Coffee Resolutions for 2013

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January 1, 2013 // Uncategorized

From Drinks

[Photograph: avlxyz on Flickr]

Looking for some life-improving goals for 2013 that aren't about going to the gym more often? Here are a few things you can do in 2013 to raise your caffeinated quality of life (and do some greater good, to boot).

Try something new.

I don't mean dropping a bunch of dough on coffee that's been excreted by an exotic animal; I mean explore some of the incredible variety that coffee has to offer. If you normally drink Colombian coffee, try a crisp and fruity Kenyan sometime. If you've never had a naturally processed coffee, give that one a quick spin around the block. If you're a caffe latte drinker, check out an espresso macchiato sometime. Remember that if you don't like it, you can always go back to your old ways—but you'll never know until you try.

Try it black.

It doesn't have to be every time, and it doesn't have to be every coffee, but occasionally try to take a sip from your mug before adding your usual milk and sugar. (Note: This really only applies if you're drinking good-quality coffee to begin with. Which of course you should be. I'm just saying.)

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[Photograph: Fausto Fernos on Flickr]

Tasting before adulterating (or "improving," as you might consider it) can help you develop a keener palate for coffee, and might make you better able to recognize subtleties that previously eluded you. There is a reason we say coffee has "notes" of this, that, or the other thing—and we don't mean notes of Coffee-Mate.

Cut back a little bit.

It may sound counterintuitive, but releasing yourself from the vice-like grip of a caffeine addiction will not only help your productivity levels (which are probably currently tethered to the spikes and crashes associated with coffee high), but will also allow you to drink the stuff for pleasure instead of necessity. Any time we consume something because we enjoy it, we're likely to take more care with it, spend more money on it, and savor the experience a bit more. Now doesn't that sound better than guzzling a 20-ounce cup of tar just to "get you going" in the morning?

Embrace decaf.

There really is no purer a love of coffee than there is from a decaf drinker: Released of the need (or ability to consume) caffeine, he or she is in it for the taste and the taste alone. A good, fresh decaffeinated coffee can be as delicious as its high-test counterpart, provided it's prepared with as much care and shown as much respect. (Which, let's face it, almost never happens.)

Mix it up a little by buying a bag of decaf for yourself and trying it on for size. Maybe a coffee after dinner every so often? Or wait until you've started tackling the previous resolution, and you no longer find yourself on the verge of a mental breakdown without your morning cup.

Stop using the phrase "hipster barista."

First of all, the word hipster is practically meaningless these days. Second of all, we're not all hipsters. (Have you seen me?!) Some of us—more than you might think—are hard-working professionals who put a lot of love and care in what we do, and who constantly read, argue, and learn more about brewing coffee for the benefit of drinkers everywhere.

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[Photograph: Coffee Common on Flickr]

Some of us have tattoos, sure, but don't some bankers and teachers and firemen have 'em, too? We use a specialized vocabulary to describe what we do, but so doesn't every chef that's ever lived, or every sommelier? And so what if some of us wear stupid little cheapo fedoras? (In the latter case, sometimes we have to: Many health departments dictate that coffee bar employees wear some kind of head covering at work. You'd prefer we wear hairnets, maybe?)

Do you have any other coffee resolutions for 2013?

About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista, an audacious eater, and a smiling runner, but she remains a Nervous Cook.

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We had to include some serious coffee in our series of holiday giveaways this year. How else are we supposed to stay awake for all the noshing? We're big fans of Counter Culture and are excited to give away this three-month single-origin coffee subscription. Winners will enjoy one 12-ounce bag of two seasonal, fresh-roasted coffees delivered directly to the door for three months (two bags per month). The coffee subscriptions will include single-origin coffees such as La Golondrina and others.

To enter to win: tell us how you take your coffee.

You have until 3 p.m. ET tomorrow (January 1) to enter. One winner will be chosen at random from among the commenters. Contest winners are limited to residents of the continental U.S., and you can only win once during the duration of the Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway contest. The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.

Top 10 Slice Posts of 2012

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December 31, 2012 // Uncategorized

From Slice

Plain Pie, Totonno's

Plain pie from Totonno's—a must for any NYC pizza eating itinerary. [Photograph: Lance Roberts]

Before leaping into a year of new pizza trends, recipes, openings, and chain restaurant shenanigans, let's take a look back at the most popular posts (according to our web analytics) of 2012. Here are the top ten most visited posts from the past year. What trends do you think 2013 will bring?

  1. Where to Eat Pizza in NYC: The Ultimate 15 Pizzeria Itinerary
  2. A Taste of the Cheeseburger Crown Crust Pizza from Pizza Hut in the Middle East
  3. How Is Domino's New Gluten-Free Pizza Crust?
  4. The Pizza Lab: Awesome Pizza Without An Oven (aka Skillet Pizza)
  5. The Pizza Lab: Three Doughs to Know
  6. Chain Reaction: Buffalo Chicken Pizza from Papa John's
  7. The Domino's Makeover
  8. Video: Jim Lahey Makes No-Knead Pizza At Home
  9. Pizza Madness: Pizza In a Jar
  10. The Pizza Lab: How To Make Fried Pizza At Home (à la Forcella)

In 2012, Chowhound users shared enough practical kitchen information to set up even the novice home cook for an entire year of great meals. Behold, the year’s top 10 home cooking tips on Chowhound:

1. THE CASE FOR CARBON STEEL
Stainless steel knives don't rust and are easy to care for, but carbon steel knives hold a wickedly sharp edge when sharpened properly.

2. KEEP THAT RISOTTO MOVING!
With proper attention, almost any pan can turn out wonderful, creamy risotto—no special equipment needed.

3. DIFFUSE THE HEAT
A heat diffuser is an extremely simple item—basically a metal plate—that can prevent hot spots and provide for even cooking.

4. SANITIZE VINTAGE WOODEN TOOLS
If that lovely antique rolling pin has no metal parts, soak it in a diluted bleach solution in a well-ventilated area to kill germs, or heat it in a 250-degree oven for five minutes, then let it cool in the oven.

5. GET AN IMMERSION BLENDER, CHANGE YOUR LIFE
An immersion blender can simplify your life by puréeing without adding to your dishwashing burden.

6. MORTARS WITHOUT THE MESS
To grind seeds and small-grain spices like fenugreek without chunks flying everywhere, tap them lightly with the pestle to break them up, then grind them to a powder.

7. FIX "SCRATCHED" LE CREUSET
That scratch might not be a scratch at all—it might be a streak of metal from an implement, which will clean right off with a gentle cleaning compound like Bon Ami.

8. PUT AN EDGE ON IT
To sharpen a vegetable peeler, use the corner of a sharpening stone; hold the peeler stationary and move the stone up and down.

9. REVIVE THAT OLD MILL
To revive an old, clogged pepper mill, grind some dry, instant (par-cooked) rice through it to get the gunk out.

10. MATCH YOUR PAN TO WHAT YOU’RE BRAISING
A braising pan should be about the same size as the meat or vegetables you're cooking, so there isn't too much or too little liquid infusing and basting the goodies.

Photo by Flickr member myhsu under Creative Commons

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Happy New Year, Serious Eaters!

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December 31, 2012 // Uncategorized

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Happy New Year, serious eaters. May your 2013 be filled with lots of seriously delicious food with people whose company you enjoy. That's in fact what we strive to do every day on Serious Eats, and to the extent that we succeed, it's largely because of the warm embrace we receive from the ever-growing community of serious eaters all over the world.

We look forward to sharing even more of our food and drink enthusiasm with you in 2013 (and for many years to come), and we can't wait to hear about yours as well! Here's to a happy, healthy new year!

And if you're throwing a party tonight, here are 60+ easy, tasty nibbles to prepare in a jiffy and tips for affordable bubbly to pop.

The Worst Fast Food of 2012

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December 30, 2012 // Uncategorized
Slideshow

VIEW SLIDESHOW: The Worst Fast Food of 2012

When the boss lady suggested breaking the year-end fast food roundup into separate posts dedicated to the best and worst things we encountered in 2012, I was skeptical, because I have so many fond memories of the year's fast food bounty. But then I looked through the archives and, yeah, we hated a lot of stuff too.

Some of the losers made this list due to overambitious or ill-conceived fixings mixing and condiment matching, while others just plain old sucked. Much as it pains me to bite the industry that feeds me, duty compels me to point out the food that needs avoiding.

About the author: Will Gordon loves life and has made peace with mayonnaise. You can eat and drink with him in Boston or follow him on twitter @WillGordonAgain.

Editor's note: We're giving away another crazy good food item today on Serious Eats. Try your luck!

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We know how fanatical some people are for Sriracha. Shoot, there's a whole cookbook devoted to recipes involving the Rooster Sauce. If you're the type who squirts the spicy-sweet, garlicky-vinegary, all-purpose red potion over eggs, fries, and really whatever (because what doesn't taste better with Sriracha?) or you have a little brother who fits the above description, then you should be entering this giveaway.

Back by popular demand this holiday season, here's your chance to win the Sriracha Lover's Ultimate Gift Pack! Special thanks to The Sriracha Cookbook author Randy Clemens who compiled all of the Sriracha goodies you could ever want in this gift pack:

  • A copy of The Sriracha Cookbook by our pal Randy! Just about every Srirachified recipe you could imagine. What's more, you'll also win a signed copy of his not-yet-released The Veggie-Lover's Sriracha Cookbook. This won't ship until closer to its July 2013 release date, but you'll be one of the VERY FIRST people to get a copy! Boom!
  • A container of Randy's homemade Gourmet Sriracha Salt, perfect for sprinkling on popcorn, baked potatoes, french fries, eggs, corn on the cob, steaks, grilled fish, or just about anything. It's also great for rimming glasses if you're making a margarita, Bloody Mary, or michelada.
  • A bottle of Sriracha Bitters from the fine folks at Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters to spice up your cocktail.
  • A Sriracha iPhone case from iCaseSeraSera (for iPhone 4 or 5)
  • A bunch of Sriracha goodies from The Oatmeal's comic: Sriracha Lip Balm, Sriracha Popcorn, an "I ❤ Sriracha" bumper sticker,and an "I ❤ Sriracha" apron.
  • A 4-pack of Sriracha Flying Rooster Chocolate Truffles from Sôcôla Chocolatier.
  • Spicy Sriracha Peas! Wasabi peas with even more of a kick.
  • And of course, what Rooster Sauce collection would be complete without an assortment of different brands of Sriracha?! (Oh, you thought there was only one kind? Pshaw.) We'll throw in a few different selections from Thailand and the U.S., including JoJo's Sriracha, a small-batch, handcrafted Sriracha made in Brooklyn.

To enter this contest, all you have to do is tell us in the comments section below about your favorite Sriracha-friendly foods.

You have until 3 p.m. ET tomorrow (December 31) to enter. One winner will be chosen at random from among the commenters. Contest winners are limited to residents of the continental U.S. You can only win once during the duration of the Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway contest, and only enter once per giveaway post. The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.

There's so much going on in Talk and the comments week to week that we almost can't keep up. If you're in the same boat, here's a small selection of topics and responses that have piqued our interest this week.

What baked treats are you making for the holidays??

Look Who's Talkin'

"'I don't mind paying $1.19 for a Giant Slim (the nom de meat for the foot-long .97-ouncer)'

Christ, that's $19.63 a pound."ratbuddy

8 Pizzas That Haunt My Dreams, 2012

"OK everyone who had to look up peripatetic raise your hands. Yo Adam, nicely done man."finsbigfan

What'd ya get?

"Love. I got love. :}"FatBaztard

Two and a half quarts of orange marmalde. Suggestions?

"Season some chicken thighs or whatever part you like with some salt and pepper, and saute them in a bit of oil till they're browned and cooked. Remove them to a plate, and put like a cup of marmalade in the pan, with a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard, some fresh grated ginger, a few cloves of minced garlic, maybe a splash of soy or Worcestershire. Stir till dissolved and melty then put the chicken back in for a minute. Serve it over rice. It's really damn good." Lili13

"OR...just use it as syrup over French Toast, etc."merstar

How I Got Chip-Faced in 2012

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December 30, 2012 // Uncategorized
Slideshow

VIEW SLIDESHOW: How I Got Chip-Faced in 2012

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[Photographs: Daniel Souza]

This column began earlier this year with Nacho Doritos. Since then, we've discussed the faulty geometry of Pringles, why British and Irish chips are so brilliant, and many other topics in the world of chips. But these are the best chips of 2012. The good news is that they'll still be available in 2013 so if you missed any, you can right that wrong.

The Best Fast Food of 2012

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December 30, 2012 // Uncategorized
Slideshow

VIEW SLIDESHOW: The Best Fast Food of 2012

It was an up and down year for the fast food industry. Anecdotal evidence suggested that prices rose--the $5 fast food sandwich is now commonplace--while service standards declined, but at least they eased up a bit on trying to cram healthy alternatives down our gullets. Here are some of the bright spots in an uneven year, featuring lots of chicken and more oatmeal than you might expect (which is to say, some oatmeal).

About the author: Will Gordon loves life and has made peace with mayonnaise. You can eat and drink with him in Boston or follow him on twitter @WillGordonAgain.