Michelin-rated Chef’s $20 Takeaway Burger a Hit in Amsterdam

The Waldorf Astoria hotel in Amsterdam, with a two Michelin star chef and rooms starting at $700, initially balked at the idea of offering burgers for delivery. Then reality hit.

Without guests or open dining rooms, hotels and restaurants in the Netherlands have had to turn to offering takeaway meals. For the canal-side Astoria that meant a $20 burger to go.

The chefs had to come up with something unique, said the hotel’s manager Roberto Payer.

“The way we do it, the way we prepare it, the way we serve it, the way it comes home is very different to any other burger.”

For 19.50 euros ($23) plus an Uber Eats delivery fee, the Waldorf Signature burger comes with a 240-gram Holstein-Frisian meat patty and is served with English Duke of Berkshire bacon on a French brioche bun and aged Dutch cheese and homemade relish.

Uber Eats reviewers have awarded it 4.8 stars out of 5.

With hundreds of weekly orders, it’s been a success, but won’t compensate for a prolonged ban on inside dining that could be extended by months.

Crafting the perfect burger took serious research, said executive chef Sidney Schutte, who during normal times runs the two Michelin star “Spectrum” restaurant, which serves no burgers.

“I was a little bit nervous. Is it going to be good? Is it going to be okay?”

It had to be “the best burger that you can buy here in Amsterdam…. it needs to be perfect,” he said.

Dutch plans to ease some COVID-19 measures next week turned out to be too optimistic and have been pushed back until April 28 at the soonest.

When the Waldorf Astoria does reopen, it will have a tasty dilemma: does the popular burger stay on its exclusive menu?

Source: Reuters

Are You Eating Foods That Harm Your ‘Microbiome’?

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

People who eat plenty of vegetables, fish and fiber may have more inflammation-fighting bacteria in their guts, but fast-food lovers may be feeding inflammatory microbes.

That’s the conclusion of a new study that looked at people’s diet habits and the makeup of their gut “microbiome.”

The term refers to the vast collection of bacteria and other microbes that naturally dwell in the gut. Studies in recent years have been revealing just how important those bugs are to the body’s normal processes — from metabolism and nutrient synthesis to immune defenses and brain function.

In the new study, researchers found that people who ate diets rich in plant-based foods and fish — akin to the famous Mediterranean diet — had an advantage: More collections of gut bacteria that can temper inflammation.

On the other hand, people who favored meat, processed foods and sugar tended to have clusters of gut microbes that are pro-inflammatory.

Many studies have tied Mediterranean-style eating and plant-rich diets to lower risks of various diseases.

The researchers said the new findings add to evidence that effects on the gut microbiome are one reason why.

“Our study provides support for the idea that the gut microbiome could be one link between diet and disease risk,” said senior researcher Dr. Rinse Weersma, a gastroenterologist and professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

His team found that people who ate more vegetables, fruit, fatty fish, nuts and fiber-rich grains generally had higher concentrations of bacteria that churn out short-chain fatty acids.

Short-chain fatty acids are produced when gut bacteria ferment non-digestible fiber, and they are anti-inflammatory, Weersma explained.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was the “fast-food cluster,” where people had a high intake of meat, french fries, soda and processed snack foods.

They were in double-trouble, according to Weersma: Owing to a lack of dietary fiber, they had fewer bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids. They also showed a greater abundance of pro-inflammatory gut microbes.

Many factors influence the balance of bacteria in any one person’s gut microbiome, including genes, age, health conditions, medication use (particularly antibiotics) and stress, experts say.

“But I would say diet is the number one factor for adults,” said Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine.

Mayer, who was not involved in the study, is author of the forthcoming book “The Gut-Immune Connection.”

He said he generally recommends a largely plant-based diet, choosing the particular foods based on individuals’ needs. Diet is the way to go, rather than taking probiotic supplements, Mayer said.

“There’s no way to get around the biology. You can’t eat a bad diet then take a probiotic,” he said. “You have to make a fundamental shift in your diet and overall lifestyle.”

Unfortunately, Mayer added, processed foods and other unhealthy choices are often cheaper, which makes it hard for lower-income people to eat healthfully.

“That’s a real problem,” he said.

The new findings — published online recently in the journal Gut — are based on more than 1,400 Dutch adults who answered questions on their diet habits and gave stool samples for a gut-microbe analysis. Some were generally healthy, while others had digestive disorders, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Overall, the study found consistent links between fish and food from plants and anti-inflammatory gut microbes, including in people with digestive conditions.

Dr. Andrew Chan is a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and professor at Harvard Medical School.

Chan said evidence is growing that the gut microbiome is one important link between diet and disease risks.

But it’s likely that inflammation is only one part of the story, according to Chan.

Researchers are just beginning to understand the many roles of the gut microbiome, which some view as an organ unto itself, he noted. Much more work is needed to characterize how the microbiome might influence human health, and define what a “healthy” one is, Chan added.

For now, Weersma said these findings support current recommendations to eat more “whole” plant foods and fewer processed ones.

Chan agreed, but added that, ultimately, research into the gut microbiome could move experts away from one-size-fits-all advice. It’s becoming possible to individualize diets based on how a person, and his or her gut microbiome, respond to food, he said.

Source: HealthDay

Efforts to Stop Spread of COVID-19 Should Focus on Preventing Airborne Transmission

Any future attempts to reduce the spread of covid-19 should be focused on tackling close airborne transmission of the virus which is considered to be the primary route for its circulation, according to experts in an editorial published in The BMJ.

Respiratory experts argue that it is now clear that covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is most likely to transmit between people at close range through inhalation rather than through contact with surfaces or longer range airborne routes, although those routes can also be responsible.

The covid-19 pandemic has helped to redefine airborne transmission of viruses, say the experts from the universities of Leicester, Edinburgh Napier and Hong Kong, Virginia Tech, and NHS Lanarkshire, Edinburgh.

There has been some confusion over precise definitions of air transmissions of infections from the last century in which the difference between “droplet” “airborne,” and “droplet nuclei” transmission have led to misunderstandings over the physical behaviour of these particles, they say.

What is important to know, they claim, is that if a person can inhale particles, regardless of their size or name, they are breathing in aerosols. And while this can happen at long range, it is more likely to happen when being close to someone because the aerosols between two people are much more concentrated at short range, similar to being close to someone who is smoking.

People infected with SARS-CoV-2 produce many small respiratory particles full of the virus as they exhale. Some of these will be inhaled almost immediately by those within a typical conversational “short range” distance of less than one metre, say the experts, while the remainder will disperse over longer distances to be inhaled by others further away – more than two metres.

The well-known and often used preventative steps of wearing masks, keeping your distance, and reducing indoor occupancy all help to reduce the usual routes of transmission, whether through direct contact with surfaces or droplets, or from inhaling aerosols, they say.

However, they argue that a crucial difference is the need for added emphasis on ventilation because the tiniest suspended particles can remain in the air for hours and these are an important route of transmission.

Therefore measures to ensure that air is replaced or cleaned are all the more important, meaning opening windows, installing or upgrading heating, ventilation, and use of air conditioning systems.

In addition, the quality of masks is important to ensure effective protection against inhaled aerosols. Masks usually prevent large droplets from landing on covered areas of the face but tiny airborne particles can find their way around any gaps.

High quality masks with high filtration efficiency and a good fit are, therefore, important, they say.

Efforts to improve the quality of indoor air through better ventilation will bring other benefits, they add, such as reduced sick leave for other respiratory viruses and other environmentally related complaints including allergies and sick building syndrome.

If companies experienced less absenteeism with its impact on productivity, this could save them significant costs which would offset the expense of upgrading their ventilation systems.

The experts conclude: “Covid-19 may well become seasonal, and we will have to live with it as we do with influenza. So governments and health leaders should heed the science and focus their efforts on airborne transmission.

“Safer indoor environments are required, not only to protect unvaccinated people and those for whom vaccines fail, but also to deter vaccine resistant variants or novel airborne threats that may appear at any time.

“Improving indoor ventilation and air quality, particularly in healthcare, work, and educational environments, will help all of us to stay safe, now and in the future.”

Source: BMJ

Vietnamese-style Baked Ground Pork and Eggs

Ingredients

4 eggs, separated into egg white and yolks
1/2 lb ground pork
1/4 cup anchovy, minced
1/4 cup pre-softened dried wood ears, minced
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced chili pepper
1 tsp oil
2 tsp cornstarch

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients except eggs together.
  2. Add 1 egg white and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add remaining egg whites, one at a time, and mix thoroughly again until mixture becomes a sticky meat paste.
  4. Beat egg yolks and set aside.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 350°F(180°C).
  6. Grease pan with oil, fill with meat paste, and cover with aluminum foil. Poke some holes into the foil. Bake 40 minutes.
  7. Remove foil and drizzle with egg yolk, add any desirable garnish, then bake an additional 10 minutes.
  8. Serve hot with cooked rice.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Vietnamese Cuisine


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