All Posts By Amy Reiter

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire and Wine Spectator, among other print publications, as well as for websites including The Daily Beast, MSN, Babble, AOL/Huffington Post and Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.

Bright Blue Hue Saves Rare Lobster from His Dinner-Plate Fate

by in News, August 27th, 2014

Bright Blue LobsterMost of us probably don’t think of lobsters as coming in a variety of ultrabright colors. And, in fact, they usually stick to pretty much the same old muddy olive-brownish palette, at least until they cook up bright red. So imagine the surprise of Maine lobsterman Jay LaPlante and his 14-year-old daughter, Meghan, of the Miss Meghan Lobster Catch company, when they discovered this 2-pound bright-blue critter in one of their traps on Saturday morning.

Blue lobsters are extremely rare, occurring only about once in every two million lobsters, according to National Geographic. Their peculiar coloration results from a genetic defect that propels the excess production of a particular protein.

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What the Stars Will Eat on Emmy Night

by in News, August 25th, 2014

Hollywood CupcakesWhat will the stars and suits behind Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Mad Men and the other Emmy-nominated shows be dining on at the 2014 Emmy Awards Governors Ball on Monday night after the big ceremony?

Winners will celebrate, and those without statuettes will compensate with a sumptuous three-course meal featuring local seasonal vegetables and a fresh take on meat and potatoes. The food selections will highlight a variety of hues in keeping with the evening’s theme: a “Kaleidoscope of Color.”

The 3,800 assembled guests will start with a Grilled Peach and Heirloom Tomato Salad featuring little gem lettuce, candy-striped figs, Burrata cheese, Vidalia onions, a honey-lemon vinaigrette and toasted Marcona almonds, all seasoned with fleur de sel, peppermint and basil.

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In Search of the Healthiest Dish on the Menu? Help Is On the Way.

by , August 25th, 2014

chalkboard menu

You’re feeling hungry and hankering for some comfort food, so you slip into your local diner and scan the menu, looking for healthy options. You know they’re in there, hidden among the burgers and fries, shakes and floats, waffles and three-egg omelets loaded with cheese. A spinach salad? A fresh fruit plate? A low-cal veggie soup, not too heavy on the sodium? The trick is to find them.

Health-aware food marketing experts want to help, basically by using the things restaurants do to manipulate diners into ordering high-profit menu items for the greater good — or at least to boost our collective good health. In a study recently published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management, Cornell University professor Brian Wansink (the man credited with the 100-calorie snack pack) and co-author Katie Love found that people eating in restaurants tend to order descriptively named menu items more frequently than those with bland names. Renaming “seafood fillet” something like “Succulent Italian Seafood Fillet,” for example, boosted sales 28 percent.

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5 Things We Can Learn About Organizing from Chefs

by in News, August 21st, 2014

5 Things We Can Learn About Organizing from ChefsDo you long for a tidier life, a greater sense of control? Don’t we all. The secret, a recent post on NPR’s The Salt suggests, may lie in organizing like a chef.

Chefs approach their kitchens following a system called mise en place, a French phrase that means “to put in place.” Before chefs start cooking, they spend time painstakingly gathering and arranging their ingredients and tools — that way they know where everything is and it’s ready for them when they reach for it. It is, many chefs believe, the key to cooking well — and some suggest it is also the key to living a well-ordered life. Some even refer to it as their religion.

“I know people that have it tattooed on them,” Culinary Institute of America student Melissa Gray told NPR. “It really is a way of life … it’s a way of concentrating your mind to only focus on the aspects that you need to be working on at that moment, to kind of rid yourself of distractions.”

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Brush Up on Your Restaurant Cellphone Etiquette (Please!)

by in News, August 20th, 2014

Restaurant Cellphone EtiquetteWe may not always be proud of it, but many of us spend our lives glued to our smartphones: texting friends, keeping up with news, making sure our bosses don’t need us right this very second. We’ve become so attached to those alluring little screens, in fact, that we often forget to stop and smell the coffee — or interact with our server — when we dine in restaurants.

Think no one notices when you surreptitiously reach for your phone in those quiet moments after you first sit down, when you’re probably supposed to be looking at your menu, or while you’re waiting for your food to arrive or your friend to come back from the bathroom — or even when you’re in the middle of your meal? Guess what? Someone notices. That person is your server.

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Could You Pick Your Favorite Beer Out of a Lineup?

by in News, August 15th, 2014

Could You Pick Your Favorite Beer Out of a Lineup?Are you particular about your beer? Loyal to a specific lager? Convinced your fave brand of beer is better than the other bottles or cans crowding the cooler? Many of us are. But do you think you could pick your preferred beer out of a lineup?

No problem, right? Don’t be so sure. A recent study showed that, in blind taste tests, consumers actually have a hard time telling apart different brands of European pale lager, the most-commonly consumed style of beer around the world.

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This Birthday Cupcake Cost $900

by in News, August 14th, 2014

This Birthday Cupcake Cost $900There are all sorts of ways to show your love. One customer at Toronto’s Le Dolci bakery showed it with a $900 cupcake, presenting it to his wife in honor of her 40th birthday. Talk about sweet!

The extravagant confection was made to order, featuring some of the wife’s favorite foods and flavors. The bakery worked closely with the customer in order to get the finished product just right. The result? A gilded masterpiece featuring Kona Blue Mountain Coffee in the chocolate buttercream, sea salt from Camargue, France, organic cane sugar, Valrhona cocoa powder and Tahitian vanilla beans. The pastry cream was made with Krug Collection Brut champagne ($500-$1,500 a bottle, depending on the vintage), Rosewood Estates honey and an essence of Tahitian vanilla beans.

The butter in the frosting wasn’t just a stick from the supermarket, of course, but rather Normandy butter “made by a historic French butter cooperative,” Le Dolci owner Lisa Sanguedolce tells FN Dish. It was combined with 70 percent Amedei Italian-made chocolate, which, she says, “delivers undertones of honey, caramel, lavender, vanilla, banana and orange blossom.”

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Coffee-Making Alarm Clock Starts Your Morning Right

by in News, August 13th, 2014

Coffee-Making Alarm Clock Starts Your Morning RightYour alarm clock gets the credit (or perhaps the disdain) for waking you up, but for many of us, it’s really that first cup of coffee that does the heavy eyelid lifting. A new product from British designer Josh Renouf, a recent graduate from Nottingham Trent University, aims to combine clock and coffee in one handy, attractively designed device that wakes you up to the soothing rumble of ball bearings working to boil water using induction heating and the rich smell of coffee — one cup, just for you, freshly brewed right on your bedside table.

The Barisieur — a name Renouf hopes will evoke both “your own personal barista” and coffee that will please the most-particular coffee connoisseur — won’t be available for purchase until early next year (with an estimated retail price of about $420), but it is already making a splash in the press. Sounding somewhat overwhelmed by the surge of interest, Renouf found time to answer a few of our burning coffee/alarm clock questions via email.*

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Bacon Prices Heat Up, But You Can Still Pig Out

by in News, August 12th, 2014

Bacon Prices Heat UpBacon, bacon — who’s got the bacon?

Only those willing to shell out the big bucks, nowadays. Due to the spread of a deadly virus affecting pigs across 30 states, the retail price of bacon has surged 10 percent this year, rising to $6.11 a pound in June — the highest it’s been since 1980, according to Bloomberg.com. In fact, consumer bacon prices may be at an all-time high — they’ve nearly doubled in the last decade alone, and may still climb higher!

But pork-loving consumers haven’t stopped pigging out, even if it does mean shaking a few extra quarters out of their piggy banks. U.S. bacon sales have risen 11 percent — to $4.2 billion — in the last 12 months.

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