December 26th, 2012

New Produce Varieties

Posted in New Foods and Flavors

Innovation is the core of our business, yet can be one of the most challenging aspects as well. I thought a little inspiration would help you get those juices flowing again.

Here are some of the newest fruit and vegetable varieties coming to a store near you:

The pink lemonade blueberry:

The pineberry and strasberry:

Rosanna Pink Onion:

Chillis: Chenzo and Loco

Double Gold and Crimson Night raspberries:

Japanese Black Trifele Tomato:

Rainbow colored corn:

Cotton Candy Grapes:

So just when you think it has all been done before, remember: a new idea is on the horizon!

December 19th, 2012

Interesting Restaurant Concepts 2012

Posted in Restaurants, Trends

I searched the web for some of the most interesting and successful restaurant concepts that are making headlines today. Here are my top 5:


Del Frisco’s Grille: Bringing the gourmet steak concept to the casual dining arena, Del Frisco Restaurant Group is one of the hottest concepts at the moment. The Del Frisco Grille has a smaller restaurant footprint and an expanded menu, compared to Del Frisco Double Eagle Steak House, its big sister. Despite this, the new concept is helping the Del Frisco Restaurant Group make traction towards its goal to become a publicly traded company.

Among the more intriguing items on the menu: the knife and fork Caesar, pimento cheese fritters, and a lamb burger with tzatziki sauce. For 19.00 you can also get a 6 oz. filet of mignon or Bay of Fundy salmon.


Coolhaus: An ice cream truck that is the brainchild of Natasha Case and Freya Estrella and one of the hottest concepts today. Interesting ice cream flavors such as white chocolate and olive oil, or spicy pineapple and cilantro are among the 66 interesting flavors that are offered. Pair any of these tasty ice cream flavors with one of the 16 different cookie flavors on the current menu.

Luckily we have 2 trailers here in Austin. They can be purchased at the Hyde Park Grocery. My favorite flavor is the hotcake cookie with Brown Butter Candied Bacon Ice Cream.

Check them out!! They might be bringing a trailer to a city near you.


ShopHouse: A new concept from the Chipotle empire, ShopHouse starts your dining experience the same way they do at Chipotle, but this time the choices are Asian-influenced. Start with a choice of salad, brown rice, jasmine rice, or chilled rice noodles. Next select your protein: grilled chicken satay, grilled steak laab, pork and chicken meatballs, or organic tofu. You get the idea, but you can finish with your choice of 4 different vegetable accompaniments, 3 sauces, and 6 different toppings (including green papaya slaw, herb salad, toasted rice, or chopped peanuts).

 If this concept works, look to see it become a franchise!


Stacked: Food Well Built: Based in California, this 3 restaurant chain is making head way into the casual realm and has already won a MUFSO award for hottest concept for 2012. Their innovative ordering and paying system is what makes them so unique. Once you are seated at your table, you place your entirely custom order on an IPad, which is sent directly to the kitchen. You can also swipe your card right at the table, so you can pay whenever you want.

And the menu is highly customizable! While you can choose from a menu, each section has a “STACKED” section which allows you to completely customize your salad, sandwich, burger, pizza, or mac n’cheese. Lots of flexibility makes for truly individual dining experience.


Umami Burger:  A cool new restaurant concept in California that centers on the taste of Umami, the savory component of food, opened earlier this year and already has 4 units in the California market. A simple burger menu that showcases a “Umami Master Sauce” and tasty desserts from a partnership with L.A. Creamery, Mocha Kiss Coffee, and CakeMonkey Bakery.  Just looking at the burger menu makes me hungry!

Have fun checking out the websites,


December 5th, 2012

Il Cane Rosso: Paradiso in Terra

Posted in Restaurants

As a follow up to the original blog on the certification for Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN), I just had to get my hands on some authentic Napoletana pizza! As luck would have it I was going to be in Dallas, TX for a work related function, so I decided to drive up early and try Il Cane Rosso for lunch. I had heard through a very reliable grapevine that Il Cane Rosso has some of the best pizza in Texas. I was ready to test that theory. I was so excited to try their pizza that I arrived at 10:45am and had to wait anxiously until they opened at 11:00am.

Before we go “there”, let’s talk a little about the history of this great establishment.  Il Cane Rosso is the heart and soul of owner Jay Jerrier, who built his first oven in his backyard.  After taking a pizza making class in California, Jay was on his way! Flash forward several years, February 14, 2011 to be exact, and his brainchild Il Cane Rosso is born in the heart of Deep Ellum. Il Cane Rosso, Italian for ‘red dog’, is a reference to a Vizsla he once owned.

I walked into the pizzeria and was graciously welcomed by the staff. Since I was the first in the door, I was able to secure the ‘queen’s chair’, a front row seat at the bar, where the freestanding wood-fired oven is located.  Here is one of the pizzaioli stoking the oven:

It also allowed me to have a tete-a-tete with JP of Il Cane Rosso!  I was able to pick his brain about the establishment, and you could really tell that he loved working behind the bar. He was the quintessential host, catering to our every request.  We chatted about Dino, who works at the pizzeria. He is from Naples and loves to enter pizza-making contests. We also chatted about future expansion with the possibility of a pizzeria opening here in Austin! 

The guys behind the counter are models of efficiency. I timed them several times to see how long it would take to create a pizza crust from the dough ball. Edgar did his first dough for a focaccia in 22 seconds. So while I am thinking, “WOW, this guy is fast!” he has another opinion: “I am too slow!”  So I challenged him to a time test and he did his second in 12 seconds! I cannot begin to imagine how much pizza dough he has flattened, tossed and stretched. Here is a great video of him in action: pizzadough

So from the previous blog, we know that the ovens are hot, around 800F and that the pizza only takes about 90 seconds to cook.  From the time that the 2 pizzas were ordered until they were placed piping hot in front of me, it was a mere 4 minutes.  Here is a picture of the first pizza, a Margherita, and a true thing of beauty!

Ok, so this has got to be some of the best pizza I have ever had! It’s made with hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes, fresh, house-pulled Mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of olive oil.  The crust is super-thin and flexible, with a nice char from the wood oven.

I also wanted to try one of their other pies, the Motorino, which has Burrata, Jimmy’s Sausage (house-made), Calabrian chiles, and friarelli (rapini).  This pizza is as different as night and day from the Margherita but is still a very tasty pie. The combination of Jimmy’s Sausage, which is a very spicy house-made sausage, with the Calabrian chiles (also very spicy) made for an outstanding pizza that is not for the faint of heart.  And just look at all of that Burrata! Makes a girl’s heart sing!

Of course, I could not leave Il Cane Rosso without sampling their infamous hand made pasta. They had 3 selections to choose from: all’amatriciana, carbonara, and Bolognese.  Since I was already going to be sampling 2 pizzas, I decided on the all’amatriciana since it has a lighter sauce.  My pasta was full of hearty guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon for those who haven’t heard of it) and Pecorino Romano cheese. 

The selections change daily, so if you are a true fan of homemade pasta, there is always a new one for you to try!

I have to say that between the on-point and personable service and the best pizza I have ever eaten, there is plenty of room to fall in love with Il Cane Rosso. Now I just have to convince them to move to Austin so I can get my Margherita pizza fix whenever I want!

Please! Please! If you live in or near Dallas, you have to check them out.