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I did man-on-the-street interviews at the one-day WastED pop-up at Shake Shack, which featured a veggie burger made of juice pulp, rejected beet ketchup, and day-old Balthazar bread. People’s reactions were pretty interesting! Dan Barber and the Shake Shack culinary director, a very enthusiastic and creative guy named Mark Rosati, chimed in, too. Read my piece on Food Republic.

Here are my photos:

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I wrote for Eater Drinks about new restaurants serving natural wine across the U.S., and what to drink at those spots.

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Many thanks to the wine directors, restaurant owners, and importers who helped with this article!

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I wrote on Saveur.com about the new generation of Spanish winemakers who are producing low-sulfur, less extracted beauties made with indigenous varieties. Look for these five producers at your local natural wine shop!

I wrote for Food Republic about the deliciousness of pét-nats (short for pétillant-naturel), which are naturally-sparkilng wines. There are some interesting new bottlings of pét-nat in the U.S., read the article to learn about them!

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Warmer days are here, and for most of us that means that around 5 p.m. our ability to work is severely compromised as visions of a glass of refreshing sparkling wine claim the imagination. Maybe some of us prefer to splurge on the best grower champagnes out there, but even so, there is always a time and a place for the lovely, simple, low-alcohol wine made in the pétillant-naturel (naturally sparkling) style — known affectionately as “pét-nat.” More here

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On a recent night in February at Piranha, a gay nightclub in Las Vegas, the owner approached Cooper Cheatham, who had organized the event to bring together LGBT spirits and cocktail professionals. Piranha and Share, another Vegas gay bar, are something like rivals — usually the two sets of clientele do not mix, preferring to stick to their home bases. But that night, many Share loyalists showed up at Piranha, and the owner commented to Cheatham that it was a really surprising turnout. For Cheatham, it was a success, because his organization, G.L.A.S.S. — the Gay and Lesbian Alliance for Spirited Sipping — is all about creating community by bringing together the mixologists, brand reps and beverage directors who often feel marginalized in a heteronormative, male-dominated industry. More here

I think it has something to do with the amount of time I spend in front of a computer screen. Lately, all I want to do is work with my hands, and make stuff in the kitchen. I don’t even have a nice kitchen. It’s literally 5×5. And I’m kind of a klutz, especially in small spaces. Which means a lot of broken dishes. Fortunately, my roommate forgives me. I just ply her with free wine every time something shatters. But this desire to use my hands has led me to discover the immensely satisfying practices of pickling and fermenting.

In a way, it started with investigations I was doing for the website I write for, Collectively.org. First I talked with Tara Whitsitt about how she’s driving around the country in an old police bus, preaching the gospel of fermentation. It made me think about how, while some people are really focused on high-tech, futuristic ways of designing new foods — like cricket protein bars, for example — there’s also this movement to just go back to the things our grandparents did, in terms of growing and preparing foods in the most basic, natural ways.

Hayes making a nuka-zuke pot at Ferment! Ferment!

Michaela Hayes making a nuka-zuke pot at Ferment! Ferment!

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fermented radicchio

After talking with Tara, I attended a little festival called “Ferment! Ferment!” in Brooklyn, where I ate a lot of smelly foods and took a workshop about making a “nuka-zuke” pot with Michaela Hayes, who helped develop the pickling program at Gramercy Tavern before starting her own business, Crock and Jar. The nuka-zuke pot is definitely an advanced fermentation project, but she did give me a simple recipe for sauerkraut.

My plan was to start with that recipe — but then my roommate went out of town and left a nice, fresh radicchio head in the fridge. I learned from research that chickories aren’t necessarily the best candidates for fermentation, but I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. Hayes advised me to add a mixture of water and a tablespoon of salt to the radicchio since it had not created its own brine. I let it ferment for five days, and it was ready — and it tastes awesome!

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kraut!

For my next experiment, I turned to this great cookbook by the English chef Arthur Potts Dawson, who founded the People’s Supermarket in London and is an advocate of the veggie-forward lifestyle. I tried his recipe for kraut and it’s now fermenting away happily in a cool, dark cabinet.

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pickled onions and leeks

Meanwhile, I’ve also been pickling onions and leeks. This started when I cooked a Passover seder for a bunch of friends and I made chicken liver pate, which is one of my absolute favorite things to make because it’s soooooo easy (we had a “Passover-inspired” meal, by the way, with brisket and matzah ball soup, but everything else fairly non-traditional). I needed pickled onions, so I threw them together that morning, and by dinner time they were tasting fantastic. Quick pickle is the way to go!

I enjoyed interviewing Andrea Calek for Eater Drinks. Check out the story here. And more of my photos below, from his visit to June Bar.

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