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Morsels: News to Munch On

Posted on 2nd Jun, 2011 by Dan King
Jonathon Kaplan follows his grilled cheese dreams.

Less Heat for More Pork

As if some folks didn’t need an additional excuse to eat more pork, the USDA just came up with another one – a lower cooking-temperature standard. Yes, what Homer Simpson referred to as “that magical animal” now only needs to be heated to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, down from the 160 degrees previously suggested. The new guidelines apply to loin, chops and roasts, though ground pork should still be heated to 160 degrees, according to the USDA. The new standards were spurred on by the fact that typical cuts of pork are 16% leaner than they were 20 years ago, so that the old standards resulted in a lot of overcooked pork.
Not like that stopped anyone.

Easy to be Cheesy

But what I really want to do is cook.
That’s what Jonathan Kaplan, inventor of the flip video camera, seems to be saying, and he’s following through by opening a chain of grilled cheese sandwich restaurants. Kaplan’s The Melt, which is set to open up three downtown San Francisco locations as well as one at Stanford’s shopping center, will combine tech appeal –- sandwiches and soups can be ordered and paid for via smartphone app –- with the down-home goodness of a grilled cheese sandwich, according to Reuters. The menu will be minimal –- cheddar and gruyere melts, tomato-basil and wild mushroom soups, and boxes of Cracker Jacks for good measure –- and service will be quick, as sandwiches will be cranked out in as little as 60 seconds. Kaplan, whose company Pure Digital and its Flip Video brand was acquired by Cisco for $590 million in 2009 but was shuttered last year, is getting funding from VC firm Sequoia, whose past investments include YouTube.

More Hope for Gluten-Free Nation

Gluten-free baked products have gone mainstream.
That’s what the New York Times reported, noting that supermarkets are carrying a wider range of gluten-free flours made out of items like oat and sweet potato, while health food stores now often carry gums such as guar gum and xanthan gum that can be used for baking. And last year, more than 60 cookbooks specializing in gluten-free cooking were published, according to the Times. Demand for gluten-free baked goods has risen as more people discover health problems stemming from gluten. About 6% of the population is adversely affected by gluten that’s found in wheat, rye and barley, the Times said, citing the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research.

Can You Say “Absolut Hangover”?

San Francisco has become the fifth city the makers of Absolut vodka has chosen for its specialty-flavored city series. Absolut SF is infused with grape, papaya and dragon fruit (for shots in Chinatown, we guess) and can be used to make cocktails such as an Absolut SF Collins (which also includes lemon juice), an Absolut SF Foghorn (with grapefruit juice) and an Absolut SF Wild Parrot (which, ah, don’t go there). Absolut released its first city-inspired vodka, Absolut New Orleans, in 2007. Since then, Los Angeles, Boston and Brooklyn have received their own versions of Absolut.

Food, we love you.

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