Tuesday, January 13, 2009

GNU Look for the New Year

Happy new year to FoodScapes readers! I decided to commemorate the occasion through a design revamp. This was in fact long overdue. Circumstances had compelled me to start the blog rather precipitately, which meant I had to jerry-rig a design at very short notice. At that time I didn't own a digital camera, and was also a complete newbie at tweaking blog templates. The result was a rather plain layout, low on graphics (I refused to use pictures sourced from the web or elsewhere), a layout that just about passed muster, but not something I was terribly happy about.

Several times I ventured experiments with alternate designs. Resounding failures, they all were. One reason for that was, I had become used to the old design, jerry-rigged as it was. Ultimately I decided to compromise. I took elements from the old design, and incorporated them into a new setting. The design is nowhere near final, in fact I intend to further tweak the masthead as soon as I have time. But at least now I'm satisfied with the basic concept.

One of the more interesting things I did last year was to go almost completely open-source. And this policy finds reflection in the redesign too. I sourced the background texture from Free Seamless Textures, and did the graphics using GIMP on a laptop running Kubuntu. And of course, all the surfing, downloading, uploading and posting was done on Firefox, but that's hardly news. Very few people of my acquaintance use Internet Explorer any more, 's all I can say.

For a long time I wanted to write about a particular Dim Sum shop. It was one among a scruffy-looking bunch of outlets, mostly motorcycle dealerships and estate agencies, at the corner of Alexandra Road and Commonwealth Avenue. I had chanced upon it soon after shifting to Gillman Heights, and found their dumplings to be excellent.

The other day I walked past that area after a long time, more than two months. To my consternation and extreme disappointment, I found the entire row of shops had been demolished, and some sort of a luxury condo beginning to germinate on the site. Yuck! I really wonder where that Dim Sum place has shifted to.

Carl's jr serves the best mass-produced hamburgers I've eaten so far. I prefer them even to Relish's "gourmet" versions. And I think I've found a way of optimising the experience there.

I went there there other day, ordered some sort of a burger combo, and up-sized the drink and fries to medium-size. After I had paid for all this, I noticed the the bill-of-fare proclaimed an "All You Want drinks bar" or thereabouts. I asked the lady at the counter if that meant free refills. She said yes. Not unreasonably, I asked her what the upsize was all about, then. She said, "you get a bigger packet of fries." Which was pointless as far as I was concerned. I enjoy fries in only limited quantities, and I had opted for the upsize solely to get a bigger drink.

This set me thinking. If I remember correctly, the combo came for $12.30; with the upsize added, I paid $12.80. Don't recall exactly how much a burger sans fries or drinks costs, but it was somewhere under $10, say $9.50. A small drink comes for $2.70. "Small" is of course meaningless here, thanks to the free refills.

So my strategy is, if I buy a stand-alone burger and a "small" drink, I end up paying less than the price of a combo. I don't get any fries, but that is actually an advantage - it frees up more stomach-space for the drink. Two or three trips to the iced-tea dispenser, and I not only more than break even, but also get to fill my stomach with the things I like, instead of those superfluous fries. Smart, innit?


ys said...

Ha, how very smart, pat pat!

Abhik Majumdar said...

Thaaaanks!! Like I said, I intend to redesign the masthead still further.

Megan said...

Clever, yes, but the fast food companies have already outsmarted us all. Know how much your drink costs? A liter of it costs about 5 or 10 American cents. So even if you've managed to get yourself a deal on your small drink, they're still making a 2000% profit on it. The profit margin on the fries is similar. In fact, none of the sandwich items at fast food chains turns a profit other than the drinks and the fries. The burgers are just there to get you to order a combo.
That said, the absolute best fast food burger you'll get is at either In n Out Burger in California OR at Five Guys, a US national chain. But Carl's Junior ain't bad. Another to try is Billy Bomber's at the Cathay -- they do a good guacamole burger.