Archive for the ‘Food’ Category


Ronald McDonald, Locavore

July 27, 2010

Last week I saw a new commercial from McDonald’s called “From Here“. This is part of a new campaign that focuses on the fact that some of the food consumed at my (Washington State) McDonald’s is sourced “locally”. Potatoes, apples, fish, milk. Yes, McDonald’s has taken the burgeoning “Locavore” trend and turned it into a marketing pitch.

I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that the typical McDonald’s customer is not also someone deeply concerned with things like Locavore and Slow Food and Michael Pollan’s manifesto. Yet, the savvy marketers at McD’s have realized that there is something changing in the overall consumer zeitgeist and everyone is starting to pay more attention to the origin of their food. What works for the best restaurants should certainly work for McDonald’s.

A good fact checker is likely going to demonstrate that similar items at other fast food joints also come from relatively local sources. In the Pacific Northwest we grow a lot of potatoes and apples and produce a lot of milk. Most of that probably ends up consumed within a reasonable radius.

But, facts are beside the point here. The ability to take a concept like Locavore that exists at the fringes of mass market consciousness and turn it into a strong and interesting campaign is just brilliant marketing. Like it or not, but somehow a lot of people are now going to “feel better” about eating at McDonald’s.


Go have that Whopper

February 8, 2006

Low fat diet does not cut health risks.

Of course, watching calories is always a good thing. Skip the chicken strips as an appetizer (or “appeteaser” as crappy chain restaurants sometimes call them).


Trader Joe’s & Whole Foods

November 14, 2005

Trader Joe’s & Whole Foods

This is an appreciation of these two fine stores, from the perspective of both marketer and consumer.

I could buy 90% of all I need in the food/household supplies categories at these two stores. I would need to stop by the chain supermarket or Target for some things like batteries, medicine, cat litter, etc. I also get some nice organic produce delivered to the house every other week by Pioneer Organics.

Whole Foods appeals based on purity, excitement, goodness, wonder, fantasy, light, and air.

Trader Joe’s appeals based on value, variety, humor, practicality, and the feeling of the bazaar.

When you visit WF you enter a world of sunlight, green fields, and endless optimism. The experience they provide is different from almost any other grocery store. The ceilings stretch upwards and the aisles beckon. The corners are clean and the air smells fresh. Compare any one of these to your standard grocery store, or even your local “high end” grocery store, and you see the difference. It always comes back to the light for me. Being in a WF is like being outside. Everything glows. The pleasure comes in the abundance, the tastes, the purity, and the sense of a better world. This is shopping for the soul.

The experience is almost the exact opposite at TJs. The stores are small, narrow, and cramped with food and people. The ceilings are low and the air is compressed around me. It is a scramble to find all the goodies and then get in line. But the joy is in the hunt, the bargains, and the feeling of being in another country altogether. This is shopping for the mind.

I spend too much money at both of these stores, but can’t really get enough.

Visit one or both today. Enjoy the theater of it all.

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Some good things

September 11, 2005

Sometimes just a category of good things is enough to make the blog entry worthwhile.

Here are some good things in my world recently.

Apple iPod nano
You can choose to scoff and you can choose to ignore, but do so at your own peril. I remember being a kid and so deeply immersed in science fiction and the world I had waiting in the future. I had my 1970s and 80s gadgets and thought they were so cool (I doubt anyone reading this remembers Superscope cassette recorders — they were the Apple of their day and the hottest thing I had for a good many years growing up). I always imagined that the future would be filled with devices that could be carried around and do all sorts of things quickly and easily. Yes, Star Trek was an influence on my vision as well. There was something beckoning from tomorrow, and I so wanted to capture it.

The future has arrived. The nano breaks through a number of barriers, both real and Psychological, to create the perfect device of the true 21st Century. Unlike the original iPod, or even the mini, which both had a substantial “thickness” to them, the nano actually feels slim. This feeling of it being slim, something my RAZR barely achieves, is an amazing experience. Somehow, the dimensions are just so that it no longer feel like a “device” but feels more like a piece of information.

Add to this size factor the amazing color screen and the black body (black is clearly the new black) and without even knowing what the device does it is already something to desire. The fact that it plays music, carries pictures, has a set of world clocks (perfect for travelers), and even some simple games is almost beside the point. The nano is a key to a doorway. The doorway opens to the future.

Men’s Vogue

Yes, I am a certified over-35 metrosexual fashion slut. It is not enough that I already read the existing men’s fashion magazines, I once had my own subscription to Vogue itself. I love seeing the clothes, reading the stories, seeing the clothes, admiring the watches and shoes and briefcases, and seeing the clothes. I am not ashamed. I am their target.

Luis Martinez at Liberty Tattoo

The man rocks and did an amazing job on number three for me. Ask me if you want to see and I might oblige.

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of he Kitchen — Harold McGee

Nerds who love to cook (and to eat) are a coveted target demographic lately. This book is the bible of this new religion of food elevated to transcendental consumption. Amazingly enough, I really had not paid attention to the existence of this book until recently. It was being whispered about in many other things I was reading, but never surfaced loudly enough for me to focus. My loss.

McGee explains everything that can be consumed. He does it beautifully and with both depth and breadth. End of review.


It is a city. Visit it. Stay at St. Martins Lane. Eat at Maze and Hakkasan. Buy a shirt at Ted Baker.

Oh, I did that already this week.

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To experience the truffle foam…

August 27, 2005

If you read the various food and lifestyle magazines regularly, as you well should, then you know about the revolution taking place in culinary corners. Lead by the so-called “alchemists of food” like Ferran Adria at el Bulli in Spain, the very elements of our food are being deconstructed, reconstructed, and realigned. Solids become liquids, liquids become powder, and all sense of stability seems lost.

The reason this comes to mind is because I am going to Spain in November and I am not going to be able to enjoy a visit to el Bulli. Adria seems to think it is ok to be closed several months a year, leaving gastrotourists like me out in the cold. What kind of world do we live in?

I could buy Adria’s book and make the recipes myself, but the book is a little pricey. Instead, I think I should just use my imagination.

Here is my imaginary menu:

Peanut butter smoke floating over frozen toast and jam jelly
Crispy tofu chips infused with potato
Diet Coke croutons
Essence of Oreo cookie

Maybe I should buy the book.

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The Borg have arrived in my fridge

August 23, 2005

You remember the Borg, don’t you? They were the merciless aliens that wanted to assimilate humans and traveled around in geometrically perfect (cubes, spheres) ships. They all had some sort of internal RSS system going on, so Seven of Nine could know just what her buds were thinking as soon as they thought it. Geeks loved them.

Having failed to conquer Earth after several seasons on Star Trek, the Borg have clearly decided to try a new tactic. They are shipping cubes of mind altering substances to our stores and we are buying them.

The most recent example is the amazing Ice Tea Squares from Republic of Tea. I have been a long time fan of RoT for their eco-friendly and socially conscious products that taste great and are only a wee bit overpriced. These Ice Tea Squares (they are actually cubes, but geometry is not necessary for brewing good tea) come in three great flavors — Ginger Peach Decaf, Passion Fruit, and Raspberry Quince — and retail for $11.99. I found them in a local Cost Plus for 50% off, a real steal.

Next time, wine cubes!

Resistance is futile.

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Slashfood Check it out with some wine and cheese….

August 19, 2005

SlashfoodCheck it out with some wine and cheese.

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Last week was my two year anniversary at Microsoft…

July 9, 2005

Last week was my two year anniversary at Microsoft. Amazing how I have gotten so caught up in that world. It really takes all my energy just to ensure I don’t get left behind.

Have you watched Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay? It is way too much fun. Even better is to watch the BBC and his Kitchen Nightmares show. The man curses like a demon and cooks like an angel. I had the good fortune to eat at one of his restaurants in London (Gordon Ramsay at Claridges) and know that he truly practices what he preaches.

The most amazing part of the show is how the aspiring cooks seem so oblivious to the simple lessons he is trying to teach. These are not stupid people, they are just stubborn people.

Ah, there is the lesson. We are all stubborn. We all suffer from the same inability to see an alternate perspective and really embrace it. We cling to the notion that our own thought processes — our own brain — could not possibly fail us. Our own intellect is ultimately the only one we can trust.

Hence, why Microsoft exhausts me.

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