Smoking ban updates

Alabama is the newest state to start flirting with a smoking ban, proving that even the countriest of states are succumbing to cosmopolitan tobacco panic. It’s a less strict ban than many, but could have unintended consequences. Tom Pearson, who may soon be unable to light up with his less than 6% abv beers, has the roundup.

Elsewhere, both houses of the Iowa legislature have passed ban bills, while in Kansas a ban and tax increase are both dying in committee.


Tasty events at National Geographic

National Geographic’s Live! series has some enticing food events coming up this spring in DC. First up, on April 2, is the Grand Sushi and Sake night, featuring sushi, sake, and Japanese beers. Preceding the event will be a speech by author Trevor Corson, whose lobster slaying skills have been previously mentioned on this blog.

Next is the Master Cheesemonger’s Favorites on April 30, hosted by Steven Jenkins, author of the extremely useful Cheese Primer. In addition to rare cheeses, Best Cellars co-founder Joshua Wesson will provide a selection of wines.

Finally, on May 8, Brooklyn brewmaster Garrett Oliver brings in beers from the Italian Beer Renaissance. I’m a big fan of his guide to beer, The Brewmaster’s Table, and had a fantastic time at his tasting of twelve bottle-fermented ales last year. It’s sure to be a worthwhile night for beer lovers, and if it’s anything like last year’s, still a great deal at $75.


Pushing spherification

The New York Times reports that Remy Cointreau is pushing a kit to New York bars that will allow them to use the technique of spherification to make little balls of Cointreau caviar. I’m not all that interested in the kit, but I would buy the Pearl Former that comes with it in a heartbeat:

“They’ve created this crazy dispenser that looks like an oregano dispenser at a pizza parlor, but it’s got heavy glass and a metal top that screws on,” said Dale DeGroff, the cocktail educator and consultant, who is working with Rémy Cointreau on the project. “You turn it upside down and shake it and out comes this stuff, and as soon as it hits the calcium bath it turns into these little gold globules.”

The dispenser lets a bartender form enough orbs to garnish 10 cocktails in a matter of minutes, Mr. DeGroff said.

Spherification isn’t something I’ll be breaking out at Open City anytime soon, but with a device like that I’d be more tempted to try it at home. Hell, I’m tempted anyway. It’s only a matter of time before I give in and buy the chemicals.

Elsewhere: David Barzelay got me interested in trying out spherification with this EatFoo post.


Smokers are just acting cool

Sadly, this loophole probably isn’t going to last, but I have to give major props to the Minnesota bars holding “theater nights” this weekend to get around the new state smoking ban. By dubbing patrons “actors,” they’re able to able to use a portion of the law allowing smoking in theatrical productions. 50-100 bars are expected to get in on the idea this weekend, after seeing attendance go way up at the bars that have tried it already.


What are you eating tonight?

The calorie information in this Men’s Health list of “The 20 Worst Foods in America” doesn’t scare me nearly so much as the photos make me glad to live in a city where I can avoid major restaurant chains. Presented as served instead of as seen on glossy menus, these are not appetizing dishes. (I’ll make an exception for the Carl’s Jr. burger. That’s one chain I’d be glad to have in town.)


Big Food, Big Tobacco, Big… Email?

Good gravy, what will the nanny statists think of next?

Should Blackberries and other potentially addictive devices come with a health warning? It’s an idea floated by UK researchers studying technology addiction…

[Researcher Nada Kakabadse says that] “companies offer technologies like PDAs and Blackberies and just expect people to learn how to use them. They don’t consider the possible negative sides. New technology gives a feeling of having more control, but it may be only a feeling.

We don’t want to be in a situation in a few years similar to that with fast food or tobacco today. We need to pay attention to how people react to potentially habit-forming technologies and respond with appropriate education and policies.”

New Scientist reporter Tom Simonite goes right along with her, concluding that “pressure from outside agencies like governments could be the only way to save us from an addiction epidemic.” What next, banning those sexy iPhone ads?