Bobby’s trip to Iceland seems to continually inspire. I was wandering through the grocery store and came across this colorful new Smári organic Icelandic yogurt. Upon further investigation, I discovered that it’s actually made in Petaluma, California, out of milk from free roaming cows in Wisconsin. And these aren’t just any cows, they’re Jerseys and Guernseys, which make thicker, better tasting milk. Also? They have names, profiles, and personalities.
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When it comes to Icelandic exports I think most of us would think of musical acts, or perhaps aluminum if you’re knowledgable about tangible, money-making exports. I personally think the best export they have going for them is Einstok Beer.
It started with the search for the best water on the planet. We ultimately found it in the amazing country of Iceland, where abundant water is naturally filtered through ancient lava fields. In exploring ways to share this water with the rest of the world, we partnered with Vífilfell, a beverage bottler and distributor and one of the most respected companies in Iceland. They also happen to own the Viking Brewery in Akureyri – a fishing port located just 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle. It was there that Bernard La Borie, David Altshuler and Jack Sichterman hatched the idea to bring handcrafted, Icelandic beer to the world. And so our collaboration with Vífilfell and Baldur the Brewmaster began.
It’s funny because Einstok is only carried in Iceland, the UK and California, but everyone I know who’s tried is obsessed with it. A local restaurant near me struggles to keep it in stock because it’s so popular. That’s not surprising to those who’ve tasted it though. Einstok comes in four flavors: A Toasted Porter, a White Ale, a Pale Ale and the seasonal Dopplebock. If you ask me the Toasted Porter is where it’s at but they’re all equally delicious.
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Chicago based designer Kyle Poff is one of those rare talents who no matter what he applies his touch to it always turns to gold. We’ve been lucky enough to have him create a wallpaper for us previously, but now I wanted to speak about some of his newer work that he’s done for Compartes Chocolatiers, a local Los Angeles chocolate brand.
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Simplicity is often the most difficult form to find. Take for example this mug produced by Savvy Studio and designed by Jorge Diego Etienne. Called the Casa Bosques Mug (Forest House Mug), it takes it’s inspiration from traditional Japanese lacquerware, where a ceramic cup is placed inside of a wooden cup so that you don’t burn your hand. Handmade in Monterey, Mexico, these cups bring a balance that you rarely find in modern day ceramics.
Below is a video showing the process of making the mugs, and one line stood out most in the whole thing. “In this object, wood will age with grace and ceramic will maintain it’s shiny appearance over time.” I think this ties nicely into the idea of objects aging gracefully, an idea which has started to diminish in some ways. I think people still like a well worn, faded pair of jeans, but if they get a scratch on their iPhone it’s the end of the world.
Now I need to figure out how to get myself one of these mugs…
I came across Heidi Marie’s Etsy shop, Bees Felt Market, while doing a random search for something food-related. I couldn’t believe that her felt toys looked so much like their real counterparts. Designed for children, I think they’d make excellent design objects for adults, too. Aside from choosing favorite snack foods and researching them to get the details right, Heidi uses felt that is made from recycled plastic bottles. Her process involves both hand stitching and a machine to ensure durability, and her line includes everything from pizza and hot dogs to chips, doughnuts, and tacos two ways. She takes custom orders, too.
How can senses other than taste contribute to a great meal? It’s a question that the folks over at the Cooking Architecture blog have been asking as they host dinner parties. But these aren’t your typical dinner parties, there are dinner parties in the dark, or dinner parties with tightly controlled acoustics so you can better hear yourself eating. I think I would get a little grossed out hearing myself chew that much, even though I would be fascinated to hear the foodstuffs moving through my stomach and into my intestines. To help dampen the sound around the table for their dinner party, architects Claire and Juan covered the ceiling of their dining room with thousands of styrofoam cups (hence the image of a Tara Donovan installation made with styrofoam cups) and they passed out earplugs to their guests.
I think what their experiments with sensory restriction are really about is creating an immediacy with food. But it doesn’t work for all the senses: restricting the sense of smell during a meal would probably make the food taste much more flat, and meals certainly wouldn’t be as enjoyable if all the food had the same texture. It wasn’t until I started reading about their parties that I realized how much the company of good friends enhances the whole experience of eating for me. I’ve been to great dinner parties that had almost nothing to do with the food, and sometimes were great in spite of the food. Still, the idea of a dinner party in the dark sounds like a good idea even if I’m not willing to turn my ceiling into a silent sea of styrofoam cups.
This charming little animated spot by Yum Yum London is short but full of detail. This multidisciplinary London studio has a distinct sensibility for character design that works just as well in its toys as in its warm, stylized 3D worlds. This story of ketchup conundrum is filled with expressive extras that give each character a surprising amount of personality in the short timeframe. I love the zoned-out guy behind the counter staring at the hot dog rotisserie and the girl taking video on her phone of the aftermath of the ketchup blast before the camera even gets back to it. Yum Yum has some great collectable toys, including the hot dog guy, for sale on their site here.
Smorgasboard is a fantastic new board game for foodies. The aim of the game is to be the first team of chefs to graduate from Rick’s Culinary Academy and achieve gastronomic success! To do this, teams of 2 or more are set a series of challenges which involve tasks like drawing food-related words without letting the pencil leave the paper or spotting the ‘missing ingredient’ in a classic recipe. The game has a great selection of tasks on offer and if you’re a fan of team-based board games then this is certaintly one which is well worth adding to your games cabinet.
What I like most of all about it is how it looks. Illustrated and designed by the Irish-based illustrator Steve Simpson, Smorgasboard is the type of game that really catches your eye. Filled with rich colors, great looking characters and fantastic details, it’s the sort of game which is just perfect for playing with friends that you’ve invited around for dinner. You can find out more about the game (and buy a copy) online here. And also make sure to take a look at Steve’s Behance page where he gives a great insight into the project and shows off the game in all its wonderful detail.