Blog Posts by Andrew Knowlton, BA Foodist, Bon Appetit Magazine

  • So You Think You Know How to Pour a Beer?

    You've done it a thousand times before: Open beer, drink beer, repeat. Unfortunately, you've been doing it all wrong. So before you down the next six-pack, it's time to learn about the all-important, oft-ignored beer pour. Notice the word, "pour." That's the first rule: All beer should be poured into a cup, preferably glass. Why? For the same reasons you wouldn't ever consider drinking wine straight from the bottle--you need to see the beer, smell it, and properly taste it. Here's how most experts pour:

    Tip glass at a 45-degree angle, pour beer--aiming half-way down the inside of the glass so it pours against the side--until 2/3 full. Slowly tip glass back upright and pour remaining beer into middle of liquid--this helps develop a thick foam on the beer, which is a good thing in terms of both presentation and flavor.

    Try these new organic brews for a refreshing, new taste.

    Of course, there are some beer connoisseurs like Justin Philips, owner of Brooklyn's Beer Table, who could care

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  • Everything you need to know about cured meats

    murraysguide.jpgmurraysguide.jpgThese are indeed meaty times. Not for the economy, obviously, but rather for lovers of salumi or charcuterie or whatever you want to call the fine art of preserving meat. Beet and goat cheese salad--the de rigeur dish on any serious New American restaurant menu for several years--has relinquished the Most Popular title to cooked and cured meats, whether made in-house, imported, or sourced from one of the growing number of artisanal salumi makers here in the US (La Quercia, Boccalone, Creminelli, to name but a few). What I know about charcuterie (and my few home cooking attempts at making stuff like lardo, confit, and jerky) has been inspired primarily by five books. First and foremost, Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery by Jane Grigson, followed by Pates, Terrines and Galantines by Richard Olney (part of the Time-Life's The Good Cook series), Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh

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  • Pickles: The Return of the Real Dill

    Pickling, to paraphrase Marion Cunningham in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, used to be a necessity, not a luxury. But this thrifty and ancient technique--the art of preserving vegetables, fruit, or other foods in vinegar and salt bath--had gone the way of Chicken Cordon Bleu.

    Now homemade pickling is making a comeback, and it's chefs (not your grandma) who are today's best pickling practitioners. Whether it's thanks to a boom in farmers' markets, an appreciation for "slow foods" or simply not wanting to waste food, homemade pickling is a welcome return--your average store-bought pickles pale in comparison to the crunchy, bright qualities of the real dill.

    Recipe: Slighly Sweet Dill Refrigerator Pickles. Substituting rice vinegar (instead of cider or wine vinegar) produces a pickle that's less tart.

    Kimchi from Korea, umeboshi (pickled plum) from Japan, giardiniera from Italy, pickled watermelon rind from the American South--chefs relish the world's pickles. "Pickles add a spicy or

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  • Why Perfume in Restaurants Stinks

    Dear BA Foodist,

    I recently dined out at a well-respected Chicago restaurant. Everything--from the service to the food--was exceptional until the "couple from heck" sat down next to us. They were loud, lewd, and just plain rude. One of our best meals in quite some time was a bust. I kept quiet, but now I'm thinking I should have said something. Any advice?

    --JON PAUL Buchmeyer, New York

    Dear Jon Paul,

    I had a similar experience a few months back. My wife and I were celebrating our anniversary at a high-end spot when a couple was seated nearby. Everything seemed okay at first, until we got a whiff of them. Her floral perfume and his citrus cologne must have been applied with a ladle. There was no way we were going to smell or taste a thing. Ever wonder why good restaurants don't let employees wear fragrance? This is why.

    Related: What should you do when you're served bad wine?

    Thankfully, the restaurant understood and got us another table. We were lucky, but, unfortunately, in our

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  • Top 10 Sushi Spots

    More and more sushi restaurants around the country are taking freshness, creativity, and Japanese culinary tradition to delicious new heights. Here are our latest picks.

    By Andrew Knowlton

    Photograph by Nils Juul-Hansen

    1. Soto
      New York
      Sotohiro Kosugi is one of America's sushi masters, especially renowned for inventive composed dishes-fatty tuna with avocado coulis and caviar, geoduck clam salad, steamed lobster with uni mousse-that lift this Japanese restaurant above all the rest.
      357 Sixth Avenue; 212-414-3088

    2. O Ya
      Owners Tim and Nancy Cushman's 37-seat South Boston jewel has a smart wine and sake list and riffs on traditional sushi and sashimi-spot prawn with garlic butter, preserved yuzu, and white soy, as well as salmon belly with cilantro, ginger, and hot sesame oil.
      9 East Street; 617-654-9900

    3. Sebo
      San Francisco
      A hangout for local chefs, this

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  • 5 Tips for Handling a Bad Waiter

    The number one complaint of restaurant diners is not the internal temperature of porterhouse, the crispness of fried calamari, or the martini's strength. Nor is it the soundtrack or banquettes color. It has nothing to do with food or décor. The top gripe among those who eat out is service.

    As customers, how should we deal with poor service? (Hint: it has more to do with you than you think). Here are tips to dealing with that odd and mercurial species of restaurant employee known as The Server.

    1. They're servers not servants. Smile. Be nice to them and they'll be nice to you.
    That's my number one tip for good service. You'd be amazed how terribly some customers treat servers. Anyone who has ever been a waiter or waitress (a job everyone should be forced to try at least once) knows how much a customers' attitude can dictate their overall dining experience. And if you've ever snapped your fingers, whistled, or yelled to get the attention of a waiter, shame on you.

    2. Not everything

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  • What Should I Do If I'm Served Bad Wine?

    Dear BA Foodist,

    I feel pretty confident finding my way around a wine list, but whenever it comes time to taste, I get nervous. I think I can tell when a wine is off, but I don't want to embarrass myself by saying a bottle is corked when it's not. What should I do?

    -Lucy Abrams, Seattle

    Dear Lucy,

    Drink enough wine and eventually you'll get a bottle that smells and tastes like wet cardboard or rotten fruit and has turned slightly brown. When I suspect a wine is corked, I tell the sommelier or manager (not the waiter) and offer him or her a sip first. Even if the wine isn't corked, a good sommelier will offer you another of the same wine or bring you a new wine altogether. If a restaurant refuses to bring you another bottle and you're certain it's off, best never to return. But if you order a bottle without consulting the sommelier or server, then turn it away because you simply don't like the flavor, the restaurant owes you nothing. You made the choice and now you

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  • Five ways to cook like a chef (on a budget)

    Dear BA Foodist,

    I'm a student at UCLA, and I just moved into my first apartment. I am limited to a tiny stove and a few pots and pans, and even though I love to cook, I'm a little lost. My roommates and I budget $200 a week to eat. Can you suggest a few key ingredients?-SARAH JANE, Los Angeles

    Take comfort in the fact that your situation is not unique, even among professional chefs. Why? I'll let you in on a little secret of the restaurant world: Almost as important as a chef's creativity is his or her ability to keep a restaurant's food costs down. The lower the food costs (i.e., how much a restaurant spends on ingredients), the higher-in general-the profit, and the better the restaurant's chances of staying afloat. The food must still taste good for the restaurant to succeed, so, to that end, chefs have adopted money-saving shortcuts I've adapted here for home cooking.

    5 guilt-free time saving shortcuts for the kitchen.

    1. Shop Like a Chef: Hit the local farmers'
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  • Dear BA Foodist, Why do people hate cilantro?

    Dear BA Foodist,

    Cilantro is everywhere, and I hate it. Is there another herb I can use in its place? --Jessica Hatcher, Santa Cruz, CA

    Dear Jessica,

    Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The bad news: No, there really isn't a replacement herb for cilantro, also known as fresh coriander. Flat-leaf parsley looks similar, but the flavors couldn't be more different. I have a friend who minces a little basil, a little parsley, and a little mint to mimic the taste and texture of cilantro. She claims it does the trick. Having tried her salsa, I don't think so.

    Related: Everything you need to know to make the best salsa.

    The good news? You're not alone. We all know someone who won't go into a room where cilantro is being served. Most of these haters describe the aroma and flavor as "soapy," and some scientists believe that there is a specific gene that causes such a reaction. Cilantro does lose some of its aroma when heated, but, unfortunately for you, it is most often served

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  • Dear BA Foodist, What are the rules of eating sushi?

    Dear BA Foodist,

    Whenever I go out for sushi, I feel self-conscious. Is it okay to use your hands? Is dipping the sushi in soy sauce frowned upon? How do I use wasabi? All my friends have different rules, but what's right? --Clement Skillman, Seattle

    Dear Clement,

    Every time I have sushi, some self-proclaimed sushi expert schools me on new etiquette. The latest was a friend who told me I shouldn't be drinking sake with my sushi. Something about eating rice (from which sake is made) with rice. He said it was considered bad form in Japan. I later found out that he was full of it. So what are the rules when it comes to eating sushi? I thought it best to consult Hiroko Shimbo, cookbook author, teacher, and Japanese food guru.

    1. Always sit at the sushi bar. Make eye contact with the head sushi chef (traditionally the one closest to the entrance), or with the junior chef nearest to you. Ask what's fresh: This shows you're serious about your sushi and makes it more likely you'll get the

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