June 2007 Roundup

I’m really, really late getting June’s roundup out, because Bloglines had a major burp in July that ended up resetting pretty much everything, and with 1,800+ feeds, it meant I had to make my way through about 20,000 posts just trying to find the ones for June and July, and then I wasn’t able to sort them out until the end of July. Things are finally back to normal, though. 🙂 Expect July’s roundup later today, once I’ve had time to format it. So let’s get going…

In savory recipes, I’ve bookmarked Dirty Risotto from Cooking in Kansas City, Orecchiette Fresche e Semplice from Is That My Bureka?, Fennel, Cherry Tomato Tartlets on Balsamic Crust from La Tartine Gourmand, Salmon with Brown Sugar Mustard Glaze from Cooking in Kansas City, My Creamy Spanish Risotto from Sweet Cherrie Pie, Maple Sausage and Waffle Breakfast Casserole from What Did You Eat?, Blue Smoke Deviled Eggs from Serious Eats, Balsamic Chicken from A Taste of Home, Deviled Eggs from Annie’s Eats, Cauliflower Cheese Pie with Potato Crust from The Barmy Baker, Sweet Lil’ Smokies from Carries Cooking Adventures, Aracini di Riso from All Things Dolce, Spaghetti with Sausage from Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once, Sweet and Tangy Balsamic Grilling Sauce from Cooking in Kansas City, Easy Salsa Dressing from A Veggie Venture, Spinach-Cheese Bake from Culinary in the Country, Huevos Rancheros with Salsa Verde from Food “Blogga”, Cherry Chicken from Food Mall, Salad with Cherries and Queso Fresco from Food On the Food, Garlic Israeli Couscous from Fueled by Popcorn, Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Linguine from The Humble Housewife, Kasha and Bowties from Is That My Bureka?, Mafalda with a Goat Cheese Baby Spinach Cream Sauce from Kirsten’s Home Cooking, Egg Flan with Purpole Potatoes and Green Vegetables from La Tartine Gourmande, Chorizo Frittata from Leite’s Culinaria, Healthy Oven Fried Sausage, Onions and Potatoes from Mixed Salad Annie, Creamy Farfalle with Smoked Salmon from Once Upon a Tart, Twice Baked Cauliflower and Gorgonzola Souffles from stonesoup, Blinis with Smoked Salmon from Sweet Sins, Melt in Your Mouth Beef Ragout from What’s For Lunch Honey?, Go-to Pasta with Onions from the way the cookie crumbles, Angel Hair Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes from What Did You Eat?, Egg Salad with Shallot and Fines Herbs and Ancho Chile, Pork, and Black Bean Chili with Poached Egg and Crumbled Roquefort from Well Fed, and Baked Eggs from Tastes Like Home.

In sweet recipes, these look excellent:Challah French Toast with Strawberries and Honeyed Yogurt by Chalk & Cheese, Chocolate Pecan Pie from Confabulation in the Kitchen, Small Batch Black Forest Cookies from Cookie Madness, Kettle Corn from Besides Pizza, Lemon Curd Cheesecake from Culinary Cowgirl, The Joy of Cooking’s Cherry Clafoutis from Dinner in the Yellow House, Molten Chocolate-Cherry Cakes from hogwash, Buttermilk Pound Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Whipped Cream from Home Cooking is What I Like, Green Tea Cheesecake White Chocolate Brownie from Nook & Pantry, Lemon Drizzle Cake from Once Upon a Tart, Strawberry Shortcake with Meyer Lemon Cream from Paper Palate, Espresso Brownie Mousse Cake from EAT DRINK LIVE, Chocolate Mint Bars from yumsugar, Boca Negra Birthday Cake from Alice Q. Foodie, Strawberry Tart from Cafe Fernando, German Chocolate Cake from a whisk and a spoon, Cappuccino Cheesecake from Annie’s Eats, Extra Thin, Extra Crisp Oatmeal Cookies from Confabulation in the Kitchen, Margarita Tart from Confections of a Foodie Bride, Apple Pudding Pie from The Cuis-Zine, Gateau Basque from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, Strawberry-Mascarpone Tart from EAT DRINK LIVE, Norwegian Apple Tart from Bunny Pie (via everybody likes sandwiches), Blueberry Hand Pie from Food Mall, Pains aux Raisins from Kitchen Wench, Chocolate Cherry Clafoutis from La Tartine Gourmande, Snack Size Apple Pies from The Laughing Gastronome, Cranberry Nut Bread and Gateau Surprise Chocolat Pistache from Milk and Cookies, Ricotta Tart with Vermicelli Pasta from Once Upon a Tart, Toll House Pie from Pie Day Friday, Summer Pudding with Rum Whipped Cream from pinknest, Chocolate Pear Cake from Egg and Soldier, Deadly Blondies and Beer and Apricot Clafoutis from Rosa’s Yummy Yums, Lemon Raspberry Bars from Something Sweet, Lemon and Cherry Posset from spittoonextra, Claudia Roden’s Apple Cake from Writing At the Kitchen Table, and Raspberry Creme Brulee from wannabeTVchef.blog.

In informative posts, learn how to sear scallops at Beyond Salmon, learn how to grow garlic at home and how to use a Japanese mandoline at A Veggie Venture, find out how to keep brown sugar soft at Baking Bites, read about six things to do with the exotic condiments in your cupboards by Kitchen Exhibitionist, and learn how to dry herbs with Wandering Chopsticks.

There’s been a back and forth exchange about food community and food snobbery, that I’ve been reading with great interest. And, as usual, I’ve got my own two cents to put into the discussion as well.

In her original post, Kate talked about Asheville, and its vibrant local food scene, and the lack of chain restaurants, mostly due to the hard work of its residents. She noted that a community gets the food culture it deserves.

While she makes some good points, I disagree somewhat with her initial premise. In the grand scheme of things, your normal citizen has absolutely no say about what restaurants are located in a particular neighborhood. In a small city such as the one I originally came from, which 10 years ago was almost completely local fare, the big chain restaurants mean tax ratables and growth to them. In this day and age, many residents of small to mid-sized cities expect big city culture and services for their tax dollars, and short of raising taxes all around, bringing commercial tax revenue in the form of a TGIF or Chili’s is common sense to city planners. Granted, this leads to a homogenous landscape across the country, but it is what it is. So with that in mind, I think the spread of big business is inevitable.

And don’t get me wrong – corporate chains have their place in food culture as well. I know I can go to my local TGIF’s and get edible food prepared consistently well and the same way every time. Although I love to support my local food culture, I don’t feel I’m “slummin’ it” if I go into Olive Garden rather than a locally run place. For a lot of people, Olive Garden is fancy enough, and local places are a scary unknown (and no, I’m not exaggerating – I actually know people who think Olive Garden is fine dining).

I think a happy compromise is for corporate chains and locally run gems to happily coexist in a diverse food culture. Here in Columbus we can get anything we want, literally. We have no shortage of either chains or local establishments. Given a choice, I go to the local place first. Does this mean that since I’m not going above and beyond to erradicate the chains, I deserve to spend the rest of my days choking down Applebees (which admittedly, I do loathe)? I’m not so sure about that. I hopefully do my small part by reviewing local places and talking about the great farmers markets and local ingredients and artisans we have here in town.

But I digress. In response to Kate’s original post, Laura accused her of food snobbery – that food is food, and it shouldn’t matter where it comes from. That we use our food and love for it to divide among class lines. That we’re somehow better than someone else because we support local establishments rather than the chains. And I have to admit, she also makes valid points. Food can divide people – case in point is my family, who thinks I am nuts for eating cheese that is not Munster, Cheddar, or American, or that I’ll spend extra money for grass-fed organic beef or local food or going to a nice restaurant. Although many people can try to argue otherwise, it does cost a pretty penny to eat organic/local/non-processed food. Why do you think there’s a high level of obesity among those in lower income brackets? When you’re eating heavily processed food because it’s all you can afford, a meal out, even at McDonalds, seems like haute cuisine. Why spend $10 on appetizer when you can get your entire meal at McDonalds for $3? And although I recognize the disparity about how I eat now vs. how I ate then, I don’t look down on people who do eat processed food/eat at chains regularly, although that’s not me anymore – it has its place, the hard reality is that these chains fit a niche, and they’re not going away any time soon. I’d be very interested to see the economic breakdown of Asheville’s residents. I’d be willing to put money on that the house values/average income is probably higher than the national average. For many, food isn’t about enjoyment and an experience to savor, its about not starving to death. I’ve been there, eating rice with pork and beans spooned over it just to survive. It tasted like ass, but it kept me from passing out from hunger.

So Kate responded with a essay on the economics of franchises, and about the importance of investing in your own community. While I do agree with her 100% on this, and it is important for me to do that, it *would* be snobby for me to impose my values regarding food on the other 1,000,000+ people who live in this metro area. I’m more than happy to inform and educate (via this blog and talking to other people), but I don’t feel that it has to be an either/or choice. Both can co-exist peacefully. Columbus, Ohio is proof of that.

More to come…

6 thoughts on “June 2007 Roundup

  1. goat

    While she makes some good points, I disagree somewhat with her initial premise. In the grand scheme of things, your normal citizen has absolutely no say about what restaurants are located in a particular neighborhood.


    that’s why we had Lebanese restaurants in our neighborhood ten years before they started expanding into the other neighborhoods in Cleveland, then? (Needless to say: high population of Lebanese.)

    And why the best Italian restaurants in Philly are all clustered around Packer/Broad?

    Why, when I lived there, there were about thirty Polish/Eastern European restaurants per Thai place in Pittsburgh, and one Greek restaurant (well, storefront food stand) in the entire downtown area?

    Individuals might not have a say, unless they start a restaurant themselves. But the demographics of a subregion most definitely have a collective say. Ethnic food gravitates towards its ethnicities. (Hell, I don’t think I’ve SEEN a Puerto Rican restaurant since leaving Vineland…)

    Interestingly, unless you get down to the REALLY bottom levels of the barrel– McDonald’s and that sort of thing– I’ve found the same variance at chains that I have at mom-and-pops. (The exception to the ruls is Don Pablo’s, which should get some sort of award for consistency. Carnitas at Don Pablo’s even blow away some I’ve had at good, upscale Mexican restaurants.) I’ve probably eaten at forty different Olive Gardens in my life, including every one I know of that’s existed in the western suburbs of Cleveland in the past twelve years. Each is of different quality (and that quality varies depending on the time you go, even). The one in Willow Grove still tops the list quality-wise; a few in Cleveland come close, but is stands to reason. Much higher Italian population in Philly = more likelihood that the people who work there will take the food seriously, and make subtle alterations behind the backs of the chain owners.

    It’s all about the heritage. So why the hell can’t someone, somewhere, open up a Scots restaurant? It’s not like I’m the only Scot in America…

    Both can co-exist peacefully. Columbus, Ohio is proof of that.

    Chains are far less a threat to mom-and-pops in Columbus than greedy city planners. [grumble]

  2. Abby

    You will LOVE that pie!

    You would be RIGHT about Asheville’s economic breakdown.

    I’ve always thought life is too short to be a food or music snob. Try it all! Right?

  3. Alanna

    Amazing, your round-up. I just marked 8900 posts “read” and felt MUCH relieved. Among food blogs, are you sensing a new level of mean-ness? and hurt feelings? and? and? and?

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