Monday, January 9, 2012

Around The Culinary World

Hello again everyone! It’s the first ‘real’ Monday of 2012. I know, I don’t like it either. The whole ‘three day weekend’ trend was not only very easy to get used to, but it was also very, very enjoyable. Alas, all good things must come to an end. Except, of course, Around The Culinary World, which keeps trucking every single Monday. Today’s edition features tips for buying and using some of winter’s best produce, an article on the evolving world of sparkling water, the ‘Dark Side’ of burgers and so much more. Let’s dive right into the culinary news for this week!

Apparently, while no one was looking sparkling water evolved into a high end business. There are now sparkling water experts, who can tell you which bottle of sparkling water will go best with your filet, what ‘flavor profile’ a certain region of sparkling water posses (yes, there are regions and flavor profiles. I’m as astounded as you are). While I’m no stranger to sparkling water, I’m a little surprised that the beverage has moved into the ‘fine dining’ category. The sparkling water I enjoy comes from Target in a plastic bottle…and it tastes like raspberry (or tangerine/lime if I’m feeling bold). It costs $.69 and is tasty, but it does not evoke thoughts of fine dining. Granted, sparkling water has been around in Europe for a long while (it’s very commonly served with meals in place of our usual plain glass of water) so it really was only a matter of time before the beverage made the jump to the big time here in the United States. This article titled “6 Ways To Survive The Sparkling Water Trend” is a nice guide if you think you’re going to find yourself amongst the high brow and will have to choose between New Zealand’s or France’s bubbly beverage to pair with your fish. If you don’t think you’ll find yourself in that particular position, this article turns into a rather humorous read. Sparkling water…fine dining? Amazing. (And yes, I'm aware there are many elements to fine dining and that sparkling beverages are common. Before we receive a 'matter of fact email' please not that this story was written slightly 'tounge in cheek').

While winter typically means inflated produce prices and some smaller selections at your grocery store – there are a few fruits and veggies that come into their peak during this time. One such fruit is oranges. This fruit typically associated with warm climates and summertime actually hits its peak during the colder months of December and January. With oranges hitting their prime, now is a good opportunity to refresh (or perhaps be introduced to) the large variety of oranges out there for you to buy. There is more to this citrusy world than just tangerines. Check out the guide HERE.

Another food that hits its stride in the colder winter months is a gourd that is typically associated with fall; the butternut squash. This earthy, delicious squash may be somewhat cumbersome to peel – but it can really shine as the star of a dish or work as a great side kick to boost up a recipe’s flavor. (Side note: I’ll be cooking with butternut squash this week in my recipe). Food52 has put together a collection of butternut squash recipes to get your winter cooking juices flowing. Check out the collection of tasty gourd recipes HERE.

As you may or may not know, in his never ending quest to boost his wallet, George Lucas is rereleasing the Star Wars films to theaters, this time in 3D.
(Seriously, enough with the 3D, it adds little, inflates the prices and frankly is just a buzz word anymore. Make it work or toss it out movie studious….just my 2 cents)
Anyway, the Belgian fast food chain Quick is taking this rerelease as an opportunity to launch some Star Wars Episode 1 themed burgers. They’re offering three varieties, the ‘Dark Burger’ the ‘Jedi Burger’ and the ‘Dark Vador’ burger (no clue why Vader is spelled with an “o”). The ‘Dark Burger’ is a simple double cheeseburger with some (menacing?) seeds on the bun. The ‘Jedi Burger’ is a standard double cheeseburger topped with some sort of strange white chunks. (Cheese? Marshmallows?) The ‘star’ (ha!) of the show is the ‘Vador’ burger. This thing…well, you’ll have to see it to believe it. Check out the article HERE. I’ll wait…. Okay, did you see it? O..M..G. Would you eat that? I don’t think I could!

Not pictured: The horror that is the "Vador"

With the change into the New Year, most people set resolutions or goals for them to improve, change or otherwise make their lives a bit better. One of the more common goals is to be more financially responsible, save more, spend less – etc. What better way to save money than to trim your grocery budget with savvy shopping? Even if your New Year’s resolutions don’t fall into this category, it’s never a bad thing to save a few dollars here and there. Reader’s Digest composed a list of 9 money saving grocery tips that’s worth a read. Check out the article HERE.

Some of my favorite types of articles to read for the blog involve “NEVER” headlines. Mainly because I’m a fan of hyperbole, and I believe you should NEVER define things in absolutes. (Pauses for laughter…nothing? Fine…) Reader’s Digest has a list of 15 foods you should NEVER buy again, and to my surprise there are some interesting and useful suggestions on this list. Should you NEVER buy them again? Well, that’s for you to decide, but take a look at their suggested list HERE and decide for yourself.

Whew, what a start to 2012 for culinary news! We’ve got a full week of cooking lined up for you – I’m taking to the kitchen on Tuesday with a great dish that I’m eager to try (featuring another Omaha Steaks product and the previously mentioned butternut squash) Maggie will follow with her recipe on Wednesday. It’s one she’s been searching for quite some time. Be sure to stop in tomorrow night to see what I’ve got cooking. Until then,


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