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  1. #1
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    What your food cravings really mean

    What your food cravings really mean
    Posted at 08/19/2012 12:15 PM | Updated as of 08/19/2012 1:11 PM

    5 food cravings conquered

    We all crave "bad" foods from time to time, but your cravings could signal more than you think. Check out these hidden meanings behind five common food cravings and find out how you can overcome them.

    What you crave: Chocolate
    What you need: Magnesium
    Healthy food swaps: Dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, medjool dates

    Chocolate is one of the world’s most commonly craved foods and, while you may feel as though you are addicted to the sweet treat, it is believed that what many of us are craving when we are hankering after some chocolate is in fact the mineral magnesium.

    To help ease chocolate cravings, make sure that you are getting enough magnesium in your daily diet through healthy sources such as nuts, seeds and pulses. Also, when those chocolate cravings strike, try switching to 85% dark chocolate. Although chocolate can be high in fat, dark chocolate also has plenty of health benefits due to its abundance of antioxidants. Some of the reported health benefits include its ability to slow down muscle ageing, fight disease, prevent wrinkles, boost brain health and prevent heart disease. If dark chocolate doesn’t hit the spot, try snacking on medjool dates, which are rich in magnesium and a natural solution to sugar cravings.

    What you crave: Pasta and bread
    What you need: Serotonin
    Healthy food swaps: Sweet potatoes, lentils, beans

    Research has found that eating carbohydrates stimulates the brain’s production of serotonin – the happy hormone. This may be why many of us crave stodgy "comfort" foods such as pasta and bread when we are feeling blue.

    To get a healthy fix of carbs (minus the blood sugar crashes and energy slumps) opt for nutritious and low GI carbohydrates which will release a steady supply of energy and keep you feeling full for longer. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include beans, lentils, oats and sweet potatoes. As well as switching your carbohydrate sources, you can also reduce cravings by boosting your serotonin levels through exercise and mood-boosting activities. Try using uplifting essential oils such as neroli and lemon which also stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain.

    What you crave: Sugar
    What you need: Chromium
    Healthy swap: Grape juice, whole grains, apples

    We are all tempted by sugary treats and desserts from time to time. However, if you find yourself experiencing regular, intense cravings for sugar, this could be a symptom of low levels of the mineral chromium in your diet.

    To maintain normal blood sugar levels throughout the day and keep those cravings at bay, try to snack on foods rich in the mineral chromium. Apples and whole grains are good sources of chromium and can also provide healthier solutions to sugar cravings. Snack on apple slices or porridge sweetened with honey or dried fruit next time you are tempted to indulge. Try also replacing your sugary carbonated drink with a glass of antioxidant-rich grape juice, which is also a great source of chromium.

    What you crave: Burgers
    What you need: Iron
    Healthy swap: Lean meat, fish, pulses, nuts

    Craving burgers, sausages or steak? Intense and frequent cravings for red meat could be a sign that you are deficient in iron – an essential mineral which is required for the production of healthy red blood cells.

    Unless you are opposed to eating meat for ethical reasons, craving meat is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as you make healthy choices. Rather than filling up on highly processed and fatty sources of meat such as burgers, opt for quality lean meat such as chicken or turkey. Alternatively, oily fish is a good source of iron and contains many other health-boosting nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids. For those who wish to refrain from eating meat, vegan sources of iron such as beans, lentils and nuts can help to ease your cravings.

    What you crave: Salty snacks
    What you need: To relax
    Healthy swap: Popcorn, baked potato, edamame beans

    You may think that your cravings for savoury snacks are simply based on how good they taste, but research suggests your salt cravings could in fact be a symptom of stress. Research from the University of Cincinnati has shown that the sodium in salt blunts the body's natural responses to stress by inhibiting stress hormones, meaning that your cravings for salty foods could be your body’s attempt to deal with stress.

    The best way to overcome stress-induced salt cravings is of course to find a healthier way to deal with stress. Experiment with different relaxation techniques, such as exercise, meditation or aromatherapy, to find one that works for you. If you are still craving salty snacks, opt for those rich in nutrients and low in fat (such as lightly salted popcorn) for a healthier option. As potassium can help to reduce the harmful effects of sodium on blood pressure and the heart, choose foods which are rich in potassium too, such as salted edamame beans or a lightly seasoned baked potato. Read more on

  2. #2
    5 Well-Known Tips for Healthy Eating (That Don't Work)

    By Ryan J. Leeds, Chan Teik Onn May 14, 2013 1,190,291 views

    Considering that eating is the basic building block of survival, you'd think we'd pretty much have it down by now, yet it's hard to find a subject more prone to bullshit and misinformation than the question of what constitutes a healthy diet. That might be because we really don't like the answer ("Eat mostly plants!"), but also because there are plenty of so-called experts insisting that ...

    #5. Diet Soda Helps You Lose Weight

    The Myth:

    Nobody truly likes artificial sweeteners, but they're an accepted evil, because how else can you replace all the sinks in your home with soda fountains without feeling guilty? Of course, we all know that such freedom comes at a price -- in this case, that price being that they taste horrid, at least for the first few months before your tongue just gives up. What else can we expect when aspartame is concocted by Satan himself from beetle asses and baby tears? And hey, limitless soda, guys!

    The Reality:

    Scientists noticed a strange trend: People who drink diet soda do not in fact lose any weight. They reason appears to have something to do with how your body processes sugar.

    You see, with the exception of one organ in particular, your body is kind of a dumbass. That's why, when you wash down your meal with a half-gallon of fake sweetness, your gut is all "Dur, sugar!" and tells your pancreas to get all revved up to process said shitload of sugar. Because your pancreas is not the sharpest tool in the shed, it starts cranking out insulin. This is a problem, since there is, in fact, no shitload of sugar to process.

    This kicks off a vicious cycle in which your body A) absorbs more of the sugar that you ingest from other foods and B) craves more food, since you got it all aroused with promises of sugar overload and then cockblocked it with a bunch of counterfeit sugar instead. Researchers point out that this "might explain in part why obesity has risen in parallel with the use of artificial sweeteners."

    So while you may think you're helping out your diet by allowing yourself some low-calorie (but still sweet) alternatives, chances are you're actually screwing over your waistline in the long run.

    #4. Sugar Causes Diabetes

    The Myth:

    Sugar has long been the diet bogeyman for kids and adults alike. And besides transforming you into a hyper, sugar-fueled, acne-scarred human blob, a diet with too much sugar carries the lovely side effect of surefire diabetes when you're older.

    After all, everyone knows that heavy sugar intake leads to diabetes -- hell, even we at Cracked are guilty of making the occasional joke of the "Have another Snickers, fatty! Enjoy the diabetes!" variety. They call it "high blood sugar" for a reason.

    The Reality:

    If you get the diabetes diagnosis from your doctor, your first big shock will be that he or she doesn't just tell you to stop eating candy bars -- the recommended diet seems to have you cutting back on everything. That's because, just as a runny nose is a symptom of having a cold, high blood sugar is a symptom of diabetes, not a cause. So saying that eating sugar will give you diabetes is like saying that shoving snot up your nose will give you a cold: It's still a bad idea, but it's really a sign of a larger problem.

    Diabetes comes from your pancreas becoming too lazy to get up off its ass and produce enough insulin, the hormone responsible for delivering sugar to your cells. Lazy, good-for-nothing pancreas -- always flopped all up on the couch (the couch, in this case, being your small intestine). So why the widespread idea that eating sugar causes diabetes? Well, people who eat an abnormally large amount of sugar probably tend to eat an abnormally large amount of ... just ... everything, and being overweight is a definite factor in developing Type 2 diabetes.

    When you eat too much of anything -- even if you're a glutton exclusively for whole grain, "healthy" foods -- you can exhaust your pancreas, preventing it from producing enough insulin to deliver all that extra glucose you consume to your body's cells. So your pancreas runs out of fucks to give, your blood glucose levels rise, and the next thing you know, your legs have become an endangered species.

    Of course, that's just Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood or young adulthood and also has nothing to do with eating too much sugar -- it's just a matter of your number coming up in the genetic lottery. Or whatever you call a contest where the winner has to constantly stab herself in the finger with a tiny needle.

    #3. Eating At Night Makes You Fat

    The Myth:

    It's completely obvious, when you think about it: Your level of fatassness is entirely determined by calories taken in versus calories burned. Drooling on your pillow typically isn't a very physically intensive activity, so when you pork out right before bed, you won't be using up any of those calories you just shoved down your gullet, unless your night terrors are really strenuous that week.

    So clearly, eating at night is a true dieting no-no. And if what you choose to eat at night happens to be high in carbohydrates? Whew, don't even get us started on that.

    The Reality:

    Actually, according to a study conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, you're actually better off loading up in the evening than other times of the day. It has to do with how your body regulates when you get hungry.

    The study took a bunch of police officers (because doughnuts, duh) and split them into two groups: The first group loaded up on a carb-heavy meal at night, while the second spread their carb intake out throughout the day. The researchers explained that "The idea came about from studies on Muslims during Ramadan, when they fast during the day and eat high-carbohydrate meals in the evening, that showed the secretion curve of leptin was changed." In case you're asking your screen what the hell leptin is right now, it's the hormone that tells your body it's not hungry anymore.

    According to everything our mothers ever told us, the outcome should have been easy to foresee: The "doughnuts for dinner" group should have had to grease themselves up in order to squeeze into their squad cars at the end of the six-month study. But much to the contrary, the researchers found that not only had those officers not gotten fatter, they had actually lost more weight than the control group. That's because the heavy intake of carbs in the evening modified the participants' secretion of hunger hormones in such a way that they felt less hungry throughout the day, with just a single hunger peak in the evening (aka "DOUGHNUT TIME!"). The research suggests that "concentrating carbohydrate intake in the evening, especially for people at risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease due to obesity" could be an effective alternative for people who have difficulty sticking with diets.

    Oh, and get this. If you do eat breakfast, go big. Another study found that dieters who ate a high-carb breakfast (with dessert!) were less likely to gain back weight lost while dieting than those who ate a healthier, low-carb (and, sadly, dessertless) breakfast. It's for the same reason: A healthier breakfast is better for you, but also leads to you getting hungrier sooner. And in the long run, any diet that leaves you hungry is doomed to fail.

    And while we're on the subject ...

  3. #3
    #2. Eating a Bunch of Mini-Meals Boosts Your Metabolism

    The Myth:

    Metabolism is the Magic Word in the diet world. You can't flip past two pages of Men's Health without seeing the M-word mentioned at least three dozen times, and according to approximately 98 percent of guys in gyms with perpetual sweaty pits, eating mini-meals is the only way to go. By eating five or six small meals instead of three big ones, your body's metabolism will be revved up, therefore burning off calories more efficiently. Picture your body as a fireplace: Add small batches of wood more frequently and the fireplace burns brighter; stuff in too much wood at once and suddenly its eyes are stinging from its own bacon-sweat while Jillian Michaels yells at it.

    The Reality:

    Brace yourself, because what we're about to tell you might come as a shock. You know that meathead at the gym, the one who's constantly espousing the virtues of mini-meals? Yeah, it turns out he's no mathematician.

    We can't place all the blame on Meathead for perpetuating this idea, though. After all, besides the fact that our entire concept of metabolism is flawed from the get-go, studies from as early as the 1950s have praised mini-meals as the ultimate weight-loss tool. But just as our concept of metabolism is flawed, so too were those studies. How so? Because they didn't control for total calorie intake. And when it comes to fat loss, the total number of calories you take in is what truly matters, not when or how often you intake them.

    So the people who did lose weight with a bunch of smaller meals did it because, for whatever reason, eating more often made them eat less. And if eating more but smaller meals happens to make you less hungry for food, then go for it -- managing hunger is what successful diets are all about. But studies show that for the average person, it makes no difference.

    #1. The Food Pyramid Is the Bible of Healthy Eating Habits

    The Myth:

    Some diet myths are easy to spot. No, eating oysters won't boost your sexual performance; no, putting a banana in the refrigerator won't make it poisonous. But then there are the facts drilled into us by The Man, like the USDA's Food Pyramid, which no one questioned because it came in an official-looking government diagram. You've seen this, right? Grains at the bottom, milk, cheese, and meat higher up:

    You probably remember it best as a poster plastered all over schools and your doctor's office, but it was much more than that -- for many years, the Food Pyramid dictated how school lunches were put together, and heavily influenced other government-sponsored nutrition programs. So what's wrong with that?

    The Reality:

    Some of you younger kids know that the Food Pyramid has already been replaced by Michelle Obama's "healthy plate." But unless you're younger than the Obama administration or a time traveler (far more likely), the old Food Pyramid probably had more impact on your dietary habits than you realize. And with good reason -- without a handy guide to tell you exactly how much to eat of each type of food, how else would you know not to sustain yourself on Almond Joys dipped in tubs of lard?

    The problem was that the pyramid wasn't based on scientific evidence or research -- it was more about which lobbyists whined loud enough to get their particular product shuffled to a more prominent spot on the chart.

    According to the pyramid, fat is bad, so you should eat something else. Like carbs. The extra stupid part of this is that in 1992 (when the pyramid was released), we'd known for 30 to 40 years that it's not fat itself that's bad -- it's that some fats are bad. Yet the Food Pyramid asks you to eat 11 servings a day of carbohydrates so that you can avoid fat at all costs. The kicker is that they counted potatoes as vegetables, so add in up to five servings of those bad boys and you're up to 16 servings a day of starchy, carby deliciousness.

    But it wasn't just the wheat and potato farmers who wanted in on this. The dairy industry wanted their cut, even though dairy isn't a dietary requirement. Beef? Sure, there's a nice T-bone in there, right alongside other protein sources such as legumes, assuring you that three servings of steak a day is perfectly (awesomely?) healthy. So avoid all fats, but a cheeseburger is the perfect meal.

    But now that the USDA has woken up to research from the 1950s with Michelle Obama's healthy initiative, they've instead started emphasizing eating more vegetables, less carbs, and healthy fats. Of course, the healthy vegetable lobby probably had a huge hand in this, so take it with a grain of salt. Not literally, though! Salt is bad. Or at least until someone tells us otherwise.

  4. #4
    Dry-Aged Beef Explained!

    Discover the process that gives steak superior flavor


    JUL 16, 2013

    If you’re a meat eater, there are few meals as phenomenal as well-raised, well-marbled steak. That is, until you’ve had well-raised, well-marbled, dry-aged steak.

    You’ve likely seen dry-aged cuts on steakhouse menus. Maybe you’ve even shelled out the moola to put one on your plate. Is it worth it? Does it matter how long it ages? What the heck happens in an aging room, anyway?

    Pat LaFrieda, CEO of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors in North Bergen, NJ, supplies meat to some of the best chefs in the country. His product line now includes beef that the company ages for 120 days—about four times as long as the average dry-aged steak sits.

    To help document, LaFrieda snapped photos of one of his 28-pound NY strip loin cuts at various points along a 120-day aging process. Then, we discussed.

    Guy Gourmet: “Why age a piece of beef, period?”

    Pat LaFrieda: “In controlling the decomposition of the meat, you’re breaking down the collagen, which is what holds the muscle fibers together. Collagen is what can make a steak tough. After the dry-aging process the collagen is broken down and all you have is that protein sitting there and it’s very tender. So you have a tender steak and it has that dry aged flavor.”

    GG: “So for people who’ve never tried a dry-aged steak before, how does it differ in taste from a steak that has not been dry-aged?”

    PL: “I can’t say gamey, because that always means something negative. And I hate to use the word “beefy” - but it is a more intense beef flavor. You put the two side-by-side and you can immediately tell what’s dry-aged and what isn’t. Dry aged beef smells like buttered popcorn and tastes like very rare roast beef—that’s the best way I can describe it. You just have to try it to know what I’m talking about.”

    GG: “The second photo - the one after the initial shot of strip loin - when was that taken?”

    PL: “Three weeks. The collagen is breaking down and the water is starting to come out. The front and the sides are waterproof because of the fat and because of the bone. It’s coming out the front and back. You’re losing about 10 percent of weight in the first three weeks. If you’re not losing that, something is going wrong.”

    GG: “So between the second and third photo - about how much time passed?”

    PL: “Another week. So now you’re at 30 days, which is the most commonly asked for. At that point, you start to pick up dry-aged flavor. You’re going to lose another 5 percent of weight between the second and third photos, so now you’re losing 15 percent of the total weight.”

    GG: “Is this all water weight?”

    “It’s all water weight, however, you have to “face,” meaning you have to take a slice off the front and back, because you have to remove all that outer crust in order for the USDA to allow you to sell it. You can’t sell it with that black mold on it.”

    GG: “Another big difference I see, too, between the second and third photos, is the color.”

    PL: “The meat is getting dry, so it’s getting dark—it’s the same process as beef jerky—the exterior is very leathery. If you were to press on that front part, it would be like pressing into a baseball mitt. It’s starting to firm up."

    GG: “In the fourth photo, what’s our time stamp?”

    PL: “Now you have 40 days. You have a little bit more funk to the flavor. You're still only losing a few more percentage points of weight, but you’re enhancing the aged flavor a little bit more. Here’s where it becomes preference.”

    GG: “I’m also seeing the fat turn a different color.”

    PL: “The fat begins to darken. What happens is very interesting. The meat starts to shrink as the water is expelled, but what doesn’t shrink is the fat. You begin to see a concave shape where the meat sinks in, but the bones and the fat don’t.”

    GG: “Does the flavor of the fat change in the aging process?”

    PL: “It’s the first thing that changes. That’s why it’s important when trimming to leave a good ¼ to 1 inch of fat around the steak because a lot of that is going to cook out anyway. Besides the interior, that exterior fat has got a lot of the flavor.”

    “The marbling doesn’t change at all. It’s just that you’re not going to be able to see it as time goes on without 'facing' it. Once you do, and you get to that first red steak, you’ll see that the marbling is right there. Because the diameter of the steak decreases and the fat content of the marbling stays the same, you have even more fat per square inch than you did before aging.”

    GG: “I can see that especially well on the fifth photo.”

    PL: “That’s 50 days. Now you’re losing a good 23 percent from the original weight. It has an even more intense flavor. This is the point where I tell restaurants that they need to tell the consumer how long the meat has been aged so that if the customer orders it, they won’t say, ‘This isn’t what I’d normally get for a steak.’"

    “You’ll start to see some white. The white is a good mold. And, also, salt. As the water is coming out of the meat, some of the natural salt that lies in the muscle tissue is also traveling out with the water.”

    “If you were to put that meat on the band saw and make that first cut an inch off what you’d have a donut. There protein has sunken in and all you have is the bone around to the fat around to the bone again. We like to see that.”

    GG: “In the last photo you can see white striations.”

    PL: “Yes, that’s salt and some mold very similar to what you’d see on blue cheese or other aged cheese. That’s 120 days. We’re at a loss of 35 percent of the original weight. It’s for the beef connoisseur. It’s for somebody who wants that $500 wine—because it’s someone who knows the difference."

    GG: “It’s a work of art. The color is amazing. It’s almost as if - if you’ve ever flown over the Grand Canyon - the color, the patterns. Not only has the color changed, but there are many colors going on within the meat itself.”

    “There are. And the most nerve-wracking part for me is to put that amount of meat up on a shelf in the hopes that you’re going to sell it when it’s ready. Which, we’ve been very lucky not to have that problem. There are very few people who age that far because of that risk. Now I have it ready, do I have a customer ready?”

    Want a taste?

    For now, you'll have to visit New York City restaurants such as Osteria Morini and Eleven Madison Park. But you can mail order prime beef aged up to 50 days directly from LaFrieda's website.

  5. #5
    Burger of the Year


    December 2, 2010

    We don't usually name a Burger of the Year. But the Umami Burger from L.A. ain't no ordinary burger. Alan Richman breaks down the secrets of its addictive taste

    It's half beef and half beyond belief.

    I arrived in Los Angeles not much taken with umami, at least not the way true believers are. Too much mysticism, not enough science. Nor did I care much for the L.A. burger culture, not like the locals. Too many toppings, not enough meat.

    Then I tasted the Umami Burger, Adam Fleischman's cross-cultural merger of Japanese ingenuity and American know-how. And I thought to myself, This is a man among burger men, worthy of our adulation even if he's always wearing a T-shirt with an Umami Burger logo. (These days, even the greats can't resist self-promotion.)

    Fleischman, the founder of the modest but ever expanding four-shop Umami Burger chain, has rethought every element of the hamburger experience. The bun. The meat. The ketchup. The toppings. Even valet parking. Yes, at the original Umami Burger joint on La Brea, 900 square feet of utter simplicity across the road from a Goodwill store, every burger comes with parking, the ultimate in West Coast customer service.

    Elsewhere in L.A., the burger world is in disarray. So desperate is the situation, so uncertain are the natives, that at least one establishment specializing in burgers is flying in chopped meat from the LaFrieda purveyors in Manhattan. The old L.A. order—In-N-Out Burger, Fatburger, Bob's Big Boy, Tommy's—is in retreat.

    Fleischman's savory umami master sauce puts to shame other "secret sauces," which tend to be orange goo. His organic housemade version of MSG might well carry the DNA for umami (assuming you believe umami exists). His umami-loaded ketchup tastes like a purer, fresher, tinglier clone of Heinz. He defines his discoveries as fulfilling a craving for "that which cannot be explained."

    His face belongs on the Mount Rushmore of the burger world.

    Who is this man? I sat down with him, and he brushed aside his life in a dozen words: Born in New York. Liberal-arts grad. Owned wine bars. Sold them. That's it. (His wife and kids didn't come up until later. She likes her burgers well-done, which doesn't please him. His son calls his father's masterpiece the "mommy burger," which does.) It is as though he lived an inconsequential existence until being reborn as a burger man, fated to do little else, although now he's thinking about an umami pizza chain.

    Umami, heralded by Japanese scientists as the fifth taste (after the basics of sweet, sour, bitter, salty), is voodoo science to me. Others are convinced of its authenticity, based on the alleged discovery of a taste bud for glutamate, the building block of the umami concept.

    Fleischman is credible because he has focused on flavor, not chemistry. He studied umami tastes, most of them having to do with aging or fermentation, and made certain they were sprinkled on, poured into, and piled atop his burgers. I tasted his patty the American way, plain, with nothing on it, and it was pure and wonderful. I tasted it the Asian way, served with toppings, rubs, and sauces, and a different sort of brilliance emerged. It was deeper, more sensuous, both head-spinning and mind-expanding.

    He's also created a Peking-duck burger with hoisin sauce, a crabmeat burger with lemon-miso dressing, and a Stink Burger incorporating anchovies, onions marinated in fish sauce, and ripe Taleggio cheese. It's clear that he has looked into the heart of the burger and seen what others have not.

  6. #6
    Can Danny Meyer Do for Pizza What He Did for Burgers?


    November 30, 2014

    Somewhat like cake and icing, pizza is divided into two parts.

    There’s the crust, and then there’s the topping. I suspect that normal eaters, a category that excludes food writers, care more about toppings than whatever regional style of crust they’re eating. I seldom feel that way, unless pepperoni is involved.

    I consider myself a pizza obsessive, one who participates in the critical analysis of crusts. Such studies have something to do with urban sociology, something to do with food science, and much to do with history. Crusts differ, usually in admirable and fascinating ways, wherever pizza is beloved. When thoughtfully prepared, the pizza crust is a simple food that pleases a majority of our senses. Inasmuch as it’s a cousin to warm bread, the earthy fragrance triggers memories of pleasures past, while the texture, be it crunchy, soft, or crackling, provides primal bliss. Toppings are an indulgence, somewhat like your choice of syrup on an ice cream sundae.

    There is little in the food world that compares with the thrill of a well-prepared pizza arriving at your table. Pizza is a harbinger of happiness.

    The crust, to get back to business, comes in at least six fundamental forms, by my reckoning. To begin, there is Neapolitan-style (fast-cooked, very thin on the bottom, with a bulbous, puffy, outer rim), pan-style (sometimes called Sicilian and similar to a flat-topped focaccia with caramelized, crunchy edges), and nouveau-American-style (closer to bread-baking than pizza-tossing, resulting in an airy, light, aromatic crust). New York has an admirable style that deserves a subcategory of its own, a pie with a fairly thin and appealingly droopy crust. The New York pizza is best enjoyed when purchased by the slice, deftly folded, and consumed while walking along an overcrowded street.

    These days, the New York slice is in decline, often sold in a sorrowful state. New Yorkers, always eager for something new, are looking elsewhere. We already have an abundance of Neapolitan, pan, and nouveau-American pies. Now two other styles have reappeared, their popularity restored. In pizza, we are like one of those Pacific islands populated by non-native species of wildlife that wash ashore.

    Receiving considerable attention of late is deep-dish Chicago-style (very slow-cooked, sometimes flaky and sweet, but usually rather hard, and always a carbohydrate bomb), and thin-style (sometimes called Roman-style, but known as tavern-style in Chicago when it is sliced haphazardly, as though a slasher and not a pizzaiola were at work). Chicago-style deep-dish gained fame when Pizzeria Uno arrived here a few decades ago. The pie was a sensation at first, but the thrill faded. Thin-style pizza, which has a bottom crust even thinner than what you’ll find on a New York pie, first received attention in 2003, when Mario Batali opened Otto to cries of dismay, including mine. His early crust was barely edible. It’s now much improved.

    The pies at Marta, the first pizza enterprise from Danny Meyer, who we all thought was too busy making Shake Shack burgers to care about much else, are being classified as Roman. This style of pie has never been unarguably defined, and Meyer’s are somewhat different from others I’ve encountered. Marta, in fact, is an odd sort of pizzeria. Located on the ground floor of the Martha Washington hotel on East 29th street in Manhattan, it’s vast, clearly the showpiece of the new and extensive renovation. The restaurant has more in common with the Roman Coliseum than with a Roman pizzeria.

    The two oversized ovens are wood-burning, which always makes the heart race with joy, but in truth a couple minutes in a wood-burning oven does not add a great deal of flavor to a pie. There are two dining levels, as well as chandeliers that resemble giant pick-up sticks. Should you happen to be seated facing away from the ovens, you will actually have no idea that you are in a pizzeria. In fact, while Marta is being categorized as just that, the menu offers far more. The wine list is outsized, with ten Champagnes for $90 and under, and more than a dozen better-than decent bottles for less than $40, a pleasing variation on the theme of Manhattan sticker shock.

    The sad truth is that the thin-crust pizza remains the most inexplicable of all pies. The crust is often flat, flabby and flavorless, which means without merit. Or it might be flat, flavorless, and crisp, which some find pleasing, although I do not. At Marta, the bottom crust is soft, supple, and very thin. The outer rim that rises above is crackling and crunchy, reminiscent of matzo.

    The toppings are for the most part complex and inventive. My Patate alla Carbonara had very soft potatoes (verging on smashed), an almost-uncooked egg, guanciale (cured pork cheek), pepper, and pecorino cheese. Regardless of what pie you select from Marta’s list of eleven, you will not be bored.

    At the tiny Emmett’s, on MacDougal Street just outside the official limits of Greenwich Village, Emmett Burke makes both deep-dish and thin-crust, tavern-style pies. His undersized spot, which seats about 30, including 11 at the bar, possesses a charm that puts most establishments located within the Village proper to shame. It’s a lovely throwback to what New York used to be. The entire front-of-the-house staff the day I went consisted of one young woman who took orders, carried pies to the tables, worked behind the bar, and remained cheerful throughout. Inasmuch as deep-dish pies can take more than 30 minutes to cook, her work load was not excessive.

    The tables are barely large enough to hold a single pie plus a couple plates, and the dining area lacks an entryway, which means the front door opens directly to the outside. Whenever a customer enters (usually to inquiry about the wait time for a table), a blast of cold air also arrives, dropping the room temperature about five degrees. I recommend the following toppings: the crumbled sausage and a warm, woolly sweater.

    Emmett’s deep-dish pies are conventionally round and come in four sizes, eight through 14 inches. The optional toppings are fundamental and few, a touch of old-world simplicity. The tavern-style pizza—not on the written menu—is square, comes in one size, and is particularly lovely when topped with sausage, the red, brown and orange hues a welcome sight to a hungry man stopping by after a night of bowling.

    All of the Emmett’s pies are attractive, and the tomato sauce is herbaceous and spicy. The problem here is the crusts. They are not good. In fact, they are depressing. The tavern-style crust was very thin and slightly doughy, as though it was supposed to rise but did not. Any crust this tasteless should at least be crunchy, but mine was not. The deep-dish crust was nicely browned but totally bland, with the flavor profile of a thick, dry, unsalted cracker, one of those English things. The several-inch-high crust encircled a reservoir filled with too much cheese and even more chunky tomato sauce. Emmett isn’t to blame, for such a filling is an essential component of every deep-dish pie. One might as well drink tomato sauce directly from the can.

    I don’t think either of these establishments, despite their virtues, offers the best pies in New York. They are in business for several reasons: Danny Meyer has always been fascinated by all things Roman, and Emmett Burke hails from the suburbs of Chicago. A fundamental reason for the early success of both places is that New Yorkers are forever after what is new, not what they have always known and loved. That’s not how pizza is enjoyed in the rest of America.

    By my count, five of the six fundamental American pizza options are now ensconced within the city. Yet to arrive, to my knowledge, is grilled-style pizza (a specialty of Providence, Rhode Island, and tastier than you might think). We are close to having it all, and, to be honest, New Yorkers demand nothing less.

  7. #7
    Umami Burger in New York Is Food Heresy (and That's More Than Alright)


    July 26, 2013

    For such a progressive town, New York is, in some ways, deeply conservative—and never more than when it comes to food. Bagels, burgers, and pizza are our trinity. Futz too much with the tradition, and you might as well pave over Joey Ramone Place for a Walmart. So when our own Alan Richman dubbed Umami Burger GQ’s Burger of the Year in 2010, I’ll admit that I was skeptical. Even Umami’s basic, "Original" burger is topped with mushroom, a crispy parmesan disk, roasted tomato, and their housemade Umami ketchup. Mmm, smells like sacrilege. Heresy from the West Coast, where the year-round supply of fresh produce makes people go insane and top everything with avocado. To me and many New Yorkers, who’d never try blue cheese with their beef, let alone this complex Umami stack, burgers are either griddled or grilled, with cheese or without. If you’re at White Castle, you get the onions. And, ketchup? What’re you, a Communist?

    Despite my concerns, in the two years since, owner Adam Fleischman has built a burgeoning burger empire, which is now launching a full-on offensive on our shores. Three New York locations are under construction, the first of which opens on Monday in the West Village. And having had a few opportunities to taste the real thing, I can admit that there is, happily, method to the madness. Umami Burger isn’t my brain’s platonic ideal of "burger"—and they and I are both fine with that. What it is, however, is an innovative take on the beef-on-bread concept that even the most crotchety purists must experience.

    For the uninitiated, umami is the so-called "fifth taste," the meat-like savoriness in food caused by the compound glutamate (of MSG and bad Chinese takeout fame, but that’s an unfairly bad rap). Umami Burger is all about taking these savory elements to the extreme. The patty on an Umami burger is not what you’d expect—only lightly seared, it lacks those crispy browned flavors we’re so used to from the likes of Shake Shack. But those wacky toppings on the Original? All of them are glutamate-heavy bombs, designed to amp up the inherent meatiness of, well, the meat. It’s not a fatty, salty beef bomb, for better or worse. But it is a flavor bomb, such an intricate dance of taste and texture that you wonder whether traditional burgers are taking the easy way out. No, you think, this isn’t a proper New York burger; maybe, possibly, fearfully, it’s somehow something better, more complex.

    I do, however, have a beef with the bun. Fancy brioche-style buns have proliferated among New York burgers in recent years, and it fares no better here than there. To me, they are entirely too dense and sweet, and go a long way toward canceling out rather than accentuating all those good and savory flavors from Fleishman’s intricate ingredient tango. Where it does work well is on the Ahi Burger, which, through a combination of coarsely chopped and seared tuna, crushed avocado, and wasabi tartar, manages to turn the typical healthy copout into a texturally delectable option in its own right.

    Sacrosanct or not, Umami comes with a metric ton of buzz; despite the first location’s two floors and 250-odd seats, it will surely be as packed out the door as everything in NYC that is affordable and hyped. With the New York invasion also comes their most extensive cocktail program to date: Highlights include a Bloody Mary sprinkled with glutamate-infused "Umami dust," and D’ussé VSOP cognac made to taste like boozy iced tea, to finally bring cognac nerds, rappers, and the rest of us all under one compulsively sippable tent. They’re sweeter than the norm, but excel as burger pairings. A complex Californian burger served with ritzy cocktails: Fiorello La Guardia might’ve hated it, but who cares (or knows)? For all the debate about what it is or isn’t, Umami Burger is first and foremost just damn good food. And I, for one, will leave the hand-wringing for the Historical Society.

    Umami Burger

    432 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

  8. #8
    From Esquire Philippines - - -

    The Best Ramen Restaurants in Manila That You Haven't Tried Yet

    Check out these lesser known spots for your dose of delicious Japanese broths.

    By Sandie Gadia | Oct 22, 2019

    Now that we’ve identified the essential places for your Japanese ramen fix, it’s high time to zoom in on low-key options across Manila that honor this coveted dish. If there’s anything to note about Esquire’s underrated ramen restaurants, it’s that each one shows promise for offering key variants that highlight the right ratio of broth, noodles, and toppings. This mix has, time and again, remained central in a typical ramen episode, and these places, though under the radar, know this all too well.

    Each place in this unranked round up deserves plus points for going beyond their lifeblood—bestselling ramen varieties—and venturing into culinary creativity, exceptional customer service, and a value-for-money slurping experience.

    1| Tongara Ramen

    Ramen master Makoto Okazaki is to thank for Tongara Ramen, which is best known for tongara, a unique ramen recipe that marries torigara (chicken bone) and tonkotsu (pork bone) into a tantalizing sweet-savory broth. It was in 2013 when the ramen house was first established in Shinjuku, Tokyo, before it found its way to Philippine territory, first in Cebu, and now, in Marikina. Aside from the glorious collection of ramen bowls, Tongara carries the Dojo Dairy Japanese Ice Cream line, which includes flavors such as black sesame, miso sake, nori, and red bean.

    Esquire recommends:

    Tongara Ramen
    Tantan Ramen
    Tongara Paco Ramen

    Lamp Quarters, Gil Fernando Avenue, Santo Niño, Marikina City

    2| Tsuke-men

    Find this humble stall tucked in Powerplant Mall’s The Grid Food Market, which has been earmarked as a default option for quick, no-fuss, but promising food selections. While Tsuke-men’s menu is compact and straightforward, it comes ready with steady favorites including karaage, soba, katsudon, tempura, and of course, ramen. It's quite known for its selection of tsukemen, or dipping ramen, but its take on the tonkotsu ramen may be worth a try too.

    Esquire recommends:

    Gyokai Tsukemen
    Ebi Tsukemen
    Tonkotsu Ramen

    The Grid Food Market, Second Floor, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati City

    3| Tan Tan Men House

    True to its name, people flock to this Makati hole-in-the-wall for its bestselling tantanmen, offered at prices that won’t break the bank (you won’t spend over P220 on a single dish). Patrons rave about the place’s affordable dinner spread, most notably its use of a special peanut sauce that leave a rich and flavorful aftertaste after each slurp. For an added boost in flavor, fans usually pair their ramen fix with gyoza, but you can also opt for extra helpings of pork belly or egg on the side.

    Esquire recommends:

    Tan Tan Chashu Men
    Tan Tan Men
    Shoyu Chashu Ramen

    The Zone, 7224 Malugay Street, Bel-Air, Makati City

    4| Mensakaba Geishu

    You ought to be lucky to get a seat at Mensakaba Geishu, another gem in the South that serves quality ramen to only 12 diners at a time. A husband and wife tandem run the modest izakaya, personally preparing and serving eight kinds of ramen—each one you can have made to your liking. If it is your first time at Mensakaba Geishu, do make room for its take on the classic tantanmen. Many have said this particular ramen is one of the better ones of its kind in Manila, and we’re inclined to agree.

    Esquire recommends:

    Tantanmen (Red/ Black)
    Chashu Men
    Ebi Wantanmen

    Southland Apartelle, Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City

    5| Sigekiya Ramen

    Sigekiya Ramen is your piece of Yokohama in Manila. Everything about the Muntinlupa ramen joint takes after the flagship store, from the ambience, to the menu lineup, to the kitchen staff’s well-noted technique. It's ramen master Mamori Sugizaki’s trademark ramen broth that makes Sigekiya special: it’s made from seasoned boiled pork chashu meat and flavored by imported (top secret!) ingredients from Japan. Sigekiya’s ramen is a bit on the thicker and spicier side (the spice level of the bowls can be adjusted for free up to level 10, then you would have to add a little extra to go higher up the spice scale), but as in almost all ramen joints, the owners are more than willing to tweak your bowl so you can have a dining experience unlike any other.
    Esquire recommends:

    Sigekiya Ramen
    Gyokai Tsukumen

    Commercenter, 1780 Commerce Corner Filinvest Avenue, Filinvest City, Muntinlupa City

    6| Ohayo Maki and Ramen Bar

    Ohayo started out as a sushi and maki kiosk in Tomas Morato, and shortly after, the owners decided to set up a full-fledged restaurant that now also offers ramen. We thank the heavens for this welcome move, as this unassuming restaurant serves what might just be among the richest and more flavorful ramen broths in the Metro. Its full-bodied broths are made from a medley of pig parts and chicken skin and simmered for 24 hours, so you already know that from the first slurp, only amazing things are coming your way.

    Esquire recommends:

    Tonkotsu Ramen

    30 Granada Avenue, Villa Ortigas II, Valencia, Quezon City

    7| Yummy Tokyo

    On your next Maginhawa food trip, make it a point to check out Yummy Tokyo, which offers generous servings of authentic ramen varieties at affordable price tags. The folks behind this ramen joint are also known for the #UnliRamenChallenge, which challenges foodies to finish five different ramen bowls within two hours. The reward? You can get the bowls for free and be included in the Wall of Fame. If you come up short though, you pay only P399. And, at Yummy Tokyo, you can get DIY ramen kits to go so you can enjoy quality ramen at the comfort of your own home. Each kit includes handcrafted ramen noodles, signature broth pastes, chashu slices, and cutlery.

    Esquire recommends:

    Curry Ramen
    Tonkotsu Ramen

    103 Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City

    8| Ramen Kuroda

    Everything you will find in Ramen Kuroda aligns with its vision of serving only quality ramen made from a special method where umami is carefully extracted from pork bones. The ramen bowls are celebrations come to life, each one a delightful interchange of homemade noodles and carefully curated ingredients and seasonings. We’re definitely adding brownie points for the free bowl of extra noodles that come with each ramen bowl. If that isn’t enough, you can take your ramen bowl as part of a set, which can come with gyoza pieces, rice toppings, or traditional bento offerings.

    Esquire recommends:

    Kuro Ramen
    Aka Ramen

    9| Hakata Ikkousha

    This popular ramen joint, which translates to “happy place”, was established in Hakata, Kyushu, Japan, in 2004, by ramen master Kousuke Yoshimura. His goal? To spread happiness among the hungry and at the same time introduce the heritage of Hakata-style ramen through a special tonkotsu base made from simmered pork bones. Hakata Ikkousha adopts the yobimodoshi method for its ramen broths, which entails a constant (read: daily) layering of the stockpot until the output is rich, creamy, and smooth. For its specialty ramen, Hakata Ikkousha has received multiple accolades, and has merited resounding praise from patrons all over Asia, Australia, the USA, and now, in the Philippines.

    Esquire recommends:

    Special Tonkotsu Ramen
    Black Tonkotsu Ramen

    Festival Mall, Filinvest City, Muntinlupa City

    10| Tomo Japanese Dining

    Tomo is one of those Japanese restaurants with a bevy of food items to choose from that it becomes difficult to pin down dishes to try. We’ll help you out and let you in on a secret: beyond crowd favorites (baked oysters, salmon aburi, and teppanyaki), Tomo makes a mean ramen bowl, too. Our favorites include the tantanmen, the restaurant's version of the thick, spicy ramen that remains filling through and through, and the tonkotsu, a creamy alternative that finishes off lighter and smoother on the tummy.

    Esquire recommends:

    Chashu Tonkotsu

    137 Araullo Street, Addition Hills, San Juan City

    11| Oedo Japanese Restaurant

    This neighborhood restaurant may be known for other Japanese specialties, but its ramen lineup proves it has a fighting chance. Oedo has a satisfactory collection of ramen varieties, but it’s the following gems that we’re keen on: the Ankake, a rich noodle soup with vegetable and meat toppings, and the Hiyashi Chuka, a Chinese-inspired dish adorned with colorful toppings. To enrich your dining experience, do pair your ramen bowl with a helping of the bestselling sashimi, maki, or okonomiyaki. For more filling options, Oedo has a comprehensive assortment of teppanyaki and kushiyaki to choose from.

    Esquire recommends:

    Ankake Ramen
    Hiyashi Chuka

    105 Sto. Domingo Avenue, Scout Oscar corner M. Alcaraz Street, Quezon City

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