Archive for July, 2007|Monthly archive page

Money Making Restaurants

Tao

It was announced last week that Tao Las Vegas was the highest grossing restaurant in the US. How much did it gross?

According to the NY Times

In 2006, its first full year open, Tao did $55.2 million in business, or $16 million more than its closest competitor, Tavern on the Green in New York.

Even judged against other huge-volume restaurants, where revenues in the tens of millions are not unusual, Tao is setting a new standard. In figures for 2000, when Tavern on the Green was in the No. 2 spot behind Windows on the World, the gap between them was a razor thin $485,000.

Michael Desiderio, the chief operating officer of Tavern on the Green, marvels at the vital statistics for Tao Las Vegas: it served 600,000 meals, its average dinner check was $70, and 50 percent of its revenues came from alcohol.

“It’s really a nightclub with the food to complement the club,” Mr. Desiderio said.

Here’s the rest of the best.

  1. Tao Las Vegas Restaurant & Nightclub, Las Vegas
  2. Tavern on the Green, New York City
  3. Joe’s Stone Crab, Miami Beach
  4. Tao Asian Bistro, New York City
  5. Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington, D.C.
  6. Gibsons Bar Steakhouse, Chicago
  7. Bob Chinn’s Crab House, Wheeling, Ill.
  8. Mix In Las Vegas, Las Vegas
  9. Fulton’s Crab House, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
  10. “21” Club, New York City

For many years, New York’s Tavern on the Green was the top earner, which sometimes alternated with the city’s Windows on the World (and The Russian Tea Room was often on the list as well). While New York restaurants gross more, Las Vegas will likely become the top earning city by next year. Also, while American, seafood, and steak still reign supreme, pan-Asian themed restaurants comprise number one and four in the top ten.

Does this imply America’s palate is ever more sophisticated? Not so much. Very high-end restaurants are either at the bottom of the list, like New York’s Daniel (#65), or do not even appear (French Laundry and Per Se do not make the cut). So, it appears if you want to make a killing opening a restaurant (which is an unusual happenstance), you need to focus on liquor and expensive seafood and steaks. Those chefs who are artists will remain respected, but not necessarily rich. (from Epicurious)

And apparently if you name you’re restaurant Tao, you’re destined to be in the Top 10.

Photo from Flickr.

WANTS FOR SALE

Wings

An artistic couple in NY has a clever idea…to paint various things that they want, and to sell those paintings to acquire said item.

The catch? All of their paintings of wants sells for the exact price of their wanted item.

For example, one of them wants an iPhone. So you can purchase that painting of an iPhone for the actual iPhone cost of $649.17.

Not all of their wants are that extravagant though. Most of their cheaper items (such as the above Buffalo Wings) were much less than the cost of an iPhone. The wings sold for $12.70, a steak for $18.39 and a beer for $7.00 (including tip). Their painting of Zzzzz’s (sleep) didn’t cost a thing.

However, if you really want to make them happy, buy their painting of Financial Security (a stack of bills) for $1,000,000.

Great idea…and a great find from Josh Spear.

Cook with Christopher Walken

A lot of food blogs are linking to this 3 minute video of Christopher Walken cooking a turkey. Why? Because it’s Christopher Walken cooking a turkey.

He makes it look like a really simple process.

I embedded the video from YouTube but I’m not sure how long that’ll last. The actual clip is from a site called I’m Cooked (which I had never heard of before). I’m Cooked is a web community for video recipe sharing and their slogan is “Cook it. Film it. Share it.” Seems like a great idea. Here’s some more info.

Started by Joseph Leibovic in May of 2007, imcooked.com came out of a passion for cooking and desire to find new recipes. He found that although entertaining, a lot of the recipes found on cable television were simply way too “gourmet.” So after a little research online, Joseph was fascinated that tens of thousands of “homemade” recipes were up on video sharing sites. Although he had visited these sites on a daily basis he never thought to search for recipes.

After a couple quick searches – a pattern started to appear. The content was there, but because of the sheer volume of videos on these video sharing sites finding recipes became too much of a chore. A simple search under pizza led to search results that contained pizza recipes – but they had to be sorted out from videos such as someone eating a whole pizza in 2 minutes, someone throwing pizzas off a roof, a girl answering the door naked for a pizza delivery guy – so on and so forth. It seemed obvious, User generated content is what people want to watch and those searching for food recipes shouldn’t have to dig for them. The idea for imcooked.com was born. A community in which users can generate only food related content.

Now members can share their recipes with the world absolutely free. You can easily become a popular chef if you keep at it and upload new recipes all the time. The possibilities are endless and what you do with it is totally up to you. Imcooked.com does not in anyway supply the content for our site.

If that wasn’t entertaining enough, check out this clip of some guy prank calling a restaurant and pretending he’s Christopher Walken.

The Color of Beer

Color of Beer

Designers get inspiration from anything. Art, nature, literally anything.

Even when they’re drunk. Or at least drinking.

And to prove this the folks at Colourlovers have a blog post on various beers and the color palettes of their accompanying hops & barely.

Beer is the world’s oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage. It is produced by the fermentation of sugars derived from starch-based material—the most common being malted barley; however wheat, corn, and rice are also widely used, usually in conjunction with the barley.

We chose several beers of different types and found colors that were warm browns and golden yellows, even some amber reds and oranges… while even serving some deep, rich browns in the darker beers.

Above is one for your viewing pleasure, and click here for the rest.

But that’s just a sample. Apparently scientific research has been done on the color of beer. I present the Lovibond Tintometer Readings for Various Beers.

Readings were recorded in CMY, rather than sample luminance and 2 primaries (the traditional Tintometer technique) to allow a more intuitive interpretation of the results. All measurements made with a 1 cm path length using a Lovibond Tintometer Model E.

Whatever that means…

And speaking of beer, if you’re in need of some new beer glasses, pick these up. These cool tumblers are recycled in Wisconsin from classic Mexican ‘Sol’ beer bottles. Set of 4 for $26.

Luxury Canned Food

 Eggplant

Ever grab a nice steak from the grocery store, go home, throw it on the BBQ, and then realize that you forgot to get something to go with it? Or maybe you’re in a rush for dinner and need to prepare something quick. Well no longer do you need to sacrifice good tasting food just because you’re in a bind.

TASTE is billing itself as the first luxury canned food. According to The Luxist

It’s made from first class all-natural ingredients and packaged in a classy contemporary way.

I thought that since The Luxist made mention of this that it’d be pricey, and it is more expensive than canned foods should be, but they’re not out of this world prices.

For example, the canned cherry tomatoes with basil will run you $2.99, while the premium Italian Grilled Peppers, packed in water and lightly seasoned, will cost you $6.99 a can, which is the same price as the canned Grilled Eggplant.

Also available are a variety of canned seafoods, fruits, nuts and candy, although no pricing is available yet. But click here if you want to learn more about their canned products.

THE REAL TACO TOWN!

Double Roll

Slashfood had a little article on a Japanese Pizza Hut creation called the Double Roll. The Double Roll takes the stuffed crust concept to a new level by adding hot dogs and pepperoni to the crust like tiny corn dogs or maybe pigs in blankets, then throws on peas, corn and miniature hamburger patties as toppings. It reminds them on that SNL skit “Taco Town.”

If you haven’t seen the Taco Town skit, go here, and download one of the versions. But if you’re curious as to what it is…

A crunchy all beef taco smothered in nacho cheese, lettuce, tomato, and special Southwestern sauce; wrapped in a soft flour tortilla with a layer of re-fried beans in between; wrapped in a savory corn tortilla with a middle layer of Monterrey jack cheese; wrapped in a deep fried gordita shell smeared with a layer of special ‘guacomolito’ sauce; wrapped in a corn husk filled with pico de gallo; wrapped in an authentic Parisian crepe filled with egg, gruyere, sausage and portobello mushrooms; wrapped in a Chicago-style, deep-dish, meat lover’s pizza; rolled up in a blueberry pancake; dipped in batter and deep fried until it’s golden brown; and served in a commemorative tote bag filled with spicy vegetarian chili. (from Food Facts)

If you think the fictional version is pretty disgusting, then check this out.  Some guys decided to feed their friends by creating the real thing. You can see their blog about it here.

Mmmmmm…donut.

Donut

FOX is really promoting the hell out of this Simpsons movie. You probably know about the real life Kwik-E-Marts, but if you live under a rock, click here.

But besides 7-11, the Simpsons are partnering with a few other brands as well.

Another out-of-the-box promotional partnership for the movie is its tie-in with Vans, which hired 12 underground artists to design 14 different pairs of limited-edition “Simpsons”-inspired sneakers depicting their own interpretations of the animated characters.

For its part, JetBlue is partnering with “The Simpsons Movie” for its first official film promotion, labeling itself the “official airline of Springfield,” the Simpsons’ hometown. “We share a sense of humor with ‘The Simpsons,'” JetBlue spokeswoman Jenny Dervin said. ” ‘The Simpsons’ poke fun at corporate America, and so do we.”

Burger King, which has tie-ins with “Transformers” and “Spider-Man” this summer, is running co-branded TV ads to support “The Simpsons Movie.” It will feature a line of “Simpsons” toys in kids meals, advertise its Ultimate Double Whopper as Homer’s favorite whopper and feature in-store point-of-sale materials. (from The Hollywood Reporter)

And now Ben & Jerry’s will be the official ice cream of Springfield, however, this promotion will only benefit the winners of the Real Springfield contest, those people in Springfield, Vermont.

It’s called “Duff and D’oh-Nuts” and it’s a combination of the two best flavors in the world– at least, according to Homer Simpson. The ice cream is a combination of chocolate and cream stout with chunks of glazed chocolate donuts. (from TV Squad)

Sounds delicious! Too bad it’ll only be offered to the fine citizens of Springfield and for one day and one time only.

Photo from Flickr.

Seafood on the Street

Ham on

Are you a fan of California rolls? Who isn’t right? Ever wonder what that imitation crab you’re eating is? I did, and it just so happened that Ham on the Street, the informative cooking show on the Food Network, was having a seafood episode. George Duran, the host and chef, is pretty entertaining (in a cheesy sorta way) but he’s also really informative and he appears to genuinely enjoy what he does and he knows what he’s talking about (he attended culinary school in France and even had a cooking show over there.)

In this episode he prepares a few dishes that look pretty simple to make (you can find those below) but to answer the question at hand we turn to Wikipedia…

Crab sticks is a type of processed sea food made of surimi, or finely pulverized white fish flesh, that has been shaped and cured to vaguely resemble snow crab legs. The primary ingredient in most crab stick is Alaska pollock from the North Pacific. The individual pieces are usually colored red or yellowish red, and rectangular-oblong in shape, and small strings of the crab sticks can be neatly pulled and torn out in a similar manner to string cheese. The smell of crab sticks is similar to sea-food product and the taste is sweet, salty, and highly umami. Crab stick is cooked in its curing process and can be eaten directly from the package.

So it’s actually fish that’s been pulverized and turned into a paste which is then cooked. I honestly had no idea. But besides California rolls, what can you do with it? Well give George’s recipe for spicy crab salad a try.

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SPICY SEAFOOD SALAD

Ingredients

  • 10 imitation crab sticks
  • 1/2 pound cooked shrimp, chopped
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons tobiko (those little orange fish eggs found on sushi rolls)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha hot chili sauce, or other hot sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • Finely chopped chives, for garnish

Directions

  1. Thaw the crab sticks according to package directions.
  2. Pull the crab sticks into strands and put them into a large bowl.
  3. Add the shrimp, scallions, mayonnaise, tobiko, lemon juice, and hot sauce.
  4. Mix well then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.
  5. Serve in chilled martini glasses garnished with more tobiko and chives.

George makes this on the show and the people on the street appear to love it. The secret is shredding it into strands.

But he doesn’t stop there. Here are some other delicious looking recipes he whips up that literally takes just a few ingredients and less than an hour to cook.

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CLASSIC FRENCH MUSSELS

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds mussels, cleaned
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Crusty bread, to serve

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the mussels, wine, cream, butter, and parsley and season well with salt.
  4. Give it a good stir, cover the pot, and cook until mussels open and are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Divide the mussels and the juices between 2 bowls and serve with the crusty bread.

———————————–
ROCK SHRIMP BURGERS WITH WASABI MAYO

Ingredients

Wasabi Mayo:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup prepared wasabi (available in the Asian section of your supermarket)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch salt

Rock Shrimp Burgers:

  • 1 pound rock shrimp
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Hamburger buns, for serving
  • Tomato slices, or cherry tomato slices, for mini-burgers, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat your grill.
  2. For the Wasabi Mayo: Mix all the ingredients together. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. For the Rock Shrimp Burgers: process half the shrimp with the egg. Coarsely chop the remaining shrimp and put it into a bowl. Add the processed shrimp and the parsley, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide the mixture into 4 portions and form them into patties. Grill them on medium heat until cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. (You can also fry them in a skillet with a little oil.)
  4. To serve: place a burger onto a bun. Top with a slice of tomato and some Wasabi Mayo. Cover with the bun top and serve.
  5. For mini-burgers: Prepare the buns by cutting out smaller buns with a 1 1/2-inch diameter ring mold or biscuit cutter. Take a heaping tablespoon of the burger mixture and form it into a small patty. Continue with the remaining mixture until all the burgers are formed. Grill them over medium heat until browned and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place a shrimp burger onto a mini-bun. Top with a slice of cherry tomato and some Wasabi Mayo. Cover with the bun top and secure them with a toothpick.

All these recipes are from the Food Network. To see Ham on the Street for yourself, check your local listings for times and tune your TV to the Food Network. Replays are on throughout the week.

Bringing Street Vendors Home

Elote

New York City wouldn’t be NYC without street vendors. But apparently the city has been cracking down on vendors in recent.

There are more than 10,000 street vendors in New York City – hot dog vendors, flower vendors, book vendors, shoe shiners, street artists, and many others. They are small businesspeople struggling to make ends meet. Most are recent immigrants and people of color. They work long hours under harsh conditions, asking for nothing more than a chance to sell their goods and services on the public sidewalk.

Yet, in recent years, vendors have been victims of New York’s aggressive “quality of life” crackdown. They have been denied access to vending licenses. They have been swept from the streets by powerful business groups. They have been unjustly harassed, and their property has been illegally seized.

The Street Vendor Project works to correct the social and economic injustice faced by these hardworking entrepreneurs. Reaching out to vendors on the street, we hold clinics to educate vendors about their legal rights. Working to support a local vendors’ rights movement, we organize vendors to participate in the political process that determines their fate. Finally, we engage in systemic advocacy to help policy makers and the public understand the important role street vendors play in the life of our city.

For more information about the Street Vendor Project, go to www.streetvendor.org.

That said, I’d happily go out and support the vendors of NYC, if I didn’t live 3,000 miles away. But I do. So instead you’ll find 3 recipes below for street vendor food, including pretzels from NYC, elote from LA, and arepas from Miami so you can honor street vendors everywhere at home.

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Mexican Corn on the Cob – Elote

Ingredients

  • fresh corn
  • butter
  • mayonnaise
  • cotija cheese (grated)
  • cayenne pepper
  • lime juice

Directions

  1. Husk, butter and grill the corn til it starts to brown.
  2. Slap on a coat of mayo (low-fat is fine) and roll in cotija cheese (parmesan works fine as a substitute.)
  3. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper and as a squirt of lime juice.

NOTE: This can be done off the cob as well in a bowl. Just mix ingredients and serve.

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New York Style Pretzels

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pretzel salt (large coarse salt)
  • parchment paper

Directions

  1. Stir together sugar, yeast, and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (105 to 110°F) in a glass measuring cup, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
  2. Whisk together 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon table salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Dust work surface with 1 tablespoon flour, then turn out dough and knead, gradually dusting with just enough additional flour to make a smooth sticky dough, about 8 minutes. (Dough needs to be somewhat sticky to facilitate rolling and forming into pretzels).
  3. Return dough to bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface and cut into 8 equal pieces. Using your palms, roll 1 piece back and forth on a clean dry work surface into a rope about 24 inches long. If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust them with flour. Twist dough into a pretzel shape. (Dough will retract as you form the pretzel.)
  4. Transfer pretzel with your hands to an oiled baking sheet and form 7 more pretzels in same manner with remaining dough, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.
  5. Let pretzels stand, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Bring a wide 6-quart pot of water to a boil.
  6. Using both hands, carefully add 3 pretzels, 1 at a time, to boiling water and cook, turning over once with tongs, until pretzels are puffed and shape is set, about 3 minutes. Transfer parboiled pretzels to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining 5 pretzels in 2 batches.
  7. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and oil paper, then arrange pretzels on sheet. Brush pretzels lightly with some of egg and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake until golden brown and lightly crusted, about 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve warm.

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Street Vendor Arepas

Ingredients

  • One cup areparina (Most people will have to buy this. It is made by Goya, among others. Look for it near the Mexican foods, or near flour.)
  • Cooking oil
  • 2 cups of warm water (not boiling) Also good to have around for topping when you are done:
  • Cheese (Feta, swiss)
  • Butter (or margarine)
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Mix the water and the areparina in a big enough bowl. Let it rest for a few minutes.
  2. Knead the dough. Take small balls and knead individually. It is helpful to have a little bowl of water nearby to dunk your hands in occasionally. Flatten using hands taking the ball and starting to press from the center out while you turn the arepa around your fingers so it takes the shape of a little pancake. They should be like 3-5 CDROMs stacked together, only with a little less radius. Your hands will work hard, and get messy, but the arepas should turn out ok. Each pancake will take around 30 seconds to 2 minutes to make.
  3. Use a hot frying pan which has been coated with oil (use a paper towel with oil) and bake the arepas. Turn only once when it is brown. Some of the flours make arepas that split slightly when you cook them; that’s ok. Others you have to just get used to the consistency of cooked arepas and you know when they are done. Do not overheat the pan. Arepas take a while to cook, possibly ten minutes or so. Five minutes per side.
  4. Serve with sliced cheese, or butter and salt.

Photo from Flickr.

Googleteria

Google Cafeteria

From everything I’ve heard, Google is a great company to work for. They get benefits up the wazoo aimed at making them more productive while taking their mind off of every day chores.  According to Eric Schmidt, Google CEO…

“The goal is to strip away everything that gets in our employees way. We provide a standard package of fringe benefits, but on top of that are first-class dining facilities, gyms, laundry rooms, massage rooms, haircuts, carwashes, dry cleaning, commuting buses – just about anything a hardworking employee engineer might want. Let’s face it: programmers want to program, they don’t want to do their laundry. So we make it easy for them to do both.” (from Google)

First-class dining facilities? You mean like a nice clean cafeteria serving burgers and sandwiches? Hardly. According to Food & Wine

There are coolers packed with drinks. We left with Gus Dry Meyer Lemon Soda, Smart Water, Cosmic Cranberry Synergy tea (an organic, raw Kombucha—a handmade Chinese tea that’s cultured for 30 days, and that we’re told Madonna drinks!) in our purses; the drinks are all free to Google employees, and to interlopers like us.

The cafeteria includes the following stations: The Chelsea Grill, a Raw Bar, a Ceviche Station, Antipasti, a Salad Bar, a Soup Station, a Spa Cuisine bar and one for Dessert. The only one we didn’t hit was a Home Cooking station.  Our plates were full.  Nearly 50 local farms, seafood purveyors and sources of general yumminess are handwritten on a board near the Earth & Water station (where they serve a different fresh fish every day).  There are also baskets of fresh fruit everywhere: yellow kiwis, prickly pears, apples and peaches.

And as for Food & Wine’s favorite Google cafeteria selections…

  • From the Raw bar: Shredded carrot and jicama with peanuts, ginger and grapes (one of the chefs told us she’d created the recipe that morning). Zucchini “pasta” with sweet peas and a creamy pine nut sauce.
  • From the Ceviche Station: Sesame soy tuna with rice noodles (large chunks of raw tuna—more of a tartare than a ceviche, but delicious).
  • From Earth & Water: Pan-seared salmon with forestiere [wild mushroom] sauce and sauteed spinach with chive oil and garlic.
  • Chelsea Grill: Pulled pork sandwich with raw cabbage slaw (Fred Thompson allegedly said it was some of the best barbecue he had in NYC).
  • To Drink: Fresh prickly pear, beet and plum/apricot waters (pitchers filled with fresh sliced fruit and vegetables; the beet water was a gorgeous hot pink).
  • Dessert: We eyed the lavender and honey whipped cream with fresh blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, but opted for Google It’s Its (a natural, locally sourced, trans-fat-free version of the iconic San Francisco ice cream sandwich: vanilla ice cream between two oatmeal cookies, dipped in chocolate).  There was also cinnamon angel-food cake, green tea madeleines and fresh peach and agave smoothies. We enjoyed (read: inhaled) our It’s Its on the terrace, which overlooks the city skyline and has amazing views of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings.

So employees get a gourmet lunch? Yup. And if they come to work on an empty stomach or want to work late, they can enjoy a gourmet breakfast and dinner as well.

But what if I get hungry after lunch? Got any snacks?

Employees can snack from free mini-convenience stores filled with everything from organic gummy bears to cereal, yogurt, health bars, pretzels, bottled water and even some seemingly contraband sodas.

Ok, I’m in. Sign me up. Now I just need to learn how to do computer programming.

Wanna see what they eat? Click here.

Photo from Flickr. And check out more Google menus here.

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