Thursday’s tapas

We covered Spain yesterday in our whirlwind world tour known as International Cuisine class, so I’m all about the little nibbles this week.

Quote of the week

The Roma “is truly the eunuch of the tomato world and doesn’t deserve your time.”–Lynn Rosetto Kasper, The Splendid Table

Picture 2Score one for the South

Last night’s episode of “Top Chef” restored my faith in the show, as the contestants cooked for some of the world’s top French chefs and demonstrated they have impressive culinary chops. I love Atlanta-based chef Kevin Gillespie, who wowed Daniel Boulud by serving escargot with Southern-style bacon jam and won the quickfire challenge. Gillespie’s red beard and wide-eyed enthusiasm remind me of a young Kris Kringle; he may look like a humble son of Dixie, but fellow contestants would do well not to underestimate him. The best quote of the night came from fellow Atlantan Eli Kirshtein, who affectionately likened Joel Robuchon to a “unicorn.”

Picture 3Cheap–and sharp

I love my Mac knives, but if I were in the market for a new one, I’d definitely check out the colorful, affordable Pure Komachi 2 knives from Shun. They’re made of Japanese carbon steel and cost less than 15 bucks.–Serious Eats

Picture 4The high price of health food

Peeps think healthy fare is too expensive in this economy, so they’re ordering junkier food at restaurants, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. In a previous story, NRN reported that $5 is the magic number of consumers, as eateries from fast-food outlets like Subway to high-end restaurants load menus with 5-buck fare to attract budget-conscious diners.

Picture 5Food safety clearinghouse

Have questions/concerns about food safety? Check out the new government site, The site includes updates on food recalls as well as tips about food safety.

Picture 6Meat matters

Don’t know a ribeye from a T-bone? This handy chart can clear up the confusion.–The Food Paper (Gayot)

Tuesday’s tidbits

picture-13The CIA in Spain

File this one under sites-you-must-bookmark. The CIA (Culinary Institute of America, that is) teamed up with the Spanish trade commissions for food and wine to create the spectacular new Worlds of Flavor Spain Web site. Forget Mario Batali traipsing through Iberia with Gwyneth Paltrow in tow and focus on this gem instead. None other than Ferran Adria and Jose Andres are this site’s co-chairs, and they’ll introduce you to a wealth of instructional videos, dozens of tempting recipes, explanations of Spain’s regional cuisines, glorious spotlights on its cheese and wine, and a marketplace to buy specialty ingredients. The site may be aimed at professional chefs, but there’s plenty here to entertain and inspire the home cook. This one sets a new benchmark for food on the Web.

picture-21Can’t wait to make this

Sunday’s New York Times Magazine featured the rustic charms of a British meat pie. The only motivation I’ll need to make this adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s pastry-topped meat-and-veg Guinness Pie is a chilly evening.

Not every one is a winner

fwpuddingThe March issue of Food & Wine has a gorgeous special section of 40 healthy recipes. The Creamy Caramel Pudding tempted my sweet tooth, so I made a batch this weekend. The results were…mixed. It’s more sweet than caramel-y (my fault–I didn’t let the caramel cook long enough). But what put me off more was the gelatinous texture, thanks to 6 tablespoons of cornstarch. Still, it wasn’t awful, especially when topped with chopped salty roasted peanuts to cut the sweetness. That’s OK, I’m still eager to try the Beet Salad with Tangerines. But for a more satisfying low-fat pudding experience, try Cooking Light’s Butterscotch Pudding or Chocolate Pudding (make it with dark chocolate–yum!). Both include egg yolks and a touch of butter for a richer–yet still low-fat–pudding.

Tom on Coke

picture-41What’s your opinion of “Top Chef” top judge Tom Colicchio in a commercial hawking the “taste” of Diet Coke during the Oscars? It left a bad taste in my mouth–much like a sip of Diet Coke does, blech!–but I still thought, “Dude, take the money and run.” Add your 2 cents at Serious Eats. Or check out what the community at Epicurious has to say about this tempest in a Coke can. Hey, it’s a diversion from worrying about the economy.

But we still love Fabio

picture-5Speaking of “Top Chef,” I joined a lot of other fans in mourning the exit of Season 5 charmer Fabio. Check out YumSugar’s interview with the man who will surely be this season’s fan favorite.