I Hate Brunch (And So Should You)

I have no deep or novel insights into human behavior. But I tend to try. And I honestly cannot fathom why people love brunch so much. Asking around, I got a response in the form of a combination of the following three factors: Bacon; Having sweet and savory items together, sometimes in the same dish;…

Pasta Sauce, Improvised

Italians obsess over pasta (and for good reason). The subtlety of detail that goes into making excellent pasta–from the types of flour used to the liquid employed to make the dough to the well honed skills of kneading and rolling and cutting–can be a life’s work. In the U.S., however, it is said that all…

The Iron Triangle of Pasta Sauces

In project management circles, especially in academics and business, there is this conceptual tool known as the Iron Triangle. It identifies the constraints surrounding any project, what’s possible to accomplish given limited resources, contouring the limitations of a team in terms of time, expense and quality. You have three sides of a triangle, each representing…

Getting Culinary with Cocktails

I could spend the rest of my life drinking nothing but five classic cocktails and never get bored. The reason, as I’ve previously discussed, is that technique and the freshness of ingredients often matter more than fancy spirits. People get this wrong all the time. I’ll trade a bunch of expensive spirits for a skilled hand and citrus squeezed a la minute any day of the week.

But kids these days want novelty and exotic flavors. While you can certainly go out and stock your bar at considerable expense (which I have done, for the record), there are other ways to bring some (thoughtful) novelty to your cocktails. Culinary ingredients, including fresh aromatics and juices, are the perfect way to do this. As it turns out, your grocery store has plenty of delicious things to include in your cocktails. You just need to know how to go about it.

Toronto Dining

Years ago I lived in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. One of the many things I was stunned by during my time in New York was just how many people I met who were later (reluctantly) revealed to be Canadian. These Canadians, contrary to reports, weren’t any more polite, kind, generous or humble than the…

The Cocktail Development Model

Having previously teased about a scientifically determined, shaken cocktail development model based on the statistical analysis of various key characteristics of shaken cocktails (namely, the relative content of ethanol, acid and sugar) it’s time to put out, so to speak. As a matter of brief background, based on my understanding of the interplay between those three characteristics of shaken cocktails, I determined that two relationships should exist. The first, obviously, was the balancing act between sugar and acid: Basically, the more acid you add, the more sugar you need. Strikingly, the classic cocktails I studied in my sample fell within a rather narrow corridor of sugar versus acid, which I dubbed the Classics Corridor.

On Shaken Cocktails

On my first trip to Japan over a decade ago, I had just come off my final, glorious night out in Tokyo. With an early flight out the next morning, I was wandering around the Ginza neighborhood, hoping to stumble upon a taxi stand. Instead, I happened across a gorgeous, oak paneled, dimly-lit den of a bar with more bottles of alcohol against the wall than I had ever known to exist. You don’t turn down encounters like that in Japan as a rule.

The Theory of Natural Cocktail Selection

Natural selection, at base, is the differential survival and reproduction of living things on the basis of observable traits. A cheetah is more likely to survive the wild, capture more prey and ultimately produce offspring if she has a new set of traits, ones which even her own parents lacked, that make her observably faster or more cunning than the average cheetah, for example. Her offspring have a greater chance of doing the same since they are more likely to have their mother’s advantageous traits. For this to occur, however, information needs to be conveyed from one generation of cheetah to the next, to preserve what came before. Through random and undirected changes in such information from one generation to the next, “innovation” (in a sense) has occurred. This basic idea serves as the bedrock for our entire understanding of biology. It’s a powerful idea to say the least, but it famously applies to a great number of things beyond living ones.

Spices and Flavor Pairings

Many of you have followed up with me in curiosity about why I haven’t tackled spice flavor pairings, having already done the more complex work of building a spice blending paradigm and classifying every aromatic I’ve ever worked with into categories to make that paradigm useful in a general sense. I recommend that you read those articles, if you haven’t yet, before proceeding with this one. Now, in a similar exercise to how I approached herbs previously, I’m covering spices in the specific sense.

A Brief Guide to Chicago Chinese Food (Reader Question)

The question has come in concerning the conspicuous lack of a bar and restaurant guide for Chicago, my home town: You’ve made semi-themed dining and drinking guides for New York, San Francisco and Denver (of all places). Do you plan to do a similar guide for Chicago in the future? I’ve personally had little luck with most Chinese food…

The Curious Case of Chicken (Reader Question)

An extraordinary number of readers have had issues cooking chicken breast, which was best expressed as follows: I want to get into the healthy habit of preparing my lunches for the week in advance. I really like chicken breast but it never seems to keep well. If I eat it immediately after cooking it, it’s juicy…

Making Healthy Delicious

Delicious food can be difficult enough to make sometimes. But delicious and healthy often seem mutually exclusive to some. This need not be the case though. By combining some of the food science-based Cheap Tricks I’ve previously employed with a couple new ones, I’ve found a way that you can completely eliminate any empty calories, such as…