I wonder if people call 30 days ahead for Fadó reservations?
Chart via Compete
In fourth grade someone got the bright idea of cutting lunch to an outrageous 15 minutes (as if going to a year-round school without a cafeteria wasn't enough--we ate at our desks and were served by mobile carts in the hall). To get the slow eaters (me) up to speed, our teachers implemented a charming little policy called "Shovel Time."
The first nine minutes would pass normally. Then as the tenth approached, Miss Stauffer (a feathered-haired gal who drove a Camaro and loved Little River Band) would yell, "Do you know what time it is?!" The class would manically shriek back, "SHOVEL TIME!!!" Talking was absolutely forbidden the final five minutes—it was a deathly silent scarf fest.
don't know if I've ever been the same since. But as a nod to this classy
ritual, I've adopted the humble scooping implement as my rating system's
icon. Shovel on!
1 Shovel=Passing Fancy
2 Shovels=Puppy Love
3 Shovels=Crippling Crush
4 Shovels=Serious Stalking
I wonder if people call 30 days ahead for Fadó reservations?
Chart via Compete
I didn’t think it needed to be said that dark meat is better than light meat. And now the WSJ has an adorable chart to prove its growing popularity. I don’t have anything else to say in the matter (well, I did glance in the freezer this morning and when faced with thighs or breasts, made the obvious defrosting choice) I just wanted an excuse to post this chart.
Economic takeaway: Americans’ waking up to the crappiness of white meat is pushing up the costs of legs and thighs, which boo.
And flat-out creepy: "’If the industry realizes tastes are changing, perhaps they'll need to shift the genetics,’ said Akshay Jagdale, industry analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets.”
I eagerly await these new four-legged birds.
Pie is the hardest dessert to make from scratch, say 59% of Americans in Crisco's National Pie Survey.
But you must have pie because Pillsbury found that it's the "number-one treat for the holidays." Ninety-four percent of Americans will eat a slice of pie during the holidays, and no shock, pumpkin is the favorite. I was actually surprised that 59% of holiday bakers are under 35, though.
Not surprisingly, the makers of Hormel™ Country Crock® sides managed to get a majority of Americans (51%) to admit that they prefer sides over the main dish. I agree that turkey is blech, but I don't know if I'm persuaded to pick up a tub of bacon ranch mashed potatoes yet.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation close to 2.8 million pounds of game meat was donated by hunters to the less fortunate last year—and this is vaguely tied to Thanksgiving. By region, 46.1% came from the Midwest, 45.7% from the South, 7.2% from the Northeast, and a pathetic 1% from the West. Maybe they’re just hoarding venison for themselves in Oregon (they would).
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) reports that 15% of Americans cook part of their Thanksgiving meal outdoors, up 9% from 2009.
If I have it my way, this year I will be dining out for Thanksgiving (as opposed to last year's sitting on the couch alone watching TV all day, no different than any Thursday--I'm doing it right now) and so will 14 million Americans, the National Restaurant Association reports. That's only 6% of Americans overall, though.
I couldn’t help but click into the press release, “Complimentary Breakfast and In-Room Coffee Service Sway Consumers' Hotel Selection, Says Technomic” because I wanted to see how I fit in with the surveyed consumers. You know, in a what your favorite movie dad says about you way (partial to Ghost Dad, myself).
The nicer the hotel, the less likely it will be that they provide an in-room coffee maker and I like my crappy, watery cup before heading out into the world for a real coffee and am too cheap to order room service. But going down to Holiday Express level just causes heartache because there’s no way in hell I’m going to wake up between 6am and 9m to take advantage of free scrambled eggs, bacon and rolls. That is not a perk.
I lost all concentration on the results of this study, though, when I saw “Bar lounges and lobbies are expanding their menus and offering more tapas-style foods to promote the lobby as a casual, social-gathering place.”
Tapas-style foods?! What does that even mean? I’m heading to San Francisco tomorrow and if I don’t see any goat cheese-stuffed meatballs in the lobby of Parc 55, my Priceline blind bid result, there is going to be hell to pay. (No in-room coffee maker, so it must be classy). Oh, the in-house restaurant, which may or may not be anywhere near the lobby appears to serve “bar bites” including potstickers, sliders and empanadas. American tapas, if I’ve ever seen them. Thankfully, they didn’t use the T word.
Palate/palette abuse is a fact of life—caring only causes pain—instead, tapas patrolling might be where it’s at.
When is a tapa not a tapa? Likely, if it involves marinara and melted mozzarella or is simply a mini-burger or tiny serving of babyback ribs. Is it Spanish? If no, then you must call it a small plate or give it some other vague nomenclature. I would not recommend appeteaser.
Photo credit: The Hip Hostess
While hay-smoked bitters are most certainly on the horizon for certain segments of the population, the fastest growing beverage in the chain restaurant world is tap water. I love tap water, but it makes me sad to think of all those garnimals languishing behind the bar at Cheeseburger in Paradise. Those Skinny Pirates won’t be drinking themselves.
People who prefer their water in bottles, have chosen Aquafina as the brand of the year. Panera tops the casual dining list and Subway wins for fast food. Sandwiches rule.
And for reasons I can’t discern, Spanish-dominant Hispanics eat breakfast out more than their English-speaking counterparts. The first meal of the day makes up more than a third of the Spanish-speakers’ total dining occurrences. Not surprisingly, English-speakers, Hispanic or not, are kind of the same. Lunch wins by a smidge. I wonder who eats more breakfast burritos.
Eric Asimov of the Times seems surprised that 26% of Americans, particularly younger people, drink wine without food. Perhaps I am an immature wino because I don’t find anything unusual about this. I can’t possibly be the only one who might have a pre-dinner glass of wine at a bar.
A Harris Poll released today shows that matures are the most inclined to drink daily, at 11% and increase in daily consumption seems tied to increase in age. At least I have something to look forward to as I wither.
Popular drinks by age: youngsters drink more vodka than anyone else, shockingly, Gen X drinks the most beer and seniors excel at nearly everything else in the liquor cabinet, including wine (domestic and imported), bourbon, gin and scotch. Brandy is shunned by all.
Emirates has been voted the airline with the best meals, according to a survey by Skyscanner. And indeed the comments on AirlineMeals.net are overwhelmingly positive. That's clearly not an economy example above, and it's just one of many courses.
Hopefully, tenth place Air France, will change minds now that Joel Roubuchon is involved with the menu. I actively avoid most food trucks unless they’re serving something unique that can’t be found at a proper restaurant (I hate standing around outside eating) but this falls into the I’m-just-curious-enough camp. I’ll see what’s up when the roving Air France vehicle hits my work neighborhood on Monday.
3. Singapore Airlines
6. Malaysia Airlines
7. Thai Airways
10. Air France
Singapore Airlines is the only one of the top ten that I’ve experienced first-hand, and yes, they’re fairly ritzy even though the only thing I can specifically recall eating was a decent curry on the way to Bangkok the time I lucked out on a massively discounted SARS-related deal.
Foreign airlines can be fun, top ten cuisine or not. Aeromexico only had beer and tequila—poured from full-sized glass bottles—to accompany their enchiladas (yes, I asked for wine). I wonder if I will be getting rioja and paella on Iberia when I fly next month?
Photo of Emriates Airbus A380 meal from Chow Times
Tesco Real Food has found that French is the fastest-growing cuisine in England (at least among prepared grocery store meals). Sales increased 16% last year, followed by Chinese (15%), British (6.7%), Italian (6.6%) and Tex-Mex (3.2%). What? No American? Well, the Tesco Tex Mex Multipack Dips do contain "an American style mayonnaise and soured cream nacho cheese dip."
Apparently, Tesco sells a whole line of French Classics, putting our frozen T.G.I. Friday’s Frozen Loaded Cheddar & Bacon Skins to shame. Chicken Chasseur, the star of this store brand’s line, increased sales 226% over last year. I don’t even know what Chicken Chasseur is exactly other that it involves mushrooms; I’d like to imagine it’s a little like this.
Brits may like to pretend they’re refined with their Gallic groceries, but it seems that 14% of them have dined and dashed. Thirty-nine percent, the largest group, have left a restaurant without paying because no one ever brought them the check. I’ll admit that I was tempted to run out on the bill for this very reason at a Mexican restaurant in Vegas.
But flirting for discounts isn't a crime, right? Exalted research firm, Promocodes.co.uk, surveyed 3,000 Brits and it turns out that ladies save nearly 150 pounds ($241) per year “hair tossing, maintaining eye contact, giggling and being overly friendly” to get discounts. More than 56% didn’t have to pay a cent due to their feminine whiles.
And I thought British women were all ugly?
Data mining. There’s so much you can do with tidbits gleaned (I will not say scraped because it sounds too gross and biopsy-ish) from the web. A company named Rapleaf (almost as gross-sounding as scraped) has analyzed grocery purchase behaviors of Google and Microsoft employees (or at least people using google.com and microsoft.com email addresses) for purposes unknown.
Googlers are younger, less likely to be married and have children, drink more Mountain Dew and eat more bacon and ice cream and perhaps incongruously, more fresh fruit and vegetables. Microsoft workers consume more butter, vitamins and Capri Sun (or their kids do). Fascinating stuff.
I wonder if any of this explains Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO and his 43-pound, five-volume, $625 (discounted to $461.62 and sold out on Amazon), Modernist Cuisine. Maybe the statistic that 2% more Microsoft employees eat Orville Redenbacher's popcorn than Google workers could somehow be tied by this video of popcorn popping slowed down to 6,200 frames per second that was shot in the Modernist Cuisine laboratory.
Image credit: Rapleaf via TechCrunch
According to a survey of 1,000 consumers in Oregon and Washington by Foster Farms (a company that I always thought was like Perdue or Tyson, but apparently is more indie, or so they would have you believe) 92% think it’s important to buy food grown in the Pacific Northwest, 86% think they are unique and better than the rest of the country for this belief (ok, verbatim: “believe they differ from the rest of the nation”) and over 60% think the Northwest has fresher, more local food than anywhere else in the country.
I would be curious to see the percentage of Northwesterners who ever travel outside of their home states.
This is where I would logically link to the Portlandia bit about the couple who want to visit the farm where Colin, the chicken they are about to be served, was raised. We all know that is funny.
However, I’m also partial to this commercial where Jim Perdue speaks Bloomberg-esque Spanish (mine is no better, but I am not a wealthy man on TV trying to relate to the people). I mean, for purely poultry-related laughs, no Oregon connection necessary.
Subway may have surpassed McDonald’s in global locations, but according to Keller Fay Americans are still talking about The Golden Arches more than any other food brand. It’s number one with both men and women and nearly 60% of Americans mention a food and dining brand daily in conversations (I wonder if typing into the ether counts) with fast food dominating the top ten.
The biggest difference between the sexes is that women talk about Starbucks more and love Gerber. I like to think it has nothing to do with being moms and everything to do with emulating Jennifer Aniston.
Cooking Channel’s FoodCrafters would have you thinking that the nation is one big Brooklyn with everyone—even dudes—smoking, pickling, distilling or growing.
Not so, finds a Wilton survey. “Food crafting…is the number one hobby for women” and gets broken into baking, decorating and celebrating. No charcuterie or even jam-making in sight (yes, Wilton is a cake pan company). Cake is the most popular celebration dessert (49%), icing is the most popular decorating ingredient (94%), the 21-34 age range a.k.a. moms bake the most (31%) and the midwest and southeast tie for most frequent baking (29%).
Childless women (which I take to mean females with grown children) are most likely to bake from scratch (43%). Scratch bakers in general (38%) are almost neck-and-neck with Sandra Lee acolytes (37%). I’m not sure where Hungry Girl fits into all of this—is using hot cocoa mix, fat-free liquid egg substitute and Splenda to make muffins cooking from scratch, doctoring or something else altogether?
Most Popular Cusines Among US Travelers
1. Italian 54.3%
2. American (tie) 35.3%
2. Mexican (tie) 35.3%
3. French 27.6%
4. Chinese 25.9%
5. Japanese 22.4%
6. Greek 19.0%
7. Spanish 13.8%
9. Other 11.2%
10. Lebanese 6.9%
In shocking news, Americans prefer to eat spaghetti, hamburgers and nachos no matter what part of the world they’re traveling in. According to a hotels.com survey, a stubborn 13% won’t try local cuisine at all and 18% prefer American fast food chains when abroad.
Two-thirds did say they try local cuisine on vacation, but considering Americans only leave the country to live out a once-in-a-lifetime Parisian or Tuscan fantasy (or settle for a nice Venetian facsimile) or to binge drink at Caribbean/Mexican resorts where you could eat hamburgers and pizza all day, it’s not saying much.
In a way, these food choices simply mirror popular travel destinations, Lebanese cuisine withstanding. A recent TripAdvisor survey found that the top three international travel destinations for Americans in 2011 are Paris, London and Rome. Sorry, England, I’m not sure if British cuisine will never crack the top ten.
In fact, Britons aren't even eating their own food. A December Valued Opinions poll unearthed Britain's favorite takeway food, and fish and chips came in fourth place at only 13%. The top three were Chinese (38%), Indian (22%) and pizza (18%).
According to 3,736 local reviewers covering 523 restaurants in Las Vegas for Zagat, the city is now the most expensive place to dine in the United States. The average meal (which is not defined—appetizer, entrée, dessert? Two of the three? Are drinks included?) will set you back $47.53. Clearly, Zagat reviewers are not being lured by discounted prime rib. Also, 20% of them are memorializing their pricey dishes with smartphone pics.
In a December, AlixPartners’ survey, which clearly has little Zagat overlap, diners planned to spend 5% less on each restaurant meal this year, which works out to $12.90. Eleven percent planned to spend no more than $5 per meal, and I doubt they’re photographing what they eat.
An Intelliprice study from earlier last year found that the cost of an average dinner entrée in 2010 was $13.88. Still too much for the AlixPartners’ crew. And New York, not Vegas, had the highest priced entrées with an average of $15.01.
Image from Slot Machine Finder
What else is being snowed-in good for if not whiling away the day aggregating best of lists? Here is a completely random collection of food-related bests (and a few worsts) of 2010. When there wasn’t a ranking—and many didn’t play favorites—I simply chose the first on the list or picked a popular choice when there was a number of different respondents. Because I wanted to allow for clickable links, this isn’t a traditional tag cloud with the more mentioned getting larger fonts. Also, with the exception of ABC Kitchen and Lincoln, there weren’t many duplicates.
Despite 44% of home cooks not cooking a Thanksgiving meal from scratch, Thanksgiving is still the most popular time of year for recipe searches, according to Google. Then again, during the holidays searches for “easy recipes” triple with pie being the top requested item. I won’t scoff; pies are definitely more time consuming than a standard weeknight recipe. I really don’t like making crust (and have given up on forming empanadas without frozen shells).
Everyone loves pie. Not surprisingly, pumpkin tops the list of Bing’s most searched pie recipes, followed by pecan, apple, chocolate and importantly, pie crust. Oddly, the top cookie recipe searched for is rice krispie. I’m not even convinced that’s a cookie, let alone a holiday cookie. Well, that was before I saw Kellogg’s Great Plains Tipi Treats and Turkey Tracks.
Even odder, Google has fondue lurking their top baking searches. I don’t associate things melted in pots with baking. Cookies, of course, are number one. I wonder if rice krispie treats also fall under this category since they’re not baked either. Maybe I’m just being too literal about what baking means these days.
Great Plains Tipi Treats photo from Kellogg's
Sixty-six percent of “home cooks” will make their Thanksgiving meal from scratch this year compared to 55% last year. So, people are getting their holiday dishes from Boston Market or a can or am I misunderstanding how Americans now celebrate Thanksgiving?
Moms are finding it easier to get their families to eat fruit at restaurants (37% in 2010 vs. 29% in 2008) but they’ve been less successful with encouraging vegetable-eating when dining out (43% in 2010 vs. 45% in 2008). It makes me wonder where dads fit into the equation. I can only assume lumped in with the kiddies as “family.”
A mom’s work is never done. Getting kids to eat fruit and vegetables is “not easy,” “a constant battle,” or “impossible” according to 56% of them. Ninety percent of kids enjoy apples, though.
Thanksgiving Day Dinner photo from Merrick Pet Foods
According to NPD, US restaurant spending only went up a tick (.4%) in Q2 2010 with the average check being $5.94. Nowhere do they specify fast food, but otherwise I'm having a hard time seeing how such a low figure could be true. Or maybe I'm just a big spender. China had the smallest check at $2.58, and the biggest increase in spending (15.6%). Just wait until those Hong Kong McDonald's weddings sweep the mainland.
Kurt Salmon also finds that restaurant spending is down this fall, but doesn't say by how much.
Zagat clearly tracks a more affluent user. Their 2011 New York City Restaurant Survey shows that in NYC, the average check is $41.76, down a mere five cents from 2009. For the record, a whopping 81% think it's fine to take photos of food in restaurants…so there.
Perhaps, the other 17% are scared of carbs? Those are probably the whole grain-obsessed moms responsible for the 651 new whole grain products that have been launched to date in 2010, according to Mintel.
Meanwhile, Technomic finds that 52% of Americans want healthier food at convenience stores. You know that's bullshit because Fruit2day (a very reputable research firm) says that close to half of us let fruit rot in the fridge. I know I do because I generally hate it. Mangos, I don't detest, yet I still have a probably rancid one lazing around in the crisper drawer for the past two weeks.
Also, our favorite fruit is the strawberry because "Americans see themselves as having sweet, caring personalities like a strawberry." If you say so.
Image from Foodwhirl.
Breakfast is kind of a non-entity to me. Weekdays, I’ll bring fruit or a granola bar or sometimes a hard-boiled egg and eat at my desk around 11am. Boring. Weekends, I rarely get up early enough to indulge. It’s always the sore spot on vacations. I can never cram in three meals a day (and rarely get out of the hotel before 11am) so breakfast is usually scrapped for early lunch, dinner and a snack. While in the Bay Area this past weekend, I did manage to squeeze in hangtown hash, a take on the regional hangtown fry, at Sea Salt in Berkeley, and tocilog at Tselogs, a Filipino café in Daly City. Oh, I also had a scoop of Secret Breakfast ice cream, a.k.a. Jim Beam and cornflakes, at Humphry Slocombe.
According to Quaker Oats, nearly half of Americans pass on breakfast. They don’t provide much further insight, but suggesting that you turn off your mobile phone or hide it in other room while you get ready as a way to “make over your own morning routine and enjoy a healthier life” tells me that skipping breakfast is the least of this country’s problems.
Kix and SUPERVALU provide some contradictory data. The cereal brand claims that 79% of parents eat breakfast with their kids (liars) while the supermarket chain finds that 54% of children "fend for themselves in the kitchen for breakfast." Regionally, Chicago had the highest percentage of kids making their own breakfast (69%); San Diego had the fewest number of parents who serve their children breakfast before school (43%).
Photo from Panda Sashimi.
I'm partial to full-service chains over fast food because I'm classy like that (and like to drink with my meals). I would generally agree with their overall top five rated on food, facilities and service.
1. Bonefish Grill
2. P.F. Chang's
4. Cheesecake Factory
5. BJ's Restaurant.
Bonefish Grill, P.F. Chang's and Cheesecake Factory are some of my favorites. I nearly experienced an epiphany at Bonefish Grill while New Order’s “Love Vigilantes” played in their outdoor lounge, and once again at P.F. Chang’s when Morrissey’s “Suedehead” could be heard near the giant horse statues in front of the door. Both are suburban perfection. I don't generally eat chain Italian (though I’m willing to give Maggiano’s a try even though the only location I can think of is out in Bridgwater, New Jersey across from a Crate and Barrel) and I've never been to a BJ's and don’t know that I will. I probably won’t on half-baked principle.
My dad and his wife once took me to a peanut-shell-filled restaurant in Tigard, Oregon called BJ's Roadhouse for my 22nd birthday and I forgot my ID and wasn't even able to order an O'Douls to drown my sorrows. I don't think these BJ's are related. In fact, there's no online evidence of this eatery ever existing. If you Google BJ’s Roadhouse Tigard, you just get me speculating on this same thing a few years ago because I have a short-term blogging memory.
Gen Y is "greedy and wasteful" as that cat upstate who got marinated in a trunk. According to NPD's "National Eating Trends" they only make 68 meals per year using a leftover (that actually sounds high) compared to my thrifty, crotchety age group who does sad things like salvaging Cheesecake Factory salads by draining the excess dressing off the lettuce in a colander the following day (not that I would know this first-hand, of course) 14 more times annually than twenty-somethings. Millennials are also the most likely to eaten frozen or prepared foods.
Harris Interactive has found that the 18-33 group, Echo Boomers in their world, prepare the fewest meals at home. Therefore, fewer opportunities to transform leftovers. 85% do so more than once per week while 34-45s, the homebodies of the universe, hunker down in their kitchens the most (91%). I imagine this is because they are the group most bogged down with small, costly children. Oddly, it's the youngest who say they enjoy cooking the most. Maybe because only a third do it more than five times a week.
Maybe I’m just unhappy because according to additional Lawry's findings, I’m a spicy food-lover, a so-called “Self-Assured Adventurer,” when the happiest cohort, “Joyous Joiners,” prefers tart flavors.
I love it when companies get all targeted with their food marketing. Lawry's has two special sections on their site: Food For the Soul and Cocina Latina. Steak with chimichurri sauce (if there's any population that grills more than the US, it's Argentines) doesn't sound half bad, though I don' t know that I'd describe it as having "Latin flare."
Also, Fisher wants you to take a quiz to see what kind of nut you are. I'm not crazy about being a walnut.
Image from Embroidery by Jean
I work with data but I've never been a numbers person. And once you start getting into visualizing networks and nodes, I get nervous. At least this is a known unknown, not the dreaded so stupid you don’t know you’re stupid unknown unknowns.
Yet, I still find Hunch’s THAY (Teach Hunch About You) concept fascinating. Lately, they have been analyzing user data to create food-related reports, this month’s being A Network of Food Preferences.
Hunch users prefer multigrain bread over white, 73% to 27%. I’d pick a nice baguette given the option. Using data on bread, cheese and lettuce preferences, they’ve determined that the most likable sandwich would be made up of hard cheese, multigrain bread and romaine. Sounds meh to me. Then again, who’d think that a lettuce sandwich would be a good idea?
But the beer and french fry pairings were right on. I would absolutely pick bistro frites and a dark ale given the options. The real question? Ketchup or mayonnaise with those fries.
I didn't go to a college with a cafeteria (I ate Chinese takeout from Safeway, jo jo potatoes from the same Safeway deli and sandwiches I made from cream cheese, avocado and fake crab) so food prepared specifically for youngsters enrolled in higher learning institutions is foreign and interesting. Same too, dorms.
Apricot-glazed turkey photo from Taste of Home, America's highest circulation food magazine. The dish must be more popular than I thought.
Then I remembered that I’m guilty of contributing to the onslaught. I just covered fried chicken, banh mi, “rock star” butchers, pizza and a few other 2009 dining trends for Metromix.
I’m not much for predictions either. I wanted kalamansi to blow up for 2003, and well, I’m still waiting. I do think Peruvian will be the next big Latin cuisine, that Manhattan- Mex (Cascabel, La Lucha, Ofrenda) will continue to expand, goat meat will take off after we get through lamb and that mezcal (ok, I’m just on a personal kick) will have a heyday. Personally, I wish 2010 could be the year of the crab rangoon.
More on the near future:
Restaurants & Institutions favors pot roast, beer and eggs.
Chowhounders say food trucks for the non-L.A./NYC parts of the country, Korean as the new Thai and lots of stuff that’s already happening like home canning and American charcuterie.
I had to double check Epicurious’ pub date because their Top 10 for 2010 reads like trends for 2009. Ok, maybe just the fried chicken, babely butchers and lamb.
The National Restaurant Association’s “Chef Survey: What’s Hot in 2010” predicts the top trends will be locally grown produce (88%), locally sourced meats (84%) and seafood and sustainability (80%). True but boring. I like #77 traditional ethnic breakfast items (50%) and #157 mole (35%). Ack, #154 fiddlehead ferns, one of the world’s creepiest foods regardless of taste, came in one notch above mole.
Food & Wine foresees better frozen food, butter and artisanal breakfasts.
In “A Look into The Future of Eating” The NPD Group says Generation Z will see the largest increase in heat and eat breakfasts among all age groups over the next decade. Toddlers and their Jimmy Dean Flapsticks.
Hunch is fascinating if not a little creepy (I think creating smarter, personalized search engines is how machines start rising up). When it first launched I got sucked into answering questions for over 30 minutes, partially anticipating an end result and partially because I find answering questions addictive.
They recently published a report, "How Food Preferences Vary by Political Ideology" which reinforces stark stereotypes. Apparently, food choices are cleanly divided between political parties. For instance, right-wingers prefer Velveeta, white bread, deep-dish pizza with lots of meat and liberals love Brie, multigrain, and vegetarian regular crust pizzas. Kind of like an '80s funny-'cause-it's-true black people dance like this/white people dance like this comedy routine.
Fortunately, we can all get along on a few culinary topics: both groups prefer romaine over other lettuces and practically everyone thinks bacon double cheeseburgers are delicious.
Except me, perhaps. I almost always order alcohol when dining out (though not at lunch because I don’t work with bon vivants, plus 90% of the time I eat at my desk and only drink water or black coffee when I’m not imbibing) but it appears that I’m in the minority.
Overall, Technomic predicts alcohol sales in ”away-from-home venues” to decline 2.5% in 2010. The largest decrease will be in the fine dining channel with a 10.4% drop. The only increase will be seen in the bars and nightclubs segment, though only by 0.6%. Wine sales forecast to shrink 6.7% will suffer more than beer or spirits.
Restaurants & Institutions' "Beverage Census Study" reinforces these finding. 72% of consumers order non-alcholic drinks when dining out (thought this includes all meals and fast food where the option typically doesn’t exist). And bolstering the wine is elite, beer is for regular folks notion, Americans in households earning $75,000+ order wine 3.3 tims per week while those who make less than $20,000 only 0.4 times.
And randomly, more than one-third of Gen Y’ers order root beer.
According to Technomic’s "2009 Flavor Consumer Trend Report" 66% of US consumers would return to a restaurant and try a dish that originally hooked them with a new flavor. I not exactly sure what constitutes a new flavor, but there is a sample chart that indicates grilled and herbal is the preferred flavor combination of both genders.
Steak with chimmichurri? Lemon and oregano-infused whole fish? I suppose I could go for those, though I’m more of a spicy and sweet person. Really, spicy, sweet and fatty--pork belly with Thai basil and chile springs to mind--but that wasn’t an option.
More interesting, perhaps, are the "less broadly established ethnic cuisines" that are of interest to US consumers. Maybe the avante garde is becoming mainstream: 72%, the highest number of respondents, are interested in Spanish food followed by American regional cuisines like Hawaiian (71%) and Tex-Mex (69%). Really? Nearly two-thirds of this country has yet to discover chili and fajitas?
For what it’s worth, Greek, Caribbean (both 66%) and Mediterranean (62%) follow closely behind.
Drive-thrus are scarce in NYC. My only experience involves a few local White Castles and the transactions have always been far from award-winning. However, the slider chain came in at number two on Speaker Clarity. I’m curious if they mean the audio capabilities of the speaker or the human speaking to you because there’s no way any Brooklyn locations would rate a 97.6% based on cashier diction.
On the consumer side, who are the freaks that prefer faster service over accuracy? Thirteen percent strongly agree or agree with getting a speedy Filet-O-Fish when they ordered a Big Mac. And for those youngsters under 18, the number rise to a disturbing 33%. More than one-third of children and teens don't give a shit about what they eat as long as they get it quickly.
In fact, Naked Juice is considered the second most adventurous brand after Chipotle, and both won more than 50% of the votes. Don’t worry, we’re not all so impressed by Niman Ranch pork and natural ingredients in our burritos; El Monterey, T.G.I. Friday’s and Jose Ole frozen Mexican snacks and entrees all made the top ten.
The bottom of the barrel brands are suitably unadventurous, however: Wonder Bread, Ensure, Egg-Beaters, store brand applesauce. Poor Famous Amos got his cookies lumped in with this motley crew, too. I guess Mrs. Fields didn’t even rank.
The favorites by age is kind of interesting, though. Gen Y and Boomers are crazy for P.F. Chang’s for a variety of reasons—cleanliness, service, reputation, atmosphere—while the pan-Asian chain doesn’t even score with Gen X, my people (let’s just say I fall somewhere in the rambling 27-41 range). We are the frumpkins, apparently who can’t get enough pizza and pasta: Carrabba’s, California Pizza Kitchen and Macaroni Grill, all highly rated. I tend to think it’s because the Gen X’ers have the most kid-friendly needs.
Clearly, P.F.Chang’s is onto this, as they along with the Cheesecake Factory, introduced children’s menus this very summer. When I hear Baby Buddha's Feast all I can envision are bald kids with little potbellies.On the other end of the spectrum, The Olds love Culver’s, which is new to me, and Golden Corral, which I’ve just started seeing commercials for but suspect doesn’t exist in these parts. This is all I need to know about Culver's: "Step into a Culver’s and you’ll experience fresh, delicious food served with a great big side of friendly smiles and warm hospitality. That’s what it means to be Culverized."
Not shockingly, Dunkin' Donuts takes the top spot in the new Center for an Urban
Future snapshot, "Return of the Chains" and the report isn't even focused on food just "national retailers." There are 429 in NYC, 88 more than in 2008.
As a Portland, Oregon native I've always found the pervasiveness of Dunkin' Donuts on the east coast kind of surprising. I grew up with them but they've slowly gone out of business. Last year the lone remaining location in the state capital shut its doors and I think they're extinct in Washington and California, as well. Not all of America runs on Dunkin'.
Getting more micro, with a mere 11 chain stores, 11231 (which they're calling Red Hook) is the Brooklyn zip code with the fourth least amount of chains (can you even say fourth least?). No wonder I feel so deprived. 11234/Flatlands is the winner with 132.
According to a recent Nielsen survey, 21% of Canadians prefer the "cuisine of my country," their number one choice with American food down at 12%. With the exception of French-Canadian fare, which only dominates in one province, is Canadian food really all that different from American food?
I can't think of single Canadian restaurant in NYC, though I think now-dead, The Inn LW12, was supposed to be but really only did things like put Canadian bacon in a Caesar salad.
In Hong Kong there was a restaurant, Canucck, selling itself as "modern Canadian cuisine." Of course they serve poutine, but then they also have jerk bbq wings with blue cheese dipping sauce so I'm just as confused as before.
According to a recent series of reports, "The Left Side of the Menu," from Technomic, the number of "heavy" (not defined) consumers of appetizers is shrinking. Big salad eaters shrunk from 51% in 2007 to a current 33%. The soup-crazed stood at 25% two years ago but now only make up 15% of all diners. I'm guessing that's probably because it's hard to split soup, and I'm with the whopping 82% who feel appetizers should be shared.
But the number I'm trying to figure out is the 40% of Americans who want more "ethnic soups." What exactly is an ethnic soup? Something like pho? Laksa? Menudo? Does Italian wedding soup count? I think they used to serve that at Ikea. I vote for cock-a-leekie.
I took a look at the online menus from the top five casual chain restaurants in 2008 according to Restaurants & Institutions:
Ok, not only are we clearly in need of more ethnic soups, how about something other than chili (if you even count that as a soup), French onion and cheese and broccoli?
Living in a bloggy vacuum, I find it hard to believe that internet reviews and being "the latest 'in' place" scored 1% and 0%, respectively, in a global Nielsen survey of criteria diners consider when choosing a restaurant. Are we the only victims of Yelp and Minetta Tavern?
The number one factor was type of cuisine at 33%, and that's sensible. What I was kind of surprised by is that after the "cuisine of my own country/local area," the top two were Italian and Chinese tied at 14%. I figured those were just American favorites. I guess one takeaway is that the world loves noodles whether sauced with marinara or as the basis of lo mein.
Showing how slowly trends spread across the globe, Spanish cuisine, heralded for the last decade in foodie circles, scores dead last. Seeing how most Americans (and I do feel it's an American phenomena) think Spanish and Mexican food is the same thing (as opposed to New Yorkers who call anything Caribbean Spanish—ain't no mofongo in Madrid…um, at least I don't think, I'll check next week when I'm there and could be eating my words) I'm not shocked that Iberian fare has an image problem.
What could possibly be the fastest growing chain restaurant in America? It must certainly be a question on everyone's mind. Ok, no one's but mine. But thank you, Technomic, for such meaningful-to-me data.
Once again, I'm reminded how out of the loop NYC is as we only have two eateries on the list. Five Guys is definitely a growing presence. In no time it went from big deal opening in the hinterlands a.k.a. College Point, to quietly popping up around the city with no one caring. I think the well done patty thing puts off the burger intelligentsia while I'm more weirded out by the hysteria-driven signs warning customers to not remove the gratis shell-on peanuts from the premises lest a flurry of deadly allergens become unleashed on the neighborhood.
I can appreciate the charms of number eight, Chipotle, and only work a block from one (that has a perpetually huge line) but I hate rice in my burritos and even without the extra starch those hefty tortilla cylinders are still too caloric for my sad world.
Speaking of trying to reduce girthiness, how could you eat at a place with potbelly in the name?
I’m never surprised to see In-N-Out Burger at the top of a list. In this case, the highest customer satisfaction ratings according to a survey by Sandelman & Associates.
What I am surprised by are the regional chains I’ve never heard of. Number two with a 59% overall excellent rating is Baton Rouge-based Raising Cane’s. What on earth is that (and what's up with the horrible apostrophe S) ? Apparently, a whole eatery founded on chicken fingers. And that’s seriously all they serve, either with starches in a similarly tan color palette: Texas toast and crinkle fries, or three crispy strips on a bun.
Only two of the ten restaurants exist in NYC: burrito purveyors Chipotle and Qdoba. Panera Bread and Chick-fil-A can all be found in close proximity to the city. But the rest? I don’t think so. I do know that Pei Wei is the budget P.F. Chang’s only because I have a P.F. Chang’s fetish despite never having set foot in one.
Anyone have other random chains they love? I feel so out of here sometimes.
I haven’t eaten at Pizza Hut in years (though I did work at a takeout-only branch the summer between high school and college and ate personal pan pizzas nearly every day) so it’s not likely that a marketing gimmick such as their new (nationally—it launched in test markets last year) pizza, The Natural, will sway me. What I do find interesting is how quickly a food fad will sweep the nation, not that I’m one to argue with a move toward zero high fructose corn syrup and filler-free sausage.
Pizza Hut’s own research found that 73% of those surveyed believe “foods that are natural have flavor the way it was meant to taste.” Ok, that’s a bit vague.
But this newfound faith in nature has been bolstered by recent studies. According to Mintel, in the US 33% of new food and beverage products touted being natural in 2008, a 16% rise from the previous year.
Nielsen has reported that food with natural claims accounted for $22.3 billion in sales in 2008, a 10% increase versus 2007. Meanwhile low carb products decreased 3% during the same time period. Natural in, restricted eating out.
Among the 23.6% Americans who are currently dieting, the second most popular treat is mayonnaise. Weird. I guess I equate treat with sweet. Granted, that number two item was cited by slightly less than 10% of those surveyed. That’s still a lot of mayo-lovers, though.
I’m not one of them, though I do get the appeal of mayonnaise with fries. Whenever I hear about mayo-lovers my first thought is Mayonnaise Kitchen, the Japanese restaurant grossly devoted to the condiment. Then I immediately remember this girl named Bree who lived in a nearby cul-de-sac when I was in grade school. Everyone called her Shaggy, but more importantly she once answered the door with a bowl of mayonnaise in hand, eating it with a spoon.
Ew, and some heartthrob to the over-30 set apparently uses the condiment for sordid purposes.
A recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has shown that taking photos of your food before eating it encourages weight loss. I can’t say that snapping shots of Thai curries or burgers and fries has ever had any positive effect on my b.m.i. So then I wonder if food bloggers are slimmer than the general population? I don't really know any fat food bloggers, but really, I don't know many food bloggers period.
Yesterday I did randomly try the new Dunkin’ Donuts egg white flatbread sandwich, and yes, I took a photo of it. My at-work breakfast usually consists of either Greek yogurt with sugarless jam or a hard-boiled egg with Spanish paprika. I’m bored of both, so Friday I thought I’d go wild and stop by the Broad Street Dunkin' on my way to work (despite the guilt of my coffee cart guy seeing me patronizing another establishment across the street).
I guess I don’t pay much attention to my surroundings because the Dunkin’ Donuts was closed, paper up in the window and everything. Luckily, I was brought one of these over-toasted treats from the neighborhood on Sunday.
No, it’s not tasty and greasy like those egg and bacon rolls oozing with orange cheese. I envy women who eat those with abandon, and I do often spy totally un-overweight ladies (rarely white, for whatever reason) ordering them from delis. I think these are the same women I see with Burger King bags during lunchtime. How do they do it?
The bread is kind of dry, chewy and overwhelms the portion controlled filling. The egg white and turkey sausage are fine. All in all, it’s an inoffensive alternative to a cholesterol laden breakfast sandwich and was more filling that I’d expected but I seriously wanted to put a slice of cheese on it. I think nearly everything could benefit from a slice of cheese.
Update: I was not wrong in my want of cheese. The sandwich is supposed to have reduced fat mozzarella (the veggie has cheddar) as I noticed on TV and online. It's just that chains in NYC have a way of messing up processed food that's designed to be fool proof to prepare.