Aug 12, 2010

Culinary Gad News Roundup (8-12-10)

Isn't this a great poster?
It's from the 2007 Sydney (Australia) Food & Wine Fair

The periodic Gadabout Roundup compiles interesting news from a variety of sources--press releases, industry associations, websites, and more--on the subjects of food, wine, spirits and/or travel.

Do Biodynamic Wines Just Taste Better? In case you missed the recent New York Times article entitled A Taste of Biodynamics, here's a point of view that might interest you. After admitting that he's far from a fervent biodynamic convert, author Will Lyons nonetheless acknowledges that "having tasted numerous wines made using some of the practical aspects of biodynamics, I have found they are marked with a purity, silkiness and concentration rarely found in other wines." He discusses an informal tasting he enjoyed in Bordeaux at Château Fonroque, sampling "wines made before and after biodynamic principles had been introduced, and the comparison was marked. The wines made under the new regime were lighter, cleaner and purer."

There's a lot more that's interesting, including a brief look at the original biodynamic principles promulgated by Rudolf Steiner back in 1924. Thanks to Benziger Family Winery for the Biodynamic Pyramid graphic (click to increase size).

Olive Oil Standards Update: Back in June I wrote a small piece about the US Department of Agriculture's new and revised standards for olive oil. It all boiled down to this sentence: "In other words, if it says Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the bottle, the contents must soon meet the scientifically verifiable criteria that defines Exra Virgin Olive Oil."

Now it looks like a group of Cailfornia restauranteurs and chefs are suing olive oil distributors and retailers. Can you guess why? You got it! Apparently, a recent UC Davis study found that many olive oils on the market aren't what they claim to be...and that has caused a lot of anger among culinary professionals. According to an August 4 article in The Washington Post, the lawsuit--filed in Orange County--"seeks punitive damages, as well as reimbursement for profits made from alleged false marketing and advertising using the extra-virgin label...The lawsuit, which seeks class action status, targets 10 major olive oil brands, including Bertolli, Filippo Berio, Carapelli, Star, Colavita, Mezzetta, Pompeian, Rachael Ray, Mazolla and Safeway Select. It also names 10 major supermarket chains and big box stores that allegedly marketed substandard oil under the extra-virgin banner."

Philippine Culinary Throwdown:  Love to cook--especially Philippine cuisine? Then the upcoming Philippine culinary contest wants to know about you! Open to to residents of Northern California who are at least 18 years old,  the contest's two divisions cover chefs both Professional (culinary training and/or have worked as a chef/cook in a restaurant ) and Amateur (possess a passion for cooking Filipino dishes but have not been gainfully employed as chef in restaurants).

The San Francisco-based competition will be staged in two rounds: semi-finalists will be selected on August 15, and the final competition will be held on October 24. The contest contains numerous categories; the grand winner in each category will receive a round trip ticket to the Philippines and a tour to top culinary destinations.

To learn more, send an email to, call 415-956-4060, or visit the contest's official web page.

Michelin's Joined the Foodie Travel Biz: Michelin, known since early in the 20th century for its hotel and restaurant guides, has gone into the culinary travel business by offering food-themed vacation packages. Michelin Food & Travel will give foodies an insider's experience at Michelin-starred restaurants with private kitchen demonstrations, private food and wine tastings, and lots more. Starred hotels are also part of the game plan. The program is launching in France (in Provence, Côte d'Azur and Paris) and will gradually include Italy, England, other parts of Europe, and Asia.

I downloaded a copy of the Côte d'Azur itinerary, and ooh la la! Dining at Ducasse's Louis XV Restaurant sounds good to me, as does discovering "what Chef Emmanuel does with artichoke hearts." The Monte Carlo Beach Hotel, Saint Paul de Vence's Le Mas de Pierre, dining at Les Moulins de Ramatuelle in Saint-Tropez...who wouldn't like that? If only I could afford it (prices start at $6,650). Oh, well.

Read all about it at Michelin Food & Travel.

Shelf Life of Foods: A new study from ShelfLifeAdvice and Harris Interactive says that 76% of U.S. consumers mistakenly believe that certain foods are unsafe to eat after the "Sell By" date printed on the packaging has passed. The five  products most often considered unsafe in that regard: milk (61% of respondents); cottage cheese (57%); mayonnaise (54%); yogurt (50%); and eggs (45%).

However, according to Joe Regenstein, professor of Food Science at Cornell University and a member of the ShelfLifeAdvice Board of Advisors, “Food scientists agree that most foods, if stored properly, can be safely consumed for days or even weeks past the package date. The dates on food packages are very conservative; if the product was stored properly, it should last well beyond the date on the package.” For example, propertly-refrigerated milk will remain safe, nutritious and tasy for about a week after it's "sell-by" date.

You can see comprehensive shelf life and storage information on hundreds of foods at ShelfLifeAdvice. offers storage and safety information about hundreds of foods. One thing that surprised me by browsing through the products was that canned food does not last forever (I've always assumed a can of something could last years); the average seems to be from 1-2 years.

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