In the days that followed, the farmers dutifully (and skeptically) planted Napoli carrots and spread the almond dust over the rows. Dan Barber recounts his attempt to infuse carrots with almond flavor by growing them in soil mixed with almond dust. You can hear him tell this same story in the video linked below.

Taste3 has posted videos from some of last year's speakers. I've linked directly to Dan Barber's opening talk above, which was one of my favorites from the conference. I'll be heading back to Napa in May this year to speak again at Taste3 "on the power of online technology and social networking as it intersects the food and wine world." I'm really happy to see they've posted these talks. Not enough conferences share their talks after the fact.

Cold water boils faster than warm water and other kitchen myths are debunked at this great page collecting all kinds of ideas. Also addressed "When you add alcohol to a recipe it all evaporates during cooking so there is none in the final dish" and "Lobsters scream with pain when boiled."

One month from today, folks, just one more month! The Shake Shack opens March 21st. I can already taste the burger on my tongue!

Chicago issues its first foie gras fine and it goes to none other than famous "encased meat emporium" Hot Doug's. Says owner Doug Sohn, “It’s sort of at the point where I don’t really care,” he said. “If we don’t serve it, we don’t serve it. I hope people opposed to it are leading ethical and moral lives. And they better not be wearing leather shoes.”

Is there such a thing as a responsible and environmentally friendly take-out container? An interesting discussion over at Serious Eats. As a New Yorker, and therefore frequent consumer of take-out, I always feel really crappy about not being able to recycle containers.

Latte ArtIncredible photo collection of latte art, including a link to a video demonstrating how to make some designs. I'd like to try some of these now that I see how they're done, it looks really fun! [thanks Jonah!]

Exploring the trend of expensive milkshakes over at Diner's Journal. (Which is no longer just Frank Bruni but other Times writers as well.) Why are milkshakes getting so expensive? At a place near my office, the shake is $5.50, but they use local milk so I assume that raises the cost. Still, an $8 shake? Or more? That's insane.

Taco al PastorIn an event dubbed as the "Tacoton," the meat for a pastor taco weighed 3.9 tons and was 13 feet high. "Tacoton" means "really big taco" in Spanish, and the folks behind this event in Mexico made a world record for their kebab of pork meat. The picture here shows a normal skewer of meat for a taco al pastor. Now imagine that 13 feet high. Delicious! Mmmmm...

Cereal companies are starting to hop onto a cacao-covered bandwagon, reported candy blog Candy Addict back in January. There's also a link to a USA Today article about the "chocolate is nutritious" trend. What's interesting is that neither cereal is using quality dark chocolate (that supposedly has the healthy benefits), they're using "chocolatey" bits concoted from cocoa and partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil. Which goes to show: if you're trying to eat healthy, adding chocolate cereal to your diet is probably not the right step.

Trend alert: chocolate cereal! Over the weekend I saw TV ads for Life Chocolate Oat Crunch and Kellogg's Special K Chocolatey Delight. I guess cereal is trying to move out of the breakfast corner and into the world of 24 hour snack option. One of the ads (I think it was Life) said something like "rather than eat a whole chocolate bar, enjoy a bowl of chocolate cereal." I can't even imagine eating a bowl of this.

In case you haven't been keeping up, Anthony Bourdain slams the Food Network and its stars over at Michael Ruhlman's blog. Then Ruhlman defends Bourdain and describes the Food Network as a bastion of mediocrity. And then today Grub Street steps in to defend Rachael Ray and accuses Ruhlman of snobbery for calling the network and its stars mediocre. It's nice to see, even on a slow Friday, someone's still looking out for the common man, though I rather suspect Grub Street's wishing they'd gotten Bourdain's post instead. It's hard to believe any food writer worth his weight would defend Sandra Lee, or encourage someone who uses the word "sammy."

You're really cool when you order Secret Off the Menu Items. But how do you know what they are if they're secret and, uh, off the menu? Buzzfeed has the link. And now you too can get the secret rib-eye at Nobu.

MacheHere's a food trend I'd like to see in New York City: mâche. Enough with designer burgers, fancy pizza, chocolate in savory dishes, and heritage pork. Bring on the yummy French lettuce! It's easy to get mâche in Paris, but hardly anyone ever serves it here. Could we please replace ramps this spring with mâche, trendmakers? I'd be very appreciative.

Update: Several readers have emailed to point out the Trader Joe's sells pre-washed bags of mâche. Good to know, I will check this out asap. Thanks!

Oysters vs. Chocolate: Which Is Sexier? "Judges will be fed a three-course meal of oysters, then go home and have sex. In the second round, they will be fed an equally delicious and light three-course meal of chocolate, then go home and have sex. After each round, judges will fill out a brief 'Sextionnaire' asking them to rate their arousal and pleasure on a scale of one to ten." Finally! Some journalists willing to undertake important work in the name of food.

Spin the Wheel of Food and get a recommendation for a place to eat in your neighborhood. Pretty fun, though I didn't like what it proposed for me today. I think it needs some more sources, though it's using Yahoo Local for information. Still, fun! [via Matt]

Anyone can cook from any cookbook out there, but it takes a special kind of nutjob to attempt every recipe in The French Laundry Cookbook. It's like the Julie/Julia Project but with less recipes, and more insane amounts of work. Hats off to you Ms. Diner Girl, I wish you all the best. And I look forward to the day you attempt the torchon of foie gras.

We're in the grips of a large national problem of fish fakery. Investigators find menu listing doesn't match fish being served! "In many instances, not only is the 'grouper' in fact farm-raised Asian catfish from Vietnam or other species that swim with grouper, but the filets have shown signs of salmonella and traces of illegal carcinogenic fungicides, NOAA law enforcement officials said." Reminds me of some stories I heard on Cape Cod about the cheap sea scallops. Unscrupulous fisherman would catch dogfish and punch out sea scallop shaped rounds from its flesh, then ship them to the midwest where they claimed people couldn't tell the difference. [via Jason]

Foie Gras battle heating up in New York City

Fairway foie gras sign
Fairway's foie gras sign, now removed

While I was out of town, there was an anti-foie gras protest in front of the Fairway Market on the Upper West Side. Farm Sanctuary, "the nation's leading farm animal protection organization" is trying to get Fairway to remove foie gras from its shelves. They've gotten the store to remove a sign they posted last year proclaiming the store "Foie Gras Central" and now, buoyed by their success in gaining bans in Chicago and California, they've set their sites set on New York. According to the New York Sun, "the group recently opened an office in the city and hired a full-time development coordinator." Poking around their site, I see that they've got protests scheduled every Sunday for the month of February to "educate Fairway's customers and other Upper Westsiders about the truth behind foie gras."

First of all, Fairway shouldn't have folded and taken down their sign. They have every right to sell foie gras, and they have every right to explain why they're doing so to their customers. By removing the sign, they've clearly emboldened the anti-foie grasists. Second, is anyone complaining to Fairway about the protesters in front of the store, trying to push their values on Upper Westsiders? If I shopped there, I certainly would.

Maybe what we need is a pro-foie gras contingent to go up and hand out pamphlets explaining the migratory behavior of ducks and geese that causes them to gorge and naturally fatten their livers. Or maybe not. Maybe everyone should spend their Sundays making their own decisions, not being pressured by strangers trying to get their value system codified by the government.

Missed this as I was scrambling to get ready to head out of town: Kate's got some information about the introduction of the Cloned Food Labeling Act, sponsored by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) She also lists some good resources for how you can help support the bill.

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