Go Wiki Yourself

Quick, name the one marketing step you can take that will have the largest possible effect on your company’s online presence, yet is totally, completely free?

I’d have been hard pressed to come up with a good response before last week, when brilliant young CBS Interactive editor Andrew Nusca tipped me off. The answer is: make sure you have a Wikipedia page.

A Wikipedia page not only immediately lists your business in one of the most-searched global databases, it also adds organic (and valid) search engine weight to your own website, when you make sure Wikipedia links back to it.

Nusca and his wife, with some beerNusca and his wife, with beer

Continue reading Go Wiki Yourself

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee with an AeroPress

“Something no more miraculous than a cup of coffee is enough transcendence for one day.”
My Dinner with André

I’ve written before about the AeroPress as the pinnacle coffee-making method. One of its best features is how amazingly easy it is to use, but it can seem daunting at first. All the specifics—how much water to use, how to grind, how and when to pour and press—are left to personal choice.

As a starting point, I present below a step-by-step guide to my brewing process (which I act out every single morning). Tweak the measurements to your taste to create the best cups of coffee you’ve ever had.

Continue reading How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee with an AeroPress

Romantic Plastic: The AeroPress – Best Coffee Ever

Not only does the AeroPress manage to look both futuristic and friendly at the same time, it makes the best (and easiest) cup of coffee I have ever had. And that’s saying a lot.

I started drinking coffee early on. Growing up in New York City, it was unavoidable. Starting around 9th grade, I would cop Anthora paper cups at the deli around the corner from my Upper West Side apartment. In 10th grade I officially became a regular at the diner down the street from my high school, where I’m sure the waitress loved when we piled in to a booth, six at a time, and ordered only cups of steaming, burnt swill, accompanied perhaps by a side of grilled corn muffin.

It wasn’t until sophomore year in college, when I met my future husband, that I actually tasted really great coffee. My caffeine addiction – by this point I couldn’t make it coffee-less past noon without a splitting headache – led me to spend an large amount of time in the many cafes of  Providence, RI. While Starbucks had already begun its march to nationwide dominance, the green mermaid had yet to reach this New England town. Continue reading Romantic Plastic: The AeroPress – Best Coffee Ever

A Speck of Zen

Restaurants serve food. And talented chefs can blend flavors and textures in exciting and delicious ways.

But simply knowing how to prepare good, delicious or even phenomenal cuisine does not a great establishment make.

In order for a place to succeed, the ambiance has to please, and the food must arrive on schedule.

Shola Olunloyo has designed Speck — his forthcoming New American in the Piazza at Schmidts — to achieve just that.

The kitchen is a focal point. The chefs are on display, visible from almost every seat in the house, behind the open counter that hosts a nightly tasting menu.

A carefully thought-out arrangement of interlocking counters, stoves, refrigerators and storage allows up to seven cooks to work the small space at once.  High-tech automatic ovens and circulator baths are tucked behind thick metal planchas and smooth induction burners. Continue reading A Speck of Zen

Black & White & Red Sauce All Over

Gemelli, it says on page 114, “is an example of  pasta architecture at its best.”

Yes,  PASTA architecture.

There are hundreds of different shapes and figures of noodles, dumplings and other dough designs.

The Geometry of Pasta is an intriguing and appealing exploration of this world.

Each chapter in the alphabetically organized cookbook describes a certain pasta, looking at the history of its contours, ingredients and etymology.

With a nod to function following form, co-author chef Jacob Kennedy provides recipes using types of sauces or accompaniments that best suit each pasta’s design.

In Italy, this pairing of shape and flavor is an essential component in construction of the perfect pasta dish.

That’s what gave graphic designer Caz Hildebrand, the other author, the idea for the book.

But it’s Hildebrand’s gorgeous black and white illustrations that really bring the pages to life, vividly showcasing the diversity of forms and figures.

Combined with snippets of old Italian wisdom (“He who looks at magnitude is often mistaken: A grain of pepper conquers lasagna with its strength.“), the bold graphics make this a book you won’t want to put down, even when it’s time to cook.

Who knew grayscale line drawings could make you so ravenous?

[Thanks to Eric Smith at Quirk Books for the review copy, and h/t Drew Lazor at Citypaper]

Blade Switch

Kyocera Corporation makes solar cells, telecommunications equipment, semiconductor packages and dental implants, among other products.

The common thread? Ceramics.

For the retail consumer, advanced ceramics offers ultra-sharp, precise kitchen knives.

Unlike metal, ceramic blades (usually made from zirconia) will never rust, and their edge will stay sharp up to ten times longer than steel.

Chemical inertness makes them impervious to smells and stains.

Additionally, ceramic weighs much less than metal, resulting in a knife that is easy to wield with precision.

On the other hand, some feel they are more trouble than they are worth.

Sharpening can only be accomplished with diamond-based sharpeners, and the blade is extremely brittle.

The knife will shatter like glass if dropped on a hard surface. Attempting to cut through bone or frozen materials can cause splintering. Using the knife in a twisting or prying motion can cause it to snap.

Black blades that have gone through an extra hot firing process are somewhat tougher (and very elegant).

Though more expensive than traditional knives, the accuracy of ceramic knives makes them downright fun to use.

And at only $25, there’s no excuse to skip the mandoline for easy homemade potato chips.

Is There a Café in the House?

Headhouse Cafe RenderingsCenter City Philadelphia is in the midst of an urban renaissance.

For the first time since the 1950’s the census will show an increase in the city’s population.

The city’s restaurant scene is exploding with tons of new spots, including our new Iron Chef star Jose Garces’ & Philly pioneer Stephen Starr’s recent openings with more on the way.

However, funding for public spaces is scarce. (See: threat of no holiday lighting in Rittenhouse Square; on a larger scale, major downsizing & possible closures of the entire Pennsylvania park system.)

Because of this, several neighborhoods are leaning on the restaurant boom: Cafe Cret opened on the Ben Franklin Parkway, and Franklin Square enjoyed great success bringing in SquareBurger.

South Street Headhouse District might be next.

A multi-step improvement plan is in the works. Philly Councilman Frank DiCicco secured money for the already-completed first phase. This past week saw the dedication of a new fountain at 2nd & Lombard.

The fountain, which had been in disrepair, now boasts a child-friendly, rubberized basin, colorful LED lighting and more seating. New, programmable water jets feature an ananemometer to measure wind speed and automatically adjust the height of the spray.

On one side of the fountain sit the Headhouse Shambles — home to one of Philly’s biggest & best farmers’ markets. On the other currently sits a mishmosh of parking spaces & asphalt.

Cope Linder Architects, who provided the design for Phase 1, have ready a preliminary design for this area which would reclaim much of the space from cars.

fountainIt involves an expanded, landscaped pedestrian walkway from the fountain up to the South Street end of the block, where a pavilion with a café will be built. Such a café might bring not only a steady stream of revenue from concession sales, but also encourage more pedestrian traffic for neighboring establishments.

Barry Essinger of Cope Linder even brought up the possibility of closing off the whole street on weekends or holidays, creating a vibrant. car-free mall like those in Buenos Aires or the new Times Square.

South Street is already morphing into a much nicer, more upscale tourist destination. This redevelopment would be a welcome bridge from South to historic Society Hill, and even all the way to Independence Mall and Old City.

Build it! (and they will come….)

Steel Petals

girasolePhiladelphia’s Girasole restaurant just added a beautiful, original sign to mark its location, just off Broad Street on Pine.

Instead of neon or plastic, the metal frame of the sign surrounds hand-crafted steel sculpture.

An elegant rendering of the restaurant’s name in bronze- and silver-colored cut metal rests over a blue-burnished background.

At the top, the restaurant’s signature flower (Italian for sunflower = girasole) shines down like the sun.

The overlapping petals — appearing somehow delicate, yet strong — allow glimpses of the real sky to peep through and are different on each side of the sign.

It’s a wonderful example of the work coming out of Chora Leone Art & Design in Atlantic County, NJ.

Jose Chora and Judy Leone have been creating together for over 15 years, and last year opened a gallery in Somers Point, NJ.

I caught up with Judy via telephone and she was kind enough to send over some additional photos of their works.  He works with the metals and she does the mosaics.

Peep some of their other artworks below. Continue reading Steel Petals

Arôme with a View

The room is only there for a year, July 2009-July 2010, and it was put in place by a crane.


Only 12 reservations are available each day, and only for a few moments as the clock ticks over to 10 am Paris time.

arthome3You don’t get to pick your menu, nor your accompanying beverages.

But Art Home Paris might well be the most awesome restaurant in the world right now.

Designed by minimalist architect Pascal Grasso, the temporary structure sits atop the Palais de Tokyo museum, with a sweeping view of downtown Paris and the Eiffel Tower.

The dining space is called Nomiya, after a restaurant in Japan, seats 12, and is encased in floor to ceiling glass on three sides.

arthome4Chef Gilles Stassart’s open kitchen is protected by a metal skein, perforated in patterns reminiscent of the Aurora Borealis.

Meticulously prepared and plated with an eye for spatial design, the food is reportedly excellent.

Most online reviews are for lunch, instead of dinner, though. Reservations for dinner are simply too hard to score.

Guests can see the whole kitchen, and are invited to ask questions of the chef while he is plating.

Tours of the space are offered daily, as are workshops with the culinary director.

A garden sits on the roof level slightly below the restaurant, providing herbs and vegetables for the kitchen.

Though English words, the name of the restaurant is cleverer than it first appears: in French it is pronounced “arôme” (aroma).

Beautiful & delicious.


[via Shola & dezeen]

All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Ideas in Food

I like to be inspired by my clients.

One of the best things about running your own business is the relative luxury of choosing with whom you work.

While sometimes time constraints force compromises in design and code, the best case scenario is when there is opportunity to address details.

Aki and Alex have strong convictions and are extremely particular. Yet they are also avid explorers and open to new ideas.

This comes across in their food. Hopefully also in their new website.