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To ban or not to ban: Should kids be allowed in fine-dining restaurants?

To ban or not to ban: Should kids be allowed in fine-dining restaurants? | FoodNews | Scoop.it

"Clearly, eating out is not looking so promising for children anymore. 

 

'This has been accumulating over the years as an increasing number of young children and babies, whose chief form of communication is crying, were coming in,' explains restaurant McDains owner Mike Vuick. 'We’d ask parents to remove the child and they’d be offended and sometimes even walk out on checks.'

 

We’ve all been there. It’s Friday night, you’re all dressed up, enjoying a romantic evening at your favorite restaurant. Or rather, trying to enjoy a romantic evening. If it weren’t for the screaming four-year-old throwing food at your next-door table, the same one who was running around the restaurant minutes before, maybe you would actually be able to enjoy yourself.

 

Sadly, as adorable as kids may be, they’re not usually the most appealing dinner companions. In fact, several restaurants find them so disagreeable that they’ve gone so far as to ban children across the board. 

 

McDains, the Pennsylvania club-style restaurant on the golf course of the same name, has all children under six years old banned..."



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Resetting the Table: Lantern's Andrea Reusing at TEDxUNC

Here's a thought-provoking TEDx Talk from Lantern's Andrea Reusing in which the Chapel Hill, NC chef urges the food world to "make a place for farm workers at the table." Reusing points out that we live in a world run amuck with "foodies," saying, "We have tote bags for our tote bags. Our compost piles have their own Tumblrs." But yet somehow still the food community often ignores "something that's much more fundamental to the way we live: the lives of the people who harvest the food that we eat." -Eater

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Thomas Keller Responds To 'Vanity Fair' Criticism

Thomas Keller Responds To 'Vanity Fair' Criticism | FoodNews | Scoop.it

It would seem Chef Thomas Keller would have reason to be satisfied.

 

When asked about the degree to which Napa had changed since The French Laundry opened in 1994, Keller responded:

 

"I think that's pretty much common knowledge; you can find that on the website. Did you do any research on me whatsoever? I'd rather just talk about what you really want to know."

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Restaurants Turn Camera Shy

Restaurants Turn Camera Shy | FoodNews | Scoop.it

Taking pictures when dining out has become as common as ordering dessert, but a growing backlash has prompted creative measures and even some outright photo bans.

 

Not every chef or restaurant owner is accommodating, especially these days, as cameras have become as common as utensils. People are posting a shot of their quinoa salad online, or their ramen noodles on their blog. A growing backlash has prompted not only dirty looks from nearby diners, but also creative measures and even some outright photo bans.

 

It’s hard to know who is most irritated by amateur photography — the owners and chefs, the nearby diners or even the photographer’s dining companions. Emma Kate Tsai, a Houston-based editor, said her 64-year-old father drives her family crazy with the food photos he shoots with his large, cumbersome camera strapped across his chest. “It’s really irritating,” she said, “because we can’t take a bite unless he takes his photo.” He used to put his photos into PowerPoint presentations and send the huge files to them through e-mail. “They were, like, 11 megabytes,” she said with a laugh. “Now he’s got Facebook, thank God.” Still, she worries about what will happen when her father stops working. “I think when he retires it’s just going to get worse,” she said.

 

When it comes to people taking photographs of their meals, the chef David Bouley has seen it all. There are the foreign tourists who, despite their big cameras, tend to be very discreet. There are those who use a flash and annoy everyone around them. There are those who come equipped with gorillapods — those small, flexible tripods to use on their tables.

 

There are even those who stand on their chairs to shoot their plates from above.“We get on top of those folks right away or else it’s like a circus,” Mr. Bouley said.

 

But rather than tell people they can’t shoot their food — the food they are so proud to eat that they need to share it immediately with everyone they know — he simply takes them back into his kitchen to shoot as the plates come out. “We’ll say, ‘That shot will look so much better on the marble table in our kitchen,’ ” Mr. Bouley said. “It’s like, here’s the sauce, here’s the plate. Snap it. We make it like an adventure for them instead of telling them no.”

 

 

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How America Drinks: Water and Wine Surge, Cheap Beer and Soda Crash

How America Drinks: Water and Wine Surge, Cheap Beer and Soda Crash | FoodNews | Scoop.it

One hundred and eighty gallons. It's enough to fill 11 kegs, four bath tubs, or just one big aquarium. It's also how much liquid you drink ever year.

The question is: 180 gallons of what?

 

American drinking habits have undergone a major shift in the last decade. Throughout the 1990s, soft drinks made up nearly a third of the typical Americans' liquid diet. But in the last ten years, we've cut our soda consumption by 16 percent.

 

Meanwhile, we now drink more than 50 percent more bottled water than we did in 2001 -- and twice as many energy drinks. 

"Soft drinks peaked around 1998," said Thomas Mullarkey, an analyst from Morningstar. The big winners in the last decade have been bottled waters, sports drinks, wines, and then spirits, "which have picked up a quarter of a gallon per person in the last decade," Mullarkey said, before adding, "that is a lot of extra alcohol."

 

...It's the same story for liquor, where you don't need a spreadsheet to know how well a spirit is selling. Just go to a bar and see for yourself: the higher the shelf, the faster the growth. A 2012 Morningstar analysis of bourbon and whiskey found sales had tripled among super-premium brands in the 2000s, despite outright decline in "value" (i.e.: cheap) liquor.

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Dispute Over Labeling of Genetically Modified Food

Dispute Over Labeling of Genetically Modified Food | FoodNews | Scoop.it

Concern over the possible health and environmental effects of such food has prompted a move for labeling it, but scientists, farmers and technology companies call the measures alarmist.

 

For more than a decade, almost all processed foods in the United States — cereals, snack foods, salad dressings — have contained ingredients from plants whose DNA was manipulated in a laboratory. Regulators and many scientists say these pose no danger. But as Americans ask more pointed questions about what they are eating, popular suspicions about the health and environmental effects of biotechnology are fueling a movement to require that food from genetically modified crops be labeled, if not eliminated.

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Totalitarian Restaurants and the New Tyranny of Today’s Top Chefs

Totalitarian Restaurants and the New Tyranny of Today’s Top Chefs | FoodNews | Scoop.it

The reservation was nearly impossible to get. The meal will cost several hundred dollars. The chef is a culinary genius. But in the era of the four-hour, 40-course tasting menu, one key ingredient is missing: any interest in what (or how much) the customer wants to eat.

 

Tracing its evolution back to the opening of Chicago’s Charlie Trotter’s in 1987, Corby Kummer examines the culinary trend of putting the chef's rules—and not the customer—first.

 

How did the diner get demoted from honored guest whose wish was the waiter’s command to quivering hostage in thrall to the chef’s iron whim?

 

The trouble is, chefs don’t look to be re-inventing themselves as people willing to cede any control to their customers. Young chefs everywhere are adopting the tasting menu as a way to show off and control costs at the same time—and to signify their ambitions.


Two restaurants shared something important, though: they extended a typical meal to hitherto unknown numbers of courses—50 at El Bulli, 40 or more at the French Laundry. They didn’t give you a choice of what you ate. Adrià and Keller might have begun with similar ambitions: to startle and delight the diner. Adrià wanted to push the sensory experience beyond where it had ever gone, disguising food so that deliberately disoriented diners had to work to recognize a flavor—making hot things cold, soft things hard, solid things powder or air (or, horribly because the technique became ubiquitous, foam). Keller said he was merely overcoming his own palate fatigue, in which his concentration and pleasure eating a dish dropped precipitously after two or three bites. But Adrià and Keller’s lasting contribution to the world of restaurants was to shift the balance of power from diner to chef. They demanded unconditional surrender.


The counterparts of Adrià (El Bulli) and Keller (French Laundry) 15 years later are Rene Redzepi and Grant Achatz, who both indentured in Adrià’s kitchen—in, as it happens, the same year, 2000. Redzepi, whose Muslim immigrant father met his Danish mother when they were working at the same Copenhagen cafeteria, returned from his time at El Bulli with the idea of overthrowing the Mediterranean ingredients that had world cuisine in a choke hold. So he went foraging in the Scandinavian woods and meadows, and on the Icelandic tundra, for herbs, plants, and wildlife of all kinds to use in ways both traditional and inventive (his latest love is ants). Achatz had been sent to El Bulli by Keller, his mentor—he worked his way up to being sous-chef at the French Laundry, and named one of his two sons Keller—and returned with the idea of pushing industrial techniques and ingredients even farther than Adrià had. But he brought to them a stronger sense of design and restraint, and a stronger rooting in French cuisine and technique from his training with Keller. The two apprentices also returned from El Bulli with the philosophy that the chef decides the day’s multi-course menu, and the diner gets that, period.

 

Ten years later, Redzepi’s Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, took from El Bulli the title of “world’s best restaurant” in a poll of about 900 chefs, restaurateurs, and critics from around the world run by the British magazine Restaurant. Noma has kept that title for three years running, just as El Bulli kept it for the previous four years. (In 2003–4, the French Laundry held it.) 

 

How far will this as yet very modest evolution go? A lot farther, we can hope. No one wants a return to the reign of the smirking, tip-taking, tyrannical headwaiter, who indeed put the needs of the diner first (the needs of the richest and most famous ones, at any rate)—an era defined by Henri Soulé, of Le Pavillon in the 50s and 60s, and Sirio Maccioni, of Le Cirque in the 80s and 90s. Obsequiousness is seldom far from its twin, contempt. But, ah, how nice it would be if at the world’s most celebrated restaurants we could get back to the point where the paying customer picks what and how much she or he eats, guided by helpful but not overbearing suggestions as to what a diner might enjoy most.


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Florida Cookery: Where old-fashioned Florida cooking meets South Beach

Florida Cookery: Where old-fashioned Florida cooking meets South Beach | FoodNews | Scoop.it

'Kris Wessel’s new paean to old Florida-style cooking. Feast your eyes on Florida Cookery, Kris Wessel’s new paean to old-school Floridian cooking (and the occasional frenched frog leg), opening at the James Royal Palm.

 

So, back in the day, [Kris's grandmother] used a book called Florida Cookery to whip up all kinds of indigenous fare. Stuff like mango pie and coconut punch. Which we assume was spiked.

 

Now, Kris has some new digs. It’s all very ’50s space-age retro meets the Everglades—wooden Eames-style chairs, bright-green glasses, terrazzo floors. And he’s doing things in the kitchen just like Grandma would’ve. With spiny lobster. And wild boar. The result: a place you’ll frequent for relaxing balcony dinners of grilled squab and foie gras salad.'

 

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The Miracle Fruit, a Tease for the Taste Buds

The Miracle Fruit, a Tease for the Taste Buds | FoodNews | Scoop.it

A small red berry called miracle fruit temporarily rewires the way the palate perceives sour flavors, rendering lemons as sweet as candy...A large dollop of lemon sorbet into a glass of Guinness, stirred, drank is proclaimed to taste like a “chocolate shake"...a drizzle of Tabasco sauce onto a tongue is"doughnut glaze, hot doughnut glaze!”

 At flavor-tripping parties, guests find that miracle fruit makes everything sweet. Those who attend sampled the red berries then tasted foods, including cheese, beer and brussels sprouts, finding the flavors transformed. Beer can taste like chocolate, lemons like candy. The host says he holds the parties to “turn on a bunch of people’s taste buds.

 

The miracle fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum, is native to West Africa and has been known to Westerners since the 18th century. The cause of the reaction is a protein called miraculin, which binds with the taste buds and acts as a sweetness inducer when it comes in contact with acids,

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Roger Ebert on Food: Still Cooking

Roger Ebert on Food: Still Cooking | FoodNews | Scoop.it

After losing his lower jaw to cancer, the film critic, who can’t eat, has written a cookbook that is an ode to the rice cooker.

 

In 2008, long after he accepted that he would never put food in his mouth again, he wrote a blog post presenting his philosophy of The Pot as a way for all the people with not much space and not much time or money to cook for themselves.

 

“I am thinking of you, student in your dorm room,” he wrote. “You, shut-in. You, recovering campaign worker. You, movie critic at Sundance. You, sex worker waiting for the phone to ring. You, factory worker sick of frozen meals. You, people in Werner Herzog’s documentary about life at the South Pole.”

 

The book is funny, too. His list of meats to throw into The Pot includes chicken, pork, goat and Minotaur. In explaining how The Pot knows when the rice is done, he writes: “It is an ancient an ancient mystery of the Orient. Don’t ask questions you don’t need the answers to.” 

 

THE first several minutes at a restaurant with Roger Ebert are awkward.

It’s not that you can’t find a million things to discuss. Mr. Ebert, 68, has reviewed movies for more than four decades. He’s driven around with Robert Mitchum while the actor got stoned and lost on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He once owned a 1957 Studebaker and still owns a Pulitzer Prize.

 

The thing is, he doesn’t eat and he doesn’t talk. Or rather, he can’t eat and he can’t talk. He hasn’t for four years, ever since cancer took his lower jaw, and three attempts to rebuild his face and his voice failed.

 

“Food for me is in the present tense,” he said. “Eating for me is now only in the past tense.” He says he has a “voluptuous food memory” that gets stronger all the time.

 

“I can remember the taste and smell of everything, even though I can no longer taste or smell,” he said.

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The Best in the Box: Chocolate-Covered Salted Caramels

The Best in the Box: Chocolate-Covered Salted Caramels | FoodNews | Scoop.it
The Dining section conducted a blind tasting of 27 candies to find the best American small-batch, handmade chocolate-covered salted caramels.

 

The quality is higher than ever, with chocolatiers obsessing over the percentage and blends of the chocolate coating, the feed of the cows that produce the butter, the minerality of the sea salt. Naturally this attention to detail comes at a cost, and buying a box of these chocolates can be akin to investing in a bottle of fine Champagne — with good cause. The best of them demand to be taken as seriously as coffee or wine.

 

But first, in case you were trapped under a gluten-free cupcake and missed the salted caramel phenomenon, here is a brief history: It’s nothing new. Ages before Starbucks introduced its salted caramel mocha, caramel candy made with salted butter was a traditional confection in France, Brittany in particular.

 

What set those French caramels apart from regular caramel candy are both the type and amount of salt used. Fleur de sel, a high-quality flaky sea salt, is the choice for most caramels from Brittany, with sel gris, a chunky mineral-rich gray sea salt, a close second. And while a small pinch of salt is used to enhance flavor in nearly all caramel recipes, salted caramels contain enough salt to make its presence known. “Caramel with salt is like berries with lemon,” said François Payard, the noted pastry chef, who offers salted caramels of his own (though he isn’t this season). “The salt amps up the flavor of the caramel and balances it.”

 

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Next Course: Fish marrow

Next Course: Fish marrow | FoodNews | Scoop.it

An unusual product, popping up in hushed conversation among chefs and their fishmongers, may soon be swimming to a restaurant near you. It's fish marrow. Yes - bone marrow from fish.

 

Once the domain of dogs' dinners and the working class’s cucina povera, in recent years, bone marrow oozed into chef territory. Platters of sawed-open bones with rich marrow soon popped up on high-end menus across the country. Anthony Bourdain coined it "butter from god," and it gained a devout following accordingly.

 

Those who grew up with the Italian braised veal dish osso buco will remember spooning out (and fighting over) the gelatinous marrow to savor along with the sauce, browned shanks and gremolata. Those who didn’t grow up with it quickly adopted the same zeal.

 

The broth from hangover favorite, Vietnamese phở, is traditionally enriched by marrow bones that have been simmered for hours upon hours. And, the classic French technique calls for the marrow bones to be roasted and served with toast and rock salt to smear and sprinkle accordingly.

 

"It has the texture of a silicone implant," Fuller said. "Then, when you put it in your mouth and it bursts, it tastes like a hint of the sea – but it's not super salty."

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Restaurant Review: Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square

Restaurant Review: Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square | FoodNews | Scoop.it

GUY FIERI, have you eaten at your new restaurant in Times Square? Have you pulled up one of the 500 seats at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar and ordered a meal? Did you eat the food? Did it live up to your expectations?


Did panic grip your soul as you stared into the whirling hypno wheel of the menu, where adjectives and nouns spin in a crazy vortex? When you saw the burger described as “Guy’s Pat LaFrieda custom blend, all-natural Creekstone Farm Black Angus beef patty, LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion + pickle), SMC (super-melty-cheese) and a slathering of Donkey Sauce on garlic-buttered brioche,” did your mind touch the void for a minute?

 

Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste? The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?


How did nachos, one of the hardest dishes in the American canon to mess up, turn out so deeply unlovable? Why augment tortilla chips with fried lasagna noodles that taste like nothing except oil? Why not bury those chips under a properly hot and filling layer of melted cheese and jalapeños instead of dribbling them with thin needles of pepperoni and cold gray clots of ground turkey?


What is going on at this new restaurant of yours, really?

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How to give up caffeine, coffee and tea

How to give up caffeine, coffee and tea | FoodNews | Scoop.it

A constant flow of tea or coffee can seem as integral to a business as seed capital, but caffeine can strain the heart and disrupt hormone levels -- here's how to quit:

 

Know the effects - Whether you rely on an external force to do what the body would normally do for itself...thinking the chemicals will do it for me.'"

 

Monitor your body - It takes 24 to 48 hours for caffeine to fully metabolise and leave the system, so if it's a daily habit, you're never letting it dissipate.

 

Replace the ritual - "We're ritualistic," says Alabanza. "Part of my addiction to coffee was the morning ritual of grinding my beans and reading the paper." Find a new ritual that won't harm your health, and get the same energy jolt and blood flow by doing press-ups or walking up and down the stairs.

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My 2¢ on Miami's Dining Scene in 2012

My 2¢ on Miami's Dining Scene in 2012 | FoodNews | Scoop.it

"Well, we ate our way to the end of another year. As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, readers and food lovers..." Eater asked, I answered:

 

*Name your top restaurant standbys of 2012 -- the restaurants you returned to most. Michael's, Sushi Deli, Blue Collar, Mandolin, Ortanique on the Mile.

 

*What are the top restaurant newcomers of 2012? Not a newcomer, but version 2.0 - NAOE; The Broken Shaker, at the helm of roving gourmet Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog; Florida Cookery by Red Light toque Chef Kris Wessel *Describe 2012 in one word. Pop-Up.

 

*What was the best dining neighborhood of Miami in 2012? Design District & MiMo, the quadrant from N.Miami Ave & 39 St. up Biscayne Blvd to 79 St., with a string of favorites such as Michael's, Mandolin, Buena Vista Deli, Jimmy's Eastside Diner, Harry's, Metro, Dogma, Michy's, Blue Collar, and the departed Red Light.

 

*What was the biggest dining surprise of 2012? Red Light's demise. Words can't express the forlorn reminiscence of sitting riverside with a tray of sticky BBQ shrimp and dip bread, a pot of red smoked fishdip, lemon-braised local grouper with pink and green lentils, intoxicating absinthe oyster stew, and the thick hand-rubbed river-smoked ribs with apple slaw. The complete restaurant experience, from food to service to ambiance, was a spectacle of backcountry Florida river dining navigated flawlessly by New Orleans native Kris Wessel. Most importantly, in a city saturated with foodie flair, Red Light rose above as the epitome of gastronomy in its purest form.

 

*What and where was your single best meal in 2012? (Had a lot of trouble with this one as my best meal this year was without question a black pudding, pork belly, homemade gingerbread tower and chick liver terrine at the Hayfield Manor in Cork, Ireland.) BUT in Miami - Sushi Deli. Chef Michio is a consummate maestro in his matchbox sushi bar. Each and every item served is a gift, executed with deft precision. The creamy monkfish liver is sublime, made personally by Chef Michio. The sweet shrimp tails are delightful and their fried heads counterpart sizzle with crispy, salty guilt. The scallops, ornamented with a single shiso leaf, jalapeno round and swipe of ume (pickled plum), tickle down your throat. The rice is heavenly, prepared with a mist of vinegar and served perfectly warm.

 

*Were there any restaurants that you broke up with in 2012 -- eg, places you stopped going to? Joey's; once a favorite, in the last year I found the restaurant stuck in a bout of depersonalization. Lackluster service and food ensure a forgettable experience. Sugarcane; food fare here is simply an over-zealous serving of improvised food trends. It storms together raw bar flair, robatta grill torch and artisanal traces, leaving the diner in a flavor frenzy.

 

*Dining world headline predictions for 2013? I would say a surge in mixologyand microbrews, as evidenced in Broken Shaker's permanent return and debut of Michael's Genuine home brew.

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Why That Banana or Onion Might Feel Like Three Martinis: It's Not Just Alcohol That Can Make You Feel Hungover

Why That Banana or Onion Might Feel Like Three Martinis: It's Not Just Alcohol That Can Make You Feel Hungover | FoodNews | Scoop.it

Woke up with a hangover? It's not just heavy alcohol consumption that can bring on a massive headache the next day, but also a range of unexpected foods, from cheese to citrus fruit to fresh baked goods.

 

[The] possible biological links between food and headache aren't clearly understood. Some experts believe there may be a chemical reaction that leads to some headaches, while others think foods could trigger a vascular response involving nerves and blood vessels around the head. A newer theory suggests that certain foods may prompt an immune-system response that triggers headache. A possible culprit is tyramine, a naturally occurring chemical in food.


"If I have MSG, the next day I'll have such a terrible headache I feel like I've had about 1,000 drinks even though I haven't had any," says Amy Worcester Lanzi, of New York City. "You get to the point where you just avoid it." Other trigger foods...include hot dogs and other processed meats, flavored chips and sugary treats


The National Headache Foundation suggests patients might want to limit their intake of tyramine to help control headaches. Here are some foods containing tyramine or other substances believed to be headache triggers:

Aged, dried, and fermented meats and fishes, such as pepperoni and salamiAged cheeses, such as blue, Brie, Cheddar, provolone and othersFermented soy products, like miso, soy sauce and teriyaki sauceBeans, sauerkraut, pickles and olivesAlcoholic beverages such as Chianti, sherry, burgundy, vermouth, ale and beerFoods containing as ingredients monosodium glutamate, nitrites and sulfites


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