Meaty News: FDA Lifting Ban on Italian Cured Pork

Excellent news: Cured pork from small producers in Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, and Piedmont could soon be available in the U.S.

The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services announced last week that the FDA plans to lift its ban by the end of May since the regions were found to be free of swine vesicular disease.

As the L.A. Times points out, the FDA has allowed products from large Italian plants which could afford to follow USDA regulations since 1989, but the new rule will clear the way for much smaller (and more exciting) regional producers to ship.

And as ANSA reported, the economic benefits for Italy could be huge — According to agricultural organization Coldiretti, revenues from new exports are expected to average $327 million a year.


Teenagers Who Eat With Their Parents Are Happier. Seriously.

Remember those family dinners your parents made you endure as a kid? If you do, you probably had a more cheerful childhood than your friends whose meals were parent-free. Fast Company reports that researchers at McGill University found the frequency with which families dine together is “strongly correlated” to participants overall emotional well-being.

Professor Frank Elgar notes that “you don’t have to look like a Norman Rockwell painting” to reap the benefits of a shared meal; simply spending time with loved ones can contribute to more positive mental states, both in the present and future. Now go call your mother. [Fast Company]


Sierra Nevada Will Open an East Coast Brewery This Fall

Ken Grossman remembers the days when American-made beer was a laughable product. Now, 33 years after he founded his California-based Sierra Nevada brewery, the company has grown to become one of the largest beer producers in the country and plans to open its second operation in Mills River, North Carolina–its first on the East Coast–in the fall. Grossman tells Inc., “We went from getting no respect to having German brewers come visit us to see the way we brew. That’s pretty awesome.” [Inc.]


Bad News Bars: Chocolate Really Does Cause Zits

Here’s bummer for a post-Easter-binge Monday: The longtime rumor that chocolate causes acne may be true. BBC News reports that the discussion over whether or not eating sweets will lead to bad skin is one that is still actively being debated by the medical community.

Despite a widely accepted study from 1969 that claimed chocolate had little affect on the skin of its fans (which, ahem, was financed by the Chocolate Manufacturers’ Association of the United States of America), medical student Samantha Block wasn’t buying it and decided to conduct her own research. Though still in trials, Block reports that her chocolate-eating subjects suffer from skin irritation and breakouts.

We only wish this were an April Fools joke. [BBC]


Kinder Egg-Style Chocolate Now Legal in the U.S.

Kinder Surprise Eggs, the Italian-made, toy-filled chocolate Easter candy that was banned in the United States since it was first produced in the 1970s, has suddenly been legalized — or, at least, an American version has. ABC News reports that New Jersey sweets entrepreneur Kevin Glass received FDA approval to sell Choco Treasure, a Kinder-inspired egg, throughout the country. The contraband candy (deemed a “choking hazard” for children) have caused much controversy in the past — so much so, in fact, that one Canadian woman was fined $300 for trying to smuggle a few chocolates into the U.S. Now being sold just in time for Easter, Choco Treasure can be purchased online for $1 – $1.49. Grazie mille, New Jersey. [ABC News]


Heavy Drinkers May Gain Brain Power from Alcohol

Teetotalers take note: Alcohol may benefit the brains of serious drinkers. Researchers at Yale University found that vigorous imbibers can burn acetate (released as the body metabolizes alcohol) more easily than moderate drinkers. Those who binge-drink often are able to “tap into an alternate fuel source” and think more clearly while drunk, similarly to the way a car “can switch to ethanol when it runs out of gasoline.” [Science News via The Atlantic]


New Amsterdam Market Fights for the Seaport

On Thursday, March 14, the New York City Council will hold a public hearing to discuss future plans for South Street Seaport, the city’s oldest communal meeting place. Organizers of the New Amsterdam Market — an outdoor marketplace held in the area — are seeking to “preserve and rehabilitate” the Fulton Fish Market in Lower Manhattan by reestablishing it in its original location (the market moved to Hunts Point in 2005). The New Amsterdam team is encouraging supporters to attend the City Hall meeting, reach out to a councilmember, or sign their “Save Our Seaport” petition. [YouTube]


James Beard Foundation Announces 2013 Chef and Restaurant Award Semifinalists

Hollywood has the Oscars. The food world has the James Beard Awards.

The annual ceremony that recognizes both outstanding and upcoming talent in the restaurant industry has just announced its 2013 crop of semifinalists. The current (incredibly long) list will be narrowed down to finalists on Monday, March 18. The chef and restaurant winners will then be awarded on Monday, May 6, during a celebration at Avery Fisher Hall.

Empellon Cocina and Thirty Acres will compete for Best New Restaurant, while The Bar at The NoMad seeks the award for Best Bar Program. Unsurprisingly, Danny Bowien (Mission Chinese) made the list for Rising Star Chef of the Year.

Also worth noting, New York City has its own category dedicated to outstanding chefs. And while Manhattan clearly dominates that section of the list, the borough bows to Brooklyn for nominations in other categories (Best New Restaurant; Outstanding Wine Program). See who made the first cut below.

April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig
Marco Canora, Hearth
Wylie Dufresne, wd~50
Sara Jenkins, Porsena
Dan Kluger, ABC Kitchen
Mark Ladner, Del Posto
Paul Liebrandt, Corton
Anita Lo, Annisa
George Mendes, Aldea
Carlo Mirarchi, Roberta’s
Seamus Mullen, Tertulia
Joe Ng, RedFarm
Alex Raij and Eder Montero, Txiito
Cesar Ramirez, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare
Sean Rembold, Diner
Masato Shimizu, 15 East
Alex Stupak, Empellón Cocina
Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, Torrisi Italian Specialties
Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto
Michael White, Maea



Benjamin Netanyahu’s Annual Ice Cream Budget is $2,700

Outrage erupted in Jerusalem over the weekend when a financial newspaper announced that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allocated $2,700 per year for ice cream.

According to the report in Yediot Aharonot, Metudela, a local shop near the PM’s residence, served as the official dessert parlor to Netanyahu’s home. Serena Kanfi, the wife of Raphael Kanfi, an owner of the parlor, told the paper that the Netanyahus would order between 6.5 to 8.5 pounds of ice cream a few times per month. Netanyahu has since cancelled his contract with the six-year-old store.


Known for constantly discussing the need to “cut the fat” from government spending, Netanyahu is drawing considerable heat over his appetite for frozen desserts.

The same paper also reported that Netanyhau’s favorite flavor was pistachio, while his wife opted for French vanilla. While it’s unconfirmed, we’re guessing Bibi’s choice is made without Iranian-sourced nuts. [NYT]


Istanbul Prepares for First Shake Shack

On the heels of Bloomberg Businessweek’s outing of America’s young burger billionairess, Eater reports that Shake Shack will open in Istanbul later this year. The New York-based chain from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality group currently operates burger joints across North America and the Middle East. The Spring 2013 project will be the company’s first restaurant in Turkey.

News of further Shack expansion should come as no surprise to fans of the chain. In addition to the overwhelming number of restaurants that have sprouted up in the past few years, an iPhone App that can predict the length of a prospective diner’s line-waiting time also exists.

The company has announced plans to open a location in London as well.