Nosh News: Olé! Edition

At the Greensboro Supermarket, you can get dried chiles, a game of pool, a flat-top hair cut and the most authentic tacos in the Tallahassee area.

This Saturday, May 5, encompasses two events traditionally celebrated with lots and lots of alcohol: The Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo. If you’re looking to shake up your mint julep for this weekend’s run for the roses, check out the Kitchn’s roundup of five non-basic julep recipes, including a Cherry Julep made by my favorite talking head, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. To put a spin on the traditional Cinco de Mayo margarita, try Rick Bayless’ Champagne Margarita or Hotel California Jamaica Margarita. While you’re over at Bayless’ site, take a look at his collection of recipes for salsas, appetizers, entrées and desserts, too. The Chicago chef is one of our country’s great masters of Mexican cuisine.

With a Mexican native in my casa, we won’t be doing anything too splashy for Cinco de Mayo, since the Professor likes to point out that the holiday isn’t widely celebrated in his ancestral land. (It’s more akin to Casimir Pulaski Day than the Fourth of July). We’re always up for eating authentic Mexican food, however, so this weekend we’re planning to visit our favorite taqueria in the Tallahassee area. We love the picadillo sopes, bistek tortas and barbacoa tacos served at the little dining counter in the back of the Greensboro Supermarket, 119 Green Ave., Greensboro. The taqueria’s housemade tomatillo salsa alone makes the 30-mile drive worth it. The Greensboro Supermarket carries a variety of Mexican packaged goods, including all kinds of dried chiles, that can be tough to find locally, and also houses a pool hall and a hair salon. (Yes, I said hair salon). Now that’s one-stop shopping.

Have you dined at any of the eateries on the just-released list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants? I haven’t yet visited the heavy hitters ranked by Restaurant magazine, but several of my friends have marveled over chef Grant Achatz’s masterpieces of molecular gastronomy at Alinea. The Chicago restaurant, which claimed the No. 7 slot, is one of eight American eateries on the list published annually by the London-based magazine. Noma, a restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, nabbed No. 1. Personally, I’d love to compare the two menus of traditional and creative dishes offered by Biko, the Basque-Mexican hybrid restaurant in Mexico City that landed at No. 38 this year.

Nosh News and Best Bites: Jammed Together Edition

Now is the time to find ripe strawberries at local farmers markets and roadside stands.

Berry fans, rejoice: The local strawberries are ripe! I picked quite a few quarts on Tuesday during my volunteer shift at Full Earth Farm, and got to take some home. We ate all of them fresh — the first ripe strawberries of the spring never last more than minutes around here — but next time I luck into a berry bounty I’m going to restrain myself long enough to make this recipe, which was inspired by a dish served at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort: Simple Strawberry Soup from Christy Jordon’s Southern Plate blog.

Paella and flamenco make the perfect picante pairing. On Friday, April 27, you can relish both at Mission San Luis, 2100 W. Tennessee St. Award-winning guitarist Grisha Goryachev will perform modern and traditional flamenco music while local caterers Real Paella serve a sit-down gourmet dinner that includes sangria, Spanish salad, flan and, of course, paella mixta with vegetables, meat and seafood. The event begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35. Visit the Real Paella website to order tickets or call 339-2043.

In the epic battle of the big coffee chains, I’ll choose Dunkin’ Donuts over Starbucks every time. So I was thrilled to discover that filmmaker Whit Stillman prefers the Double D, too. In fact, the crew on his just-released film “Damsels in Distress” was treated to two Dunkin’ Donuts runs each day. I found out about Stillman’s coffee predilections, along with a handful of unexpectedly intriguing everyday insights, when he was featured this week in Bon Appétit’s My Morning Routine series, which explores how people kick-start the day.

Do you dream of owning a food truck? Find out more about how to make it happen at the Food Truck 101 Workshop offered by the Tallahassee Food Truck Association. The event is set for 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 27 at the All Saints Hop Yard, 453 All Saints St. Attendees will learn about required licenses and registrations, insurance, suppliers and more, and will have the chance to talk with food truck owners who’ve already hit the local streets.  The cost is $25. To register in advance, visit the Tallahassee Food Truck Association website.

Roll into National Bike Month with the Capital City Cyclists, who are encouraging Tallahassee-area bicyclists to get together for dinner at a different local restaurant on each Wednesday in May. The Dinner by Bike series kicks off on Wednesday, May 2 with a meal at Mike’s Stone Baked Pizza, 1313 Jackson Bluff Road. Start your ride from home, work or school and meet up with other riders at the restaurant anytime between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. For more information about Dinner by Bike and other National Bike Month events, visit the Capital City Cyclists website.

Nosh News: Everybody Loves a Cheeseball Edition

April is National Florida Tomato Month.

Happy National Cheeseball Day! Don’t have the time (or the stomach) to ball up a wad of brie so you can celebrate? Well, Sunday, April 22, is National Jelly Bean Day. And you’ve got all of April to commemorate National Florida Tomato Month, along with National Soft Pretzel Month and the oh-so-unspecific National Food Month. Where did all these food holidays — seems like there’s at least one for just about every day on the calendar — come from, anyway?  Bon Appétit explains it all: How National Food Holidays Became a Thing.

When most people look at a hunk of cheese, they envision a snack or a meal. Painter Mike Geno, however, sees artistic inspiration. The Philadelphia artist has made a career out of painting portraits of beautiful blues, richly textured cheddars and other visions de fromage. Jeff Gordinier’s profile of Geno for the New York Times, Like the Mona Lisa, but on a Cracker, includes some delicious tidbits about the artist’s process (yes, he does devour his subjects after he’s polished off a canvas) and a slideshow of some of his works.

Know what goes great with cheese? Beer. If you’re looking for a new microbrew to savor, the Trot Line’s got you covered. The Atlanta-based website’s coverage of Southern culture includes detailed, thoughtful reviews of beers from all over the region. Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale from Mississippi brewery Lazy Magnolia, for example, sounds like a must-try to me. If you prefer the hard stuff, The Trot Line’s writers have a lot to say about bourbon, as well.

Nosh News: The Best of Everything Edition

Anthony Bourdain vs. Paula Deen: Two celebrity chefs enter, one leaves (possibly slathered in butter).

’Tis the season for Top 10 lists. Here’s a rundown of 10 of the most entertaining best-of-the-year roundups I’ve found around the Web, in no particular order:

1. Top 10 Food Trends of 2011 by TIME. A wide-ranging overview of the year’s highs and lows. Thumbs up to #3: The New Vegetarians and #10: Regional Food, thumbs down to #9: Texting at the Table.

2. Top 10 New Foods at the 2011 State Fairs by Endless Simmer. Check out which state nabs the dubious honor of #1 fair-food innovation.

3. Top 10 Food-Related Lawsuits of 2011 by LA Weekly’s Squid Ink blog. A big thank you to the plaintiff behind lawsuit #3 for ruining late-night Taco Bell runs for the rest of us.

4. Travelers’ Choice 2011 Top 10 Food & Wine Destinations in the United States by TripAdvisor. I visited four of the 10 cities on this list in 2011 (and, in previous years, I’ve dined in three more). While #3 Chicago, will always be my favorite place on the planet to eat because it’s my hometown, my introduction this year to the dining scene in #1 New Orleans landed that city high on my own list of the most enticing food destinations.

5. The Best Cocktails of 2011 by Tasting Table. Blame it on Mad Men. In 2011, classic cocktails edged out other alcoholic beverages, prompting home mixologists to begin experimenting with bitters, shakers and garnishes. If you’ve already perfected your take on the French 75, this list offers 10 fresh recipes to test-drive.

6. Top 10 Food-World Spats of 2011 by CHOW. My personal favorite smackdown? Anthony Bourdain, who seems to despise everyone in the culinary world but himself (and his dudebro David Chang, of course), vs. the equally unctuous Paula Deen.

7. Ten Best Vegan Cookbooks of 2011 by VegNews. A great resource for everyone who wants to add more meatless dishes to their cooking and baking repertoires. As a lifelong diner devotee, I need to add a copy of “Vegan Diner: Classic Comfort Food for the Body & Soul” by Portland, Ore., chef Julie Hasson to my cookbook collection.

8. Top 10 Food-Related Apps by the Washington Post. Perfect for foodies who received a shiny new iPad or smartphone for the holidays. I’m eager to explore Chefs Feed, which features prominent chefs’ picks for great dining experiences in a handful of U.S. cities, with more locales to be added in 2012.

9. Top 10 Food Trends for 2012 by Epicurious (via Yahoo! Shine). An intriguing look ahead at the forces that will shape how we eat in 2012. I’ll be watching to see how these trends play out in Tallahassee in the coming year. We’re already got several excellent artisan cheesemakers in the area, and I hear that there’s a new churro purveyor in town, but I have yet to spot fennel pollen on a local menu.

10. Top 10 Simpsons Food Episodes by LA Weekly’s Squid Ink blog. OK, so this list isn’t limited to 2011 episodes, but it’s way too much fun to miss. Whether you’re fantasizing about a colossal donut or a mug filled with Skittlebrau — or perhaps something slightly less Homeric — here’s hoping that 2012 serves up an array of edible delights.

Nosh News: I Made It Out of Potatoes Edition

Happy Hanukkah!

Time to make the latkes! Hanukkah (otherwise known as my annual excuse to go Pac-man on potato pancakes) begins tonight at sunset. This year, I’m determined to perfect my latke-making technique. In my quest to eat fried potatoes as often as possible during the next eight days, I’m going to give two recipes from Smitten Kitchen a try: Classic Potato Pancakes and a spicy twist on the dish, Indian-Spiced Vegetable Fritters with Curry-Lime Yogurt.

Since I like to live on the culinary edge, I haven’t yet decided exactly what I’ll be making for Christmas dinner. But I know that the menu will, of course, include potatoes. If the Pioneer Woman’s Duchess Potatoes taste half as good as they look, they might just outshine whatever main dish I end up putting on my holiday plate.

Since I’ll be busier than usual in the kitchen, wrestling a towering pile of potatoes into submission, posting on the blog will be light during the next couple of weeks. May you all enjoy a delicious holiday season and a fruitful new year!

Best Bites: It’s Almost the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Edition

Khara Plicanic is biking across the country, offering free photography classes at eight cities along the way. Her [UN]tour stops in Tallahassee on Wednesday, Dec. 14. (Photo courtesy of the [UN]tour)

The Havana Holiday Festival & Lawn Mower Parade rolls through downtown Havana on Saturday, Dec. 10. Doesn’t that sound like the most fun ever? In addition to the wacky procession of riding lawn mowers and golf carts transformed into parade floats, visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, live music and more family-friendly fun, this annual holiday celebration also offers festivalgoers the opportunity to help out the hungry. Bring a canned good or jar of peanut butter to donate to Community Cares Outreach of Havana, and you’ll receive a holiday ornament to decorate and hang on the town’s Giving Tree. The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the parade starting at 1 p.m. on Main Street. For more information, visit the Havana Florida Events website.

Would a little chocolate make your holiday shopping more pleasant? How about some Champagne? Ten Thousand Villages will serve up free samples of both at the second annual Champagne & Chocolate Open House, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. at the shop in Market Square, 1415 Timberline Road. Ten Thousand Villages, a nonprofit fair trade organization, carries an array of items created by artisans across the globe, so you can feel great about snapping up some unique gifts while you’re at the shop. For more information, call 906-9010 or visit the Ten Villages Villages Tallahassee website.

Food bloggers live and die by their photos, and I know I’ve still got a lot to learn about taking great shots. That why I’ll be attending the Tallahassee stop of the [UN]tour, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 621 Gallery, 621 Industrial Drive in Railroad Square Art Park.  Nebraska photographer Khara Plicanic is traveling across the country by bicycle, with her husband, Emir Plicanic, to share her 10 Tips for Instantly Better Photos, whether you’re shooting a holiday party, an awe-inspiring landscape or your latest culinary creation. Admission to the one-hour class, which is geared to hobbyist photographers of all skill levels, is free. (Khara also will offer a free Wickedly Fast Wedding Workflow class for professional photographers at 4:30 p.m. the same day.) For more information, visit the 621 Gallery website or the [UN]tour website, where you can register online for either class.

Nosh News: How Many More Shopping Days? Edition

Georgia chef Hugh Acheson’s cookbook, “A New Turn in the South,” would make an ideal gift for anyone who loves Southern cuisine.

If you celebrate a December holiday with a gift-giving tradition, welcome to shopping crunchtime. I’ve rounded up some ideas for great gifts that will delight the people in your life who love food (and isn’t that just about everyone?).

Want to give a far-away friend or family member a taste of Tallahassee? You can’t go wrong with Barb’s Gourmet Brittles. Classic peanut, dark chocolate pecan coconut, orange macadamia, even a virgin variety that’s nut-free … you can choose a different flavor of brittle for each name on your list. While you’re browsing at the shop on Lake Ella, snag a scoop of the excellent housemade ice cream, too.

The New York Times recently released its list of Notable Cookbooks of 2011, and every single title looks giftworthy. I’ve put “A New Turn in the South”, Hugh Acheson’s guidebook to the contemporary Southern cuisine he’s serving up to great acclaim in Georgia, on my own wish list.

Looking for some unique, ecofriendly options? Check out TreeHugger’s guide to green gifts for foodies. I love their idea of making a donation in your giftee’s name to Bluebell Giving, which lets the recipient choose which charity to support.

I’m always on the hunt for a little something sweet to send my best friend for the holidays. Since he’s vegan, I usually turn to Vosges, which turns out some of the most creative, delicious chocolates I’ve ever eaten, including quite a few varieties that are made without any animal products. My top picks from this year’s holiday catalog are the Luscious Vegan Truffle Collection, the Creole Bombalina Hazelnuts and the Aztec Elixir Couture Cocoa.

Nosh News: Still Working on Those Leftovers Edition

Lucky Peach Issue 2: The Sweet Spot features rot, apricots, flippant fruit stickers and, um, Anthony Bourdain.

Are you still too stuffed from your Thanksgiving feast, and the leftovers that followed, to begin thinking about what you’re going to bake for all those festivities coming up in December? If so, I’ll make it easy — you can’t go wrong with cupcakes. For a selection of recipes that will work for whichever holidays you’ll be celebrating this season, check out these posts by some of the best bakers in the blogosphere: Cupcake Rehab’s favorite Christmas cupcakes, Bake & Destroy’s Vegan Sweet Potato Cupcakes, Modern Domestic’s Hanukkah Cupcakes and the Gluten-Free Goddess’ Frosted Orange Crème Cupcakes.

McSweeney’s released the second issue of its quarterly journal of food and writing, Lucky Peach, this month. This is not your typical food magazine. Inside the Sweet Spot issue, you’ll find a lengthy Michael Ames piece about rot, Adam Leith Gollner’s story of his search for the world’s sweetest apricots, and several recipes from ultra-trendy dessert purveyor Momofuko Milk Bar, including a Burnt Miso Butterscotch Topping that looks kind of awesome. (New York chef David Chang, king of the Momofuku restaurant empire, partnered with McSweeney’s to create the magazine). Oh yeah, and everyone’s favorite celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, contributes a piece about a conspiracy involving the movie “Road House.” (Where isn’t Bourdain popping up these days?) Best of all, there’s a sheet of 45 fruit stickers with slogans and illustrations that would make Miss Chiquita Banana blush.

Audrey Robbins, owner of Pan-Handlers Kitchen Supply, just announced that she’s selling the Lake Ella shop and her online business. If you’re interested, call John Kraft of Murphy Business Brokers at 222-2001. Fans of Pan-Handlers’ cooking classes, fret not: Chef Bec Kelly will be taking over on Dec. 1, and you can still find all the information you need about upcoming events at the Pan-Handlers Kitchen website.

Nosh News: It’s Finally Fall Edition

Why, yes, it is decorative gourd season.

Since moving to Tallahassee from the Midwest last year, I’ve had to revise my definition of autumn. Since the thermometer no longer climbs past 85 degrees (at least most days), I’ve decided that it’s officially fall. And that means it’s time to pull out one of my favorite lazy-girl kitchen tools, the slow cooker. Since I’m always on the hunt for great meatless recipes, I’ve put this new cookbook at the top of my must-buy list: “The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour” by Kathy Hester.

Like many folks who celebrate Thanksgiving, I love the big dinner …  but I enjoy the leftovers even more. This week I’m seeking out fresh ways to use up all that extra turkey, stuffing, potatoes and cranberry sauce over the holiday weekend. Here’s a handful of recipes I want to try: Fetette’s Candied Yam Tartlettes, Three Cocktail Recipes That Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce from Mix Magazine —the Cranberry Jalapeño Margarita looks particularly enticing! — and Martha Stewart’s Turkey Banh Mi.

After you’ve made a visit to Dame Stewart’s corner of the Internet to check out that banh mi recipe, you may require an antidote to those maddeningly perfect visions of  gilded pumpkin placecard holders and crisply folded dinner napkins. (I know I do). Quick, read McSweeney’s deliciously irreverent take on seasonal decorating. (Caution: You might not want to click on this link if a small child or humorless coworker is looking over your shoulder).