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July 2006

Legal Test Kitchen

Ltk I finally visited the new Legal Test Kitchen on Northern Ave in Boston, which is a welcome addition to the growing number of dining spots near my office.

LTK represents Roger Berkowitz's  (president of Legal Seafoods) move away from a strictly seafood focus and towards a more "21st century" dining experience, complete with  digital menus, WiFi, iPod docking stations, and a broad menu selection that includes much more than the traditional lobster and scrod.

Despite hearing all the buzz about the technology offerings inside (plasma screen menus in the bar area?) we elected to dine on the sidewalk patio and enjoy the breeze coming off of the waterfront. We did, however, take the server up on her offer to bring an iPod docking station to our table, where we proceeded to listen to some down-tempo lounge music off of my iPod (just so we could say we did it!).

While I'm a huge fan of technology, it seems forced here; instead of really enhancing the dining experience, the infusion of tech at LTK seems a bit gimmicky. Since we were outside, and the only ones playing music, it worked out ok (a 12 year old boy at the table near us got a big kick out of it!). But I have to think the individual music players would get old quickly if there were multiple devices in play, and/or certain diners chose to play loud or offensive music. I can't even imagine how this goes over when eating inside!

But the food at LTK - which really should be the focus here - was excellent. They have a quirky menu, broken down into categories like Bare (sushi and raw bar), Nosh (appetizers), Simmer (soups), Nibble (small plates), Refresh (salads) and Comfort (Main Dishes). Like the technology, I think this odd labeling represents an establishment trying too hard to be different, but when the food finally arrived it really was excellent.

We started with the calamari (which had extra "bite" thanks to hot vinegar peppers and garlic aioli) and dynamite tuna (sushi roles that were actually hollowed-out cucumber rounds filled with tuna - DELISH). For the main course, I had an excellent piece of broiled haddock with a lemon-caper sauce, accompanied by green beans and parmesan shoestrings. My companion had the shoestrings as well, but with blackened tuna (also delicious) and garlicky spinach.

LTK's menu has a lot of other fun and interesting items (heavy Asian influence), as well as desserts and fancy cocktails. While the techno-bells-and-whistles aren't really a reason to go back, the food (and for me, the location) definitely make it a worthwhile trip.


T&L's Top 100

Travel and Leisure magazine has published its annual World's Best Awards and I was pleased to see The Charlotte Inn (one of my faves) ranking number 17 on the Top 100 Hotels Overall.

That's pretty impressive for this small Relais & Chateaux property on Martha's Vineyard; it was bested by the likes of the Singita Private Game Reserve in South Africa and the Four Seasons Bali.

I've had the opportunity to stay at the Charlotte Inn (pix below) and it is an exquisite spot, with richly furnished rooms; charming antiques; fresh, seasonal menus; and white-glove service. And it all sits on idyllic grounds, complete with a friendly golden retriever to welcome you.

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104148444_29ae27c10e The T&L list serves as a fun checklist of places to visit...provided you have the time (and the coin) to hit them all. I've crossed off a few so far (the White Barn Inn in Maine and Little Palm Resort in Florida are two other superb spots), and hope I get the chance to visit more!


Jealous Ordinary Animals Against the Toronto Zoo's Extraordinary Animals

Toronto ad agency Lowe Roche has launched a funny new campaign for the Toronto Zoo that uses guerilla marketing tactics (no pun intended) together with both traditional and emerging media.

As chronicled in Canada's National Post, the campaign centers on a group of "ordinary animals" (think pigeons and squirrels) that are protesting the unwarranted attention received by the zoo's "extraordinary animals" (think lions, tigers, and bears).

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The copywriting is hysterical...the Post reports that:

It's the ostriches that really annoy Jealous Pigeon. He refers to them as knobstiches. "They are birds, but they don't fly. They have ridiculously small brains," J. Pigeon explained last week in an e-mail interview with the National Post. "I mean, yes, they can run really fast, like 70 km/h or something, but does that make them extraordinary? Does it?"

and

According to Jealous Squirrel (also speaking via e-mail), the group was started by Jacob, a visionary pigeon. "As the story goes, he was in High Park when a group of humans walked by raving about the zoo's extraordinary animals," he recalls. "Jacob, insane with jealousy, took flight and pooped three times on the humans." ...Unsuspecting zoo-loving humans can expect more of this sort of carpet bombing as the J.O.A.A.T.T.Z.E.A is planning jealousy-fuelled pooping and nut-throwing attacks throughout the summer.

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The campaign also includes TV spots, a website (slow and not quite as funny as the other executions, but does includes links to the zoo site, which they refer to as "Dorksville"). Jealous Squirrel has reportedly even created a MySpace profile to raise awareness of his cause, but I haven't been able to find it...


PlanetLuLu.com

Of course I clicked on this banner ad, since it prominently displays the name of my favorite French Bulldog. Doyoululu_1 

And lo-and-behold, it's a shopping site (another one of my favorite things!). A clearing house, to be exact...full of top designer labels at 50% off retail.

But WAIT...the online store is only open 3 days a month...and it's by invite only.

So until then, check out LuLu's MySpace profile. This girl has taste! Besides shopping, she lists Hotel Costes and Breakfast at Tiffany's among her faves.


CityScape Coat Hangers

I love these hangers featured on BoingBoing today. Cityscape_hanger Each features the skyline of one of five major fashion capitals die-cut into the frame. At about $460 for the set (5), you're not likely to stock your closets with them (I also question their functionality, with all those jagged edges), but they're certainly a conversation piece.

But I think that's the point; created by the three, 3D design students that make up Sixixis, the hangers represent the "3D bends in solid, unseasoned wood that no-one else" has been able to achieve.


McDonald's Sundial

This new billboard from Leo Burnett for McDonald's is brilliant:

Mcdonalds_sundial It's a functioning sundial, with the shadow (in the shape of the well-known golden arches) falling over a different McDonald's breakfast food each hour of the morning (until noon, when the shadow falls on a luncheon sandwich).

ChicagoBusiness.com has all the details of the campaign, which was designed to increase breakfast sales in the Chicago area, where McDonald's is facing new increased competition from Starbucks and Wendy's.


What's Your Sign Design

Whats_your_signHGTV recently launched a neat, new makeover program called What's Your Sign Design, in which host Steven Lee works with a design team made up of an Astrologer and a Designer to redecorate people's homes with styles that suit them best...based on their astrological signs.

According to the site, Aquarians like me "draw inspiration from a specific era, often incorporating an ultra-modern design as well as the latest technology." They provide links to Decorator showcases which may provide inspiration, but I found most of the Aquarian suggestions a tad too ornate for my liking.

I think the show itself is more enjoyable than the online application; you can watch a trailer from the first episode here.


MyHeritage.com

My_heritageHere's a fun way to kill a little time:

MyHeritage.com's face recognition technology allows you to "Find the Celebrity in You." Simply upload pictures of yourself or your friends, and the site uses advanced three-dimensional face mapping technology to match your faces with those of 3200 celebrities in their database.

Above is a mapping of my friend Catherine (R) and me (L).

This one's cute, but user beware: not all the mappings are as flattering as you'd hope!