Christmas is almost here, and ‘tis the season for rich food traditions. Be it cookies and milk under the tree for Santa, candy canes or figgy puddings, it’s hard to think of a Christmas ritual that isn’t tied to food. And what proper bakery would go through a holiday season without a giant, delicate Yule log in the front case? The Yule log cake (or bûche de Noël for French speakers) is an elaborate creation consisting of a rolled, filled sponge cake, frosted with chocolate buttercream to look like tree bark and festooned with meringue mushrooms, marzipan holly sprigs, spun sugar cobwebs and any other sort of edible decoration.
The history of the Yule log cake stretches all the way back to Europe’s Iron Age, before the medieval era. Back then, Celtic Brits and Gaelic Europeans would gather to welcome the winter solstice at December’s end. People would feast to celebrate the days finally becoming longer, signaling the end of the winter season. To cleanse the air of the previous year’s events and to usher in the spring, families would burn logs decorated with holly, pinecones or ivy. Wine and salt were also often used to anoint the logs. Once burned, the log’s ashes were valuable treasures said to have medicinal benefits and to guard against evil. Some groups claimed the ashes would protect the bearer from lightning—an important quality at a time when houses (and most of the contents in them) were made of wood.
With the advent of Christianity, the Yule log tradition continued, albeit on a smaller scale. Families may have burned a log on Christmas Eve, but smaller hearths became the norm so huge logs were impractical. Those small hearths, however, were perfect for baking cakes. We don’t know who exactly made the first Yule log cake, but judging from the individual ingredients it could have been as early as the 1600s. Marzipan and meringue decorations, two of the most popular choices for Yule logs, appeared on many a medieval table. Sponge cake, which often constitutes the base of the log, is one of the oldest cakes still made today. It dates back to at least 1615, when the first known recipe appeared in Gervaise Markham’s tome “The English Huswife.”
Parisian bakers popularized the cake in the 19th century, and different bakeries became known for their more elaborate decorations. Nowadays, few people make Yule logs at home, but that doesn’t mean you should pass up a slice in favor of apple pie or a second helping of mashed potatoes. Enjoy your bûche de Noël, and think of the hundreds of years of history behind it.
A federal program that has help fund dozens of big new South Florida business projects over the past decade by swapping U.S. visas and green cards for foreign investment dollars is teetering on the brink of political extinction, according to its supporters.
The EB-5 visa program, which by the estimate of the investment community has funneled more than $18 billion in overseas cash into U.S. business development since 2008 — including hundreds of millions of dollars in Florida — will expire on Sept. 30 unless Congress renews it.
Some of the ongoing high-profile projects that are using EB-5 funds include Florida East Coast Industries’ eagerly awaited Brightline MiamiCentral, the mixed-use downtown Miami station for the upcoming All Aboard Florida passenger rail service. A deal for $130 million in EB-5 funds will go toward the plaza’s 180,000 square feet of retail space.
SkyRise Miami, the ambitious 1,000-foot skyscraper/tourist attraction planned by developer Jeff Berkowitz to launch in 2020, would also include EB-5 funds as part of its $430 million budget.
But the EB-5 faces congressional critics who want to amend the program into oblivion or even it kill it outright. And even to get a fair hearing, it must compete for attention with the always-contentious federal budget, President Trump’s tax-reform proposal and a score of other high-priority items with upcoming deadlines.
“I think Sept. 30 is the drop-dead for renewal,” said Miami immigration attorney Tammy Fox-Issicoff, who frequently works with EB-5 investors. “And I mean that’s the drop-dead date for a full renewal.”
“We’vehad a number of short extensions. That’s killing the program’s credibility with foreign investors who might like to join. Nobody wants to put half a million bucks into something that might be gone in three months.”
What is EB-5?
EB-5 visas were first created in 1990 as part of a larger congressional reform of immigration policy. They allow a foreigner who invests $1 million in a project that will generate at least 10 long-term jobs to get a visa and a green card if the project is completed. The required investment drops to $500,000 if it’s directed at a high-unemployment area.
But EB-5s didn’t really take off until 2009, when the Great Recession dried up commercial lending around the United States. As banks and other traditional credit sources retrenched, businesses started using EB-5 investment to patch the holes they left.
$150,500,000Total dollar amount of EB-5 investments in Florida in fiscal year 2013
“As a result of those absences, you had to look for alternative sources of financing,” said Michael Conaghan, chief operating officer at Fort Partners, the developer of the Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences at the Surf Club in Surfside. Conaghan is raising up to $200 million in EB-5 money to build a Four Seasons hotel-residence in Fort Lauderdale.
“Since then, EB-5 has proven to be a good source of financing for projects. It also brings new people and new capital and new jobs to the country. A lot of other visa programs focus on people who are already here.”
EB-5 critics say it’s an inefficient investment tool, a needless subsidy to wealthy developers, and an easy target for manipulation and corruption. “What it mostly does is it saves money for a lot of folks who are already rich and are just getting richer,” said David North, a senior fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think-tank that’s harshly critical of immigration.
But what nobody disputes is that from beer joints to giant train lines, EB-5 funds are fueling economic development and local businesses in South Florida at an increasing rate. According to the latest figures available from the industry trade organization Invest in the USA, EB-5 investment throughout the state shot up from $10,500,000 in 2011 to $150,500,000 in the fiscal year 2013.
The precise impact of the EB-5 is nearly impossible to measure because the government keeps few statistics on the program. No one knows exactly how many EB-5 projects have succeeded, how many failed, or how many jobs have been created.
Usually, EB-5 money serves as what developers call “mezzanine funding,” which fills the gap between what banks will finance and a project’s total cost.
“In a typical project, the developer is going to have some of his own money involved, maybe 20 to 25 percent of the total cost,” said Ron Klasko, a Philadelphia lawyer who has worked on 10 EB-5 projects in South Florida and hundreds across the country. Another 40 percent or so will come from a construction loan — what’s called the senior loan. And the other 35 percent is the mezzanine loan.”
Mezzanine loans obtained from a bank or other traditional lender might charge 14 to 18 percent. But because EB-5 investors are interested in getting their green cards, they are willing to accept a tiny fraction of that, often between 1 and 3 percent interest.
Funding for these projects is usually put together by federally designated business enterprises known as EB-5 centers that act as conduits for the program’s investment money. As recently as 2010, there were less than 100 EB-5 centers around the United States; now there are more than 850. Although they finance everything from farms to body shops, most of their money goes into real estate projects. In Florida, that has included everything from small businesses to mammoth developments.
The Tap 42 Craft Kitchen & Bar at 3252 NE First Ave. in Midtown opened its doors in June. The eatery was one of the chain’s three locations to use EB-5 funds in financing. A fourth is planned for Aventura Mall.
Doug Rudolph, the CEO of Tapco Restaurant Group, says its first two Tap 42 Craft Beer Bar & Kitchen restaurants — the Boca Raton location, which opened in 2015, and the Coral Gables spot, which opened in 2016 — each used $2.25 million in EB-5 money, or 80 percent of their total construction costs.
The group’s other two locations — one in Midtown, which opened in June, and an upcoming spot at the Aventura Mall expansion — used $2.5 million each. Rudolph said the three existing restaurants have created “three to four times” the number of jobs required under EB-5 rules. That number varies depending on the size of the investment.
“People who want to invest in businesses that are creating jobs can touch and feel and meet us,” Rudolph said. “They can come into one of our restaurants and eat there, so they know exactly what they’re investing in. Most EB-5 investors intend to live in the same city as their investment, and they like the idea of being part of a local business. They feel closer to their communities.”
The $200 million mixed-use Hollywood Circle development, currently under construction on a 3.2 acre lot on U.S. 1 and Hollywood Blvd., will be composed of a trio of residential towers that will include a boutique hotel, gourmet restaurant, parking garage and a Publix supermarket. The budget includes $109 million in EB-5 funds.
The project is being developed by the Gold Coast Florida Regional Center, which was created in 2010 as a way to fill the void left by the departure of Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and other big financial players from the real estate scene after the 2008 recession.
“We buy money just like plywood for development,” said Charles Abele, a founding partner of Gold Coast. “It’s one of the commodities needed to do what we do, so we decided to raise our own equity. EB-5 serves as a sweetener for every deal.”
Developers of the 60-story Paramount condo tower at the Miami Worldcenter mixed-use project under construction in downtown Miami say that EB-5 visas have been not a key element in their financing more than $50 million of it — but they say they have become an unexpected marketing tool for the project.
The 60-story Paramount condo tower at Miami Worldcenter in downtown Miami is relying on more than $50 million in EB-5 investment financing.
ELKUS MANFREDI ARCHITECTS
“Four of the 10 units we sold in June went to someone who came to the sales center intending to buy an EB-5 and bought a condo instead,” said Peggy Fucci, president and CEO of the real estate firm OneWorld Properties, the exclusive broker on the Paramount tower. Potential EB-5 investors have pockets deep enough to buy a condo at the tower, where prices start at $700,000.
Curiously, despite the tumultuous state of the U.S. debate over immigration, very little of the criticism of the EB-5 concerns the visas themselves or the 10,000 foreign investors and their family members (the annual cap on EB-5 immigration set by law) who use them to get into the United States each year.
“Most people don’t realize that a million immigrants come into the country each year,” said North, a strong critic of the EB-5. “In the context of a number like that, 10,000 is nothing, a drop in the bucket.”
A much bigger sticking point is what nearly everybody, including the most enthusiastic backers of the EB-5, admits is the program’s inefficient administration by a lumbering immigration bureaucracy that knows lots about visas but very little about cash flow, capitalization or anything else that goes into real estate development.
“The immigration component of the EB-5 program is trivial,” said Philadelphia attorney Klasko. “The EB-5 program doesn’t belong with the immigration service. Immigration officials don’t normally deal with reviewing securities offerings or economic reports or business plans…
“It creates problems at several levels. When you’re talking about the pace of business — especially in real estate development — it just doesn’t make any sense for immigration officials to say, ‘File your plan with us today and we’ll review it in a year and half.’ That’s not very realistic. But that’s the reality.”
An uneasy mix
The EB-5s uneasy mix of politics, business and immigration can lead to practices that are dubious in all three areas. One of the things most frequently denounced is what EB-5 players call “gerrymandering,” after the legislative practice of creating grotesque-looking districts to give one party or another an election advantage.
In the EB-5 version of gerrymandering, developers use tortuous geographic logic to link luxury developments in upscale metropolitan areas with blighted, poverty-stricken districts miles away. That allows them to get access to EB-5 money that’s intended for high-unemployment areas. Because the high-unemployment EB-5 investments can be smaller ($500,000 instead of $1 million), they are more plentiful.
WE NEED MORE REGULATION ON THIS.
Rodrigo Azpurua, head of the Riviera Point Development Group, a Broward firm that has raised more than $53 million in EB-5 funds since 2012
The linkage is possible because the EB-5 law permits the developers to create so-called targeted employment areas, without regard to how large or misshapen they are, as long as the territory consists of adjacent U.S. Census tracts (small areas that are home from 1,200 to 8,000 people).
“We need more regulation on this,” said Rodrigo Azpurua, head of the Riviera Point Development Group, a Broward firm that has raised more than $53 million in EB-5 funds since 2012 to partially fund projects such as the Riviera Point Business Center Doral and the Radisson Red Miami Airport.
“Right now, you can pretty easily build a line of Census tracts fromLiberty City, where the unemployment rate is 20 percent or so, to Brickell, where it’s zero, and use the Liberty City unemployment to justify a luxury hotel in Brickell.”
Azpurua’s Brickell-to-Liberty City example is, if anything, understated. A 2015 lawsuit in Texas brought to light a targeted employment area that stretched through 190 Census tracts and five counties to link the battered, unemployment-plagued city of Brownsville with a planned upscale hotel in the city of Laredo, 200 miles away.
Not everyone agrees that the Where’s-Waldo? games with Census tracts are a problem. Immigration attorney Fox-Isicoff argues that the location of a project has little connection with where it will create jobs.
“I work on Brickell, but I live in North Miami,” she said. “I must drive through 12 or 15 or 20 Census tracts on my way to work each day. Same thing for most of the people in my office.”
And geography becomes even more irrelevant, she says, when the subject is so-called induced jobs — say, the people working in distant factories who manufacture the brick and steel and window glass that go into the construction projects.
“Those are all allowed to count toward the 10 jobs that must be generated by an EB-5 investment,” Fox-Isicoff said. “Does that mean every EB-5 project has to be built next door to a brick factory?”
The gerrymandering situation
Others, however, believe that EB-5 gerrymandering is part of a larger problem — that the allure of a potential visa makes investors look past red flags that something is awry. In recent years, EB-5 investors have been victimized in staggering corruption cases in Vermont and South Dakota in which the middlemen packaging their loans ran off well over $100 million of their funds or lost it in unauthorized investments.
$179,000,000Gross domestic product generated by EB-5 projects in Florida in fiscal year 2013
The investors not only lost their money (a total of well over $100 million) but their visas, which aren’t awarded unless an investment program is successfully completed.
“It’s true that you can have a Bernie Madoff situation in any investment, with crooks taking your money,” said North. “But the likelihood in an EB-5 investment is greater because the intent of the investment is greater. A bank making a loan is looking for a good investment with solid security. EB-5 investors would like to have their money back eventually, but what they really want is the visas. And they don’t pay much attention to anything else.”
Fox-Isicoff agreed: “Inherent in the EB-5 program is the element of risk. The element of, ‘This may not work. You may not be paid back.’ People lose sight of that fact.”
The bureaucratic delays in the EB-5 program only make matters worse. “Developers can’t wait two years before they start getting their money from investors, so a lot of times people are making their investment before the government has even reviewed the project,” noted Klasko.
The clumsiness of the EB-5 as an economic tool has led some to suggest that it be replaced with a program that simply sells a certain number of U.S. green cards, just as some two dozen other countries around the world offer citizenship for cash.
Construction was completed in June on the Riviera Point Corporate Center, a 72,000 square-foot office building at 2750 SW 145th Ave. in Miramar. $15 million in EB-5 funds from 30 investors were used to partially finance the project.
RIVIERA POINT DEVELOPMENT GROUP
The government could use the receipts to create jobs programs wherever they were needed, not just in the high-profile urban areas that developers favor. (A pair of 2016 studies by New York University scholars of the 52 largest EB-5 projects in America since 2009 showed that nearly 40 percent of their money went to a single borough of New York City: Manhattan.)
“If we’re going to prostitute our visa process, let’s get a lot more money for it,” said North. “I’d run an auction. Charge whatever the market would bear. Let the government keep the money instead of giving it to big developers.”
That’s not one of the proposals on the table in Congress. Those range from killing the EB-5 visa outright to drastically raising its price — which might kill it anyway, many EB-5 supporters say. And although President Trump’s aversion to immigration is well known, the proposals to curtail the EB-5 originated well before his election.
THIS ISN’T ABOUT TRUMP AND PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE TRUMP, OR REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS, OR PRO-IMMIGRATION AND ANTI-IMMIGRATION. IT’S ABOUT RURAL VERSUS URBAN.
EB-5 attorney Ronald Fieldstone
Before President Obama left office, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the EB-5 program through its United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office, proposed a series of changes that would raise the minimum EB-5 investment from $500,000 to $1.35 million.
“If the cost goes above $1 million, that’s going to seriously impact the program,” said attorney Randy Sidlosca, a partner in the EB-5 Immigration Investor Program Practice at Cozen O’Connor in Miami. “People just don’t want to part with a million dollars for five or six years, which is how long it usually takes to get your money back from an EB-5.”
Sidlosca favors a compromise increase to $850,000, which is gaining support in the EB-5 community. “We can live with that,” he said. “Change is going to come, it’s inevitable, and we need to accept that.”
Compromise is possible, said Ronald Fieldstone, one of the most active EB-5 attorneys in Miami, because the fight about EB-5s is about money rather than ideology, a subject Congress knows how to negotiate.
“This isn’t about Trump and people who don’t like Trump, or Republicans and Democrats, or pro-immigration and anti-immigration,” Fieldstone said. “It’s about rural versus urban.
“The most combative opponents of EB-5 are people like [Iowa’s Republican U.S. Senator] Charles Grassley, whose state gets almost none of the EB-5 money because of the way the program has been administered. … I think this can get worked out.”
History of Fat Tuesday around the world
Why is Mardi Gras the largest celebration in the world?
Who knows but maybe it is because the theme is letting the crazier part out of us,with parades, parties and wearing fun Mardi Gras costumes.
It is not called Mardi Gras everywhere, mainly in France and the United States. In Italy where it originated and most of the world it is called Carnivale or similar in Germany it is called Karneval.
This party of parties has survived though priests and rulers that have canceled it when things get TOO out of control. It would reappear even after being outlawed.
What is Mardi Gras all about ?
Mardi Gras centers around the theme of having a festival before the Lenten season. This starts on the 12th day after Christmas, which is January 6th and goes through the day before Ash Wednesday, which is always 46 days before Easter. This last day of the festival is known as Mardi Gras, which means in French, Fat Tuesday. Fat ( gras) and Tuesday (Mardi) More about the Mardi Gras around the world
Through history during this festival there have been all kinds of feasts, Masquerade balls and parades, to have a good time before we go into a serious time of sacrifice durning the lenten season.
Who thought up Mardi Gras ?
The festival called Lupercalia
Celebrating around this time in February goes back even before ancient Roman times where they celebrated a festival called Lupercalia. It centered around fertility and to ward off evil for the new year, which back then was March 1st. That is when people married and started to plant , so life became serious.
In fact the name February comes from “Februa” which were Strips of hide from a goat that had been sacrificed to the god of fertility during the festival of Lupercalia.
The Catholic church sure didn’t like the towns folk to be celebrating a festival based on pagan beliefs but recognized that the people loved to party. So they decided to change it to a Christian theme, based around the Lenten season. Modern Italian “carnevale” that comes from Old Italian “carnelevare”; Carne = meat, levare = raise, put away, remove. This refers to the fact that you will soon be fasting or eating meatless meals and giving things up in remembrance of the crucifixion of Christ, or Easter.
How is Mardi Gras celebrated in other parts of the world
In Ireland, Australia, and Canada, Shrove Tuesday is known as “Pancake Tuesday”, while in Britain it is popularly known as “Pancake Day”.
In both regions the traditional pancake is a very thin one (like a French crêpe) which is served immediately sprinkled with caster sugar (superfine sugar in the United States) and a dash of fresh lemon juice or alternatively drizzled with Golden syrup.
In the Canadian province of Newfoundland, household objects are baked into the pancakes and served to family members. Rings, thimbles, thread, coins, and other objects all have meanings associated with them. The lucky one to find coins in their pancake will be rich, the finder of the ring will be the first married, and the finder of the thimble will be a seamstress or tailor. Children have great fun with the tradition, and often eat more than their fill of pancakes in search of a desired object.
One little recipe from NOLA
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 gallon plus 2 cups clam juice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
8 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 pound okra, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons filé powder (see Note)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
Shelled and deveined shrimp (from the stock)
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
Steamed rice, sliced scallions and Tabasco, for serving
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
In a stockpot, heat the oil. Add the shrimp shells and cook over high heat, until starting to brown, 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until it begins to stick to the pot, 2 minutes. Add the clam juice, onion, celery, carrot and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat for 25 minutes. Strain the stock into a heatproof bowl.
In a saucepan, whisk the flour with the oil to make a paste. Cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until the roux turns golden brown, 30 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high and cook, stirring, until the roux is dark brown, 10 minutes longer. Scrape the roux into a bowl and reserve.
In the stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic, onion and celery; cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add the roux and cook until bubbling. Stir in the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, until no floury taste remains; skim off the fat.
In a skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the green pepper, okra, chile powder, paprika, filé, oregano, thyme, cayenne and white pepper. Season with salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until fragrant, 5 minutes. Stir in a ladleful of the liquid in the stockpot, scrape up the browned bits and transfer to the gumbo in the pot. Simmer, stirring, for 1 hour.
Add the shrimp to the pot and cook, until just white throughout, 2 minutes. Stir in the crab; season with salt.
It must have seemed like a revolutionary idea to diners of the 1920s — people on roller skates delivering food straight to their driver’s side window.
Suddenly, the food that families were used to eating around a dinner table now arrived on trays or in bags, ready to be eaten on the go. Little did they know fast food was on the brink of explosion.
Nearly 100 years later, restaurants are on the brink of another massive change: robot automation.
The best estimates find that up to 50% of jobs could be automated by the late 2030s, with restaurant workers among the most vulnerable to displacement.
Some locations have already started moving away from human labor in an effort to cut operating costs. In its place, they’ve started relying on machines that are getting more sophisticated every day. Within the next 20 years, experts say, nearly every restaurant job once held by humans could get passed on to robots.
“A lot of what’s done in restaurants is already automated,” Rebecca Chesney, research and partnerships manager at the Institute for the Future, tells Business Insider. “Today’s robotics can actually mimic human gestures that you’d need for cooking, for instance, way more than they could years ago.”
Is the best chef a robot?
Chesney points to Momentum Machines, the company perhaps most poised to shake up the way food is prepared.
In 2014, the company released a device that essentially worked like a printing press for hamburgers. The robot pressed patties, chopped toppings, and assembled the ingredients into a sumptuous-looking sandwich. Momentum Machines went quiet for the next two years, but earlier this June the company posted a Craigslist ad looking for employees in the San Francisco area for a restaurant opening this fall.
“This location will feature the world-premiere of our proprietary and remarkable new advances in technology that enable the automatic creation of impossibly delicious burgers at prices everyone can afford,” according to the ad.
A schematic for the Momentum Machines prototype, which can crank out 400 burgers an hour.Momentum Machines
As Xconomy reported, Momentum Machines’ prototype could replace two to three line cooks — a savings of roughly $90,000 a year counting salaries and overhead costs. In turn, customers get perfectly-made burgers every single time.
Momentum Machines may be the most restaurant-ready system for food preparation, but it’s by no means the only one. Other robots can already prepare sushi, make pizza, mix cocktails, slice noodles, and griddle pancakes.
In the future, these minds of technologies could all live under one roof.
Robots everywhere, no servers in sight
Moving from the kitchen to the front of the house, Chesney says restaurants are also looking to automate how food reaches customers.
Take Eatsa, another San Francisco-based restaurant, which has automated the way people order and pick up their food, much like the automats of the early 20th century that essentially functioned as vending machines for entire meals.
Instead of talking to a cashier to order their quinoa bowls, Eatsa diners build their meals on touch screens and pick them up from windows. There are no chefs or servers in sight.
Chesney says places like Eatsa and companies like Momentum Machines are strong signals for where fast food is heading because people crave speed and low cost — two qualities that human-run restaurants can’t offer the way robot-powered restaurants can.
A future of personalized ambiance
Not every restaurant will necessarily go full-robot, says Sarah Smith, a researcher at IFTF’s Food Futures Lab, who works alongside Chesney. Fine-dining restaurants depend on people feeling comfortable, not rushed. And robots don’t tend to inspire a warm, inviting feeling.
But fine-dining is still ripe for automation behind the scenes.
“Maybe they’ll focus still on making the food by hand and focusing on quality ingredients,” Smith says, “but there could be parts of the experience that could have some level of automation.”
For instance, both she and Chesney suspect the psychological research into how people eat and enjoy food will get put to good use, as restaurants use automation to change lighting, temperatures, noise levels, and scents. Just as musicians can fit their fans with heart rate monitors to create the perfect concert, restaurant owners could use bio-metric data to make sure people eat in just the right conditions.
At the extreme might be restaurants that leverage the technology created by Project Nourished, a company that uses virtual reality to simulate just about every food experience imaginable.
Diners in Oculus Rift headsets can eat vegan gelatin that has been infused with the flavors of wasabi and ginger, while a machine pumps the room with a whiff of seafood, so that when you look through the goggles, you fully believe you’re eating the sushi sitting in front of you.
Oculus VR / Facebook
Making good on their promise
Together, these changes add up to a set of dining experiences that embody what restaurants have always tried to be.
Restaurants give people a better alternative to preparing their own (often ordinary) food in their own (often limited) time. If they’re automated, either in preparation, delivery, or ambiance, they stand a better chance at guaranteeing a good experience for diners — even if that means huge swaths of employees risk losing their jobs.
Now that Presidents Day is officially out of the way, it’s time to celebrate National Margarita Day.
Each year, February 22 marks the special day dedicated to all-things margaritas. Whether you prefer your margarita with salt, frozen or on the rocks, this day is for you.
On social media, #NationalMargaritaDay began trending early Wednesday as margarita-enthusiasts began counting down the hours to happy hour.
For one drink 1 1/2 oz. tequila (100% agave a must, preferably a “reposado”) 1 1/2 oz. triple sec or Cointreau 1 to 1 1/4 oz. of lime juice Salt for the rim of the glass
Shake all the ingredients with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker until the exterior frosts. Strain into a glass over rocks, or “up” into a cocktail glass. A slice of lime as a garnish, while not strictly necessary, is a civilized touch.
A little History…
The margarita is often hailed as the quintessential “Mexican” cocktail, but just like cerveza, the origins of the drink are not definitively Mexican. Simply put, no one knows who dreamed up this delicious cocktail – but the stories behind the invention of the margarita are pretty colorful, even though only some of them actually take place in Mexico. Carlos “Danny” Herrera, owner of Tijuana restaurant Rancho La Gloria, claims he invented the drink in 1938. What inspired him? A picky dancer, it seems. Restaurant goer Marjorie King declared she was allergic to all spirits except tequila, but didn’t like to drink the spirit straight. So Herrera worked around the prototypical tequila shot (which is taken with salt and lime) and threw together the margarita. While all bartenders can relate to the situation of an annoying customer, it was Herrera who claims to have whipped up the instant classic – or so says his obituary. By the way, he lived until 90, once again proving that alcohol is probably really good for you. But Herrera isn’t even close to the only person to try and take credit for one of America’s most popular drinks. Another famed contender for the title of OG margarita maker has claims to the throne based on her name along, because that name is… Margarita. Dallas socialite Margarita Sames insisted that she concocted the drink for a group of her friends while vacationing in Acapulco in 1948. Her buddy Tommy Hilton (yes, of those Hiltons), put the cocktail on the bar menu at the Hilton hotel chain. However, by 1945, tequila brand Jose Cuervo had already been running an ad campaign pushing the drink, stating: “Margarita: It’s more than a girl’s name.” So it wouldn’t seem likely Margarita can take credit for the creation of the drink, though having the same name does help build a believable case. But there are lots of women whom the drink can be named after. Many tales of the margarita claim to be named after women with the namesake, not just our friend Margarita Sames. For example, in 1941, bartender Don Carlos Orozco was tending bar in Ensenada, Mexico. While, he was futzing around making cocktails, Margarita Henkel, daughter of a German ambassador, walked into his bar. He allowed her to taste his experiment and coined the drink in her honor. Meanwhile, Danny Negrete is also named as inventor of the drink. Apparently, the cocktail was a wedding gift for his sister-in-law, yep another Margarita, bestowed upon her at the Garci Crespo Hotel. Interestingly enough, Negrete worked at Agua Cliente Race Track, where starlet Margarita Cansino (you might know her as Rita Hayworth) would often perform. No one knows who invented the margarita Margarita Cansino, aka Rita Hayworth However the margarita may not be named after a beautiful woman at all, but instead may just be a variation of another cocktail that was popular during Prohibition: the Daisy. In fact, margarita means “daisy” in Spanish. The only difference between the Daisy and the margarita is that the former was made with brandy and the latter with tequila. However, it’s remarkable to see what a simple swap of spirits does for a cocktail. How many people today have heard of the Daisy? The tequila-filled margarita, however, is famous in epic proportions. And while it is tequila that gives the margarita its Mexican flair, doubt has been expressed over whether it would be likely for such a cocktail to emerge out of Mexico in the 30’s or 40’s. Imbibe Magazine writes, “[it’s] difficult to believe that a Mexican invented this drink although it is completely possible that it was invented on Mexican soil. This is because Mexico has never had a cocktail culture, and to this day margaritas are never consumed by the locals.” Moreover, frozen margaritas seem a world away from true Mexican culture – and they are. Like Margarita Sames, the inventor of the world’s first frozen margarita machine was from Dallas. His name was Mariano Martinez, a restauranteur who, in 1971, created the fuel for spring break parties everywhere. In 2005, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History decided to have all employee happy hours in house acquired the machine. But whether you take your margarita frozen and berry flavored or stirred with top shelf tequila, the drink is a bar staple. The three ingredient cocktail – tequila, Cointreau/triple sec, and lime – can astoundingly enough be made in just about any bar. Steve Schneider, a head bartender at famed West Village bar Employees Only, says, “For me, the margarita evolved much like my career.” You can make it with cheap tequila at a dive bar, or get fancy with smokey mezcals and agave nectar. No matter how contested the history of the margarita is, the outcome is the same: a perfect drink.
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.
Add the confectioners’ sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.
Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners’ sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.
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French culinary superstar Yannick Alleno scaled new heights on Thursday as his Alpine restaurant Le 1947 won a third Michelin star, making him a six-star chef.
Alleno, 48, tweeted that he was “beyond happiness” over the honour for his kitchen in the exclusive ski resort of Courchevel, which received a flurry of other Michelin nods this year.
Le 1947 — named for the most prized vintage of the Cheval Blanc, a top Saint Emilion Bordeaux — is the restaurant at the five-star Cheval Blanc hotel in Courchevel, where menus range in price from 127 to 450 euros ($135-$480) — not including wine.
Owned by the LVMH luxury group, Le 1947, with dishes such as steamed scallops with celery extract and caviar, is the only table to win the top three-star accolade this year.
Alleno already boasts three Michelin stars at his Paris restaurant, Le Pavillon Ledoyen.
The selections of the Guide Michelin France, based on anonymous visits, are awaited with trepidation by chefs and with fervour by food lovers.
With the addition of Le 1947, the 2017 Michelin guide has 27 three-star restaurants, 86 with two stars — including 12 new ones — and 503 with one star, 57 of them new.
Michael Ellis, the French-American international director of the foodie bible, said the number of new stars has risen steadily for the past several years, reflecting the “vitality of French gastronomy in a complicated economic context”.
Alleno has directed Le 1947, an intimate 22-seat restaurant that is open from December to April, since 2008, offering “an extremely technical, creative and tasty cuisine”, Ellis said.
Courchevel, a magnet for the international glitterati, has “one of the biggest per-capita concentrations of (Michelin) stars” with a collective total of 14, Ellis noted.
Two of them, Le Montgomerie and Le Kintessence, both recovered a second star they had lost in last year’s edition of the guide after chef Nicolas Sale left and moved to the Ritz in Paris.
– Even some affordable fare –
Sale, now running the Table de l’Espadon at the newly-reopened Ritz, won a second star in the 2017 Michelin Guide.
Ritz rival Le George V, home of the three-star Le Cinq restaurant lorded over by Christian Le Squer, won stars for two other tables within the same house, making it the first hotel in Europe to boast three Michelin-starred restaurants.
Foreign chefs to win Michelin glory this year included Masayoshi Hanada of Sushi B in Paris, while standout British chef Gordon Ramsay earned a second star for his Bordeaux restaurant Pressoir d’Argent.
Also in the southwestern wine capital, La Grande Maison restaurant regained its second star after chef Pierre Gagnaire replaced Joel Robuchon.
While Michelin-starred restaurants tend to be out of reach for most diners, Ellis pointed to several eateries in the 2017 edition that are easy on the wallet.
They include the one-star Auberge Tiegezh in the Brittany town of Guer, with a lunchtime menu costing 25 euros, and the one-star Restaurant H in Paris, with its 30-euro lunches and 50-euro dinners.
“There has been a trend among chefs to favour uncomplicated dishes with often simple ingredients, local and in season, with short menus that change frequently,” Ellis said.
“It’s both ecological and economical.”
This year’s edition goes on sale on February 15, with a print run of some 150,000.