In Defense of "Ten Best" Lists

Categories: Rants

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Screenshot from HuffPo
Self-serving chef attempts amazing acrobatic feat! He beats a dead horse while sitting on a high horse and simultaneously patting himself on the back! Without a net!
Recently, the Huffington Post published a whiny rant a blog post decrying the decline of food journalism.

In it, the author (himself a chef/restaurateur turned writer) takes issues with many of the common threads of today's (mostly online) food media coverage. Not being a millennial, he also (predictably) treads the well-worn road of blaming food bloggers, "young people," social media, and people who take pics of their food (i.e., millennials), etc. etc., yadda yadda yadda, ad nauseum infinitum, yawn.

The first thing the author takes issue with is something we do quite often here on Clean Plate Charlie -- weekly, in fact: "The best list."

I edit this food blog, and I'm going to take a moment to stick my neck out and attempt something perhaps no self-respecting journalist has ever attempted: to defend that most-read yet most-reviled of blog posts.

See also: Every Clean Plate Charlie "Ten Best" List

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Valet Parking, Sushi-Grade Tuna, and Gourmet Cheese Only at Palm Beach Island Publix

Categories: Rants

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Nicole Danna
The Palm Beach Island Publix offers valet parking, sushi-grade tuna, and specialty meats like ground buffalo.
South Florida has a love affair with food shopping. We wait in line during season at Whole Foods, not-so-patiently await the opening of each new Trader Joe's, and have enough upscale Fresh Markets to keep our pantries routinely stocked with specialty grocery items.

Which makes it easy to forget about Florida's favorite, longtime chain grocer: Publix.

Of the 753 Florida locations, Publix currently operates 73 grocery stores in Palm Beach County, including one very special store on the Island of Palm Beach that sells sushi-grade tuna and gourmet cheese and offers free delivery from its pharmacy -- there's even valet parking.

See also: Mastino Wood Fired Italian Kitchen & Bar Opens Inside SoLita Delray Beach

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Jimmy John's Issues Noncompete Clause to Its Employees

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jimmyjohns.com
This giant sub might become a bitter pill to swallow.

The lengths to which some companies go to protect their image can sometimes be, well, ridiculous at best. In the olden days, before chefs and foods became trendy and marketable, when mom-and-pop operations staked their claims and reputations on their family name, you found real quality control. Since larger culinary entities began their hostile takeover of American plates and palates, you'll find that quality isn't what it used to be. This has given over to some bizarre corporate paranoia.

It's bad enough that many of these entities barely represent hollow shells of what they purport to be -- Italian food chains that don't salt the pasta water, pizzamakers who want you to stink like their product -- the mind-boggling ideas that get green-lit in corporate boardrooms are at times too much to handle.

The food service industry has routinely been unkind to its employees, especially in these big-box companies. But Jimmy John's latest "idea" to keep itself above its competition, real and/or perceived, is laughable and incredibly sad all at once. Kinda like their J.J. Gargantuan sandwich.

See also: Eat for a Buck at Jimmy John's Customer Appreciation Day

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Celebrate National Hot Mulled Cider Day the Floridian Way, Late

Categories: Holidays, Rants

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Wikipedia
Have apples? Make cider!
It's officially Autumn now, but you could be forgiven for not having noticed if you live in South Florida - though, relatively speaking, 87 is actually a nice break from the tortuous heat of summer.

While "Food Holidays" are a fun and trendy way of enjoying certain foods we might not entirely gravitate towards on our own, they're also vastly vapid annoying reminders that we live in an area that enjoys one and half seasons year long - summer and not-so summer.

Take National Mulled Cider Day, for example, which took place yesterday, September 30. While the rest of the contiguous United States begins to whip themselves into the frenzy of Fall and the coming Winter months, we here in South Florida continue to wear shorts and bikinis.

So, we ignored it out of solidarity with our fellow sweat citizens. It's just too damn hot and a pox on those who say that drinking hot beverages on a hot day is better for you corporeally - bollocks! There's nothing nicer than a cold and refreshing beverage with alcoholic friends in tow on a scorching hot day!

But then we thought, why let those stinkin' northerners have all the fun?

See also: An Ode to the Bean on Jump for Jelly Beans Day

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Olive Garden, an Italian "Concept" Restaurant That Does Not Salt the Pasta Water

Categories: Food News, Rants

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olivegarden.com
According to Starboard Value, these are "too long."

Starboard Value is a New York-based investment adviser that "invests in deeply undervalued small cap companies and actively engages with management teams and boards of directors to identify and execute on opportunities to unlock value for the benefit of all shareholders." In other words, this hedge fund is all about maximizing profits and cutting the fat. Or in this case, reducing the amount of unlimited breadsticks.

Recently, it released a close-to-300-page report on Olive Garden's parent company, Darden Restaurants Inc. and was rather vitriolic about the chain's interpretation of "Italian generosity." Conflicting issues like the hippie-like distribution of bread; use of "high-end" materials in their to-go bags and containers; the sale of burgers; and the length of straws, asparagus, and other traditionally long products.

And the real kicker: the stoppage of salting the pasta water.

See also: Ten Best Italian Restaurants in Broward and Palm Beach Counties

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Mai-Kai Finalist in Cintas' America's Best Restroom Contest, Vote Before October 31

Categories: Rants

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All photos courtesy of Cintas Corporation
Mai-Kai: Thrones fit for a king.
When deciding on which restaurant to eat at, you probably peruse the menu, consider the cocktails, and the decor. But does the bathroom come into play when making plans for a night out? Maybe it should.

According to Cintas Corporation, the bathrooms play a pivotal part in the success of a restaurant. Which is why it holds an annual search for America's "top toilet", where a team of survey editors search the country for the most creative and clean restrooms.

This year, ten finalists have been chosen from the vast field of hotel, restaurant, and airport bathrooms across this great land and one of them is in our own backyard.

See also: Mai-Kai Restaurant: History of a South Florida Institution

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Arby's Accidentally Unleashes the Meat Mountain Sandwich Because Why Not?

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Arbys.com
This is either a threat or a half-assed lie.

Whether you're thinking about it, getting in the mood for some good food, or just plain wanting it sliced fresh, Arby's has been making a genuine push to remain relevant in the fast-food wars. Be honest; Arby's is not your go-to fast food joint, and quite frankly, it does not litter the landscape the way other franchises do.

Well, it might not be on every corner, but it'll certainly be on your mind now with the new "secret menu item" the Meat Mountain sandwich.

Many places carry something like that to spark some interest with varying degrees of success. Starbucks has plenty of products that can stay secret forever, while Burger King has the "Suicide Burger," which is pretty excessive. Joining this train of excess is Arby's with a one-pound offering that dips its creative hands into every corner of the storage closet.

See also: St. Paddy's Day Secret Menu Items: McDonald's McLeprechaun Shake, Starbucks Shamrock Frappuccino


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An Ode to the Bean on Jump for Jelly Beans Day

Categories: Rants

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And mind you, that's all we're doing today because July 31 is "Jump for Jelly Beans Day" and not "National Jelly Bean Day." That was way back on April 22. To jump for jelly beans is to show one's love for the delightfully whimsical bean-shaped confections.

Did you know that jelly beans trace their lineage to Turkish delight and Jordan almonds? Keep that in mind the next time you're feeling all groovy with 'Merican jingoism when you see old footage of Ronald Reagan scooping mounds of the candy into his maw in the war room.

Jelly beans are also thought to have gotten their popularity boost back during the American Civil War when a Boston-area confectioner by the name of William Schrafft advertised his candies as the perfect package of sugary comfort for soldiers in the front. All these tidbits aside, no one around here and certainly in the ever-so-credible internet has any clue as to how the jumping business came about. We don't want anyone choking while jumping but here are three of the more popular jelly bean makers for you to choose from for your celebration.

See also: Beer Flavored Jelly Beans? Thanks Jelly Belly!


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An Open Letter to Vegans From an Ethical Omnivore

Categories: Rants

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Sara Ventiera
Let me start this out by saying I fully support veganism. I think it's great that individuals choose to honor their own bodies and the rest of the animal kingdom by abstaining from meat.

Aside from the obvious anti-cruelty aspects, being vegan is better for ones health (mostly anyway, but we'll get to that in a minute), it's significantly easier on the environment (much of the time), and due to both of these factors, it has a positive economic impact in terms of reducing dollars spent on curing illness, negating climate change, cleaning up the destruction left over from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and a whole host of other issues associated with the production of meat.

That being said, as someone who enjoys exploring the ethical implications of our food system, I'm tired of the self-righteous zealots who claim the only way to show compassion and humanity is through veganism.

See Also: An Open Letter to BurgerFi From a Vegan


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An Open Letter to BurgerFi From a Vegan

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As a nonmilitant vegan, I frequently find myself eating out with omnivores. Their meat consumption doesn't irk me, but the lack of options at eateries often does. Because seriously -- how hard it is to throw together one vegan entrée?

On that note, I was recently bummed to discover that BurgerFi, the environmentally sustainable burger chain that everyone's obsessed with, has nothing to offer vegans. Even its quinoa vegetarian burger has animal products in it. FAIL. So in response, here's my open letter to the leaders of the "better burger movement."

See also: BurgerFi Opens Newest Location at CityPlace


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