Posts for January 23, 2013

Your Cheap Olive Oil May Be Filled With Fake Crap

Not a virgin!

If that $5 bottle of extra virgin olive oil seems too good to be true, it probably is. The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, a scientific nonprofit, discovered a 60 percent increase in food fraud this year. Pomegranate juice, olive oil, lemon juice, and tea are often diluted with cheaper products such as grape juice, water, and filters like lawn grass (gross!). Milk, honey, coffee, and seafood are also frequent culprits — but you already knew the unnamed "fish" in your favorite $3 taco was dodgy.

So, how can you fight food adulteration? »

Shake Shack Pushing West With a Second Location

Shackburger

Looks like Danny Meyer wasn’t kidding last summer when he said Shake Shack only expands into areas that can support two or three locations. A second Philly location is in the works. It’s going in on Drexel’s campus at 3200 Chestnut Street. The Insider reports that its arrival has the potential to set off a small burger war in University City. And Spotburgers might’ve just fired the first shot. The opening is slated for late summer or early fall. So, where do you suppose a third location should go? [Insider]

Earlier: Danny Meyer on Shake Shack Expansion, and What Will Ultimately Halt It

Restaurants Fight Back Over Credit-Card Fees

Debit or credit may mean the difference of a couple dollars.

Since dinner out can often top $100 for two people, it's not surprising that most customers demand restaurants take credit cards. Restaurants, of course, are obliging, but that means credit-card companies can charge ever-higher fees, for which restaurants must bear the burden. Now the National Restaurant Association is lobbying Congress to get those fees lowered, much the way debit-card processing fees have already been capped under the Dodd-Frank Act. They've posted this fee calculator for restaurant owners so they can figure out just how pricey all this is — even small restaurants are likely paying tens of thousands a year in fees alone — with the hope that they'll make more noise. But barring any immediate changes at the federal level, restaurant customers in 40 states may soon start seeing those processing fees passed on to them as a line item on their bill.

Read more »

Drunk Guy Holds Pizza Deliverywoman Hostage, Asks Her to Be His Wife

A Boston-area man allegedly held a Papa Gino's deliverywoman against her will because he wanted a wife with his pizza, reports the Boston Globe. Jonathan Quinlan, drunk at the time and having clearly misinterpreted the whole "you ring, we bring" concept, was arrested for kidnapping.

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Percy Street Appreciates Beer Cans By Serving Them at Half Price

Even if National Beer Can Appreciation Day isn’t a real holiday, the Percy Street BBQ crew is still doing all it can to celebrate it tomorrow. Beginning at 5 p.m., the South Street barbecue joint will offer up its huge stock of canned craft beers — it runs more than 100 deep — for half price. To boot, a $35 Restaurant Week menu will be in full effect, too. We’re guessing that this is going to go over a lot smoother than Gun Appreciation Day.

Waiter Who Defended Special-Needs Child Becomes Local Hero

Oh, happy day: Michael Garcia, the Houston waiter who refused to serve a customer who criticized a boy with Down syndrome, is earning widespread praise. Customers are flocking to Prime Rib to shake his hand, and kind commenters (they exist!) are showing Garcia some love on the restaurant's Facebook page. Well-deserved. Now, about that raise. [Earlier, Today]

Ranking People Magazine’s Paula Deen Puff Pieces

Puffy.Photo: People

Diabetes opportunist crusader Paula Deen hams it up on the absolutely-not-Photoshopped-we're-sure cover of People this week flanked by her newly svelte sons, touting her family's amazing weight loss (they shed a total of 178 pounds and proclaim, "If the Deens can do it, anyone can!"). But it's really no shock that People got the inside story on her dieting habits: They write about her all the time. Suspicious? Ahead, we rank the puffery possibilities (up to 100 points each) of each hard-hitting scoop.

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The Taste Is Off to an Appetizing Start

A healthy number of viewers chomped down on the two-hour premiere of Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson's new culinary competition show last night. The Taste had 6.04 million viewers, beating comedies on Fox and NBC. In adult viewers 18 to 49, it averaged a 2.2 rating, beating CBS, NBC, and Fox. So, shazam! "The 18 to 49 range is what counts," Vulture's Josef Adalian tells us, "and while it's not a monster hit by any means, the show is off to a solid start." By comparison, America's Next Top Restaurant debuted in 2011 to 4.57 million viewers and a 1.6 share of viewers from 18 to 49. Adalian also notes The Taste had four times as many viewers as last month's most-watched episode of Top Chef Seattle. [Zap2It, Earlier]

Indoor Beer Garden Quietly Coming Together On Chestnut Street

Apparently while no one was paying attention, Teddy Sourias, the dude behind Finn McCool’s Ale House and its upstairs lounge, Room12 at 12th and Sansom streets, has been quietly pulling together an indoor beer garden in a space just around the corner that used to house Mitchell & Ness. Drawing from a job posting on Foobooz yesterday that said a beer garden with German food was opening soon near Midtown Village, Philadelphia Real Estate Blog connects the dots today, complete with photos and details. Evidence suggests it’s about a month away from opening. You better start working on getting your lederhosen body back. [Philadelphia Real Estate]

Here’s What 27 Tons of Burning Goat Cheese Looks Like

A truck laden with about 27 metric tonnes (or, almost 60,000 pounds) of brunost cheese caught fire in a tunnel in Norway last week, causing a raging fire that burned for five days. The truck driver says he was about 1,000 feet into the tunnel when he noticed his cargo of dark goat cheese was aflame. Officials suspect the high sugar and fat content in the brunost and its arrangement on the truck caused a rapid spike in its temperature, leading to the fire, which badly damaged the interior of the hillside tunnel and left clouds of toxic gasses looming around the tunnel's entrances for days, the BBC reports. The driver escaped from the flaming cheese inferno unscathed, and the tunnel will be closed for a few weeks until it can be repaired. For now, at least, a small part of the country smells like raclette, and citizens are shocked. "I didn't know that brown cheese burns so well," says the director of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration. Head toward the molten dairy center of Norway's fiery goat cheese tunnel of doom, just ahead.

Raclette! »

Oyster House Serves Clam Chowder Street-Side Today

It’s only fitting that the coldest conditions that Old Man Winter’s dealt us this chilly season arrives on the same day that Oyster House is doing its annual National New England Clam Chowder Day observation with street-side soup service. Makes you wonder: Does owner Sam Mink have control over the weather? Doubtful. But nonetheless, he and his staff will brave the elements while ladling their chowder from their stretch of the sidewalk on 1500 block of Sansom Street today until 2 p.m. Five bucks gets you a prepackaged serving, oyster crackers and spoon.

Fumo’s Fiancee Files Petition to Put Broccoli Rabe Behind Bars [UPDATED]

Cauliflower could possibly replace cigarettes as jailhouse currency.

We’ve heard of Books Behind Bars before, but broccoli rabe? That’s what former State Senator Vince Fumo’s fiancee, Carolyn Zinni, has in mind, according to today’s Inky. She says that her currently incarcerated hubby-to-be hasn’t eaten a fresh vegetable since being sentenced to prison camp in Kentucky on federal corruption charges nearly four years ago. And she’s put a petition up at change.org to urge the Federal Bureau of Prisons to revise its protocol for feeding inmates. Right now Fumo’s daily meals amount to “patties made of minced chicken accompanied by canned corn.” Yum! Though prison officials maintain bananas and apples are made available to prisoners every morning, they were hard pressed to come up with an example of vegetables offered on the chow line. The moral of the story? If you love vegetables, obey the law. [Inquirer]

Update: Yikes! Looks like that lack of fresh veggeis has already taken its toll. Action News is reporting that Fumo was admitted to a hospital today in Kentucky where doctors will implant a stint into an artery that's 90 percent clogged.

Update: Sources now say Fumo suffered a major heart attack.

Kate Middleton Doesn’t Have Much of an Appetite

According to a (former) friend of the Duchess, Kate feels nauseous when she looks at food. She's living off avocados, berries, oatmeal, and broccoli, and is now undergoing hypnotherapy to disassociate the act of eating with morning sickness. But she did have a Starbucks cookie last week. Maybe that's why she lost her appetite. [International Business Times, Cut]

The Taste Premiere in 91 Seconds

Last night, ABC unveiled its Top Chef-meets-the Voice mash-up, The Taste, filled to the brim with close-ups of quavering hands over the yes/no buttons of destiny and pre-decision anonymity for the contenders. Anyway, the concept is that the judges — Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, and the other guy — build a team of cooks that they choose based on blind tastes of various dishes. But reviews say the premiere "drags," lasts for what "feels like forever," and "is confusing ... with humorless banter." So, we've assembled the best bits into a tidy, easy to watch minute and a half. Check it out straight ahead and decide for yourself if this cooking competition is for you, or if it's another mediocre show that should go the way of America's Next Great Restaurant.

Read more »

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