Women Challenge the Gluttony Ceiling at a July 4th Ritual

The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is an annual American hot dog competitive eating competition. It is held each year on Independence Day at Nathan’s Famous original, and best-known restaurant at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island, a neighborhood of BrooklynNew York City.

If you know the name Joey Chestnut (men’s hot dog eating champion with a record total of 70 dogs this July 4th), you should also know the names Sonya Thomas and Miki Sudo.  Ms. Sonya Thomas holds the female hot dog eating world record of 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes.  Ms. Sudo’s hot dog tally of 38 this year beat the fourth-place total in the men’s division.

Among the 15 female contestants were a hairdresser, a taxidermist, a truck driver, a marine mammal trainer and a fashion model from New Zealand.  “You have to be physically fit to stand up there for 10 minutes and go full force” said Nela Zisser, the 24-year old model.

Each contestant has his or her own eating method. Takeru Kobayashi pioneered the “Solomon Method” at his first competition in 2001. The Solomon method consists of breaking each hot dog in half, eating the two halves at once, and then eating the bun.  “Dunking” is the most prominent method used today. Because buns absorb water, many contestants dunk the buns in water and squeeze them to make them easier to swallow, and slide down the throat more efficiently.  Other methods used include the “Carlene Pop,” where the competitor jumps up and down while eating, to force the food down to the stomach.

The women trained throughout the year by exercising, eating healthy and practicing techniques at smaller competitions such as gobbling dozens of Twinkies in six minutes.

Ms. Mary Bowers of Beverly Hills, California said she hoped the women’s competition would eliminate a cultural stigma that often discourages eating among young girls.

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The Spritz: It’s All Built on Bubbles

Spritz culture is rooted in the cities and towns of Northern Italy.  The drink can be found at restaurants, cafes and even at the airport.

The Spritz is a wine-based cocktail commonly served as an aperitif (an alcoholic beverage served before the meal to stimulate appetite) in Northeast Italy. The drink is prepared with prosecco (Italian white) wine, a dash of some bitter liqueur such as Aperol, CampariCynar, or, especially in Venice, with Select. The glass is then topped off with sparkling mineral water. It is usually served over ice in a lowball glass and garnished with a slice of orange, or sometimes an olive, depending on the liqueur.

Thanks to the recent publication of a light-hearted book named “Spritz”, these drinks have become popular and American bars will serve them this summer.

American bartenders have taken the liberty of creating their own spritz concoctions.

At the Llama Inn in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the bartender mixes gin, fino sherry, strawberry shrub, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Peychaud’s bitters, Spanish sparkling wine and Perrier for the Señorita Spritz, a pretty pink concoction.

At Montana’s Trail House in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the owner piles Aperol, grapefruit juice and sparkling white wine atop a base of Mezcal with agave syrup.

Summertime is the perfect time for something light, refreshing and bubbly.  One bartender on the Lower East Side is quoted as saying, “Who doesn’t like something that feels like its dancing on your tongue?”

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Brooklyn Winery Team Opens New Crown Heights Restaurant

brooklyn-made-wines-01.w600.h400.jpgCrown Heights now has another new restaurant to add to its list – this time, it comes from the team behind Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Winery. Owners Brian Leventhal and John Stires will open the doors to BKW on Tuesday at 747 Franklin Avenue. They’ve brought on chef Michael Gordon, formerly of Bouley, to design the pared-down menu. Some highlights include konbu-cured mackerel with whipped feta and roasted grapes, root beer glazed pork ribs, and homemade donuts with butterscotch and lavender. The wine list will of course be well curated, with flights offered for those who are feeling indecisive and full bottles available to take home.

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A Return Trip to the Caribbean

Guyana, a country on South America’s North Atlantic coast, is defined by its dense rainforest. The country is English-speaking, with strong traditions of cricket and calypso music, and culturally it’s connected to the Caribbean region.  Angela Pellew-Whyte is a native of Guyana and the chef at Angela’s in Bedford –Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Interestingly, Ms. Pellew-White ran the original Angela’s on the same corner from 1997 to 2004, and after training in the culinary program at the Art Institute of New York City, she returned to the same space to pick up where she had left off.  Ms. Pellew-White draws inspiration from growing up in a household of nine children, where her father prepared feasts for a large, extended family.  While her sisters played with dolls, she cooked.

Caribbean food has been described as bold, full-flavored, aromatic and textured food.  Caribbean food is a fusion of influences that may include plantains, okra and rice from African slaves, stir-fries and soy sauce from Chinese migrant workers, pork in all forms from Spanish colonists, puff pastry from the French and curries delivered with indentured servants from India.

One of Chef Pellew-White’s featured dishes is Guyanese saltfish and bake.  Bake is a type of fried bread that can be eaten with almost anything: jams, jellies, corned beef/mutton, saltfish, even vegetable dishes such as sautéed okra or tomato choka.  Recommended dishes includes codfish sliders, oxtail (the meat is braised and complemented by gravy), curry goat (with scents of cumin and curry), jerk chicken (in a strong marinade), okra (beautifully tender), plantains (soft and warm), rice and peas, and corn with house dressing.  Pricing is moderate.

Angela’s can be found on the corner of Nostrand and Jefferson Avenues, and serves moderately-priced, pan-Caribbean dishes.

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One Sommelier’s Streamlined Vision

Only the well-financed restaurants have the resources to present the best wines.  Most wine-conscious restaurants narrow their visions and choose a style or region in which to concentrate.  The selection complements the cooking and conveys something about the restaurant’s identity.

Freek’s Mill is a new casual restaurant in Gowanus, Brooklyn, and features one of the most narrowly concentrated selections of wine.  However, if you want Beaujolais or a chenin blanc, this restaurant is the place to be; these wines make up about 70% of the bottle inventory.  The wine list was constructed by Alex Alan, the sommelier and a partner in the restaurant.  Mr. Alan said his choices grew out of a draft of the restaurant’s opening menu, which emphasized seasonal vegetables, small plates and a wood-burning oven.

Beaujolais is a French wine generally made of the Gamay grape which has a thin skin and is low in tannins.  Beaujolais tends to be a very light-bodied red wine, with relatively high amounts of acidity.  The wine takes its name from the historical Province of Beaujolais, a wine producing region.  Chenin blanc is a white wine grape variety from the Loire valley of France. Its high acidity means it can be used to make everything from sparkling wines to well-balanced dessert wines,

Mr. Alan is quoted, “In a perfect world, I want to give customers what they want.  But I also want to teach them something without it feeling like I’m teaching them something.” The author of this article, Eric Asimov, applauds Mr. Alan for choosing wonderful wines that will reward customers who put themselves in his hands.

Here lies the age-old debate: Is a restaurant obligated to give customers what they want by offering something for everybody?  Or can it stay true to a vision?

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Brooklyn Brewery Joins the Navy Yard

View-1-png.pngBrooklyn Brewery, the borough’s most iconic brewer, originally opened their Williamsburg location in 1996 and helped propel the neighborhood from its downtrodden industrial past to an international destination. But with rents steadily on the rise and showing no signs of slowing, the brewery has been looking for new spaces for several years to move the bulk of their operations once their lease is up in 2025. This weekend they announced that they’ll be following in the footsteps of Russ & Daughters and the Mast Brothers and opening a huge (75,000 square-foot) production facility in the updated Brooklyn Navy Yard under a 40-year lease.

The new facility will include brew space, offices, and a rooftop beer garden and restaurant. The move represents the first time the Brooklyn Brewery will be offering food as well as suds, and chief executive Eric Ottaway promises the menu will be “more than pretzels and bratwursts.” The borough has already committed to $80 million to revamp the Navy Yard’s building 77 as a food hall open to the public. The beer garden there should be open to the public by 2018, and early renderings promise the space will be a major destination for the “foodies” borough president Eric Adams is hoping to attract.

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4/13: Learn To Launch A Successful KickStarter with Brooklyn Foodworks

food-incubator-brooklyn-foodworks-pfizer-building-1.jpgOn April 13th, you can join Brooklyn Foodworks and guest speakers Terry Romero and Rebecca Dengrove for a crash course in launching successful food kickstarter campaigns (not to mention a great networking opportunity with other foodservice professionals).

Romero is Kickstarter’s food project lead, and Dengrove has extensive experience building retail brands, including her latest project – Brewla Bars. For only $5, attendees will learn from the speakers (and each other):

– Tips and best practices for crafting a high quality crowdfunding campaign

– Opportunities for rallying your community around your project

– How to plan your campaign from start to finish: what to do before, during, and after your campaign is complete

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.