I was recently introduced to a new bourbon (new to me) that had a little more kick to it than I'm used to... and I liked it.  That zing is attributed to the unusually high rye content, being around 30%.  I checked out their website and read their "Legend."

"In the 1830s, as a tavern keeper in Louisville, Kentucky, Augustus Bulleit set himself on a mission: to create a bourbon unique in flavor.  After countless small-batch trials, he came upon a bourbon with the character he had been seeking.  

While transporting barrels of his bourbon from Kentucky to New Orleans, Augustus Bulleit vanished. What happened to him is still unknown, and his creation could have passed into history as well.

But after more than a century, in 1987, his great-great -grandson Tom Bulleit stepped in. A lawyer by profession, Tom's lifelong dream had been to revive the family’s bourbon legacy, started more than 150 years ago."


I love stories like this.  It reminds me much of the history of Samuel Adams Lager and how Jim Koch dug up his great-great-grandfather's recipe for "Louis Koch Lager" -  developed in the 1860's.

There is a review for Bulleit on Liquor Snob that filled me in on some of the gaps in my bourbon knowledge:

"Although a common misconception is that all bourbon must come from Kentucky, actually bourbon can legally be made anywhere in America. However, it must be at least 51% corn and the rest of it wheat, rye or barley, plus it must be aged in new charred oak barrels."


My friend Colin Cook manages Bulleit for Southern Wine and Spirits who tells me:

"Bulleit Bourbon has really taken off in the city of San Francisco.  More cases of Bulleit are sold here than in LA and San Diego combined, due in large part by the “grass-roots”backing of the brand by the SF Bartenders Guild.  The now nationally famous “Bulleit Revolver” cocktail (conceived at Bourbon and Branch) helped put Bulleit Bourbon on the map too!"


Bulleit Revolver

                2 oz. Bulleit Bourbon

                ½ oz. of Tia Maria

                2 dashes of orange bitters

Cocktail is stirred over ice (not shaken!) then strained and served up with a flaming orange peel.


Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, History

If you haven't heard of Clara Cannucciari yet, you will, and likely in the near future.  She is a 93 year YOUNG great-grandmother from upstate New York.  Thanks to her grandson/filmmaker, Clara is a You Tube phenomenon and is completely en fuego right now.  With 10 videos, she has more than 800,000 views.

Maybe it's the economy that's driving her popularity.  She tells us:

"The winters, they were terrible.  And that's another thing.  We didn't have a refrigerator, so we used to put everything, bury it in the snow outside, that was our freezer.  Then we'd say, 'go get the meat, out near the fence, OK?' [she chuckles] That's sad.  I'm laughing, but it was sad... Everything was terrible, but we had good food."

She is so adorable:

"I've never used a cutting board.  We didn't have all the conveniences of a cutting board and stuff."


Here is one of her recipes; from Episodes 4 and 4.5:

Peppers & Eggs - "You can't have peppers and eggs without bread"

3 Bell Peppers, she uses yellow and red
4 eggs 

The recipe comes from her mother.  Clara says that, in high school, she once traded her 'Peppers and Eggs Sandwich' with a girl who handed her a Spaghetti Sandwich.  She says, "I was so disappointed.  Never again.  I'm not trading with anybody."

She continues:

"The bag would get all full of oil but everybody wanted our sandwiches.  Everybody would have a dry sandwich with salami or ham.  We had peppers and eggs.  'Wanna trade sandwiches?' - 'No' she would say, 'we don't want to trade.'"

First you clean out the peppers, take out the seeds, and you slice them long and relatively thin.  She says you should keep the seeds, dry them, and plant them so that you have peppers for next year (obviously).  Fry the strips in a shallow pan with some oil, with some salt, until they start to brown.

Beat the 4 eggs together with a fork.  Pour them over the cooked peppers in the pan. "Then you mix them in until they settle.  and then, they're done."


Fresh bread

Warm water

In a large bowl, make a well out of the flour, and crumble the yeast into the middle of the well.  Dissolve the yeast  by adding water, and knead.  Continue adding water and mixing with your hands until it comes to a dry-clay consistency.  Cover with a towel and allow for it to rise.

Once the first rise is done, divide the mass into loaves and put into loaf pans.  Cover, and allow to rise again. With a knife, make some slits across the top.  Bake at 350 until they're golden. 

Authordavid koch
CategoriesHistory, Videos

photo by Loren Tama

Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) was created by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, wine-loving husband-wife authors of the Wall Street Journal Tastings column. OTBN is the one night each year when wine lovers around the world open that bottle they are afraid to open. It is the bottle people cherish, the one that is most special to us. Maybe we received it from a past loved one, a special winery visit, or maybe it’s a bottle we bought but couldn’t afford. Ultimately it is the bottle that, if we hold it for too long, will result in disappointment. OTBN encourages you to open that bottle.

People around the world celebrate OTBN on the last Saturday of February with food, family, friends, or sometimes in the comfort of solitude. Dottie and John highlight some of the more notable experiences in their Tastings column. 

This year for Open That Bottle Night I surprised my girlfriend by taking her to Vinopolis, a wine tasting and education experience in London (www.vinopolis.co.uk). While we found the atmosphere cheesy and the “experience” to be catered to wine neophytes, the opportunity to taste new and obscure wines made the event pleasurable. 

Of the 22 wines we tasted (we each had 11 small pours, which we shared), our favorite by far was a Mavrud from Bulgaria. We found the Mavrud laid-back and pleasing; it tasted predominantly of berries, with just enough black cherry and tobacco to add nice depth to every sip. The wine felt young, but not over-simplified or abrasive. At £6.99 this wine was a steal by UK standards, so we came home with a case. Neither of us had ever tasted Bulgarian wine before.

After Vinopolis, the special part of the evening really began. A little tipsy and laden with a case of wine, we cancelled our restaurant plans to come home and make linguine from scratch. We found it ironic to celebrate OTBN with an “everyday” wine, but our pasta was perfect and it tasted even better with a newly-acquired bottle of Mavrud. 


AuthorLoren Tama
CategoriesDrinks, History

We attended the Grilled Cheese Invitational at Dolores Park in San Francisco.  The event had the capacity for 500 "judges" which basically went to the first 500 people to get in line and make a $2 donation.

Unfortunately, what looked like 1000+ people showed up and were quite disappointed when the man with the megaphone told them there were only 20 wristbands left.

Look at the line of people winding its way around the park.

Well, guess who got the LAST TWO wristbands?

The crowd

The Competitors

I quickly became completely frustrated with the format.  There was no structure.  In order to get a sandwich, you had to fight your way through the mob, get to the front, and yell and scream like an idiot when someone waved a grilled cheese in front of you.  Some of the competitors were even making people grovel and beg.

Pathetic.  It took an hour to get 2 quarter-slices.

It was a great idea that was executed poorly.  They should have had people form a line or draw numbers.

We got a slice from their "Missionary Position" category (standard bread, standard butter and standard cheese.  No additional ingredients or flavorings allowed) and one from their "Kama Sutra" category (in which anything goes).  

The standard sandwich was OK, but I think I could make a better one using tips from our previous article Alternative Grilled Cheese Techniques.  The second was fantastic though.  I'm not sure what kind of meat was in there - but it also had some sort of bitter greens, maybe collard, maybe beet.  It added a sweet and tangy touch that balanced well with the richness of the cheese. 

So, how do you win?  Take a tip for their Official Rules page:

"10) Have sex with somebody before the competition - Let your hair down and relax, then come and grill cheese. You'd be surprised how much of a difference it really makes in the grill."

Authordavid koch
CategoriesHistory, Humor

photo by Kristin Brenemen

Fat Tuesday is right around the corner and I'm hearing more and more about King Cake.  A  friend of mine in college, Lucas, was from New Orleans and my first experience with King Cake was when his mom sent him one all the way to our dorm in California to celebrate.  

I was the lucky guy who found the little plastic baby inside.

Lucas had failed to mention there was a choking hazard buried in there...

Thank God no one was hurt or killed but it got me wondering, has anyone died from King Cake?

I dug and dug through the internet and although I couldn't find anything conclusive - that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.  I did; however, find that Mochi [the squishy marshmallow-like Japanese rice cakes] seem to kill a few elderly people each year during New Years in Japan.  

No way.  Really?  


This Associated Press clipping claims four elderly Tokyo residents died in the first two days of 1996 while choking on Mochi, and that the rice cakes had claimed the lives of five more in the first three days of 1995 as well.

In 2000 - Elderly choke on year end delicacy

In 2001 - 'Mochi' claims three more elderly

In 2007 - Four choke to death on 'mochi'

From the Japan Times, "According to data compiled by the health ministry, 4,407 people died by choking in 2006. By age, about 85 percent were over 65... By type of food, "mochi" pounded rice was the top culprit."  Again, I couldn't find any hard data but I'm starting to think that Mochi kills more people each year than sharks!

Whether it is the baby in the King Cake or a scrumptious ball of delicious yet deadly mochi, if something goes awry - and the Heimlich fails - you can always try the vacuum like this woman successfully did, Daughter uses vacuum cleaner to save dad's life (via Japan Times).

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Authordavid koch

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that some of the commonplace recipes in the ubiquitous Joy of Cooking have seen calorie contents skyrocket from its first publication in 1936 to its 75th Anniversary Edition published in 2006.

From WebMD:

"Wansink and Payne reviewed seven editions of The Joy of Cooking, looking for recipes published in each edition (printed in 1936, 1946, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1997, and 2006).

Only 18 recipes qualified: chicken gumbo, corn chowder, plain omelet, Spanish rice, chicken a la king, goulash, biscuits, blueberry muffins, cornbread, brownies, sugar cookies, rice pudding, tapioca pudding, baked macaroni, waffles, apple pie, chocolate cake, and chili con carne."

17 of the 18 recipes analyzed showed an increase in calories per serving, and the average increase was by a whopping 63%.  The gains were found to be from a variety of reasons in addition to an increase in the size of the portions: extra meat, more butter, more sugar, or adding nuts and raisins.


Who wouldn't want more butter, sugar, and extra nuts and raisins?

In that case, then I agree with Beth Wareham, editor of the 2006 edition and quoted by The LA Times: "It's such a tiny number of recipes. It's really a non-event,"

The authors of the report are Collin Payne, an Assistant Professor of Marketing at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and Brian Wansink, Director of Cornell University's Food Lab.

Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

photo by v.max1978 

Somewhere between 1,600 and 1,900 years ago a cook book was written titled, “De re Coquinara” (Concerning Cookery) and attributed to a Roman gourmet named Apicius.  Although there are records in China dating thousands of years earlier, including a 9,000 year old recipe for beer, this may be the first cookbook in Western culture. 

It contains some very strange entries, from the article Pluck a Flamingo (The Economist):

"There are recipes for ostrich and flamingo, befitting the sweep of the Roman Empire. Apicius instructs cooks to add honey to almost everything, including lobster. He teaches them how to cook one dish so that it resembles another and how to disguise bad food.

One recipe explains that stale birds should be cooked in a sauce of pepper, lovage, thyme, mint, hazelnuts, dates, honey, vinegar, liquamen (fish sauce), wine and mustard. Through that concoction it would be impossible to detect a stale smell, or indeed any smell at all."

Some of the dishes in the text include:


  • Boiled Ostrich

  • Treatment of Strong Smelling Birds of every Description

  • Another Treatment of Odor

  • Sauce for Partridge, Heath-cock and Turtle-dove

  • Julian Meal Mush
  • Lentils and Cow-parsnips

  • Peas Supreme Style

  • Spayed Sow's Womb

  • Stuffed Sow's Belly

  • Another Way to Cook Lung



"An Every-day Dish" (Patina quotidiana #142)

"Pieces of cooked sow's udder, pieces of cooked fish, chicken meat and similar bits, mince uniformly, season well and carefully.  Take a metal dish for a mould. Break eggs in another bowl and beat them. in a mortar put pepper, lovage and origany, which crush; moisten this with broth, wine, raisin wine and a little oil; empty it into the bowl with the beaten eggs, mix and heat it in the hot water bath.

Thereupon when this is thickened mix it with the pieces of meat. now prepare alternately layers of stew and pancakes, interspersed with oil in the metal mould reserved for this purpose until full, cover with one real good pancake cut into it a vent hole for chimney on the surface bake in hot water bath and when done turn out upside down into another dish. Sprinkle with pepper and serve."

Sounds delicious.

A translation of the entire “De re Coquinara” can be found here.


Authordavid koch

photo by architekt2

If Ettore Boiardi only knew what ConAgraFoods was doing with his name (albiet Americanized) he would likely not approve.  The story of Boiardi (from Wikipedia):

"The Chef Boyardee product began when its founder, Ettore Boiardi, founded an Italian restaurant, Giardino d'Italia, at East 9th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.  People began asking Ettore for his recipe and samples of his ingredients, and as demand grew he opened a factory in 1928 to keep up with orders.

Ten years later, he moved his factory to Milton, Pennsylvania. When his product began mass-distributing, he decided to name his product "Boy-Ar-Dee" to help Americans properly pronounce his name."

I'm all for getting creative but with reagards to food, a line needs to be drawn where children especially begin to become alienated from what they're actually eating.  How is a 6 year old suppose to draw the conclusion that his pasta dinosaurs came from a field of Semolina?

Here are some of the more off-the-wall products with the Chef Boyardee label on them:

ABC's 'n 123's Mini Meatballs - Nothing says delicious like food shaped like letters and numbers. 

Beefaroni - I have nothing to say about this one.

BIG Beefaroni - A bigger version of the previous entry that made me speechless.

Cheesy Burger Macaroni - I like cheeseburgers AND macaroni; however, I don't think they should be stuffed into a can together.

Cheesy Burger Ravioli - Same "two dishes, one can" rule applies for ravioli.

Chili Cheese Dog Twistaroni - A new pasta appears here, the twistaroni, not to be confused with Fusilli.

Dinosaurs with Mini Meatballs - There's nothing quite like a perfectly al dente dinosaur.

Mini Bites Micro Beef Ravioli - I prefer my Micro Beef meduim rare.

Mini Bites Mini Ravioli with Mini Meatballs - Perfect for jockeys?

Nacho Cheese Twistaroni - The twistaroni with a Mexican... twist?  Pun intended.

Pepperoni Pizzazaroli - Ahh, the Pizzazaroli.  Don't confuse this with Pizzoccheri.


Authordavid koch
CategoriesHistory, Humor
3 CommentsPost a comment

I recently discovered The Hard To Find Grocer's online store where you can revisit those sometimes-odd tastes from your childhood.  I've been perusing the virtual aisles and been finding all sorts of goodies worth trying.  What immediately intrigued me was Aisle 8: Canned Meats, Canned Pasta, Chili, and Soups.

I was hoping to find one regional favorite close to my heart, Cincinnati Chili.  Having never heard of it before, my wife introduced me to Cincinnati Chili in my early 20's - which is a beef sauce made with pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc.) and poured over spaghetti.  Once the novelty wears off, it can be pretty good when done right.  

Although they don't have any "Cinici Chili", they did have some other fun stuff.  So without further adieu, let's check out what The Hard To Find Grocer has to offer on aisle 8: 



Tony Packo's Hot Dog Sauce with Beef - "The authentic sauce that tops the Hungarian dogs at Tony Packo's in Toledo - made famous by Corporal Klinger of M*A*S*H* fame in the mid-70's. Tony's original recipe remains a closely held secret!" - Maybe Jimmie Hoffa got whacked by Tony Packo and ended up in a can of hot dog sauce...


Wolf Brand Hot Dog Sauce - "The Original Wolf recipe was developed in 1895 by a Texas ranch cook. Sold in Corsicana, TX in front of the Blue Front saloon for 5 cents a bowl, it soon became a hit! This unique blend of spices, seasonings and lean cuts of beef has flavored the lives of generations." - This looks a lot like Cincinnati Chili... or the dog got sick again...


Sweet Sue Whole Chicken in a Can - "One whole chicken, ready for soups, stews and quick dinners. Great to have on hand in your pantry for emergency dinners. Sweet Sue, a division of Sara Lee." - First of all, I'm wondering how big is this can?  Secondly, I'm thinking this would be perfect for all those times when I thought to myself... I wish I had a whole chicken in a can right now...


Underwood Chicken Spread - "Begun more than 170 years ago on Boston's Russia Wharf by William Underwood. Underwood's canned foods were among staples pioneers took westward in their covered wagons. The "Underwood Devil" appeared in 1870 as a descriptive logo for the process of "deviling"(ground meat processed with special seasonings). The oldest existing trademark still stands for quality and great taste!" - If you prefer your chicken in a spreadable application, this was made just for you...


Armour Potted Meat Spread - "Delicious on crackers or for use in recipes, also creates a hearty sandwich. Convenient on the shelf or on the go!" - I like how the can's tagline is, "Made with Chicken and Beef."  Well in that case, I'll take a dozen!  The other juicy slice of advertising temptation on the label is, "America's Favorite."  Is this really true?  Is Armour brand America's favorite meat spread?  So many questions, so few answers...


Authordavid koch
CategoriesHistory, Humor

Ital Cuisine photo by svacher

Today, February 6th, is Bob Marley's birthday and it would have been his 64th.  I thought today would be appropriate to investigate Rastafarian Cuisine, also known as Ital (from vital).  The Ital diet adheres to Biblical guidelines, mostly GenesisDeuteronomy, and especially Leviticus.  Ital dietary guidlines are, like anything else, open to many different interpretations.  

At it's core, Rastafarian diets are essentially composed of foods that are fresh and natural; avoiding chemicals, additives, coloring, flavoring, and preservatives.  Most Rastafarians also do not consume coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, or even Western medicines.  

Herbs, however, are GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe: an FDA term).  Many Rastafarians are vegetarian, but those who do not abstain from all meat generally avoid pork, shellfish, and often red meat.  Those who do eat fish, generally avoid fish more than 12 inches long.

Most also take measures to avoid consuming metal.  In order to avoid metal, some Rastafarians avoid cooking and serving food in metal vessels, and some even avoid metal eating utensils.  For the same reason, some also avoid foods that have been canned.  

Many avoid preparing food with salt and/or oil.  What's left you ask?  The bulk of their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  I found this recipe on Jamiacans.com:



  • 1lb 8ozs to 1lb 14ozs sweet potato (I used 1lb 14ozs in this Pudding)
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 ½tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 to 1 ¼4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups soaked raisins (I have mine soaked in Sherry for over 5 years now. I top it off with more Raisins, Prunes and Sherry every time it gets too low in the bottle.)
  • ½ - 1 cup flour (More or less flour will make it firmer or less so I used half a cup)
  • 5ozs Beet Root or Carrots (optional)


  1. Puree sweet potato and coconut milk in blender
  2. Pour mixture into a bowl
  3. Dice beet root
  4. Add all the ingredients to the bowl. Mix and pour into a well greased 8" or 10" round tin
    (vegetable shortening to grease the tin)
  5. Bake at 350F for 1 ½ hours then 300F for 25 mins
  6. Remove from the oven immediately.
  7. Best eaten the next day or at least 5 hours after cooking.
  • The pudding sets as it cools.

    And this book, specifically on Rastafarian Cuisine.


    Authordavid koch
    2 CommentsPost a comment


    Following Denny's Super Bowl ad offering a Free Grand Slam Breakfast today, long lines like this one in Danville, CA were ubiquitous across the nation.  

    The LA Times reports that 5 of the top 40 searches on Google Trends were Denny's related, and that in some areas the Denny's servers went down due to the heavy traffic.  Likely from people searching for their nearest location.

    Denny's stock (DENN) saw a spike from close of Wall Street Friday to the close of Wall Street today of almost 14%.   I wonder how long it will hold on to the boost.


    Authordavid koch
    CategoriesHistory, Humor

    Samoas vs. Caramel deLites

    Have you ever wondered why are there Samoas AND Caramel deLites?  

    • Do-si-dos AND Peanut Butter Sandwiches? 
    • Trefoils AND Shortbread?  
    • Tagalongs AND Peanut Butter Patties?  
    • All Abouts AND Thanks-A-Lots?  
    • Lemon Chalet Cremes AND Lemonades?

    The reason is there are 2 major companies that produce the cookies for the Girl Scouts and they keep some of the names to themselves.  There is Little Brownie Bakers - and there is ABC Bakers both making Cookies for the Girl Scouts.

    From Wikipedia: "Little Brownie Bakers (LBB), a subsidiary of Keebler (which is owned by Kellogg's); and ABC Bakers, a subsidiary of Interbake Food (which is owned by George Weston Limited.)  ABC Bakers has been making cookies for the Girl Scouts since 1939."

    I always thought the different names were regional (like places with a heavy Pacific Islander population had somehow rejected the name "Samoas."  However, I found another juicy tidbit on Yahoo! Answers posted by Shahid who seems to have an inside scoop:

    "[Samoas are] one of the few cookies in the group that has differences depending on the bakery. The reason there are two names is because while similar, the cookies have some differences.

    Samoas are made by Little Brownie Bakers. They are circular, with an orange color and are thicker from top to bottom, usually they also contain more caramel per coconut, and they are made with dark chocolate.

    The Caramel deLites, made by ABC Bakers, are actually hexagonal, with a more yellowish tinge, are made with milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate, and more of the cookie comes through in the flavor because of the lower caramel content."

     Caramel deLites



    So there you have it.  Case closed.






    What can we expect in the coming months from the Girl Scouts?   Cinna-spins and Sugar Free Chocolate Chips were introduced in 2008.  Cinna-spins are cinnamon-flavored cookies that come in 100-calorie packs and Sugar Free Chocolate Chips are exactly that.  

    For 2009, they will introduce the Dulce De Leche, a Latin inspired caramel cookie.  


    Dulce de Leche



    Authordavid koch
    2 CommentsPost a comment

    photo by Pictures from Heather

    So it's 2009 and parents everywhere are teaching their daughters to become sidewalk sales superstars, hawking their cookies to the masses.  A tradition for more than 90 years, as early as 1917, they began encouraging the Scouts to bake their own cookies locally.  They've been going strong ever since - except for WWII when they sold calendars instead.   

    According to an article on CNN Money titled, "Girl Scout Cookies: A tasty lesson in business," - what began as a simple way to raise funds has turned into a $700 million business and that the cookie drive teaches young women to become entrepreneurs.

    It's no joke.  Supposedly in 2008, 15-year-old Jennifer Sharpe from Dearborn, Michigan sold 17,328 boxes of cookies.  As if that's not enough; "The Cookie Queen" Elizabeth Brinton is attrubuted for having sold more than 100 000 box in her time as a Girl Scout between 1978 and 1985.  

    "I push a lot," she is quoted as saying, "Sometimes they would try to sneak past you, and you look them in the eye and make them feel guilty. After all, the cookies taste good, and it for a good cause."


    Here is a recipe from girlscouts.org (possibly from the 1930's):


    1 cup butter
    1 cup sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
    2 eggs
    2 tablespoons milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2 cups flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons baking powder

    "Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies."

    - Dave Koch

    Authordavid koch