by Amy Reiter in News, April 4th, 2014
by Amy Reiter in News, April 3rd, 2014
Hello, Deli: Zingerman’s Deli has ardent fans in high places — for example, the White House. Before giving a speech Wednesday at the University of Michigan about raising the minimum wage, President Obama took in a little local flavor, stopping by the Ann Arbor eatery to highlight the fact that owner Paul Saginaw pays workers there more than the minimum wage. While there, the POTUS also enjoyed the deli’s “classic #2″ Reuben sandwich (get the recipe here), which he later declared to have been “killer.” [@Zingermans via Huffington Post]
“Half-Caff”? Big Laugh: In the hands of hipsters, a humble cup o’ joe can seem like the most-pretentious thing in the world. But while hearing someone order a “double upside-down mocha macchiato with soy, low-fat, no fat, no lid” that also tastes “like Christmas” may be profoundly irritating if you’re standing behind him or her in line and late for work, over-the-top coffee orders are pretty funny (a latte fun?) when you watch them being sent up by the sketch comedians at Nacho Punch. Watch “Hipsters Love Coffee” here. [Nacho Punch]
by Amy Reiter in News, April 2nd, 2014
Chicken a la Prince: What does a handsome prince serve when he gets together with his mates? If you are expecting Champagne and lobster, caviar and gold-flecked chocolates, you’ll be royally disappointed. At a “private little get-together” at his members-only London club on Monday night, Prince Harry served his rugby pals a humble, peasant-worthy meal of chicken and fries, albeit washed down with a nice white wine. Maybe the fries were flecked with gold? [Entertertainmentwise]
And Speaking of Princes: Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Baltimore-based brewers of Ozzy beer, a Belgian-style pale ale. Ozzy beer comes in cans featuring a fist with O, Z, Z and Y tattooed below the knuckles — much like Ozzy’s own hand tattoo. Also pictured: a bat, an animal the Black Sabbath singer once famously bit the head off during a concert. According to the The Baltimore Sun, despite the letter, the beer was still for sale as of last week — and orders had increased. [The Baltimore Sun]
by Amy Reiter in News, April 1st, 2014
Who Needs Privacy? Whether you adore eating with strangers or abhor it, communal tables that compel you to do just that are increasingly common in restaurants. They’ve come “full circle from the utilitarian cafeteria to the gourmet dining room and back to mainstream casual fast food restaurants and cafes,” writes Adee Braun in The Atlantic. Restaurant owners like them because they allow for more diners and create a sense of shared energy. But, warns Adee, “Diners and drinkers will only tolerate being squished around a table with strangers if they can choose from this menu of situations: a) if booze is involved, b) if there is interesting food to entertain them or c) if it’s entirely acceptable to ignore their tablemates.” What do you think about sharing elbow space with strangers in restaurants? [The Atlantic]
Search Trick Helps You Compare and Contrast: Want to compare apples and oranges, or pasta and rice, or ice cream and chocolate chip cookies? Google has a search feature that lets you do side-by-side comparisons of the calories, carbs and sugars in, as well as other nutritional information about, almost any two foods you type in preceded by “compare” and separated by “and” — or in some cases, without the “compare” and simply separated by “vs.” A Redditor discovered the nifty search trick and shared the news a few weeks ago, prompting one commenter to remark that celery vs. cake yields no chart. If you have to ask. [Reddit via NPR's The Salt]
by Amy Reiter in News, March 29th, 2014
When you clean out your fridge or pantry, some things obviously need to go. That old cheese that’s sprouted a greenish-black tuft of hair? That ancient container of broccoli that smells like something you’d rather not describe — or ever smell again? Those clearly belong in the garbage can — outside — several yards away.
But what about the foods that look and smell fine, but have “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” “best-before” or “enjoy-by” dates that have come and gone? You should probably pitch those, too, right?
Not so fast. While most of us probably treat the dates on our food packaging as gospel, they are, it turns out, highly unreliable indicators of freshness. “Basically made up,” Smithsonian Magazine says. “Unclear” and “useless,” the Washington Post sniffs. “Inconsistent and confusing,” Climate Progress notes.
In a report released in September 2013 by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council, “The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America,” the authors point out that dates on food labels that purport to tell us whether its contents are fresh, or — uh — not so fresh, are “surprisingly under-regulated.”
by Amy Reiter in News, March 28th, 2014
Discerning eaters probably never need an excuse to eat something on a stick, but if they did, it was provided on Friday, March 28, when our proud nation celebrated National Something on a Stick Day.
If you missed this important annual holiday, you may be forgiven. There were no parades, no politicians giving speeches about the proud history and cultural importance of food on a stick, no days off from school or work — though of course there ought to have been all those things.
But even though skewered food’s official day has slipped past without the tremendous fanfare it deserved, the desire to consume the comestibles it honors has stuck. Because food is just more fun when it’s stuck to a stick.
by Amy Reiter in News, March 26th, 2014
Cupcake Lovers’ Dream Come True: Sprinkles bakery, which has installed 24/7 cupcake dispensers in Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Beverly Hills (celebs apparently love ‘em), has now brought the sweetly convenient concept to the city that never sleeps (and consequently never stops craving baked goods). New York’s first Cupcake ATM opened for business Tuesday on the Upper East Side, dispensing frosted treats to the hungry hordes for $4.25 a pop. On Tuesday night, David Letterman used the news as grist for his Top 10 list, sharing “things overheard in line for the Cupcake ATM.” No. 7: “My PIN number is also my cholesterol level.” Ba-dum-bum. [Gothamist]
No Ordinary Ice Cube: There’s a new trend in the cocktail biz: artisanal ice cubes. The Half Step cocktail bar in Austin regards the ice in its drinks as a work of art, hand-cutting every piece of ice it serves using special equipment and storing the “harvested” ice in a dedicated shed. The bar’s founder, Chris Bostick, tells Zagat that a well-cut cube is the key to making “a three-ingredient cocktail memorable.” Watch the Half Step’s handcrafted ice take shape here. [Zagat]
by Amy Reiter in News, March 26th, 2014
Casseroles have gotten such a bad rap in recent years, dismissed with sneers about soup cans, that those who love casseroles (and who, secretly, doesn’t love a good casserole?) may have felt compelled to keep their comfort-food cravings to themselves.
Now, finally, casserole fans can come clean: The humble one-dish meal has found a champion to defend its honor and bring it the respect it needs.
New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark writes that the casserole, though cozy, is not, inherently, “dowdy in its DNA,” nor must it be “bland or one-note,” and it “does not have to contain even a single strand of melted cheese, or be dusted with crushed potato chips.”
In fact, she suggests, “The casserole can be nuanced and urbane, with room for fresh ingredients, clever details and a vivid palette of flavors,” adding that “there’s nothing wrong with baking assorted ingredients together in a dish” and that “when done just right, the elements merge in the oven’s heat, building on one another until the flavors unite into a delicious whole, preferably one with a golden top and appealingly moist center.”
by Amy Reiter in News, March 25th, 2014
Sweet Home Alabama: Archibald’s, a family-owned barbecue joint in Northport, Ala., near Tuscaloosa, has famously served up pit-smoked ribs and sliced pork butt since 1962. While slow-cooking and hickory smoke from the carefully tended fire give the meat its sweet flavor and plain white bread adds to the down-home style, the true secret ingredient in this barbecue is love. In a new short documentary film, Archibald’s, part of Southern Foodways’ Southern BBQ Trail series, director Wes Wages pays tribute to the modest Alabama food landmark. Watch it here. [Southern Foodways Alliance]
$1,000 for Ranch Dressing? When a Redditor using the handle Brostach posted a picture taken at Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso, which showed a bottle of ranch salad dressing behind glass and a framed sign reading “Side of Delicious Ranch Dressing $1,000,” some commenters accused the VPN-certified eatery of elitism and arrogance; others rose to its defense. Proprietor Jay Jerrier wants both sides to know he was just kidding. “Dude, it’s a joke. Relax,” he recently told Eater, adding that he doesn’t get many requests for ranch dressing on pizza, a combo he says “seems weird” to him, but he deals kindly with those who ask. “It was pretty funny how people did take it really seriously and were super offended,” Jay added. “I guess it’s the Midwest. They love them some ranch.” [Eater]
by Amy Reiter in News, March 22nd, 2014
Trying to make something bigger — not to say better — than the next guy is almost as American as hot dogs. So there may be little quite so American as the gargantuan frankfurter served up Friday at the Miami-Dade County Fair with the goal of grabbing the Guinness record for the world’s largest commercially available hot dog.
The humongous wiener tipped the scales at 125.5 pounds, including the huge bun and heaping portions of ketchup, mustard, relish and sliced onions, according to the Miami Herald. Devoid of bun and condiments — “naked,” as the newspaper put it — the dawg weighed 51 pounds.
Created by Juicy’s Outlaw Grill, whose founder already holds the Guinness World Record for the largest commercially available hamburger, the ultra-large link was cooked for three hours on a 100-foot-long, 20-foot-tall, 27-ton mobile grill. (You can see the giant dog, which has yet to be certified by Guinness, cooking on the grill here.)
The “Crustmaster” Moves On: Bill Yosses, who has been whipping up pies (President Obama’s preferred dessert) and other confections at the White House as its executive pastry chef since his appointment by Laura Bush in 2007, is packing up his whisk and leaving his post for new, as yet unspecified, ventures. Bill, whom President Obama affectionately called “the Crustmaster,” is credited with bringing a healthier approach to White House desserts and integrating more seasonal ingredients, including those grown in the South Lawn Kitchen Garden he helped the First Lady create. He has also worked closely with Michelle Obama on her Let’s Move! campaign. She said she was “incredibly sad” to see him go. Bill called the decision to leave — for personal reasons — “bittersweet.” [Obama Foodorama]
Chocolate — Best Health Food Ever: If you ever wonder who or what to thank for all that is good about chocolate — in addition to the unparalleled joy of eating it — look down at your belly. The bacteria in your gut, NPR reports, are responsible for breaking down the antioxidants in dark chocolate and converting it into the compounds that help our hearts, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and help regulate appetite. The findings, presented this week to the American Chemical Society by Louisiana State University, hold for cocoa powder. Alas, John Finley, the food scientist behind the study, says the results “don’t translate to a Hershey bar.” He notes, however, that “cocoa powder goes well with many foods. I put it on my oatmeal every morning with berries.” [NPR's The Salt]