Archive for the ‘Food & drink’ Category

Thu 22 May 2008 9:29 am   //   Posted in: Failure, Food & drink

Call it a comeback

If Indiana Jones can pull off a comeback, what else?

How about Crystal Pepsi.

It was 1993. With fanfare, a Van Halen song, a Super Bowl ad and a bus wrap, PepsiCo introduced a clear cola soft drink. It was good, if not amazing – a mild, sweet, citrus-y alternative to regular Pepsi, sans caffeine. After the marketing push, the beverage flopped and was quickly discontinued. No one will ever drink Crystal Pepsi again.

Or will they? Somewhere at Pepsi headquarters, the mothballed recipe is sitting in a file drawer (or perhaps on a computer). Some middle manager in the company has seen the online petition, has read blog posts like this one, is aware of the current wave of 90s nostalgia. This person is itching to bring it back. Clearly, Crystal Pepsi would be a hit, if only for a couple of months.

Make it happen! Resurrect this soft drink while people still remember it. Maybe in a limited batch, Pepsi Holiday Spice-style. Or do a promotional tie-in with some movie, a comedy set in the past perhaps? You could even orchestrate the return the 16-ounce glass soda bottle. The public awaits.

No idea what I’m talking about? Learn more about Crystal Pepsi here.

Sat 3 May 2008 4:11 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Food & drink

A complete sucker for Brooklyn eats

I’m pretty cynical about branding, but for some reason I’ll buy any food product that says “Brooklyn” on it.

Unfortunately, most of our native products aren’t especially healthy. Off the top of my head… Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup. Brooklyn beer (as well as Coney Island Lager and anything brewed by Six Point). Gorilla Coffee. Manhattan Special soda (made in Brooklyn). Jacques Torres chocolates. Uncle Louie G’s Ice Cream (to which I’ll add 5 Boroughs Ice Cream, even though its from Astoria).

It gets ridiculous. Some stores near me have started selling Brooklyn chewing gum. A local wine shop called Red, White & Bubbly sells wine under the label of “Brooklyn Wine Company,” complete with a Brooklyn Bridge logo on the bottle. The wine inside comes from California.

We’d eat healthier if Brooklyn were famous for tomatoes or apples or fresh fish… rather than beer and pizza and cheesecake and chocolate.

Mon 28 Apr 2008 12:00 pm   //   Posted in: Food & drink

Free ice cream

Tomorrow (April 29) is free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s. You’re welcome.

Tue 22 Apr 2008 11:00 am   //   Posted in: Food & drink, Planet earth, The suburbs

Earth Day every day, every few years

For as long as I can remember, kind of like the cycle of cicadas, there are occasional random years when everybody gets in to ecology. New ideas emerge each time. Each time we hope for the bad ideas to go away (water-saving shower heads?) but for the good ideas to stick (like curbside recycling). But what about the good ideas that somehow got forgotten?

Think back before texting, before satellite radio, before Purell, when we were riding around in minivans, playing Duck Hunt, watching Police Academy movies. This was before carbon offsets, before hybrid cars, before An Inconvenient Truth. But a different brand of conservation was in fashion. The suburban tradition of the balloon launch was scrapped out of concern for the birds. We celebrated Earth Day in school assemblies. I remember businesses actually showing an environmental conscience. Supermarkets collected garbage bags for recycling and McDonald’s had recycling bins in its restaurants for paper and styrofoam.

In our town, convenience stores sold insulated plastic mugs for coffee. If you bought one and kept reusing it, you got a discount each time you bought coffee at the store. My mom, who was mainly a tea drinker, had one in the car. So did every other mom I knew. This was a sensible idea and eliminated disposable coffee cups.

Today, this idea has been completely forgotten. Why? Blame Starbucks. Now if you drive up to a Starbucks, you drive away with a hot drink in a paper cup with a plastic lid and a cardboard sleeve, all disposable. The flow at an espresso bar doesn’t allow a customer to hand the barista a reusable cup and have it handed back filled with coffee. It would gum up the works. Plus it would seem so… down-market! And as goes Starbucks, so goes Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, the supermarket, everywhere.

Coffee cups are a needless waste. Lately, Starbucks seems good at solving problems. They should solve this one.

Tue 15 Apr 2008 8:09 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Food & drink, Hard times

Food costs make it hard to get a slice of the pie

Yesterday I stopped by Whole Foods to buy cereal and something for dinner and walked out $57.93 lighter. Part of this is my fault (I always get suckered into buying expensive stuff at Whole Foods like coffee beans and organic produce). But food costs are seriously high. This is absolutely not cool. As noted in this space previously, bagel prices lept up quite suddenly here in Brooklyn.

This week an AP story on food prices (“Food Costs Rising Fastest in 17 Years“) quotes none other than Steve Tarpin, the legendary Key lime pie maker of Red Hook. I have had Steve’s pies and they are outstanding. Now they cost $25!

Fri 4 Apr 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Food & drink

Chicken Cosmo, lost in space

Unlike my “book deal“, this does not appear to be an April Fools joke:

Penn State: The end of the Cosmo: A Dining Commons tradition runs its course

What was a Chicken Cosmo? It was an ordinary breaded, fried chicken patty on a sandwich. It gained a cult following in the dining commons at the university I attended because…. well, I’m not sure why, but I think the name had a lot to do with it. It sounded very space-age. “I think alumni will be more disappointed than anyone,” says the dining hall director. I guess I’m supposed to be disappointed.

Hats off to the Chicken Cosmo on its final day, today. Check out the Chicken Cosmo graphic on the Penn State Food Services web site.

Fri 28 Mar 2008 7:34 am   //   Posted in: Dinosaurs, Food & drink

Dinosaurs vs. butterflies


My friend Renée was visiting yesterday from Indianapolis, so I took off work and we did the museum thing. We hit the Met and the Natural History Museum both in the same day, including the butterfly garden temporarily on view at Natural History. Renée is a dinosaur buff, so after seeing the dinos at Natural History we went uptown to Dinosaur BBQ for dinner with some friends.

To kill an hour between when the museum closed and when we had to be at Dinosaur, we stopped for tea at Alice’s Tea Room on W 73rd. The tea and scones were excellent, but the place takes the Alice-in-Wonderland thing a little too far. Renée called the glittery butterflies painted on the walls “too girly.”

Dinosaurs vs. butterflies: Dinosaurs win!

(Photo above: Renée Petrina)

Sat 22 Mar 2008 1:33 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Food & drink, Hard times

Hard times

The cost of a bagel at my neighborhood shop just went from 80 cents to $1.

Explanation? High wheat prices.

Wed 27 Feb 2008 8:19 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Food & drink

Provolone? Are they serious??

Domino’s Brooklyn Pizza

Seen here is how Domino’s Pizza is promoting its latest product – “The Brklyn,” a thin-crust pizza with pepperoni and provolone cheese. Yes, provolone. This campaign is actually running in the New York market, where we have access to the best pizza shops in the world.

Domino’s used a similar gimmick about two years ago with its stereotype-fueled “Brooklyn Style Pizza” campaign (which prompted Marty Markowitz to declare, “Domino’s is about as Brooklyn as Sara Lee Cheesecake is Junior’s”).

The concept of “Brooklyn” must be good for selling pizzas, but it doesn’t make any sense. Pizzas in New York vary from shop to shop, and some of the best shops are in Brooklyn, but there’s nothing that distinguishes Brooklyn pizza from Manhattan pizza.

Mon 25 Feb 2008 4:27 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Food & drink, New York is different

The brunch loophole

Park Slope is full of very good restaurants. Most are casual places where you can dine without a reservation and still enjoy something inspired. Eating out quickly can become an expensive habit.

It doesn’t take long to discover the brunch loophole. Drop in most of these restaurants between 11 and 3 on a Saturday or Sunday and you will find an abbreviated menu with selections priced much cheaper. Just one arbitrary example: My favorite Peruvian restaurant offers a brunch special where you can get a main course, coffee and a cocktail for $10.

As a result, you can get familiar with all the best places in the neighborhood without going broke. Bonus: Socially acceptable drinking in the early afternoon!