Cacao tasting parties?
First came the wine tasting parties, then the beer tastings, cheese tastings and beer-and-wine-and-cheese tastings. So we shouldn't have been so surprised by the latest. Apparently, people have started hosting chocolate tasting parties -- who knew? And there are enough of them to warrant the publication of an official Chocolate Tasting Kit (Chronicle Books, $24.95), complete with a tasting guide penned by Vancouver chocolate expert Eagranie Yuh, who discusses flavor profiles, terminology and the art of throwing a tasting party. The kit also includes blank tasting notes so you can record details on varietals, vintages and plantations -- yes, really -- and chocolate flash cards.
We are extremely sorry to report that the flash cards are about chocolate, not made of it. We even licked them to make sure.
The Waffle Taco
Seems Taco Bell was not content to dominate the ersatz Mexican lunch, dinner and "fourth meal" market. Now they're moving into breakfast territory with a new line of menu items, the biggest launch they've done in 50 years. Say hello to the Waffle Taco (pictured), the A.M. Crunchwrap, A.M. grilled tacos and breakfast burritos. The Waffle Taco is hardly worthy of the taco moniker. Billed as breakfast-to-go, it's a waffle wrapped around scrambled eggs and sausage or bacon and doused in syrup. (We're thinking it ought to be billed as "syrup-on-your-pants.")
Our question: They went to all that trouble and failed to create a Doritos Locos Waffle Taco?
Everyone loves a "people's choice" contest, including bizarre foods expert Andrew Zimmern, who hosts the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods America," a show that revels in dishes such as baked muskrat and deep-fried piglet private parts. So when we heard he was hosting The Munchies, the third annual People's Choice Food Awards, with General Mills, we had high hopes of distinctly quirky ballot choices. Alas, no. There are no crickets, no lambs' heads or piglet testicles on the list -- just burgers, pizzas and other delicious, yawnable and totally normal categories heavily weighted in an East Coast direction.
That said, there are a few Bay Area faves nominated, including Umami Burger for best burger and Oakland's Blue Bottle Coffee for best coffee shop. San Francisco got a nod for its Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Flour + Water (best pizza), La Taqueria (tacos), Bi-Rite Creamery (ice cream) and Humphry Slocombe (ditto). The city is also vying for the title of Best Food City. Cast your vote at www.tablespoon.com/themunchies.
-- Jackie Burrell