In Mumbai, rooftop gardens take root
October 28th, 2010
05:15 PM ET
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Travel by train on the Western line and you'll see them: rows of lettuce and other greens grown on the edge of the railway track using fertilizer of dubious provenance.

Despite Mumbai being an over-populated concrete jungle, there are still many humble corners where people grow food. Your balcony could be the next such space.

There are plenty of reasons why you should consider becoming a city-dwelling green thumb.

Growing crops makes your terrace or balcony greener, it provides a fresh supply of organic food, it reduces the environmental impact of food transportation and it makes you that extra bit more independent from your local market and food inflation. It also cools down your flat and increases oxygen content - a welcomed perk for those living in this hot, polluted city.


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Filed under: Italy • Local Food • News • Rooftop Gardening • Travel

5@5 - Chef Michael Schwartz
October 28th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Yoo-hoo! We're down here! HEY! Look at us! … Stop gawking at those short ribs already, won't you?!

Ahem, while we have your attention, allow us to introduce the man next to the meat - Michael Schwartz. He’s the chef and owner behind Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, Florida. Since opening in 2007, the restaurant has been lauded by former New York Times’ dining critic Frank Bruni, as well as Gourmet (R.I.P.), Bon Appétit and Esquire magazines - just to name a few. Schwartz most recently earned the title of “Best Chef: South” by the James Beard Foundation earlier this year.

Such acclaim stems from Schwartz's use of the freshest produce, some not so familiar, straight from the southern Sunshine State. Time for an unfamiliar taste of Miami's vice.

Five Unlikely Things Grown in Miami and the Best Ways to Eat Them: Michael Schwartz

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Filed under: 5@5 • America • Think • Travel

An appetite for votes
October 28th, 2010
02:15 PM ET
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Editor's note: Matthew Jacob is the co-author, with his brother Mark, of "What the Great Ate," published by Three Rivers Press.

Between now and Election Day, candidates for public office will remind us how impossible it is to separate politicking from eating. Food is everywhere on the campaign trail. Large-scale dinners raise millions of dollars for candidates. Empty pizza boxes litter campaign offices, reminders of the power of pepperoni to fuel volunteers' efforts.

Every election cycle candidates have learned that how they eat - not just how they vote - can become part of the debate.

In Wisconsin, Scott Walker won the Republican nomination for governor this year partly by portraying himself as a "brown-bag guy" who lunches on ham sandwiches.

And while Mike Montandon campaigned this year to become Nevada's governor, his wife, Antoinette, offered a tasty testimonial to his character. "He is always so complimentary of whatever I cook, and he eats it," she declared.

CNN Opinion has the FULL STORY

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Filed under: Bite • Dining • Food Politics • News

Lunchtime poll – investigating patrons
October 28th, 2010
12:15 PM ET
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Ten billion internet years ago (that'd be waaaay back in 1998), my gentleman caller at the time and I decided to bust it all fancy and dine at Mario Batali's Babbo Restaurant. In an attempt to ensure the biggest wow for our meager bucks, he took to the Chowhound message boards to ask the community for recomendations.

"Pray that the maple marscapone cheesecake is available." - Liza

"Thanks for the tip; I've started praying. In fact, I think that from this moment on, all my prayers will include the phrase 'maple mascarpone cheesecake,' just to be on the safe side." - ss

Upon arrival, we were momentarily chagrined to note that said cheesecake was nowhere to be found on the menu, but in the face of pumpkin lune, beef cheek ravioli and a whole lotta excellent Italian wine paired with each course of the tasting menu, we quickly rallied.

When dessert arrived, I was presented with a saffron panna cotta (why yes, I *do* recall desserts I was served 12 years ago - I can do that instead of algebra or singing well) and my date, who'd made the post and reservation under his full name, was agog to see the magical, mystical maple mascarpone cheesecake materialize in front of him.

Slightly flustered, he asked the waiter what was afoot. He responded, "Sometimes the kitchen works in mysterious ways," smiled, and slipped away.

Grub Street's Alex Van Buren, in response to a Gourmet Live delve into restaurants' practice of online customer spelunking, spoke with several notable chefs who claimed they'd never engage in such behavior. Chef Eric Ripert reportedly, "gasped" at the notion and took to Twitter to say, "Hello?!?!?!Big Brother..."

As far as I'm concerned, if customers are putting their eating habits out for internet consumption, restaurants would be foolish not to use their resources to cater to diners' needs, but I could just be high on cheesecake memories.

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