The Food Almanac: Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Annals Of Entrances
The revolving door was patented today by one Theophilus Van Kannel in 1888. Relatively few restaurants in New Orleans have revolving doors. There's Mr. B's, Copeland's, all three of Dickie Brennan's restaurants, and that's about it. Revolving doors keep cold blasts from blowing into a warmed space. Many restaurants here–especially those with only one set of doors–would do well to install them. But winter is so short that, by the time the proprietors have decided to go ahead and address the problem, it's warm again–and then the project goes on hold for another year.

Annals Of Fast Food 
I would not have guessed that the world's largest Burger King restaurant is in Budapest, Hungary. But there it was, opened on this date in 1991.

Today's Flavor
It is National Garlic Bread Day. Garlic bread is a cheap thrill, and I almost feel ashamed of myself for liking as much as I do. There's nothing to it: you chop or puree garlic, mix it with butter, add some kind of herbs (maybe), spread it on French bread, and pop it into the oven until it browns. Not much to that, no. But try to stop eating it after it emerges, hot and fragrant, from the oven.

Garlic bread is traditionally associated with Italian restaurants. It's an Americanized version of bruschetta, made by topping rounds of bread with olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and tomatoes. A well-made bruschetta is as much better than standard garlic bread than pizza is better than cheese toast. Lately, quite a few restaurants have begun offering a bruschetta of this or that, often because it's easier to charge for bruschetta than for garlic bread.

But back to the latter. The best versions in town become so by adding other ingredients to the garlic and butter. My favorite version is the one at Brennan's, whose topping is essentially the same bourguignonne butter they serve with snails, plus a good bit of Parmesan cheese and Creole seasoning. The famous garlic bread at Commander's Palace gets its distinction from the addition of dill to the mix. They also really load on the butter–a bit too much of it, I'd say. All sorts of other herbs can be used to make garlic bread different, perhaps even better. Oddly enough, almost anything seems to work, except very dry, bitter herbs like rosemary.

People We'd Like To Dine With
Two funny radio greats have birthdays today. The first is Stan Freberg, born today in 1926. His innovative commercials compete with his comedy records and his legendary radio show as his signal achievement in the medium. The second is Garrison Keillor, who created and still hosts A Prairie Home Companion. That brilliant show is a revival of variety programs that were common in the 1940s (he owes a special debt to Arthur Godfrey), but with an entirely contemporary sound. He also voices a daily mini-show called the Writer's Almanac.

Delicious-Sounding Places
Garlic Meadow Creek rises in the High Sierra mountains in east central California, fed by springs and snowmelt from the 8000-foot level. It cascades nearly 6000 feet in six miles, with a final dramatic pouroff at Garlic Falls into the Kings River. The falls are about sixty-five miles east of Fresno. All this is dramatic outdoor scenery indeed, in the Sequoia National Forest. Better pack food in, because the nearest place where they chop garlic for your dinner is Pinehurst Lodge, a rough twelve-mile hike to Miramonte.

Edible Dictionary
bruschetta, [broos-KETTA], (Italian), n.–The original garlic bread, bruschetta is made by spreading crusty slices of bread with olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper–and probably, a lot of other things, although it's already bruschetta. The current vogue in bruschetta is to add garlic, chopped fresh tomatoes, and fresh basil, grilling the bread and adding the cool topping afterwards. Bruschetta is moving even beyond that to begin to resemble pizza, as fresh-milk mozzarella or Fontina cheese are added and warmed enough to make it melt. Bruschetta is served as a pre-dinner appetizer. It has a way of filling you up, so take it easy. And, to sound as if you know what you're about, pronounce it correctly, with a hard K sound. "Broo-shetta" is a widespread but incorrect pronunciation. Click here to ask about a food word you've wondered about.

Deft Dining Rule #771
If you eat more than four slices of garlic bread, you won't have room for your entree. If you can eat more than eight, you will.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
When spreading the garlic butter on a loaf of bread, use what seems like the right amount of the mixture. Then add the same amount on top of it, and it will come out perfect.

Food Namesakes
Australian Olympic (1996) soccer star Kevin Muscat was born today in 1973. (Muscat is a grape variety that makes many great sweet wines, notably Muscat Beaumes de Venice from the Rhone Valley.). . .Legal scholar and author Charles E. Rice was born today in 1931. . . Cricket pro Dominic Cork was born today in 1971.

Words To Eat By
"Sex is good, but not as good as fresh sweet corn."–Garrison Keillor, born today in 1942.

"Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese."–Billie Burke, American actress, the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard Of Oz, born today in 1884.