- New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg is again attempting to combat obesity with a proposed ban on large sugary drinks. The ban would prohibit the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages (e.g. soda, sweetened iced tea, etc.) larger than 16oz in any food-service establishment (e.g. restaurants, movie theaters). Diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy drinks, and alcoholic beverages would be excluded from the ban. The proposal is not without its critics, with many people arguing that the mayor should not be telling them how much soda to drink. Proponents of the ban argue that this is one way to induce behavior change in individuals. The proposal was submitted to the NYC Health Board on Tuesday – stay tuned! [New York Times]
- The FDA rejected a request from the Corn Refiner’s Association to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to corn sugar. The CRA has been promoting their effort through commercials which claim HFCS is processed the same way in the body as regular sugar, attempting to erase HFCS’s bad reputation. The FDA, however, rightly believes that changing the name would confuse consumers and potentially mislead them into believing sugar and HFCS are equals. [Food Politics]
- A 9-year-old student in Scotland, who called herself Veg, had been documenting her school’s lunches on a blog called Never Seconds. The blog received over 2 million hits and was recognized by chef Jamie Oliver as an important effort in raising awareness about the need for improving school lunches. Yesterday, the school prohibited her from bringing a camera to school and claimed that she “abused and attacked” the catering staff – effectively, shutting down her blog. Within 48 hours, due largely to outrage in social media outlets, the school council removed the ban and has committed to hosting a School Meals Summit this summer. Go Veg! [Wired]
Happy New Year! I took a little break from blogging since the start of 2012, but I’m back.
- New York City’s Department of Health, known for their creative ways of addressing obesity, released a somewhat controversial string of public service announcements meant to warn the city’s residents about the dangers of soda and fast food consumption and increasing portion sizes. Naturally, the American Beverage Association is upset at the city’s use of “scare tactics” – but really, isn’t that what we need? [New York Times] [picture above]
- The USDA announced its Blueprint for Stronger Service yesterday. As Tom Vilsack described, the plan “takes a realistic view of the needs of American agriculture in a challenging budget climate, and lays out USDA’s plans to modernize and accelerate service delivery while improving the customer experience through use of innovative technologies and business solutions.” The plan is largely a response to budget cuts anticipated in the 2012 Farm Bill, and the first step is closing 259 domestic offices, labs, and facilities. [Obama Foodorama]
- The FDA has banned the use of a class of antibiotics (cephalosporins) in lifestock in an effort to prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the human population. This particular class of antibiotics is frequently used to treat strep throat, pneumonia, and other relatively common ailments. This represents a small step in curbing the spread of such bacteria, coming after the FDA recently withdrew a larger proposal to ban antibiotic on a broader basis. [New York Times] Food policy expert Marion Nestle also weighed in on the issue in The Atlantic.
- Marion Nestle gives her predictions on how food politics will shape up in 2012. Her outlook is not optimistic, with good reason. [The Atlantic]
- Americans are eating less meat of all kinds – beef, chicken, and pork. In Mark Bittman’s column this week, he explains why meat consumption has decreased by 12% in the last five years – a combination of rising food prices and conscious consumer choice. [New York Times]
Brunch at Essex – for $16 (for a Saturday brunch in NYC, that’s cheap!), you get a tasty meal from a varied menu (pictured: omelet with spinach, feta, tomato, and chive; mixed greens and home fries) and 3 drinks, which are seemingly unlimited (pitchers of mimosas? YES.). Make reservations ~3 weeks in advance. 120 Essex St, NY, NY 10002
On a tight budget? (And, let’s be honest – in this economy, who isn’t?) Let’s face it, the the trendy restaurants you once frequented are now out of your price range. Which is why you should check out CitySearch’s new 3 Buck Bites: Cheap Eats for Food Lovers! You can search by city (Boston, NYC, Atlanta, Denver etc.), cuisine, and 4 degrees of cheapness – cheap, dirt cheap, ridiculously cheap, and super cheap. Super awesome is more like it.
And if, like me, you’re a food blogger or just love food that’s easy on your wallet, you can apply to be a 3 Buck Bites Dictator and post your own delicious cheap finds for all the world to see.
You should all know by now that NYC has banned trans fat, but did you also know that restaurants will be required to list nutrition facts on their menus? However, this part of the act only affects chain restaurants with standardized menus, which only includes roughly 10% of NYC eateries, most of which are fast food (and most already have nutrition facts available). But what about Starbucks? With about a zillion possible combinations for every drink, how will they list nutrition content? Sure, you can already look up the calories in your favorite soy chai latte online, but how will that be transferred to stores?…
More importantly, do New Yorkers really care about the nutrition when they’re going out to eat? The restaurants affected by this act are mostly fast food, and it’s assumed that their consumers don’t care how many calories or grams of fat are in that Big Mac or bucket of KFC. Will listing the nutrition facts help people make healthier choices when dining out, as health advocates are hoping? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
“New York Gets Ready to Count Calories” (NYT, 12.13.06)
The NYC Health Board met today and unanimously agreed to ban trans fat from restaurants! Yay! All restaurants, including chain restaurants like McDonald’s, have until July 2008 to comply with new regulations, meaning that they will have to figure out what other oils (hopefully monounsaturated ones, such as canola) they can use for the city’s array of foods.
This is a huge step towards helping people eat healthier, but has caused some controversy. Restaurant owners and lovers of fried foods alike have argued that the Health Board has gone too far in telling people what they can and cannot eat. Personally, I think it’s a great move and hope that other cities follow with similar legislation!
More on CNN.com.
I realize that I’m posting like crazy today, but that’s what happens when I don’t have my laptop all weekend. All in all, I had a good weekend. But I didn’t get to go to Magnolia, one of my favorite places in the city because it’s so cute and they make all their pastries from scratch in the tiny basement bakery. The best part of going, besides the eating, is watching them frost the cupcakes in the window while you wait in line (you’ll probably be waiting for awhile, it’s pretty damn popular but so worth the wait). Ok, so the cupcakes are nothing special (haha I don’t even like cake) but the frosting is possibly the best thing EVER. And trust me, I know my frosting, I am a conossiuer of frosting. It’s super sweet, creamy, topped with sprinkles and there’s tons of it! I’m not gonna lie, I make sure to always pick the ones with the most frosting…because I just like to lick it off. They have other good sweets too- cookies, cakes, brownies, etc- but everyone goes for the famous cupcakes. I have the recipe for them so maybe I’ll make cupcakes @ some point this week. Mmm cupcakes….
2. La Focaccia is a wonderful, cozy Italian restuarant that’s perfect for a romantic date or special occasion. I went there for my birthday dinner last year. They have a large menu of pasta and other dishes, freshly baked bread and an extensive wine list. Keep your eyes out for the specials, often utilizing seasonal ingredients- last time I had the Pumpkin Ravioli with a light white wine sauce of tomatoes and zucchini and it was perfect. I also like the classic Gnocchi with Pesto and Tomato and Mozzarella Salad. 51 Bank St. b/w 7th and 8th Avenues
3. Karen’s on Astor is a great lunch spot, if you can find a seat. They have a healthy assortment of soups, sandwiches, salads, and smoothies. The prices are a little high, but the food is yummy and alot of it is organic. I especially like the Carrot Ginger Soup and Chicken Curry Wrap. I also had a Coconut-something soup last time I was there, but I don’t remember what else was in it. 1 Astor Place b/w Broadway and 4th Ave
4. I like to go to Peanut Butter and Co. because it brings me back to 3rd grade…or yesterday. I realize that I could easily make my own PB sandwich, but it just tastes so much better when someone else makes it for you. They have 6 or 7 different PBs to choose from, milkshakes and cookies, and sandwiches come with carrot sticks and chips. The restaurant is cute with antique Fluff and Coca-Cola ads on the walls. My favorite sandwiches are the Cinnamon Raisin Swirl (cinnamon-raisin PB, vanilla cream cheese, and apple slices on whole wheat) or the Peanut Butter Cup (PB and Nutella! It doesn’t get any better than that!). You can also buy jars of their creative PBs at the store, or at Whole Foods. 240 Sullivan St. b/w W. 3rd and Bleecker
5. If you like Indian food, you should check out “Curry Row,” basically anywhere on E. 6th St. between 2nd and 1st Avenues where every restuarant is authentic Indian. The food is really cheap (we’re talking ~$20 or less average for 2 people, including appetizers and tip) and pretty good if you’re in the mood for Indian. I always get Vegetable Curry and Garlic Nan, which are pretty much the same anywhere. All the restaurants along here are basically the same quality and look/taste the same, but the only name I can remember is Raj Mahal, just because it’s so cheesy. Avoid the ones playing live music though, it just gets annoying when you can’t hear your date speaking. If you want more upscale Indian, go to Tamarind, which is more expensive and fancier. I had Vegetable Curry there too, but it was better. E. 22nd b/w Park Ave. and Broadway
6. My friend Celeste (my usual dining partner) introduced me to Venezuelan arepas at Caracas Arepa Bar. We call it “the arepa place.” Arepas are like pitas, only thicker and made from cornmeal. You can get them with a variety of fillings, including meat, cheese, veggies, or guacamole. Venezuelan guac is not what you might expect- it’s chunkier, with more tomato and less avocado, and not as slimy as the usual guac. I don’t really like guacamole but I liked this kind in my Cheese and Guacamole Arepa. The restuarant is really small, so you might have to wait or sit at the counter. E. 7th St. b/w 2nd and 1st Avenues
I’m sure that I will add to this list later but that’s all for now folks because I’ve had to retype this post 3 times now because Blogger hates me.
My first experience with fondue and it was delicious! On Saturday night, we went to this tiny wine bar/fondue bar in the East Village called The Bourgeois Pig (E. 7th St. b/w 1st Ave. and Avenue A). The place has maybe 6 small tables, with comfortable chairs and a cozy atmosphere. The portions are generous and yummy, we had more than enough for the 6 of us. First, we ordered the Five Italian Cheeses fondue, which came with garlic bread, proscuitto, fries, and an assortment of fruit. The cheese was flecked with oregano, thyme, and rosemary–very tasty, especially good with apples. Then we ordered dark chocolate fondue with caramel, which came with slices of brownies, some sort of chocolate chip bread, strawberries, and other fruit. SO GOOD. Why had I never had fondue before? I was missing out! This would also be easy and fun to do at home.
Last night, inspired by the Food Network’s Good Deal with Dave Leiberman, we made an elegant dinner for 3: Braised Hoisin Beer Short Ribs, with Mashed Potatoes and Sesame Sugarsnap peas. I don’t even eat meat, and the short ribs smelled amazing while they were cooking for 3 hours–the recipe is super easy, you basically just let the ribs simmer in beer so it’s not labor-intensive. I had a tiny little bite, and I have to admit it was pretty tasty (as I’m sure those who actually ate them would tell you). I haven’t really ventured to cook meat before, but this one was so easy I may try to make it for my boyfriend sometime. The potatoes and peas were also yummy, those I did eat.