Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Web/Tech

Nothing says 'call me' like a beef jerky business card


File this under "Now we've seen everything":

Beef jerky business cards.

I tripped over this at TechCrunch. If you're not familiar with TechCrunch, consider checking it out. Its Twitter feed @techcrunch is highly addictive even if you think you don't care about all thing techie.

Consider it your Twip of the day. Follow 'em -- and then tell me if I am wrong.

-- Rene Lynch

Join us on Twitter @LATimesFood

Photo credit: Jason Kincaid

Getting to the bottom of a glass of Champagne

Champers Let’s say you’re one of those rare wine lovers who can resist the many charms of Champagne long enough to wonder about it; like, what is Champagne, the place, like? What goes into making it? Who goes to the trouble of making it? What are they after? Why does it taste the way it does? And most important, how do they get all those bubbles into the bottle? 

The answer to many of these questions can be found on a fine new website called Champagneguide.net, authored by winewriter Peter Liem. (I must disclose that Liem and I both serve as correspondents for Wine & Spirits Magazine.) Three years ago, Liem decided to move to Champagne, becoming one of the only wine writers writing in English to do so currently. He settled in the village of Dizy, in a small flat nestled among vines and growers. Since then, by his own account, he has been "making a nuisance" of himself in the cellars and salons of the region, interviewing winemakers, tasting wines, taking meticulous notes and drawing very contemplative conclusions about the wines, the villages and the overarching style a given house aims for. The result is one of the more fastidious, comprehensive and useful tools in English you may ever have at your disposal for getting at the mysteries of what is otherwise a very mysterious region.

While still under construction, and under constant revision (of a possible 5,000, there are only about 100 handpicked Champagne houses profiled here, so Liem’s "updates" may never be finished), there is already an impressive amount of information on the site, usefully arranged. In most cases, the history of the domaine is explored, as well as an objective assessment of its desired style, what is found in a typical blend, which villages and vineyards it may come from, and how many vintages of the base wine – the still wine used to create the sparkling wine – you’ll find included in the non-vintage blend.

Extensive, detailed tasting notes of all current wines accompany the profiles – more than 600 in all – and they are routinely thrilling. “Its powerful depth is buttressed by firm acidity,” he writes about Tarlant’s Cuvee Louis Extra Brut, “and an intensely chalky minerality that persists throughout the finish, feeling vivid and almost forceful in its tenacity.” Liem’s notes break down the region’s wines with an effortless precision that just may make your next sip of bubbly something to ponder.

-- Patrick Comiskey

ChampagneGuide.net is available by subscription for $89 a year, about the cost of a fine bottle of vintage Champagne. A sample page can be found here:


Photo credit: Erik Unger / Chicago Tribune


Bacon bits: Bacon lance, BLT Night at Dakota, comfort food from CBS

Bacon abounds -- I'm slapping these four on my list of 1,001 things to do with bacon:

  • Bacon thermal lance: Maybe you've seen it: Boing Boing Video recently did a video of Popular Science columnist Theodore Gray turning bacon (OK, well, prosciutto, which he calls "Italian for 'expensive bacon' ") into an edible thermal lance he uses to cut metal. The video, "Bacon: The Other White Heat," is pretty amazing and gives me a whole new respect for my favorite food. Gray also includes a vegetarian version of the lance toward the end of the video ... kinda gives me a whole new respect for cucumbers too.
  • BLT Night at Dakota: Starting next Tuesday, Dakota will hold a weekly BLT Night. They'll feature special artisinal bacon, and you can choose from house creations including a classic BLT, BLT salad, sliders, burgers, a lardon pizza and pasta carbonara. Or go bacon crazy and build your own BLT with your choice of bacon and toppings. Menu selections start at $11.00. Mmm...
  • Bacon and beef meatloaf: Former ballerina and current executive chef at NIOS Restaurant in New York, Patricia Williams did a recent segment for CBS' "The Early Show" on spring comfort food as part of the Saturday "Chef on a Shoestring" series. She includes a recipe for bacon and beef meatloaf. It doesn't scream "spring" for me, but it sure sounds comforting....
  • Reality star piglets tout bacon festival: Yahoo News reports that Piggy, Lilli, Pauli and Fredi are having their private lives followed as part of a marketing ploy by the town of Helfenbert, Austria, to promote its third Speck (German for bacon) Spectacle. Follow their adventures -- and read their intimate Web diaries (?) on pigbrother.at

For more bacon-inspired bliss, go to the rest of my list after the jump -- and please leave a comment if you have suggestions!

-- Noelle Carter

Continue reading »

Yelp: Yet another 'secret algorithm' wending its way through our daily lives

Yelpfounders The Times' David Lazarus takes a look at the workings of Yelp, the review site that some restaurant owners say is unusually aggressive in trying to get businesses to pay hundreds of dollars in monthly "sponsorship" fees to improve their ranking in search results and to move their most positive review to the top of the page.

My feeling is that Yelp offers an impressive service for both consumers and merchants, but the site could do a better job on the transparency front.

How many users, for example, know what it means when a company is identified as a "Yelp sponsor"? How many people know that a business has to pay to have a "favorite review" topping the list?

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said there's a secret algorithm at work, resulting in occasionally scattershot placement of reviews rather than, say, chronological order.

Read more here.

Photo of Yelp founders Russel Simmons, left, and Jeremy Stoppelman outside the company's San Francisco offices in 2006. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

The Post Punk Kitchen: It's a vegan riot

Post Punk Kitchen Gingerbread Cookies

In an era in which so many are going vegan, vegetarian, turning to organic produce and locally grown food, what could be more useful than an online kitchen to provide you with fun, healthy, rockin' recipes that are all vegan?

In the Post Punk Kitchen, friendly cooks lead you through easy recipes such as pumpkin waffles for breakfast, lentil soup with grilled pineapple for lunch or Ethiopian tomato lentil stew for dinner.

Then there's the stuff that will really blow you away, such as the chocolate bomb pudding cake.

We took a little time to chat with Isa Moskowitz, the Brooklyn-born creator of the Post Punk Kitchen. Here's what she had to say about her cooking and the website:

Continue reading »

iPhone grocery list app caters to the unorganized


I’ve had this little program called Grocery IQ installed on my iPhone for months and finally got around to using it a couple of weeks ago.

Now, I kind of love putting my shopping list together. Type the first few letters, and the program completes the word and adds it to your list in the appropriate “aisle.” For example, if I type "cilantro," I choose “bunch” and the entry automatically goes into the “fruits and vegetables” aisle.

If I need canned tomatoes, I can specify San Marzano and place it in my favorites listing so that each time I go shopping I can add it to the list, if needed, with the tap of a finger. Yogurt? I can specify a quart of whole-milk yogurt from Straus Family Creamery and, again, save it to my favorites.

You can write in your brand names, move the aisles around or eliminate them and -- very handy is this feature -- e-mail your list to someone else in the family who can do the shopping for you.

Using Grocery IQ at the farmers market and at the grocery store, I find that I forget fewer things I meant to buy because my list is so organized. And I love checking off each item so it goes gray and fades into the background.

Grocery IQ, $.99 at the Apps Store section of iTunes.

-- S. Irene Virbila

Image: Screenshot of Grocery IQ from my iPhone.

Go ahead, be a wine snob

Img_0001_2Food editor Russ Parsons waxed poetic about his iPhone just after he got it and was checking out some food-friendly applications for it.

Ahem, Mr. Parsons, you may be a newbie to the iPhone, but I’ve had one since the beginning. No, I haven’t traded up yet (not until AT&T gets its act together re its 3G network), but I’m having fun rifling through the seemingly endless new iPhone applications.

One night in a dark restaurant, my sister whipped out her iPhone to read the menu — with the use of a $.99 application called iLight that turns the iPhone’s screen into a light.

OK, I need that.

So far, I’ve barely dipped into the hundreds of applications available, some quite useless. But, I am using Recorder, which works like a dictaphone, except that you can e-mail sound files to yourself or anybody else. I also came across an application called WineSnob that works pretty well to catalog tastings on the go.

Enjoying a great bottle of wine at someone’s house for dinner? Snap the label’s photo, look up that obscure grape varietal and enter your tasting notes and rating in the database, where it will be saved for future reference.

Forget using the application’s list of “tasting tags,” though, which are distressingly vague — floral, melon, cooked veggie, round, flabby, light, etc. Fortunately, you can type in your own tasting notes and leave WineSnob's suggested adjectives in the dust.

There’s also a handy glossary for those who are stumped by terms such as aftertaste, carbonic maceration, legs or tartrates. And a section of wine quotes, should you be susceptible to, well, wine snobbism. www.iwinesnob.com

— S. Irene Virbila

Photo of WineSnob interface from my iPhone

Bacon chips: Bet you can't eat just one

Bacon chips Why can't we have a version of this on our supermarket shelves?

This photo comes via Flickr, and paper or plastic? According to the photo caption, this is a Korean snack. It lands at #9 on our list of 1,001 things to do with bacon.

The rest of the list is below....

Continue reading »

Step-by-step: Making panforte with candied quince


A sliver of panforte makes for an impressive end to the meal -- or an elegant holiday gift. Here's your step-by-step guide to making it.

This recipe for panforte with candied quince was one of the stars of our two-part holiday baking package. Part 1 was all about cooking with spices, and included gingerbread and springerle cookies, and more.

Check back here on Tuesday for an early look at Part 2.

Want a hint? There will be chocolate.

--Rene Lynch

Photo credits: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Can Nintendo teach you how to cook?


Nintendo: It's not just for kids anymore. Or at least that's what Nintendo of America Inc. is banking on as it unveils a new interactive Game Boy-like device called Personal Trainer: Cooking. Using Nintendo DS technology, Personal Trainer: Cooking is basically a small gray hand-held box -- with a touch screen and voice recognition -- that stores more than 245 recipes from around the world.

Once you decide on a recipe (based on country of origin, cooking time, ingredients, calorie count, etc.), a little animated chef with a monotone electronic voice and a bushy mustache talks you through the steps to making the dish. Videos of the more difficult steps are available for viewing. There is also an interactive shopping list function that helps would-be chefs check off ingredients as they buy them.

The official website for this strange little device (although it is high-tech, it looks weirdly primitive -- maybe just because it's geared for novice chefs) has a video of two teens cooking crab cakes using their Personal Trainer. It's worth watching for its sheer awkwardness and unintentional tawdriness. The girls sit at a kitchen table giggling and wondering what they can make with crab meat. The Personal Trainer suggests crab cakes and the girls giggle their way through more than five painful minutes of footage as they wonder whether to pull crab meat from a shell using their fingers or a fork.

Continue reading »

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.