Salvage Supperclub is a Pop-Up in a Dumpster

29-salvages-supper-club.w710.h473.2x.jpgSalvage Supperclub is the latest outcome of an increased public awareness about food waste: a traveling pop-up dinner made entirely from wasted food and served (appropriately) in a converted dumpster. The chef behind the club, Pesha Perlsweig, believes that they can change diners’ outlooks with each meal. “It makes me happy to hear that a former guest made carrot top pesto or was inspired by a dish of mine,” she says.

Salvage Supperclub has already hosted dinners in Berkeley, San Francisco and their native New York. And while the list of ingredients at one dinner (including bruised plums, vegetable pulp, garbanzo bean water, sweet potato skins and overripe, peel-on bananas) might force some guests to stifle a gag, the NPR reviewer present described almost everything as “finger-licking good.”

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Wal-Mart: “Welcome, Ugly Apples.”

Wal-Mart has become one of the largest links in the food supply chain to take a massive step towards curbing food waste; the grocer is now purposefully selling blemished apples.  America’s largest grocer is currently piloting sales of weather-dented apples at a discount in 300 Florida stores.  “We’re excited to announce that after months of discussion, a brand of apples from Washington state, called “I’m Perfect,” will make its debut in Walmart stores this week,” said Shawn Baldwin, senior vice president for global food sourcing, produce and floral for Wal-Mart U.S.

Farmers and up against a constant battle with nature and the produce often shows it.  Cosmetic issues have traditionally kept sun-spotted, crooked, and pocked product and fruit from store shelves, despite being perfectly delicious and nutritious.  These rejects usually end up in landfills wasting away and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.  “we’ve typically found that growers reported [cosmetic-related] losses ranging up to 20 percent of production in a given year, but it could be higher in years of bad weather,” said JoAnne Berkenkamp, a senior advocate for food and agriculture at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Fortunately, more retailers are taking steps to correct the problem.  Whole Foods Markets is operating a similar program in Northern California, and Giant Eagle is piloting something similar in the Pittsburgh area.

To read more, click here.

Floyd Cardoz Returns to NYC Dining with Paowalla

In 1998, Floyd Cardoz shook up the New York City dining scene when he opened Table with Danny Meyer and the Union Square Hospitality Group.  Cardoz made his mark there for more than 10 years before moving on to North End Grill and White Street.  Now, after having spent time with Mumbai running his acclaimed Bombay Canteen there, he is opening Paowalla this week on the western edge of SoHo.

Paowalla, which means a person employed to make or deliver bread, is part Portuguese and Sanskrit.  However, this is not a continuation of the Bread Bar that existed at Tabla.  While this new restaurant will bring back some familiar favorites, it is largely an attempt to update New York’s comprehension of Indian cuisine, and reflect who Cardoz is as a chef today.  According to Cardoz, America is still learning Indian cuisine, and suggests it is in a rut like “where Italian food was before Mario Batali did Babbo.”

The menu consists of items pulled from India’s diverse regional cuisine; pork ribs vindaloo from Goa, banana leaf-wrapped skate from Kerala, and roast goat fro Hyderabad.  The restaurant will center on a large wood-fired oven, with which the chef will bake a range of naan varieties, Cheddar cheese-stuffed Kulcha, and Portuguese sandwich pao buns.

New York City has seen an expansion of late in Indian cuisine: Indian Accent opened in Midtown, Pondicheri in NoMad just last week, Babu Ji on the Lower East Side, and Tapestry in the West Village.

To read more about Floyd Cardoz’ project, click here.

Chipotle’s Health Scares Do Little For Competitors

CmM6g2YWEAAbmDC.jpgAfter their third straight quarter of declining sales, things continue to look bleak for the once-great Chipotle. The company posted sales this quarter down 24% from the previous year, and quarterly profits of $26 million (compared to $140 million immediately before the E. Coli outbreaks late last year).

One might think that such a plummet would be good news for competitors, but so far the opposite seems to be the case, with other Mexican fast food and fast-casual chains seeing a decline as well. Taco Bell’s same-store sales fell 1%, due in part to a decrease in foot traffic despite hefty advertising dollars spent selling items like the “Quesalupa.” Qdoba on the other hand tried to specifically target Chipotle customers, but claims such ads and promos ultimately hurt their margins.

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David Chung’s Unified Theory of Deliciousness

 

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David Chung wrote this month’s cover story for Wired Magazine articulating his “Unified Theory of Deliciousness.” His articles explains the theory of applying “strange loops” to food, dishes like bolognese and mapo tofu having fundamental similarities, and people liking dishes that remind them of other food they’ve liked in the past.

What separates decent dishes from the “truly slap-yourself-on-the-forehead ones” is for the second – “you don’t just respond to the dish in front of you; you are almost always transported back to another moment in your life.”

He also presents an interesting paradox that the perfectly seasoned dish will taste both under- and over- salted at the same time.

Read the full article here

 

Fashioning Cast-Iron Pans for Today’s Cooks

One of the oldest cooking tools in the kitchen is the cast-iron skillet.  These pans are sometimes passed down through generations because of their beauty and usefulness.

In the last five years, three new companies have begun to produce cast-iron skillets, promising to make improvements with a combination of handwork and modern technology.  Finex, Borough Furnace and Field Company got initial funding on the Kickstarter funding website.  Hundreds of small backers will eventually receive pans in return for their financial support.  The Finex 10-inch skillet sells for $165; the Borough Furnace model sells for $280, and the Field skillet sells for $100.

A well-used, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet is an all-purpose pan.  Nonstick to cook eggs, hot to sear anything and useful for roasting, stewing, simmering and baking.  The nonstick surface of a cast-iron pan is achieved with natural ingredients like flaxseed oil and lard, rather than synthetic coatings like Teflon.

People are willing to pay a hefty premium for these cooking tools because of their craftsmanship.  The modern-day skillets share qualities of those made between the 18th and 20th centuries: light and thin with a smooth cooking surface.

How about cleaning and seasoning?  Skillets of the past had natural coatings formed by cooking with fat, and bonding fat molecules to the metal surface.  Use the pan often for projects like frying, cooking and browning.   Scrape the cooking surface clean, rinse with hot water, add a drop of soap and put in back on the stove over low heat until dry.  Store dry skillets in a cupboard or oven to protect them from dust.

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Spiking Coffee Gives New York Bars a Fresh Buzz

Coffee shops, restaurants and bars around New York City are now spiking coffee drinks.  Customers are happy with the new concoctions and barista-bartenders are becoming inventive.

Kobrick Coffee Company is a coffee bean roaster that operates a retail shop in the Meatpacking District.  Besides the usual coffee drinks, the café serves “coffee cocktails” which are alcoholic drinks mixed with caffeine.  The Mexican Jumping Bean is a top-seller, and is made of espresso, tequila and liqueur.

SushiSamba, a Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant in the West Village, serves an espresso martini made with Bacardi Black rum, spiced maple syrup and dark chocolate liquor.

Fair Weather Bushwick, a bistro in Brooklyn offers a Shochu Latte during brunch that’s made with shochu (a Japanese distilled beverage), espresso and hazelnut syrup.

Mother’s Ruin, a popular bar in NoLIta, serves a Coffee Cordial Boozy Slushy which is served frozen and made up of coffee, white rum, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Sweetleaf Coffee, a café located in Long Island City and Williamsburg, makes a Java Flip from Jamaican rum, bourbon, egg yolk, cream and coffee liqueur.  Cold brew coffee is condensed and raw sugar is added.

Sweetleaf’s coffee and cocktail service don’t overlap, with cocktails starting at 5PM.  Mr. Vincent Vee, an experienced beverage manager is quoted as saying “They’re both high-profit businesses, but they’re only high profit for a short period of the day.  So when you have them both behind the same doors, it can make a lot financial sense.”

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