Archives for category: Books

Hey there Cookie Crumbles, sorry I’ve been really lazy about posting recently. The good news is that I’ve been spending my time eating and cooking, so I have lots of foodie fairy tales to share with you.

Last week I had the good luck to attend the launch party for the brand spankin’ new Michelin Green Guide Taiwan. Hosted by the Taipei Economic and Culture Office in Midtown East, the event celebrated both Taiwanese culture and Michelin’s standard of excellence. Let me begin by admitting that I was raised on Michelin travel guides, am an unusually rabid fan, and was very impressed with the Michelin representatives’ ability to handle my unbridled enthusiasm for their product. I went on to guzzle several flutes’ worth of Veuve and stuff my face with five different kinds of dumplings, pictured below. It was a great night.

Though Green Guides focus on the cultural, historical, and tourist attractions (rather than the restaurant and hotel focus of their sister Red Guides), there is a section in every Green Guide about the cuisine of the region in question. So I got extra titillated when I read “The people of Taiwan have a fascination with food. People today will greet each other by saying Chi bao le mei or ‘Have you eaten?’ as often as they will say Ni hao or ‘How are you?'” These sound like my kind of people.

Taiwanese cuisine, according to Michelin, represents culinary traditions from all across China, as well as Korea, Japan, and the West. Here are my favorite bits about Taiwanese food that I gleaned from the guide:

Sausage Bun Sausage Let’s be honest: Any dish that uses the word “sausage” twice must be pretty tasty. Literally translated as “big sausage wraps small sausage,” this street-food favorite is a sticky-rice sausage sliced open length-wise with a grilled pork sausage, also sliced open length-wise, placed inside. This can be dressed in a number of different ways, but the most common toppings are garlic, chilies, and fresh basil. Forget the disgusting and dilettante-ish Double Down from KFC. Taiwan has known for ages that the fastest way to our gluttonous hearts is to replace carbs with meat. Yumm-o!!

Hakka Food This is the rustic home-style cooking of Taiwan and it excites the very nerdiest foodie living deep within my soul. From the cucina povera of Italy and la Cuisine de Misère of France to the Hakka food of Taiwan, every culture in the history of the world has come up with a particular cuisine and style of cooking that is more economical, more humble, and, in many cases, more satisfying than formal cooking traditions.. I love exploring these cuisines because they remind me that even in the hardest of times, people do not forget the power of a thoughtful meal. To taste this particular breed of comfort food created by relocated Han Chinese centuries ago, head southwest of Taipei to the county of Hsinchu. Here will you find the best examples of the salty and sour stews and creative uses of pork and preserved vegetables that are the hallmarks of Hakka food.

Night Markets Taiwan is known for its night markets and many tourists view them as one of the main attractions of the island. Stalls sell everything from light snacks to full meals, desserts, fruits, vegetables, and various proteins. Street food excites me personally because of its varnish of authenticity and New York is already ripe with food trucks, so I would love to go shovel all kinds of bizarre street foods into my mouth in Taiwan. The Green Guide also points out that night markets serve as social epicenters, particularly for Taiwan’s younger population.

Some things about Taiwanese cuisine are less exciting to my palate (such as the “signature dish” oyster omelet and the infamous stinky tofu), but after reading the Green Guide my mouth is watering and my imagination is running wild. For the past week I’ve spent much of my free time obsessively researching flights from JFK to Taipei International. So on April 16 pop out there and pick up a copy of the guide; if you weren’t planning on visiting Taiwan, I promise that you’ll want to after flipping through this book.

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Dear Readers,

I do not have the skill or time to compile my own foodie gift guide, but I thought I would collect some links to other food-related gift guides in case you need a little bit of last-minute inspiration.

Michael Ruhlman’s Book Wishlist – Perfect for the combination foodie/bookworm. Hello, this is me. Not to mention the fact that Michael Ruhlman is one of my favorite food writers.

Gift Guide for the Gourmand from I Am A Greedy Girl – Not just for cooks, Caroline’s adorable gift guide also works for anyone who likes eating (or drinking tea).

Gifts for the Aspiring Chef from Crunch Gear – Full of knife recommendations, high-tech kitchen scales, and basic cooking essentials, this gift guide is perfect for someone who wants to become a real home chef.

Gifts for the Spice Enthusiast from Serious Eats – I like spices. I like organizing things into little jars. And I like the specificity of this gift guide.

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And finally, for a laugh, The 10 Worst Foodie Xmas Presents from the Village Voice.

Good luck to anyone doing holiday shopping this weekend! And remember, if you can’t think of anything else, just bake someone something. Cookies are always well received.

I have never considered myself a country person, but reading The Bucolic Plague made me want to pack up my city life and move to a farm. The book chronicles two Manhattan men who purchase a country mansion and farm estate in upstate New York on a whim. As author Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner Dr. Brent transform themselves into farm boys, they encounter all manner of obstacles, including the sudden acquisition of 88 goats, canning an entire season of produce in one short weekend, and how to pay for a 60 acre property in the middle of a global recession.

One of the best parts about their story is their constant desire to feed themselves with the fruits of their farm. For Thanksgiving, they kill one of their own turkeys and provide the rest of the food with the products of their carefully maintained garden. Through the winter they feast on canned tomatos, pickled onions, and a cellar full of potatoes. In the Summer they create magnificent and colorful salads from their backyard. I can’t imagine a more satisfying meal than one you have entirely produced yourself.

Josh and Brent now have a television show on Planet Green (also available in the iTunes store). I really encourage everyone to read this book and watch the show. It will make you want to drop whatever you’re doing, run away from your computer, and go dig around in the dirt. I’m sure I have a very romanticized view of the work needed to run a farm, but that work somehow seems so much more gratifying when it results in beautiful dinner tables and full bellies. While I can’t raise goats and plow a field now, I am already planning a windowsill garden so I can at least nibble on some small vegetables and herbs while I dream about my future as a foodie farmer.

Labor Day Weekend always marks the official end of Summer, and this year New Yorkers got the first fantastic hints of fall weather over the long weekend. With the changing of the seasons comes a flurry of upcoming book releases, and Eater has kindly assembled a list of some of the most anticipated food-related titles. Check out the link at the bottom for the full list, but here are my picks from their list:

1. Keys To Good Cooking ~ Harold McGee; October 28

This book offers home cooks advice about various techniques, tools, and ingredients. For the devoted dilettante, this volume seems like an indispensable handbook to supplement other recipes.

2. As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto ~ Joan Reardon, Ed.; December 1

We read about their epistolary relationship in My Life In France, and then we saw Meryl Streep and Deborah Rush act it out in Julie and Julia. Now we can dig into their actual letters in this compilation from Joan Reardon. I can’t wait to snuggle up with this book and a bottle of red wine.

3. Avec Eric ~ Eric Ripert; November 1

I love anything from my favorite silver-haired Frenchman. I’m assuming this book will be every bit as charming as the man himself.

4. The City Cook ~ Kate McDonough; November 16

This book comes from the lovely website The City Cook and offers insights, advice, and anecdotes from the life of the urban cook. As a food-obsessed city girl, I feel like this is happily required reading.

5. Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking ~ Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet; December 1

This $625 tome is going to be the ultimate coffee table trophy for any self-respecting foodie. A team of twenty people has been working on this project for years, and the result is a 2,400-page, 6 volume journey through the world of molecular gastronomy. I’ll have to save up for this one, and probably for a larger, reinforced coffee table on which I can display it.

6. Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral ~ Mark Bitterman; October 12

I love salt. It is second only, perhaps, to butter in my list of favorite ingredients (I know this is not exactly discerning, but I am always attracted to recipes that are heavy-handed on both salt and butter). My relocated roommate recently left me with two bags of mysterious salts that I want to try soon; one is supposedly used only in cooking and never on the table. So this one will be a page-turner for me, as I snack on pretzels, popcorn, and any other consumable that will function as a conveyor of the “world’s most essential mineral.”

{from Eater}