Category Archives: Great Finds

Justin’s Nut Butter on the Go

A snack of Chocolate Almond Butter? Justin's makes it super easy to do so.

A snack of Chocolate Almond Butter? Justin’s makes it super easy to do so.

 

Justin Gold was a vegetarian with an athletic lifestyle when he started whipping up his own nut butters in his Boulder, CO home.

It wasn’t long before he was packing them in 16-ounce jars to sell at local stores.

As an outdoorsy kind of guy, though, it dawned on him that so many energy bars and goos were just packed with sugar, not to mention pretty lacking in flavor. So, he thought, “Why not package his nut butters in on-the-go individual squeeze packets”?

Genius.

Justin’s nut butters come in eight flavors. They’re all natural, made with dry-roasted nuts, organic cane sugar, palm fruit oil, vanilla and sea salt, as well as organic cocoa and organic cocoa butter in the chocolate varieties.

The nut butters stay fresh until you open the packet. Just knead the packet a little before opening to soften the nut butter and to incorporate the oil that naturally tends to separate out.

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A Most Excellent Chicken Dish from the Wife of Andrew Zimmern

This will become your new favorite chicken dish. It is mine!

This will become your new favorite chicken dish. It is mine!

 

Have you ever endured the frustration of cooking a recipe with a mile-long ingredients list, only to wonder at the end why flavor is thoroughly missing in action?

This is not that recipe. Not at all.

Instead, “Rishia Zimmern’s Chicken with Shallots” boasts a quite modest number of ingredients. But the payoff is a dish that is so swaddled in big French country flavors that you will end up craving it again and again.

You may have heard of Rishia’s husband — Andrew Zimmern. Yes, that Andrew Zimmern, the host of the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods” show. It’s kind of a relief to know that when he’s at home, he’s not chowing down on scorpions on a stick like he does while on the road.

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Choctal — A New Way to Taste Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Creams

Imagine tasting four different vanilla ice creams, each sourced with vanilla from a different country.

Imagine tasting four different vanilla ice creams, each sourced with vanilla from a different country.

 

The same concept of single-origin that’s been applied to coffees and chocolate bars now comes to premium ice cream.

Los Angeles-based Choctal has done just that with its chocolate and vanilla ice creams. Think four different kinds of vanilla ice cream plus four different kinds of chocolate ice cream. How’s that for a surprising way to introduce variety?

The ice creams come in these flavors: Madagascar Vanilla, Mexican Vanilla, Papua New Guinea Vanilla, Indonesian Vanilla, Ghana Chocolate, Kalimantan Chocolate, Dominican Chocolate and Costa Rican Chocolate.

They are made with single-0rigin chocolate and vanilla sourced from around the world. The ice creams are made without eggs or gluten.

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A Meal of A Lifetime: My Dinner at Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine Laboratory

What would a Modernist Cuisine dinner be without a little liquid nitrogen action going on? Chef Naomi Pomeroy gets in on the fun.

What would a Modernist Cuisine dinner be without a little liquid nitrogen action going on? Chef Naomi Pomeroy gets in on the fun.

 

BELLVUE, WA — Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft chief technology officer turned maestro of modernist cuisine, has held less than a dozen invitation-only dinners at his Intellectual Ventures laboratory. The exclusive guests have included the likes of Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, David Chang and Jose Andres.

In June, I was lucky enough to join that illustrious list when I was invited to be part of a very special dinner. What made this dinner so epic was not only the fact that it was Myhrvold’s largest dinner party to date, but that all the guests were women.

The wizard-genius behind it all, Nathan Myhrvold, stops by each table to explain the dishes.

The wizard-genius behind it all, Nathan Myhrvold, stops by each table to explain the dishes.

The Modernist Cuisine team hard at work on the one-of-a-kind dinner.

The Modernist Cuisine team hard at work on the one-of-a-kind dinner.

Plating in action.

Plating in action.

A reminder that you are dining in an actual science laboratory.

A reminder that you are dining in an actual science laboratory.

Twenty-one female chefs and four female journalists sat down to a marathon 35-course dinner that lasted six hours. The guest list was as follows:

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Build A Better Banh Mi

Banh mi fixiings: Sri Lankan Black Curry Chicken (foreground) and Citrusy Red Cabbage Pickles (back).

Banh mi fixiings: Sri Lankan Black Curry Chicken (foreground) and Citrusy Red Cabbage Pickles (back).

 

Banh Mi has been a touchstone in my life.

It all started years ago when I was part of a team of reporters at the San Jose Mercury News covering race and demographics. As part of our — ahem — research of various cultures and communities, we naturally tried to hit up as many ethnic restaurants at lunch time as possible. After all, what better way to learn about a culture than to immerse one’s self in its cuisine?

The first time I encountered the ubiquitous Vietnamese sandwich otherwise known as banh mi, I admit I was dubious. A fresh, satisfying sandwich for under $4? How could that be?

My low expectations matched the low price.

Of course, one bite was all it took to prove me wrong.

The sandwich was miraculous. A fresh baguette filled with lemongrass chicken, smooth pate, hot chiles, fresh herbs and the most deliriously wonderful slivers of pickled carrots and daikon. It was savory, fragrant, tangy and bright. It wasn’t a ginormous sandwich by American standards, but it was full of so much flavor and texture that it left you completely satiated.

What a bargain, too. In fact, my colleagues and I were so amazed at the bang for the buck that we jokingly started using the banh mi as our own personal form of currency.

The cost for the city of San Jose to add resources to its gang prevention efforts? That would be $3 million. Or as we liked to think of it: nearly 1 million Viet sandwiches.

Building the BART extension to San Jose? Politicians might call it $3.2 billion. We likened it to about 1 billion Viet shredded pork sammies.

Yeah, that’s how we rolled.

BanhiMiHandbook

My friend Andrea Nguyen’s newest cookbook, “The Banh Mi Handbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a copy, brought back all those zany and delicious memories.

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