January 1st is doomsday for foodies.
After the long string of gluttony accompanying the period between Christmas and New Year’s, January 1st hits like a brick to the stomach. The “Before New Year’s” mentality is all excess, all the time: “Why certainly I’d like more eggnog, and please pass the roast while you’re at it.”
But before you can say “bring on the buffet,” the clock strikes midnight and any promise of guilt-free indulgence is out the window, suffocated in a seemingly endless sea of Jenny Craig ads.
In short: everyone I know is on a diet.
But for my New Year’s resolution, I’m going for something a little bit more “forward-thinking” than deprivation: this year my plate is going to embrace technology. No, I’m not devoting myself to the molecular gastronomy cult, but I am going to expand my horizons like any good college student knows how to do — through the Internet. Though cookbooks are still your most reliable source of recipes, there are a number of reputable food blogs where any curious epicure can turn for fast, fresh, up-to-the-minute information.
If you’re with me, read on and eat your way to a much, much fuller plate this year.
Chocolate and Zucchini
Meet Clotilde, the culinary equivalent of Amelie, who brews and braises glorious concoctions from what I can only assume is an adorable flat in Montmartre. From her numerous reworkings of the Gateaux au Yogurt to her self-professed admiration for the Madeleine, Clotidle takes classic French recipes and presents them with an elegant twist. With sumptuous images and innovative recipes, Chocolate and Zucchini is enough to make anyone want to run away to Paris. Clotide’s recent cookbook and culinary guide to Paris are also treasures.
OK so it’s not a blog per se, but with as much media as writing, Mark Bittman’s New York Times column, “The Minimalist,” certainly feels like a blog to me. The premise is simple: Bittman writes a recipe and then prepares it in front of your very own eyes in a video. I’m consistently surprised that more college students aren’t Bittman fans — he almost never uses more than ten ingredients, and (watch out Rachel Ray) there’s rarely more than twenty minutes of hands-on work to prepare his food. Check out his lists of super simple summer meals and hors d’oeuvres — they’re a lifesaver in a pinch.
The day starts with a post about Starbucks at 7 am, but by 9 am all hell breaks loose when The Zagat Guide announces that they’re looking for a buyer. There’s a quippy piece about the stockpiles of food trapped between borders because of customs seizures and a call for “the best worst restaurant names of all time” (finalists include ‘Lettuce Entertain You,’ a Mumbai eatery called ‘Hitler’s Cross,’ and the ever Euro-chic ‘Crappitto’s Cucina Italiana’).
It’s an ordinary Monday at Serious Eats, and you can tell this is the big league of blogging. With a talented group of writers and foodies, there’s very little the Serious Eats team fails to report on — especially bacon; writer Ed Levine loves bacon. Come here for recipes and general food news, but feel free to use the forums. A lot of the Serious Eats followers are serious eaters themselves, armed with an arsenal of advice.
The online home of Gourmet magazine and Bon Appetit. There’s a searchable recipe database. Enough said.
Contrary to the popular opinion of New Yorkers, the New York Times and most professional food publications, the majority of great food is located outside “the city” (translation: New York City. Have we forgotten about Chicago, Boston, San Francisco — all cities that happen to be located outside the island?). But there are great eats to be had in the Big Apple, and New York Magazine’s Grub Street blog will help you find them all. From restaurant reviews to where to find that $100 bottle of sake, Grub Street will direct you where you want to go. Check out their cheap eats listings for proof that haute lifestyle can be had on the fly — even in Manhattan.
Pioneer Woman Cooks
It’s a typical girl-meets-cowboy story. Girl meets Boy. Girl falls for Boy. Girl elopes to a cattle ranch in the middle of the California desert far away from her beloved Balducci’s. But armed her with a pack of Kraft Parmesan cheese, there’s almost nothing Ree of Pioneer Woman Cooks can’t make — usually better than you. With step-by-step pictures, perfect home cooking and Ree’s cowgirl charm, you can’t go wrong with a recipe from this site.
Ree’s cinnamon buns are highly recommended, but her Sweet Potato Casserole is second to none. Just hide the ingredients list from any Richard Simmons devotees you might meet (Hint: without fancy ingredients, Ree’s secret touch is usually butter).
Eat. Moan. Sigh. It’s a new year — you’ve earned it.