Monday, March 12, 2012

Around The Culinary World

Hello again everyone! It’s Monday AND it’s the first week after we’ve sprung forward and lost a whole hour of sleep for daylight savings time. In other words, most people probably won’t be in the best of moods today! On the positive side, that means that it will be brighter later into the day, it will be warming up with each passing week and the NCAA basketball tournament (I.E. the best month of the sporting year) begins this week. To sweeten the good news – it’s also time for another edition of Around The Culinary World. See? The good news trumps the bad when you look at it that way! It’s another full week of culinary stories and reports, so let’s dive right in!

Green Mountain Coffee found a great market with the Keurig single serving coffee maker. It turns out that there was a market to be found in the instant – no clean up – quick and easy coffee category (go figure...) Green Mountain has benefited greatly from tapping into this market and holding the patents to the Keurig brewing system. Their revenues have increased over the past year and their stock price has risen considerably during this time as well. Unfortunately for Green Mountain, their patents expire in 2012, meaning the single serve coffee market will be open for competition in the coming years.

Last Thursday, Starbucks announced their own version of a single serve coffee machine dubbed ‘Verismo’. While it is a single serve coffee maker, the Verismo is targeting a different audience. Starbuck’s machine is a high pressure coffee brewer, meaning it will make espressos and other higher end drinks. Starbucks has yet to announce the price of the Verismo, but it is widely expected to command a high price point due to the type of machine it will be.

Starbucks also makes a K-Cup variant of their coffee for Keurig machines. Although nothing was specifically outlined, analysts are speculating that Starbucks will maintain this relationship and approach the at home coffee market on three fronts; ground coffee, K-Cups and the high end Verismo.

So, while Green Mountain may not have to worry specifically about Starbucks taking away their market share, they will have to be concerned with other manufacturers entering the market once their patent expires. The end result for consumers, however, is likely to be greater competition and lower prices. You can read more about Starbucks announcement HERE.

Expiration dates are always a big topic of debate at our house. Maggie is the type who likes to throw things away as soon as they hit their ‘best by’ or ‘use before’ date. I like to be a little more investigative and look at what the product is, if it’s been opened and other variables before I decide to toss something. In the past, we’ve shared stories backing up my point of view on this topic – essentially saying that most ‘best by dates’ rarely impact the quality of the food.

This time, however, I’ve found a story that backs Maggie’s point of view (Drat). HERE are 5 interesting facts about expiration dates that may just change the way you analyze expired foods in your own home.

Whole grain pasta has inexplicably earned a ‘bad tasting’ reputation. 100% wheat or grain pasta is better for you in almost every nutritional category when compared to traditional pasta, and (from our personal experience) typically tastes exactly like or even better than traditional white flour based pastas.

Yet, despite these facts, most consumers associate whole grain pasta with a ‘cardboard’ taste or even lower quality texture. That could just be chalked up to buying the wrong brands – so, which brands avoid tasting like the box they came in and are actually worth giving a shot? Check out the results of a head to head taste test HERE and find out.

Imagine for a moment that you were a massive chocoholic (Okay, for some readers – this won’t be much of a stretch) and you particularly enjoy the Nestle Crunch chocolate bar or the occasional Butterfinger. Now, imagine one day you wake up and find that these products are completely gone from the store shelves and will not return for the foreseeable future. One country doesn’t have to imagine this situation – it really happened. Which country did Nestle cut off from its candy supply, and what was the reason behind it? Check out the story HERE.

Salt is an essential element of our diets. Without it, our bodies could not function. From a culinary perspective – salt is a very wide and varied category with countless options for the chef to use. Even with all of these options available– you really cannot use the wrong form of salt in your recipe (in most situations). Well…except for one form.

Polish authorities have recalled over 500,000 of pickles, bread and other locally produced products due to the wrong type of salt being included in production. So, what was the gaffe? Sea salt instead of kosher? Nope – the recall occurred after inspectors found ROAD SALT in a large number of products.

While the levels of toxins present in the salt were not high enough to pose a serious health risk if consumed by humans, authorities are erring on the side of caution and recalling all of the products in question to ensure that consumer safety is maintained.

Poland is a large exporter of pickles, canned vegetables and other products. A widespread oversight like this can do a lot of damage to the food industry of a region. We’ll keep an eye on this story as it develops – it will be interesting to see how the rest of the culinary world reacts to this announcement. You can read more about this story (and there’s a lot to read) HERE.

NOT for consumption

That’s all the news that’s fit to blog about this week. (road salted pickles, whole wheat pasta comparisons and a coffee battle – doesn’t get more varied than that!) We’ve got a couple of quick and easy recipes lined up this week that are perfect for the weeknight cook. Be sure to stop in Tuesday to see what Maggie has cooking. I’ll follow her on Wednesday with a great weeknight meal of my own. Until Tuesday,

~ Cheers

1 comment:

  1. Food and beverage companies have long fought the battle of keeping their consumers happy and their products fresh. Evey once in a while, in random acts of desperation, the scheming minds behind our foods can think a bit too far outside the box.