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Mushroom Curry and Nut Pilau

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Episode 1: June 2, 2009
length: 8:13

In this installment, Helen pairs a mushroom curry and nut pilau with the Baron Brewing Company’s Schwartzbier. The schwartzbier is a crisp, slightly sour dark lager that soothes the flame of the spicy curry.

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Our books seem to follow two assumptions. Either 1) you will use a service like Podbean to put out your podcast or 2) you work for a company with a tech department that can handle your feed for you. Unfortunately, if your company is small, you’re going to need to learn a little more; if you use Podbean, the feed will be associated with Podbean, which isn’t ideal for branding your podcast as legitimate and professional, but if you want to use your own server to host it, be prepared to go out of your comfort zone with web programming: even the most seasoned software engineer may not understand podcasting without a bit of explanation.

My company, a small start-up, has just started podcasting. Since I am taking this class, I was enthusiastically given the task of distributing the podcast. I was looking forward to submitting it to different podacst catchers and getting hundreds of interested listeners to tune in. Instead, they gave me a raw MP3 file and told me to have fun with it. Ultimately, I got the tech guy to create a feed, but first I needed to explain to him what exactly he needed to do, which required a crash course in XML and RSS. The University of Washington’s Learning and Scholarly Techniques page does a great job explaining RSS feed. Podcast 411 also has a decent page (and a podcast episode) devoted to this.

Once we got this squared away, the tech guy was able to show me the actual details of how to add episodes. 1) Acquire the MP3. 2) Make the MP3 available by uploading to a server: the company uses Amazon’s S3. This is pretty easy: I downloaded an S3 plugin from Firefox, entered some top-secret information, drag’n’dropped the file and then made it public. 3) Publish the podcast: this requires updating the RSS file; the company has a wordpress plugin that does it for me so that I don’t have to worry about <this sort of stuff>. Voila! Now, if only my free wordpress acount would make podcasting so easy…

“Dinner and a beer” is the definitive food and beer pairing podcast. In 10 to 15 minutes each week, we’ll take the guesswork out of cooking a gourmet meal and choosing a great beer to compliment it.

Because our podcast focuses on exploring Seattle, I listened to podcasts that cover the sights and sounds of various cities. The two that are the most relevant are “Houston Ultimate Downtown Tour” and “City A Go Go.”

The host of “Houston Ultimate Downtown Tour” is a Houston native, and his mission is to overcome the redneck-Texan stereotype that many people have of Houston. He wants to show the listener what makes Houston unique, whether you’re a “lifelong Houstonian or from out of town.” Essentially, it’s an hour-long audio walking tour of the city: he gives you a starting location and even includes a safety disclaimer for crossing the street; I like this interactive aspect and want to incorporate it into our podcast. The host provides history, trivia, and excellent descriptions of the scenes; even though I’m sitting in an apartment in Seattle, I feel like I’m walking around downtown Houston. The great sound effects (camera click, kids at fountain, birds in a park) add to this. Even though this podcast features Houston instead of Seattle, therefore is not direct competition, we could pattern certain elements of our podcast on this one. It’s informal, tightly-produced, and educational. If I lived in or visited Houston, this would be a fantastic resource.

The second is “City A Go Go,” a 5-minute videocast from the Seattle Channel. This episode presents a new coffee shop on Queen Anne, a local band, a local artist and a monthly belly-dancing show, giving each 30 seconds to a minute of time. The locations are a little more casual than those we want to report on (ours will provide listeners with a fun weekend destination rather than a new place to drink coffee or socialize), but its the same concept. We will go into each location more in depth, making each segment 5 minutes. Another difference is that the audience of “City A Go Go” is the hardened Seattleite looking to try something new, while ours is mainly aimed at new residents and tourists. In one way, they will be stiff competition: they have video! However, this will just encourage us to pump up our audio production value.

My podcast will explore the relationship between beer and food by providing a recipe and highlighting a complementary beer. I will start the podcast by saying which food I will be cooking and which beer I will pair it with. I will then describe the beer and why I picked it for the food; this may come in the form of interview with a brewer (if I can find one willing to be interviewed), but the essential topics I want to cover are the brewing style, a bit of relevant history, and the beer’s actual characteristics. I will concentrate on Pacific Northwest breweries, but by describing the beer’s attributes I will also leave it open for listeners anywhere to substitute similar beers from breweries near them. I will then describe the dish (again, a bit of history, if applicable, and some trivia about the ingredients), give the ingredients, and walk the listener through preparing it. The culmination will be sampling the beer and the food together. It takes me 1 minute to read a brief review of a beer and 3 minutes to read a recipe from a book, and I would like to flesh this out to a 10-15 minute production. As I found from listening to food and beverage-related podcasts, 15 minutes is the maximum time I can stay interested.

As research, I listened to three types of podcasts: beer podcasts, food podcasts, and wine podcasts, which I found through itunes; many of the beer podcasts mention food pairings, so this would be my competition. I selected the wine podcasts in addition to the beer and food podcasts because traditional culinary practice pairs wine and food.

“Beer- Hop 2 It” is a podcast out of Australia. The host interviews a brewer, who discusses his one of his beers and mentions the foods he pairs it with in his brewpub. While this was the most helpful of the beer podcasts, I cannot find a link to its website. Also in the beer vein is “Beer is Tasty,” two regular guys who drink a beer and review it on air, with hilarious results. They also pair the beer with food, though unfortunately their culinary expertise is limited to beer-flavored potato chips from Costco. They do, however, discuss the favor of the beer, the flavor of the chips, and how the two flavors interact when consumed together. This podcast would not valuable from the perspective of someone who just wants to learn about beer, as they filled a lot of time with various tangents, repeated the same information over and over, and are clearly amateurs. However, from an entertainment perspective, their banter was very amusing.

Peg recommended “The Splendid Table,” so I gave this a try because there are so many food-related podcasts that I didn’t know where to start; I listened to one covering the history of pickles in lower Manhatten before deciding it had nothing to do with what I want to create. The format consists of interviews with guests, with brief musical interludes of relevant pop songs- no Creative Commons or Garageband here! This episode has an interview with a man pairing wine with picnic food, which I found relevant to my topic. The podcast seems to be taken directly from radio: there are some “when we come back” type statements. While she describes making a dish (jalapeno avocado ice cream!), she directs listeners to her website for the actual recipe. This is a great idea: people like having text to refer back to.

Finally, “Napa Valley Wine Radio” is produced by Goosecross cellars and hosted by the winery’s director of education, with an introduction by the owner. This particular episode focuses on wines made from rotten grapes. I like the brief (1 minute) history of the wine that the host gives and would like to replicate this element to my podcast. She then provides an in-depth description of the process used to make this particular style of wine and also lists a few foods it pairs well with.

I am not a beer expert but I know at least as much as the “Beer is Tasty” guys, and I am not a chef but I can hold my own in the kitchen, so I hope that by combining these elements I will be able to create a podcast that beer-loving, food-eating people will want to listen to.

Food and good beer are two of my favorite things in life. I love to cook and just began an internship with Foodista.com, an open-source recipe sharing website and food blogger community. I’ve also really been getting into local microbrews since moving to Seattle last year. My podcast will explore the intersection of these areas by providing a recipe, then highlighting a complementary beer to accompany the meal. A lot is made over food and wine pairings, but beer accompanies food just as well. The right beer can bring out something extra in certain ingredients or reduce a dish’s negative qualities, like spiciness or greasiness. I can see this podcast living on a website that allows viewers to search for recipes based on their favorite beer and also to search for beer based on their favorite dish.