BIG FISH, BIGGER POND
Phew, that was a close call. On Dec. 7, existing pressure from the biotech industry, the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a permanent ban on genetically engineered salmon in fish farms in all state waters, protecting endangered wild Pacific salmon populations from the harm posed by those supersized, oft-diseased robofish.
Or did they? The U.S. government may be putting its foot down, stomping on environmentalists' big, victorious hearts. It seems that Washington state (along with Alaska and other eco-conscious territories) can ban genetically engineered fishies till the cowfish come home, but the Dec. 5 issue of Nature reports that the federal government is gearing up to permit farming of the scientific wonderfish in deep-sea fish farms outside state-controlled waters. That would create a (Nature's term) "gold rush" among aquaculture companies vying for offshore site access. Environmentalists opposing the plans say a fish farm is a fish farm, and deep-sea or not, the rates of escape and disease are high and the threat on already endangered wild populations still stands.
Sweet schadenfreude. According to the Nov. 25 issue of Nation's Restaurant News (www.nrn.com), poetic justice has finally been achieved in the long-running battle of Fast Food vs. All That Is Good and Right. We're talking across-the-board sales nosedives, with Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, and Jack in the Box reporting sickly 2002 numbers, while Jack and Mickey D's are lowering income expectations for the next fiscal year. The cause of this industrywide business slump? The tough economy, of course, but also old-fashioned, down 'n' dirty capitalism. As reported by NRN: "Burger King . . . has charged that segment leader McDonald's caused harm by starting a 'senseless price war' last month." In other hard-to-believe news from the industry mag, a demoralized KFC is considering an emphasis on "non-fried chicken items," including "a new assortment of vegetable dishes in a plated container."
FRIED AND FIZZY FREAKINESS
Wine and cheese have long been bosom buddies, and french fries are the ultimate bar food. So we suppose it makes some kind of sense that Palomino (1420 Fifth Ave., 206-623-1300) has launched a promotion pairing gorgonzola fries with Domaine Ste. Michelle for just $29.95. Upscale frat-boy fare? Ah, but the fries in question are not flabby and finger-thick but crisp, waffle-style pommes frites that hold up remarkably well under the tangy blue cheese painstakingly melted over them. While the notion that "saltiness + acidity = happiness" is at least as old as tequila shots, "fries & fizz" works as an upscale happy hour snack. And here at the Dish, we look forward to the day when "spritz and string" (that classic combo of white wine-and-soda paired with string cheese) takes the local restaurant scene by storm.
Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at firstname.lastname@example.org.