Consider this my first "Ill-Advised Ranting" post.
Dear food-related business owners, publicists and writers,
Please stop emailing me event promotions that repeatedly mangle and misuse the marketing "snob appeal" of a refined palate:
Homophones, those sneaky little buggers!ï¿½ "Pallet" misused in food writing is the most frequent offender, with an artist's painting tool right behind and only slightly less galling.
You have received your warning.ï¿½ SpellCheck is not all things to all copy.ï¿½ Everyone has a friend with an otherwise-underutilized English degree. Or check out this nifty list.
I was thisclose to a all-out anxiety attack today, when it seemed my grocery store was no longer stocking Stonyfield Farm Organic Yogurt.ï¿½ï¿½ I scanned the shelves, my heart rate increasing at the thought of traveling to another store to pick up my daily breakfast supplies, or worse yet, having to SWITCH grocery stores entirely.
It wasn't until my dear boyfriend (and his laser-like vision) noticed the new Stonyfield package.ï¿½ The old green-and-yellow stylized field motif on a cream container has been replaced with a more realistic blue-and-green rendering of dairy cows in a pasture.ï¿½ The word "farm" has disappeared, as well... which probably makes the name more more truthful, since Stonyfield's milk comes from multiple certified organic dairy farms spanning more than 100,000 acres.
In perusing Stonyfield's Web site today, I came upon a startling fact about recycling. Stonyfield has a long, well-researched explanation for the type of yogurt containers they use, which are #5 polypropylene plastic rather than the more common HDPE #2 plastic.
Most people know that Philadelphia's recycling program accepts only #1 and #2 plastic containers in our single-stream system.ï¿½ What they don't know is that wide-mouth containers (like yogurt or deli cups) have a different melting point than #2 plastic bottles (beverage containers).ï¿½ Municipalities collect all #2 plastic to avoid confusing people, and landfill or incinerate all the wide-mouth #2 containers you thought you were recycling.
Unfortunately, #5 plastics, though they take less energy to produce and are lighter, are almost never recycled.ï¿½ The Preserve company, which make razors, toothbrushes and food-storage containers from recycled polypropylene plastics, has partnered with Whole Foods and Stonyfield for the Gimme 5 program to collect #5 plastic from consumers.
No Pennsylvania Whole Foods are participating in the Gimme 5 program (but the Web site promises the program will expand in the coming months), so our current solution is to buy larger sizes or fewer of hummus, cottage cheese, food takeout and yogurt containers.
Reduce, reuse, recycle, but pretty soon I will be one of those crazy ladies who carries Tupperware around in her handbag to take home her restaurant leftovers.
City Paperï¿½s restaurant database is stuffed with useful information on nearly every eatery in the city, including hours, bar status, handicap accessibility, a smart synopsis ï¿½ and comments. Readers submit their own experiences, adding even more useful information and opinions to each listing.
Except for Chima Brazilian Steakhouse. A strange rumor/disease afflicts all Chima commenters, who do only one thing: plead for 2-for-1 coupons. Food/Meal Ticket/Web Editor Drew Lazor attempted to stem the tide a few months ago by stating that City Paper is a print/web publication and not, in fact, a churrascaria, to no avail. The begging goes on unabated.
For the last time: We do not have 2 for 1 coupons! What we do have, however, is a partnership with Half-Off Depot, which is offering City Paper readers $39.50 Chima gift cards for $19.75, for a limited time only.
Visit halfoffdepot.com/philly to pick up major dealage at Chima, Rembrandtï¿½s, S&H Kebab House and Mugshots Coffeehouse & Cafï¿½, and please, leave our comments out of it.
|Enough, you leeches!
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
Admittedly, sammy-salad joint Cosi is a reliable go-to for worker bees with an appetite for ridiculously salty "rustic" bread. Also, the last time I went there, the girl at the counter not only got my order right, but told me I looked like Cybill Shepherdï¿½s daughter on The L Word. (!)
Then there are days like yesterday. I was really jonesing for a "TBM" (tomato, basil, mozzarella), but felt like I should health it up with some salad, so I ordered one of those "Cosi Duo" jawns. My salad master was quite attentive (possibly even flirty ï¿½ although nothing can top being compared to a hot lesbian), dutifully writing down my "Half TBM, no dressing" order and barking it to the guy assembling sandwiches.
Anticipating the joys of fresh basil, juicy tomato and bloat-tastic cheese, I was a ravenous beast by the time I got back to CP HQ. I opened the aluminum wrapper of my petite TBM, splaying it open-faced to make sure they hadnï¿½t ruined the whole thing with icky vinaigrette. Dry, as requested. But wait. What is this puny, shriveled weed reclining on my mozzarella? Upon realization that this is what Cosi was trying to pass off as basil, I became enraged. BASIL IS ONE-THIRD OF WHY I ORDER THIS SANDWICH! Why even include this weenie herb at all? I'd rather think you just forgot the B, and I'd go about eating my TM sandwich without complaint. But with li'l B staring me in the face, I canï¿½t help but assume this is some malevolent outcry from a disgruntled employee. Youï¿½re mocking me with your pathetic excuse for greens.
Itï¿½s not like I didnï¿½t eat the entire TBM ï¿½ lame basil and all ï¿½ before writing this post. But my point is, customers never appreciate a half-ass half-sandwich, and basil is not the same as parsley.
Has anyone else noticed that food writers eventually become overweight or sick and slowly convert to chronicling their struggles with diet and exercise? Once the grim realization that you cannot, actually, have your cake and eat it too sets in, the "sensible eating" and "increased activity" mantras start flying off the keyboards.
Take Serious Eats founder Ed Levine. Serious Eats is the highest-trafficked national food blog, with subsidiary blogs that discuss nothing but pizza (Slice) and burgers (A Hamburger Today). But for the past year, Levine's main written contributions to SE have been focused on his trials losing weight, a lifelong struggle magnified by a career in food journalism. The hundreds of comments his Serious Diet posts garner suggests Levine is not the only Serious Eater who must mind their waist.
My personal favorite food blog is cook eat FRET, the culinary output of transplanted New Yorker Claudia Young. Living in Nashville, if Young wants Lupa-type pasta or pine nut cake, she's gotta make it herself. But for the past few months all she talks about is eating less, while posting tempting calorie-dense recipes for things like bagna cauda, the anchovy-rich, Italian hot oil bath perfect for dipping other caloric things into. You cook it, you eat it, and then you fret about it. All the damn time.
Even my hero Mark Bittman (NY Times' The Minimalist, Bitten) has been on a weight-loss binge for months now. His credo? Eat vegan before 5 p.m., then add a bit of your much-lusted-after animal protein for dinner. He's lost 30-plus pounds with this method.
Since most foodies aren't going to shun pork belly, butter and Vosges haut chocolat wholesale, we have to start moving to balance the multi-course chef's tasting menus.
Marc Vetri has two locations in Philly, but Sweat Fitness has seven. $20 gets you a 30-day trial that includes new, free group training sessions ï¿½ so even if you don't know how to work a weight machine, you're out of excuses.
Kevin Hensei of Fit4Life has a 30-Day Challenge on right now ï¿½ sign up by May 19 for two free group training workouts per week and nutrition tips from this seriously motivated personal trainer. Workouts are Tuesdays and Thursdays at Fit4Life in Cherry Hill, and you can't really beat free.
If the boot camp approach is too scary, Dhyana Yoga has three studios (Old City, Center City and a new one in West Philly) and teaches Ashtanga, Kundalini and Yin Vinyasa styles of yoga. Bikram Yoga of Philadelphia on Sansom Street is the city's only hot Bikram studio, adding gallons of sweat and a serious challenge to the flow.
No matter what tack you take, spring is here and it's time to bypass happy hour for the gym hour. Or else start writing about your discipline skipping those cream puffs on a trip to Paris.
Last week, I was laid low by a mystery microbe.ï¿½ I don't know if it was food poisoning or flu, but whatever its name, it tried to kill me.ï¿½ No drop of liquid or nibble of toast could pass my lips without being express-trained out the way it came in. In Anansi Boys (Harper Perennial), Neil Gaiman unleashes a comparable misery on his innocent protagonist, Fat Charlie Nancy:ï¿½ "Anything louder than the gentle Brownian motion of air molecules drifting softly past each other was above his pain threshold. Also, he wished he were dead."
I was as helpless as Fat Charlie, but no one will ever write a novel about it.ï¿½ By the time I could pick my head up off the pillow on Thursday night, I was as dehydrated as a sun-dried tomato without any of the pleasant sweetness.ï¿½ Since all fluids had been a no-go,ï¿½ I pondered the contents of the refrigerator for watery edibles that might stay in my stomach for longer than five minutes.
When you are already sick or nauseated,ï¿½ drinking water can induce vomiting because it is absorbed too quickly across the membranes of your stomach (osmosis).ï¿½ That's why ginger ale, with its absorption slowed by sugar, has long been a home remedy.ï¿½ Ginger also alleviates nausea.ï¿½ Once your stomach can tolerate it, food with a high water content can help rehydrate you.
Hello, crisper.ï¿½ Out of the fridge came a cantaloupe, a grapefruit, green grapes and a cucumber.ï¿½ Sliced down and mixed together, they saved my life.ï¿½ They also tasted amazing, especially after two days of eating nothing.ï¿½ For just a moment, I understood the raw foodists and vegans who promote fresh and pure plants as the best way to nourish your body.ï¿½ The next time a born-again prostelytizer asks me if I've heard the Good News, I'll look them right in the eye and say, sure have.
I have seen the Truth, and its name is Melon.
Oregon brewers are furious over five state legislators' proposal to increase the excise tax on beer, which has not been raised in 32 years. The proposal would increase state tax on each barrel of beer produced 1,900 percent; the current rate of approximately $2 per barrel would go up to almost $50.
KGW, a Portland local news station, reports that brewers are claiming the tax hike will cripple their businesses and cause job losses at breweries. Legislators are seeking to bridge budget deficits, with the proceeds from the tax specifically funding treatment for alcohol abuse. KGW writer Eric Adams:
The bill's language defends the tax by arguing alcoholism and “untreated substance abuse” costs the state $4.15 billion in lost earnings as well as more than $8 million for health care and nearly $1 billion in law enforcement-related expenditures.
Oregon ranks 49th among states for its malt beverage taxation rate, which brewers claim helped forge the hospitable climate for the small brewing businesses that Oregon has become famous for. Adams spoke with a local Portland microbrewery owner.
Laurelwood Public House & Brewing Co. owner Mike De Kalb said the tax may sound like a good idea in this economic climate, but he believes it would cost jobs and not raise enough new tax revenue to justify the increase... De Kalb said Oregon would potentially lose its prominence as a craft-brew destination and that some small breweries could potentially go out of business. He said Laurelwood could possibly face job cuts as well. Prior versions of the beer tax bill have exempted small breweries but this one does not, he added.
DeKalb goes on to state that the tax would increase the average price of a pint from $4.50 to $6. Rep. Bill Cannon, one of the bill's sponsors, counters that his office had calculated the increase to the consumer at just 15 cents. Another brewery owner squashed that notion.
But Kurt Widmer of Widmer brewing told KGW that in order to keep profit margins constant, he'd increase his price to distributors, who in turn would likely increase prices to retailers, making the 15 cent per class estimate unrealistic.
Oregon is home to hundreds of breweries, both large and prominent, like Rogue, and tiny micro-breweries and brewpubs. The tax seems not only unfair, but absolutely nonsensical. Are alcoholics buying micro-brews exclusively? Does every gutter drunk clutch a bottle produced at home in Oregon? Of course not. State legislators are looking to fix their hopelessly red budget by grabbing at one of Oregon's most successful local industries, and cripple them in the bargain.
"Sin taxes" have long been a favorite of legislators, who can stand on the moral high ground that they are protecting the citizenry from their own vices and earning the state revenue at the same time. Increasing a tax that has been untouched for 32 years in reasonable -- but not by 1,900 percent. One wonders who lobbied for this stratospheric hike. If Oregon's legislature passes this dramatically increased excise tax on each barrel of beer brewed in their state, the fallout should quickly vault Philadelphia to uncontested status at America's best beer city. Too bad such a victory would taste so bitter.
|These bars like big butts. |
The Philadelphia smoking ban, officially tagged as the Clean Indoor Air Worker Protection Law, marked its two-year anniversary on September 25. The moaning of dedicated smokers and fearful restaurant owners has largely died away as predictions of drastically reduced business proved groundless. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has followed in our municipal wake with the state-wide Clean Indoor Air Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Ed Rendell June 13, 2008 and went into effect (with exemptions) on Sept. 11, 2008.
The exemptions are virtually twin to Philadelphia's: bars where food represents less than 20 percent of total sales can apply for an exemption. That loophole was created to protect neighborhood shot-and-beer joints where the clientele's interest in sucking down cigs with their PBRs would not bother people trying to eat dinner.
All is well and good: hospitality workers are protected from second-hand smoke, pub-goers can session beers without going home stinking like an ashtray and those with sensitive respiratory systems have returned to their favorite resto-bars. The lonely lament: the best dives in the city, the truly lowbrow booze dens where the whiskey is cheap and the company cheaper, are now all but impenetrable for the fug of smoke.
The cloud that hangs over McGlinchey's is enough to suffocate the staunchest drinker; Oscar's, The Dive, Ray's Happy Birthday Bar, RUBA, Locust Bar and The Pen & Pencil are owned by chain-smoking, lager-swilling nicotine fiends. These are their places, and they puff fast and furiously, intent on asserting their Rights, driving out the eye-reddened, lung-inflamed non-smokers who attempt to colonize their smoky shores.
The Glinch, Ray's and Oscar's were always gritty dives where Bukowski and Nancy Spungen would have felt at home. They were always hazy and a little melancholy, at least until the jukebox really got going and the booze-fueled conviviality picked up momentum. Barred from every other pub in the city (and now the state), diehard tavern smokers, those turgid souls who will NEVER go outside to smoke, have congregated in leprous colonies in the last remaining smoking bars.
That leaves the non-smoking dive bar patron just two options. Build a bar in your damp and gloomy basement, stock up on John Powers whiskey and mourn at home; or, pick up a stylishly apocalyptic gas mask and reclaim your old stool at The Dive.
Two years ago Philadelphia Magazine printed The Daily Examiner’s long directory of smoking-permitted bars. Check it out here.
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