by Amy Reiter in News, May 16th, 2014
by Amy Reiter in How-to, News, May 14th, 2014
Wheely Convenient: Picnicking is great, but figuring out how to transport your sumptuous spread to the perfect spot can rank right up there with bugs as a buzz-killing complicating factor. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just ferry it all there on your bike? Enter (on two wheels) the Kickstarter-funded, Dutch-designed Fietsklik, a detachable, foldable recycled-plastic crate that snaps onto the back of your bike. The crate is big enough to transport up to 24 bottles of beer or 25 pounds of groceries. Who’s bringing the blanket? [Fietsklik via Food Republic]
Spicing Up Your Lunch Bag: Would you like your burrito with a side of deep thoughts? Chipotle believes you would. The Mexican restaurant chain is launching a “Cultivating Thought” initiative, tapping best-selling author Jonathan Safran Foer to bring illuminating quotes to its bags and cups. The two-minute essays and nuggets of wisdom from 10 writers – from Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison and George Saunders to Judd Apatow and Sarah Silverman – will create “a small pocket of thoughtfulness right in the middle of the busy day,” Jonathan said. “We will never have a perfect world,” read the words of experimental psychologist Steven Pinker on one bag, “but it’s not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one.” Food for thought. [BusinessWire]
by Amy Reiter in News, May 14th, 2014
Let’s talk steak. Just the thought of a thick, juicy slab of perfectly cooked beef will make the mouths of enthusiastic carnivores water. (Those who don’t eat meat may want to just move along to the next post.)
New York Times dining reporter Julia Moskin fills in her readers on her tried-and-true method for cooking steak on the stovetop: Forget the talk about dry rubs and marinating, she advises. Buy your meat from a butcher. Choose thinner, boneless cuts — marbled, about 1 inch thick. Keep the meat refrigerated until about a half-hour before you’re ready to cook, then pat it dry with paper towels. Use a cast-iron skillet (unoiled) and turn the heat up “insanely” high. Salt the pan (not the steak) and heat it some more. Lay down your meat, wait about a minute, then flip it every 30 seconds until – 4 or 5 minutes later – you have a perfectly cooked steak. It’ll be crusty on the outside, pink on the inside.
“If it’s good quality steak and you don’t cook it for more than five minutes per inch, you really can’t mess it up,” Richard Schatz of New York City’s Schatzie the Butcher reassures Julia’s readers. “Steak is nothing to be scared of.”
by Amy Reiter in News, May 13th, 2014
Berry Cute Bunny: Why has this 33-second video of a fluffy gray-and-white bunny eating raspberries racked up nearly 9 million page views (as of this writing) since being posted on Friday? We guess you’ll have to ask the millions of people who have watched it and shared it — and watched and shared it again. Maybe it’s the way the raspberries make the bunny look like it’s wearing lipstick? Or just because the bunny is so cute? (Though, really, it’s no burrito-eating hamster.) Who knows? But there are plenty of worse ways to spend 33 seconds. [YouTube]
Mmm … Mollusks with Maple Syrup: You love your kids. But do you love them enough to make them pancakes in the shape of cephalopods? (Do you even know what cephalopods are? Here.) Nathan Shields does. The Washington-state-based illustrator and math teacher who’s “on leave to be a professional dad” says he “began entertaining my kids with silly pancakes while we were living in Saipan.” He shares images of his remarkable pancakes every week on his blog, Saipancakes.com. Recent themes include sharks, Star Wars creatures, bunnies and Zach Galifianakis (pictured between two ferns). Of the squids, cuttlefish and other critters in this current batch, Nathan muses, “Nothing says ‘good morning’ like a plateful of delicious tentacles.” Indeed. [Saipancakes.com via Laughing Squid]
by Amy Reiter in News, May 9th, 2014
The Carrot, Not the Stick: Plenty of parents have been known to offer their kids rewards for behaving well while eating out. Far less frequently are the parents spontaneously rewarded for their kids’ good restaurant behavior. But Redditor looseONtheGoose writes that, after “Mother’s Day brunch … with our one year old daughter” at Carino Japanese Bistro, in Calgary, Canada, the family received a surprise on its check: The restaurant had deducted $5 as a discount for “Well Behaved Kids.” “This should be a thing at every restaurant worldwide,” one commenter opined. Hear, hear! [Reddit]
Sriracha State Swap? Texas is continuing its effort to get Huy Fong Foods to relocate its sriracha factory from Irwindale, Calif., where residents have complained that its chili-pepper aroma is making their eyes water and itch, to the Lone Star State. A bipartisan “sriracha delegation” of Texas lawmakers has traveled to the hot-sauce maker’s California factory this week to meet with the company’s officials. “It’s obviously early and preliminary to suggest that they’re going to take that next step, but at least they’re open to considering it,” State Rep. Jason Villalba told the Texas Tribune. “This is a serious endeavor.” The company’s owner, David Tran, recently told NPR he doesn’t intend to close the California factory, but might open another site in another locale. [Texas Tribune, NPR]
by Amy Reiter in News, May 9th, 2014
Does your state have an “official state snack?” Utah has Jell-O. (The state’s residents consume more of it per capita than any other state in the U.S., The Wire notes.) In South Carolina, it’s boiled peanuts, a “truly Southern delicacy.” In Texas, tortilla chips and salsa have been so honored for their popularity and proud tradition. Illinois adopted popcorn as its official snack in 2003.
Now New York is taking steps toward designating its own official state snack: yogurt. On Tuesday, members of the New York State Senate engaged in a spirited, comically protracted debate over the spoon-able fermented dairy product’s worthiness to wear the “state stack” mantle.
Given that yogurt production is big business in upstate New York and that the state is now, as the bill notes, “the number one processor of yogurt in the country,” you might expect it have slid smoothly through the Senate. In fact, after the bill, initiated by a class of fourth-graders (awww), was introduced for a vote by its sponsor, State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, things got a little messy.
by Amy Reiter in News, May 8th, 2014
What’s in Your “Cantry”? When you think of health food, you probably don’t think of reaching for your can opener. The Canned Food Alliance, a consortium of steel producers and can makers, is trying to change that. The alliance is in the midst of a full-on push to reposition canned foods as a convenient, healthy option; to lobby to ensure canned foods are included in federal programs; and to commission nutritional studies to underscore the wonders of canned food, sales of which have waned over the last decade. The industry wants consumers to embrace a new word, “cantry,” which it would like to see replace “pantry” in Americans’ vocabulary. “Cantry”? Well, I guess they can … try. [Reuters]
Everything Old Bay Is New Again: Old Bay Seasoning, now celebrating its 75th anniversary, is poised to break free of its Mid-Atlantic regional confines and claw its way, crablike, into the national spotlight. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog crunched the numbers on the spicy Maryland pantry (er, cantry?) staple and found that interest in it seems to be spiking. In fact, in recent years, Google-search interest in Old Bay Seasoning “has caught up to and appears to be surpassing interest in Tabasco for the first time,” Wonkblog reports. Impressive. Here’s hoisting a Flying Dog Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale in your honor, Old Bay. Yes, now you can get a beer that tastes like summer in Baltimore. No crab mallets needed. [Washington Post]
by Amy Reiter in News, May 7th, 2014
Now that spring is really and truly finally here (oh, please, let that be so), greenery is everywhere: on the trees, on our lawns and even in our blenders. Interest in green smoothies — healthy, hydrating blended drinks made with fresh leafy green vegetables, like spinach, kale, chard or collard greens, or green herbs, like mint, parsley, cilantro or basil — seems to be peaking, piqued, perhaps, by New York Times Recipes for Health columnist Martha Rose Shulman’s recent paean to verdant beverages.
Martha overcame her longtime reluctance to green drinks not long ago and dedicated herself to concocting some she could really relish, experimenting with fruits like bananas, pears, blueberries and pineapples, and ingredients like fresh ginger, which she said “made these drinks sing.”
“The drinks are loaded with phytonutrients and they’re filling,” she concluded. “They are definitely meals in a glass. When I was testing the recipes I enjoyed every sip and felt very energetic for hours afterward. So no more rolling my eyes: I’m a green smoothie convert.”
Martha’s zeal for green smoothies may be new, but plenty of bloggers have been singing their praises — and sharing tips and recipes — for some time.
by Amy Reiter in Events, News, May 6th, 2014
A recent poll conducted by Marketplace found that most people don’t tip and that those who do tip tend to give $1, though some just drop the change they’re handed right into the tip jar.
But should you tip your barista? And if so, how much? Those deeper questions seem to be open to ongoing debate. A recently released Starbucks app that allows customers to tip with their orders — .50 cents, $1 or $2 — would seem to imply that some tip is expected.
Some people argue you should always tip. Many etiquette experts insist that tipping baristas, who in many states make at least minimum wage, unlike, say, bartenders, who are paid a “server’s wage” on the understanding that they will make up for it in tips, is not required. But they also point out that it’s a nice thing to do, especially when someone carefully traces a picture in your cappuccino foam and hands it to you with a smile, gracefully fulfills your complicated order, or adds a little extra whipped or other frothy accessory to make your day a little brighter.
by Amy Reiter in News, May 4th, 2014
The James Beard Awards may often be referred to as “The Oscars of Food,” but like a meal worth lingering over and savoring, they may be even more sprawling and protracted.
On Friday, May 2, the James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Book, Broadcast and Journalism Awards — sort of like the technical Oscars, only with higher dinner menu stakes — were handed out at a ceremony at Gotham Hall in New York City.
Among the winners was Food Network host Ina Garten, who won in the category of Outstanding Personality/Host for Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. Heartland Table host Amy Thielen was also honored; she collected a book award in the category of American Cooking, for her cookbook, The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes.
Then on Monday, May 5, the James Beard Foundation bestowed its 2014 Chef and Restaurant Awards at a gala event at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York. The master of ceremonies for the awards was Food Network’s own Ted Allen.
You’ve been hearing for weeks about the Great Lime Shortage of 2014. Thanks to a crop disease affecting a lime-growing region of Mexico, the fruit’s supply has been limited here in the United States, and prices have tripled (yes) in three months. In early April, retail prices for limes climbed to 56 cents apiece — and if that doesn’t sound like much, here’s something to put it in perspective:
George Ortiz, who manages Chicago’s Adobo Grill, tells Bloomberg the fresh-squeezed lime juice in the Mexican restaurant’s margaritas is now more expensive than the tequila. While George says the restaurant spends about $23 on a bottle of tequila, the same amount of lime juice will set it back about $40, he estimates.