Archive for November, 2007

The un-baguette

November 2007

Anyone worried that Hillary might be pushing American women too far ahead too fast has only to flip open the Dean & DeLuca catalog to rest easier knowing girls will be idjits. For $150, it is selling a pink cake in the shape of a particularly ugly purse. How “Sex and the City” vacuous would you have to be to want a hunk of that? The copy says it’s a “must” for “those who simply can’t have enough purses.” Should you have your bag and eat it, too? Which seems to be the thinking behind another trend, reported in the NYT by way of Reader’s Digest. Women (I can’t imagine a guy would be so devious) are apparently buying fake wedding cakes to cut costs, hiding a “first piece” in foam replicas and serving any old cake from the kitchen. Considering wedding food is inevitably so abysmal to begin with, maybe this is a slice in the right direction. The guests should send replicas of themselves as well. Or of their checks.

What’s that floating in the punch bowl?

November 2007

Heading out to a promotional event a friend with a cookbook on the line enticed me to attend, I rode the elevator down with my next-door neighbor who was regaling her friend with the tale of how the two of us had each broken ourselves right around the same time in freaky falls in Eutopia, she in Paris, I in Piedmont. I don’t know about her, but I remember mine every morning when the pain wakes me before the alarm can. Talking about how instantly your life can change put me in a strange frame of mind, so maybe I made too much of what the unexpected flack at the door said as he handed me my name tag: “Just don’t get drunk and get hit by a car.” I laughed it off by responding, “Don’t trust me not to do either.” But the longer I thought about it the more I wondered why a guy with social Tourette’s would choose to make a career of ass-kissing. And I really wondered whether T’dum advised another invitee, one of his pals: “Just don’t get greedy and fuck over your partner.” Except that is how that ugliness actually unfolded.

On golden wings

November 2007

Cost of a ridiculous and ridiculously flacked sundae? $25,000. Health Department shutdown immediately after the media blitz? Priceless.

In other hype-wire stunts, the silliness of a food blogger hiring help in spreading his “news” was kicked up a notch with the announcement that mentioned “Rum” DMC. Would they be anything like Lillet Kim?

And could they all please give us a break between the unconscionable rush from pagan Halloween straight to unholy Xmas before sending out the Valentine’s releases? My head is about to explode at the thought of six weeks of carols and consumer craziness and misguided advice on how to avoid ballooning on eggnog and gingerbread. I cannot even begin to deal with saccharine VD.

Also, that cooing cuddling between handler and overgrown teddy bear in the Observer’s takeout on Panchito’s nemesis almost made the good old days of Christyne and Rudy seem honestly romantic. You could only think, “Get a room,” and hope it was very, very dark.

On little pet goat feet

November 2007

If there is even a tiny shred of doubt left that everything the Chimp touches turns to guano, this official travesty will dispel it. Poor Bill Yosses appears to have been reduced, as my consort put it, to “sculpting cow turds.” Given that chocolate is lethal to dogs, what were they thinking serving it to a French poodle?

Thyme off

November 2007

In other low crimes, Time magazine’s superb how-the-sausage-is-sold photo blog shows another of the chefs sentenced to serve a simian snipping rosemary in the White House garden for the water-toasting fete for Sarkozy. Which seems very Alice Watersy until you notice the digital op was 10/31 and the dinner was not till 11/6. This crew must plan state dinners about as well as invasions. Who knows how many millions in lamb went missing while the herbs dried out?

Boys will be toys

November 2007

Guess the bosomy one must not be working out so well as the human Scratch N Match. Her new employer has taken a turn toward testosterone with its “sexiest chefs” contest, and whatever the candidates got for their souls, it cannot be enough to compensate for being labeled “culinary cuties” or “diamond in the roughage” (did one of them shit a gem?) Even Careme, who did everything but jump naked out of a vol-au-vent in his time, must be cringing in his marzipan grave over the hoops chefs have to backflip through for celebrity anymore. Judging by the stud-wannabe photos, next the paper will be making them whip out their salumi to see which one inches circulation up. Maybe Molto can blog it.

Wired

November 2007

My prediction that flacks are facing extinction in the age of viral marketing turns out to be a bit premature. A food blog has actually gone out and hired one (which tells you much about the vapidity of the content). Worse, a press release can still get blasted all over the internets even when the big announcement has been routinely referred to in print for weeks. (Stop the WordPresses: Laurent is opening in Vegas.) And someone clearly had to run interference with the NYPost for Rachael when her minions went whining that she neglects “her” magazine. Apparently it worked; the column baldly stated that “she writes the editor’s notes and recipes.” Yeah, and Martha Stewart scrubs her own staff toilets.

An arm and a leg

November 2007

Mission must really be accomplished for the too-rich-to-ever-spend-it-all in this country. Cafe Gray, I read in a paper that knows from gazillionaires, is charging $500 a head, grownup or human larva’s, for Thanksgiving dinner and distractions during the Macy’s parade. And those are the cheap seats — the 12-chair chef’s table in the kitchen that day is going for 10 grand. And the entire exercise in unseemliness is reportedly sold out. Obviously, the tough go to war. The profiteers go to a shopping mall.

No churro left behind

November 2007

If I had a peso for every restaurant critic’s lament that New York has no good Mexican, I would be able to afford three or four casas down in San Miguel de Allende, where my consort is off teaching workshops and where I decided the cuisine has to be Ex/Mex (for expatriate Americans). This is a city where most paid evaluators still have trouble telling a taco from a tortilla (let me count the mixups), but they consider themselves qualified to micturate all over most any place that opens. If good Mexican landed in a UFO, would they even be able to describe it? I was weaned on tamales and empanadas in Arizona and would have trouble. And I’m no expert on Thai, but at least that is a cuisine originating halfway around the world. Enchiladas are right next door. For chorizo’s sake, you natterers: Get your bosses to underwrite you a standard of comparison before you write the whole cuisine off.

Witout

November 2007

Until I needed health insurance that would not strangle me like NYTimes Cobra, I never joined a union in my life. I always paid the dues and abstained, never more adamantly than after learning on my first stint on 43d Street exactly why my salary was depressed: the Guildsters were not about to allow equal pay to a youngish college dropout in a building full of gray sheepskins. Even so, I find myself decidedly on the side of the striking television writers (and Broadway stagehands) right now. Down the line every creative type is going to be working for the Pharaoh unless someone makes it stop, as I just realized on getting an offer from Fine Cooking that seemed hard to refuse. I did a single feature for the magazine, nearly a decade and a half ago, and because I had insisted the contract gave me the copyright and the editors one-time use, I got a nice little check every couple of years, whenever recipes were being rebundled. Then the publisher decided a buyout would be more economical, and a smallish chunk of change was dangled in my direction. I declined, figuring it was not enough to cover rebundling into perpetuity. And then I stupidly agreed to an online buyout only, assuming the recipes would just be out there like everything else in the free beyond. So of course the magazine is now charging for access to its web site and database. And guess who will never get a cut? Don’t be surprised if this strike converts even comedy writers into scripters of “Saw XIII: The Kitchen Story.”

Now with less logic

November 2007

Not for the first time, I’m thinking the leading cause of obesity etc. in America is sloppy reporting. The new health columnist at the WSJournal just blithely informed her myriad readers that trans fats are what make croissants flaky. Sorry, that would be the beurre, a nice healthful fat since time immemorial. And don’t get me started on the coverage of the single study linking a little unneeded avoirdupois to longevity. Since my femoral calamity, I stop and think every day that every five extra pounds will put 25 pounds of stress on a joint like a hip or knee, not to mention the fact that the additional exertion involved is comparable to hoisting a sack of flour up a staircase. To spin the old joke: Even if you don’t live a little longer with your flesh spilling blithely over into the next airline seat, it will feel like forever. Then again, maybe putting your newspaper/magazine down will make the journey lighter.

Stuffing

November 2007

Having dutifully ordered my heritage turkey to save a breed by eating one of its own, I was feeling a little shaky on calculating that I had just spent more on one piece of the big meal than what an entire month of PT co-pays would cost me. But then I went to buy milk on Union Square and heard a vendor at the next booth telling a customer, “No, he got the seeds in the divorce.” And I realized my investment was not in vain. Clean food should have real value in a world of bacteria burgers and high-fructose everything. Having gotten a thank-you email from the purveyors, though, I also have a little warning to anyone who might be tempted to sneak off and buy a far cheaper ordinary turkey, no matter how free-range or organic or Wagyu-pampered: It’s a small wattle after all. They know if you are being bad or good. . . .

Wonder why the caged birds poop?

November 2007

WordPress’s oversized headlines are really making my pathetic observations look even thinner, so I’m just going to line up a bunch of offenders for a small-bore firing squad. Is Borat talking about a certain mighty mutt when he refers to “cake made of smashed cow”? (Even he might hesitate to top it with bacon that managed to look both raw and burned, though.) And now that “mighty appetite” is being thrown around down in DC, too, I wonder who deserves more credit, Christopher Guest or Marianne Pearl; transferred to food, either of their titles makes you think of breaking wind. And considering the first small-screen cooking teacher was James Beard, followed by Dione Lucas, both way back in the mid-1940s, should the obit of Chef Tell really have touted him as “an early television chef”? Strange for such a vintage reporter to think the 1970s were ancient history. . . . And, really, if only Jules would resurface on a week when Panchito has the gall to complain about lazy language. Never having gotten past the jump on his own prose, I always assume it starts: “Hi, I’m a Chimp enabler, and I’ll be your Ambien today.”

Near beer

November 2007

One more reason to regret letting a dry drunk rule: He mucks up the money and now, as the Italian Wine Guy notes, we soon won’t be able to afford booze from Eutopia — the Calvados will cost more than the heritage turkey. As he’s proving with vetoes, the Chimp knows the price of everything domestic and the value of nothing international.

Turkey on the floor

November 2007

The biggest news in the blogosphere seems to be the casting of Meryl Streep as Julia. As someone who can tolerate her only in unaffected super-bitch roles, I pity her poor family having to listen to her rehearse until she gets the “accent” adorably right. And I totally disagree with the contention on Serious Eats that the film is “in good hands” with ol’ “I Feel Bad About My Dreck.” “Crazy Salad” and “Heartburn” were both works of verbal art, but her movies have been a leading cause of adult-onset diabetes. This is one screenwriter/director who could make broccoli rabe saccharine. Hand her Karo to script and my teeth ache already.