I have long thought it’d be fun to reproduce fast food ads, keeping everything the same except I’d swap the product photo with one of from a burger I’ve purchased. We all know the end result does not look the same, but this video shows how much lighting and retouching makes a difference. When you style up any old Quarter-pounder, it ends up looking pretty good.
While the video is entertaining, it doesn’t make me feel better or less manipulated. The difference between reality and the ad is too great, which leads to disappointment. Of course, McDonald’s is trying to sell a product and they are going to do what it takes to maximize sales, but it’s not helpful to the consumer.
It’d be great if, just like standardized nutritional information, there was standardized product marketing. Every burger had to be photographed in the same studio; every phone had to show the same set of features; every airline had to display their average hold times and delay length. It’d be maddeningly difficult, if not impossible, but realistic expectations would make consumers happier in the long run and force corporations to build better products. [via kottke]
FULL DISCLOSURE: I have not made these yet, but I am going to. The good news is that Deb has determined that we have reached the pinnacle of ginger-snapness.
Anyway, in the lineup was a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for molasses spice cookies. I wanted to see how the gingersnaps I’d made would compare to them and was shocked to find the two recipes to be nearly exactly the same, ingredient for ingredient. I then turned to Google to find more gingersnap recipes and again, discovered that a whole lot of gingersnap recipes agree with one another.
In a different week, I might have fretted over this. I would feel the need to tweak them, to offer you an improvement upon the gingersnap status quo. Not this week, though. This week, it’s clear to me that if many people agree on what Gingersnap Greatness should taste like, I should feel no need to argue. I have a playground date to attend to, after all, and then maybe a nap.
By many, Di Fara is considered the holy grail of pizza. Girl Slice disagrees. Strongly.
Why is it so smoky in there? When I have visited Di Fara, there are times that my eyes have burned so much that I was crying… from pain and unhappiness, not from deliciousness. Eating at Di Fara is like eating in a coal mine.
She goes on to explain that the pizza is “…often burned, the sauce can be bland, and worst of all, it’s way too oily.”
I skew closer to holy grail than coal mine, but Girl Slice has a point — waiting over an hour for a sometimes-burnt pie with no guarantee of seating is typically not worth the effort. I’d go to Best Pizza or Totonno’s ahead of Di Fara any day.
I recently read Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, where he poo-poos molecular gastronomy, but I don’t know how you couldn’t be impressed by this. Granted, he has come around on the concept, but the work Grant Achatz has produced is beautiful and, from what i understand, delicious. While I prefer simplicity in my food, I could watch videos like this all day.
I also recommend you check out the videos from Aviary Cocktails, where Achatz and his cohorts explain how some of their amazing drinks are made. [via waxy]
Many of my friends, myself included, rush to drink Mexican Coke as it’s made with cane sugar and comes in a glass bottle. Kenji from Serious Eats was also obsessed, but decided to test if it’s actually better. I’ll let you read through his post to find out, but it reminded me of an episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit where they tear down organic foods. At the end, they did a taste test of organic vs. non-organic and no one could tell the difference.
Visiting Madison, Wisconsin is easy. There are 20-30 really good restaurants and if you know someone there, you’re guaranteed a good meal. In New York, that doesn’t work. You need at least some parameters. There are, approximately, 300 million restaurants in the city and 75% of them are good.
If you want to make it easy on your host/friend/butler, give him something to go on. Here are some suggestions:
Location: “I’m going to the Mets game on Saturday. What should I eat before the game?”
Atmosphere: “My brother is hard of hearing, any quiet restaurants near Penn Station?”
Cuisine: “I’m trying to eat a burger in every state. What’s your favorite spot?”
Anti-cuisine: “I’d love to go out, so long as it’s anything but Indian; I had that last night.”
Trendiness: “I cannot stand waiting in line or fighting for reservations. I just want a simple Italian restaurant.”
Cost: “I just got my tax return. Take me to the best sushi in the city.”
Time: “Let’s meet for brunch, but it’s got to be quick. I’ve got a shift at the Park Slope Co-op at noon.”
Situation: “This is my first trip to NYC and I want to try your favorite spots.”
The more of these you have, the better. That being said, a good friend sent me an email asking for recommendations for tasty restaurants that don’t need reservations and aren’t too trendy. This was for a couple that never been to NYC. Because I love being a gastronomic ambassador, I occasionally ignored the instructions and provided the following list.
After you check in on Foursquare at a restaurant that has too many health code violations, you’ll get a text message. It’d be nice if someone had a service that texted me the 3 best dishes to order for the good restaurants. [via @Remy]
Kenji puts in the effort to explain why we needn’t be ashamed to eat foie gras. He visits La Belle Farms to dig into the details and discovers that, at least there, the animals are treated with care and live a good life. In fact, wages are based on fair treatment.
Bob [Ambrose] is quick to point out that “any mishandling of the ducks—rough treatment, that kind of thing—will cause bruising, reducing its price,” he explains. “So we’ve got a strong incentive to be gentle with the birds.” Duck handlers, who are mostly female (apparently ducks take better to women) work on an bonus-based program where their pay is bumped for every “A” grade lobe one of their charge produces. It’s the first time I’ve heard of a farm that offers workers a monetary incentive to be gentler with the animals. Bob insists that it works, and that the most experienced feeders can increase the number of A lobes from the normal 55% up to over 70%.
As Kenji points out, anthropomorphizing the ducks is a big reason we balk at foie gras. Our bodies and minds can’t handle being force-fed, but their’s can. I understand one’s aversion to eating meat in general, but Kenji makes it clear that foie gras is no worse, and possibly better, than other commercial meat production.
I had never read the story behind April and her first restaurant, The Spotted Pig. I don’t think it would surprise many in the restaurant biz, but I love when someone so strong is picked from relative obscurity, dropped in a new city, and immediately kicks ass. I still don’t agree with her choice of Roquefort on the burgers, but I love how passionate she is about her choices and cooking in general.
Bloomfield’s enthusiasm is as boundless as her interests are narrow. One day, during a trip to London, she handed me her iPhone and told me to listen. I didn’t hear anything. “Take it in,” she said, putting the phone to my ear, like a conch shell. “It’s just amazing.” She had recorded the gentle hum of conversation in a pub, to use as a sort of lullaby.
Jori and I are hosting our first Thanksgiving this year. We’re planning a pretty traditional feast, but having only played sous chef for others, I found Kenji’s suggestions quite useful. We’re actually doing most of our prep and cooking on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the shopping is finished.
I also very much enjoyed Salt & Fat’s turkey guide. We’re not brining, mostly because I’ve had lots of delicious non-brined turkeys and it’s labor-intesive, but I now want to try a dry brine. I’ve heard others mention it, but Jim’s post pushed me over the edge.
Kenji takes on the myth that a 12-year old burger McDonald’s burger doesn’t rot. I won’t give away the results, but it’s a good read. I will share this tidbit to entice you to read more.
Every day, I monitored the progress of the burgers, weighing each one, and carefully checking for spots of mold growth or other indications of decay. The burgers were left in the open air, but handled only with clean kitchen tools or through clean plastic bags (no direct contact with my hands until the last day).
At this point, it’s been 25 days, 23 calm, cool, and collected discussions with my wife about whether that smell in the apartment is coming from the burgers or from the dog, and 16 nights spent sleeping on the couch in the aftermath of those calm, cool, and collected discussions. Asides from my mother, my wife is the fiercest discusser I know.
Edible Geography looks at what people drink on mass transit. The post is based on a NYT article that focuses on Metro-North and LI Railroad, but the blog post covers air travel as well, reminding us that Ginger Ale sells a lot better at 30k feet up. [via Bobulate]
Ladies and gentlemen, the brilliant minds behind the show iCarly want the world to welcome a wonderful new treat, the spaghetti taco — the thing you never knew you always wanted.
For Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, the question is not why kids are asking for spaghetti tacos, but why they haven’t asked for them sooner.
“This combination seems to be an inevitability, sort of like chocolate and peanut butter running into each other on that Reese’s commercial,” he said. “The amazement should be only that it took ‘iCarly’ to bring it into our melting pot of a culture.”
“Spaghetti tacos has made it possible to eat spaghetti in your car,” he said. “It’s a very important technological development. You don’t even need a plate.”
Grub Street let’s Jeffrey catalogue a week of eatings. It’s hugely entertaining and educational to boot. This bit is just entertaining.
For lunch, I had thought about taking him to ABC Kitchen, because he’s from California and might really appreciate that. People from California really are different: They eat avocado on everything. It was proven that day: I took him to Chinatown Brasserie, largely because they have the best dim sum in the city, and there was a new dim sum on the menu that I didn’t love and of course my friend loved it, because it had avocado in it and he’s from California and they put avocado on everything.