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WikiPearls: the future of ice cream?

24 Jul

WikiPearls

Just found a fascinating article from TheKitchn.com about a brand new frozen treat called ”WikiPearls.”These little treats consist of your standard ice cream, but wrapped inside a flavorful skin. They won’t melt all over you and make a mess, and they are positively delicious. Is this where ice cream is headed in the future? Here’s what The Kitchn had to say:

“The ice cream comes in three flavors: mango ice cream with coconut skin, chocolate ice cream with hazelnut skin, and vanilla ice cream with peanut skin. Currently you can only get WikiPearls at the WikiBar in Paris.

The masterminds behind the protective membrane, Harvard professor David Edwards and French designer Francois Azambourg, say the purpose of these protective skins, or WikiCells, is to reduce waste and improve the consumer’s health through vitamin-supplemented skins and portion control. One ice cream ball has only 50 calories.”

Check out the rest of the article here, and let us know what you think of this new sweet treat!

Say What? Restaurants Looking Into Noise Reduction Technology

15 Aug

We’ve all been there – you go out to eat and spend the whole meal shouting across the table. Loud restaurants can be a major turn-off for diners. But now, thanks to a new high-tech sound system controlled by iPad, a new new-control solution could be in the works. Check out the video, from restaurantnews.com

http://www.restaurantnews.com/high-tech-sound-system-lets-restaurant-control-noise-level/

You, dear shoppers, are terrible at math.

12 Jul

This is fascinating: an article came out in The Atlantic recently that talks about how we make decisions while shopping. As it turns out, we aren’t very savvy. We may think we’re getting a deal, but since we don’t really know how much something should cost, or because of the way the store layout is designed, we often buy something that’s too expensive just because it’s made to look cheaper. See just how ‘hopeless’ The Atlantic thinks we consumers are when it comes to math, and leave your own two cents at the bottom of the article.

Article originally published in The Atlantic; shared by LifeHacker.

How Numbers Affect Your Shopping Choices

Most of us stink at doing math on the fly. Worse, we’re easily persuaded with shifty numbers at retail stores to think we’re getting a deal. The Atlantic takes a look at the ways our brains interpret numbers and how retail stores take advantage of that.

It’s no secret that we all do a lot of stupid things while shopping, but as the Atlantic points out, it’s not always our fault. We’re just bad at interpreting numbers:

First: Consumers don’t know what the heck anything should cost, so we rely on parts of our brains that aren’t strictly quantitative. Second: Although humans spend in numbered dollars, we make decisions based on clues and half-thinking that amount to innumeracy.

The Atlantic puts together 11 examples of our bad math, and many are points most of us have heard before: we’re heavily influenced by the first number, we let emotions get in the way, and we’re obsessed with the number nine. One rather tricky method stores might use against you is all about product placement:

In his book Priceless, William Poundstone explains what happened when Williams-Sonoma added a $429 breadmaker next to their $279 model: Sales of the cheaper model doubled even though practically nobody bought the $429 machine. Lesson: If you can’t sell a product, try putting something nearly identical, but twice as expensive, next to it. It’ll make the first product look like a gotta-have-it bargain. One explanation for why this tactic works is that people like stories or justifications. Since it’s terribly hard to know the true value of things, we need narratives to explain our decisions to ourselves. Price differences give us a story and a motive: The $279 breadmaker was, like, 40 percent cheaper than the other model — we got a great deal! Good story.

We’ve seen this idea before with the compromise-price effect. The idea that you’re getting a deal, and more importantly, that you can tell people you got a deal, might be a surprising factor you can consider next time you’re out shopping. The story you brain comes up with might not be wrong (you might actually be getting a good breadmaker), but it’s worth considering.

Head over to the Atlantic for a full break down of all the ways numbers negatively influence your shopping experience. The more your know about how your brain poorly interprets these numbers, the better chance you have to counteract them when you’re out shopping.

The 11 Ways That Consumers Are Hopeless at Math | The Atlantic

British Retailers Turn Fish Heads Into Energy

20 Jun

Most people pitch the ‘gross’ leftover food scraps they don’t use for cooking. But in England, retailers are trying to change that practice. Chicken fat, fish heads, and leftover sandwiches are just a few of the scraps being carted off to biogas plants so they can be reused as an energy source. As business owners become more environmentally conscious, this new role for discarded food comes right on time.

Bloomberg news reports on the latest developments – read the whole article and learn more by following this link to the article on their website.

British Retailers Turn Waste Into Power

By on June 14, 2012

Bloomberg News

John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, likely never had an inkling that his culinary invention would revolutionize lunchtime. And it’s certain that he never dreamed that a cheddar ploughmans or an egg and cress would one day serve to heat British homes in wintertime.

Tesco (TSCO), Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, along with Marks & Spencer Group (MKS), John Lewis Partnership’s Waitrose, Wal-Mart’s (WMT) Asda unit, and J Sainsbury (SBRY), are carting off chicken fat, fish heads, and leftover sandwiches to biogas plants for conversion into electricity. For many British retailers, the new waste management dovetails with environmental aims. M&S announced this month that it had achieved its five-year objective of becoming “carbon neutral”—a goal many of its competitors share..

READ FULL ARTICLE

Happy Truffle Day!

2 May

Happy National Truffle Day, everybody! If you’ve been craving something sweet and delicious all week, now is the perfect excuse to indulge. In honor of the day, here’s a little truffle trivia for you:

Truffles were invented in France, and fashioned after the truffle fungus. Popular history holds that a man named Louis Dufour created the first chocolate truffle on this day in 1895. These delicious treats can be made of dark, milk, or white chocolate, and some even have a special liqueur to add something extra to the flavor.

Today’s truffles come in three main varieties: American, European, and Swiss.  They all have a couple of things in common: each truffle type includes a creamy ganache filling, and each is topped with coca, coconut, or melted, drizzled chocolate. Exquisite! Of course, every baker makes truffles with their own twist, which makes trying a lot of different varieties even more fun.

Fun fact: Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was a great fan of “Prestat truffles,” a chocolate shop opened in London that is credited with bringing truffles to their current popularity in England.

Here are a couple of links to get you cooking:

Read more about truffle history and creation here

Find a scrumptious truffle recipe (plus some tips on selecting chocolate and ingredients) to try here

Check out a video of a news team making their very own truffles here

Restaurant Performance Index Is Up to Highest Level in Almost 6 Years

31 Jan

Great news for restaurants – this past December, the performance index for restaurants rose to its highest level in just about six years. Check out the stats below, from RestaurantNews.com, and read the full article on their website.

Restaurant operators reported strong same-store sales and customer traffic levels in December; Operators’ plans for capital spending at highest level in more than four years

Restaurant Performance Index Rose to Highest Level in Nearly Six Years in DecemberRestaurant Performance Index Rose to Highest Level in Nearly Six Years in December

Washington, D.C.  (RestaurantNews.com)  Fueled by solid same-store sales and traffic results and a bullish outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) rose sharply in December. The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 102.2 in December, up 1.6 percent from November and its highest level in nearly six years. In addition, December represented the third time in the last four months that the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“Aided by favorable weather conditions in many parts of the country, a solid majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales and customer traffic levels in December,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “In addition, restaurant operators are solidly optimistic about sales growth in the months ahead, and their outlook for the economy is at its strongest point in nearly a year.”

“Coupled with the solid November results, the RPI’s impressive December performance bodes well for continued positive industry momentum in the year ahead,” Riehle added. “The ripple effect will likely be felt throughout the supply chain as well, with restaurant operators’ plans for capital spending rising to its highest level in more than four years.”

Watch a video of Riehle summarizing the December RPI.

The RPI is constructed so that the health of the restaurant industry is measured in relation to a steady-state level of 100. Index values above 100 indicate that key industry indicators are in a period of expansion, and index values below 100 represent a period of contraction for key industry indicators. The RPI consists of two components, the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index.

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 102.1 in December – up a solid 1.9 percent from November and its strongest level in seven years. December also represented the third time in the last four months that the Current Situation Index stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the current situation indicators.

Building on a solid November performance that saw the strongest same-store sales results in more than four years, restaurant operators reported even better numbers in December. Sixty-nine percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between December 2010 and December 2011, while only 18 percent reported a same-store sales decline. This marked the strongest net positive sales performance since February 2004, when 70 percent of operators reported a sales gain and 17 percent reported lower sales.

Restaurant operators also reported solid customer traffic results in December. Fifty-seven percent of restaurant operators reported higher customer traffic levels between December 2010 and December 2011, while just 23 percent reported a traffic decline. In November, 41 percent of operators reported higher customer traffic, while 32 percent reported a traffic decline.

In addition to positive sales and traffic levels, capital spending activity among restaurant operators continues to trend upward. Forty-eight percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, the highest level in six months.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators’ six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 102.3 in December – up 1.3 percent from November and its highest level in a year. In addition, December marked the fourth consecutive month that the Expectations Index stood above 100, which represents a positive outlook among restaurant operators for business conditions in the months ahead.

For the first time in a year, a majority of restaurant operators expect their sales to be higher in the months ahead. Fifty-one percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), up from 41 percent who reported similarly last month. In comparison, only seven percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, down from 12 percent last month.

Restaurant operators are also much more optimistic about the direction of the overall economy in the coming months. Thirty-nine percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, up from 27 percent last month and the strongest level in nearly a year. In comparison, only 11 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, down from 16 percent who reported similarly last month.

With higher sales and an improving economy expected in the months ahead, restaurant operators are also beefing up plans for capital spending. Fifty-five percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up from 47 percent last month and the strongest level in more than four years.

The RPI is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which is fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor, and capital expenditures. The full report and a video summary are available online.

The RPI is released on the last business day of each month, and more detailed data and analysis can be found on Restaurant TrendMapper (www.restaurant.org/trendmapper), the Association’s subscription-based service that provides detailed analysis of restaurant industry trends.

National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index
Values Greater than 100 = Expansion; Values Less than 100 = Contraction
Restaurant Performance Index Rose to Highest Level in Nearly Six Years in DecemberSource: National Restaurant Association

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 960,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of nearly 13 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry’s largest trade show (NRA Show May 5-8, 2012, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart, including the National ProStart Invitational April 27-29, 2012, in Baltimore, Md.); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids’ menu options. For more information, visit www.restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.

Happy One Hundred Years, Girl Scouts!

6 Jan
 The Girl Scouts turn 100 this year – and they’ve got a special cookie out to celebrate.
While it’s true that they are not a local dining spot or cooking-related news story (the main themes of this blog), the girl scouts have been a big part of communities big and small all across the country for a century now – and we think that deserves a congrats!
The following is from Foodista.com – check out the article on their site too!

Savannah Smiles are the New Girl Scout Cookie

January 6, 2012
cookies

To celebrate their 100 year anniversary, the Girl Scouts are releasing Savannah Smiles, a lemon cookie inspired by the organization’s founder Juliette Gordon Low.  According to the website “…these bite-sized, lemon-wedge cookies dusted in powdered sugar and bursting with lemon flavor. Enjoy these delightful treats, remember where Girl Scouts began …and smile…we are so proud to offer this special cookie that will delight customers and remind girls of their rich heritage and unlimited future.”  Sounds like these cookies are staking great claims of dreaming and happiness but do they taste good? I suppose the only way to find out is to buy a box.  To find out where girl scout cookies are sold near you, click here.