It’s not uncommon for us to talk about incredibly good things to eat and drink. It’s kind of the point of us editors waking up in the morning, taking the subway to the office and punching in at Food Republic HQ. But for some reason, we decided to step up our game this week. We published a recipe for fried Oaxacan cheese sticks and profiled the man behind Benton’s bacon — which might be our favorite bacon ever. We also spotlighted what might be our favorite charcuterie plate around — the work of Charleston, South Carolina, chef Craig Deihl. Fried cheese and cured meat. Not such a bad combo. And while we have you, you should check out our newly relaunched YouTube page, where you can find plenty of bubbling cheese slo-mos, as well as other inspiring videos from our test kitchen. And with that, let us get to this week's Hot Topics on Food Republic.

1. Around the United States, vegetables are starting to take center plate.

2. As part of his Southern Grown series, Chris Chamberlain profiles East Tennessee bacon god Allan Benton.

3. Richard Martin and Chad Walsh profile 16 important people (and a country) in the growing natural-wine movement.

4. Wait, cheese sticks made with Oaxaca cheese and corn tortillas as “bread crumbs” is a thing? Well, our thing now.

5. So you want to know what there is to know about Greek wine? OK.

6. We might have found the best charcuterie plate in America.

7. Has the SodaStream bubble burst? Maybe.

8. A bunch of bourbon makers got on a stage in Louisville, Kentucky, to talk about their beloved brown stuff.

9. News broke this week that you can train yourself to like spicy food. We took that to heart and compiled 15 of our favorite spiced-out recipes.

10. Our intrepid Los Angeles correspondent Tien Nguyen braved overcaffeination to cover the U.S. Barista Championships in Long Beach.

11. We’ve been talking about cider (the boozy kind) and how it’s becoming really good in the United States. Here’s a roundup of 5 to seek out.

12. Here are the 8 bowls of ramen you need to know about in New York City. This was from last week, but you know what? It’s cold outside and you could use some ramen.