conscience. I’ve been aware of it since the owner came to Gallaudet’s Focus the Nation Green Fair, and had seen mention of the store here or there.

When I stopped in over the weekend, within a few minutes I was able to solve both my worries about my plastic water bottle leaching polyethylene into my beverages and plastic bags leaching evil into the universe. Continue reading

Films you’ll want to lick

PopcornBefore we even stepped into the Letelier Theater’s cozy lobby, the smell of apple cider had met our noses. We entered, picked up our tickets, accepted our free copies of Real Food, and headed to the bar for a free drink. Patrons chose between the sweet-smelling cider and wine (my friend and I went for the latter–it had been a long, cold day), and then the owners of Dolcezza Gelato asked if we wanted a hearty scoop-sized sample of a citrusy avocado sorbet or mascarpone-berry gelato. I knew we were entitled to a drink and organic popcorn, but the frozen desserts were a surprise. I decided I wasn’t all THAT cold and took the mascarpone.

This event, FRESHFARM Markets’ recent movie night, fed all of the senses. It gave a smell, taste, and vision to local food ideals, and it motivated viewers at any level of involvement to take eating local into their own hands. Continue reading

Coffee houses–curse or curse?

Coffee shop

A couple of weekends ago, a classmate and I decided to meet at Tryst on a Sunday afternoon. We could lay out our books and notes, we thought, sip some lattes, and spend a few hours chipping away at the assignment at hand.

No such luck.

We arrived at Tryst only to see a roiling crowd of bodies squished onto couches and sitting hip to hip at tables (nothing like the above idyllic scene from Wikipedia). It would have taken a few hours just to get a seat.

We watched, hawk-like, for long minutes. “Well, they have a great tea selection…” I heard a guy say, hopefully and weakly and a bit apologetically, to the woman accompanying him.

There was no clear line, and other more skilled hunters swooped in to grab empty seats. They seemed to have a sixth sense that picked up on the slightest thought of leaving–maybe a glance toward a coat or a foot moving in preparation to stand. I tried hard to develop the sense, to scan the room and understand the difference between a motion to adjust the angle of a laptop screen and a move to get up and vacate a precious space. I concentrated until my shoulders got tight and my jaw went slack, and I think I twitched.

Some people came for takeout and I envied their breezy leaving, going to a place of greater entropy with a warm drink in hand. “Take me with you,” I wanted to say, “to the beautiful life where my stressed, twitching personal hell is just a place to stop for chai!” Continue reading

Searing cold

Wind whips at bare knuckles and flicks the ends of noses in a most unkind way these days. Meanwhile cold, its host, attacks the rest of the outer layers with the same mischievousness. And so you move faster and faster toward your cozy destination, heating up the core. As many a biker has experienced, you more often than not arrive with the part under your coat sweaty and any exposed skin dry and cracking.

Cold, it occurred to me today, is the opposite of the cook’s definition of searing–to expose the outsides of something to high heat while keeping the inside cool. In the case of tuna and other foods, this technique turns the outside an opaque white while the inner sanctum remains pink, uncooked. This also opposes the experience of cold weather, when it’s one’s outsides that end up the color of salmon sashimi. Why, then, does it sound so fitting to call the frigid weather searing?

Well, the purpose of searing is to seal in the juices ; keeping them tasty and viable for further cooking or immediate eating (that’s what they say, even if it’s not true). Similarly, when you get to the cozy place, having your juices intact will be the important thing. At least that’s my theory.

One language mystery solved…

Sweet potato panquettes

They’re not pancakes, and they’re not quite croquettes. So “panquettes” it is.

They were born of an overwhelming need to make something quickly and without the need of a cutting board. No knife brandishing is going to happen at 9:45 p.m. with tummies growling for dinner and homework waiting to be conquered. And besides, there was cooked sweet potato that needed to find its way out of my fridge and rice bread that was proving a very bad experiment indeed and also needed to be expunged.

So here’s how to make ’em, if you happen to be in the same jam as I was or just want a sweet but substantial latke-like meal. (Jump the jump for the recipe…) Continue reading

Cool food in a warming world–and how you can get a copy of “Food for the Future”!

Gallaudet University’s Focus the Nation activities grew far larger than the organizers ever dreamed. At least that’s what it seemed. How else could you explain it when what was supposed to be one day of short lectures and panels turns into dozens of in-depth presentations both from campus experts and from guest speakers flown in for the occasion, a Green Fair, panels, workshops, and receptions? Members of Green Gallaudet not only hosted a great event but forged relationships with faculty, staff, students, and the greater D.C. community–including local businesses.

Gallaudet’s Academic Technology created a video and EcoDeaf wrote it up. When you watch the video, enlarge the view and keep your eye on the upper left corner. You might see a familiar food blogger! For my sign-challenged readers, in that snippet of the Food for the Future presentation, I’m talking about buying from local farms. You never would’ve guessed that, right? (Info on a copy of the presentation after the jump) Continue reading

YaD in the news

On the way to the Hazon Food Conference in December, I struck up an acquaintance with a writer and columnist from D.C.¬† We were put together with a third woman who you will soon learn about by fate and a need to carpool, and the rest is D.C. networking history…or perhaps a testament to the bonding power of food.

The three of us talked, ate noshes from Sticky Fingers or our own kitchens, and indulged in my favorite activity of discussing¬† esoteric food stuff. Natasha writes a monthly column for Washington Jewish Week known as “Capital Schmoozing,” and our discussion–along with the rest of the food conference–made it into her December column. It only just occurred to me to post that column here (so deep is my modesty, I would like to think, that it took the writer pointing out that I could put it on YaD to make me realize this).

So check it out!