Friday, March 30, 2012

Downtown Arby's

If you have watched Downton Abbey, you need to watch Downtown Arby's. 


The Colonel and the Clown

Let the battle begin...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Japanese Honeybees have a ball

You got to love the Japanese honeybees.
When under attack, they work together with to attack their enemies, researchers are also saying their brains may actually be processing and responding to the threat.

When confronted with their enemy, the aggressive giant Asian hornet, the honeybees will attack it by swarming as a organized group.
They surround  the hornet by forming what scientists call a "hot defensive bee ball" - an unusual maneuver for their species.

With up to 500 bees all vibrating their flight muscles at once, the bee ball actually cooks the hornet to death.

Researchers at Japan's University of Tokyo say, "When the hornet, the Japanese honeybee's natural enemy, enters a colony, the bees quickly form the surrounding ball,  crank up the temperature for about 20 minutes, and in about an hour, the hornet dies inside the ball.

Researchers were surprised that the bees used such well coordinated teamwork during the attack.

"When an outsider enters, the honeybees are immediately on their guard. Then, all at once, they gather to attack," researchers said.
"So, it isn't one commanding all the rest, we believe in this moment of emergency they're acting collectively."

Federal regulations require horses into restaurants

Business owners are concerned about a new federal regulation requiring a particular breed of horse to be allowed into restaurants across the country. 
The Justice Department regulations allow "service" horses (miniature horses) just like service dogs, to accompany the blind and others with disabilities in order to assist them.

As a result, a lawsuit was filed earlier this month in Los Angeles, by a man and his horse, who uses a wheelchair and  and who claims a local GameStop and Marshalls refused him and his horse service. 

The case, as well as the regulation, has caused concern from  one lawmaker, as well as the National Restaurant Association. 
"I like horses. My daughter likes horses. But even in the Wild West, they put them outside," said Angelo Amador, vice president of the restaurant association. 

The organization has some valid arguments.
First, many business owners just don't know about the rule, and are only familiar with dogs being a traditional service animal. Amador said those that do know have concerns the animals aren't housebroken. 
"You cannot train a horse ... housebreak them like you would do with a dog," he said. 
The owner could claim the horse is housebroken, but if doesn't turn out that way, the business has a sanitation problem to deal with.
"After the deed is done, you have a number of other issues in the restaurant," Amador said. "It's kind of like damned if you do, and damned if you don't." 
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, says the regulation is a case of Washington over reaching once again.
"Do we really need to saddle businesses with more regulation? I say, 'Naaayyy.' Every scenario in life does not need a rule or regulation," he said in a statement.
The regulations on service animals were first put out in September 2010, as part of the Americans With Disabilities Act. 
The rules, which went into effect later, actually narrowed down what used to be a broad definition for service animals. For most purposes, the Justice Department decided to recognize only dogs -- but the department added an exception for miniature horses after being convinced about the benefits to the disabled. 

The guidelines noted that the horses can be "viable alternatives" for people who are allergic to dogs or whose religious beliefs do not allow them to be around dogs. (really?)

Such is the case for Jose Estrada, the plaintiff in the case filed this month in Los Angeles court. 
His attorney said a dog "doesn't have the sufficient strength to pull him in his wheelchair." 
So Estrada, a paraplegic, uses a 29-inch-high miniature horse to pull him around.
According to the complaint, the two retail stores being sued refused to allow the horse inside along with Estrada.
The suit says Horse "is housebroken" and would not "compromise" the safety of those two stores. 

Estrada is suing for "no less than" $4,000 in damages. 
The federal rules state that businesses should allow in the horses as long as they're trained, considering such factors as the size of the horse, whether it's under control, whether it's "housebroken," and whether its presence would compromise "legitimate safety requirements." 

The Quaker Oats Facelift

The Quaker Oats man has been given a thinner face, new hairdo and broader shoulders.
Because Pepsi wanted  to subtly modernize the old guy to promote ‘heathy choices.'
The Quaker Oats guy before the facelift is on the left, and after the makeover is on the right.

The Oats guy is still smiling, still has white hair, but with a slimmer face, broader shoulders and calmer hairdo.

PepsiCo Inc., owns the 134-year-old brand and they thought consumers would associate the cereal with “energy and healthy choices."

They wanted to keep him jolly looking  but they got rid of his double chin and gave him a more attractive haircut.

“We took about 5 pounds off him,” said Michael Connors, the head designer of the firm hired to give the Quaker Oats man his new look.

The brand wanted the shift to be subtle; a too dramatic change to a well-known logo has spelled disaster in the past.

Our verdict?
We like the old guy just the way he was before.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Serbian Mafia killed rival, ate him for lunch in a stew

This is not something you'll find on the cooking channel, but it is something you may experience if you steal from the mafia.  

Mafia bosses Sretko Kalinic (left) and Luka (right) tortured and a killed a gang member then made a stew out of him, yes, a stew.

Serbian gangsters beat Milan Jurisic, 37, (photo below) to death with a hammer, skinned and boned him with a sharp knife then put him through a meat grinder.

This all happened in Madrid.
They made a macabre face mask out of his skin, cooked his flesh and ate him for lunch.

Later they threw the bones into the River Manzanares in the Spanish capital.
Fellow gang member Sretko Kalinic, nicknamed The Butcher, confessed to the crime after being arrested in the Croatian capital Zagreb last year.
Spanish officers this week found 50 bones in the river and located the house of horrors where the bloodbath was carried out.
Jurisic is thought to have betrayed his fellow gang members by stealing money from them.

Milan Jurisic was beaten to death with a hammer, skinned and boned him with a sharp knife then put him through a meat grinder

All of those involved in the gruesome Madrid murder are said to be members of the Zemun Clan, a mafia group from Belgrade.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Starbucks wants you to enjoy "fruits and vegatables"

One of the images that Starbucks is using to promote the Evolution Fresh juice bar has a sign that reads "Most fruits and "vegtables" are: fat and cholesterol free." 

Yes, that big sign spells "vegetables" incorrectly.

Not a big deal, but after all the fuss about Starbucks Evolution Fresh juice bar and the healthy smoothies and premium juices, and that the company sent press materials to media outlets everywhere, it's a little embarrassing.

The sign is now gone and a new sign reads: "Bananas are loaded with potassium — a natural electrolyte." 

Starbucks has had a problem with spelling before.
For over a year Starbucks told customers it was offering “complementary” (that's when you say nice things, you know, a complement) Wi-Fi — the correct spelling is "complimentary."

But what do we know? We misspell words all the time.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bloomberg is stopping food donations

The Bloomberg machine is stopping food donations to all government-run facilities that serve New York city’s homeless.

Mayor Bloomberg's Department of Homeless Services is now enforcing new nutritional rules for food served at city shelters. Since DHS can’t figure out the nutritional content of donated food, shelters have to turn away food donations.

We are being told that the ban on food donations is consistent with Mayor Bloomberg’s emphasis on improving nutrition for all New Yorkers. The rules dictate the serving sizes as well as salt, fat and calorie contents, plus fiber minimums and condiment recommendations.

The city also cites food-safety issues with donations, but the real truth behind the ban is the Bloomberg dietary obsession.

We wonder how long before the Mayor of New York will start banning of street food carts?
Maybe it's time for the Mayor to forbid pizza, hot dogs, corned beef and coffee as well.

The psychology of colors and food

Do you ever notice the color inside restaurants, or even the logo colors? We are told that subconsciously there are certain colors that appeal to us and a few that don’t.
For those of us in the restaurant business we realize our mission is to generate a profit, and the more diners we can seat the greater our profits will be. Knowing this, those in the industry have tricks of the trade designed to subtly get you in, fed and out in the shortest amount of time possible.

Colors affect our appetite and our mood, and it's the psychology of colors and where we find them in nature.

So,let's take a loser look some the most popular and unpopular colors when it comes to eating.

Red is an appetite stimulant and it also stimulates conversation and speed.
So the thought is,  you’ll eat more food and enjoy your conversation and then leave.
Just look at the above photo, that's a lot of red.

What color is most associated with speed?

Orange is connected with need and hunger and it's often used in restaurants because like red it stimulates hunger, and restaurants like that.

Yellow is a sociable color and yellows are used frequently in fast food restaurants – think McDonald’s. 

Beige and Brown are the earth tones that have a a calming affect without suppressing appetites. Deep browns, dark woods for example, can make a room and food feel luxurious. These are also some of the most common colors in the foods we eat, except from red and green.

Green is another soothing color that aids digestion. 
Restaurants often use green in their décor to create a soothing atmosphere, completely the opposite of the stimulating fast food restaurant done in red, yellow or orange.

Blue may be a calming color when it comes to food, but it isn’t so great.
Blue acts as an appetite suppressant. If you want to eat less, try finding a restaurant decorated in blue, you won't find many.

Now, the next time you eat out, you'll have a better understanding of the psychology of colors and food.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thai billionaire who created Red Bull dead at 89

Self-made Thai billionaire  Chaleo Yoovidhya who created the renowned Red Bull energy drink has died. He was 89.

Forbes magazine has ranked Chaleo among the richest men in the world. His assets are estimated to be worth several billion dollars.

Friday, March 16, 2012

600-pound man evicted because of his weight?

 A 600-pound Conn. man claims his landlord is evicting him and his mom because of his weight.
25-year-old Joey Dibendetto lives with his mother Debbie Verab in a walk-up apartment in New Haven, Conn.
He is always on oxygen and can hardly move at all, except when he does when move, he damages the apartment.

And he believes that is why he is being forced out of the apartment.
Plywood covers a hole Dibendetto says he put in the floor with his foot.
His mother says its been unfixed for a few months.
The floor and tub are sinking in the bathroom and the family says the toilet doesn't flush anymore. (yikes)
Apparently, the eviction has nothing to do with any rent issues, the family has paid it on time every month. 
Instead there are violations that no one wants to talk about.
Dibendetto says the family has not been given enough time to find a new place to live.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

“You gotta get something to eat"

What a week! Hot dogs with David Cameron on a guys night out, a lunchtime stop at a barbeque and ribs restaurant where the president had possession of a takeout bag containing 2 slabs of baby back ribs and a brisket sandwich with fries.

And oh yes, there was also the Bison Wellington at state dinner this week.

Perhaps this has something to do with his advice about standing and eating.

President Barack Obama has taken to advising audience members who faint during his events: "Eat something."
“Folks do this all the time in my meetings, you’ve always got to eat before you stand for a long time.”
“All right, remember next time if you’re standing for a long time, you gotta eat,” he told the person. The audience laughed, apparently not taking him seriously enough. “No, no, it’s true,” the president said. “You gotta get something to eat."

Something's Fishy - Fish Fraud

Next time you see those big, juicy looking scallops behind the fish counter, you just might want to take a second  look.
They might be a lot smaller than they look.
Why? Because a sodium-based compound can bloat scallops to a lot bigger than they actually are.
And then there's that pollock fillet where the price includes the layers of ice, glazed over it to keep it fresh.
This "overglazing" is just another way of saying "fraud" as does the "soaking" of scallops, which can also alter the taste.

The problem with detecting fraud by the soaking or overglazing is that both involve legitimate ways to keep seafood fresh, so it's difficult to tell when someone is being fraudulent.

The soaking of scallops and other seafood, such as shrimp and even whitefish fillets, involves moisture retention agents that keep seafood fresh.
Scallop absorb like a sponge, in fact  they can absorb as much as half its own weight in water. 
The truth about these bloated scallops becomes clear when they hit the frying pan, shrink and their water burns off.

It's widely known that seafood fraud also happens with species substitution, when sellers secretly replace one species with a similar tasting, cheaper fish — like whiting for grouper, or mako shark for swordfish.
Other incidents of fraud of species substitution is where an expensive species such as mahi mahi could be substituted with yellowtail without the knowledge of consumers.

A December test from Consumer Reports found that, of 190 pieces of seafood purchased at retail stores and restaurants on the East Coast, a fifth weren’t what they had claimed to be. 

The fraud may also introduce unexpected toxins or contaminants into the homes of unsuspecting consumers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Imported-Food Outbreaks On The Rise

Here's some more cheerful news, outbreaks of illness connected to imported food have risen since the late 1990s.

The 39 outbreaks from imported food reported between 2005 and 2010 represent a small fraction of total cases of food-borne illnesses such as salmonella or E. coli, according to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But the rise in imported-food outbreaks seems to be mostly from fish and spices, yes, spices.

The foods, including fish, oysters, cheese, sprouts and seven other types of products, were shipped from 15 countries. Nearly 45% of those foods came from Asia. 
Most people became I'll with salmonella or histamine fish poisoning, a bacterial disease contracted from eating spoiled dark-flesh fish that causes rashes, diarrhea, sweating, headaches and vomiting. The outbreaks led to 2,348 cases of illness.

Among the largest of those outbreaks was one in 2008 linked to jalapeño and serrano peppers from Mexico contaminated with salmonella. More than 1,400 people were sickened and more than 280 were hospitalized with salmonella in 43 states.

Other major outbreaks reviewed in the study were a 2007 recall of Veggie Booty, a puffed rice snack that was found to contain contaminated raw materials from China that led to 52 cases of salmonella in 17 states, and a 2010 outbreak of typhoid fever tied to frozen fruit pulp that originated in Guatemala.

The CDC estimates more than 3,000 Americans die annually from food poisoning and 48 million are sickened.

The amount of food imported has nearly doubled in the past decade, to 10.7 million shipments in 2009 from 5.6 million shipments in 2002, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which inspects shipments. Nearly 16% of food consumed by Americans comes from abroad, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Between December 2008 and April 2009 at least 79 people became ill with a strain of Salmonella from spices.

In the recall, numerous dry spices, including Cumin powder, Cloves, Crushed Chili powder, Dried Cloves Powder, Orange Peel Powder, Coriander Powder, Black Sesame Seed, Coriander, Pepper Corn Powder, Fennel Seed, White Sesame Seed, Fennel Seed Powder, Turmeric, Cinnamon Powder, Ginger Powder, Garlic Salt, Meat Tenderizer, Black Pepper Salt, Bay Leaves, Five Spices powder, Nutmeg, and Star Anise powder were all recalled for Salmonella contamination. 

While its all well and good to point fingers at importers from other countries, let's not forget, the USA has had its own share of food outbreaks lately.

Beehive stolen from outside Houston restaurant

Who would have guessed that beehive theft is on the rise?

KHOU in Houston reports that thieves loaded a 500 pound beehive valued at $1,000 into their truck and stole it from outside a local restaurant.

The above photo is not the hive in question.

The restaurant's chef said the thieves must have known what they were doing because they stole on a rainy and cold day, a time when bees are least active.

Beekeepers Association membersJennifer Scott say that these kinds of thefts are on the rise because bees and raw honey, are in short supply.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chef Mario Batali settles lawsuit for $5.25 million

Batali owns several restaurants including including Babbo, Bar Jamon, Casa Mono, Esca, Del Posto, Lupa, Otto, and Tarry Lodge. 
Well, over one hundred waiters, busboys, bartenders, captains, runners and other staff sued Mario for allegedly withholding tips and failing to pay for overtime work.
The staff claimed that, at the end of each night, the owners would calculate four to five percent of the evenings total wine sales, and then deduct that amount from the staff's tip pool. There are reports that the money Batali and his partner took from the tip pool, was kept for themselves. 

Judge Richard J. Holwell wrote in his ruling that the restaurant staff was told these deductions from their tip pool went to replace broken glasses and dishes, but Holwell found no evidence of this.

The plaintiffs also claimed that the two business partners failed to properly pay overtime when restaurant staff had to work 10 hours, or more, a day.

Lawyers for both sides of the case have issued the exact same statement, which said, "The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties."

Even though this case has been resolved, Batali and his partner are involved in another lawsuit, brought about by wait staff and other employees of their New York restaurant, Del Posto. Employees of this restaurant are suing the pair, claiming that they are still owed not just tips, but also hourly wages.

Wow, this guy goes from the frying pan into the fire.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Coke, Pepsi make changes to avoid cancer warning

 Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. have decided to change the way they make the caramel coloring used in their sodas because of yet another California law that mandates drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens bear a cancer warning label.

Coca Cola and Pepsi say their drinks have always been safe and that their sodas will not taste any different.
A Food and Drug Administration spokesman noted that a consumer would have to drink more than 1,000 cans of soda a day to reach the doses administered that have shown links to cancer in rodents.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

George Washington McNugget Sells for $8,100 on EBay

The E-bay bidder who offered $8,100 for a chicken McNugget shaped like George Washington has decided to back out.

E-bay rules allow the seller to sell it to the second-highest bidder. They offered $8,000 for it.

If they don't want it, the owner can offer it to the third bidder, and so on until it's sold.

She has 60 days to figure out what to do with it. The money was supposed to go to her local church.

A Nebraska woman has sold a three-year-old McDonald’s Chicken McNugget that kind of looks like President George Washington for $8,100 on eBay.

Rebekah Speight sold the McNugget to raise money to send 50 children to summer church camp.

Rebekah says her children didn’t eat the McNugget during a McDonald’s visit three years ago. Just when was about to throw it away she noticed George Washington’s resemblance. 
For three years she has kept the McNugget in her freezer.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Man Sues AMC Theatres Over Snack Prices

Joshua Thompson enjoys going to the movies but
hates the prices theaters charge for soda and candy.

So, like so many other sue happy people, he has decided to file a class action suit against his local AMC theater, hoping theaters statewide lower snack prices.

"He got tired of being taken advantage of," said Thompson's lawyer, "It's hard to justify prices that are three- and four-times higher than anywhere else."

American Multi Cinema, which operates the AMC theater in Livonia, wouldn't comment on the suit. A staffer at the National Association of Theatre Owners in Washington, D.C., angrily hung up the phone when asked about industry snack pricing practices.

"The prices are ridiculous," Rebecca Motley, 55, a self-employed Southfield physician, said while leaving the AMC. (photo below)

Motley said she and her office manager spent $5 each for morning movie tickets and $11 each for soft drinks and popcorn.

"When I was a kid, $1 could get you into the movies and buy you a pop and popcorn. But not anymore," Motley said. "I don't know how kids can go on their own to a movie anymore."

Then there was another person complaining: "Movie concession prices are extremely high, and that's why I don't stop at the snack bar very often," he said while leaving the AMC theater.

Thompson said in his lawsuit that he used to take his own pop and candy to the AMC in until the theater posted a sign banning the practice.

The suit accused AMC theaters of violating the Michigan Consumer Protection Act by charging grossly excessive prices for snacks.

The suit seeks refunds for customers who were overcharged, a civil penalty against the theater chain and any other relief Judge Kathleen Macdonald might grant.

Some consumer lawyers predicted that suit will dismissed  because "It's a loser," says Gary Victor, an Eastern Michigan University business law professor. 
Ian Lyngklip, a nationally known consumer lawyer in said: "Movie theaters are regulated, so the lawsuit won't go anywhere"

All of us here in the Voodoo Kitchen always bring our own drinks and snacks into the theater.
We only buy the popcorn, with extra butter of course.

We simply don't care what the theater sign days, (actually, we have never seen such signs) but if push comes to shove, well just stop going altogether.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart serve cold shoulder


There was a giant serving of cold shoulder recently when Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray were at the same new restaurant Il Buco Alimentaria & Vineria in New York.
The atmosphere was as cold as ice when they found themselves seated at nearby tables. 
Witnesses said Stewart, whose daytime television show was recently canceled, was “noticeably glaring in Ray’s direction throughout her meal.” Meanwhile, Ray, who was seated with Time magazine food writer Josh Ozersky, became visibly uncomfortable — so much so that after having her appetizer, she left with her main course in a doggie bag.

Perhaps Stewart was upset because Ray’s daytime show is moving into her empty studio.
Another witness said: “Martha was staring Rachael down as soon as she walked in with a group of friends. Martha looked disgruntled. You could definitely feel Martha’s heat in that kitchen.”
A third witness said: “They were both there for dinner unbeknownst to the other. Rachael’s daytime show is moving into Martha’s old studio. I’m sure Martha isn’t excited that Rachael is moving into her space. Rachael is fond of Martha; she’s had her on her show before. It was very uncomfortable for Rachael. She and her group had their appetizers, then asked for their entrees to go."

Back in 2009, after Stewart told “Nightline,” “[Rachael] just did a new cookbook, which is just a re-edit of a lot of her older recipes. And that’s not good enough for me . . . Rachael is different. She’s more of an entertainer . . . with her bubbly personality, than she is teacher, like me. That’s not what she’s professing to be.” Stewart later issued a half-apology. Ray’s spokesperson declined to comment, and Stewart’s rep said, “Martha was not aware Rachael was in the restaurant.”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Baby Mice Wine

Sold in China and other parts of Asia, Baby Mice Wine is the modern day snake oil,  the cure-all for practically everything.

We are promised that it fixes asthma, liver disease and everything in between.
Baby Mice Wine is made out of new-born mice, and while still alive, they are drowned in the rice wine and stuffed into bottles.

The dead baby mice ferment for a year in the rice wine and the finished product is a concoction that tastes like gasoline.

The Chinese can really get edgy with their food and beverage, can't they?