Archive for March, 2009

Morning glory by a duller name

March 2009

Some people might have seen Michelle O dishing up lunch at a soup kitchen and been impressed by a president’s wife who was not holed up with a cigarette and a magazine in luxury and denial like the Chimp’s lump in the bed. One astute political reporter, though, noticed only a guy with a cellphone in a photo and went off on what lucky duckies she was serving. The disconnect between the Villagers and the real world increasingly makes Per Se and Applebee’s look tight. But the funniest thing was watching the wingnuts take the bait on the menu. Yep, risotto is the new arugula. Permission to go batshit insane granted. 

They don’t shoot nags, do they?

March 2009

Risotto would actually have been a good concept for poor, tired The Mice Ate My Tampax to include in a very depressing guide to cooking in the Bush Depression. But I guess it’s been invented since her advice was first written back in the Fifties or Sixties. I mean, really: Was there a single fresh idea in that thing? She almost made cube steak sound as tantalizing as “breakfast runs.” And isn’t that what happens after the coffee kicks in?

Natural mystery meat

March 2009

Latest sign of end times: A purveyor of ridiculously overpriced condiments has branched out to the freezer case. With Sloppy Joes. (Excuse me. Joe’s.) If you want convenient crap, can’t you just buy it in a can? That would be more suitable for Armageddon. Ask Cormac McCarthy. 

And a merciful end to Bloomingdale Road

March 2009

Sometimes you read about a restaurant closing and just wonder what the hell took so long. Dennis Foy’s was Exhibit A, but the Roy’s near the big bad hole in the ground was always even more baffling. One of Panchito’s Predecessor’s finest lines came in his review of the overwrought joint: “If clowns had a cuisine, this would be it.” And for 10 more years, people ate it up. Docks was almost as mystifying, given how pricey it was for the neighborhood even today. The last time we ate there, at lunch, I walked out annoyed that we had not gone to Midtown and indulged in Mondrian for the same money. And that was so long ago Tom Colicchio was a working chef. 

Toasting with tap water

March 2009

Then again, things could either be really bad or, as I often suspect, bad people are taking advantage of a bad situation to be even worse people. Some do it by laying off workers knowing they can get away with it with every headline reporting the same phenomenon. Others do it by arranging birthday dinners in restaurants where dessert comes with the meal. The other night in the quieter back room at the reliable Mermaid Inn on Amsterdam, the annoying thunder-thighed woman at the next table with a mellow guy looked absurdly pleased with herself when the waitress arrived bearing two tiny cups of the chocolate pudding the kitchen sends out to save on a dessert menu/pastry chef/table time. One had a candle in it. And I guess you could call it the cheesy course. 

When all else fails, bring on the silly hats

March 2009

Opinioneater tipped me off to the timeliest ice cream flavor since the “You Shit in My Mouth and Called It a Sundae” that was allegedly entered in the contest to name one for the Chimp. It’s Peanut Panic, and the whole country is buying it. (This really is the home of the chicken.) Peanut producers, meanwhile, are fighting back, but they’re shooting empty shells. I dropped by a promising-sounding cluster fuck with chefs demonstrating dishes and drinks made from the now-terrifying legumes, and I think there were more promoters and servers than press. A bartender wearing a protective glove didn’t help the message much, either. The best bite was a peanut salsa, but I wouldn’t kick peanut chaat or peanut beef salad or peanut pilaf out of my kitchen. (Don’t ask about peanut butter macaroni and cheese.) As I was leaving, I asked one of the more officious-looking promoter types if there were recipes to be had. And he reacted just like the startled chipmunk on Youtube — his neck almost snapped on realizing they had not thought about the most obvious need with an event like this. Website also came up empty. I’d hate to think the group doesn’t even believe its own PR.

Bumper crop of teh stupid

March 2009

Talk about picking your poison: All this newfound fear over whether organic is safer is pretty laughable. Pesticides might be scary, but fertilizer is often just manure with a college education. And it stands to reason most farm products from China would be “organic;” the stories I could tell secondhand of people who have experienced outhouses and pigs together there would curl your tail. I get too depressed digging out my travel notebooks these days or I’d scare up the details from India, but I remember riding past an aromatic and especially verdant field with a huge billboard boasting that it  was essentially a sewage treatment plant for the nearby town. And, you know, shit happens.

Not that we don’t trust you

March 2009

And talk about undercutting your emotion: A little sign in the bathroom at Klee is some variation on the old “live your life so fully that when death comes to you like a thief in the night, there will be nothing left to steal.” Followed by some variation on “please don’t pilfer the design touches here.” Suggestion can be powerful.

Calling Al

March 2009

I know I’m not the only one whose head explodes at least once a day while skimming the hometown paper. One morning that bitter bitch who never got over Bill is talking about Michelle O’s “flare,” and she doesn’t mean the rockets’ red. Or an essayist is undercutting his bathos by describing a “grizzly” reenactment of a murder, and he doesn’t mean the Werner Herzog documentary. Or the blogosphere is inundated with purloined images of a graph whose caption mentions “deductables.” And, no, fixing the fuckups online doesn’t make the newsprint go away (but maybe that’s why it’s happening). I’ve given up on anyone ever getting potpie or poundcake or wineglass right. But even my jaded jaw dropped a bit on reading about the affordable option near Carnegie Hall that offers a “prefix” menu. I guess that means all the introductory syllables you can eat.

Kernels, verdad — what’s the diff?

March 2009

Sometimes a corncob is not just a corncob. A new Mexican cookbook has crossed my desk, by someone whose name I had never heard and with a rather ridiculous premise. Diana Kennedy worked very hard to make it so, but the cuisine on the southern side of the border really does not involve brain surgery. Now here’s a half-nekkid kid out to turn quesadillas into bouillabaisse when it comes to complexity. I guess if a publisher wants to convey a message of “uno, dos, tres” recipes, bare boozums struggling to burst out of a party dress on a cover are the best offense. And certainly her pulchritude is a far sight more alluring than Paula Deen’s exhibitionist ass (I would call it a lardass, but that would be a diss on a very honorable fat). The very vision of that must have had people dreaming of pouring hot butter into their eye sockets.

No clogs were thrown

March 2009

Speaking of which, for once Molto Ego has my support. Sometimes assholes acting like total assholes need to be called assholes. Royalty or no royalty in the audience. I would ask where the organizers were who could have forestalled the whole incident, but I’m not stupid. It was all about getting the asses into the seats, not about wrangling them. But can’t anyone here read a news story? The ringtone was not for the orange iPhart.

Gone with . . .

March 2009

I know this is probably inappropriate. But when I got the email announcing the $12.95 deal-with-drink at a Meat District mediocrity, my first reaction was: Who will be the next to die for a mistake? Opening that restaurant in that location made about as much sense as aiming for high-end Italian when your forte is hamburgers. The guy once sent me gorgeous flowers after I dissed his schtick in the NYT, but somehow I suspect we are all Icarus now. If the last joints standing are Mexican, though, I for one am not going to be choking on $30 guacamole.

Tranche, you say?

March 2009

Forget funny, as if I could pull that off anymore. The NYTimes story on buyers of peanut processed crap was profoundly depressing, simply because this country has one line of advice for consumers of food that should be the cleanest, safest, best in the world: Buyer assumes all responsibility. I’ve been railing since well before the salmonella in the peanuts was discovered that the whole outbreak has exposed the evil idiocy of our whole system. In the past, the government could get away with putting the weight on us — we just needed to scrub our chickens and cutting boards, cook our eggs to rubber, double-wash our scallions etc. etc. Now you have to wonder why we just can’t have clean food to begin with. Imagine if you bought shampoo you needed to boil before using.

Or don’t.

I want my 401k

March 2009

The whole world is turning into one big Snugli. That damn thing turned up first on Bill Maher, then simultaneously in Sunday “Styles” and the NYDN, which makes me think its flack could replace the Pom promoter for relentlessness — it’s the new “dinner for breakfast.” But then everything is going viral fast these days, like the coat check debate. From web to paper in seven days or less should be admirable, I guess. But when a recipe is tacked onto coattails, senza chives, I have new appreciation for the old slow way of printing things. Way back when I remember a production manager always dissing another editor because “she’s always the hero in her own stories.” Easy to pull off when the tip is expensable. And if it’s not, things are scarier than I imagined at Slim HQ.

What is the sound of one notebook dumping?

March 2009

I could, however, go on and on about the other DI/DO idiocy. (Has Mr. McGee never considered how much drained pasta water saves in Botox costs for the cook leaning over the colander? WTF is Saint Danny thinking, sending out an Indian to bat Mexican? W[here]TF was the lede in the bone-ola?) But that would be confessing to having scanned more than I should have while wondering who/what is still advertising in these weird times. The main photo “won raves” in this house of image, though, so I suppose I shouldn’t chime in with the ridicule over the readouts deemed so worthy of so many credits. Sometimes a pickle is just a pickle.