There aren’t many reasons to go to Atlantic City, N.J., but give MGM Resorts some credit for trying. The company’s latest addition to the Borgata Resort is Chef Michael Symon’s Sicilian restaurant Angeline, opening May 6.

“This restaurant is so close to my heart, and takes me back to sitting around the family table as a kid, chowing down on my mom’s lasagna. Angeline’s menu is a modern version of the Italian comfort food I grew up with,” says Symon, who named the restaurant after his mother, Angel.

The menu is set to include traditional Italian-American dishes like meatballs and linguini with clams, and there will be a wood grill for lamb, swordfish and other items.

Symon joins other celebrity chefs at the Borgata, including Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, and Geoffrey Zakarian.

Annual visits to Atlantic City have steadily declined since 2006. There are seven casinos still open in the New Jersey beachside resort. For an interesting review of the city’s shuttered doors, visit this article on Curbed.

 

 

Sacramento likes to call itself the “Farm to Fork Capital” because of its role at the center of California’s enormous agriculure industry. And, in recent years, the fine dining scene in Sacramento has mushroomed.

That’s why the region campaigned (and paid) to host the 2016 International Food Bloggers Conference, which runs July 28-31. I am looking forward to exploring the region, meeting farmers, chefs, and others who are helping bring great food to tables all over the country.

In a clever appeal to the seemingly growing interest (or at least conversation) among some Americans about moving to Canada if a certain person with small hands becomes president, Air Canada has launched a campaign inviting Americans to “test drive” their country now. 

“If you’re thinking of moving to Canada, it might make sense to #TestDriveCanada first. Try things out for a weekend or two and discover beautiful destinations while enjoying great value for your dollar.”
My friends in Canada tell me that immigration offices there have been swamped with inquiries. Many people are finding that although Canada is a very welcoming country, Americans may find that moving there permanently may be about as easy as winning a Stanley Cup.

But I certainly see why it may be tempting.

Air Canada’s “test drive” sale fares are available at http://bit.ly/29EfdC9.

Michel et Augustin cookiesWhen French bakery Michel et Augustin arrived in the United States in 2014, its founders brought with them what they describe as a “kooky” idea: Invite people to visit, send them away with cookies to share with friends.

It’s not really all that kooky. Lots of businesses grow by giving away samples. But for these people, it’s practically a religion. If you go to one of the monthly open houses at their modern space in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, you leave with a bag, several packages of cookies, and instructions on what to do with them:

“In your hands? 18 cookies to share. There’s 1 for you and 17 for your friends, family, roommates, neighbors, colleagues, grandma, cousins, bus driver, poney club…”

Untitled
French cookie maker Michel et Augustin welcomes the public to its Brooklyn, NY, home at monthly open houses. Guests leave with bags of cookies.

Odds are, giving one of these cookies to someone will make them a fan. The cookies are really good. Few other baked goods found on grocery store shelves have this much rich butter flavor. Even a commercial baker friend that I shared the cookies with was impressed.

“We want to bake very indulgent cookies,” says Antoine Chauvel, who heads the Michel et Augustin’s sales effort in the United States. “We try to use the best ingredients in the market, very simple ingredients, basic ingredients you can find in your own kitchen – fresh butter, wheat flower, intense chocolate. No weird chemicals.”

Decadence like this is not cheap: a package of eight cookies sells for $7 or $8. And the company has found some grocers reluctant to stock their products because their cookies have a shorter shelf life (about five months) than cookies with highly processed ingredients.

So far, Michel et Augustin cookies can be found in supermarkets in the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut Tri-State area, including Fairway, Gristedes, Westside Market, and CVS stores. The company’s dark chocolate and lemon meringue squares also are sold at Starbucks stores nationwide. (For an interesting account of how the Starbucks deal happened, check out this article from AdWeek.)

“If they like the cookies, they will tell their friends,” says Chauvel. “We believe in word of mouth.”

Cookbook author Katie Workman
Cookbook author Katie Workman demonstrated the coffee-making refrigerator at a media event hosted by GE.

Ever thought about pushing a few buttons from your iPhone while still in bed so that you can stumble into your kitchen a have a fresh cup of coffee instantly? You can do that now. A new GE refrigerator has a built-in single-cup coffee brewer and can be controlled from a smartphone app – from your bed, or anywhere else.

When I first saw the news release about this GE Cafe refrigerator with a built-in Keurig K-Cup coffee brewer, my reaction was that this is a bit much, maybe suited only for the luxury set or gadget-lovers. After I saw a demonstration, my tune changed completely. In fact, I started regretting that I bought my own new refrigerator a couple of months ago, before I learned about this fancy fridge, which I found pretty compelling.

The unit, which lists for $3,300 (and is on sale at Lowe’s for $2,969 through Dec. 1,) has all the features one would expect of a modern French door style refrigerator, including adjustable shelves, excellent lighting, touch-screen controls and Energy Star rating. But it also has the Keurig coffee attachment that slips onto the external hot water dispenser, powered by an instant-heating system so that there’s no concern about hot water affecting the refrigeration inside.

“This is the way people are thinking about coffee these days,” says cookbook author Katie Workman, noting that single-serve coffee consumption has doubled in the past two years. Workman was given one of the refrigerators and has been test-driving it for a couple of months and demonstrated it at GE’s media event in New York. She said the energy efficiency was one of the more noticeable features, and her family liked the convenience of being able to choose their own hot beverages and make them quickly, one at a time. (Workman, whose latest book is Dinner Solved, also is one of my cousins. Her 2012 cookbook, The Mom 100 Cookbook, earned wide acclaim and was named one of the Five Best Weeknight Cookbooks of the past 25 years by Cooking Light.)

Indeed, the National Coffee Association found in its latest survey that single-cup coffee brewer ownership has gone from 15% in 2014 to 27% of consumers in 2015. More than half of Americans drink coffee daily, according to Daily Coffee News, a trade publication. Keurig Green Mountain, the maker of K-Cups, has also responded to critics who cite environmental concerns with a plan to make all K-Cups recyclable by 2020 and pointing out that single-serve coffee brewing reduces wasted coffee and wasted water. For a thorough analysis of the environmental issues surrounding K-Cups, read this excellent article by James Hamblin of The Atlantic.

GE's new refrigerator has a built-in single-cup coffee brewer.
GE’s new refrigerator has a built-in Keurig single-cup coffee brewer. (Image courtesy GE.)