Monday, July 16, 2007

NYT: Food press day!

It continues to be a good day for reading New York Times...with my stomach. These two articles, relating to food, were on its online front page today:

American Food Writing

Sushi for Two

I particularly liked the latter article; I remember sixth grade when a girl ridiculed the kids in our class that dared to enjoy tofu. It's - in sixth-grade-terms - cool that we're approaching an era of more adventurous eating. Even if it's one that began long ago.

Cadbury Weekend

The juxtaposition here is interesting:

The World's Best Candy Bars? English, Of Course

Cadbury fined $2 million over unsafe chocolate

The Cadbury in my supermarket you find here does taste like a Hershey's; good to figure out that the bars made here are both made by the Man.

Admittedly, I'm not a fan of either brand. I've read frequently in other books that Hershey's tastes like sour milk, vomit, etc., and consequently, that idea was stuck in my head. I tend to think that Hershey's tastes more chocolate-y and less like chocolate. Given that reputation, prominently displaying the Hershey's brand on their new upgraded, single-origin bars might backfire. For me, Hershey fits better in a general "candy" category, rather than chocolate.

On the other hand, selling Cadbury in its own customized Underground vending machines is a nice touch, compared to finding a Hershey bar randomly stuck next to a bag of Fritos. Cadbury is also fun to say in a British accent. But even when I can get my hands on the real deal, it's a little too rich for me (albeit creative!).

Even though they hold Cadbury's U.S. licensing, I suppose Hershey's might be getting revenge: sweet revenge. (The pun was necessary.) When people are so nationalistically dedicated to their candy, what better way to retaliate than by buying an opponent out?

...though I might be wrong on all of this. I am, after all, one of three people in the world the only person I know who likes Mr. Goodbars.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Secret Menu: Drinks

Imagine this scene:

I strolled up to the bar and took a seat; the seats were cushiony. I winked smoothly at the bartender – he fully turned around – shoot, it wasn’t a dame. Still, I called out my order. The same order I had been calling out for five years…ever since my ex-wife left me five years ago. (That temptress.)

“I’ll take a blue dragon.”

“A what?” replied the bartender (let’s call him Billy). I could tell his mustache needed some trimming. Perhaps with my pistol, which was the only thing that could knock him down faster than my glare could…

I tipped him a five and walked away.

And this is what “off-the-menu drinks” conjures up in my head. Okay…so I exaggerated a tiny bit. But really, the idea of customized ordering is glamorous (albeit on the small scale, and although it shouldn’t be. After all, at Burger King, you’re supposed to have it your way), and it’s something I’m going to try. There is an extensive secret menu within chain restaurants, and I’ve picked three drinks to start off with:

1. The white gummi bear smoothie at Jamba Juice. This was something I saw on the Jamba Juice Wikipedia entry, before it was sidetracked to the secret menu. (Conspiracy!)

2. A London Fog. Not the cocktail, but the drink below on the Wikipedia page: Earl Grey tea steeped in soy milk and vanilla syrup. I was reading a Canadian coffee forum, and it seems that Starbucks makes it under-the-table because another chain has copyrighted the phrase. In the States, apparently 1369 Coffeehouse in Cambridge (Mass.) makes it. I'd still like to try ordering it at Starbucks and see how strange that might be.

3. Caffe Medici. In more detail from the Espresso and Coffee Glossary, another Canadian site:

A doppio poured over chocolate syrup and orange (and sometimes lemon) peel, usually topped with whipped cream. Formerly, the Last Exit, now gone, was one of the few places in town where you could get one of these, although I've heard recently that you can get a Caffe Medici at the Pearl, a coffee house also located on the Ave (where else?) which has been described to me as having "the spirit of the Last Exit more than the Last Exit in its final years."
I'll credit our neighbors up north for the last two picks - judging from their directions on where to get coffee, they just might be more dedicated than the rest of us.

If you're looking for more, Slate offers a more academic take on another off-the-menu Starbucks drink, the short cappucchino, and relates it to profit margins.

And as they put it, all you have to do is ask.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Three quick observations about the Food Channel

(Apologies - it looks like this didn't post through the first time.)

1. As much as I love Food Channel (and despite the fact that it makes everyone hungry), it strikes me as a little strange that they don't call their hosts "cooks" or "foodlovers," they're personalities.

2. Tyler Florence kind of looks like Bobby Flay.

3. I read this article in the New York Times about the growing trend of female food personalities to wear V-necks (cashmere and three-quarter sleeves) in order to allude to some sexuality. We don't note that most men on the Food Channel are in chef's whites or plaid button-downs, but rather, the article's interesting to think about in juxtaposition with the fact that despite the idea of the kitchen as a "female domain," the majority of executive chefs at restaurants remain male. I doubt this piece will ever be a controversial moment in the NYT, but to what extent does it really help the advancement of female cooks (or food personalities)? And does it have to?