Archive - January 2013

Soda, Sweet Drinks, Increases Risk of Depression


Several studies have already linked a diet high in processed food with depression, and adds to an existing body of solid research that shows the strong links between what we eat and our mental health.

Drinking soda has long been associated with weight gain and obesity, which can lead to diabetes. And studies have also linked soda consumption with pancreatic cancer.

Additional studies claim drinking diet soda daily significantly increase the risk of developing a stroke, heart attack and other serious vascular issues.

Now a recent study claims that sweetened beverages, including soda, increases the risk of depression in older adults. And artificial sweeteners have an even worse effect on mood.

“Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical — and may have important mental — health consequences,” study author Dr. Honglei Chen, a researcher with the National Institutes of Health, said in a written statement.

Soda, tea, fruit punch and coffee consumption was recorded for all participants — 263,925 people between the ages of 50 and 71. Out of all of the subjects, 11,311 had been diagnosed with depression.

“People who drank more than four cans of soda per day were 30 percent more likely to be depressed than those who did not drink sweetened drinks. Interestingly, diet soda drinkers had a higher chance of being diagnosed than their counterparts who drank the regular versions of soda, fruit punch and iced tea.”

Some doctors are skeptical about the connection.

“There is much more evidence that people who are depressed crave sweet things than there is to suggest that sweetened beverages cause depression,” Dr. Kenneth M. Heilman, a professor of neurology at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, told WebMD.

The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego from March 16-23.

Coffee Lowers Depression

The same researcher, study author Dr. Honglei Chen, claimed coffee drinkers who consumed four or more cups of coffee a day had a 10 percent lower chance of experiencing depression.

“Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk,” Chen said, adding that “More research is needed to confirm these findings.”

Another study found women who drink four cups of coffee per day are 20 percent less likely to be clinically depressed than women who drink only one cup of coffee per week.

“Depression risk decreases with increasing caffeinated coffee consumption, according to the scholars whose study conducted on 50,739 women.”

In fact, a growing body of research shows that coffee drinkers are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia, and have fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes. Donald Hensrud, M.D., claims that for most people the health benefits outweigh the risks.

List of possible health risks that come from drinking soda:

Weight gain
Pancreatic cancer
Heart attack
Vascular disease

Superbowl 2013


Sunday, February 3 is the day you’ve been waiting for, Superbowl 47. But you’ve been too busy to even think about where to watch the game or what to eat. No worries, we’ve got you covered.

Hecho en Dumbo: 354 Bowery – New York - Chef Mena will be serving his now-legendary alitas de pollo (Mexican chicken wings) and cantina’s signature short rib and pork belly sliders. Best part, you can then wash it all down with a michelada or… dos…or tres.

Fort Reno: 652 Union St. – Park Slope – Brooklyn: You throw the best Superbowl party in town, but you can’t cook. Make your life easier and skip the cooking, let Fort Reno cater your party. Satisfy your guests with racks of St. Louis Ribs, slabs of Fatty Beef Brisket, and whole BBQ Chickens. Smoked meats and hearty sides like Mac & Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, and Burnt End Beans come by the pound. Super Bowl platters can be customized and made for parties of any size. To place an order, email fortrenobbq at gmail dot com. I suggest you order soon, their food is off the hook.

Pera Soho: 54 Thompson Street – SoHo-  On Sunday, February 3rd, Pera Soho will be hosting a Super Bowl XLVII celebration. The Mediterranean restaurant features a sophisticated, large bar set up that will be showing the game along with happy hour prices throughout the duration of the game.  The special menu includes half priced bottles of wine along with delectable dishes, such House Signature Chicken “Shashlik,” Wild Mushroom Pappardelle and Mediterranean Sea Bass a la Plancha for only $29 per person.

Provence en Boite: 263 Smith St.- Cobble Hill/Brooklyn - Chef Jean Jacques Bernat wants to help you make Valentine’s Special. He has created a 4 course dinner to enjoy along with French music. They will start off the evening with a glass of rose Champagne. Once you’re ready for your meal you’ll have choices including spicy shrimp and mango on a pastry shell. For appetizers, you have a choice of either a salmon tartare or a homemade terrine of foie gras. There are two choices for entrees, and for dessert, a sweet surprise

Rosa Mexicano – Various Locations - If you’re throwing a Superbowl party, you have to have Guacamole. Why not order the best guac in town? Place and order for the Rosa Mexicano signature Guacamole en Molcajete in a super size to enjoy on game day. A combination of avocado, jalapeno, tomato, onion and cilantro available for delivery, these “super-BOWLS” of guac feature a green pile of goodness alongside warm house-made tortilla chips.

Trattoria Cinque: 363 Greenwich St. – Tribeca - They’re ready for you with ten flatscreen TVs and their family style menu. “What’s on the menu?” you ask: 12 Italian chicken wings ($9), 5 meatballs parmigiana ($12), margherita pizza ($10), burgers ($12), their fried veggie basket ($4), and draft beers for just $4. If you have a large group you can even reserve a TV front table.

Windsor Gansevoort Park: 420 Park Avenue South – Murray Hill/Kipp’s Bay – They will be throwing a full-blown Super Bowl Party starting at 4 pm. Each banquette at the Windsor has its own personal flat screen TV in addition to the four larger flat screens that line the walls, which guarantees a perfect viewing.  While viewing the game, there will be a DJ, seasonal cocktails and comfort food and snacks suitable for sharing including sliders, tuna tartar with wonton chips, Guinness battered fish & chips, truffle grilled cheese and the Windsor signature burger. The neighborhood bar will be taking guests by invitation and reservation with minimums for all tables.

Leading Wine Company Dumps NRA


Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family owned winery, has moved to cut ties from the National Rifle Association after it was disclosed that it was one of 20 Australian producers sold on the group’s wine club.

The Herald Sun reports the privately owned Barossa Valley company will begin to track how four of its wines made it onto the NRA’s profit-making club.

Owner Robert Hill Smith said he did not want Yalumba associated with the a pro-gun political lobby, even though it was a legal entity.

And the reason is no doubt because the wine club’s profits go directly to the NRA’s campaign stance to fight for Americans’ right to own and carry guns.

“Your purchase will directly benefit the NRA’s continuing support of America’s right to keep and bear arms and the other basic freedoms of the American culture,” Mr La Pierre says on the NRA’s website.

Robert Hill Smith commented: “Philosophically, I’m not disposed towards the NRA, which runs counter to my family’s, and I would think all my employees’, positions on gun laws.”

“We will act to withdraw our stock or at least not service the account any longer.”

The Huffington Post notes the NRA Wine Club is run with help from wine club specialist Vinesse.

The club’s website asks wine-lovers to “Support the National Rifle Association and America’s second Amendment rights by purchasing your wine through the NRA Wine Club.”

NRA membership is not a requirement to joining the wine club, but a portion of the profits from the hundreds of wines available online go directly to the NRA.

Leading Australian producers also on the wine club listings include St Hallett, Jim Barry Wines, d’Arenberg, Tahbilk, and Primo Estate. Many companies contacted by news agencies claimed to be unaware their wines were being sold to profit the NRA.

As the Huffington Post points out, despite these developments, the NRA’s membership has actually seen a sharp rise since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

In the month following the shooting, membership rose by 250,000 people.

Viagra A Weight Loss Pill?


According to a published report in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany claim the erectile-dysfunction drug Viagra, may work as a weight loss agent by burning away excess fat.

Viagra, generically known as sildenafil, helped convert undesirable white fat cells to energy-burning beige fat cells in laboratory mice.

Douglas Quenqua with The New York Times notes it was known that mice fed Viagra became less prone to obesity when fed a high-fat diet, but what was not clear was why.

Dr. Alexander Pfeifer, director of the university’s Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology, said he already had some clues:

Viagra works by preventing the degradation of the intercellular messenger cGMP. Dr. Pfeifer has long been testing the effects of cGMP on fat cells.

Dr. Pfeifer fed the drug to mice for seven days and monitored their fat cells. Pfeifer concluded the white fat cells associated with weigh gain were being converted to the beneficial type of fat cells at a higher rate than usual.

Dr. Pfeifer considers the results “very promising.”

But Dr. Pfeifer cautions the public against taking the drug purely for dieting purposes.

“The idea to have one pill and then obesity goes away, that is a dream, but not easy to come by,” he said.

“What we are up to is basic research in mice. This pill is approved by the F.D.A. for a particular purpose for a reason.”


As with all drugs, there are side effects to consider. PubMed Health lists the following adverse effects:

Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.

Change in how much or how often you urinate, or painful urination.

Chest pain, especially if it spreads to your jaw or arm.

Priapism: Erection that is painful or lasts longer than 4 hours.

Heart Issues: Fast, slow, or uneven heartbeat.

Fever or sudden increase in body temperature.

Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting.


Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.

Vision Issues: Sudden changes in your vision or changes in how you see colors (especially blue or green).

Hearing loss: Sudden decrease in hearing or hearing loss, ringing in the ears, or dizziness.

Sudden or severe headache.

Trouble breathing.

Joint or muscle pain.

Skin rash.

Stuffy or runny nose.

Tiredness or weakness.

Trouble with sleeping, or feeling anxious.

Upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, or indigestion.

Warmth or redness in your face, neck, arms, or upper chest.

In July 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that sildenafil could lead to vision impairment in rare cases and a number of studies have linked sildenafil use with nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy.

Rare but serious adverse effects include priapism, severe hypotension, heart attack, ventricular arrhythmias, stroke, increased intraocular pressure, and sudden hearing loss.

Vitafusion Multi-vite, Gummy Vitamins For Adults, 150-Count Review


Overall Rating (based on customer reviews): 4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

You want to be healthy. We all do. But it’s hard to eat healthy all the time. When you go out to a restaurant and order a salad, chances are it’s actually not healthy. There’s a reason those brussel sprouts are so delicious. There are studies that find that people who take multivitamins are healthier than those who don’t. Although these studies have not found a direct correlation between taking multivitamins and this better health, but I’ve chosen not to take a chance. I take two of these multivitamins per day…you know…just in case. They taste great too. It’s kind of a treat.

 The specs of ‘Vitafusion Multi-vite, Gummy Vitamins For Adults, 150-Count’ are:
  • Manufacturer: Vitafusion (2010-09-03)
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6×3.2×3.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

 Some Real Customer Reviews from Amazon:

“Great for those of us who can’t swallow pills…..”

I bought these because I wanted to take a multivitamin but I have a really hard time taking large pills. I kept buying other brands of multivitamins and then let them sit on the shelf until they expired. These I take EVERY day, sometimes I’m even tempted to take them twice! I’ve been taking them for about half a year now. One nice thing about this vitamin is that it is gluten free even though many gummies are not. It is also free of milk, eggs, peanuts or soy (as listed on the bottle).…Read more

“For Adults too!…..”

These are great for adults that have difficulty swallowing pills! And they taste great too! You are getting a great, all natural vitamin/mineral supplement in a easy to take form. YUMMY…Read more

Interview with Firebird Chef Paul Joseph

Chef Paul Joseph

When I was invited to dine at FireBird, I was not expecting much. The area is known for sub-par restaurants with Prix-Fixe theater menus. I could not have been more wrong. FireBird is lovely in every sense of the word. The restaurant is decorated in classic Russian luxury. There are golden details, beautiful paintings, antique furniture. But what’s really impressive is the almost modernist take Chef Paul Joseph imbues on classic Russian dishes. I left immediately wanting to go back. I am thrilled that Chef Joseph took time to answer a few of my questions. Seriously, read on…and make reservations. I think their Valentine’s Day menu would be a perfect way to experience FireBird.

Blanca Valbuena: While everything I ate at FireBird was delicious, I remember how amazing the vegetables were. This was the reason I asked to meet you. Imagine my surprise when an almost vegan Rastafarian Chef came out to meet me. How did you end up as a meat cooking chef?

Chef Paul Joseph: I wanted to be a successful chef and be recognized at what I do by my peers. To do so, I knew I had to take everything in the kitchen very serious. Whether it’s fish, meat, pork or vegetables. My philosophy is everything has its purpose and reason in the kitchen, nothing personal was too interfered with what I do in the kitchen that would reflect the dining room.

BV: Tell me a little more about your background; did you grow up cooking, or was this something that developed later in life?

CPJ: Growing up, I always had a love for numbers. And throughout my teenage years, any organization that dealt with math I would join it. I went to college and earn a degree in accounting. My change of career came when I’d realized as much as I love math, I was doing the same thing days in days out, crunching numbers as an accountant. One day I took a part time job at a very unusual place for a future chef to begin a career in culinary art. There, it reminded me of growing up in Haiti as a child in a semi-large family where it was a ritual that all four of my siblings’ and i must know how to cook as part of our household choirs. The two oldest and I had to rotate on the days of the week for cooking responsibilities. These were fun days and bragging right days, allowing one to say, he-or-she is the best cook in the family. But at times one didn’t want to boast to much as it would have you cooking for the entire week an addition to your other choirs. From that moment, my first cooking job and the thoughts of my childhood memories, I knew there was no turning back for me. I became fascinated with my work as a line cook and my new environment. I recalled telling myself “This is it, cooking makes me feel happy, adventurous, it fills my heart with joy.” At that point I knew my love affair with cooking would begin.

BV: You’ve worked at steakhouses like Bobby Vans, and your proteins are spectacular. Being a vegan, how do you get to such perfection in your meats?

CPJ: I am very particular with the meat proteins that I served to my guests. I put a lot of respect and understanding in each ingredient making sure the dish is balance and support each other intrinsic flavor. My research and continue studies, it allows me to fully understand the full aspect and essence of any ingredient which I intend to use to create a free range meat or a game dish. As a vegetarian chef, I tell everyone, I’m not cooking for my own preference in a restaurant setting that’s why I have a kitchen at home. I cook with the inspiration of total guest satisfaction, catering to excite and create memorable dining experiences that not only meet our guests’ expectations; to exceed beyond their imaginable thoughts

BV: You have cornered almost every aspect of the market, from catering to executive chef. What would you say is the biggest difference between the two?

CPJ: Both positions allow one to be very creative in menu planning, cooking and plate presentation. The differences between the two are management level and production time.

A catering chef has a forecast-function sheet with an accurate food selections and guest counts, which makes it a little easier to plan with purchasing, staff scheduling and productions. Also, having the benefit to precook and pre-plate at the time of an event. On the other hand, the restaurant chef does have to be very conscious on how he plans his day to day production and service. He/she have to function on accurate timing from mise en place, cooking, to plate service in conjunction with the front of the house.

BV: FireBird is inspired by Stravinsky’s ballet. Do you take inspiration from the ballet in your dishes, or is there another force; another muse behind your creative forces?

CPJ: FireBird is best known for its décor, collectable arts, rare Russian books, and for having the original costume from Stravinsky ballet, and mostly for being name by the late Baroness Irina von der Launits. My role as the executive chef is to bring and additional art form with my cuisine. And my art is not just for the food to look pretty on the plate, but too create a symphony of flavors in the mouth to enhance our guest overall dining experience at FireBird

BV: Can you describe Russian cuisine for those who don’t know it outside of vodka and caviar?

CPJ: Russian cuisine is a multi-culture expanse of the old Soviet and accent by French influence. Like any culture its foundations were set by peasant cooking from wheat, rye, millet. Cured meat and fish is a favorite especially during the winter. Soup and stew are among family traditions as of fish and game meat. Here at FireBird, the menu focus on the well-known regions like Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine and the Baltics, and occasionally, I will add a not-so-well known region to the mix. Every dish is composed to surpass our guest expectations, while remaining authentic and true to the region and the dish itself

BV: Who in your life has influenced your cooking the most?

CPJ: A lot of people have influence and made a big contribution in my cooking. to name a few I’ll start with my loving mother, who’s cooking to this day always pleases my soul. Chef Scott Cutaneo of the former Le Petit Chateau, who introduced me to the basic, yet fundamental of classical French cuisine. Philippe Lièvre of Le Rendez Vous, for the love and passion of French food by using only fresh ingredients. My loving wife, who makes sure that I stay consistent with my craft and that I don’t get side track with my cuisine.

BV: What is the biggest misconception you see from people just stepping into the culinary field?

CPJ: They all want fame. They want to be celebrity chefs and not having to pay their dues and failing to learn the basic fundamental of the trade. I tell all my interns, being a chef does not make you a great cook. Being a great cook does not make you a chef. One needs to balance both in order to achieve any sort of success.

BV: What is your best tip for a cooking novice?

CPJ: He/she has to be passionate and be very dedicated about the field. They must be open minded and be ready to learn new methods at all times. Focus. Accept criticism, whether it’s good or bad. Be ready to work long hours and understand that your coworkers are your extended family members.

BV: What has been the biggest change to the industry, the biggest disruptor?

CPJ: I would have to say a lack of focus on the basic fundamental of cooking, fresh and healthy ingredients. Too many restaurants are using prepackaged, processed or frozen products on their menus. It maybe good for business as far as labor cost, food cost and inventory controlled goes, but the quality of the product is totally different and the health of the consumers is not taking into consideration

BV: There is a lot of competition in New York, especially on restaurant row. What do you think sets FireBird apart?

CPJ: FireBird is not just a Russian restaurant in Manhattan or restaurant row. We are a different brand of restaurant. What have our guests coming back while attracting new ones, and building new grounds is that we aim for simplicity with elegance. In the kitchen I only use fresh and local, incorporating only organic grown produce, free range meat, game animals and sustainable ingredients. The décor of each dining room will transform our guests to the era of the old St. Petersburg with a twist of modern Russia. Our front of the house service is rated among NYC best. The wine selections along with our vodka list surprise a lot of our guest. When one dines at FireBird restaurant, they leave with the sentiment of a Tsar-Tanzanian.

BV: What is your favorite cookbook?

CPJ: I don’t have a favorite cookbook per se, since I collect so many. Majority of my cookbooks are used for reference, to understand ingredients since I rarely taste the dishes. I will read a cookbook to learn more about the author, to understand his/her culinary vision, they road to perfection, and appreciate they joy of cooking.

BV: Would you ever consider opening up a vegan restaurant?

CPJ: A tough one… maybe in the near future, I haven’t given it much thought because I’m too busy being in love with what I’m doing at the present moment.

BV: What is the thing that makes you most proud about your kitchens?

CPJ: My culinary team members, from the sous chefs to the stewards. From the way they execute the day to day needs of production, flawless service and how they always look to improve and better the way the kitchen runs and operate. They desire to maintain a clean and organized kitchen.

BV: Any chance of you publishing a cookbook soon?

CPJ: Currently I am working on two books. One is focusing mostly on my works at FireBird, my classical French training years and exploring the world of culinary. The second book is a joint collaboration with my wife and me, a memoir of my journey from Haiti to America.

BV: Can you share a recipe for the home cook?

CPJ: This is one of the signature dishes at the restaurant: Lobster Versasia with avocado butter, lemon citronade, micro herb salad

Step I
Lemon Citronade
2 oz Toasted Sesame Oil
1 oz Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Pomegranate juice
3 ½ tbsp Sugar

Whisk the sugar, pomegranate juice & the lemon juice together. Slowly add the sesame oil.
Refrigerate for 2 hours

Avocado Butter
1 large Tomato ‘medium diced’
2 tbsp Red Onion ‘small diced’
2 tbsp Yellow Pepper ‘small diced’
2 tbsp Green Pepper ‘small diced’
3 tbsp Cilantro ‘chopped’
2 ea Avocado ‘small diced’
to taste Salt & Pepper
3 ea Avocado “smooth into a paste”

In a mixing bowl combine all the ingredients and add 2 tbsp of the citronade. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate

Step II
Lobster Salad
1 ½ lb Lobster Meat ‘medium diced’
2 tbsp Snow Peas ‘small diced’
2 tbsp Roasted Red Pepper ‘small diced’
2 tbsp Green Peppers ‘small diced’
1 tbs Red Onion ‘small diced’
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients add the desire amount of dressing and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Step III
1c Micro Green & Herb Salad
¼c Bull Blood Micro
¼c Chive ‘1 inch cut’
¼c Parsley ‘no stems’
¼c Celery Leaf ‘no stems’
¼c Chervil “no stems”

Mix all ingredients together then refrigerate until serving

Step IV

To Assemble

Place a 3 ½ by 3 inch ring mold in the center of the plate (9 o’clock position)
add 3oz of the Lobster Mixture
now add 2oz of the Avocado Butter
finish by topping it with the Lobster Mixture

lightly dress the micro and herb salad with the lemon citronade
add salt & pepper to taste
place the salad on the right side (3 o’clock position) of the Lobster Versasia
remove the ring mold
repeat the same steps for the next plates then serve.

FireBird is located at 365 W 46th St, New York, NY (Theater District/Midtown) (212) 586-0244


End of The Line For Trader Joe’s “Two-Buck Chuck”


Cathy Bussewitz with the Press Democrat points out that for the past 10 years, shoppers at Trader Joe’s stores in California have paid just $1.99 for a bottle of Charles Shaw shiraz or cabernet sauvignon, earning the nickname “Two-Buck Chuck” for its pleasing low price.

Now the new price is $2.49. But as Cathy notes, most shoppers outside a Trader Joe’s store in Santa Rosa said the wine is still a good value at $2.49.

The Charles Shaw brand was able to maintain such low prices for so long in part because its parent company, Bronco Wine Co., owns 45,000 acres of vineyard land, said Harvey Posert, spokesman for Bronco.

Posert claims it helps the company ride out wild fluctuations in grape prices like those the industry has seen in recent years.

“If there’s one grape too many, the price dips,” Posert said. “If there’s one grape too few, the price zips up. In the sense of being the largest grape grower, Bronco can ride many of these ups and downs.

“But there were bad crops in 2010 and 2011, and that certainly impacted the industry,” he said.

Even so, the retail price is set by Trader Joe’s, Posert said. A display case in the store’s wine aisle labels Charles Shaw as Trader Joe’s best-selling wine. The brand sold about 5 million cases last year, Posert said.

“In general, our retail prices change only when our costs change,” Alison Mochizuki, director of public relations for Trader Joe’s, said.

“We’ve held a $1.99 retail price for 11 years. Quite a bit has happened during those years and the move to $2.49 allows us to offer the same quality that has made the wine famous the world over.”

“My friends all like it,” said Virginia Schrock, 86, of Santa Rosa. “Nobody sticks up their nose if you serve ‘Two-Buck Chuck.’ ”

But Cathy claims many shoppers in Wine Country have avoided the brand because it’s too cheap for their tastes.

“You can’t really take it to a party where people know wine,” said Barbara Levinson, 63, of Santa Rosa. “I have a lot of friends in the wine business, so they’re kind of particular. Snobby.”

But in other states and some East Coast markets where the same wine sells for $2.99 a bottle, it’s known as “Three-Buck Chuck.”

Nevertheless, Cathy says for some California customers, paying more than $2 for Charles Shaw wine will never feel right.

Let’s face it, “Two-Buck Chuck” was barely drinkable at $1.99, and even more undrinkable at $2.49. But you can still add it when cooking spaghetti sauce for a tangy zip.

State Stops Sale Price of Milk Because It’s Too Cheap


Louisiana state regulators recently prohibited Fresh Market’s (a supermarket chain) weekly milk promotional deal because the price was too cheap, which violates state law.

Fresh Market was forced to pull milk from its $2.99 once-a-week promotion after a state auditor objected to the low price. The supermarket routinely sells a gallon of (skim, 1 percent, 2 percent or whole) milk for $2.99 on Tuesdays, limiting the quantity to four per customer.

But state law requires retailers’ markups to be no less than 6 percent of the invoice cost after adding freight charges.

“They can sell it 6 percent over cost all day long. It’s when they sell it below cost that it becomes a problem,” said State Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain.

During the second week of January, the price for a gallon of whole milk in Baton Rouge ranged from $4 to $6.89.

Drewry Sackett, Fresh Market’s marketing, public relations and community relations manager said, “Because milk is a commodity product with regulated costs that are subject to change, at the current cost, due to Louisiana state law, we are unable to honor the $2.99 Tuesday deal for (Fresh Market) milk….”

Lafayette stockbroker Kenneth Daigle said he is outraged that the state would intervene in order to control a retail store’s prices.

“Should we do the same thing with bread? Should we do the same thing with soft drinks?” he asked.

Strain said the regulations exist to keep the price of milk as low as possible. Allowing a supermarket to sell milk below cost could drive competitors out of business, allowing the store to then increase the price of milk, he said.

Daigle disagrees with Strain’s approach.

He said it is understandable for states to regulate the wholesale price, ensuring that farmers receive fair compensation for their labor. Controlling the price on the grocery store shelf is heavy-handed, Daigle said.

“If retailers want to take a loss, so be it,” he said.

Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog comments: “Yep, at a time when millions are struggling every day to make ends meet, the state of Louisiana has decided it’s a priority that the cost of milk is higher for consumers in the state. This is exactly what happens when bureaucrats exert to much influence in our daily lives.”

Krieger adds: “No one can seem to put a banker in jail, but sell milk too cheap and regulators are all over you. What a disgrace.”

Where to celebrate Valentine’s in NYC 2013


Two weeks until Valentine’s Day. If you procrastinate like I do. There’s no need to worry. We’ve compiled not one, not two, but three lists of restaurants that are offering memorable  Valentine’s Day menus. So get off your behind, pick up that phone and make those resos.

Abboccato: 136 West 55th Street – Central Park South/Midtown - This year, Abboccato will feature a special four-course valentine’s day menu with mozzarella in Carrozza, crispy mozzarella and brioche served with a salad of arugula, speck, walnuts, moscato-truffle vinaigrette, and much more. The menu costs $70 per person or $100 when paired with select Italian Wines. 

Benares - 45 Murray Street – World Trade Center/Tribeca - Chef Peter Beck of the newly opened Benares in Tribeca will present a lush 4 course Indian menu on Valentine’s Day, comprised of regional seafood, vegetarian, and meat specialties from the 28 states of India at $45 per person. Dishes will include duck Pantra (duck breast crepe marinated in ginger, garlic, and spices), Cheema Thenga (marinated jumbo prawns simmered in coconut milk), and an assortment of Indian Sweets.

Hakkasan – 311 W 43rd St- Theater District/Port Authority - Hakkasan will be offering a 7- course prix fixe dinner for $98 per person, which includes a glass of rosé champagne. Featured menu items includes a steamed dim sum platter (nothing says love like dumplings),  seared scallops with Nashi pear and sweet mango, and Kurobuta pork with aged vinegar sauce. You and your sweetheart can enjoy a chocolate orange with dark chocolate mousse, blood orange, marshmallows, and chocolate crumbs for dessert. The special Valentine’s Day menu will be offered in addition to the a la carte menu.

Hill Cafe – 17 Putnam Avenue – Clinton Hill – Brooklyn - This French American bistro in Clinton Hill will offer a 3 course prix fixe for $30 per person from chef/owner Samuel Beket.  On the menu are items like crab bisque with truffles, truffle oil and chives, a grilled rack of lamb with butter beans, kale and potato cottage, and peach crème brulee for dessert.  A vegetarian option will be available upon request.

Jones Wood Foundry: 401 East 76th Street – Upper East Side - Jones Wood will be catering to both those in love and those looking for love. Their 20 seat communal table will be set for those who are unattached and still want to have an amazing meal on this day of romance. The “Couples-Free” $45 3 course menu will include succulent dishes such as an open faced lobster and ox-tail ravioli, and an herb crusted rack of lamb. Those of you who are attached need not fret. Jones Wood Foundry has reserved its  candlelit dining room as couples-only environment. The Valentine’s day menu at $55 per person includes dishes such as Chef Jason Hicks’s delicious savory pies such as lamb rosemary or steak & kidney pie.

La Mar Cebicheria: 11 Madison Avenue – Madison Square Park/Flatiron - Executive Chef Victoriano Lopez has worked with famed Peruvian Chef Gaston Acurio for over 18 years. They’ve created an a la carte Peruvian feast for Valentine’s Day. The menu is seafood heavy, which means that you will be light and ready for romance. There’s nothing worse for romance than an overly full stomach. Dishes on the menu include a Cebiche classico made of fluke in leche de trigre with red onion, habaneros, and Peruvian corn. There is also lobster & Cau Cau, grilled Maine lobster, creamy rice seasoned with Peruvian Cau Cau, diced potatoes, peas, carrots, and mint.

Molyvos: 871 Seventh Avenue – Central Park South/Midtown – You may not hit up Santorini for Valentine’s Day, but you can whisk your loved one away to taste its dishes. This Valentine’s Day, Chef Jim Botsacos has put together a 3-course prix-fixe menu featuring dishes such as seared Big eye tuna with a red endive salad, pan roasted sea scallops with wild mushroom, and more. The menu costs $55 per person or $85 when paired with select Greek wines.

Palo Santo: 652 Union Street – Park Slope/Brooklyn - Chef Jacques Gautier is preparing a five course menu with meat, fish and vegetarian options. The full menu features Montauk pearl oysters, lobster tacos, artichoke hearts, and special dishes for couples to share like grass-fed Ribeye and whole grilled sea bass for two. $150 per couple (add $25 per person for wine pairings).

The Quarter: 522 Hudson St. – West Village - The Quarter’s 4 course $60 Valentine’s Day menu will transport you to the Mediterrrean and the Far East. Get started with a flat bread accompanied by house made lamb bacon, goat cheese and Brussels sprouts. Then move onto the Pork & Clams, it’s a grilled double cut pork chop with Little Neck clams, peas, and crispy garlic.

Trattoria Cinque: 363 Greenwich Street – Tribeca - Milanese Chef Mirco Grassini brings you a touch of amore this Valentine’s Day with his 4-course prix fixe menu ($60 per person, $90 with wine pairings). Some choices include calamari with spinach, lobster risotto, turbot with artichokes, and for dessert Cioccolatissimo.

Gatorade Removes Flame Retardant From Ingredients


Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is banned in food throughout Europe and Japan, yet BVO has been added to 10 percent of sodas in North America for decades. Now BVO will no longer be included in Gatorade sports drinks.

Molly Carter, a spokeswoman for Gatorade owner PepsiCo Inc., said the company has been considering the move for more than a year, working on a way to take out the ingredient without affecting the flavor of the drink.

In other words, PepsiCo’s main concern is with maintaining the flavor of the drink, not any health risks to consumers associated with the flame retardant in their drink.

Carter told the Lost Angeles Times that a petition on to drop the chemical – which has more than 200,000 supporters – did not inspire the decision, though she acknowledged that consumer feedback was the main impetus.

According to an article in Scientific American, scientists suggest BVO could be building up in human tissues and studies on mice have shown reproductive and behavioral problems linked to large doses of the chemical.

Carter says the reformulated Gatorade flavors will start rolling out in the next few months. “There’s no hard date for the launch because we’re not recalling Gatorade,” she said. “We don’t think our products are unsafe. We don’t think there are health or safety risks.”

But according to research on Brominated vegetable oil there are plenty of health and safety risks.

Condensed from Environmental Health News:

* Data in rats show that BVO could be toxic. A 1971 study by Canadian researchers found that rats fed a diet containing 0.5 percent brominated oils grew heavy hearts and developed lesions in their heart muscle.

In a later study, in 1983, rats fed the same oils had behavioral problems, and those fed 1 percent BVO had trouble conceiving. At 2 percent, they were unable to reproduce.

* In 1997, emergency room doctors at University of California, Davis reported a patient with severe bromine intoxication from drinking two to four liters of orange soda every day. He developed headaches, fatigue, ataxia (loss of muscle coordination) and memory loss.

* In a 2003 case reported in Ohio, a 63-year-old man developed ulcers on his swollen hands after drinking eight liters of Red Rudy Squirt every day for several months. The man was diagnosed with bromoderma, a rare skin hypersensitivity to bromine exposure. The patient quit drinking the brominated soft drink and months later recovered.

Based on data from the early studies, the FDA removed brominated vegetable oil from its Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list for flavor additives in 1970, but BVO was reinstated after studies from an industry group from 1971 to 1974 supposedly demonstrated a level of safety.

In 1977, the FDA approved the interim use of BVO in fruit-flavored beverages.

Drinks with BVO Listed in Their Ingredients

Some drinks with BVO listed in their ingredients are:

Mountain Dew
Fanta Orange
Sunkist Pineapple
Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange
Powerade Strawberry Lemonade
Fresca Original Citrus

In Mountain Dew, brominated vegetable oil is listed next-to-last, between disodium EDTA and Yellow 5.

Why To Avoid Drinking Beer From Clear Glass Bottles


Popular Science writer Martha Harbison explains why “skunking” in beer is very different from a lot of the other ways beer can go bad. Harbison claims beer skunking seems most prominent in lagers such as Corona and Heineken which are typically shipped in clear or light green bottles.

The mechanism and chemical reactions that caused skunking was clarified 12 years ago in a paper — Mechanism for Formation of the Lightstruck Flavor in Beer Revealed by Time-Resolved Electron Paramagnetic Resonance — that appeared in a European Journal.

Researchers used spectroscopy to see how certain compounds in beer behaved as they were irradiated with light, and found that there are two distinct pathways that allow skunky-smelling compounds in your beer: hop alpha acids and light.

Not heat. Not oxygen. LIGHT.

The bittering agent generated from hops while boiling beer wort is a compound called isohumulone. Both ultraviolet light and visible light can degrade isohumulone creating a series of reactions that eventually produce the compound 3-methylbut-2-ene-1-thiol.

“That mouthful, known colloquially as 3-MBT, is your skunk. In fact, 3-MBT is chemically very similar to one of the three main compounds found in a skunk’s defense spray,” says Harbison.

With clear, green or blue bottles, the glass doesn’t filter out the ultraviolet and blue wavelengths that start the skunking reaction, adds Harbison.

Brown bottles are much better at keeping those wavelengths out of your beer.

In recent years, “advanced hop products” such as chemically modified hop extracts have proven to be “light stable.”

Harbison claims not to know if Heineken or Corona use these in their beers.

“But recent work by scientists in Belgium indicates that even these ostensibly light-impervious hop extracts still generate off-flavors from exposure to light, including an “onion-like” compound 2-sulphanyl-3-methylbutanol — just not to the degree that raw hops do.”

If you want to avoid the skunk entirely, Harbison advises buying a beer that has been packaged in a keg, cask or can.

“Those beers can (and do) develop bad flavors, but you’ll never get one that has been skunked.”