In Search of Israeli Cuisine



In Search of Israeli Cuisine
is a film that highlights the dynamic food scene in Israel. The film's chef/guide is Michael Solomonov, a James Beard Award winning chef and co-owner of acclaimed Zahav in Philadelphia. He is also the author of the cookbook Zahav (one of my most treasured books). The chef was born in Israel and has lived and traveled there frequently. This documentary follows Michael into hot restaurants and home kitchens, wineries and cheese makers, he eats street food and visits markets. All over the country, he discusses traditions, ingredients, the origins, and the future of Israeli Cuisine.

There are four screenings of this film scheduled for the New York area this month and screenings will continue. Check the film's page for more information or to request a screening in your area. I have reached out to the filmmakers asking if a DVD or PPV option will be available and will provide you with that information when I have a response.

I will be updating the calendar this weekend with tour dates for Solomonov who will be promoting his upcoming book Federal Donuts in September. 

Photo courtesy of Florentine Films.

Legendary editor Judith Jones has died

The Tenth Muse by Judith JonesThe culinary world is in mourning today after learning of the death of legendary cookbook editor and author Judith Jones. Jones passed away last evening at her summer home in Walden, Vermont, from complications of Alzheimer's disease. She was 93. 

Jones was a long-time senior editor and vice president at Alfred A. Knopf. She was instrumental in the publication of several monumental books including Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl  and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The latter had been rejected by several publishers when it landed on Jones' desk in the late 1950s. "Here was the cookbook I had been dreaming of - one that took you by the hand and explained the whys and wherefores of every step of a recipe," Jones recalled in a 2004  New York Times article

In addition to her ground-breaking editorial work, she co-authored three cookbooks with her late husband Evan, two of them on breads and one on New England cooking. After Evan passed away, Jones began cooking for herself and in 2009, she published a solo book titled The Pleasures of Cooking for One. She also wrote an autobiography, The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food

Food trend predictions from the Fancy Foods show

 beef jerky

Every year, thousands of people gather for the annual Summer Fancy Food Show, where more than 2,600 specialty companies showcase their goods to the press, consumers, and potential buyers. This year, Cook's Illustrated sent one of its tastings and testings team members, Hannah Crowley, to the show. After eyeing and sampling hundreds of products, she made some predictions for trends we're likely to see on store shelves

Hannah reported that many items were continuations of previous trends that seem to have some staying power. The word "superfoods" kept popping up in booth after booth, and cold-brew coffee and tea were ubiquitous. Honey continues its upward trajectory, finding its way into more and more products. There's even a vegan alternative to honey that is making its way to market. 

Two foods that are night-and-day different from each other are both predicted to be big in the next year or so. The first is jerky, which is branching out to include different meats and a variety of flavors. At the show, Hannah saw "beef, pork, chicken, turkey, salmon, trout, coconut, and eggplant jerky and interesting flavors like maple bourbon churro, korean barbecue, sriracha honey, and pink or szechuan peppercorn."

The other food blasting its way to the top is chickpeas. Move over hummus, as chickpeas are claiming new ground, with products that include crackers and chips, miso, and popped (to make a healthier snack that resemble Cheetos).  

Photo of Beef jerky from Paleo Perfected (A Test Kitchen Handbook) by America's Test Kitchen Editors

The New York Times plans to charge for its recipe database

 iPad

In a bold move, The New York Times announced that it plans to turn its cooking website and app into a subscription service. Beginning next week, NYT Cooking will charge $65 USD per year for access to the 18,000+ recipes from staff writers like Melissa Clark and Sam Sifton. There will be an option to pay $5 for four weeks if you don't want to commit to a full year's subscription, and NYT Cooking has indicated it plans to offer discount subscriptions in the future. 

Currently, to access a recipe on NYT Cooking, you must create a free account. The site plans to offer a metered approach, similar to other parts of the Times, so you will be able to access to a certain number of recipes each month without paying. The iPhone app, however, will only be available to paid members. If you are a subscriber to the main NYT site, you will receive access to the site for a "limited time," after which you will have to pay as well. 

NYT Cooking is betting that people will feel the recipes are superior to those freely available elsewhere on the web. A spokesperson downplayed the cost, saying "For less than the cost of two avocados at Whole Foods you can get access to the best recipes in the world." What do you think of the change?

There are approximately 4,200 recipes in the EYB Library from The New York Times, but not all of those are from the NYT Cooking site. Many recipes have been published in blogs and by food writers outside of the organization and in the Times main site; access to those recipes should remain the same. 

Pioneering chef Alain Senderens dies at age 77

Senderens cookbookFrench chef Alain Senderens, who helped create nouvelle cuisine, has died at age 77. In the 1960s and 1970s, Senderens, along with a coterie of French chefs including Paul Bocuse and Michel Guerard, pioneered a lighter, sleeker style of cooking that moved away from sauce-heavy traditional French cuisine.  

Senderens helmed two different three-Michelin-star restaurants (L'Archestrate and Lucas Carton) for 28 years combined. In 2005, he shocked the culinary world by renouncing those hard-earned stars in a reboot of the latter restaurant, which he renamed after himself, in favor of what he deemed as a more affordable, less formal way to dine. 

The chef loved to push against the culinary establishment, introducing novel combinations such as lobster and vanilla, and by proclaiming that white wine should be served with cheese. Senderens also mentored many chefs, including  Alain Passard of Restaurant Arpege, one of the world's top 50 restaurants. 

Guild of Food Writers announces 2017's winners

 cookbook collage

The Guild of Food Writers is the professional association of food writers and broadcasters in the United Kingdom. Established in 1984, it now has approximately 425 members including authors, broadcasters, columnists and journalists.  The Guild recently announced its 2017 award winners at a ceremony held in London. 

Sri Owen, the author of several Indonesian and southeast Asian cookbooks and one of the foremost authorities on Indonesian food,  took home the Lifetime Achievement Award. Sri's most recent work is Sri Owen's Indonesian Food, a new version of her popular 2008 cookbook of the same name. 

Rachel Roddy was also a big winner at the awards, nabbing both the Food Writing Award and the Cookery Writing Award for her inspirational work published in The GuardianThe Food Book Award and the Campaigning and Investigative Food Work Award both went to Louise Gray for her book The Ethical Carnivore

Colman Andrews won the British Food Award for The British Table: A New Look at the Traditional Cooking of England, Scotland, and WalesCaroline Eden & Eleanor Ford took home the Food and Travel Award for their highly-regarded cookbook Samarkand, which has a five-star rating in the EYB Library. 

The First Book Award went to Pete Lawrence for The Allotment Cookbook: Grow, cook and eat with the seasons. Veteran author Fuchsia Dunlop was the recipient of this year's Cookery Book Award for her excellent tome Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China.

The Guild of Food Writers awards are one of the highest accolades in food media and celebrate the very best in professional food writing, broadcasting and publishing. Learn more about the awards and the organization on the Guild's website

Food & Wine makes a move

 Food & Wine MagazineIt's no secret that print publications are struggling in the digital economy. Sometimes this means a magazine or newspaper will fold or make major changes. In the case of Food & Wine Magazine, we can be thankful it's the latter. The magazine just announced that it was relocating from New York to Alabama

Such a geographic shift may be puzzling, but the move makes sense. Food & Wine's parent company, Time Inc., recently built a sprawling complex in Birmingham, Alabama. Food & Wine joins other other publications owned by Time Inc.. including  Cooking Light and  Southern Living. 

Lest you think the move means that the magazine won't have sufficient resources, you can rest easy. The new home for the publication boasts 28 test kitchens and 13 photography bays and video studios. The digital arm of Food & Wine will remain in Lower Manhattan, in the space built for the magazine in 2015. 

Legendary restaurant critic and food writer Ruth Reichl said the move makes sense. Relocating to the Birmingham complex will better position Food & Wine when it comes to digital food publishing.  She says that sites like Food 52 and Eater "are just taking over that space, and they're building audiences fast. If you're a legacy magazine, you'd better figure out a way to do things that are more original, and you need resources to do that."

Famed baker Flo Braker dies at 78

 Flo Braker

We just learned the sad news that baking legend Flo Braker has died at the age of 78. The San Francisco Gate reported that Braker died of complications following a fall. 

Braker wrote several popular cookbooks, including her 1984 debut, The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, as well as the award-winning Sweet Miniatures  and The Baker's Dozen Cookbook. She also wrote a baking column for The San Francisco Chronicle for over twenty years, retiring in 2012. In 1997, she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. She was a charter member of the IACP and served as the organization's president. 

The talented baker inspired home cooks and aspiring professionals alike. "She was so exacting in the way that she wrote her books and the way she explained baking," said Celia Sack, owner of Omnivore Books in San Francisco. "Whether in person or in writing, if felt like she was there holding your hand."

Shakeup in aisle five

 tomatoes

In news that sent shivers down the backs of grocers across the US, and to a lesser extent Canada and the UK, Amazon announced today that it is buying Whole foods for $13.7 billion USD. When the news hit, stocks of major grocery chains like Kroger and Walmart dropped several percentage points.

The reason these food retailers - and their stockholders - are concerned is that Amazon has been trying to break into the food business for some time, and now has a jump start by acquiring Whole Foods' hundreds of physical locations. When they made the announcement, Amazon noted that  Whole Foods stores will continue operating under that name as a separate unit of the company. John Mackey will stay on to lead Whole Foods, which will continue to be headquartered in Austin, Texas.

It will be interesting to see how Amazon's low price model will impact the Whole Foods franchise, which is focused on high quality and organic foods. The grocer's sales have been flagging recently, partly due to a dustup about overcharging customers in New York City and more competition by discount chains like Aldi and Walmart, which have been expanding their organic and 'natural foods' selections. 

Bittman's back

Mark Bittman

Prolific cookbook author, respected food columnist, and EYB Member favorite Mark Bittman made waves when he left The New York Times back in 2015. He bounced around a bit following his departure, with a brief stint at the vegan meal-kit company Purple Carrot and a major move to the West Coast. Even though he still thinks leaving the NYT was the right move, he's been itching to return to the world of regular food writing. That itch has been scratched, as Grub Street announced today that Bittman would begin writing for both its website and New York Magazine

The author briefly discussed the reasons he left his longstanding gig at the paper, noting that while he loved writing The Minimalist food column, he didn't feel the same way about the opinion column he penned. He was circumspect about other conditions that led to his departure, saying only that he left for many reasons, "some of which I've written and talked about, and some of which are going to have to wait a bit longer."

Bittman recently moved back to the East Coast, landing at Glynwood, which he hails as "a wonderful, inspiring, and smart sustainable food-and-farming nonprofit near Cold Spring." While he may have given up weekly food writing when he left New York, Bittman didn't give up cookbook writing. His How to Bake Everything came out last fall, and he's working on a revision of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian that's due this fall.

He's already written his first column for Grub Street, and is ecstatic about his new role. Bittman has never been shy about his beliefs and will definitely sprinkle politics into his posts about food. "I want to write about cooking again, daily cooking, the kind of thing I think I do best, and I want a place to rant about food, justice, and the future of humans," he says. 

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