Categories
Alcohol Celebrity Grub Drinks

IT’S LIT: Travis Scott Hard Seltzer Launching In 2021

Photos courtesy of Anheuser-Busch and Shutterstock.

2020 has been a big year for Travis Scott in the food game. He got a limited-edition meal collab with McDonald’s, and to close out the decade, he’s shooting his shot with alcohol giant Anheuser-Busch on a new hard seltzer.

Photo courtesy of Anheuser-Busch

Called Cacti, this hard seltzer differs from others on the market in that it’s inspired by tequila. As such, the brand is made with Mexican premium blue agave, and contains a whopping 7% ABV. That puts it significantly higher than White Claw (5% ABV) and other competing seltzers in the market in terms of how lit you’ll get.

Travis Scott’s Cacti line is going to launch nationwide in Spring 2021, and the Cactus Jack-inspired beverage will come in three flavors: Lime, Pineapple, and Strawberry. They’ll be available in 12-ounce cans in a 9 count variety pack, as well as 16-ounce and 25-ounce single cans.

Categories
Food Policy Opinion

Governments Are Doing Nothing To Rescue The Struggling Restaurant Industry

“We’ve listened to all the advice, only to be shut down over and over again and not to be compensated… There’s no science that shows outdoor dining is unsafe! I’m not an asshole, [Governor Gavin Newsom] is.”

The above viral clip from Slapfish owner Andrew Gruel has resonated strongly with restaurant owners around the country. Gruel, whose seafood chain has locations nationwide, is echoing frustrations that governments aren’t doing enough to help restaurants while forcing many in the industry out of business.

Meanwhile, the industry is hurting at an unprecedented level. Data from the National Restaurant Association shows an estimated loss of $215 billion in the last eight months across the restaurant industry nationwide. Over 100,000 restaurants have already closed, and estimates figure that over a third of all restaurants could shut down by June without some sort of relief.

Restaurants have been doing everything governments tell them to do for the most part. They’ve added capabilities for outdoor dining, spending thousands of dollars to do so. Chef Jason Quinn of Southern California’s esteemed Playground, for example, was paying thousands of dollars monthly for a heated tent setup that all got shutdown when outdoor dining was banned.

For many, they feel that banning outdoor dining is a step too far, especially when research has not definitively proven that it leads to a spike in coronavirus cases. Outdoor activities with social distancing are actually encouraged, such as walking in parks or camping, and the CDC does consider outdoor dining to be lower risk than indoor dining as well.

Of course, any form of activity where you come into near contact with others has some level of risk for transmission. The safest thing to do would be to shutter everything, but doing that requires stimulus money paid out to restaurants and businesses. Otherwise, they won’t be reopening once those hypothetical lockdowns end.

“All of this following rules is being predicated on being assisted by the government,” Quinn told Foodbeast.

From local to state to federal level, there has been minimal help for struggling restaurants. Outside of a potential meager stimulus package from the city of Los Angeles and the dimming hope of a restaurant bailout bill passing in Congress, there’s little funding out there to ensure restaurants have the ability to reopen after the current period of pandemic lockdowns.

Congress does have the legislation on hand to help out, with the RESTAURANTS Act potentially providing up to $120 billion in relief. While it has passed the House of Representatives, the Senate has fallen flat in helping out one of the most crucial industries in the country. The bill has yet to even be taken up in legislative sessions there.

Meanwhile, the latest round of bailout funding from Congress doesn’t funnel any money into the restaurant or hospitality industry, leaving owners struggling to survive.

Foodbeast has spoken to several restaurant owners since the latest shutdowns began. While some, including Slapfish, are keeping outdoor dining open, and some are sticking with the government lockdowns, all of them had the same message: Without funding and help, independent restaurants likely won’t last much longer.

“Over the last 10 years, food has become an important part of our culture,” Quinn said. “If we lose all of these small restaurants and just end up with Cheesecake Factories and f**king Arby’s and shit, then we’re gonna have lost a lot of really important work.”

Regardless of whether governments should lock down restaurants or open up outdoor dining, they need to be funding restaurants at a level where they can survive, lest the “backbone of the American economy” collapses. They’re currently sitting on their hands and doing little to nothing, meaning that it’s up to us, regular people, through takeout orders and tips and whatever other ways we can support, to help keep these businesses going.

Categories
Animals Science Technology

FDA Approves Genetically Altered Pigs Meant To Prevent Meat Allergies From Triggering

Photo: Shutterstock

The FDA has given the green light to the usage of “GalSafe” pigs, a genetically engineered variety that is designed to prevent meat allergies from getting triggered when consuming pork.

GalSafe pigs were developed by biomedical firm Revivicor, who received the first-ever joint approval for their pigs in both food and medical uses. This means that in the future, we could see these pigs both being consumed and used in place of standard pork cells in current medical treatments.

Red meat allergies can be triggered by contracting “Alpha-gal Syndrome,” which is a condition that causes us to react to a specific sugar called “Alpha-gal” that is common in many mammals (excluding humans). These allergic reactions can range from mild to severe.

Alpha-gal Syndrome is believed to be transmitted via the bite of the Lone Star tick, but more research needs to be done to determine the role that the ticks play there.

Photo: Shutterstock

These GalSafe pigs have been genetically engineered to have the Alpha-gal sugar removed, preventing those with Alpha-gal Syndrome from getting an allergic reaction when eating meat from these specific animals. They would also not get these allergic reactions from any medicines developed with cells from these specific pigs.

Revivicor’s safety studies focused on the potential for allergic reactions to occur in medicinal uses of the GalSafe pig cells. The FDA also reviewed the safety of consuming pork from these pigs, and determined they would also be safe to eat, finding that the Alpha-gal sugar was removed across multiple generations of pigs. However, safety of eating was not evaluated for those with Alpha-gal syndrome, meaning that more research needs to be done there before confirming that those with meat allergies can eat the pork with full confidence.

For those concerned about any potential danger of eating genetically engineered foods, it should be noted that there is a global consensus from scientists that such foods are safe to eat.

The FDA also found that the pigs were no more environmentally harmful or at risk of a food safety outbreak than standard pigs. GalSafe pigs have more stringent living conditions than standard pigs, so if anything, they might be getting slightly better care.

While GalSafe pigs have been approved to eat, it may take a while before pork products from these pigs start becoming available for sale. These are just the second-ever genetically engineered animal approved for eating, after AquAdvantage salmon, a product still not available for purchase yet.

When it is available, however, Revivicor has indicated that they intend to sell it by mail order, not through grocery stores.

Categories
#foodbeast Alcohol FOODBEAST Restaurants Science

How Different Types Of Sake Affect The Umami Taste In Fish

Sake has to be one of the most versatile alcoholic beverages in the world. With all of the different types and flavors available, the options in your grasp when it comes to picking a sake are almost endless. 

One thing they all have in common, however, is their synergy with seafood when it comes to umami. Research has shown that sake is much better at enhancing the sensation of umami in our mouths when compared to other alcoholic beverages like white wine.

This is because sake contains an umami compound called glutamic acid that can interact with the umami compound in seafood, called inosinic acid. The two react on our taste buds to boost the effects of umami, and sake plays a large part in supplying the glutamic acid for that burst of flavor. 

Foodbeast and Instagrammer George LaBoda @atlasandmason got to try this out firsthand while visiting Hermanito, a restaurant in Los Angeles, California. There, he met up with sake sommelier Bryan West to sample three different sakes with Hermanito’s Hamachi and Uni Agua Chili Sunomo. Each of the sakes had different properties that affected LaBoda’s perception of umami. 

jfoodo hyaku moku edited

One of the properties discussed was the ability to blend sakes, which was the case for the bottle of Hyaku Moku Alt. 3 from Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing they started with. This blend of Junmai Daiginjo and Junmai Ginjo has a collection of fruity aromas to it. LaBoda also noted that the sake and seafood together opened up flavors he couldn’t perceive with just the dish on its own.

Another property of sake the pair dove into dealt with the polishing of rice. A higher degree of rice polishing doesn’t necessarily translate to a higher quality of sake. Instead, it refers to the amount of protein left, which means that something less polished has more protein available to create a unique range of umami flavors.

In comparing the final two sakes, a Tokugetsu Junmai Daiginjo from ASAHI-SHUZO SAKE BREWING and a Shirakabegura Tokubetsu Junmai from Shirakabegura Brewery, that difference was made clear. The Asahi-Shuzo sake was a lot more balanced, and even provided a cooling effect, lending itself to the fish. On the other hand, the full, rounded, and savory flavors of the Shirakabegura sake lent to the vegetables, creating unique experiences for both sakes from the same dish. 

None of the above necessarily has to be the “ideal” or “correct” pairing for a dish. If anything, the different qualities of the sakes show that each can provide a unique experience to the meal. However, the one commonality they do have is that synergy when it comes to umami. 

Hermanito’s Hamachi and Uni Agua Chili Sunomo will be available, with the Hyaku Moku Alt. 3 sake to pair with, through the month of December as part of the Unlock Your Palate campaign by JFOODO

You can learn more about the relationship between sake and seafood, as well as other restaurants featuring it, through JFOODO’s website, or by following the hashtags #UnlockYourPalate and #SeafoodAndSake. 

Created in partnership with JFOODO.

Categories
Fast Food What's New

BEEF WELLINGTON and SPICY HOT POT: Pizza Hut Taiwan’s Latest Flavors Are WILD

Photo courtesy of Pizza Hut Taiwan

Pizza Hut Taiwan has a drool-worthy collection of holiday season pies they’re slinging right now, both of which are based on popular dishes not just in Taiwan, but around the world.

Photo courtesy of Pizza Hut Taiwan

One of these popular pies is the Beef Wellington Pizza, based on the celebratory British dish. Beef Wellington is extremely popular around the holiday season, when people tend to splash out on fancy cuts like filet mignon that are required for the meaty feast.

Photo courtesy of Pizza Hut Taiwan

A traditional Beef Wellington meal would consist of beef wrapped in puff pastry with mushrooms, plus sides of mashed potatoes, vegetables, and a sauce like a red wine reduction.

Pizza Hut’s version holds true to all of those components, albeit with slight twists. The beef they use is slow cooked in red wine and balsamic vinegar to emulate that reduction, and squares of puff pastry are baked into each slice. Balls of mashed potato and corn are embedded into the crust and on the pizza itself, which comes with spinach, mushrooms, and red peppers.

While it’s not an actual Beef Wellington topped like a pizza (which would be really cool), it is a hearty and tasty tribute to the British classic. Now to see what Gordon Ramsay thinks about it.

Photo courtesy of Pizza Hut Taiwan

Hot pot fans also have an interesting pizza to tuck into, as Pizza Hut Taiwan has collaborated with hot pot chain Tripod King to debut the Fire Spicy Hot Pot Pizza.

This pizza is inspired by the “Mala” style of hot pot, which features a spicy, numbing broth made with tingly Sichuan peppercorn. The pizza itself is brushed in a Sichuan pepper oil, and is made with hot pot spices. On top of the pizza is cheese and an array of meats you’d find in a hot pot, including chicken meatballs, brisket, tendon, shank, and honeycomb tripe.

Curious to see how this slice would fare if dipped into an actual pot of spicy, numbing broth. I’m actually drooling just imagining that flavor combination.

Pizza Hut Taiwan’s Beef Wellington Pizza is available for sale through January 4th, while the Spicy Hot Pot Pizza is being sold in limited quantities until stocks run out. Those of you in Taiwan, I’m incredibly jealous.

Categories
Design Fast Food Sweets

Popeyes Chocolate-Stuffed Beignets Just Launched Nationwide To End 2020

Photos courtesy of @paulsfoodhaul on Instagram.

The Popeyes chocolate-stuffed beignets discovered in Massachusetts back in September 2020 are officially launching nationwide.

Popeyes had initially confirmed an eventual nationwide release of these beignets to Foodbeast during their test release in September. Now, Instagram Stories from multiple influencers and models shared on the official Popeyes account confirm that the beignets are arriving nationwide.

Above photos are all screenshots of Popeyes Instagram stories posted on December 10th, 2020

Additional Instagram Stories from the influencers, as well as a release from Popeyes, confirm that the beignets will be dropping on Monday, December 14th for a limited time.

Similar to how they are served in New Orleans, these beignets consist of fried dough and are dusted in copious amounts of powdered sugar. Popeyes is adding an extra twist by stuffing the inside with oozy melted Hershey’s chocolate.

Photo courtesy of Popeyes

Popeyes is pairing the beignets with some new exclusive merch: a “Beignet Camo Hoodie.” While meant to emulate powdered sugar to cover up potential beignet messes, the speckles of white also look like snow. Could make for a fun general winter hoodie.

The hoodies are on sale for $35 each on a special website.

Categories
Fast Food Film/Television Twitch

If You’re Still Searching For A PS5, Wendy’s Might Have The Solution

Photos courtesy of Wendy’s, Shutterstock

For those looking to game their way through the pandemic, searching for next-gen consoles like the Xbox Series X and the new PS5 might be a bit of a headache. The two are selling out rapidly, and restocks can’t come fast enough.

Now if you’re one of the countless gamers looking to secure any of the two sought after gaming systems, Wendy’s might be able to help. The next-gen consoles are potential prizes in a new menu collab the fast food chain is doing with a few popular Twitch streamers.

Photo courtesy of Wendy’s

In a move straight out of the McDonald’s playbook, Wendy’s is creating customizable meals from their existing menu based on the orders of prolific names. Rather than top musicians like Travis Scott or J Balvin, however, Wendy’s is working with gamers on Twitch instead for a set of five different orders. These “meals” are as follows:

Photo courtesy of Wendy’s

The TFUE Meal: A 10-piece order of Crispy Chicken Nuggets, a small fries, and a Minute Maid Light Lemonade.   

Photo courtesy of Wendy’s

The Myth Meal: A Classic Chicken Sandwich, a small fries, and a Coke.

Photo courtesy of Wendy’s

The itsHafu Meal: A Baconator, a small fries, and a Sprite.

Photo courtesy of Wendy’s

The FLIGHT Meal: A 10-piece order of Spicy Nuggets, a small fries, and Hi-C Fruit Punch.

Photo courtesy of Wendy’s

The xChocoBars Meal: A Big Bacon Classic, a small fries, and a Diet Coke.

All of these meals are exclusively available on UberEats, and come with a “Prize Pass” in each bag. Those passes contain pin codes that can be redeemed on a website to attempt to win gaming hoodies, gift cards, or one of the coveted gaming consoles.

The meals are available on UberEats from December 8th-12th, and you have until December 15th to enter the codes to try to win. Best of luck, and hopefully you’ll not have to attempt to beat everyone else out the next time one of the gaming systems is in stock.

Categories
Film/Television Grocery Packaged Food

Pokémon Cereal Makes Comeback After 20-Year Hiatus

Photo courtesy of General Mills

While Pokémon is extremely popular around the world, you won’t find too many food products featuring the pocket monsters inside the United States. A lot of products, including cereal, Heinz Ketchup, and Eggo waffles were introduced back in 2000, but have all been discontinued since. Outside of a couple of food releases in 2009, Pokémon hasn’t seen much of a resurgence in your local grocer’s aisle.

For Pokémon’s 25th anniversary, however, General Mills has teamed up with the titular fictional universe to create a special new Pokémon cereal.

The new “Berry Bolt” breakfast box features red and blue berry-flavored corn puffs, alongside yellow marshmallows that feature the franchise’s figurehead, Pikachu.

Pokémon is celebrating its 25th year of getting folks to obsess over catching fictional monsters in 2021, so this may be just the first food product we see featuring Pikachu and other characters as the year progresses.

For now, however, you can find the brand new Pokémon cereal at grocery retailers nationwide.