The vintage travel poster aesthetic is rad... but a trip to Belize for Chocolate Week is even rad-er-er. Email them (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more info.
As a followup to the Top 5 "Food Movies" post, here's our best of list for "Food Scenes" from the silver screen. There are so many great ones, but here are a few of our favorites:
1. Gray's Papaya Picnic on a desert mesa - Fools Rush In You betcha – the NYC legend of hot dogs gets shipped across the country in the name of love! This is the way to a man's heart, ladies. Incidentally, this movie is full of other great food scenes, including meeting your future wife while waiting for the restroom at a Mexican restaurant, a pregnant pizza dinner in a half-built nightclub, a tamale-centric family fiesta with an unexpected guest, and of course – a Cinco de Mayo debacle involving insults to the guacamole.
2. The Fake Orgasm - When Harry Met Sally Sally makes her point in front of the lunchtime rush at a busy New York deli. Writer/Director Rob Reiner's mother chimes in with "I'll have what she's having," to put a somewhat cheesy (but still hilarious given the context) end to a classic food scene.
3. Michael's Initiation - The Godfather: Part I When Michael Corleone kills Sollozzo at Louis' Italian Restaurant in the Bronx, he's gone past the point of no return when it comes to the family business. Fittingly, this character transformation takes place in a sleepy family run joint in the Bronx. The scene was shot at an old place called Luna Restaurant, and apparently featured the real-life proprietors of said restaurant.
4. The Milk Check - The Big Lebowski However subtle it may be, the opening scene of The Big Lebowski find The Dude in the supermarket dairy section, opening a carton of milk for a quick taste test to ensure the freshness that is essential for a great White Russian, only to proceed to the checkout with milk mustache in tow. This is perhaps the perfect way to introduce the character.
5. Bad Dates – Raiders of the Lost Ark Again, food plays a quick supporting role here, but the tension created is genius. You see an assassin poison the bowl of dates right before Indiana grabs one to munch. Indiana all but eats the date a few times while chatting with Sallah, always interrupted by something. He finally gets a moment to eat, launching the date into the air. Sallah grabs it just before it drops into Indy's mouth, quipping "bad dates" as he looks over at the dead monkey next to the date bowl. Good old Sallah, always getting Indy out of trouble!
Another top 5 is on the way, but instead of film we'll focus on beer pairings!
Last year we were fortunate enough to spend a few weeks galavanting about Tuscany. Like any foreign land, it's best to know some locals who can show you around, and we were lucky enough to connect with some great people well before visiting Italy. They shared some incredible meals with us, and clued us into some interesting food culture that seems to be a rarity in the US – home-made charcuterie.
While there are plenty of hardcore foodies who'll get their DIY panties in a bunch because they've been curing their own pancetta since they were in diapers, I think it's safe to say that while home brewing is rampant in every corner of this country, making salami in your bathrobe is a rarity for American foodies. It's even become difficult for chefs to operate legitimate charcuterie programs in New York City restaurants!
But in Tuscany, and almost certainly across Italia, making your own salume is what men do. It is the Italian equivalent to the home brew craze. Pretty rad, right?
Not only are they making salume, they are making some GREAT salume. Our new Tuscan friend Andrea and his buddies have access to a tiny farm that raises a handful of pigs each year specifically for artisan salume-making, so their ingredients are some of the best you can dream of. Unlike San Diego, Tuscany of course is stocked with old stone houses complete with cellars that provide an ideal environment for curing. Add some charcuterie-nerdiness and a healthy dose of patience (good pancetta takes at least a year and a half, says Andrea), and you've got yourself some world-class salume.
Now maybe I misunderstood the broken English of our new friends, since I'm a wee bit unlearned when it comes to the Italian language. And yes, home-charcuterie is undoubtedly more rare anywhere compared with home brewing in the US. And yeah I know that other Italian home-curers probably don't have access to meat that good.
But either way, there are some people crafting some incredible cured meat in the traditional Italian style, making good on the promise of Slow Food in the country where that movement was born. And of course we at Mother Sponge can't help but share tasty stories such as this, for we are unable to share Andrea's hard-earned salume with you in the literal sliced sense.
I hope to see these kinds of food traditions grow in America, and we'd love to hear about anyone out there making salume at home.
One of our favorite local artisan food producers, Knight Salumi, had to close its doors earlier this year. Was it because their product was lackluster, their competition too difficult to overcome, their market uninterested? Nope, nah, and finally... not a chance. The culprit was a broken drain and a clerical error in paperwork.
As reported by Edible San Diego, Knight found itself haulting all pre-holiday season production at it's Kearny Mesa facility to fix a broken drain pipe as required by the USDA. Without knowing the details, let's give the benefit of the doubt to the USDA on that one – facilities should be in tip-top shape to ensure healthy conditions.
Knight was able to utilize a client's facility in Illinois to help fill in during the drain repair, and production commenced. But just when they thought they'd dodged a bullet, the USDA confiscated a 6,000 pound order, all because of a missing signature. Even after Knight had the product tested for safety, the USDA would not release it. The loss of that order was too much financial burden to bear, causing Knight to close.
Again, the USDA has protocol for a reason, and of course that HACCP form should have been filled out correctly. But the real question here is, can't there be room for a human to determine when a clerical error can be remedied in order to avoid the potential closing of an otherwise thriving small business?
Knight Salumi is not alone in facing sometimes questionably strict food health regulations. It's apparently become extremely difficult for restaurants to operate legitimate charcuterie programs – in New York City of all places!
While we're sad to see Knight Salumi go, we have hope for great things from charcuterie producers across America. Perhaps these challenges will only propel this renaissance into a fervor!
Photo by IndirectHeat