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James Beard Awards 2012

20 Mar
sally field james beard awards

The James Beard Awards are the Oscars for food, and although Sally didn't win one the chefs who do are just as excited and honored.

The James Beard Awards are to restaurants and chefs what the Oscars are to movies and actors. For those of us that are total “foodies” these awards set the standard for successes in the restaurant industry and is a barometer for keeping up with food and restaurant trends. The finalists for America’s highest culinary honors have been selected and the winners will be announced the second week of May.

James Beard (1903-1985) was a champion of American cuisine who helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. Beard appeared on the first cooking shows and has written dozens of cookbooks, his passion for enjoying good food was matched only by his desire to educate others on the importance of eating well. 

After his death, Beard’s

brownstone in New York City’s Greenwich Village was converted into a historical culinary center. In addition to being the headquarters for the Foundation,  the James Beard Houseis a place where Foundation members, the press, and the general public are invited to sample creations of both established and emerging chefs from across the country and around the globe. I highly recommend a special occasion splurge on a  reservation there to enjoy a tasting menu from a visiting master chef! 

James Beard was an American food icon and his legacy lives on through his foundation and their mission to educate people on the importance of good food.

The annual James Beard Foundation Awards are held on the first Monday in May and honors the finest chefs, restaurants, journalists, cookbook authors, restaurant designers, and electronic media professionals in the country.  Presented at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, nominees and winners congregate for a weekend of events in New York City that has become the gastronomic highlight of the year. The awards end with a reception tasting of the signature dishes of the James Beard Foundation’s very best chefs. Yum! Click here for this year’s nominees.


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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!

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.

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 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?

Heart Disease, Eat Your Heart Out!

2 Feb
American Heart Association Go Red For Women

Heart disease is the #1 killer of American women, so this Month the AHA reminds you to be good to your heart and yourselves.

February is National Heart Month! The American Heart Association (AHA) which does such good work all year round raising funds and awareness about heart disease will get some well deserved recognition this month and hopefully so will your heart. A surprising and scary statistic shows that heart disease kills more women than cancer, so the AHA shows some love to the ladies with their “Go Red For Women”campaign. In fact tomorrow is National Wear Red Day so if you have some red in your closet break it out, wear it with pride, and tell your friends!

Being educated about heart disease (just as with anything else) is the first step in being able to prevent it. So I always like to draw attention to events like these because it never hurts to remind ourselves that these conditions are out there, what the warning signs are, and what we can do about it. Mimi’s Cafe, a French style bistro with 145 locations in 24 states thinks so too and they are the first national chain to partner with the AHA in order to get people involved for the cause. Starting with a free cup of soup to “warm the heart” of customers who wear red tomorrow!

I love it when restaurants get involved with health causes because what we eat is so instrumental in maintaining and improving our good health. Also, when restaurants support causes like National Heart Month, it only makes sense that they offer healthy menu options as well which is an overall win for everybody. The AHA knows that what you eat can impact your health and they offer a pretty good guide to dining out for anyone with a heart condition on their website.

Dinner With Barack

12 Dec

What do restaurants and the President have in common? They both use food to get you to like them on Facebook!

As an informed and concerned American citizen I liked President Obama’s Facebook page. This way I can keep up with any speeches I might have missed and keep track of any major decisions that he makes. But now that the Presidential race is once again upon us, he has started soliciting me for donations in my news feed. And he is making it pretty tempting because of all those who donate to the campaign will be entered into a contest where the prize is dinner with him and Michelle at the White House. And yes they will fly you to D.C.

Social media marketing has officially taken over. Ok I’ll admit it’s been getting out of control for a while now but if you think about it, it’s so sneaky! Ever since Facebook began letting businesses and public figures create “pages” for themselves and enabling you to “like” them, they essentially enabled you to tailor your news feed with ads that you’ve preselected! It’s the same with Twitter, people are given incentives to follow their favorite restaurants because if they do they will be notified about specials and coupons.

There is this great place by my job, Smootie King and by liking their Facebook page I get coupons that literally have me going in there at least twice a week. Without the coupons as a carrot, their smooties while delicious, would be a little too pricey for that kind of patronage. Obama is attempting to do the same thing, using a once in a lifetime experience as extra motivation to donate to his campaign. And you know that dinner is going to be fantastic too! Delicious food prepared by the White House chef, most likely with all organic food that was purchased locally if not from the White House garden itself.

Even if you are not in favor of Obama as President, how cool would it be to have a private dinner with him at the White House? Even if you don’t agree with his politics, it’s hard to deny that he is fascinating. And Mrs. Obama is just fabulous! So when the ‘Dinner With Barack’ contest popped up in my news feed, I had to consider whether contributing to the Obama 2012 campaign for a free trip to the White House to have dinner with the leader of the free world was something I could see myself doing? As it turns out, Yes I Can!



A Very Veggie Thanksgiving

21 Nov

"Tofurkey" or turkey flavored tofu, reasonable vegetarian/vegan turkey substitute or against God's plan?

On Halloween weekend I made the mistake of watching my version of a scary movie, a documentary called, “Forks Over Knives.” In this film two Vegan nutritionists give their professional opinions on why meat as well as any animal food products are bad for you and demonstrate how  ingesting of them negatively affects our bodies. And I gotta say I was a little disquieted by what they had to say about how eating meat affects our circulatory systems and can cause cells to become cancerous.

As a meat enthusiast, it’s not uncommon to eat either chicken, pork, steak, veal, or fish once a day at least; or I’ll have eggs or yogurt and I love cheese. I had thought myself to be a pretty healthy eater despite that; nothing fried, I buy organic (mostly) and I don’t eat too many sweets. So it was really shocking to think that after being so “good” I could still be doing my body harm by having a piece of plain grilled chicken over my salad or a cup of greek yogurt!

Inspired/terrified by this new information, I decided to challenge myself and abstain from eating meat until Thanksgiving. I look forward every year to turkey with gravy, homemade mac & cheese, and the dessert splurge so there was no way I could forego all that but from November 1 until this coming Thursday I have followed the dietary guidelines provided in “Forks Over Knives.” And I discovered that a meatless and even a dairy/egg free diet is not that difficult to follow!

While having brunch this past weekend at Cafe Blossom (known for their organic and veggie-friendly menu) I noticed that they have a Turkey Day menu and I must say the absence of “tofurkey” and the special festive dishes were quite enticing. And I started wondering if a vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving would really be so bad after-all?

For the moment I am not resolved to quit meat or dairy forever because steaks, cakes, and shish-ka-bobs are just too delicious, but for the sake of my health I’ve decided to cut down on my meat intake. The benefits of doing so are great, especially if you have or have a family history of diabetes, cancer or heart disease. I’m not trying to scare anyone with this post because it’s Thanksgiving soon and the holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy, but I will be adding more vegetables to this year’s Thanksgiving menu because if there is one thing that I am always thankful for (besides family & friends) it’s my health!

Thankful For Restaurants

17 Nov

It looks like there will be fewer turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving as more people are making restaurant reservations this year and won't have the famous leftovers.

Thanksgiving is just a week away! It’s a favorite amongst holiday enthusiasts because it’s for everyone regardless of religion, there’s a four day weekend, it kicks off the holiday sales, and an abundance of good food is guaranteed. But having all that company over for Thanksgiving dinner and cooking for all those people can be a lot of pressure on the family chef. That’s why more and more people are making reservations at restaurants or ordering prepared food to-go from their favorite eateries.

I remember growing up most restaurants were closed on Turkey Day and sometimes even the Friday after. As if there was some unwritten rule that Thanksgiving is not only a day of thanks but also a day for mom to prove her culinary prowess and overall awesomeness by slaving over a hot stove. But now it’s socially acceptable to forgo all the hoopla and take the fam out to eat for the nearest Thanksgiving menu offering. Maybe today’s moms are secure enough in their “momhood” to not feel threatened by somebody else’s cooking?

According to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, approximately 14 million Americans will eat at restaurants this Thanksgiving and an additional 16 million Americans will order take-out.  Besides the convenience factor (no cooking means no cleaning!) what are the other pros for eating out? Could it be that Boston Market’s mac & cheese is better than yours? Is Cracker Barrel halfway between your and your aunt’s house?  Or is the pre-fix menu at Ruth’s Chris healthier than your cousin’s usual heart attack inducing dishes? Eating out definitely leaves more time to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, catch the football game or go out to see the latest Muppets movie. Whether you are going five-star, family style, or carrying out you better start making your plans fast because you are not alone!

Occupy Wall Street, Get Free Pizza!

11 Oct
occupy wall street protestor

Occupy Wall Street protestors claim that only 1% of Americans benefited from the bailot received by the Banks in 2009, leaving the rest of us to resort to drastic measures.

Protestors have been occupying Wall Street for just over four weeks now demonstrating against the fact that while big banks have received huge government bailouts, none of that relief has trickled down to the middle and lower class in the form of loan grants and lower credit rates like it was intended to. Instead, the “Occupy Wall Street” protestors say that the banks and hedge fund companies are using that money to pay inflated salaries and bonuses with tax payer dollars. Which is a pretty bold move considering that most blame the banks for getting us into this economic mess in the first place!

Four weeks is a long time to be protesting and while a lot of the demonstrators have been lending their support at lunch, after work, and on the weekends; there is a dedicated group who has been camped out in downtown Manhattan the entire time!  Causing many to ask questions like where do they shower? And what do they eat? Well thanks to Telly Liberatos, they eat pizza! Liberato’s Pizza, located on 17 Cedar St., is selling what has come to be called “Occu-Pies” and encouraging those physically unable to participate with the “Occupy Wall Streeters” to contribute by having pizzas delivered to the protest site. For $15 a pop people from around the world have been ordering these 18-inch pepperoni pies to show their support for the cause.

Owner, Telly Liberatos has told reporters that, “I have nothing to do with the protest. I don’t take sides. It was

Protestors eating one of Liberatos' "Occu-Pies."

a very slow summer. I’m trying to run my business.” Which frankly takes some of the “feel-good” out of ordering a pie through him, but you have to give him credit for excellent business sense! And when you come down to it, if you do want to support the Occupy Wall Street Movement, but can’t support the time commitment I’m sure those who are camped out would appreciate a free slice on you!


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