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Pyewacket

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  1. Several years ago, before legal absinthe was available in the US, my hubby and I did a bunch of research, blended herbs, redistilled them, did infusions and all kind of machinations to make absinthe. The results from all this work was uniformly disgusting. Then a few months ago, Hubby brought home a real bottle of imported absinthe. What a revelation! The drink created a beautiful green faerie in the glass, had a lovely licorice-like aroma and flavor and was easy on the taste buds. The result was nothing more than a nice drinkers' buzz-not the lyrical, floaty feeling I expected, but nice anyway.
  2. I love ice pops! Since ice cream makes me feel uncomfortable (dairy) and messy I've decided that, for me, the perfect cold tasty treat is the ice pop. A single serving that can be eaten before the whole thing becomes a sloppy mess and refreshing flavors of fruit are just great. So a couple weeks ago when I read Florence Fabricant's profile of four new pop joints in Manhattan (does she even venture out to other boroughs?) I was so excited that I rushed out to try as many as I could. Since it was a Wednesday, I couldn't try la Newyorkinas pops, but did try People's Pops in Chealsea Market and Popbar. People's Pops seemed to be having some trouble with their freezer because one of their display pops was melting off the stick, but the raspberry-mint pop I got was kind of yummy. Although it dropped pieces of red ice mix all over my white shirt immediately upon pulling it out of the wrapper , the flavor was nice, but the texture was grainy, and seedy. Whoa. I was picking seeds out of my teeth for hours. PopBar, as FF stated is an Italian franchise. The pops are basically gelato on a stick with different coatings and sprinkles. It's nice, but the gelato had a texture I don't really care for-kind of like a jello background taste and texture. Not really pop like in my mind. I went to Griff's but they weren't available yet. My favorite ice pop joints are usually known as Paleterias and found in Hispanic neighborhoods. Though I can't remember their names, there are a couple in Westchester County-one in White Plains (great pops!) another in New Rochelle (OK but a little plastic tasting) and another somewhere else that I can't remember. Any one else love ice pops and know of cool places to get them?
  3. Since moving to NY from NC we've had lots of fun going to nearby orchards and picking many varieties of apples. Love the Mutsus, Macouns and Honey Crisps. However, there are two varieties I used to be able to obtain pretty readily in NC that I NEVER see in NY How come I can never get Yorks or Arkansas Blacks? I love the Yorks for their funky, jazzy shape and sweet-tart flavor and crisp texture. The Arkansas Blacks had a deep purple skin with pinkish, lavender streaks running through the white flesh and were crisp, incredibly juicy with that sweet-tart flavor I love. Many great apples in NY, but really miss these two.
  4. marshmallows, oysters, and lima beans okra, morels and mangoes?
  5. Market research is not just about your specific business, but about the market in general. Basically, what you want to do is identify who your core market is and what percentage of the entire market of the area they represent. Here are a few questions you may want to research: What is the population of the geographic area that you will serve. What is the income breakdown of that population, meaning, what % of the population makes above say, $50,000/year per household. (This is probably your core market) What is the average income of your regular customers? What is the age breakdown of your core market? How many have kids? where do they go to school? majority public or private? What are their other interests? Where else do they shop regularly? Where else do they buy chocolate? and what types do they buy? Where to they buy the majority of their groceries? What kinds of restaurants to they frequent? How health conscious are they? How frequently do they make luxury purchases (ie fancy chocolate) Are there any culinary/book/movie/arts clubs in the area? How many people watch the food network? How many people belong to country clubs? Is there a university or college located nearby? Of all the restaurants around, how many are considered "fine dining." Knowing this kind of information about your core market will help you make informed decisions about your business like, what kind of product mix you should offer, who are the people that might become a part of your core and what do you need to do to bring them in. You can obtain this information in many ways. Go to the local chamber of commerce and see what info they have. The town government should also have population demographics. The public library is a great source to find out about social networking (clubs, etc.) and school demographics? Public school demographic information reveals a lot about the local population, like how many use the school lunch program. This can show you a lot about the growth potential of your business. For example, if the public schools have a low percentage of kids who use the free or reduced lunch program, you can generally assume that the community is relatively upscale with a good amount of disposable income. If not, you might want to reconsider. You can ask your regular customers to fill out an anonymous survey. You can call up country clubs and say your thinking of joining and would like to ask some general questions about the membership and see the menu at the dining area. Marketing is not advertising. It's fine tuning your message so that it is clear and understandable to your client base and appeals to others so that they want to become part of your core market. To do that, you need to intimately know who those people are and how you can fulfill their need and desires.
  6. Ditto on the Danskos, but I like the ones that have the closed back. I also have orthotics that I always wear in them. I'm very happy with the result. I made a mistake when I bought my first pair and bought them too small. When they fit correctly, they're pretty loose.
  7. pyewacket: you rock. thank you so much for taking the time to write this out! i am copying and pasting this list to my future landlord (since he is renovating the structure, and brad and i are going in with the finer details and kitchen equip etc) and yes, i am renting the first 1-2 yrs, with an option to buy (setting a price now) so that if (lord please) im successful, it would be wise then to buy and invest money into the finer detailing, outside etc...but again. wow. blown away by the info! thank you!
  8. Since you are actually opening a food service business, you will need to obtain a license from your county department of environmental health services or whatever they call it in Iowa. Here in NY there are variable fees for this license depending on what type of business you operate. If you are preparing food for commercial sale, here are some building requirements that are pretty much universal: All floors, walls and ceilings in food prep area must be smooth and washable. You must install sealed coping around the entire kitchen where the floor and wall meet. The coping prevents rodents from finding their way into the kitchen from the outside or through the walls. You must have a bathroom with a toilet and handwash sink that is separately vented. If you do not have a dishwasher, you must have a three compartment sink with an indirect drain. This is basically where the drain from the sink is separated from a hole in the floor that drains to the sewerage system and prevents any possible backups into the sink. Instead, it backs up onto the floor. There must be a separate hand washing sink in the kitchen for people to wash their hands. Depending on your layout, I believe you will also need a hand wash sink in the food service area, though this seems to vary from state to state. You must also install a separate mop sink and provide an area where cleaning supplies and chemicals are stored. This stuff must be kept separate from any food or food supplies storage. Regarding these sinks, this means that generally, aside from the bathroom, you will need plumbing for all three, though I think they may share drains as long as they are indirect drains. It's a good idea to install grease traps as it will save you hassles in the long run, especially since you will be using and disposing of a good amount of fatty foods (dairy and chocolate.) This stuff accumulates in drains and causes a lot of trouble for local water and sewer utilities-they may have some specific requirements for you too. All food storage must be kept at least 6 inches from the floor. This is also the case for any utensils you may use to prepare the food. All large appliances like refrigerators, freezers and stoves will need to be food service/commercial quality. All cooling appliances will need to have an accurate thermometer living inside them. Make sure your place of business is connected to local water and sewer service, otherwise, you will have to pay for frequent water testing and the testing, maintenance and documentation of an approved septic field. The fire department will require you to have fire extinguishers and if you have any kind of stove and/or oven, ventilation and some kind of fire suppression system. You might also be required to take a food safety and sanitation course to maintain your license, though this might also vary from state to state and county to county. To obtain your permit to operate in a facility that is being converted to a food prep and service operation, you will probably need to submit your plans to the engineering department at the health department. Best to be as specific as possible in your plans and as detailed as you can because they charge you (at least in NY) a new approval fee for each revision. Contact the health inspector to get information about the local requirements before you start any building plans. Befriend the guy or gal and do plenty of sanitation and food safety research beforehand so that few of the department's requirements will come as a surprise (read, expensive) to you. Do not forget liability insurance, which you will need to show before your are issued a permit. The good news is that chocolate is a relatively low risk food item, though the dairy used has it's own requirements. Good luck with your new venture.
  9. Last Christmas my three sisters and I agreed to gift each other a clutch of reusable bags from our local grocery stores. Since we live in NY, Chapel Hill, NC, Sarasota, FL, and Portland OR we each have a collection of mildly exotic grocery bags. My favorite is the Hannaford bag with a big picture of a piece of pie on it and the phrase- "life is short, eat dessert first" I HAVE to return my bags to the car after unloading. Otherwise, I forget them. I still wind up with quite a bunch of those cheap plastic bags. It's a good thing though, what else would I use for my two doggies' POOP containers?
  10. Oh will you listen to yourselves! As one who grew up in the Triangle and now lives in NY I can attest that there are few things more tiresome than transplanted Yankees griping about not finding NY style pizza in the south! Frankly, I've been here 10 years, eaten pizza at lots of famous and not so famous NY pizza joints and I can't for the life of me figure out what there is to be so nostalgic about! Chewy bland dough with ubiquitous sauce and gloppy cheese! So you can fold it-big deal! Blaming the water is a lame enterprise when waxing on about something so completely ordinary that sane people might wonder what all the fuss was about. Now if you want to eat something that tastes good, is round, resembles the ubiquitous NY pie, and is actually worth passing your lips, venture over to Chapel Hill and have a slice at Pepper's. Whenever we return home for a visit, a stop at Pepper's is always on the agenda. BTW-always liked Pop's poached egg and roasted prosciutto pizza.
  11. Wheat and dairy prices are skyrocketing due to the fact that former wheat farmers are now planting corn to produce ethanol. Thus wheat farmers have more demand for their product and the price is increasing rapidly. Dairy is soaring because grain that was once grown for feed now goes to the large ethanol producers. All this profit is going to the large agri-businesses like ADM and Monsanto with the help of US subsidy policies spelled out in the Farm Bill. The reauthorization of the farm bill increases the amount of subsidy going to large corporate farming and squeezes the family farmer even more. There are also sweet deals for John Deere to increase production of large corn combines. Here is the problem shown pictorially: Hungry Mouths to Feed All this and it costs as much or more in fossil fuel expenditure to produce the ethanol than it saves at the gas pump or when CO2 emissions are factored in. When an acre of land produces 14 gallons of ethanol from corn and 48 gallons from sweet sorghum (which seeds itself, improves the soil, does not need irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides or special harvesting machinery) it's hard to understand the thinking behind this issue. The only reason I, and others, can come up with is the money and protection the government offers large corn growers in the form of subsidies. The new farm bill only reinforces these policies. If you care about this at all, write, email or call your congressman and push him to reform the Farm Bill to benefit hungry people and family farmers. This article is also interesting to locovores: Forbidden Fruits and Vegetables
  12. You know, the best peeler I've ever owned is a Messermeister peeler that I bought at Williams-Sonoma for $5.95. This baby makes short work of butternut squash rinds-no protective gear or electricity needed. All this and I don't even have to go to the garage to peel them.
  13. Pyewacket

    Stollen

    My Mom always made wonderful stollen every Christmas. For us, it's just not Christmas without it. I've looked into purchasing them and they always disappoint, so now I've taken up the mantle and bake them for my family. Weaver Street Market in Carrboro, NC made the only one that I thought was worth buying, but it's been 10 years since I moved to NY and don't know whether they still do. But they were great! Lots of dried cherries soaked in Sherry, I think. Hearty on the bread side, but moist and intensely flavorful.
  14. Eat oats for breakfast every morning. If you don't like regular cooked rolled oats, try making muesli-equal parts grated fresh apples, rolled oats and skim, almond or rice milk. Granola is good too, but usually is high in fat and sugar.
  15. I love, love love! Fairway, that is, the one on 12th Ave. and 125th St. The employees are nice and helpful and they always seem to have enough registers open, so the lines are not unbearable. Unfortunately, the store on the UWS always seems to get on my last nerve! The people working there are almost as irritating as the folks who shop there. It seems every time I shop there, someone spills something on me. Last time, an employee dropped a bottle of balsamic vinegar which splashed all over me. I smelled like yesterday's salad for a week. No one offered to cover the dry cleaning bill either, even upon request. However, the Harlem store (cue the violins and angelic chorus) is the best grocery store ever. I drive over an hour to stock up on the fresh roasted coffee, olives, cheeses and single origin criollo and forestero chocolate. The seafood workers and butchers are especially great when I call to order 16 halibut filets that are all 6" wide by 4" deep and 1 3/8" thick (I'm a food stylist and often have to order food to fit the chosen plate that we'll be shooting on. Normally, I'm not that picky.) I also love the selection of Greek Yogurt and labne- not just Fage, but 3 or 4 others to choose from too. The deli is also great and no one bats an eye when I ask for Meerrettichrahmkase. Unfortunately, the deli's selection of Shaller and Weber deli meats has dwindled over the past years due to pressure from the ubiquitous Boar's Head brand I really miss being able to buy Nussschinken and thin slices of Bundnerfleisch. One thing I don't understand is why they put their packages of fresh herbs on the top shelf of the lettuce cooler-just out of reach. The result is that if I need to choose a bunch of pretty fresh herbs, I must stand of the lip of the cooler and knock a bunch of them down to find a good one. One more observation- while I think it's great that they provide jackets for you to wear inside the refrigerated section, it creeps me out to do so. Who knows what kind of parasites or skin ailments or baby wee-wee or poop has been in them or when they were last washed! I guess I get kind of a kinky thrill giving the butchers a peek at my "raisins".
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