April 16, 2008

Scrapin' Up the Bits, Jet-Lag Style

Just back from the Left Coast to cover a medical research conference as part of my day job, but there is plenty to report on, some important, some not-so…

An example of the latter? Cindy McCain, the wealthy wife of the Republican Senator and GOP presidential nominee, apparently has a little thing for borrowing other’s recipes without proper attribution. Some of her sources? Rachel Ray and…

Also on Tuesday, the Wonkette site posted a recipe, “Cindy McCain’s 3-Minute No-Bake Cookies,” which appeared in the December 2007 issue of Yankee Magazine and was identical to a recipe from Quaker Oats.

You mean the one from the back of the can?

I missed Tony Bourdain’s recent talk in Pittsburgh. Thankfully, the Post-Gazette and Corduroy Orange were there to provide some of the nasty bits.

I also missed the movie “King Corn” when it was in (a few) theaters. Thankfully, PBS’ Independent Lens has my back. It’s being shown all week.

King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, andpowerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat-and how we farm.

Here’s a little… taste, so to speak:

Next, a fairly new Pittsburgh food magazine, Table, has a feature in its spring issue on the Heinz company and how it develops its latest and greatest food “innovations.” One interesting tidbit from the article:

More important, though, are the views of the Heinz Sensory and Insight Panel, a group of 50 or so part-time expert tasters who work 20 to 30 hours a week tasting and rating the company’s products.


Interested? Watch the newspaper, Matthews recommends. Heinz occasionally runs an advertisement seeking candidates [for the panel].

And, finally, while on my previously mentioned business trip, I took the opportunity to eat at The Linkery. Like Pittsburgh’s own Bona Terra, The Linkery was named by Gourmet magazine as one of the country’s best farm-to-table restaurants.

Now, typically, when I go on business travel, I seek out great restaurants and, when I can, I try to order dishes that reflect the local culinary specialties. But, at The Linkery, I ordered the “complete burger.”

I know it’s strange to travel to other side of the country just to order a hamburger. But this was not any regular old hamburger. In fact, it was, hands down, the best burger I’ve ever had. Here’s how my burger broke down:

  • house-ground beef from Brandt Farms
  • house-cured red oak-smoked bacon from Vande Rose Farms
  • medium aged Gouda cheese from Winchester Farms
  • grilled onions
  • pastured-chicken fried egg from Wingshadows Hacienda
  • house-baked bun

The burger, ordered medium rare (with an emphasis on the rare), was just ridiculously tender. And when combined with the cheese and bacon and the onions and the egg, with a little arugula for some bite, all on a fantastic bun (which is, undoubtedly, the single most overlooked part of the burger in pretty much every restaurant, even those that claim to pride themselves on their burger), it was perfection. Best burger eva’.

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