Dinnerware from Fallen Leaves?

As much as we talk about sustainability and decreasing the amount of waste we create – especially in the U.S. – we still throw away an estimated 1 trillion disposable plates and utensils every year IN THE U.S. Old habits die hard. Conveniences do, too.

But, a little company from New York has a solution. They’ve created a new line of disposables made from fallen leaves. Well, fallen leaves and steam, actually. VerTerra plates and bowls

Meet VerTerra™ Dinnerware, environmentally-friendly plates, bowls, and serving dishes made in South Asia from 100% renewable and compostable fallen palm leaves, steam, heat and pressure. The manufacturing process for the beautiful and unique pieces requires no chemicals, no waxes, no dyes, no harmful toxins (like lacquers, glues, etc.), and no additives. They are safe to eat from and safe to return to the earth. In fact, they bio-degrade in just 2 months.

The VerTerra™ line of dinnerware includes bowls and plates in a variety of sizes. They’re sturdy enough for soups but light-weight like any other disposable. The pieces currently offered from Instawares.com range from 35 cents for a 6”x6” square soup bowl to 58 cents for a 3.5” round dipping bowl.


Sour Beers for Summertime Refreshment

As pickled and preserved homegrown-foods continue to grow in popularity, it’s only natural that beverages with similar flavor profiles and origins would become more popular, too.

We recently highlighted shrub cocktails, the pre-colonial era, vinegar-based mixers and mixed drinks that are bubbling under the trend radar, but they’re not the only sour offering available at the bar. Sour beer recipes originating from 18th century Europe (and earlier) have a growing fan base among trend-driving craft beer aficionados all across America.

Sour beer served in snifters

“Sour” beers aren’t necessarily sour in flavor. They’re tart, fruity, and crisp, made so by bacteria added after the fermenting process. Before modern, sterile food processing became the norm, wild yeast and bacteria were just part of the beer brewing process. Today, most brewers who create sour beer add select souring agents in a fairly controlled fashion, but there are some who stick with tradition, allowing natural bacteria and yeast to work their unpredictable magic.

The dog days of summer are near, get to know what sour beers are available from your local craft brewers and lock in a selection for your own beer menu. Their crisp flavors, effervescence, and traditionally low alcohol by volume are ideal for craft beer aficionados who like to while away hot summer days at their favorite watering hole. Pilsner glasses suffice for serving sour beers, but flutes can highlight their coolness and carbonation, and snifters can intensify their aromas.

Food Trends are Toast!

oil painting of peanut butter on toast

Peanut Butter on Toast No. 3
5″ x 7″, oil on board
by Rosemary Lucy Consentino

Publications from San Francisco to London have called it so it must be true: the next big thing is toast. Artisanal toast. Since it’s selling at $3 to $4 per slice, it might just be the next big thing to boost your profit margin.

Think of toast as a vehicle for other delicious things and the possibilities become endless. Slice it Texas-sized or extra-thin and top it with freshly-churned butter, grandma’s homemade preserves, local honey, soft cheese and savory herbs. Cinnamon and sugar. Nutella.

Italy has been doing bruschetta and crostini topped with everything from tomatoes to prosciutto for thousands of years.

Of course, there’s an endless variety of breads for toasting! Basic white bread. Sprouted bread. Whole grain bread. Sweet cake-like breads. Breakfast breads with dried fruit already baked in. Toast is an American comfort food in its simplest form and it fits current consumer passions for handcrafted and highly-nutritious eats. Plus it’s portable and easy for snacking.

As a hip new menu item, toast has gotten a lot of criticism but, in reality, toast fits into every time of day and goes with everything from espresso to dinner. It’s easy to make and an easy investment. Even the smallest food service business can find the budget and counter space for a vertical toaster or toaster oven. When every guest acknowledges the greatness of toast, upgrade to a conveyor toaster that can toast dozens of slices in no time at all.