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Chez Panisse Bans Bottled Water


Pontormo
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There's a middle ground between drinking and discarding 25 tiny bottles imported from Fiji each day, and drinking tap water even if it kills you.

and, to the point of the thread, condemning a restaurateur because she's happy with the filtered water she gets from the tap.

I, too, buy bottled water. I live in a '30s house in a '30s neighborhood and the pipes are loaded with minerals. fine for cleaning and not bad for cooking, but the taste isn't as good as it could be. thank goodness for the sparkletts man.

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The water I get from my San Pellegrino bottle can't be replicated in my home without expensive equipment.

I have no knowledge in that area, but I'm wondering what equipment would be required. Is there more involved than just carbonating the water?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I was perusing an interesting book on water. it was a guide written in the format of many guides on wine. It noted many of the different waters available and discussed each based upon it taste which was in turn, supported by the chemical composition of each water. It mineral content or lack thereof its salinity and other factors.

I guess the extreme example would be waters that have a large amount of sulphur. I spent summers in Philadelphia and I can tell you I had to be pretty thirsty to drink that stuff! (also Florida is noted for this).

I didn't purchase it (I have too many guides and while I can appreciate water I am not sure I want to become an active "connoisseur") I will track it down and provide the info here.

Since San Pellegrino for eg, has a certain "taste" based on its chemical composition so just adding the "right" amount of fizz is not going to impact flavor.

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I believe the number, just for the US, is 30 million plastic bottles thrown in the trash per day.

The lack of bottle deposit recycling laws for non-carbonated beverages is a huge issue outside the scope of this discussion but there are only a few states with such laws despite many having bottle deposit laws of all carbonated products. I can easily recall the days before the deposit law in NY state - soft drink and beer bottles and cans were a huge litter problem. Not anymore - at a nickel a bottle there are peopel spending long days scooping them up. I know that is not the ultimate solution we should work towards but it's beter than seeing them go into landfills.

And in many states the standard practice is to toss them out. Where I live most conscientious folks recycle all plastic containers but not everywhere (when I lived in NJ it appeared that few peopel in my community bothered to do so).

Tap water, placed in a reusable bottle, is also transportable. You can even drink it while driving.

True - and I rarely buy bottled flat water - I reuse bottles and refill them from a filtered source.

There's already water coming out of your tap. No need to return to an agrarian society. Just turn it on.

My GF lives sixty miles away - just outside of Ithaca NY (she is on well water). Her water is so bad you wouldn't even dare to cook your pasta in it - it's not drinkable even with filtering (unless your taste buds were destroyed in some tragic industrial accident). We don't all live in places where it's possible, practical or even remotely desirable to drink the tap water. I'm lucky that I do.

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Will they charge corkage if a patron brings their own bottle?

Given the type of caps bottled water uses, the appropriate term would be "screwage."

I'm with eje -- Incanto's been doing the same thing for years. Personally, I'm hoping there's a trickle-down effect. :laugh:

It may have been unrelated but when I went to a high-end SF restaurant this weekend, I noticed a much less aggressive approach when water was offered. Tap wasn't even mentioned a year ago. The old ask was, "What would you like a bottle of, still or sparkling water?" (Not an exact quote.) It could have been our particular server this weekend but I appreciated him including tap as an option. (No mention of filtration though.)

I'm going to CP (downstairs) in a few weeks and am very much looking forward to having my choices limited by Alice Waters, especially given that it's going to save me a few dollars.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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I do buy bottled water, though. Every few months I get a few bottles so I can fill the bottles with water from my Brita pitcher. After reusing the bottles a hundred or so times, they get kind of gross so I buy new ones. I'd happily buy them without the water in them, but that doesn't seem to be an option.

Ha! Nice to see that there's somebody else that serves lovely bottles of "Fiji" water at every meal but nobody ever realizes it's Brita. :biggrin:

I want to get some of those cool sterling silver Fiji-shaped water bottle holders.

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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I do buy bottled water, though. Every few months I get a few bottles so I can fill the bottles with water from my Brita pitcher. After reusing the bottles a hundred or so times, they get kind of gross so I buy new ones. I'd happily buy them without the water in them, but that doesn't seem to be an option.

Ha! Nice to see that there's somebody else that serves lovely bottles of "Fiji" water at every meal but nobody ever realizes it's Brita. :biggrin:

I want to get some of those cool sterling silver Fiji-shaped water bottle holders.

our local fancy grocery sells these european fruit drinks that come in wine-shaped bottles with rat-trap enclosures. teh drink is crap, but the bottle is very nice. i've got 4 of them, fill them with water and chill them good for dinner parties.

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Bottled water is an important solution to unhealthy water in many regions, possibly in more places than not. Traveling in Mexico as a child (twenty years ago), I noticed two bottles of mineral water in every bathroom of every hotel; no matter the class nor remoteness of the location. Years later, I encountered water on the road in India that looked like milk! Clearly bottled water is an important necessity for many. For others, like much of coastal Florida, the sulphur content of what I grew up referring to as “egg water” is something that any restauranteur should go to great lengths to improve upon for his or her customer.

In other places I’ve lived, New Orleans and currently Arkansas, I have had both, award winning tap waters and the availability of local spring waters….trucked and bottled yes, but around the state, not around the country or overseas. I think that different circumstances and different regions, which there are myriad, should all be viewed individually. If our choices were limited to local tap or local spring, water quality would become more important in contributing to the nature of place and the “terroir of location;” a piece of the memory of each place.

I remember talking with a colleague who is a few years my senior. He was fondly recalling traveling as a child and eagerly seeking out the different varieties of candy available in different regions of the country. Big Candy has pretty much insured that all the same stuff is available everywhere. This is the kind of monotonization that SLOW FOOD, and I think Alice Waters have endeavored to resist. The elimination of unnecessary fossil fuel and other waste is a convenient, but important byproduct of reducing our needs for packaging and moving things around the world.

A quote from the Chez Panisse website follows:

There is a profound disconnection between the kind of human experience that our society values, and the way we actually live our lives. Most people submit unthinkingly to dehumanizing experiences of food-in workplace cafeterias, food courts, and fast food chains. How can one marvel at the world and then feed oneself in a completely unmarvelous way? I think it's because we don't learn the vital relationship of food to agriculture and of food to culture, and how food affects the quality of our everyday lives. 

It seems fairly evident throughout this thread that the water quality in Berkley is good. Having spent an evening appreciating the work that comes out of her kitchen, I am pretty comfortable letting Alice Waters make a judgment on the quality of water she would provide me. It is a bold decision; this thread proves that, but it is also a huge step on the path that she has taken all along.

Additionally, I think that the in-house seltzer machine is a nuance that takes her water service to the next level.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I had unfortunatetly the poorest meal ever in Chez Panisse last year in March. I think they should ban their food as well.

A part from that, we in our restaurant use 15lt water bottles, we poor the water in glass bottles as the demand goes. Then the company that sells water come back pick up the empty ones and recycle.

This was our solution and steps forward to preserve the environment; but never I will talk about it to advertise my restaurant. Bad commercial move!!!

Matt

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  • 2 years later...

According to a report on NPR tonight, Chez Panisse stopped selling still bottled water to its patrons months ago. As the general manager of the restaurant explained, the environmental impact of bottling and shipping water from Europe was of concern, especially since a perfectly good alternative comes out of the faucet.

Her business's move is very much in the spirit of one of the author's major arguments for eating local as much as one can.

Is bottling and shipping water from Europe really that much worse for the enviorment than bottling and shipping wine fromm Europe? If you look at Chez Panisse's winelist, most of their wines come from Europe even though CP is located so close to the Napa Valley. What could be more local than Napa Valley wine?

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According to a report on NPR tonight, Chez Panisse stopped selling still bottled water to its patrons months ago. As the general manager of the restaurant explained, the environmental impact of bottling and shipping water from Europe was of concern, especially since a perfectly good alternative comes out of the faucet.

Her business's move is very much in the spirit of one of the author's major arguments for eating local as much as one can.

Is bottling and shipping water from Europe really that much worse for the enviorment than bottling and shipping wine fromm Europe? If you look at Chez Panisse's winelist, most of their wines come from Europe even though CP is located so close to the Napa Valley. What could be more local than Napa Valley wine?

I don't think we can really equate water with wine. If there are differences between potable water in California and say France or Italy, I'd guess those differences would be negligible when compared to the difference between wines in Cali and France or Italy. I'm sure I don't need to point this out, but wine's a lot more complex than water as are the cultural differences/preferences that go into making it. A well-made burgundy is one of a kind and some people just want a well made burgundy. I don't think the same goes for water.

Of course they could just pour wines from Napa, but they don't want to. I'm not going to blast them for this, because even though I try to eat as locally as possible, there are many things even in the summer when produce is abundant to me that I still get imported or from who knows where, like turkish bay leaves, salt, citrus fruit, liqueurs, pepper corns, fermented black beans, etc. I'm not going to go without these things and that's a fact of life that I think Chez Panisse probably understands. It's not local or nothing, even for CP.

nunc est bibendum...

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