World on a Plate

Exploring culture. One plate at a time.

Month: April, 2005

Chinese Watermelon Art

Chinese Watermelon Art

I simply do not have this level of patience and skill!

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Late July Organics

Pb_rich_lg Cape Cod Potato Chips makes a great chip. Twenty-five years ago the Bernard family began producing a potato chip that not only tasted great but was made without trans fats, hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, artificial flavors, artificial colors or preservatives. It’s not not your typical chip.  It’s thicker, crunchier and tastes, well, like a potato.  It certainly makes a green girl feel less guilty about her snacking.

So when I heard that the company has founded Late July Organic Snacks, and that they are hoping to do for sandwich crackers what they did for potato chips in the ’80s–well it’s worth checking out.  One of the first product roll-outs will be a a replacement for those vending machine orange and peanut butter crackers. The difference being that creamy, organic Valencia ground peanut butter and aged, organic cheddar cheese will be sandwiched between their organic Classic Rich Crackers.

In the organic food category organic snack foods are the red-hot.  Large food companies such as Frito-Lay has emerged as the No. 1 seller of organic snacks. It recently introduced organic Tostitos chips and Doritos. But remember just because it’s organic doesn’t mean that it’s good for the you. 

Late July’s  USDA certified organic snacks are available nationally in natural products stores, gourmet stores and supermarkets such as Whole Foods and Wild Oats.  The packaging is pretty swell, too.

The Five Verse Egg

“If you boil an egg while singing all five verses and chorus of the hymn, ‘Onward Christian Soldiers.’ it will be cooked perfectly when you come to Amen.”

Letter to the Editor, London’s ‘Daily Telegraph’

Taco Trucks

Laperla2 The flight of anxiety is now past.  As a way to celebrate I went to lunch.  This is a bit of an event in that I work in an industrial park 50 miles south of San Francisco.  I am surrounded by options such as Chili’s, Denny’s, Friday’s and Teriakyi Bowls.  There are a few places that I have discovered–that surprisingly no one here at work has ventured to. Today’s celebration was to a recently discovered Taco Truck.  I was so thrilled when I came back from lunch.  Everyone, huddled over cold pizza leftover from the senior staff meetings, wanted to know how it was that I could eat food off a truck. 

What most people don’t know is that trucks must follow the same food safety and sanitation requirements as restaurants.  It is after all a restaurant on wheels. 

Today, I had a guava juice, a birria and two carne asadas tacos on fresh corn tortillas splashed with spicy fresh cilantro and onions.  All for $5.25.  The carne asada was remarkable.  Simple pleasures after a few stressful days.

Photos:  JB (with the new Sony Cybershot–the Canon 70 has biten the dust)

La_perla1    Laperla3

Abalone to Zungenwurst

Ramblings of cranky woman.

It’s been quite a week.  Very low lows and high highs. Emotionally speaking–some of it just too personal to reveal here. Other events too boring to detail out–such as my tax bill, and the BIG marketing strategy presentation that needs to be pulled together in less than 72 hours. And there goes most of my weekend.  And I find PowerPoint dangerously linear. Although David Byrne’s view of the presentation software is intriguing and pleasing to me.  My hope is that this strategy will be implemented but this corporate citizen knows that when a bunch of men (really there’s no woman in senior management, but I won’t start up on that) get in a big board room egos and any sense of sound business process seem to be left at the door.  Anyway, I’m learning to hold no expectations of corporate success but just do my best job.  I had my first 100% leaded coffee in three in a half months due to all these machinations.  Quite a delicious cafe con leche from San Francisco’s newsest cafe via Cafe Lo Cubano. Hearing Ruth Reichel in conversation with Isabel Duffy/City Arts & Lectures seems like a far off mid-week deviation. In fact when Ms. Reichel closed she told a story of a friend who teaches at a Bronx middle school.  The instructor held up an orange and half the students didn’t know what it was–the other half thought that orange juice grew in a box.  I wept silently and quietly in the dark hall.  Similiar experience also happened to me when I watched the American Masters show on Alice Waters when they talked to the kids at the Edible Schoolyard.

Here’s about what I can muster for today–a small, fun quiz for food lovers.  Ma naturalmente parlo la lingua della cucina! (10/10!) (Sto sognando recentemente di Roma y Toscana.)   

Go Organic

Usda Sixty-five percent of U.S. adults are aware of organic foods and beverages — and nearly as many (57%) say they are concerned about chemicals used to grow food. What’s more, barely 30% of consumers say they trust the U.S. government to regulate pesticides and other chemicals that affect the health of their food, according to a new national survey from the Natural Marketing Institute commissioned for this April’s "Go Organic! for Earth Day" campaign.  Other key findings included:

  • –Two-thirds of Americans who use organic food (44% of the U.S.
    population) would like organic food served in school cafeterias.
  • –65% of consumers perceive organics as better for their health, 61%
    perceive organic food as safer to eat, and 55% consider organics better
    for the environment.
  • –Organic food users tend to be better educated, younger, and more likely
    to be employed — 73% of college-educated consumers are aware of
    organic foods, compared to 59% awareness among those without a degree.

For more information on the 2005 "Go Organic! for Earth Day" campaign, visit http://www.organicearthday.org .

A Brick of Wine, Please

3cab_1 This isn’t a post about wine. It’s a marketing post about wine. Quite a few posts have been written about Three Thieves and wine that is cheap due to an after market purchase and the addition of a screw cap. This is only a small part of the story. 

Three Thieves wine is produced by three vintners who call themselves "liberators of fine wine."  The wine producers started selling wine virtually in 2003.  The upstart winery bottled, er, ah, is jugged into squat glass containers that hold 33% more than the standard  750-ml bottle.  Known as much for their innovative packaging as for what is in it, the Three Thieves may turn out to be branding geniuses. They have willingly chosen to ignore all the standard branding and packaging rules for selling wine.

And they are succeeding. According an article in Brand Packaging, "Three Thieves sold 100,000 cases of wine under its namesake brand in 2003, its inaugural year. The brand is one of the hottest-selling table wines in the United States, and projections are for sales of 600,000 cases in 2005."

The “thieves” are Roger Scommegna, Charles Bieler and Joel Gott. Scommegna handles the marketing responsibilities from the consumer packaged goods center  of Milwaukee, while Gott is a third-generation Napa Valley name as he operates Joel Gott Wines in Oakville, Calif. Bieler’s family operates Chateau Routas in France.  The Three Thieves purchase supplies of high quality and premium wines from around the world, package it and distribute the finished product to consumers at an affordable cost.

The initial marketing task was to create a perception that Three Thieves was to produce a great everyday wine for under $10.00.  A "steal" if you will. The packaging is distinct. Jugs and labels were designed to fit with their image of Americana. It also resembles a moonshine bottle. The personality of the brand is carried out at their website and in fashionable logo’d t-shirts and hats. Another conscious decision was to use a  screw cap which costs 2.5 cents per unit, compared with 30 to 50 cents per unit for cork.

Tetra Now the group is moving into carton-based aseptic package for Italian white wine, which it will market under the Bandit Bianco name.  The carton will carry a retail price of $5.99, a bit more than half of the jug’s $9.99 retail price.  They are able to hold the costs down due to this new packaging option which costs "14 cents per unit, compared with $1.50 for a standard glass bottle with a cork closure." according to Brand Packaging.  Most of us here in the States turn our noses up at boxes of wine.  But in Italy, over 50% of the wine is sold in this form in grocery stores. 

According to a press release from Tetra Pak, the manufacturers of the "brik" container" it has an "easy opening with tight re-closing to protect the product, and pouring control and accuracy. The package…will better differentiate Three Thieves’ premium wine brands on the shelf and make them extremely economical to distribute, store and stock."  This is another element to their formula–in-store merchandising.  They requested that they have stand-alone displays and provide "orange-and-black paperboard shippers, when stacked alternatively on their orange or black sides, create a checkerboard pattern that makes them eye-appealing as floor displays."

I love rule breakers, particularly when creativity, intuition and experience combine to prove winning. And this is at least, most of the tale.

Brand Packaging article on Three Theives

Review from Wine Gourmet (September 2004)

"The winemakers have turned high quality Zinfandel juice into a bright, fruity red wine that displays notes of blackberry, raspberry, vanilla, chocolate and sugar-dusted violets. There is just enough tanginess on the finish to be refreshing with non-serious foods such as burgers, B-L-T sandwiches, or grilled eggplant drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Don’t be afraid of the screw cap because this is the wave of the future."

Dippin Dots

Dd_ice "Dippin’ Dots are tiny, cryogenically frozen beads of ice cream, yogurt, sherbet and flavored ice. Invented in 1988 by microbiologist and entrepreneur Curt Jones, Dippin’ Dots offers more than 20 different flavors, plus seasonal flavors."  So states a recent news story about the company whose operations span eight countries. 

What Jones discovered was that the flash-freezing process makes for a richer, fresher-tasting ice cream.  So merrily Jones prevailed. In 1988 he established the company; by 1996 the ice cream operator placed 171st on Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 500” list of fastest growing privately held companies. By 2000, the first franchise was offered and today  growth has accelerated.  In March of this year, Franchise Times magazine’s annual listing of the fastest growing, young franchises in the nation ranked Dippin’ Dots #1.

Today, the  International Dairy Foods Association awarded Dippin’ Dots with four of its ‘Achieving Excellence Awards’ including Best in Show award for the marketing and promotion of the company’s new Dot Delicacies product line which includes a recent line extension of ice cream cakes, Dotwich ice cream sandwiches and Dippin’ Stix, vanilla cookie sticks made to dunk into a fudge sauce then dip into Dippin’ Dots.

So why have I never heard of beaded ice cream?  Mr. Jones has even been on Oprah! he’s practically a household name.  One possibility is that for the most part Dippin’ Dots can be found at thousands of locations worldwide, most in malls, theme parks, fairs and festivals, stadiums, and arenas. But I can’t help but feel left out of a new taste sensation.  If you are in San Francisco there’s a Dippin Dots at Moscone Center and the SF Zoo.  Next time I’m at either place I am going to get me some Dots.

Dippin’ Dots Location Finder

Garlic and Sapphires

Gs "Food writers are generally a self-abasing lot, in thrall to master chefs they consider their creative betters and doubtful of the very validity of their profession — a profession that ”alone among all human vocations,” the former Gourmet restaurant critic Jay Jacobs once wrote, ‘culminates in ignoble defecation.’ But Ruth Reichl is different."  {snippet of David Kamp’s review}

Continue on to The New York Times book review of ‘Garlic and Sapphires’

Baking Secrets

"This recipe is certainly silly. It says to separate the eggs, but it
doesn’t say how far to separate them.”
                                                     Gracie Allen, comedienne

Read from the archive:  Farm Fresh Eggs