The Free Range Gourmet Free range thoughts on the finest ingredients, cuisine, and fine dining in Hawaii.

Range Gourmet

  Local Hawaii ingredients used with an international flair

        ^BNanette^K^H (Gone but not forgotten) 1946-2020


Sunday, November 19, 2006


Free Range Gourmet Does New York: Quest for the perfect NY pizza

The quest part isn't hard -- Google (and all the guidebooks) can tell you that John's Pizzeria is the place to go for a perfect New York style pizza. Since the number of meals we can manage on a short trip is limited, why not take advantage of technology.

So although we were tired after the direct Continental flight from Honolulu, we didn't let the pizzeria across the street tempt us. Nor the one around the corner, nor the one down the block. We bundled up against the cold and headed for John's 44th Street location. John's Pizzeria is practically next door to the Helen Hayes Theater, in a building that once was the Gospel Tabernacle Church, dating from at least 1890.

The interior is impressive, from the original church dome to the monochrome murals by Douglas Cooper to the three or four coal-fired brick pizza ovens, two upstairs and two downstairs. For a photographic tour, see the Gallery photos on their website at

Nanette ordered a Margherita additionally topped with fresh garlic and mushrooms. We watched the flames dancing purple and orange in the coal-fired brick ovens where the temperature reaches 900 degrees. When the pizza came to the table it was done to perfection--the thin crust was crisp but not like a cracker. The pizza pan was supported on top of a wire rack that kept it about 10 inches from the table top. This had many advantages. Since the pizza was closer to our nose, we could enjoy the garlic more. It allowed the large pan to be placed on a table already crowded with dishes (we had just finished our appetizer of roasted vegetables and mozerella). And for larger groups, the wire rack enables the waiter to carry and double-deck on the table two different pizzas.

So with pizza above and a caraf of house wine (a Montepulciano, which is a good match for pizza) in hand, we admired the murals, the dome, hanging chandeliers and the ovens, and yes, we observed the New York scene. It was good to see the diversity of the city reflected in the patrons of this restaurant. New York pizza transcends all divisions. It has universal appeal. Now, if only we could find some in Honolulu...

Our quest for the perfect tiramisu is beyond the capabilities of Google to expedite. To arrive one day at the ultimate dessert, we feel it's imperative that we personally try tiramisu whenever it appears on the menu. Tonight's research did not disappoint. It's not the perfect New York tiramisu, but it's right up there.

It's good to be back.

John's Pizzeria
260 W. 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 391-7560

Monday, November 06, 2006


But you already knew this: all that you find in the health food store isn't good for you

These days you don't have to be much of a detective to figure out that the "healthy" cereals sold in every health-food store can be full of sugars or worse. They just call sugar "evaporated cane juice." Corn syrups, maltodextrins, and high-fructose corn syrup won't fool you either, and you know that full-fat milk is not a good thing to drink.

You also know that the vegetable soup on sale at Kokua Market in cartons has enough salt in one portion that it should be marked as a biohazard.

Of course, the health-food store will happily sell you all that bad stuff and more without feeling any guilt over what the food will do to you. So it's refreshing to read about a retailer who actually discloses which products on the shelf are ok to buy and which could make a nutritionist pass out in the shopping isle.

Check out this New York Times story, which should remain on their website (free registration required) for about a week or two before going into their pay archives: The Package May Say Healthy, but This Grocer Begs to Differ.
The chain, Hannaford Brothers, developed a system called Guiding Stars that rated the nutritional value of nearly all the food and drinks at its stores from zero to three stars. Of the 27,000 products that were plugged into Hannaford’s formula, 77 percent received no stars, including many, if not most, of the processed foods that advertise themselves as good for you.

These included V8 vegetable juice (too much sodium), Campbell’s Healthy Request Tomato soup (ditto), most Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen dinners (ditto) and nearly all yogurt with fruit (too much sugar). Whole milk? Too much fat — no stars. Predictably, most fruits and vegetables did earn three stars, as did things like salmon and Post Grape-Nuts cereal.

.  .  .

The store chain, with 158 supermarkets in five states, is believed to be the first grocery retailer to have developed such a comprehensive assessment program, and it is trying to have its food-rating algorithm patented.

.  .  .

Admirers of Guiding Stars say the ratings illustrate how nutrition claims on packages can mislead consumers even if they are technically true. Many packages trumpet the benefits of a few attributes — high fiber, for instance, or no trans fats — while ignoring negatives like too much sodium, they said.

.  .  .

Many products that are marketed as healthy received zero stars from Hannaford because they contain too much salt or sugar or not enough nutrients, said Lisa A. Sutherland, an assistant professor of pediatrics and a nutrition scientist at Dartmouth Medical School who was part of the advisory panel that developed Hannaford’s formula.
With all the publicity around children's obesity and the increasing rates of diabetes, wouldn't it be great if some stores in Hawaii adopted this or a similar system?

I'm not holding my breath, but at the same time, I hope some of them are reading this. You could clip the Times article and give it to them (hint, hint).

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Revealed: The World's Healthiest Foods

Thanks to a lead from my favorite librarian Marylaine Block in her NeatNew and ExLibris newsletter (see her web page to subscribe), a site that lists and promotes both the health and enjoyment value of food, The World's Healthiest Foods. They have a list of nutrious foods and why you might want to eat more of them.

After you check out the apple tart recipe currently on their home page --it has a no-bake date/walnut crust--visit the link above to find out more about the value of the foods you already eat or might eat more of if only you knew how good for you they are.

Here's an excerpt from their site describing who they are:
Our Mission
The Foundation's mission is to offer the latest scientific information about the benefits of the World's Healthiest Foods and the specific nutrients they provide. Equally important, we offer practical, simple and affordable ways to enjoy them that fit your individual lifestyle.

Our Beliefs
The Foundation believes that true good health is more than just the absence of disease; it is a state where you enjoy all the energy, vitality and benefits life has to offer. One of the keys to achieving good health is to use the power of healthy foods to positively affect how you feel, how much energy you have, and the length and quality of your life. There is clear and definitive scientific evidence that proper nutrition plays an important and significant role in reducing the risk of degenerative diseases, and in providing long-term health and longevity.

We also believe that food not only has the power to provide good health, it also has the power to provide the pure joy of eating, and the joy of sharing with others. We recognize that each individual is unique, so we don't try to fit everyone into the same "food formula." Instead, we respect individuality and provide a wide variety of healthy food options. That way each individual can discover the personalized information, recipes, cooking methods and menu plans to meet his or her needs.
Now, who could argue with that?

I looked up flax seed and discovered that it has anti-inflamatory properties I didn't even know about. Check out the studies pointing to the possible value of cinnamon in blood sugar control for type 2 diabetes.

Aside from health value, of course, food should be a pleasure to eat. This site covers both bases.

Check out The World's Healthiest Foods and their list of nutrious foods today.


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You've read about the world-wide slow food movement. Hawaii has an active Slow Food group. Learn about or join Slow Food USA at the Slow Food USA website.

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