Tuesday, March 8, 2011



The Serendipity3 "Haute-Dog"

                      The Next Big Thing... Artisan Hot Dogs?

    I normally try to set my culinary sites somewhere above a fancy hot-dog. With my experience and education i would hope that the direction of food isn't something so common but it would seem to be that exactly. According to a recent poll these gourmet wieners are looking like the future of high volume, short order restaurants and fine dinning establishments alike. On the foodfrenzy.com site they are currently hosting a poll asking what you think the next big food craze is going to be. Several options jumped out at me right away; gourmet sliders, innovative pies, food trucks and of course artisan hot-dogs. I voted dogs, checked the results and sure enough I was not alone.

    Stuggy's in Baltimore boasts a bison-dog for $6.00 a la carte, while Senate Restaurant in Cincinnati offers the "Croque Madame", a $10.00 all beef hot dog with bechamel, black-forest ham, on a brioche bun topped with a poached egg... yikes. Last year the New York restaurant "Serendipity 3" introduced the Serendipity 3, foot long "Haute-dog". Grilled in white truffle-oil resting in a salted pretzel bun toasted with truffle butter and topped with chopped scallion and medallions of duck foie-gras, this fancy wiener is a winner at $70 a pop. "The Haute-dog" was awarded The Guiness Book's "worlds most expensive hot dog" title. Top it off with some heirloom tomato ketchup, truffle mustard and caramelized vidalia onions and you are ready for the best ball game ever. In Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut we have my personal favorite "Spike's Junkyard Dogs". Don't let the name fool you, Spike's has been doing the "fancy" hot dog thing since 1991 and I've been eating their 100% all beef dogs ever since. This place is a Rhode Island staple, anyone who claims they are from R.I. and doesn't know Spike's  is probably lying or being sarcastic. Sure they don't have foie-gras on the menu but with their variety of 30 plus styles and endless topping options, Spike's is sure to please even the most sophisticated palate. Plus the prices at Spike's are also quite palatable.

    If your culinary aspirations are similar to mine then hot dogs aren't even on your radar, trust this doesn't mean that fine dinning has gone out the window. We should all be aware of the latest food trends, in this industry, like any other, knowledge is power! Go eat a hot dog, it's what all the cool kids are doing! - K.C.C.

"Hey, look at me I'm Mr. Popular!"

"http://www.senatepub.com/senate-pub-menu.html"  "http://www.stuggys.com/""http://foodfrenzy.ocregister.com/2011/02/10/poll-whats-the-next-big-food-fad/33316/"

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Liberian Cuisine

"Rice and Pigeon Pea with Plantain and Fufu Porridge with Key West Shrimp" is probably not what you will be eating in Liberia 


    One of my closest friends is in grad school at Columbia University studying human rights and was recently selected with a handful of other students to travel to Liberia to work with his school and the U.N. to do some social research. I've asked him to take pictures of different native foods and restaurants and document some of the traditions and eating habits of Liberia while he's abroad. He said he will when he goes but being the curious type I decided to do a little research of my own. So this is some information that I dug up on Liberian Cuisine. Hopefully my buddy, and anyone else who reads this will have a little advantage knowing what there is to eat when you happen to find yourself hungry in Liberia.

    Founded in 1822 for the resettlement of freed American slaves. At one point Liberia was known only for it's hospitality, academic institutions, rubber industry and iron mining. The root of the words liberation and liberty, Liberia gets it's name from the Latin word meaning "free". Liberia suffered a 7 year civil-war between (1989-1996) which brought about a steep decline in the living standards of the country, including its education and infrastructure. The capital city of Liberia is Monrovia which was named after the 5th U.S. president James Monroe. Throughout Liberia they use American currency and speak the English language. Most modern Liberian culture and foods are adapted from African American culture while over recent years fufu and other African dishes have made appearances in popular vegetarian and vegan menus.

    Many Liberians grow their own rice, sugar cane, and cassava (commonly known as yuca). Rice is regularly eaten much more than any other starch but imported rices are preferred over the local brands quality. Most cooking is done with either palm oil or palm butter. Wine is also made from the palm nut which I would imagine serves as an excellent pair with a big ol' goat dinner! Yuca leaves and potato leaves are both boiled and eaten like spinach. "Fufu" (basically a ball of seasoned dough cooked various ways) can be made from rice, plantain, cassava, corn, or yams, dried, pounded until ground, boiled, and then rolled into a ball. Another traditional version of fufu is called dumboy. Goat soup is the national dish of Liberia and is served on important occasions, everyone in Liberia loves it when celebrating, except for the goats.

   Farmed Liberian fruit trees include different citrus varieties, alligator apples, papayas, mangoes, and avocados. Pineapples grow everywhere in the wild of Liberia. Other agricultural crops include cassava, rice, sugarcane, plantains, bananas, lemon grass and ginger. A regular Liberian dinner consists of dumboy or fufu served with palm butter and palava sauce, meat stew, country chop (a mixture of meats, fish, and greens cooked in palm oil), "jollof" rice, and beef internal (offal) soup. Rice bread and sweet potato pone are served for dessert, and ginger beer is the traditional beverage. Coffee is available throughout Liberia but is only served on special occasions. In the capital city of Monrovia, there are some modern restaurants, but in most towns there are just small "cook shops" that offer stews and fufu whereas most of Liberia is impoverished and can't afford to dine out. Most cooking is still done outside on a stone hearth, just like Mama used to make! - K.C.C.

   Not to come across as if I'm confused of current global events and the ongoing political revolution in Libya. My friend is going to Liberia, there is a difference. Liberia is a very small country (43,000 sq. mi.) slightly larger than the state of Ohio to the south west while Libya is one of the Largest countries in Africa (679,362 sq. mi.) to the very north of the continent. Libyans eat some really interesting stuff too. Some of which looks delicious! Check it out here:  http://libyanfood.blogspot.com/

"Monkey works, baboon draws." - Old Liberian proverb meaning "Why should I work and you take credit?"
Here are my sources: 
"http://www.theworld.org/2010/07/liberian-proverbs/""http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/6618.htm" "http://www.foodbycountry.com/Kazakhstan-to-South-Africa/Liberia.html" "http://www.answers.com/topic/liberia" "http://www.johnmariani.com/archive/2007/071202/index.html""http://www.factsmonk.com/liberia_facts"

Fufu  with  Vegan stew

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Featured Ingredient : Ankimo


   We all know what foie gras is, the delicious liver of a force-fed duck or goose, literally meaning "fat liver". This french delicacy is ever controversial due to the gavage (force-feeding) of corn a process that is outlawed in many places due to it's inhumane nature. Where there is controversy there is usually a nice price tag to go with it. Under French law foie gras is declared as a protected cultural and gastronomical delicacy of the heritage of France.

   In Japan they have a similar delicacy, "ankimo". Monk fish is the name of a variety of North West Atlantic bottom dwellers most commonly the "Angler fish". You know the scary looking black sea monsters with the single antenna with a light on it used to lure in prey, that you might have seen on the Discovery channel, yeah that's the one. That "lure" is called the "esca" and it helps these beast get their dinner and enables them to grow up to 5 ft. in length. Eventually, after many a seafood dinner they wonder into the wrong net and become dinner for us!

    So what do these hideous sea monsters have in common with foie gras? The liver of Monk fish is also a national delicacy and it is known as ankimo. Just like with foie gras there is controversy surrounding ankimo too. Over recent years the demand for the delicious fishes liver has grown at such a rate that it has caused the monk fish to be severely over fished to the point that there is a ban on trawling and gill-netting in many places. Apart from the liver (ankimo) only the tail of the monk fish is ever consumed. Similar to a fine pate' in texture ankimo is often prepared smoked or steamed and less likely to be prepared pan seared like its avian cousin, though I think it might be delicious with its rich and buttery flavor. Monk fish is more available during the spring and summer months though it is said to have a a better taste and texture when caught in the winter, liver and tail-fillet alike. Ankimo can be found in finer sushi restaurants all over the place year round though obtaining it for personal use could be tricky unless you know the right fish monger.  - K.C.C.
"Dude close your mouth, your breath stinks!"
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"http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/30026",  "www.answers.com/topic/foie-gras" "http://www.sustainablesushi.net/the-fish/ankimo/""http://www.puritan.com/vf/healthnotes/hn_live/food_guide/monkfish.htm"