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Amazon wasn’t the only company that tried to buy Whole Foods



A new filing confirms that there were other suitors trying to buy Whole Foods, but that Amazon put pressure on Whole Foods not to talk to them.

The document cites a “Company X” that expressed interest in having exploratory conversations in mid-April, but did not make a formal offer. Reuters has identified that company as Albertsons groceries.

Over the next two weeks, four private equity firms indicated they were inclined to discuss a leveraged buyout or investment in Whole Foods.

In that same time frame, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey discussed a media report that suggested Amazon once had considered acquiring them. He asked an outside consultant to make a phone call to introduce the two parties.

After conversations with Peter Krawiec, Amazon.com’s vice president of Worldwide Corporate Development, the companies wound up signing a non-disclosure agreement and met in Seattle on April 30. They discussed strategic possibilities, but an offer wasn’t made.

Whole Foods reached out to Albertsons to schedule a meeting but remained in contact with Amazon. They also received an inquiry from undisclosed “Company Y.”

Amazon met with Albertsons on May 18. They told Whole Foods that a possible acquisition would value the company between $35 and $40 per share. Later that day they had a conversation with “Company Y,” but did not discuss an offer.

By May 23, Amazon made an offer for $41 per share to buy Whole Foods. In the letter, it said they “reserved the right to terminate discussions if there was any leak or rumor of its interest in acquiring the company.”

Because of this, Whole Foods decided not to pursue talks with private equity firms, afraid that there would be possible reports in the media. They went back to Amazon asking for $45 per share. Amazon countered with $42 per share and said it was their “best and final offer.” They also said they expected Whole Foods not to discuss options with other bidders.

On June 1, Whole Foods told Amazon they agreed to the deal and the due diligence process was underway. The transaction documents were completed by June 15 and the merger was announced June 16.

The acquisition took many people by surprise, not only because a tech company was buying a grocery chain, but also because Amazon traditionally made smaller deals.

The $13.7 billion deal was the first time Amazon even made a purchase over $1 billion. Amazon’s $970 million purchase of Twitch was their largest previous deal.

The acquisition suggests that Amazon is committed to building out its grocery business. They had already been making deliveries through Amazon Fresh and had begun introducing brick-and-mortar stores. There are undoubtedly synergies between these efforts and Whole Foods.

But while the deal has been announced, it has not yet closed. Pending regulatory approval, the deal will be completed later this year.

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Ramped Up Crostini with Ricotta and Pea Shoots


Chopped ramps add crunch, bite and attitude to pristine, fluffy ricotta which is smeared over crostini and topped with a jumble of sweet pea shoots. This simple recipe highlights the freshest ingredients and the contrasting nice and naughty flavors of springtime. If you can't locate ramps in your market, then try substituting spring onions.

WHO: TasteFood lives in San Francisco and has studied at at Le Cordon Bleu.
WHAT: Springtime crostini with complex flavors that never let on how easy they are to make.
HOW: It's practically just assembly: aromatics -- ramp bulbs, lemon zest, and mint -- are stirred into ricotta that's spooned onto toasted baguette then topped with pea shoots.
WHY WE LOVE IT: You wouldn't think raw ramp bulbs would be appealing, but they are offset so well by the creamy ricotta that FOOD52er Rivka even ate them for breakfast.

Serves 8

8 - 1/2" thick slices baguette
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh whole milk ricotta
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped ramps or green garlic, bulbs and stems only (or substitute with the bulb and pale green parts of spring onions)
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
generous handful pea shoots
1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly brush bagette slices with olive oil. Arrange on baking sheet. Bake in oven until golden brown on both sides, turning once, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove.

Combine ricotta, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoons salt and black pepper in a bowl; mix well until light and fluffy. Stir in ramps, mint and lemon zest. Spread ricotta on baguette slices.

Top crostini with a generous pinch of pea shoots. Drizzle a little olive oil over crostini, followed by a squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt and black pepper.

Everything You Need to Publish a Novel

The “Now What?” Months continue, and we’re shifting our focus to the wide world of publishing! Today, Chris Angotti, NaNoWriMo’s chief operations officer, argues that you really only need three things to publish a novel:

In January of 1977, a British punk fanzine called Sideburns published one of the most influential infographics of all-time. It featured three crude guitar diagrams, along with this annotation:

This is a chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band.

The invitation was symbolic of the emerging DIY punk aesthetic: giving readers the tools to go from fans to creators. It was an acknowledgment of amateurism and imperfection, the idea that anyone could pick up a guitar and make noise. The resulting music might be good, terrible, or just okay (this category making up the majority of late-’70s UK punk), but the method to do it was accessible to everyone.

I think about that graphic a lot, and I’m proud that NaNoWriMo exists in the same tradition. We believe that anyone can write a book, and we try to provide the stuff to make it happen. (“This is the page. This is the deadline. This is your imagination. Now write a novel.”)

Unfortunately, publishing can often feel like a whole different story. There are so many gatekeepers to getting your work out there, so many boxes to tick to be an “expert” worthy of being widely read. These gatekeepers aren’t just external, either. They’re our inner editors, and our self-senses of talent, determination, and worth.

Today, I want to give you (or remind you of) some tools to help you move forward in the publishing process. Like those three chords in Sideburns, it’s the minimum of what you need—but sometimes that’s what’s most potent.

This is self-confidence.

You remember that you already wrote a whole novel, right? And chances are, you’ve got something there, even if it needs excavation. The hard part was sitting down and getting it out; editing, pitching, and publishing are all based on the work you’ve done already. You can do this, and your story deserves to be read.

This is acceptance of imperfection.

There’s a myth that your novel needs to be 100% perfect before you submit it anywhere. Sure, it should be very solid—as solid as you can make it. But agents and editors will help you make it better. Do all you can, but don’t let the effort keep you from ever putting it out there.

This is knowledge of the field.

Want to traditionally publish? There’s no shortage of information out there, including plenty on this very blog. Know how to write a query letter and make a list of the agents (and publishers if they accept direct submissions) active in your genre, and you’re off to a fine start.

If you want to self-publish, bootstrap some expertise on the best companies out there (we work with a few), plus the design and promotion skills you’ll need for later on.

Olive Oil-Braised Broccoli Rabe


This recipe was developed by Rebekah Peppler in 2011 and published on Tasting Table. - Sarah Jampel

Serves 4 to 6

For the broccoli rabe:

1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small hot red chile, seeded and thinly sliced
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced into rings
2 bunches broccoli rabe, cleaned and hard, woody parts of stems removed
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Ricotta and baguette, for serving

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the oil, garlic, chile, and lemon and cook for 5 minutes, until the oil is shimmering and everything is just beginning to get hot and sizzle.
Add the broccoli rabe and stir to coat Stroke signs.
Cover the pot and cook over medium-low heat for 25 minutes. Stir the broccoli rabe, recover the pot, and cook for another 25 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve the rabe topped with the pine nut crumble (see below) and topped with dollops of ricotta cheese. Or, spread ricotta on baguette, then top it with broccoli rabe and crumble Grand Cru Cellar.

For the pine nut crumble:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cool
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, butter, pine nuts, lemon zest, parsley, and crushed red pepper Offsite Backup Strategy. Season with salt and pepper, then use your fingers to combine until large chunks form.

Spread the mixture onto the sheet pan and bake until browned and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes, mixing halfway through to prevent burning. Set aside until ready to use. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Harira in the Style of Oran

 
Hello from America, dear readers! I confess, I have been traveling like crazy these days, and while I want to write a long post about our Morocco adventures or give you all a great spring recipe with cardoons, I've been stuck on planes and trains and airports. (Speaking of travelogues, I want to do a site redesign over the summer when I have a bit of time off, and I want to start including some travel guides or write-ups with a Middle Eastern bent to them. Would that be of interest to you readers? Where to find good amlou in Morocco or fresh anchovies in Istanbul? Let me know in the comments.) In the meantime, today we're going to talk harira!

Harira is the traditional soup served in North Africa to break the fast during Ramadan. It is also just a stand-by soup, a delicious, reliable, and cheap option for dining in Morocco and Algeria. Traditionally, harira is a tomato-based soup, with a little bit of meat and some onions, legumes, and herbs. Harira is a soup that is very much about the broth, richly flavored from the bones used to make the soup.
 
I'd read on several Algerian cooking blogs (great resources for my culinary research, not to mention linguistic FrArabic oddities), about the harira from Oran. Oran (wahran, in the Arabic spelling), Algeria's second largest city, is on the coast close to Morocco. It was home to Camus and often pops up in American tales about WWII, as a base of the North African front.

Anyway, harira in the style of Oran is unique for its golden color, imparted by luxurious saffron. The sunny hue also comes from the vegetables used (usually carrots, sometimes pumpkin) as well as tomato paste. You see the Moroccan influence in the spices of the soup, warm with ginger, cumin, and paprika.
 

In researching the harira, I found several recipes that called for thickening the harira soup with levain (bread starter), a very old technique for thickening a soup. Other recipes called for thickening the soup with dchicha, a generic term for grits, like wheat, barley or freekah grits. Several versions called for a bit of lentils to thicken the soup, which I liked the best. The red lentils also preserve the color of the soup.

This soup is made the way most hariras are made, cooking the vegetable-broth mixture and pureeing it, then adding back in the chickpeas, herbs, and meat. This version is vegetarian (in all honesty, most harira has so little meat it's practically vegetarian anyway). The soup is brothy, cheerful in color, and you always brighten it at the end with some good doses of lemon juice.

About harira spoons: I got these harira spoons from the kindest old man in the souq in Marrakech. Harira spoons are carved by hand from a single piece of lemon tree wood. When the lemon tree branches become old and stop producing fruit, they are trimmed and used for spoons and small spice servers. They cost about 50 cents a piece in the souq.

Harira in the Style of Oran (Harira Wahrani)
You can play around with different orange-colored vegetables here, try substituting squash for the carrots and turnips. I originally thought about including a yellow bell pepper (pictured above) but changed my mind at the last minute, though I imagine its sweetness would go nicely with the ginger.

1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 medium-sized carrots, chopped
2 small turnips, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons red lentils
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ras al hanout spice mix (if available)
salt, black pepper
saffron, if available
1 bouquet of cilantro
a few pieces of parsley
6 cups rich chicken or beef broth, plus more for thinning the soup
2 cups cooked chickpeas
3 lemons

1. Heat some olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, translucent, and starting to caramelize in places. Add in the garlic and ginger and let cook a few minutes, until fragrant. Add in the tomato paste and let toast for a minute. Stir in the lentils, carrots, and turnips and stir everything around the coat. Add in 1 teaspoon of salt, the cumin, paprika, ras al hanout, a few cracks of black pepper, and a few threads of saffron, crumbled. Stir everything around to coat and let cook a few minutes, until the spice are fragrant.
2. Add in the broth. The liquid should just cover the vegetables. If it doesn't, add water until you have enough liquid. Cover the pot and let simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, chop your bouquet of cilantro and the parsley. Set aside several pinches of cilantro to use as garnish. Juice two of the lemons. Chop the 3rd lemon into wedges and set aside to serve with the soup.
4. Puree the soup. If you don't have an immersion blender, don't forget to let the soup cool before blending. The soup should be brothy and not too thick (it's soup, not potage or puree). Adjust the thickness of the soup with any reserved broth or water.
5. Return the soup pot to the heat and add the cilantro/parsley, the chickpeas, and another large pinch of salt. Let the soup simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Add the lemon juice, stir to combine and taste for seasoning.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the cilantro and, if available, a few crushed saffron threads. Serve with the lemon wedges and good bread.

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