Monthly Archives: October 2009

Tuesday Tidbits


Photo: ctsnow/Flickr

Photo: ctsnow/Flickr

An Urban Barn Dance
On Friday, October 16th, from 6:30 – 9:30 PM, Mass Farmers Markets and Chef Bob Sargent of Flora Restaurant will host the second annual Urban Barn Dance and Harvest Supper. It will be held at the Dante Alighieri Italian Cultural Center in Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA. Tickets are $50 apiece and include both dinner and dancing. The dinner will feature several different preparations of pork raised locally in Belchertown, MA, at Austin Brothers Valley Farm, though vegetarian-friendly dishes will also be available. Dessert will be donated by Copley Square vendor Hamilton Orchards and Petsi Pies of Somerville and Cambridge. Last year’s event sold out, so get yer tickets while they last…You can read about the event at the Mass Farmers Markets site.

Boston’s 1st Annual Barista Throwdown
The region’s best baristas representing over 7 independent cafés will converge in Dorchester, MA on Saturday, October 24th to compete in front of a live and online audience of spectators nationally and internationally for the coveted title of Boston’s 2009 ‘White Chrome’ Barista Champion. All proceeds will benefit The Great Boston Food Bank.

Get Your Brussell Sprouts and Parsnips Here
With some local farmers markets set to close for the season, the Boston Public Market at Dewey Square, featured at Serious Eats by Boston Zest‘s Penny Cherubino, is one that will remain open until the end of the month. Need a reminder about the market nearest you? Check the Farmers Market Map here on the Kitchen’s homepage for information.

Local Milk, Cheeses on Local Menus
“…Are “freshly milked” and “locally churned” next?…” A recent article by Julia Rappaport from The Edge cites several chefs who seek out local dairies for top notch, great-tasting products, including chef Will Gilson of Garden at the Cellar in Cambridge and the fresh mozzarella made by Somerville cheesemaker Lourdes Fiore Smith.

Gone, Into the Night Kitchen

Photo: the

Photo: the

Goodbye Gourmet, I never really knew you.

We sent our check in August, hoping the first issue would arrive for September. It never came. I have the cookbook and have leafed through past issues, but I’ve never had my own subscription. When the news broke Monday morning that the November issue of Gourmet will be the last, I began to wonder about the stories that will now go untold.

Closing Gourmet and keeping Bon Appétit makes business sense. Bon Appétit is about cooking at home, it’s usually family-oriented and budget conscious—two things Gourmet is (was) not. Bon Appétit‘s advertising revenue is strong, Gourmet‘s had been falling. But the stories told in the latter were often more about the fantasy of food, about the vacations we could not take and the restaurant meals we could not afford. Through brilliant writing, inspiring recipes and lush photography, Gourmet took us places we otherwise could not go.

Most of us will never get to the small French town of Audrix, but this Julia Watson story from the May 2009 issue takes us there. The night market is enchanting. After the sun has set, visitors and residents of the town all come to eat together in the town square. Though most readers will never have the chance to taste the flash-fried fois gras,the swirl of balsamic vinegar and honey as prepared by the farmer who raised the ducks and geese, it was only Gourmet that could bring us this story, put this quasi-dream on (glossy) paper.

Gourmet provided culinary inspiration that went beyond the kitchen. Without it, where will we now turn for a muse? Are there food, travel and photo blogs that we can curl up with at the end of a long day? And what about the business model: is the democratic force of the Internet going to overwhelm the professional food and travel writing that we used to read for vicarious experience, for inspiration, when we ourselves couldn’t get away from our desks? Blogging gives us a voice, a platform for our ideas and recipes, rants, photos and reminiscences. But it doesn’t necessarily qualify writing as professional or fund extravagant food adventures (wouldn’t that be nice?).

Life will go on without Gourmet. We will still eat delicious meals, we will still travel and live vicariously through good writing. But an element of wonder is lost, and the pages that once held the voice of James Beard are now silent. Now, about my check…?

Thursday Tidbit

Photo: Foodistablog; Flickr

Photo: Foodistablog; Flickr

Fall really felt like it was in the air today. Blue skies, billowy clouds, brisk air, a breeze. This was jeans and a sweater weather, with roast pork and acorn squash for dinner. You gotta’ love New England.

But before anyone of us bids summer a final adieu, the local lobster industry, the Governor’s Office and the Department of Fish and Game(DFG) want Mass residents to consider and consume what some might treat as quintessentially summer fare–the lobster. It’s abundant in local waters this time of year, in part due to inshore migration and the rise in near-shore water temperatures, and relatively cheap as a result. October 7 was in fact declared “Lobster Day” by Governor Patrick.

Here are some numbers that caught my attention. Perhaps they’ll do the same for you, especially if you follow this industry and related issues:

  • There are more than 1,330 lobster permits issued to commercial fishermen in Massachusetts and 11,000 recreational lobster permits. A total of 49 Massachusetts ports have commercial lobster trap fishermen.
  • Massachusetts-based lobster dealers are the chief distributers of American lobster to the world market.
  • In 2008, Massachusetts commercial fishermen landed more than 11.7 million pounds of lobster in Massachusetts, generating a gross income of $50.4 million.
  • Massachusetts is the first and only state to require lobstermen to fish exclusively by “sinking” line between traps in state waters, minimizing the risk of trapping whales and other marine mammals.

If you’re tempted to bring it home for dinner, here’s what lobster provides, nutritionally speaking: it is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and Vitamins B12, B6, B3 (niacin), B2 (riboflavin), and A. 

You can read in more detail about Lobster Day and the Massachusetts lobster industry at MoreBeach or Wicked Local Rockport.

Comment with your reactions, and/or post some lobster meal ideas below.

New Rules; More Blogs

Photo: striatic/Flickr

Photo: striatic/Flickr

I wonder if others of you had the same experience I did this morning. Milk poured, cereal spoon in hand, I read in today’s NY Times that the Federal Trade Commission has voted to change its rules regarding online endorsements and testimonials in light of the rapidly evolving world of social media. If you are a blogger who gets paid by an advertiser, or if you receive free products and blog about them, you’ll have to disclose that information as of December 1st. This will have a practical impact, but the new rules also demonstrate a shift in philosophy, if you will, as the Times article states:

“…[f]or bloggers who review products, this means that the days of an unimpeded flow of giveaways may be over. More broadly, the move suggests that the government is intent on bringing to bear on the Internet the same sorts of regulations that have governed other forms of media, like television or print.”

What is your take on this, PRK readers? Will this change how you conduct and write your blogs? Do you feel these new rules will have an overall beneficial impact on the blogging world? What about food-related blogs? As you ponder, here’s a synopsis of the new rules, published by PC World.   

New Additions to our Community of Blogs
PRK has added several blogs to its homepage blogroll, including Doves and Figs (whose Peculiar Pickles just won a blue ribbon at the Topsfield Fair this past weekend; congratulations, Robin!), Basic Eating (my knowledge about quahogs just grew exponentially), the Cooks Den (see also PRK’s post of 10/1 on Counting Calories) , and I Am Gluten Free (mentioned in PRK’s post of 10/5). Thanks for everyone’s patience as we updated.

Another Cook in the PRK Kitchen

Copley Square Farmers Market (Photo: Thomas Urell)

Copley Square Farmers Market (Photo: Thomas Urell)

Hi PRK readers!  My name is Thomas Urell and I’ve been asked by Sue and Jessica to come on board for the fall term as an intern with Public Radio Kitchen.  From hereon I’m going to be writing posts, taking photos and working to keep PRK a hub for Boston foodies online.

I’ve been an eager eater and curious cook for as long as I can remember, though my experience with food has been mostly amateur.  I’m interested in all sides of the food story–agriculture, the restaurant industry, nutrition, cooking and eating.  I recently caught the photography bug, and through write-ups, photos and multimedia content I hope to bring a new perspective to the Boston food scene.

I am fascinated by the role food plays in our society.  The current discussion—in the media, online and among consumers—about the function of food distribution and production in our communities shows how engaged so many people are with their food, beyond just necessity and convenience.  This post by James McWilliams on the New York Times Freakonomics blog from last Friday is a challenge to the notion that farmers’ markets build community, a central element of the thinking behind eating locally.  I don’t agree with his conclusion, but his perspective as an historian is valuable.  We occasionally dip into the topic of farmers’ markets here at the Kitchen, so let us know: do you shop at them?  If so, is it for the produce, the community, both?  Something else? Please share your thoughts below.

A Gluten Free Life

Photo: Ellen Allard

Photo: Ellen Allard

Some of us suffer from simple food allergies while others are forced to make bigger changes.  While I don’t have Celiac disease (intolerance to gluten), I do know quite a few people who live with it.

The Celiac Foundation defines gluten as “the common name for the proteins in specific grains that are harmful to persons with celiac disease. These proteins are found in ALL forms of wheat (including durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn and faro) and related grains rye, barley and triticale.”   Sounds pretty intense (read: depressing) to me.

But I have been converted.

I am amazed by all of the incredible bloggers out there who dedicate themselves to making this gluten-free lifestyle quite delicious….even SPICY.

Even if you are able to dine on gluten-infused foods, it’s worth taking a look at these recipes and meal suggestions.  They’ll have you salivating immediately.

A sampling:

-Melanie of the Gluti Girls, shares her secrets to a gluten-free Mexican meal.

-I Am Gluten Free tests out a mix for some seriously yummy ROLLS.  YES, ROLLS.

-Coconut sugar apple crisp? Ali and Tom from Whole Life Nutrition make it possible!

Do you have some good gluten free recipes?  Share ‘em with us!

Count Your Calories?


Photo: .Larry Page/Flickr

Photo: .Larry Page/Flickr

I think it’s safe to say the following: we who make up the PRK community share a fundamental trait in common. We love to read/think/learn about, then get better at making, food. But do we count calories in the process? I don’t, at least not really. I haven’t needed to in this phase of my life. I try to be reasonable instead. With a bit of book knowledge, combined with what I think is common sense, I try to eat in a balanced way each day, staying particularly aware of the number of fruits and vegetables I munch–these latter being the most important.

I therefore read with great interest a set of facts with interactive charts sent PRK’s way by Ken Aversano of The Cooks Den. The subject? Caloric consumption in America and how it has changed over time. The sources for this historical information are the USDA and the UN. I suppose the statistics about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) struck me most, and made me glad I had already begun eschewing as many foods as I came across containing that ingredient, especially since I now buy for my family, not just myself. But I’m certainly not perfect.

Have a look yourself. What do you think? Thanks for the tip, Ken.