Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Waste not want not, food for vets and critic's pick

Finish up ... there are starving children in Africa!

From The Financial Express India: Hong Kong restaurants have come up with a novel way to cut down on waste and leftovers — threatening to fine diners who don’t eat up.

A number of restaurants in the Chinese city alert customers that they will charge them if they leave any food on their plates, the South China Morning Post reported.

However, a restaurant industry group said the move was merely put in place to warn customers and that few eateries, if any, had actually fined anyone.

“The penalties listed on the menus are just for warning,” Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades spokesman Simon Wong was quoted as saying. “Who can afford to lose customers?”

Hong Kong is facing a landfill crisis as space runs out for dumping the increasing amount of rubbish produced by the city’s seven million people. The government is reportedly looking into a scheme that will reprocess into compost some of the 700 tonnes of food thrown out each day by the city’s huge hospitality industry.

Jonesing for a Gyro

From the Associated Press: Wounded war veterans from New York City who are recovering at a Texas rehabilitation facility will be getting a taste of home, sent straight from City Hall.

Last month, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn visited the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund's brand new facility at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. She said the vets who hail from New York asked her if anyone thinks of them back home, and told her they miss the city.

“They complained that they couldn't get good food in San Antonio, that there weren't any bagels, there weren't any cannolis, there weren't any good sandwiches, that it was really very hard to keep their spirits up without good New York food,” Quinn said.

When she returned, she organized a care package campaign, with donations from the city's top eateries in each of the five boroughs. Tim Zagat, founder of the popular Zagat Survey and a connoisseur of New York food, also lent his expertise.

“I just think this is the least we could do for people who have done so much for us,” Zagat said.

Beginning Thursday, the seven vets will receive a special delivery each day – starting with a giant basket of bagels and other treats from the world-renowned Manhattan deli, Zabar's.

Their menu for the next week includes:

• Cannolis from Dominick's Bakery Cafe in Staten Island

• Italian subs from Mama's of Corona in Queens

• Baba ganoush and other Middle Eastern delicacies from Sahadi's in Brooklyn

• Rice and beans and other tasty Puerto Rican fare from Joe's Place in the Bronx

Ouch! That Burns...

From the Associated Press: One of New York's most prominent restaurateurs took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times on Wednesday, accusing the newspaper's chief food critic of lacking the bona fides to do the job.

The ad comes on the heels of Frank Bruni's review of Jeffrey Chodorow's newest Manhattan eatery, Kobe Club, which specializes in serving tender and fatty Kobe beef from Japan. A 10-ounce (280-gram) rib-eye portion of the beer-fed cattle, considered a delicacy, costs $150 (€114) on Chodorow's menu.

"Your readers would not expect your drama critic to have no background in drama or your architecture critic to not be an architect," Chodorow wrote in the ad. "For a publication that prides itself on integrity, I feel your readers should be better informed as to this VERY IMPORTANT fact, so they can give your reviews the weight, or lack thereof, they deserve."

Bruni did not think much of the place and chopped it into little pieces, essentially warning his readers to stay away. He gave it zero stars out of a possible four.

"Although Kobe Club does right by the fabled flesh for which it's named, it presents too many insipid or insulting dishes at prices that draw blood from anyone without a trust fund or an expense account," Bruni wrote on Feb. 7.

An exasperated Chodorow decided enough was enough, and he struck back with an ad the newspaper says typically costs $115,000.

"It's expensive, but not that much," Chodorow told The Associated Press.

The ad was addressed to Pete Wells, editor of the newspaper's Dining section.

In the ad, Chodorow called Bruni's comments "vitriolic" and said three other reviewers loved Kobe Club.

Chodorow said he took out the ad to show he backed his employees and to let folks know the Times review was "unfair."

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