Thoughts about food and technology
Fri, 16 Jul 2010 15:13:39 +0000
Las Vegas and Diets
Mon, 02 Oct 2006 14:00:37 +0000
When Morgen and I were on vacation in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, we knew it would wreak havoc with our ongoing attempt to follow the . Of course, we already make exceptions for things like parties, testing Thanksgiving dinner recipes, and whatnot—and then, as necessary, go back to the stricter Phase 1 for a bit to reverse the damage. It’s no big deal. So we knew the trip would involve some digressions from the preferred list of foods, but we still wanted to keep with the program as much as we reasonably could.
No surprise: Vegas is an astonishingly difficult place to be on just about any sort of diet, but especially so when the diet restricts starches and sugars. South Beach isn’t completely carb-averse like Atkins (thank heavens!), but when you do eat carbs, you’re definitely looking for whole grains and foods with a low glycemic index (i.e., they raise your blood glucose level as slowly as possible). But everywhere we went the menus were full of pasta, potatoes, and white breads—not to mention excessively fatty foods and very fruity drinks.
We finally stumbled on a fantastic restaurant called
in an obscure corner of the Aladdin’s (soon-to-be Planet Hollywood’s) Desert Passage mall. It’s a Brazilian Grille, and it works like this. Your waiter brings you a basket of appetizers (fried banana, falafel, and pão de queijo—really too good to pass up), and then you start with a visit to the cold bar. They had plenty of healthy, high-fiber/low-fat salad-type things there, as well as , olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and other common South Beach ingredients that pleased us mightily.
When you’re ready to move on to the meat, you flip over a little card on your table, and then waiters start appearing at your elbow every few minutes bearing long skewers of freshly grilled meats; you can choose any or all, and they just keep coming back until you decide to call it quits. We had several kinds of steak, chicken, and turkey—all of which were outstanding. We passed on the pork, sausage, and duck (though I’m sure they would have been delicious too) because of the higher fat content. I lost track of how many different meat varieties we were offered, but it was a lot, and the quality was outstanding.
The price was quite reasonable to start with, and we found a coupon in the back of one of our in-room magazines that gave us, I think, $5 or $10 off per person. (We did pay for drinks and an irresistible dessert—the Chocolate Eruption Cake—but they were worth it.) We left feeling very satisfied, but having consumed only a tiny amount of starches overall. I couldn’t believe how few people were there: this place deserves to be packed every night.
I should mention, by the way, that most of the buffets in Vegas can be quite diet-friendly, as long as you’re able to exercise self-control. We saw roasted turkey, all the good fresh vegetables and salad stuff, and even a selection of sugar-free desserts. As long as you don’t eat all you can, you can do pretty well.
We also walked by the empty lot that was once the site of the Westward Ho Hotel and Casino—and home of the . We observed a moment of silence in its memory.
Wed, 20 Sep 2006 14:00:24 +0000
A couple of months ago, I started running into my dentist pretty frequently while walking around and shopping in my San Francisco neighborhood. He told me he’d recently opened a new office, which conveniently is only a few blocks from my home. Shortly thereafter, I ran into him again at, of all places, a restaurant supply store. I was there shopping for apparatus I needed in the course of testing recipes for . He told me that along with his brothers, he was about to open a new restaurant just over the hill in Noe Valley, in a space formerly occupied by a diner called Hungry Joe’s (no relation).
The new restaurant is called the . It’s a small but classy, modern diner-type place with a terrific selection of omelets, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and similar fare. We stopped in for brunch when they’d been open less than a week, and found both the food and the service to be excellent—though of course we can’t make an entirely objective assessment since they’re surely trying extra hard to please their new customers, and since we know one of the proprietors. (He stopped by our table and asked if he could bring us anything else, and right after asking for butter I realized I’d missed a great opportunity. I should have said “floss.”)
I suspect we’ll be eating there often. It’s our kind of food (not entirely South Beach Diet-friendly, but I can hardly fault them for that), and the place has a nice, friendly vibe. The several other times we’ve been past it, it’s been hopping with customers, both inside and outside on the sidewalk tables. Be sure to save room for the lemon cheesecake.
If you’re looking for a nice place in San Francisco for a light meal, drop by Toast at 1748 Church Street (at Day). They’re open 7 days a week: 7–9 Monday through Saturday; 7–4 on Sundays.
And by the way, if you need a good dentist, go to Anise Naser at . I can’t recommend him highly enough—he’s done excellent work (including a couple of root canals and crowns) and he really takes an interest in his patients.
Mon, 18 Sep 2006 14:00:41 +0000
Morgen and I have been (mostly) on the
for a couple of months, and for those who know anything about it, it involves eating a lot of eggs. As a result, I’ve been thinking more than usual about different ways of cooking them, just to have some variety.
Still, I was a bit shocked to find out how many different ways people had come up with to perform the mysterious process of hard-boiling eggs; I listed
on SenseList. Why should it be that hard or confusing?
Further research led me to
at Khymos.org, which digs into the science of egg cooking in excruciating (and fascinating) detail. It turns out that all the methods in my list are really approximations, because they don’t take into account important variables such as egg size, the exact starting temperature of the water and the eggs, the ambient air pressure, and so on. But the most interesting fact I learned, which frankly had never occurred to me, is that (just like the white meat and dark meat of a turkey) the white and yolk of an egg cook at different rates, and therefore getting either of them to the desired consistency could have adverse effects on the other. Even
can’t address this problem.
The solution, apparently, is to cook the eggs at a much lower (i.e., lower-than-boiling) temperature for a significantly longer time—unfortunately a bit tricky given the equipment in most kitchens. But that’s if you want the egg to be utterly perfect and you’re extremely nitpicky. I’m not, and for the record, I hard-boil my own eggs following
Cover eggs with cold water
Heat to boiling
Cover pan, remove from heat, wait 12 minutes
Peel immediately under cold running water
Update: Erik Fooladi at Science- and Fooducation has a marvelous post on the topic: .