Fried coke

Leave it to the fair folks: fried cola. It sounds like Abel Gonzales, the fellow who invented this new treat, used Coca-Cola in his concoction, but I'm sure Pepsi or maybe even RC (Royal Crown) would do. Beyond that, the cook would be getting into value colas, and they never taste quite like they should.

Also, it's not quite as inventive as it first sounds. He didn't fry cola in its liquid form, which is something Ferran Adria just might be working on. No, this denizen of the midway instead fried up solidified Coke syrup mixed with strawberries. I've no doubt it tastes delicious. Pretty much anything covered in cinnamon sugar and whipped cream is going to taste good. The question is, do we need another fried food? Do we need one more sugary snack dumped into 16-ounce Solo cups and served to a population already struggling with weight? I wonder, should you find the fried coke stand, if you can oder one, served atop a thin glaze of chocolate sauce, sprinkled with mint and topped with a dot of whipped cream, all on a pristine white plate? My guess is you'll have three choices: large, jumbo, and 'kill you dead.'


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Jindalee wines: bargains from Australia

Australia is rapidly becoming a go-to source for enjoyable wines at reasonable prices. The flagship, Yellow Tail, has quickly established something of a supermarket empire in the states and is introducing new varietals at a very brisk pace. Simple and straightforward, Yellow Tail's not going to be winning any Paris tastings any time soon, but they do offer drinkable wines at very reasonable prices.

But enough about Yellow Tail.

This weekend marked the introduction of Jindalee wines to my local supermarket, and the winery is obviously pressing hard for market share, offering up a two-bottle special: $9.99

I picked up a chardonnay and a merlot, both 2003.

The Chardonnay is quaffable (quaffable!); I paired it with a slightly sweet mix of scallops and petite peas over a fluffy, three-egg French omelet. The food pairing was perfectly serviceable, but I would have preferred a wine with a bit more acidity and flavor that offered more pop.

The Jinadlee merlot is fruit-forward with aromas of plum and cherry. Deep red in color, the wine brings with it intense flavors of red fruits, including raspberry. There is also an alluring spiciness to the wine and a wonderfully balanced acidity, which made it a wonderful complement to marinated flat-iron steak grilled medium rare and served up with baked potatoes and all the fixin's.

Best-Ever Steak Marinade (from Global Gourmet):

  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients and place in heavy-duty zip-top bag or plastic container with tight fitting lid. Add the steaks and seal the container. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight. (If using a plastic bag, turn it often to evenly distribute the marinade.)

While I wouldn't leave the house with the express purpose of picking up Jindalee (and wouldn't buy the Chardonnay again) the merlot exactly filled my expectations. It proved itself a solid, value-priced wine that is easy drinking, approachable and paired well with food.

No complement

I have no idea what to do with these:


Where recipes come from

It's odd, where recipes come from. Imagine the first desperate soul who decided to dunk a lobster into boiling water--at one point the spiny things were plentiful as cockroaches and only eaten by poor fishermen who were busy fishing more profitable catch, like cod or crabs. Imagine, too, the inquisitive soul who decided the coffee bean worked best roasted, then ground, then used to filter hot water, the resulting brew much more palatable than the remaining grounds. And imagine having to eat it all. Many classic recipes (French) come from peasants forced to find ways to stretch their food as far they could. Sweetmeats, brains, livers and hearts--all of them consumed because the people had no other choice, made delicious because even the lowliest among us can be assured a certain dignity provided by delicious food and good company.

Many of us don't have to deal with that anymore. Most of us can pick from a wide variety of ingredients on a daily basis, and our menus don't even hinge on the seasons. For better or worse. Still, sometimes we stumble into a recipe by luck or chance.

Bobby Flay has a show. He has a couple, but the one I stumbled on is "Throwdown," mentioned in the New Yorker article, and a show that totally failed to grab my attention. Still, winter's coming (such that it is in Florida), and the show's subject, chowder, would be a solid shield against the season's coming cold. To make things even better, the challenger served up a chowder made with Bahamian monkfish, perfect since the Bahamas are, like, right there. Practically just up the road. Of course, hearing 'Bahamian monk fish' and obtaining Bahamian monkfish are two entirely different matters--add that to a long, random list of supporting ingredients rattled off at New York speed, and you've got a recipe for a different recipe.

I was able to remember Bahamian monk fish, bell pepper, coconut milk and curry. The curry I had in my fridge. The rest I had to grab from the local supermarket:


  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5 fl oz.)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tsp. prepared Thai red curry paste
  • 2 big pinches of kosher salt
  • 1/2 medium shallot, diced fine
  • 1/2 large green pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/2 large red pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • @ 1 lb. red snapper fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes
  1. Begin by sweating the peppers and shallot in a large, heavy sauce pan.
  2. Add a couple pinches of salt.
  3. Once the shallots have gone a bit translucent, up the heat and add the fish.
  4. Keep the ingredients moving in the bottom of the pan until the fish goes opaque on all sides.
  5. Dump in the coconut milk.
  6. Add the curry paste and stir to combine.
  7. Add the chicken stock and use the remaining salt to season to taste.
  8. Lower the heat and let things come together for about 30 - 40 minutes.
  9. Serve over rice.

The resulting Asian-inspired dish is a delicate combination of spicy and sweet, the snapper and bell pepper providing a perfect counterbalance to whatever heat comes from the curry. For the real monkfish chowder, you've got to throw in monk fish, plantains and potatoes and one very fresh eel.

What to pair it with?
Certainly not a white shiraz. If white zin is your thing (and assuming you're in America, it probably is) then maybe a white shiraz is right up your alley. And if you enjoy sweet, cloying wine with a hobo-pleasing alcohol burn, then the Little Penguin's white shiraz could be just your thing. At $6.99 a bottle, you'll have enough cash left over to spring for the bus ticket so you won't even have to ride the rails. However, if you care a whit about wine and aren't settling next to Guesstimate Jones for a freight ride to Yuma, then maybe you'll want to pair this dish with a crispy, fruity pinot grigio. My favorite happens to come out of Italian winery Ca’ Montini and is wonderfully bright with enough acid to cut through the fish's sweetness and enough fruit to enhance the sauce's peppers and curry spices.