Sweets from Momofuku Milk Bar (New York City, NY)

So, you should all pretty generally know that I have a huge sweet tooth by now. There are very few desserts that I would turn down and it’s an element of life that I believe should be incorporated into any day. If any of you out there doubt the power of my love of sweets, all I’ll say is that I planned my entire trip up to New York solely on my desire to try the desserts at Momofuku Milk Bar. This sweet sister shop to the famous Momofuku ramen restaurants is run by Christina Tosi, a woman who has made dessert her life. If I’m reborn after I die, I’m almost positive that I would choose to come back as Tosi because as far as I’m concerned, she’s living the dream and she’s a visionary when it comes to sweets. On top of that, if you can’t already tell, I have a bit of a crush and I am not ashamed to admit it, especially since I didn’t geek out nearly as much as Chef Mimi when she met Ottolenghi.

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One of the many things Milk Bar is famous for is their soft serve, and I opted for the Crack Pie flavor with the crunch. My eyes rolled right to the back of my head with my first bite and they still haven’t rolled into their proper position yet. The crunch added texture with a cornflake flavor that complimented the creamy, buttery soft serve well. The best part was that they put crunch at the bottom of cup too, so this element wasn’t lost right at the beginning of the treat. This ice cream was reminiscent of the best cheesecake crust you’ve ever had in soft serve form. I inhaled this thing, so you should be happy pictures are accompanying this post, even if they are from my iPhone. My friend ordered the Twist, which was my flavor mixed with the signature Cereal Milk. She preferred the cereal milk as it wasn’t as sweet, so if you’re into milder desserts, that may be the way to go. I overheard a few people who complained about the sweetness of the Crack Pie flavor, but I believe the buttery overtones were what they didn’t appreciate. The soft serve is absolutely divine, so I’d imagine all your cool desires can be fulfilled with a cup from Milk Bar no matter what your preference on the sweet scale is.

I couldn’t leave without purchasing something for the road, too, so I picked up a Corn Cookie. This may sound odd, but the cookie tasted much more like corn that I was expecting. I would certainly order it again though because it reminded me of a more tempered, balanced sugar cookie with a nice corn kick to it. While there was obviously sugar in the cookie, a lot of the sweetness came from this standout main ingredient. This definitely wasn’t too sugary and it would be perfect for anyone looking for a cookie to satisfy a dessert craving without going overboard.

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If you’re in New York City, Momofuku Milk Bar is a must. For all of you who don’t make it to NYC often, Tosi is bringing Milk Bar to D.C. when her business partner, David Chang, brings the first Momofuku to the city in 2015. In addition to these two locations, you can also find Milk Bar in Toronto. One thing I really admire about the number of locations they have is that each spot features a few sweets unique to that location, which makes each experience a little more special. I don’t think I can say anything more unless you want to read several pages on how everything I tried at this shop satisfied, so I’ll end my post today with a simple mandate: if you are within a thirty mile radius of a Milk Bar, stop in and order something.
Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Posted in Cookies, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, New York, New York City, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Food with Oscar Wilde

As a former English major, I had to take several survey classes covering various periods of literature. Although my favorite survey was the one that covered medieval literature and the real gems that are often overlooked by people both within and without the book world, my last survey introduced me to the wonder that is Oscar Wilde. Not only is the man’s work hilarious, it also contains a number of fantastic quotes about food. Below I’ve attached some of my favorites from The Importance of Being Ernest. If you haven’t read the book, you need to, and if you have, it might be time to pick it up again. Read the quotes below if you don’t believe me because they’re guaranteed to sway you to Team Wilde and brighten up your morning!

Ernest

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-“How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.”

-“Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.”

-“I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.”

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“I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.”

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-“Good heavens, I suppose a man may eat his own muffins in his own garden.”

-“But you have just said it was perfectly heartless to eat muffins!”

-“I said it was perfectly heartless of YOU under the circumstances. That is a very different thing.”

-“That may be, but the muffins are the same!”

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“You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake. I am known for the gentleness of my disposition, and the extraordinary sweetness of my nature, but I warn you, Miss Cardew, you may go too far.”

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“You can’t possibly ask me to go without having some dinner. It’s absurd. I never go without my dinner. No one ever does, except vegetarians and people like that.”

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This is just the tip of the iceberg for Wilde humor, so if you’re looking for a quick, fun read, look no further than The Importance of Being Ernest…don’t watch the film on Netflix, though, because that is truly awful. Also, let me know what you think about this post because I’m considering of making it a weekly or monthly thing! There are so many authors out there with such great things to say about food and I would love to share them with you! Enjoy your day and remember: don’t eat your morning muffin in an agitated manner.

Posted in Book, England, Food | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Dinner at Turquoise (Bethany Beach, DE)

Every town has one spot that just can’t seem to support a business for more than a few years. Sometimes the location is bad or the competition is too fierce, but either way, the spot is just a revolving door of openings and closings. In the Bethany area, Turquoise has been occupying this dreaded spot for a few years, which is a more impressive time period than some of the other restaurants I’ve seen come and go from this little strip of shops across from Sea Colony.

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My family and I have been to Turquoise a number of times since it’s opened and made a point to go when they had trivia nights. In years past, the food has been passable, but unremarkable, though my family and I continued to dine here for convenience. To make things worse, the mostly bare walls, wooden chairs, and lack of any sort of memorable decor don’t help the restaurant stick in your mind. To its credit, the friendly servers and bartenders brightened up the dull space considerably. As you can probably tell, I’ve been a bit ambivalent to this place: not awful, but not memorable. However, the most recent experience I had here nudged it off of this middling road.

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Stopping in for a bite on a lazy night at the beach, my mom and I took care of our drinks before anything else. I decided to try a Raspberry Mojito while my madre went for a specialty cocktail called Two Cs. The raspberry puree added to my mojito added some nice tartness, but not too much sweetness to my drink. I did prefer my mom’s beverage though, which was pretty similar to most of the cocktails I gravitate towards when dining out. It was light, had some great, crisp cucumber flavors, and included gin. I also appreciated the salted rim that enhanced the cucumber flavors in the drink. The best part of both drinks though was that our bartender could mix a strong cocktail without it tasting too boozy, which is pretty much the ideal in my book.

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While waiting for our drinks, we looked over the various appetizers offered and there were a few that caught our attention. One of our favorites is the classic Spanakopita which was rich and creamy with just enough crunch to it from the golden phyllo dough. Out of all of the dishes we’ve had at Turquoise over the years, the spanakopita has always been consistently satisfying.

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The other starter we tried was the Crab Bruschetta. This one wasn’t as exciting as the spanakopita and could have used some additional balsamic vinegar, but it certainly wasn’t bad. The best element of the appetizer was the heirloom tomatoes because the milder yellow tomato balanced out the more vibrant red one, creating some more diverse flavors than traditional bruschetta. Even though I needed some more ‘oomph’ from the latter, these starters were a pleasant way to kick off our night before our entrees came out.

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Despite the good appetizers, my opinion of this family restaurant didn’t really change until the main courses came out. Mine was so good that the spanakopita could have been served mushy and I still would be gushing about my meal. Over the course of the night, our friendly, helpful bartender informed us that the restaurant just brought in a new young chef a few months ago, and I can easily say it’s made a world of difference to the food. This new chef, who currently has control over the nightly specials, has really brought some new, more enticing life into the place. Before, the fish was forgettable and drowned in a typical red sauce, but the fish I’ve tried this season have been anything but underwhelming.

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Unlike most blackened fish where blackened translates into burned, the Mahi Mahi Special I tried was a well-seasoned, steaky fish that still had nice flaky texture to it. There was some great tartness and acidity from the fresh tomatoes, and the roasted potatoes were some of the best I’ve ever had. They were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with just enough seasoning to brighten the potatoes without masking their subtle, buttery flavors. I was so full after our starters that I couldn’t finish the plate off and I did have to physically stop myself from taking “just one more bite.” Eventually I had to acknowledge I had to stop eating unless I wanted to turn into Augustus Gloop, and my meal was wrapped up to be enjoyed the next day for lunch.

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My mom went with a more traditional Greek dish and ordered the Gyro for her dinner. According to her, you can’t go wrong with a gyro unless the meat is dry, tough, and rubbery, so she was pleased with her late night selection. Gyros have never really been a food that I enjoy, so I didn’t take a bite, but my mom swears this dish was wholly fulfilling. However, she also enjoys fish sandwiches from fast food chains, so take her opinion with a grain of salt. Given the quality of the other dishes, I have confidence in this particular opinion, though I still thought a disclaimer about her general tastes was the least that I could give you.

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My opinion on Turquoise has changed 180 degrees and I’m really hoping this new chef will keep it up as they give him more say over the menu. There’s still a little room for improvement, but how many restaurants out there are completely perfect? This little spot across the street from our condo is definitely on an upwards trajectory, and if they keep it up, I think it’ll soon become one of my favorites whenever I’m down here and looking for a more casual night out.
Turquoise Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bar, Beach, Cocktails, Food, Restaurant, Seafood | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

TED Talk Review: Dan Barber

I hope you’re not rolling your eyes at another TED Talk review because despite the abysmal not so fantastic hits these articles get compared to my others, I like ‘em. Besides sending out handfuls upon handfuls of résumés for open Editorial Assistant positions all over the country, I don’t have too much going on with my professional life. So, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time planning trips to visit friends wherever they are, whether that be L.A. or Madrid, and delving even deeper into my close relationship with a guy I like to call Netflix and the TED Talks he provides for me.

TED Talk Opening

I never really bothered with TED Talks until recently, but after watching a few all I could think was “Where have these been all my life?!” In reality, they are significantly older than I am, so most of them were just waiting for me to find them. Dan Barber’s TED Talk from 2010 entitled “How I Fell in Love with a Fish” is one part of a grouping within Netflix called Chew On This. This conglomeration of talks all deal with some aspect of food, so I imagine my Friday nights are going to be pretty busy from now on.

Dan Barber

This fishy talk revolves around sustainability and the fish we eat. Barber, a well-regarded chef who serves on President Obama’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, discusses his relationships with two different fish and the impact they had on him. One fish, which he describes with lusty language, is very representative of the fish we normally eat. It’s farm-raised in an allegedly sustainable way, but when you look beneath the surface, the fish are fed chicken bits. This fish is the supposed answer to the over-fished seas that are facing destruction, but there is still pollution, diminishing resources, and proof that the modern approach is not always the best. This fish is the catalyst for Barber’s search for the true answer to our fishing problems and leads him on the path towards the other he falls in love with.

Fish #1

The second fish Barber addresses in a more romantic way, but this fish comes from Spain, so I’m not too surprised. If the Spanish fish are anything like the Spanish men, they think they have romance down. In Veta La Palma, Barber had the best fish he’s ever tasted despite the fact that it was overcooked. Now, these two ideas don’t seem to mesh together, but after seeing the pure ecosystem that produces this fish, Barber was convinced that the way the fish are nurtured is more important than the way they’re cooked. Within this ecosystem, farming is done extensively and birds that eat the fish are looked at as a good thing. For the fish farmers here, all you need to produce great fish is clean water that keeps the skin from soaking up impurities and a system that can sustain itself. It’s probably one of the oldest, simplest concepts in the book, but it’s disappointingly not the option most people opt for these days.

Fish #2

What I appreciate the most about Barber’s talk is how he addresses the problems people raise with farming extensively. The question I hear more often than not whenever anyone proposes bettering our food and food sources is “How are you going to feed the world?” but it’s really a question I hate. Obviously providing food for everyone in the world is incredibly important and no one should be going hungry, but do you really think big fast food chains are concerned about feeding the world when they dish out sub-par meat? I think before you can change anything, you need to start with yourself and the community surrounding you, and Barber seems to understand this as well. Heck, if you watch Barber’s talk and follow it with Tristram Stuart’s, there are already boatloads of ideas just waiting to be supported by the masses.

Flamingos

This TED Talk has been my favorite so far and is one that I really encourage others to watch. It’s exciting, funny, and touches upon a lot of really thought-provoking points. Unlike the pig talk I recently reviewed, this one will make you want to actually get up and do something. I’ve ended all of my TED reviews so far with an encouragement to watch the video I discussed, but if I had to choose one to recommend over all the others, this is the one. If you have the time, watch them all because you’re bound to learn something, but if you want a perfect twenty minutes, sit down and watch Barber discuss his love of fish.

Posted in Food, Seafood, TED Talk | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Dinner at Just Hooked (Fenwick Island, DE)

One thing I love about dining at the beach is that most places generally stick to one type of cuisine. There aren’t thirty pages of menu to go through that include everything from Asian-style Lettuce Wraps to Shrimp Scampi to Papas Bravas. Unless a kitchen is run by an Asian married to an Italian who grew up in Spain, none of those things should be on one menu. Luckily, the restaurants around this area tend to realize that people are looking for quality and simplicity when going out after a humid day lying on the sand.

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Like most places this time of year, Just Hooked was packed when we stopped in; however, we were only a table of two, so my Mom and I were seated immediately while the hordes of families had to wait a bit longer for their parties of seven, five, or fifteen. The atmosphere was a bit lacking, although you generally have to search a bit to find any sort of noteworthy ambiance around the beach. There wasn’t anything particularly memorable about the setup of the place, but when it comes down to it, the food tends to be more important to me than the design. I can get over white walls; I can’t get over gross food and drink.

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Speaking of drink, my new pro-Chardonnay attitude towards life led me to decide that there would be no better place to try a new one than a seafood-focused restaurant. Over the course of the night I tried two different whites, including a Trefethen Family Vineyards Chardonnay and a Louis Latour Chardonnay d’Ardeche. I opted for the Trefethen first because I’m a big fan of their Merlot, and it was decidedly better than the Latour that I tried later on in the night. The Latour was much lighter than the Trefethen, and I tend to like the bolder wines that slap you in the face a bit when you drink them. Neither were quite on par with that, but if it came down to it, the Trefethen is the one I’d order again. My mom, who’s usually the Chardonnay girl in the family, ordered a Sazerac. She swears it was delicious, but the one sip I had was enough to deter me from ordering another until I’m cast on Mad Men. Since most of the people I know around the beach are more beer drinkers than anything else, I was pretty impressed with the drink options we had that evening.

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While we ruminated on the menu and whittled our appetizer choices down, we snacked on some of the complimentary Bread. You all should know by now that I’m not a huge bread person, but the few bites I had of this one weren’t too heavy and had a lot of nice herbs included to spice it up a bit. This rustic bread was moist and rich from the extra virgin olive oil splashed on top and flowing below. Even though the flavors were complex, the bread did come out a bit cold and could be even better if each slice was warmed up a bit before being served. Overall though, it wasn’t a bad way to kick off the night, and I had high hopes for the rest of the dinner.

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To prime our bellies for the rest of the meal, my mom and I ordered two appetizers. I was immediately drawn to the Truffled Raw Asparagus Salad. There was a very distinct truffle flavor with each bite and the aioli certainly kept it moist without drenching it too much. I’m not one of those people that loves raining dressing all over my salad, so this was perfect for me. As it was cut pretty comparably to a chopped salad, each bite had a little red onion, crispy bacon, hardboiled egg, and Romano cheese to it. The best thing about the salad was the balance of it all because each element was just texturally different enough to add both creaminess and crunch to this flavorful, summery starter.

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The other appetizer we ordered was the Hooked Up Crab Dip. You can’t have a menu in this area without offering crab dip: people love it, they expect it, and there might be chaos if it’s not offered. This one had a lot of crabmeat in it, but it wasn’t large chunks of lump meat. Instead there was a lot of fine, thin bits of meat that littered each bite. It was also incredibly cheesy, which was appreciated by both of us.

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It’s often difficult for restaurants to find the right balance between a crab dip that is both meaty and creamy, but this one was definitely a winner. However, I would say that the pepper bacon that topped this selection was unnecessary. Contrary to popular belief, bacon doesn’t make everything better, and at this point, I’m borderline sick of it. Maybe if people weren’t selling bacon air fresheners, bacon t-shirts, and gummy bacon bits, I wouldn’t be saying this, but as it is, I’m done with all the bacon.

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After we downed our two appetizers, we picked our two entrees, with my mom choosing to try a Caesar Salad with Filet. The filet was cooked to a perfect medium-rare and really complimented the classic Caesar. My favorite part of the salad was the anchovies decorating the top of the green heap. I think all Caesars should have anchovies on them because they are so fresh and salty and just remind me of the sea. For me, they make every Caesar better and really should become the standard again. I didn’t try much of the salad expect for these anchovies that my unappreciative mother pawned off on me, particularly because Caesars are made up of the dreaded romaine; nevertheless, her major complaint about it was that it could have used a bit more dressing. While it’s always great to have each dish come out perfectly, under-dressing is such an easily resolved issue that I’d say this dish as a whole was on point.

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My choice for the evening was the Pan Roasted Chicken that was pretty shocking decision for me. I think that chicken is just such a boring option when you’re dining out. With pork belly and bluefish and duck hearts, why in the world would I want to order a chicken? Although I am anti-chicken, this one drew me in with blue crab fricasse, artichokes, garlic confit, and prosciutto crème. It might not sound like it, but this entree was pretty light. The crème had some meaty flavor and the artichokes added some tang, but none of it was too rich or overpowering. I loved all the elements that originally enticed me to this dish, but the chicken didn’t do too much for me. I appreciated the crispy skin, but I thought it was a little bit too dry and really needed those other elements to make it satisfying. I tend to believe that a protein should stand on its own before it’s enhanced by other ingredients, and this one didn’t. It was the biggest misstep for me of the night, but it was also quickly forgotten when I ordered dessert.

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The signature Chocolate Terrine was the dessert I ordered when I first came here at eighteen, and I have been unable to order any other dessert from this restaurant group. Since my first bite of this rich treat I have been, for better or for worse, hooked. It’s cool and refreshing from the coffee ice cream, crunchy from the hazelnuts, decadent from the dark chocolate, and just a bit salty from the coarse sea salt enhancing it all. It’s everything I want in a dessert and I have yet to find one just as satisfying anywhere else. If you go for nothing else, go for this dessert whenever you’re in the area.

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Just Hooked is obviously not the only restaurant we’ve been to, but it’s the best one to go to during the summer season due to its size. Each Hooked establishment has a slightly different menu, but they all offer layered, flavorful meals the support local suppliers. Freshness is key to all of the Hooked restaurants, and as long as they keep this up…and have that chocolate terrine on the menu…it will always be one of my favorite choices when I’m hanging around Delaware.
Just Hooked on Urbanspoon

Posted in Beach, Chocolate, Cocktails, Dessert, Food, Ice Cream, Restaurant, Seafood, Steak, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Sad Loss

As some of you may or may not have heard already, Matt Haley, the fantastic restaurateur in Sussex County, died late Tuesday night. Haley was in India for a 6-week trip that included delivering much-needed stoves to a Nepali village when his motorcycle collided with a truck. As someone who spends quite a bit of time in the Delaware area, I can say that this is a huge loss for the community, and he will be missed for a long time to come. Haley didn’t just revitalize the food scene in Delaware and the other states he worked in, but he was also a James Beard Humanitarian Award winner and a man who really strove to interact with the people he met. Traveling everywhere from Puerto Rico to India, Haley touched those around him and constantly worked to improve the lives of the less fortunate. I’ve interacted with many people who care about other, but few who went to the lengths that Haley did to help them.

For anyone who knew him or who was impacted by his work, the family is asking that donations be made in lieu of flowers to The Global Delware Fund, a charity that Matt founded. I hope some of you will consider giving a little bit for a man that gave so much of himself to the world.

Posted in Beach, Food, Restaurant | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

TED Talk Review: Christien Meindertsma

I am very pro-pig. While I am a bit sick of the world’s obsession with bacon, particularly when people “love” it but are willing to eat gummy, tasteless bacon flakes on their fast food fries, I pretty much love everything else about the pig. My enthusiasm for what I like to call hamdependence is what initially drew me to Christien Meindertsma’s TED Talk entitled “How Pigs Make the World Turn.”

TED Talk Opening

This isn’t necessarily a TED Talk meant to change anything about what’s done with the pig, but rather a talk intended to raise awareness about all the pig provides for us. Meindertsma knew before she began her exploration into pigs that in the past they’ve always been used up to the last bit, but she didn’t know if this was still the case with the twenty-first century world. In order to discover if this still holds true today, she tracked a pig and parsed out all of the products that pigs lend a hoof (or other body part) to.

Of course, there are your obvious usages in food such as pork belly, but it’s also used in a number of ways that people may not be aware of. If you’ve done any sort of research into the pig, you know that it’s used as a fibrin to hold bits steaks, tuna, or scallops together when companies are down to their smaller bits of meat. Just in the world of food, pigs serve as everything from pork shanks to an improver of dough, but its journey does not always end in our bellies. Some pig products that really surprised me were concrete, train brakes, and bullets, which I’ve never associated with pigs. In total a mind-blowing 185 products include some element of the pig, which underscores just how often we interact with the pig throughout our day-to-day lives.

The eight-minute talk certainly packs a nice chunk of info into each sentence, but there are some downsides to it as well. Meindertsma is not as engaging as Tristram Stuart, whose TED Talk I reviewed a few weeks ago, especially because she seems to have a hard time maintaining eye contact with the crowd. She does not carry herself as confidently as Stuart does either, although Stuart is encouraging people to become active in eliminating food waste, whereas Meindertsma is just sharing information about pigs and pig products. Personally, I think this is a rich topic and she could have taken it all a step further like Stuart: What sort of religious implications does this have? or Why don’t we use all of our animals in this way? The analytic side of this is a bit lacking, but I still believe the video is a great first step to becoming more aware about the world around us.

So, if you have a few minutes in between wrangling up kids, running off to work, and cooking up a ham heavy dinner, plunk yourself down and watch this informative TED Talk. It might not encourage you to physically change anything in your life, but it will certainly give you the tools to learn more about it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwBsYij96e4

Posted in Food, TED Talk | Tagged | 1 Comment