Thirty-eight years ago David Letterman started his late-night show, Tylenol capsules laced with potassium cyanide killed 7 people and the first issue of USA Today was published. As an eight-year-old, all of that paled in comparison to the introduction of McDonald’s McRib sandwich. This first brush with BBQ left an indelible mark that would stick with me years later at Memphis in May and while slurping up every full slab I could find from Mississippi to Chicago. Today this sandwich king is available nationwide for the first time since 2012. I know what you’re thinking, with all the incredible BBQ available across this great country why would I opt for a frozen, pre-formed, visually faked rib sandwich? You could easily dismiss my love as nostalgia but it runs deeper than that. Anthony Bourdain made a point to champion all food through the lens of culture. He was also known for his penchant for some of the more, let’s call it, faster of food options from time to time. With that in mind, the McRib is that food for me. Its impact on me was just as culturally profound as David Letterman challenging Johnny Carson or USA Today taking on the New York Times. I’m not the only one who feels this connection. McRib fans across the country have had lunch planned since this announcement in October so a word of advice if you are going to give it a go, and you should, get the McD’s app and order early.
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I was drawn in by their packaging and hooked by Isabel Freed’s California vibes. I didn’t even need to taste the mustard selection but I’m glad I did. Horseradish has the tendency to blow out your mouth. Most of the condiments containing this potent root are strong enough to make your sandwich all spread, overshadowing everything else except maybe the bread. The difference with Wilder Horseradish Mustard is that it’s as mellow as a california drive up the coast. In food speak, that’s referred to as balanced. Which makes a huge difference when you want to taste all those carefully chosen layers of your Saturday afternoon hoagie. If the sting of horseradish isn’t your game they also produce a classic mustard and a honey jalapeño version. Both of of them complete with the same California vibes mixed through each jar.
We never thought of putting garam masala on cold greens either but a few nights ago we were treated to such a salad. A sprinkle of this quintessential Indian mixture onto crispy fresh fennel, juicy grapefruit supremes and the occasional candied ginger, worked better than I would have ever guessed in making our tastebuds dance. With a bit further investigation (Raiding our friend’s pantry) we discovered this triad of masalas from the late, great chef Floyd Cardoz in collaboration with Burlap and Barrel. Chef Cardoz passed from complications of COVID-19 in March 2020 but left a legacy through his compassion, teachings and artifacts, like these spices. Burlap and Barrel partners directly with small farmers to source spices that have never been available in the US before and help improve the livelihoods of their partner farmers. This collab was no exception. Working with Chef Cardoz’s wife and business partner Barkha Cardoz, as a memorial to his love for the cuisines of India and his passion for sharing them with the world, the three masalas are uniquely different but all Chef Cardoz. The garam masala is floral, sweet and aromatic. Second in the trifecta, the Goan masala has an earthy, pungent, gingery complexity flavor profile. Lastly, the Kashmiri masala brings the heat with a fennel, ginger and aromatic profile anchored by the Kashmiri chili. Aside from being great on your favorite greens, this trifector collection is a fantastic way to pay homage and connect with a chef who made a huge impact on the culinary world.
Ashley started Farmbox Direct because she thinks that the freshness of the farm should be available to everyone. Here in NYC we have an incredible framers market network but even then it’s sometimes tough to stop in. When I can, I usually spend the day with a brussel sprout tree or some lacinto kale hanging out of my bag. Farmbox Direct brings the freshness of the farm (or green market) to your door. It’s sort of like a CSA and Hello Fresh smashed together. The box comes with what is fresh, local and at it’s peak, given the unpredictability of mother nature. This is a good thing for adjusting our eating habits back to the seasonal, locavore ways of the past. I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother would spend a weekend canning tomatoes because they didn’t grow in the winter. Not the case today. That’s because those winter tomatoes are greenhouse, pesticide, growth hormone, genetically altered seed, specimens that probably can grow on Mars (and they taste like it too). Ashley’s roots are on a farm which makes her perfect to start a service like this. She understand the enormous impact it can have on farmers and those of us subscribed to their delicious, natural bounty.
Who doesn’t want to roll up to Thanksgiving with a gallon of whey? Protein brined in protein might be a little bit of a change for you but The White Moustache claims it produces one of the juiciest birds you can cook. With their order only Whey Turkey Brine you can be the hero of the table. Add on some of their other products to accompany and you have apps and desserts covered as well. We’ve been big fans of their labneh and yogurt for years now. This annual item only adds to our obsession of their truly small batch products.