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.

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 Quintessential Thai Street Dish

In soliciting feedback from some of my readers, one thing that has come up fairly often is that my recipes are a bit complicated. Although that’s a fair point, this website is not entirely geared towards novices. It’s true, there are some complicated recipes that I’ve developed and published. That said, there are plenty of easy ones…

A Guide to Spice Blending

The status of spice knowledge in the Western world has been entirely flabbergasting. The fact that no one in the West—in print or in person—has yet provided anyone else with so much as a theoretical framework around which to base a rigorous spice blending technique is shameful. It is, after all, not just important which spices you add to a dish, but also in what proportions. To date, everything where spices are concerned is entirely ad hoc; literally, chefs standing around, tasting their dishes and thinking, “I guess this could use a bit of clove.” I’ve searched and there is literally not much more available than lone chefs guided by vague tradition and his or her own subjective taste.

A Brief Introduction to Tacos

Tacos are a complicated game and what separates the bad from the good from the truly exceptional is going to basically turn on three things, by my view: The tortilla itself, the overall balance of tastes and what I call “mindful contrasts” within the taco filling and between the filling and the tortilla. What I…

Wu Xing: Your Guide to Balanced Taste

The traditional Chinese conceptual framework of Wu Xing (五行), which roughly translates as “Five Elements” and is rooted in Taoist philosophy, has not only influenced East Asian cultures across China, Japan, Korea and throughout Southeast Asia, but has been applied to seemingly disparate fields of study including, but not limited to, traditional forms of medicine,…

What To Eat & Drink In San Francisco

The following are some casual eateries and bars that I enjoy the most when in San Francisco. It strikes me as more or less easy to find information on fine dining, but finding places like these takes a bit more dedication. Enjoy!

What to Eat & Drink in New York City

New York is among the most dynamic food scenes in the world. I couldn’t hope to keep up with it, even if I tried. And trust me, I’m not trying. That said, I used to live there, I often travel there and I still love to eat there. One clever lie that New Yorkers tend to heap onto unsuspecting tourists is that there is no end to the good food in New York City, that you can walk into almost any restaurant and the forces that conspire to make New York “the greatest city in the world,” co-conspire to ensure that any restaurant you enter will serve you very good food. That’s bullshit.

Galician-Style Grilled Octopus (With Easy and Vegetarian Preparation Options)!

The first time I had this Galician-style dish was many years ago in Sevilla. There, it was served with boiled potatoes and braised octopus. Although delicious, it was a bit too traditional. One problem that traditional cuisines often face is that they’re too rooted in tradition. That is to say, they could use some modern cooking techniques, informed by our contemporary understanding of food science. I’ve done that here.

A Taste of Zen: Unpenjiru

My experience with the cuisine of Buddhist monks started on a week-long mediation retreat many years ago in the country side of Central Massachusetts. To say the least, the food was not the main draw. Luckily, I didn’t let that discourage me from future indulgence. Years later, while on a stressful, month-long trip through Southern…

Denver Dining

Although the Denver fine dining is far short of world class, there are some amazing casual eats well worth trying. Beyond casual eats, Denver has a budding cocktail scene. My recommendations for all are below.