Slather on the Leftovers

Posted by Donna Airoldi on November 22, 2006

Want a taste of the delectable dishes that many of us will be gorging ourselves on this weekend but don't want to blow your diet? Consider an "edible" spa treatment instead. While certain products from the kitchen found their way to the spa years ago--most notably chocolate--here are a few other options to satisfy your nose without getting your waist all bent out of shape.

* Maple Sugar Body Scrub. Have you seen a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth's syrup lately? She's not exactly svelt. But this treatment at the Topnotch Spa at Topnotch Resort and Spa in Stowe, Vt., will make you feel swell all over. Your entire body is polished with a scrub made of real maple sugar sapped from the Butternut Farms near the resort. The treatment is one of 120 offered at the spa, and includes an application of homemade maple cornmeal soap. (800) 451-8686, www.topnotchresort.com

* Banana Leaf Body Wrap. So you don't score a bunch of bananas in a row playing the slots in Vegas this weekend. You'll feel like a winner after treating yourself to this tropical fruit sensation at the newly opened Qua Baths & Spa at Caesars Palace. Incense burns while you receive a floral footbath prior to the wap. An Ayurvedic head and scalp treatment relaxes and envigors at the same time. End with a swirling Liqueur bath, blended from the Qua's signature liqueur. (866) QUA-0655, www.quabathsandspa.com

* Nutmeg Pumpkin Body Wrap. Ever wonder what happens to all those leftover innards that don't get baked into scrumptious Thanksgiving pumpkin pies? At the Estrella Spa in Viceory Palm Springs, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds get slathered onto guests, who are then wrapped in pumpkin nutmeg with a touch of cinnamon. The body is then polished off with coconut oil and vanilla extract. (866) 891-0948, www.viceroyplamsprings.com

What a way to give thanks! Happy eats everyone.

Coffee Wars II

Posted by A.E. Smith on September 12, 2006

Drink_upCaribou isn't the only company taking shots at Starbucks' latte culture.  It looks like Nestle and Coca Cola want their own piece of the big green. According to Ad Age, each is launching a new specialty coffee brand that will bring the gourmet coffee experience to those without, well, any experience in making gourmet coffee. The idea is to offer "goof-free superpremium brews that can be served up by ordinary coffee-counter jockeys rather than highly trained drink masters."

Coca-Cola's system, called Far Coast, is being first introduced in Canada this month, with Singapore and Oslo, Norway, to follow. Nestlé, meanwhile, is quietly developing Nescafe Specialty Solutions, a gourmet-coffee system that allows upscale foodservice customers to mix concentrate with water to create hot or cold mocha, latte, French vanilla and chocolate drinks.

This post is worth reading, simply because they use the phrase "land-grab in coffee."

Having been a barista myself (though not at Starbucks) and having tried many machines that claim to make a "latte", I'm a little skeptical at the promises of these new coffee systems. Starbucks' success is based on the whole luxury culture it oozes, not the quality of its coffee, and its real triumph has been in creating a worldwide network of semi-public spaces where consumers can tap into an ideal: that of the plugged-in, urban professional with enough time and money to spend on an overpriced beverage. The art of coffee sales is about more than perfect foam. Unless these instant imitators can whip up a couch, WiFi and pretty people watching opportunities just by adding water, they've got nothing on Starbucks. Lose the coffee house, and you've lost the war.