The Art of Fermentation in coffee, bread, beer, cheese, yogurt…

The list of fermented food in our lives is staggering: bread, coffee, pickles, beer, cheese, yogurt and soy sauce are all transformed at some point during their production process by microscopic organisms that extend their usefulness and enhance their flavors.

The process of fermenting our food isn’t a new one: Evidence indicates that early civilizations were making wine and beer between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago — and bread even before that.

But was exactly is fermentation? And how does it work? Those were the questions that fascinated Sandor Katz for years. Katz calls himself a “fermentation revivalist” and has spent the past decade teaching workshops around the country on the ancient practice of fermenting food.

“If you walk into a gourmet food store and start thinking about the nature of the foods that we elevate on the gourmet pedestal, almost all of them are the products of fermentation,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.

 

Listen to the full interview on NPR’s Fresh Air‘Fermentation’: When Food Goes Bad But Stays Good

 

The book – The Art of Fermentation.

Continue reading The Art of Fermentation in coffee, bread, beer, cheese, yogurt…

Shakespeare’s Restless World – fascinating new podcast from BBC Radio 4

British Museum Director Neil MacGregor presents Shakespeare’s Restless World, a new series for Radio 4. The 20-part series looks at the world through the eyes of Shakespeare’s audience by exploring objects from that turbulent period.

Examining these objects, Neil discusses how Elizabethan playgoers understood and made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England.

Contributing to the programmes will be Shakespeare scholars, historians and experts on witchcraft and warfare, fencing and food, luxury trade and many other topics. They discuss the issues these objects raise – everything from exploration and discovery to violence, entertainment and the plague.

Shakespeare’s Restless World – (or download in iTunes)

Continue reading Shakespeare’s Restless World – fascinating new podcast from BBC Radio 4

Starbucks to improve its baked goods – purchases artisan bakery, La Boulange

Starbucks got the coffee right. Now, it is trying to do the same with the food.

The world’s largest coffee chain announced on Monday plans to acquire for $100 million a small artisan bakery chain, Bay Bread and its 19-unit La Boulange bakery brand.

The move comes just months after Starbucks (SBUX) purchased the tiny Evolution Fresh juice brand and at a time Starbucks is pushing hard to expand beyond coffee and vastly improve its baked goods and other food offerings. Food is one of the chains fastest-growing businesses, now accounting for $1.5 billion in revenues even as its sales have grown by double digits over the past two years.

“After more than 40 years, we will be able to say that we are bakers, too,” says Howard Schultz, CEO at Starbucks.

via USA Today

 

The bakery chain, La Boulange, reminds me a lot of Le Pain Quotidien.

Continue reading Starbucks to improve its baked goods – purchases artisan bakery, La Boulange

New Guinness Record for largest chocolate sculpture – 18,000 pound Mayan temple

A California dessert and pastry school, located in Irvine, has just broken the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Chocolate Sculpture:

To celebrate our 30th anniversary, Qzina Specialty Foods, has broken a Guinness World Record for building the largest chocolate sculpture. The sculpture models an ancient Mayan temple and weighs 18,239 pounds, far surpassing the previous record set in Italy in 2010 by more than 7,500 pounds.

 

 

Qzina chose the Mayan theme because of the crucial role the culture played in the origins of chocolate.  The Mayans were one of the first civilizations to cultivate Cacao trees and discover the true potential of the cocoa bean. Realizing the delicious possibilities of this powerful discovery, the Mayans worshipped the Cacao tree and praised its beans as the food of the Gods.

Qzina’s Corporate Pastry Chef, Francois Mellet, was the lead architect on this massive project and MOF Stephane Treand (Meilleur Ouvrier de France or Best Craftsman in France) lent his artistic touch to the sculpture’s intricate design elements. Mellet, together with his team, spent more than 400 hours constructing this magnificent structure of solid chocolate that was created using an assortment of Qzina’s leading chocolate brands.

 

 

Extensive planning and research set the groundwork to accurately capture the details and intricacies of an authentic Mayan temple down to the exact number of steps and panels representing numbers significant to the Mayan calendar. Built proportionally to the ancient temple’s true size, the solid chocolate pyramid is six feet tall and its base measures 10 feet by 10 feet – exactly one-thirtieth the size. The sculpture’s base alone weighs more than 3,000 pounds.

The chocolate pyramid will be displayed at the Qzina Institute of Chocolate & Pastry, located in Irvine, California, and will be available to view beginning June 4, 2012 when the institute and product showroom is officially open to the public (Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. –  5:00 p.m.). Qzina plans to destroy the chocolate sculpture on December 21, 2012 when the Mayan calendar comes to an end. The method for destruction is yet to be determined.

via Qzina News

 

More Photos:
Continue reading New Guinness Record for largest chocolate sculpture – 18,000 pound Mayan temple

Pixar’s best kept secret – the Cereal Bar

If you happen to own Toy Story 3, one of the bonus features is a short video entitled “Pixar’s Cereal Bar.”

In the video you’ll hear Pixar employees like Tia Kratter, Pete Doctor, and Andrew Stanton talking about the importance of cereal during a workday, and showing off an animated representation of how the Pixar Cereal Room fuels some of the best creative minds in the business!

According to Pixar employees, this room is well-used and well-loved! They eat cereal everywhere — from the screening room to the meeting room — and even at their desks!

Continue reading Pixar’s best kept secret – the Cereal Bar

The Knife Maker – maturing a skill into an art

In our second film, we meet writer turned knife maker Joel Bukiewicz of Cut Brooklyn. He talks about the human element of craft, and the potential for a skill to mature into an art. And in sharing his story, he alights on the real meaning of handmade—a movement whose riches are measured in people, not cash.

via Made by Hand

 

“It takes buckets of blood, sweat, and work…to get competent, then maybe you have it in you to get good, to go beyond and become an artist.”

 

director-producer – KEEF
director of photography – JOSHUA KRASZEWSKI
editor – MATT SHAPIRO
music – MICHAEL TRAINOR & NATHAN ROSENBERG
music produced at THE DOG HOUSE NYC
sound recordist – ROBERT ALBRECHT
re-recording mixer – NICHOLAS MONTGOMERY
assistant re-recording mixer – JOHN GUMAER
gaffer – ADAM ORELLANA
title design – MANDY BROWN

special thanks – JOEL BUKIEWICZ & CUT BROOKLYN

Watch film #1 – The Distiller

 

A project from bureauofcommongoods.com, Made by Hand is a new short film series celebrating the people who make things by hand—sustainably, locally, and with a love for their craft.

Chew – NY Times best seller about a Cibopath (one who gets psychic impressions from food)

Tony Chu is a cop with a secret. A weird secret. Tony Chu is Cibopathic, which means he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. It also means he’s a hell of a detective, as long as he doesn’t mind nibbling on the corpse of a murder victim to figure out whodunit, and why.

It’s a dirty job, and Tony has to eat terrible things in the name of justice. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the government has figured out Tony Chu’s secret. They have plans for him… whether he likes it or not.

Written by John Layman with brilliant art by Rob Guillory.

via Official Chew Blog

 

This comic book series about cops, crooks, cooks, cannibals and clairvoyants has won multiple awards including several Eisners (Academy Awards of Oscars) and is a NY Times best seller.

The series is about 25 books in and still as engaging and hilarious as ever. You will love it if you give it a chance. Start with the latest book on the shelves now, or pick up one of the anthologies.

Even better you can read the first issue online in two places. Via Newsarama, or if you want to create an account via Comixology (which has a superior viewer, hit log-in on top right).

Bees are in peril – and so are most of our major foods

Bees are nearing a “crises,” prompting the government to spend millions on a massive data base and asking beekeepers on March 27 for advice on how to save them and prevent the nation’s agriculture from collapsing.

Honeybees are critical in agriculture. The value of crops in U.S. agriculture that depend on their pollination is $19 billion, according to USDA estimates. Worldwide that crop value is $217 billion.

Facing this, Congress and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) took action last year, granting $5.6 million to establish a national, massive data base under the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) program.

The goal is simple: “Get information collected from beekeepers back to beekeepers quickly so they can make more informed decisions.”

via The Washington Times

 

Wikipedia lists over 125 mainstream foods that depend on bee pollination, among them:

Coffee, chocolate (cocoa), apple, pear, watermelon, avocado, grape, tomato, onion, broccoli, pepper, lemon, lime, strawberry, soybean, and blueberry.

Other major foods:

Okra, celery, kiwi, cashew, almond, beet, mustard, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprout, papaya, chestnut, tangerine, coconut, coriander, hazelnut, cantaloupe, melon, cucumber, squash, carrot, persimmon, fig, strawberry, cotton, sunflower, walnut, lychee, macadamia, mango, passion fruit, bean (lima, kidney, string), apricot, cherry, plum, guava, pomegranate, boysenberry, raspberry, blackberry, cranberry, eggplant, vanilla, jujube.