DOES YOUR WEBSITE HAVE THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT THINGS FOR FIRST-TIME VISITORS?

nina | June 26th, 2013 - 9:00 am

The 5 things first-time visitors need to see on a restaurant’s website. It is probably safe to say that we all agree your restaurant must have a web presence — it’s no longer good enough to rely on a Facebook page or a Yelp listing to get the word out.But is your site providing the […]

CONGRATULATIONS TO NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR!

nina | June 26th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Nellie’s Sports Bar was awarded the “NEIGHBORHOOD GATHERING PLACE” in the 2013 Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington RAMMY Gala on June 23, 2013.  Fantastic job Nellie’s!

More that 1,600 guests gathered tonight at the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s highly anticipated annual RAMMY Awards Gala to celebrate the outstanding achievements and excellence in Washington, DC restaurant industry.  The event was hosted at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel where chefs, restauranteurs and key restaurant industry players were awarded prestigious honors, including Fine Dining Restaurant, Upscale Casual Restaurant and Restaurant Employee of the Year. 

Nellie’s Sports Bar is located in the Historic U Street Corridor at the corner of 9th and U Streets in the former Addison Scurlock Photography Studio. 

Where:  Corner of 9th and U Streets
900 U Street, NW Washington, DC  20001

Hours:  M-Th:  5:00pm – 1:00am
Fri:  3:00pm to 2:00am
Sat:  11:00am to 2:00am
Sun:  11:00am to 1:00am

Phone:  202.332-NELL (6355)

DINING TREND: DINERS CUT BACKS INCLUDE PROTEIN.

nina | June 20th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Consumers interested in more healthful dining are reducing their servings of those foods they perceive to be less healthy or cutting them out altogether, according to new research. Many choices diners make  translate into less consumption of protein. The No. 1 healthier choice for diners is to order a salad as a meal; 39 percent of […]

SALSA. . . HOW DO YOU LIKE YOURS.

nina | June 19th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Anyone can grab a jar of prepared salsa off the grocery store shelf. But if you’ve found yourself eyeing up the produce section, thinking you might rather learn how to make salsa of your own, you are most definitely onto something. When it comes to a truly authentic Tex-Mex fiesta, nothing quite compares to the freshness and signature style you can achieve by making your own salsa.

Don’t let the complex blend of flavors fool you; making salsa is very easy. In fact, making your own is almost as easy as opening a container of someone else’s. So what are you waiting for?

What You’ll Need for a traditional salsa:

  • 3  tomatoes, chopped
  • 2  tablespoons  snipped fresh cilantro
  • 1  small  onion, finely chopped
  • 1  jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and cut up*
  • 1  clove  garlic, minced
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon or lime juice
  • Tortilla chips

Directions:

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except the tortilla chips.Garnish the salsa with additional fresh cilantro and serve with the tortilla chips.
  • Cover and store the salsa in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2-3/4 cups.
  • Note: Because the chili peppers contain volatile oils that can burn your skin and eyes, wear plastic gloves when working with them. If your bare hands touch the chili peppers, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

This salsa is great as a snack, a mouthwatering appetizer or even as a condiment for tacos, burritos and other Mexican fare. Eat it right away, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.  This recipe makes about 2 3/4 cups and can disappear quickly among a hungry group. So you may want to make multiple batches for a crowd. Then, mix some margaritas, and wait for the compliments to start pouring in!

To truly make your salsa your own, get creative and experiment with different combinations of peppers, tomatoes, spices and herbs. Like a little (or a lot of) heat? Try some spicier pepper varieties. Or sweeten things up with chopped peaches or mangoes. You can even add black beans, corn or other vegetables. The possibilities are endless. Before you know it, your friends and family will be asking you how to make salsa. (But that doesn’t mean you have to tell them!)
 

Here are some other salsa ideas.  Remember, be creative!

Watermelon Salsa
Sweet, savory and crunchy salsa accompanies grilled pork or chicken rather nicely. Try it with tortilla chips as a refreshing alternative to a tomato salsa.

Mango Salsa 
Mangoes are a colorful, flavorful, and juicy addition to salsa. An interesting contrast in flavors occurs when mango is mixed with lime juice. Serve this salsa with chips or use it top fish or chicken.

Avocado Salsa
This summertime salsa contains ripe avocados, tomatoes, lemon juice, onions, and jalapeno peppers.

Fruity Salsa
Serve this papaya and pineapple salsa as a dip with baked pita chips or as a sauce for seafood, fish, or chicken.
 
Pineapple Salsa
Include crushed pineapple in this fruity salsa.  Hollow out the bottom half of a pineapple to make a fun serving dish for this appetizer. Serve the salsa with chips or make it a topping for grilled meats.
  
 Source:  recipe.com, June 2013
 

HOW TO GET THE REAL CHARCOAL FLAVOR WHEN YOU’RE GRILLING WITH GAS.

nina | June 18th, 2013 - 9:00 am
Gas grills:  lots of people have them. They’re easy to start, they’re usually pretty big (translation: they can cook 40 burgers at once), and their heat can be tweaked with a flick of the wrist. The only problem? They can’t impart the smoky flavor of charcoal.Or can they?
Although you’ll never get that exact charred taste without the real thing, there are some tricks that will get you pretty darn close.

1. Crank It
We love charcoal for its natural ability to provide temperature zones–extreme heat directly over coals and more moderate heat away from the coals. Try to mimic the heat output with your gas grill by putting part of it on high, (as high as it will go–don’t be scared) and part on low or even turned off. This will create more browning reactions in proteins, which translates to flavor. 

2. Smoke It Out

Using a smoker box, which uses wood chips. Place it on the grill, throw down your meat and veggies, shut the grill’s cover, and let the smoke work its magic.

3. Build Up the Heat

Before searing that steak, throw tinfoil or an old baking sheet over the grate to build up extra heat for a really amazing char. The blast of heat only lasts for about 30 seconds, so be at the ready–slip your meat on the grate right as you remove the foil–and it will result in an unmatched sear.

4. Don’t Blow Your Cover

Whereas keeping the cover on a charcoal grill reduces its heat output (it thrives on airflow) the cover helps build and maintain heat on a gas grill. Remember, it’s all about the heat when it comes to a good char, so keep that cover on as much as possible–plus it helps build more smoke, which you want.

The convenience of a propane-powered grill is incredible.  Happy grilling. 

Source:  bonappetit.com, 6.13.13

USDA – RECORD CORN & SOYBEAN HARVESTS.

nina | June 17th, 2013 - 9:00 am

On Wednesday the USDA predicted record grain harvests this year, trimming its forecasts for the U.S. corn and soybean crops by less than traders and analysts had expected.

In its monthly World Supply and Demand Estimates report, USDA projected a corn crop of 14 billion bushels, down 1 percent from its estimate last month for a 14.14 billion bushel crop. Last year’s drought-reduced corn crop was estimated at 10.78 billion bushels.  

USDA estimated 2013-14 corn ending stocks at 1.95 billion bushels, below last month’s estimate of 2 billion and last year’s 769 million.

Projected corn use for ethanol production was pegged at 4.9 billion, up from an estimated 4.85 billion last month and 4.65 billion projected for last year.

The estimated soybean crop of 3.39 billion bushels, also a record, was unchanged from last month’s forecast. Last year, the U.S. harvest was 3.02 billion, USDA estimated.

Source:  www.meatingplace.com, 6.12.13

GOOD STAFF IS IN SHORT SUPPLY, AND RESTAURANTS ARE GETTING DESPERATE.

nina | June 11th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Among local restaurateurs, there’s a sacred code: Don’t walk into another operator’s restaurant and try to steal the staff.

But these are desperate times. In recent months, poaching has become more frequent and more aggressive. It’s become all too common to see managers of other restaurants come into eateries, and offer waiters and managers jobs. Competitors will also call chefs and other employees while they’re working and attempt to lure them away.

Behind the cutthroat tactics is a situation that alarms management even more – the District of Columbia doesn’t have enough experienced restaurant staffers. With unemployment in D.C. at 8.5 percent, there are plenty of applicants for job openings, but veteran servers, managers, and cooks are in short supply. That’s been true for a while, but as dozens of new restaurants have opened in recent months, restaurateurs say the labor market is the tightest they’ve ever seen. Things are particularly bad for independent upscale dining establishments that turn out complicated menus with the expectation of a high level of service, but even casual spots are having a tough time filling openings. The results for the diner, if restaurants don’t step up their training? Amateur service and cooking.

Just take a look at Craigslist to see the demand across the region: There are often more than 100 new hospitality job postings each day.

You never want to turn away business, but you also have to make sure that they’re getting good service. You just can’t open the floodgates.  That can translate to lost revenue for the restaurant.

Some servers leave for a hot new restaurant to take advantage of the swarm of diners, then return several weeks later to ask for their jobs back. If they’re good, they hire them back.

Some say the shortage has meant they have to pay existing staff more for overtime. Not only is that bad for the bottom line, the restaurants are paying someone who’s tired to work extra.Some have days where they’re so short-staffed that managers have to wait tables, and sometimes gives servers extra money to come in during less desirable shifts.

This is all great news for job seekers. It really is an employee’s market. It’s not uncommon for a great sous chef or an assistant manager—two of the most in-demand positions—to have seven to 10 offers. (Salaries for such positions typically range from $40,000 to $50,000.) Less experienced people can also advance more easily now. Most restaurants prefer sous chefs or assistant managers to have at least two to four years experience. Now they’re settling for people with as little as six months.  It’s also getting easier for servers to get hired. There are people that have never worked in a restaurant before and are getting jobs at really good restaurants. The sad thing is: Are these people getting trained properly?

 The “classic way” to hire when you open a restaurant is to overstaff, with the expectation that half of your employees will turn over within three months. But sometimes a person can’t afford to hesitate on a hire. Restaurants need people that want to wait on tables.

So, what does this mean for diners?

Restaurateurs are (unsurprisingly) reluctant to say that their service or food quality suffers as a result of the short supply of skilled waiters or cooks. Instead, they argue they make up for the lack of experience with more training. But that’s not to say they don’t notice problems at other establishments as a result of the staffing shortage.

Undisputed is the fact that restaurants are hiring younger and greener people based more on attitude and personality than resume. In order to hire and do well right now, you need to give people a chance a lot more than you used to.

At the same time, diners now expect more from servers. It’s not enough just to take orders; the staff has to know how a dish is made. Is the pork local? Is there dairy in it? And what wine will pair best?

To step up training that would promote more people from within rather than from a pile of Craigslist applicants, a cashier goes through five days of training, up from two. And whereas ongoing training used to slow down the longer an employee stayed on, now it just continues.

High-end spots have it hardest of all.  As dining as a whole has gotten more casual, there are fewer fine-dining training grounds. If you know that you’ve got a very inexperienced staff, that means you put on dishes that could still be great dishes, but maybe not as complicated. 

Source:  washingtoncitypapter.com, 6.5.2013

FLORIDA SWEET CORN SEES RECORD FINISH THIS YEAR.

nina | June 10th, 2013 - 9:00 am

After a slow start to the spring following early March freezes, May ended up being a record month for Florida sweet corn. Shipments for the month are up more than 27 percent from average May volume during the previous two years.

Florida sweet corn had a record month in May.   The fancy grade seed varieties that growers have selected for the ‘Sunshine Sweet’ brand and the quality assurances that handlers have implemented have provided buyers with an easily identifiable source for great-tasting spring corn.  

The record weeks have been in spite of colder spring weather in northern states, a factor often cited by retailers as the greatest influencer on sales.

Florida is the largest grower of fresh sweet corn in the U.S., with peak volumes in April and May.

Source:  producenews.com, 6.4.2013

IS IT HOG HEAVEN?

nina | June 7th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Hog production has returned to profitability as hog prices rallied from the mid-$50s per live hundredweight in March to the low $70s today.

Moderation in feed prices after the USDA’s March Grain Stocks report was released in late March also helped reduce costs of production with second quarter costs averaging about $67 per live hundredweight compared to an estimated $70 in the first quarter. 

Delayed planting that is raising concerns about fewer planted acres and reduced yields has most recently sent corn and meal prices trending to the upside, raising concerns that hog production costs will not drop as much as some had anticipated.

Looking backward, the drought of 2012 caused large losses for pork producers due to high feed prices. Losses from the spring of 2012 to the spring of 2013 averaged about $23 per head. This was the most severe period of pork producer losses since the financial collapse and recession in late 2008 and 2009.

Hog prices for the third quarter are expected to average $67, which is similar to the second quarter average. Currently, costs are expected to be at about the same level with breakeven conditions prevailing. As a reminder, breakeven means all costs are covered including full depreciation and family labor. This means that a hog operation can continue into the future with breakeven returns calculated in this manner.

Prices for corn and meal are expected to drop sharply into the late summer and fall as markets make the transition to new crop supplies. Current forecasts are that fourth quarter corn prices will be $1.25 per bushel lower than third quarter prices and soybean meal prices will be $40 per ton lower.

That means costs will drop from about $67 per live hundredweight this summer closer to $60 for the final quarter of the year. Hog prices are expected to be near the $60 level for the final quarter of 2013 and first quarter of 2014, thus continuing breakeven conditions.

Prospects for the entire year of 2014 have begun to come into focus, although the size of this summer’s crops can still have a strong influence on final outcomes, especially with regard to costs of production and to pork supplies in the second-half of 2014.

USDA has made their first forecast for 2014 hog prices and that was in a range from $56 to $60 per live hundredweight. That appears considerably lower than current lean hog futures are suggesting, with an average for 2014 around $62 to $63.

The primary difference is that USDA made their forecast in early May when they were anticipating very low corn and meal prices. In fact, the mid-point of the USDA 2013/14 marketing year U.S. corn price was $4.70 per bushel. In contrast, futures markets never were that low and currently are roughly $5.60 per bushel for corn.

These substantially higher feed costs would be expected to keep the pork industry from expanding and result in hog prices more in line with current lean hog futures prices.

Hog producers generally should keep any expansion plans on hold awaiting better clarification of the size and prices for 2013 crops and the implications for hog production costs.

The size of those crops should be more transparent in another 60 days, although late-planting likely means that frost will also be a threat for much of the month of September.

In general, if corn prices stay below $6 per bushel, the pork industry will be able to survive another year of low crop production. Corn prices above $6 would push the outlook back into losses. The opposite would be true of $5 or lower corn prices. Some expansion could be expected with low $5 corn prices and a more aggressive expansion would be expected with corn prices dropping below $5.

For now, industry losses have come to an end, and pork producers are keeping a close eye on weather just like their crop producer cousins.

Saval Foodservice’s 10th Annual Charity Golf Tournament – Huge Success.

nina | June 6th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Saval’s 10th Annual Charity Golf Tournament benefiting The Children’s Cancer Foundation, again was a fantastic success.  From the food, golf course of the weather.  You could not ask for a more lovely day and event.   All proceeds from our Silent Auction, Raffles and donations goes directly to support the Children’s Cancer Foundation.

Thanks to all who helped support and make this day another memorable day.

   

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