Culinary no-no: The Zucchini edition

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

This Saturday is National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day.

It’s true.

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Perfect time to resurrect an old blog.

CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES

Now onto some serious stuff.

McDonald’s CEO says law enforcement may be called on customers who refuse to wear masks

One-Third of U.S. Restaurants Face Permanent Closure This Year

There’s This Doomsday Feeling.’New York’s restaurant workers confront a terrifying future.

Is This the Saddest Pandemic Dining Experience in America?

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #662

Culinary no-no #662

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

Good gracious it’s hot out there. You’re forgiven if you’re not exactly in the mood for food that sticks to your ribs. How about a nice refreshing salad?

That would be your Cobb de Ville salad with Mixed Lettuce, Turkey Breast, crispy Bacon, Blue Cheese, Hard-boiled Egg, Corn, and Tomatoes with House-made Ranch Dressing. This particular version is served here.

Flo’s V8 Cafe in the Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California, a Route 66-inspired diner featuring classic American comfort food.

Here’s an important question. Is that salad a ‘meal’? And why does it matter?

The answers are, yes and no, and it matters a lot.

This requires some explaining. Given that the inspiration for this week’s no-no comes from California, the issue is goofy, strange, bizarre. And remember, state and local governments across the country have deemed bars and restaurants public enemy #1

Currently in all of the Golden State, the following are closed:

  • Bars, brewpubs, breweries, and pubs, both indoors and outdoors, unless they are offering sit-down, outdoor dine-in meals. Alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal.

Statewide, the following must close indoor operations:

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Wineries and tasting rooms

Did you catch that.

Bars, brewpubs, breweries, and pubs, both indoors and outdoors, unless they are offering sit-down, outdoor dine-in meals are closed.  Alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal.

Places in La La Land are opening and closing about as often as we change our socks. When eateries reopen it’s critical to their bottom lines they sell alcohol.  So they’ve got to serve ‘meals.’ Simple, isn’t it? But this is loony tunes California we’re talking about.

What does California consider a ‘meal’? That’s for the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to decide. OK, here comes the government-ese.

According to the California ABC:

’Meals’ means the usual assortment of foods commonly ordered at various hours of the day; the service of such food and victuals only as sandwiches or salads shall not be deemed a compliance with this requirement.

The ABC further explains:

Given the tremendous variety of foods available at the many different licensed premises, this definition provides necessary flexibility to look at the totality of the circumstances in determining whether or not the food service provided by a licensee is a legitimate offering of meals in a bona fide manner. In evaluating this, the Department generally looks at the various menu offerings, availability during typical meal hours, and whether the food offered is served in a reasonable quantity and what a reasonable person might consider to be a meal consumed at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For example, although multiple courses are not required to constitute a meal, in order for the patron to be served a meal there should be a sufficient quantity that it would constitute a main course in a multiple-course dining experience.

C’mon. Take another look at the above Cobb de Ville salad. You mean to tell me that’s not a meal?

….the Department does recognize that many sandwiches and salads are substantial and can constitute legitimate meals.

However…

…the Department looks at the totality of circumstances and generally considers that pre-packaged sandwiches and salads would not typically meet this standard. In addition, the Department will presume that the following, and offerings similar to them, do not meet the meal requirement:

  • Snacks such as pretzels, nuts, popcorn, pickles, and chips
  • Food ordinarily served as appetizers or first courses such as cheese sticks, fried calamari, chicken wings, pizza bites (as opposed to a pizza), egg rolls, pot stickers, flautas, cups of soup, and any small portion of a dish that may constitute a main course when it is not served in a full portion or when it is intended for sharing in small portions
  • Side dishes such as bread, rolls, French fries, onion rings, small salads (green, potato, macaroni, fruit), rice, mashed potatoes, and small portions of vegetables
  • Reheated refrigerated or frozen entrees
  • Desserts

So the Cobb Salad is a meal because the Disney park restaurant offers all kinds of entrees even an over-regulating government bureaucrat would be forced to concede are just that…meals. But that salad just by itself, in a location that only serves salads. No meal.  No way.

Places that concentrate solely on light appetizers, tapas, cheese plates, or street food will probably engage in a losing tug of war  with the California folks in charge of licensing.

Needless to say,  trying to comply is confusing and raises lots and lots of questions.

Yet another example of government making it almost impossible for businesses to open, operate, profit, and survive.

BTW, DisneyLand is closed.

And on the other coast…

CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES

McDonald’s and masks

Biden’s False Claim About McDonald’s

How Pre-Prohibition Drinking Laws Led New Yorkers to Create the World’s Worst Sandwich

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #661

Culinary no-no #661

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

This blog has a reputation of posting lots of food porn.

That would be your buffet from The Buffet at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee.

All-you-can-eat affairs often get a bad rap. But there are many, many standout buffets. I’ve written before about my favorite, Orchids at the Halekulani resort in Honolulu.

I mentioned Potawatomi’s Buffet considered one of the best in Milwaukee. Let me rephrase that. Should read “was considered one of the best in Milwaukee.” It’s now closed like many other all-you-can-eat options all across America.

This video went viral in May.

Since this video came out the situation has only gotten worse. Buffets are on the endangered species list.

Here’s more from the BBC.

CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES

How Food Media Created Monsters in the Kitchen

What It’s Like to Work in an NYC Restaurant During the Pandemic, According to Staffers

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #660

UPDATE: Disney World Bans Eating and Drinking While Walking to Promote Wearing Masks

Culinary no-no #660

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

Like the rest of a fearful America, Milwaukee has caught mask fever.

https://onmilwaukee.com/images/articles/static/pjimage-5750.jpgREAD THE ENTIRE LETTER HERE.

One of the businesses that signed onto the letter…

Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge is an old favorite. Let’s see. Our daughter is 11 so it’s been at least 12 years since Jennifer and I have paid a visit for one of these.

Bryant’s just reopened  and as you can imagine, there are all kinds of restrictions. Too much if you ask me.

The sizable faction that’s crusading to kill the virus by any means possible, even by trampling on the Constitution, has chosen their whipping boys: bars and restaurants.

Today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a large article on Page One above the fold: Bars and coronavirus don’t mix. Will Wisconsin’s drinking culture ever be the same? Here’s an excerpt:

The three-month shutdown of restaurants and bars have left Wisconsinites eager to reconnect over drinks.

But the bar scene we’re used to is filled with coronavirus risk factors: crowds, loud talking and singing, long stretches of time spent indoors. Not to mention the fact that even the most well-intentioned people, if they get drunk, may forget or disregard safety precautions designed to stop the spread.

Bars were among the first Wisconsin businesses forced to close in March in an attempt to curb the pandemic. On May 13, the day the state Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order and allowed businesses re-open, people headed out to reclaim their favorite barstools.

National experts have warned that if cases continue to increase, states may have no choice but to impose another round of stay-at-home orders. 

In a state where the majority of people are drinkers, talk of shuttering taverns again has once again raised debates of health vs. economy. But it also raises questions about Wisconsin’s collective identity.

These days, some people are trying to reclaim that element of Wisconsin’s culture by returning to the taverns. But in almost every corner of the state, the masks, Plexiglas dividers and bottles of hand sanitizer have left bar owners and patrons to wonder: Will it ever be the same?

Meanwhile, the news media continues its constant fear mongering which has been successful in panicking the public.

“Anybody that thinks indoor dining is a solution needs to have their head examined.”

God help these business people and their workers who’ve endured a living Hell for several months.

CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES

Of course they want a boycott

NBA players (crybabies?) complaining about quarantine food

Dry skies ahead

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #659

Culinary no-no #659

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

Close to 700 Culinary no-no installments and I’ve mentioned the Bartolotta Restaurants several times, almost always in a positive manner. There was the time they dropped duck off one of their menus. My jab was mild and good-natured. And when they went too avant-garde with the menu at the newly decorated Bacchus. Otherwise I’ve been so nice.

On March 19 Chef Paul Bartolotta made an announcement on Facebook:

We have quickly realized it would not be enough to “flatten the community spread curve.” That is why I have made the painful and difficult decision to cease operations, including curbside service, at all Bartolotta Restaurants starting after service tonight, March 19, 2020, until further notice.”

This week I received an e-mail from Bartolotta that read like he was grinning from ear to ear when he or someone else on the payroll wrote it.

Slowly, the Bartolotta restaurants are phasing in their re-opening according to the chef.

I want to start by saying how incredibly grateful we are for the continued support of our community and our partners, and I want to share how thankful we are for our team members who did not give up on us during this time. 

This has been a challenging time for our community, but it thrills me to tell you that the first of our locations, Ristorante Bartolotta dal 1993, will reopen on Wednesday, July 8.

HOORAY!

That means all kinds of Bartolotta goodness is back!

Hold on.

There’s more.

Outdoor and indoor seating has been arranged in a way that allows for privacy and distance; and additional safety measures include:

  • Face masks required for staff members and guests
  • Reservations required (reservations will be held for 15 minutes) and temperature checks upon entry
  • Touchless payment options and QR codes to view menus on smartphones
  • Custom safety partitions between tables and booths
  • UV-C technology that actively seeks and destroys microorganisms in the air and on hard surfaces
  • Enhanced cleaning of dining tables with every new reservation

Last weekend our family went to a very nice, popular restaurant and dined inside. While the staff wore masks ( I get that) patrons were not required.

There were no temperature checks.

There were no partitions.

Nothing was roped off.

There was nothing blocking a customer from the bartender at the bar.

Worked just fine.

Ristorante Bartolotta in my view is going too far. Overboard restrictions will keep folks away from there and other places that claim to be acting in the interest of safety. Problem is they have killed one of the characteristics that appeal to restaurant customers. Practically gone is an inviting, open, accommodating atmosphere and experience.

Other Bartolotta restaurants have yet to open their doors.  Here’s hoping when they do they take it a bit easier.

CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES

The Banana Trick and Other Acts of Self-Checkout Thievery

What discontinued candy, snacks do Americans miss most?

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #658

Culinary no-no #658

Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.

Ever want to start a friendly (hopefully) argument? Just mention a place you think serves the very best pizza.

Today’s Milwaukee Journal had an insert announcing the winners and finalists of their 2020 Top Choice Award. The public was asked to vote in more than 100 categories from March 8, 2020 to April 8, 2020. as you can imagine the Restaurants category had surprises. I found some.

Sandra’s on the Park on Forest Home Avenue in Hales Corners garnered a total of 14 awards, either as Winner or a Finalist.

The Explorium Brewpub in Greendale was right behind with 13 awards. Both are great spots, so I’m not picking on them, but I couldn’t help but wonder as I perused all the results. Let’s focus on the top awardee,  Sandra’s on the Park and where it came in #1:

BEST OLD FASHIONED

Better than…

Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge?

Or…

BEST BBQ

Better than…

Saz’s State House? Saz’s wasn’t even a Finalist.

BEST OUTDOOR DINING

Better than…

Or Harbor House?

BEST PIZZA

Here we go. Better than…

Calderone Club?

Dom & Phil’s DeMarinis Original Recipes?

And I could go on and on.

BEST SEAFOOD

Better than…

Harbor House?

BEST FINE DINING

Better than…

AND FINALLY, BEST OVERALL RESTAURANT

Better than…

Just sayin’.

But if you really want an egregious no-no, consider a finalist in the BEST OVERALL RESTAURANT category was…Ian’s Pizza.

One school of thought is, that in general, lots of these voters had no idea what they were thinking.

Another point, and I can’t prove it, is that, with all due respect to their legions of fans, Sandra’s on the Park and the Explorium Brewpub did a better job of going all out to get people to enter and vote. They certainly can’t be faulted for that.

THE COMPLETE LIST

CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES

Wish I didn’t hate oatmeal

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #657

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culinary no-no #656

Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.

We flat out missed it. Even if we had known we would not have celebrated.

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June 5th was National Veggie Burger Day, created in 2017 to encourage everyone to eat a veggie burger and observe the positive impact plant-based veggie burgers have on us and the planet.

Rave reviews followed the onslaught of the veggie burger, with one website wondering in print if the revelation would eventually be more popular than the traditional beef variety.

Eatthis.com rated the frozen veggie burgers you’ll find at the grocery and found the best to be the Beyond Burger.

“Whether you’re a proud carnivore, devoted vegetarian,  or newbie vegan on the verge of caving, you’ve gotta throw this bad boy on the grill. The Beyond Burger is beyond juicy, meaty, and an almost-exact replica of a poultry patty. While it looks, cooks, and even bleeds like a beef burger (chalk that illusion up to the beet juice), it also packs in more than double the amount of iron and nearly half the saturated fat than an 80-percent-lean beef burger. Looking to serve up some shock value at your next backyard BBQ? This pick will do the trick.”

But not everyone is rushing to endorse or give it a try.

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Abby Cannon is an attorney turned dietitian who runs Abby’s Food Court, a website that  promotes an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Ask Abby about the Beyond Burger and she’s very straightforward.

“No, I’m not a fan! I think so often people are like ‘oh it’s vegan, it’s plant-based, it’s healthy,’ and that’s not necessarily the case. We really want to be thinking about eating real whole foods. I would always prefer you eat peas as opposed to pea protein isolate—which needs to be significantly processed to get into that form. In promoting plant-based eating, we’re still not doing enough to promote eating real whole foods in their natural form.”

Wait a minute. Healthy? One might assume. No meat after all. However don’t tell that to Diana Rodgers, another dietitian who says her choice would be the real meat burger, every time.

“I’m a huge believer in eating whole, real foods and avoiding ultra-processed foods. Real burgers, they’re considered fresh red meat. There are zero studies showing that red meat causes heart disease or cancer. Some studies show associations between people who eat meat and people who get cancer and heart disease, but the actual cause has not been proved. Think about your typical vegetarian compared to a typical meat eater in America. Typical vegetarians are more likely to do other healthy things like drink and smoke less, work out more, and generally take care of themselves better. When all of these lifestyle factors are accounted for, there’s no proof that eliminating meat is beneficial for your health.”

Consider this. Gallup periodically measures vegetarianism in the U.S. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 5%, only 5% of U.S. adults consider themselves to be vegetarian. Another  Gallup poll from this past January found nearly one in four Americans (23%) report eating less meat in the past year than they had previously.

So, people are eating less meat, but they’re not at all making the leap to going full vegetarian. Can a new product be marketed just for them? Enter the “flexitarian.”

It’s simple. Food companies are now mixing beef with grains and vegetables. Like marketers of the veggie burgers these companies will soon be telling us how juicy, delicious, and healthy these blended burgers (and in some cases, sausages) are on the grill. The additives include sweet potato, broccolini, organic beans, spinach, cauliflower, and of course, mushroom, onions, and peppers.

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No thanks.

CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES

You Won’t Believe How Many Beloved Mom-and-Pop Restaurants are Closing

Craving normalcy during the pandemic? You can still get ‘charred’ by The Wiener’s Circle — curbside or via FaceTime. CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE.

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #655

Culinary no-no #655

Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.

Bacon-wrapped filets. Shish kabobs. Hamburgers. Cod. Italian sausages. Brat patties.

Within the past 10 days or so I’ve cooked them all outside.

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I think I do a pretty good job. Jennifer and Kyla never complain.

But according to some experts, with some dishes, I could be using better techniques.

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This was named one of the “100 Best Cookbooks of All Time” by Southern Living magazine.

Meathead Goldwyn (his real name) says, “My interest in cooking began when I was about 10 and Mom and Dad opened a restaurant and I got to be a real jerk, a soda jerk. They named the place after a beautiful flower, the Oleander. We later learned it was poisonous, and eventually the restaurant failed. If you ever hear that I’m opening a restaurant, hunt me down and shoot me.”

The co-author, Greg Blonder is an engineering professor at Boston University.

Blonder submits the biggest mistake grillers make is their refusal to use a meat thermometer.

“One of the really big [myths] is that real men don’t use thermometers,” Blonder said. “That’s all just blatant nonsense.”

And what happens then? Those big tough guys overdo and ruin dinner.

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Another suggestion  according to Blonder: Grillers need to brine their steak overnight, even for 24 hours if the cut is larger.

“You’ll see chefs throwing some salt on the meat right before they throw it on the grill,” said Blonder. That’s nowhere near enough time, Blonder contends, for the salt to sink into the meat.

Going for those black grill marks? Wrong says Blonder who cooks meat in an oily pan on the grills. Claims it tastes better even if it doesn’t look as cool.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, text that says 'HOW grAT TO THE BARBECUE! BIBLE OVER 500 RECIPES BY STEVEN RAICHLEN'

Steven Raichlen is a multi-award-winning author, journalist, lecturer, and TV host who developed the grilling method known as  “caveman” or “cowboy.”  Celebrity chef Alton Brown is an advocate. He’ll demonstrate here with some skirt steak.

What does Greg Blonder think about that?

“It’s not crazy. But the problem is, it only takes one bite of off flavor to kind of ruin the steak and I don’t think that’s a good risk to take.”

But…

“It’s a great thing to show your guests,” said Blonder.

And finally, Blonder offers this no-no. Lighter fluid. The fear is that your food will have too much of a fluid taste.

“Jesus Christ, that’s a crime against nature. Even if that’s what your dad taught you, said Blonder.

Final note: I don’t use a thermometer. After all these years I think I’m a fair enough barometer to know how to avoid destruction. I highly recommend buying a cheap (less than $10) hand-held stopwatch. You’ll never be in doubt as to when to flip that burger.

CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES

The NY Times advises how to have friends over

Is Barking Dog’s seating area ‘indoors’? Health District says yes, restaurant says no.

What happens when you give up caffeine

ICYMI, Culinary no-no #654

 

Culinary no-no #654

THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!

In today’s print edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Milwaukee might close some streets to provide more outdoor dining as restaurants reopen amid the pandemic

“In order to create enough seating with proper social distancing restaurants are going to need a heck of a lot of outdoor dining space,” said Bob Monnat, chief operating officer at development firm Mandel Group Inc.

Mandel Group is working on additional covered dining space for both of its restaurant tenants: Cavas, 401 E. Erie St., and Birch + Butcher, 459 E. Pleasant St.

“I think patio dining is going to explode this summer,” Monnat said. “No one’s going to eat inside unless it’s raining.”

Good idea?

This past week here on This Just In…these articles:

Restaurants take to the streets to create socially distanced dining rooms as nation reopens

But can sidewalk tables and parking-lot patios provide enough revenue?

CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES

Reopened restaurants find there’s no one-size-fits-all way to bring back employees

As Starbucks locations reopen nationwide, workers question why they should risk their life ‘for a frappuccino’