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Hoover kids learn to share ­­– not waste — leftover food

24 Apr

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Anyone who has ever prepared food for children knows it’s not always easy to get them to clean their plates or finish a meal.

So you can imagine what it’s like in a school cafeteria, where kids decide for themselves when they’re done and what they will or won’t eat.

Lots of food gets thrown away, but Hoover schools have joined a host of schools across the country that are trying to prevent food waste by implementing what they call “share tables.”

When kids get through eating, if they still have food left over, they can put certain food and drink items on the share table for someone else to pick up.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture does, however, have specific best practices they encourage schools to use if they have share tables, and Hoover schools follow those guidelines, child nutrition director Melinda Bonner said.

Children can only put whole pieces of fruit or unopened prepackaged items, such as a bag of baby carrots or sliced apples, on the share table. Unopened milk or juice containers also are accepted and are put in a container of ice to keep them cool.

At the end of the day, any leftover milk is discarded and food items are donated to Magic City Harvest, a nonprofit that gathers leftover food from grocery stores, restaurants, schools and hospitals and distributes it to agencies that feed people, Bonner said.

But most Hoover schools find ways to distribute leftover food to their own students who need or want it, she said.

At Trace Crossings Elementary, enrichment teacher Jodi Tofani carries the food to her classroom, where kids use it for snacks. Special education teachers who work in her hall get food for their students who might need it, she said. With the exception of two milk bottles, “every single Friday, it’s all gone.”

At Simmons Middle School, child nutrition manager Teresa Short typically carries about 100 items left over from the share table to the bus lines and offers food for kids to take home with them.

“Even though we’re Hoover, we know that children go home and don’t have snacks,” Short said. “It might be a long time ‘til momma comes home and cooks. … We’re trying anything that could help our kids get through to supper.”

Usually, all the food is taken, she said.

Simmons was one of the first Hoover schools to implement share tables, doing so in the 2017-18 school year, Short said. Now, all the schools offer them, Bonner said.

Tofani, at Trace Crossings, said the program required a little bit of training. Kids had to learn they couldn’t take a bite out of an apple and still put it on the share table, she said.

Older students in her enrichment classes made signs to explain the rules and help supervise the table to make sure all the kids know what can and can’t go there.

Tofani’s students counted one day, and there were 158 items donated, she said. Juice, fruit and milk were the main items donated, but sometimes kids will share other things, she said.

Exactly half of those items were picked up by other students during meal times, and the other half were distributed throughout the day, she said. More items are donated during breakfast because by lunchtime, more kids have developed a full appetite, she said.

J.M. Galbraith, one of the fourth-graders who helps with the share table, said most of the children who put food on the table are kindergartners, while the older kids are the ones who take things off of it.

Leilani Bell, a second-grader at Trace Crossings, said she thinks the share table is great. Sometimes, she doesn’t want her cereal, so she’ll put it on the share table so somebody else can have it, she said.

Otherwise, “that’s just wasting your money,” she said. “You have to pay for this food.”

Another time, she picked up a chocolate milk from the share table for herself, she said.

Annabelle Hudson, another second-grader, said she has given to and taken from the share table as well. “I think it’s very kind to share all the food because sharing is caring,” she said.

France’s Galeries Lafayette turns to art and gourmet food to lure shoppers

18 May

France’s chic department store Galeries Lafayette is betting on an art foundation and an Italian gourmet food hall in Paris to help differentiate its brand from bricks-and-mortar rivals and e-commerce competitors.

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The French capital is attracting a wave of investment into luxury stores and premium food halls as retailers seek to capitalize on a rebound in a tourism industry that was badly hurt by a wave of militant attacks in 2015 and 2016.

The foundation, Lafayette Anticipations, opened on March 10 and Galeries Lafayette plans to open its first Italian food emporium, Eataly, next February near the foundation and its BHV Marais lifestyle department store in the Marais district.

“We are building an ecosystem around the BHV store,” said Nicolas Houze, head of the family owned Galeries Lafayette group, which has revenue of 3.8 billion euros ($4.67 billion) and owns BHV Marais.

Galeries Lafayette is part of a club of French high-end retailers turning to gastronomy to lure more people through their doors. It already has a food court at its flagship Boulevard Haussmann store, where foreigners account for half of its clientele.

Le Printemps in January opened a food hall on the 7th and 8th floors of its Haussmann building dedicated to men’s fashion and luxury group LVMH opened a second upmarket La Grande Epicerie store in Paris’s posh 16th district last year.

“With Eataly and the foundation we are creating a shopping destination. We are building an offer much larger than that of BHV,” said Guillaume Pats, head of buying for BHV Marais.

Galeries Lafayette has the exclusive franchise in France for Eataly, the premium chain renowned for selling Italian truffles, wines and pastas around the world.

The three-storey food hall, now under construction, will spread over 3,500 square meters and include seven restaurants serving 2,500 meals a day, a courtyard fruit and vegetable market, cafes and a cellar with more than 800 Italian wines.

Pats said it would draw hip locals and tourists for whom “Italian food is a safe haven abroad”.

The art foundation, which has moving floors and includes an exhibition tower made of glass, metal and concrete, is located in a 19th-century industrial building and hosts art exhibits and performances. It has a working budget of 21 million euros for the next five years and cost 12 million euros to remodel.

How to cook the perfect… vindaloo – recipe

15 Aug

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The peculiar place of vindaloo, a fierily fragrant speciality of Goa in popular culture can be summed up by the 1998 World Cup football anthem of the same name, whose irritatingly catchy chorus references the curry no fewer than 11 times. As the Observer pointed out, its authors, the “prank art collective” Fat Les, “persuaded, among others, a lot of xenophobic, racist Little England football supporters to celebrate an item of Indian cuisine as a quintessential expression of Englishness”. This is despite Goa having been a former Portuguese colony and one of the few parts of India that never saw British rule.

Yet the vindaloo with which most Brits are most familiar – the hottest rung on the generic korma, tikka masala, madras ladder – bears little resemblance to the aromatic, pickle-sour original. Dan Toombs, author of The Curry Guy, dubs them “eight-pint vindaloos”, after the amount of lager needed to finish one. As chef Vivek Singh observes, though vindaloo is probably one of the best- known Indian dishes, “it’s also one of the most misunderstood”.

Thought to be a corruption of the Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos, or meat cooked in wine vinegar and garlic, an authentic, tangy vindaloo tingles the tongue with pepper, clove and other spices, rather than the one-dimensional heat of chilli powder. So unless you’ve got a Goan specialist nearby, if you want to try the real thing, your best bet is to make it at home.

The masala
Whether or not you use it to marinate the meat before cooking, every curry begins with a masala, or spice mix – and in this instance chilli is not the principal ingredient. Though they all use slightly different combinations and amounts, all the recipes I try contain an array of what we might think of as sweet spices – cinnamon, cloves and cardamom – plus a hefty hit of black pepper, and the earthy, nutty flavours of cumin, coriander and turmeric. Chilli powder is generally added for colour, rather than heat, with Jaffrey recommending “bright red paprika” and Stein and Todiwala specifying Kashmiri chilli powder, sold under that name by Indian brands and remarkable for its brick-like hue. According to one Goan of my acquaintance, vindaloo is defined by its “beautiful, deep-red masala”, so be liberal with the mild chilli for maximum authenticity. Jaffrey and Collingham also use mustard seeds, which win points both for their pleasing texture and the little pops of bitter warmth they release.

The vinegar
Though the Portuguese would have originally used wine vinegar (or, some speculate, simply wine that had soured on the long voyage over), the dish was quickly adapted to the local palm vinegar, made from coconut toddy. Collingham notes that if you can get hold of it, “it will add a particularly Goan flavour” to the dish. I manage to source some coconut vinegar, probably made from coconut water, in an Indian grocers (many Oriental stockists may carry a Filipino brand), but as I’m reliably informed, “it’s really hard to find the legit stuff outside the state of Goa, let alone abroad”, I wouldn’t worry too much about hunting a bottle down. Singh uses a mixture of white and malt vinegar, and Stein white-wine vinegar, but the best substitute I find is Jaffrey’s cider vinegar, which has similar sweet notes to the coconut variety.

The vegetables
Todiwala describes the dish as “a sort of meaty pickle, rich and intense in flavour”, which may explain the extraordinary number of onions in his recipe – but, in fact, their sweetness works brilliantly with the tangy vinegar and rich, slightly fatty meat. Much as I dislike chopping the things, it’s worthwhile labour here, especially if you can find the sweeter Indian pink onion; otherwise, yellow ones will work fine. Liberal amounts of garlic and ginger add to the chutney-like effect: rather than crushing them to a paste, however, slice them into thin rounds and strips as Singh suggests, so they don’t get lost in the whole.

Already a place for chefs, bloggers and blaggers

24 Jan

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On entering Roganic, it was clear I needed a new false name for booking tables. “Mitford”, after my beloved Nancy (not her Hitler-loving fruitcake sister Unity) had lasted exactly four critical ambushes before being sussed and spread across hospitality’s intelligence network. Actually, that makes the chef grapevine sound far too chic and diligent. In reality, it’s just chefs lying about at 3am in mildewed underpants screaming, “That bitch!” into WhatsApp group chats.

But I live for this mayhem. I pitched up at Roganic on a Saturday night to find the staff suspiciously alert, with several of them huddled behind reception like the cast of Meerkat Manor sensing a Kalahari thunderstorm. Well played: it’s their job to find stuff like this out, after all. This restaurant, which is both the Second Coming of a much rhapsodised former pop-up and a spin-off of Michelin-bestowed Cumbrian mecca L’Enclume, opened just a month ago. Due to chef/owner Simon Rogan’s rep as a scene leader and striver for high standards, it’s already one of those places that chefs, writers, bloggers, blaggers and miscellaneous food chunterers are expressing vocal intention to visit in 2018. They yearn, they’ll tell you, to experience Rogan’s seaweed custard with caviar, his millet pudding laced with Stichelton and his scallop with gooseberry.

Well, that’s what they’ll say. My industry, like this column, thrives on hot air. My experience of reviewing ornate, long-haul, multi-course, Michelin-teasing, 50 Best-flirting dining is that few people truly want to spend their free time in them. Oh, they claim to, but that’s a lie. It’s not uncommon in any 14-course tasting journey to glance at the gargantuan task ahead and feel a bit like Terry Waite during his extended Lebanese sojourn: your captors are treating you reasonably, but you’d rather be home with a pleasant stew.

Not that Roganic’s staff are not joyous; in fact, they’re so affable, I’d let several of them move into my house. Or that the opening canape of a teensy preserved raspberry tart was not utterly gorgeous: it tasted just like a Robertson’s jam tart. A small, croquettish bundle of pork with eel blobbed with sweet hay cream was a delight, similar to a bunny rabbit version at Fera, Rogan’s previous joint in the capital. That was followed by a neat, palm-sized parcel of pickled kohlrabi stuffed with raw mackerel and wreathed with lovage. All faultless.

Still, after an hour, we still had 10 courses ahead, a task that felt all the more arduous because Blandford Street attracts some of the biggest tosspots in London. It has gorgeous restaurants – Jikoni, Carousel, Trishna and so on – but terrible people painted into a corner of blandness by their own spare cash. This isn’t the eccentric opulence of Chelsea, geed up by Russian and old British money, or Shoreditch, still riding on lost 1990s notions of hipness. This is Marylebone, where rich Harley Street neurologists eat dinner like Trappist monks, then go home to buy Mark Knopfler tickets.

Dinner has highs and lows, but then Rogan’s food is always a deeply subjective experience. It excites and then, minutes later, repulses. Perhaps that’s the point. A ramekin filled with an inch of cold, set seaweed custard appears. What fresh hell? But then a plate of salt-baked celeriac with spindly enoki mushrooms in puddles of whey is fantastic. (I spend the next day researching enoki, and conclude that celeriac with enoki should be on every vegan menu by 2019.) A porridge of millet thick with blue cheese and a clump of bone marrow comes in a mercifully tiny portion. But a small plate of butter-poached halibut with brassicas turns out to be quite wonderful.

Oddly for someone who lacks a sweet tooth, puddings were the stars of the show for me. A mini caramelised douglas fir tarte tatin was a bewildering work of apple architecture: what felt like a million tiny, dainty slivers somehow arranged into a coherent, edible artwork. A notably unpretty gathering of burnt milk ice-cream with a jus of blackcurrant resembled something unsightly that you might find on a pavement, but had us in raptures over its depth of fruity sweetness. It felt churlish to eat it, rather than put it in a glass box and charge a fee to behold it.