FOOD FOR THOUGHT

baconsundae-531x550I am certainly a big fan of eating (not so much the cooking part). And as the interest levels of dining have never been so high, there has been an abundance of food fads and restaurant trends – with some definitely more right than wrong, taste bud dependent of course!

So what takes your fancy, and what should you put on your must try list for 2013?

Bacon with everything. Don’t get me wrong I love a good piece of crispy bacon with my weekend breakfast, but when it is turned into ice-cream, chocolate or popcorn I have to say no.

Butchers opening up their own restaurants. The US leads the way in this trend, and now a ton of other countries are following. The best one I have been to is The Publican in Chicago http://publicanqualitymeats.com/

Every restaurant saying its menu uses local, organic or seasonal produce….zzzzzzz so 2012.

Frozen yoghurt is making a comeback! I am a fan but I can’t help think of the Seinfeld episode on low fat yoghurt – buyer beware.

Taking photos of your food and posting them everywhere. People please STOP this, no one cares!!!

Going Paleo. Hardcore, but I have to say it works. Basically cut out anything fun in your diet and stick to meat, vegetables, and some nuts and seeds. Grains, dairy, and sugar are a no, no.

Non-booking restaurants and queues to eat. Everyone is well and truly over this and restaurants are now reverting to reservations again. We aren’t at Disneyland or 18 years old trying to get into a nightclub.

Healthier kids menus. Say goodbye to hotdogs and mac n’ cheese as the stock standard on children’s menus. Restaurants are starting to step up and offer better alternatives for families, especially as couples with children spend on average 44% more at restaurants than those without children.

Bon appetite!

COFFEE FRENZY

Not many people realize how many empty calories they are “drinking” a day, and I am not even talking alcoholic beverages here. While you may be skipping meals, loading up on drinks can be far more fattening than eating healthy food. Next time you are grabbing your coffee on the way to work, you may want to re-think your selection.

Based on a grande size from Starbucks (calories)
Brewed coffee 12
Latte – Skim 130; Soy 170; Full fat 220
Hot chocolate 290
Mocha 232
The worst… Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème 500 calories

And that “healthy” scone or muffin to go with your coffee is not so good for you – a zucchini walnut one contains 490 calories and has 110 more calories than a chocolate chunk cookie or 210 more calories than a bagel.

If soda/soft drink is more your thing.
A can of Coke contains 140 calories, while 7-Up is 150 calories and Mountain Dew has 163 calories

I would also suggest being active to go and get it from the fridge, as it takes approximately 23 minutes of walking to burn the calories in 1 can of Coke.

GOLDEN GLOW OR BEER BATH?

Tough weekend and feel like you need some R&R already? Well it sounds like a great idea, but it can cost a nice chunk of your salary to try some of these treatments.

Relieve all that stress with what is deemed the most expensive massage in the world. The Grand Wailea Resort in Maui, has a 20-Hands Duo Massage which will set you back $2,000. That is 10 skilled masseuses working on your tired muscles at one time giving you the feeling of a “hula wave” washing over your body.

If bling in more your style then you may want to consider this –

1. A 24-karat Gold Facial at UMO America in (of course) Beverly Hills. Where the gold is dissolved first to easily spread across the skin and gently massaged into your face until it completely disappears leaving your face with a nice “golden” glow.
2. A Diamond Massage. Hearts on Fire and Spa on Location have joined forces and offer a $1 million worth of loose diamonds placed along your spine as a massage therapist gently massages your back.
3. One for the guys, take a bath in beer. A family owned brewery in the Czech Republic called Chodovar offers this beer spa treatment where the bath is also enriched by a batch of active beer yeast and a mixture of dehydrated crushed herbs. The beer yeast provides the skin with a wide range of vitamins, proteins and saccharides (another term for sugar). This softens and regenerates the skin.
4. Prefer a bath with wine instead… no problem! The Kenwood Inn & Spa , the first Vinotherapie center in the US, offer a barrel bath cabin and patio that look out over the vineyards. Unlike the beer bath you don’t soak in wine, but instead bubbling water with finely crushed grapes extracts and organic oils.
5. Caviar and truffles anyone? Apparently yes, if you would like them on your hair. Hari’s in London wash your hair with a truffle-based shampoo and the smear on the caviar and let it sit. Not sure you would be smelling like roses post that visit to the hairdresser.

Call me boring, but I may just settle for my reflexology down the road… unless of course someone else is paying.

WINE SNOBS BE WARNED!

Warning, warning!!! For any wine snobs out there, this post may be offensive to you.

As everyone is aware most people now drink wine. BUT, they buy it from a discount supermarket (shock, horror!), not from a specialty liquor or wine store.

The largest retailer of wine in the world is Tesco (with over $1.8 billion in sales a year) and close behind them is Cosco (over $1.0 billion in sales)

Costco’s approach to selling wine is very different to other supermarkets or retailers, choosing only to carry 100 – 200 wines at any given time, compared to the norm of between 1,500 up to 3,500. Selection is limited at Cosco so value and quantity sales are the key. But don’t think undrinkable wine, as the secret for Cosco has been to bring global wines (French, Kiwi, Australian, Chilean, German) to the USA market. And while prices do start at $5 for a bottle you can also buy Dom Pérignon!

If you are looking for a good tasting cheaper wine… these made Wine Spectator’s Best 100 list and definitely won’t break the bank.

Rank 21 – $15 Georges Duboeuf Morgon Jean Descombes 2009
Rank 42 – $9 Quinta de Cabriz Dão 2008
Rank 43 – $14 Gruet Blanc de Noirs New Mexico NV

Drink Up!

FUNKY LUNCH

Dean & Deluca opened in Singapore this week, which is very exciting. I am secretly loving all these fabulous new retailers and cafes/restaurants that have branched out to Asia, especially Singapore. It can be hard to find a favourite lunch spot that is consistent and of course delivers on service and a good coffee.

So in 2012, what are the options for a good work lunch that is – fast, reasonably priced, good quality and has a “cool factor” or buzz from the café/outlet. Here are a few that may be of interest when you are next in that city.

Dean & Deluca
Singapore, New York, Tokyo, Dubai, Bangkok (I know there are more)
The Dean & Deluca NYC Soho flagship store is great for a fast work lunch as the choice of food is varied and high quality, and while not as big, Singapore ticks the boxes too (even a cheeky glass of wine is an option).

Wholefoods
Stores all across the USA and Canada. Love the one in Seattle and it’s spot a celebrity in the Malibu location. Has now opened locations in the UK too.
LOVE the range of salads, soups… you name it (I actually feel overwhelmed in them sometimes). If you can’t find something to eat in here you aren’t looking hard enough. And of course it is all pretty fresh and healthy. Fingers crossed they come to Asia soon.

Selfridges
London
One of my all-time favourite food halls. Perfect for a Friday lunchtime treat of oysters and a glass of champagne and you can still be back in the office in under an hour.

Hardware Lane
Melboure
Basically you are spoilt for choice in this funky laneway in the city that is full of individual cafes. Try Hardware Societe for a pre-work breakfast or lunch.

Wagamama
UK, Europe, Middle East, USA, Australia, New Zealand
If you are craving Asian food that is stock standard, then this is perfect. While you won’t get a very authentic experience the food is still good and served fast.

If all else fails and you are stuck at your desk, you can always go old school and pack a sandwich and piece of fruit from home!

Where is your favourite lunch place during the working week?

DOWN & DIRTY ON THE STREET

As you travel the world for business (or pleasure) it’s always fun to experience the local culture through food. Now we aren’t talking fancy restaurants, rather food vendors on the street… and a McCafe doesn’t count!

And yes, I have taken into account cleanliness, so no one is getting sick on my watch!

Here are some of the world’s best, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Sfenj, Morocco
Think donuts crossed with a croissant – spongy, deep-fried pastry rings made of unsweetened, sticky yeast dough, with no milk or butter added. Perfect for a morning coffee.The best sfenj are prepared in hanout (closet-sized booths) in the medinas of Morocco’s biggest cities.
Cost – 10 cents each or $2.50 a kilo

Banh mi, Vietnam
I love the food in Vietnam – think French crossed with fresh Asian influences. A baguette grilled over coals – filled with meat, a touch of pâté, crunchy pickled vegetables and fresh herbs, and then add few drops of soy sauce or chilli. The sandwiches are sold almost exclusively from street stalls.
Cost – 90 cents

Currywurst, Germany
Think the perfect hangover food. A thick sausage cut into chunks and doused in curry flavoured ketchup/sauce. You can add chips or bread.
Cost – $3.00

Too many to pick just one, Singapore
Known as one of the cleanest places to eat street food, it also has some of the most varied options. Fish head curry, Hainanese chicken rice (a National dish), chilli crabs, satays. Try Lau Pa Sat for an old school experience.
Cost – from $2.00

Tacos, Mexico
Not just any tacos… but Tacos al pastor (a special in Mexico City) consists of marinated pork and pineapple and of course fresh salsa to accompany it.
Cost – $1.50

Special thanks to WTF reader Nick, for the topic idea!

HOTELS THAT RAISE THE BAR

Not excited about staying in the Marriott Hotel again, where the only option for an after work drink is in the lobby bar that hasn’t had a facelift since the 1970’s.

While we know everyone is limited by corporate hotel selection, you can still venture to these hotel bars, if only for a drink and to impress!

Here are some of the hotel bars that have been named as the best (based in cities).

Connaught Bar at the Connaught, London
What recession? Opulence at its finest. Signature drink – juleps laced with herbal Fernet-Branca

Hemingway Bar, Ritz Carlton, Paris
Decadent and full of history. Signature drink – Bloody Mary. Where it was invented for Hemingway, to disguise the smell of alcohol on his breath.

Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore
Armchairs, big ceiling fans and throwing peanut shells on the ground. Old school colonial at its finest. Signature drink – The Singapore Sling. Invented in 1915 and still going strong – the bar sells 2,000 Singapore Slings daily.

Martini Bar at the Raleigh, Miami
Keeps things art deco and classy in Miami . Signature drink – martini

Redwood Room at Clift, San Francisco
Where the in-crowd of Silicon Valley can be seen. The room is filled with digital art to keep you entertained. Signature drink – Lavender martini

New York Bar at the Park Hyatt, Tokyo
Yes made famous in Lost in Translation, this cool bar is 52 floors up with stunning views. Signature drink – Yamazaki whiskey

Bar 1200 at Sunset Marquis Hotel, West Hollywood
Celebrity spotting of the music variety is rife – so look sharp or arrive early to get in. A recording studio is on-hand near by. Signature drink – Marquis-tini

Sky Lounge at Upper House, Hong Kong
49 floors up and you will find huge windows, an amazing view and an oasis above the bustling street of Central. Signature drink – Soul Happiness

The Drawing Room at the Greenwich Hotel, New York City
Cosy and warm in Tribeca you will feel like you are in your fantasy living room. Signature drink – Manhattan

What is your favourite hotel bar for an after work drink?