Sales slipped at Olive Garden in the most recent quarter and profits dipped across Darden Restaurant's brands as guests cut back on high-margin extras including drinks and desserts. The company plans to counter the latest round of consumer frugality with more promotions at its Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse chains.
Healthy Beverage Co. has added four zero-calorie flavors to its line of Steaz Iced Teaz. The drinks, made with stevia and green tea and certified as organic and fair trade, are offered in citrus, raspberry, peach mango, and a combination of lemonade and green tea.
Matcha, powdered green tea from Japan, can be consumed as a beverage or used as an ingredient in baked goods. It is complex and a bit bitter as hot tea, but becomes more subtle and sweet when used in recipes.
Cubebs, popular in the Middle Ages, have added flavor to everything from gin to beef, but the spice is now nearly impossible to find. The relative of peppercorn tastes of juniper berries and allspice, and is being grown by Ben and Blair Ripple on their Big Tree Farms in Bali.
Weddings featuring such everyday fare as french fries, grilled steaks and peach cobbler are gaining popularity. The meals might not be much cheaper, but they seem less ostentatious than lobster tails and heavily decorated wedding cakes.