Food Product Reviews

peter lugers delivery

Food | Refrigerator

Peter Luger’s Delivery

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.

back to the roots windowsill garden

Food | Fresh

Back to the Roots Windowsill Garden

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.

Balmuda Toaster
Balmuda Toaster
Balmuda Toaster

Gear | Countertop

Balmuda Toaster

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.

all together beer

Drink | Beer

All Together Beer

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.

Nomad Mobile Kitchen

Gear | Outdoor

Nomad Mobile Kitchen

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.

Hedley & Bennett mask

Gear | Outdoor

Hedley & Bennett Apron Mask

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.

Magic Spoon Healthy Childlike Cereal

Food | Pantry

Magic Spoon Healthy Childlike Cereal

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

Drink | Liquor

Gray Whale Gin

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.

Equal Parts Cookware

Gear | Kitchen

Equal Parts Cookware and Coach

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.

Lobster Roll Kit

Food | Fresh

DIY Lobster Roll Kits

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.

Liquid Death water

Drink | Non-Alcoholic

Liquid Death Water

They had us at Murder Your Thirst. At first look Liquid Death Mountain Water seems like Johnny Rotten and Gwyneth Paltrow had an illegitimate tall boy. That still might be largely true but on second glance this is an anarchist’s letter to the perfectly pinkified, millennial, wellness, team member walking through Nomad sipping a CBD infused, Cha Cha Macha in their Sweaty Betty bottoms and color matched Lulu top post Pure Barre class on their way to a M N D F L session. We’re not hating, just maybe a little overtired of the strict, gentrified urban experience that’s all too polished around our office these days. People still work in factories. They still triple shift to feed their kids. They still fall off the wagon, smoke two packs of reds and show up for their 8am shift with their brain beating out of their skull. That is not to say that there’s not a middle ground to those two humans. It is to say, everyone needs to hydrate. That’s where Liquid Death Mountain Water levels the playing field with a beverage design that is as sensational as the people behind it. Every part of the experience has been carefully and perfectly thought through. You want to join the mailing list, no problem, just sign a contract to sell your soul. Not kidding. You want to know “About” why they created it? A word perfect description and philosophy explains everything including their intention to take their healthy water brand and help fund weird art, music, and entertainment that big corporate brands rarely will. They even made a righteous animated explainer video and then this fantastic PSA. As if all that was not enough for you to get on board the death hydration train and order up a case immediately, they even tweaked the “email sign up” toggle button in checkout to read; “I’d like to stay in the loop on news and special offers, just don’t bombard me with stupid bullsh*t”. There’s not much more for us to outline here except to hit their home page and click their FUCK YES buy button. Aces to the Liquid Death crew for this masterpiece.

Barisieur Brewing Alarm Clock

Gear | Table

Barisieur Brewing Alarm Clock

It’s safe to say coffee culture is a habit rivaling the crack epidemic of the 90’s. A harsh but not accidental comparison. We dubbed it “New Joe City”. Playing the finest supply and demand game, The Barisieur Brewing Alarm Clock wakes you up with a beep and an olfactory, pavlovian trigger known as warm caffeine. Disguised in a gorgeous and meticulously crafted wood exoskeleton, a series of modern electronics and intricate micro-plumbing converge to deliver a morning kickstart like none other. Originally a crowdfunding idea by designer Joshua Renouf, this alarm clock concept launched his design company Barisieur. In his words, the studio is a brand driven by design, experience and exceptional quality. Currently the coffee clock is the companies only product but we’d guess they have other lines in the works. A toothbrush that makes you a breakfast burrito OR a wind-proof umbrella that calls you an uber would be a nice next move. Just sayin’.

Applestone meat vending machine

Food | Refrigerator

Meat Vending Machine

It’s late. Your buddy accidentally ate some potent edibles. You peer into your bright, empty refrigerator with a gape that only says one thing. “Where’s the beef?” Normally at 2am you’re SOL until your Key Food opens at sunrise but, if you live close to what we consider the greatest vending machine invented since Sprinkles cupcake ATM, you’re in major, grill-it-now, satiate those gourmet munchies, luck. That’s right 24/7 of prime cut beef on demand all from a little, smart, butcher called Applestone Meat Company. The Meat Vending Machine interior spins displaying the various cuts like diamonds in the windows of 47th street. You don’t even need your wallet just your phone with an Apple and Android Pay integration. This means you can Instagram your purchase in real time bragging to whoever is still awake. Prices vary depending on the cut and the size just like non-robot meat purchasing. We’d recommend going big and pricey because if your standing in front of this machine in pajamas it’s a major meat mission and why skimp now? Apparently, this gets confusing so the guys over at Applestone made this helpful video. We’re so psyched about this we’ve contemplated the 111 mile drive just to experience this merry-go-round of meat first hand. Look for an update on this post once we finally make that move. For now, those closer have a real innovation on their hands. We just hope this spreads far and fast so the rest of the carnivore night owls can share in the on-demand fun.

Tipsy Robot

Drink | Place

Bionic Bomb at Tipsy Robot

F+B robots are coming at us this week like Rosie when George Jetson gets home from work. On the heels of the Creator burger restaurant, Tipsy Robot in Las Vegas (No shock that a grain alcohol, cocktail making, robot lives in the city of sin) will mix a drink you ordered through your other robot, your phone. See what’s happening here? Robot to robot. Of the extensive Vegas curated menu our clear favorite was the Bionic Bomb. This 28oz frozen cocktail starts with some raw white refined sugar in the form of something they call Passion Berry to get you good and wired. Next they up the ante and sugar taste with none other than the grandmomma of flavored vodka, Stoli Razberi. You gotta respect that Z. Remembering this is Vegas the final robotic, precision pour is 4oz of Cruzan 151 Rum to float this fribble and your sobriety to all but a memory. Did we mention it comes in a Tipsy Robot Souvenir Cup? Yeah, that happens. We were curious what, or who really, was behind this autonomous bartender, so we did some digging. Turns out, the Italians. Seriously, The Makr Shakr, as the white label robot is called, was designed by Carlo Ratti Associati out of Torino, Italy, the birthplace of Vermouth for those who are down with the Negroni. Carlo Ratti Associati specializes in design and innovation, and now I guess robotics. Or, maybe, that’s the innovation part. I imagine the teams beta tests were Aperol Spritz’s and Negroni’s instead of the freebase drinks the Tipsy Robot is pouring in Nevada. Jokes aside, this team has created projects like Supermarket of the Future and Paris navigating Gym (a boat that runs on spin cycle bike power) which is to say, some awesome projects. When we realized they weren’t cucks we really started loving what they created regardless of its location or application. Considering all that, maybe one more Bionic Bomb is not a bad idea. That’s either innovation talking or the 151.

Meat Hook Sausage Company

Food | Refrigerator

Meat Hook Sausage Company

Meat Hook Sausage Company ran a Kickstarter about a year back but now the successful Brooklyn butcher has taken their star product beyond the shop and packaged it up in supermarkets near you. Near you if you live outside their Williamsburg epicenter but still in hipster distance. The real hook to these tubular treats is they cover the classics but run crazy with some more creative options. Much like the Ample Hills approach to sausage. You’ll find the classic Italian, Brats and even a hotdog on the straight side of the options. Then it breaks out with ridiculously exciting options. Try a Bacon Cheeseburger (exactly what you’d think it is) or
Big Trouble In Little Dumpling, everything a dumpling would have to be awesome just inside a casing instead of a raviolo. The list continues with Buffalo Chicken, Beet Roasted Onion Sausage (no it is not vegetarian), Chicken Tikka Masala Sausage, a Banh Mi and even the one that got them on the map in this game, a pork, pepperjack cheddar cheese, roasted jalapenos and Texas Pete hot sauce sausage named Long Dong Bud. If all this has made you’re non-NYC resident mouth water their is a solution to this, delivery just became available via Mercato. Considering the biggest grill day of the year is looming, we’d suggest an order is in…order.

Sunday Beer

Drink | Beer

Sunday Beer Co

Today is the perfect day to talk Sunday Beer. Not just because it’s the first day of the week but because here in NYC the mercury will not stay above 30 degrees. Sunday isn’t just another straight forward lager craft beer brand. To us it represents a little of that Sunday summer sun we so badly wish we had a ray of right now. We know this for many reasons but our favorite is that the first option on their website nav is not beer, it’s vibes. The story of where they brew and why they put it in cans is as good as my intro to this delectable beverage. Getting your hand son this easy drinking beauty is still a little tough. Available around Brooklyn, we fancy one with our Big Matt at Emmy Squared. A few spots in Manhattan are carrying this day of rest in a can, our go to chicken hit, Fields Good Chicken soon to be added to the list. As they expand distribution we’re guessing this spring every corner bodega will soon have a palette. For now you’ll have to slurp one up at one of these spots.