Safe eating guide to the Big Apple

The New York City Health Department has come up with a restaurant guide that might prove as popular as the commercial collections.

It's a new Web site that lists health code violation points.

Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said his department is queried so often about code violations they decided to simplify access to it. The site had been getting an estimated 7 million hits a year. When the redesign was unveiled the other day it got so many hits it crashed. Access problems continue, so if you try to use it and can't get through, be patient. My call to the department revealed that access is intermittent as techies work on de-bugging the new site.

The site allows the public to search for restaurants by name, ZIP code, borough and neighborhood. It also allows users to sort restaurants by violation points.

Scores below 27 are deemed safe, 28 or higher not so safe. Officials said about 10 percent of the city's 20,000 eateries fail inspection each year and about 500 are closed.
Food & Dining In NYC
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Will it sell naming rights?

There are odder museums around the country. A few that come immediately to mind are the Jello-O Museum, the New York State Museum of Cheese, and even two Banana Museum locations, one in California and one in Washington.

In 2007, for those who plan vacation trips well in advance, you'll be able to drop in on the Advertising Icon Museum, currently under construction in Kansas City, MO.

It will feature 900 advertising icons in the forms of toys, dolls, signs, cups, figurines and any other mediuam you can think of. Not at all surprising, given the tremendous role advertising plays in our everyday lives.

The project, created by Robert Bernstein, will be located on the west side of the historic Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. The icons will range from a 1939 Heinz Aristocrat Tomato, complete with top hat and monocle, to a 7-foot tall Jolly Green Giant. Visitors will be able to view TV and print advertisements in which the icons first appeared and see the evolution of certain icons over time. Exhibits will also demonstrate how these icons mirror the social and cultural values of the eras that they represent.

Reason No. 286 we're a fat nation

If you're a globetrotting glutton, New York City may still be the place to go.

A few years ago, the race was on to create the most expensive burger in Manhattan. Now, it's time for dessert.

FAO Sweetz, the upscale ice cream parlor inside the legendary FAO Schwartz toy store on Fifth Avenue, is serving up "The Volcano." It's one scoop each of 12 different ice cream flavors inside a Belgian chocolate mountain, topped with cherries, whipped cream, chocolate rocks and seven different toppings. The price: $100.

It takes two waiters to deliver the treat, and customers are given tools to crack open the chocolate shell.


Irish hospitality extended

Don't be surprised if relatives begin showing up more often for visits at the St. Mary's nursing home in County Monaghan, Ireland, near the border with Northern Ireland.

The reason: The home now has a pub.

Actually, it's had a bit of a bar since the 1970s, but recently upgraded it to a real pub for the principal benefit of home residents, average age 85. Nursing home officials noticed a fair number of residents were able, and quite willing, to stroll down to the village pub, sometimes for a drink but sometimes just for coffee or tea and a chant.

The desire was obvious: to enjoy a non-institutional life experience as much as possible.

As Rose Mooney, associate director of nursing at St. Mary's, told an interviewer, " .. Most of our lives, you know, center around the pub or some kind of recreational activity, but definitely in Ireland social life revolves around the pub and all of a sudden, you know, we shouldn't allow that just to stop dead when people come into a care setting, whether it be maybe they're only here for two weeks or for you know, six weeks rehabilitation or for long-term care."

You can get the full details on the topic by checking this transcript of an Australian radio show interview with Mooney.

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