Now blogging at www.piquantblog.com!

Now blogging at www.piquantblog.com!

I’m officially now contributing to Piquant! I’ll be designing, photographing and blogging there from now on. Head over and check it out!

First post on Piquant: Ginger Up! How to make a Moscow Mule and a Shandy. Just in time for summer!

Pimp My Whopper

Whopper Bar

The Whopper is now 51 years old, but it’s about to get a younger look.

By year’s end, Burger King will be launching the Whopper Bar, a do-it-yourself burger bar, featuring Starbucks-style open kitchens, circular chrome countertops and plasma televisions that play looped videos of open flames.

And customers will be treated to a smorgasbord of Whopper options. Varieties include the Angry Whopper, topped with spicy onions (and popular in England); the Texas Double Whopper, with bacon and jalapeños; and the Rodeo Whopper, featuring fried onion rings and barbecue sauce.

Besides the variety of Whoppers, customers can also build-your-own burger.

“The concept is like ‘Pimp My Ride,’ ” Mr. Klein said, referring to the MTV program about customized cars. “To take up your Whopper, make it your own, put you in charge.”

Article and photo from the NYTimes.

Tap That

Tap Project

The Tap Project is the type of project that can really help the less fortunate, and the kind of charity that I think should be a year round fundraiser for EVERY restaurant. Not just a handful of days in March and not just at a select group of eateries.

But that said, the Tap Project is a brilliant idea, and every restaurant taking part in project deserves a shout out.

What is the Tap Project you ask? According to their site, it’s “a campaign that celebrates the clean and accessible drinking water available as an every day privilege to millions, while helping UNICEF provide safe drinking water for children around the world. Beginning Sunday, March 16 and culminating on March 22, the United Nations World Water Day, restaurants will invite their customers to pay $1 for the tap water they normally get for free.”

For every dollar raised, a child will have clean drinking water for 40 days.

$1. That’s it. That’s all it takes. If you go out to eat between March 16 – 22, ask if the restaurant you’re dining at is taking part in the Tap Project, or ask why they’re not.

If you’d like to specifically visit a restaurant taking part in this, visit the restaurant section of tapproject.org to search for a participating restaurant near you.

If you would just like to donate or want any other information, tapproject.org’s got you covered.

See this post on Changethethought.com.

A Raw Deal

Pepsi Raw Ad

Seems like everyone is on some kind of health kick these days. Every day grocery store products are going organic and re-branding themselves to appeal to the health-conscious. And now big brand names are getting in on the action, too.

Take Coke for example. Last year they launched Diet Coke Plus, a soda packed with vitamins and minerals. According to Wikipedia, “each 12-ounce serving of Diet Coke Plus provides 25% of the daily value for niacin and vitamins B6 and B12, and 15% for zinc and magnesium.” Although the Plus logo is a little more colorful than the regular Diet Coke logo, it ultimately stays true to the brand.

Not to be outdone by Coke, Pepsi just launched Pepsi Raw in the UK. Pepsi Raw is just that, as raw as a soda can be. Raw ingredients include apple extract, plain caramel coloring, coffee leaf, tartaric acid from grapes, gum arabic from acacia trees, cane sugar and sparkling water. That’s it. But I think the best part has to be the design of the Raw bottle. Moving away from their more colorful work, Pepsi Raw introduces a bottle almost as raw as the product itself. Minimal branding (a small Pepsi logo up top), big RAW type, stacked down the neck of the bottle, and waves showing off the natural curves of the bottle. And being a clear bottle, the product shines right through. A great example of less is more.

Hopefully Pepsi Raw will hit stateside sometime this year (no word yet) but if you’re wondering how it tastes compared to regular Diet Pepsi, the results are in, and apparently it’s pretty damn similar.

Image from Cherryflava.

See this post on Changethethought.com.

Probots In Disguise

Attune Ad

Probiotics quickly becoming all the rage. Some choose to start their day off with a yogurt “shot” filled with probiotics. I’ve done so a few times, but to be honest, it’s not usually something I look forward to. While it tastes fine (actually it tastes like yogurt) wouldn’t you want something that tastes a little better but still fits in all the probiotics you need?

That’s where Attune comes in. The fine people at Attune were nice enough to send some samples my way and I’m sure glad they did. They sent me two varieties:

CHOCOLATE PROBIOTIC WELLNESS BARS

Get your chocolate fix with a healthy twist. Enjoy Attune chocolate probiotic wellness bars in Chocolate Crisp, Dark Chocolate, Mint Chocolate or Blueberry Vanilla!

  • Packed with 5 times the live active cultures in yogurt!
  • Provides an excellent source of calcium with only 100 calories!
  • Just right to take on the go!

GRANOLA PROBIOTIC WELLNESS BARS
If you’re craving more from a healthy snack, choose Attune granola probiotic wellness bars in Strawberry Bliss, Wild Berry, Lemon Crème, or Mango Peach!

  • Packed with 5 times the live active cultures in yogurt!
  • Provides an excellent source of calcium and good source of protein and fiber.
  • Just right to take on the go!

Now if you’re sitting there wondering what a probiotic is, here’s what their site says:

The World Health Organization (WHO) officially defines probiotics as live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.

The probiotics story begins with intestinal bacteria, which, are a community of good and bad bacteria that live in the digestive system. We all have naturally occurring bacterial communities in our digestive systems. These help:

  • Protect the body from harmful bacteria.
  • Exercise the immune system to ensure it is ready to react to harmful bacteria.
  • Strengthen the intestinal wall so it acts as a defensive barrier.
  • Digest fiber in the diet, so we can absorb the nutrients from the foods we eat.

These digestive bacteria are essential to overall wellbeing. Probiotics act as a helper to these friendly bacteria, and that help can keep the digestive system functioning well.

Back to the bars…I received a variety of flavors and every one I tried were honestly delicious. The granola bars taste just like granola bars, with fruit and yogurt mixed in. They’re low in calorie and perfect for a quick morning meal. But the superstar product had to be the chocolate probiotic wellness bars. I samples about 5 different bars, and they all taste just like chocolate candy bars. My favorite was the milk chocolate with tiny bits in side (reminded me of a Crunch bar). They were the perfect after dinner dessert and ideal for anyone with a sweet tooth. But the best part about these (besides the high probiotic count) is the fact that they’re only 100 calories, low in sugar, and an excellent source of calcium. Oh, and according to their site, you’ll really be able to “feel” the probiotics working after a couple of weeks.

Overall, I highly recommend these and I might have to pick up more from my local Whole Foods, unless the nice people at Attune want to send me more! Everyone I let try these, from friends to coworkers, loved the taste and the fact that they’re healthy!

If you want to learn more about Attune, head to their website here. And if you’re still not sure about Attune, but are interested in giving it a try, here’s a coupon.

If you’ve already tried these or decide to try them after reading this, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section.

Domino’s BFD

Domino’s BFD

Ever since I was a kid, when I ordered a pizza from Domino’s it was always the same…thin crust with beef (meatball) and pineapple. Thanks to Domino’s new BFD (big fantastic deal) I can now cement my pizza creation online, and if people like the look of it, they can order it as well.

Springwise breaks down Domino’s new social pizza making strategy…

Domino’s revamped its online presence last month as part of its “You Got 30 Minutes” brand re-launch campaign, including adding the new BFD Builder for custom online orders. Short for Big Fantastic Deal, the BFD Builder lets consumers create the pizza of their dreams—specifying the type of crust, the amount of sauce and cheese, and unlimited toppings—for a flat rate of USD 10.99.

What’s really interesting, though, is that consumers can name and register the pizzas they design in Domino’s BFD database, where they can be viewed and ordered by other consumers. Nearly 12,000 pizzas have been registered so far, including the “Happy Birthday Aaron” and “Rhonda Half Doug Half,” for example. The site even tracks how many people have ordered each registered pizza so far, and consumers can view the database with the most popular pizzas first, as well as by newest, oldest or alphabetically. Top of the “most popular” list, incidentally, is the “Ciao Bella!” which has been ordered over 83,000 times.

So head to the new BFD Builder now and share your creations in the comments.

And if you want to order my creation, the Hawaiitaly, click here.

Speaking of coffee…

Coffee

A handy dandy chart found on swissmiss. Enjoy.

Order Quick

QuickOrder

Order quick with QuickOrder. QuickOrder-GENOCO by Phil Lu is a genius idea that someone needs to buy the rights to.

Pretty soon, Starbucks across the country will be equipped with free Wi-Fi hotspots that will work with your iPhone/iPod. QuickOrder takes that idea even further, letting you touch your order on your own device, and then having the barista scan the code that appears once you touch in your order.

According to the site…

“Get your coffee fix, fast!” iPhone/iPod Touch application that allows the users to purchase their favorite Starbucks drink without waiting in line. This application also includes QuickPay, a swipe transaction system using semacode technology.

The mock ups are beautiful and this idea should definitely be implemented at stores and restaurants across the country.

After digging around for more info, I found this posted on Crave (CNET’s gadget site):

Hot on the heels of the mysterious ordering patent that surfaced late last month, multimedia designer Phil Lu has put together some gorgeous mockup shots of what an ordering system for retail stores would look like using Apple’s iPhone. According to Gizmodo, the shots were created before the patent was filed.

The design shows a variety of screens that let you design and customize a drink to order off Starbucks’ menu. The system uses a mix of a credit account and a Semacode scanning system similar to the barcodes recently used at several airports to verify passenger boarding passes with people’s cellular phone displays. In this case, the code is to verify your payment before pickup.

I’ve attached a picture above, but be sure to visit his site for QuickOrder in action.

Maxim Magazine + Steakhouse

Maxim Steak

Sorry for the delay…

Been traveling a bit and working too much, but I’m back to posting when I can.

This just in – Maxim Magazine and Jeffrey Chodorow’s China Grill Management will open 15 “Maxim Prime” restaurants over the next five years.

It doesn’t seem like a likely duo, but their idea is interesting.

“Maxim Prime will be designed to appeal to customers in their 20s and 30s,” Dennis CEO Stephen Colvin says. The average age of the Maxim reader is 27. (from USA Today)

And according to Grub Street

The Times today confirms that this summer Jeffrey Chodorow will open a steakhouse, Center Cut, in the Empire Hotel and — the real horror show — a Maxim-magazine-branded steakhouse to replace Ono in the Gansevoort Hotel in late March. Will it be a “breastaurant” combining boob tubes and tube tops à la Hooters, or will Chodorow go for something a tad bit more refined?

But this steakhouse won’t be anything like your father’s steakhouse, nor will it be anything like a Hooters. According to USA Today, Maxim Prime will be more upscale and intimate. “Sexy but sophisticated,” Chodorow says.

Another unique feature will be the size of their portions. Maxim Prime will serve smaller portions since their patrons will be going out afterwards, so their meals won’t put them in a food coma.

Photo from Flickr.

Batali vs. The Big Mac

Batali Wind-Up

Gourmet food is about indulgence and eating well, not necessarily healthy, but well. Chefs use high quality ingredients in order to prepare food that tastes good. But does the average person question restaurant food the same way they do fast food? Do people calorie count when they eat a meal prepared by Mario Batali or Thomas Keller? For the most part, no. But the Wall Street Journal decided they’d do just that.

What’d they find? Well, although restaurant food (especially that prepared by Batali or Keller) is about indulging, a lot of these gourmet meals are higher (or close to the same) in calorie content and fat than McDonald’s.

It’s not just fast food that’s making us fat. Temples of fine dining are known for using heart-stopping amounts of butter, not too mention artery-clogging delicacies like foie gras and chocolate truffles.

American adults buy a meal or snack from a restaurant 5.8 times a week, on average, according to the National Restaurant Association. So we have ceded control of a significant part of our diets to professional cooks, who have no incentive to whip up healthy meals in modest amounts. They want to appease your piggish appetite, so they send out gargantuan pieces of meat with several garnishes.

So how did the WSJ test this? They chose a dish from Batali and one from Keller and compared it to a Big Mac.

For Mr. Batali, we chose his pork loin alla porchetta with “mirto,” a myrtle-spiked roulade of sausage-stuffed, butterflied pork loin. Mr. Keller’s breast of veal with yellow corn polenta cakes, glazed vegetables and sweet garlic was the dish he cooked at home for his staff a week before the French Laundry opened in 1994.

Both recipes are (just) feasible for the home cook, down-to-earth but with extra spins that send them into a higher orbit than a regular pork loin (the elegant rolling and stuffing, plus the myrtle) or veal breast (the cutting of the elegantly braised veal into circles to stack with the polenta circles).

We took the ingredient lists of both recipes and ran them through the sieve of the USDA nutritional database to get a rough idea of calorie count. Since both chefs advise you to skim off excess fat, these estimates are undoubtedly higher than a full-scale laboratory analysis would have given. But they are still lower than plenty of fast food meals.

A single portion of the Babbo pork loin totaled 558 calories in our estimate. That’s only 40 calories more than a Big Mac and way lower than the 740 calories you ingest with a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese. Mr. Keller’s veal breast and polenta clocked in higher than either McDonald’s item at 1,143 calories, though it still comes in below a Double Quarter Pounder with large fries (1,310 calories).

Although both chefs do aim to satisfy their customers’ indulgences, you’re still better off eating one of their dishes over Mickey D’s.

Oh, and if you want to give either of these recipes a try at home, head over to the original article at the Wall Street Journal.

Photo from Flickr.

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