As a food editor, I get a decent number of invitations to “eat this” and “see that” and “read this.” Here’s a collection of my favorite things happening in food this week, from recipes to cookbooks to rooftop bars opening, at last, for Summer.
Happy Hour at Amada in NYC
I would like to personally thank chef Jose Garces for opening a NYC outpost of his beloved Amada in Philadelphia. Of course, it hits all the right food notes, but on those days where office life is particularly insane, I live for the eight dollar tapas and strong drinks served up at Amada's happy hour. Bonus: its location at the newly hot-spot-ified Brookfield Place is a five minute walk from my office. If only happy hour started at lunchtime.
Back to the Roots Self-Watering Planter
I love this product AND the company that makes it. First, the company: Back to the Roots was founded by two college classmates who bonded over the awe-inspiring discovery that mushrooms could grow out of recycled coffee. From there, Back to the Roots' mission was born: "to make food personal again and inspire families to ask "Where does my food come from?"
Now, the Self-Watering Planter: It's the company's latest product launch and allows urban gardeners to grow organic tomatoes at home. (Self-watering peppers and peas are next.) It works like this: an unglazed clay olla pot - a microporous container used by desert farmers in North Africa for thousands of years - is buried in the soil and automatically releases water when the surrounding soil dries up, thereby eliminating runoff, evaporation and water loss. Put one in your windowsill, water once a week, and enjoy fresh tomatoes. P.S. Your kids will love this, too.
Tiki with a Twist
Having a party? Buy this book and make one or ten of its 75 colorful cocktails. From the fruity Very Berry Brazil Cachaca cocktail to the cool Seascape Almond Slush and Caribbean Dreamsicle, there's something fun and surprising for every taste. Plus, the pictures are pretty (so it makes a great host gift).
This month, the popular casual restaurant chain announced it will change its Endless Salad Bar - a Sizzler staple since 1970 - to a Craft Salad Bar that will feature sustainable salmon, an ingredient list that's 80% GMO-free, and a number of healthy salad alternatives to its much-loved tacos and mac and cheese. Many of the new salads prominently feature Latin ingredients that, according to Tamra Scroggins, director of food culture at Sizzler, are part of guests' everyday food basket.
I previewed the salads a couple of weeks ago and they are not just 'healthy food good' (e.g. "I would eat this if I was on a diet"), they are regular food good (e.g. "I would eat this over a taco.") Try the creamy, spicy, perfectly textured Superfood Salad made of quinoa, kale, and cabbage tossed in cilantro-lime yogurt dressing and topped with black beans, peppers, pico de gallo, corn, and chopped jalapeno. Seriously, it's delish.
PackIt Freezable Picnic Tote
I love summer picnics and long days at the beach. I don't love the bulky picnic baskets - cute as they are - that TV advertisers and magazine ads showing happy families frolicking at the park would have us believe are the only option for food transport. They're impractical, uncomfortable, and don't keep foods cool.
This new picnic tote from PackIt is what those images should show. It keeps food and drinks cool for up to ten hours and stands upright so that beverages don't spill. A top flap unzips to reveal a dry compartment that stores accessories, utensils, and non-perishable snacks. Functional, stylish, and way more comfortable to carry than a square wicker box, it makes transporting your picnic and keeping its contents fresh a lot simpler.
Dreaming Tree Sauvignon Blanc
A crisp Sauvignon Blanc with tropical and passion fruit flavors is the latest addition to the Dreaming Tree portfolio of wines. Sustainably produced using California fruits and packed in eco-friendly bottles recycled labels, it's a perfect and affordable summer wine.
Swiss Diamond’s Roasting Set
I know what you're thinking: 'Roasting in summer?' And I get that it seems odd. But hear me out. Roasting is perfect for summer because it requires almost zero attention. You just stick your veggies or chicken or ham in the oven and let it - the oven - do all the work while you hang out by the pool or in the garden or wherever. And the best part is, leftover roast chicken and ham make awesome sandwiches for picnics.
So now that you're sold on roasting, you'll need a roasting pan. My favorite is by Swiss Diamond. It's cast aluminum so it distributes heat evenly and it's got a non-stick coating that makes cleanup fast and easy. Again, no wasting valuable summertime in the kitchen.