A look back at some food-related events that transpired over the past week:
South Beach Wine & Food Festival 2012 tickets went up for sale on Monday. The three-day event runs February 23 to 26, and tickets tend to go fast. Very fast. Paula Deen's Sunday Brunch and the Anta Banderas Winery event hosted by Antonio Banderas sold out during the pre-sale (Lee Schrager predicted the Deen tickets would go first). For info and tickets, go to 2012.sobefest.com.
Monday was also National Food Day, which promotes healthy eating, sustainable farms, alleviation of hunger, the reform of factory farms, the curbing of junk-food marketing to kids, fair conditions for food and farm workers, and an immediate makeover of Guy Fieri.
Main food news on Tuesday was that I made some fresh pumpkin ice cream at home. I also pondered the idea that something else of gastronomic import fitting for this column was happening locally, nationally, or internationally, but just thinking of the possibilities gave me a headache. Or maybe I just ate the ice cream too fast.
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On Wednesday, a new report was released that showed diners are increasingly turning to tap water as their beverage of choice. The NPD Group study, Beverages at Foodservice: Satisfying Our Thirst for Beverages (repetitive title, no?), found that out of the 50 billion beverage servings ordered at restaurants this past year, tap water accounted for 4 billion -- or eight percent. It goes on to note that tap water servings have increased by 2.8 billion servings, while beverages that actually bring in money declined by 2.7 billion servings. Health, budget, and caloric concerns are cited as some of the main reasons for the dramatic turnover. The beverages with steepest declines in sales were carbonated soft drinks and coffee, which account for 49 percent of all restaurant beverages sold.
Thursday brought the big food news of the week: For the first time in a decade, Heinz released a new ketchup flavor: Blended with balsamic vinegar. This is a much more subtle twist on the classic than the last time Heinz fooled around with innovation, which was the green and purple colored concoctions that flopped in the early 2000s. The Telegraph opines on the new balsamic flavor, writing that "The flavor is darker and richer, with a definite hint of tamarind...It is genuinely sophisticated."
To show it's keeping up with the times, on November 14 Heinz is going to initially sell a limited number of the new bottles exclusively on its Facebook page. In December it will go on sale at select retailers such as Walmart and Safeway (for a suggested retail price of $2.49). Now, as Bill Maher says, they just need to come out with a squeeze bottle that doesn't sound like a fart.