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Berry, Berry Good to Her

We're not quite sure why, but Polaris Images sent us a set of photos of Ana, a Russian immigrant, picking wild boysenberries yesterday in Central Park. So there you have it: There are fresh wild boysenberries, ripe for the picking, waiting for you in Central Park, apparently on the West Side near 106th Street. You know, in case you haven't been feeling enough like a sharecropper lately. (Which is not to say we'd ever say no to a nice cobbler.)

Partly Cooked

20070803heds_sm.jpg • Something to ponder during your commute: The most recent federal survey rated the upkeep of the Brooklyn Bridge lower than its collapsed Minneapolis counterpart. [NYDN]

Little Britain: Peace in Our Time!

This is what we came home last night to find waiting with our doorman. (We have never, for the record, mentioned our name to the Tea & Sympathy people, nor said exactly where we live.) It was tasty, we were charmed, and now, we confess, we think we've reached acceptance. We're Daily Intel, and we live in Little Britain. God save the queen! Earlier: Daily Intel's coverage of Little Britain

Happy Birthday, FreshDirect: A Misty, Water-Colored Look at Five Years of Grocery Delivery

FreshDirect, the (largely) beloved grocery-delivery service, turns five today. It's hard to believe it's been along that long — doesn't time fly when you're noshing on home-delivered organic vegetables? To mark the milestone, the company suspended deliveries for the day, so that its employees could have a picnic. (Yikes. What about the rain?) We know more than one person distraught that they wouldn't be able to get their order today, but, surprisingly, when we started asking around the office we discovered that seemingly as many people who don't much care for Freshy D as those who can't do without it. After the jump, four New Yorkers reflections on five years of FreshDirect — two who love it, one who doesn't like it, and one who hates it.

IHOP Bids for Applebee's: The End of an American Institution?

There's news of an enormous, potentially game-changing corporate acquisition, the reverberations of which will be felt all across the country. We speak, of course, of the announcement that IHOP Corp. will buy the Applebee's chain for $2.1 billion. IHOP plans to convert the floundering Applebee's, one of the few company-owned national food chains, to the more popular franchise model. Though the deal appears to make immediate economic sense, we're naturally worried about the possible loss of Applebee's legendary culinary freedom. Will celebrity chef Tyler Florence, who had just unveiled his bruschetta burger and herb-crusted chicken breast for the fall menu, set to debut September 18, be allowed to continue his independent and aggressive experimentation under IHOP Corp.?

A Sad Day for Overhyped Pastries: Magnolia Shuttered

But what will become of the fanny-packed tourists?! The city Department of Health's recent cleanliness crusade has claimed another victim: the Magnolia Bakery. Originally known for its admittedly fairly good cupcakes, Magnolia has since become the epicenter of all that is unholy about the aughts-era West Village: tour buses, a willingness to wait on line for confections, overpriced cutesiness run rampant. The (painfully slow-loading) blog Eater, which broke the news, reports that it's simply an issue of too few sinks and that the destination snack bar will soon reopen. Alas. Breaking: Magnolia Bakery Closed by Department of Health [Eater]

When the Lights Go Down in the City

• Yesterday's power outage lasted for less than an hour, but it closed down subway lines and affected about 385,000 people on the East Side and the Bronx. Con Ed doesn't know what caused it, and the mayor, naturally, shrugged it off as a "minor inconvenience." [NYP]

License to Spam

The International Licensing Expo opened at the Javits Center yesterday, and apparently the event requires great quantities of Spam. We do know not if this is because its makers wish to license the meatish product or because they wish to serve it. Either way, we're mildly repulsed.

Mike Bloomberg, Independent

• The political world is waking up to a queasy query — is Mike Bloomberg a Ross Perot or a Ralph Nader (or, one hopes, neither)? Of course, the man himself is no help: He still says he's not running. [NYT] • Rudy Giuliani's campaign, meanwhile, seems to be aiming squarely at the high-school-hooligan vote. First it comes out he'd been booted off the Iraq Study Group for truancy. Now his former South Carolina campaign chairman has been indicted for — are you ready for this? — selling crack. [NYDN] • If you tried leaving the city last night, you're, well, probably still here. The three area airports canceled hundreds of flights because of the major thunderstorms blazing from here to the Midwest. [WNBC] • The new city regulation requiring fast-food places to post calorie count on their menus is now not going into effect until the legal fight over it plays out. So far, it's had the opposite effect — Quizno's and White Castle deleted all nutritional info from their Websites altogether. [amNY] • And two female marriage-license clerks are allegedly terrorizing Bronx couples by refusing to do their jobs and closing the office early. Maybe they're stealth Dworkinites. [NYP]

Is This the End of Braunstein?

Faux firefighter Peter Braunstein will be sentenced today at noon, and our short citywide nightmare shall be over. Oh, jeez, will he write a book in jail? Clemency! [amNY] • The Matos-vs.-McGreevey matter keeps getting more colorful. Now Dina Matos is claiming her ex-husband is sabotaging not just her book sales but her charity work as well. Fellow fund-raisers snip that she's "taken her eye off the ball." [NYP] • The New York State Restaurant Association is suing, mostly on behalf of fast-food franchises like McDonald's and Burger King, for the right not to disclose calorie count on the menus. They're crying Big Government. [Crain's NY] • City Comptroller William Thompson is about to become housing activists' darling: He thinks the recent property-tax cut should trigger a rent freeze in stabilized apartments. [NYDN] • And Eliot Spitzer is apparently ruining Albany's nightlife. Not through regulation, mind you; it's just that his staffers are more coffee-shop people than bar people. Figures. [NYT]

Padma Lakshmi Introduces Dismemberment, Cannibalism to ‘Top Chef,’ Our Fantasies

The freakazoid highlight of last night's Top Chef premiere, provided by host and Salman squeeze Padma Lakshmi in response to a contestant's decision to fry a snake:
"Anything can stand up to frying. You can fry my toe and if you batter it right, it's going to taste good."
We don't know if we're hungry, horny, or nauseous.

Nutritious, Delicious Couture

Salad Show
What could be better than fashion and food? Yesterday we rushed to Vanderbilt Hall to catch Tim Gunn hosting the Wish-Bone Salad Show. Designers Richie Rich and Traver Rain compared the experience to summer camp, and the models looked bewildered. "There's some lettuce going on there. Or maybe some other vegetables," the Asian Salad said vaguely. Backstage, one model sported onion shorts while another counted the string beans on her dress. Gunn said he preferred to accessorize with food, but our favorite model embraced the whole aesthetic: "I am the carpaccio salad." Wish-Bone Salad Fashion Show by Heatherette [NYM]

Seriously, It's the World's Biggest Cheese!

We at Daily Intel never tire of the notion of the world's biggest cheese, so we bring you another depiction. The cheese will be at Grand Central until 6 p.m., so you still have time to marvel at it. And when you do, consider these facts: The cheese is six feet wide and weighs 1,323 pounds. This is the dairy product's final appearance in New York before continuing its world tour back in Europe. Don't say we didn't warn you.

The Cheese Commutes Alone

Giant cheese
Whatever your plans are for today, they should include a stop at Grand Central to see "The World's Largest Cheese." Murray's Cheese and the Dutch cheesemaker Beemster have somehow rolled a Guinness-record-holding Gouda into the train station. Besides a tasting, the cheese gets its own press conference (gleefully imagined, above). We're not sure what you do with a cheese that big, but Grub Street has some excellent suggestions. World's Biggest Cheese in Town Today [Grub Street]

Pork: It's What's for Lunch

tamarind-pork sandwich
If you're looking for an inspired lunch to grab this week, go no further than Grub Street's "Sandwich of the Week." This week, sandwich seekers Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld happily discover the tamarind-pork sandwich (above) from Lassi. This "Indian-Dominican powerhouse" includes pork, garlic, chiles, cilantro, ginger, salt, and a tandoori masala, among other ingredients. Too bad it's only available Wednesday through Sunday. Sandwich of the Week: Lassi’s Tamarind-Pork Sandwich [Grub Street]

Hungry for Dollars

grocery store
Last week, we chided City Councilman Eric Gioia for realizing the difficulty of eating nutritious meals on a budget of $28 a week. Gioia, following in the footsteps of Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski, ate only what he could buy with food stamps to advocate increased funding for the program. A week's worth of ramen and off-brand white bread can make anyone cranky, and Councilman Gioia's office took issue with our treatment of his efforts. We also heard from Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, who joined Gioia's diet last week. Their words are after the jump.

City Politician's Epiphany: Poor People Don't Eat Well

Eric Gioia
It's day two of Queens city councilman Eric Gioia's "I will live a week on $28 in groceries" stunt, and, frankly, we're beginning to lose the plot a little. Is the purpose of the exercise to highlight the plight of the underclass — $28 is the average nationwide food-stamp allotment — a Morgan Spurlock–esque endurance contest, or for the out-of-touch politician to Learn a Valuable Lesson? The Daily News followed Gioia on his grocery run to Food Dynasty in Queens; their priceless lead photo depicts the councilman regarding a pack of franks with a mix of puzzlement and mild disgust. "I usually shop at Whole Food or online at FreshDirect," Gioia blurted out to the paper. "I don't even look at the cost, I look for the brand I like, and I buy it."

N.Y. Diet: What Rapper Sean Mims Eats on the Road

Sean Mims
While rapper Sean Mims is off tearing up clubs performing "This Is Why I'm Hot," he thinks longingly of the habichuela con dulce from his native Washington Heights. Mims loves shrimp, is working his way toward sushi, and refuses to eat on planes (not even in first class). Find out what Mims puts on his rider and how you balance Blue Fin with Sonic over on Grub Street. This Is Why Rapper Mims Likes His Tea Hot [Grub Street]