The Return of the Milkman

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Remember the milkman?

Once a fixture of the early morning landscape, making deliveries to about a third of all households in the United States, the milkman was all but extinct as the 20th century drew to a close, with sales down to a paltry 0.4% of the retail dairy industry. It appeared that the milkman would remain a bit of quaint nostalgia for those old enough to remember, and younger generations would never know home delivery that doesn’t arrive in an Amazon box. […]

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Bespoke Granola

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Granola is a tricky little bugger.

It is so strongly associated with all things healthy and natural that the Urban Dictionary defines granola as an adjective used to describe people who are left-leaning, environmentally aware, and are inclined to forgo vaccines, body hair removal, and the consumption of animal products and by-products. But when it comes to healthy and natural, the truth is granola has been coasting on its reputation for years. […]

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Audible Edibles: radio food shows

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There’s something about listening to a food show on the radio.

Of course I am endlessly entertained by TV cooking shows: a little pseudo-cooking from a well-coiffed celebrity host in a pristine, Sub-Zero-sponsored kitchen; or maybe the high drama of competitive cooking looking all too easy with flashy knife skills and careful editing. It’s performance television, and most of us view it with the same slack-jawed passivity we assume when watching a CSI marathon. […]

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Hope you had a nice time in Pittsburgh. Don’t forget your goodie bags!

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Word is that the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies are eating very well in Pittsburgh. In keeping with the Obamas’ focus on local food economies and best practices in agriculture, the main G20 venues practice completely sustainable, local, and primarily organic food sourcing. […]

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Food52: an exercise in culinary crowdsourcing

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The old community cookbook is getting a 21st century makeover.
Long a fund raising staple of Junior Leagues, churches, and historical societies, collaborative cookbooks are nothing new. But with Food52, New York Times food columnist Amanda Hesser and freelance food writer and recipe-tester Merrill Stubbs have given the concept a very modern, web 2.0 twist. […]

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FOOD2: Not your mother’s Food Network

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For the generation that is more Epicurious than Joy of Cooking, the Food Network has launched an online alternative to the traditional cooking channel. Targeting the young and tech-savvy, Food2 blends traditional editorial formats, such as how-to video, with user-generated content. […]

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Lunchtime: Death by Internet

The British newspaper The Telegraph recently published a list of 50 things that are being killed by the Internet.

The list itemized some of the bygone civilities that we will miss: handwritten letters (#12); the pleasures of flipping through a photo album (#15): or listening to a record all the way through (#3). There were relics we haven’t noticed in years: telephone directories (#8); footnotes instead of links (#47); and street corner prostitution (#45). And a few significant losses that could drive a person to Ludditism: punctuality (#5); memory (#13); privacy (#31); and enforceable copyright protection (#22). […]

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What’s New With Toast?

photo courtesy of Smash It Up!

photo courtesy of Smash It Up!

 

The toaster recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of its invention.  It seems like a good time to reflect on the oft-overlooked workhorse of the kitchen.

That first toaster was dreamed up in 1909 by a technician at General Electric who was looking for a way to make stale bread more appealing. He devised a gadget with central heating elements surrounded by a wire cage to hold the bread; add a casing and a pop-up function and it is virtually indistinguishable from modern models. An immediate hit, it actually pre-dates commercially sliced bread by a few decades.

GE D12 toaster GE D12 toaster

Absent a true breakthrough in the past century, we have seen only minor tinkering with toasting technology. While the basic utility is unchanged– the bread gets brown and crispy–there are a few interesting bells and whistles out there.

This hand-held, portable toaster (above left) is brushed across the bread like a butter knife, browning the bread as it comes into contact with its surface. An LCD readout display of butterflies represents its toasting temperature. It operates cordlessly, and returns to its base charger after breakfast.

Patentee rotary toasterPatentee rotary toaster

Who else but the French would come up with a toaster that accommodates croissants, brioche, and le petit baguette? Looking like it would be more at home at a bingo game than in your kitchen, the wire cage of the Patentee rotary toaster (right) twirls bread and pastry above the heating element for uniform, toasty deliciousness.

Electrolux has not yet gone into production with its Scan Toaster (seen below), but imagine the possibilities: you can capture an RSS feed of the morning’s headlines, sup on the weather forecast, or maybe generate a post-breakfast to-do list. Inside the Scan Toast is a network of heated wires that align themselves to toast the surface of your bread with the desired content. They toast the pixelated image at a resolution high enough for text or photography.

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image - text - photographyimage                    text               photography

Have you ever wondered why we call it a toast when we raise a glass before we drink? It dates to an early Roman ritual (which goes even further back to the ancient Greeks, hemlock, wine, and the disposition of unwanted political rivals). A small bit of burnt toast was dropped into a glass before it was raised, to reduce the acidity and improve the palatability of inferior wine. And this does indeed work: toast’s surface is slightly carbonized by burning, creating a simple approximation of the oxygenated form of carbon contained in activated charcoal– not unlike the substance found in Brita and other water filtration systems.

If you haven’t had your fill of toast, head over to the Toaster Museum home of the world’s largest online toaster exhibition.

 

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Apple Farming: it ain’t what it used to be

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This week a new apple variety arrived in the market.
I know this because I read about it in a press release. That’s right, a fruit with a publicist. And a logo. And a facebook page.

If you’re wondering what’s going on here, look no further than the Honeycrisp. […]

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Reviewer Showdown 2.0: Zagat versus Yelp

photo courtesy of I'm Not Actually a Geek

photo courtesy of I'm Not Actually a Geek

The Zagat company history is now the stuff of legends: a dinner table conversation in 1979 with Tim and Nina Zagat’s wine-tasting group; the conversation turned to the restaurant reviews in the New York Times. 20 avid eaters seated around the table agree that a friend’s recommendation carries more weight than the opinion of the Times’ critic. And thus, the Zagat Survey was born. An instant success, the hand-typed and mimeographed sheets of legal paper (both Zagats being practicing lawyers at the time) containing the collective opinions of 200 friends from the wine group’s extended circle was soon circulating, free of charge, through the ranks of New York foodies. Charging for the guide, and the subsequent formation of a publishing company, just seemed like a good way for the young couple to get some tax deductions for their dining expenses. […]

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Could Vending Machines be Next?

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We saw it happen to food trucks. Those street corner fixtures, branded colloquially as “roach coaches,” became food world darlings in 2009. Instead of withered hot dogs of questionable origins, suddenly you could find pastured-beef burgers on brioche buns, duck-filled dumplings, goat cheese cheesecake, and sustainably-harvested fish tacos. The jangly tune of a Mr. Softee truck was replaced by Twitter tweets announcing truck locations and daily specials. Combining food-savvy, tech-savvy, and political correctness, a new breed of entrepreneurs elevated humble and much-maligned street food into a full-fledged culinary phenomenon. […]

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Mappy Hour. Because it’s always cocktail hour somewhere.

photo courtesy of www.mybeerluck.blogspot.com

photo courtesy of www.mybeerluck.blogspot.com

Tired of the same old watering holes? Looking to explore one of the newly cool neighborhoods in town but not sure where to go? Mappy Hour is a nifty little tool that works with an extensive database of happy hour hotspots in cities around the globe (44,994 at last count) , and shows their locations on a Google map. Type in a city, state, country, postal or zip code and Mappy Hour will map the fifty happy hours closest to your location. A click anywhere on the map will generate fifty more little beer glass icons for the new location. […]

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Augmented reality takes Yelp’s new phone app to the next level

photo courtesy of Metro Macs Kansas City

photo courtesy of Metro Macs Kansas City

Think of reality as a spectrum. On one end, we have the real world. At the other end is the computer-generated environment of virtual reality. Augmented reality falls somewhere in the middle, with real-time, computer-generated audio, video, and other sense enhancements superimposed on the physical world. […]

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Will Tweet for Food

twitter

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Marketers have long understood the value of tastemakers- individuals with large social and professional spheres who possess great peer influence. The marketing concept is to provide new and innovative products and services to these key individuals in the hope that they will endorse and promote them within their spheres. […]

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Winemaking and Reality Television: a most unusual pairing

048ec4aa29e54e5a8bb5d338322dfb58Later this month, PBS debuts The Wine Makers. Airing nationwide during California Wine Month, the show takes 12 contestants to Paso Robles along the Central Coast (the wine-growing region seen in the movie Sideways), where they compete in a series of wine-making elimination rounds. They work the harvest, the crush, staff a wine tasting bar, and demonstrate their wine smarts in a Q&A round. The last wine maker standing wins the opportunity to launch a wine label with 150,000 bottle production. […]

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Caffeine: It’s not just for coffee anymore.

image courtesy of AlmaNewsimage courtesy of AlmaNews

We do love the buzz. Whether we’re waking up to a morning cup of coffee or popping open a can of Diet Coke for an afternoon pick-me-up, caffeine is our drug of choice. It has psychoactive qualities, is highly addictive, and we just can’t seem to get enough. […]

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Check your food odometer

odometer

We’ve all heard the benefits of local foods, from taste and freshness to preserving open space and contributing to local economies. And we know intuitively that there is something wrong about eating air-freighted raspberries in the dead of winter or apples trucked cross-country when they grow in all 50 states. Now we have a concrete measure, as food miles enters the enlightened lexicon. […]

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Ever feel like you missed your true calling?

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Travel Oregon, the state’s tourism commission, is hoping to bring attention to Oregon’s culinary landscape with an unusual promotion.

Seven lucky winners will each be awarded the opportunity to shadow one of Oregon’s culinary luminaries for a week-long, all expenses paid internship. […]

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The New Word of Mouth: Food Apps

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It took nearly 4 decades for radio to reach 50 millions users and 13 years for television to reach that mark. Contrast that with today when Apple can sell 50 million iPods every 6 months, Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months, and 1 billion iPhone applications were downloaded from Apple’s iTunes’ App Store in its first 9 months. […]

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Would you take tech recommendations from this blogger?

Such irony that the launch of my new blog was delayed by technical difficulties (ahem… that would be my difficulties with the technology). But maybe that’s the point of all of this; that our ability to exploit the richness of contemporary food culture is hampered by its own vastness and complexity.

Dinner has gone global. And local. It’s reviewed online by professional critics and by thousands of citizen journalists. It’s created in laboratory kitchens around the globe and by artisanal practitioners around the corner. It’s organic and fairly-traded, dolphin-safe and bird-friendly, shade-grown and sustainable, carbon-neutral and recyclable. Or not.

Gigabiting.com is here to meet you at the intersection of food and technology. You’ll discover the latest cooking gadgets and the hottest dining trends, apps for your phone and blogs to read. I’ll be foraging online to bring you the finest in food shopping and the freshest in food news.

Food meets culture and technology: it’s how we eat in the 21st century.

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