Miscellaneous and Useless Information


At a new generation of Chinese restaurants in New York, you don’t have to worry about the food being Americanized. That’s because the Chinese food is via other countries, including Korea, India, Madagascar, Cuba, and Peru. One Chinese-Peruvian dish called lomo saltado — a stir fry of beef, onions and tomatoes seasoned with soy sauce and served over french fries or fried potatoes — isn’t even considered Chinese in Peru, much like how Americans don’t consider hot dogs and hamburgers to be German food.

Sous vide, sometimes called “cryovacking,” is a method of food preparation where food is put into a bag and vacuum packed. The bag is sometimes cooked later at low temperatures, or the process itself is used to infuse the food with flavor or to change its texture. When I heard Alton Brown explain sous vide on Iron Chef America, I assumed it was a well-known, frequently-used process among chefs.

Well, it looks like I was wrong. The New York Times Magazine has an article on the far-reaching implications of cooking sous vide, and how it could lead to everything from completely new textures and flavors to edible airline food.

Two nights ago, my buddy Jonathan and I met up for dinner. We were in an adventurous mood, so we went to Vicky’s Restaurant [map | Mercury News review], which specializes in cuisine from El Salvador, in the Burbank neighborhood of San Jose. Jon couldn’t resist the 2 Tacos for $2 deal, but we also made sure to get Salvadorean specials, like pupusas (stuffed fried tortillas), sweet corn tamales with sour cream, and pasteles (mini pies stuffed with meat and vegetables). Highly recommended. It came out to $22 for the two of us, and we were absolutely stuffed.

But we went for ice cream anyway. I suggested Cold Stone Creamery since I had a gift certificate. Jon vehemently rejected it, which was fine by me, since years of training at Berkeley has resulted in a knee-jerk reaction in avoiding chains at all costs. So we drove to Willow Glen, since I figured given its demographics, there had to be at least one ice cream store there.

After going up and down Lincoln Avenue, we found it: The Willow Glen Frozen Yogurt Company [map]. I went for a “small” raspberry frozen yogurt, while Jon went for a “medium” handmade fudge-type ice cream. Boy it was good, but it was too much. “Small” was the third largest size, after child and mini. The frozen yogurt store looks like it’s been there forever and the line was out the door. But it turns out it’s only been open since 2002; the building used to be a Wolf Camera store.

The Mercury News reviews corporate cafeterias across Silicon Valley. By the way, I’ll say from personal experience that IBM Almaden Research Center’s cafeteria is also quite good. (By the way, all opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of my employer, IBM.) Shortly after this article appeared, Charlie Ayers, Google’s head chef and the former chef of the Grateful Dead, left the company to start a healthy food restaurant chain in Silicon Valley.

(Update — February 17, 2006: It may have taken a year, but I’m now somewhat tired of our cafeteria and am bringing lunch much more often.)

Say it ain’t so: a Hong Kong government report says that dim sum is high in salt and fat and suggests not eating it too often. It’s not going over too well in Hong Kong.

Thanks, Rich: Slate asks four design teams to redesign the new USDA food pyramid.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” school Principal Diana Russell said.

Thanks, Rich: Gish Jen writes about the “wonderful Chinese restaurants exhibit” at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas.

I’ll be darned: USB flash drives that really look like sushi.

A fun fact I learned by watching Unwrapped on the Food Network: Elmer, the mascot bull of Elmer’s Glue, is the husband of Elsie, the mascot cow of Borden Dairy.

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