It took two American pandemic’s to create Peter Luger’s Delivery. Remember 1887, their founding year, was before 1918 Spanish Flu season. We’ve been vocal about our love for this establishment and its place in a New Yorker’s New York history. Legend has it, they get first pick from all the meat that comes through the boroughs. That means if they were to turn into a butcher shop, they would instantly be the best butcher in the city. If you believe this lore, well, that butcher shop is now open for business. Launched yesterday with 6 pre-fixe packages, the legendary cuts can be yours to take home. There’s no mention of how to cook them to the delicious perfection they have mastered in restaurant, nor are they accompanied with those kitschy doneness tags they stick out of the chop when it comes bubbling to the table. For that, you’ll have to hit the interwebs. There’s one modification to the packages and we found it a bit odd. A drop down allows you to add on 2 or 4 packs of their supermarket bacon. (We’re head-scratching on that one a little) None-the-less, for the cost of the rest of your grocery bill you can have steak for 4 at your home table. Sizzling, “shine” dripping, monogrammed plate not included.
Spring at FTHQ means firing up the grill and picking shishito peppers straight off the plant to toss on those sizzling cast-iron grates. That scent becomes the envy of our Queens neighborhood and we bask in it. Before we can wear that urban farming crown we need to get dirty in some soil. If all that trouble isn’t your style and black specs under your freshly primp and polished gel manicure makes you throw side-eyes, Back to the Roots has a solution that is as easy as opening a can of beans. That’s mostly because it is opening a can just not beans. Pre-canned seeds sit dormant waiting for you to crack open and pour in sunshine and some H2O. Besides ingenious, the clean design looks perfect amidst your $300 toaster and fair trade coffee display. BTW, save those grinds for healthy soil, ohh wait, dirty nail issue again. Never-mind Now you just need to choose what to grow. From herbs and flowers to tomatoes and peppers they have a DIY kit that’s even easier than your second-grade avocado pit science project. Remember that? In terms of timing, plant now so you are ready to show off during your Memorial Day party even if that will be over zoom this year.
Let’s face it, we’ve all been making, or trying to make, a lot of bread. In San Francisco they are taping sourdough starter to street poles. No lie. This apocalypse looks different to us in so many ways but never did we think baking would be at the epicenter of a lockdown. Enter the Balmuda Toaster or oven or steamer. Yeah, we’re not sure either but it definitely makes you look amazing when toasting up a slice of that aforementioned sourdough. Brass tacks, this Japanese designed feat-of-engineering has possibly taken our most mundane cooking task and up-leveled it with some NASA grade innovation. A water port allows you to fill a steam reservoir inside the toaster’s Ferrari grade heater core. This steam cloud envelops your bread allowing a faster, crisp without drying out. Now that the moisture is sealed in your slice, the steam dissipates and the heat fires up a second time. This result is a pillowy soft inside with a crisp, golden, toasted bark of tasty. Need more. Gen Terao, the CEO, built in several other settings for bread baking and high heat if you want to go full oven. A simple knob with pictures of bread styles leaves little room for error, unlike your sourdough process. With a black or white option it will compliment any kitchen and frankly out shine anything else in it including you. Save up your shekels though, performance and beauty like this come at a cost. We hope you are getting great at baking because you might not be able to afford store bought bread for a while after Balmuda ownership. Don’t sweat it, we think we’re spending 2020 at home anyway.
Open sourced beer to lower production costs at all corners might sound like Silicon Valley and Golden Colorado had a baby but actually it was the Connecticut Better Half Brewery guys deciding to help their industry, and community, stay on their feet during COVID-19. All Together Beer is the aptly named collaborative brew experiment now being produced by over 700 breweries in 51+ countries. As they mention in their pointed but heartfelt explanation of this project, their business relies on social gathering. The idea was to align a recipe, label design, printers and other resources to cut the production costs and increase the margin. In turn putting more profit into the small breweries utilizing the open source tools. Donate the excess or use it to stay afloat is the only ask from the Other Half team. Based on the recipe, the brew sounds to be a pretty straight forward IPA which will promote consistency across brewing around the world and as the weather gets warmer a cold, refreshing reprieve from the doldrums of our quarantine. Early batches have sold out but with more crafters jumping in weekly more is just a hops away.
Right about now you might be thinking of fleeing the city and hunkering down in the wilderness to escape this pandemic or those who just don’t comprehend “social distancing” and in turn, are jeopardizing all humanity. We understand. The city, yours and ours, feels a bit eerie and tense these days albeit less dramatic than my previous statement evoked. Interestingly enough, before COVID-19 showed up we here at FTHQ started to research the overlanding trend. In short, overlanding is rigged AF car camping usually done with an aftermarket kitted out 4X4. Through this investigation, and frankly awe with some of the tweaks enthusiasts make, we discovered the Nomad Kitchen Company. This pop-in-pop-out kitchen is just what you need to gourmet yourself while waiting out the virus. Or, dare we say vacation in the wilderness. There will be a day this scare has subsided and “camping” will be a recreational activity, not an isolation tactic. We’ve been backcountry fans for decades and have our share of lightweight gourmet cooking kits. For years a quick setup, quick cleanup at camp has been a tricky maneuver. Even with three decades of innovations perfecting our pack kitchen, there’s room for improvement. That’s one reason Overlanding is so appealing. The Nomad Kitchen has all the specs of a quick set up, fully functioning, quick clean up kitchen. Best part, you can drop it in the back of your G-Wagon as easily as your Tacoma. A 10-second deployment sets you up with a sink, prep area, and stovetop so you can get to your mise en place tout suite. Complete with locking slides that can hold up to 200lbs you’ll not only have a solid extension kitchen but you can apply that extra force when carving your bone-in ribeye. At the time we wrote this they have 35 days left on their crowdfunding campaign. Shipping this summer. So, yeah, we hope that is post-pandemic but look at it this way, you’ll not only have a new gadget for vacation this year but be extra prepared for the new normal of our world. That isn’t meant to be doomsday talk. It is meant to be positive. We will leave our houses again soon and enjoy our lives as we used too just with some new precautions and a little more preparedness than before. This kitchen makes that all the more comfortable.
It’s not news to anyone that the hospitality industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 threat. The shutdown mandate for the industry has been in effect for three weeks now and writing about food seems a bit insensitive and frankly less meaningful, although, a mindless escape from the morbid 24 hour news cycle we’re captured in is a welcome reprieve.
What’s incredible to us is how the hospitality industry is reacting. Down and out (for the time being) many have funds to help their employees while others are still cooking to help frontline workers stay nourished and healthy. It’s these selfless pivots that have us most impressed (humbled and optimistic). Hedley & Bennett, the apron makers, launched the Wake Up & Fight mask effort this week and besides impressing us gave us an amazing way to help our frontline workers be more protected. They have innovated by turning their apron factory into a protective mask operation to aid in the worldwide shortage in personal protection equipment (PPE).
Pulling from the get one give one model, each purchase allows a mask to be made for frontline essential workers. It’s a triple collab between HEPA filter maker Think Crucial, Dr. Robert Cho, Chief of Staff of Shriners for Children Medical Center in Pasadena, CA and them. Their apron material is used to sew a mask with an inside pocket for a replaceable HEPA filter. It’s important to note that this doesn’t replace an N95 respirator in effectiveness but the CDC says the point of a mask is not to protect you from inhaling the virus but to stop the spread of it, especially if you are asymptomatic. Frontline workers need PPE because they are face-to-face with live, confirmed, symptomatic patients all day long. Heros in other words. In such a critical moment in history this selfless, in it together humanity will be rewarded not just those who spearhead these efforts but all of us worldwide. You can purchase masks from their website or send a bulk order inquiry if you are so inclined to help at scale.
We love cereal but, in all honesty, we’ve been out of the carb for b-fast game a while. The occasional cereal milk cone from Milk Bar and my once a year splurge on an oversize bowl of the Great Tony the Tigers’ Frosted Flakes are about all the Saturday morning, five-year-old-kid impersonations I allow myself. Imagine my zeal when I realized a few boxes of this more than playful, yet almost none of the guilt, quad pack of keto-friendly cereal showed up at my door. Magic Spoon is doing god’s work, if your god’s name is Kellogg. As the disruption and bettering of just about everything these days continues with a heavy foot on the pedal, Greg and Gabi disrupted an industry built on sugar-coated grains with free prizes inside. Taking the four most popular cereals; Frosted, Fruity, Cinnamon and Cocoa and turning down the crap but keeping all the flavor is no small feat. Any of their keto-friendly, gluten and grain-free flavors barely have carbs, 3g net if you’re counting, and are packed with 12grams of protein. Considering a comparable bowl of Fruit Loops has 21 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein, they quite literally flip the nutrition on it’s head. I know, what about your love for Toucan Sam, Count Chocula and the gang? Magic Spoon has that covered too. The boxes come with their own mascots and ride on sidekicks like Frosted Wizard and Flying Bunny. The team hasn’t produced any catchy jingles or wacky cartoon commercials yet but we wouldn’t put it past these guys to have animated mascots in the works. After all, they broke themselves into food disruption developing cricket energy bars so, this is an obvious second act. Uhh, sort of. As we learned when we were 5, pretty boxes and dancing animals only get you so far. If Magic Spoon tasted like the knock off Sugar Smacks your mom tried to pass off as authentic after a secret run to Pathmark we wouldn’t even be writing this story. So, product flavor is critical. First let’s talk about the shape. They went with the classic “O” for all four flavors. It took me a second to get past my love of the “flake” but on taste that quickly was forgotten. Each of the flavors was a time machine back to the 80’s right down to the last slurp of bowl milk. Impressed, I went in for a second round and decided the $40 a month subscription is as critical as my Spotify and Netflix monthlies. Speaking of, a little pairing of the two seem in order this Saturday morning. Here I come Papa Smurf.
Gray Whale gin could be the hardest working spirit in the business. As gins become more and more interesting to me I’ve begun to seek out the less straight forward botanical mixes. Thankfully the UK is having a craft gin explosion and on a recent trip to California, I discovered the US isn’t far behind. Gray Whale gin chose its flavors based on the migratory path of the gray whale. Aside from being so #verycalifornian the foraged ingredients made for a unique taste and that, after all, is what I am after. With foraged botanicals running from Baja all the way up to Mendocino, the effort for that flavor may be unmatched by any other craft distiller. The outrageously mesmerizing aquamarine bottle that has an enticing depth illusion adds to our allure while their simplistic, contemporary, labeling design sold us. We’re suckers for a well-branded spirit.
We’ve always been big fans of eating at home. So much so we often recreate our favorite restaurant meals in our home kitchen with fairly good accuracy. The favorite is a solid, full spread, Peter Lugar’s recreation that we get super pumped about, but we digress. Equal Parts is a new cookware company aimed at helping us eat, and cook, more in our kitchens. To aid in this increasingly difficult behavior, considering the ease of food delivery these days, every purchase includes a coach. The coach is accessed through a text chat provided when you receive your products. They dub it “Your friend in the kitchen” which we love because friends who know how to cook are some of the best. Starting up is pretty easy. A simple chef knife runs you $80 with “your friend coach”. You can then work your way up to an entire 20 piece kitchen set. Interesting side note, Equal Parts was a design agency called Gin Lane just a few short months ago. They gave up their clients to focus full time on birthing their own DTC products and brands. A huge move, and that’s coming from an agency owning veteran. With that news, you’re probably wondering what a former design agency knows about making cookware. Apparently a lot. Not surprising they lead with design and decided to shroud their cookware in a sleek matte black. This covers the aluminum and ceramic core. Ceramic instead of Teflon keeps the toxicity at bay while letting the eggs slide away. The aluminum makes for a lighter, and faster to heat, base with the same cooking quality as steel. They finished off each piece with a comfort forward handle and universal lids. We LOVE universal lids. They are by far the hardest thing to store in a kitchen. Less of them means a more organized pan draw. We likey. Enamored with the service we’re anxious to try this first hand. No NYC pop-up store yet so we started with a chef’s knife. We’ll report back on the experience here and on our Insta. Needless to say, we have high hopes.
An auction of Anthony Bourdain’s personal collection made us excited and disgusted at the same time. A chance to own an artifact from our number one food culture hero was enticing. We immediately jumped on the silent auction and found some favorites like the duck press from his Paris episode of The Layover. Currently bid up to $9500. Or, a Michelin statue given to Bourdain by Marco Pierre White. Currently $4300. An early version of Kitchen Confidential for $3700. A Simpsons script for “The Food Wife” signed to Anthony by the cast for $3300. We even found a clash of ultimate fanboy dreams with this framed photo and note from Billy Joel to Anthony Bourdain dating back to a visit at Les Halles in 2005. Currently at $4300. But, as we perused the over 200 lots, things took a turn for the worse. His zippo lighter. Some jackets he wore. A pair of cufflinks. Even his Rolex was up for bid. The idea that people would be walking around, quite literally, in our idols shoes while we were not even finished mourning his loss seemed off the mark. We thought maybe the profits would help better raise his daughter but that only temporarily quelched our cerebral discomfort. Digging deeper we realized a large amount of the proceeds would go towards the Anthony Bourdain Legacy Scholarship at his alma mater, The Culinary Institute of America. We rest more easy but still don’t love the idea of wearing our faithful traveling culture professor’s clothes. Based on current bids, there are plenty who don’t share our slightly morbid view. For nothing else then a peruse through Tony’s passions give a click and a scroll. The items are categorized around the things he loved; film, art, cooking, travel, writing and his obsessive observation of culture. It served as a recap his television escapades via personal artifacts many which we remember from seeing on screen. You can visit in person Monday-Saturday, October 9th-30th from 10am-4pm in New York, Savannah or Texas.
Everybody loves a young gun. You know, those underdogs that are full of hustle and grind. The ones that have everything to prove but nothing to lose. Back in my MadMen days the Young Guns were Art Directors putting out the best creative they could muster. This isn’t that different in the “best” and “creative” departments. The plus up is, you can eat all this creativity. The Eater Young Guns Summit is set up to showcase, educate and head-to-head some of the best up-and-comers in the biz. Paired with some snacks by the likes of Pies and Thighs, King David Tacos and a handful of others the programming is top notch tasty. A roster of conversations are also part of the day. Amy Sedaris, Alison Roman, Marcus Samuelsson, Michael Solomonov and Ruby Tandoh will be doing some soap boxing on the future of dining and restaurant culture and most likely eating along side you. Saturday, July 27 from 10:30am – 7:00pm in Brooklyn.
The term “No time to eat” is running the hashtag circuit. A report released the other day reported 80% of millennials concede to eating meals quickly and alone. These two statistics are alarming and not the way we like to open posts on FT. So, we’ll get back to that in just a minute. Two mums in East London have started Dabba Drop, an innovative Friday night dinner service using a century-old method of delivery. If that sounds contradictory, it is, but Indian culture has plenty of those. Let’s start with Dabba, the Hindu word for box. You’ve probably seen the metal, stackable, interlockable containers Indians use for food at lease once. What you might not know is that everyday 200,000 home cooked lunches are delivered to Mumbai workplaces in these tins thanks to a service known as DabbaWallas or TiffinWallas, depending on who you ask. Aside from the incredibly complex yet 99.99% accurate operation, Indians are eating hot, homecooked meals for lunch at their place of business. Enter Anshu and Renee and their Dabba Drop service. Inspired by the Dabbawallas, they created a brilliant Friday night meal subscription that’s prepped and dropped for you like Mumbai clockwork. With curry being the unofficial national dish of Britain their mission “to change the way Britain does Indian takeaway” is brilliant. Back to those stats at the top, eating together is one of the reasons this blog exists. If it wasn’t for our upbringing and the maturity those meals provided us as kids we wouldn’t be who we are today. To have the majority of a generation saying they eat alone removes the ancillary, yet equally important, reason for eating. Socialization over meals is a critical and profound bonding moment for us all. Dabba Drop is doing it’s part to ensure that we continue that behavior which we greatly applaud. We just wish they expanded to New York sooner than later so we can stop dealing with inevitable GrubHub mistakes. All the details on the currys they deliver are here. We really don’t think it matters what you choose, they are all delicious homemade specialties that you will crave once you get a taste.
The chefs and owners at Olmstead and Maison Yaki have graciously set up a fundraiser dinner to support a woman’s right to choose. Along with Greg and team they’ve invited some of their best chef friends to participate in making the Yellowhammer Fund charity meal extra delicious. There are two seatings and we think these tickets will go fast. A seat gets you all the food and drink you can consume plus a whole lot of feel good for your donation. Plus, you get to hang in a restaurant filled with a like-minded community all night. June 24th in Brooklyn at 5pm and 7:30pm seatings.
We love things in boxes. From shoes to toys to Apple products to stories, (That last one is a very obscure Magic Garden reference for our 70’s and 80’s born tribe.) our zeal redlines with every seal breaking, top flopping, layer sorting moment. It’s something about the first peek inside that makes our eyes widen and our knees knock like a school kid discovering an old milk crate of spray paint. Mix that with food and our vitals jump to a level we are some what slightly embarrassed to admit. Hence the rarely mentioned 2013 unboxing of a surprise bacon of the month delivery. When Luke’s Lobster announced their DIY lobster roll kits it took everything inside us to not drop to the food alter in the middle of 7th avenue and thank the seafood god (Crustaceous of course, right?) for the box bounty of sweet meat and firm, fresh buns that was now just a quick call or text away. We’ve been long time fans of Luke’s even collaborating on a stunted dinner series a few years back. Their expansion from NYC and Philly across the country and into Asia has been fantastic to watch. To think, that Maine fresh quality not only can make it across the world but to your kitchen table with the same perfection that you’d get in Kennebunkport is quite a herculean feat. Equipped with their secret recipe each box contains enough perfectly cooked knuckle and claw meat for 2 rolls, 2 fresh and non-soggy buns and a secret spice packet. We’re thinking summer party gift to augment the obligatory bottle of rose. Who doesn’t love the team that shows up with lobster rolls in tow. Crowdpleaser to say the least. Delicious food and a DIY craft. No one is better than you.