Flavored vodkas are very popular these days. Just go to any liquor store and be amazed by the shelves full of vodkas from vanilla to sweet tea and everything in between. Next on the shelves? Salmon vodka, produced by a distillery in Wasilla, Alaska. Yes, that Wasilla. The distillery's actually pretty cool, they use local stuff when possible, so maybe Wasilla can become famous for something other than the Palins.
Table Scraps picks up food news from all over the internets. Here are the most interesting stories from there:
-A New York restaurant serves martinis on a literal rock and other interesting concoctions, reports the New York Times.
-Some people don't just give up in the face of rejection. A man who was ridiculed on Dragons Den (like American Idol but with inventors...and it's British, it was on BBC America for a while) for his single-serve glasses of wine is now finding runaway success with them, says the Daily Mail. Marks & Spencers can't keep them on the shelves, especially not in the "on the go" section favored by office workers and picnickers.
-SF Weekly reports that Northern California Whole Foods wants to work with street food vendors to make products they can sell in store. Mmm, King of Pops in the to-go freezers...Homer Simpson drool!
But even Scott Peacock, then chef at Watershed and famous for his own fried chicken, shared my taste for the restaurant.
What I didn't like was the service, seriously the worst I'd encountered anywhere on earth. I learned to inspect my take-out orders closely, because they were usually screwed up. It wasn't uncommon for the staff to substitute an item for a sold-out one without offering me a choice.
One of the employees always called me Bruce...because she weirdly thought I looked like Bruce Willis. She would actually call me to the front of the line, explaining loudly that "Bruce is always number one." This of course didn't keep her from screwing up my order. After three such experiences with her, I used only the drive-in window.
The climax of the story occurred when my car's battery died in the parking lot and I left it there overnight. I returned the next morning to find the driver's window broken. Then the place closed temporarily because of a fire. (The two events are not related; I did not torch Popeyes.)
I broke my Popeyes addiction during the closing, suffering occasional relapses after they reopened. I found the service genuinely improved. As it happens, I've been twice in the last month and the service now is almost comically high-speed and accurate, unlike anything you see in other fast food joints. I'm not kidding.
Apparently, service was an issue at many of the franchise chain's restaurants. Jeremiah McWilliams reports in the AJC that Popeyes is doing very well and that improving the service is part of the reason:
Executives at Atlanta-based Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen say the company is gaining market share in one of the toughest economies in memory, using better customer service and national advertising to draw attention and business....
Popeyes says it has made progress on service times and customer service scores such as "intent to return" and the percentage of customers who are "delighted." The company, whose stock has risen 33 percent in the past year, said it posted its eight straight quarter of rising market share in the fast food chicken category, with its share hitting a 10-year high of 13.2 percent last year.
The company expects to earn between 73 and 77 cents per share this year, compared to 74 cents last year, when the company logged a net profit of $18.8 million. Store operators are posting wider profit margins.
Meanwhile, in other Popeyes-related news, the U.S. Supreme Court has ordered an appeals court to reconsider arguments in the appeal of the death sentence of a man convicted for killing three Popeyes employees in Gasden, Ala. I do not believe bad service prompted the killings.
It's a situation that seems more happenstance than horrific: an influential food blogger pans a hip new restaurant, and his loyal readers follow his advice and avoid the place. The head chef gets sacked, but what happens if said chef has got a few screws loose?
Carnage, apparently. In "Bitter Feast," a film that seems influenced by both "Saw" and "Julie and Julia," a food blogger finds himself at the mercy of a chef hell bent on revenge. Writer and director Joe Maggio premiered the movie at the Los Angeles Film Festival and claims he was inspired by Frank Bruni's scathing review of a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. The movie also features Mario Batali as a cutthroat restaurateur who fires the chef, setting off a lot of crazy.
A review from Variety calls it "gore for the gourmet," but my reaction to the trailer ran closer to that of a commenter on Eater—"I kept looking for Andy Samberg. This is real?" Whether or not the film provides actual thrills and chills, the idea of payback for online ramblings freaks me out enough.
Mario Batali is so hot right now.
First, he gets a role in what's sure to be the breakout foodie blockbuster of the year.
In this Chicago Tribune article he discusses his new, lighter cookbook "Molto Gusto," as well as his 40 lb. weight loss. The rest of us hang our heads in shame.
Next, the Village Voice shows us a slightly disturbing painting of a nude Batali, done by a friend of the artist who painted the icky naked Rachael Ray in a river of EVOO. The original Batali is being sold for $1000.
Eater gives us an adorable video of celebrity chef Tom Colicchio and winemaker Joe Bastianich playing Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" at a party hosted by Batali at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival.
And finally, the chef was featured in the New York Times' "Sunday Routine" column this past weekend, in which we learn Batali is a fan of "Doctor Who." Bonus: a picture featuring his infamous Crocs.
Kombucha tea might have as much alcohol content as some beers, according to the New York Times Diner's Journal. The thing is that it keeps fermenting even after it's been bottled, so it just keeps getting more and more alcoholic.
Fish double-header! (Double-finner?) Both from the NYT.
Genetically-altered salmon are now under study by the FDA for possible approval. These salmon are pretty much normal salmon on steroids, able to grow twice as big very quickly and make the natural ones feel inadequate. But are these steroid-salmon safe? I guess the FDA is finding out now.
Tuna's End discusses the bluefin tuna. It's a long article, but a good read. The bluefin tuna is one of the most prized fish for sushi, but one of its only known nesting grounds is currently being soaked in oil courtesy BP and company. The article also follows some Greenpeace activists trying to stop a boat from catching tuna, which doesn't go well and results in one of the activists literally being harpooned. Ouch!
Pacci: "We cook while they clean" fundraiser raises money for the Gulf Relief Foundation and will continue until fishermen are back in their boats. $1 from every seafood dish on Pacci's lunch and dinner menus is donated to Gulf Relief. 866 W. Peachtree St. 678-412-2402. www.pacciatlanta.com.
All eight Concentrics Restaurants (One Midtown Kitchen, Two Urban Licks, Tap, Parish, Bakeshop, Murphy's, Lobby and Room) are offering 50% off coupons here. Expires Sept. 6.
Agave, Mon., June 28: Agave joins the I HEART campaign in support of Horizon Theatre. For one night only, 20% of your bill will be donated to Horizon to help close their budget gap. 5-10 p.m. 242 Boulevard. 404-588-0006. www.agaverestaurant.com.
The Capital Grille, Mon., June 28: Master Wine Tasting Event features up to 11 wines including types from California, Italy and New Zealand, and custom flights prepared on request. $25. 5-10 p.m. 255 East Paces Ferry Road. 404-262-1162. www.thecapitalgrille.com.
This week in reviews:
Besha Rodell compares Atlanta's dining scene to an Australian children's book and visits Rathbun's, finding that it still defines Atlanta's restaurant scene and we should be proud of it for doing so. She recommends the Jonah crab tart, rib-eye steak and other wise choices on an enormous menu.
Cliff Bostock has a first look at Farmstead 303 in "pedestrian-friendly Hooterville" Decatur. His favorite dish is the one pictured above, which is the most expensive one on offer, but he also notes the presence of other, wallet-friendlier items on the menu.
The only thing getting me to ClusterFuckhead is Umi.
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