Archive - May 2012

Favorite Blogger of the Week: Michelle Levine


Each week, we will be highlighting some of the most interesting and active members of our community on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus to help foodies get to know their fellow foodies.

This week’s FriendsEAT’s Favorite is Michelle Levine, the awesome food blogger behind Eat and Sip in the City.

FriendsEAT: Tell us a bit about what you do.
Michelle Levine: Food Blogger + Writer, Freelance Content & Copy Writer.

FE: What’s the best meal you’ve had recently and where did you have it?
ML: I am definitely a regular at an Italian restaurant in the North End section of Boston called Beneventos. They have a large mussels appetizer in a flavorful, garlic filled tomato based sauce, thin crust pizzas, and sangria, which is my kind of meal.

FE: What’s the most exotic food you’ve ever tried?
ML: It may not be exotic to others, but I just tried squid ink pasta at a local restaurant.

FE: Do you have a favorite celebrity chef or TV show featuring food?
ML: I am a huge Food Network fan and love Giada’s cooking shows, Robert Irvine’s shows about helping failing restaurants, and I think the Neely’s are too cute to be true!

FE: Where do you live?
ML: Boston, MA.

FE: Share with us an insider tip for your city!
ML: In the North End, you can create dishes at home that are just as good as in the restaurants for half the price. There is a homemade pasta store, numerous butchers, a fish market, a few vegetable and fruit markets, and specialty stores with cheeses, bread, homemade marinara sauce, prepared meatballs, and much more, so you don’t have to feel like you have to always eat out, spend a lot of cash, or do a ton of cooking, to have a tasty Italian meal.

FE: What’s your favorite thing about FriendsEAT?
ML: That there is a sense of community to interact with fellow foodies, yet it also offers coupons and restaurant information for dining out, cooking tips, and recipes for when you stay in, along with food news and other articles on the blog.

FE: Anything else you’d like the FriendsEAT community to know about you?
ML: I write a column as Boston Food Examiner, on You can find my articles about Boston’s best restaurants on the CBS local Boston website. And I recently interviewed Grayson from this past season of Bravo TV’s Top Chef as well as Ty-lor, for a NYC restaurant website called Eatery Expert.

FE: How can we get in touch with you?

Blog: Eat and Sip in the City 
Twitter: @michelletwEATS 


Pinterest: Michelle Levine

You too can become one of our favorites! Learn more here and be sure to add us to your Circles on Google+.


Zutto: Amen for Ramen!


You’re jonesing for ramen so you hit up the place around the corner where a huge bowl costs you $6. You’ve finished up the whole bowl. Suddenly you’re feeling bloated (MSG). Then, 20 minutes later, you’re starving and thirsty.


The not so secret formula for Zutto’s ramen is boldly flaunted on the walls: “120 lbs of pork bones are boiled in a 24″ pot at the highest heat for about 24 hours“. This not so small detail is probably the reason that their ramen is so damn good. Basically, you’ve got killer stock, super fresh ramen, and (to my delight) really good wine.

I was invited to dine at Zutto by their PR company (Benvenuti). It’s located in Tribeca, an area I don’t normally visit. The restaurant is cute. It’s got a sushi bar, a huge communal table, and huge windows looking out onto Hudson Street.  We sat next to the windows, ordered some wine, and enjoyed the view.

Our first bite was the Shishito Peppers ($8). These are charred fried japanese peppers, sprinkled with a little yuzu salt, and accompanied by a lemon aioli. These were delightful. The peppers were fried, but not greasy. At first I was disappointed, I was hoping for some heat, but was not getting it. All of the sudden…POW! I was hit by spice that lingered for at least five minutes. When  you go, beware the peppers that are predominantly yellow, you may cry (of pleasure) a little.

I’m a huge fan of pork buns, so we started off with three different types. We’ll discuss the Pork Belly Buns ($9) first. These definitely compete with Momofuku’s buns. I’ve scheduled a return visit to Momofuku so I can make an educated decision. In the mean time, just know that they were flavorful, juicy, and comforting.

The Kobe Beef buns ($12) were my least favorite of the bunch.  They were fine, but when compared to the Pork Belly Buns, they were out of their league. This could be because it reminded me a bit too much of a burger.

When we moved onto the Short Rib buns ($10) we were back in business. The meat was tender and flavorful. The texture was enhanced by the pickled cabbage. I make some killer short ribs at home, and these got my complete approval.

It was Ramen time. Antonio had the Chicken Paitan ramen ($16). The menu describes it as “chicken and premium soy sauce based soup topped with scallion, onion, char siu pork, and nori”. We asked the server if the noodles were made in house. He explained that they are not, they are brought in fresh  on a daily basis by a trusted supplier. He could easily have fooled us, these are some seriously fresh noodles.

I was given the Spicy Miso ramen ($16), although I had ordered the Tonkotsu Hokkaido Classic. I was in a good mood, so I went with it. While this did leave me disappointed in the heat scale (I love a little heat), I was glad for it. The soup was incredibly tasty. When you say umami, this is exactly what people refer to. Savory.

I left Zutto with a full belly and thinking of planning a trip over to try their sushi. Twenty minutes later, I was still full.


Zutto is located at 77 Hudson Street in Tribeca, NYC (212) 233-3287

An Unbalanced Diet: Competitive Eating (Infographic)


Joey Chestnut, 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes. How exactly did he do that?! Takeru Kobayashi eat more hot dogs than I do in 1 year, how did he fit all of those hot dogs inside his body when the guy is actually kind of thin? Oleg Zhornitskiy, this guy ate 9 jars of mayo in 8 minutes. Sonya Thomas likes boiled eggs, so much that she was able to eat 65 of them in just under 7 minutes. Would you like to join competitive eating? Check out this Infographic and you can start learning how to turn your stomach into an enormous flaccid sac in order to store those 64 hard boiled eggs.

Anthony Bourdain Makes Reservations With CNN


No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain is leaving the show, which he has hosted on the Travel Channel since 2005, to host a new weekend food and travel program on CNN.

The announcement was made this week by CNN Worldwide Executive Vice President and Managing Editor Mark Whitaker.

CNN says the new show will be shot on location, and debut in early 2013. The show will examine cultures from around the world through their food, dining, and travel rituals.

CNN added that Bourdain’s new show “will mark a further step in broadening and distinguishing CNN’s weekend programming from its traditional weekday news coverage.”

Because CNN hit a 20-year primetime ratings low in May, and posted its worst week in two decades earlier in the month, CNN hopes Bourdain can help work a ratings miracle.

In their desperate bid to capture ratings, CNN has also announced that ABC News’ John Brennan will join CNN’s early morning show “Early Start”. And not long ago, CNN recruited CNBC’s Erin Burnett to anchor a prime time news program called “Erin Burnett OutFront”.

And of course, CNN axed Larry King and replaced him with Piers Morgan, the arrogant former British TV personality recently accused of giving phone hacking tips to BBC quiz show host and television news presenter Jeremy Paxman.

Paxman and Morgan were both called to testify. By the way, Piers Morgan’s CNN show suffers dismal ratings.

Politico reported on Donald Trump’s cheap shot at CNN’s low ratings, in which Trump and Wolf Blitzer had a heated exchange resulting in the two men calling one another “ridiculous”.

CNN claims Bourdain — who once called Paula Deen America’s “most dangerous person” — will also offer commentary on other CNN programs and platforms, domestically and internationally, providing insights into current events and debates around food and health and other cultural conversations.

“I’m really looking forward to coming over to CNN. I think the world is going to get a whole lot bigger for me,” said Bourdain. “I hope that old fans and new ones will be excited about what’s coming down the road.”

Before hosting No Reservations, Bourdain previously hosted “A Cook’s Tour” on the Food Network, he once wrote for HBO’s New Orleans-based drama Treme, and appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef.

Bourdain is also the author of critically acclaimed non-fiction and fiction books, including the New York Times bestsellers “Kitchen Confidential” and “A Cook’s Tour.”

Bourdain has received Emmy awards for programs on Haiti and Laos, and an Emmy nomination for a No Reservations episode shot in Beirut during the 2006 Lebanon War.

Bourdain’s CNN experience will be produced by Zero Point Zero Production with Executive Producers and Founders Chris Collins and Lydia Tenaglia, along with Executive Producer Sandy Zweig.

The Emmy award winning production team also produced No Reservations, The Layover, A Cook’s Tour, and Decoding Ferran Adria, and has worked with Bourdain for over 10 years.

Casellula: A Perfect Spot in NYC


I am always in a search for fabulous places to get food. I would like to thank Lindsay (The Lunch Belle) for pointing me towards Casellula where we recently met up. What a lovely place. It has everything I love: great wines, innovative dishes that are small and geared towards sharing, and an attentive staff. Casellula is a win.

We started off with the Lavander, rosemary popcorn. Holey smokes! Delicious. This was more in the vein of your caramel popcorn. It was touched by a gentle sweetness. It was aromatic and delicate, a must have when you visit.

To continue on our Casellula culinary excursion, we opted for something a bit more savory: Chistorras in a Blanket ($4). The Basque sausage was wrapped in the crispiest, lightest bread. Simply delectable, and at this price, we should have picked up two.

Since Casellula is known for their cheeses, we ordered a surprise flight. Ever cheese was delightful. Sadly, I did not write down those that were served, but it gives me an excuse for another visit.

Casellula is a great spot for getting together with friends, and I see it as a perfect date spot.

Highly Recommended

Casellula is located at 401 West 52nd Street in Hell’s Kitchen. Get there early, the place is tiny and fills up quickly. 

Fallout: Radioactive Bluefin Tuna Hits US Shores


Bluefin tuna contaminated with radioactivity from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant have traveled 6,000 miles to US shores.

A study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates the tuna showed elevated levels of radioactive cesium 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years.

“That’s a big ocean. To swim across it and still retain these radionuclides is pretty amazing,” lead researcher Nicholas Fisher said.

Pacific Bluefin tuna can grow to 10 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds. They spawn off the coast of Japan and then swim to California and Mexican waters.

Scientists told Reuters cesium-137 and cesium-134 were detected in 15 tuna caught near San Diego in August 2011, about four months after these chemicals were released into the water off Japan’s east coast.

Doctoral student Daniel Madigan, who studies the migration patterns of tuna at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, noted that the amount of radioactive material detected was far less than the Japanese safety limit.

But according to the group Physicians for Social Responsibility, there is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources.

Madigan claims there were probably much higher levels of cesium 134 present in Bluefin tuna off Japan soon after the accident, as much as 40 to 50 percent higher than normal.

Cesium 134 decays quickly, with a half-life of two years. Bluefin tuna excrete it on a daily basis and it also gets diluted in their bodies as they grow.

When Madigan and Fisher tested for the isotopes in Bluefin tuna that migrated to California before the Fukushima disaster and yellowfin tuna that are native to California waters, the radioactivity wasn’t present, which indicated that it came from Fukushima, Fisher said.

The amount of Cesium 134 and 137 detected in the fish “didn’t come close to exceeding safety limits,” Madigan said, noting that what was in the fish, per gram, is lower than the amount of naturally occurring radioactive potassium found per gram in a banana.

“I wouldn’t tell anyone what’s safe to eat or what’s not safe to eat,” Madigan said in a telephone interview with Reuters.

“It’s become clear that some people feel that any amount of radioactivity, in their minds, is bad and they’d like to avoid it. But compared to what’s there naturally, and what’s established as safety limits, it’s not a large amount at all.”

The Huffington Post suggests Bluefin tuna radiation concerns may be a moot point, because according to seafood distributors interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, Bluefin tuna eaten by Americans is usually farmed.

No Safe Level of Radiation

Please note how most every single main stream media outlet constantly downplays concerns over radioactive contamination.

Reuters points out that unlike some other compounds, radioactive cesium does not quickly sink to the sea bottom but remains dispersed in the water column, from the surface to the ocean floor.

“Fish can swim right through it, ingesting it through their gills, by taking in seawater or by eating organisms that have already taken it in.”

A San Diego news report [via Washington's Blog] warns that the real test of how radioactivity affects tuna populations comes this summer when researchers planned to repeat the study with a larger number of samples.

“Bluefin tuna that journeyed last year were exposed to radiation for about a month. The upcoming travelers have been swimming in radioactive waters for a longer period. How this will affect concentrations of contamination remains to be seen.”

Nicholas Fisher told the BBC that the fish arriving now, and in the coming months to California waters may be carrying considerably more radioactivity and if so they may possibly be a public health hazard.

As Washington’s blog points out, Japanese and U.S. officials are pretending that the amount of radiation found in the bluefin is safe.

“But the overwhelming scientific consensus is that there is no safe level of radiation — and radiation consumed and taken into the body is much more dangerous than background radiation.”

The Benefits of Fish Oil (Infographic)


We’ve already known fish as a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Now fish oil does not only offers you that, it has some other good benefits that you may not have known. Knowing all of this still there are few of the population that rarely eat oily fish and some does not eat at all. Read more and start taking up supplements!

Deadly Teen Drinking Games


College drinking games such as Edward 40 Hands, Beer Pong, Quarters, Dead Man Walk, and Truth or Dare, are some of the games popular with students, where hard liquor is increasingly replacing beer in these games.

“Kids easily drink seven or eight shots at a time,” says a college student of her buddies.

But Dr. Mary Claire O’Brien, an emergency medicine physician and associate professor who specializes in alcohol-related research, says that’s a low figure. “Teens in our studies are having 10 or more drinks.”

According to the Century Council, a leader in the fight against underage drinking, alcohol consumption among youth under the legal drinking age remains at an alarming level.

Many more young people use alcohol than tobacco or illegal drugs. By age 18, more than 70 percent of teens have had at least one drink. At 15, roughly 50 percent have had at least one drink.

Underage drinking occurs in social settings, and according to one source, over 80 percent of those between 12 to 20 who had used alcohol in the past month were with two or more people the last time they drank alcohol.

Teens drink less often than adults, but when teens do drink, they binge which can be deadly. According to the CDC, about 90% of all teen alcohol consumption occurs in the form of binge drinking, which, experts say, peaks at age 19.

“We’re seeing kids coming in with blood alcohol levels in the mid-.3s, even .4, which is four to five times the legal limit for driving. That’s the level at which 50% of people die,” says Dr. O’Brien.

“Ten years ago, we saw those levels only in chronic alcoholics.”

Dr. Michael Siegel, professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, recently completed a study of high school students, and found a growing preference for hard liquor over beer among teens.

“We found that, by far, liquor is the beverage of choice,” Siegel said. This definitely represents a change.”

Possum Tree-Drinking Game

According to a report in the Otago Daily Times, a disturbing drinking game college kids are now playing in New Zealand is called “possum”.

Players sit in a tree, like possums, and consume a pack of 24 beers until they fall out of the tree from drunkenness.

Alan Matchett, a city council gardens and cemeteries team leader said staff first encountered students playing the game about four years ago.

Since then, it’s increased in popularity to the point where gardens staff or security guards are forced to chase away people.

Matchett said his understanding of the game was that multiple people climbed a single tree, taking with them large amounts of alcohol and sometimes food.

Matchett’s staff is working closely with the nearby University of Otago’s Campus Watch in keeping an eye on the area.

Matchett added that food scraps, broken bottles and vomit are often left behind, and there was the potential for someone to get injured falling from a tree.

Additionally, the game has a negative effect on other users of the gardens.

Staff were also concerned about the damage that could be caused to trees, some of which were classed as heritage trees and were more than 100 years old.

Interview with Karen Symington Muendell


Karen Symmington Muendell is someone I truly enjoy knowing. She is a private Chef, caterer, and menu consultant. She also acts, writes, and directs for community and other local theater. As if that was not enough, Karen has recently embarked on a new adventure: Maize Market Management Corp. It is a non-profit company formed to run the Yorktown Farmers’ Market. What I particularly like is that each week, part of the profits are donated to a local charity. Karen took some time to answer a few questions about herself, the market, and what is in store for her in the future.

Blanca Valbuena: Karen, we met through Twitter where I quickly learned that you like to keep yourself busy. Before we chat about Maize Market Management Corp (M3), tell me a bit more about your roles at Serves You Right and at the Examiner.

Karen Symington Muendell: Serves You Right, Culinary LLC is my private Chef/catering company. I cook for clients in their homes as well as cater all types of parties.  I write a food column for Examiner Media called Stick a Fork In It that covers culinary topics of all kinds, plus a blog on Yorktown Patch that is all about the Yorktown Farmers’ Market.  

BV: When did you come up with the idea to start M3?

KSM: At a community outreach meeting on January 31 at Yorktown town hall. I was inspired by all the charitable organizations in the area, and decided the market should be run as a not for profit and donate proceeds to these very worthy charities.

BV: What was your biggest hurdle when starting this non-profit?

KSM: Mostly just the logistics of getting through the paperwork by myself, learning as I went. My family and the community were very supportive, and they gave me the inspiration to get it done.

BV: How many vendors are currently signed on (you can mention them)?

KSM: We currently have 22 vendors. I keep an updated list on the home page of our web site,

BV: Where do you see M3 in five years?

KSM: I hope that we become an asset to Yorktown. There are so many residents doing such amazing, selfless work to help others. It is our great pleasure to put a spotlight on them and an honor to be included among their ranks.  It is also my wish that the children come to appreciate the difference it makes to eat local, seasonal foods and to know where their food comes from.

BV: The profit generated goes back into the community. How do you select the organizations that the funds will be given to?

KSM: We invited those groups at the community outreach meetings (now called YOUnited, for Yorktown Organizations United) to be a COW, or Charitable Organization of the Week. Our COWs are 501(c)(3) groups that live in, support or benefit residents of Yorktown and the surrounding localities.  We currently have COWs that help the blind, cancer patients/survivors, and school children.

BV:  I know you are big into food education. What steps is M3 taking towards educating the community?

KSM: Through my blog in Patch and Chef demonstrations/lectures I hope to reach the adults and parents. Over the summer I will be developing a Market to School program that will be implemented in the fall.

BV: Do you see M3 expanding into other areas?

KSM: We are a proud member of YOUnited and will do whatever we can to further the goals of the group. I have also begun the Arts @ the Market program that invites local visual, performing, literary and culinary artists to showcase their talents each week at 10 and noon under the pavillion at the market.

BV: Who are the other founding members of the organization and how do you split up your roles?

KSM: Our board of directors consists of my husband Ed, Chief Financial Officer, my daughter Danielle Lewandowski, Chief Technology Officer and the COO is myself.

BV: Do you see M3 pairing up with celebrities (like Jamie Oliver) or brands (like Whole Foods)?

KSM: I would love to partner with celebrity chefs, authors or companies that support our philosophy. We offer a unique venue to further the cause of food education while simultaneously benefitting charitable organizations

BV: What advice do you have for someone wishing to start a similar project?

KSM: Enlist help! It was way more difficult and time consuming than I ever expected.

BV: If I were to come visit you, where would we eat?

KSM: I have a couple of favorite restaurants in Westchester: Crabtree’s Kittle House in Chappaqua and Massa‘ in Scarsdale would be my first choices. Of course the best place to eat is at the table on my backyard deck where I serve market sourced meals!

BV: What do you feel is the most important issue in food today?

KSM: Our over-consumption of processed foods. We are getting away from the way we were meant to eat: locally and seasonally. Too many chemicals, unidentifiable and unpronouncable ingredients dominate our diets. As a result we are seeing all kinds of new and increasing medical issues that didn’t exist in our grandparents’ childhoods. We need to bring back the emphasis on knowing where our food comes from.

BV: Any last words?

KSM: I would like to thank the local residents, government officials, charitable organizations, vendors and of course my family for their support and encouragement. This is their market- and I feel fortunate to be a part of the Yorktown community.


LiquiGlide Solves First World Ketchup Problems


Thanks to an invention by MIT doctoral candidate Dave Smith and his team of mechanical engineers and nanotechnology researchers, there will be no more pounding on the bottom of ketchup containers, and a lot less wasted food.

Smith’s invention is called LiquiGlide, a revolutionary super-slippery coating to liberate not only ketchup in a bottle, but mayonnaise and all sorts of other contents in food packaging.

Smith insists LiquiGlide is food safe, made of nontoxic materials, and approved by the FDA. The coating is made entirely from food materials, with no nanoparticles.

Smith claims even if you scraped off the coating with a knife and ate it, it would be completely harmless and flavorless.

Smith describes LiquiGlide as a unique surface because it’s “kind of a structured liquid — it’s rigid like a solid, but it’s lubricated like a liquid.”

It works with many types of packaging and can be applied in any number of ways, including spraying the coating inside of bottles.

“We’ve been able to put it on just about everything we’ve tried so far: glass, plastic, metal, and ceramic,” Smith says.

Thick sauces that would normally move at glacier speed literally free fall out of LiquiGlide-coated bottles. “It just floats right onto the sandwich,” Smith says.

Condiment bottles typically contain quite a bit of food in the bottle when they’re tossed away in the trash. “By our calculations, about 1 million tons of food gets thrown out each year worldwide,” says Smith.

“Also, those squeeze bottles need a big cap. By eliminating the need for such a big cap, we’d save 25,000 tons of petroleum-based plastics each year.”

Smith’s team had originally been working for years on developing various types of surface coatings in different applications.

“We were really interested in — and still are — using this coating for anti-icing, or for preventing clogs that form in oil and gas lines, or for non-wetting applications like, say, on windshields,” Smith says.

“Somehow this sparked the idea of putting it in food bottles. It could be great just for its slippery properties. Plus, most of these other applications have a much longer time to market.”

Smith knew LiquiGlide’s coating for bottles was ready to apply and use immediately. “I mean, it is ready. As you can see.”

Smith says the market for bottles for just the sauces alone is a $17 billion market. “And if all those bottles had our coating, we estimate that we could save about one million tons of food from being thrown out every year.”

LiquiGlide came in second place in MIT’s $100k Entrepreneurship Competition. Smith’s team also took home the audience-choice award.

Check out what happens when you pour ketchup and mayo out of a LiquiGlide-coated bottle on the videos.

Why Coffee & Tea Are Amazing for You (Infographic)


Preparing your cup of coffee is really a good way to wake yourself up. The goodness of coffee or tea brings happiness and productivity to many of us. Some may say they can’t go on their day without a dose of caffeine in their system. It’s safe to say coffee and tea are some of the most popular beverages around the world. While others claim it bad for our system, maybe we should take a look at this Infographic.