Mediterranean products such as olive oil and kalamata olives should be examined for their origin, odor, color and texture. Flavors should range from grassy and fruity to nutty but never acidic or salty.
Bamboo-infused, Chinese black and Thai purple sticky are a few of the more exotic variations of rice that have been popping up on restaurant menus as rice dishes become more popular even though they're difficult to prepare. For some chefs, the challenge is to make people want to eat rice, not just eat a meal with rice on the side.
Master Chef Mark Erickson, vice president for continuing education at The Culinary Institute of America, is like many Americans -- he often is too tired to cook when he needs a fast, nutritious meal that can be prepared inexpensively at home. Erickson offers tips to help design an easy, efficient kitchen and cut back on food bills.
If you're looking for just the right fish market, African specialty shop or cheese store in one of New York's five boroughs, visit www.thecitycook.com. The Web site's founder, Kate Mcdonough, travels the city seeking top notch services for New York's chefs and cooks.
Italian white wines, Greek varietals such as Malagousia and Moscofilero and Portuguese and South American wines are the trendy wines to look out for, says Brian Duncan, wine director of Bin 36 in Chicago.