Umami

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March 25th, 2006

If you've always suspected that taste goes beyond science's big four of sweet, sour, salt and bitter your instincts are right. This week we're looking at umami. It's what food types call the "fifth taste." Our guest, David Kasabian, tells us how to use this wunderkind to make everything we eat taste better. Coq au Vin Nouveau, from The Fifth Taste: Cooking with Umami by David and Anna Kasabian, demonstrates the principle.

 For the Sterns it's retro burgers, fabulous hand-cut fries and malts at one of Lynne's favorite haunts: Convention Grill in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina. Anya Von Bremzen talks Spain's surprise national dish and it's not paella. It's Cocido from her latest book, The New Spanish Table.

 Wine critic Matt Kramer, author of Matt Kramer's New California Wine answers the controversial question: can you actually get cheap good wines? We go to Mexico for vanilla—the most labor intensive food in the hemisphere—and stop by Cake Man Raven Confectionery, a bakery in Brooklyn that claims to be the official home of the classic Southern Red Velvet Cake—and so much more.

Jane and Michael Stern's Roadfood