Tuesday, June 27, 2017

State changes wine-flavored ice cream sales portion size

UPDATE (6/27/17): Wine-infused ice cream is a tiny niche in the food industry, but New York State nevertheless has it within its grasp. The state, never one to miss a chance to regulate somehing no matter how small, had restricted sales of the product to a pint size or larger. However, that now has changed with Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing  a bill that will allow sales of the dessert in “smaller containers.” Keep reading for some context to this momentous piece of legislation that its own sponsors apparently lost track of at one point.

(Originally published 5/25/17)

Headline: Info absent on burning question about wine ice cream

Some time ago, I attempted to get an update on pending legislation involving the serving size of wine ice cream in New York, apparently a matter of the usual governmental nanny state restrictions. I was unable to get any information from the members of both houses of the New York State Legislature supposedly trying to amend the rules. More on that in a bit.

Apparently there are no rigid restrictions on using whiskey in another type of food, if one considers slushies actual food. The Dragonfyre Distillery in Marathon, Cortland County, today announced it will be making and selling whiskey slushies this summer.

"BREAKING NEWS! The slushy machine is here!!! ," trumpeted Dragonfyre's Facebook message. "We will be serving whiskey slushys from now on! What's your preference?
Strawberry Daiquiri
Arnold Palmers
Pina Cola da
Blueberry pomegranate
Prohibition Moon
Apple Moon
Let us know what you want, this is just the "short" list!"

Now, back to the topic of wine ice cream.

Back on March 22, I reported that "The State Senate today approved S4265, a bill introduced by Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-47), to allow a change in the portion size of wine ice cream. The current minimum container size is one pint. Griffo, the deputy senate majority whip, seeks to meet what he says is consumer demand for smaller containers of wine ice cream for weddings, fundraisers, recreational tours, etc. A companion bill that needs to be passed next is being introduced in the Assembly by William Magee (D-121), chairman of the Agriculture Committee. New York is the only state with minimum size requirements."

Since then, I have tried to find out the status of the proposal. A call to Griffo's office was unproductive because the staffer who answered my call had no idea what I was talking about, even though it is his boss's legislation. Even worse at Magee's office, where a promised return phone call has not materialized and an emailed inquiry has been ignored.

Which leads me to suspect that, even though this is a small matter in the larger universe of governance and therefore beneath the legislators' purportedly pushing it, we will see during the next election cycle some reference to this "consumer friendly" effort that both legislators suddenly will remember they have attached their names to.
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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Warren-Washington beverage trail awaits Cuomo's signature

If Governor Andrew Cuomo approves, as expected, a bill that passed both house of the State Leguislature before recess, a regional craft beverage and winemaking trail for Warren and Washington counties would be designarrated under a state Department of Transportation (DOT) program.

The Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce worked with State Sen. Elizabeth Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) on the  bill that each introduced in their respective chambers. What it would entail is placing signs along state roadways directing motorists to craft breweries, wineries and distilleries, as well as including such a trail in the state's advertising and marketing of the craft beverage industry.

The effort was buoyed by Travelocity and The American Distilling Institute recently putting the Glens Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area in its new index of top 10 small U.S. metro areas for craft spirits tourism.
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bill would make NYS beverage tastings fully sales-tax-exempt

A bill passed by both houses of the State Legislature has been sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo to give licensed breweries, distilleries, and cideries the same sales tax exemption for tastings that wineries now have.

The bill would allow the exemption even if vendors he state Senate and Assembly have passed a bill charge for the tasting. Under current law, any wine, beer, cider, or liquor tasting that is provided free of charge is exempt from having to impose the state sales and use tax. However, wineries are granted a sales tax exemption even if they charge for the tasting.

“As the number of breweries and distilleries increases across New York, including many farm-based operations, we must ensure that we provide a level playing field for those in the industry,” said Erie County Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I). “Right now, these businesses don’t enjoy the same sales tax benefits provided to wineries. That’s not fair to them or their customers.”
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Monday, June 19, 2017

At Cornell, big, fat new Concord grape seeking a name

A new breed in search of a name. (Cornell photo)
• From the Cornell Chronicle

Big on flavor, aroma and size, Cornell University’s newest grape lacks one defining feature: a name.

Grape breeder Bruce Reisch spent years developing the grape, and now he’s offering the public the chance to name it. Currently dubbed NY98.0228.02, the grape is a seedless, flavorful berry with the attractive blue coloring of a Concord at nearly double the size. Reisch, professor of grapevine breeding and genetics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said the new variety is well adapted to the Northeast, with good cold-tolerance for most of the Eastern states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.

“This grape is the first truly seedless Concord-type and has naturally large, attractive berries,” said Reisch. The Concord has long been an American favorite, known best for its use in grape juice, jellies and jams. “Our new grapes weigh 5 or 6 grams per berry, almost twice the weight of a traditional Concord,” said Reisch. “It’s pretty rare to find a grape that size, especially with such full flavor.”

Reisch hopes the contest will inspire a name as inviting as the grape. Submissions can be made online until July 31. Reisch and his collaborators at Double A Vineyards will decide on their favorites, then present the choices to the public for a final vote in September.

Go here for the full story.
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Friday, June 16, 2017

Recipe for secrecy at Niagara County Community College

Niagara Falls Culinary Center (photo provided)
An editorial from the Lockport Journal
When Niagara Falls Culinary Center opened in 2012, officials at Niagara County Community College were quick to note that not only would it be a place where students could learn about creating and serving culinary delights, it would also offer them the opportunity to receive on-the-job-training at various small businesses inside.

Those operations included Savor, a fine dining restaurant, La Patisserie, a shop offering baked goods and coffee drinks, Old Falls Street Deli, which served deli sandwiches in a casual atmosphere, and The Wine Boutique, which would offer wines from the Niagara Wine Trail and from across New York state. In addition, the center features a bookstore carrying the Barnes and Noble name.

While the establishments made perfect sense given the goal of offering a robust training atmosphere for culinary students, little, it seems, was known about how they would be operated, who would run them and, more importantly, how the income and expenses would be monitored. Well, that’s not exactly true. Some individuals in NCCC administration most certainly knew about the restaurants’ financial operations, but many others, apparently including members of the college Board of Trustees, did not.

After questions about development and oversight of the culinary center were raised over the past few months, it still is not clear just how much NCCC’s higher-ups really know and understand about those businesses.

This newspaper has attempted in recent weeks to obtain financial information pertaining to the operations of Savor and other entities within the culinary center, to no avail. A formal request made on March 8 under the state’s Freedom of Information Law was not acknowledged by the college’s public information officer for nearly two months. When the college staffer finally did acknowledge the request, she issued a denial. ... Robert Freeman, the director of New York’s Committee on Open Government whose office oversees compliance with the state open meetings and freedom of information laws, disagrees. He said there’s “no doubt” the records in question should be made available to the press and the public ... .
Go here for the full editorial.

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Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 

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