News Bites (April 18 - 22): We're Talking About What it Means to Eat Locally—Again
From local restaurant news to national trends, we're serving up a sampling of weekly news stories that may affect how you eat.
It was a week of highs and lows in the food world. A beloved Inman Square institution is being brought back to life by a local restaurateur. Full-fat dairy is having a well deserved moment in the sun. And it looks like we're still trying to figure out what it means to eat locally.
Nationally, our eyes are on a Florida story that surfaced the ugly truth of commodity food being paraded around as local and organic on restaurant menus all over Tampa. If it happened there, is it happening everywhere? Maybe. But local food in Boston is having a much better week, with a big announcement from the Boston Public Market. Here's your week in food:
East Coast Grill is rising from the ashes
After a couple months of mourning, chili-heads and fans of tuna tacos around town are rejoicing in the news that Highland Kitchen owner Mark Romano will reopen the recently shuttered Inman Square institution East Coast Grill. In a Boston Globe article by Kara Baskin, Romano was quoted as saying “We’re going to bring it back from the dead and take it back to the 1980s, 1990s. It’ll have the same name, same feel, a lot of the same dishes, but some spiff and shine.”
Hey, bombastic fashion from that era is back with a vengeance, why not the food? We’ll be first in line for the brunch bloody mary bar, and whatever new cocktails and grill-centric plates they dream up. We’re also hoping Romano introduces a Highland-esque juke box to the mix.
Good news for all of you Greek yogurt-lovers
Ditch that reduced fat string cheese! We saw on The Salt that there's a new study suggesting full-fat dairy may have health benefits, like reducing the risk if type II diabetes. It could also help both kids and adults manage their weight.
Farmers and foodies have long spouted anecdotal evidence that un-messed with milk products are superior (think Camembert and the raw-milk movement), and while you can certainly argue that pasteurization has its place, serving watery skim milk might be totally uneccessary. Fans of the local labneh (that's strained yogurt so thick you can stick a spoon straight up in it) served at spots like Sofra, 3 Little Figs, and Forge are enjoying their creamy breakfast parfaits more than ever.
This donut craze just doesn’t seem to be slowing down
According to Eater Boston, Union Square Donuts is opening another permanent location in Brookline, moving into the storefront of 90 year-old Wulf’s Fish, which is closing to focus on wholesale operations on the Boston pier. While the cupcake trend came and went rather quickly, this city can’t seem to get enough maple-bacon breakfast treats.
The faux farm-to-table tiff
Laura Reiley, food critic for The Tampa Bay Times, recently published an article revealing that many of the city’s restaurants aren’t serving up the locally grown fare they claim they are. She chatted with NPR’s Ari Shapiro about the investigation, which included DNA testing that revealed what was supposedly Florida Blue Crab, was, in fact, a crustacean shipped from India.
Having Déjà vu? Back in 2012, The Globe did DNA testing on local fish here in Boston and found similar false claims of origin, and even species. As Reiley points out on All Things Considered, “There's no way of testing if someone says these are organic, local heirloom tomatoes, and actually they're Mexican tomatoes, irradiated. There are no genetic markers or tests that will tell you that.” When Reiley confronted chefs, she was often told that they simply forgot to update the menu to reflect where their current, commodity products are coming from.
The story is picking up national steam because at a time when consumers are willing to pay more for regional, organic and artisanal products, and restaurants are trying to out-local each other, it seems unlikely that this phenomenon is relegated to Florida.
And speaking of local food here in Boston...
The Boston Public Market just announced that starting July 18th, they will be open 7 days a week. The market is currently closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but there was always the hope they would make their local produce and prepared foods avaliable all week long. New CEO Cheryl Cronin hustled to make it happen sooner than expected.
Mayor Marty Walsh weighed in on the subject saying, "The Boston Public Market has proved a tremendous success in bringing more options for locally sourced food for our residents and visitors in downtown Boston," adding, "I congratulate the market and the vendors for reaching this milestone early, and thank them for their commitment in providing fresh, local food, supporting small businesses, and fueling our economy."
It looks like shopping like a locavore in this city will be getting just a little bit easier.
Got the scoop on a food story we should know about? Drop us a line!