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DISH '09: Food Trends 

Now that you're big, it's probably come to your attention that meals don't magically manifest at the appointed hours of 7 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. As a matter of fact, you're supposed to forage for your own food, and if you're not eating it right where you found it, then it's your job to turn your gathered provisions into something a) nutritious and b) edible, if not downright scrummy. Plus this stuff apparently costs actual money, which, unlike certain ingredients, still refuses to grow on trees. And recession or not, pal, you've got to eat. But what's good? What's inexpensive? And what's worth the splurge? Read on for the latest food trends, but only if you want to continue cramming quality into your mouth.

In: Noodles | Out: Pasta

As a dolce Italian girl it pains me to admit this, but given the choice between a hearty plate of spaghetti or a fragrant bowl of pho, I'll go Vietnamese every time (unless said pasta is adorned with the flawless marinara from Pasta Villa on East Ridge Road, but I digress). Asian noodle dishes are almost always cost effective, come in orders plentiful enough for lunch the next day, and delicious without exception. Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians will adore the tofu and buckwheat noodle soup at the ever-reliable Ming's Take Out on South Clinton, and a hungry diner could give themselves whiplash trying to choose between the seafood pho at SEA Restaurant on Monroe or the tempura udon at Plum House a block away. Decisions, decisions.

In: Breakfast | Out: Dinner

It's not called the most important meal for nothing. Breakfast sets you up for the day, and a decent one will prevent you from double-fisting apple fritters in the middle of the morning. You got your whole grains and your proteins (mmm...milk!), as well as the modest egg, considered to be a perfect food and able to be fashioned into something hot, fast, and kind to your wallet. Do it yourself or hit up one of Rochester's many diners, like the cozy Jim's Restaurant on Winton Road or the super-friendly Morningstar Greek American on Merchants. Anyone looking for something a little out of the ordinary will dig the spicy mindboggle of James Brown's Place on Culver.

In: Bacon lust | Out: Bacon fear

Oh, bacon. We know that salt, grease, and nitrates are not food groups, but we don't know how to quit you. You've been with us forever, and the very thought of you elicits a reaction from your carnivorous minions that flirts with the orgasmic. Whether cozied up to a stack of pancakes, nestled in a turkey club, or sprinkled with brown sugar and cayenne for a smoky-sweet treat, we need your hedonistic comfort in these trying times. And the Grateful Palate ( does you right, with a dizzying array of bacons crafted at farms all over the United States, as well as t-shirts that allow us to declare our love from the bottoms of our slowly clogging hearts.

In: Community-Supported Agriculture | Out: Ignorance

Community-supported agriculture occurs once you pledge your financial support or sweat equity to a farm and then reap the harvest, literally, as a bunch of homegrown foodstuffs enter your home on a weekly basis. Spring is the traditional time when the CSA take its place in the sun, and Rochester boasts a number of healthy, educational ways for you and your family to participate in the satisfying journey from earth to table. Check out Genesee Valley Organic Community Supported Agriculture (, a partnership of consumers and farmers that distributes its produce at Abundance Co-Op on Marshall Street, or G&S Orchards ( on Atlantic Avenue in Walworth. Bread aficionados might be interested to know that the South Wedge's Small World Bakery has also gone community-supported; visit the website at

In: Prix-fixe dining | Out: Dollar menus

It's really tempting to zap past a drive-through and plunk down a handful of frogpelts for something tasty, cheap, and sleazy, but it's rarely a smart idea. Restaurants are feeling the effects as America tightens its collective belt, so some have lately adopted that European habit of the prix-fixe menu, offering up a few courses for a set, reasonable price. Max of Eastman Place got in on the action this past winter with an astonishing $5 lunch special (please bring it back!) and this spring's Local Restaurant Week featured a couple dozen eateries all trying to lure you out with dining packages priced at $20.09. One on Ryan Alley in the East End currently offers a full three-course dinner during the week for $30 per person. Granted, $30 could also buy you 30 Whopper Juniors, but would you respect yourself in the morning?

In: Artisanal cocktails | Out: Moonshine

No one really needs an $8 libation, but the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que's Tequila Collins, a lip-smacking concoction featuring the restaurant's own limoncello, presents a convincing argument to the contrary. "Artisanal cocktail" is really just a fancy name for an expensive mixed drink made from top-shelf liquor and farm-fresh ingredients, and they are currently all the rage. So while you're cutting costs in every other aspect of your life, spoil yourself with one of the Dino's designer drinks -- maybe try the Caipirinha with basil? -- or a Blood Orange Bellini from Rocco on Monroe Avenue. And keep an eye out for a gorgeous recent book called "Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus" if you'd like to channel your own inner mixologist.

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