Vienna sausages a good fit in hurricane kit
Storm threats this month remind Floridians of what's important: gasoline, plywood and Vienna sausages.
Yep, Armour meat packers and their NASCAR spokesdrivers took to the air as Fay approached in rare radio spots for the tiny canned sausages.
"America's favorite in good times — and bad'' was the tagline. Whereas fans of Viennas turn them into salads, stir-fries, scrambled eggs, beans and rice year-round, the wiener's little cousins have never achieved the iconic storm status of Spam.
They do have one advantage over other canned, ready-to-eat goods: They require no can opener.
Viennas have gone flavor crazy with lite, barbecue, Cajun, jalapeno, hot 'n' spicy, smoked and honey mustard versions. Still about a buck per 5-ounce can.
Publix moving into make-ahead meals
Some operators have given up on make-'n'-take meal assembly lines, but one giant competitor is giving it a go.
Publix will open its first stand-alone Apron's Make-Ahead Meals to Go outside its store in FishHawk Ranch in Lithia on Sept. 4.
The supermarket will offer 14 entrees a month, from steak fajitas to turkey with blueberry chutney, serving four to six.
Shoppers can put together dinners in two-hour sessions as at other meal assembly operations or have the staff do it for an extra charge. Meals can be bought in a package of three for $59.95 or 12 for $189.95.
The Apron's store will also sell grab-and-go meals, side dishes (from $3.99 to $6.99) and wine.
A trial in-store program did well in Jacksonville, said spokeswoman Shannon Patten, and Publix hopes to expand the concept soon.
Ha Long Bay menu shifts toward Chinese
When we reviewed Ha Long Bay a few weeks ago, the St. Petersburg restaurant (5944 34th St. N, Suite 38-41; (727) 522-9988) was steeped in Vietnamese cuisine. Since then, the owners have tinkered with the formula, expanding on the dim sum cart service on the weekends (more veggie dishes, more shrimp), and added a range of traditional Chinese-American crowd-pleasers. The boba shakes stay, but the bulk of the Vietnamese dishes have been jettisoned.
Top honors for Renaissance Tampa
Fabrizio Schenardi, executive chef of Pelagia Trattoria, and Jim Bartholomay, general manager of the Renaissance Tampa Hotel International Plaza, have been named 2007's best from the worldwide ranks of Renaissance Hotels & Resorts. This marks the first time two winners from a single Renaissance property have been honored in the same year. Both Schenardi and Bartholomay have been at their respective positions throughout the four years that the Renaissance Tampa Hotel and Pelagia have been open.
Who has an appetite for eating contests?
Do we really need a competitive-eating reality show? The Food Network thinks so. In fact, the network is casting "high-energy, dynamic and competitive two-member teams . . . who are 25 to 45 and have some connection, knowledge or experience in the food industry" right now. We guess the setting is Los Angeles, with the designated eaters chewing and swallowing at high-end eateries all over town in between traffic jams.
Doesn't seem particularly au courant. Grotesque, high-end overeating seems wrong on so many levels. Also doesn't seem like a show that will have any legs among the world's foodies.
Chris Sherman and Laura Reiley