Need a faster food order? Deploying drones for home delivery

Forget supermarket vans, how would you like your groceries be delivered by drone? And why beat eggs, sugar and other messy ingredients – just print off that sugary coating on your cute cupcake?

Neither development is that that far-fetched it seems – these are just two technology-meets-food stories I’ve noticed this week.

First of all the drone delivery vehicle – take a look here where your high street pizza provider Dominos’s shows off its ‘DomiCopter’.

It got a writer at Esquire magazine wondering ‘about drones. About the possibilities they hold for the American consumer. About their ethicality.’

“And even though it was presumably just a PR stunt, and FAA approval for commercial drone use is still a few years off, I find myself thinking that, if it did happen, I’d have a few questions.”

Yes, I think we can safely say we’d all have some questions on that……

So what about printed cakes? This is taking technology more commonly associated with engineering feats, 3D printing, and turning it over to sugar and spice and all things nice.

In a rather breathless interview with The Guardian’s technology section, husband and wife team in LA, Kyle and Liz von Hasseln, explain.

“It’s such an exciting intersection between technology, food, and art. We’ve been getting excited reactions from all over the world. When you see a 3D-printed sugar sculpture that’s unlike any food you’ve seen before, its immediately clear that a whole new set of possibilities has opened up.”

Still…… sounds like the printable lamb chop might be a way off.

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Six best places to eat in Richmond, North Yorkshire – updated for 2012

The first version of this blogpost was published in 2009 and has proved to be one of the most searched for things on this blog so I thought it was about time it got updated for 2012.
Taking into account some off the feedback, some re-visiting and some new ventures opening have led to this new version of the whistlestop tour.
1. Pub grub
Last time I recommended the Black Lion Hotel in Finkle street but I’ve updated this after a few disappointing meals there more recently. This year’s recommendation is the George and Dragon in Hudswell. Just a couple of miles out of town and well worth the trip, the community pub that’s found favour with the television programme makers and locals alike has got into its stride with the food. You’re unlikely to encounter much Fijian food in these parts so it’s worth trying out the specials for that experience. The chicken stir-fry with noodles or the fish with banana are both easy introductions to an unfamiliar cuisine. Call: 01748 518373. Map on n0tice.com.
2. Cafe
Last time I mentioned the Cross View Ream Rooms (which remains good for home-cooked food) but this time I’d like to recommend Deli 10. On Darlington road near the island for the Co-op, this small venue has a well thought out menu of freshly prepared sandwiches, panini and cakes. The homemade soup is always well seasoned and piping hot and the salads with an interesting selection of leaves, walnuts and olives drizzled (not drowned) with dressing. The always friendly service is another bonus in a town where surly teenage waiting staff are the norm. Call: 01748 822114.
rustique
Salmon fishcakes

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3. Fine dining

We’re still struggling in this category with the Frenchgate Restaurant and Hotel the only place coming close but…. of the two more casual dining places to open up in the past few years, Rustique in Chantry Wynd is worth a try. Aside from the cliche theming of the decor (cancan, chat noir etc.), the food on offer is well priced and well-cooked. The menu is very much on the traditional side of French – rich and buttery. The meat dishes are large and attention is paid to the customer’s cooking preferences. The pleasant service also adds to make for a relaxed evening out. Call: 01748 821565. Map on n0tice.com.

4. Smart lunch
Last time I mentioned the Seasons Restaurant at The Station which is OK as far as cafe style service and menus go but the other addition to the town which is worth a try is La Piazza 2. The stylish decor and prompt service have quickly made this into one of the busiest eateries. Basically pizza and pasta which are well done. My only criticism is the lack of any dinner salads (just rather a dull side salad) and the extremely costly soft drinks. Call: 01748 825008.

5. Take-away
The Delhi-cious kitchen made the list last time and is still working away to deliver curries across the town but I thought I’d make an addition for the town centre itself in this update – Shanghai City in the Market Place. With it’s hand-written menu additions scribbled on bags pinned up on the wall, perusing the choices can be a bit haphazard but worth struggling through. Although the main menu is fairly standard Cantonese stuff, these specials include items such as massive dishes of udon noodles cooked in your choice of sauce or salt and pepper squid from the Malaysian cook. Call: 01748 825955.

kingsheadhotel6. Missed opportunity
I’ve added this category in because of the disappointment first at the closure of the excellent Frenchgate cafe and also about the way the landmark King’s Head Hotel has proved to be in recent times. What a fabulous building, what lovely new decor and add to that the interesting menu and the selection of wines – this should be the jewel in crown for the town. Why then is it so often empty? Having seen people wait more than an hour to be handed a menu and then marching out in exasperation as teenage waitresses gossip ignoring their efforts to order or have the tables cleared – it’s not difficult to understand why. I seriously hope summer 2012 will see its return to form as well as the Frenchgate cafe finding a new owner.

Finding value for money eats in Venice

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Beautiful, memorable and endlessly interesting as Venice is, it’s not cheap for eating out. I’ve picked the three places below out for their value.

Living it up: Trattoria al Ponte del Megio, 
S. Croce, 1666.
This is my favourite of all the places I’ve eaten out in Venice. On several visits, over several years, this friendly trattoria on a canal junction is consistently good. Weather allowing, sit outside and watch the gondaliers (sometimes noisely) negotiate their right of way along the narrow canal or simply watch the passing parade of stylish people on a night out.
The menu always includes an interesting selection of specials alongside the usual local specialities of pasta with cuttlefish or clams.
This spring visit we were lucky enough to be just in time for that fleeting delicacy – fried courgette flowers. Light and crispy with each holding just a little anchovy stuffing. Sublime! Fresh fillets of John Dory or a simply grilled sea bream followed. The vegetable portions are simply cooked – in this case spinach, carrots and ratatouille but the fact the ingredients are so fresh means everything is bursting with flavour. The house prosecco – sold by the half litre jug – is good and dry and means that wine doesn’t need to set you back too much and the hosts always offer an end of meal liquer on the house. Our meal for five with drinks, two courses and side dishes came in at 170 euros.

Can’t go wrong with pizza:Pizzeria Accademia, Rio Terra Foscarini.
Essentially a snack bar, this is worth a visit on outside seating views alone. Nestled into the great Accademia bridge, it’s easily found after a day of art and next to the vaporetto stop of the same name. The pizza is good, but in a land where all pizza is good, it’s not exceptional. What is exceptional is a front seat to the spectator sport of watching the Grand Canal traffic. Maybe Venetians find this as interesting as a day out to watch the M6 but, for us visitors, bring able to see the gondaliers plie their trade alongside the utilities of a floting city provides an endlessly entertaining and colourful backdrop to a companiable lunch or early evening. Downsides are ever present birds around the table and lack of salad accompaniment options – it’s a giant salad for approx 10 euros (with cheese?) only. Wine’s on the pricier side at 10 euros for 0.5 litres, pizza in the 10-12 euro vicinty. Cash only.

Fed up of Italian food: Chinese Restaurant, The Frari.
I realise I’m risking the wrath of a nation here but…….some people do get fed-up with pasta and pizza even on their holidays – not me of course, you understand.
I’ve picked out this Chinese because it is exceptionally good value – most dishes are around the 5 Euro mark – but also because the staff are so accommodating and helpful. They will guide your choices should you wish and have some unusual dishes such as cuttlefish with green peppercorn alongside the more commonplace.

Other bits and bobs – we had intended to eat at the Trattoria San Toma which the guide book Chow Venice recommends for its impossibly light gnocchi but, sadly on our short break, it was always completely booked out so will have to wait for a return trip to sample. If you happen to eat there please do let me know if it’s worth the wait. A couple of general points about eating out in Venice – check the cover price. Usually there’s a euro or two to add to each person’s bill but in San Marco this can be boosted up to seven to pay for the benefit of having music in the cafe!
The local drink to ask for is a Spritz bitter, a refreshing Campari based drink usually served with an olive and at three euros is a value apperitif.

Buon appetito!