Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Free Advertising (for Big Corporations That Don't Need it) Friday

(It's not Friday yet but Wednesday didn't work. )

According to his very own blog, Andrew Zimmern has been hired by Target (usually people work at Target before they make it big on television. Just sayin.) and will be bringing his unique culinary stylings to the aisles of the red bullseye store in the near future. Andrew Zimmern is the host of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel and has made his living by eating things that most people either throw away, hit with their shoe, or pay to have exterminated. From his blog:

Well the cat is out of the bag now! For the last few months I have been
working on starting a new relationship with the folks at Target. As their new Meal Adventure Guide, I am tasked with helping their millions of customers explore the world of flavor at their local SuperTarget, you will see great ideas and recipes from me popping up in the stores in a few months, all of them inspired by a lifetime spent combing the globe for authentic and honest food.

Let's just hope the cat isn't out of the bag because he plans to eat it.

Now that Andrew Zimmern is working with SuperTarget, which of these would you most like to see in the store:

  1. Tarantula Pockets
  2. Bush's Baked Beans and Beaks
  3. Totino's Pepperoni and Chicken Uterus Pizza, Microwavable
  4. Pepe's Gluten Free Termite Quesadillas, Family Size
  5. Stop it Deb! You're grossing me out!!!
  6. Rice at a reasonable price
  7. Brad Pitt
  8. Target is still open? Who is Andrew Zimmern? Today is Friday???

For me, it's a toss up between 6 and 7.

SuperTarget execs click here:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Drag Dining

Lips Restaurant
Ft. Lauderdale Florida

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Farmer's Market

Today was opening day for the Chattanooga Market, our local, weekly farmer's market featuring locally grown produce, handmade items, music, and food. It was good to see that it was sold out for vendor booths, and hopefully, will continue to sell out. There were some new food booths that I am looking forward to trying, including the Yellow Deli, which also has a restaurant in town that recently re-opened (thanks Tut-Tut for the tip). I have heard that the Yellow Deli has an extremely interesting history, and is well loved among late night party animals. I hope to venture a visit in the near future.

I much prefer getting my produce, which frequently was picked just the day before if not that morning, from the farmer herself. It's early in the growing season so mostly what is available so far (in our area) is only a few herbs and small plants. I purchased honey today directly from the lady who stole it from the bees herself. A friend told me that honey produced locally has the greatest health benefits. It's one of those things that I am just going to take her word for, since I am too lazy to research this for myself.

Friday, April 25, 2008

El Salvadoran Cuisine

(above) El Salvadorian beef stew with rice, beans, tortillas and plantains; authentic tamales served in banana leaf; the pupusa served with a cole-slaw like salad.

Taco Rico
Chattanooga Tennessee

It's good to see that Chattanooga's only El Salvadoran restaurant finally has a substantial lunch crowd. This place seems to be growing in popularity with a gradual increase in customers over the last few months, based solely on my unscientific observations. If you have not tried El Salvadoran food, here is what you can expect:

The Pupusa: Pupusas are thick tortilla like rounds filled with cheese, meat, or some type of vegetable. Served with a side of curtido that is used as a topping for the pupusas.

Curtido: Cabbage-like salad. Reminds me of cole-slaw.

Loroco: This is a filling available in the pupusa. It is an edible flower.

Tamale: Meat or cheese cooked inside of corn meal. At this particular restaurant, the tamales are cooked inside banana leaves rather than the usual corn husk, which, I think, makes them even more flavorful and moist. Dare I say, Taco Rico has the best tamales in Chattanooga.

Plantain: Similar to a banana, usually served fried as a side dish with your meal.

Maracuyá: A flavor of fruit drink that is sometimes available at Taco Rico (and probably other Central American restaurants). I don't know much about this type of fruit, but maybe our friends over at the Fruit Species website can give us some info (hint, hint).

These are by no means the only items on the menu, just some of the ones you might not be familiar with. I had the Plate of the Day which was a beef stew (see photo above) served with tortillas, rice, and plantains. Beans were also served, but they were whole beans, not the refried variety that is seen in most local Mexican restaurants. A fellow customer suggested I try a bottle of coke, because it is imported from Honduras and is made with sugar cane rather than what coke is usually made of in this country, whatever that is.

With extremely reasonable prices, and flavors that are different but not too exotic for the less adventurous, Taco Rico would be an excellent alternative to Mexican restaurants for lunch or dinner. And for those of you not near Chattanooga, if you happen to see a restaurant serving pupusas, maybe now you will give them a try.

Taco Rico, Dine-o-meter rating: 80%

See the review here:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Would You Wait One Year for Dinner Reservations?

Talula's restaurant in Kennett Square Pennsylvania has a one year waiting list for reservations. That's even longer than it takes to get in to eat breakfast at Cracker Barrel* on a weekend morning.

Though the phone often begins ringing with requests at sunrise, she does not pick it up until 7 a.m. on the dot. The caller is then offered a reservation exactly one year later. Requests for earlier or later are denied, as are attempts to play the VIP card to skirt the procedure entirely.

Ok. Imagine this. You have been waiting one year for your reservations at Talula's. You're on the way to the restaurant and you have a flat tire. They have only one seating remember. Will they keep a plate for you warming in the oven? What if you are pregnant and your water breaks? Have the baby or wait an hour until after dinner? If you wait one more year for reservations you will have to find a sitter also. Good luck with that.

You can listen to the full story on NPR's website here:

*For anyone that doesn't have a Cracker Barrel near them, this is a joke. They just have a really long line for breakfast. It's a place that is famous for serving comfort food and making you walk past a whole bunch of crap in their "Country Store" that you just have to buy, before you even get to your table.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Where Does Our eTrash Go? (off topic for Earth Day)

Ever since seeing that famous photo of the woman in China breaking a monitor with a hammer, exposing her to all sorts of toxins, I've wonder about where all our electronic trash goes. This excellent and eye-opening video from Current TV provides a look at this issue.

You can see other great videos on Current TV's website. Searching under only one keyword (China) resulted in several videos that I found interesting.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pay with Karma

This is from my new favorite TV channel, Current TV. I believe it's channel 107 on Comcast in the US but you can also watch online. I watched the VC2 program last night, which had several excellent videos along the lines of PBS's Independent Lens, although with a decidedly twenty-something tilt. I will post the link tomorrow along with another great video I saw that is appropriate for Earth Day.

As for the payment policy of Seva Cafe, it is places like this that make me feel a little less crusty and cynical. Wouldn't it be great if McDonald's adopted this policy? "Pay with your heart." Yes, pay with your super-sized, cholesterol clogged, calcified, McHeart. Probably not a good business plan.

On a side note, I just finished listening to Jennifer Government by Max Barry. It's a futuristic look at a world in which corporations really do own everything and your last name reflects where you work. So we have John Nike, Violet Exxon-Mobile, and Haley McDonald's. If you like dark, political humor such as Wag the Dog, you might enjoy this book also. I read that George Clooney bought the rights to the book and look forward to seeing the movie version.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

This Coconut Thing is Getting to be a Habit

This is Colatino Young Coconut Juice with Pulp, found at the local panaderia (bakery). The company bills this as a natural sports drink.

I guess you want to know how it tastes. Natural and coconutty. Could use some rum and a little paper umbrella.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My Muse*

King Tut's Grill
Knoxville Tennessee

(Sorry for the crappy photos. Mo deserves better.)

It's quirky restaurants like this one that were my inspiration for Dine-o-meter. A restaurant so off-beat in the middle of the interesting restaurant impoverished area know as my beloved Tennessee, that I just had to find a way to promote these types of places. Can you imagine stumbling upon an Egyptian eatery on the edge of southern farm land? And then being served drinks in a flower vase with your freshly made stuffed grape leaves? I am sure to you New Yorkers this is no big deal but when you live in the Appalachian mountains, this type of place is Adventure Dining gold.

Read the full review here:

Dineometer rating: 100%

*I really dislike the term "My muse" particularly when said by celebrities at the academy awards, but it was such a fitting term for this restaurant I just had to use it.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Spotted in front of Red Lobster, picketers! My first though "Finally. Someone is putting their foot down about crappy, overpriced food." Then I read the sign and found out that it is Canadian fishing practices that are at issue. My second thought "Why would anyone picket Canadians? They're so nice!" (Right now I am picturing a reader in Saskatoon saying, "They are NOT all nice. My ex husband was Canadian and he was a complete bastard." Point well taken imaginary Saskatoon reader.)

I am having trouble finding any news reference to this issue fresher than 2005, although I admit I didn't research this very hard. It seems that baby seals are killed due to the fishing practices of those evil Canadians.

I still am having trouble understanding how the baby seals are killed due to the fishing. Anyone?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fried Tofu

Even if you are not into exotic foods, you may want to give the fried tofu appetizer available at many Thai restaurants, a try. The consistency is similar to French toast, and it is usually served with a sweet and sour sauce containing crushed peanuts. Tofu in general does not have much of it's own flavor and usually takes on the flavor any sauces that accompany it. I am not a big fan of the regular, non-fried, soft tofu but when cooked in Thai dishes, fried tofu adds a whole new dimension.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Chattanooga View

Photos taken in Chattanooga Tennessee recently. These are not representative of our entire city, and in fact I took them because of the unusual, European feel in this particular small corner. Can any of the Chattanooga readers identify where these were taken?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It's Time! (way, way, off topic)

Well it's almost the middle of April so it's time for all good procrastinators to....

make their New Years resolutions. You thought I was gonna say "Do their taxes" but there's still a few days left for that and no self respecting procrastinator would be caught dead even thinking about taxes until after August.

This year, I am going to resolve to stop swearing at the lady in the GPS (Global Positioning System). My friend calls her Betty. So, Betty, I apologize for all the horrible, horrible names that I have called you, even though, I feel that you have your own issues. For one, you need to realize that I am HUMAN. Humans make mistakes. I am not a bad person because I sometimes go the wrong way. There is no need to beep at me. Maybe you could just gently suggest that I turn around or something, adding a reassuring "That's OK sweetheart." And secondly, what was with that "Make a U turn", and then, after I made a U turn, you say again "Make a U turn." Did you think that was funny? I'll show you funny you st-- No. Wait. Breathe.... Remember your resolution. Oh and one last thing. If you could stop telling me to turn places that I am not legally allowed to turn, that would be great. Otherwise, I will sell your little metallic ass out when we go to court. "It was all Betty's fault your honor!" Just kidding! Betty, really, you are great. Now if you could just direct me to the nearest bar, all will be forgiven.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Live Restaurant Webcam

No time to visit Texas? This live webcam at The Spot restaurant in Galveston will allow you to virtually visit. The only problem is that they turn it off after the restaurant closes, even though the bar is still open, which is probably the period we would most like to watch via video. Drunken Galvestonian merry-makers are probably very entertaining.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Freshly Made Gelato

Gelato Cup Italian Ice Cream
9889 Bellaire Blvd.
Houston Texas

Watermelon Gelato? Durian Gelato? Yes, they have those and more, all made on-site. I did finally try durian, which I am sure is more like "essance of durian" compared to the real foul smelling fruit, sometimes described as "like eating ice cream on a toilet." Durian is the food that finally brought Andrew Zimmern, the guy who eats all sorts of oddities on his Travel Channel show, to his knees. He has eaten maggots and rotten fish, and I think once animal dropping tea but drew the line at durian. I have not tried the actual fruit although I do recall the memorable smell from my trip to Thailand.

Durian gelato tasted not unlike what I would imagine rotten garlic flavored ice cream to be like. I only tried a teaspoon sized sample and then quickly ordered some non-exotic chocolate to get rid of the taste.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Eating Coconut

Eating the aforementioned coconut. It's filled with gelatin and coconut juice. Coconut jello is not my favorite but it is really fun to eat out of a coconut.

Back to the pool!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Catch and Cook Your Own Meal Restaurant

If busing your own table weren't bad enough, this restaurant in Japan expects you to catch your own food and then prepare it yourself.

I jest. Actually, it looks fun. The YouTube poster provides more information on this type of restaurant here.

Restaurant Anxiety

What Brent doesn't know is that we all have this problem but have gotten around it by picturing the servers in their underwear. Sorry food servers. I didn't mean for you to find out this way.

Blogging at Lee's

I'm blogging today from Lee's Sandwiches on Bellaire Blvd. in Houston Texas. This is one of my favorite free WiFi spots in the city, because I can sit amongst a diverse population of people, allowing me the opportunity for multicultural people watching. I am hearing right now, no fewer than four different languages--Spanish, Arabic (?), and two different Asian languages. There is a wonderful vanilla aroma of Deli Manjoo cakes being freshly made. This is a very small cream filled cake, shaped like an ear of corn (??) that is made by pouring batter into a mold and then squirting the filling inside. The smell finally got to me today, and I had to try some with my cold chrysanthemum tea (see photo above). They taste like a cakey cream puff, but perhaps a little bit dryer and less flavorful.

If I were a cool hipster, I would have gotten here early and grabbed one of the seats outside, so I could smoke and watch traffic while sipping an iced coffee. But I'm not, so I didn't and am stuck sitting inside. Probably best since it will be in the 80's today in Houston (hello Minnesotans!)

I am off to buy my coconut and head to the pool.