If you’ve never heard of mooncakes, the baked pastry that is typically given as a gift during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, now is the perfect time to seek them out. The festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth month, which, according to our handy Chinese lunar calendar, is today! So laugh it up like chef Yip Wing Wah (left). Chef Yip is The Peninsula Hotels' dim sum ambassador and he recently showed us how to make the sugary calorie bombs on his first US mooncake tour. Here, bizarre mooncake trivia to prepare for celebrations this week.
1. A 4-inch mooncake has roughly 1,000 calories; a Big Mac contains 550.
2. You can buy mooncakes for puppies in Hong Kong.
3. Häagen-Dazs makes an ice cream mooncake.
4. Luxury mooncakes encrusted in gold and stuffed with shark fin have been used to bribe corrupt officials
5. Chef Yip makes 400,000 mooncakes each festival and sells out in one day.
Related Links: Delicious Chinese Recipes
Healthy Asian Recipes
Better Than Takeout
Food and Wine Confessions
We all have them. Closeted culinary skeletons. Until now we've kept them locked up, afraid to share these disturbing realities with the world. But F&W is a safe place. This is where we let go of some of our inner demons and hope that you'll do the same. Even someone so saintly-seeming as associate food editor Daniel Gritzer isn't faultless. Displaying great courage, Daniel has shared the first of many #FWConfessions:
"The lowest culinary moment of my life was when I cooked pasta and used yellow mustard as sauce."
Need to get something off of your chest? Head over to Twitter and share your tales of food snobbery and lowbrow culinary obsessions using #FWConfessions. We'll share our favorites and won't judge.
This Old Wine
You don't have to be a hoarder or deep-pocketed auction-goer to drink well-aged wine. Here, we spotlight affordable old bottles to buy now.
2003 Calabretta Etna Rosso ($26): Many of the wines grown on Sicily's Mount Etna are crazily underpriced, but Calabretta's Etna Rosso is an especially good value because it arrives in stores having spent six to seven years in huge oak barrels and several more in bottle. Though it's made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio grapes, this wine bears resemblance to much more expensive Nebbiolo-based wines from Italy's Piedmont region. It's totally delicious, and it smells like black cherries, violets and peppery spices.
The (Wonderful) Effects of Age: This powerful, bright-tasting wine is becoming earthier and more herbal, making its fruit flavors taste deeper and more complex. The color is also changing: As they age, reds become less vivid, turning to what wine people call garnet (often indicating that an age-worthy wine is in its sweet-spot for drinking) and then darker and darker toward brown (at which point they're not very tasty). This one is still quite bright, but it's definitely becoming a pretty garnet.
Drink it With: Anything that would normally call for Barolo or Barbaresco. Chef Matthew Accarrino's cannelloni with walnuts and fried sage would be spectacular.
Where to Buy: Astor Wines. (Find more stores.)
Related: F&W Visits Mount Etna
Italian Grapes from A to Z
Best Italian Value Wines
Dr. Vino's Verdict
Ever wondered where the experts stand on the best wine practices and controversies? In this series, wine blogger, teacher and author Tyler Colman (a. k. a. Dr. Vino) delivers a final judgement.
Don’t you think global warming is going to be disastrous for wine? In the past three decades temperatures have risen and growing seasons have lengthened in many wine regions. Because of that, grapes ripen faster and reach higher sugar levels, which means higher natural levels of alcohol, among other considerations. Climate scientist Greg Jones estimates that by 2049, temperature increases will prevent some early-ripening grapes from being grown in their classic regions (like Pinot Noir in Burgundy)—and some warm regions may become too hot for any grapevines at all.
Related: More from Dr. Vino
Affordable Summer Wines: Chillable Reds
Wine 101: Pinot Noir and Red Burgundy
Seasonal Survival Guide
After an aggressively humid summer, fall couldn’t come faster. We’ve had our fill of refreshing coolers and beach boardwalk hot dogs; it’s time to bring on the apple pie and mulled cider. Here, five new foods and drinks to give fall a little boost.
Francois Payard Bakery, New York: The pastry chef's famed macarons come in two new flavors: green apple honey and raisin pecan. Originally inspired by Rosh Hashannah, the confections are equally good for non-high holy days. payard.com
Einstein Bros. Bagels & Noah’s New York Bagels, Nationwide: Both chains just debuted limited-edition pumpkin bagels and pumpkin cream cheese. Also new: Pumpkin Bagel Clusters, which are lowbrow brilliant pull-apart mini bagel balls that are tossed with pumpkin syrup and cinnamon sugar streusel and drizzled with cream cheese ice cream. einsteinbros.com noahs.com
Tieton Cider Works, Western U.S., Alaska & Texas: This company is making an over-the-top for fall Smoked Pumpkin Cider using Washington State pumpkins and apples. Fittingly, it's flavored with apple wood smoke. tietonciderworks.com
Reese’s & Good Humor, Nationwide: Ideal for those who live in a place that never cools off, Reese’s and Good Humor are joining forces on peanut butter ice cream pumpkins. The chocolate-coated, pumpkin-shaped ice cream bars are filled with peanut butter ice cream swirled with Reese’s peanut butter.
Cathead Distillery, The South & Indiana: Mississippi distillery Cathead recently released the perfect boozy pairing for pie: a pecan-flavored vodka. The vodka is macerated with roasted Mississippi-grown pecans for a nutty, lightly sweet flavor. catheadvodka.com
Related: Fantastic Fall Cocktails
Best Fall Desserts
Recipes for Fall Produce