French Fries; Fall Wines; Marinades; Food Safety; the Japanese Way of Food

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Recipes and information for today's Good Food. Next week, look for us at our new time -- 11am, just after This American Life!

Jonathan Gold is a food writer for the LA Weekly and Gourmet magazine.

David Graulich is the author of The French Fry Companion, a hilarious book truly devoted to the French fry, its merits, history, virtues and contributions.

Eric Gower is a food writer and cookbook author. His book is The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen. Gari (Pickled Ginger)

  • 1 cup very thinly sliced (shaved) fresh ginger
  • -- cup black raspberry vinegar
  • -- cup rice vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
Set a small saucepan of water to boil. Peel the ginger and, with a mandoline, slice it very thinly until you have one cup of it (one large root will accomplish this). Blanch in the boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to a jar big enough to comfortably hold it. Pour the vinegars and maple syrup into the saucepan, stir, bring to a simmer, and pour into the jar. Let cool, and place in the refrigerator. Keeps forever (well, at least a month).

Caveat: The high sugar content of balsamic make it slightly different than other vinegars; you may want to use less sweetener when using it.

Shiitake Pesto
This earthy, caloric pasta is good on a cold day; it's a good example of something delicious that can be made from a well-stocked pantry, on those days when the refrigerator seems empty. Break out a big Bordeaux or shiraz for this. Prep time, yet again, is less than it takes to boil a pot of water for the pasta.

  • Pasta for 2 (about 1/2 pound) pasta
  • 10 or 12 medium-large dried shiitake
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 clove very fresh garlic, chopped (omit if the garlic isn't superfresh)
  • 1/4 cup smoked/roasted almonds
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Several Tablespoons carrot juice or stock or pasta water, if needed
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
Set a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Add the mushrooms to the blender and blend until you have a powder. Add the garlic, cream cheese, almonds, and olive oil. Liberally salt and pepper the mixture, and blend. You may need to add some liquid (carrot juice works well here) to make the blender whir. Taste again for salt.

Cook the pasta, drain, return to pot, and mix in the pesto. Taste for salt, and liberally pepper Top with the optional parmesan (it's pretty rich as is). Good with a crusty white bread and a mixed-green salad. Serves two or three.

Stacie Hunt is a wine buyer at DuVin Wine and Spirits (310-855-1161) at 540 N San Vicente Boulevard in West Hollywood. As the leaves begin their annual turn from green to gold-edged to red, the vineyards will also be alive in bright golds and reds. Fitting then, that we feature wines to match the colors of the vineyards around the globe, in autumn!

French Reds:
'02 Faiveley Pinot Noir, Burgundy -- $11.99

Ah, Burgundy, the home of Pinot Noir's most traditional expression, and what luck to find this one at such an affordable price! This producer specializes in finding excellent grapes to make a "light" expression of Pinot Noir. It's a great transitional wine from summer into the cooler weather. Pairs well with foods that have a more savory spice to them. Until it gets cooler, this is a wine that can have a mini-chill put to it. When the weather cools down, you'll love it at room temp. Try this with a baked salmon.
'99 Charles Frederic, Pays d'Oc -- $ 5.99
Aha! Syrah! The grape that has made it to Number One on the Top Hit List! Everyone wants to have it and taste it, but a traditional Syrah is pretty expensive. Here we have one that is an introductory Syrah. Friendly, not as rustic or earthy as some. One that can go with just about any food and especially great with aged cheeses.
'02 Domaine St. Guery -- $ 5.99
This wine is from a very large, but young, appellation located between Northern and Southern Rhone, called Coteaux du Tricastin. This area is of interest because it was only established in the 1960's, as a result of the political fallout of winemakers re-emigrating into France after working for years in North Africa. Primarily made of Syrah and Grenache from 35+ year old vines. Not a wine to be trifled with. Will pair with robust meals, aged cheese, old friends.
'01 Costieres de Nimes, Chateau Mas Neuf -- $ 8.99
Here's another Rhone blend, based in Syrah, Grenache and the other usual suspects from that area. Based on its location, this wine will have some good backbone and rusticity to it. This would pair with savory-spiced roasted vegetables, meats and blue-veined cheese.
French Winter Whites:
'03 'd/Astruc Viognier -- $ 9.99
This Viognier is estate bottled from the Pays d'Oc. It offers up aromas of fresh pears, honey. A great feel in your mouth and a long and lasting finish. This white wine can stand up to roasted chicken, pork, spicy vegetable dishes and pasta or risotto with asparagus or artichoke.
'01 Galhaud Viognier/Muscat, Catalan -- $10.99
The elegance of a French varietal with the edgy Spanish heat make this Viognier/Muscat blend that is hand-harvested, one that you want to enjoy while wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. Excellent with seafood, or soft cheeses.
Italian Reds:
'01 Lucilla, Tuscany -- $13.95
Okay, you've heard and may have tasted Super Tuscans....what does that mean? A Super Tuscan is a Sangiovese-based (the primary varietal of this region) wine blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or another varietal. Sometimes a Super-Tuscan can even have NO Sangiovese. But, in this case we have Sangiovese, blended with Cabernet and Merlot. So, you could call this a Bordeaux blend with Sangiovese! The high acid of the Sangiovese makes it a major match with just about any foods, especially those with garlic, tomato and roasting. The addition of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, give it a finesse and an elegance.
'02 Anastasia Nero d'Avola, Sicily -- $12.99
Whoa! This is the grape to pay attention to! The national grape varietal of Sicily, expressed in a manner that offers up dark plums and a bit of spice. As it rests in your glass, it'll open and open and open, until you have something that will cause you and your friends to say, "Wow!" Try this with lamb, cous cous, eggplant dishes, blue cheese.
'01 Corvo, Sicily -- $ 9.99
Another expression of the same varietal, Nero d'Avola. More rustic than the one above. This is a place to start to get acquainted with this grape. Try it with just about anything that you are having for dinner.
Spanish Reds:
'98 Lan, Tempranillo, Rioja Crianza -- $10.95
Tempranillo is the "Cabernet" of Spain -- the national red grape. It can be interpreted as rustic, lush, light or full-bodied, depending on the soil, location and winemaker (or blending with other grapes). The designation of "Crianza" means that this wine has not spent a great deal of time aging. It has medium body and fruit forward flavors. This is the barbeque wine...that can ease gently into the autumn and pairs well with rice dishes, baked or roasted fish, garlic sauces, and Flamenco.
California Reds:
'02 Mark West Pinot Noir, Edna Valley -- $ 13.95
A medium-weight bodied wine from the Central Coast area of California. This area runs from Santa Barbara up to Monterey. This wine embodies the true flavors of the Pinot Noir grape. That is, as interpreted by California soils.
'02 Adelaida Pinot Noir, Paso Robles -- $ 24.95
Pay close attention to this area of the Central Coast. A mere 3-hour drive from Los Angeles, you'll come upon an area that is recovering from the devastation of the December 2003 earthquake; being discovered by the French winemakers from Burgundy and the Rhone; making great Zinfandel from ancient 100+ year old vines, and on the westside of Highway 101, developing excitement with Pinot Noir. In fact, soon this side of 101 will become its own brand, new appellation -- separating it from the are east of 101, which will also have its own appellation. A rich, fruity, ready-or-not Pinot Noir. This can take a slight chill and still stand up to fully robust meals, spicy dishes and a simple grilled salmon.

Phil Lempert is the Supermarket Guru.

Shirley Corriher is the author of Cookwise: the Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking. Here is her article on marinades, which originally appeared in Fine Cooking.