In which we remind you that “marketing” means “lying”

As it turns out “all-natural” Snapple Apple contains no actual apple.

Here’s the thing: If you want juice, just drink juice. If you want water, just drink that. Drinking some goofball concoction that’s meant to taste like juice, but isn’t, is just silly — and its sheer existence is a symptom of our larger food problem. Food companies exist to process ingredients into something else, and call it adding value — even when they don’t actually add value. If we ate fewer processed foods, and more foods in their natural or less-processed state, we’d all be better off.

Well, all of us except the lying “food” companies. But we can do without them.

Holiday Reminder: Pyrex Isn’t Pyrex

If you, as I did, grew up trusting Pyrex cookware as essentially indestructible and capable of handling stove to counter to freezer all in one go, well, have I got some news for you.

Pyrex was Pyrex because of its makeup: it was, for most of our lives, borosilicate glass (and in fact came to be shorthand for borosilicate glass). Most kitchenware is soda lime glass, and it’s soda lime glass that is infamous for shattering if, say, you take a casserole out of your oven and put it directly on a stone countertop. It’s very vulnerable to thermal shock, and can even shatter with no small amount of violence when it happens.

Borosilicate glass is much, much more resistant to this sort of thing — you can literally take it from a 500 degree oven and put it directly on a wet, cold countertop with no ill effects. This is why people loved Pyrex. And this is why it’s a goddamn ridiculous, obnoxious, idiot marketer decision for someone to make Pyrex out of something other than borosilicate glass, but that’s just what “World Kitchen” did when they bought the brand name from Corning in 1998. Pyrex today is soda lime glass, not borosilicate, and Consumerist shows us what that means.

It’s a shocking breach of trust for this goofball firm to make Pyrex that, fundamentally, isn’t Pyrex, but that’s what happens when you get people who think of “branding” as more important than actual goods.

Squirrel or Stoat?

Um:

Twelve bottles of The End Of History ale have been made and placed inside seven dead stoats, four squirrels and one hare.

And at 55 per cent volume, its makers claim it is the world’s strongest beer.

More here and at the manufacturer’s site, where we find this:

This 55% beer should be drank in small servings whilst exuding an endearing pseudo vigilance and reverence for Mr Stoat. This is to be enjoyed with a weather eye on the horizon for inflatable alcohol industry Nazis, judgemental washed up neo-prohibitionists or any grandiloquent, ostentatious foxes.

Destination Burger, or, Cook and Walsh aren’t lying to you

Let’s just say that, on Saturday, Mrs Heathen and I had a little too much fun. It started at Phil’s BBQ for the WC match, and continued for reasons not entirely clear at Beaver’s, where Claire Sprouse made souses of us with her delicious cocktails.

So some recovery was in order on Sunday — although let the record show that Mrs Heathen still went and ran nearly 6 miles on Sunday morning, so three cheers for her. We lazed about, had a nap, watched Argentina dismantle Mexico, and eventually felt the need to venture into the world again as much for fun as for food. And that’s when I remembered something: We’d not yet been to Rockwell Tavern.

I am an unashamed inner-loop snob. I rarely leave Montrose. I consider it a hike if I have to go to the Galleria (seriously: I just mail-ordered a laptop battery rather than go to the Apple store), and most typically am leaving town if I get more than an exit or two beyond 610, so the whole idea of driving to Cypress for a fucking hamburger is something that, well, most of the time I’d just laugh off. But for some reason on a lazy Sunday afternoon it seemed reasonable, so we packed a bag and lit out for the territories. (For the record, Rockwell is 25 miles from our house; on a Sunday at five, you can do that in about half an hour, but God help you during the week.)

About 40 minutes later (!) we pulled into the lot. I’ve lived in Houston for 16 years, and this is the first time I’ve been this far out on 290. Cypress is miles past the beltway, for crying out loud. I thought about tweeting a pic, but I had no 3G service out there. The reviews are right; you’re in the ass end of the universe, and it looks like nothing so much as the rural world I visit when I want to shoot at doves.

The strip center itself is an exercise in halfassery — there’s an unfinished something next door to Rockwell, full of piles of building materials. This mode extends to Rockwell’s own facilities, which despite being fairly new (Robb Walsh says they opened in January 2009) is already pretty ramshackle. And features an empty aquarium. The bar itself is a baroque thing distinctly out of place in what amounts to a giant featureless room with insufficient A/C, but stay with me, dear reader, for all sins are forgiven by what comes next.

There was next to no one in the place at about 6 on a Sunday, so we were immediately seated. I was again sad for our hungover state, as the beer selection out there is pretty impressive for any address, let alone one halfway to Bastrop. We weren’t there for beer, though. Mrs Heathen ordered some fried pickles for an appy, and they proved tasty if under-drained; after that, though, came the main courses.

I followed St Walsh’s lead and had the King Bubba, a half-pound of fresh ground meat topped with bacon, cheese, and a fried egg. Mrs Heathen went with the Psychedelic Hendrix (“like Jimi, chock full of ‘shrooms!”). There’s not much I can say that Walsh or Alison Cook didn’t already say, but:

Holy Jesus, these are some good goddamn hamburgers. The slightly sweet egg bun, toasted to perfection, is a fantastic complement to its crispy and greasy cargo (and, shockingly, held up well for the duration of the meal). You need to go here, and eat these. Now. Especially the Bubba. I have not had a better burger, I’m sad to say, and I wish more than anything these cats would open a branch somewhere I don’t need provisions to visit. Both Walsh and Cook ding Rockwell for their onion rings, and they’re absolutely right; skip the rings and go with either their fantastic sweet potato fries or the handcut traditional fries. Both are outstanding. Oh, and don’t bother with an appetizer; we forgot all about the pickles as soon as the burgers and fries hit the table (Which was quick! Service was outstanding.), and had way more food than we needed. Now, if only we didn’t need to take vacation time and pack a change of clothes to eat there again…

Good new, bad news

The good news in the Houston food world is that uber-food-writer Robb Walsh is a partner in a new Tex-Mex joint opening in the old Tower Theater location in the heart of Montrose.

Imagine my disappointment to discover his partners, which means I’ll never eat there. I had one of the worst customer service experiences of my life at Caswell’s Reef, when his valets wrecked my pal’s brand-new car and then refused to own up or pressure the valet firm to properly repair it. I’ll be damned if I spend a single dime at any restaurant he’s a part of despite how much I’d like to partake of Mr Walsh’s venture.

Why do all restaurant web sites suck?

They seem particularly likely to fall prey to the Flash disease, which means their sites are useless to folks on smartphones. They also routinely miss basic shit like keeping a phone number on every page, especially the menu — don’t make a customer look for it!

All-PDF menu sites are nearly as bad, since they’re nearly impossible to reformat for small devices (again, think about your smartphone use cases!). At the same time, though, keeping a PDF download of your menu in a handy header link is a great idea not used nearly often enough — for a frequently-called neighborhood joint, having to wade through a flash menu every time is just ridiculous.

Darn. And also Cool!

Cafe Montrose never reopened after Ike, which is irritating and sad — it was a great neighborhood joint for a quick bite or a resplendent feast. I’ll miss it.

But in its place, we’re getting a cured-meat-and-wine-bar (“Vinoteca Poscol”) from Marco Wiles, he of Da Marco and Dolce Vita, which could be a lovely thing.