By Wendy Lincoln

Why Sugar Regulation Does Not Make Sense

February 6, 2012

Sugar is as dangerous as alcohol and tobacco?  Hold on here, let's talk about this.

*We know that sugar is generally bad and generates fat

*No one is controlling this industry

*Yet we should not regulate sugar like a controlled substance

We've all heard that sugar can make us fat.  Here's how:

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By Wendy Lincoln

Foodie Trends to Watch in 2012

February 6, 2012

As we look stare deep into our magical coffee cups, we have pondered what trends we can expect to see grow through 2012 - more pig, price increases, food on sticks, locavores, and more vegetables.

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By Wendy Lincoln

The Supermarket Of 2020

February 6, 2012

Will we be graced with apple trees and catch your own tilapia ponds at supermarket by 2020? Probably not, but scientists and architects are working on that. However, in eight years, we can expect subtle and technological enhancements to our shopping experience.

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My first exposure to the iconic red velvet cake was in Texas, about 1991.  I was watching my Aunt make a brilliant red wedding cake.  Being that I was young and not Texan, I had never seen such a wild creation.  My Aunt told me that Red Velvet cake was a traditional wedding cake in Texas.  Such a culinary creation left an impression on my young mind, but red velvet cake was not common outside of the south at that time.  It was not until my own wedding in 2003 that I saw the cake again, when my Aunt made us a red velvet cake.

            Then a few years ago red velvet cake came into vogue.  Every bakery, every coffee shop, and every celebrity chef was getting down with red food coloring.  Large chains such as Starbucks jumped on the bandwagon and promoted red velvet everything.  Red velvet had made it's debut on the international food stage.  

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Could the recession have anything to do with the resurgence of offal in modern dining?  Based on the tattle tale grapevine, it appears that some savvy chefs have been forced to become more and more creative to keep costs under control and at the same time lure in diners.  With restaurateurs leading the way, it seems like home cooks too are developing an interest in the prudent use of the entire butchered animal, much like our ancestors did.  Several books have been published on the matter, with the very popular book The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson leading the charge.  The result has been a resurgence in strange cuts of meat appearing on the menu in trendy restaurants and food programming on television.  In example, a recent episode ofChopped depicts the chefs struggling to make beef hearts edible for the entree course.

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Although America is well known all over the world for inventing thousands of food products, such as Deep Dish Pizza and Nachos as well as a number of fast food chains, such as Potbelly’s and In and Out, there are plenty of delicious foods that are simply not available out here. Read on for some tasty dishes and products – and exactly where you can find them.

You may be forgiven for thinking that Burger King is a pretty standard chain that only sells variations on the burger/fries combination, but travel further afield from America and you’ll find some rather wonderful flavour combinations. Take Puerto Rico, for example – you’ll find a traditional Puerto Rican sweet pastry bun filled with ham, eggs and cheese on the menu, as well as buffalo wings marinated in honey, and an extra-long hamburger bun filled with a hamburger patty, ham, eggs and cheese, known as the Enormous Omelette.

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What’s the difference between a white truffle and a black truffle, you say? Surely the color! Whilst that may be true for chocolate truffles, truffles are actually a gourmet, relatively difficult to find type of fungus, found growing in forests in the shade of various trees. 

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Sprinkled With Flour AuthorAmber, a transplant from the UK to the Missouri Ozarks, chats with foodsherpa about experimenting, eating naturally, and her blog, Sprinkled With Flour. She was lucky enough to grow up in a house where making food from scratch was the norm, which was mainly due to that fact that there was not an abundance of prepackaged or convenience foods from which to choose from in the UK. Amber comes from a family who has a history of baking, so she is quite the natural when it comes to baking from scratch. Although Amber likes to experiment with foods by adding in healthier ingredients, she knows that food is all about balance and thus doesn't deny herself the occasional 'bad for you food'. Let's not forget to give credit to her beautiful website full of pictures she took herself-impressive! Amber moved back to the United States when she was 18 and has been living here ever since.

F: Your website is stunning! There are so many beautiful pictures to go along with all the delicious recipes. Can you share with us how you went about choosing the overall design of your website?

A: First of all, let me say thank you for honoring me with this interview, and for your kind words about my humble little blog. Now as for my website design, I had a specific "feel" in mind. I knew I wanted something feminine and fresh, with a layout that was simple and easy to navigate. I decided what colors I wanted to use, found a background I loved, then took my "brain-child" to a great blog designer. The rest is history :)

F: Congratulations on your recent 1 year Bloggiversary! Can you tell us a little about your blogging journey and how you feel about having such a successful blog?

A: Thank you! When I first started my blog, it was more of a culinary journal for myself to document recipes I tried - both my own and from others. As I joined the food blogging world, I came into contact with such a great community of like-minded friends, that I became hooked. What started as a very solitary project, turned into an outlet that not only allowed me to share delicious recipes, but introduced me to dear friends. How do I feel about having a successful blog? I guess it depends on how you define success. Success for me was sticking with it and continuing to post a year later, and a bigger success was finding a new love - photography.  I'm grateful for how far my blog has progressed since I started it a year ago. I'm grateful to my faithful readers, to those who take time out of their busy lives to stop by and show me some love. Each comment definitely puts a smile on my face at the end of the day :) 

F: You say you were raised without (much) access to convenience foods, as well as fast foods. How do you think this helped shape your overall views about food in general? 

A:I think it took away the age-old myth that cooking from scratch is too hard and takes too much time. It also shaped my taste buds to know what food is "supposed" to taste like. It's hard to compare fresh, homemade food to pre-packaged processed food. Don't get me wrong, we definitely are not food snobs at our house, there are some guilty pleasures that still find their way into the cabinets. I enjoy having the ability to make things from scratch, a valuable tool I learned from my mother. When you do the math, it really does cut down on expenses. I like to watch the coupon shows that are big right now, but I always think that another way to save money on groceries is to just not buy that stuff in the first place - try making it yourself instead. You never know, you might like your version better :)

F: Do you have an absolute favorite food you like to (occasionally) indulge in? 

A: I'm a sucker for Cadbury's Fruit & Nut bars (YUM!). I love having different textures in my food, and adding this to chocolate is just heaven for me!

F: What are some of your most favorite foods to bake? Why? 

A: I love making pies. This is one of the treats I remember my mom making most often. She makes such a great pie crust, that her pies were the most requested things by friends. Great memories.

F: Does your son show any interest in becoming a baker himself?

A:  Absolutely! He has his own little kitchen that has been the starting point of many concoctions - some edible, some not so much. ;)

F: What words of advice would you give to parents who have a hard time getting their kids to make healthier food selections?

A: First, live by example. There are many things that my son has turned his nose up at, but when he sees Mommy and Daddy eating them, he will actually try it. He may not like it at first, and that's okay, but I keep offering it at different times - sometimes made a little differently. It can take multiple tries before he decides he likes something. Second, make a big deal about the benefits of healthier food. My son is really into superhero's right now, so I tell him that carrots will make him have supervision, spinach will give him muscles like Superman, etc. I also try to stress the word "healthy" as opposed to fattening, and help him view sweets as a treat, but not taboo. Nothing makes you want something more than being told you can't have it. :) My son is so used to being told about healthy foods, that now he will ask me on his own if a certain food is healthy

By Laura F

Clean Eating with Amie Valpone

July 5, 2011

Amie Valpone in front of some healthy foodAmie Valpone has a lot on her plate - not only is she a recipe developer and a culinary marketing consultant, but she's also a nutritionist for the NBA Fit Program, and a feature writer on the NBA’s website!  Amie has a passion for what she calls 'Clean Eating' - a focus on natural, whole foods that are good for you - with a goal of helping people live a healthier lifestyle by helping them learn how to choose the best foods for them. In line with that goal, Amie is the Manhattan Gal behind the Healthy Apple and serves as a brand ambassador for healthy living companies like Rudi’s Gluten Free Bread and Musselman’s Applesauce.  Discover a world of eating healthy in our feature with Amie below.


F:  Was there one particular, defining moment that led you to choosing a career in the food genre?

A: Yes, I became ill with severe stomach problems and no one could figure out what was wrong with me. I went to every doctor imaginable and no one could help me. That's when I turned to food to heal myself.

F: What do you contribute your passion for Clean Eating?

A: Growing up in a wholesome, loving family where I learned to cook and bake at an early age with my grandparents and family.  Learning to cook with wholesome, natural, pure and fresh ingredients!

F: We see you develop your own recipes. Is there an absolute favorite dish you've made that stands out above the rest?

A: Yes, my famous guacamole dishes are always the biggest hit at an event, holiday gathering or dinner party. I toss in grapefruit, edemame, leeks, cranberries and other unique ingredients.  It's delish. (sounds amazingly delish to us!)

F: Can you tell us a little bit about your role as a Brand Ambassador? It must feel great to promote healthy living companies, as it is really important nowadays to promote healthy eating as a lifestyle.

A: It's amazing and I am so happy working with my favorite brands.  I have so much fun with the people behind these brands; they are all incredible and so much fun. We have a great time working together and I truly enjoy every minute of it! Whether I'm helping work an event, expo, speak at a conference or partake in guerrilla marketing around town, I'm always so excited...the work is exhilarating to me...it's actually tons of fun and doesn't feel like 'work' which is how I know it's my true passion!

F: Are people starting to think more and more about eating healthy/healthier food? Why or why not?

A: Yes, I believe people have begun looking to food to heal their bodies and their minds feeling better with more fruits, veggies and wholesome foods such as whole grains and healthy fats. Our society is starting to realize how important food is to our health and well being.  Our food supply is becoming incredibly processed and packaged and it's important for us to stick to the basics and eat healthy foods such as fruits n' veggies and lean proteins and of course balance it out with the healthy doses of dark chocolate!

F:  What would be your best advice to people who currently have bad eating habits and want to start eating healthier food?

A: I'd start by saying try to add in something new every day or every week...don't think about cutting out foods and depriving yourself but rather add in a new fruit or veggie and try to enjoy and savor each bite. Try fresh strawberries with Greek yogurt, honey and ground flax seeds or how about steamed artichokes with pesto and balsamic vinegar?  You can create your very own soft-serve ice cream by combining bananas, berries, orange juice and cashews in a food processor and make homemade dark chocolate covered strawberries for a special treat.  How about a breakfast with steel cut oats, chia seeds, almond butter and cinnamon?  Or a quinoa salad with arugula, dried cherries, avocado, slivered almonds and fresh cilantro?
See how easy it can be?  So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and dig in...it's clean, gluten-free and delish!

Allison the Picky EaterAllison is a Registered Dietitian and a Personal Trainer who loves almond butter and hates lettuce. Allison states that she created her blog, The Picky Eating RD, as a way to reach out to other people (especially those that are considered to be picky eaters!) and let them know that even though we all don’t eat perfectly, life is all about learning how to create the right balance.  She graduated from the University of Illinois, and currently enjoys working with people to get their diets right.  Don't let her blog fool you - while she is a picky eater, she is actually very knowledgeable about the benefits and nutrition behind almost any edible item!

You're a registered dietitian and a personal trainer. Impressive! What was it that made you choose these particular professions?

I have always been very interested in health and fitness.  I used to be a competitive gymnast and stopped when I was in high school.  I then grew 7 inches after that!  I had to relearn how to eat for my new body and struggled with it for years.  I knew that I wanted to be in a profession where I could help people who have struggled with their eating patterns.  I also can't sit still.  Being both a trainer and dietitian I am able to remain active during my workday.

Do you have a favorite food that you absolutely can’t live without? 

Oh I have too many to name!  I would say almond butter, fruit, and black beans rank highest.  I have all 3 of those foods almost every single day and am not sure what I would be snacking on without them.

Is there a food or foods that you avoid? Why?

Lettuce!  I can't stand the taste of it.  People always tell me I am crazy but it tastes so bitter to me.  I do tend to avoid foods that are highly processed and those containing fake sugars.  I avoid them because of the way they make me feel.  Many people don't realize the side effects of fake sugars; bloating, indigestion, stomach cramping and I have experienced them all.  Those side effects alone were enough to get me to stop consuming them.

What are your favorite types of recipes? 

I love recipes that contain fresh ingredients and spices but are super simple.  For me the less time it takes to prep a meal, the better.  I am generally cooking for one and I don't have time to be spending hours in the kitchen when I get home from work.

What is your favorite part of  being a dietitian? Personal trainer?

My favorite part of both professions is seeing my clients change and improve their health.  There is nothing better than having someone say to you "you have changed my life for the better".  Those statements are why I love my job.

What is your best advice to people who want to start living a healthier life?

Patience, balance, and consistency.  It takes time for change and people need to realize this.  Their bad habits didn't develop overnight and they might take months and months to change.  This is ok!  Consistency is key when it comes to living healthy.  I encourage my clients to make at least 80% of their food habits healthy while leaving the other 20% for those enjoyment type foods/drinks.  Because let's be honest, who doesn't enjoy a nice glass of wine or cookie every once in awhile ;).

Allison Chats with FoodsherpaFor today's featured foodie, we share with you the wonderful culinary adventures of a Windy City food blogger.  Allison Hendrickson grew up in the mid-western state of Ohio, and then headed over to the Windy City in 2003, where she worked at an ad agency. After finding herself in an office all day, Allison decided that her true passion was in writing, and food! Yum :) Following her passion, she then created her blog, Ali Eats - documenting the fine food of the Midwest, among other things.

When did your love affair with food begin? 

I am convinced my love affair with food was conceived in the womb because my mom still recites what she had for dinner the night I was born (tuna noodle casserole and chocolate pudding - both homemade, of course).

Growing up, my mom never made my dinner plate an exception.  I ate what my parents did - from fresh pesto to kibbeh (lamb).  I was an adventurous eater at a young age and developed a taste for clean, simple and fresh dishes.

When did your passion for writing begin? 

I took an earnest interest in writing at sixteen when I realized writing came naturally to me.  I wrote for my high school and college newspapers and transitioned this hobby into freelancing for a restaurant magazine called Dining Out Chicago when I moved here after college.  I freelanced for three years and then stopped - the writing was 'cookie-cutter', and I no longer enjoyed it.  I took some time off and started AliEats last Fall! 

Why do you think Farmers Markets are important? 

Farmers markets are vital to promoting a healthier food lifestyle.  Buying local allows consumers to eat 'farm to table' - food is fresher and tastes better.  More and more farmers are focusing on growing organic, too, which makes the local markets a healthier place to shop vs. most grocery chains (not everyone has access to Whole Foods or Fresh Market).

What are favorite herbs and spices? Why? 

I love oregano, chives and mint the most - likely because they're so versatile in the foods I consistently eat.  I adore oregano on pizza - I can never get enough.  I use chives with eggs, in vinaigrettes, mixed with butter and oil and used to top a protein or added to finish a pasta.  And mint is just as versatile - with lamb, in tea, in desserts.

Do you have  a favorite type of cuisine? Why?

Probably the Mediterranean diet.  I'm half Lebanese and mostly crave the foods that I grew up eating - tabbouleh, hummus, lamb with spices (kibbeh, kafta), feta cheese, olives, nuts.  I love everything from a burger to foie gras, too, but you asked for a favorite:-)

What is your best advice to others that are looking to incorporate new foods into their current diet? 

My advice would be to incorporate new items gradually and creatively.  For instance, kale is a super-food but many find it too bitter.  Try dressing it with olive oil, salt & pepper and then baking it (into chips).  Delish!

(-; We hear you just got back from a culinary vacation in Italy. Can you tell us a little about that? 

Spending two weeks in Italy will make anyone's perspective on life and food change a bit.  Food is about pleasure - meals aren't rushed and ingredients are fresh and few.  They eat well yet mindfully.  Nothing is off limits, but they don't eat in excess. 

My vice was a daily gelato - half a scoop of pistacchio and half a scoop of stracciatella.  The BEST was at Giolitti in Rome.  More favorites to come on AliEats!

Adler Yarrow portraitAlder Yarrow is the founder of Vinography, a wine blog where one can find anything and everything related to the world of wines and wineries.  In this feature, we discover the importance of exploration and discovery.  Cheers to that!

You state that you started your wine blog because your friends kept asking for your advice. Can you tell me how/if the blog has transformed from what you initially set it out to be to what it is today?

I didn't set out to be a journalist.  I set out to teach myself about these things called "blogs" and gain a little  leverage in being the "go to" wine guy among my friends.  Not long after I started writing, I found myself at it every day, and it became clear that it was something I really enjoyed doing. And then the readers came in droves, and I found myself not only with a passion but with an audience. And then there were awards and accolades, speaking gigs, and press trips, and an unstoppable flow of wine samples. Here I am seven years later a legitimate wine journalist in every respect except for paycheck.

How does it feel to be 'The Wine World's Brightest Cyberstar', as well as being the recipient of many blog awards?

Getting awards feels great of course. As someone who cares a lot about quality, it's nice to have my work recognized, and in the absence of a paycheck for my writing, awards and positive feedback from my readers are the real payoff for all the time and energy I put into.

Can you tell us a little more about your Simple Sample Policy?

Sure.  I taste every wine that gets sent to me, and review the ones I really like.  That's it. [Wow...that's awesome!]

Is there a wine book in the works for you? If yes, what would be your take/twist? 

I certainly would love to write a book, and have been kicking around a couple of ideas, but with a crazy day job I'm hard pressed to find the time to write the proposal, which means I'd have a hard time writing the book, even if someone accepted the proposal. I'm working hard to try to find the time to at least get a proposal or two done.  As for what the book would be about,  I've considered a number of things, but haven't settled on anything yet.

What is your best advice to people who are just starting to enter the world of drinking wine?

The most important thing you need is curiosity.  Try a lot of different things -- as many different types of wines from as many different places you can possibly find.  Along the way, pay attention to what you like, and drink more of those, but never stop exploring.

Chef Daniel HerskovicChef Daniel graduated from The California Culinary Academy and has trained in some of finest restaurants and has a real interest in sustainability, which becomes more important each and every day. He is currently traveling in Spain, so be sure to look for another article about his trip and all that he learned while there!

I see that you are very involved with sustainable practices, which is really important nowadays. Has this always been your view, or did it take a while to understand the importance of food sustainability?

Fortunately for me, I was introduced to sustainable forms of cooking at the beginning of my professional cooking career. I did my culinary training at the California Culinary Academy. One of my part time jobs was being a vendor at the San Francisco Farmers Market, Not too long after that, I trained with several Bay Area chefs. Most notably I worked under Paul Bertolli at Oliveto Restaurant in Oakland. He is one of the leaders of the Slow Food Movement in North America. It was a great place to learn and be passionate about food. Every day farmers, ranchers, and fisherman would come to the door and drop off the very best foodstuffs they had. Nothing would go to waste. Each day the menu would change to reflect the best ingredients. I am glad to see this attitude towards cooking spread to the entire country. I arrived in Chicago in 2003 and I have seen Chicago grow to become a world class city for sustainable and innovative cuisine.

What is your absolute favorite cuisine? What makes it so special?

My favorite cuisine is defined by who is cooking versus a particular part of the world. One of the best meals I have ever had was in Warsaw, Poland -- a very much underrated food city. It had everything to do with the heart, soul, and talent that went into the dish.

It seems that cooking for private dinner parties is your favorite way to cook for others. Can you tell me why this is?

I have definitely found a niche in cooking for private dinner parties. I am very grateful that my clients trust me to prepare a multi-course dining experience for their milestone events. I have never been the type of chef that yells. My calm demeanor fits in well in a private setting. I create just one menu per night and I am allowed to concentrate on making every element of this meal perfect. In my prior career as a restaurant chef, I had a lot more to balance. Being able to focus on only my clients and their guests makes for a very memorable event.

Congratulations on being an award winning chocolatier! What was it that first made you interested in handcrafting chocolate?

I also have another life as a chocolatier. My chocolate company is called Mayana Chocolate. In 2010 we were declared ¨Best Chocolate¨ by the Chicago Reader's ¨Best of Chicago 2010¨issue. Chocolate is the most delicious and intriguing ingredient for me. It is also the most complex and temperamental. I think chocolate is a great way to understand the world. Chocolate comes from all over the world (Central and South America, Hawaii, Africa, Philippines, etc...) I look forward to participating in humanitarian endeavors that will help end poverty in some of these regions and allow for their environmental regions to prosper. Another reason I love creating chocolates is that it has a much longer shelf life. A beautiful sashimi course has a shelf life of about 15 minutes. A stunning box of Mayana Chocolate has a shelf life of 3-4 weeks. Mayana Chocolates


By Lisa Schroeder

Loving Mother's Butter

April 22, 2011

In our search for discover good food, we're starting a new series aimed at learning more about passionate foodies, chefs, and global gourmands. For our inaugural interview, we sit down with Chef Lisa Schroeder from the famed Mother's Bistro in Portland. Chef Lisa Schroeder


You started out in NYC and traveled around quite a bit. Why settle in Portland?

  • I always knew I'd open my restaurant, Mother's Bistro & Bar, in a city other than New York, I just didn't know which one. When I met my significant other, Rob it became clear...Portland was the perfect city for Mother's and me. It's a city that appreciates quality and value, and that's what I wanted to deliver at my restaurant(s).


What are some of the things you learned when starting up your restaurants?

  • How to live on very little sleep 
  • One must hire the most seasoned people possible. You cannot train people how to work as a server or a cook while trying to open the restaurant they're working in. 
  • Build slowly; Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither should a restaurant. Grow the restaurant as your business grows.


Can you tell us a bit more about Portland’s dining scene? Has your cooking evolved to match the local taste?

  • One of the biggest revelations was the notion of terroir, right here, in America. I had never experienced such unanimous support of locally grown berries, nuts, grapes (read: wine) as much as I have in Portland. Oregonians were locavores before it was fashionable and continue to be to this day. I make it a point of using local suppliers, farmers, meat and produce as much as possible. It not only makes good business sense...it's good for the environment and it's what any good mother would do. That's because it's usually the most economical and healthy way of feeding your family. And my guests are my family. I imagine you must have a ton of great recipes.


How did you decide on which recipes to include in your cookbook?

  • First of all, I absolutely had to include the most -requested recipes, thus making it easier to answer those requests in the future. (A little selfish time-saving device!). Second, I went with the most approachable and likely to actually get made dishes. I didn't want to create a coffee table book. "Mother's Best" is intended to teach and be used. A lot. There were over one hundred recipes that were written and tested but didn't make it into the book, due to space constraints. It wasn't easy to whittle them down, but it had to be done.


Do you have a favorite ingredient? Why?

  • I hate to admit it, but butter. Mo' butter, mo' better - that's my motto. It adds richness and flavor to a most anything, viscosity to a sauce, mouth feel to a dish or dessert. It is extremely versatile. It's also an ingredient about which one should be picky. I recently did a taste test and learned the amazing differences between butters and the significance of flavor to all the dishes it becomes a part of; especially toast!


As we understand it, your menus are seasonal – what is your process for deciding what to put on the menu?

  • There is a good portion of our menu that doesn't change. We have to have Pot Roast, Chicken and Dumplings and Macaroni and Cheese on our menu everyday. But we also have a section of our menu called the "Mother of the Month" (M.O.M.) where we highlight a different mother each month, offer some of her dishes and tell her story. We use this part of our menu (as well as a daily special menu) to be seasonal, featuring a mother from eastern Europe in the winter months and a Mediterranean mother in the summer months, for example.


How do your meals at home differ from what you serve at your restaurants?

  • I rarely cook at home and when I do it's either something simply roasted or grilled like a whole roast chicken, bone-in pork loin or steaks. If I'm really cooking at home, it's rarely for less than 20. My mantra is: cook for 6, cook for 20!


Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

  • On television, still working in my restaurants and teaching cooking at home to small groups.

Thanks Chef Lisa!



By Charlie Bechamel

Looking for Fine Food? Skip New York City

April 18, 2011

New York again leads the US in the sheer number of restaurants (five out of six) featured in the world’s top 50 list, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to book a ticket to the Big Apple to enjoy the world’s best meals.  Like the party busting contrarians, we’ve decided to search elsewhere for top grub and have discovered the following through our own research -

  • San Francisco is tops for finding good eats.  With a small population and creative bourgeois establishment, finding tasty food can be just around the corner
  • New York lags in per capita availability. Le Bernardin, Per Se and Daniel are still rocking the top 50 list and out represents every major city in the Top 50 list.  But New York also has 8 million people.   Give me 8 million people and I’ll give you a ton of good restaurants.
  • Less obvious culinary destinations like Boston and DC are tops in our own list. With big government getting bigger and more students flocking to Boston to escape the recession, someone’s got to feed the hungry mouths

So how’d we figure this out? Well, we started out analyzing destinations according to the number of Michelin Guide stars available per person, but unfortunately were limited to San Francisco, New York, and Chicago (see below for the results)


Michelin Index
New York Not Doing So Well In the Michelin Index


To circumvent the shortage of available Michelin guides in the US, we then developed own index, the Cupcake Index. Based on the premise that every culinary capital should have an ample supply of gourmet cupcake establishments, we ranked the cities based on the number of 4 and 5 star (summed up) Yelp Cupcake destinations in each city. This should have favored New York, with the cupcake trend starting at their very own Magnolia’s, but the results beg to differ…


Michelin Index
New York Also Lags in the Cupcake Index


Does this mean New York food sucks? No…but this should open up everyone’s eyes to explore other fine dining destinations this summer.  Instead of praying for the last open table in Per Se, go venture out and try Acquerello in San Francisco, Komi in DC, or Taranta Cucina in Boston. 

By Nick Plagman

Who's who in the Foodsherpa World

April 5, 2011

So you know those hilarious and insightful descriptions you look forward to reading every morning when you check that day's special at The Sherp? Well, someone writes those- someone who single-handedly came up with the phrase The Sherp. That's right; it wasn't a team of comedians working around the clock, it was one man. And that man has a name. It's Nick Plagman, the [self-proclaimed] World's Greatest Non-Famous Comedy Writer of all-time ever in history.

Although only 28 years old, Mr. Plagman has toured the world for nearly four decades, even spending two years living in England during the late-90s, during which time his parents dragged him all over Europe. If you're wondering if there's any greater pleasure than for a 15-year-old boy to be in the Austrian Alps on the Sound of Music Tour in the dead of winter, the answer is, of course, no- there is no greater pleasure. That tour makes you appreciate every second of every day that you spend NOT on that tour- really puts things into perspective...

Having lived and traveled all over the world (i.e., America and Europe), Mr. Plagman has experienced many different cultures and developed a keen sense of humor about life, one that he finds very entertaining and that the rest of us can occasionally enjoy, as well. One of his fondest memories was actually when he saw Fried Calf Brains on the menu at a restaurant in Venice and bravely chose not to order them. To this day he doesn't regret that decision, and has apparently dedicated 5-days-a-week to informing you, the casual food connoisseur, about the Sherp's daily offers- offers that epitomize the polar opposite of fried calf brains (i.e., our offers are delicious AND are sold at a discount- a discount in Europe is $5 for a small cup of soda instead of $6).

So, if you'd like to thank him for making your life better for 14 seconds a day, offer him a job paying six-figures and a Megan Fox look-a-like as a secretary, ask him if he's as good-looking as he is hilarious, or tell him he has an "infinitesimal brain" because when you* try to insult people you mix up "infantile" and "infinitesimal," he'd love to hear from you! And that can be achieved via nrplagma@gmail.com.


By Maria Gatea

Is Pork Inspirational or Just Ubiquitous?

March 22, 2011


If I needed an ad agency, I’d hire the National Pork Board.  Their marketing campaigns don’t make any sense, and yet bacon is omnipresent.  In honor of the Pork Board moving away from ‘The Other White Meat’ to ‘Be Inspired’, we at foodsherpa decided to trace the history of bacon, and plot its future.  Not too long ago, bacon was something you had with eggs, in the morning. From the old-fashioned base used in tasty breakfasts, bacon has become, in the last few years, the special ingredient we add to everything we cook and use. Side dishes, main-dishes salads, pasta, desserts, and now even attires.  And it’s future seems just as interesting…


Foodies, rejoice with the bacon timeline (click to enlarge):


History of Bacon



By Maria Gatea

Offal –the next stop for local foods?

March 1, 2011


Food Trifecta
Bringing back the dignity into food


Being born and raised in Transylvania, I’ve always understood the importance of local food in my culture – even more so than the vampire stereotype commonly associated with Romanians.  Unfortunately for True Blood or Stephanie Meyer fans, there aren’t any vampires amongst us, aside from the occasional blood sausage diners.  Yes that’s right, we’re not vampires, but we do enjoy our blood sausages.  In fact, as a rural civilization that for centuries had to rely on meals produced locally, it is amazing to see society move full circle towards celebrating local food.  However, as any rural denizen and food purist will nod, local is only the first step in developing a connection with your food and culture.  In a rural economy, food came from neighbors and nothing that came from them was wasted.  My grandmother raised poultry, and every time she cut a chicken she put the entire bird to good use - even the blood, which would be left out to coagulate.  To the delight of my family, it would be fried and eaten.  I’m guessing that for most people the idea of eating fried, coagulated blood sounds quite gross.  Most people would probably prefer to watch Andrew Zimmern tear apart the coagulated chicken blood than enjoy it themselves. 


Food Trifecta
The Wasted Pig


Pig Head Feet and Toes
Ah hello your majesty

But I digress. With community supported agriculture popping up in metropolitan areas and local farmers markets becoming the norm in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, local food is certainly heading towards main street.  But it pains me to see us green wash our local farmers markets.   Sourcing locally only solves one part of the equation. In rural Transylvania, every household was not only self-sufficient, but also efficient.  Vegetables and fruits were plucked from the garden, dairy products taken from sheep and cattle, and meats enjoyed from head to toe.  Slaughtering a pig an ancient tradition, is still followed religiously by Transylvanians. As with the chickens, every piece of the animal would be used. The intestines would be cleaned up, stuffed with minced meat and transformed into sausages.  The belly fat is fried in a big pan and transformed into cooking lard, while the fat from the back is salted and smoked, and enjoyed with goat cheese and fresh tomatoes.  Yep, every part of the pig is used!  The ears and the tail, considered great delicacies, are fought for diligently by children. It’s fascinating to see the entire ritual – and it lasts all year.

Dad Taking Care of the Pig
Dad prepping up the feast


Unfortunately, with the industrial food machine providing access to an endless supply of meat, fruits and vegetables, using all the parts of an animal now seems disgusting…seems like something a town in Bram Stroker’s Dracula would enjoy. But, not too long ago, it was a matter of survival.  It was a matter of honoring the animal’s life.  It was a matter celebrating your meal.  Think about all the food that is wasted and all the energy used to create that majestic animal. Next time you are worried about your carbon footprint, don’t just buy local.   


Why are we disgusted by the idea of eating pig ears and at the same time eat UEOs (unidentifiable edible objects)? Seems bizarre that we can enjoy mechanically processed pig carcasses mutated into a pink paste, containing bits and pieces of Jimmy Hoffa, packed in tubes of 6 and sold by Oscar Mayer.  What’s bizarre, I ask you now?  At least, when I ate my grandma’s fried, coagulated blood, I knew what was on my plate.

Maria is a journalist and freelance writer from Cluj.  Maria's daily regimen is composed of reading, writing, and cooking.and is passionate about the environment, bio agriculture, and healthy eating.  A big cheese fanatic, she will take anything made by a sheep, goat or cow - sounds tasty! Hopefully you'll be able to discover something new from her passion with food.