What to drink with dessert
January 16th, 2012
06:30 PM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

Dessert wines, as a category, have an appealingly paint-by-numbers purpose: they go with dessert, and occasionally, they are dessert.

But desserts are all over the place when it comes to both levels of sweetness and range of flavors. One person’s idea of dessert might be a ripe pear, where another person might argue that any dessert not involving chocolate is an utter waste of time. Ditto dessert wines, which can range from a lightly alcoholic, lightly effervescent, delicately sweet moscato d’Asti to a PX sherry with the viscosity of motor oil and a go-see-the-dentist-now sugar content.

So, a couple of things to point out. Food almost always has more effect on the flavor of wine than vice versa, and so sweet desserts make wines seem less sweet. Generally speaking, go for a wine that’s slightly sweeter than the dessert you’re serving. If the dessert is ultra-super-sweet, think coffee, or, for the brave, grappa.

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Filed under: Candy • Chocolate • Content Partner • Dessert • Food and Wine • Sip • Wine

January 16th, 2012
03:45 PM ET
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Pasadena, California: birthplace of two iconic figures in food history - Julia Child and the cheeseburger. While various towns lay claim to to the latter, local legend has it that the cheeseburger was invented in the 1920s at the Rite Spot Cafe by 16 year old Lionel Sternberger.

As the story goes, the teenager was working at his Dad’s restaurant when he "accidentally burned a hamburger," says Paul Little, head of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce.

“Rather than throw it in the trash, he flipped it over, put a piece of cheese on it to hide his mistake and served it to a customer who was delighted to have it," Little claims.

The senior Sternberger put the new “cheese hamburger” on their menu, calling it the "Aristocratic Hamburger." It sold for 15 cents.

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Filed under: 100 Places to Eat • Burgers • Sandwiches

Seared ostrich, nuked food and gaying the fat away - the year's weirdest diets
January 16th, 2012
11:00 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

If your 2012 diet is off to a fantastic start (if you indeed embarked upon one), yay you. And continue whatever it is you’re doing. If, however, you haven't already lost your desired number of pounds (and really - we think you're gorgeous just the way you are), don't be hard on yourself.

Maybe it’s not you. It’s the diet. Consider, then, these plans could be exactly right for you.

The Chubster Diet
Here you have “Chubster: A Hipster’s Guide to Losing Weight While Staying Cool.” Martin Cizmar’s brand-new book notes two definitions of chubster: 1. someone who is proud to be fatty mcfatfat; and 2. the cool guy who is formerly fat.

Chapters include How to Work Out (without Looking Like a Tool); there are ratings - from awesome to awful - for Stuff You Can Nuke. Lean Cuisine Chicken with Lasagna Rollatini gets an awful. “Rollatini isn’t actually a type of pasta—it’s not even an Italian word,” notes Cizmar, who lost 100 pounds in eight months after something he refers to as “the Slurpee incident.”

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Filed under: Bite • Content Partner • Diet Tools • Diets • Food and Wine • Health News

The secret taste of umami
January 16th, 2012
10:00 AM ET
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What do tomatoes, cheese and mackerel have in common?

They are all responsible for umami, the slightly mysterious fifth basic taste now counted alongside sweetness, saltiness, sourness and bitterness. Umami is often likened to savoriness, but defining exactly what it tastes like can be tricky.

If you have two mini-tomatoes and chew them 30 times before swallowing you should feel a strange sensation that spreads in your cheeks. That, according to chef Kiyomi Mikuni, is the umami taste.

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Filed under: Asian • Feature • Food Science • Japan • Japan Eats • Japanese

Breakfast buffet: National hot and spicy food day
January 16th, 2012
09:00 AM ET
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While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.

Your tastebuds are going to tapping out a tasty tango because today is National Hot And Spicy Food Day.

Let the fiery food celebration begin! Just be sure to keep a glass of milk close by if the burn proves a touch too much for you.

Our forebears discovered the joy of spices in 7000 BC, and we've been using it ever since. Pungent hot sauces followed as a favorite condiment. Certain cultures acquired a taste for spicy food, and centered their entire cuisine around it, and we're still reaping the benefits today.

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