July 22nd, 2014
10:45 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Bernie Herman is the department chair and George B. Tindall Professor of American Studies and Folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill. He lives in Chapel Hill and on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He wrote this essay for the place-themed issue #52 of the SFA's Gravy quarterly.

The Bayford Oyster House extends over the shallows of Nassawadox Creek, abutting the channel where the tides of the Chesapeake Bay ebb and flow. The heart of the two-story wood building, erected around 1902, serves seasonally for shedding soft-shell crabs. During the rest of the year it functions as a storage area, stacked with soft-shell crab floats, blue plastic drums crammed with gill nets, and the flotsam of fish and eel traps, blue-crab and peeler pots, floats, line, and salt water–worn hand tools. The creek side of the oyster house fronts a working dock where watermen land their catch. The landward side abuts the one-story shucking hall and office, added when the business was in full swing through the mid 1960s, before disease struck the oyster beds and shucking operations closed. The old post office and store stands next door, remembered by Bayford denizens for its bear-paw sandwich of hard cheddar and rag bologna on a sugar-glazed bun.
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Ketchup, mustard or caviar on that burger?
July 18th, 2014
02:45 PM ET
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Caviar is the new condiment.

From tacos and flatbread to pasta and burgers, caviar - those shiny little balls usually passed on a small spoon by a white-gloved waiter - is shedding its stuffy image and lending a highbrow take to a regular meal.

"It's about sharing in that little taste of luxury," said Wesley Holton, executive chef of "Rose. Rabbit. Lie." at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
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Filed under: Best in Life • Expensive • Stunt


This week in poop-smoked beer
July 18th, 2014
10:15 AM 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.

In this week’s do-not-miss world of beer news, it appears the Icelandic brewery Borg Brugghús has created a beer that gets its unique taste characteristics from, yes indeed, sheep dung.

The malted barley that goes into their Fenrir Nr. 26 is smoked over burning Icelandic sheep excrement for several hours, resulting in a brew that is, according to brewmaster Sturlaugur Jon Björnsson, “Þetta er í raun léttur IPA bjór með sítruslegt og ferskt bragð og lykt frá humlunum. Síðan kemur svolítið þyngri, taðreyktur fílingur í þetta en þetta gengur allt saman upp.”

For the non-Icelandic among us, that more or less translates as “It’s a lightweight IPA with fresh citrus and hop notes, then comes a bit heavier taste from the...” Well. You get the idea.
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Filed under: Beer • Sip • Stunt • Taboos • Weird News


June 25th, 2014
12:15 PM ET
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(Travel + Leisure) – If you’ve eaten at a neighborhood Thai restaurant, you’re likely familiar with pick-your-protein Technicolor curries. Odds are you’ve tried papaya salad, spring rolls, and pad thai improbably made with ketchup and maybe even peanut butter.

While many ethnic cuisines are domesticated to Western palates, Thai food may be the most bastardized in America. “We have the same basic Thai dishes over and over again, many of which have nothing to do with Thailand,” says Andy Ricker, the James Beard Award–winning chef behind the bicoastal restaurant empire Pok Pok, known for authentic dishes like charcoal-roasted hen with lemongrass and tamarind.

But for as many sugarcoated Thai restaurants operating in the U.S., there’s an appreciable number of spots doing it right—especially in immigrant-heavy cities like Houston, where Asia Market encourages diners to personally adjust their dishes with condiments like pickled peppers, fish sauce, and chili sauce (nam prik). L.A., meanwhile, supports both NIGHT + MARKET, which puts a hipster spin on Thai street food, and Thai Town’s Jitlada, where chef Tui Sungkamee makes traditional fiery southern dishes.

“Thai is not a monolithic culture and, as such, not a monolithic cuisine,” explains Ricker. “It varies vastly from region to region and even from house to house.”
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Filed under: 100 Places to Eat • Restaurants • Thai • Travel


June 10th, 2014
08:30 PM ET
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Lauren Oleksyk isn’t trying to bake the best pizza in the whole world, but she might be responsible for the best slice of a person’s life.

Oleksyk leads a team that's a critical link in the Army's material and supply chain. Its official name is the Food Processing, Engineering & Technology Team, Combat Feeding Directorate

While that title is certainly a mouthful, the team's mission is simple: Keep America’s warfighters fed and in peak physical shape under some of the harshest conditions on the planet.
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