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Drinking Made Easy

28 Mar

Talk about an early adopter: last weekend in a Binny’s I saw two different beverage promoters, Absolut and St. Germaine toting their products to thirsty customers.  The schism between the two and their target audiences was night and day: Absolut had an easily recognizable brand with a young crowd whereas St. Germaine was forgettable with an older crowd.

Absolut clearly had a cohesive and branded message: two young, attractive women dressed alike in black Absolut threads with modern give-aways.  The freebies were suited to a young or at least a mobile audience.  The physical give-away was a cell phone screen cleaner in the shape of the new Absolut Wild Tea Vodka with an adhesive so it could stick to the back of your phone.

To further the experience, one of the ladies whipped out an iPad to show us their digital give-away; a free app called “Drinkspiration”.  Everybody loves free stuff.  It used to be that a free t-shirt was enough to ply one’s customer base but the app is the new reusable, mobile, multi-function freebie.

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Crain’s 2011 IDEA Conference Detroit

22 Mar

Detroit’s in the news again! Did my iPhone really just auto-correct that to Detritus? Wow, Steve Jobs.

This is a city I well and truly love and where for 16 years every other weekend I would stay with my dad on Jefferson Ave. – the famous central road/highway that cuts through the heart of the city.

Detroit is gaining traction in visibility through more positive channels than ever before. The new Chrysler ads are incorporating Eminem’s music from 8 Mile which welcome a return to the city’s original and unique brand as The Motorcity – “this is what WE do”.

Detroit will host Crain’s 2011 IDEA Conference which fosters opportunity for broader discussions between “leading thinkers, innovators and doers from technology, business, energy, product innovation, social entrepreneurship, design, music, media, automotive, restaurants and more […]” (Crain’s IDEA Conf.).

I love being at work when the new issues of Advertising Age get delivered because not only do I devour the articles but the past few have had front page stories on Detroit … and they’re NOT about arson or failing industries, it’s all gravy, and I LOVE gravy.

Chinato

5 Aug

“Zack Bruell be my boyfriend, are you married?”

“I want to be best friends with lardo.”

These were the one-liners rolling off my tongue as I ate bite after bite of excruating beauty at Chinato, on E. 4th Street.  I’ve lived in Milan, my mother has lived in Bologna and Florence but an evening at Chinato brought us almost to tears.  Here was Italian food, dare I say, better than or on par with the pinnacle of Italian gastronomy in Italy.  The price point is well, on point!  I ate here again just tonight with a friend and with a crudo, an antipasto, an entree, a dessert, a cocktail and a glass of wine WITH tip and tax was $52.  Not to mention the service was outstanding (our waiter from a few weeks ago was our waiter again and remembered us), the wine choices impeccable, we were visited by the chef himself and treated to Damilano Chinato (a digestif) following our meal.

We started with a crudo, tuna with lardo and our hearts melted a little.  My mind was racing to figure out how I could make and eat lardo every day, even if that meant my body would take the name and shape of the delicious slivers that were melting in my mouth.

Next we shared the fresh sauteed sardines with parsley, olive oil and lemon — the nostalgia of eating fresh fried sardines in Genoa when I was 20 washed over me and pulled me, like the strong oceanic undertow, back to that fleeting moment.  After, an exquisite salad of julienned pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, arugula, goat cheese, roasted turnips and balsamic dressing.  I don’t even want to describe the dish because then it’ll just give away the ending.

Our entrees: for me, the fritto misto of sweetbreads with fried caper berries (our country is at least a trillion light years behind every country when it comes to our definition of bar food — because this would blow those pee covered pretzels and peanuts at the bar out of the water), for my mother the veal breast with polenta unlike any kind of polenta you’ve ever had and salsa verde (parsley, olive oil, anchovies).

Dessert was the best almond panna cotta I’ve tasted and also a lemon polenta cake with a scoop of cherry gelato.  This is Italian comfort food, the peasant food, the cheap cuts of meat or fish and making the most out of them by perfecting the cooking technique, letting ingredients speak for themselves and coaxing flavor out of tough cuts.  The result is something like magic.

I’ve taken to listening to TED podcasts in my car on the way to work, and they have a great catch phrase: “Ideas Worth Spreading”.  Recently I came across one that just spoke to me so clearly.  This time it was Chip Conley, who spoke about how we should re-evaluate what we value: GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or GNH … Gross National Happiness.  Surely, a restaurant such as Chinato is a focused human lesson in what we should appreciate and what counts.  What is the logical outcome of people loving what they do and creating what they love for others’ enjoyment?  An intangible measurement, with a very tangible result.  I don’t think it folley to say the lessons in Chinato are ideas worth spreading.

“For The Love of Beer”

29 Jun

A friend sent me a link to the trailer: “For The Love of Beer”.  FINALLY!  Finally there is a documentary coming out about the incredible female brewers across the nation.  I am just kicking myself that I wasn’t the first person to think of it and that I’m not somehow involved.  From the trailer, the documentary looks super awesome and follows some of the top women in the industry and looks at the women who drink the product.  They still need help  in the money area for completion and getting it into theaters, so if you’re interested just follow the link.

Drool Worthy

24 Jun

Between the Travel Channel, TLC and the Food Network, I don’t know which channel to blame for making me ravenously hungry at inconveniently late hours.  And they always seem to coincide with an empty fridge, lack of cakes and absence of gargantuan novelty menu items in my home.  Such a bummer for me.  Anyways, Man v. Food is a show that can either turn my stomach in that I’m-about-to-hurl way OR it turns my appetite on in a big fat way.

He recently came to Melt Bar and Grilled in Lakewood and I missed the show.  But whatever, because I’ve had the pleasure of eating there in person already, dying and going to Heaven.  I’d tried once at their new Cedar Road location but the wait was so long even at 9:30 pm on a Thursday that I bailed for another night and their original location on Detroit Ave. It was a religious experience to say the least.  I ordered the Smoky Russian — don’t worry I knew what I wanted before I got there because I’d already perused the menu online about 20 times, while I mopped the drool off my face.

photo courtesy of KH

The sandwich alone is ridiculously good, like I don’t want to talk to you until I’m done with this good.  The kind of good that makes you chuckle to yourself because you’re so happy and you can’t believe you have the good fortune to be eating this right now good.  But the sandwich is part of a trifecta: the vodka kraut slaw with pickles on top and double fried fries complete the plate, beautifully complimenting its buddies.  The beer selection is also very good, obviously not close to the Beer Engine’s offerings but still very respectable.  The ambiance reminded me of my dorm rooms: Cranberries playing, plastic light-up lawn ornaments over the bar and a Miss Pac Man cooler for bottled beer.  Not to mention the really beautiful blue pressed tin ceiling.  If this place isn’t on your list; you’re either crazy, stupid or have just had open heart surgery and don’t wanna push it.  I repeat:  DROOOOOOOOL WORTHY.

photo courtesy of KH

Victor Churchill

4 Jun

I’m not the first and certainly not the last person to write about Victor Churchill.  I found out about this spot from The Cool Hunter and then begged my mother to stop by while she was on a trip to Sydney earlier this spring.  Like the darling she is, she did and came back with some great pics.

It’s a high end butcher shop in a small, boutique neighborhood in Sydney called Woollahra.  Apparently they have a curing room where they cure meats hung on circulating racks, revolving in front of a wall of salt blocks.  The revolving meat in stasis resembles designer dresses hung styled for the front window, it’s that beautiful.  The door handle itself is made of fake linked sausages.  According to Victor Churchill’s site, the store design is the first retail store project taken on by Dreamtime Australia Design, known for their work elsewhere in the luxury industry.  They have butchers on site who prepare meats and charcuterie for display and by order.

All I have to say, is the second-hand experience is not enough.  I want in this store… badly.  And maybe if I was like the luckiest girl in the whole wide world they’d think I was cool enough to hire me and my dreams would come true.  A girl can dream.

The Cove

19 Mar

When The Cove won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film, the first thing I thought of when I heard the title was the grimy bar at our school.  The issues of this film are far from college drinking habits.  The documentary follows the investigatory grit of Ric O’Barry and his crew in Taiji, Japan who are exposing “the slaughter of more than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises off the coast of Japan every year, and how their meat, containing toxic levels of mercury, is being sold as food in Japan and other parts of Asia, often labeled as whale meat” (www.takepart.com/thecove).

As a child, my father had us subscribed to Dolphin Log and Calpyso Log — two magazines started by the Jacques Cousteau Society that I devoured.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of Jacques Cousteau’s birth — I can only imagine what he would have to say about the atrocities in Japan.  I used to cry when bugs hit the windshield as we drove in the car, making any trip a tragedy for me.  My most vivid and earliest nightmare was of a circus stealing and harming elephants.  These early sensitivities have waned over the years but have been re-enflamed by this documentary and images such as this:

While I watched the ongoing investigation unfold, I started to piece together a few things:

1.  Aptly named L.A. trendy sushi spot, The Hump, had been illegally serving Sei Whale — an endangered species.  They said they were sorry.

2.  Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations was in Panama — shiny new fish market paid for by Japan (Mercado de Mariscos) , “a favor you later have to cash in” as Tony’s local fixer puts it (3:10-3:30).

The images are crippling, the cover-ups appalling and the continuance of a joint government and business practice are disgraceful.  At the very least I urge you to watch this documentary from start to finish but if time is of the essence watch from the 6:59 mark onwards.

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