Olive Garden

Milk Street Cafe Closes After Just 6 Months. Thanks, OWS.

I know there are good people who are members of the Occupy movement.  I know that they have legitimate grievances, many of which I agree with.  Unfortunately they are in an extreme minority.  I’d say they make up no more than 1% of the Occupy crowd.  The other 99% are a bunch of thugs and vagabonds.

Milk Street CafeIn June of this summer Marc Epstein opened a small business called Milk Street Cafe, a 23,000 square-foot eatery located at 40 Wall Street.  The cafe created 91 new jobs.  Then the Occupy Wall Street riots started.

You remember OWS, right?  They claimed to be crusading on behalf of equality, social justice and the rights of a fictitious 99%.  Customers have been unable to get to the cafe because of the riots therefore this Thursday Epstein is closing the doors for good at Milk Street Cafe.  There is only one group at fault for this.  It isn’t the bankers, it isn’t the government and it damned sure it isn’t Epstein’s fault.  Nope, the sole cause for this business failing was the Occupiers.  Period.  Their actions alone caused this.  No amount of rationalization can change that.

Well, this gaggle of d-bags have closed down a promising small business.  Epstein is not the CEO of a mega-billion dollar corporation like Darden Restaurants.  Darden is the parent company of such affronts to the culinary world as Olive Garden and Red Lobster.  Darden actually fits the popular idea of an evil corporation.  No Epstein is a small businessman from Boston who had a simple dream of opening a cafe in the greatest city in the world.  But now that dream has been squashed by a bunch of brats whining about free iPads.

I feel sorry for Epstein and his employees.  They did nothing to deserve this and the Occupy people feel no remorse because the only thing that matters to them is taking from others.  “Everyone has to understand the consequences of their actions,” Epstein said. “I have 90 plus people who put their faith in me. I feel horrible.”

It wasn’t your fault, Mr. Epstein.  The blame rests solely with the childish antics of elitists who think the world owes them a living.  Perhaps the city of New York shares in the blame for not quelling the riots months ago but it is hard to fault someone for wanting to avoid bloodshed.

I also feel sorry for the handful of good, well-meaning members of the Occupy movement who had their cause highjacked by a bunch of trust fund babies who are upset that they weren’t just handed a six-digit salary and three-story home in the burbs just for being born.

Olive Garden Refuses to Let Patron Display American Flag

This story is almost as disgusting as Olive Garden’s food:

Olive Garden Hates AmericaControversy over an Alabama Olive Garden’s refusal to allow a patron to enter the restaurant with an American flag reportedly has prompted the restaurant chain to issue a personal apology from its vice president.

The patron, 80-year-old Marti Warren, told MyFoxAl.com she was outraged after being told she could not bring the flag into the restaurant to attend a Kiwanis Club award banquet.

“This is not my country. This is not my country I grew up with,” Warren said, adding that she and the club then contacted Olive Garden’s parent company, Darden restaurants.

Olive Garden has issued public statements apologizing, including on its Facebook page.

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Michelle Obama & Olive Garden Forge Cartel of Hypocrisy

Michelle Obama Ice CreamIn her squabble with childhood obesity First Lady Michelle Obama has partnered with the fast food equivalent of the sit down restaurant industry, Darden Restaurants.  Darden is the parent company of such culinary counterfeits as Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse.  The crux of their accord centers around a reduction in calories and sodium – 10% over the next five years and 20% within ten.

The meaninglessness of this partnership is many faceted.  So much so that it is hard to figure out where to start but let’s begin with the obvious.  The agreement between Darden and the First Lady is, in every sense of the word, nonbinding.  Should Darden fail to satisfy their end of the bargain there is no penalty.  It is simply a pledge.  Not to mention that there is a very real possibility that in five years Mrs. Obama will no longer be the First Lady.

For Darden’s part this is likely about surviving the ever slowing economy.  In exchange for pledging to reduce calories and sodium they receive a ton of free publicity.  There could also be tax incentives for “the pledge” as recent history has proven that companies willing to support the President have been absolved of any tax liability and/or granted waivers from the President’s oppressive health insurance laws.  No doubt another win for the Orlando-based dining corporation is that though support for the President has waned greatly since inauguration day, Michelle Obama Eating a Cookiemany are still faithful to Mrs. Obama.

Heck, I still like Michelle Obama.  Although I am starting to realize that her efforts such as the White House organic garden and other partnerships with huge fast food chains are largely politically motivated one cannot argue with the positive things to come from them.  More communities are planting gardens and parents are more aware of what they feed their kids.  Regardless of the motivation, the outcome is positive.

Presumably Darden is counting on “the pledge” to convince parents that their food is suddenly healthy.  While reducing calories is a step in the right direction calories and sodium are the least of the dangers of the Darden menu.  The quality of ingredients in use at the typical Darden restaurant is on par with the GMO saturated fare you find at most of the giant fast food chains.  It’s just dressed up on a plate instead of crammed into a bag.

Chief among the gastronomic affronts is Darden’s use of farm-raised imported seafood.  Both Asian farmed shrimp and Chilean farmed salmon contain lethal amounts of toxins.  This is the result of using chemicals to fight infection and illness in farms that contain populations hundreds of times more dense than what is found in nature.

These chemicals are banned from use in the US but are also Michelle Obamaeating French Friesmanufactured here therefore the Big Ag companies that make them have a vested interest in the unfettered flood of imported seafood.  That is why Big Ag companies like Monsanto have “invested” so heartily into the Obama White House and have been rewarded with cabinet posts for their most influential lobbyists like Michael Taylor (FDA), Regina Benjamin (Surgeon General) and Tom Vilsack (USDA).

The disastrous result this influence has had on our food system has meant ever increasing regulation on domestic, sustainable and organic foods and a dangerous lessening of the regulations over factory-farmed, imported and highly processed foods.

Under President George W. Bush a paltry 2% of imported seafood was inspected, however under President Obama that number has dropped to 1%.  Furthermore that scant 1% is checked not by trained inspectors from the USDA or FDA but rather from agents of the Department of Commerce – the same people charged with conducting the US census.  This is quite disconcerting considering that Red Lobster is the largest seafood chain in the US and they haven’t used US shrimp since 1971.

Michelle Obama eating more Ice CreamIt is a little suspicious that the timing of this initiative between the White House and one of the world’s largest restaurant conglomerates occurs just days after lobbyists from the chain restaurant industry (including Darden) petitioned that they be allowed to accept EBT cards (food stamps) for payment on restaurant purchases.  Fast food establishments were added to the list of businesses allowed to accept EBT cards right around the time a number of them decided to make token attempts to lighten their menus.

It seems that if the First Lady were genuine in her goal to improve the diet of American children she would first encourage her husband to severe his ties, both financial and political, with Big Ag companies, effectively closing the Monsanto revolving door.  Then she should focus her energies on reforming the food stamp system so that EBT cards can only be used to purchase whole foods – no canned foods, bags of chips, bottles of soda, no fast food or frozen dinners – just fresh produce, proteins and dairy.

The dirty secret of the childhood obesity epidemic is that the majority of President and First Lady boarding Airforce 1children who fall into this category live in households of the bottom 15% of wage earners.  Their parents are either employed on a part-time basis or not at all.  As a result they have ample time to cook meals from scratch but instead are loading down the cart with processed, high calorie, ready-to-eat foods.

Another thing that Mrs. Obama needs to do to prove she is earnest about childhood obesity is set a better example.  There are literally hundreds of pictures on the Internet of her gorging on junk food like French fries and ice cream.  It is starting to detract from her mission.

I don’t fault the First Lady for eating those foods; they are delicious.  I certainly don’t begrudge her any weight gain.  I, like many Americans have long fought the battle of the bulge.  However, if Mrs. Obama continues to package herself the First Lady of Healthy Diets she has to set an example.  Her well-documented weight gain from the campaign trail to today is startling and threatens (see for yourself below) to undo the good work she has already done.

The First Lady needs to make a decision, either champion a healthy lifestyle or eat whatever she wants but the hypocrisy has got to stop.  America is sick and tired of an administration that repeatedly sets rules that apply to everyone except themselves.  That is after all why we fought a Revolution in the 1770’s.  For more about the Obama/Olive Garden pact check out this article from AP.

Michelle 2007 Michelle 2011

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Mother’s Day Recipes From Food Network Moms

In 1908, Anna M. Jarvis campaigned for the creation of an official Mother’s Day to honor her mother and for peace. Anna petitioned the superintendent of her mother’s church.  She got her wish as the first Mother’s Day celebration took place May 10 of that year.  Anna then spent the rest of her life protesting people for celebrating Mother’s Day.  She ridiculed florists for selling flowers and even petitioned the US  Postal Service to remove the words “Mother’s Day” from a stamp that also feature her own mother on it.  Apparently she was just a tad bit crazy.

Marcela ValladolidMother’s Day is just around the corner.  Rather than prodding mom into the cattle car that is the Olive Garden lobby how about actually cooking her something?  After learning about the originator of Mother’s Day the idea of you cooking for your mother shouldn’t seem quite as crazy.

The Moms of the Food Network have put together a few recipes to help you show your mom a little love.  Marcela Valladolid (pictured above with son Fausto), Sandra Lee, Paula Deen, Gina Neeley and Giada De Laurentiis help you to make a it a Mother’s Day to remember:

: Cream Cheese Filled Bisquits

: Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

  • 2 cups biscuit mix (suggested: Bisquick)
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • Milk, to moisten
  • Flour
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cut cream cheese into biscuit mix until cornmeal consistency. Add enough milk to moisten.
  3. Place dough-like mixture onto floured surface and knead 2 or 3 times. Don’t knead too much or your biscuits will be tough.
  4. Roll dough to desired thickness using a rolling pin and cut out with round cookie cutter. Place biscuits on a greased cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes.

Notice this is a Paula Deen recipe without any butter in it.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)

: Lazy Sunday Mimosa

: Recipe courtesy The Neely’s

  • 1/2 cup pink sanding sugar
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle brut Champagne
  • 4 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 4 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
  1. Dip the rims of the champagne flutes in water. Dip again in the sanding sugar.
  2. Divide Champagne between 2 glasses. Add half of both juices to each glass and top with orange liqueur.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2

Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)

: Guac’ with Fresh Baked Tortilla chips

: Recipe courtesy Marcela Valladolid

Guacamole:

  • 4 firm, ripe avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
  • 1/2 medium white onion, minced (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 medium lime, freshly squeezed (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chips:

  • 12 fresh corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt

To make the guacamole:

  1. In a medium bowl, coarsely mash the avocado. Lightly mix in the onion, cilantro and the lime juice. Season the guacamole liberally with salt and pepper.

To make the chips:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Brush each tortilla lightly with oil. Slice the tortillas into 8ths. Using 2 baking sheets, distribute half the chips onto each sheet, making sure they are evenly spread out and not overlapping. (If the chips overlap they will not crisp in the oven.)
  3. Bake on the top rack until golden and crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven to a serving bowl. Season with salt and serve immediately.

Cook’s Note: Season your chips with chipotle powder and/or garlic salt before baking for extra flavor.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Culinary tradition: Mexican

: Sparkling Cider Mimosa

: Recipe courtesy Sandra Lee

  • 1 (25.4-ounce) bottle sparkling apple cider
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  1. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and pour into chilled champagne flutes.

Preparation time: 2 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Culinary tradition: Italian

: Jade’s Mini Pancakes with Blueberries

: Recipe Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Pancakes:

  • 1 cup buttermilk pancake mix (recommended: Krusteaz Buttermilk)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pint blueberries
  1. Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the pancake mix and water until just blended and slightly lumpy. Melt the butter on the griddle. For each pancake, add 1 tablespoon of batter to the griddle. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes each side until golden brown.
  3. In a clean bowl, using an electric hand held mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream until thick. Add the sugar and vanilla. Continue whipping until the cream forms stiff peaks.
  4. Top the pancakes with whipped cream and fresh blueberries.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 8 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

 

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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