October 4, 2017

Eating sufficiently

He has an espresso with breakfast and a glass of wine with dinner. Cutshall said he never tires of the menu, as it was designed to include "everything a human craves," he said. "There are things that are hot, cold, salty, creamy, chewy, spicy, savory, and crisp."

-- Large Fella on a bike, Scott Cutshall.

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April 10, 2016

Mile End Delicatessen

Mile End Delicatessen:

Small spot drawing big crowds for smoked meat sandwiches & other
Montreal-style Jewish deli staples

Mile End was opened by a married couple, Noah Bernamoff (a Canadian) and Rae Cohen (a New Yorker), in Boerum Hill in early 2010, in a cramped former garage retrofitted with vintage Woolworth's stools and pharmacy lamps. It soon had crowds clamoring for the Quebec innovation of smoked meat that falls somewhere between pastrami and corned beef.

53 Bond St, New York, NY 10012

April 8, 2016

Mark Bittman: Cooking! not shopping, not planning, not thinking, but it is."

It is cooking.
It's not shopping.
It's not planning.
And in a way it's not thinking.
But it is cooking."

-- Mark Bittman, the cookbook author, left his job as a New York Times columnist in 2015

If you want dinner built largely from food grown by Georgia farmers and recipes from Southern chefs, subscribe to PeachDish, which ships nationwide. If you live in Boston and prefer to avoid cross-country shipping, join Just Add Cooking and get boxes built with a New England sensibility and delivered by local courier. Devotees of the culinary sensibilities of Northern California can join Sun Basket, where one of its owners, Justine Kelly, the former chef du cuisine at Charles Phan's Slanted Door in San Francisco, develops the recipes.

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December 29, 2015

Branding and the SOHO neologism: Solo District by Appia Group

'At the corner of Lougheed Hwy and Willingdon Ave, Burnaby, BC' or 'SOLO' South of Lougheed ?

Solo District by Appia Group offers aspirational branding for their planned mixed use infill community development.

Included with the first building is a Whole Foods store, which, if history is prologue, bodes well for Solo District and the surrounding area. In the U.S., they call it the Whole Foods effect: wherever the Texas-based organic food chain locates a store, prices for surrounding real estate jump. The debate continues over whether those prices rise because of Whole Foods' presence, or because the chain is good at selecting markets where the future is bright. In any case, no one questions that Whole Foods is a desirable amenity.

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October 18, 2014

Morning Oats, Overnight Oats

Almond Joy Overnight Oats

fridge oats

4 oz coconut, vanilla or plain yogurt*
2 tablespoons almonds, chopped
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

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February 15, 2014

Eating at the wrong times: bad and unsuitable

Eating at the wrong times is tied to such profound and negative effects on our bodies

According to Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute, "we are very different animals between the day and night."

Peripheral clocks

researchers discovered that the SCN is not the body's only timepiece. Additional oscillators in the peripheral tissues help adjust the daily rhythmic functions of organs. (See illustration here.) In the gut, for instance, intestinal motility and absorption differ depending on the time of day. Like all of the body's clocks, these rhythms are guided by clock genes that operate in a transcriptional feedback loop. Transcription factors such as CLOCK and BMAL1 activate the expression of a large number of genes, including Period and Cryptochrome, whose proteins, in turn, inhibit CLOCK and BMAL1, causing daily oscillations in their expression.

Circadian clocks in the periphery are guided by the SCN, and all of the clocks are vulnerable to the influence of zeitgebers (from the German for "time giver"), environmental stimuli that tell the body what time it is. The SCN's primary zeitgeber is light. Clocks of peripheral tissues, on the other hand, can take their cues from other inputs, such as food consumption.

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June 11, 2013

Foodies are about access, not skill 2

Vera Chang, 26, who lives in Vermont, is one of those consumers who pays attention to the ingredients on the menu and the origins of the food they favor. She says she rarely eats at chain restaurants, finding places instead through Edible Communities, which gives advice on restaurants, chefs and food, or the local newspaper, which tells her about the chef and the provenance of the foods served.

"I like to know the story about the places I eat," Ms. Chang said. "I think it's key to feed one's heart in addition to one's stomach when going out."

She said it was harder for chain restaurants to tell stories about the people behind the food they served and about themselves.

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May 27, 2013

Triumph of the Educated City

Like many Rust Belt cities, it is a captive of its rich manufacturing past, when well-paying jobs were plentiful and landing one without a college degree was easy.

Educational attainment lagged as a result, even as it became more critical to success in the national economy. "We were so wealthy for so long that we got complacent," said Jane L. Dockery, associate director of the Center for Urban and Public Affairs at Wright State University here. "We saw the writing on the wall, but we didn't act."

Dayton sits on one side of a growing divide among American cities, in which a small number of metro areas vacuum up a large number of college graduates, and the rest struggle to keep those they have.

The winners are metro areas like Raleigh, N.C., San Francisco and Stamford, Conn., where more than 40 percent of the adult residents have college degrees. The Raleigh area has a booming technology sector and several major research universities; San Francisco has been a magnet for college graduates for decades; and metropolitan Stamford draws highly educated workers from white-collar professions in New York like finance.

Metro areas like Bakersfield, Calif., Lakeland, Fla., and Youngstown, Ohio, where less than a fifth of the adult residents have college degrees, are being left behind. The divide shows signs of widening as college graduates gravitate to places with many other college graduates and the atmosphere that creates.

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May 19, 2013

Foodie = well fed hipster

It used to be that human ingenuity was valued in the kitchen. Now, what matters more is chefs' knowing the right producers and buying the right products. Culinary excellence can no longer be achieved simply by learning the right technique; it can be acquired only by knowing the right things to buy--and by, it needs hardly be said, shelling out however much money it takes to buy them. In this way, modern foodies' materialistic definition of refinement is more exclusive than that of yesteryear's dogmatic French cooking. What appears to be a celebration of the natural and the simple is in fact more constrictive and less attainable, because it depends not on talent but on means and access.

Smart Casual: The Transformation of Gourmet Restaurant Style in America by Alison Pearlman. University of Chicago Press.

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May 14, 2013

Kimchi goes all-American

"If we would call something 'fermented,' consumers would have a shock and wonder whether we were feeding them something they're not supposed to eat," says Saumya Dwivedi, a senior research specialist at IFF.

Instead, when leading focus groups Ms. Dwivedi sticks to the adjectives she hears consumers use as they describe the fermented flavors they taste: tangy, pickled, briny.

Chef Paul Virant is the author of a book for home fermenting, "The Preservation Kitchen." The menus at his two high-end, Chicago-area restaurants center around fermented flavors. His team cans about $35,000 worth of produce, or about 4,000 jars, each year.

The sour notes generated during fermentation help balance the flavors of his cooking, he says, which includes Brussels-sprout kimchi and duck confit with fermented rutabaga. "People are pleasantly surprised when they try it," he says.

Mmm, the Flavors of Fermentation, WSJ, ELLEN BYRON April 10, 2013

January 6, 2013

Coffee men

Chris Baca trains a new employee how to steam milk properly at Verve in Santa Cruz; Tristan Walach, also known as Ant, teaches people how to make coffee in San Francisco at Sightglass.

The essence of good espresso, of good coffee in general, revolves around three numbers: the amount of quality dry coffee used, the amount of time water flows through it and the amount of coffee that comes out the other end. When the ratio is right, the process extracts the best flavor. If it is wrong, the good flavor never surfaces or is watered down. A mistake in seconds or grams, I am coming to learn, is the difference between something wonderful and awful.

¶ Mr. Baca explains that you have to experiment to find just the right balance of these three elements for each coffee machine and coffee grind, and then replicate them. He has tested the machinery at Sightglass and determined that we want to use 17 grams of high-end coffee and run water for 25 seconds to yield about 30 grams of coffee.

"How hard can coffee be? It's an attitude we're constantly encountering," noted Ellie Matuszak, director of professional development for the Specialty Coffee Association of America, a trade group with thousands of company members and 1,200 people in its growing Barista Guild.

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October 31, 2012

Mandoo City

New York has been a dumpling town for a long time. Up and down the streets of Flushing (and at countless stuffed-pouch shrines like Vanessa's Dumpling House, Joe's Shanghai, Nom Wah Tea Parlor, Grand Sichuan, Prosperity Dumpling and M Shanghai Bistro & Garden), diners can feast on platters of two-bite delights while sometimes spending less than you'd pay for a morning cup of coffee.

But lately, in Manhattan and Brooklyn and Queens, at spots like Talde, RedFarm, Hakkasan, Danji, the Good Fork, the Hurricane Club, the Rickshaw food truck, Biang! and (at unpredictable intervals) Mission Chinese Food, classic dumpling forms are being executed with meticulous care -- and stuffed, pinched and twisted into fresh manifestations.

In Park Slope, Dale Talde has engineered one of the most hunted-down bar snacks of 2012, a beer-friendly, street-cart collision known as the "pretzel dumpling."

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October 7, 2012

Scientific eating

Nutritional recommendations were born at the end of the 19th century with the discovery that humans need 20 calories per pound of weight each day; 55 to 65 percent of this energy intake ought to come from carbohydrates, a quarter from fats and something over 10 percent from proteins.

These guidelines did not emerge only from scientific inquiry but also from a desire to maximize efficiency. In 1888, the American chemist Wilbur O. Atwater devised a series of formulas that would help people get the most energy from the least food. Economics and physiology would be joined in what he called "the pecuniary economy of food." Atwater pioneered a movement that came to be known as "scientific eating."

The notion appealed to French physicians, who had been looking for ways to improve working-class health and budgets. They believed that these households spent too much on meat and alcohol. Their program of "rational eating" aimed to instruct the poor to keep food expenses within the limits of their (modest) budgets. They urged the substitution of protein-rich legumes for red meat, pasta for sausages, and sugared beverages for wine.

Martin Bruegel, historian at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, is the editor of "A Cultural History of Food in the Age of Empire."

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August 31, 2012

Slate: scratch cooking for fun is middle class

When you have no choice but to cook for yourself every single day, no matter what, it is not a fun, gratifying adventure. It is a chore. On many days, it kind of sucks.

I might have gone to my grave denying this fundamental truth if I hadn't reported a book that had me living and eating off minimum wage (and less). While working at Wal-Mart in Michigan, I stocked up on bulk items, foolishly using middle-class logic ("great unit price!") instead of working-class smarts ("save enough cash for rent plus small emergencies").

I soon ran out of money and found myself hungry and exhausted, staring down a pantry containing little more than flour, coconut flakes, a few scraggly vegetables, and two frozen chicken thighs. There was nothing about this scene that inspired me to cook. The ingredients were boring. There were no friends bringing over bottles of wine. I had left my glossy food magazines in New York.

But there would be no calling Papa John's for pizza or stopping at Trader Joe's for premade lasagna or a selection of fine cheeses; my $8.10 an hour precluded that. I had two choices: consume raw flour and cauliflower, or cook. By dint of my newfound poverty, I had lost the third option--the escape hatch, really--that most middle-class people take for granted: eating without having to cook.

Once subjected to the tyranny of necessity, I found that making my meals from scratch wasn't glamorous at all.

Tracie McMillan

August 30, 2012

Square availability 2

Though smartphone payments have a long way to go before they replace wallets altogether, Starbucks's adoption of Square will catapult the start-up's technology onto street corners nationwide, and is the clearest sign yet that mobile payments could become mainstream.

"Anyone who's going to break the mobile payments barrier in the U.S. has to overcome the resistance to try anything new when everything we have works really, really well, even cash, which is very convenient," said Bill Maurer, director of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion at the University of California, Irvine.

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August 29, 2012

Strawberry and Almond Smoothie: A traditional smoothie with a twist of nutty protein.

Strawberry and Almond Smoothie: A traditional smoothie with a twist of nutty protein.

Coconut Pineapple Pumpkin Seed Smoothie: Ice cubes made with low-fat coconut milk give this blended drink extra flavor and texture.

Carrot, Papaya and Sesame Smoothie: Hazelnuts, pistachios and coconut milk add richness to this nutritious drink.

Seeded Banana Frappe: A simple banana smoothie gains complexity from almonds, a trio of seeds and a little spice.

Melon Pomegranate Almond Smoothie: You can get the ruby-colored pomegranate juice for this drink with a juicer or a citrus press.

Via well blogs ny times: it's smoothie time

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August 8, 2012

Sixteen words earn for stars

Over time, though, Mr. Humm and Mr. Guidara began asserting their own ideas. Indeed, the new changes will come only two years after they brought another jolt of innovation to the restaurant, removing 34 seats from the dining room and boiling down the printed menu to a sparely evocative, 16-word grid.

Those changes looked audacious in 2010. They seem modest in comparison to what is coming.

The grid menu will remain, but it will now be blended with a tasting menu of about a dozen dishes. The $195 price will be the same as for the restaurant's current tasting menu, but a $125 option will no longer be available.

"They're acting with what can only be called enormous New York confidence," said Clark Wolf, a restaurant consultant who keeps track of dining trends across the country. "I mean, wow."

Their vision, too, is all about New York. They want Eleven Madison Park to evolve into a restaurant not just in the city, but about it.
For Daniel Humm, the executive chef, and Will Guidara, his business partner and the general manager, both of whom are still in their 30s, the gamble represents a once-in-a-generation chance to redefine what going to a four-star restaurant is all about.

July 26, 2012

French eating

In France, the French social anthropologist Claude Fischler theorizes, a meal is considered a kind of communion, an intimate sharing of experience. In the States, he argues, it represents a contract, a negotiation over aversions, allergies and dietary needs.

"It is not looked upon highly, in France, to be on a diet," Valerie Bignon said. "Because, in principle, it's not really necessary." This sentiment surprised me, given that the company she worked for had purchased a diet company for $600 million. She explained to me how easy losing weight should be: "The main course is passed around on a big plate, and you take what you want. So if a French woman takes from the meat dish at all, she takes just a little. It is rather easy to do her diet without mentioning it to anyone." Bignon also serves on the advisory board of the corporate foundation for Nestlé France, a program interested, she explained, in "reviving the French culture of nourishment." She seemed torn between defending her country's food culture and promoting a product that offers a defense against the results of its erosion so far.

As is true in the United States, Jenny Craig clients in France are expected to meet, by phone or in person, once a week with a Jenny Craig consultant. In France, however, the consultants are all dietitians, whereas the American model relies on laypeople trained in the Jenny Craig technique. If the French take their food seriously, they also see dieting as a serious affair, something that could be hazardous to your health without appropriate supervision. The word "diet" has negative enough associations in France that Weight Watchers recently came up with a new marketing campaign there: "Stop the diets. Relearn how to eat."

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May 2, 2012

Exercise then eat: extra hungry, hungry for what

The researchers had the volunteers either vigorously ride computerized stationary bicycles or sit quietly for an hour before settling onto the M.R.I. tables. Each volunteer then swapped activities for their second session.

Immediately afterward, they watched a series of photos flash onto computer screens. Some depicted low-fat fruits and vegetables or nourishing grains, while others showcased glistening cheeseburgers, ice cream sundaes and cookies. A few photos that weren't of food were interspersed into the array.

In the volunteers who'd been sitting for an hour, the food-reward system lit up, especially when they sighted high-fat, sugary items.

But if they had worked out for an hour first, those same people displayed much less interest in food, according to their brain scans. Their insula and other portions of the food-reward system remained relatively quiet, even in the face of sundaes.

"Responsiveness to food cues was significantly reduced after exercise," says Todd A. Hagobian, a professor of kinesiology at California Polytechnic who oversaw the study, published last month in The Journal of Applied Physiology. "That reduction was spread across many different regions of the brain," he continues, "including those that affect liking and wanting food, and the motivation to seek out food." Though he didn't follow the volunteers after they'd left the lab to see whether they might have headed to an all-you-can-eat buffet on days they exercised, on questionnaires they indicated feeling much less interested in seeking out food after exercise than after rest.

Those results may not be typical, though. The Cal-Poly subjects uniformly were in their 20s, normal weight and fit enough to ride a bike strenuously for an hour. Many of us are not.

April 27, 2012

Not called "chocolate" because does not meet F.D.A. definition of chocolate

On another table stand a group of newcomers to the Special K family, a brand that is evidently food's answer to "Law & Order," given the number of spinoffs it has generated. Ms. Bath hands over a package of Special K "chocolatey delight" pastry crisps in a shiny white wrapper. (They are not called "chocolate" because they don't meet an F.D.A. definition of chocolate.)

Continue reading "Not called "chocolate" because does not meet F.D.A. definition of chocolate" »

February 29, 2012

Carageenan is not in milk

Carrageenan is a commonly used food additive that is
extracted from red seaweed by using powerful alkali
solvents. These solvents would remove the tissues
and skin from your hands as readily as would any acid.

Alkali and acid: opposites or similar ?

notmilk's carageenan

More in Eat: food cooking nutrition foodies and dining recipies

February 8, 2012

Coffee: by the cup, or by weight ?

"Americans under the age of 40 are thinking about coffee pricing in cups," said Ric Rhinehart, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. "If you asked my mother how much coffee cost, she would have told you that the red can was $5.25 a pound and the blue can was $4.25. If you ask people in their 20s and 30s, they'll say coffee is $1.75 to $3.75 a cup."

This generational shift helps explain why single-serve coffee is the fastest-growing sector of the home market. According to a study from the National Coffee Association, single-serve coffee is now the second most popular method of preparation after conventional drip brewers, by far the dominant method. In 2011, 7 percent of the cups of coffee consumed in the United States were made with a single-serve brewer, up from 4 percent in 2010.

The premium that single-serve coffee commands makes it especially lucrative. Julian Liew, a spokesman for Nespresso, said single-serve coffee is 8 percent of the global market, but accounts for 25 percent of its value. It's likely that the number will continue to climb.

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January 3, 2012

Kim Chi, artisanal ?

The first offerings of artisan kimchi comprise the most popular recipes: napa cabbage and daikon (the long, white East Asian radish).

Open the mason jar just a tad and the pungent aroma of kimchi wafts out.
Napa Cabbage Kimchi. Leaves of cabbage marinated in a sauce of red chiles, onion, scallion, chives, salt, sugar, garlic, ginger, anchovy sauce, oysters, salted shrimp, beef stock, sesame seeds and rice flour.

Daikon Kimchi. Crunchy cubes of daikon are easier to eat without dripping the sauce, made of red chiles, onion, scallion, chives, garlic, salted shrimp and beef stock. All flavors combine on the palate: chile flavor (and heat), garlic and approximation of citrus, which isn't an ingredient.


Lauryn Chun, a former wine consultant and founder of Mother In Law's Kimchi, spent nine years ferrying kimchi from her mother's restaurant--Jang Mo Gip in Garden Grove, a city in Orange County, California--to her home in New York City. Her friends couldn't get enough of it. Then the light bulb went on--BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY!--and she began to produce artisan kimchi locally, using her mother's recipe plus napa cabbage and daikon grown by a Korean farmer in New York's Mid-Hudson Region.

1, 2.

September 11, 2011

Street level restaurant reviews

If you ask 10 people where the BEST meal they've ever had was, 9 out of 10 will say their Grandmother's house and the odd man out will say his Mother's. Only some asshole from the yelp generation is going to say Per Se. For lack of a better comparison... Some of your friends like tall skinny meatpacking types who look like geometry problems #PerSe. Some of your friends like strange Asian women from Williamsburg who wear men's shoes #FattyCue. Then there are the guys like myself who like girls with the 40 oz bounce #PiesnThighs. 4-star, 1-star, $25 and Under... Like Pokemon, I just want to catch em all.

Eddie Huang tribute to Sam Sifton

April 23, 2011

Whole Foods Market: leads or follows gentrification

But Christy Pardew, spokeswoman for Whose Foods, Whose Community?, an activist group protesting the forthcoming Whole Foods, says the issue is "keeping multinational chains out." According to Ms. Pardew, the addition of a high-end grocery store to Jamaica Plain will result in higher rents, pushing low-income residents from the neighborhood. "It's a term that real estate agents use," she intoned, "called 'the Whole Foods effect.'"

But real estate agents aren't economists, and Ms. Pardew admitted that there "isn't a lot of academic research" to back up the claim that stores like Whole Foods destroy low-income, ethnic communities. In fact, evidence points in the opposite direction: "To blame gentrification for rising rents is to get things exactly backwards," says Duke University economist Jacob Vigdor. "Companies like Whole Foods are building in places where the clientele is there already. They follow the customer."

When studying gentrification patterns in Boston, Mr. Vigdor investigated claims that elevated rates of neighborhood departure correlated with rising rents. "Actually, I found that in the gentrifying neighborhoods, the turnover rate among long-term residents was actually lower than it was in other parts of the city," because most residents see changes like lower crime rates and the revivification of derelict buildings as positive developments.

"People think that gentrification is causing prices to rise, when it's actually the reverse. In cities that are popular places to live, where demand exceeds supply, and prices go up all over the place--this leads people to seek out neighborhoods that are less expensive," says Mr. Vigdor.

Census data for Jamaica Plain show that Whole Foods is indeed following demographic trends, not simply hoping that if a store is built, the yuppies will come. In the past decade, the Hispanic population in J.P. has declined by 10%, while the African-American community shrunk by almost 15%.

Continue reading "Whole Foods Market: leads or follows gentrification" »

March 22, 2011


"Growth had a life of its own -- and that's O.K., when you're hitting the cover off the ball every time, but at some point, nothing lasts forever."

One thing hasn't changed: the man dreams big. In that same interview, Mr. Schultz spoke of expanding into still more products and in markets like China. He is pushing, of all things, a brand of instant coffee. The words "Starbucks Coffee" were just removed from the company's green mermaid logo because he wants to waltz his brand up and down the grocery aisles. On Thursday, he announced that the company had struck a deal with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to distribute Starbucks coffee and teas for Keurig single-serving systems. Shares of Starbucks jumped nearly 10 percent on the news, reaching their highest level since 2006. The stock closed at $36.56 on Friday.

Mr. Schultz and his colleagues say Starbucks will keep its feet on the ground this time, but some outsiders have doubts. Detractors say Starbucks long ago ceded its role as a gourmet tastemaker to become a "billions-and-billions served" chain like McDonald's. Starbucks -- "Charbucks," to those who complain that its heavily roasted coffee tastes burned -- will never rekindle the old romance, these people say.

"Has anybody said they came back because people love the coffee again?" asks Bryant Simon, a history professor at Temple University and author of "Everything but the Coffee: Learning About America From Starbucks."

"They came back because they're remaking themselves as a brand that competes on value, largely -- a brand that's everywhere, easily accessible, predictable," Mr. Simon says.

HOWARD SCHULTZ, now 57, is a tall, sinewy man with a toothy grin and a silky sales pitch. He rarely sticks to script, preferring to speak off the cuff, whatever his audience. In conversations, he leans in, locks eyes and gives the impression that, right now, there is no one else in the world he would rather be talking to. When he speaks of "soul" and "authenticity" and "love," you could almost forget that he runs a multibillion-dollar business that has become an uneasy symbol of globalization. Or that the British actor Rupert Everett once likened Starbucks to a metastasizing cancer.

The story of Mr. Schultz's life and career has been told many times, not least by Mr. Schultz. (His second book, "Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul," is to be published on March 29.) But some highlights bear repeating:

He grew up poor in the Bay View housing projects in Canarsie, Brooklyn, received a football scholarship to Northern Michigan University and, after a variety of jobs, joined the fledging Starbucks in 1982, as head of marketing. Inspired by Italy's coffee culture, he left Starbucks and opened his own coffee shop. Then, in 1987, he bought Starbucks, which at the time had all of six shops. By 1995, Starbucks had 677 shops. By 2000, it had 3,501, and that year Mr. Schultz stepped aside as C.E.O.

And so it went for Starbucks, one success after another, until the recession hit and exposed the company's overreach to the world.

Continue reading "Charbucks" »

February 22, 2011

How to Make McOatmeal

The oatmeal and McDonald's story broke late last year, when Mickey D's, in its ongoing effort to tell us that it's offering "a selection of balanced food choices" (and to keep in step with arch-rival Starbucks) began to sell the cereal. Yet in typical McDonald's fashion, the company is doing everything it can to turn oatmeal into yet another bad choice. (Not only that, they've made it more expensive than a double-cheeseburger: $2.38 per serving in New York.) "Cream" (which contains seven ingredients, two of them actual dairy) is automatically added; brown sugar is ostensibly optional, but it's also added routinely unless a customer specifically requests otherwise. There are also diced apples, dried cranberries and raisins, the least processed of the ingredients (even the oatmeal contains seven ingredients, including "natural flavor").

A more accurate description than "100% natural whole-grain oats," "plump raisins," "sweet cranberries" and "crisp fresh apples" would be "oats, sugar, sweetened dried fruit, cream and 11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen."

February 22, 2011, 8:30 PM
How to Make Oatmeal . . . Wrong

December 1, 2010

Atlas Café in Williamsburg, Brooklyn features laptop users

JUST after 4 o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon, as a dozen people clicked away on their laptops at the Atlas Café in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

ET on the corner of Havemeyer and Grand Streets, and flooded with light from two walls of windows, Atlas Café, which opened in 2003, looks like a combination of worn trattoria and late 1990s Seattle coffeehouse. The name reflects its wall-sized map of the world (there are also a mobile of hanging globes, and flourishes of décor inspired by someone's travel to the Far East). The soundtrack is a mix of old country and folk (Dylan, Willy, Cohen and Cash), classical, bebop and French ballads.

A makeshift milk station sits in the center of the 750-square-foot room. To the left is a long bar of dark stained rustic wood, where people order food and drink (proper espressos for $1.50, excellent panini, salads and deadly little chocolate-filled Italian doughnuts, $3), as well as the windowless, orange washroom. There are three stools at the bar, and beside them a table of reclaimed timber pressed against a cozy window bench. According to two signs, this little corner, perhaps one-sixth of the cafe, is designated a laptop-free zone.

Everything beyond is Laptopistan: two rows of old church pews formed into an elongated L, each fronted by small wooden tables and chairs. Scattered along the pews are tattered blue tubular pillows, for lumbar support. Windows run along the walls, flooding the computer zone with natural light during the day, creating a fishbowl effect for those inside looking out, and for passers-by, who frequently stop and stare at the tableau.

Entering Laptopistan is a task in itself. The floor presents an obstacle course of power cables snaking their way around coffee cups, over chairs, and around table legs, eventually finding a home in one of two power strips that look as though they came from a Soviet coal refinery. Whenever a plug is inserted, the outlet sparks, and certain movements can cause all the plugs on a given strip to simultaneously eject.

A quick glance around shows I have brought my laptop, a month-old MacBook Pro, to its nesting ground. Diversity here means the odd white MacBook or old black PowerBook scattered amid the silver MacBook Pros. Throughout the week I will see only a handful of PCs, each looking sadly out of place, like they have arrived at a black-tie affair in a corduroy blazer.

I worked for a few hours, and quickly learned the principal laws of Laptopistan:

Silence Is Golden. There is no prohibition on talking, of course, but, as one Atlas regular of several years, Joelle Hann, explained, "there's almost a code that people aren't going to talk loud." When people's phones ring, they run outside as fast as possible to take the call.

"If someone's on Skype or having a conversation, people make an effort to chill out their conversations with looks," said Ms. Hann, a yoga teacher and a freelance journalist and textbook editor. "When they don't stop, you can feel the tension." Shushing conversations is equally verboten. "No one wants to be the librarian," Ms. Hann added.

Respect Personal Space. While any open seat is technically available, it is forbidden to set up your computer on a table with a computer already on it; doubling up is allowed only when all tables are taken. At the same time, people bounce from table to table throughout the day, chasing the sun, the shade or their own feng shui.

Mind Your Neighborhood. When you get up to take a call, get coffee or use the washroom, you need only to look at a neighbor, make eye contact, look back at your computer and nod. The deal is sealed without a word: You watch my MacBook and I'll watch yours.

MOST Laptopistanis -- Laptopistanites? Laptopistanians? -- at Atlas are in their 20s, 30s or early 40s, split evenly between men and women. The dress is casual, with both sexes wearing T-shirts, sweaters and jeans, though a few women seem dressed for "work" with button-down blouses, blazers, even a dress or two. Most Laptopistanis work alone, though occasionally I spotted a group collaborating at a corner table. Socially, Laptopistan is a conservative society; outward displays of emotion are frowned upon. Most people hide behind their screens.

Continue reading "Atlas Café in Williamsburg, Brooklyn features laptop users " »

November 11, 2010

Four Loko vs Sen. Schumer

Four Loko is a fruit-flavored malt beverage that has an alcohol content of 12 percent.

In New York, Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the State Liquor Authority on Wednesday to halt sales of caffeinated alcoholic drinks, describing them as "a toxic and dangerous brew" sickening young people around the country.

In recent months, a rash of cases involving students and others who ended up hospitals after drinking Four Loko and other beverages that blend caffeine with alcohol have alarmed college and health officials nationwide. The drinks are dangerous, doctors say, because the caffeine masks the effects of the alcohol, keeping those who consume them from realizing just how intoxicated they are.

October 31, 2010

Four Loko, for people who take drinking seriously

Four Loko joins this warped tradition. And what I quickly came to see was that if you set out to engineer a booze delivery system that is as cloying, deceptive and divorced from the usual smells, tastes and presentation of alcohol as possible, you'd be hard pressed to come up with something more impressive than Four Loko.

It's a malt liquor in confectionary drag, not only raising questions about the marketing strategy behind it but also serving as the clearest possible reminder that many drinkers aren't seeking any particular culinary or aesthetic enjoyment. They're taking a drug. The more festively it's dressed and the more vacuously it goes down, the better.

Four Loko cans -- I paid $3.50 apiece for mine -- are something to see, each sporting a few ultrabright, childlike hues in a kind of rippling weave that evokes a camouflage pattern. Fatigues like these are what an army of Teletubbies would wear into battle.

This obsession with vivid colors extends to the beverage itself. The watermelon-flavored Four Loko, for example, is a shade of rosy pink that put me in mind of sherbet. Or bridesmaid dresses.

Continue reading "Four Loko, for people who take drinking seriously" »

October 23, 2010

Starbucks vs Walmart

Densities are negatively correlated: Starbucks Coffee vs WalMart shopping.


October 9, 2010

Sweetleaf Coffee LIC

Sweet Leaf Coffee, Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, NY.

Review by NYT and by GrubStreet.

As good as Stumptown or Caffe del Doge ?

July 28, 2010

NYU: $52,000 a year plus $12 per drink

The high cost of living is an obstacle for N.Y.U. students as well, who tend to spend their evenings in Manhattan rather than Brooklyn. The price of eating and drinking ($12 is a fairly typical price for a cocktail) can be a deterrent to socializing.

At the end of her freshman year, after a pained period of calculating her savings, Taylor Horak decided that she could no longer afford to go to school in New York, despite having grown increasingly fond of the university. In March, when she received her financial aid package for sophomore year, it covered much less of the approximate $52,000 for tuition, books, and room and board than she had expected. After computing that she would be more than $100,000 in debt by graduation, she withdrew from N.Y.U.

This fall she is going to a state school in Virginia where tuition will be less than $10,000. But she worries that she's been tainted by her year in the city.

"I'm stuck in this strange in-between space," she said. "You come up here and you're the Southerner, and you go back home and you're suddenly the snotty, cultured girl from New York."

Continue reading "NYU: $52,000 a year plus $12 per drink" »

May 16, 2010

Fried tourists

For lunch, I bypassed the kid-pleasing pizza shops and hamburger joints along the waterfront and found healthier sandwiches and salads at Cafe Metropole, a true traveler's oasis, with patio seating. It's the kind of place anyone who eats vegetables is thrilled to find in a town that mostly caters to tourists, especially boardwalk or seaside destinations that lean heavily toward fried things.

Continue reading "Fried tourists" »

April 2, 2010

Starbucks as a public place

the 2008 book "Wrestling With Starbucks," in which the labor advocate Kim Fellner considers the ethical pros and cons of being one of the company's many customers; it is hard to imagine a similar book about, say, Dunkin' Donuts, let alone California Pizza Kitchen.)

In this debate, the element of the Starbucks idea that matters is the frequently made observation that the chain doesn't really sell coffee; it sells an experience. That experience is the comfortable cafe, a spot where can you commune with the like-minded, luxuriate in your private thoughts and if not actually strike up conversations with interesting strangers, at least entertain the fantasy that this could happen. It has been recorded many times that Starbucks holds itself out as a "third place" -- not home, not work, but a space where community members can come together and feel comfortable.

The "third place" notion, and the term, come from Ray Oldenburg, a sociologist whose 1989 book, "The Great Good Place," argued for the importance of informal gathering spots -- the English pub, the Viennese cafe -- as crucial locations of community-binding that need to be maintained. It seems fair to say that Starbucks is not what he had in mind. (And in reality, a reported 80 percent of what is bought at Starbucks is carried out and consumed someplace else.) But the company hasn't been shy about putting forward a version of this idea that seeks to elevate it above mere profit-seeking rivals. Last summer, for instance, following reports that some coffee shops were cracking down on idlers who soak up hours of free wi-fi and don't do much actual coffee-buying, Starbucks reiterated that it had no such rules, specifically because it was devoted to "making the third-place experience for every Starbucks customer."

Continue reading "Starbucks as a public place" »

January 1, 2010

Port Authority bus terminal 42nd Street

7 P.M. Assuming you passed on the beer towers, check out Port 41, 355 West 41st Street, (212) 947-1188, a bona fide dive bar with a life-size hippopotamus head -- missing one eye and sporting a hard hat -- that adorns one wall. Other perks: the bartenders wear bikinis, sometimes accessorized with fishnet stockings, and the regulars -- working stiffs, construction crews and, one recent afternoon, a guy passed out by the pool table in the back room -- put the salty in "salt of the earth." Beers start at $4, $3 during happy hour, and well drinks are $5. For those women who like to disappear to the bathroom in pairs, the restroom is one stall with two toilets, side by side, separated by nothing.

Posted to eat, transit, NY.

Continue reading "Port Authority bus terminal 42nd Street" »

October 5, 2009

Lunch in the Washington Village

Washington is small enough -- and single-mindedly obsessed enough with its interlacing business of governing, lawyering, lobbying and journalism -- for power to concentrate in just a few places, rather than dispersing across the length and breadth of, say, a New York or London. Our company-townies -- the mighty and the not-so-mighty -- are herders.

See the Secret Service guys at Old Ebbitt Grill (convenient to the White House); the administration's youngsters at Oya; low-level Hill staffers at Tortilla Coast; the older society crowd at Cafe Milano (Dick Cheney and his SUV entourage stopped by for a private-room meal and a bottle of the good stuff earlier this month); and so on. Few places in town, though, seem to have been embraced with such distilled dedication as by the lobbyists nesting at Tosca.

Continue reading "Lunch in the Washington Village" »

October 1, 2009

decent food and drink where we can get a seat right away and actually be able to hear each other talk

Dear Concierge:

I would like to know where to go for drinks and snacks -- maybe a hotel bar or comfy wine bar -- with a friend whose younger sister is in the hospital. In other words, somewhere with decent food and drink where we can get a seat right away and actually be able to hear each other talk. -- S.B.

Dear S.B.:

A friend in deed. A hotel bar or lobby is a good idea crying-wise. Uptown, the lobby lounges at the Four Seasons are discreet and the tables are generously spaced. (The Carlyle wins for actual drinks and snacks, but Bemelmans is too noisy and the public spaces too face-to-face.) If you can swing it financially, the St. Regis is lovely for afternoon tea (with Champagne) in the Astor Court, or just sit in one of the little rooms off the lobby and pretend you're a guest; if you time it right, the King Cole Bar's martinis are quite soothing -- otherwise there's a wine bar at Adour. If your friend's sense of humor is intact, the bar at the top of the Hilton on 42nd Street is a place where no one knows your name ... unless you work at The Times.

Continue reading "decent food and drink where we can get a seat right away and actually be able to hear each other talk" »

August 1, 2009

The utility of Joe Biden

The addition of Mr. Biden was interesting, for a number of reasons. Mr. Biden was able to draw on his credibility with blue-collar, labor union America and his roots in Scranton, Pa., to add balance to the photo op that the White House presented: two black guys, two white guys, sitting around a table.

The four drank out of beer mugs. Mr. Obama had a Bud Lite, Sergeant Crowley had Blue Moon, Professor Gates drank Sam Adams Light and Mr. Biden, who does not drink, had a Buckler nonalcoholic beer. (Mr. Biden put a lime slice in his beer. Sergeant Crowley, for his part, kept with Blue Moon tradition and had a slice of orange in his drink.)

Officer Crowley is said (Carney @Clusterstock) to be a fan of Blue Moon, the faux Belgian Wheat Ale that is actually made by Canada's Molson. According to the Boston Globe, Gates likes Red Stripe and Beck's.
See also BagNews' take.

Continue reading "The utility of Joe Biden" »

May 26, 2009

Coffee archives

The NYT puts it archives to good uses with a masterpage on coffee.

May 23, 2009

Late night safety bus

If public transport and public health could merge, there would be a safe way to get home at night.

Atrios would approve, if public safety is a public good.

Phoenix, AZ 2009 May 21:

The Valley's light rail will soon extend its hours on the weekends.

Currently, the light rail makes its last run at 11 p.m.

However, starting July 1, the trains will leave from both ends of the line at 2 a.m., which means if your stop is somewhere in the middle, the final train will sometimes come past 2 a.m.

On Wednesday, the METRO Board of Directors approved the new hours.

The change was made after getting feedback from passengers and businesses along the light rail route.

Melissa Harrigan, a bartender at Zuma Grill in Tempe, said she thinks the change will be good for business because people will be able to stay longer.

She also said that she feels it will keep the roads safer because a bigger group of people won't be drinking and driving.

According to a METRO news release, the estimated fiscal and maintenance impact for extended weekend service is $254,500 annually to the METRO operating budget.

After six months, the Board will review ridership statistics and costs associated with the service extension to see if the change is cost effective.

Published in transit, urbanism, UK, SFO, ny.

March 31, 2009

iPhone as the new Audrey

One of many ecstatic iPhone news stories, on the convenience of having recipies stored and immediately searchible. Some use cases such as seeing a sale on lamb when out shopping, and being able to search for alternative recipes, and amend the shopping list.
Not sure how to mount you pumpkin on a kabob ? Snap a picture and share it for instant feedback. The vision of Audrey, realised.

The iPhone's mobility makes for better eating.

Continue reading "iPhone as the new Audrey" »

October 22, 2008

Paradoxically ?

The laid-back, noncompetitive and bohemian ambience of these new coffee shops has, paradoxically, limited them almost entirely to the very neighborhoods that welcome those qualities: Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and Williamsburg and Park Slope in Brooklyn.

Like flames, paradoxically limited to fires ? More in words and language.

Continue reading "Paradoxically ?" »

July 19, 2008

Starbucks jumped the shark

Dear Starbucks,

Hey, is there anywhere to get a decent cup of coffee around here?

Oh, come on. Don't look so sad. When we're in the mood for a twenty-four-ounce cup of pumpkin-pie-flavored Cool Whip, a Feist CD covered in mocha fingerprints, a possibly exaggerated memoir by a former child soldier, and some customer "service" that denies our essential humanity, we still head straight to our corner Starbucks. Or the one across from that one. Or the one that will have opened farther down the block by the time we finish typing this sentence.

Here's the thing, though: We're never, ever in that mood.

What we do like is coffee. If coffee were smack, we'd be Pete Doherty and we'd refuse to give it up, even if it cost us our career and our supermodel girlfriend. And we'll tank up anywhere: the neighborhood joint with the womyn-friendly breast-feeding policy and the couches composed entirely of rusty springs; the swill dispenser down the hall; an AA meeting. Anywhere, that is, but Starbucks.

In this we're not alone. America is a caffeine nation, perpetually jacked up on gallons of magma-hot ****-yeah juice, and logically you guys should still be making more money than Halliburton and Hannah Montana combined. Instead your market share is crumbling, and so is your cultural primacy. Snooty people have moved on to snootier coffee--shade-grown, fair-trade, artisanal, brought down the mountain by mules that have good dental coverage. Everybody else went back to Dunkin' Donuts. You're still part of the fabric of American life--think of Mary-Kate Olsen's ever present Venti cup, proof despite massive evidence to the contrary that she's Just Like Us--but so is soul-crushing corporate suckitude. Your new ads spotlight a straight-down-the-middle brew called Pike Place Roast. We're glad you're getting back into the coffee business--seriously, is there anything you haven't put in a latte yet? Courvoisier? DayQuil? unicorn tears?--but we've tried this stuff, and it should come with an Egg McMuffin on the side. It's a rich, complex blend of desperation and mediocrity.

The real problem is that there used to be something about you, Starbucks, and now there isn't. You were a quintessentially '90s company. You were from Seattle, the same rainy cradle of anticorporate corporateness that gave us Microsoft and major-label grunge. Young dreamers camped out in your stores all day like the cast of Friends, filling napkins with business plans for e-commerce Web sites. ("It's like for Wiccans!") We were all going to get crazy rich and wear ironic sexy grandpa T-shirts to offices where we'd play Frisbee golf instead of working. A $4 latte wasn't an extravagance; it was a little rehearsal for the cushy life that was about to be ours. Even your stupid fake-Italian language made us feel sophisticated. The 7-Eleven crowd could have their week-old bubblin' crude; we'd be over here, talking like Marcello Mastroianni, because we knew better. Even back then, you seemed a little evil-empire-ish. But man, your chairs were comfy. So we drank your overpriced espresso-shakes. We drank them up!

In other words, you've brought this on yourself. If we learned one thing from The Wire, it's that you can only control all the corner real estate in town and pay disenfranchised young people to sling an addictive product for so long before you lose your grip on the game. But we're not mad at you, Starbucks. Give us a call sometime. We'll grab a coffee. It's on us--we just shorted your stock.

Yours with shaky hands,

GQ Magazine, July 2008

[Via Men/ Style and F-chat]

See also Sant Ambreus Coffee in NY.

February 23, 2007

Vulgar prestige of bottle services in NY

It used to be the promoter who was at the forefront.
Over the last three years, it’s very much the bottle hosts
who have become the most prominent person in the club.

-- Jamie Mulholland, an owner of Cain on West 27th Street.

To critics of bottle service, these hosts are further trappings
of a warped system in which the old intricacies of after-hours
chic have been vulgarized down to mere spending power.

For club owners, bottle hosts who bring in business help
them survive in an increasingly competitive industry in
which overhead costs like insurance and rents are climbing,
scrutiny by the city and law enforcement is increasing, and
some clubs are losing revenue as traditional New York
patrons pause in their tracks at the sight of the police
barricades blocking off West 27th Street, known informally
as club row.

Continue reading "Vulgar prestige of bottle services in NY" »

September 25, 2006

Ani Phyo

Raw like sushi: Ani Phyo.

September 15, 2006

Sant Ambroeus coffee

santambroeus makes great coffee.
NYC and Southampton, NY.

September 12, 2006

Salt and Vinegar

The writing profession has a yo-yo-diet effect on diet.

"Everybody loses weight on hiatus, and everybody gains
weight during the show. You break up the long day by
getting a little ritualistic snack. It's like cigarette breaks
used to be."

The rituals can be exacting.

"Someone at 'Friends' would get a thing of Gummi Bears
and line them up by color before eating them."

-- Greg Malins, who wrote for "Friends" and "Will and Grace"
and is now a writer and executive producer for "How I Met
Your Mother".

"Our room is obsessed with Tim's jalapeño chips and
these salt-and-vinegar chips that Greg has flown
in from Canada

No kidding. Their salt-and-vinegar-ness is, like,
illegal in the States."

-- Gloria Calderon Kellett, one of Malins's colleagues.

September 5, 2006

Fairway market grocer

Fairwaymarket, modest NY grocery.

September 4, 2006

Get caffeinated map

Coffee map, cups around town.

July 28, 2006

Hefeweizen gets its due

In its purest form, beer is made solely of malted barley,
water, yeast and hops. Among grains, barley’s association
with brewing comes naturally. Its characteristic hard husk
makes it easier for brewers to employ without clogging up
their equipment, as happens with a grain like wheat, which
has no husk and can gum up the works.

Barley’s high starch content breaks down easily into sugars,
which are then converted by yeast into alcohol. Wheat, by
contrast, with its elastic glutens, is well suited to making
bread; unlike barley, which becomes dry and crumbly in
the hands of a baker. Perfect division of labor, right?

Barley for beer, wheat for bread.
Hefeweizen for hot weather.

Continue reading "Hefeweizen gets its due" »

July 13, 2006

Bulgogi Korean BBQ beef in Flushing, Queens

Korean bbq place in Flushing, Queens. Recommended.

San Hai Jin Mi
36-24 Union Street,
Flushing, Queens, NY 11354
(on Union just south of Northern Blvd. )
ph 718-539-3274

Great bulgogi and they’re open 24 hours as well though they
are not set up for tourists like the ones on K-town 32nd Street.

Continue reading "Bulgogi Korean BBQ beef in Flushing, Queens" »

May 17, 2006

Sommelier smackdown

Sommelier smackdown, amused by guy who conflates
take-out and take-in outcall and incall.

Blackpepper nuances' that `explode on the back palate
supported by fine grained tannins and long plum and spice

March 25, 2006

Starbucks in Southern Connecticut

Starbucks in Southern Connecticut.
Coffee and WiFi.

March 6, 2006

PEI eats mussels

Prince Edward Island Mussels
Steamed Mussels with Green Curry and Lemon Grass Cream Sauce
CDN $9.00

'Featuring PEI's only sommelier'

Off Broadway / 42nd Street Lounge
125 Sydney St.
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
(902) 566 - 4620