Archive - November 2012

An Introduction to Shoyu

Dumplings-with-Shoyu-Soy-Sauce

The first time I experienced soy sauce was at a Chinese restaurant in across the street from Queens Center Mall. My aunt would take the family there for family meals. I loved it. Being Latin-American (I am Colombian born), these dressings were intriguingly foreign to me. Duck sauce and soy sauce quickly became some of my favorite condiments.

As I got older, I learned that soy sauce is not just the Kikkoman stuff at Chinese restaurants. There are many varieties, each geared to its own purpose. This post is a mere introduction into basic soy sauce, there are many other types, but this should get you started.

There are lots (and I mean lots) of different types of soy sauce. Just like in wine making, where each bottle of Cabernet varies from the next; soy sauce varies by country, brand, and production style. Different types of soy sauce are produced by changing the fermentation methods,  altering the ratio of water, salt and fermented soy, and adding other ingredients.

Before it was Shoyu, it was hishio; salt fermented with with animal (or vegetable protein) and fiber. Grain hishio (fermented with things like beans, rice, or wheat) evolved into miso.  The leftover liquid is what we now know as shoju.

***Did you know that fish hishio is the predecessor of today’s sushi?

Japan adapted Chinese techniques to develop today’s shoju: soy sauce made from daizu beans (soy beans), salt, and wheat.   

How is Shoju Made?

1. Mix soy beans, wheat, and mold to make koji (an active culture)

2. Mix with salt and water

3. Let ferment & brew for a year

4. Compress to extract the liquid

5. Refine the liquid

Basic Types of Shoju

1. Usukuchi (light): this is more your all purpose shoju. Although it is lighter than Koikuchi, it is saltier.

2. Koikuchi (dark): this one is made from pretty much equal quantities of soy beans and wheat.

3. Tamari (dark): made from only soy beans (no wheat) so it
is safe for a gluten free diet.

Storing Shoyu

Commercial shoyu usually lasts quite a long time because it is pasteurized (and has preservatives added). It is recommended that you use your shoyu within a 3 month period because the flavor dissipates quickly.

If you find natural, preservative free shoju, keep it in the fridge. If it gets a mold on the surface, don’t eat it.

Starbucks Coffee VS Starbarks Doggie Daycare

Starbarks starbucks logos

There’s a battle brewing between a small dog kennel and the corporate conglomerate Starbucks.

Andrea McCarthy-Grzybek and her husband run a daycare and boarding center for dogs called Starbarks.

Starbucks Coffee says their logo and the one used by Starbarks are too similar, and want the Grzybeks to abandoned their name, logo, and website StarbarksDog.com.

Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson said that while the coffee company prefers to reach an “amicable” resolution out of court, “we have a legal obligation to protect our intellectual property in order to retain our exclusive rights to it.”

A closer look reveals that the logo used by Starbarks resembles the Starbuck’s Green logo used from 1987–2010, used now only as a secondary logo.

Starbuck’s current logo was redesigned in 2011, and looks nothing like the logo used by Starbarks.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports Andrea’s dog day care and boarding business opened in March in a refurbished house. Its cage-free, homey interior was beginning to draw a loyal clientele, and then the letter arrived from Starbucks.

Andrea says changing their company name and logo would create a huge financial burden. “We’re a small place,” she said. “Good lord, I’m only paying the bills here.”

Andrea and her husband have already spent about $2,000 on legal costs, and Andrea isn’t sure how much more she can take.

“If we lose, we’d have to pay their lawyers, and that’s the part that’s scary,” she said.

“Can Starbucks seriously be more petty?!” wrote one supporter in a comment on Starbarks’ Facebook page.

“I love the name. Everyone loves it. It’s clever,” Andrea said. “It’s not like we sell coffee or anything they do.”

Andrea offered to change the green in the logo to yellow and the stars to paws, but Starbucks refused her concession.

David-vs.-Goliath

Sun-Times writer Stephanie Zimmerman points out that there have been other David-vs.-Goliath fights over trademarks over the years, with most turning on one of two legal theories: that the newer business is creating confusion in the marketplace or that it is diluting the power of the original trademark.

Dilution is the newer of the two legal tactics. And as might be expected with such a gray area, court cases have gone either way, said Georgetown University law professor Rebecca Tushnet, an expert in trademark law and a visiting professor at the University of Chicago.

Zimmerman cites an example regarding a dog toy called “Chewy Vuitton” that defeated a challenge from designer Louis Vuitton Malletier. But lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret successfully sued a sex-toy shop called Victor’s Little Secret.

Tushnet said that because Starbarks has offered to make substantial changes to its logo, it would be a stretch to say that it dilutes Starbucks’ brand.

But Zimmerman notes corporations stipulate that dilution is like an infection, and if you give a pass to one business, you open the doors to all sorts of copycats.

“Often this is not a battle that the small businesses can afford to fight in court. They can only fight in the court of public opinion,” Tushnet said.

Top 10 Burgers in New York

alice in wonderland statue central park new york

If you are a tourist, you are not seeing the real NYC if you stick to Times Square. New Yorkers only brave “hell” when relatives or out of towners beg to see the lights. In fact, most of us stay clear of that area at all costs. If you are new to New York, there are so many great places to visit. You can see the northern areas of Central Park (make sure to check out the Alice in Wonderland statue on East 74th), The Cloisters at Fort Tyron, Chinatown. Heck, you can go to Astoria and Brooklyn and see how true New Yorkers live.

Now that I’ve ended my rant, if you come to our beautiful city, please (PLEASE) skip out on Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar and TIGF (You can eat there in your own town, I’m sure). We are the best culinary city in the world, you owe it to yourself to experience us this way.

If you are looking for an amazing burger, you will NOT go wrong with any of these choices:

CaVa Brasserie This baby is all about ground prime sirloin. The meat is always cooked to perfection and comes with french onions, tomato, lettuce, fries, and “t.e. sauce”. I’m not quite sure what Todd’s sauce is, but it is a damn good burger.  CaVa Burger $17.

DB BistroThe DB burger is the ultimate sin. I usually split it with four people just to lower my chances of gout and heart attack. Why is it so good? It’s ground sirloin, filled with short ribs braised in red wine, foie gras, and black truffle. The bun is laced with parmesan. I’m going to hell for this one. DB Burger $32

Five Guys – Yeah, Five Guys. So what, I don’t care that they are a chain. Their burgers are juicy, flavorful, and you can get them made any way you want with almost any topping you want. Skip their fries, they tend to be a bit soggy. Cheeseburger $6.95

Jeanne & Gaston – I have a love for this restaurant because they offer really good food at very affordable prices. Their burger is off the hook. It comes on a sweet brioche bun and is dressed with a homemade pickle, herb sauce and Camembert cheese (I think this is what makes it so god). The patty is a mix of prime American beef which is served with home made French Fries. Burger Jeanne & Gaston Style $16

Minetta Tavern - The “Black Label” burger is made with a blend of Pat Le Frieda beef which is topped with caramelized onions, and served on a Balthazar brioche bun.  The burger is succulent, flavorful and worth the money (could be the clarified butter that is drizzled on the burger that takes it over the edge). Black Label Burger $26

Peter Luger - If they make great steak, and they make a great burger. The burger is only available for lunch (at least last time I was there). It is huge, there’s no way you will leave hungry. suggest you get it with cheese and bacon. Burger $10

Shake Shack – You can’t always afford Minetta’s Black Label. Although Shake Shack is not comparable, it is a good “everyday” burger.  This is more your “fast food” burger done with great ingredients. Besides, you can pick up their custard while you are there. Double cheeseburger $7.10.

Spotted Pig - The combination of the burger with Roquefort is simply heavenly. You may think the cheese would overwhelm the burger, but it works perfectly. Besides, the shoestring fries are gorgeous. Chargrilled burger with Roquefort and shoestring fries $20

The Standard Grill -This is a seriously delicious burger. The meat is juicy, and flavorful. Every time I’ve been there it’s been cooked to the perfect temperature. Besides, when I ask them for a fried egg on top, they don’t look at me like I am insane. Killer fries too. Standard ranch burger with bacon & cheese, fries  $15

The Breslin – Get the char grilled lamb burger, it is one of my favorites in the city. The lamb will melt in your mouth like no other burger ever has. The cumin mayonnaise adds that “Je ne sais quoi” that will keep you coming back for more. Char grilled lamb burger with feta, cumin mayo & thrice cooked chips $21

NatureBox: Subscription-Based Snack Delivery Service

NatureBox

NatureBox is a subscription-based online snack delivery service that sends monthly boxes to subscribers priced at $19.95, which includes shipping.

Customers can pause or cancel orders anytime, or request a refund if they aren’t satisfied.

Subscribers can choose from a variety of all-natural snacks or opt for a Discovery Box, allowing NatureBox so-called snack experts to choose and send a new box of snacks each month.

NatureBox products are made from wholesome, minimally processed ingredients, and contain none of the following:

NO trans fats
NO artificial colors
NO artificial flavors
NO artificial sweeteners
NO high fructose corn syrup
NO partially hydrogenated oils

For each box sent to a subscriber, NatureBox claims to donate one meal to hungry children, but (unless I missed it) unlike a similar company who lists the NGO by name, no child or food organization is mentioned, or listed on the NatureBox website.

Each monthly box includes 4 to 6 different NatureBox snacks. The sample box we received, compliments of NatureBox, included Carrot Chips, Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Seeds, Chipotle Maple Almonds, Country Ranch Peas, and Cinnamon Spiced Granola.

There was a little over one ounce of food in each snack bag, for a total of about 5 ounces — that’s $4 an ounce.

I readily confess that every single item we sampled was delicious and oozed with health and freshness in every bite.

But we couldn’t help but notice an intriguing similarity the NatureBox business motif (for every subscriber meal one is donated to a hungry kid) shared with Love With Food, another subscription based company that delivers gourmet snacks and also match-donates a meal to battle childhood hunger.

Aihui Ong launched Love With Food late in 2011 with $645,000 raised from scores of investors. By June 2012, Ong attracted subscribers in all 50 U.S. states.

Last July, Ong’s site exploded with orders, in part through partnerships it arranged with publishers, including influential food and mom bloggers who help to curate and publicize upcoming boxes.

NatureBox founder Gautam Gupta, 26, left his job as a VC at General Catalyst Partners last year to begin his own startup.

Gupta started at General Catalyst as an intern at age 19. During his 4.5 years with the company, he started the firm’s Palo Alto office and worked closely with e-commerce companies.

According to TechCrunch, Gupta was a freshman at Babson College in Massachusetts, where he led his school’s entrepreneurship club and, in the process, fostered connections with a handful of the Boston’s venture capital investors.

“One of those connections developed into a more professional relationship. General Catalyst, a Cambridge, Mass-headquartered venture capital firm, which has recently opened offices in Palo Alto, CA and New York City, hired Gupta as an intern during the school years, a full summer internship, and during his senior year, offered him a full-time position in Harvard Square.”

Over the next five years, Gupta helped source and close five deals for General Catalyst, and helped open the firm’s new Palo Alto offices.

Another interesting similarity is both company founders, Aihui Ong and Gautam Gupta, provide harrowing explanations for why they began their e-Commerce business.

Ong was the victim of an abusive husband who set out to San Francisco with only a backpack, and Gupta grew up overweight, forced to struggle with obesity for most of his life.

But through hard work and dedication, Gautam lost weight by focusing on healthy foods. “Now I am dedicating my life to helping others discover a healthier you.”

Putting the Punch in Rum – A Guide to Caribbean Rum (Infographic)

Guide-to-Caribbean-Rum-Infographic


Did you know that the majority of the world’s rum production occurs in the Caribbean? Now I got more reasons to travel to this islands, beaches and rum cocktails!
So if you’re heading to the Caribbean or have an interest in rum…or both, this Caribbean rum inspired infographic offers outstanding stats on the most expensive and oldest rums, it gives detail of how to make rum, some of the popular rum cocktails plus much, much more. If you are travelling to the Caribbean then please take note of the hangover cure as the cocktails can start early and finish late!

Source: Kuoni Travel

Sarah Palin To Publish New Fitness and Well-Being Book

Sarah-Palin-(Image-via-westernjournalism)

Sarah Palin recently told People Magazine she is working on a new fitness and wellbeing book with her family.

“Our family is writing a book on fitness and self-discipline focusing on where we get our energy and balance as we still eat our beloved homemade comfort foods!”

Palin says she will discuss the topics in “our unique and motivating book,” and added that her family’s method “works.”

The Huffington Post notes Palin has been a dedicated runner for years and once finished the 2005 Anchorage marathon in 3:59, two minutes faster than Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s 4:01 finishing time in 1990 when he was 20 years old.


In 2009, Dan Simmons interviewed Palin in Runners World, where Palin explains that she grew up in a running family.

“My parents caught the running craze in the mid ’70s and we grew up doing family runs. I’ve been running now easy for 35 years.”

Politico mentioned that it’s not clear whether Palin has a contract for the book, but she’s already got her pitch down. “We promise you what we do works and allows a fulfilling quality of life and sustenance anyone can enjoy.”

Barbara Walters selected Palin as one of America’s “10 Most Fascinating People of 2008″ for an ABC special in December 2008, and in April 2010, Palin was selected as one of the world’s 100 most influential people by TIME Magazine.

Speaking of Palin, Ted Nugent commented:

“We who are driven to be assets to our families, communities and our beloved country connect with the principles that Sarah Palin embodies.”

In Palin’s book, “Going Rogue: An American Life,” Palin discusses growing up in the wilds of Alaska, meeting her lifelong love, the importance of family; and describes life as a high-profile working mother.

Restaurants Offer Discounts to Gastric Bypass Patients

mc Donalds obesity ad

NPR’s Jessica Stoller-Conrad questions the wisdom of issuing surgeon-distributed food discount cards to patients that have undergone stomach-shrinking bariatric procedures designed to facilitate extreme weight loss.

The cards are referred to as Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) cards, and when honored by a restaurant, allow patients to order a smaller portion of food for a discounted price.

Jessica notes some popular U.S. restaurants accept the cards. Cracker Barrel restaurants allow patients to order from the inexpensive children’s menu or order a lunch-sized portion for dinner, and Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants have pledged to do the same.

“Even ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffet restaurant Golden Corral provides a discounted buffet price upon seeing a proof-of-surgery card in some locations.”

Although WLS cards have been available for around twenty years, according to Ann Rogers, director at the Penn State Surgical Weight Loss Program, WLS cards have grown in popularity along with the stomach-shrinking surgery itself.

“Now there’s so much word of mouth about it, that if we forget to give them out [after surgery], the patient says, ‘What about those discount cards?’” Rogers says.

Gastric bypass surgery leaves the patient with a stomach pouch about the size of an egg, but Rogers insists that restaurants, especially buffets, still present problems for many patients.

“Unlimited portions and heavily processed, quickly digestible foods that keep patients from feeling full make it difficult to keep the weight off,” says Rogers. “I definitely discourage patients from going to buffet-style restaurants — it’s a danger for everybody.”

Jessica points out that although Rogers discourages her patients from eating at any restaurant, Rogers doesn’t oppose the discount cards.

Rogers acknowledges that it’s acceptable for patients to use the WLS card and splurge at the buffet periodically, and the card also encourages them to order smaller meals at other restaurants.

If patients make healthy choices about 75 percent of the time, they’ll keep the weight off, she says.

Rogers encourages patients to attend regular follow-up appointments. Those who participate in weigh-ins and healthy cooking classes, retain their lost weight about 70 percent of the time.

“For most of our patients, when the patients change their habits, it changes the eating habits of the whole household. It’s pretty educational,” she says.

Changing habits is critical, adds Rogers. It’s a myth that the stomach surgery is a permanent weight loss cure. After surgery, the hunger hormones go down and stay down for a year or two. But, slowly, the hunger starts to come back, Rogers says.

List of Restaurants Offering Discounts to Gastric Bypass Patients

Applebee’s
Chilli’s
Cracker Barrel
Denny’s
Golden Corral
Olive Garden
Outback Steak House
Red Lobster
The Keg

*Contact the restaurants in advance to see what they offer. Cards are not accepted at all restaurants. Click here for updates.

You may be interested in Brazil Gives 50% off to Gastric Bypass Patients

Son Rats Out Dad in $3M Wine Cellar Theft

Wine-Beer-Liquor-Bar

In economic hard times where record numbers of Americans rely on food stamps to survive, not even wine collections are safe from being pilfered by impoverished thieves.

The operator of an Orange County, California business, Legend Cellars, where the public can store rare and expensive wine was charged last month with stealing nearly $3 million in vintage wines from his clients’ chilled storage lockers.

The 64-year-old suspect, George Osumi, was charged with several felonies including burglary and grand theft and faces more than 16 years in prison if convicted.

According to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney’s office, between January 2008 and June 2012 Osumi entered the private storage lockers of three different owners, taking bottles of wine totaling $2.7 million in value and replacing them with cheaper ones.

One client had more than 1,400 bottles taken.

OCWeekly notes Osumi allegedly hired a friend — who had no idea the wine was stolen — to auction off some wine in 2008 and split the proceeds.

Osumi is accused of depositing $280,000 from these sales into his business account and using the money to pay for personal expenses and legal fees.

Between July 20, 2011, and June 7, 2012, Osumi auctioned stolen wine himself and deposited $310,965 into his business account.

“Osumi faces three felony counts of second degree commercial burglary, one felony count each of grand theft, embezzlement by employee, receiving stolen property, and one misdemeanor count for possession of burglary tools with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, property damage over $1.3 million, and crime-bail-crime.”

Shaddi Kamiabipour, an Orange County deputy district attorney, said in order for his customers to not realize he was taking the wine, he (Osumi) left the boxes there, adding that clients believed they were the only ones who had access to their locked storage spaces.

“But he’d replace the wine with Two Buck Chucks. When you have thousands of cases, you’re not going to know if you’re missing wine unless you actually pick up the box and look inside and say, wait a second, this box doesn’t actually go with the wine.”

The lawyer for the suspect’s son, Scott Osumi, and the Legend Cellars president, contacted OCWeekly to clarify that George Osumi is a former employee of the Irvine business.

George “was terminated after it was discovered he embezzled money from the company and his son,” writes Correen Ferrentino of The Law Offices of Correen Ferrentino in Santa Ana.

Correen added that the younger Osumi “has fully cooperated with the investigation conducted by Irvine Police Department and has taken significant steps to increase company security and assist in identify the few customers victimized by the theft.”

Karlsson’s Sly New Marketing Scheme: “Vintage” Vodka

Grey-Goose

With wine the word “vintage” is typically associated with a season’s yield of wine from a vineyard, where weather and growing conditions affect wine from a particular harvest.

But the war over vodka sales has prompted Karlsson’s, a boutique vodka company in Sweden, to unleash a sly new marketing scheme in which they tout “vintage” vodkas.

The company claims each vintage vodka they produce is distilled from a single potato variety, grown on a particular farm during a single season.

So, for instance, Karlsson’s 2008 vintage, released this year, supposedly used a “hearty russet-skinned tuber known as Old Swedish Red,” which Peter Ekelund, who founded Karlsson’s in 2007, said was popular in Sweden a century ago.

The 2009 vintage, to be released in November, was made with the Solist potato, a small, round, yellow specimen. And both types are used in the seven-potato blend that constitutes the company’s standard vodka, Karlsson’s Gold.

“The 2008 is earthy and robust, while the 2009 has a softer, more mellow flavor.”

“The idea behind the company from the very beginning was to see if we can say something about what’s inside the bottle rather than what’s outside the bottle,” said Ekelund.

“Will a vodka taste different if you pick different types of potatoes in different places?”

Ekelund said the company has built up a “library” of distillates, each derived from different potatoes reaped from individual harvests.

“We started with 30 different potatoes,” he said. “We found 15 were useless for making vodka.”

Writing for the New York Times, Robert Simonson said the others were tested, experimented upon and cataloged.

“Just as with grapes, the company found that hot or wet weather can create distinct taste characteristics in potatoes.”

Although some insist each brand of vodka has a unique flavor, the white spirit does not improve with age, and the vast majority of vodka is rarely consumed straight, except in a vodka martini, and even then it’s mixed with a dash of vermouth.

So any variation in taste between Karlsson’s much vaunted vodka vintages would vanish when mixed with orange juice, tonic or Bloody Mary mix.

In other words, unless you are among those rare vodka connoisseurs who drink vodka straight to “capture the nuances of each vodka’s terroir,” buying so-called vintage vodka is a waste of time and money.

Karlsson’s 2009 vodka will be released in an edition of about 1,980 bottles, and it’s not cheap. The 2009 is priced at $80, which is $45 more than Karlsson’s Gold.

Top 10 Vodkas
Courtesy of Buzzle.com

Grey Goose
French manufactured vodka
Premium brand
Winter wheat based, with spring water
Platinum medal at the San Francisco World’s Spirits Championship

Belvedere
Century old Polish brand
Premium brand
Gold rye based, blended with well water, with 4 times distillation
8 Vodka Masters prizes in 2009

Russian Standard Vodka
Russian brand
Top premium brand
Winter grain based, blended with glacier water
Distilled 8 times
3 variants: Original, platinum, gold
1 luxury variant: Imperia

Reyka
First and only vodka from Iceland
Wheat based, glacier water filtered through lava rocks
Produced with the purest water on earth

Finlandia
Finland brand
Six row barley based, blended with glacier water

Absolut
Swedish brand
One of the most popular premium brands
Wheat based
More than 10 flavored variants
Famous advertising campaigns

Stolichnaya Vodka
Russian brand
Top premium vodka
Wheat and rye grains with glacial water
Double distillation
Different pure varieties
New luxury variant Elit

Chopin Vodka
Polish brand
Potato based, 4 times distillation
Double Gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition

42 Below Vodka
New Zealand brand
Stronger premium vodka (42% alcohol)
Wheat based, deep spring water blended
Gold medal in San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Ketel One
Vodka from Netherlands
Wheat based
New flavored variant Oranje released