Meat and Heat

If you have not read Bill Buford’s “Heat,” an account of the writer as budding culinarian, you should remedy that. The guy can write.

Here, for instance, is a paragraph from his review in the New Yorker of three carnivorous

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The Chocolate Show

The depth and variety of people who live around this small city has always amazed me, from ultra-marathoners to world-class sopranos to very intense foodies.

So it is with Curtis Vreeland, who tracks emerging trends in the confectionery industry. Just before Thanksgiving, he presented this year’s research at the 10th annual New York Chocolate Show. It’s part of Le Salon du Chocolat, which starts in Paris, passes through New York, then hops to Beijing and six locations in Japan.


Attendance in New York is about 30,000 — impressive, until you consider the size of the Paris and Tokyo shows, which each draw 150,000.


Here’s this year’s Chocolate Show review from Curtis:


Want to eat some opium?

A strange offer, considering that opium was traditionally eaten by Chinese women as a fatal exit plan from unhappy arranged marriages.

But an Opium bonbon was just one example of many sweet gems waiting for chocolate connoisseurs at the tenth annual New York Chocolate Show. Considering that the item in question was a dark chocolate truffle, it brought new meaning to the term “chocolate to die for.” An addictive truffle with blood orange, smokey lapsang souchong and Chinese five spice, it was conjured up by Oliver Kita, an innovative chocolatier from Rhinebeck, NY.

It can serve as an indicator of how creative contemporary nouvelle American chocolatiers have become, scouring the globe for inspiration and packing a multiplex of flavors, textures and sensorial stimulation into each sweet bite. Hello to multicultural, racy spice bazaar tastes …

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Happy Giving of Thanks

This week, my mother-in-in-law is in town – but the amazing Velma got off the plane at noon in a wheelchair and we had to camp in the Emergency Room at Hbg Hospital all evening, following by a 4 a.m. surgery.

She’s okay, and I want to tell you about the two terrific Thanksgiving dinners she almost had.

But first, I’m reanimating a Thanksgiving column I wrote about her a few years ago.


Unlike the holidays of spring and summer, which require charcoal lugging or propane lighting – and sometimes keg tapping and cherry-bomb throwing – Thanksgiving is leisurely.

It asks for only the energy to fall away from the dinner table …

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Need help with goats


And soys, and rices.  I’m doing a story about milk that doesn’t come from cows.  I have experts and grocers, but I’d like to hear from people who drink goat’s milk, rice milk or some other form of non-cow drink.

If you do, you can email me me at or


The Friday afternoon Philosophy seminar at RAE’s Tobacco on Third Street is an institution cherished by the city’s elite minds. It’s led by Al Baker, hero and gentleman.

Today, Col. Baker begins a monthly column in which he’ll share his vast knowledge and experience of cigars, starting with the Camacho Triple-Maduro:

Like Mark Twain, I smoke cigars in moderation, never more than one at a time. Neither Mark nor I would ever think of smoking while asleep, or while swimming in water too deep to stand in. Other than those exceptions the day is pretty open.

I can enjoy a mild cigar in the morning, a medium in the afternoon, and, after dinner, possibly take on what those in the cigar business refer to as a “full flavored” stogie. For those not in the know …

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Opening a restaurant?

What’s the best place in Pennsylvania to open a restaurant?

That’s easy, State College. The relatively high percentage of income that goes to eating out in State College pushes its Restaurant Growth Index to 156, way over the national average.

“The RGI figure for each of the 363 metro areas provided here is calculated to a national average of 100,” says Tom Spencer of Claritas, “which means the higher the RGI over 100, the more opportunity there is. We worked out those numbers by looking at how much money people spend at restaurants as a percentage of their income; then we compared that to national averages.”

Right behind State College in the RGI ranking is …

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Other Posting

Lately, my wife has been having a lot of fun with her Facebook status wall. It got me intrigued, so I started status posting and paying more attention to what my friends are doing.

No biggie, but an interesting way to be in touch. I also do news business through Facebook, searching for interesting people to interview and getting comments. Too, I like Facebook because you can try applets and see if they are useful without being permanent about it.

Anyway, here’s my link, which is also on the blogroll under Other. Friend me if you’re in the neighborhood.