Archive for October, 2007

Where’s the Cajun napalm?

October 2007

Proof that photos officially speak louder than deeds: The Chimp got all the coverage he expected for parading among the embers while throwing out the same promises he did in New Orleans. Yet Dooky Chase, the scene of his last camera-ready stunt in that lost city, has still not reopened. And to think we have 448 more days of disaster kabuki. . . .

The X factor

October 2007

The Mighty Cuozzo is right: That NYmagazine piece about women chefs did sound whiny. Eight years ago, when Dining tackled the subject, prominent women in whites embroidered with their names were hard to find even to interview. Now they’re everywhere, especially downtown. Coming on the heels of a huge benefit that showcased only women chefs, the piece definitely seemed more Laura than Hillary. But at least it brings up a good question: Are girls with knives getting tougher, or are swaggering boys just being exposed as the wagging weenies so many really are?

Good for the goose?

October 2007

What I wouldn’t give to read Mrs. Friend’s chef-driven update of that had-to-be-a-spoof recipe for duck roasted under a blanket of bacon. The instruction to test for edibility, then microwave and feed to the dogs could have applied to the housing for the vegetables. The only thing greasier would have to be pork belly braised with both guanciale and lardo. Put that in your latte frother and foam it.

Tits get in your eyes

October 2007

A chain of strip clubs has sent out an e-release touting its Halloween cocktail, and the garnish is candy corn. I don’t know what’s scarier, the fact that even topless bars have flacks, or the prospect of so many Technicolor yawns ensuing from that combination of triple booze and oily sugar. No wonder they don’t let the “girls” drink at clip joints. The laps would be too sloppy to dance in.

Steno nation

October 2007

In other PR idiocy, everyone is dutifully regurgitating the promoting point that Nizza is Italian for Nice. It’s actually also Italian for the name of the town in Piemonte where I spent a long night in the hospital listening to cats get it on outside. Sorta like saying a new restaurant serving Az-Mex is named Phoenix “after the bird that rose from the ashes” without acknowledging what the state capital goes by.

Another flack crew, the one finally developing a name for itself for food-free food parties, disseminated a few paragraphs the Onion might cringe from: Complement and Caesar were of course misspelled, the menu “amuses” while the room “pops with color” and the whole overwrought project is summed up as a “steer palace.” Is Restaurantgirl moonlighting? Then there’s the e-release I got insisting that “senior snacking can be tasty and healthy.” What kind of Swiftian shit is this? I know “some say” Social Security is in danger, but is eating the aged the answer?

Everything but the book

October 2007

The CorridorCo might want to take a lesson from Jean-Georges, whose fete promoting his latest cookbook was easily the Qualcomm Stadium of food parties. It was downstairs at Spice Market, and civilized would be an understatement. Seriously good beef/pork/lobster apps were dispensed at a fair clip, servers were constantly materializing with trays of drinks and the vibe was the friendliest I’ve experienced in many a party — to the point that just as I was hearing that one old pal now despises me for something I wrote (and can’t remember) a current nemesis was nodding cordially to me. Usually when you have to pass dueling clipboards at the door the gang-bang is not going to be pleasant. But this was good enough to bring me back for more. It didn’t even look so Pier One-ish anymore, although that could be the Trimbach talking.

Indian style

October 2007

The closing of the All State Cafe is not as remarkable to me as the fact that an airline has rented space on 57th Street to promote its amenities, edible and otherwise. Last time I ate at that long-ago haunt it was pretty  empty, and the food was as undistinguished as it ever was. But given that planes are flying overloaded, why would Delta be investing so much in getting more asses into its seats? People were actually eating inside when I walked by after PT, and a woman was out front handing out security-sized samples of “spa” products. I snared a bottle of moisturizer with a label boasting “essential essences” of exotic yuzu and bergamot. It smelled just like airline hand soap, but I guess that’s better than chicken or beef.

Don’t inspect, don’t tell

October 2007

Big Food’s new motto seems to be “make shit while the sun don’t shine.” With the entire federal government evidently taken over by hacks and cronies, one company just got away with marketing frozen fecal burgers for months and now the chocolate industry is looking to cut its costs and push up its profits by getting DC approval to substitute vegetable oil for cocoa butter. Apparently pure food for everyone is a socialist idea. The WSJournal, in one of those stories that reeks of Murdochian sulfur, ran a long take on both sides that lent too much credibility to BF. Anytime candy makers start talking about healthier options, I want to run straight to the cane sugar — right now study after study is turning up nutritional benefits from real chocolate. And even if those are underwritten by Ghirardelli, you have to wonder why a 67-year-old burger packager simply shut down in a matter of days after getting caught with manure in its main product. Killer Jack in the Box, after all, is still selling strong.

Calling Christopher Guest

October 2007

On the LOL scale, kale ranks right up there with emphysema. So why was half of New York chortling on a certain Wednesday morning? A fraction was amused by the idea of cheddar kraft. Others, like the friend I met for coffee before we both headed to the Greenmarket, wondered where the green was hiding. Finding small zucchini would take more work when booths A, B and C in Union Square had the lacinato variety, and if they didn’t, Garden of Eden, Manhattan Fruit Exchange and untold other outlets sell it probably more routinely than other kale. What’s fascinating is that people read the damn thing, jaws dropped or not, although another friend I ran into at the fabulous market on 97th Street on Friday pointed out that the drivel does make you long for the good old flip-flop recipes, which she said were superb. But the best comment came from my other friend, who pointed out that egos published side by side are combustible. Maybe Muslim terrorists were not responsible for the California conflagration. . . .

All the trimmings

October 2007

This year’s Thanksgiving issues of the food magazines are better than they have any right to be, at least the two and a half I have ingested. Bon Appetit’s is very smart and beautifully designed, breaking down the meal into dishes and cooking the hell out of them. And Saveur’s is taking me many tries to get through simply because it’s readable. Unfortunately, while I did learn that hybrids have taken over the cranberry world, I was surprised at how pumpkin can leave such water on the brain. Apparently since my last expedition to the bogs around South Carver, Mass., when Howes and Early Blacks were all any grower produced, Big Food has shifted toward genetic monkeying to such an extent that a couple growing organic can warrant a story just for doing what came naturally only 15 years ago. But I can’t imagine anything similar has happened off in another harvest capital my consort and I trekked to for our ill-fated book. Even if you bought a Dickinson pumpkin in Morton, Ill., you would not get a great puree for your pie next month, simply because what the cannery does best is extract liquid: One ton of raw pumpkin produces 600 pounds to be tinned. Try that at home, and not with a jack-o’-lantern.

Subprime

October 2007

When my little book was prematurely being taken out of print, the asshat publisher offered to let me buy as many remainders as I wanted for like five bucks a copy, and I stocked up on three cases mostly to dispense as gifts. Now I see I should have scarfed the whole press run in hopes of jacking up the price of a rarity. How else to explain the $100-a-copy going rate for one of the more disappointing collections of recipes from an influential chef? The thing landed with a serious kathud after at least a year of gossip about the wrong collaborator, and now it’s selling for the price of appetizers at Per Se while Nancy Silverton’s Caremesque “Desserts” can be ordered online for as little as 40 cents in hardcover. My own grain of sea salt comes from remembering how hard it was to find a copy of Pierre Franey’s “More 60-Minute Gourmet” for my consort while he was off cooking solo in Middle Earth. I paid like 30 bucks for an apparently untouched hardcover online. And when he got home and we went to donate a few bags of high-end detritus to the church thrift shop down the block, what did I spot in the book bin but that very same title in pristine form selling for $2. Got a craving for troublesome coconut tapioca? Pray to St. Vincent de Paul.

Taking a Toll-House

October 2007

Given that her husband repeatedly flat-out lies about trivia like torture, it should not be so crazy-making that Mrs. Chimp continues to prevaricate away about cookies. Sure, she can tell the Gullible Times she doesn’t touch dough, but the Google doesn’t dissemble. Old campaign BS fed to the country doesn’t disappear just because simian wranglers need a new distraction. It figures that her famous recipe had cowboy in the title. They should have called the fake cookies compassionate. Or conservative. And made them with s-chips.

One man’s smut

October 2007

Wired magazine seems quite pleased to have found huitlacoche in a can. To me it seems no odder than tinned escargots, which are also often used unabashedly by good chefs. Now, tortillas in a can — that’s weird.

Enjoy every sandwich

October 2007

A going-straight-to-hell friend out in America sent me an unintentionally funny obit, about a guy who “died suddenly” at 45. No cause was given, but I think I can guess from the name on both his sandwich shop and his carnival concession: Tubbie’s. It’s almost as bad as the smoking-in-bed writer of books on “home entertaining” who died in a fire and was “known as a recluse.” And while I’m kicking corpses, it’s amazing that the singularly nasty Frugal Gourmet has been able to rehabilitate his image from the great beyond. Chow’s lament for no more Mr. Nice Guy says he was charged with mere sexual harassment. His many obits, however, used the proper term for what brought him to his knees: sexual abuse. Of at least seven boys. In other words, he was what he was — a priest in chef’s clothing.

Dear dairy

October 2007

Then there is the grammar-conscious editor friend who sent me her capital crime recently: Some supermarket promoter disseminated a release that mentioned the canned “isle.” Wait till she reads about “gougers” at Artisanal. Given the bizarre crossover of reporting and hustling going on, you have to wonder: Does that mean they actually charged for them?