Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Give Me Reasons Not Excuses

I believe in rules

That sound you just heard was everyone who knows me rolling their eyes as if to say “no kidding!”

I don’t mean “hard-core army drill sergeant” type rules, but gentler “this is what experience tells us is the best way to do something” sort of rules. It’s like my own personal set of “best practices.”  One of those rules is “own up to your mistakes.” We all make them. In fact I believe making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn.

But under no circumstances should you ever shirk your responsibility for the mistakes you’ve made.

Of course there’s a “for instance” here, and it involves a supplier I’ve been using for a while now. I sent them a purchase order well in advance of the time I would need them to come to the job site to begin their work. The week before the job I followed up with the supplier (there are those rules again!) only to discover they had no record of my purchase order.

Fortunately, the material I need was in stock, and there was room in their schedule to complete my job. Still I was concerned. Had I not sent in the purchase order? Had the fax been eaten by the office dog? When I dropped by the suppliers office to return some samples I asked the supplier what had happened. “You never sent in the order” was the reply. I didn’t argue the point. But there, sitting on the desk beside the job folder was the purchase order I had faxed in weeks before.

I wasn’t too concerned because the job was going ahead as planned. Obviously a mistake had been made, and steps had been taken to correct it. But what was to be gained by not owning up to the mistake? If anything, had the supplier admitted to the mistake I would have appreciated the honesty and the effort they made to make it up to me. I’d feel valued. Now I just feel disappointed.

Like my father told me when I was a boy, “If you tell me in advance, it’s a reason. Tell me afterwards and it’s an excuse."

Monday, March 28, 2011

NIM - I'm Floored by These Curves

Photo Credit: Bolefloor
With all the technology available to the building industry, I find it surprising that most of it is being used to create straight lines. Computer technology excels in the area of optimization … getting the best yield out of a finite amount of raw material. Cutting many different sized parts out of a single 4’ x 8’ sheet of material is a classic example. But it’s not as if straight lines and clean finishes are difficult to begin with.

The brain trust at Bolefloor had the same idea, and decided to apply their optimization programmes to naturally curved floorboards. This is not a new idea. Master woodworkers have been doing this sort of flooring for years; examining the natural curves in each piece of wood and fitting each piece into a naturally flowing floor. What Bolefloor has done is automate the process making it more accessible to those of us without a master woodworker at hand.
Bolefloor scanners’ natural-edge visual identification technology evaluates “imperfections” such as knots and sapwood near the edges or ends so that floors are both beautiful and durable. 
Our process manages and tracks each board from its raw-lumber stage through final installation. And every board is cut using the finest in Homag woodworking machinery.
Photo Credit: Bolefloor
The resulting floors are breathtaking; very natural and definitely unique.

As of the published date of this post there are still a number of details to be sorted out.  The only wood available is oak, although the boards are available in grooved and un-grooved.  Finishes are Danish oils but Bolefloor is also available unfinished.  The list of distributors is expected to be available in April 2011 but for more information you can contact them directly (contact information is on their web site.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A "Pain" in the Back

The baguette is part of the daily routine of almost every Parisian.  Delicious yes, but almost impossible to carry with any sort of grace or style.  Guzzini (an Italian kitchenware company) challenged 30 designers to take on the baguette dilemna, and take another look at our relationship with food.

Photo Credit: Designboom
I love how they're all smoking.

The winning design came from Neil Poulton who used a simple sack and a caribiner.  Clip it anywhere and your baguette problems are over!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Food Fridays: Finding Swine Behind Enemy Lines

I’ve been a little melancholy ever since Vancouver and Portland joined Seattle in Major League Soccer. I really like Seattle and Portland. The people there are as close to Canadians as you’ll find in the USA and each city (and state) offers much to people like me who are looking for great things to eat and drink. But soccer rivalries are bigger than the wants of this kitchen designer. And so even though I’ll continue to visit our Cascadian rivals, I’ll always feel like I’m traveling behind enemy lines.

In fact, we’ve already made our first trip into enemy territory over the first weekend in March. We joined up with a number of Vancouver Whitecaps FC supporters to take in the team’s two matches in the 2011 Cascadia Summit which took place in Tukwilla, just south of Seattle.

The morning before the first match with Portland my wife and I took a stroll through downtown to find some lunch. We had a couple ideas already in mind, but a sign featuring a pig caught our eyes. I believe the pig to be the noblest of animals, and any restaurant that suggests it knows how to respect this animal will likely respect all food. The sign directed us down the Harbour Steps to the door of Lecosho. The sign at the front announced the daily special: “Rabbit & White Bean Soup.” Bunny & beans on a blustery day. Perfect. We were sold.

Lecosho (Chinook slang for “swine” we were to later discover) marks the return to the restaurant business of Matt Janke, former owner of Matt’s in the Market. Matt’s in the Market was one of our favourite spots in Seattle, until our last visit. Something had changed and it seemed to have lost its personality. That “something” it turns out was Matt, who sold the business in order to take some paternity leave.

The menus at Lecosho are tagged with the line “food we like” and it’s that kind of comfortable cooking that I really enjoyed at Matt’s. At Lecosho the cooking is even homier as was suggested by the special. Uncomplicated, hearty and satisfying, the soup immediately took the chill out me.  Nice chunks of rabbit joined with swiss chard and white bean.  I could have just had a bowl of the soup and I would have been happy.

Our mains were similarly straightforward and deliscious: Roast Chicken for J. and a Bacon Cheeseburger for me. Both nicely executed and generous in portion.

Matt was there running the front of house and seemed to appreciate the interest we showed in the new venture. He actually has a bit of room to walk around this time; if you were ever in Matt’s in the Market you know it was tiny. Lecosho is not huge (about 60 seats) but the warm woods and low lustre finishes make it feel like a place you could spend the afternoon in, planning your attack on an unsuspecting soccer team.

89 University St
(1/2 way down Harbour Steps)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When Cash Isn't King

Do I get a discount if I pay cash?

I have to admit, this is my least favourite question. I dislike it even more than “Is that your best price?” and “Can you have the job finished before I host my daughter’s wedding in 2 weeks?

I understand why the question is asked. Times are tough and every opportunity you can save some money gives you an opportunity to spread a limited budget further. In British Columbia, we’ve just been introduced to the HST and seen the hard cost of many goods and service increase by up to 7%. Paying cash gets you around the tax issue, but it's like walking tightrope without a net.

First of all, working under the table is illegal.  But if you're considering it at all, this apparently doesn't bother you, so I'll move onto other issues that might.  Without any sort of written agreement between you and your contractor (kitchen or otherwise) you have little if any legal recourse if the project goes sideways. Assuming the court will even hear your case without any form of documentation, they’d have to resort to your word against the contractor’s. I can almost guarantee that won’t work well in your favour.

Even if you have an excellent, trustworthy contractor who just so happens to work “for cash”, you can still run into issues if faced with job-site injuries. Under-the-table deals often mean that liability and work-site injury insurance is not in play. If a newly installed faucet leaks and causes extensive water damage, your insurance company is going to want to know who installed it. The plumber was unlicensed? You may be uninsured. A worker gets injured on the jobsite? If he’s not covered by workers’ compensation, what are the chances he’ll be looking at you for compensation?

The purchaser in the first design firm I worked for had a poster on her wall that I feel summarizes this situation nicely:
My quote includes a quality product, quality installation and quality service.  You want a lower price?  What would you have me remove from my quote?

Monday, March 21, 2011

NIM - Concept Laundry

In my house, laundry is off limits for me.  My wife simply doesn't trust me with her clothes, and we both agree that each of us doing our own laundry would be a waste of time and energy.  Some of my friends congratulate me for my fox-like cleverness at avoiding such a dull chore, but I quickly remind them my wife thinks I'm the best  laundry folder on the planet!

Today's New Idea Monday would satisfy this laundry dilema for me.  The Washing Machine in a Wardrobe is the brainchild of Minsung Bae. It uses a combination of humidity, ionization, ozone and air pressure to kill the bacteria and dirt in your shirts, pants and suits (I'm thinking this concept is aimed at men ...).  Simply place your clothes inside and hang the machine in your closet.  The laundry will be done by morning!

Photo Credit:  YankoDesign

Photo Credit:  YankoDesign
And considering you'll need fewer shirts (clean fewer shirts more often) and the cleaning process is chemical-free, this concept gets marks on the Green front as well.  Now if would fold the clothes as well we'd be set.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Since 1974

Anybody who's been following this blog (and I Could Eat before it) will know I am a big supporter of soccer, and in particular the Vancouver Whitecaps. The love affair started back in 1974 when the 'Caps started play in the North American Soccer league.  I was a young soccer player myself and watching my home team gave me many years of inspiration and entertainment.  I was there for game one against the San Jose Earthquake (a 2-1 loss), but right from the beginning I was entranced by the beautiful game.

In the years that followed, my friends and I would save our allowances so we could go see games at Empire Stadium (pictured here).  When we didn't have enough for tickets, we'd sneak into the stadium; the north-east corner was secluded enough to allow a 12 year-old to jump the fence and avoid the (old & overweight) security guards.  

In 1979 the Whitecaps defeated the might New York Cosmos on their way to winning the Soccer Bowl.  Soccer was huge in Vancouver, even bigger than hockey.  While our schoolmates were cheering for hockey players like  Lafleur, Orr and Esposito, our heroes were Bob Lenarduzzi, Carl Valentine and Kevin Hector.  

Sadly, in 1984 the NASL folded, and our beloved Caps were gone.  Professional soccer returned to Vancouver a few years later with the Canadian Soccer League and the Vancouver Eight-Sixers, but it wasn't the same.  They simply weren't the same team I had loved.

Photo Credit:  Bob Frid
But something happened to me a few years ago to change those feelings.  FIFA 2007 from EA Sports.  Yes, a video game re-kindled my love for soccer.  It reminded me that it was the game, the beautiful flowing play of soccer,that attracted me in the first place.  And so in 2008 I went to my first professional soccer game in over 20 years.  It wasn't the same level of play (Division 2) and these Whitecaps (they'd re-claimed the name by then) weren't the same as my Whitecaps.  But in the stands of Swanguard Stadium a new love affair was born.

2011 Whitecaps FC
Then, in 2009, Vancouver Whitecaps FC was granted a new franchise in Major League Soccer, the top level of soccer in Canada and the USA.  The Caps were back, and I've been hyper with anticipation ever since.  Today at 3:30pm PDT they'll be taking the pitch against Toronto FC.  We're back at square one.  But we're back.

Mon the Caps!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Not As Easy As It Looks

The contemporary look in kitchen design is very definitely in: clean lines, smooth surfaces and uncluttered detail with nothing to take the eye away from the colour and texture (or lack thereof) of the cabinetry. I was discussing such a design with a client earlier this month, and while she agreed it was stunningly beautiful, she made a very telling comment:

It’s so simple it must require hardly any effort from you.


I can’t blame her really. Many of these contemporary designs look as though they were simply pulled from a box of Lego and stuck at will to the wall. And that’s really part of their appeal isn’t it? There are no heavy crown mouldings, pilasters or turned furniture feet to make us “ooh” and “aah” at the high level of craftsmanship that went into the installation. But make no mistake, the contemporary kitchen requires just as much, if not more attention to detail as its more traditional counterpart.

The first question I ask when faced with a contemporary design is “what appliances are being used?” Typically this style of kitchen involves at least one integrated appliances. An “integrated” appliance is one that is either hidden behind doors that match the cabinetry, or actually built in to the cabinetry itself. The idea here is to make the appliance disappear.

Sounds simple enough, but when I’m dealing with integrated appliances I know there’s going to be a high level of detail required to design a cabinet that will fit the appliance perfectly. Remember, there is almost no room for error when dealing with these appliances. It’s not as though you can send a steam oven back to the shop and have it trimmed by 3mm. At the very least I’ll create one set of custom drawings for every integrated appliance. Using a CAD programme like Sketchup is incredibly helpful since it allows me to model the very appliance I’m trying to install. I can “see” how it will fit before I’ve even built the cabinet.

For me, the most important part of a contemporary design is how well things line up. Because the doors are typically very simple, the lines between the doors and drawers must line up perfectly. For a standard run of base or wall cabinets, this isn’t much of an issue; even stock cabinets will line up if properly implemented. The challenge arises when we start working with the integrated appliances we’ve so carefully fit into our custom pieces.

While most integrated appliances do a very good job of fitting into “standard” cabinet configurations, many of the best manufacturers make things a bit more challenging. Sub Zero’s 700 series with drawer storage requires drawer heights that are not “standard” in any cabinet line I’ve ever seen. So unless you work with a cabinet manufacturer that customize, your drawers won't line up. No, it’s not awful. But it would look so much better if everything lined up, and for that, you require custom.

Contemporary kitchen design has been strong for at least 2 years now. Recent trade shows in Europe indicate several advancements in this style which will require even more attention to detail. When you meet with your kitchen designer, come prepared with as much information as possible to make the design process go smoothly. Knowing what appliances you plan on using, will go a long way to creating a contemporary kitchen that looks like it “required hardly any effort” from your designer. Only you and your designer will know the truth.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Composting In The Kitchen

Last summer, my home town of Burnaby added food scrap pickup to its recycling programme.  About  half of our household garbage is some form of food scrap or paper product that has been soiled by food (and thus, not recyclable with the paper) . By composting these material, the city produces a valuable resource, diverts waste, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

After eight months of this programme I am amazed at how much our habits in the kitchen have changed.  We were avid recyclers before so we already didn't produce a lot of garbage.  But now that we can compost, our trash bin takes even longer to fill.  We regularly put out a bin that's only half full, and often skip a week of garbage pick-up.

This change in habits started me thinking about what sort of impact this could have on how I design kitchens.  I've already seen a marked increase in the number of requests I have for recycling centres in the kitchen.  Will I start receiving requests for composting in the kitchen or at the very least, containers for compost?
Compost containers already exist.  Suppliers like Richelieu already have many accessories that will allow you to meet your composting needs.  The majority of these come in the form of pull-out containers that you simple remove to take to your compost bin.  Because they're small, the assumption is you'll empty them frequently so smell, the biggest downside to composting, is not really an issue.
There's also the countertop option that allows you to simply sweep your food scraps into a hole in the countertop and into a container hidden in the cabinetry below.
These options are all well and fine for people who have some sort of composting system in place.  But what about people without a city composting programme or who live in apartments or condos where pick up isn't offered? (Burnaby is currently running a Multi-Family Food Scraps Recycling pilot project).  There are many "apartment friendly" composting options out there, but the one I liked best is offered in Vancouver through City Farmer.  The box (about $25) is about 36"w x 36"d x 24"h, includes a one hour course on composting and 500 hungry worms.  Yes, worms.  These little guys are the secret to keeping the smell out of all that rotting food waste, which makes this a very viable option for an apartment kitchen.

There is of course some extra work involved here; definitely more than just running the scraps down to my garden waste bin.  But recycling was an inconvenience when it first started, and we've managed to integrate that into our daily routines.  Adding composting, or food scrap management to our lives will just take a little planning, but the results will be worth it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

NIM - Teaching Valuable Lessons

Photo Credit:
When I was 19, my dad & I spent the entire summer working on my parents’ old 1972 Datsun 510.  I scraped up money for parts and insurance and when we finally got it licensed my dad turned to me and said, “So, you figure about $1,000 is a fair price for the car?”  I was devastated. I thought the car was just going to be given to me.  Instead, the true cost of car ownership was brought into crystal clear focus for me.

Photo Credit:
Which brings us to today’s New Idea Monday.  This is not a Datsun 510.  It is a faucet.  But it’s a faucet designed to teach us the same sort of lesson I learned that summer.  It’s called the “1LL” which stands for “1 litre limit.”  The tube on the back fills with exactly 1 litre of water; once that litre has been used up you wait for the tube to fill up before you can use the faucet again.  Designed by Yonggu Do, Dohyung Kim & Sewon Oh, it answers the question of how to get users to notice how much water they are using, rather than just letting it go down the drain.

As much social commentary as a plumbing fixture, this concept will need to address a number of functional issues (how to clean the reservoir tube for one) before it sees widespread use.   But I can see this being used in public facilities like a rest stop or a park where having a hot water option isn’t essential, but saving water is.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Solving Stonhenge with an Allen Key

This folk at IKEA can build just about anything! Designed by writer justin pollard, HËNJ offers a classically Swedish bent on Stonehenge.


Friday, March 11, 2011

The 2011 Kitchen Faucet Season

This is a really exciting time of year in the world of plumbing fixtures. With trade shows like IMM, and KBIS on the horizon, manufacturers are busily releasing new faucets to the market. I had a chance to sneak a view at some of the new lines from Brizo when I was in New York recently. I had to swear to keep what I saw a secret (seriously, I signed papers and everything!) until each faucet was ready to be released.

Brizo - Solna
At the beginning of March, Brizo let the cat out of the bag and added the Solna line to their catalogue. I think it’s worth the wait. Clean lines seem to be the path most manufacturers are taking these days, and Solna is no exception. Skandinavian inspired, it features a clever little pull-out head that hides almost invisibly into the faucet neck when not in use, and Brizo’s MagneDock™ technology makes sure it stays there. Solna is available in Chrome, Stainless and Brished Bronze finishes, and comes in the standard kitchen and smaller bar faucet format.

Grohe - K7
Grohe is another favourite manufacturer of mine. Their latest addition, the K7 series will be availble in North America this month. K7 draws more from an industrial aesthetic with its strong line and bulkier shape. There’s also a version of the K7 that models itself after the professional style faucet with a high arched coil; visually interesting is an understatement. Each faucet comes in chrome or stainless-stainless steel finish and is available with an optional side spray.

KWC faucets from Switzerland have always been on the leading edge of contemporary style. With their latest addition, the SIN, they’ve found inspiration from a more traditional source. The base of the SIN faucet line is styled after the Bordeaux wine bottle, adding a gentle curve into an otherwise linear design. It features a swivel-spout design and a pull-out hand-held spray, useful for prep and clean-up. The single lever can be positioned during installation to sit on the left, right or front of the faucet, giving you even more choices for your kitchen design.

I have to admit that I've been a little blasé about faucets in the past.  There hasn't been much in the way of original design.  However the new offerings we've seen in the past couple of years have started to put the twist back into faucet design, and that's good for everyone.  Is there anything you like here?  Anything you've seen that's offering something unique?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Not Dead Yet! Saving the Pot Light

Last month I came across an article by Sean Lintow Sr. on the SLS Construction blog announcing the death of the “Can-Light”; what I would refer to as a pot light. Sean uses an comment left by Michael Anschel (of Verified-Green & Otogawa-Anschel Design) on the HRTC section of his blog as the foundation for his argument, and while Sean (and Michael) makes several excellent points, I feel he falls victim to what I call the “sky-is-falling” syndrome. We all want to “do the right thing” when it comes to going Green and being Earth-friendly. But acting without having a better place to go is foolhardy and can lead to poor decisions.

I’ll address each point as it came up in the article, and see if there is some discussion to be had.
1. Down lighting makes people look bad. Go stand under a can light and have someone take a photo of you. Looks like you have not slept in a week. Yuck.
Down lighting is awful, true. But this only applies when you’re dealing with proximity lighting, like at a vanity mirror. The idea behind using pot lights is to spread the light out over the entire room to provide a wash of generic or ambient light. Unless you’re using pin spots (the wrong bulb for the situation) the light beam will be wide enough to avoid the “ghoul” effect. The sun’s light comes from above, and last I checked I look pretty good at the beach.

But let’s put that aside, and address how we would eliminate down lighting altogether.

If lighting can’t come from above, it needs to come from the side or be some sort of indirect lighting; those are the only options remaining. In most kitchens, the walls are covered in cabinetry for the most part, so wall sconces are out. Using pendant lighting is a also possibility, but pendants are typically used for feature lighting. A kitchen illuminated exclusively with pendant would look something like the kitchen on the left, and nobody wants that!
2. Recessed lighting is inefficient. At 8’ your recessed light will give you a paltry 4-5 square feet of light. Moreover, the light will be relatively low; ‘navigation light’ not ‘task light’. What will take you 6-8 can lights to achieve could have been accomplished with two 14-watt bulbs in a semi-flush fixture.
I won’t dispute the ability of two 14W bulbs to illuminate a 9’ x 12’ kitchen (what 6 pot lights would cover with 36” spacing). What I will dispute is how my cabinets and I would look in that room with a single light source. Not only would the furthest corners be poorly lit, the shadows cast by a single fixture would be harsh. Furthermore, lighting of this sort, whether pot lights or a single surface mounted fixture, is always going to be insufficient for task lighting. Task lighting requires specific lighting where the task is being performed.

3. It is expensive. How many recessed lights does it take to light a room? If you design the wiring for efficiency, you will be placing each 25% segment of the lights on a single switch. (Clustered or spread)

Based on the last couple bills I’ve received from my electrician I can tell you I’m paying about $80 of a small, 75m roll of Lumex (110 house wire) and the basic pot light I use costs around $50 for a recessed can (IC rated – more on that later) and trim. My point is that based on the entire project, how expensive is too expensive? And if the lighting provided by the less expensive option is poor, will the customer still be happy about the savings?
4. There are so many better ways to illuminate a space (naturally and artificially) that it seems like a crime to resort to something with such poor function (and aesthetic).
I’m still waiting to see the better options.
5. Recessing anything into an exterior plane is just a bad idea.
Provided the pot-light is installed properly (IC rated where required, vapour barrier applied, etc.) It’s no different than installing a bathroom ventilator or sky-light into a ceiling.
6. It is very difficult and expensive to insulate properly around a can light (IC rated or otherwise)
Each can-light results in at least .35 SF of space that is not insulated as well as the other areas. As we have pointed out in other articles, that loss of insulation quickly adds up and can cut down the whole attics overall insulative qualities by 25% or more. In the case of a non-IC rated fixture, you lose 1.5 SF worth of insulation (boxing in the light per codes and insulating around it) & to top it off you have to basically cover it with nothing thicker than a piece of thin cardboard, so it ends up acting like a big chimney dumping all that heat into an attic.
In an insulated space you simply do not use any fixture that is not IC rated. Insulating around them is no different than insulating around any other obstacle. I agree with the amount of space not being directly insulated. I just don’t see the difference if insulation is installed around the IC rated fixture.
7. I have seen far too many basements that are loaded up with 30, 40, 50, 60 recessed lights, all incandescent bulbs, on three or four switches. Consider the wisdom behind installing a series of metal boxes with a heating element inside in a joist-bay, especially in old houses…
Using that many fixtures is just poor lighting design.  This kitchen shows how proper lighting should be done; a combination of ambient lighting (pot lights) and task specific lighting (pendants and undercabinet

Sean states later in his article, recessed lights are okay, provided they’re used “where appropriate.” I couldn’t agree more. I’m not at all opposed to addressing the energy and heat-loss issues. I just feel the pot-light is not the culprit and that these issues can be better handled using correct installation practices and better bulbs.

What do you think?  Let us know in the comments section.

Monday, March 7, 2011

NIM - Bigger Sometimes IS Better

Photo Credit: Wolf Appliance
This is one case where you won't hear me complaining about an appliance being too big.

Wolf Appliance has responded to consumer demand and has added another size to its collection of built-in outdoor grills.  Measuring a massive 54" wide, the new grill features a whopping 51,000 BTU of flame searing powered through 5 burners.  As with their other drills there's a 6" side burner available (shown in the photo on the right side of the grill) that will add another 25,000 BTU's for heating sauces or boiling water for crab or corn on the cob ... yeah, I've already got my menu planned.

Hopefully the Wolf/Subzero folk will have this one on display at KBIS.  Now I just have to figure how to sneak it into my luggage.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Painting the Town

"... there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain."
- Lester Burnham in "American Beauty"
Red Bull energy drink has just introduced the Street Art View project.  The objective?  Much in the same way Google's Art Project is bringing the world of fine art to your laptop, Street Art View aims to bring you the world of street art.  The difference here is Street Art View is relying on the users to point them in the right direction.  The site is linked with Twitter and Facebook allowing users to add geo-tagged photos and information about the artist.

The picture above is a screen capture from the site showing a mural that's about 10 minutes from my home.  While I don't find every piece of street art to be awe inspiring (some of it is just vandalism), much of it ads to the texture and colour of the city.  Where do you find beauty in your city?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Food Fridays: Your Server Today will be Hal

Originally I had hoped that my visit to New York would afford me the opportunity to visit some of the best restaurants in the world  Unfortunately for my eating agenda the team at Brizo had us so busy that I had little time to spare.  Outside of the first night visit to RUB, I was only able to take in one other restaurant during my stay:  Food Parc.

Food Parc is situated in the same building as the Eventi Hotel (my home base in NY), which in fairness was why I ended up there.  Truth be told my southern brother Nick and I were rushing back from a visit to Tiffany & Co. (Valentine's Day gift shopping) and really needed to get something to eat before we were off to the Jason Wu fashion show.  Food Parc was simply in the right place at the right time, but turned out to be a happy accident or at the very least nowhere near as bad as it might have been based on first appearances.

Food Parc is essentially an upscale food court, featuring 4 different vendors: "burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and BLTs all available with out 4 artisanal bacons, as well as shakes and floats at 3Bs • dim sum, dumplings, Chinese BBQ and more at RedFarm Stand by Chef Joe Ng • salads, sandwiches and pastas all served on our brick oven flatbread at Fornetti • or La Colombe coffee drinks, tea, pastries and gelato at The Press!"

And while they emphasize the "artisinal" nature of the food, what makes Food Parc truly unique is the way in which you order your food.  The restaurant has several "ordering areas" with touch screen computer terminals.  You simply select what you want from the on-screen menu, make your payment and a ticket is printed out with your order number.  While you wait for your food to be prepared you can follow along on another screen to see what stage your order is at.  That not enough to keep you entertained?  There's free WiFi.

To go along with all the high-tech ordering is a very sleek, modern interior.  Designed by futurist Syd Mead (known for his work on Blade Runner, Aliens and TRON) the "modern aesthetics and serene ambience" create an environment in which “the food is the star and the rest of the cast are the patrons.”  While initially amusing, this technologically focussed theme has little to do with the food at Food Parc.

I ordered an Eggplant Parmesan Flatbread and Nick a Pasta Marinara, both from Fornetti.  The meals were eaten in haste so a detailed description of the minute details of the food are lacking.  Overall the flavours were really good, but the flatbread became quite soggy after sitting with its toppings for a while.  Nicks pasta was over cooked which, considering the setting is not really surprising.  Portion sizes were generous, providing me with a lovely midnight snack later than evening.

Food Parc would not be on my list of destinations for a trip to New York.  But if I were in the area shopping and wanted an quick inexpensive lunch I'd not hesitate to eat there again.  This time however I'd order from a human.  No offense Hal.

Food Parc
6th Avenue @ 29th Street
New York, NY

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Better to Know in Advance

I think most would agree that having a thorough home inspection is (or should be) standard practice before purchasing a home. But what about when planning an extensive remodel?

It’s not something we often consider, but having the home inspected before undertaking major renovations is becoming more common place. Wouldn’t it be a great to know what you’re getting yourself into before you open up the walls to add that new kitchen? Are there any problems beneath the surface that could cause delays, or even prevent the proposed renovations?

In the remodel business, surprises almost always mean additional costs. Knowing about issues ahead of time would lessen the pain of the additional costs, and would most certainly allow for a better planned and hopefully speedier plan of attack. That could potentially save you money.

And as is the case before a home purchase, make sure you seek out a licensed and independent home inspector. I’m not trying to suggest that any home inspector would do anything other than honest work, but as my father once told me “perception is reality.” Why risk any possibility of impropriety? In Canada you can contact the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors; in the USA it’s the
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...