Monday, June 18, 2012

Robyn O'Brien GMO TED Talk

A great methodical TED talk by Robyn O'Brien about why you should learn more about the world of GMOs and demand that we label our foods.

Robyn O'Brien is a former Wall Street food industry analyst, Robyn brings insight, compassion and detailed analysis to her research into the impact that the global food system is having on the health of our children. She founded [|] and was named by Forbes as one of "20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter." The New York Times has passionately described her as "Food's Erin Brockovich."

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Ration @ the Viceroy

The Ration @ the Viceroy

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Thomas Rekasis (the blurry guy in the background) the Food & Beverage Manager/Spirits Buyer for Viceroy Santa Monica Hotel. Thomas merrily told me how the Viceroy’s Cameo Bar now offers barrel aged cocktails featuring spirits produced strictly in California and aged on the premise in oak barrels.

Utilizing spirits from California distilleries such as Sonoma County’s 1512 Spirits run by a Bay Area Barber (the distillery is named after his day job the 1512 Barber Shop. (And yes you read that right, Nob Hill Barber by day, artisanal distiller by night!)) As part of its We’ve Got Spirit program, the Viceroy is now offers 2 cocktails aged for a minimum of 2 weeks in oak barrels. Each barrel produces no more than 3 liters of the cocktail it holds. When it’s ready, they pour. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
The most tantalizing is the Ration, a drink that was first concocted by Thomas’ grandfather. The Ration is a combination of rum, bourbon, brandy, and orange liqueur that is then stored in a mini whiskey barrel (which I didn't even know come that small) for 3 weeks. After such time it is removed from the barrel and distributed to bottles. Each bottle then has ½ cup apple-wood chips added to it before it is sealed tight.

After being aged 1 week the cocktail is then muddled with lemons, oranges, and a pinch of loose mint. It's shaken, strained over ice, and served in an old-fashioned glass with an orange and lemon peel for the perfect sunset drink.

So get it while it’s good because when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My Dad and the Art of Rainwater Collection

Tony Thomas Rainwater Collection 2
To say that my dad, Tony Thomas, is handy is as much an understatement as saying that food is a complicated and fascinate subject. So when he decided to devise a rainwater collection contraption to self water his tomato plants when he’s away (and save money on an expensive water bill) he became a man on a mission.

Since the entire point of this endeavor was to recycle the natural abundance of Southern Florida (where rain is ubiquitous) he made to sure to use recycled materials whenever possible for the project. His first step was collecting gutters, which were being discarded from a new roofing job. On the logistics sides he had to add down spouts and end caps, cover the top of the gutters so leaves and debris does not enter the system, and paint all the items for esthetic values.

Before setting the rainwater barrels, he had to build a stand to elevate them so he could obtain the pressure to push the water to the plants. This material was also recycled as it was discarded fencing material intended for a landfill.

Once the base was built he could start with the barrels. First he gave them a good washing. Even though they were food grade (some had contained vegetable oil) and he wanted them as clean as possible (very important even for just watering plants). The barrels, which are inverted so that they will self-drain and do not need a pump to dispense (only gravity), were placed on the stand and connected in a series with a manifold arrangement.

Similar to punching a vent in a can, none of the barrels would drain if they were not all vented. The arranged PVC venting/overflow system at the top was devised to vent all of the individual barrels and should they all fill up to overflow out to they bottom of the vent stack. The vent stack was screened at the top so no insects could lay their eggs in the water and the bottom of the overflow has a pantyhose rubber banded over the end (Green yet again) so insects couldn’t invade that way either.

Tony (aka Dad) then added the facets at the end so that he can place both a timer (attached to the drip hose which will run throughout the beds when he’s away) and a regular hose to water individual plants. When I talked to him about this adventure he said it was raining hard that night and that he should have 220 gallons before the night was through.

Super handy and super Green (both environmentally and fiscally)!
Tony Thomas Rainwater Collection 5