Review Revue: Sun-Times @ Sola, Plus Chocolate & Cop On Top

This week’s S-T doesn’t do much reviewing, per se, but, as usual, it covers a tremendous amount of ground, which we will digest for you, and spit out in order of importance by our arcane calculations:

1) At sola, it is now possible to obtain malasadas, which approximately translates to Portuguese doughnuts. A favorite in Hawaii since the days of sailing (well, since the late 1800s), an order of four of these fried treats is available for $7, and they come with raspberry puree and mango curd for dipping, and they are apparently quite tasty. Why #1? The post is called Review Revue, and this is the closest the S-T comes to one today.

2) We believe we addressed this issue once in passing, and it will probably get a fuller treatment than the one its about to receive, but here’s a pretty good report on the effort to expand the FDA definition of chocolate to include products made with vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter. The current definition requires that products labeled “chocolate” contain both chocolate liquor (what you get when you grind up the meaty part of the cacao bean) and cocoa butter (the fatty component of the bean); while the new definition would continue to require the presence of chocolate liquor, it would allow the use of much cheaper vegetable oil to give chocolate its signature texture and mouth feel (cocoa butter is over three times as expensive). The issue here is not which chocolate would taste better - meaning it’s not an existential question - but the integrity of chocolate as a brand name. Pumping the market full of veggieChocolate without labeling it as such would hurt legitimate chocolate makers. We think this probably won’t fly, because America is irrationally in love with chocolate and would never do anything to hurt it. Why #2? See previous sentence.

3) This is too funny: on May 18, if you see a Dunkin’ Donuts store with a police officer standing on the roof, and donate money to the Special Olympics Torch Run fund, then DD will give you a free donut. The promotion is called Cop on Top (itself problematic), and strikes us as an extremely bizarre and Byzantine of raising money for what sounds like a good cause. We get that cops eat donuts, but nothing else about this scheme makes sense. Are the cops on duty? Why on the roof? That’s scary, like there’s some kind of stakeout. Let’s just hope no one gets shot unnecessarily. Why #3? Your life would be a tad blander if you did not know this piece of information

4) After some unfortunate alcohol-related deaths in Major League Baseball, the Cubs have decided to ban alcohol in their clubhouse and on chartered flights back to Chicago after away games so that players do not get drunk and crash their cars and kill themselves and others. This seems, to us, to be a little extreme - while there shouldn’t need to be alcohol available to players at all times, this isn’t a particularly glowing display of trust on the part of the management toward the team. How about a lecture on not drinking and driving? And aren’t these people wealthy enough to take taxis? Come on. Why #4? Because personal responsibility is important for our city’s millionaires to possess and exercise. Next thing you know, they’ll be banning steroids and amphetamines, too.

5) Well, here’s a controversy: are professional chefs influenced by their mothers? This feel-good piece looks out how the mothers and grandmothers of chefs in restaurants like Kamehachi, Adobo Grill, and Blackbird inspired and informed their cooking careers. Why #5? It’s sort of a duh article, but it reminds us that we love our mothers.

6) Remember how we mentioned the FMI show yesterday, and how articles would be coming out describing the trends and products revealed during the event? Well, here you go! The big trend is less: less fat and sugar, fewer calories, smaller portions. What’s so smart about small-portioned thing is that it goes after the segment of the population for whom dollars are less important than calories. After decades of upping portion sizes to increase total sales, companies are now decreasing portion sizes to increase profit margins. And, ostensibly, to prod consumers into eating less. In terms of new products, think Pillsbury reduced sugar frosting, Reese’s reduced fat peanut butter bars, and Sunsweet individually wrapped prunes (hopefully not dried plums. Why #6? We sincerely hope that individually wrapped prunes solve America’s obesity crisis.

7) Last week’s S-T food section included a piece on Food Network chefs and their respective likeability. Well, we groused about the omission of Alton Brown, and sure enough, a reader addresses the same negligence, remarking that he “could watch his shows over and over.” Why is that? Because Brown’s shows are subversively well constructed, and troublingly funny. Cooking shows are not supposed to be this intelligent! Why #7? It’s only reader comments, but we were vindicated.

[Photo: Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation]


Review Revue: Sun-Times @ Sola, Plus Chocolate & Cop On Top