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Why We Should All Be Eating More Cheeks

June 24, 2014 Alison Spiegel 0

You may have found yourself at a restaurant where the waiter tries selling you on the cheek of the whole roasted fish he has just brought to your table, or at a butcher shop where the butcher tries convincing you of the merits of the beef cheek. Next time this happens, don’t be alarmed, be thankful. The cheek meat really is some of the best meat on the animal — be it halibut or a pig. An often overlooked cut, cheeks are where it’s at.

Cheek meat, the small cut of meat in the hollow of an animal’s cheek (if that wasn’t already obvious enough) is uniquely lean and tender. While most cuts can often be one or the other — lean but dry or tender but fatty — those little cuts of cheek are both. As fans of “nose-to-tail” eating here, we at HuffPost Taste are strong proponents of the cheek.

If you’re hesitant, chef, photographer and food personality Marc Matsumoto breaks down the merits of cheek meat in a recipe for Japanese Chashu, a slow-cooked pork that often appears over ramen:

Pork cheek is porcine perfection, taking the best qualities of a tasty cut like shoulder and marbling in a lattice of fat between the pink strands meat. When braised, the pieces of meat are almost imperceptibly suspended in a mesh of fat, that instantly liquefies when it enters your warm mouth.

Or you can explore cheeks for yourself in a variety of other ways, from beef cheek poutine to pork cheek ragù and Sichuan braised pork cheeks. You could try halibut cheeks with ginger-orange sauce or cod cheeks with mussels, chorizo and chickpeas. Guanciale, pork jowl or cheek, is a staple in Italian cooking, appearing in dishes like spaghetti carbonara.

If you need any more inspiration, here are 15 recipes that will convince you that it’s time to start eating more cheeks.

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5 Times Ramen Overstepped Its Bounds

June 24, 2014 Alison Spiegel 0

Of all the trendy foods right now, ramen stands out as one that pleases just about everyone. From highbrow ramen joints to lowbrow instant ramen, this Japanese noodle soup is popular everywhere. It would stand to reason, then, that ramen can do no wrong. That would be a hasty assumption, however. Every bright star has a dark side, and ramen is no exception.

Restaurant chefs and home cooks alike have been co-opting ramen in the worst way — taking it out of its natural habitat of hot, steamy broth, and forming it into shapes that are at best unappetizing and at worst grotesque. It started last summer with the infamous ramen burger — the food trend everyone thought might overtake the Cronut™ — which soon proved to be just another gimmicky mashup. Today, we’re seeing ramen foods everywhere, threatening the integrity of this once irreverently cool and impossibly delicious food.

Here are five ways that we never, ever want to eat ramen:

The Ramen Burger

ramen burger

When Keizo Shimamoto unveiled the original Ramen Burger at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg last summer, the world almost forgot about the Cronut™ — for a second. Then everyone realized that ramen noodles are not a tastier replacement for a fluffy, buttery bun, and everyone went back to fawning over Umami Burger. It was just the beginning of ramen’s shapeshifting, however.

Ramen Pizza

ramen burger

Then came the ramen pizza. Nobody liked the look of it, yet no one wanted to give up on ramen outside the bowl. Serious Eats’ J. Kenji Lopez-Alt was responsible for this ramen pizza (for which the noodles are cooked in a cast iron skillet) and it wouldn’t be the last ramen pizza. California-based pizzeria Marco Polo Pizza has just started selling its own version. What’s wrong with traditional, slightly chewy, slightly charred and crunch crust?

Ramen Tacos

ramen burger

Then came the Ramen Taco, from New England based food blog The Vulgar Chef. After the bacon weave taco and the bacon weave choco taco, it was just a matter of time that someone would make a taco shell out of ramen.

The Ramenerrito

It’s happening: Ramen + Burrito = The Ramenrrito –

— Thrillist New York (@ThrillistNYC) June 10, 2014

As the folks over at Thrillist point out, it’s simple math. Ramen + Burrito = Ramenerrito. West Village restaurant Presstea™ is responsible for this new beast, which is made to order and filled with noodles prepared in a pork broth with cilantro, garlic, and house spices, according to FoodBeast.

The Ramen Corn Dog

A Ramen Corn Dog Hits Jersey City

— The Village Voice (@villagevoice) June 16, 2014

And just when you thought ramen couldn’t get any lower, someone went and invented the ramen corn dog — in New Jersey no less. (Please note, the author is from New Jersey and says this in jest, with pride.) The monstrosity comes from Jersey City-based restaurant Union Republic and consists of a beef sausage battered in cornmeal and surrounded by fried ramen noodles.

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Chobani And Fage Face Lawsuits Over Sugar Content And ‘Greekness’

June 23, 2014 Alison Spiegel 0

Greek yogurt has gone from health food fad to inescapable food phenomenon in just a few short years. In record time, it has practically replaced non-Greek yogurt — sort of. How “Greek” is the Greek yogurt we Americans have come to worship? Not so Greek after all, it turns out, at least according to a new lawsuit.

The New York Post reported on June 19 that plaintiffs Barry Stoltz, of Westchester, and Allan Chang, of Queens, are suing Greek yogurt producers Chobani and Fage in two separate class action suits. The men claim that Chobani and Fage are purposefully misleading customers by hiding the amount of sugar in their products, and by calling themselves “Greek.”

Stoltz and Chang claim that by labeling yogurt as “0%,” the companies are confusing customers by implying their products contain zero sugar. A similar case was dismissed in California last month, because there was no evidence that customers were buying yogurt under that assumption. The lawsuits also take issue with Chobani listing “evaporated cane juice” as a sweetening agent, when it is the same thing as sugar. Chobani lists sugar content in its nutritional information, but does not list sugar in its ingredients. It only lists “evaporated cane juice.” According the the New York Post, the suit claims:

Defendants purposefully misrepresented and continue to misrepresent to consumers that their products contain ‘evaporated cane juice’ even though ‘evaporated cane juice’ is not ‘juice’ at all -– it is nothing more than sugar dressed up to sound like a healthier sweetener.

While these two issues may not give enough credit to consumers — who may, in fact, be wise enough to discern that “0%” means “no fat,” not “no calories or no sugar,” and “evaporated cane juice” is sugar, not juice — another issue is also at play. The sheer quantity of sugar in Chobani and Fage yogurt, which is perhaps more easily misapprehended, is also an issue in the law suits. Namely, yogurt marketed as a health food product contains more sugar than an ice cream bar. According to Gothamist, the lawsuits contend that some yogurts contain as much sugar as A Nestle Fudge Bar. Indeed, said fudge ice cream bar contains 15 grams of sugar per serving, and some flavored yogurts, like Chobani’s Blackberry, also contain 15 grams of sugar. Chobani’s Honey Bee Nana contains 16 grams. While it’s no secret that flavored yogurt can contain high quantities of sugar (yogurts contain more sugar than a Twinkie), Stoltz and Chang are seeking unspecified damages.

Finally, the plaintiffs contend that these yogurts, produced in the United States and not by Greek nationals, are further misleading. They are not, in fact, Greek in any way, they claim. Chobani countered that complaint, telling Gothamist that, “Much like English muffins and French fries, our fans understand Greek yogurt to be a product description about how we authentically make our yogurt and not about where we make our yogurt in upstate New York and Idaho.”

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Proof That Sweetened Condensed Milk Is The Best Stuff On Earth

June 23, 2014 Alison Spiegel 0

There are certain foods we love so much that we unashamedly eat them straight from the container with a spoon. Sweetened condensed milk is one of those foods.

We know what you’re thinking — it’s sugar overload, it’s thick and sticky, it’s syrupy and…

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17 Common Misconceptions About Food Editors

June 23, 2014 Alison Spiegel 0

When you tell someone you’re a food editor, you usually get bombarded with a flurry of totally irrelevant questions. “Do you get to eat out for free all the time?” “Do you go to all the Michelin-starred restaurants?” Like pretty much every other profession, food editing is often misunderstood. It’s difficult to fully comprehend someone’s job until you spend a day — or a year — in his or her shoes. Food editing is just like any other job in that way: it’s full of nuance and variety, and no two people’s jobs are alike.

We digital food editors at The Huffington Post love our jobs — we feel lucky to be able to read and write about food all day long. But we think it’s high time someone set the record straight.

Here are 17 common misconceptions about food editors:

1. We’re all restaurant critics.
We are not, in fact, all restaurant critics. Many of us have never critiqued a restaurant in our lives, nor would some of us want to. Restaurant critics are a specific subset of food editors, and we commend them for the tireless nights spent eating out, sometimes at more than one restaurant in a night, even if they’d rather have a cooked meal at home. We applaud them for their careful attention to detail while others are sitting back and relaxing, and for their appreciation and deep knowledge of dining culture.

2. We’re obsessed with trying all the newest restaurants.
We like our old favorites just as much as you do. Just because something is new and trendy doesn’t mean it’s good, and even if it is good, we’re not necessarily champing at the bit to go there. Sometimes a quiet, neighborhood standby — even a cheap and not necessarily outstanding one — is just want we want.

3. We refer to ourselves as “foodies.”
We HATE that word!

food critic

4. We’re really picky about food.
We’re food editors because we love food so we’re definitely not picky. We want to try everything and we’re just as in love with the “low brow” stuff as we are the foie gras and caviar. (Actually, not all of us even like foie gras.) We’re also always interested in trying something new, so if the food isn’t prepared how we typically see it, we’re not judgmental. Finally, because we think about food all day, we’re often relieved if someone else is responsible for cooking or choosing it. (Except we may be picky about a hot avocado.)

5. We always want to pick the restaurants.
The previous point segues nicely into this next item: we definitely do not always want to choose the restaurants. We want to visit other people’s favorites or suggestions. We don’t always know best (although sometimes we do!).

6. We’ll judge your cooking.
Please don’t be nervous about cooking for us. Just as we’d love you to pick the restaurant, we’d love for you to cook for us. We do not judge your cooking. We repeat: we do not judge your cooking.

7. We’re all amazing cooks.
We read and write about food for a living; we don’t cook for a living. So here’s a little secret: we’re not all amazing cooks! Sure some of us are — some of us are world-class chefs and can whip up a 32-layer crepe cake with no problem. Some of us, however, are just ok cooks. We can whip a good, quick meal and we have a few solid dishes in our repertories, but we may not necessarily be a better cook than you.

crepe cake

8. We judge your food order.
Just as we don’t judge your cooking, we don’t judge your food order when we’re out to eat together. Bone marrow is not for everyone, and if you don’t want to eat it, we do not fault you. Our motto: “Live and let live, eat and let eat.”

9. We think certain food is beneath us.
Wrong again. We love an occasional trip to McDonald’s and we’re huge fans of instant ramen and boxed mac and cheese (even if we like to dress it up at times). We’ve made cookies out of the cookie dough you find in ice cream, ya dig? We’re not food snobs. We’re food editors!

10. We watch food TV.
Some of us might, but others of us don’t. Some of us even hate food TV.

food tv

11. Our drunk food is different than yours.
Nah. Our late-night, booze-induced pig-outs aren’t fancy. We order pizza and fall asleep, we devour questionable fried food and we make a lot of grilled cheeses.

12. We take photos of every meal.
If we took photos at every meal, you’d know that we eat more like you than you might think. While we’re no stranger to the occasional food Instagram shot, we’re not pulling out the smart phone every time we sit down to a meal or cook up something at home.

13. We’ve all had a Cronut™.
Some of us, in fact, have not had the pleasure of trying a Cronut™. Some of us are smart enough to know it’s a big waste of time, especially when Dominque Ansel’s DKA is far superior.


14. Pinterest is our social media platform of choice.
Pinterest is lovely and all but not all of us are into it. We like the broad spectrum of social media platforms, but you won’t find us posting as much as you might think.

15. We know where all the best restaurants are in every single city, everywhere, even if we’ve never been there.
While we appreciate your faith in us, we don’t necessarily know of all the best steak houses in St. Louis or where to go for the perfect, quiet date night in Chicago. We can direct you to Google, however.

16. Every meal is an indulgent one.
We eat soup and salad and we drink green juices. If we ate all the rich and indulgent food we wanted to every day, we wouldn’t be able to think straight enough to actually do our jobs. Most of us keep it pretty tame for the majority of the time, and really indulge on certain occasions. It might be a nightly or weekly indulgence, but it’s definitely not three times a day.

croque monsieur

17. We get free meals when we go out.
We wish! Sadly, it just isn’t so.

Food editors, what other false impressions do you find people have about your job?

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