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Now You’re Cooking With Creme


Ok, now they’ve gone too far. I’ve marveled more than few times over Kraft’s aggressively marketed Philadelphia Cream Cheese. All sorts of recipes have been developed to put cream cheese in places where it has no business being. And I like cream cheese–there’s a mostly eaten block of Philly in the fridge as I type.

Food companies creating uses for their products is hardly a new concept. Just a casual skim through my random collection of cooking pamphlets, brought numerous examples from the past.


A 15-page 1963 7-Up missive contains a recipe for Tuna Chow Mein, which in addition to canned tuna, mushrooms, water chestnuts and beansprouts, includes soy sauce and two bottles (7 ounces each) of everyone’s favorite uncola.

MeadeI’m not familiar with Martha Meade nor Sperry Flour, which seems to be a General Mills brand per this flimsy booklet from 1940. She certainly does come up with many creative uses for the starch, though. Mexican Pancakes (from a 1939 edition), for one, made Mexican from Sperry Yellow Corn Meal, I would suppose, not the bacon or “snappy cheese sauce” made from the company’s Drifted Snow “Home-Perfected” Flour. Upside-Down Dinner is a savory take on an upside-down cake that uses both flours above plus ham, tomatoes and green peppers and a ketchup-bouillon sauce.

Carnations Carnation’s Easy-Does-It Cookbook, a 176-page paperback from 1958 contains a recipe for “Aloha” Pick Ups in the chafing dish section. Just as interesting as creating a sauce from Carnation sour cream, corn starch, pineapple syrup, brown sugar and vinegar, is their suggestion that Carnation sour cream be used to season just about anything from fruit toppings to your favorite snacks.

What they didn’t do—and what Kraft has essentially gone and done—is to create a seasoned sour cream and sell it specifically as a dish-enhancer. Kraft has a new product, Philadelphia Cooking Creme, available in four flavors. Yes, seasoned cream cheese, for cooking.

Sour cream

Use a tub of Santa Fe Blend in the Tex-Mex Beef & Rice Casserole or 10 ounces of Original (not sure how that’s different from soft cream cheese) with Ritz crackers and Kraft grated parmesan to make Coquilles St. Jacques.

The only similar example I can think of offhand is Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup being commonly used as a sauce component rather than eaten straight from a bowl (though it was one of my favorite canned soups as a child, probably because it’s fatty and salty). But it’s still called a soup, not a sauce enhancer.

Jif, for one, could add ginger and soy sauce and make Chinese peanut sauce, chile and lime could be Thai peanut sauce, cumin and cayenne could Latin-up a blend. All would fit into savory recipes they’ve already published. Parkay and Yoplait could also get on board–the possibilities are practically limitless.

Carnation and 7-Up covers from Old

I’m So Hungry!

Approved I’ve been aware of the existence of Lisa Lillien, a.k.a. Hungry Girl, for some time, only in that I know there is a wildly popular person who makes low-calorie versions of Americans’ favorite foods using dubious substitutions. Now that I have been DVRing her show on Cooking Channel (which I thought was supposed to be a younger, hipper, cooking-focused Food Network but clearly not) I have learned so much more. I’ve only watched three episodes, but this is what I know:

Despite her diminutive stature, Hungry Girl is a grown woman somewhere in her forties, not a girl.

No matter what she says, using lettuce leaves for buns and soy patties instead of beef do not taste like a real hamburger.

Bringing your own bottle of one-calorie-per-spray Wish-Bone Salad Spritzers to a restaurant is very dedicated (almost as much as that woman on MTV's True Life who toted around a bottle of ranch in her purse).

The defeated tone of voice during the show’s animated intro when the cartoon Hungry Girl chomps a bite out of a plate and mournfully chirps, “I’m so hungry!” goes straight into my cerebral cortex and slowly oozes down my spinal column, confusing my entire body on how it should react to such a statement. I can only shudder (and then I rock myself to sleep while eating an entire chocolate-swirl cheesecake made from chalk and mud).  

A fan of Laughing Cow cheese since I was a child (they used to come in tiny cubes and it was a rare treat I’d only get at the “gourmet” store on yearly trips to Cannon Beach) it pains me to see the wedges mixed with fat-free sour cream to make girlfredo, yes, a mock alfredo sauce.

Also, fat-free cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese and any other product that naturally contains fat, tastes like soft nothing. Munching on moistened dirt would be more satisfying.

Creating a brand called Hungry Girl instead of Skinny Girl or Skinny Bitch is very smart. Calorie-counting women are hungry and they wish they could eat more. Acknowledging this is down-to-earth and conspiratorial not asperational and abrasive. Despite her misguided recipes (though as I skim through them they start seeming saner and saner) Lisa Lillien seems like a nice person.

So yes, her emphasis on quantity—pointing out the enormity of allowed servings is requisite for nearly every recipe–over quality makes sense for the audience; lifelong dieters who are burnt-out on self-denial. But wouldn’t you rather eat a small portion of really good onion rings than a “ginormous plateful” of onions coated in Egg Beaters (what is egg substitute, anyway?) and crushed Fiber One cereal?

Hungry Girl is married to the producer of iCarly, the Nickelodeon tween show that popularized spaghetti tacos.

Dan Schneider, “the Aaron Sorkin of tween sitcoms” is obese. I doubt his weight defines him the way that Hungry Girl’s does, but it must create an unusual dynamic in the household. Does he also eat pieces of chicken breast coated in egg substitute, wheat flour and sugar-free pancake syrup and pretend that it’s Chinese take-out? Do you think that Hungry Girl wanted to swap her trademark Tofu Shirtaki Noodles for the pasta and use cabbage leaves instead of corn shells for the spaghetti tacos?

Oh, I got the answer (it helps to actually read to the end of a two-plus-page article).

“Mr. Schneider, the writer, said he plans to have the iCarly cast to his house to make a batch in the next few months, so that he can tape it and post it on his YouTube account. He’s only had a low-calorie/low-fat version prepared by his wife, Lisa Lillien, whose Hungry Girl franchise appeals to weight-conscious snack-food lovers. ‘I’ve never tasted the real, real version.’”

By the way, Hungry Girl keeps the taco shells in her version. The ground-beef-style soy crumbles? I hadn’t seen that coming at all.

The Astor Room

1/2 I don’t even bother attempting to keep up with new restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn first-hand anymore. I’m not out and about every night, the first few weeks are always crowded and awful and then when you’ve waited a month for a place to mellow out, the chef leaves. Queens, though? Totally manageable. How often does a new restaurant open in the borough with any semblance of fanfare? I take Queens over Brooklyn on many levels (we ended up seeing Blue Valentine in Kew Gardens after eating at The Astor room even though the movie’s playing in our own neighborhood—I like a quiet, sparsely populated theater).

Astor room entrance Located in the basement near one corner of the Kaufman Astoria Studios, the space functioned as Paramount Pictures’ commissary from the '20s until…I’m not sure. No matter, it has been reopened to the public and is serving cocktails and food evocative of the early 20th century. And no, it’s not a speakeasy despite its subterranean location, piano player and bearded bartender. The entrance is clearly marked by an awning—and a sign for valet parking—the first hint that this is a thoroughly Queens operation.

Other clues that you are not in Brooklyn: instead of the standard maximum bodies/minimal breathing room banquette along a wall, the tables are well-spaced (and there was no wait for one on a weekend night) and seat four, cocktails are $9, neither a 25-year-old nor 65-year-old would feel out of place, the ceiling is low, white and paneled like in an office building. Despite being more Victorian, a Brooklyn restaurant probably would’ve put in tin ceilings or some other bygone signifier, the wood wouldn’t be so pristine and glossy but artfully dulled down and roughed-up; the brass fixtures not so polished, if used at all. This photo sums up what I mean. The tiled walls are cool and are one of the few vestiges of the original space. The Astor Room is not hip and I can appreciate that. Not following the old-timey playbook endeared them to me.

Then there are incongruencies. Service is opening-week, over-officious–at points staff outnumbered the guests–though I’m certain once everyone gets into synch about formalities like when to replace silverware, where to position the glasses and not to remove bread plates (the rolls are like a focaccia/Cheddar Bay Biscuit hybrid and you don’t want a half-nibbled one whisked away) they’ll ease up.

It’s also difficult to overlook the prices of some of the entrees, especially those creeping over the thirty dollar mark (after an assessment, I see that five of the 29 are over $30 and the average price is $21, which is fair). That could be a tough sell for a restaurant that’s not quite a destination; just off Northern Boulevard’s car dealer strip, this commercial patch’s main draw is the multiplex theater (though, the beer garden, Pizzeria Uno and Applebee’s are also popular). For now, the clientele appears to be locals, particularly at the bar, maybe a few movie-goers and a number of curiosity-seekers like myself who’d like to see lobster thermidor and baked Alaska rescued from a continental, hotel dining past.

Astor room relish tray

The ice-chilled relish plate and sausage-topped crostini brought to the table while we scanned the menu was a nice touch. Just don’t mistake those stiff green stems for celery—a mouth full of fennel can be a surprise if you’re not expecting licorice. I particularly liked the pickled, turmeric-stained cauliflower.

Astor room new yorker

The New Yorker is like a whiskey sour, my go-to, with the addition of claret. The wine isn’t pronounced in taste but adds a nice rosy hue.

Astor room seafood tower

The shellfish platter for two looks a little sparse, but that’s only because they’ve split up the seafood into separate tiers (putting it all on one tray like I’ve had elsewhere makes it appear more bountiful). The Pine Island oysters, jumbo shrimp, stone crab claws and half a lobster tail (they threw in an extra shrimp and clams) served with mignonette, cocktail and tartar sauce were fresh and would be a fun light meal with a glass of Prosecco.

Astor room coca cola pork chop

The Coca-Cola pork chop is double-thick and big enough for a second dinner the following evening. The main reason I chose it is lame and it’s that the accompanying broccoli rabe and mushroom hash bound with heavy cream and a few tiny potato cubes were the least starchy entrée sides, but I ended up loving the pork chop because it was ringed with just enough fat, the medium-rare came out exactly that and the charred edges caramelized from the soda and reminded me of Filipino barbecue I’ve had made with Dr. Pepper. The cola really does add a vital layer of flavor.

Astor room beef wellington

Beef Wellington was the Saturday special (each night has one assigned—I’m curious about Tuesday’s chicken cordon bleu because I’ve never actually eaten the dish) and I do wish I’d snapped a photo when the whole pastry-wrapped bundle of beefy joy was presented to us before being sliced in the kitchen. The Astor Room doesn’t have many Saturdays under its belt yet, so they might not have considered asking preferred levels of doneness. James' was the first of the night to order the special and his two slices came from the end, solidly cooked through. Our neighboring table (yes, they’re well-spaced but I’m still nosy) that ordered a little later received pinker rounds, closer to the middle of the tenderloin. Not a meal-ruiner, but something to keep in mind.

Astor room valentino & the astoria

The Valentino is offered with gin, vodka or rye. I chose the latter for a cocktail that is Manhattan-esque with the bitter addition of Campari. The Astoria (orange bitters, gin, dry vermouth) is hiding in the background.

Astor room butterscoth ice box pudding

I ordered a second Valentino (I probably should’ve tried it with a different spirit) instead of dessert (hey, $9 is a strong incentive to overimbibe), but we were presented with a butterscotch ice box pudding, nonetheless. I won’t say no to that. Generously portioned, even split between two, the sweet three-layered dessert (there’s a ribbon of caramel and a chocolate base beneath the butterscotch top) with a dollop of vanilla gelato and what might’ve been malt powder, almost didn’t need the brownies. As I’ve stated before, I like my desserts gooey, caramelly and very American, basic sweet tooth concoctions. And I got it. 

I’m still not convinced that Manhattan dwellers will cross the East River (Dutch Kills or M. Wells are the only exceptions in the general area).  An average Brooklynite (or maybe just he people I know) won’t even venture beyond a 15-block radius, so it will take a lot to coax some onto the G plus a non-connecting transfer (or go through Manhattan) to arrive in Astoria. That leaves Queens residents and car-owners, which may be narrower than the restaurant’s intended audience–but a solid one. I wish them well.

The Astor Room * 34-12 36th St., Astoria, NY



A Love So Rare


My priorities are frequently wrong and I realize there is a vast divide between the food-savvy and the chain-lovers, but I’m still surprised at the negativity projected on the poor souls who might dine at chain restaurants by choice.

I’m not saying I genuinely think that Red Lobster would be a romantic place to celebrate Valentine’s Day (I have tamped down a tiny chuckle at this commercial for unfunny men free from the shackles of marriage for a week, Hall Pass. “Are you sure Applebee’s is the best place to meet hot, horny women?” “What are you thinking? Olive Garden?” Um, everyone knows single chicks are at Cheesecake Factory. Hooters is just way too obvious) but the repeated use of “sad,” and “depressing” to describe people who would do so is well, sad and depressing.

The most depressing Foursquare mayorship according to Buzzfeed is the Port Authority Au Bon Pain—and by a woman who shares my first name, no less! Number two’s a fat joke (though it is funny that the mayor of the Norman, Oklahoma Lane Bryant is man. I’m assuming he works there and isn’t merely a BBW fetishist). I don’t really find any of the fifteen–including Riker’s and the Betty Ford Clinic–to be depressing.

If someone were to ask me adjectives to describe chains I would think happy, corporate, consistent, unadventurous, cheesy (literally and metaphorically), fun. A chain will always cheer me up (maybe not Boston Market—I’m very resistant to visiting one, though giving-in to the sit-down Pizza Hut in Saratoga Springs a few months ago was a fulfilling experience). I’ve always championed the underdog, though, perhaps to the point of grotesqueness.

Maybe what I had thought of as going to a happy place is actually embracing darkness? I’ve always had a hard time articulating why I like chains without seeming superficial and ironic. It could be how I’m expressing a youthful sullenness in a contemporary way, backlashing against the cosmopolitan, artisanally crafted and healthy in the way that a small-town goth enjoys being misunderstood and contrary. I’m not trying to shock squares or revel in misery, though. For me, chains are not self-punishing; eating a 2,310-calorie Bloomin’ Onion is not the same as cutting myself.

I’m toying with trying the new Astor Room tonight and it’s going to be tough knowing that it’s right near that out-of-place suburban patch of the neighborhood with a flashy Pizzeria Uno and Applebee’s. The lure of a chain is strong.

And if you want to know where I ended up on Valentine’s Day (technically, I celebrated the holiday two days earlier with a lovely omakase at 15 East), it wasn’t a chain and it wasn’t remarkable. My goal was to eat somewhere low-key, not requiring reservations in the neighborhood and ended up at generic, independently owned Smith Street restaurant that I’ve been uninterested in trying for years but was perfect for this occassion and was served well-done steak frites with a hair broiled into the surface despite ordering the meat medium-rare and hairless. Kind of sad and depressing, if you ask me.

Crêpes du Nord

I don’t make a habit out of eating two crepes for lunch, but if a near-stranger with a gift card for a restaurant across the street from my office offers to share their bounty, I don’t say no. I’m up for food blog blind dates.

Crepes du nord proscuitto crepe
I enjoyed a buckwheat crepe similar to what they serve at Bar Breton. The grains add heft to the soft pancakes and make the meal feel healthy even though it’s filling. I feel the same way about soba; even though I prefer udon the brown pleasingly gritty noodles just seem more angelic nutritionally. Mine was served open-faced, filled with ricotta and topped with a handful of arugula and slices of prosciutto. Though a few dollars more than I normally allow myself for lunch (this one was $11 but many are $8-$9) a savory crepe could make a nice sandwich alternative and certainly beats a BMT (yes, I’ve been known to frequent the Subway, a few storefronts down the street).

Crepes du nord chicken crepe
You know this is the country herb chicken because they put a few meaty clues on top.

Crepes du nord cloudberry crepe
Since I was double-creping it, I went simple with a triangular (these are not buckwheat, as you can probably see) pancake drizzled with a cloudberry syrup and a dollop of cream. Lingonberries, cloudberries, gooseberries…all foreign and indiscernible to me. Of course, I can tell a raspberry from a blackberry from a blueberry by taste, but cloudberries in this form? I could only describe the flavor as sweet with the smallest amount of tartness.

A sweet crepe filled with chocolate, probably Nutella, was the first thing I ever ate in France so I always associate the folded-like-a-napkin treats strongly with the cuisine (never mind that Crêpes du Nord is billed as French-Scandinavian). And that sounds far more pretentious than intended.

Whenever someone mentions going to France as a kid, it shifts my opinion of them, and not always for the better. Tony Bourdain, who I’m lukewarm on anyway, loses me when he drops childhood visits to France into his shows. I’m currently reading Rob Sheffield’s Talking to Girls About Duran Duran and I was like “what?!” when I hit the chapter where his family takes a road trip across Europe. It’s hard to paint yourself as an awkward teen with crappy jobs when you get to go to France, Italy and Spain for the summer. And sure, European Vacation was about rubes abroad, but in reality with only about 30% percent of Americans owning passports, traveling to France with kids is not only a luxury, it’s a rarity. I can only think, “Wow, you had a charmed childhood and wealthy, open-minded parents.” I feel the same about where-to-take-the-parents round-ups that suggest Daniel and Minetta Tavern. Sorry, you're getting Totonno's and East Buffet.

I did stay with a family in Nerac, France, so-called melon (the only food I won’t eat) capital of the world in July 1989. I couldn’t swing a full year or even a semester abroad, but I was serious about saving up for my month and got my first job, bussing tables for $3.35 an hour at Hunan Garden, on the same strip as Skate World and Donut Barn. Even though I ended up being kind of bored and miserable in the countryside (I wanted the romance of Paris, duh) and ultimately getting parental financial assistance (which I’m still surprised happened) the 31-day-trip was one of the wisest things I did in the ‘80s. And despite numerous trips to Asia and other parts of Europe I’ve never returned to France and currently have no inclination to (right now, I’m toying with San Sebastian or Lima) because I hate idealized Cartier-Bresson/Amelie stereotypes. The Japanese have learned not to idealize (seriously, you have to read about “Paris Syndrome”) and so should we all.

As to Crepes du Nord, I would return if I could sneak out of the office for a late lunch and take advantage of their two-for-one 4-7pm happy hour. Drinking during the work day is a luxury I’ve managed to resist so far, but 2011 may be the year I cave. There’s nothing uncivilized about an occasional midday glass (or two) or wine, right? Oh dear, now I’m starting to sound French or something.

Crêpes du Nord * 17 S. William St., New York, NY

Chain Links: Valentine’s Egg Tarts

Chili1 First, it was KFC making Japanese consumers associate fried chicken with Christmas and now it’s KFC linking egg tarts to Valentine’s Day (subscription required). I tried those Portuguese tarts in a Beijing airport and, yes, I would swap them for a box of Russell Stover (am I the last to know that Russell Stover and Whitman’s is the same chocolate?) in a heartbeat. Of course, China has its share of cynics. 27-year-old Yao Lianyi said “The only foundation behind these holidays is commercialism.” Sweet, eggy commercialism.

Apparently, last February KFC in Singapore hosted a blogger event to promote the Valentine’s/Chinese New Year egg tarts…and well, you don’t really see posts like this in NYC.

Chains expand and invade on a daily basis, but Russia’s first Chili’s has been getting more press than others. I’ve learned quite a few things: that they won’t be serving their signature black bean burger (I had no idea a veggie patty was their calling card), there’ll be vodka bottle service and toothpicks at the table and perhaps, most strangely, that Chili’s toned down the spice level in Puerto Rico.

Jubilant FoodWorks, the company that operates Domino’s in India, will be responsible for a “yet-unnamed international food chain.” What will it be?

Likely not Quiznos, which has been named to open five stores by the end of this year. New sauces, more vegetarian offerings and “Indian grains,” whatever that means exactly, will be used in the bread. I could totally see flatbread Sammies made with naan.

Tim Hortons is the latest brand to expand to the Middle East.

Latvia will receive three new McDonald’s locations this year. Their menu doesn’t appear wildly different from the US one, though I don’t think we have a CBO (Chicken Bacon Onions).

Photo: Vladimir Filonov/Moscow Times

Chicken Scratch


I can’t decide if Fedora’s unusual fried chicken presentation is creepy or creative.

Chicken foot

I encountered the naked chicken claw a few Christmases ago when I bought a Chinatown bird to roast. Leaving on the gnarly feet, never even occurred to me.

Baked stargazy pie

Then again, I thought baking a fish head pie would be cute.

So, verdict: creative.

Fried chicken photo: Metromix

The Great Pyramid

AA2080 Everyone’s obese and we need to eat less or we will all die. I didn’t actually scrutinize the new USDA dietary guidelines, but I’m pretty sure that’s the gist. Also, did you know that in China they have a food pagoda instead of a pyramid?

As the American public ignores the recommendations as they do every five years, the PR-savvy see this as the perfect opportunity to tout brands and organizations that fit into this new rubric–no matter how tenuous the connection.

Here is a random sampling of who’s promoting themselves as USDA dietary guideline-friendly since the news was announced Monday:

The Peanut Institute: "A healthy eating pattern … emphasizes nutrient-dense foods – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk products, seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds."

The United States Potato Board: "Get more potassium in your diet.  Food sources of potassium include potatoes, cantaloupe, bananas, beans and yogurt."

Slade Gorton & Co.: "The new federal guidelines will increase demand for seafood as the report points out in no uncertain terms the nutritional and health benefits of consuming more fish as part of a regular diet."

National Dairy Council: "Overall, the new Guidelines emphasizes a total diet approach, urging Americans to reduce calories and watch portion sizes; make more nutrient-rich choices, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products; and move more."

ConAgra Foods: "We consider our broad portfolio of health and wellness brands, such as Healthy Choice, Hunt’s® and Orville Redenbacher’s® SmartPop! ®, to be a competitive advantage for ConAgra Foods and will continue focusing on delivering the great-tasting, nutritious foods consumers want."

Cargill: "Helping customers leverage regulatory requirements and shifting consumer preferences, Cargill has introduced a range of ingredients to help reduce calories, saturated fat and sodium." These include: Truvia™, CitriTex® GSG 71, SaltWise®, Premier™ potassium chloride and Premier™ light salt, Alberger®, Clear Valley® omega-3 oil and Clear Valley™ omega-3 shortening, Honeysuckle White®, CoroWise™, Oliggo-Fiber®, Barliv™, ActiStar®, GrainWise®, WheatSelect® , MaizeWise®, Sterling Silver®, Sunny Fresh®

Soyfoods Association of North America: "The recommendations include increasing the intake of soy products and fortified soy beverages.  Vegetarian and vegan meal patterns, that include soyfoods, also make their Dietary Guidelines debut as adaptations to the USDA Food Patterns."

The Quaker Oats Company: "The Dietary Guidelines state, 'consume at least half of all grains as whole grains.'"

Welch's: "Americans are in luck thanks to Welch's 100% Grape Juice, which is made with over 20 Concord grapes per 4-ounce glass and provides one serving (or 1/2 cup) of fruit and beneficial nutrients, helping consumers to meet daily fruit recommendations and nutrition goals while also meeting their desires for delicious taste and refreshment."

The National Pork Board: "Pork, in particular, is a lean, low-calorie, nutrient-rich protein which can help with weight control. In fact, recent studies show eating lean meats such as pork can lead to weight loss by reducing hunger sensations, helping people feel full and preserving lean muscle mass."

National Fisheries Institute: "The Dietary Guidelines specifically clear up persistent consumer confusion by saying pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat at least 8 and up to 12 ounces (two to three servings) of seafood each week to boost babies' brain and eye development."

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: "The good news is the nutrient-rich beef already enjoyed by more than 95 percent of Americans will help them meet these new Guidelines. A 3 oz serving of lean beef provides 10 nutrients your body needs such as protein, iron, zinc and B-vitamins for an average of 154 calories."

Boar's Head: "At Boar's Head, we recognize the important role sodium plays in one's diet and we support the USDA's recommendation for reduced sodium intake…That's why we offer an extensive portfolio of great tasting lower sodium deli meats and cheeses."

Campbell Soup Company: "Studies show drinking V8® 100% vegetable juice may be a simple way for people to increase their vegetable intake and may help them manage their weight — two areas of concern outlined in the newly released 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans."

General Mills: "2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Recommends Increasing Daily Vegetable Intake; Green Giant Is a Good Pick Offering Variety and Convenience"

Weight Watchers International, Inc.: "In line with the philosophy that drove the new Dietary Guidelines, Weight Watchers developed its new PointsPlus program with the newest nutrition science in mind, including and consistent with the science supporting the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans."

Redneck food pyramid apron from LA Imprints


Chain Links: Schmaltz-and-Seltzer-Free

Kosher_symbols^1 Bringing Jewish deli fare to an Islamic country is a little offbeat, sure. Brooklyn Diner will be opening in Dubai minus pork products and with a few naming tweaks. I survived a rib-less Malaysian Chili’s, but I must admit that calling Kosher salt Sicilian sea salt instead is a bit much. [Insatiable Critic via Eater NY]

Perhaps one should reserve such criticism in Kuwait. A Lebanese food blogger is being sued by Benihana for an unfavorable review that’s fairly mild by Yelp standards. [The National]

In more Midtown to Asia translations, Le Cirque will be expanding to New Delhi. [NYP]

It doesn’t seem odd that McDonald’s has permeated the world, but Wendy’s feels so domestic. Maybe it’s the mascot’s red pig-tails and freckles. Will Argentines embrace Wendy’s? [press release]

Carl’s Jr., on the other hand, seems perfectly suitable for an international audience. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been to the insanely popular one in Singapore twice. Now, the UK will be able to experience one-foot long burgers. [eat out]

Jamba Juice is coming to South Korea’s Incheon International Airport. [QSR]