Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why the Tomato Turned Red

In the past few decades, salads have gained increasing notoriety thanks to the regained focus on well-balanced eating and a healthy lifestyle. However, the same trends have also led some to label it a tree-hugger's food, claiming it to be tasteless and having too many veggies. They are of course very mistaken.

After all, what's not to like about salads? It's strongest point is its versatility. A salad can be made out of anything, can be flavored with anything, and can be eaten any time of the day. It is also usually quite inexpensive to make. Consider the health factor just an added bonus.

While planning out my cooking class on salads, I realized that I first needed to define it. To do this, I had to strip it off all its flairs and get down to the grassroots; a definition must hold true at least 99% of the time.

A salad cannot be referred to as cold, since there are warm salads. It doesn't have to be just greens or vegetables either; you can make some amazing salads with just meat. It doesn't even have to have more than one main ingredient. So what essentially is a salad?

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Sixth Sense

It is widely acknowledged that every time we eat, we employ the five basic senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. We do this either consciously or subconsciously, and a combination of inputs from these five senses is what ultimately affects our perception of the food.

A good chef uses this knowledge to his advantage. Flaming dishes and sizzling platters have been accepted to be great merchandising tools in a restaurant. While a delicate balance of flavors is critical to the success of a dish, a variety of textures and temperatures also make a difference.

We may eat first with our eyes, but the nose is a close second. Our tongue can perceive only five basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami), so the multitudes of flavor that make up the profile of a certain ingredient are sensed by the olfactory nerves in the nose. Yes, we smell flavors; we don't taste them.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Quest for the 'Best Burger'

Put in simple terms, a hamburger is a hot sandwich of cooked ground beef patty placed inside a bread roll. It could have various fillings including, but not limited to, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickle, mustard, ketchup, cheese, and bacon. But that's put in simple terms. A really good burger would have a soft but toasted bun, a juicy and well seasoned beef patty, and just the right amount of condiments and toppings that ultimately provides the right combination of flavors in every bite. It is just a really clever and delicious sandwich.

In my three short years in New York, I've spent many a day looking for the 'best burger.' Searching for great places to eat in New York during my time there was more than just a past time hobby for me. It was more of a sport. I was determined to scope out the best joints and find exemplary food that I felt couldn't be found anywhere else. I even wrote about it in my blog, Diving into NYC.

Let's face it. With the internet being spammed with food bloggers from all over, it's not hard to find great food in the city. I could tell you without blinking an eyelid that the best doughnuts are at Doughnut Plant and the best seafood at Le Bernardin. You would think that there would be a consensus as to where you could find the best burger in New York City as well. But no!