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Dirty Tricks

Sneaky tricks of the restaurant trade and how to avoid forking out too much

During the summer, smart restaurant owners put cunning tactics on the menu to boost profits

Restaurants can try every trick in the book to make you spend more. Illustration: Dale Edwin Murray

Ever found yourself unexpectedly drinking expensive French wine in a restaurant while Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose plays in the background? Or perhaps you’ve unintentionally parted with a hefty tip after being touched on the shoulder by your waiter? Oops. You might well have succumbed to two of the restaurant trade’s sneaky ways to get you to spend more money without realising it.

And never are these subtle strategies more employed than during the holidays. Recent figures from the Post Office show that more than 40% of parents are worried about how much they are going to spend on family meals out during the summer.

So, while smart restaurant owners have a number of clever ways to boost their profits, learn their tricks and you could make considerable savings.

The menu

How much we spend on a meal hinges on the way the menu is presented. Everything – from the listing of the dishes to the language of the descriptions – has been designed to appeal to your senses.

While you would assume that we read a menu from left to right, studies show that our eyes gravitate toward the upper right-hand corner first. This is often where the “anchor” – or the most profitable item – is located.

But this particular ploy is more cunning than simply getting you to buy the most expensive dishes: typically, having this usually quite costly dish listed will make everything look reasonably priced in comparison.

“Having an outrageously expensive item is both likely to get publicity for a restaurant, and will also get people to spend more,” says Charles Spence, experimental psychologist at the University of Oxford and co-author of The Perfect Meal: The Multisensory Science of Food and Dining.

“People think ‘I wonder if anyone ever orders that?’, without realising that its true purpose is to make the next most expensive item seem cheaper.”

Conversely, research suggests that diners look at the bottom left of a menu last, so this is where the least expensive dishes will be positioned.

Even the way the food and drink is listed can subconsciously influence our spending.

Many diners will order the second least-expensive bottle on wine in an attempt to avoid looking cheap. Knowing this, restaurants place the highest markup on that very bottle.

Diners on a budget will often scour the menu and choose one of the three cheapest dishes, but the restaurant industry is fully aware of this and takes steps to ensure bumper profits.

“Restaurants will centre-align a list to make it more difficult to compare prices,” says Spence. “If you right-justify items, customers can more easily compare and will be less likely to go for more expensive items,” he says.

And watch out for those pound signs – or lack of them. A study from American university Cornell found that guests given a menu with only numbers and no currency symbols spent significantly more than those who received a menu with prices either showing currency symbols or written out in words.

Source: TheGuardian Read more about their sneaky tricks.

Let’s beGIN with a little history

When gin was full of sulphuric acid and turpentine

Gin did not shake off its bad reputation in the 19th Century

It’s 250 years since the death of William Hogarth. His famous work Gin Lane still informs the way people think about the drink.

It’s arguably the most potent anti-drug poster ever conceived. A woman, her clothes in disarray, her head thrown back in intoxicated oblivion, allows her baby to slip from her grasp, surely to its death in a stairwell below.

She’s the centrepiece in an eye-wateringly grim urban melee – full of death, misery, starvation and fighting.

The year was 1751. The drug in question was gin. And the engraving was a conscious effort by William Hogarth, along with his friend novelist Henry Fielding, to force the government to do something about a drink that was threatening to tear apart the social fabric of England.

The craze had started with changes in the laws at the end of 17th Century aimed at curbing consumption of French brandy by liberalising the distilling industry.

The Glorious Revolution in 1688 saw the arrival of William and Mary, from the Netherlands, to topple James II. The Dutch influx brought a new spirit – genever – which rapidly caught on in England.

“There was a good chance in the 18th Century that the gins being drunk in London were genever-style,” says Gary Regan, author of the Bartender’s Gin Compendium. “A lot of it was probably really terrible. People were distilling in their houses.”

Of course, the genever being drunk by William III and his successors was not easy to replicate in a bathtub in a basement. The eager entrepreneurs reached for just about any additive they could in an effort to make the drink even vaguely palatable.

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Types of gin

Genever, Jenever: Dutch spirit, still immensely popular in the Netherlands today. Distilled from malt wine and flavoured with juniper, hence the name jenever. Also referred to as Madam Geneva in English.

Old Tom Gin: Now used to refer to a style of gin popular in England in the 19th Century. Typically sweeter than modern gin. Various explanations for how name came to be. Traditionally often featuring some sort of cat on the bottle.

London Dry Gin: Modern style of gin, which has dominated since the late 19th Century.

Plymouth Gin: Similar to London dry gin, although said to be slightly sweeter, and the subject of protected geographical indication status, meaning it can only be made in Plymouth.

Sloe Gin: A liqueur made from gin and sloe berries from the blackthorn.

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“You had a poorer populace who aspired to drink like the king,” says Lesley Solmonson, author of Gin: A Global History. “They wanted novelty. But the poor couldn’t afford the genever that the king was drinking.”

Instead home distilling operations mushroomed, with some areas having every single building churning out bad gin.

“They were using sulphuric acid, turpentine and lime oil,” says Solmonson. “It was like death in a glass. One tankard could kill you.”

“People were drinking to forget their misery. These gins were roughly double what the proof of a modern gin is. And they were drinking a whole tankard of it.”

For even the most virtuous pauper, temptation was hard to avoid.

“It was ferociously adulterated,” says Jenny Uglow. “And it was sold everywhere – in grocer’s shops and ship’s chandlers. There was a bar in every building. It has been said that it tasted more like rubbing alcohol.”

The first half of the 18th Century saw rapidly escalating concern over the new drug’s effects, as the records of the Old Bailey show.

Source: BBCNews Read more

Sunday Art Fare

Modern kitchen wall decor

Something so simple as a silhouette on a kitchen wall.

Source: Ideas Decor

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Satireday on Fizz

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What beer be this?

Wychwood Snake’s Bite

snakesbite

Source: Pilsner Pilgrim Blog

Ethiopian wine

Surely, an oxymoron…

First bottles of Ethiopian wine produced by French firm Castel

Half of 1.2m bottles of Rift Valley wine are intended for export, with company planning to double production

Women pick grapes at the Castel vineyard near the town of Ziway in Ethiopia. Photograph: Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images

The grape names – merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay – are distinctly French, but the label on the Rift Valley wines is surprising: made in Ethiopia.

The French beverage giant Castel, one of the world’s biggest producers of wines and beers, is raising a glass to its first production of 1.2m bottles of Ethiopian Rift Valley wine.

The African state’s former president Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012, encouraged Castel to develop vineyards in Ethiopia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, as a way of improving its image.

Half of the bottles are destined for domestic consumption and half for export to countries where the Ethiopian diaspora have settled, though 26,000 have already been snapped up by a Chinese buyer.

Although Castel does not expect its Ethiopian wine business to make a profit until 2016, it hopes to more than double production to 3m bottles a year. Though Ethiopia is better known for its production of another drink, coffee, Castel says the African country has the potential to rival the continent’s main wine producer, South Africa.

“It’s not that difficult because the climate is good and it’s not too hot,” Castel’s Ethiopia site manager, Olivier Spillebout, told Agence France-Presse. “Exports are small now, but year after year they will grow.”

The company has produced a better quality wine called Rift Valley, selling in Ethiopia for the equivalent of €7 (£5.50) and a grape-mix wine called Acacia, retailing at the equivalent of €5.

Source: TheGuardian Read more

Castel, A French Wine Maker, To Export Ethiopian Wine

A leading French wine maker, Castel Winery plans to begin bottling wine for export starting early next year from its Battu (commonly known as Zeway) based vineyard.
It is Ethiopia’s first foreign winery after all wineries were nationalized during the Derg regime, and has been cultivating four different types of French wine since May 2008.

Source: EthiopianNews

Leleshwa Savignon Blanc - Rift Valley

Leleshwa Sauvignon Blanc – Rift Valley

Sunday Art Fare

Retro_Kitchen_Utensils_grande

Retro utensil print

Source: Bespoke Prints

Image

Satireday on Fizz

hamlet-jpeg

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Frackin’ with Our Beer

warningGermany

Wednesday Whine

Back again after the interruptions of the World Cup.

Concha y Toro Merlot ReservadoToday’s wine, once again, is not in the rack, it’s in the glass as I write. Actually, there is another in the rack.

Concha y Toro

Merlot

Reservado

A Chilean wine from the Central Valley.

It doesn’t stipulate the harvest.

Aroma of ripe red fruit.

Goes well with white meats, pastas, pizzas, risottos and fresh white cheeses.

I am having mine with feijoada, a little bit heavier than the recommended pairings.

But I like the smoothness of Merlot.

Priced to fit my pocket at around R$20.oo.

definitely NOT plonk.

Concha y Toro winery

Concha y Toro winery

 

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