Posts tagged ‘restaurant’
By Chad Upton | Editor
If you’ve ever flown first class or eaten at a first class restaurant, you’ve probably been handed a wet towel. The first time this happens, you’ll probably be confused and look to others for guidance on what to do with it.
Generally, it is used to clean your hands. This tradition comes from Japan, where “oshibori” (wet towels) are handed out before meals, to clean hands. In Japanese restaurants, they may be hot or cold, depending on the season. Some people may also use the towels to clean their face.
This tradition has been expanded outside of Japanese restaurants where the practice varies greatly. In Western restaurants, wet towels may be served beforeand/or after the meal — to clean your fingers and around your mouth. According to Etiquette Scholar, it is not polite to clean beyond these areas, such as your neck or behind your ears, in a restaurant.
Many airlines offer wet towels, particularly in first class. They are sometimes offered immediately after takeoff, which is standard in first class on British Airways, among others. These towels are usually hot, but may be cold if you’ve just boarded from a particularly hot environment or if the cabin air conditioning is out-of-order. At this time, they are useful to clean your hands before eating or to clean the travel sweat off your skin (forehead, back of your neck, etc.). On longer flights, wet towels may also be served after a meal or just prior to landing.
Wet towels are traditionally made from cotton and moistened with water. Lemon juice is sometimes added to the water for its fragrance and degreasing properties. In recent years, pre-moistened disposable towels have gained popularity and are often wrapped in a plastic package. These towels come unscented and in a variety of fragrances. They sometimes contain other cleaning solutions such as alcohol.
The next time you’re given a wet towel, you can tell everyone what it’s for and where this tradition came from.
If you’re interested in a particularly long, fairly humorous and sometimes snobby discussion about wet towels, you’ll love this thread on FlyerTalk.com.
Photo: Christopher Doyle (cc attribution)
By Chad Upton | Editor
Last year, President Obama introduced the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is part of the health care reform of 2010.
Although we hear a lot about the controversial parts of this reform, there are variety of lesser known, albeit interesting, changes that will be phased in through 2018.
Some restaurants have already complied with one new regulation that requires them to show caloric values next to items on their menu. I noticed that Panera is already on board and my wife reminded me that Olive Garden has done the same. This is a bold move and it confirms that anything Alfredo is both the best and worst thing that Olive Garden serves.
There are some other interesting changes too; here’s an abbreviated timeline:
- Employers will have to disclose the value of the benefits they provide to their employees.
- Tighter restrictions on corporate payments to individuals and other corporations, designed to prevent tax evasion and raise an estimated $17 billion over 10 years.
- Individual salaries over $200,000 and families with income over $250,000 will see a tax increase of 0.5%.
- Insurers can’t discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions.
- Insurers can’t set annual spending caps.
- Chain restaurants and vendors with 20 or more locations are required to show calorie count on menus and displays (additional nutritional info must also be available upon request).
- Expand eligibility for Medicaid.
- Changes to tax-free contribution limit on flex spending accounts.
- Require that everyone has health insurance.
- Penalize companies with more 50 full time employees if they do not provide insurance to those employees.
- States can apply to waive certain sections of the law if they mandate coverage that is as comprehensive and affordable.
- Existing health insurance plans must cover approved preventive care without co-payment.
- Individuals who spend more than $10,200 ($27,500 for families) annually on health insurance will see an additional tax on those “Cadillac” plans.
This list was by no means comprehensive, although I did try to include the most notable changes. The details of these changes have been abbreviated and you should see the sources for additional reading on the provisions that may affect you.
Image: kobo4lila (cc)
By Chad Upton | Editor
Chipotle Mexican Grill is a popular fast food restaurant with more than 1000 locations in the United States, Canada and England.
For those who don’t know, they are well known for using fresh and healthy ingredients. For the most part, they use meat from animals that are free range, fed vegetarian diets and raised without antibiotics, hormones or arsenic, not to mention vegetables that are organic and locally produced.
If you’ve read or seen Fast Food Nation (2001/2006), you’ll know that most fast food chains do not operate like this. They source the cheapest meats possible, which often come from animals raised in the least healthy ways. If you’ve seen the documentary Food Inc (2008), Chipotle is painted as a very different kind of fast food chain.
That’s why it’s so surprising that McDonald’s once owned a majority share.
Chipotle was started in 1993 by a chef named Steve Ells. The first store was in Denver Colorado, followed by a few more Denver stores in 1995 and five more in 1996. The chain was growing quickly, so they accepted outside investors in 1998, including McDonald’s.
Because the chain was expanding so quickly, it made a lot of sense for McDonald’s to invest. The funding helped Chipotle expand even more quickly, going from 16 stores in 1998 to 500 in just 8 years.
In January of 2006, Chipotle went public on the New York Stock Exchange. It was the second most successful public offering for a restaurant, second to Boston Chicken (now Boston Market), which was another McDonald’s property. McDonald’s divested its interest in both companies in October 2006 to focus on the McDonald’s brand.
It should be noted that Chipotle chose to sponsor the documentary Food Inc. Although, it’s not know if it was the chicken or the egg, that is if Chipotle was painted in such a positive light because they were a sponsor or if they sponsored and promoted the film because it made them look good. The sponsorship was announced almost two months after the film was released, so it’s plausible the sponsorship was an effort to promote the film because it was so favorable to Chipotle.
Photo: Mr. T in DC (cc)
If you’re ever ordered a taco salad, it has probably been served in a giant bowl made from a taco shell. Nachos are often served with smaller versions of these tortilla bowls to hold sour cream and salsa.
My friend Scott worked in a restaurant back in our high school days. While we were having dinner one night I asked him how they did it.
For the smaller sized dipping bowls, they would take two ladles, put one ladle cup inside of the other while sandwiching a small tortilla shell between them. Then they would hang on to the handles and dip the other end into the deep fryer. After a short amount of time they would remove the ladles from the fryer; as the tortilla cooled, it would hold its shape. It was a good bowl, but it was a great deep fried bowl shaped nacho when that last bit of salsa was left at the bottom.
Here’s a good secret for Thanksgiving dinner or the next meal you cook. I learned this during a cooking class from the experts:
Never serve hot food on a cold plate!
Have you ever sat on a bench when it’s cold outside? Your butt gets cold almost instantly! The same thing happens to your really hot food when you put it on a (comparatively) cold plate.
When you’re at a restaurant, what does the server say whenever they bring your food? “Watch this plate, it’s extremely hot.” They’re not trying to burn you, they just want your food to stay hot while you eat it.
Even buffets respect the warm plate. You know the hole at the end of the buffet that the plates magically rise from (see photo)? That’s not there for ergonomics, that’s a plate warmer.
So, if you’re not doing it already, here is a list of ways to get your plates warm.
- Buy a plate warmer ($35 and up).
- Many ovens have a warming drawer underneath. No, that isn’t a cookie-sheet graveyard.
- Set your cook-top on low heat and lay the plates on top.
- Rinse the plates in really hot water, then dry them.
- Some dishwashers have a plate warmer function, otherwise run the rinse cycle on high heat with a heated dry cycle.
- Put them in the microwave for a short time.
I should also say that the opposite is true, don’t serve cold food on hot plates. For example, when you go to a buffet and they have hot bowls for your “hard” ice cream.
Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!
Disclaimer: some dishes may not be suitable for some of these methods. Check with the manufacturer to be sure.
Photo Credit: LexnGer (flickr/creative commons/attribution)