More ‘Food’.

The Best Thing I Ate In 2011: Oysters At 41º In Barcelona

I had a lot of crazy stuff in 2011, but there was a clear winner: I would eat these oysters — with salmon roe and yuzu-ponzu sauce — every day, forever. Served at 41 Degrees — the Adrià brothers’ (elBulli guys) bar — in Barcelona, on our honeymoon in May.

41 Degrees oysters

Blue Bottle New Orleans-Style Iced Coffee

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Greek Yogurt

The two mid-sized food brands I’ve been the most excited about over the last couple of years are Sabra, the hummus company, and Fage, which makes Greek yogurt.

But in Greek yogurt, it turns out the biggest winner has actually been Chobani, which has come out of nowhere to become the market leader in just a few years.

I learned that tonight in an amazing “deep dive” report into the Greek yogurt industry by UBS analyst David Palmer.

Here’s what else I learned:

1) Greek yogurt has been hugely disruptive to the yogurt industry. Non-Greek yogurt represented 98% of yogurt sales in 2008; Greek yogurt now represents 19% of the yogurt market.

Palmer writes, “Greek yogurt brands such as Chobani and Fage have captured market share more quickly than almost any segment in a major food category ever.” He adds, “To put this in perspective, this is more than energy drinks have captured of carbonated soft drinks in the last 6 years.”

2) Chobani and Fage are kicking Yoplait and Dannon’s butts, quickly growing to 13% of the overall yogurt market — and representing 70% of the market’s growth. Chobani, from upstate New York, has been particularly impressive, taking 48% of the Greek yogurt market in just 3 years.

Why is Chobani doing so well? It seems to be priced about $1 cheaper per 16 oz., according to a chart in the report. And, my guess: The branding seems to be fresher, and the product seems to be targeted more toward the American palate. Fage feels more European, which might be why I buy it.

3) Why are people buying Greek yogurt? It’s more filling, and is perceived as being healthier. It has twice as much protein. And while people aren’t crazy about its taste, high-end buyers are happy to spend almost twice as much money for it. I actually prefer it, but I’ve mostly eaten plain, unsweetened yogurt.

4) Greek yogurt seems to be getting its growth from “increasing popularity among upper-income, highly educated women.” According to NPD Group, via the UBS report, it over-indexes with people who don’t have kids, especially among college grads, and households with over $100,000 in income.

5) Yogurt has been getting more popular at breakfast, especially among men and children. Cereal consumption at breakfast has fallen to a 5-year low.

This chart does a good job showing the category’s growth in general, and especially Chobani’s:

Previously: Inside Frijoles, Tokyo’s Tribute To Chipotle

Inside Frijoles, Tokyo’s Tribute To Chipotle

During last year’s trip to Japan, I made a quick visit to Frijoles, a Chipotle Mexican Grill clone in Tokyo’s Azabu-Juban neighborhood.

It’s kind of amazing how close a replica of a Chipotle restaurant that the Frijoles team has made, including the menu, organization of the food serving area, and restaurant decor.

The food isn’t as good, but they probably have a hard time getting the right ingredients in Tokyo, and maybe they’ve tweaked it on purpose. But the paper bags are cuter.

Mura — Brooklyn, New York

Awesome sashimi at Mura in Park Slope. Great backyard. Worth a visit.

Roberta’s — Brooklyn, New York

Steak Hanamasa — Tokyo, Japan

One of the best things I ate on my last trip to Japan: This cheap steak at Steak Hanamasa in Tokyo’s Ginza district.

I ordered from (and paid) a vending machine, and then presented my ticket to a server. A few minutes later, the steak basically came out raw (with butter on top) on this hot cast iron plate. I stir fried it until it was cooked, and then doused it with that sauce. Served with bean sprouts, green beans, and rice. And, of course, a beer.

Bratwurst Breakfast — Prime Meats — Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ham And Cheese Croque Monsieur – Tartine Bakery – San Francisco, California

tartine-sandwich

I haven’t spent enough time in San Francisco to know all the winners, but this place — Tartine Bakery in the Mission — is already one of my favorites.

This ham and cheese sandwich came out of the oven bubbly and amazing. (Those round, dark things are roasted tomatoes.) That pickled carrot was really good, too.

I also highly recommend the Gruyere rolls (moist inside, crusty outside) and the croissants (extra flaky).

Just a great place for a quick breakfast before a day walking around San Francisco.

Sausage Skillet — The Bristol — Chicago, Illinois

bristol-sausage-skillet

Great brunch and dinner place in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. Try the tasty Cuc-cai cocktail. (That green thing in a glass.)