Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Spork & Foon

I think the Fork & Spoon blog just found a new header image. Or perhaps a new raison d'etre. Maybe both.

Either way, I'm impressed by this fine piece of design from Masami Takahashi. It's only available at the MOMA store.

Best of all, this piece of flatware was designed for Ramen, an old source of joy here at Fork & Spoon. The price of bliss: $12.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Since I've started working a regular old 9 to 5, the posts here have, ahem, slowed down. OK, slowed to a crawl. Anyway, I've been thinking of ways to reinvent the Fork & Spoon blog. Here's one approach:

Consider this the first in a series on vending machine snacks. I'm at work, you're at work (hopefully not), there's vending machines around. Let's talk about them. Every so often (probably weekly), I'll discuss one snack machine item. Basically, work food reviews for working stiffs.

I should say that the vending machine in my office is a non-traditional one, in that it's not a machine. It's a cardboard display with a rotating stock and an honor system coin boxes.

While I appreciate the trust (I think my company pays the difference between what's paid and owed), I also like being able to read the ingredients. It keeps me from eating too many snacks.


The Zagnut bar, launched in 1930, is a real throwback. As you can see on the right, the bar's no-frills red and yellow wrapper communicates its vintage. Bought by Hershey's in the '90s, the bar remains more cult classic than blockbuster. It may have appeared in more movies than store shelves.

After its design got my attention, the Zagnut wrapper promised: "crunchy peanut butter, toasted coconut." It was a combination I couldn't resist.

So what does a Zagnut taste like? Kind of like a Butterfinger, minus the chocolate and with a toasted coconut aftertaste. There are very few candy bars not coated in chocolate. And while cocoa is listed as an ingredient in the "contains 2% or less" category, I didn't see or taste it.

As seen in the photo to the left (and yes, that's a manila folder background), the Zagnut has two distinct layers. There's the toasted coconut shell, which features coconut sprinkled onto a sugary coating (corn syrup?). And then there's the peanut butter interior which has an almost pop-rockish texture (minus the crackling).

Personally, I'd prefer more coconut, as the peanut butter dominates. Still, it's not a bad candy bar. In fact, I'd take it over a Butterfinger any day.

Then again, my vending machine doesn't usually have Butterfingers. Every week, though, the vending guy collects the money and changes the stock. What'll next week bring??

Note: No paper cuts were suffered in the writing of this post.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Victual Voting

What will those tricky political pollsters do next? It turns out they can tell a good deal about your political leanings based on your cupboard contents. Political strategists have begun targeting voters based on their food preferences.

I've read about what Hilary eats and heard from her former White House chef. I would guess Cindy McCain isn't much for cooking. Yet I didn't know that our food choices could be linked to our political ones.

It's worth reading the findings to see whether the microtrenders have you pegged correctly. Among other things, Hilarians are likely to shop at Whole Foods. Obamaphiles, meanwhile, favor farmer's markets. And McCainiacs go to a regular supermarket.

From comparing my food and political preferences, I'd say the forecasting is fairly accurate. As for my preferred candidate, I wouldn't want to broadcast my choice. Besides, I gotta run--the farmer's market closes soon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Top This: Bottomings!

Hey there, Forkosphere.

Sorry about that delay--the real world intervened and the ol' Forkster now finds himself working 9 to 5 (ahem, 8:30 to 5:30) with a commute and everything. Food fun has taken a backseat for a while, but Fork & Spoon should resume service now on a somewhat regular basis.

On that note...As part of my ongoing though somewhat-less-exuberant dalliance with Trader Joe's, I've been using their dough to make pizza most weeks. Well, I've been spending my own money, but you knew what I meant.

The other night, in making the standard mushroom and olive, a little black pearl somehow ended up underneath. Well you've all heard of toppings, but what about "Bottomings?!"

This blessing from the Food Gods came about through chance. The olive slice probably fell off when I was shoveling the first pie onto the pizza stone and was baked into the underside of the second pizza. It was quite a novelty and made for quite a bite.

If you're in the Pizza Hut corporate office and are reading this, let's talk. There are only so many pizza innovations left, and I'm ready to make a package deal for Bottomings and the Falzone/Calzinger.

Might this fluke be the start of something big (a la Mr. Reese and his peanut butter and chocolate mishap)? I'm sure The Beard Foundation is on the edge of their seats. As am I.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's a Falzone?

It's usually necessity that's the mother of invention. Tonight it was excess. Excess pizza dough, that is.

I was rolling out the dough (thanks Trader Joe!) and got close to something resembling a circle except for a little extra bit. I trimmed that off and threw the pizza in the oven. Then I thought about what to do with that six-inch excess.

With a little the cheese, tomato sauce, mushrooms and olives still out, I thought about making a mini-pizza. Kinda like a silver dollar pancake, but more savory. But I realized that if I made a calzone, I could fit it on the pizza stone along with the real pizza.

I rolled it up, pinched it shut and popped it in the oven.

Only after taking it out of the oven did I realize that I may have invented something new: the finger calzone. Or, as I like to call it, the Falzone (which sounded better than the Calzinger, Fingone or Finzone).

In the calzone family, the Falzone is the opposite of the mammoth P'zone. It's more like a stuffed breadstick. For me, that's a plus, as I often think calzones have too much squirty, scalding sauce.

The only factor holding back the Falzone's widespread adoption is that it's pretty labor intensive for a hand-held item. Yet if the Pizza Powers That Be can create a crust that folds over the pizza, I'm optimistic they'll figure out a way. Maybe they can talk to the Twinkie people.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Stick a Fork in it...

...this column's done.

My Trader Joe's column is now online, and you can check out my take on the store with the Joefficial Forkster review.

If you do go to the 3-week-old Chapel Hill store, save some Mango Passion Granola for me!

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Monday, December 17, 2007

You Want Answers?

I'm busy whipping out crafting the upcoming column for Wednesday, but here are few quick answers to the last post's questions.

Q: Can Granny's Apple Granola unseat its cousin, Mango Passion Granola, from the top of my list? Grandmas are seldom wrong...
A: I'd sell my grandma down the river for a case of Mango Passion Granola. (Just kidding, grandma! Besides, I meant the other grandma). In any case, I'll stick with the Mango version.

Q: Why did I buy banana granola bars? What made me think these would be anything but odd?
A: Because I'm a sucker for unusual flavors and products.

Q: Which of their frozen treats is the best: Mandarin Orange Chicken, Gyoza Chicken Potstickers, a Pizza 4 Formaggi , Chile Verde Chicken Burritos and Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches?
A: Probably the potstickers, followed by the burritos.

I'd say that all of the above frozen foods are about 2/3 as tasty as ones you'd get in a restaurant at about 1/3 the price. I suppose that's a fair tradeoff. I certainly made short work of the Orange Chicken!


Friday, December 14, 2007

Joe Report--Part 3

In case you hadn't guessed, I'm writing my next column--out Wednesday--on the Trader Joe's that just opened in my town. Then again, maybe that's just a convenient way to cover up my complete addiction to the store's cereal.

Either way, I made my third real visit there yesterday. After a relatively restrained shopping run, I'm left with these questions:

Can Granny's Apple Granola unseat its cousin, Mango Passion Granola, from the bottom of my heart? Grandmas are seldom wrong...

Which of their frozen treats is the best? The Spoonstress and I will have to consume Mandarin Orange Chicken, Gyoza Chicken Potstickers, a Pizza 4 Formaggi , Chile Verde Chicken Burritos and Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches by Tuesday so that I can write about them for the column. By then, we'll either be TJ addicts or never want to set foot in the store again.

Why did I buy banana granola bars? What made me think these would be anything but odd?

What's wrong with their peanut butter? I had a peanut butter and banana sandwich yesterday and the taste was a bit off. Since I couldn't put my finger on it, I compared its label to our last jar of organic peanut butter. The answer is an easy fix: not enough salt. That raises another question: Will I really salt my next PB & J?

Check back later for some answers...


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Joe Report--Part 2

When I visited Trader Joe's one night shortly after it opened, I was shocked by the abundance of bare shelves. Last night, I returned at the same time to see how the store was adjusting to consumer demand.

Rejoice, Joe Folks, the shelves were mostly full. The ones that weren't were being restocked by smiling employees (Joe must either pay well or provide a nice discount). Best of all, the frozen aisle wasn't completely empty.

Now this was just a quick drop-in, but I couldn't resist another box of Organic Mango Passion Granola. I'd hoped the name implied passionfruit, but sadly it doesn't. I'm not sure I've developed a mango passion, but I do have a passion for this cereal.

The granola is litered with bits of fruit that remind me of "sugar cereal" marshmallows. Luckily, though, instead of "pink hearts" or "yellow moons," they're just freeze-dried mango. Color me charmed.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Joe Report--Part 1

Consider Trader Joe's visited. I made my maiden shopping run to the store recently and have been enjoying its results.

I arrived at 7:50 p.m., which was my first mistake. I was shocked to see many empty shelves. It was as if I'd entered a Soviet grocery store or a pre-blizzard American one. I expected to see snow when I exited.

I'm not complaining, mind you, as I understand the store is just working out the kinks and the staff was quite apologetic.

Not surprisingly, the bare shelves were a topic of conversation between shoppers and employees. The guy stocking the nut aisle joked, "Welcome to Trader Joe's, we've got nothing to sell ya."

The employees restocking the cereal aisle didn't have any favorite cereals to recommend, but they were happy to open up the cases of both Maple Pecan Clusters and Mango Passionfruit Granola. I'm sure glad they did. I have a hunch cereal will be a main reason for shopping at Joe's.

I haven't had a chance to eat too many of the other delights and pretty much the entire frozen dinner aisle was sold out. But I'll return to the store. When I do, I'll follow the nut guy's advice: "Get here at 9 in the morning."