Archive for the ‘Internet Features’ Category

Maine Men

In October 2009, two twenty-something guys opened up Luke’s Lobster— a seafood shack in New York’s East Village. Less than a year later, they expanded, setting up a second, larger Luke’s on the city’s the Upper East Side. Here, in a new GQ blog series, Ben Conniff reveals why he and Luke Holden quit their day jobs to dive into the shark-infested waters of the N.Y.C. restaurant business—and how they’re scrapping their way to the top of the heap

from GQ, July 29, 2010

One afternoon in July of 2009, my cell phone started buzzing. I had recently sent an article to a popular food magazine, and my editor’s name was blinking on my screen. I’d been freelance writing for some decent publications in New York, but money was still tight. My editor was writing to say she loved the story. She was even going to pay me this time. As soon as the story ran. Sometime in 2010. Exactly one year ago today, I opened my laptop and turned to the place where everyone goes when they discover something missing in their lives: Craigslist.

I was ready to stop writing about food and start making it. But no restaurants were looking to hire an Ivy League keyboard pecker whose only food-service experience was seven teenage years spent eating the merchandise at a Connecticut doughnut shop. Surfing Craigslist was a real Hail Mary, and that day it paid off: I came across an ad for a nascent lobster-roll business looking for someone smart, talented, and hardworking to help create something special. I was none of those things. But I was sure I could learn.

lobster-roll-in-hands.jpg

Luke’s Lobster roll

Continue reading

Advertisements

Sails and Tails

Throw a proper Maine lobster bake–anywhere

from Tasting Table Everywhere, Jun 23, 2009

windjammer-lgThe water in New England is still a bit chilly for swimming, but no matter: When Yankees get sand between their toes, their first thoughts are not of sunscreen and snorkels, but of lobster and lemon butter.

Well-timed to coincide with the recent plunge in lobster prices, a new cookbook features a lobster-bake tutorial from the masters: schooner captains from Maine, the lobster capital of America.

Windjammer Cooking, by Jean Kerr and Spencer Smith, is a collection of recipes from the state’s windjammers: old fishing schooners that have been repurposed for passenger cruises. On every cruise, the captain anchors at a swath of sand and fires up an all-you-can-eat lobster bake.

Here’s how it’s done:
1. Cover the bottom of your largest pot or a galvanized-steel kettle with 2 to 3 inches of seawater (or lightly salted water). Position the pot over an open fire. Bring the water to a boil and add lobsters. Pile clams, mussels or other shellfish on top. Next, add a layer of onions, garlic and potatoes. Cover with a thin layer of seaweed and add corn (in the husk, but with the ends trimmed to save space).

2. Cover everything with a thick layer of seaweed, cover the pot and let steam for about 20 minutes. When finished, the potatoes should be tender, the shellfish should be open and the lobster meat should be white and firm. Serve with melted butter and lemon wedges.

Out of the Ashes

A winemaker turns disaster into a delicious barbecue sauce

from Tasting Table Everywhere, May 22, 2009

In October 2005, an arsonist set fire to a wine warehouse in Vallejo, California, ruining $100 million worth of wine from 92 wineries. Most winemakers left their bottles to the bulldozer; Julie Johnson just couldn’t let go.

So Johnson, the owner of Tres Sabores, an organic winery in nearby Rutherford, threw on a Tyvek suit and gloves and rescued all the wine she could. Her wines were “cooked,” as they say (though quite literally this time), and undrinkable, but she took about 5,000 bottles home to see if she could do anything with their contents.

She boiled down some Zinfandel and added produce from her farm. A few trials later, she emerged with a sauce, ¿Porqué No? Fire-Roasted Zinfandel Marinade and Grilling Glaze.

Named after one of her perished wines, ¿Porqué No? has the berry aroma and smoky pepper of the Zin, complemented with pureed persimmon and pomegranate and a spicy dose of serrano chile. Johnson left sugar and tomato out of her recipe, so the flavor is tangy and complex–and not at all cloying.

As its name suggests, the sauce has multiple uses: Johnson likes to marinate pork or chicken in the mixture, then brush it on again as the meat grills. Or you can try it in her homespun recipe, a lusty, blue-cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped burger (click here to download).

¿Porque No? Marinade and Glaze ($14 for 500 ml) is available at tressabores.com

Randy’s 50th Anniversary

from Riffin.com

randysFor fans of Reggae, Ska, Dance Hall, and Dub, there’s no better way to trace the lineage of your favorite tunes then with the recently released Randy’s 50th Anniversary from VP Records. The album mines the best recordings to come out of Vincent “Randy” Chin’s iconic Kingston record shop in the 1960’s and 70’s. The fifty tracks paint a clear portrait of the process by which Jamaican artists melded American pop music with Caribbean rhythmic sensibilities to create genres all their own that have continue to flower into new manifestations to this day.

The influence of U.S. pop recordings is clear in early tracks like Alton and Eddie’s “Let Me Dream,” a fairly straightforward doo-wop, covers like Bob Marley’s laid-back, matured (and overall better) version of the Archies’ bubble gum hit “Sugar Sugar,” and later Alton Ellis’s bright, syncopated cover of “Too Late to Turn Back Now,” originally by the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose.

But a clear Caribbean vibe is also present from the start. The appropriate opening track, “Independent Jamaica” glides atop Caribbean percussion. A heavy Ska backbeat propels Rico Rodriguez’s “Rico Special.” By the end of the first disc, the social critiques of Peter Tosh and romantic plaints of The Gaylads are set to a rhythm like nothing to come from the U.S.
Continue reading

The lighter side of badass

eastwood

from Uinterview.com

The last thing you’ll learn from Gran Torino is that Clint Eastwood is not a good singer. But on your way to this less-than-stunning revelation you’ll learn many more pleasurable lessons. You’ll find out that even at the age of 78, Eastwood is still an uncompromising badass. You’ll also see that age has brought even deeper introspection and a good deal more humor than he typically puts on display.

Gran Torino is not a comedy. Yet for the majority of the movie I was laughing. The plot centers on a crotchety, stubborn, conservative racist whose good old white neighbors have all fled an incursion of Hmong immigrants. At the start, we see him as his children, grandchildren, and neighbors see him: as a bastard. But he quickly reveals that the old donkey is in fact quite smart, quick with a joke, and shockingly not petty—he befriends the teenager who tries to steal his beloved classic car. While many of the movie’s jokes are at the expense of Eastwood’s character, Walt, at least half feature him as the comedian. Continue reading

Sports Fans Dying Hard

from Health.com

By Benjamin Conniff
Getty Images

Getty Images

TUESDAY, Dec. 23, 2008 (Health.com) — With more than a dozen college bowl games left to play this season and the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl on the horizon, sports fans may be focusing on couch surfing, beer, and nachos. But they might want to take a second look at the exercise habits of the sports teams they support.

A new survey suggests that die-hard sports fans weigh more, eat fattier foods, and have worse health habits in general than folks who don’t care as much about sports.

“The irony is seeing unhealthy people watch athletes at the peak of physical fitness,” says Daniel R. Sweeney, PhD, an assistant professor of sport management at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), who conducted the survey with Donna Quimby, PhD, an associate professor of exercise science.

The researchers conducted an online survey of 14,000 people at UALR, including faculty, staff, and students. They divided 515 respondents into two groups—die-hard fans and those who were less devoted to sports teams. About 70% were students.

“Those that highly identify with a team are more emotionally involved and personally committed,” says Sweeney. “They usually spend more time, energy, and resources on rooting for their team.”

Despite sports fans’ religious-like devotion to their heroes on the field, the researchers found that they didn’t appear to emulate their health habits. In fact, devoted sports fans had a higher body mass index than non-sports fans, and were more likely to be overweight, with an average BMI of 27.4, compared with the nonfans’ more slender 25. (A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.) Continue reading

Where are the Bonds of yesteryear?

from Uinterview.com, 11/30/08

bondIn Quantum of Solace, James Bond is stripped of his credit cards, his passports, and his mission. Why didn’t they strip the name James Bond while they were at it? The creators of the most recent two Bond films have removed just about every vestige of the character I once knew. The high-tech gadgets are a thing of the past, as are Bond’s standard sidekicks, Q and Moneypenny (though Daniel Craig is lobbying for Q’s return). Bond’s bevy of willing women shrinks with each new installment. His only successful venture here is with the facile (in every sense of the word) Agent Fields (Gemma Arterton). The fiery, complicated Camille (Olga Kurylenko) is just the kind of woman with whom Bond should end the film locked in a passionate embrace. In Q of S [SPOILER ALERT] the girl just doesn’t give a damn.
Continue reading

Crisis and recovery: The Dow Jones Industrials

From MSN Money, September 2008

This is a screen capture of an MSN multimedia feature for which I did the research and a bulk of the writing. See the full feature here.