Food Republic Where Food, Drink & Culture Unite Fri, 29 Jul 2016 15:00:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tea Service And Michelin Stars Are Just Two Reasons To Stay At The Merrion Hotel In Dublin, Ireland Fri, 29 Jul 2016 15:00:46 +0000 In Hungry Concierge, we travel the world to spot hotels that operate with their guests’ food and drink needs squarely in mind — hotels, both big and small, that are located in neighborhoods rich with bar and restaurant options. Because there’s nothing worse than having your trip derailed by crummy room service.

Thirty years ago, heading to Ireland to stay in a five-star hotel and dine on some of the best food in Europe wasn’t on anyone’s agenda. Oh, how times have changed. This fact proves especially true when it comes to eating in Dublin, and no, we don’t mean just nibbling on braised cabbage and downing pint after pint of frothy Guinness…though that’s fun, too. Instead, taste the bounty of the Emerald Isle at trendy eateries around town and witness how elevated cuisine melds with works of art at the Merrion Hotel in the city’s center. Whether you decide to stay at this lauded property or not, you should at least make an effort to eat there for both tea and supper.

Whether you’re staying at the hotel or not, tea service at the Merrion is a must when in Dublin.

The former takes place in the drawing room, which, like the venue, speaks to the late 18th century and features a handful of the hotel owners’ personal Irish art collection. Said art is part of the inspiration for pastry chef Paul Kelly’s art tea, an afternoon event that starts out like any other high tea. This means a pot of your choice from a list composed by the hotel’s two tea masters; piles of perfectly made scones with plenty of clotted cream and jam; tiny tea sandwiches like the Shanagarry smoked salmon with lemon glenilen butter and O’Donovan’s loin of ham with tarragon and Dalkey mustard; fresh slices of lemon cake and portercake; and a glass of champagne if you feel so inclined.

But wait, there’s more. After you experience this elegant feast, the smiling server will bring you the art portion of the meal, a spread that includes three expertly made pastries modeled after three works in the hotel’s collection. On a visit this past April, Kelly worked with the paintings Gombeen Men by John Boyd, Frying Pan, Funnel, Eggs & Lemons by William Scott and Path Mo’orea by Pauline Bewick. For the Boyd, Kelly stacked lemon and raspberry mousses, much like the strip of color found on the painting, and topped it with a custard-filled berry. He basically painted the picture in sugar for the Scott piece and took a delicate pastry puff and layered chocolate “trees” to represent the palms in Bewick’s painting. The creative desserts turned out to be art in themselves, but tasty-looking enough to devour. As a bonus, if you wish to learn more about the art beyond what’s made into pastry, book a private tour of the collection with a representative from the National Art Gallery, located right across the street.

After such a lavish afternoon spread, you will want to rest up considering an equally impressive dinner awaits. Said dinner takes place at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant (the only one in Ireland) featuring chef Guillaume Lebrun, who has been there since it opened in 1981. Funnily enough, the Merrion didn’t open until 1997, after Guilbaud had already garnered one star for his restaurant. Guilbaud moved his eatery over to the hotel as soon as it started running, and it’s there that the venue picked up the second star. Currently, the space’s design scheme lies in limbo as an impending remodel is in the works, but for now you can relax in the natural-toned dining room at one of the handful of round, sturdy tables, a heavy-set style throwback to the early 1990s.

When dining at the restaurant, consider the carefully curated French menu, a list that has featured items such as the surprising and perfect blue-lobster ravioli with split-curry dressing; king crab and cucumber maki with gin and mint; Wicklow lamb resting in a Basque pepper stew; and a filet of Irish beef paired with roasted foie gras. Desserts also stun, if for the plating alone. With psychedelic creations including the cosmic apple and slow-poached apricot with baked amandine orange blossom ice cream, you might be inclined to pass up the plate of Irish cheese. But don’t — for any reason — let this one go. For starters, it’s not a plate they serve but instead a plate of your choice, hand-picked from a whole cart of locally made cheesy wonders coming from some of the finest dairies in the United Kingdom. After the meal you will be grateful you decided to stay at the Merrion, both for the comfortable, high-end accommodations and the ability to roll yourself right to bed.

Luxurious rooms boast several characteristics of the 18th century.

The Rooms

The Merrion consists of four historic Georgian homes combined and renovated to create one giant living quarter that boasts 142 bedrooms, 19 of which are suites. A standard booking consists of a luxurious queen-sized bed decked out in crisp linens modeled after soothing gray, blue and pink patterns from the 18th century. If you are feeling fancy, make sure to request accommodations overlooking the garden, which happens to also include cityscape views with the Wicklow Mountains in the distance.

The Look

It’s rare that a space can maintain the look of a Georgian mansion and still have the modern comforts travelers long for. Such is the case with this stunning property, part of the Leading Hotels of the World portfolio. Even one step inside the doorman-guarded entrance, you can’t mistake the era this lavish hotel aims to replicate. First, there’s the marble entryway complete with a neoclassical winding staircase and roaring fire, perfect for warming up after dashing about the rainy Dublin streets. You will also notice the art — a lot of it — and the reception area is just the beginning. Head into the lobby and plop down in a plush chair so comfortable that you may not readily get up. If for some reason you need to wait or just have the desire to wander, head through the drawing room to study the array of paintings lining the wallpapered walls. A short turn in the garden should have you ready to rest, eat or explore more of the hotel. Aside from two restaurants, the second being the Cellar Bar and Restaurant in the basement of the building, there’s Bar No. 23 and afternoon tea service in the drawing room. The Merrion offers a gym, spa and pool, which completes the neoclassical feel by sporting white columns and a mural on one of the walls.

The Neighborhood

As if the lavish Merrion itself wasn’t reason enough to stay there, the neighborhood the hotel is located in proves just about perfect, especially since Dublin is best seen on foot. For starters, you are right across the street from the National Gallery, a free-to-enter institution that features a lot of Irish art. Oscar Wilde was born nearby, and within walking distance you will find the famous 136-year-old park St. Steven’s Green. You can even take a short jaunt to Trinity College and see the Book of Kells and wander the historical halls of academia. This spot also happens to be a shopping destination, so make it a two-for and stock up on Irish wool sweaters, tweed and souvenirs. Then, if you have a hankering for a pint of Guinness, the traditional Irish pub O’Donoghues Bar is the place to do it in. Best of all, it’s stumbling distance from the Merrion’s gilded doors.

The Merrion Hotel
Merrion Street Upper, Dublin 2, Ireland
From 350€ (about $388) per night

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Here’s How To Capture Summer In A Jar For Dreary Wintertime Eating Fri, 29 Jul 2016 14:00:45 +0000 It’s late July and you’re surrounded by a metric butt-ton of vibrant produce. Everything is so fresh, bright and crispy — you stock your grocery cart with waxy peppers, plump blackberries and crunchy cobs of just-picked corn.

Oh, but now cut to a dark mid-January evening. Dinnertime nears, but why bother, what with that sleeve of Chips Ahoy you just hoovered? As icy rain pelts your window, you start to sink into a full carb- and cable-fueled funk when you remember it: your collection of quart-sized canning jars full of crunchy, colorful, cheer-inducing pickles! You race to the kitchen and lo, it’s all there: elegant white asparagus, cute cocktail onions and cherries and peaches galore.

That’s right. Squirrel away that fresh produce in the summer, and you’ll be thanking yourself all year long! There’s no need to invest in any special canning equipment — use this simple, low-temp sous vide technique to pickle any fruit or veggies in just a couple hours. Prepared this way, the pickles will stay crisp, bright and delicious for months, preserving your mood all year long! Check out the quick instructional video below, and get ready for the sunniest winter of your pickle-loving life.

Veggies and fruits
A brine recipe
Quart-sized canning jars with lids
Sous vide setup

ChefSteps comprises a team of award-winning chefs, filmmakers, scientists, designers and engineers focused on revolutionizing the way people cook by inspiring creativity and encouraging expertise in the kitchen. You can also get access to all of ChefSteps’ Premium content — including paid classes and dozens of recipes available only to Premium members for a onetime fee — for the special price of $24 (regularly $39). Classes include Sous Vide: Beyond the BasicsFluid GelsFrench Macarons and more!

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Wear What You Eat With These Tantalizing Tracksuits Fri, 29 Jul 2016 13:00:29 +0000 Love fried chicken? Why not wear it? (Photo courtesy of GetonFleek.)
Love fried chicken? Why not wear it? (Photo courtesy of GetonFleek.)

From the good people who brought you the outrageous Top Ramen tracksuit comes a whole line of other interesting food-themed garments.

It turns out that the company, GetonFleek, has a wide variety of pullover-sweatshirt-and-sweatpant combos that help you articulate your love for almost anything. Adobo seasoning? Check. Bacon? Check. Candy corn? Of course. Cheez-Itz? You bet. Fried chicken? Eff yeah! Nutella? Naturally. How ’bout a cat standing on a burrito? Yep, that too!

These prints are also available in baseball jersey, tank top, T-shirt and zip-up hoodie form.

Whatever your cup of tea, you might be able to find it on this site. Let your foodie flag fly if you feel so inclined.

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Our 10 Best Recipes From July Thu, 28 Jul 2016 18:00:37 +0000 Welcome to peak heat season! Don’t worry, we’re still cooking plenty, just with minimal stove and oven time and lots of cold beer. Lighter fare like shellfish, salad, summer stone fruit and picnic-ready dishes that pack up nicely for the odd impromptu alfresco feast are on the menu, and the farmers’ market has never served us better. Check out our 10 best recipes from the past month and get inspired to load that cooler full of goodies, round up a few pals and find somewhere great (with plenty of shade, of course) to enjoy the best of our Recipes section.

Recipe: Num Pang’s Lobster Roll

Ben has a special relationship with lobsters. For the first four years of his culinary career, he was responsible for cooking and breaking down anywhere from 30 to 80 lobsters a day. Even though he couldn’t look at a lobster for a long, long time, he is still as obsessed with a lobster-packed lobster roll as anyone else — except that his has to have Num Pang’s signature special blend of flavor and crunch. So we poach the lobster in a gingery court bouillon, then combine the cooked and spice-infused lobster with red bell peppers, Thai basil, scallion, and lemongrass, and top it with our Holy Trinity of Num Pang–ness — cilantro, cukes, chili mayo, and of course pickled carrots.

prawns (1)

Recipe: Tamarind Honey Shrimp

Iranians love all things sour: lemons, limes, pomegranate molasses, young plums and tamarind. I especially love tamarind because you can use it so well in savory cooking and balance it with sweetness to create something really delicious. In this recipe, I simply mix tamarind paste with honey to make a marinade that has lots of flavor without much effort. These shrimp are also great to skewer and are easy to cook on the barbecue.

Everything you love about French-style mussels, now in one convenient tart!

Recipe: Mussels Marinière Quiche

Nobody makes a sweet or savory tart like the French, which is why we’re powering through this new book of recipes from Michelin-starred Paris chefs Frederic Anton and Christelle Brua. From seasonal fruit and rich chocolate to leafy greens, hearty fish and tender meat, there’s a pastry shell for every filling you crave.

Leave no salad un-crunchified: It’s the Food Republic way.

Recipe: Three Ways To Crunch Up A Salad

A salad is a terrible thing to waste. As a devotee of texture in all things edible, I see a bowl of tender green leaves without a crunchy or crispy topping as a missed opportunity. The three-dimensional topography of a salad just begs for additions my boyfriend’s family so aptly calls “salad toys.” Here are three to liven up your lettuce: A seed-and-grain mix, including uncooked quinoa, that gets a saltwater wash before a crunch-inducing oven bake; crispy shallots because they’re the best thing on earth; and spicy, crunchy baked chickpeas that double as beer’s perfect partner.

Savory onion-stuffed Indian flatbread makes a perfect canvas for the exotic pizza of your dreams. (Photos: Paul Harrison.)

Recipe: Indian Pizza

If you don’t know what onion kulcha is, you’re missing out, and it would be my pleasure to introduce you: Kulcha is a type of Indian/Pakistani flatbread, and the onion version is rolled out with chopped onions stuffed in the middle. They’re usually cooked in a clay oven until golden brown. They’re a little crispy, a lotta chewy and packed with delicious sweet and slightly charred onion flavor. You can eat them with curry or just slathered in butter/ghee, but bottom line is they’re delicious.

Succulent peak-season peaches poached in herbal green tea syrup make a simple, refreshing summer dessert.

Recipe: Poached Peaches In Green Tea Syrup

From three-Michelin-starred chef Gérald Passedat comes Flavors From the French Mediterranean, an ode to the bounty of the lush region he calls home. Enjoy 80 of Passedat’s finest recipes, all easy enough for home cooks to pull off in their own kitchen. From the traditional French to the multiethnic, shellfish to root vegetables and bright, flavor-packed desserts, there’s something in this tome for every lover of French cuisine.

Who said fried dough couldn’t be thoroughly elegant? Tim Cushman’s smoked salmon fry bread is the perfect reason to break out the stand mixer.

Recipe: Covina’s Extra-Fancy Fry Bread

It is just what it sounds like: a savory version of the fried dough you’ve surely enjoyed at fairs and festivals, topped with any combination of ingredients you deem craveable. We borrowed chef Tim Cushman’s fry bread recipe — a best-seller on the menu at Covina in New York City — so you can experience the crisp, wholly satisfying magic at home. Pair smoked salmon with tangy homemade kefir ranch and chives for a refined take on this rustic dish.

Roast chicken seasoned with citrus zest and za’atar beats out the garlic, lemon and herb rendition every time.

Recipe: Citrus And Za’atar Chicken

Roast chicken is the ultimate comfort food, and I have been known to conjure up many different versions over the years. While I love a classic salt- and pepper-seasoned bird, I’m pretty adventurous and unafraid of throwing the contents of my spice racks and pantry at a chicken to liven it up when the mood suits. Za’atar is a staple spice blend in my house — it’s so versatile, it goes with everything, and the fragrance of citrus zest really lifts this flavorsome dish. Try it: It’s a winner. And don’t waste the leftover fruits — juice them and add water and sugar to sweeten for a refreshing drink.

All the sweetness and spice you love in a good, strong cup of Indian chai, now in dessert form!

Recipe: Masala Chai Baklava

Crisp, flaky pastry leaves, crunchy cashews and almonds, sticky honey and the zingy blend of tea, fresh ginger, cloves and cardamom — this Asian twist on the famous Mediterranean pastry is easy to make and tastes sumptuous. It’s great with a cup of mint tea in the afternoon.

A little crisp, a little tender and even a little squeaky, this pan-fried haloumi is a cheese lover’s dream.

Recipe: Sautéed Golden Haloumi

This cheese is described in my well-worn copy of Murray’s Cheese Book as “a rubbery little block, off white and tightly wrapped in Cryovac, not usually what we’d associate with fine cheese. But in the proper application, haloumi is irreplaceable.” The following recipe is, I’d argue, the “proper application.” The version most readily found at many cheese counters is usually enjoyed pan-fried or grilled. Hot off the grill or pan, the outside is firm and crunchy and the inside irresistibly soft and runny. As it cools, the inside turns “squeaky.” I like it with a simple topping of an intensely fruity olive oil and some lemon juice, zipped up with a teaspoon or two of za’atar, the Middle Eastern spice blend of sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds. A more traditional embellishment is a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of toasted pignoli. In the following versions, I describe how to cook the cheese plain, coated with flour, or coated with panko crumbs. Each is delicious. The haloumi is best when soaked in cold water for at least 1 hour or overnight before using.

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This Is What Food Labels Should Look Like Thu, 28 Jul 2016 17:00:37 +0000 food_label_slides_big1-932x699 (1)
Courtesy of Wired

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated its requirements for the nutritional facts label on packaged foods. Most notably, the new label finally makes a distinction between naturally occurring sugar in things like fruit and the common “added sugar” that is often blamed for making us all fat.

While nutritionists have applauded this overdue regulatory change, there is still a lot of room for improvement. What will those future tweaks look like? Well, the editors at Wired have some ideas.

The magazine’s latest issue — which is largely dedicated to food (including a tantalizing cover shot of a fried chicken leg dipped in caviar) — features a wholly reimagined label created with expert input from nutritionist Marion Nestle and toxicologist Alan Goldberg.

24.08 Cover square verticalHighlights include a traffic-light-style color-coded warning system (a sort of health-conscious spin on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s terror-alert chart) and also a nutritional letter grade (not unlike the New York City Health Department’s method for rating the cleanliness of restaurants). Ingredients, meanwhile, have been relocated to improve visibility, and the label also spotlights long-unlisted nutrients like magnesium and vitamin E.

Pick up a copy of the mag to check out the full range of suggested improvements. Then try to guess how long it takes for the federal government to act on any of them.

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Sign Up For Our Newsletter Today Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:45:19 +0000 Want to get the week’s best Food Republic stories as selected by our editors? Every Thursday, Food Republic sends ’em directly to you via email. Dig into our latest recipes, from fancy fry bread to Vietnamese-style bun bo hue. Peruse the best of this week’s stories on world travel, dining trends, chefs to know, restaurants to hit and, yes, Pokémon to catch. Sign up to see what it’s all about — stay in touch!

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Food News Roundup: Portland Now Has A Sex Dungeon Coffee Shop Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:00:42 +0000 Talk about summer love! We found out today that couples who drink together are most likely to fulfill your #relationshipgoals. And if you’re a couple who’d like to get down and very dirty after a cup of coffee, Portland, Oregon, could be your next vacation destination.

Cheers to sweet romance

Good news for couples who drink together! You’re most likely to stay together longer than couples whose drinking habits don’t match up, Fast Co. Exist reports. A study published in the Journal of Gerontology surveyed almost 3,000 couples over 10 years and found that regardless of the amount of alcohol consumed, as long as both parties of the relationship drank about the same amount, they were more likely to end up happily ever after.

These plates are just right

Trend alert: Small plates may be on their way out, according to the Washington Post. What’s replacing them? Medium plates, or “a dish between appetizer and entrée.” The Post reports that the middle child of plate size has popped up in many D.C. restaurants, with chefs citing price as a motivation. Medium-sized dishes are usually priced between $11 and $17. Rob Rubba of Hazel told the Post that the medium-sized plates allow people to share more dishes than large plates.

Safety word: Coffee

What do you look for in a coffee shop other than coffee? Ample seating, strong Wi-Fi connection, unpretentious baristas. How about sex positivity and kink? Mic reports that MoonFyre Café in Portland, Oregon, is the first “S&M-club-cum-coffee shop.” MoonFyre is split into three sections: café, educational space and sex dungeon. Coffee shop patrons and dungeon goers (the dungeon will cost you $5 to cover condoms, lubricants and such) must be at least 18 years old to enter.

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Pop Quiz: Cocktail Or Pokémon? Thu, 28 Jul 2016 14:00:24 +0000

Know what goes great with a rousing session of Pokémon Go? Drinkin’.

If you’ve been rounding up Pidgeys to force them to grow up before they’re ready, you’ll have some time to kill while the screen freezes mid-evolution and then your Pidgey, all your Pidgey candies and a stupid half-incubated egg are gone, and all you were doing was trying to play the game, goddammit!

Anyhoo, it’s not hard to see where the imbibing factors in here, which is why we created this brand-spankin’-new quiz. We borrowed cocktail names from some of our favorite bars in New York City — not just the ones spamming us relentlessly with press releases about Pokémon Go–themed libations — and we picked some Pokémon, most of which we can’t effing find anywhere. Judging by their names, it’s really hard to tell them apart. See if you can separate the creatures from the concoctions.

Ready to play Cocktail or Pokémon? GO! (Answers provided below.)

  1. Absol

  2. Arbok

  3. Bellossom

  4. Betelgeuse

  5. Chikorita

  6. Chinchou

  7. Cocoyage

  8. Corsair

  9. Dratini

  10. Eidolon

  11. Finomaid

  12. Gardevoir

  13. Grandyman

  14. Luxray

  15. Magby

  16. Roserade

  17. Sableye

  18. Seaking

  19. Sunflora

  20. Tangela

  21. Threegee

  22. Volstead

 pokemon vs cocktail v2
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Earl Cruze Wants You To Drink Your Buttermilk: “It’s Better Than Viagra” Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:00:29 +0000 Earl Cruze
Fourth-generation dairy farmer Earl Cruze. (Photos: Cruze Farm.)

To its fans, buttermilk is magic. In recipes, the tangy leftovers from the butter-churning process can act as a leavener for a perfectly flaky biscuit, be the tenderizer for the ultimate Southern fried chicken brine or add tartness to buttery mashed potatoes.

The bravest of aficionados drink it straight because of claims that it can cure whatever ails you. Earl Cruze, the paterfamilias of the Cruze Farm dairy outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a fourth-generation dairy farmer, drinks about a quart a day of his products. “Buttermilk may not solve the world’s problems, but it can help. It’s better than Viagra,” he boasts.

Cruze Colleen
Manjit and Colleen Cruze Bhatti

Colleen Cruze Bhatti is Earl’s daughter and the current farm operator and face of the business, along with her husband, Manjit, whom she met while making deliveries to the restaurant where he was cooking. She believes that people who claim they don’t like buttermilk just haven’t been drinking the right stuff: “Most people who make buttermilk don’t really like it or drink it. At Cruze, we really love it!”

The main reason many people don’t agree with Bhatti’s opinion is that most commercially available buttermilk isn’t really legit. Instead, it is skim milk that has been soured by the addition of cultures and enzymes to raise the acid level and then thickened with artificial ingredients so that the texture mimics that of legitimate buttermilk. Traditional buttermilk, on the other hand, is the by-product of churning cream into butter. Big dairies assume nobody is actually drinking their buttermilk, so sometimes they even use expiring whole milk as the base since it’s going to be soured anyway.

Cruze cowlick
The smallest member of Cruze’s tiny herd

Colleen explains the difference between Cruze Farm’s buttermilk and commodity buttermilk: “Ours is cultured like everyone else’s, but we also churn it. We’re not in any hurry, so we can let ours culture in the tank for three days.” Part of the reason there is no rush is the size of the herd at Cruze, which is only about 85 Jersey cows. “You have to decide how big you want to be,” says Colleen. “I like where we are and the fact that we can still maintain our level of quality.”

Coleen and Manjit moved into the family farmhouse after they got married, but her parents still live across the street while Earl continues to operate a small “cow share” program for area residents seeking raw milk. It’s all on the honor system with customers traveling to the farm to pick up gallons of chemical-free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free milk from grass-fed cows. Earl leaves the milk in a cooler for pickup, but customers must have signed a cow-share agreement in advance to comply with state regulations.

In addition to his small raw-milk business, Earl is still around to share his decades of dairy knowledge with his family. “You have to love this business,” Colleen explains. “My dad worked all the time for his entire life, and he probably thinks we’ve hired too many people to run the business. But he still teaches us. The information just pours out of him…usually when something breaks.”

For such a small farm, the demand for Cruze products is enormous. John Fleer, the chef-owner of Rhubarb in Asheville, North Carolina, and one of the primary forces behind the resurgence of Appalachian cuisine, is a huge fan of Cruze buttermilk, although even he wasn’t accustomed to drinking it straight. In a piece he wrote for Oxford American titled “Ode to Buttermilk,” Fleer shares that “only grandmothers and dogs trying to get rid of gas drink that stuff.” (A phrase that seems to have been in desperate need of a little reordering to offer Grandma a little dignity.)

Fleer has since been converted. “When I was cooking at Blackberry Farm and in search of great local products, I found Cruze. At the time, they were the only farm anywhere that was doing a real churned buttermilk. Not only was it an authentic regional product, but the quality and flavor was amazing. There are other farms doing something similar things these days, especially in terms of using high-quality milk to make buttermilk, but my relationship with the Cruze family is now two decades long, and they still stand out in terms of quality and flavor.”

Cruze Girls Colleen
Cruze Farm Girls workin’ it

Colleen realizes that the way to make new fans is to get people to taste Cruze’s products, and she has established a stable of what she calls Cruze Farm Girls, a multicultural collection of winsome young ladies who travel to events wearing the farm’s uniform of gingham head scarfs and aprons. The Farm Girls work at farmers’ markets and food festivals evangelizing about Cruze products and offering shots of creamy, fatty milk to attendees.

“Fat on the top of milk is good,” exclaims Colleen, “and people are starting to recognize that again. Buttermilk has been around forever, and drinkable yogurt is just its cousin.” Cruze primarily ships within about a hundred-mile radius of the farm, and even though those cows are already getting a workout, Colleen is constantly seeking out new customers and new products to sell.

A recent entry into the ice cream business is actually a return to the days when the family sold home-churned ice cream in their own little shop and at local markets. When Earl accepted a large offer from a developer to build a big-box store on top of the shop, the family certainly benefited financially, but they were effectively out of the soft-serve game.

Cruze Milk Bar
Cruze’s mobile milk and ice cream bar

Colleen never forgot her love of churning, and she took a class in ice-cream making in Pennsylvania in addition to her agricultural studies at the nearby University of Tennessee. Once she entered the family dairy business full time, she encouraged her parents to let her start cranking again. Using a base of just five ingredients: farm egg yolks, cream, milk, sugar and salt, Cruze Farm combines its ice cream base with seasonal flavors to create a constantly changing roster of flavors. Colleen writes each flavor’s name in her delicate script on the individual pints that the company sells in selected markets.

Cruze also releases flavored versions of its milks when supplies allow, including traditional chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. The farm has also experimented with coffee milk and chai milk to great success. Unfortunately, like the ice cream, these products have to remain secondary in importance to the main moneymakers. Colleen explains, “We have to provide whole milk first, then buttermilk. We love to sell the ice creams and the flavored milks, but we have to balance the demands of chefs, retail and market sales.”

Cruze Keller
Although his restaurants aren’t in Cruze’s shipping radius, acclaimed chef Thomas Keller is a fan.

Chef Fleer is going to keep doing his part to maintain the demand on his end. “I appreciate the quality of the product and the fact that they are trying to do the right thing — sustainable production, authentic flavors, a sense of history blended with a look toward the future. Why would I not work with them?”

Cruze Farm Girl and Cow
Happy cows don’t only live in California.
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Charges Melt Away In NYC Ice Cream Truck Assault Case Wed, 27 Jul 2016 18:00:35 +0000 IMG_9164
Photo: Alison Fayre/Creative Commons

Christine Haughney covers corruption and criminal behavior as part of the Zero Point Zero Production series Food Crimes.

An ice cream truck driver who allegedly attacked a rival street-food vendor with a baseball bat in a dispute over a coveted street corner in New York City is no longer facing jail time.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has dropped all charges against John Cicero, the operator of a New York Ice Cream truck whose publicized altercation last spring cast an unsettling spotlight on the dicey side of the street-food business in the city.

On May 12, Cicero reportedly got into a fight with Reda Elbendary, who works at the Abdo Afandinaa Halal Food Stand on the northeast corner of 54th Street and Fifth Avenue. According to court papers, Cicero hit Elbendary over the head twice “with a stick like object” and also threatened Elbendary with a knife. The attack took place in such a public area that local observers gathered video and photographs of the incident. Cicero later turned himself in to authorities. He was charged with assault, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.

A doorman snapped this photograph of ice cream truck operator John Cicero, who allegedly attacked a rival food-cart operator over a turf dispute NYC. (Photo provided by the alleged victim, Reda Elbendary.)

Cicero was scheduled to appear in court on Monday to determine what would happen next in his case. But according to Cicero’s lawyer, Theodore Kasapis, the case was dismissed before he even arrived in the courtroom. Kasapis said the case was never brought before a grand jury. “I was surprised that it was dismissed so early,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office said in a statement that “the People stated (in substance) that the case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and the case was dismissed.” She did not provide any additional details.

New York’s ice cream truck vendors have long been notorious for carrying baseball bats in their trucks and waging often-violent wars against each other for coveted locations. The New York Times has been chronicling the violence and litigation resulting from the turf war between rival ice cream trucking companies Mister Softee and New York Ice Cream.

It’s unclear what Monday’s court decision means for the safety of Elbendary, an Egyptian immigrant who is about five foot seven and weighs 145 pounds. Following the attack, Elbendary said, he went to the hospital and received treatment, leaving him with $3,000 in medical bills. Several weeks later, he still suffered from headaches, had visible scratches and let a reporter feel the bump on his head where he had been hit with the bat.

Elbendary continues to fear for his life. He said that Cicero’s friends threatened to shoot him twice if he continued to pursue charges against the ice cream seller. After Cicero’s cousins threatened him a second time on June 25, Elbendary said he went back to the police but an officer advised him not to file an additional complaint. In an email he sent to the detective who originally helped him, Elbendary shared how scared he felt.

“I let you know if I die or I got shot or anything bad happens for me it’s from the guy,” Elbendary writes in the text. “He will shoot me he said. Please you are the law here in his country and I’m telling you what happened.”

Since then, Elbendary said he has not heard back from any authorities, and he did not know that the charges had been dropped against Cicero until this reporter notified him. He remains in his current vending spot — appearing for his regular shift at 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon — even though he is still fearful of further retaliation.

“I feel a problem is coming for me,” said Elbendary.

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