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Made in China

Eating-paste Americans are all upset that our McNuggets are less healthy than Britain’s and contain “tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product” and “dimethylpolysiloxane, ‘an anti-foaming agent’ also used in Silly Putty.”

Meanwhile, in China they’re adding donkey hide glue to almonds on purpose.

Summer in Berlin

American ethnic food in Berlin. Everyone is linking to it. Me too. Campbell’s soup, maple syrup, Betty Crocker cake mixes…it’s all so right on. They should’ve had Smucker’s Magic Shell instead of Hershey’s Shell, though.

Chain Links: Cajun Grilled Onions

No secret to me, chain restaurants have been loving Manhattan lately. I can’t say I’m too excited by self-service yogurt (Menchie’s) or more burgers (Elevation Burger and Counter) but I am looking forward to Peruvian chef, Gastón Acurio’s La Mar Cebichería even if it’s going to be a flashy behemoth. [WSJ]

Localizing a menu doesn’t always have to involve border crossing. Smashburger’s first Louisiana location will attempt to cater to regional tastes. What exactly makes a burger Cajun? “American cheese, applewood smoked bacon, Cajun grilled onions, remoulade sauce, lettuce and tomato on an egg bun,” it would seem. [Fast Casual]

One hundred UK KFC’s went halal last year, and not everyone has been happy. Bacon-lovers went as far as creating a Facebook page, “No Halal at Colne KFC.” Five locations have gone back to serving pork and killing chickens like they used to. [Daily Mail]

The Applebee’s of Williamsburg

Carside So, The Commodore is serving a hamburger that might be the best Robert Sietsema has eaten all year (we still have more than half to go in 2010) and The Underground Gourmet is raving about the fried chicken. Yeah, yeah, chicken and burgers. No meatballs?

Yet, I'm intrigued by chef Stephen Tanner's menu description, “like Applebee’s, but better.” You'd better not be shitting me. I can't find a menu online, but if they're not serving riblets, there will be hell to pay.

I'm not convinced; a Yelper mentioned asparagus and ramps (yes, Yelp is useful for factual statements). Not breaded or fried? Jeez, they're probably serving garlic scapes as I type.

Fast Food International: Lizarran

Lizarran exterior

My latest installment of Serious Eats' Fast Food International: Lizarran, the tapas franchise from Spain. Not exactly fast, but it's definitely food.

Chain Links: Reform Triangle Sandwiches

Triangle Kuwait has everything, and now they have Elevation Burger. Ok, I’ve never heard of the Virginia-based company that touts organic, grass-fed, free-range beef, but it looks like I will soon; an NYC location at 103 W. 14th is listed on their site for fall 2010. [Fast Casual]

Just because Budapest already has an established coffeehouse culture, doesn’t mean that Starbucks is staying away. Last week the world-conquering coffee chain opened their first location in Hungary. They will be serving something called reform triangle sandwiches, as well as cheese pogácsa and almond nougat cake from Gerbeaud, one of those old-fashioned coffeehouses they are trying to replace. [Starbucks]

Skipping the US altogether, Sarku Japan will be partnering with Frisby, the Colombian fried chicken chain, to bring fast food teriyaki and sushi to that South American country. [QSR]

Dairy Queen will be coming to Saudi Arabia. The soft-servers already have a Middle Eastern presence in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. No word on any localized Blizzard flavors; the only quirk according to the DQ blog is that Middle Eastern Dairy Queens are open 24-hours because it’s too hot during the day to sit outside. [Bloomberg]

Photo from Closed Loop Recycling.

The Vanderbilt

1/2 Waiting long enough after an opening and long enough past prime dinner time can make dining at popular Brooklyn restaurants more enjoyable (despite the hype and proximity to my apartment, there is no way I’m touching Seersucker in the immediate future–I learned my lesson with patience-trying Thistle Hill Tavern). Of course, that also means that no one in the online world cares because not-so-new equals dull. That is fine; I’ll take seven-month-old, The Vanderbilt, at 11pm on a Saturday.

I’d already eaten pepperoni pizza and a few bites of a reuben earlier at Rocky Sullivan’s while trying to be a semi-sophisticated American embracing the World Cup. (I don’t watch sports period, and frankly, don’t understand where World Cup mania sprouted from all of a sudden.) A small plates dinner and cocktails were fine.

You would think that someone ordering the Whiskey Skiffer (rye whiskey, Cynar, sweet vermouth, mole-amarillo bitters) would know what they were getting into. Clearly not, since our server warned me, “It’s bitter.” Better safe than sorry for him, I guess. Then again, the last Cynar cocktail I had at The Sackett (what’s up with all the The?) was kind of foul.

The vanderbilt croquettes & broccoli

Maybe it was because I’d just had a few handfuls of movie theater popcorn while watching Please Give, but this wonderfully oily broccoli with singed edges reminded me of Smartfood. Each pecorino-draped bite oozed olive oil and had a delicious crunch.

The Serrano croquettes actually tasted like ham. You never know if you’re going to get a bready mouthful or be able to distinguish the advertised filling. Plus, the aioli dollop was a nice touch.

The vanderbilt risotto with boudin noir & peas

All that brown needed a hit of green. It was the boudin noir that attracted me to this dish, but the fresh peas and shoots kept the blood sausage from overpowering.

The vanderbilt duck rillettes

Even if you know rillettes come packed in fat, seeing so much melted animal product can give you pause. I like mine a little stiffer and opaque, more spreadable. The rhubarb preserves did add a nice sweet tartness. 

The Vanderbilt * 570 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn, NY

White or Wheat


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.

To Dye For

Colored-bacon-plate At first I was excited to hear about blue mozzarella like it a new hybrid. But no, just tainted product, (and more creepy than cool).

Rainbow bacon, however, is a reality. I’m happy to see the full color spectrum being applied to meat and not just the usual sweet suspects. Who says cupcakes and macarons should have all the fun? [Bacon Today via Consumerist]

Photo from Bacon Today

My Week In Fried Chicken, Ice Cream and Beer

Pollocampero food

I declare Friday to be horn-tooting time. This week I had three pieces published by someone other than myself.

The first missive in my new international chain restaurant column for Serious Eats focuses on Pollo Campero. Too bad I ate all the yuca fries before taking this photo.

Yeah, so, Time Out New York put out an ice cream sandwich round-up this week. Well, me too, for Metromix. We only listed three examples in common.

Loreley, the LES biergarten opened a Williamsburg branch. I talked to the chef and owner for Metromix. Loved the käsespätzle