Advanced wine blending techniques

Comedian Zach Galifianakis drinks from his wine helmet. From the blog of photographer, Terry Richardson

ឆាវខ្វៃ and moto parts for sale!

One of my favorite Chinese contributions to Khmer food is cha kvai (ឆាវខ្វៃ). Cha kvai are fried dough sticks, more like crullers than churros. They are sold in pairs, for dipping in or adding to your noodle soup. I got hooked on them in Phnom Penh. But I would bet that they, like the Teochew people, may be found throughout Southeast Asia. In Cambodia, they are most commonly found on restaurant tables alongside the condiments in the morning, and any given restaurant's supply is usually all eaten up by noon. Initially, I had assumed that each restaurant made their own. But after long hours of observation (lots of mornings sitting eating my soup and taking my coffee), I realized that they seemed to be produced elsewhere and either delivered to restaurants in the mornings by courier or picked up by restaurant employees. I stumbled upon one of these cha kvai production facilities one morning near Psah Kandaal.

During business hours, it is just an unassuming moto parts shop.

But early in the early morning, it is a bustling hub of fried dough production!

If you want to make your own:

Quote of the Day

The 1969-70 "Menu" B-52 bombings of Cambodia's border areas, which American commanders labelled Breakfast, Lunch, Supper, Dinner, Desert and Snack, aimed to destroy the mobile headquarters of the South Vietnamese "Vietcong" and the North Vietnamese Army (VC/NVA) in the Cambodian jungle. However, these and later bombardments forced the Vietnamese communists further west and deeper into Cambodia, and ultimately radicalized Cambodian local people against Lon Nol's regime.

Ben Kiernan and Taylor Owen on the similarities between the current war with Afghanistan and the past bombing of Cambodia

Cracking the Code

A couple of years ago, my hometown paper published a story which caught my eye...

They told the story of the reverse engineering of KFC's secret fried chicken recipe by Ron Douglas (pictured above, and below on YouTube). Committed to cracking the KFC code and re-creating his favorite chain restaurant dishes in his home, Douglas had quit his job as a finance manager on Wall Street in order to devote all of his energy to his quest. He now runs a website for folks who do the same thing and sells cookbooks full of recipes so you can join in the fun.

This is interesting. I both self-identify as, and follow food media targeted at, the sort who appreciates DIY and some reified notion of authenticity. Generally, I eschew chain restaurants preferring instead independently-owned businesses. And here is a whole community (check out the forum) devoted to folks who are doing the same thing (DIY, authenticity) but with an eye towards franchises. Neat!

For another fun take on franchise food, check out the food stylings of Fancy Fast Food too!

Michael Phillips wins World Barista Championships

Image: gratuitous yellow grinder, via Village Voice

Giorgio Milos wrote as an aside on The Atlantic website yesterday that Intelligentsia barista Michael Phillips won this year's World Barista Championship at the end of June. On the official championship website you can link to a streamed video of the competition.

Other finalists were: Raul Rodas (Guatemala), Scottie Callaghan (Australia), Colin Harmon (Ireland), Soren Stiller Markussen (Denmark), and Stefanos Domatiotis (Greece).

Although no kiwis placed in the finals, several New Zealanders are on the judging panel, including newly certified Wellingtonian Jessica Godfrey, who has her espresso machine plumbed in at her house to get proper water pressure. I guess everyone in Wellington does. Don't you?

Check out a recent post here on Gut Feelings for pictures of the LA workplace of the winning barista – where they play early Nas records, allow cute mongrel dogs inside, and make good joe. As a friend wrote recently on twitter about Intelligentsia, "It's the little things".

Chinese word-play

The Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog recently had a couple of neat posts on the multiple meanings of plant names in Chinese. They addressed pak choy...

...Chinese characters for pak choy, or Chinese cabbage (白菜), can also be pronounced to mean “100 types of prosperity and luck.” Which explains why this vegetable is a favourite of Chinese jade carvers...

and peanuts...

...the peanut (huasheng 花生) is an auspicious symbol because its second character (sheng 生) means “to give birth.”

Shu Flies has more on the jade pak choy pictured above (from the National Palace Museum in Taiwan) and on carved jade cabbage, in general. Additionally, on a note unrelated to cabbages and peanuts, she touches on the most brilliant bit of stone carving I have ever seen. Check out the picture here. Seriously.

When the smell's all gone-- follow-up

Last night, I posted a link to a song by Sapoun Midada in which he drowns the pain of romantic loss in coffee at a roadside stand. However, others experience the drowning of emotions in coffee quite differently:
Sad coffee music...

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