Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

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.

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.

This is NYC.

 NYC Food

New York City is being branded.

Starting with a new logo, then a commercial and full fledged website with downloadable wallpaper and limited edition prints, NYC wants to get in your head.

The commercial is actually very cool, making NYC look like an oversized amusement park.

BBH New York has created a new campaign for NYC & Company, the official tourism organisation for New York, in a bid to attract yet more tourists to the city (the aim is to entice 50 million visitors annually by 2015). The campaign, based around the tag This Is New York City, encompasses television, print, online and outdoor advertising, as well as a new logo by Wolff Olins, which will be used in advertising, promotional materials, as well as on New York taxis.

With the campaign airing in such diverse markets as the UK, Ireland, Italy and Spain, as well as domestically in the US in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and San Antonio, the ads focus on creating a family-friendly feel, pitching New York as a exciting, frentic fairground of a city. While this is a gripe that many New Yorkers may have about the city’s image post Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg’s considerable clear-up of its grittier edges, as so often is the way with these campaigns, those actually living in the city may recognize little reality in the tourism-friendly campaign. (from Creative Review)

Download the above NYC food-themed wallpaper here.

Check out NYCvisit.com for more info and to see how the campaign and commercial turned out.

Baseball’s Best Bars

Cask N’ Flagon

With baseball season winding down, why not drown your sorrows over how bad your team is doing at one of baseballs 10 best bars?

Here’s a list compiled by ESPN’s Josh Pahigian as seen on ESPN Sports Travel.

1. Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant
42 Central Park South, New York
Web site | City Guide

The theme of the lavishly decorated walls at Mickey Mantle’s harks back to baseball’s golden era. More than 300 pieces of memorabilia are on display, including the original plaque that hung at Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park to honor “The Mick” from 1969 to 1996 (at which time a full-sized monument replaced it).

Visitors also will find uniforms worn by Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson, along with stadium chairs from the original Yankee Stadium, a life-size cutout of Babe Ruth autographed by more than 150 big leaguers and a circa-1961 replica of old Yankee Stadium that covers 49 square feet and features working light towers, scoreboard and 64,000 molded-pewter seats.

“Because we’re in New York we don’t just have sports personalities as guests, but also celebrities who are sports fans,” said Bart Alexander, director of special events at Mantle’s.

“Some recent visitors include Yankees GM Brian Cashman, Mickey’s old teammates Moose Skowron and Joe Pepitone, Don Mattingly, Bob Costas, Jerry Springer, Chris Matthews of “Hardball,” Harry Smith of CBS News and football guys Dan Marino, Mike Ditka and Jimmy Johnson.”

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2. Cask ‘n Flagon
62 Brookline Ave., Boston
Web site | City Guide

In the shadows of Fenway Park’s Green Monster, Red Sox fans find sausage vendors, ticket scalpers and usually a long line of thirsty patrons waiting to get inside “The Cask.” The famous hangout, which is just a long foul ball from home plate, often accommodates as many as 5,000 patrons on a busy game day.

It dates back to an original opening in 1969 as a live-music club, which would feature Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen and Boston’s own Aerosmith.

Over the years it morphed into a top-notch sports bar that now boasts an impressive array of Red Sox photos, including shots of Babe Ruth playing the tuba, Ted Williams being sworn into the Marine Corps, a baby-faced Roger Clemens looking every bit the wide-eyed rookie and a champagne-soaked Jim Lonborg celebrating with Carl Yastrzemski in the Boston clubhouse after the Sox clinched the 1967 pennant.

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3. Sluggers
3540 N. Clark St., Chicago
Web site | City Guide

As any fan who has visited Wrigleyville surely knows, an entire article could be written strictly about the top-10 sports bars in this special corner of the baseball universe – and there would still be plenty of worthy establishments left out.

Debates about the “best” sports bar in Wrigleyville often revolve around the Cubby Bear and Murphy’s Bleachers – time-honored haunts on Chicago’s North Side that deserve all the praise they receive.

For the sake of offering a differing opinion though, and because it’s the only joint in Wrigleyville that offers an indoor batting cage upstairs for patrons, the choice here is Sluggers, where fans can determine if they really do make more solid contact after they’ve had an Old Style or three.

In addition to the romper room upstairs, Sluggers has featured such celebrity bar tenders through the years as Andre Dawson, Rick Sutcliffe, Goose Gossage and Minnie Minoso.

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4. Nemo’s
1386 Michigan Ave., Detroit
Web site | City Guide

Although the Tigers departed Tiger Stadium in 2000, relocating to Comerica Park, hard-core Tigers fans still return to their old stomping grounds on game day to visit Nemo’s bar and grill.

Maybe what lures fans is the framed front pages of old newspapers that hang on the tin walls to commemorate great moments in Tigers history, such as Kirk Gibson celebrating the 1984 World Series victory or Cecil Fielder rounding the bases after hitting his 50th homer in 1990. Or perhaps it’s the other terrific nostalgia. Or it could be its signature cheeseburgers.

How about the game-day transportation? A Motor City favorite for more than four decades, Nemo’s uses a fleet of converted school buses these days to shuttle patrons to and from games at Comerica. In fact, business owner Springstead is enjoying even greater success in the Comerica era than in the days of Tiger Stadium.

“We’ve got six buses now, and the crowds keep coming,” Springstead said. “The last three years have been the best we’ve ever had, and we’ve been here since 1965.”

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5. Lakefront Brewery
1872 N. Commercial St., Milwaukee
Web site | City Guide

What would a trip to Milwaukee be without paying a visit to one of the city’s breweries? And what would the Brewers be without their lovable, if drunken, mascot Bernie Brewer?

At Lakefront Brewery, baseball fans have the chance to both celebrate Milwaukee’s proud brewing tradition and honor this legendary hooligan with the handlebar mustache.

Lakefront, you see, is the place where Bernie Brewer’s original chalet and slide have resided since the Milwaukee nine departed County Stadium for Miller Park.

Lakefront president Russ Klisch purchased the old prop from the team shortly after the move and happily installed it along his extremely popular brewhouse tour. Visitors will observe that many members of the Brewers have autographed the old apparatus, perhaps none more famous than the team’s quartet of racing sausages.

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6. Ozzie’s Restaurant & Sports Bar
645 Westport Plaza, St. Louis
Web site | City Guide

The St. Louis hot spot named after the best defensive shortstop of all time offers more than 50 TVs, St. Louis-style toasted raviolis and walls decorated with Cardinals jerseys and photos. What more could a baseball fan want? (Don’t answer that, Cubs fans.)

One entire wall chronicles Ozzie Smith’s induction day at Cooperstown, while nearby a tall, glass trophy case shows off all 13 of his Gold Gloves.

As owner Ray Gallardo explained, Ozzie’s was the place to be for any Cardinals fans who didn’t have tickets to Busch Stadium on the night the Cards won their 10th world championship on Oct. 27, 2006.

“The day was originally supposed to be an off day,” Gallardo said, “but then (Game 4) was rained out on Wednesday and all of a sudden there was a game on Friday.”

Consequently, the Game 5 World Series clincher against the Tigers took place on a day Ozzie’s had slated months earlier for its 18th anniversary party. A throng of fans turned out to watch the game alongside such baseball luminaries as Willie McGee, Whitey Herzog, Reggie Jackson and Ozzie Smith himself. And when Adam Wainwright struck out Brandon Inge to give the Red Birds their first championship in 24 years, they all went wild.

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7. Chappell’s Restaurant & Sports Museum
323 Armour Road, North Kansas City, Mo.
Web site | City Guide

Less than a 20-minute drive north from Kauffman Stadium fans will find what is considered the most impressive collection of sports memorabilia housed in any bar or restaurant in the United States.

Since opening in 1986, Chappell’s Restaurant & Sports Museum has steadily expanded its collection to the point that it now includes more than 10,000 items.

The place is a labor of love for owner Jim Chappell, a longtime friend of former Kansas City and Oakland A’s owner Charlie O. Finley. Chappell delights in leading first-time visitors from wall to wall, while providing background information about his collection’s most interesting artifacts.

The top attraction at Chappell’s is thought to be the 1974 World Series trophy Finley’s rough-and-tumble Oakland A’s won against the Dodgers. There also are balls autographed by Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Dizzy Dean, as well as impressive collections of old jerseys, pennants and photographs.

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8. Sports Column
1930 Blake St., Denver
Web site | City Guide

Located in an old, brick warehouse just “96 steps” from Coors Field, the Sports Column is the finest of the many fine sports bars in Denver’s LoDo (Lower Downtown) district.

Since opening the day before the Rockies christened Coors Field in 1995, it has featured an expansive bar with plenty of TVs, walls laden with memorabilia and jerseys and a rooftop patio where patrons can fill their lungs with crisp, Rocky Mountain air while sipping pints of microbrew.

During the summer months, this is as lively a pre and postgame scene as fans will find anywhere in baseball. And the mouthwatering Rockie Burger — a sandwich that comes piled high with chicken tenders, ham, bacon, barbecue sauce and cheddar and Swiss cheese — is a true original.

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9. Bobby V’s Sports Gallery Cafe
4301 S. Bowen Road, Arlington, Texas
Web site | City Guide: Dallas

Although he now toils for the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League, where he’s considered the most successful foreigner ever to lead a Japanese team, Bobby Valentine’s presence is still felt in Arlington, where he skippered the Texas Rangers from 1985 -1992.

One of two Bobby V’s – the other is in Valentine’s hometown of Stamford, Conn. – this neighborhood grill is absolutely plastered with memorabilia, and not just on the walls but the bar and tables, too.

Each table, including those within the elevated boxing ring in the center of the restaurant, is topped with old baseball cards, ticket stubs and game programs beneath a film of lamination.

The atmosphere is warm and cozy, the TVs are plentiful and the food is quite good. The Tex-Mex Bobby Bajita fajita plate, chili in a bread bowl, ostrich burger and fried pickles are all house specials, as are the wraps – and with good reason.

In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction baseballesque moment, in 1980, shortly after his playing career ended, Valentine opened his first restaurant in Stamford, Conn., and claims to have invented the now ubiquitous sandwich wrap that we find at lunch counters across the country.

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10. McCovey’s Restaurant
1444 N. California Blvd., Walnut Creek, Calif.
Web site | City Guide: San Francisco | City Guide: Oakland

Just a half-hour drive across San Francisco Bay from AT&T Park, and an even shorter ride from Oakland’s McAfee Coliseum, baseball fans find a festive hardball haven that offers a wealth of memorabilia and a colossal, 44-ounce mound of ground Angus beef dubbed the 521 Burger.

The juicy behemoth honors the 521 home runs restaurant namesake and frequent visitor Willie McCovey hit during a 22-year career spent mostly with the Giants.

In addition to sporting a slew of TVs tuned to whatever games are taking place, the walls display autographed jerseys, bats and photographs. Top attractions include the National League home run champion trophy McCovey was awarded after belting 44 long balls for the Giants in 1963, a ball signed by Satchel Paige in 1934 and a photo of McCovey posing with Johnny Carson.

In addition to McCovey, who usually dines in the private “McCovey Room,” sports celebs including Tony La Russa, Joe Montana, Chris Mullen, Bob Uecker and Chris Webber have been known to stop by for a meal.

Photo from Flickr.

The Price of Comfort Food

 $1000 Eggs

There’s a current trend in many restaurants of taking an ultra cheap comfort food and gourmeting it up (not to mention upping the price as well.)

The Epi Blog points out the davidburke & donatella take on the peanut butter & jelly sandwich.

In this case, chef Eric Hara has taken the good ol’ peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich we all knew and loved as kids and turned it into Hudson Valley Foie Gras PB &J Tourchon with Macadamia-Nut Butter and Strawberry-Vanilla Jam over Toasted Brioche. The charge: $23.

USA Today also points out that mac & cheese is another one of these updated classics.

Macaroni and cheese with shaved white truffles sells for $55 at Waverly Inn, the New York hot spot partly owned by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter.

And then there’s the $110 burger

The $110 hamburger offered by the Four Seasons (in Indonesia) is made of Kobe beef with foie gras, Portobello mushrooms and Korean pears – served with french fries, of course.

And finally the zillion dollar frittada

Diners at Norma’s in Le Parker Meridien hotel (in New York) can now order the “Zillion Dollar Frittada”, a Spanish omelette with lobster and 10oz (280g) of caviar.

Restaurant manager Steven Pipes said it began as a lesser dish, but his chefs “decided to have some fun with it”.

“We thought we should really make something that would be a spectacular feast for a celebration,” he said.

The restaurant has a bell which will be rung whenever a customer orders the 3,000-calorie dish, topped with sevruga caviar.

And according to the Affluent Travelers

This massive offering of an omelet features a whole lobster, six eggs and 10 ounces of Sevruga caviar and it is all served on a bed of roasted potatoes. Much like this dish, Norma’s is known for its quality of ingredients and attention to detail. Fans of both succulent lobster and the finest of caviar will surely enjoy the Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata.

Price? $1000. But they’ll gladly serve you the $100 version with less caviar.

HMS Bounty

Bounty

by Anthony Vargas

The HMS Bounty in Koreatown remains my favorite spot for pre-concert dinner and drinks, despite the fact that Wilshire Boulevard is no longer the music and entertainment mecca it once was.

Located off the lobby of the Gaylord Apartments, the HMS Bounty is a throwback to the days of red leather booths and very dim lighting. The theme is nautical and the crowd is a mix of old time white residents on one side of the bar, middle-aged Korean men on the other and hipsters who can’t afford apartments in Silver Lake seated at the booths munching on hamburgers or fish and chips.

The menu is simple: sandwiches, steaks, fish and salads. The bar is heavy-handed, so ordering a mixed drink is advisable over beer or wine. The galley has really surprised me on numerous occasions and the staff has always been accommodating.

The chicken noodle soup is a great starter, hearty and simple. The softness and texture of the chicken indicates that it has been slowly simmering. There is no instant soup to be found. The salads are rather disappointing, but I suppose that salads don’t hold too well with the ocean air.

The fish and chips were good and reliable, as is the surf and turf. For what you get, the prices are reasonable. Mr. Bligh’s Board, which is the sandwich listing, is a good way to go. Keep it simple, the ham sandwich is thickly sliced and served on a beautifully soft roll.

Our martinis arrived quickly and were cold. Suddenly, after a few sips and a couple of bites out of the minute steak, it became apparent why HMS Bounty is worth the drive. That very location, 70 years ago, was the epicenter of entertainment in Los Angeles. Across the street, 30-piece orchestras played at the Cocoanut Grove within the Ambassador Hotel. Just west, on the same block, was the original Brown Derby restaurant, serving its famous Cobb salads to the Rat Pack.

Wilshire Boulevard was once called the ‘Fifth Avenue of the West,’ although you really wouldn’t know it today. The HMS Bounty is one of the last reminders of a time where people drove to Wilshire for a night of music, dancing and drinking while Beverly Hills and Hollywood were mostly barren.

3357 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 385-7275

Close to: The Wiltern, The Stone, Little Temple, The Derby

Article courtesy of The Rockit News. Photo from Flickr.

The Science of Menus or How Red Lobster Became Classy

menu

Think they just toss some items on a menu under their appropriate categories? Think again.

There’s an actual science behind where each item is placed on a menu in order to get you to spend the most money.

Here’s some of their secrets. You can check out the entire article on Forbes Traveler.

One of the reasons the tabs are going up is because of something you probably don’t realize. Then again, you’re not supposed to realize it: the secret science of menu psychology. Smart chefs (or their menu consultants) know that when most of you open a menu, your eyes go right to the top of the page on the right side. And, armed with that knowledge, chefs place the menu item that will give them the most profit at the top of the page. Hence, it soon becomes their biggest seller. Then, your eyes normally drift to the center of the page. That’s where many chefs place their absolutely most expensive item. They do that not because they expect you to buy that item, but because the psychology of menus indicates you’ll probably then look at the items immediately above and below the high ticket item and order one of those. Again, those two items rank second and third for generating profits.

There’s also a psychology to how menu items are priced.

• Not surprisingly, there is a migration toward higher price points. People buy brands, and food is an easy indulgence. That’s why we buy $4 Starbucks over fifty cent convenience store coffee.

• Price rounding psychology only works with lower-priced items: Someone will buy a $1.99 taco, but not one sold at $2. On higher priced items at upscale restaurants, it’s all called hip, minimalist pricing, and items are rounded up. That big steak in the fine dining restaurant isn’t $38.95, it’s $39.

• What’s the price barrier? $20 is the tipping point for casual dining restaurants. You won’t see many items at PF Changs or Cheesecake Factory above $19.99.

• Restaurants have also learned that pictures sell food, but pictures also pull down the perception of overall quality. Denny’s and IHop use pictures, but Red Lobster is becoming more upscale and stopped using photos last year. Their price points – and their profits – went up.

Not only has Red Lobster stopped using pictures, but they’re totally reinventing their restaurants.

A few weeks ago, the seafood chain, owned by Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, launched a marketing campaign designed to highlight an expanded fresh fish menu and other new culinary creations.

Sensing that some consumers associate Red Lobster with frozen seafood and dining rooms cluttered with fishing memorabilia, executives have been tweaking its look and feel.

Several months ago, Red Lobster introduced a daily rotating menu of fresh fish selections.

The chain also tested a sleeker restaurant design — meant to evoke the Maine coast — that it says will be used as the model for new restaurants. (from the Orlando Sentinel)

And on a related note, Red Lobster actually won an award for the Best Menu Revamp in 1999, but after reading the above you can probably tell that didn’t work out so well.

Lets just hope they keep that delicious cheesey wine biscuits on the tables. In case you haven’t tried them, or if you just want to make it at home, here’s the recipe.

Photo from Flickr.

Fat Food…I mean, Fast Food

McD’s

I try not to eat fast food, but I’ll always cave for a White Castle hamburger when I’m in NYC. Sometimes you just don’t really have a choice in the matter.

So at the request of my brother, here’s some of your better options and some helpful tips when eating fast food.

First up are a few tips from AskMen.com.

Remember that good options include:

  • The smallest size of burger
  • Grilled chicken sandwiches or salads
  • Low-fat dressings and sauces (or none at all)
  • Diet soft drinks or water

A few things to avoid:

  • Super sizes of anything
  • Fried or breaded chicken or fish
  • Chicken nuggets
  • High-fat sauces and dressings
  • Onion rings
  • Extra cheese

Those are pretty obvious, but Real Simple has tips when ordering at some of the more popular fast food places.

For example, when dining at…

Burger King

If You Usually Order: A Whopper with cheese and a side salad.

Make It Healthier: Satisfy your burger craving (and cut out almost 500 calories) by replacing the Whopper with a hamburger from the kids’ menu. (Kids’ menus offer smaller portions.)

Better Yet: Order the Tender Grilled Chicken Sandwich – there’s no crispy fried stuff and no creamy sauce, and you can ask them to double up on the lettuce and tomato for an extra helping of vegetables.

McDonald’s

If You Usually Order: Six-piece Chicken McNuggets (with a side of ranch sauce) and large French fries.

Make It Healthier: Ask for medium fries and replace the ranch sauce with barbecue and you’ve knocked 345 calories off your meal.

Better Yet: Get the California Cobb Salad with grilled chicken. Just beware of what you put on the salad: The Cobb dressing adds 120 calories and 9 grams of fat. Opt for the low-fat balsamic vinaigrette.

Wendy’s

If You Usually Order: A loaded baked potato (stuffed with bacon, cheese, low-fat sour cream, and Buttery Best spread) and a small Original Chocolate Frosty.

Make It Healthier: Save 130 calories and 16 grams of fat by loading your potato with chili, low-fat sour cream, and broccoli.

Better Yet: Try a baked potato topped with chili, broccoli, and chives. It is filling, has loads of fiber, and has a mere 370 calories and 3 grams of fat. Add a glass of 1 percent reduced-fat chocolate milk to satisfy a sweet tooth.

KFC

If You Usually Order: An Extra Crispy chicken breast and a side of mashed potatoes and gravy.

Make It Healthier: Order an Original Recipe wing and leg (290 calories and 17 grams of fat total). Though white meat seems a wise choice, the breast is one of the worst items on the menu, with 460 calories and 28 grams of fat.

Better Yet: Get the Honey BBQ Chicken Sandwich. It only has 300 calories and 6 grams of fat. Among sides, best bets include mashed potatoes (without gravy), green beans, and a small corn on the cob.

Taco Bell

If You Usually Order: Chalupas (fried taco shells filled with cheese and ground beef).

Make It Healthier: “Avoid the crispy things in favor of soft tortillas,” says Leslie Bonci, director of sports medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. (Indeed, the word crispy is often a euphemism for “fried.”)

Better Yet: Order food “Fresco-Style,” which replaces a dish’s normal sauce and cheese with fresh salsa. Loading up on salsa instead of cheese and other sauces can save you hundreds of calories and 10 or more grams of fat.

Subway

If You Usually Order: A classic tuna sandwich with Cheddar cheese and potato chips.

Make It Healthier: Get a wheat roll, and add extra vegetables. If you can’t omit the cheese, know that American cheese is the lowest-fat option, followed by provolone, with Swiss and Cheddar tied for last. Choose baked chips.

Better Yet: Subway’s tuna salad contains lots of mayonnaise, so a less cholesterol-raising option would be the Veggie Delite or Turkey-Breast Sandwich from the “6 Grams of Fat or Less” side of the menu.

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Just remember that if you don’t think it’s a healthy choice, it probably isn’t. Some other things to remember when ordering:

BURGERS – Keep in mind lots of burger joints (fast food included) now offer “protein style” where they wrap your burger in lettuce instead of a bun. If you need the bun, see if they offer a whole wheat option. Also turkey burgers are usually healthier than beef.

PIZZA – Go thin crust. Light on cheese, and pile on veggies and protein (like chicken).

PASTA – Ask for a whole wheat pasta option, or get a chicken parm sans bread.

JAPANESE – Avoid anything “tempura” and stick to fishes high in omega-3’s and things like salmon, veggies, and avocado which include healthy fats. Also a soy option (miso soup or edemame) is a good idea.

INDIAN – Replace pappadams (thin and crispy) with naan (thicker bread) and order your food grilled rather than smothered in sauces.

MEXICAN – Limit yourself to chips. Instead of tacos or anything cripsy, stick to a flour tortilla and fill it with extra veggies, lots of salsa, leaner meats and a lot of guacamole instead of sour cream.

If that’s not specific enough for you, check out this site which includes a pretty comprehensive list of various fast food places and their healthier options.

Photo from Flickr, where I found this poem attached to the photo. Pretty much sums up our fast food nation.

Fast Food Nation.

Obesity.

They say we’re in the middle of an obesity epidemic.
An epidemic like it is polio.
Like we’ll be telling our grand kids about it one day.
The Great Obesity Epidemic of 2004 (-07 and counting)
“How’d you get through it grandpa?”
“Oh, it was horrible Johnny, there was cheesecake and pork chops everywhere.”

Nobody knows why were getting fatter?
Look at our lifestyle.
I’ll sit at a drive thru.
I’ll sit there behind fifteen other cars instead of getting up to make the eight foot walk to the totally empty counter.

Everything is mega meal, super sized. Want biggie fries, super sized, want to go large.
You want to have thirty burgers for a nickel?
There’s room in the bag. Take it!
Want a 55 gallon drum of Coke with that? It’s only three more cents.

Adapted from Underwear Goes Inside The Pants – Lazyboy.

Tofu’s Perfect Match

Tofu Fest

This is probably one of those “only in LA” festivals but it’s a yearly thing here on the west coast.

I’ve seen posters all over town and it’s finally embedded in my head. Their posters and the whole Tofu Fest campaign is pretty clever. Head over to tofufest.org to help find tofu’s perfect match.

As for the festival itself, here’s what you need to know.

The 12th Annual Los Angeles Tofu Festival will take place on August 18, 12pm – 8 pm and August 19, 12 pm – 6 pm. General admission is $5, kids and seniors are free, and there’s a $2 off coupon here. Proceeds go to charity.

Festival Grounds are located at 237 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 on San Pedro and 2nd.

Attractions include:

Beer, Wine & Sake Garden: A selection of sake and beer is served in a sectioned off portion of Tofu Fest, supplementing Little Tokyo’s own beer gardens and Nisei Week’s attractions. The sale of alcohol was under debate by the festival’s committee in 1994 in regards to making the festival more family friendly.

Celebrity Chefs: Famous chefs exhibit their craft on a cooking platform, with fair goers getting the chance to taste dishes from the demonstrations. Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef is a recurring guest, appearing in last year’s 2006 festival.

Children’s Pavilion: Children were previously given an additional area to enjoy the festival, as parts of the festival, like the alcohol garden, were unsuitable. However, as of 2006, Children’s Pavilion is no longer a featured event.

Entertainment Stage: Bands and artists appear live at the festival, ranging from instrumental groups, such as taiko and orchestra, to hip hop groups like Blackalicious.

Tofu Eating Contest: The tofu eating contest is a race to eat a 14-ounce block of tofu in the shortest amount of time. Several elimination rounds are held before the final battle and winner’s ceremony, where a prize is given to the winner on the entertainment stage.

And if you’re interested in the Tofu Eating Contest it will be held on Saturday, August 18th at 4pm. Here are the rules:

  • Contestants will be required to eat a 14 ounce block of House Foods Medium Firm Tofu.
  • Festival Judges will be judging the Tofu Eating contest. Contestants agree to abide by the Festival Judges’ decision. Festival Judges’ decisions are final.
  • Contestants will not be able to use their hands during the contest to eat the tofu.
  • There will be 10 contestants competing in each round with a total of 5 preliminary rounds. The first 2 contestants to eat the entire block of tofu will advance to the Final Round.
  • The first contestant to eat the entire block of tofu in the Final Round will win the Grand Prize
  • The second and third place winners of the Final Round will receive also receive prizes
  • In order for a contestant to completely finish the block of tofu, he/she must have swallowed the last mouth full of tofu as decided by the Festival Judges.
  • Contestants must be at least 18 years old.
  • Contest Rules are subject to change without notice.

Info seen here was collect from the Tofu Festival site as well as Wikipedia.

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