Archive | November, 2011

From Godfather’s Pizza to the GOP

29 Nov

Is it all over for the former Godfather of pizza? Herman Cain announced that he is "re-assessing his campaign for the Presidency."

Herman Cain‘s run for the Republican Presidential nomination might soon be coming to an end. Not that I’m surprised at this, but it is surprising that it is the sexual allegations he faces that will be his undoing and not the fact that he exhibits so little of the intelligence and poise that should be required of the Leader of the Free World. He wouldn’t be the first politician to survive a sexual scandal (Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton) and at least it would have made him more interesting. His platform is so conservative and simple that it comes off (at least to me) a little like ignorance and a severe lack of awareness of the world we live in.

This week, Ginger White, a business woman from Atlanta alleged that she carried on an extramarital affair with Cain for over a decade (now that’s interesting to say the least!)  And since this is the second accusation of sexual impropriety against the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and former President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, it doesn’t look good for him in the race for the Presidency. Perhaps the problem is that these offenses have occurred before he has yet to hold public office?

Now I am not by any means knocking Cain’s accomplishments in the restaurant business world. Being the head of two successful enterprises in this industry is completely respectable and not an easy achievement. But he doesn’t seem to be transitioning well from pizza to politics. This 2012 race for the Presidency is not the first time he has run for office nor even the first time he has run for President. Cain ran for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2000 and in 2004 he ran for the US Senate seat in the state of Georgia, but lost in the primaries.

Isn’t it suspicious that the Republicans criticized Obama in 2008 for being too inexperienced, but now are embracing Cain as their front runner even though he has never won a political race? Food for thought. At least President Obama was a Senator and had engaged in politics at an international level. And I know that the Democrats are just as capable of slinging mud as the Republicans, but as far as über conservative and yet potentially adulterous Herman Cain is concerned I’d prefer it if he’d stuck to slinging (and singing about) pizzas!

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NBA Lockout Is Over! Maybe

28 Nov

The return of basketball means a return to work for those who work at stadiums like Madison Square Garden.

This year has been pretty traumatic for sports fans; two lockouts, the second resulting in a stalled NBA basketball season. But after this holiday weekend we may have something else to be thankful for . . . a “tentative agreement” has been reached between the NBA players and owners. All that’s left to be done is for both sides to sign on the dotted line and Santa will bring us a triple header season opener on Christmas Day!

I don’t think basketball inspires its fans to watch the game with friends at the local watering hole the way that football does during its regular season, but perhaps with all this extra anticipation we will see some “back to basketball” deals at happy hour. One can dream at least.

While it may not have the sports bar tradition of beer and wings like football, basketball fans definitely do turn out for the live games. I’m sure that arenas around the country are glad they won’t have to fill an entire season’s worth of slots to fill the void left by cancelled basketball games. As a Knicks fan, this lockout has been particularly disheartening because I was really looking forward to an entire season of A’mare and Carmelo after we finally made it to the playoffs last season for the first time in 10 years!

Mar'e and Melo as well as Madison Square Garden and basketball fans everywhere might soon have somthing to smile about again.

Fingers crossed for Chris Paul to make the move from the Big Easy to the Big Apple! Then New York will have it’s own “Big Three” (take that Miami!) And that would be the best Christmas present ever . . . and provide the perfect occasion for heading out to the sports bars to take in some b-ball.

Micky D’s Get’s a Makeover, the New (and Improved?) McDonald’s

22 Nov

McDonald's everywhere are getting a makeover in the hopes that you will sit and stay a while.

Since Starbucks declared unofficial warfare on “Laptop Hobos”(people who order one drink and then monopolize the seating area and free wi-fi all day), the timing couldn’t be better for  McDonald’s to position itself to potentially pick up some of that loiterer traffic and entice diners to actually “dine-in” rather than “drive-thru.” The fast food giant spent approximately $400 million for restorations to U.S. locations. The new restaurants are more modern looking with wooden tables, more comfortable padded seats, and of course free wi-fi. . . and now they are upping the ante, introducing McTV!

McTV coming to a McDonald's near you in 2012!

McTV is an in-store TV channel featuring local news, sports and entertainment stories. The idea is to make McDonald’s a more attractive place for diners to stay and dine and potentially order more food, coffee, or desserts.  Mark Burnett, the producer of ‘Survivor’ and ‘The Apprentice’ is providing the programming along with BBC America and KABC-TV. So far 800 McTVs have been installed in 800 McDonald’s locations in California. Programs will be on a one-hour cycle and eight minutes of the hour will be for advertisements – of that, 90 seconds will be used by McDonald’s ads. Audio will be broadcast from the screen or ceiling speakers – but ‘quiet zones’ are available for customers who don’t want to hear the TV.

It seems as if the company’s new business objective is to make McDonald’s a higher end sort of fast food establishment than the one that we have come to know (could this mean the end of the Dollar Menu?!) This shift in branding has been happening gradually over the past few years now. We see it in the wider range of healthier items (the exception being the newly returned McRib) and the addition of specialty coffees to the McDonald’s menu. McDonald’s is trying to revamp itself into a place that is more comfortable to sit and stay, meet the demands of a more health conscious marketplace, and inadvertently become a place where the displaced Starbucks-goers might feel right at home. But is this new and improved McDonald’s working for you? Tell us what you think.

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!

A Chance To Give Back

18 Nov

Not sure what to donate? Click on the photo for an article from MSN about food bank's top needs!

The holiday season is a time to give back, but what happens when there is nothing to give?

The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona announced on Wednesday they will not be able to distribute food boxes for the holiday season this year due to a lack of funds and food. According to the Arizona Daily Star, last year the food bank provided 20,000 families with holiday food boxes last year that cost a total of $350,000 in addition to the number of families the food bank assists every month.

The Salvation Army in Norwalk, CT is also in desperate need of help. WTNH News 8 reported that this is the first time in over a decade that they also do not have the funds or food to feed the projected 250 families that will walk through their doors. They estimate they may only have enough food to feed 50 families this Thanksgiving. In Colorado the Springs Rescue Mission and the Marion House Soup Kitchen are both in need of 600 turkeys in order to fill gift boxes and feed families on Turkey Day and are actively seeking donations.

Food banks in every corner of the country seem to have been hit hard by the economy. And unfortunately it’s not the government that is going to bail them out. They count on the generous donations of individuals. We all know that these past few years have been economically challenging and it can feel like it’s going to take a lot to fix the problems that we have, and it may. But remember a little bit goes a long way and there are lots of ways to give back. Clothes and non-perishable food items are just as good as money as a donation to these charities. So, what are you doing to help during the holiday season?  Check out Salvation Army’s website or the list of food banks across the country on feedamerica.com to see how you can get involved. Every little bit helps! Happy Holidays!

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!

Do You Medieval Times?

16 Nov

If that chicken breast isn't big enough for you then I don't know what it!

Looking for an exciting dining experience? Hahza! –  Medieval Times is just the place! Take a seat in their dinner theater replicated after an 11th century castle, feast on a meal fit for a king, and show your support for your favorite knight during the tournaments that are presented for your entertainment as you dine. Ditch the fork and knife and get ready to be transported back in time!

Medieval Times and Entertainment has eight locations in the United States and one in Canada each with the same mission – to immerse every one of its guests in a culture that is long forgotten. This includes indulging in a four course meal of oven roasted chicken, garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, herb-roasted potato, spare ribs, and the pastry of the castle. While you are eating the scene is set and you are brought back to medieval Spain with the King of Castile as your host.

The tournament, performed by approximately 75 actors & 20 horses features medieval style games like sword-fighting and jousting. The performances are dangerously entertaining, each competition fierce, so be prepared to be amazed as the knights wield their weapons right in front of your eyes. After all, it’s the king’s favor they’re fighting for and the title of champion.

Here's the castle closest to us! The Lyndhurst Castle is located in New Jersey and is 15 minutes from Midtown Manhattan.

Medieval Times and Entertainment is the ultimate theme restaurant experience has been thrilling dinner theatre goers for over 15 years. It was famously featured in a scene in the 1996 film, Cable Guy, starring the one and only, Jim Carrey. And it’s slowly but surely making a name for itself again, come see what all the fuss is about!