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What You Can Do For Your Blog, February 1, 2006  Sometime in the last couple of years I put a link up to an Amazon tip jar/donation box page. It's gone now. A few of you have given generously. And I thank you very much for your support. It's much appreciated. And although it's not cheap to run this site (you should see the bills for meals :) the fact is that I don't think you should have to pay for the site or for our free electronic cookbooks. Yet, I still do have aspirations of at the very least covering my cost with the earnings from this blog. Rather than ask for money (though there's nothing wrong with that) I want to put all the blogging cycles I have into making this a genuinely special and unique site. I hope that we're already off to a good start. The number of posts is up. January saw not only the introduction of part 1 of our "tastingmenu Gets Schooled" series (the trip to Asia), but also saw the launch of our shop with hopefully cool food graphics (more to come). We've revamped the navigation up top. The 2nd annual Taste Everything awards are coming at the end of the month. We have new books in the works. And we also have some big announcements regarding our food photography - one of the largest food photography collections on the web, and the only one to feature the food of so many of the world's top restaurants. And don't forget, as soon as we wrap up the Asia trip (more Hong Kong and Tokyo remain) we'll do part two of our series. I'll keep it secret for now so as not to spoil the surprise.

Bottom line: we're going to work hard to make tastingmenu even better this year. What can you do to help?

  1. Let us know what you think. If you have suggestions either comment on this post, or send us mail at info [@] tastingmenu [dot] com.

  2. Support our sponsors if you feel so inclined.

  3. And finally, instead of doing telethons or other stuff like that, we're going to ask you to do one simple thing: tell 10 friends about tastingmenu. Yes... we are asking you to spam your friends. (Try to tell friends who might actually be interested so it's not quite as spammy.) Consider this a huge favor letting the world know about our little site. The more readers we have, the more cool things we can do, the more cool places we can visit, and the more cool experiences we can share with each of you. And to make it easier, feel free to wait until we have a post that really warrants it. BTW, telling friends about blogs you read is a great way to support any blog you appreciate, not just tastingmenu.

That's it. Next we'll ask  you to sign up your friends to the tastingmenu long distance service, but we're some months from announcing that. :) In the meantime thanks for being here, next post we're back for one more meal in Hong Kong. It's a good one. I promise.











Tastingmenu is focused on superlative restaurant experiences from two perspectives: behind the plate and behind the stove. Tastingmenu is written by Hillel (professional eater) and Dana (up-and-coming professional chef) in Seattle, Washington.

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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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