Monthly Archives: November 2013

Good for investors bad for the American consumer, the Smithfield Deal.


So you think that the meat you are purchasing in the grocery store is looking somewhat different? Over the course of the past fifteen years, the biggest of Americas food producers have been hard at work devising ways to produce more meat at the lowest possible cost. Many of these transformations have come in the form of genetic enhancements that have the chicken coops in middle America, under the watchful eye of Tyson foods bursting with chickens whose weight is seemingly becoming disproportionate.

The breast of these chickens have become so large that their legs are unable to keep the poor birds upright, tipping over due to the top heavy weight displacement so you will never have the most unfortunate scenario when you drive up to the distorted speaker and learn that there is a McChicken shortage, whilst lining the pockets of Tyson. Obviously there are many other players that control our food supply including Cargill, Swift and Co, Arthur Daniels Midland, Kraft and more.

The Smithfield deal was summarized by CEO Joseph W. Luter IV claiming it is “good for shareholders” should have read “good for lining my pockets and destroying the US food supply.”
On 29 May 2013, Shuanghui, a Chinese company announced a purchase of all of the stock of Smithfield Foods, Inc. for approximately $4.72 billion. Also announced by Shuanghui that the comapny would list Smithfield on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange after completing the takeover.On 6 September 2013 the U.S. government approved Shuanghui International Holding’s purchase of Smithfield Food, Inc. The deal was valued approximately $7.1 billion making it the largest Chinese takeover of an American company to date.

You think your pork is of poor quality now? Is your beef looking a little shy of expectations? Well, buckle up ladies and gentleman, it is not only going to get worse and I fear significant recalls are looming in the not so distant future. Smithfield raises 15.8 million pigs a year, producing 3.8 billion pounds of fresh pork and 2.7 billion pounds of packaged meat, sold as 50 brands of pork products and 200 gourmet foods. Beware of the Paula Dean line of foods and Weight Watchers as they are among the largest purchasers.

The consequences for employees? Nobody has the actual figures just yet, but with 46,050 employees in the United States, Mexico and Europe as of 2012, and an annual revenue of $13 billion, pink slips are being prepared as I type. With the advent of vertically-integration which began in 1990, the company may not need as many employees, but at what cost to the consumer from a health perspective?
The system allows Smithfield to control every stage of pig production, from conception and birth to slaughter, processing and packing – known as “from squeal to meal” or “from birth to bacon.”

Here is a YouTube video that shows how animals are treated in slaughter houses in America. I dare not think what will happen when the animals are terminated and prepped for the market in Chinese slaughter houses, given their unsanitary track record.

There are high quality meat markets all around our country, please take a moment to do some research online and find a meat procurer that will ship you fine quality cuts of meat. If you are having a hard time taking the leap of faith to purchase beyondsmithfield_wide- what is offered up to you on your store shelves? I encourage you to type into a Google search Smithfield Cruelty.

Its a pizza parlor, yet sit for dinner to experience the treasures of Dani’s.

l (1)There are rare occasions I will travel far for a good slice of pizza. There are virtually no pizza parlor’s that come to mind that I would make the pizza pilgrimage to procure great slices other than some of the storied locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Dani’s pizza parlor tests my limit of Geographically Acceptable Pizza Locations (GAPL) the slices themselves are a big slice with a sweet tasting sauce that is well worth the trip.
Dough is dough and cheese is cheese for the most part, so the key is in the quality of the sauce and for me, Dani’s has delivered splendid sauced and cheesed regular slices, for the better part of 25 years.

The candles atop the smallish tables are such a nice touch in the dimly lit dining area and how warm the dining room felt on the chilly last nigh I dined in. Comfy and cozy, the perfect ambiance around the holiday, watching the electric train running too and fro, end to end of the street side table is an added bonus.

Everything on the menu will cost you under $15 with an average entree of $10.
Veal Scallopini is one of the most tender and flavorful Italian dishes I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. Fettucchini Alfredo was wonderful, I can keep ranting dish after dish but the common denominator is that Dani’s is a amazing eatery with a serious craft beer menu..

Won’t you tell me..Where have all the German restaurants in Queens gone?

downloadWhen I think of German food in Queens Zum Stammtisch always held the higher mark for best in food and ambiance. However there were a few great German restaurants dating back over fifteen years, in the area that could hold their ground as well. Gebhardt’s, Von Westerhagen, Neidersteins (now replaced by an Arby’s?!–what a crime!) Below my breif review of Zum Stammtisch, I took the liberty of a review of Manor Octoberfest of Forest Hills as the best German restaurant in Queens, so you can avoid the troubling and expensive lesson I learned AGAIN at Zum.

These restaurants I have named above were located in close proximity to Zum Stammtisch and were a viable alternative to the top dog of German food. But all have closed up shop which bothers me greatly because now we have no more than one option.

Here is a snapshot into my experience at the only remaining German restaurant in Queens which took place last week on October 29th, 2013.

When I walked into Zum Stammtisch last Tuesday in the early evening with my partner, who had never had German food prior, out greeting was less than welcoming. The petite blond, who left out the greeting portion of our entering the restaurant, immediately asked us both quite sternly “Do you have a reservation??!” Her demeanor was so intense I felt like walking out right then and there. Not the preferred method to treat your guests. To expound on this point just for a moment, I owned a restaurant-I always had customer service and customer management as a top priority, even when the meal was over and I thanked her upon my exit, there was no reply although she looked right at me, no acknowledgement of my thanks for dining at Zum Stammtisch.

The herring in cream sauce was more lettuce covered in cream sauce with a few herring fragments and heave on the raw onion, hmmm.. A game of hide the herring to be sure.

Sauerbraten was average at best, no onion, no carrot no gingersnaps, rather a mass produced meat hidden below a hot gelatinous swimming pool of sauce. The side dumpling was far from proper temperature for serving and there is not much that is more unappealing than cold potato balls..

Pork loin Special was enjoyable, nice cut of meat and well prepared..

Our server was amazing, she cared about our meals and served our meals with genuine enthusiasm. Our young bus boy was so desiring to do the best job possible and succeeded in every aspect.

What does this experience leave with me in terms of food and service? It does have a familiar hora of when only remains and all competitors have been vested, we can act and dictate terms any way we wish.

My recommendation: Manor Octoberfest of Forest Hills.

Manor Oktoberfest is located at the small strip of storefronts along Yellowstone Blvd, just off of Selfridge Street in Forest Hills, NY.

Having been there many times thus far, it is my feeling that the restaurant is great for families to dine, couples on a simple evening out for dessert or with the fellas for some drink and delectable fare.

The tap beers offered at Manor Oktoberfest, will have the German and craft brew enthusiast stoked from the moment he/she opens the beer menu for a peruse. Franziskaner Weissbier on tap is my staple beer of choice, but your options are really as limited to only your palate and desire to try something new.

With my dining partner in tow, we sat for an early Saturday dinner and ordered off the specials board as the choices were so interesting. The chicken liver platter for starters is what this partial German has enjoyed for years growing up at Oma and Opa’s, although we did not address them as such.
The Eggplant Tower was wonderful in presentation and flavor. Thin cut slices, deep fried and layered with vine ripe tomato and mozzarella, topped with Pesto. Presentation was a ten out of ten and taste was scored equally. The Wild Boar burger, cooked medium rare was not game-y as I had anticipated, in fact it seemed to be more vegetable in texture and flavor than a being from the animal kingdom, but I have nothing but praise for the dish.