I have an unnatural penchant for simple, straightforward things. Design is one of them. When I was a kid I loved the no-frills aisle in my supermarket. To this day, simple food packaging gets me jazzed. Public Goods is the latest in the short line of cleanly designed packaging available. The trick to these companies is that the food needs to be equally as good as the package design. Yeah, we eat with our eyes but only until it touches our tongues. So when my first box arrived I admired the unboxing but then tore right into a pack of ramen. Slurping down the last little bits of noodles was the acknowledgment of quality and validation of the small membership fee that allows these inexpensive, yet quality, items to show up on my doorstep. They jumped off as a Kickstarter and now are in full swing with stock across personal care, household, grocery, vitamins and supplements, and pet supplies. We heavied up on the grocery department but threw in some dental floss for good measure. Pro tip 😉 Oral hygiene is key when you are always eating. If you’re fast, you might still be able to catch the sale they were running on membership this month.
Food Product Reviews
Thirty-eight years ago David Letterman started his late-night show, Tylenol capsules laced with potassium cyanide killed 7 people and the first issue of USA Today was published. As an eight-year-old, all of that paled in comparison to the introduction of McDonald’s McRib sandwich. This first brush with BBQ left an indelible mark that would stick with me years later at Memphis in May and while slurping up every full slab I could find from Mississippi to Chicago. Today this sandwich king is available nationwide for the first time since 2012. I know what you’re thinking, with all the incredible BBQ available across this great country why would I opt for a frozen, pre-formed, visually faked rib sandwich? You could easily dismiss my love as nostalgia but it runs deeper than that. Anthony Bourdain made a point to champion all food through the lens of culture. He was also known for his penchant for some of the more, let’s call it, faster of food options from time to time. With that in mind, the McRib is that food for me. Its impact on me was just as culturally profound as David Letterman challenging Johnny Carson or USA Today taking on the New York Times. I’m not the only one who feels this connection. McRib fans across the country have had lunch planned since this announcement in October so a word of advice if you are going to give it a go, and you should, get the McD’s app and order early.
Thanksgiving 2020 is going to be an unprecedented one. Less family gatherings. Higher COVID 19 rates. More cooking in your home. That’s why we thought we’d offer a reprieve from at least one of those tired realities. Our top 10 Thanksgiving delivery dinners in New York City. Take a needed break from the kitchen and order in some gourmet. For this list we looked beyond the turkey because, let’s face it, a big bird is only good if there’s enough people around to eat it. If you’re in ear shot of DeBlasio, Cuomo and Murphy you know a full family gather is not the recommended agenda. Sure that day-after-turkey-sandwich is delicious but our list has leftovers potential we think puts that makeshift sando to shame. We’re not hating on turkey. We’re just mixing it up with some alt options since there is nothing traditional about this Thanksgiving. Let’s keep with the theme. Here’s our list with the star item called out on each. Most orders come with an array of sides and other accouterments. Cost runs from cheap eats to 5 star in home. You frugal festive Forkers can get away with only a $39.99 investment. For those of you posh revelers, our top end choice comes in at $588. Choose wisely.
The Breslin-Roasted Turkey Breast and Smoked Leg
Fields Good Chicken-Cascun Farm Whole Chicken + Cornbread
Popeyes-Cajun Whole Turkey
Jean Georges-Whole Roasted Organic Turkey and Sourdough Stufffing
M. Wells – Meat Pie
Mission Chinese Food – Whole Roasted Chicken with smoked sweet tea brine, five spice citrus glaze
Hometown BBQ – Whole Smoked Brisket
Kimika – Turchetta (think Porchetta)
Seamore’s – Salmon Roast
Forma Pasta Factory – Bolognese Lasagna
Last weeks debacle by our former NYC mayor was just another notch on the ever chipping political follie tree. Shouldn’t it have tiiiiimbeeeeered by now? This mistake, and for those of you who had not heard-check this, caused a lot of attention on an unexpecting Philadelphia landscaping outfit. The reverberations quickly took over the world reaching Dublin and the peeps at Rascals Brewing quite quickly. Debuting their limited edition Four Saisons Total Landscaping Saison beer was not only marketing genius but set up to be quite tasty too. Only available in Ireland for now, you might have a tough time getting your hands on it but I think we can all get tons of benefits from revisiting the can visual every once in a while for a chuckle.
We never thought of putting garam masala on cold greens either but a few nights ago we were treated to such a salad. A sprinkle of this quintessential Indian mixture onto crispy fresh fennel, juicy grapefruit supremes and the occasional candied ginger, worked better than I would have ever guessed in making our tastebuds dance. With a bit further investigation (Raiding our friend’s pantry) we discovered this triad of masalas from the late, great chef Floyd Cardoz in collaboration with Burlap and Barrel. Chef Cardoz passed from complications of COVID-19 in March 2020 but left a legacy through his compassion, teachings and artifacts, like these spices. Burlap and Barrel partners directly with small farmers to source spices that have never been available in the US before and help improve the livelihoods of their partner farmers. This collab was no exception. Working with Chef Cardoz’s wife and business partner Barkha Cardoz, as a memorial to his love for the cuisines of India and his passion for sharing them with the world, the three masalas are uniquely different but all Chef Cardoz. The garam masala is floral, sweet and aromatic. Second in the trifecta, the Goan masala has an earthy, pungent, gingery complexity flavor profile. Lastly, the Kashmiri masala brings the heat with a fennel, ginger and aromatic profile anchored by the Kashmiri chili. Aside from being great on your favorite greens, this trifector collection is a fantastic way to pay homage and connect with a chef who made a huge impact on the culinary world.
This November is one of the most important elections in our history. Collectively we have the power to shape our future, as we always did it just seems extra important this go round. The pride in this power is palpable and you might just need something a little more lighter-hearted than the recent headlines to show your patriotism. This donut flag tee should do the trick while reminding you of the sweet reward you can indulge in after you hit the polls. No matter your affiliation, or lack there of, be prepared for long lines and hunger pangs. Which reminds us to plug this equally important effort for those experiencing food insecurity. It helps those in that situation to vote and receive food. A true win-win. Back on topic, this donut vote garb will keep people on line smiling and you out of the crosshairs of a more unsavory voter. Now the only thing you need to decide is if your a yeast or cake donut lover. There it is, yet another divide. Why is there always 2 dominant choices? Can’t there be room for a strong third. In the case of donuts we supposed that would be cronuts.
Adult cereal and adaptogens are quite old but both are fairly new to most of us. Dare I say trendy. Off Limits is a new cereal brand developed by Emily Miller, famous for all sorts of breakfast stuff like books and tours. Watching my grandmother eat her daily milk doused bowl of bran and wheat germ with a yuck face had me running for my Tony the Tiger well into my 30’s. These days, as a smarter, slower metabolism, dude an alternative was in order. We’ve highlighted some of these new cereal brands before. What takes Off Limits to the next level are these wonderful little adaptogens added to the crunchy O’s. Adaptogens are things you’ve heard of but don’t really know what they are aside from “they are good for you”. Originally created in 1947, I told you they were old, to describe a substance that may increase resistance to stress, today they promote other benefits such as anti-inflammation and hormonal balance. They have crazy names like rhodiola, schisandra and, most trendy, ashwagandha but they are basically roots and plants you can find in various parts of the world. Ashwagandha is the adaptogen in one of the two current Off Limits flavors, Zombie. The green O’s are made from rice, oat, and coconut flour with notes of vanilla and pandan. BTW, pandan is a Southeast Asian plant that when crushed gives off a sweet, floral scent. The other flavor is Dash. Championing a caffeinated female rabbit mascot, these dots are a chocolatey, coffee goodness guaranteed to pep you up. There are three different coffee ingredients in them. WOWO. No chill adaptogens in these. Together these two options get you up in the morning and put you down at night hence their claim that this is cereal for any time of day. As cereal nerds, we like that idea a lot. Aside from the quality and taste, the design of everything from the box to the website wins in our book. Emily partnered with Shepard Fairey’s Studio Number One for the character development and Pentagram partner, Astrid Stavro for the visual identity. She didn’t stop there. We opened this post with “old stuff but new to us”. Continuing on the old is new theme, they even brought back the free toy inside, although it’s not inside. It’s more a carnival ticket system approach. You accumulate tickets with each purchase and then can go shopping in their online toy store for stuff like mascot keychains and other fun tchotchkes. Next time you are hankering for your childhood, need a boost but hate 24hr energy, or need to mellow into slumberland drop some Off Limits in a bowl and fix that need in a most delicious and fun-loving way.
Good Humor and RZA ice cream truck jingle just dropped with the goal of ending the racist roots the current song subliminally drives into our brains. Here in Queens, this oppression is monotonous most afternoons. The song is derived from “Turkey in the Straw”, an old mistral song. If that doesn’t mean much to you take a listen to this NYTimes podcast. Now that you understand why that connection is horrific, watch and listen to the new tune here. Leave it to a Staten Island rapper and a 100 year old ice cream company to bring some equality-based joy into our lives amidst one of the darkest times in our country’s history. I always said, “You can count on ice cream to always bring a smile.” I never thought it would simultaneously help deconstruct generations of systemic racism. If you are so moved by this to obtain a music box of your own to perhaps gift your local ice cream truck proprietor, Nicholes Electronics specializes in pre-programmed, looping, music boxes for just such an application.
They make these RED hot dogs in Maine. Locally they are called red snappers and are what everyone from Kittery to Caswell uses in their summer backyard BBQ’s. We picked up a pack of Rice’s (one of two OG competing makers) before we left the state to try the red dye, natural casing snap for ourselves. There are two bits of folklore important in this maker story. One, sometime in the late 18th century, the red dye was added as a marketing gimmick to have their dogs standout amongst the 30 other competing butchers. Two, after World War II, Rice headed down to NYC where he heard a few German sausage makers, turned soldiers, turned POW’s were being held. He interviewed them and hired one to create his hot dog spice mixture. Kidder & Rice, the companies original name, was sold to a few larger industrial meat purveyors over the years until W.A. Bean and Sons, Rice’s original competitor in 1898, bought the Rice name back from Tyson Foods. Today W.A. Bean and Sons pump out 500,000 pounds a year of Rice’s original recipe. With all that history we were intrigued what a naturally cased, steamed Red #40 food dye, pork and beef dog would taste like. The snap lived up to the legend. The taste was on par with the Nathan’s of the world but the marketing trick was what hit the home run for me. The contrast of the red dog, yellow mustard and green relish just makes it stand out and create conversation. Just like when you repeat this story to your pals when you try one. What’s still confusing is W.A. Bean and Sons also makes a red snapper. How they both “stood out” with the same marketing trick is unclear as is who was first. Regardless W.A. Bean and Sons now make both recipes so I suppose that origins moment is moot.
EatOkra is the anti-yelp. A resource that is, in their words, “a food-themed directory that encourages fellowship through one specific avenue, black food”. If there is a single reason why food has been such an important part of our lives, this is it. A window into culture, but more importantly the people and the stories that make up that culture. In 2016 Anthony Edwards Jr and Janique Bradley launched the EatOkra App when they noticed there were no resources for black owned restaurants. As the two began to catalog them for the app they discovered there were many. With the help of their third co-founder, UX/UI designer Justin Johnson, GetOkra was born. In the four years since launch the app has added more than a dozen cities. As we sit squarely in this radically necessary 2020 shift this directory becomes an incredibly important resource to support for our black community. Not to be overshadowed, you’ll also have the opportunity to devour some of the most delicious food you’ve ever tasted.
This brings us to an equally important point in this post. Supporting black owned food businesses is one way to raise awareness and support in an ongoing way. This movement is not a today and tomorrow thing but a “this year, next year and so on” thing. Supporting black owned food business’, restaurants, farmers and packaged goods is a worthy way to vote two to three (sometimes four) times a day for something that makes an immediate impact. We’ve pulled together this list of links that have been curated by some amazing people across the country. Thank you all for doing this work. Start with downloading the EatOkra App. I’m sure they are adding to their listings thanks to these curators. We’ll be highlighting many of them in weeks to come and hope you’ll choose to support the ones in your community often.
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.