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Food News, May 6, 2005 The Chicago Tribune decided to do a blind tasting of a series of coffee liqueurs. Since coffee isn't really my thing I suppose I'll have to take their word for it. Still, it was neat that newcomer Starbucks, yes Starbucks won the tasting. I think it's cool when a big company still can focus on doing things with high quality. In many ways I think it's harder for big companies to deliver quality than small ones.

It's so weird but I'm now getting 1-2 offers per week from various PR folks to review products. It's mostly books, but this week I got an offer to try out a pre-release of a new brand of disposable "tupperware". Freaky. I think I'll pass on that one, though I do always appreciate the offer of free stuff. I think employees of PR firms are taking seminars where they tell them how cheap it is to get bloggers to write about their products. We're not used to getting free stuff.

If you're in New York on May 17th you may want to check out "The Cuisine of Queens and Beyond" a sort of food festival presented by Dish du Jour magazine. Honestly, I have no idea what this magazine is, or what the event is all about. But Debbie thinks Rocco di Spirito is "hooooot", and as he'll be there, I imagine there's others that would like to get a glimpse of him as well. Is he still even cooking? Or does he just go around being good looking. Debbie says: "I don't care."

Passover has been over for a few days now (I needed bread so badly) and Amy at Cooking With Amy did her own Passover post as well as a roundup of a bunch of other Passover posts from various food blogs.

One of our readers, Aaron, pointed us to this comparison of various salts from Slate. Jeffrey Steingarten had a great article about whether salt could really taste any different. The conclusion I've come to is that since salts are chemically identical, dissolved in water there is no way to tell the difference between them. That said, I do think that different salt crystals have different shapes, and before dissolving, I feel the shape can dramatically affect the flavor as the salt crystal hits different spots on your tongue.

We're going to Hawaii for a few days at some point down the road. Is it wrong for me not to be enamored of Hawaiian food? My experience with Hawaiian food is generally large portions of shredded meat (usually pork) and overly sweet flavors. I'm sure this is an unfair generalization, but it's based on my semi-limited experience. The other food I've seen in Hawaii is high-end Japanese restaurants catering to Japanese tourists - authentic but somewhat antiseptic, and "higher end" chains like Roy's. Bottom line, does anyone have any suggestions on where to eat while in Maui? Thanks.

I feel like food scares are somewhat faddish. Then again, you never know what to really listen to. Got Mercury has a mercury calculator to see if all that sushi you're eating is slowly killing you. Though, if you eat that much sushi, how bad a life could it have been?

You know what a wiki is (actually, you very likely might not, so here's a definition). You know what a recipe is. But a wikipe?










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  Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Today's major garlic suppliers include the United States (mainly California, Texas and Louisiana), France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. There are three major types of garlic available in the United States: the white-skinned, strongly flavored American garlic; the Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor; and the Paul Bunyanesque, white-skinned elephant garlic (which is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek), the most mildly flavored of the three. Depending on the variety, cloves of American, Mexican and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Elephant garlic (grown mainly in California) has bulbs the size of a small grapefruit, with huge cloves averaging 1 ounce each. It can be purchased through mail order and in some gourmet markets. Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of a baby plant is much softer than that of mature garlic. Fresh garlic is available year-round. Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from 3 to 10 days. Garlic is usually peeled before use in recipes. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic," in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole. Garlic is readily available in forms other than fresh. Dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic) are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using (unless added to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew). When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent. Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves. Though all of these products are convenient, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. One unfortunate side effect of garlic is that, because its essential oils permeate the lung tissue, it remains with the body long after it's been consumed, affecting breath and even skin odor. Chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley is helpful but, unfortunately, modern-day science has yet to find the perfect antidote for residual garlic odor.  

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