The "Push-Button House" is an innovation designed by Kalkin to be used in areas where there has been a natural disaster, such a Huricane Katrina, or the current wildfires in Southern California. It's also designed for lower-income people (or anyone who wants to live in one frankly) who can't afford a traditional house but wants to own rather than rent. It's essentially a "house in a box." It comes prefabricated in a container. And with the push of a button it transforms into a living space in about 90 seconds. It has a kitchen, small dining room, bedroom, bathroom, living room and even a small library. You can read more about the "Push-Button House" and view pictures of it here.
As you can see in the pictures above and below, the "Push-Button Illycaffe" has pretty much everything a "brick and mortar" cafe would have. It's also rather attractive. We find this concept not only innovative but effective as well. Food retailers can use it to extend their brands to places they currently aren't: fairs, sporting events and a myriad of other venues. Manufacturers could use it to sell their products direct to the public, as could small start-up and artisanal food and beverage companies on limited budgets.
Whole Foods' New Market Hall Store: In mid September we wrote about the new Whole Foods Market "Market Hall" style store which was set to open in Oakland, California on September 26. The store, a first-of-its-kind design for Whole Foods, opened on the 26th to much acclaim from shoppers, suppliers and Oakland city officials. We recently read an excellent profile and review of the Oakland "Market Hall" store, which we have visited, written by Julie, a blogger for the sfist, a San Francisco Bay Area-based blog. You can read her piece on the new Oakland Whole foods Market Hall here. She has great pictures of the European-style food hall format store as well.
Columnist Dissed For Liking Whole Foods: Liberal San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford likes the new Whole Foods Market Hall store in Oakland. In fact, he likes Whole Foods in general and recently said so in his Chronicale column. (You can read the column, "Is it OK to love Whole Foods?" here.) In response to his positive column on the supernatural grocer Morford receives an email box full of angry and nasty responses from readers who have a distain for Whole Foods. These anti-Whole foods folks essentially acused Morford of "selling out" his "Liberal" credentials by giving the grocer an overall favorable nod despite having some intellegent critiques of how they do business.
Morford didn't take the nasty detractors sitting down though. He does what a writer should do. He took fingers to keyboard and wrote another column (10-12-2007) about those who dissed him for liking Whole Foods. In that column (read it here) Morford said most of the letters he recieved were in agreement with his point of view on Whole Foods or were a i reasonable and polite disagreement with his opinion. There was a segment of letters however which Morford takes off on.
These letter writers he says are absolutist, extreme and voracias Liberals. Morford asks: "Does the Extremism of some progressives spell danger to delicious evolution?" His answer: "Well, yes." But read his 10-12 column for yourself as it's witty, satirical and biting. He makes a number of larger political and social points using his writing about Whole Foods--and the "Whole-Paycheck-label-crowd's" letter-writing responses to his column--as not only the chief topic at hand but as a metaphor for the larger issues of public discourse and debate. The column is pretty humorous as well.
Now the FTC is back again, this time appealing the ruling with a new court motion designed to overturn the merger on anti-trust grounds despite the fact that Whole Foods is well on its way to integrating Wild Oats into its operations. In fact, it's this integration the FTC aims to stop with its appeal. This is an unusual move by the FTC, attempting to stop a merger not only after it has gone through, but at a point where the acquiring company is well on its way to integrating the company it has purchased into its culture and operations. You can read more details about the FTC's appeal here and here. For a satirical take on the FTC's new court filing to stop the Whole Foods' acquisition of Wild Oats take a look at this dialogue from the Wonkette Blog. The topic: "The FTC hates Hippies."
H.E.B's New Natural-Specialty Cypress Market: H.E.B's newest retail format, its 112,000 square-foot upscale Cypress Market, made its debut yesterday when the first store opened in the Cypress neighborhood in Houston, Texas. The huge store features the largest meat market (full-service and self service) in the area. It features aged prime, all-natural and organic meats. The store also has a giant fresh fish and seafood department. The department will get fresh fish deliveries seven days per week in order to ensure optimum freshness, according to H.E.B. A large selection of both wild, farmed and locally-fished seafood and fresh fish are offered in the upscale department.
The store's produce department is expansive and upscale. It features over 900 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables, including more than 100 varieties of certified organic produce. Cypress Market also features a huge wine department which includes a temperature controlled wine cellar and tasting room. The wine department features at least 2,000 different varieties of wines from throughout the world, according to an H.E.B. executive. The store's bakery is equally as expansive and upscale. It features a wood-burning hearth oven. Artisan, craft and organic breads are baked in the bakery multiple times daily. The store also has an international cheese shop that includes a cheese aging cave. The cheese shop offerers over 400 varieties of cheeses from throughout the world.
The store also features a Central Market "Cafe on the Run," which has numerous upscale meals for takeout or catering. There also is a full-service eat-in restaurant nearby in-store. Other ser vice highlights include a tortilleria where homeade tortillas are made, an eat-in sushi bar which also offers sushi to go, a cafe/coffee bar with an in-store coffee bean roaster.
The store also has the "Cooking Connection," an in-store department staffed full time by a professional chef and assistants. The department oeprates numerous "H.E.B. Showtime Cooking Stations" located throughout the store. Store culinary professionals will interact with shoppers every day of the week, consucting over 30 in-store demos or tastings each week, according to an H.E.B spokesperson.
Specialty, gourmet, ethnic, natural and organic grocery products and non-foods play a major role in the store. The shelves are full of premium specialty, international, natural and organic groceries. There also is a large store-within-a-store natural and organic health & beauty care and nonfoods area. A "Healthy Living Department" features row upon row of natural and organic bulk foods.
H.E.B. is one of the pioneer retailers of natural and specialty foods with its Central Market format. This format inspires the specialty and natural product offerings in the Cypress Market, which takes the Central Market concept to its next level in terms of upscale, premium, natural and organic retailing. The store also offers a huge selection of basic groceries and an expanded basic non-foods offering in its 112,000 square-feet. Everything from small appliances and kitchenware (basic and upscale) to various types of furniture and other offerings. H.E.B says on of the goals is for the Cypress Market to not be just an upscale specialty market but also a complete destination retail shopping center for consumers. It is.
Mid-Week Roundup Ender
However, we aren't sure if the cuisine being offered by Britian's Famous Wild Boar Hotel restaurant might not just be taking the concepts of natural, fresh and locally procured just a little to far. The restaurant, located in Crook, near Windermere, in Cumbria UK, is preparing and serving up pancakes made from grey squirrels to diners, according to a story in the London Daily Mail (10-16-2007). And the price is right--as an introduction to the squirrel pancakes, which head chef Marc Sanders describes as "Peking duck-style squirrels wraps, the restaurant is currently offering them to diners for free as an introduction to the new dish on its menu.Head Chef Marc Sanders diplays his creation: Grey Squirrel Peking Duck-style wraps or panckaes.
The grey squirrels also are locally procured. They're caught on the hotel's 72 acre wooded grounds. Hotel general manager Andy Lemm says the grey squirrels are everywhere on the grounds. "Our diners seemed to enjoy the squirrel pancakes," Lemm told the Daily Mail, "and I thought they tasted rather nice, a bit like rabbit," he added.
Grey squirrels are killing off red squirrels in the UK. As such the reds have become an endangered species while the government has encouraged hunters and others to eliminate the greys. Britian's Lord Inglewood, a conservationist, warned Brits that the red squirrel would soon become extinct if grey squirrels are allowed to go on increasing. Red squirrels are native and the greys aren't.
Lord Inglewood also suggested one way to deal with the problem would be to foster a market for grey squirrel meat. He told Brits that Americans eat grey squirrel and even have a number of recipes for the meat, including what he discribed as the most popular dish in the U.S., Brunswick Stew, which the Lord says "is casseroled squirrel."
He wants famous British chefs like Jamie Oliver to promote grey squirrel-based dishes for school dinners. (Really, the Lord told the Daily Mail that, we couldn't make it up.)
Meanwhile, chef Marc Sanders decided to take the Lord up on his suggestions by creating the squirrel pancakes and putting them on the hotel's menu. The hotel's general manager also had a hand in the dish since he was looking for a way to help rid the grounds of the grey squirrel infestation.
Fresh, all natural, locally procured--the grey squirrels do hit all the hot buttons with today's foodies. And we must say the squirrel Peking-style pancakes do look attractive in the picture. Perhaps what was once unmentionable cuisine will become tomorrow's new trendy food dish. We're not sure though, those grey squirrels are rather cute. And a wise man once told us never to eat meat from an animal that's much cuter than you are.
We would give the squirrel pancakes a go as the Brits say. Would you? Let us know if you would in the comments link below.