Posts from Food and Drink

The Eater 38

My wife and I were investors in the blog network Curbed until it was sold last last year to Vox. Curbed has three primary brands, Curbed (local real estate), Eater (local food & restaurants), and Racked (local shopping). The network operates across something like 25 cities in the US. Curbed is a classic example of a blog network, with a unique voice, attitude, and angle. They built a very nice and highly profitable business over six years and sold to a larger blog network Vox. Most of the team has stayed at Vox and are in key management roles there. Vox is a pretty interesting business too and the Gotham Gal and I are small investors in that company by virtue of our Curbed investment. This is all a bit of backdrop and disclosure for the thing I want to talk about which is the Eater 38.

The Eater 38 is one of my favorite things on the Internet. It is a map/list of the 38 “essential” restaurants right now in about 27 cities in North America. The fact that there are 38 restaurants on the list, not 10, not 25, not 50, but 38 is classic Curbed. They do things their own way and they do it right and they do it well.

But the thing about the 38 that I like most is the concept of “essential.” These are not the finest restaurants. This is not where you will find the very best food right now. These are not the trendiest restaurants right now either. These are the places that you should go to tonight, tomorrow, and again and again, right now. The 38 is updated twice a year (I think) so its always up to date and it changes a fair bit. The 38 recognizes that restaurants ebb and flow. Today’s essential restaurant is not always tomorrow’s.

When I go to a new city and am looking for a place to eat, I will always check the 38 in that city (if there is one). Earlier this week a good friend emailed the Gotham Gal looking for a large table or private room to take a bunch of people to dinner this weekend. I pulled up the NYC 38 on my phone and we went down the list and we found exactly the right place for them.

In the wake of the sale to Vox, Eater has been moved over to Vox’s modern CMS and the Eater 38 has been jazzed up with a nice map/list interface on the web and mobile web. Here are a few of them for all of you to check out (somewhat based on the AVC readership):

New York City 38

San Francisco 38

Los Angeles 38

Philadelphia 38 (for Kirk and LE)

Austin 38 (for JLM)

Toronto 38 (for William)

San Diego 38 (for Howard)

Documenting A Trip

I’ve always liked the idea of documenting a trip, leaving breadcrumbs for others to follow, or at least consider as they are planning a similar trip. The Gotham Gal and I do it very differently but we both do it.

She writes a blog post, chock full of photos, and a few links, every day recounting the prior day’s activities. Here’s her post on the day we recently spent on Lake Como. She has written hundreds of blog posts like that (according to her archive page, she has written 357 travel posts). If you are planning a trip to South Africa, you can go to her blog, search on South Africa, Cape Town, or some other keyword and get a bunch of posts like that which you might want to read while planning your trip. You can do that sort of thing for many places in the world that she has visited, with our without me and our kids.

I like to checkin to places on Swarm, save them on Foursquare, leave tips and photos, and then add them to lists on Foursquare. I’m building one now for the trip we are taking. I’ve built lists like this for Tokyo, Paris, and many other places.

Joanne’s approach is more like a travel magazine or the travel section of a newspaper. It’s great but you have to consume it in bulk quantities. What I like about my approach is it is microchunked down to the smallest atomic unit, the place, with value added metadata (tips and photos), and then built up into lists of various sorts. It feels more like a database that I am building than a magazine.

But both of these approaches work and deliver a lot of value to travelers who might want to follow in our footsteps. And we follow others in their footsteps so what goes around comes around. We use travel magazines, travel sections of newspapers, blogs, and Foursquare to plan our trips. Last week I read online a Food and Wine article on the Piedmont wine region, and it in, I read about a restaurant called Piazza Duomo, checked it out on Foursquare, and we booked a lunch there the next day. It was a fantastic lunch, now documented in a Gotham Gal blog post and a Foursquare tip.

Kitchensurfing

There is only one company to date that the Gotham Gal has made an angel investment and subsequently USV has invested in and that is Kitchensurfing. I was not involved in either investment decision. The Gotham Gal made the angel investment herself. And because I was conflicted, by virtue of her investment, I recused myself from USV’s investment decision. So I don’t know as much about this company as many others in the USV portfolio.

But I know this much, it’s a fantastic service. Last night we had a dozen people at our beach house. The Gotham Gal is a great cook but she wasn’t really down with the idea of cooking and cleaning up for that large of a group. So we went with Kitchensurfing.

We wanted to eat healthy, lots of farm fresh foods, cooked without any heavy sauces or spices. We selected Chef Warren and he came through for us. He picked up some chicken at the local chicken farm. And he brought all sorts of fresh vegetables.

Our meal wasn’t one of the standard menus on his Kitchensurfing page. But it was pretty close in terms of price and selection to this one. We obviously customized it.

He grilled everything up to perfection, served it buffet style, and cleaned up everything and left the kitchen and grill as he found it.

I tweeted this out as dinner was served:

If you find yourself in a similar situation, with a house full of guests, without a desire to cook and clean, and are willing to spend what you’d spend if you went out to eat, try Kitchensurfing. It’s great.

Fun Friday: Foursquare Time Machine

Those of you who use Foursquare to database your life can have some fun today. Foursquare launched a cool interactive visualization tool called Time Machine yesterday.

Go there, login, and watch Foursquare go back in time and show you all of your movements around your city and the world. For me it was the past four years. Trips I'd almost forgotten came back to life. And at the end, I got this. You can get one too.

Foursquare-the-next-big-thing

A few things about that infographic. The placed I've checked into the most, The Coffee Shop, is a place I will never go to again. Sometime in early 2012, I was treated badly by a hostess, and on the way out I vowed never to return. I haven't and won't.

I've been using Foursquare for about four years and have checked in almost 5,000 times. That's an average of 3.4x a day. No wonder Foursquare is so good at making recommendations for me when I am in places I don't know much about.

While we are on the topic of Foursquare, I want to address some tweets I saw yesterday that mangled some things I said about the company. I spoke at two events yesterday and at both I was asked about Foursquare. I said the same thing at both events, which is that Foursquare has pivoted the product from being primarily about checkins to being primarily about maps with people in them. They've done a fantastic job at that. But the market doesn't know that Foursquare is about maps and map search with people in it. They could do a better job in getting that word out. And I am happy to help them do that.

Feature Friday: Save To Foursquare

I am a big fan of bookmarking. I mean that in the largest sense. When I find something I want to read, watch, do, etc, I like to save it somewhere that I can find it when I need it.

When it comes to restaurants I want to go to, I like to use Foursquare's Save button. Here's how it works:

Let's say you are reading that Montmartre’s French Fries Are New York’s Best and you think "I have to try them".

You click the save to Foursquare button in your browser and this happens:

Save to foursquare #1

The default is that you will save that place to your "to do list"

But if you happen to have a list called "best french fries in NYC" like I do, then you can change the drop down and save it there

French fries in NYC

If you like reading about places to go out but don't have a good way to save them (to your phone and web), give the Save To Foursquare button a try.

Full disclosure: USV has an investment in Foursquare, The Gotham Gal and I have an investment in Montmartre, and I love french fries.

Fun Friday: Morning Joe

It feels like its been a while since we did a fun friday around here. So here goes.

How do you like your morning cup of coffee?

I go with the Cortado, ideally in a shot glass. Here's one from Kava, the coffee shop near my home in the far west village.

Cortado

So how do you take your morning cup? Photos please.

Fun Friday: Favorite Cuisine

It's fun friday again. Time to think about something other than tech, internet, startups, venture capital, work.

This week the Gotham Gal and I have been eating up a storm as we put the finishing touches on a fantastic two week vacation. It got me thinking about one of my favorite food related questions:

If you had to eat just one cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?

For me, there are only two possible answers; Italian and Japanese. The choice between those two cuisines is a hard one for me. I always end up tossing out Japanese and answering Italian. But I would sure miss Japanese cuisine.

How about you? What's your favorite cuisine?

Fun Friday – Diet & Nutrition

In our last fun friday we talked about exercise routines. The discussion in the comments was terrific and many connected exercise to diet and nutrition, which is totally logical. So I thought we'd just move on to diet & nutrition as our next fun friday.

The way fun fridays work is I talk a little bit about my current favorites in a topic category (books, movies, music, exercise) and then I turn it over to all of you to discuss in the comments. It is fun and I enjoy these friday discussions very much.

When it comes to diet and nutrition I am blessed in the sense that I have a fast metabolism and I have always been able to eat whatever I want and not gain weight. I was thin as a rail in college. I've added a bit of weight since then, maybe 10% of total body weight. A fast metabolism is a good thing for me because, as many of you know, the Gotham Gal is a very good cook and food is a big deal in our household.

I grew up in a household full of people built just like me. Diet was never a big issue in our family. My mom's advice was always "moderation in everything." We always had sweets, sugar, fatty food, etc in our diets but we didn't eat a lot of it. We didn't eat a lot of anything.

Then one day when I was about 12, my dad came home and said that his doctor told him his cholesterol was too high. My dad takes stuff like that seriously and so he (and our entire family to a lesser degree) went on a low cholesterol diet. We cut back on eggs, red meat, fatty foods, etc. To this day I still think twice before putting anything like that in my mouth. But I do put "stuff like that" in my mouth. My guiding light is "do everything, but do it in moderation." I think my mom would be proud.

Living with the Gotham Gal for 30 years now has brought a whole different approach to food to my life. We always have food out in our kitchen. This past weekend we had a chocolate cake. Two nights ago it was homemade "Hostess Ding Dongs" in our kitchen. Both came from a friend of ours who just had to share her amazing creations. And they were amazing. We keep ice cream in the freezer, usually from some boutique gourmet provider. And it seems like we always have homemade chocolate chip cookies in the cookie jar. My kids' friends like to come to our house.

We eat dinner at home most nights during the work week. But we go out to eat a fair bit too. You can read Gotham Gal's blog to get a sense of it. Our family are foodies and I very much include my kids in that description. We eat pretty much everything and we enjoy food.

But that does not mean our diets are bad. The Gotham Gal has counted calories and fat in her food intake since long before I knew her. And our kids know how to count calories and what is good and what is not. My girls like to go on juice cleanses and my oldest daughter avoids fried foods and red meat in her diet (with an occasional steak just because).

So that's my approach to diet and nutrition. Which is basically no specific approach. I eat everything but try to do it in moderation. I try to avoid the bad stuff most of the time. But I let myself enjoy it every now and then. I just had my annual physical and my doctor gave me a clean bill of health. At age 50, that feels good.

So with that backdrop, I'd love to hear what all of you do.

Texting vs Tweeting

Last night I sent my friend Steve a text message. It was late and I didn't check to see his reply before going to bed. When I was working on my computer this morning, I remembered the text and wanted to see his reply. I thought to myself, "I wish I could just go to a website and see his reply and reply back."

That's the twittter experience bleeding into the text messaging experience. The beauty of twitter is you can send the message on your phone, get the reply on the web, and see the continuation of the conversation on your desktop.

Of course email works that way too and has for at least ten years. Twitter brought the model to short messaging. It will be interesting to see if SMS can evolve or if services like Twitter will replace them because of the ubiquity.

While I'm on the subject of Steve, he's launched a new web series on chefs and their signature dishes called BeyondTheDish.TV. I grew up eating veal schnitzel and this episode on Kurt Gutenbrunner's version is fun and informative.