Category Archives: Tabletop

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 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.

Understanding Foodservice Glassware Terminology

Marketing departments try to describe their products in the most enticing ways possible, but sometimes that leaves buyers wondering which descriptors actually mean something (if anything).

Mixed drinks in Anchor glasses

Image: The Anchor Hocking Company

When it comes to foodservice glassware, there are many branded terms, seals, and registered trademarks used to make one product sound more advantageous than another, but most manufacturers also use terminology that’s scientifically founded. The following terms are commonly used to describe commercial-quality drinking glasses. We’ve written out some non-scientific definitions that will help the next time you’re comparing products and shopping within a budget.

  • Annealing – controlled heating and cooling of glass that makes it more durable against cracking or shattering in response to temperature change. Annealed glass shatters into extremely sharp shards from very small to very large.
  • Heat-Strengthening – similar to tempering. Heat-strengthened glass is 2x as strong as annealed glass. Heat-strengthened glass breaks into shards that are less likely to shatter.
  • Rim-Tempering – applying the tempering process to only the rim of a drinking glass. Chips and cracks often begin at the rim, where a glass is most likely to endure shock. Rim-tempering offers added durability at a lower cost than a fully-tempered piece. Both Anchor and Cardinal refer to glassware treated in this way as “Rim-Tempered.”
  • Tempering – heating glass above its annealing point and cooling it rapidly. Tempered glass is up to 6x as strong as annealed glass. Tempered glass shatters somewhat uniformly into small, dull-edged piece. Cardinal refers to glassware treated this way as “Fully Tempered” and “Extra Resistant.” Libbey uses the term “heat-treated” for fully-tempered pieces and also for blown glass which is treated only along the top portion.
  • Toughening – see tempering.