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Do You St. Patty’s Day?

9 Mar
st pattys shamrock

St Patty's Day Parades will be kicking off around the country as early as this weekend! So get your Irish up!

On St. Patrick’s Day everyone is Irish! Especially in the cities of Boston, New York, Chicago, and Cleveland (I know, I was surprised too!) where the St. Patrick’s Day Parades have been a fixture in some cases for over a century!

Boston was a mecca for Irish immigrants escaping famine or persecution, religious or political. The Irish certainly found a place to call home in the New England metropolis and they brought their food and culture with them! In fact there is an entire website devoted to the Irish pubs of Boston. I recommend you check it out for some St. Patrick’s Day specials and events.

New York City has a very strong Irish community and the city at large has embraced the St. Patrick’s Day holiday with one of the biggest and highly televised St. Patty’s Day parades in the country. There is certainly no shortage of Irish Pubs along the parade route or through-out the city for that matter. Here is a list of NYC’s best Irish Pubs according to NYC’s 10 best list.

In Chicago they go so hard for St. Patrick’s Day that they dye the river green and have been doing so since 1692! They even created a beer in honor of the event called Green River! And stop by O’Donovan’s, in the city’s North Center for some traditional Irish favorites like Corned beef and cabbage or a reuben sandwich.

In Cleveland St Patrick’s Day parade, begun in 1867, is the oldest in the state and one of the oldest in the country. What’s more, there’s plenty of green beer, corned beef, shamrocks, and fun to last from dawn to well past dusk. The quintessential Irish pub, Flannery’s will be open starting at dawn on March 17th ready to serve you a beer and a pint!

Irish pubs are famous for their hospitality and good food and drink. March 17th is the perfect day to see them at their finest!

Even if you’re not in or around one of these heavily Irish populated cities, Irish pubs are everywhere and they will welcome you with open arms and a pint of Guinness! And you don’t need to hail from the Emerald Isle to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, just don’t forget to wear your green!

March Is Women’s History Month

1 Mar
first lady michelle obama

No surprise Forbes included the First Lady on their 10 most powerful women list. Mrs. O has achieved great success combating childhood obesity with her "Let's Move" campaign. Image from Wikipedia

March is Women’s History Month and in observance Forbes released their picks for the 10 most powerful women in the world. Naturally this list included obvious choices like, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama, but what I found to be pretty cool was that #10 and #4 were both CEOs of the food industry. This is cool to me for two reasons, the first being that these international and multi-billion dollar corporations have women in charge and second it is significant that Forbes highlights companies in the food industry as powerful.

Number 10 is Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft Foods which is the second largest food manufacturer in the world and has over 127,000 people on staff. Indra Nooyi comes in at number 4 and is a Chief Executive at Pepsico, the largest food and beverage company in the United States, they employ over 300,000 people and make over $60 billion in annual revenue. Is it wrong (and perhaps a little sexist) that I find it hugely comforting that women are at the helm of these highly influential food companies? It’s like they are the responsible “moms” making sure we eat right!

Another interesting member of this elite club is #5 Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Under her tenure Facebook grew from approximately 70 million users to over 750 million active users. These new “friends” include brand pages for companies like Kraft and Pepsico as well as Restaurant Facebook pages from major chains to mom and pops. Sandberg also helped Facebook figure out how utilize all that volunteered  user information that is marketing gold (name, age, marital status, hobbies and a plethera of other preferences) and make a ton of money not just for Facebook, but for companies as well through highly targeted and effective advertising.

These ladies are all incredibly smart and successful and I think it’s fitting that Forbes included them on their top 10 list along with women world political leaders. Forbes recognizes that it’s not only political leadership that is able to wield power and influence in the world but also in other arenas like technology and food manufacturing. And I take off my hat to all the women on Forbes’ list and all women. Let’s take this month to not only acknowledge the great achievements of women throughout history, but keep an eye on the now and make sure that strides are still being taken towards equality because we are not quite there yet!

It’s Feb 29th, Prices Take a Leap!

29 Feb

It's Leap Year, any excuse to offer a deal is a good one, right?!

Despite what we learned in grade school, our planet actually takes 365 1/4 days to revolve around the sun. To catch up on the annual six extra hours, we add a day to our calendar every four years to keep us in sync with the sun. Without leap day, our seasons would shift and over time we’d literally end up celebrating Christmas in July.

In celebration of this rare occasion retailers are offering deals to intice you into their establishments for the “holiday.” And restaurants (chains as well as mom and pop’s) are no exception. We’ve heard whispers of special deals at fast food establishments, like menu items for $0.29 or sit down eateries like Denny’s promoting 29% off your check. Some places like Outback Steakhouse are offering a chance to win four years of free Outback if you visit their facebook page.

Today only save 29% off your bill at Denny's

Other deals include:

Act fast though, these specials are for today only and won’t come around again for another four years!! Do you know of any Leap Year deals near you?!

Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Tuesday!

21 Feb

Fat Tuesday is the Mardi Gras inspired restaurant where it is always Carnival!

Happy Mardi Gras Day everyone! If you’re lucky enough to be in New Orleans, Rio, Venice, Senegal or any of the other big Carnivale cities around the world today, have a blast, be safe, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! But if you’re not, you can still enjoy the ambiance (sans the flashing and giant floats) of Mardi Gras at Fat Tuesday restaurant.

Fat Tuesday will be Mardi Gras Party Central at each of their locations across the nation today, on “Fat Tuesday” February 21, 2012. There will be a host of Mardi Gras activities at each location, contact a Fat Tuesday near you for details and get your party on before the start of Lent.

This year I will be giving up meat for Lent. I did so well during National Vegetarian Month this past October that I think I can go the extra 10 days. I have always liked the idea of Mardi Gras (which is French for Fat Tuesday FYI) because while discipline is important, it is also important to have fun and enjoy life.

Get your purple, green, and gold together to celebrate before the start of Lent

Even better is the fact that Mardi Gras celebrations are before Lent which is a lot like eating dessert before dinner, going out before your homework is done, or basically rewarding yourself before you’ve achieved your goal. And then we get to celebrate again after Lent is over at Easter!

How will you be spending your Fat Tuesday? Tell us about Mardi Gras celebrations going on near you.

Food: The Best Heart Medicine

17 Feb

Nuts are just one of the many foods that can improve your heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Hippocrates said more than 2,000 years ago, “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” A cabinet full of prescription drugs can’t replace all the benefits of a heart-healthy diet. In honor of National Heart Month lets take a look at which foods promote heart health and how they prevent heart disease before medicine becomes necessary.  A wide range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and lean proteins can help your heart stay healthy and strong. Here are a few examples of heart-healthy foods to incorporate into your diet and why:

  • Oranges – fiber rich, which prevents cholesterol from being absorbed by the body & potassium lowers sodium & keeps blood pressure down. Citrus fruits also neutralize the galectin-3 protein that can scar heart tissue & lead to heart failure.
  • Kale – boosts antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, potassium,  vitamin E, plus it has an unusual compound, glucoraphanin which protects arteries from plaque build-up.
  • Garlic - fights high blood pressure, also helps prevent plaque build-up in blood vessels and keeps them from constricting.
  • Red wine – increases good cholesterol count (in moderation) which helps keep blood vessels flexible and reduces unwanted clotting. 
  • Dark Chocolate – rich in flavanols which also improve blood vessel flexibility and reduces blood pressure.
  • Sardines – contain omega-3 fatty acids like most cold water fish, these “good fats” reduce risk of heart arrhythmias and inflammation. Inflammation is what ultimately destabilizes plaque that has built-up in blood vessels and produces a heart-attack inducing blood clot.
  • Lentils – lean vegetable protein, fiber, magnesium and potassium all of which keep blood pressure under control.
  • Almonds – rich in “good” HDL cholesterol and help reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol. Walnuts, pistachios, and peanuts are also good.
  • Pomegranates – reduce atherosclerosis by preventing the oxidation of “bad” cholesterol which is what creates plaque. Also activate an enzyme that breaks down oxidized cholesterol, plus they’re fun to eat!

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States and the most effective remedies and methods of prevention are available at your local grocery store and can be ordered while out on a dinner date. Of course you won’t disease-proof your heart by simply adding these items to a diet full of doughnuts and bacon. So as always make smart choices and if you’re going to indulge in something fried and fatty do so in moderation.

Yum it’s Black History Month!

16 Feb

Celebrate with food in addition to brushing up on your Black History facts, collard greens anyone?!

In addition to brushing up on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. facts and checking in to see what the Rev. Al Sharpton is up to,  celebrate Black History Month by sampling some food! Food is such a huge part of any group’s culture and it’s one that everyone can enjoy! So far this month I’ve been to an Ethiopian restaurant, two Soul Food restaurants and even a Jamaican spot. Now before you say that not all of those are “African-American” cuisine, I’d like to point out that the chefs who are running these establishments brought their culinary gifts to this country just like every other immigrant so I believe it counts! Plus it was all really, really yummy!

Fun fact, did you know that we have George Washington Carver, an African-American agricultural chemist to thank for peanut butter? Just one of his many accomplishments! Born in 1864 in Missouri, Carver was a determined man who was passionate about plants. He earned  his Master of Science degree in bacterial botany and agriculture in 1897 where he broke down racial barriers and became the first African-American to attend and to teach at several universities in the South. At the invitation of Booker T. Washington, Carver ultimately became a professor at Tuskegee University where he developed his crop rotation method. Carver educated farmers to alternate the soil-depleting cotton crops with soil-enriching crops such as; peanuts, peas, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and pecans and essentially revitalized the then struggling Southern agriculture industry.

George Washington Carver revolutionized the American Agriculture industry AND he gave us Peanut Butter! Thank you Mr. Carver!

Black History Month is great, but sometimes refreshing ourselves on the history can be a bit of a downer. While it’s important to remind ourselves about our complete past (good and bad),  there’s a lot more to Black History in America than slavery, race riots, and civil rights. There are plenty of African-American accomplishments, like those of Mr. Carver, that have nothing to do with overcoming  conflict. There are amazing Black  filmmakers,  artists, athletes, scholars, and of course chefs; all of whom have reached their achievements just by being themselves and loving what they do. Which is the ultimate point, I think of months like these, to get over past struggles and recognize that regardless of race or gender (Women’s History Month is up next!) when you work hard and have a passion for what you do anything is possible!

P.S. If you haven’t yet go see Red Tails!! It’s an amazing film and if there’s a soul food spot you can hit up before-hand, even better!

Last Minute Valentine

13 Feb

Romance can take many forms. Waffle House is a cozy and family-friendly Valentine's Day treat!

Still no plans for Valentine’s Day? Or did you make plans for the weekend, but still want to observe the actual day? It’s not too late! Sometimes you don’t need to go all out, it’s just nice to not have to cook. There are a few chain restaurants that you can still make plans to have something to do on for Valentine’s Day and save the big to-do for the weekend.

Once again, The Waffle House will offer white tablecloth service by candlelight tomorrow night at more than 110 locations nationwide.  Participating Waffle House’s will feature a special Valentine’s Day menu but all the usual favorites will still be available. Even with the romantic atmosphere, The Waffle House is still a family friendly Valentine’s Day treat. So if you don’t have a sitter and want to take all your loved ones out on a date, Waffle House might be a nice way to go!

Olive Garden is offering one lucky couple the romantic trip of a lifetime. Don't enter ya'll because I want to win!

OpenTable recently conducted a survey that revealed 35% of their diners think Italian cuisine is the most romantic Valentine’s Day dinner choice. The Olive Garden is trying to keep that idea alive by not only inviting guests to  enjoy a three-course meal for $12.95 (pending location & for a limited time), but they have also announced their ‘Sweetheart Sweepstakes.’ Now through February 19th you can enter to win a romantic 7-night trip for two to Italy by visiting the Olive Garden Facebook page. There are also daily drawings to win a $25 gift card to the restaurant when you enter the sweepstakes.

And for those of us ladies who don’t have a Valentine this year, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers is inviting you to round up their girlfriends and come in on Feb. 14 for Girls’ Night Out. Select locations are offering half price bottles of wine and dessert. In honor of Valentine’s Day Red Robin will debut a new dessert, the Gooey Chocolate Brownie Cake – available for just $1.99 on Feb. 14 with the purchase of a burger, entrée or salad.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

10 Feb

Say "I do" over Pizza?

With V-day falling on a Tuesday this year I’m going to err on the side of caution on post early for all of those who will be getting started on the festivities this weekend. Naturally restaurants everywhere are going crazy with promos for Valentine’s Day. Some high-end chains like The Melting Pot are featuring special menus at some locations as well as Valentine’s Day chocolates.  While other’s like Morton’s The Steakhouse already know that they are a Valentine’s Day go-to spot and thrive on special occasions like Valentine’s Day. 

However, this year I was surprised to see some fast food chains are making Valentine’s Day special offerings as well. For example Pizza Hut is offering a “Tie the knot with the $10 Dinner Box” promotion! Yup, that’s right Pizza Hut fancies themselves a perfectly romantic method for proposing one of the most important questions you will ever ask in your life! I couldn’t believe it myself so I had to take a closer look and actually what they’re offering isn’t half bad.

The Promo is called the $10 Dinner Box but it actually costs $10,010 and includes a red ruby engagement ring, a limo, flowers, fireworks, a photographer and a videographer and of course the ever so romantic $10 pizza box! Not too shabby for the low-key couple who is looking to catch their partner off guard with pizza in a box! Pizza Hut must be testing the waters with this one because there are only 10 packages available. I wonder if anyone has actually bought this?!!

Kurt Kane, Pizza Hut CMO, explains how Pizza Hut came up with the idea, “If we’re able to fit pizza, bread sticks and dessert into one box for only $10, why stop there? Our customers want the best of everything, from their food to memorable life experiences.” Explains Kane, “So we decided to make one of those experiences – the marriage proposal – second-to-none and offer it at PizzaHut.com right alongside the new $10 Dinner Box.”

Hmmmmm, it certainly is a unique idea, but I don’t know . . . Ladies would you say “yes” over Pizza Hut? But I guess in the end it really doesn’t matter that much how you propose as long as you’re in love and willing to make the commitment. And hey it’ll make one hell of a story! Maybe Pizza Hut is on to something . . . maybe . . . What do you think?

Restaurant Resolutions

3 Jan

Adam Richman visited food trucks across the country on one of the episodes. Here he is talking to Wafels and Dinges owner, Thomas Degeest

Happy 2012! Now that we’re in a new year, everyone is setting new goals for themselves and restaurants are no different! The restaurant resolutions for 2012 are looking to move towards healthy and sustainable food choices but also the mobile or even pop up restaurant fads are still going strong.  With the help of sources like, Restaurant News here are some trends that we should be looking out for this year:

American Regionalism -  Shows like “Man vs. Food” and its host, Adam Richman have put us on to the variations of cuisine you could find across the United States. With buying local also trending at the moment, it has been even more interesting to see what people around the country are doing with food from “their own back yards.” 

Double Sided Menus – We’re all looking to indulge every once in a while but lately there has been a push for restaurants to provide healthier options. After the NRA implemented the Kids Live Well campaign and First Lady Michele Obama and Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the USDA’s new food icon, MyPlate, restaurants have felt the heat and have started to change up their menus. Consequently we get double sided menus. So this year, according to Mintel Menu Insights restaurantss will continue to feature indulgent items, but will be balanced by healthier options.

MyPlate replaced the Food Pyramid on June 2, 2011

Slow Things Down A Bit - Yes we want to eat, but what happened to the dining experience? All too often I have felt rushed out of a restaurant because they wanted to turn over tables. In 2012 restaurants are anticipated return to ‘more time-intensive preparation methods’ where they might have taken some short cuts in the past. To start you’ll notice words like “handmade” or “home style” popping up more on menus; lowering the risk of the dreaded sauce from a can on your spaghetti when you’re dining at an Italian restaurant, a big no no!

Have you seen any restaurants starting to change their ways yet? What other changes or trends do you expect to become popular for 2012?

Tis the Season to Re-Gift!

27 Dec

Ralphie isn't pulling it off, but somewhere out there is a little girl who loves pink and bunnies who would look adorable in this onesie pajama!

Now that all the presents have been unwrapped and the stockings emptied, there may be one or two gifts that didn’t quite hit the mark as far as your holiday hopes. But not to worry, as they say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Why not organize a Re-Gifting Party with your family and friends? Everyone re-wraps and brings one or two gifts that they could do without, a gift card to a restaurant that’s inconveniently located or a shirt that’s not the right size; then assign a number to each gift and hand out a matching number to each guest. And viola! It’s like Christmas has come twice!

True, there is nothing preventing your uncle from ending up with an unwanted bra and panty set or your friend’s four-year-old daughter from scoring the latest installment of Modern Warfare, but that’s part of the fun! Plus a Re-Gifting party is yet another excuse to enjoy the company of family and good friends during the holidays!

If even after all that there are still some unwanted presents, don’t forget charities don’t only accept donations and offerings beforethe holidays. Rather that having that sweater that your aunt gave you in your least favorite color or the duplicate video game that you got from your mom go to waste, give it to a clothing drive or a toys for tots. Somewhere out there is someone who wants, needs, or could use what you might otherwise just let sit on a shelf. Just don’t take it personally if it’s your gift that someone else ends up giving away!

Drop off unwanted gifts and get a discounted meal at The Melting Pot "Dip & Donate" event. See website for details.

Don’t want to bother with putting together another holiday party? The Melting Pot is offering to host it for you with their “Dip & Donate” event. From January 2nd until January 6th bring in your unwanted or extra gifts and The Melting Pot will donate them to a local charity. Plus you will get a $5 discount on your bill. See The Melting Pot’s website to find out if there is participating location near you!

 

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