Posts for January 30, 2013

‘Coffee Rust’ Is Destroying Central America’s Coffee Berries

There is a fungus among us.

Forget for a second that global warming will soon render several farming regions that produce much of the world's supply of Arabica coffee untenable as soon as 2020: Costa Rica's coffee plantations are at the moment being devastated by a fungus called "coffee rust." Authorities are saying that the 2013-14 harvest may be halved in the hardest hit farming areas. What's worse is that coffee rust is affecting crops in other countries, and a University of Michigan in Ann Arbor-based ecologist named John Vandermeer tells Nature that the outbreak now includes “reports of devastation in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mexico."

It's not looking too good in Costa Rica. »

Watch a Preview of Anne Burrell’s New Show, Chef Wanted

Like her mentor Mario Batali, Anne Burrell dons shorts and clogs in the kitchen, only her clogs are fuchsia and she seems to curse a lot more. The new season of her show, Chef Wanted, which premieres tomorrow night on the Food Network, approaches the "restaurant-rehab" theme with a novel setup: Burrell leads teams of professionals through challenges at actual restaurants (like the Old Homestead Steakhouse), and there are actually executive positions to be had at the end of each line. In the exclusive preview, just ahead, a fearsome Burrell confronts a contestant she thinks is screwing around. "That's your Amatriciana sauce? Amatriciana does not have garlic in it," she says. "Italian cuisine is regional," the contestant gurgles back, "I grew up with it in my sauce."

The heat is on. »

Now Liquor Store Privatization Will Generate $1 Billion for Public Schools

The key to funding public schools?

Provided that everything goes according to Tom Corbett’s latest plan, boozehounds won’t be the only ones who benefit from the state selling off its liquor stores. In a press conference today in Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania governor laid out his highly anticipated vision for unloading the 600-plus booze outlets currently in the state’s control. According to the Tribune-Review, Corbett said proceeds from auctioning off liquor licenses could generate as much as $1 billion, which he promised to turn over to public schools. If passed, beer distributors would get the go-ahead to sell hard liquor and wine along with beer, and supermarkets, convenience stores and bars will be allowed to sell beer and wine.

Read more »

A Look Inside Taiwan’s Very Pink, Very Creepy Barbie-Themed Restaurant

The inspiration.Photo: SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images

In the heart of Taiwan, there is now an electric-pink Barbie restaurant full of more dead-eyed, busty blondes than the Playboy Mansion. The restaurant, in the heart of Taipei (where Barbies were once manufactured), is fully licensed by Mattel, a company not known for its culinary prowess. Odd that food is on sale here, really, since Barbie's measurements are prime endorsements for anorexia. But eating isn't really the point: It's all about selling dolls! In a move that's probably great for business and horrible for feminism, "The staff who work at the restaurant sport a not-entirely practical uniform of pink Barbie logo T-shirts, matching tutus, Barbie logo armbands and glitter and tiaras on their heads," the Telegraph reports.

Read more »

Alla Spina and La Calaca Feliz Teaming Up for Los Guidos Fiesta-Themed Industry Night

¡Ay, caramba! It's not even close to Cinco de Mayo!

Italian nachos and host of other South-of-the-Border-by-way-of-the-Boot dishes are currently being test driven in Alla Spina’s R&D kitchen ahead of next Monday’s Industry Night. Chef Mike Deganis tells Grub that for this edition of the monthly party for those serving in the hospitality biz’s trenches, the Vetri clan is welcoming Lucio Palazzo and the La Calaca Feliz crew for what’s being dubbed Los Guidos Fiesta. While menu details are still being worked out, we’re told that Palazzo and his hombres are bringing ceviche, tacos, and possibly some tortas, too. As usual, the fun starts at 10 p.m. A recent paycheck stub from a restaurant gets you in.

Bocuse d’Or 2013 Results: France Wins Gold; USA Places Seventh

Picky eater.Photo: JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty

Congrats to France, which just took the top prize at the world's most prestigious culinary competition. Denmark (winner of the gold last year) was awarded silver, and Japan got bronze. Team USA placed seventh, but captains Richard Rosendale and Cory Siegel (of West Virginia's Greenbrier) shouldn't feel too bad; we've never placed higher than sixth. And apparently, "Born in the USA" played at some point during the competition, which is a huge win in itself. If you don't agree with the results, you can blame Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation president Thomas Keller, who judged the meat platter. Check out the full list of winners, straight ahead.

Two for the United Kingdom. »

Metropolitan Bakery Debuting Metropolitan Cafe Near Rittenhouse Square Next Week

The men and woman of Rittenhouse Square cannot live on bread alone.

Metropolitan Bakery owners Wendy Born and James Barrett have been spending the last few weeks blowing up their location near Rittenhouse Square, getting it ready to open as Metropolitan Cafe. Now it looks like the 20-seat cafe will make its debut on Monday, February 4, according to the Insider. In addition to the artisan loaves, coffee, and fresh baked goods the corner store currently serves, the expanded cafe will offer a variety of panini grilled and pressed on Metro-baked sourdough bread, pizzas, pretzels, sweets and more. [Insider]

Metropolitan Cafe, 264 South 19th St. (at Spruce St.), no phone yet.

Thirteen Appetizing Super Bowl Ads From the Past 33 Years

Don't dispute this one.

Whether you're excited to see the Ravens play the 49ers, or you're just watching for the Beyoncé halftime show, everyone can get excited about the $4 million commercials. Beer and car spots will always dominate, but over the years, there have been some fantastic commercials hawking fast-food and non-beer drinks, too. Michael Jordan and Larry Bird playing Horse is enough to make you want a Big Mac (maybe), and we can collectively blame the nation's current soda crisis on Britney Spears gyrating ten years ago. Here are thirteen of the best, presented in chronological order.

From Cindy Crawford to Betty White. »

Radio Personality Ralph Collier Dies at 91

In sad news, longtime local radio personality, Ralph Collier, passed away yesterday. Today’s Inky reports heart failure was the cause. He was 91. For decades, Collier hosted a popular, daily interview program on WFLN. In more recent years, his distinctive voice could be heard on WRTI’s Tours and Detours, a daily travel program that often spotlighted local restaurants, and regional culinary gems. Outside of radio, Collier served as the president of the Campbell Soup Tureen Museum, and traveled the globe with the multimillion-dollar collection for 15 years. [Inquirer; WRTI]

Don King Explains Why Josie Should Be Voted Back On to ‘Top Chef’

Don King: American, patriot, and Josie suporter.Photo: Dario Cantatore/Getty

The greatest boxing promoter of all time — who worked with Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Julio César Chávez, Evander Holyfield, and Larry Holmes — has now turned his attention to Top Chef, of all things. Don King says that, at 81, his interests in cooking and food are deepening, and as a regular watcher of Bravo's cooking competition, he feels that chef Josie Smith-Malave was "unjustly" booted at the end of last week's episode, and he's now enlisting the public to get her voted back so she can cook her way through the final rounds. Grub Street spoke with King yesterday afternoon as he waited to board a flight in Cleveland back to his home in Florida.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." »

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