by Amy Reiter in News, August 8th, 2014
by Amy Reiter in News, August 7th, 2014
Restaurants can be risky business ventures — just look at how frequently they come and go. So to make sure their eatery isn’t just another flash in the pan, some restaurateurs employ a few subtle tricks to get diners, once seated, to more readily part with their cash.
There’s the “free” salty snack (chips and salsa, anyone?) placed on your table before the meal to increase your thirst and compel you to order more pricey drinks. And then there’s the way your server painstakingly describes every ingredient in the evening’s specials, but declines to mention the price, knowing you may be too embarrassed to ask. And there’s the way your wine glass keeps getting topped off, so that you get to the bottom of the bottle halfway through your meal and may feel inclined to order another one.
But the stealthiest strategy of all may be the sly tweaks made to restaurant menus to get you to fork over more moolah than you may have intended. Recently The Guardian noted a few such tricks.
by Amy Reiter in Drinks, News, August 1st, 2014
When you’ve cooked steak using lightning (verdict: “tasted good though a little metallic”), built walk-in gin and tonic clouds (one blogger called them a “drunkard’s dream“), turned the roof of a high-end London department store into a boating lake with a waterfall and a “float-up bar,” and pushed jelly way, way past its previous limits, what do you do for an encore?
If you’re Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, you make a meaty meal over 2,100 degree F molten rock. In June, London-based Bompas & Parr, who describe themselves as “Jellymongers and Architectural Foodsmiths,” traveled to upstate New York to team up with Syracuse University art professor and lava expert Robert Wysocki to “see what happens when super-heated liquid rock meets an icy crevasse and a 10-oz rib eye” — and recorded and consumed the results.
by Amy Reiter in News, July 31st, 2014
Americans may be drinking more wine these days than we used to — especially in Washington, D.C., where, it may not surprise you to learn, more wine is consumed per capita than in any other state or district. But that doesn’t mean we know how to properly store and pour it. At what temperature should it be served? How full should our wine glasses be? And are we really supposed to decant?
Here are a few rules of thumb:
Be Chill (But Not Too Chill) About Storage: Ideally, bottles of wine should be stored (preferably, though not necessarily, on their sides) in a cool, dark place — like a basement or closet, if not in a dedicated wine cooler — at temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees F, with 55 degrees F being the sweet spot. Exposing wine to temperatures above 70 degrees F could speed aging or even flatten out the flavors and aromas, Wine Spectator warns. It’s cool to keep wine in your kitchen fridge short term, but don’t leave it there for months on end, as the low temp could damage the corks and, in turn, the wine. Aim to avoid extreme temperature fluctuations and long-term exposure to bright lighting when storing, but don’t freak out if they happen, especially if you’re planning to drink the wine sooner rather than later.
by Amy Reiter in News, July 30th, 2014
When it comes to serving food, presentation may not be everything — there’s taste to consider, after all — but studies have shown it can have a surprisingly big impact on how the foods we prepare are perceived. When we cook and plate to please the eye, as it happens, we also please the palete.
This week’s news that Red Lobster, in order “to be seen as a purveyor of quality seafood,” would stack food “higher on plates, as is the style at fancier restaurants,” as the Associated Press put it, brings that point home. Whether arranging the same food — fish, rice and vegetables — vertically, rather than spread out on the plate, will boost the seafood chain’s bottom line remains to be seen. Still, you may find in it the impetus to experiment with your own meal presentation.
by Amy Reiter in News, July 29th, 2014
Dessert confession: I am not a pie person.
Unless it’s Key lime, I can easily pass pie by, even if my disinterest in crusts and cobblers containing apple, cherry, blueberry, pumpkin or (shudder) mincemeat deeply offends my pie-baking mother-in-law. So if you’re serving pie a la mode, just hand me the a la mode, please. But if there’s cake, feel free to give me the biggest piece — and then another.
I am a cake person.
It turns out the world may fall into two distinct groups: pie people and cake people. Recently, representatives from both camps squared off in a battle over bragging rights on Vox.com: “Is cake the great American dessert? Or is it pie?” the site wondered.
by Ricky Smith in News, Product Reviews, July 29th, 2014
It’s not always clear, as you’re standing in the supermarket aisle and feeling overwhelmed by a shelf crowded with different versions of the same product, when it’s worth reaching for a recognizable name brand and when you can save yourself a few hard-earned bucks and buy generic without sacrificing quality. Next time you’re in that situation, you may want to ask yourself, “What would a chef do?”
In a follow-up to a recent study on the over-the-counter-medicine-buying habits of doctors and pharmacists, a group of researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and at Tilburg University in the Netherlands has revealed which foods chefs and other food-prep pros buy generic more frequently than the general consumer, and for which food products they tend to shell out for a name brand.
by Amy Reiter in News, July 28th, 2014
Remember that beef jerky you got at the gas station during road trips? The stuff that’s loaded with sodium and has what you would imagine the texture of dog treats to be? Well, it has come a long way since then, becoming a bona fide healthy snack for protein lovers. With less sodium, better flavors and almost nothing unnatural about it, artisan jerky is on the rise.
Just one ounce of the leading brand’s beef jerky can have almost 800 milligrams of sodium, while new brands that concentrate on a more-natural process usually stay around 400 milligrams for the same-size serving (some as low as 300). Besides the fact that these new brands won’t make you feel like you’re gnawing on a salt block, they’ve also got an ingredient list you can fully pronounce. It’s refreshing to see words like “garlic” and “sesame seeds” in place of words like “flavorings” and “monosodium glutamate.”
by Amy Reiter in News, July 27th, 2014
Is your morning cup of orange juice in danger? It might be. And your grapefruit too.
A bacterial disease known as citrus greening (AKA Huanglongbing or HLB or yellow dragon disease) is threatening America’s citrus crops. Named for the way it turns citrus fruits green, misshapen and bitter tasting, and thus unsuitable for sale or consumption as either fresh fruit or juice, citrus greening poses no direct threat to humans or animals. For the trees themselves, however, it is devastating — and ultimately deadly. There is, as of now, no known cure.
Though the disease likely originated in China in the early 1900s and has long wreaked havoc abroad, citrus greening wasn’t detected in the United States until 2005, when it was spotted in Florida. By 2008 it affected almost every citrus-growing county in Florida, and it has continued to spread broadly and rapidly, primarily via a gnat-sized insect called the Asian citrus psyllid, which carries the disease from tree to tree as it feeds.
by Guest Blogger in News, July 26th, 2014
S’mores are the perfect campfire food: the roasting of the marshmallows on a stick over the fire to your own preferred consistency (golden brown on the outside, mushy on the inside for me); the sticky-fingertip removal of marshmallow from stick and gentle placement atop several squares of not-yet-melted milk chocolate and between fresh-from-the-box graham cracker halves; the ungainly, delicious, headily sweet act of eating it; and the instant urge to repeat the process all over again.
But what if you’re stuck in the city with no campfire in sight? Several eateries around New York City have come up with creative solutions to that common problem, and the New York Daily News recently surveyed a few. At choco-centric restaurant Max Brenner, you can get order up the at-table DIY Urban S’mores for Two, complete with a teensy tabletop grill over which to roast marshmallows, then eat with graham crackers and a variety of toppings, listed on the menu as “pure melted milk chocolate, toffee bananas … warm peanut butter and raspberry sauce.”
By Meesha Halm
Foie gras is polarizing. Diners either love it or hate the very idea. Buttery, ultra-rich duck liver has been one of the most venerated ingredients in a chef’s arsenal for centuries. Whether floating in a soup at Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare or miso-cured at Acadia in Chicago, it’s considered the ultimate luxury.
Not so in California, where foie gras has been banned since 2012. Foie gras hasn’t exactly gone away in the Golden State; it’s just gone underground. The sale and production of it are forbidden but consumption of it is not, so restaurateurs circumvent the ban by sending it out as a “gift from the chef.” But some California chefs, including Ken Frank (La Toque), are willing to fight publicly for it. Last month, Frank and five top toques rallied to host “State of American Foie Gras,” a protest luncheon at his Napa Valley restaurant.