Our James Beard Picks vs. The Beard Awards, 2010

irelandVictory is ours! For the second year running, we've predicted a majority of James Beard cookbook award winners, guessing 7 out of 11 categories correctly. The big winner was The Country Cooking of Ireland (buy it), picking up top honors for the International category as well as Cookbook of the Year. The only major upset was that David Chang and Peter Meehan's Momofuku (reviewed here, buy it) didn't carry the Professional Point of View category; that nod went to The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts(buy it) by the French Culinary Institute and Judith Choate. Congrats to all the winners. See where we got it right and where were wrong below, with commentary.

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Big Deals: Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen


Photograph: Paper Cat

In the world of blog-to-book deals, often the source material seems a stretch to bring to the printed page; not so with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, based on Deb Perelman's blog of the same name. Featuring "recipes for elegant and approachable homemade food," the book, which was picked up by Knopf, is sure to be as delightfully simple, elegant and full of gorgeous photography as her website. Publishers, we implore you: there are not many websites out there like Perelman's, but we'd much rather see them in print than gimmicks or blogs that are basically serialized book proposals. As for Perelman, we say: about time. [Publisher's Marketplace, sub req'd]

—Paula Forbes

Japanese Cake Walk [food art]


Photograph: Beautiful/Decay

The Japanese are known for giant monsters and cute things; this sculpture by artist Kozoo combines the two in this sculpture, SmileCake,HappyCake in Roppongi, Tokyo. The yellow cake topped with an enormous strawberry is accompanied by an equally large fork; good thing, now when Godzilla stops by he'll have something to eat with. Additional pictures below.

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Parenting Advice from SFGate [beer reviews]


Photograph via 9gag.

Out west, they start 'em young: SFGate's parenting blog The Poop somewhat oddly, somewhat awesomely has a review of the new 7-Eleven beer, Game Day. Oh, goody, what words of wisdom does SFGate have for Bay Area parents to bestow upon the drinkers of tomorrow?

  • "It was once strongly suggested by my bosses not to drink and update our Twitter/Facebook accounts."
  • "I felt weird paying with a five dollar bill. Next time I buy Game Day beer I'm definitely dropping a handful of nickels, dimes and pennies, a crumpled up dollar and a subway token on the counter."
  • "In short, Game Day is a great beer to drink if you're going to drink more than 11."
  • "Would I have bought this when I was 21 years old and just sold a few compact discs and a pint of my blood so I would have money to get drunk on the weekend? Sure."

SFGate: looking out for America's youth.

—Paula Forbes

Diana Kennedy on "Unknown Gastronomy of Mexico"


Jamaica, or Hibiscus calyces for tea. Photograph: Reed Spirito

Last night, I went to see Diana Kennedy, self described "ethnogastronome" and author of many seminal volumes on Mexican cooking, speak at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas in Austin. Part of a series on Mexican Foodways celebrating the Mexican Bicentennial, the talk was titled "Unknown Gastronomy of Mexico" and was based on her research for her new cookbook titled Oaxaca al Gusto (buy it), out in September.

I know I shouldn't beat myself up about this too much as the talk was on "unknown" dishes, but having lived in Texas for four years, I humored myself I knew a little bit about Mexican food. I can make salsas that doesn't use tomatoes! I have a kick-ass carnitas recipe! I made tamales, once! Turns out, I know absolutely nothing; jokes about things like atoles and epazote were met with dull ears (mine) and appreciative laughter (everyone else). My education in the real Mexican cuisine begins, in addition to some choice quotes from Ms. Kennedy, below.

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Wine, Spilled: Grüner Veltliner


Photograph: Ben Seidelman

Welcome to Wine, Spilled, a weekly column in which EMD's Justine Sterling shares the myths, legends, tall tales, and short stories of the wine world, and recommends a couple bottles that won't break the bank. Today's wine: Grüner Veltliner.

The wine industry has a reputation for consisting of stuffy, boring, bow-tie wearing men discussing the benefits of old vines, telling the hilarious tale of that one corked bottle at the Duke's Spring gala or bragging about a bottle of Chateau Something-Or-Other they just purchased at an auction and have no intention of drinking. But sometimes events happen that shake up the wine world and are worthy of a story, like the Diethylene Glycol Scandal of 1985. (Cue thunderclap and dramatic organ music). Let’s set the scene.

It’s a sunny Spring day and you’re heading to an outdoor get-together. This could be a barbecue, it could be a garden party, it could just be that your friends have recently found some folding chairs in the basement and have decided to make use of them in their weed-ridden yard. Whatever it may be, we all know that the newly arrived sunshine is best enjoyed with a glass of crisp, refreshing white. Wait! I see you reaching for that Pinot Grigio. No, take your hands off that satisfactory yet uninteresting Sauvignon Blanc. Let me guide you towards a dry, minerally, elongated bottle of Austrian white wine - namely, a Grüner Veltliner. Yes, the bottle does resemble that of a typical Riesling bottle. That's actually the perfect segue, because when you show up, cold, green bottle in hand, you’re going to have a tale of intrigue and danger on the tip of your tongue that happens to involve our dear friend Riesling and why you're drinking a dry Grüner rather than its sweet cousin. You’re going to tell the tale of the Austrian wine scandal of 1985.

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How To Cook Everything By Jennifer L. Knox [What?]

How To Cook

Photograph via The Hypothetical Library

What kind of wedding present do you get for the couple who has everything (or whose wedding you forgot about)? You can do what poet Jennifer L. Knox did and give them a copy of Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything (buy it) with Bittman's name scratched out and your own name written in with a sharpie. And if you're as awesome as Knox, you could also glue in a new introduction telling an inspirational, heartwarming story, which features throwing acid in bears' faces, Partridge Family tattoos and nude bowling on acid.

See the rest of Knox's handiwork (including the introduction) after the jump:

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Top Of The Food Chain: Short Loin

Short Loin

Illustration by Laura Williams

Welcome to Top Of The Food Chain, a column from Eat Me Daily's meatiest columnist, Ryan Adams. Every week we'll attempt to demystify the options available in your supermarket, breaking animals down piece by piece so that the next time you find yourself staring at endless Styrofoam containers, you'll be able to make an informed purchase. This week: Short Loin.

Ah, the Short Loin primal. Maybe it's not as sexy as the Rib primal, but the Short Loin is the workhorse of the primals, accounting for up to eight percent of the carcass's weight while being among the smaller sections of meat on the cow. Home to various steaks that we all know and love — the Delmonico, the Porterhouse, the T-Bone — all of which are among the most tender, popular and expensive cuts of beef, this dense primal is a meat eater's playground.

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