hypertext, words and more


  • Another fantastic episode from NYT Cooking’s Mystery Menu with Sohla and Ham. I was pleasantly surprised that processing durian and cooking it, neutralizes the aromatics, but elevates savory flavors in dishes! Also surprised to see acid and durian making a great pairing. Also, Sohla has explored some variations on the kolar pitha before, but this durian kolar pitha looks so good!

  • Sam Stone for Bon Appetit writes:

    Thankfully, Bricia Lopez and Javier Cabral, authors of Asada, a new cookbook celebrating the expansive world of Mexican grilling, have a simple solution: an onion.

    Here’s their go-to method: To start, heat your grill to high (figure 450–550°). Getting the grate hot will partially do your work for you by burning off some of those clingers. Next, slice an onion in half—any kind will do, be it yellow, white, or red—but Lopez and Cabral recommend “the biggest, cheapest white onion you can find” since a larger onion will cover more surface area. Stab a large fork into the uncut side of the halved onion, then run it up and down the grate.

    This technique, dubbed a piece of “Mexican ingenuity” by Lopez and Cabral, uses the natural acids in the onion to loosen and remove bits of grease and pieces of char. Onions also contain a compound called allicin, the same chemical that brings you to tears when you’re chopping. This compound has antimicrobial properties that leave your grill spick-and-span.

    An absolutely fantastic suggestion for cleaning the grill.

    I’m reminded of my service industry days. We used to clean panini-press grills with a similar approach. The presses weren’t non-stick and while not as hot as outdoor grills, they’d still get filthy with carbon. We’d leave set the temperature as hot as possible and set some ice cubes in between the press. Then we’d turn off the presses. The heat would melt the cubes into boiling water and steam vapor would lift caked-on cheese, bread bits, carbon and anything else that got left burnt onto them. From here, it was pretty simple. Just let the heat dissipate and using steel wool to brush any remaining bits into the grease catch.

  • Photo from Unsplash

    Time flies doesn’t it? It was just yesterday everyone was talking about Beyond Meat’s deep-friend nugget and boneless wing test in Georgia. Before we dive into the news, let’s do a head-count. As of writing, here’s an up-to-date compilation of all the fast-food restaurant chains with plant-based items on their menus (for sale, or in test markets):

    • KFC, The Imposter (not a typo), a U.K. chicken burger
    • Little Caesars, Supreme Pizza (spicy-sweet sausage)
    • Qdoba, Qdoba Impossible Bowl or Qdoba Impossible Taco
    • Burger King, Impossible Whopper
    • Carl’s Jr., Beyond Famous Star
    • Del Taco, Beyond Taco
    • Dunkin’, Beyond Sausage Breakfast Sandwich
    • Red Robin, Impossible Burger
    • TGI Fridays, Beyond Burger 
    • White Castle, Impossible Slider

    Derrick Bryson Taylor for The Times writes:

    For weeks, a debate over where to get the best chicken sandwich has waged between Popeyes, Chick-fil-A and the chicken-eating public at large. But KFC, another chicken giant with a global reach, is working on its own agenda: a plant-based “chicken” that proved so popular in a sales test that it sold out in a single day.

    “It’s confusing, but it’s also delicious,” read a tweet from KFC on Monday announcing the sale of Beyond Fried Chicken, created with the help of the company Beyond Meat, at a single location in Atlanta. In about five hours on Tuesday, a KFC representative said, the restaurant sold as many plant-based boneless wings and nuggets as it would sell of its popular popcorn chicken in an entire week. (A “Kentucky Fried Miracle,” the company declared.)

    In 24 hours, the test market sold out. This is simply put, delicious news for everyone.

  • KFC

    Kentucky Friend Chicken is rolling out Beyond Meat’s plant-based meat substitute deep-fried nuggets and boneless wings in test markets in Atlanta. The Morning Brew reports:

    The meatless revolution has breached the castle walls. Today, a KFC store near Atlanta is rolling out Beyond Meat’s plant-based nuggets and boneless wings, all but guaranteeing fried chicken will remain in the news cycle for a second straight week.

    I cannot wait to try this. Here’s to hoping the test market responds well to Beyond Fried Chicken 🤞

  • From GrubStreet:

    On what would have been his 63rd birthday, people across the food world and beyond are coming together to remember author and TV host Anthony Bourdain’s life on Bourdain Day, created in memory of the late chef by his friends, chefs Eric Ripert and José Andrés.

    So far, people like CNN host Christiane Amanpour, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, Washington Post writer Tim Carman, The Wire producer David Simon, chefs Daniel Boulud and Dominique Ansel, chef Ludo Lefebvre’s tween daughter, Rêve, and even Waffle House, which Bourdain visited in an episode of his show Parts Unknown,are sharing tributes. Much of it is, unsurprisingly, tinged with sadness and a sense of great and intense loss, but there’s also a sense of hope — that if we all learn to live as Bourdain did, we’ll be honoring him as well as ourselves. Read the tributes below and check back for further posts as they continue to roll in throughout the day.

    Bourdain was a fucking national treasure. A tour de force. A bit stubborn — a bit rough. Something I can really get behind. He was loving and compassionate. He was one of the most empathetic creative persons I’ve ever followed. He was too good for us. While he left us too soon, we’re a better planet, having known his words, his myths, his loves and his thoughts.

    After Bourdain and President Obama sat down at Bun Cha Huong Lien for an episode of Parts Unknown, the restaurant owners permanently enshrined the table in plexiglass:

    When Bourdain was alive, the glass-case immortalizes both men. The vacant table was an amazing monument to a beautiful moment (if you’ve never seen the scene, watch and read about it here). Now, with Bourdain departed, it takes on a different meaning. He will forever be missed.

  • Whatastory. Now, I’m a born-and-bred Texan. I may live in New York City (for now), so the Empire State may have my taxes — but the Lone Star State has my heart. Always has, always will. Despite the troubling past and problematic heroes (and if you have the stamina to stand up to Republicans occasionally), Texas can be a fantastic, magical and oh-so affordable place to call home. So pardon me swimming through some backstory here, while I work up to the big reveal.

    To quote the great Lawerence Wright:

    […] Texans see themselves as a distillation of the best qualities of America: friendly, confident, hardworking, patriotic, neurosis-free. Outsiders see us as the nation’s id, a place where rambunctious and disavowed impulses run wild. Texans, it is thought, mindlessly celebrate individualism, and view government as a kind of kryptonite that weakens the entrepreneurial muscles. We’re reputed to be braggarts; careless with money and our personal lives; a little gullible, but dangerous if crossed; insecure, but obsessed with power and prestige.

    Power and prestige indeed — Fast-food restaurateurs frequently come to Texas to wade in the tepid waters of the nation’s id if you will. Open a shop in Texas, and it does well — chances are, you will do well just about anywhere.

    Texas has it all. From Five Guys to Fuzzy’s. We have Del Tacos (god knows why), food trucks, and oh so many Chipotle’s. Texas has In-n-Out’s and then there’s the Braums, Kincaids and Juicy’s. Not to mention a constant fierce rivalry between Shake Shack and our hero, Whataburger. And boy-howdy, lemme tell ya about the Jalapeño Tree and Bernie. The highway culture in Texas is a fertile breeding ground for all sorts of varying opinions on fast food. From Uvalde to Amarillo, every Texan has a contrarian favorite. But every true Texan can probably agree, Whataburger is a prized possession. Seriously. Couples may get married at McDonald’s locations in Hong Kong, but you can be damn sure Texans get married at Whataburger:

    Whataburger fans have had Whataburgers sent to them out-of-state via Federal Express, twenty-four couples were married at a Whataburger restaurant on Valentine’s Day in 1996, and in 1999 the STS-93 crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia requested Whataburger cookies on board for their July mission. The Seventy-seventh Texas Legislature officially recognized what customers have known for more than 50 years: Whataburger is a state treasure. On April 9, 2001, Rep. Jaime Capelo, (D-Corpus Christi), announced his resolution to recognize the Texas-based hamburger chain as a Texas Treasure.

    Whataburger has been in business for nearly 69 years now since the first location opened up in Corpus Christie (nice)! But there’s big news on the horizon for every Whataburger enthusiast — our Texan treasure, is now poised for growth now that the Dobson family has handed over the keys to Byron Trott:

    The merchant bank [BDT Capital Partners] that’s taking over the majority stake in Whataburger was founded by one of Warren Buffett’s favorite investors.

    The founding Dobson family will keep a minority position on the board, while Whataburger’s Chief Financial Officer Ed Nelson will become president of the orange-and-white burger chain. The company’s headquarters will remain in San Antonio.

    Not much is known about BDT Capital Partners. Despite dealing with billions of dollars, the company doesn’t have a website and rarely makes headlines.

    However, the company continues to grow under its founder, Byron Trott, who has been publicly praised by Warren Buffett in the past.

    Sign me the hell up. This is fantastic news for Whataburger. They’ve outgrown their spurs, many times over, and I have confidence that Trott and BDT Capital will take good care of Whataburger. I would love to see a Whataburger location open up in Brooklyn or Manhattan in my lifetime. That would be just so glorious.

    If you want to learn more about the history of Whatburger, The Texas State Historical Association has some incredible photographs (that couldn’t be shared here) and a lovely summary Whataburger’s history written by an excellent history teacher — Cindy Jones, of Woodrow Wilson Junior High in Dayton, Texas. I only know this because the THSA publishes a list of their junior historians here, which is super cool 😎