Food and Drinks Blender Buying Tips

10 ftAlmost every kitchen has at least one blender.  There are many different makes and models out there to choose from, and now there are even multi colored blenders that are affordable.

Most blenders are versatile small appliances that you can fit into any budget.  Blenders can do the job of several other kitchen tools such as a food processor, a juicer and even a coffee maker. This is due to the fact that blenders are powerful enough to mash vegetables and fruits and turn it into thick purees like a food processor. They can make juices, cocktails and smoothies like an ordinary juicer, too.  Another popular feature of a blender is that you can buy coffee beans and enjoy freshly ground coffee.  These are just a few examples of the endless list of uses for a blender.

Is it time to buy a new blender?  Do you already have one, but have it hidden away somewhere, and rarely use it?  Have you noticed that blenders are now coming in shapes and sizes to ompliment any kitchen?  This article is going to show you why you should be using a blender, and why you might consider buying another one if you already own one.

Blenders are used to create healthy food and drinks for you and your family.  If you are on a specific diet plan or have turned vegetarian, you will be amazed  by the usefulness of this small appliance. Now is a great time to buy a new blender.  Here are some tips on how to find a good blender.

  1. You can never go wrong by choosing the best brands.

One of the best blender brands in the market year after year is the Oster. The company has the honor in the apliance field of having the name “blenders” often called “osterizers”.  This is the same way that you often hear “tissues” called “Kleenex”.  The Oster brand blenders are the top of the line, and might be the most expensive.  However, it is known for being sturdy, and worth the money.  Especially  if you are going to make shakes and smoothies, or protein blended drinks often. These drinks necessitate crushing hard ice to give them that extra special taste and texture.

If you are going to be  crushing coffee beans, the Oster blender will not have any problem with multiple uses. You can also use the blender to chop nuts for garnishes or to add to cooking.   If you are going to use the blender for mainly making purees or juices, and not crushing a lot of ice, you can probably settle for the cheaper brands that are also well suited for this purpose. While a cheaper blender will crush ice, nuts, and coffee beans, remember not to overdo it just in case.  Pay attention to how hard your blender is having to work to complete these tasks.

  1. Do not buy a used blender

If you can avoid buying a used blender, you should.  Used blenders can last a long time, but you never know how much wear and tear it has on it, or how it was stored and taken care of. Your blender will be a well used appliance so getting a new one gives you the advantage of being able to exchange it if you are not completely happy with it.  However, if you are sure that the second hand blender has not been used often, then it will probably be a good buy, and you can learn whether or not you want to upgrade to a new one in the near future.

If you are going to buy a used blender you should check the product and make sure that there are no cracks in the container and the stainless steel blades are in good shape.  Check the seals on the blender, too, so you know that it is not going to leak, and make sure there are no oil leaks or grease built up around the base.

  1. Get a blender powerful enough to meet your needs.

The amount of power a blender has will vary by the model and the manufacturer.  Not all blenders are the same. You will want to know if the type of blender you are considering will be able to crush a lot of ice, if you want to make lots of drinks that need it.  Remember there are a lot of blender types available, and get your questions answered before you buy.

Making purees, or crushing cooked veggies, or most raw veggies, won’t need the same power requirements as a blender that you want to use for making peanut butter, or grinding a lot of coffee.

  1. Pick the size of a blender that fits your kitchen.

There are different sizes of blenders now, and there are even different colors of the same model.  When you shop for a blender have an idea where you want to keep it.  Look for one that has the size that meets your storage needs.

To summarize, there are several blender choices available now including different sizes, power for a variety of purposes, and price ranges.  When you are ready to buy a new blender be aware of what you are going to want to use it for, and how often you plan on using it.  Blenders can and should be used daily to add to a healthy diet, and just making good food and beverages.

Find a blender that you are going to enjoy using over and over.

Get Rid of Bad Foods and Drinks to Get Rid of Weight

Being overweight is truly disturbing, especially if we are highly preoccupied with the way we look. It can stop us from fitting into the clothes we like, and make us feel bad and unattractive. Even worse, having more weight than we normally should have can affect our health. That is why, for the sake of our looks and health, we should take care of our eating and drinking habits and change our life style. We will notice the difference after a while and realize all the effort is worth it.

I say effort because it is never easy to follow a diet, work out every day, and stick to the plan. Probably the hardest part of all it is giving up all the food and beverage we are used to. The problem is that some of the food and drinks we really like are harmful to us. Junk food is on top of most people’s preferences, but it is also responsible of them gaining a lot of weight in a short time, that is why, it is the first thing we need to give up when we start a diet. It will be hard to walk on the street and notice people eating a burger when we know we are not allowed to, but we must remember that a strong motivation is the key to success. Along with the harmful food there are the harmful drinks that enlarge our stomach and help the fat deposit in our body. Soda is the first beverage we need to eliminate from our daily routine. Not only it is completely unnatural, but it also contains a lot of sugar and most of the times it has more calories than a healthy meal. It is a well-known fact that soda enlarges our stomach, which is another thing to be concerned about.

Scientist have proven through several studies made on human organism that it is better to replace soda with water, which is easier to eliminate and it won’t be responsible for enlarging stomach either. That is why, in order to take care of both our health and looks, it is best we get rid of soda.

The author likes to write about a variety of subjects, including health, diet, travel, and technology. Check out some of the sites of interest, including Dreamkeepers Forum at

Restaurants In Maidenhead

I don’t own an eating establishment, I have no shares in any restaurants which some sites may well do. No I just wanted to produce some information which may help people in making an educated choice.

I’m actually an impartial resident of the area, who was once in a position in looking for somewhere to eat, with a good menu, not really having access to restaurant reviews and I had a ‘not so good’ experience looking for and trying to book a restaurant; and so I decided to make a website to help out.

When I talk about Restaurants in Maidenhead, I have included the surrounding areas, most notably Cookham which has a high percentage of great restaurants.

You only have to think of the best place to get a Curry and one of the first words on anyone’s lips is of course Maliks in the high street. However, I would suggest in addition that the much maligned Cookham Tandoori should be looked at because the prices are a little more reasonable and the food is in my opinion just as good.

In addition the gastronomic pubs of The Bel and Dragon, and The Kings Arms are excellent. I think the Bel and Dragon is a tad expensive, but the dining experience is excellent, and their soups are to die for!

Maidenhead itself (as in the town centre) is of course made up with many chain restaurants, and a lot of those are now going the way of the economy.. (down the pan).. Pizza Hut still offers a great quick meal, by the cinema, and the opportunity to use your money off vouchers exists, as they are always running great promotions.

The two other Maidenhead restaurants that I do have a lot of time for are Boulters lock, and The Blue River Cafe.

Both places offer exquisite views of the Thames, and I’m pleased to see that Boulters now has started offering a more extensive menu upstairs again(which they stopped a while back – to try to force more customers downstairs to the more expensive restaurant area).

Anyway, I’m not going to bash any specific local restaurants but I might make a couple of recommendations for maybe two very good restaurants, that are reliable and that are ideally part of the British Hospitality Association or even National Restaurant Association, if the restaurant is an international company.

When investigating various options, it then occurred to me that in these difficult times using and finding vouchers for all sorts of things are very valuable to consumers and customers. I decided that learning how to book a restaurant in Maidenhead and how to find out that particular eatery would go about letting your redeem your vouchers or restaurant gift certificates was of paramount importance. Additionally I wanted to ensure that when using restaurant coupons, the customer was not left feeling a ‘cheapskate’ or second class customer; which is always a fear.

It took a little bit of time for me to start this project of finding the best restaurant (in my opinion) in Maidenhead. I didn’t realise that trying to find one that was able to fulfill the essential criteria of having a great menu, a fantastic ambience and of course one that makes you feel special and not excluded if you use a voucher or two. I was later to find out that there is a huge gap between establishments, which are often in the same genre of food, even on the same road!

If this is starting to sound a little involved and complicated, fear not. I want to ensure that I have that in hand. I will take into consideration the very finest and most applicable alternatives for your requirements.

Getting the best seat or table for you and your party is something you would be a lot happier if you know you had it covered. I wanted to also investigate this.

In addition I will look at how and when to use any discount or special menu deals you have, and indeed how to do it discretely. Sometimes I know that it can be embarrassing when you want to use restaurant coupons, but we live it tough times, why not take advantage?

It’s true that many restaurants are happy to accept your coupons quietly. There are some rules to using them though. Sometimes you have to let the waiter or waitress know before you order that you intend to use vouchers. Personally I hate this, as it makes you feel that they will set out the left over food for you! (I have no evidence of this at all though, it’s just my paranoia!) In some cases you can just show something on your phone which can be scanned, but in other cases you may need an actual printed voucher.

The experiences that I and other people have had will help you and your friends to come to your own conclusions. But a little help along the way can’t harm.

Restaurant Maidenhead is a site developed to give an impartial opinion of the best couple of places to eat in the town of Maidenhead and surrounding areas.

This site isn’t all about gift certificates, but about choosing the best restaurant for you and considering you, your friends and family; primarily as the restaurants customers.

Restaurant Imitation Recipes

Restaurant imitation recipes is simply a phrase that describes recipes that imitate those of a certain restaurant or restaurants. The word, imitation, defines anything that may resemble or copy that of an original or genuine article. To copy or imitate an original source is a testament to the credibility of that source for the quality it provides. If it was not of high quality, no one would even make the effort to imitate or copy it. It has also been said that the imitation of anything is a form of flattery, but not every imitation is exactly flattering.

Food is sort of boring in that the basic forms are the same. There may be certain varieties to some degree and some times highly advertised as an edge to promote it, however, chicken is chicken, beef is beef, broccoli is broccoli and so on right? How these get prepared and put together to be served though, is what truly makes the difference.

Recipes for these foods have been handed down through the generations using the basic forms of preparation from the skillet, ovens and grills, to boiling pots and now microwaves. Keen thought and purpose to introduce new combinations of spices, sauces and marinades to these basic methods help to enhance the flavors of these basic foods. This is, has and will continue to be goal of many people and certainly with restaurants to help set their style and food apart from others.

This may be a silly reflection, but highlights the points mentioned above. When I was growing up, I could not stand the taste of cauliflower. I saw no purpose for this food. To me, it was a useless vegetable that took up space on our planet. I am not joking! Later, when I actually worked in a supper club, one of the appetizers we served was deep fried cauliflower with a side of cheese sauce. Ever since then, cauliflower has become one of my favorite foods and in all of the traditional ways, from raw to steamed and I still love the deep fried method as well. If it were not for that deep fried recipe, I may never have had the pleasure of enjoying this healthy and now tasty food.

I think it is important to recognize Restaurants themselves, whether they be a fast food, independent, mom and pop, big chain type or even 5 star, all bring in millions of people every day across our nation. Their business is simply to serve and sell us as many items from their food and drink menus in an atmosphere where we can relax and enjoy. It is true though that many of these restaurants have worked hard to develop their own signature recipes, techniques and themes to set themselves apart. They spend millions on advertising their uniqueness to keep bringing customers back for more. The restaurant business is a huge business and very competitive.

How big is the restaurant industry in the U.S.?

According to the National Restaurant Association, it is estimated the industry to reach $604 billion dollars in sales for 2011. That is $1.7 billion on a typical day. There are 960,000 locations nationwide that employee approximately 12.8 million people and get this, of the dollars spent on food in the U.S., 49% is shared with the restaurant industry. I don’t know about you, but that is some serious cabbage. It is also goes to show why restaurants are certainly a credible authority and why someone may go out of their way to imitate or copy a recipe or two.

If you were to choose any one of your favorite restaurants or even one that may just be starting up, this same basic description will apply. This restaurant will make a discovery of a new method or combination of sauces or seasonings for a new food recipe. I should say, they work at making the discovery, putting in time and effort initially, so this new recipe could be tried and tested over and over until finally reaching the menu. The restaurant may advertise the new release to let the public know it has a great new recipe to come in and try out. Ideally it becomes a success and a featured item on their menu. If the public loves it, the restaurant has another source of new revenue. In the case of a new startup, it could also be a featured recipe that helps them to get noticed to help get them off the ground and running overall.

Believe it or not, restaurants themselves can be considered one of the biggest copy cat artists out there but in a way that doesn’t try to make an exact copy, They will proceed in a way that may use the same name of the dish, but pride themselves to make theirs stand out differently by adding their own signature touch and right down to what else may be included in addition to the entree to help set it apart from others.

With the exception of serve your self style of service, restaurants basically copy each other on the overall operating format of how the customers are served and taken care of right down to including “similar” items being listed on the menus. They all keep a watchful eye on each other to see what is working well and may change a menu, method of service, cost or whatever the case may be to accommodate current customers and coax new paying customers to spend money in their establishments. It is a constant see saw battle.

Regardless of these restaurants copying and competing with each other for our dollars, they clearly are the bar to which we compare the taste of our favorite foods to. They continue push each other in developing recipes, techniques and signature menus that keep us coming back for more. We all have our favorite menu items and while one person may prefer one restaurant over another for a particular entree or appetizer, the fact is, they all are a genuine article and clearly worth the effort to imitate.

Just a note, in regard to businesses (especially non-restaurant) some have to take steps and go further and get patents or licenses on their discoveries to help protect them from being copied. With restaurants, it is a little tougher as getting patents and licensing on food is much more difficult and not quite the same as building up a new technological advance like an I-pad. Restaurants may need to have some legal assistance and agreements arranged with their employees to not give up any secrets to their signature ways in effort to keep their secrets in-house should an employee decide to leave. There have been some court cases where a cook or chef leaves and starts a new restaurant using the same signature methods but calling it something else and well… more money spent to get it straightened out.

Over time, there have been many others that have tried to imitate a restaurant recipe from grocery store food suppliers, right down to good ole Mom. Ask them all and most would agree that the task may not be so easy to recreate. There are those that come up with recipes that are similar in general yet lack that signature flavor of a specific restaurant. Have you ever tried to make something just like your favorite restaurant and while it turned out ok, it just didn’t quite taste the same as what TGIF or Olive Garden serves? I know I have and it seemed like all the effort was fine, but the result, on a scale of 1 to 10, was maybe a 6 at best. To get a 9 or 10 just seems impossible and you are better off giving up and just go to the restaurant instead.

Well, guess what? As there is with anything worth while, there are those few people who do try to imitate these restaurant recipes to the Nth degree. You could almost refer to them as recipe hackers. They can be moms, dads or professionals and no matter who, these people have a goal and will put in the time and effort to break a recipe down. They want to figure out the details of that signature flavor and replicate it in a fashion that truly does imitate the original flavor. Focus, dedication and the will to succeed is a must for many of these individuals. There are also those who are simply great cooks and through their experience and intuitive nature are able to hone in on the original restaurant recipe. I have some experience cooking and can follow a recipe, but, I certainly am not a restaurant recipe hacker.

If it is a difficult task to try to copy or imitate a successful genuine article then why do others try to imitate it?

Great question.

It often times can be related to money and someone else wanting to get in on the action. There also those that will do it to see if they can save some money. Some may even look to make improvements on the original. It can be for other reasons like notoriety or personal challenge for pride and maybe even some kicks. Think about this, comedians can get more laughs if they are good at imitating some one else right? If they are really good at it, this helps bring more people to their show.

Just as is done with so many other things that are made, there is always a group of these interested individuals that like to do things themselves. These people will go out of their way to copy favorite recipes from all of these restaurants. I would venture to say that if one were to interview many of these DIY (Do It Yourself) people, it would be primarily in an effort to be able to save money as a main reason initially. Remember earlier I mentioned that 49% of the dollar spent on food is shared in the restaurant industry? That is a lot of dough that one can save!

Money or the spending of it, is actually how and why I began to take note of these restaurant imitation recipes. I have been reviewing our family spending habits and when looking at groceries vs. dining, I was actually pretty shocked. Dining out has become a habit for us and while it is one that we do enjoy, it is also one that has been adding up significantly. This is what started that flickering of the old light bulb for myself and my family.

I consider myself to be in that DIY group of people on a number of things and while I have come to enjoy doing many things myself (Not all of the time mind you.), I realize the impact of learning how to do something yourself can and has saved me a good amount of money. From car repairs to home carpentry, it also has opened my eyes to appreciate what others are doing as a business for their livelihoods. It has helped make a difference in wiser spending as well as saving money even if I do not do something myself.

Knowing that my family has developed this habit of eating out more than eating at home, getting them to eat typical home cooked meals more often is not going to be to easy. The flickering light bulb moment or idea mentioned earlier was to see about getting some recipes from the restaurants that I could cook at home with the idea of saving some money initially. I also began to see how we have lost touch with the skill of cooking. We sure have all become masters of the microwave, but the rest of the kitchen starts to get a little sketchy.

So the journey began in search of restaurant recipes. Most restaurants do not give out their recipes and why would they? They might lose a return customer if they did. I do see some restaurants that are selling some of their menu items in the grocery stores more than before, but sort of limiting it to just a few items. I have also read about a person that would ask the cooks for their recipes and how some might spill the beans once in awhile, but again, fairly limited results.

I remember one time my wife and I were at a Denny’s restaurant late one night and how much we enjoyed their marinara sauce used with the mozzarella sticks we had ordered. We asked the waitress about it and she did check with the cooks on that, but they really didn’t know much about it and we thank her for trying. When we got the check, we also got an unexpected surprise. She brought out a large vacuum sealed plastic bag of the marinara sauce from what appeared to be directly from their food supplier. We didn’t get the recipe but we sure got a large quantity of sauce to bring home. So it does pay to ask and while you may or may not get a recipe directly you never know what might happen I guess.

There are of course a good number of books, many articles online and numerous websites all claiming either access to or having themselves, restaurant secrets and copycats recipes for many favorite American restaurants. Whew, it sort of makes my head spin a bit, but in order to help me achieve this quest of mine it has been worth the effort. Many sites are recommending the same key original sources (recipe hackers) of the imitation or copycats recipes and in my experience this is usually a good hint as a reasonable place to start.

Why?

There is always someone who highlights their experience and discovery of things that have had impact on their life with how and why they did it. Many times they get even further into it and begin marketing their efforts to generate some additional income. It may be the result of a friend or family member that cheers them on, but if it is done well and the quality is there, it often times catches enough attention to make it worth the while. Plus, there are always others that have like interests. It really becomes a win-win for everyone and can spur on even more ideas and experiences from others who are interested.

As with anything, one has to dip their toes in and get a feel for it of course. I have been trying out some of these imitation restaurant recipes sources and have been truly impressed. I have been learning a lot more than first thought and it has been a lot of fun to top it off. The people who have created these copycat recipes have really done a fantastic job. My quest is to save some money of course, but making some of these recipes is also a great way to learn how to cook. Think about it for a second, one can actually learn how to cook an appetizer, entre or dessert that they know is good at their favorite restaurant and get great results for their effort right out of the gate. I don’t know about you, but I get a great sense of accomplishment when taking time to learn something and it works out.

Should you get the urge to try these imitation or secret recipes of the restaurants, I think you will be more than pleasantly surprised. I know I have been. If you want to save some money, learn how to cook or simply to get a hold of one of your favorite restaurant recipes, you won’t regret it.

I have not tried any of the “700 FREE restaurant recipes” type of sources online. They may be alright too, however, it has been my experience that if something is really worth while, there should be some cost associated for the effort of making it available. They certainly don’t have to be expensive either. Most cost about the same as a nice dinner for two and can include extra information from making wine to growing your own herbs if you are in to that. It is really pretty incredible what some have included along with the recipe books they are promoting.

As with anything, do take some time to review before making any purchase of course, but once you do get your feet wet have some fun and be prepared to be amazed with the results.

New Restaurants Are Waiting For You

Are you tired of eating at home every night? Having the same old meals, week after week? If you think you’ve tried every restaurant in town and are getting tired of the true home cooked meals, or even the reheated leftovers, you might want to think about branching out and finding a new restaurant. There are plenty of these establishments around you, regardless of where you are located, while some may be farther than others, you will be able to find some fine dining somewhere near you.

The best part is that because owning a restaurant is so profitable, more and more are popping up all the time, which means that you have an increased variety when it comes to thinking about what is for dinner or where to meet for that next business lunch. There are new restaurants waiting for you all over town, if you take the time to discover them.

If you aren’t the brave type that will just go out and test a new restaurant without hearing anything about it, then you may want to ask around to see if anyone you are familiar with has been there or has heard anything about it. Word of mouth is the best business for restaurants, and if your prospective diner has a good reputation, you are going to hear about it from friends and family, or other associates that you ask.

If you are brave though, you can find new restaurants and head out to enjoy a great meal, most of the time. If you fall into this category, you are going to stumble across a few that just have plain poor service, bad food, or lousy facilities, and this is all part of finding the best restaurants. Thankfully though, there are other people who are going to want to know what your bravery has earned you, whether it was a fantastic meal, or something that should be avoided at all costs.

Getting out of the house for the evening, or arranging a business lunch for a few of your associates is a great way to test out new restaurants. The owners will be grateful to serve you on most occasions, and you will add another diner to your list of places to visit when you are getting the home cooking blues. There are plenty of places to find new restaurants to dine at, but asking your friends and family for suggestions or checking out the Internet are going to be your best avenues.

Food and Drink Photography Hungry for Some Tricks

Thank God some tricks can be shared for all to imbibe. As food and drink photography becomes more of a niche, restaurant shutterbugs are in demand. Shooting irresistible pancakes and making them look oven fresh can be demanding. The trick lies in capturing the ‘freshest and ripest moment’. You may ask how many pancakes and honey syrup it takes to get the shoot right? Not more than a triple-decker of three pancakes! And the strategy lies in setting up the props before the ‘subject’ has arrived fresh out of the non-stick pan. A shutterbug with decent skills can do the lighting well in advance. So if you are in catering business, which is online, having delicious pictures of the menu can be the best bet for getting good business.

To make the food look digestible, the lead photographer will have the assistants arrange the studio bay first. The setting may take an hour or two. Why are we saying this? Because hot steaming food can look limp if it is bought before the shoot. The assistants will assemble the cameras, lens and the tripod stand. The controlling lights, white balance, bouncers and scrims will be positioned for the table top still pictures.

A photographer might use a camera that he can manually adjust to control the way he will shoot. A use of a compact camera is common for food and drink photography. Once the camera is loaded, the lens is another major component to choose. A good quality lens is fitted. A Canon has 50mm 1.4f. It is the best focal length that can capture great shots. A camera mounted on the tripod is steady and better suited for still photography sessions like this. The next comes formatting, i.e. Jpeg or RAW images. Most digicams have the two options. Why Jpeg is more popular-Because, it easily helps pictures to upload on the websites. It is lighter and speed is important when many images have to be seen together. Jpeg images are not necessarily of low quality. They can be scaled while photo processing. Some photographers like to use the RAW format too. The biggest advantage here is the many other elements around can be captured. If they are not required they can always be deleted during the editing. Several new age photographers are using live shot demos before the actual shots are clicked. Shooting tethering has become common. When the camera is plugged to the USB port of a computer the real time image is seen. It becomes easier to shoot the right frame. If a big difference needs to be made to a final shot this can be really helpful.

When these elements are done, the last thing that needs to be done is lighting. It creates the final impact on the product photography. Yes artificial lighting can be controlled and can do wonders. There is a choice of soft light box or halogen lamps with umbrellas. Throw off the lights or bounce them across the items on display. This makes the photographer take the delicious shot eventually.

Save Money on Happy Hours and Food and Drink Specials

At times when everybody lives on a tighter budget looking for money saving opportunities is high priority. People still love to go out, meet friends after work, enjoy a good dinner but it can get expensive to do that. Happy hours and discounted food specials are really popular among people every age group. Restaurants are trying to fulfill that need with discounted menus and happy hours. But discovering these deals is not that easy. Happy hours are not really advertised that much and finding out who has specials and when is almost impossible. Even online you have to dig deep.

Still, looking online for coupons is really popular. But not everybody wants to spend hours on the computer to search for the best deal and then it still needs to be printed out and taken to the restaurants. To be honest, not everybody likes to show up with paper clippings. Another way to look for bargains is to search local papers but most restaurants do not want to spend the money on costly ads anymore.

Membership programs offer members to save money and to find deals online. Restaurants and bars often post specials to spoil members with amazing food and drink deals. Members don’t have to clip out coupons anymore, they simply show their membership card to receive specials – it is like carrying a whole coupon book in the wallet. Some of these membership programs have a mobile phone application what makes it even easier to find the perfect deal on the go.

Restaurants and bars have always been looking for a way to advertise their happy hours to attract new guests. Customer satisfaction and appreciation is their top priority but it can be expensive to reach those goals. Restaurants have to look for a new way of advertising to reach out to new customers. One of the best and cost effective ways is being spoken about and recommended in blogs and other social media outlets.

It is very popular to share experiences on social media sites and people rely more and more on reviews and tips coming from sites like yelp and facebook. You know of a good restaurant that has good food and happy hour offers, you pass it on. Restaurants and bars can be certain that people will recommend the places where they get their specials and extended happy hours because all of us just love bargains and if you can enjoy more for less cash, that is called a real deal.

The Best Restaurant Hotel and Spa

Paris, also known as “The City of Light”, is one of the top tourist cities in the world, with over 30 million visitors every year. Having been a Paris shuttle driver for many years, it’s safe to say that I’ve got to know the city very well! I’ve written previously about visiting Paris on a shoestring budget – though the city is typically an expensive place to go, you can travel on relatively little if you plan carefully and know where to stay. But what if money is no object? Where do you go in Paris if you’ve got money to spend, and only the best will do? Fine restaurants, stunning hotels and fabulous spas are just the tip of the iceberg…

Restaurant – Pierre Gagnaire

French cuisine is justly world renowned, and Paris is liberally peppered with truly outstanding cafes, restaurants and patisseries; the larger and famous places in the main streets and the smaller, quieter eateries tucked away down the side streets. Asking a Parisian which restaurant is the best in the city is likely to ignite a fiery debate; everyone has a different opinion, but one name you’ll hear more often than the others is the Pierre Gagnaire Restaurant. Run by the legendary chef who has given his name to the establishment, this 3 Michelin Star restaurant offers up a feast of unusual flavours in truly stunning surroundings. The a la carte menu clocks in at a cool EUR300, but this is recognised as perhaps the finest restaurant in Paris…and one of the best in the world!

The Hotel – The Four Seasons George V

Whenever I pick up a customer for a Paris airport transfer and they are headed to the Four Seasons Hotel, I know they are in for a treat. Room prices can reach an eye-watering EUR1500 a night, but if you want to stay at the best hotel in town, this is the place for you – stunning décor, superb facilities and great service are the hallmarks of the Four Seasons chain, and this particular one has a premium location just off the Champs-Elysees. If you are looking for the most luxurious base imaginable for your holiday in Paris, you can’t beat a stay at the Four Seasons.

The Spa – The Ritz Health Club

The Four Seasons hotel is also home to one of the city’s finest spas, but judging from the reports of my Paris shuttle passengers, the spa over at the Ritz might just edge it out if you are looking for the finest pampering the city has to offer. Designed in a Greco-Roman style, the facilities are everything you’d expect from the Ritz – my passengers bring back reports of a spectacular array of treatments and high-tech facilities that need to be seen to be believed. Each of the top spas in Paris has its adherents, but I’ve heard the Ritz praised more highly than any of the rest.

There’s more to a holiday in this city than fine dining, grand hotels and luxurious spas, but take it from a Paris shuttle driver – these three places really do offer the last word in luxury, and are a great place to get started, so long as you can afford them!

5 Of the Best Restaurants in Paris

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Famed for it’s world class restaurants, here’s a quick rundown of places that are well worth a visit if you’re in the countries capital, but a word of warning, you may want to book ahead as these places get very busy!

Le Meurice

One of the cities most glamorous locations, Le Meurice is the height of decadence with an interior that is all about glitz. Recently refurbished by Philippe Stark the dining room is pure opulence, with mosaic floor, big crystal chandeliers and heavy damask curtains. Head chef Yannick Alléno has been in possession of three coverted Michelin stars since 2007, and his food is vintage culinary brilliance with a modern twist. It’s a smart dress only affair, and bring your wallet, as you’ll be looking 200 Euros a head.

Macéo

If Le Meurice had you sweating slightly with their prices, why not try out Macéo for size. This delightful restaurant overlooks the Palais Royal and is run by Englishman Mark Williamson.

This cute little eateries serves some of the best vegetarian food in the whole of Paris, offers a superb wine list, and all at prices that won’t break the bank. A little den of decadent dining with a dash of Parisian ‘je nais se qua’!

Le Stella

One of the last independent brasseries left in the whole of Paris, Le Stella is a perfect place to relax, and of course, people watch! As the corporate chains amass around them, Le Stella has stayed true to it’s roots, preparing traditional French classics with a real character. The perfect place to unwind after a hard day shopping, Le Stella offers up a good dollop of Parisian charm at a great price.

Spring

Based in a renovated 17th-century house and owned by American chef Daniel Rose, Spring is a fantastic ‘break from the norm’ in a city that can sometimes rely too much on it’s identity, and not it’s values. Daniel has been providing cutting edge culinary cuisine to his loyal band of Parisian followers for some time now, so expect to book ahead to grab a table, as this place is popular. Proof that you don’t need to a local to make waves on the French cooking circuit.

Les Tablettes

When you combined the cooking of Jean-Louis Nomicos and interior designer Anne-Cécile Comar, it was always going to be a mathc made in heaven. This is one of the finest restaurants that Paris has to offer, with a swank value of ten, with a price range to match. Book well in advance to secure a table for some truly magnificent contemporary French cooking, with a wine list sent from heaven. Bring your wallet though, you’re gonna need it!

So make the most of your trip to Paris by dining in one of these amazing eateries. After all, Paris is the city of love, and hey, we all love food! Get stuck in folks, (and book ahead!!)

Restaurant Marketing Indecision

Yesterday I went for a beer with a friend of mine who owns a small restaurant. We talked about the business (slow these days), we talked about his family (busy running the business) and, at one point, we talked about marketing.

“You know?” he said “These days, there are so many marketing people trying to get your money… ” He paused, drank a sip of Guinness and proceeded.

“They want me to do coupons, they want me to invest in my web site, they want me to advertise in the Yellow Pages, in magazines… I am not rich, I can’t afford all of this!”

I looked at my friend, and I understood what he meant. Marketing professionals pitching -of course – his or her product as the best way to promote the business bombard restaurant owners on a daily basis.

They all look good in paper, but which one is the right one for you? How do you know if a marketing initiative will bring you the clients that you so desperately crave for?

The answer is: you don’t, unless you have a marketing strategy in place.

You see, some of these initiatives might be beneficial for your business – and most will be a waste of money – but you won’t know which ones will work unless you know what to look for.

Before you start spending money in marketing, you need to have a strategy, a vision in place. You need to analyze your needs.

Ask yourself:

– Does your business struggle all week long and you are looking to attract more customers?

– Or perhaps you have slower days of the week that you would love to fill in with clients?

– Have you just opened your restaurant, and you want to increase awareness about your great food and service so that people know about your place?

– Do you want to market to your best customers to encourage them to become repeat clients? (This, by the way, is the best marketing strategy that you can implement.)

– Do you want to promote an event? (Such as a wine dinner, menu change, charity event, etc.)

– Do you want to target some specific customer profiles (such as families or professionals or older people, etc.)

You see where I’m going?

Each of these examples will require a different marketing approach.

If you are aiming to capture older, retired people, you may not gain much by having a great Web presence, since most are not very Internet-savvy.

Similarly, if you have a family-friendly restaurant, an ad placed in a weekly entertainment magazine devoted to young, concert-going people won’t work because your target audience won’t see your ad.

Ads in traditional broadcasting media like newspapers and radio are great for promoting a newly opened restaurant or announcing special events or promotions. They reach a wide audience and can spread the word about your place. However, they are ineffective marketing techniques if you simply want to fill your place; they are expensive and it’s difficult to quantify their results.

Coupons, however, are interesting.

They could be very effective since they allow you to measure their impact (you can count how many of them are redeemed at your place) and can be targeted to fill empty tables on specific days (valid only on Mondays, etc.).

However, it is important to consider how they will be distributed and, if they go in coupon packages, which other restaurants are advertising in them (you don’t want to be the only upscale restaurant packaged with fast-food joints and pizza delivery services).

So you see: Before you spend any money in marketing, sit down and look at your needs. Think strategically and make a master plan.

These are some of the questions that you’ll need to ask yourself:

  1. What kind of customers do you want? (Unless your restaurant is already very geared to a specific audience, such as families – with decor and food for kids, etc. In this case you’re already got the answer.)
  2. When do you need to fill the seats the most?
  3. What’s your profit margin per dish? (So that you know exactly how much can you afford to give away in coupons, etc.)
  4. What can you do to attract repeat clients?
  5. Do you have a formalized referral system in place? If not, you should! Not only is this the most cost-effective and revenue-generating system, but you can implement this yourself easily without spending any extra money!
  6. Do you need to promote a special event?
  7. Etc.

If all these considerations overwhelm you, perhaps you should call in an expert consultant.

Having a consultant that sits with you for a few hours or days and helps you design your own master Strategic Marketing Plan could save you thousands of dollars a year in wasted money and time.

Just make sure that this expert doesn’t waste your time going over your operational details. You want somebody that can help you define your strategy!

You need to make sure that you spend your marketing dollars wisely and you can ONLY accomplish this only with strategic thinking and planning.

Otherwise, it’s like starting a road trip in an unknown territory without a clear destination or a map that shows you the way. You may end up in some interesting place, but most of the time you’ll be wandering lost in small roads that take you nowhere.

You can’t afford to run your business this way.

To conclude: Sit down and create a marketing strategy for your restaurant. This strategy will drive your marketing plan and expenses, and will help you decide what works for you.