Archive | January, 2009

Raul Midon is a pretty amazing cat!

29 Jan

All the BLT Taste without the “B”

28 Jan


I just tried “Baconnaise” (bacon flavored mayo) for the first time. And you know what? It’s pretty darn good. I smeared it on a turkey and cheddar sandwich and found myself eating what tasted like a club sandwich without the additional fat and calories of bacon strips. Can’t wait to try J&D’s Bacon salt and lip balm too. Yup, they make a bacon flavored lip balm. Start lining up, ladies!

The bacon salt comes in Original, Natural (gluten free), Peppered, and Hickory blends. Here is some background from J&D’s web site …

We’re Justin and Dave, and this is our improbable bacon-flavored story. Who are we? We’re just two regular guys who love grilling and football on Sunday afternoons, eating until we can’t get off the couch and of course, the taste of great bacon. And it’s our dream to make everything taste like bacon.

Not too long ago, we used to work together in a little technology company. While on a business trip together, we had the chance to sit down for dinner and eventually, the conversation turned to our mutual love of bacon. It was then that Justin told Dave and another coworker named Kara about his idea for Bacon Salt®. Kara, who is a vegetarian, loved the idea. Dave, a card-carrying carnivore and Midwesterner, loved it even more. Even the waiter at the fancy restaurant loved it.

And from that point forward, a partnership was struck to turn this bacon-flavored dream into a reality. In 2007, we and a few of our close friends tasted the first flavors of Bacon Salt, on Porterhouse steaks, mashed potatoes, eggs, corn and tomato soup – literally everything Dave could find to eat in his house. One enthusiastic person even tried bacon-flavored ice cream, which we don’t really advise doing, but to each his own. With the one exception of Maple (which was recently resurrected and is much better), everything was absolutely delicious – we were all just licking our plates.

Even more improbably, Dave’s 3 year old son Dean provided our first round of financing with this $5,000 win on America’s Funniest Home Videos: or

Peanut Plant said to have Troubled Past

28 Jan

Salmonella Outbreak

From the web site …

The Georgia plant at the center of an expanding recall of peanut products has a history of health violations, the New York Times reports. The salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 500 nationwide came from the Blakely facility cited in 2006 and 2007 for dirty surfaces and a variety of other contamination issues.

“If there is a record of habitual violations of food safety standards, the FDA should have initiated strenuous enforcement action,” a spokesman for a food-safety watchdog said of the Peanut Corp. of America. “This company needed more scrutiny. If this plant was in fact so dirty, they were asking for trouble.”

50 Years Since “The Day The Music Died”

28 Jan


RIP Buddy Holly — we still miss you badly!

The most storied of all rock tours began Jan. 23, 1959, at Milwaukee’s Eagles Club and ended in a frozen Iowa cornfield 11 days later.

They called it the Winter Dance Party, and it featured Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, Dion and the Belmonts, the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) and an aspiring teen idol named Frankie Sardo.

The Winter Dance Party was often long on winter and short on party. The tour trekked across the upper Midwest in an old school bus with a faulty heater, visiting obscure venues like the Laramar Ballroom in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and the Kato Ballroom in Mankato, Minn.

It got so cold on the bus that the musicians starting burning newspapers in the aisle in a desperate attempt to generate warmth. Drummer Carl Bunch actually had to be hospitalized for frostbite.

The tour eventually made its way to the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. After the show, hoping to get some rest and escape another night on that chilly bus, Holly, Valens and the Bopper chartered a small plane to fly them to the next stop in Fargo, N.D.

They made it just a few miles from the airport. Their pilot, 21-year-old Roger Peterson, wasn’t certified for night flying. Possibly confused by the darkness and a light snow, Peterson apparently thought he was climbing when he was actually diving. The plane may have been hurtling at 150 mph when it hit the frozen ground nose first. All four men aboard died instantly.

It may have lasted just 11 days, but that tour still echoes in legend a half century later. It’s been celebrated on film in two hit movies, “The Buddy Holly Story” and “La Bamba,” and it was mythologized as “the day the music died,” in Don McLean’s massive 1971 hit “American Pie.” (sung Sunday by Garth Brooks at the massive “We Are One” presidential inauguration welcome event in Washington, D.C.)

The tour’s principal players – Holly, Dion and Valens – have all been enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Holly and Valens have been honored with postage stamps. The Surf Ballroom has held a memorial concert each year on the anniversary. Music fans of a new generation may have been introduced to Holly on the “Juno” soundtrack.

Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly”

27 Jan

Here’s a little “Superfly” on Super Bowl Week:

Sounds like an Insult, Tastes like a Dream

27 Jan


Looks pretty funky too!


4 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
4 cups beef stock or chicken stock
oil (for deep frying)
1/2 cup pork crackling (chicharrones)

1 tablespoon chopped garlic
fresh ground black pepper
chopped fresh cilantro leaves (to garnish)

1 – Mix handful of salt into a bowl of cold water and soak plantain chunks. Place stock in saucepan over low heat to warm. Bring at least 1 inch of oil to about 350 F degrees in a deep skillet.
2 – Meanwhile, cook chicharrones or bacon until crisp; remove from heat and drain. Remove plantains from water, drain and dry them on towels, then deep fry the pieces (careful, they may spatter) until golden brown and tender. Remove from oil. Flatten the plantains using the bottom of a flat-bottomed glass bottle or a tostonera if you have one. Fry the plantains again for 30 seconds on each side until slightly crispy.
3 – While the plantains are still hot use a wooden mortar and pestle to mash them with the garlic and the chicharrones. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4 – You can also use a food processor – add the plantains to food processor with bacon, garlic and some salt and pepper. You may have to work in batches. Process to consistency of mashed — not whipped — potatoes. Do not over process!
5 – Place the mixture in soup bowls or wooden pilons, douse with broth, garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

Guy Fieri’s Favorite “Dives”

27 Jan


There’s nothing quite like a dive. That’s how celebrity chef Guy Fieri views the food universe. Sure, Fieri, a California restaurateur-turned-Food Network favorite (The Next Food Network Star, Guy’s Big Bite, Ultimate Recipe Showdown), can probably afford to eat out these days in the fanciest of establishments. But he prefers places with character — or, better yet, that are run by characters — where the cooking is hearty, the atmosphere gritty and the lines always out the door.

The spiky-haired Fieri, himself no small character, pays homage to such places in what is arguably his best Food Network series to date, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

The show’s simple philosophy?

“If it’s funky, we’ll find it,” says Fieri, who explains that he searches for restaurants that serve “real” food (“I don’t care if it’s just a chili dog, but let it be a righteous chili dog”), and those that have a story behind them.

We sat down with Fieri on a sweltering morning during the 2008 South Beach Wine & Food Festival — he was kind enough to offer us a towel so that we could wipe our brow — and asked him to name a few favorites among the dozens of diners, drive-ins and dives he’s profiled.

Here are his picks:

2500 S.W. 107th Ave., Miami, Fla.
Puerto Rican cuisine in a luncheonette setting.

“A nondescript joint, run by a family,” says Fieri.

But the food?

It was so good, says Fieri, “I just about lost my mind.”

The menu is heavy on seafood, but the house favorite is the mofongo, a dish made with mashed fried plantains and any number of additions, from pork to chicken.

Pizza Palace
3132 Magnolia Ave., Knoxville, Tenn.
Yes, pizza in Tennessee — in a decades-old establishment run by Greeks, no less.

But Fieri says it shouldn’t be so unexpected: Greeks are among the best cooks around, known for their expertise in running diners.

At this Knoxville establishment, “Everything they make, they make from scratch,” Fieri notes. And in case you’re not in the mood for a pie, they’re equally known for their — you guessed it — Greek salad.

Mike’s Chili Parlor
1447 N.W. Ballard Way, Seattle, Wash.
A Seattle fixture since 1922.

“They put chili on spaghetti, chili on [hot] dogs, chili on grilled-cheese sandwiches,” says Fieri.

To top it off — no pun intended — it’s not your everyday chili. “It’s more like a meat sauce,” explains Fieri, adding that it’s made from a secret recipe.

Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge
2519 Marshall St. N.E., Minneapolis, Minn.
Don’t let the name scare you: This place is “a real funky joint,” converted from an old motel and coffee shop, says Fieri.

The food fits the spirit, from battered and deep-fried hot dogs (“Red Rockets,” they’re called) to a Hawaiian-inspired pizza with rum-soaked raisins.

Duarte’s Tavern
202 Stage Rd., Pescadero, Calif.
The restaurant takes up about “three quarters of the town,” says Fieri, noting that the 104-year-old eatery has a “humongous” garden where they “grow everything from berries for the pies to artichokes for the dips.”

Plus, they make a cioppino, the popular California seafood stew, that Fieri promises is “to die for.” (“And I’m a cioppino junkie,” Fieri adds.)

Bayway Diner
2019 South Wood Ave., Linden, N.J.
This eight-stool Jersey diner has special significance for Fieri since it’s the first location the series ever shot.

Plus, Fieri is a diner fanatic: “You pack everybody in there, they cook right in front of you,” he explains of the appeal of such eateries.

As for this one, he doesn’t wax poetic about a particular dish or two so much as the impossibly small setting, replete with a cramped basement where the roasted turkey is prepared.

Such places, Fieri concludes, are all about “a love affair with food.”

What exactly is “the pompitus of love?”

27 Jan


Here is what I have learned —

The word pompatus (also spelled pompitous, IPA: /ˈpɒmpɨtəs/) is a neologism used in the lyrics of Steve Miller’s 1973 rock song “The Joker”:
Some people call me the space cowboy.
Yeah! Some call me the gangster of love.
Some people call me Maurice,
‘Cause I speak of the pompatus of love.

The phrases “space cowboy” and “gangster of love” are both references to previous Miller songs. The “pompatus” line is also a reference to an earlier song of his, “Enter Maurice,” which was recorded the previous year:
My dearest darling, come closer to Maurice
so I can whisper sweet words of epismetology
in your ear and speak to you of the pompatus of love.

Although Miller claims he invented the words “epismetology” (metathesis of epistemology) and “pompatus,” all of his song-writing shows strong rhythm and blues influences, and a 1954 song called “The Letter” by the Medallions had the lines:
Oh my darling, let me whisper
sweet words of pizmotality
and discuss the puppetutes of love.

The song was composed by Vernon Green as a description of his dream woman. “Pizmotality described words of such secrecy that they could only be spoken to the one you loved,” Green explained. He coined the term puppetutes “to mean a secret paper-doll fantasy figure who would be my everything and bear my children.”

“Veggie Magic” … indeed!

24 Jan


My first visit to Veggie Magic in Sarasota was a very impressive experience. For starters, the folks who run the place are extremely friendly and genuinely concerned about people eating healthier food. And eating healthy at Veggie Magic doesn’t mean sacrificing on taste.

My lunch started with the King Caesar salad and continued with their Zesty No-Bean Burrito, which is wrapped in a collard green leave (see the picture above). The salad’s mock Caesar dressing was made with pine nuts, miso, flax oil, dates, garlic & lemon juice. The burrito filling was fashioned by an artful combination of sunflower seeds, sun dried tomatoes, chili, cilantro and cumin. It was all quite satisfying.


And they saved the best for last with the amazing Black & White Brownie they served up for dessert. Words cannot be found to describe how deliciously decadent this treat tastes. Imagine, if you will, a moist brownie base of raw cacao ground with sprouted walnuts, raisins and dates topped with a smooth white chocolate filling of cashews, Thai coconut meat, agave nectar, fresh vanilla bean, & cacao butter.  It was without a doubt one of the best desserts I have ever placed in my mouth.

I would strongly encourage you to seek them out at 4428 Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota or online at Our hats are off to Chef Adriel Zahniser and co-owners Jenna Norwood and Ivana Poplawski. Keep up the great work ladies!

NOTE: Be sure to check out Jenna Norwood’s award-winning documentary on healthy eating & living at

Little Debbie joins Peanut Butter recall

18 Jan


WASHINGTON – The company that sells Little Debbie snacks announced a recall Sunday of peanut butter crackers because of a potential link to a deadly salmonella outbreak.

The voluntary recall came one day after the government advised consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods with peanut butter until health officials learn more about the contamination.

The announcement by McKee Foods Corp. of Collegedale, Tenn., about two kinds of Little Debbie products was another in a string of voluntary recalls following the most recent guidance by health officials. The South Bend Chocolate Co. in Indiana said Sunday it too was recalling various candies containing peanut butter from Peanut Corp. of America.

McKee said it had not received any complaints about illnesses from people who ate any size peanut butter toasty sandwich crackers or peanut butter cheese sandwich crackers. The recall covers crackers produced on or after July 1.

Officials are focusing on peanut paste, as well as peanut butter, produced at a Blakely, Ga., facility owned by Peanut Corp. Its peanut butter is not sold directly to consumers but distributed to institutions and food companies. But the peanut paste, made from roasted peanuts, is an ingredient in cookies, cakes and other products that people buy in the supermarket.