Words and Pictures: Illustrated Food Blogs


We have camera flashes going off in restaurants. Food blogs are full of lush, color-saturated close-ups of food at its most delicious: the drizzle of olive oil glistens atop a gorgeous plate of ripe tomatoes; the charred flecks of the bruléed sugar crust has us practically listening for the crackle as spoon meets custard.

Illustrated food blogs can feel like a relief after the sensory overload of too much food porn. […]

Posted in blogging, media | 4 Comments

Tweet and Eat: Dinner in 140 Characters


Recipe tweets, or twecipes, are incredible feats of verbal compression.

To make the 140 character cut, the recipe has to be reduced to its essence, trimmed and edited, and then trimmed again. Every keystroke has to pull its weight; each word should vibrate with economy.

The best twecipes are models of clarity and usefulness. […]

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Daily Deals for Dining: Groupon and its many imitators


Everyone loves a bargain.

Just 21 months old, the online social shopping service Groupon has signed up 12 million subscribers, adding nearly two million more each month. It’s grown to more than 1,000 employees, has been profitable since June 2009, and recently attracted a $135 million dollar round of investment from the venture capital group behind Facebook. (Gigabiting first looked at the Groupon phenomenon when it reached the one million subscriber mark) […]

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The Secret Life of Groceries

image via AppAdvice

Your Cheerios belong to a social network.

So do your Nestle chocolate chips, your Organic Valley Lowfat Sour Cream, and the box of Ronzoni linguine on your pantry shelf.

If you think about it, your groceries have always had a story to tell. The manufacturer provides a list of ingredients, nutritional content, what the package contents look like, where it was made, maybe a recipe or two if there is room on the box.

But what if that story wasn’t limited to the packaging? And the narration came from users? And the story could be told through images, video, tweets, and web links? […]

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Tipping Karma: Your Tipping Habits Made Public


Do you tip a straight 15%? Do you bump it up to 20% or more for really good service? Not to worry; you should be in the clear.

Bad tippers take note. They’re naming names.

If you are rude, if you are demanding, if you totally stiff your server, you just might find your name making the rounds in cyberspace on a list of bad tippers. Waiters, bartenders, even pizza delivery guys all have their go-to websites for rants and revenge, pulling transaction details from credit card receipts and posting them anonymously. The tweets could be flying before you get your car back from the valet parker (and yes, they have their own site).

Find out what your servers really think of you.

Waiter Rant has made an industry of tipping tales with a popular blog and a best-selling book, Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip – Confessions of a Cynical Waiter. Here you’ll learn how the car you drive tells the world what kind of tipper you are, and why the check for your table of 6 included a gratuity charge.

Bitter Waitress pulls no punches with posts like Man and Fat Wife’s Anniversary, and Stop Coddling the Whiny, Bitchy People.

Is your name among the thousands of entries in the Lousy Tippers Database? With the ominous subtitle ‘There is a Consequence,’ let’s hope not.

Another place that servers go to share is the Facebook page Bad Tippers Suck! where they like to remind you that there is no such things as over-tipping.

Celebrity Tipping: the stuff of legend.

All eyes are on them as they stride in with entourage and attitude. They are fully aware of the scrutiny, the flash of cell phone cameras, the gossip that moves at the speed of light. But still, they engage in heinous acts of tip stiffing. Such hubris! Of course their servers are only too happy to share sordid tales of rude behavior and lousy tips.

Sullen, petulant Russell Crowe appears on the list of the 10 best celebrity tippers while perpetually cheery Rachael Ray is one of the 10 worst. Go figure.

Stained Apron identifies celebrities as ‘Saints’ and ‘Scum,’ claiming that tipping habits are the true test of inner peace and civility. We could have guessed about Uma Thurman, but it’s nice to know that the former members of the Village People wear the halo. It seems that most members of Congress are going to hell, but we already knew that.

Here’s a tip: don’t wait until you see your name on a bad tippers’ database to give a jolt to your conscience. From sommeliers to tattoo artists, find out the appropriate gratuity for all the service workers in your life with these tipping guidelines.


Posted in cyberculture, restaurants | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Best Restaurant Websites

And the winner is….

We know what we don’t like in restaurant website design: graphics that are slow to load; music that’s on auto-play; clunky navigation that plays hide-and-seek with the information we’re looking for.

Here’s what we want: clean, uncluttered design; fast-loading graphics; logical navigation that brings us to the content.

Every once in a while a restaurant gets it right. It delivers a website that is both attractive and functional, and even works on mobile devices. After last week’s drubbing, when we looked at the worst of the online offenses committed in the name of restaurant marketing, it’s only fair that we give equal time to recognizing the restaurants that do it best. […]

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The F Word: Do you cringe when you hear it?


When the word first appeared, who would have thought it would be used as a slur? Foodie has a pleasingly egalitarian ring to it with none of the haughtiness of gourmet or the implied gluttony of gourmand. It’s not effete like epicure, and doesn’t suggest the scholarliness of a gastronome.

The first Foodies were rebels. They broke with the old-guard, with its formality and its singular attachment to French cuisine. Appreciation of food and wine was taken out of its context of formality. A Chinatown noodle joint could achieve the same stature as haute cuisine on the Upper East Side. A single peach could be as sublimely pleasurable as a Grand Marnier soufflé. The true foodie could properly enjoy both.

Where did we lose our way? […]

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Restaurant Websites: You can do better. Much better.

Listen up, restaurants.

There’s a serious problem with your websites. You lavish attention on the details of food and service, but you put a website out there that would shame a first-year design student with its slow-loading graphics, clunky navigation, and forced downloads. Come on people, first impressions. Don’t you get it?

Here, in no particular order, are our top pet peeves:

Auto-play music: What is this, 1998? That’s the last time that unsolicited music that loaded with a site was kind of fun, kind of novel. Now it’s just annoying.

Flash abuse: You can do the darnedest things with flash these days. Look at all those animated special effects with the twirling, dancing logo. Love the slideshow of  arty closeups. Lucky me with all this time to admire it while I wait for the damned thing to load!

Pre-home page: The home page has finally loaded and I’ll be able to find the information I am looking for. Nope, just a lot of animated frippery and a click to ‘Enter Site.’ I thought that’s what I was doing when I typed the URL and hit ‘enter.’

Hide and seek with the essentials: Don’t make me count off the clicks until I get to the address, phone number, and hours of operation, all scattered throughout the site. Here’s a thought— how about keeping the information together and putting it all on that fancy pre-home page?

The menu: Are you honestly asking me to download a pdf of your menu? It’s not just a nuisance– if I’m on my phone, a metered data plan will make me pay for this privilege.

Get a clue about mobile devices: Hello? Doesn’t anyone in the kitchen have a smartphone?

Clean, fast-loading, logical, easy to navigate, mobility-enabled. Get it?



Posted in cyberculture, food business | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Food Photography: Have you had your fill?


Everything he ate

Back in 2004 it was a novel concept. Tucker Shaw snapped a photo before taking a bite of every single meal for a full year and published the collection as Everything I Ate: A Year in the Life of My Mouth.

The book fascinated on a number of levels. We gawked at Shaw’s love affair with the dizzying array of dining options in his hometown of New York. We were charmed by the inside joke of his nearly nightly bowl of cold cereal. It was quirky and tedious and funny and repetitive, and it challenged you to put it down before you looked up what he ate on your birthday that year. […]

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Other People’s Refrigerators: Let’s look inside.


They say that the eyes are the window to the soul…I say, look inside the refrigerator.

Refrigerators are as individual as fingerprints. More than the clothes we wear or the cars that we drive, the food in our refrigerators speaks of income and education, age and health, religion and ethnicity, even where we like to go on vacation. Refrigerators can be treasure troves of exotica or wastelands of deprivation. They can speak of careful planning or organized chaos. They can remind us that we are overscheduled or underpaid. And sometimes they just scream Take out the trash!

The magnets we stick on the door, the stash of Girl Scout cookies, the science project growing in the back of the produce bin; refrigerators combine public display, private pleasures, and dirty secrets. It’s that combination that tempts us to peep. […]

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Kitchen Hacks

image courtesy of Unrealities

Hackers have a bad reputation.

We think of disaffected, anti-social teenagers looking to wreak a little havoc on society, and bottom-rung hoodlums in former eastern bloc countries trolling online for credit cards.

Hackers with a higher calling.

Wikipedia defines hacking as re-configuring or re-programming to give the user access to features that were otherwise unavailable. Hackers are credited with vast improvements to functionality. They devise elegant solutions that elevate clumsy technology to an art form.

Nefarious criminal uses, according to Wikipedia, are more correctly called ‘cracking’. […]

Posted in appliances + gadgets, cyberculture | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Yelping Without a Net


Notice anything different on Yelp? Beginning this week, you can read reviews that the site’s automatic filtering system had previously hidden from view.

Did you think that Yelp was a level playing field? Silly you.

Yelp has been stung by charges that it manipulates its users’ feedback to favor businesses that advertise on the site. The review site insists that its filter serves to maintain the integrity of the site by screening out reviews that are biased and untrustworthy, such as positive reviews written by the business itself or negative reviews that come from a competitor. […]

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I’ll Get the Next Round:


Pabst Blue Ribbon is:

a) a blue-collar favorite decades past its heyday; or

b) the hippest, hottest beer around.

If you were born much before 1980 you probably missed this one.                             […]

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Tweet ‘n Eat

image courtesy of City Food Magazine

image courtesy of City Food Magazine

Are you a Twitter skeptic?

Have you been slow to warm to the charms of microblogging?
We all know the pitfalls: the time-sucking potential; the relentless stream of random messages; the trivial, navel-gazing quality of too many tweets.

It’s time to stop blaming the messenger! […]

Posted in gadgets, phone applications, social media | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Do You Eat Like a Conservative or a Liberal?


Remember the defining moment in the 2008 election? In the still wide field of Democratic presidential candidates, the senator from Illinois strode into a Rural Issues Forum on a farm outside of Des Moines, Iowa and asked this question:
Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?
That’s when we knew that Barack Obama was a foodie like us.

It turns out that Democrats do like arugula. And Thai food. And brie. […]

Posted in food trends, social media | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Such a deal!


Wheeling a shopping cart through Costco piled high with enormous bottles of olive oil and 24 can cases of tuna fish.
That’s what most of us think of buying in bulk.
Groupon is looking to change that with its bargain-hunting meets social media mashup. […]

Posted in food business, shopping, social media, Web 2.0 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Must love sandwiches


Sexy ovo-lacto vegetarian on the hunt for the perfect creme brulee.

- ad courtesy of TuttiPersonals/

Would you date someone who doesn’t like Chinese Food? Or chocolate? Or wine?
What if you’re chevre on a crusty baguette and they’re Velveeta on white? You’re low carbs and they’re pancake breakfasts?

Forget about personality types, pheromones, and horoscope signs; true compatibility is all about the food. […]

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Message in a bottle (140 characters or less)

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Twitter is launching a wine label.
The micro-blogging social media site is venturing into wine making as a side project and charitable endeavor. Twitter has partnered with Crushpad, a DIY winery and Bay Area neighbor to produce a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay. Bottled under the label Fledgling Wine, $5 from each $20 bottle sold will benefit Room to Read, a non-profit organization that extends literacy and educational opportunities to children in the world’s poorest regions. […]

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Gourmet, Unbound: an online celebration of a magazine’s legacy


The food world has been reeling from the shock.
On October 5, 2009 Condé Nast announced that Gourmet will cease monthly publication due to a decline in advertising sales and shifting food interests among the readership . The magazine’s November 2009 issue, distributed in mid-October, was the magazine’s last. […]

Posted in recipes, social media, Web 2.0 | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Night Owls Rejoice.

Open 24 Hours 23 x 23 Neon Sign

Jet lag. Insomnia. Jonesing for a a 3 am patty melt.

Whatever the reason, it’s an ungodly hour and you’re awake. And hungry.
It used to be that you’d get in your car and drive around looking for the neon light of a diner, flashing its greasy beacon of all-night dining. But now we have, a map-based site that features businesses that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. […]

Posted in phone applications, restaurants, social media, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment
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