Archive for April, 2009

All hands on bacon

April 2009

Nothing like a little pandemic to push Go Fuck Yourself’s war crimes to the back burner. Shouldn’t someone start torturing swine for information right about now? Only the free-range local kind, of course. The industrial pigs are safely doctored up with antibiotics.

Mojitos don’t need no stinking bitters

April 2009

Only two Maroons would go to Cuba and complain that the food wasn’t cutting edge. For Che’s sake, can you say embargo? And poor people? But then as a travel writer friend noted, they were clearly just going through the payback motions for the trip. I blame the Food Coven’s honcho for “printing” their drivel; he does seem to take a hands-off approach with his old pals. One just did a trite ode to a “storied gem” of a trattoria that mentions a tart “in the photo above” when all that’s on display is fruit. But at least what he’s not doing is working. I check in just to see the latest brain wreck.

Irony, thy name is Restaurant Girl v Fake RG

April 2009

Awful lot of grumpy Goliaths lately. Hershey’s has sicced its legal hounds on Jacques Torres (as if anyone would mistake his tres French creations for Pennsylvania’s crappiest), while the ailing Gray Lady took a machete to a basil seedling. In intimidating the Food Section, though, it just invited comparisons to the elephant terrified of the mouse. But it’s nice to see the imperiled have their priorities straight when they’ve been priced out of their own home: Run up a legal tab with cease-and-desist letters rather than stopping to think links. Which I hope at least keeps them from thinking they are ever going to be able to charge for content again while devoting real estate to a tempest in a few Tweets.

If this is Passover, this must be a correction

April 2009

Funny how much a 360-degree panorama can leave out, too. I slogged through the whole sorry India House tale waiting for the obvious question to be answered: But what about Bayard’s? Of course it was never addressed; to read the thing you would imagine this was a club dying far from a steakhouse and a thriving street scene. The archives hold no answer, either. I guess the paper’s so busy defending its slogan it no longer bothers to live up to it.

A garden for San Quentin

April 2009

For all my trashing of Saint Alice and her sanctimony, I do think the general backlash against eating clean in down times is a bit on the absurd side. And I guess I’m not alone: Chipotle is apparently one of the few food businesses doing surprisingly well right now. In a two-for-99-cent taco world, people are clearly willing to pay more for non-mystery meat free of salsa from slaves. But it’s still pretty sad that one of the Oklahoma City bombers sued to try to eat better during his life sentence, demanding more whole grains in his gruel rather than “unhealthy dead” food. How many of those 168 people blown up had no warning that their unacceptable sausage biscuits would be their last meal? And it’s sadder still that one convert has been made even as the Big O shuns her lovely beets. Missionaries can’t be choosy.

Warm carbonara at midnight

April 2009

I have to confess I read Ruth’s food diary with absolute fascination. She can put it away.  But it made me understand the biggest difference between the amateurs and those of us who eat for a living. The former, particularly the fat ones, lie — a typical day’s intake always comprises a tablespoon of oatmeal, a lettuce leaf for lunch and maybe a Lean Cuisine for dinner. The rest of us? Bring it on! And leave it to the Diamond Jim historians to sort it out.

At least no cigars were harmed

April 2009

Maybe I should have forged on with the story of the invention of the tea bag that I decided was not a story. If New York dealer Thomas Sullivan had not started packing his blends in muslin bags back in 1908, a few thousand wingnuts would have been spared public shaming. The poor fools would have had to use loose tea, like the rich whose tax cuts they want to preserve. Instead, they got their misguided protest ridiculed as the Festival of the Testicles. I’ll never look at our tea ball the same way.

Flushing fools

April 2009

Speaking of unfortunate nomenclature, I have to admit Handy Corn makes me laugh every time I hear it. For the dumbest reason: It activates the ear worm of Cheryl Wheeler’s silly “I’m gonna poop in the Handy House.” But at least the Cod’s description of the condiment’s having been approved after sampling on a “unicorn antler tasting spoon from a secret underground lair” outclassed “asparagus pee and runny stools.”

1 heaping cup passion

April 2009

And speaking of the wielder of that perceived-as-so-powerful spoon, she managed a rather generously obvious payback. My BS detector went off when I noticed one recipe was from a big-name winery, so I slogged through enough of the text to see the itinerary sounded awfully similar to one followed by a friend who had sent photos from several of those very same stops. Apparently three groups were treated to this largess recently. Once upon a time she would have covered her tracks (how many times did a copy editor sorrowfully inform me I was wrong, her “rich husband” was paying the freight?), but I guess hard times have come down hard on a newspaper previously so contemptuous of anyone who ever took a press trip. As for the allegedly tasty little tipoff? “Totally unremarkable, unlike so many others” is how my friend remembers them.

Like burrata

April 2009

Also file this under “no ho like an old ho”: The new food channel apparently staffed only by founding Food Covenites has an astonishingly revealing post by someone who I hope did not actually get paid to upload her stenographer’s notebook. I’m mean, there’s blogging and then there’s slopping-out. This was just a cheesy bread-and-butter note to an agriturismo packaged as a travel story. Forget sausage. This is how the guidebooks get made.

In the den, watching Padma “orate”

April 2009

No wonder Clarence Thomas never speaks in Supreme Court hearings. When he opens his mouth, he removes all doubt about what a fool he is. WTF was he thinking blathering about watching the dishwasher perform the magic of washing dishes? All he made me think was that his Kitchen-Aid must get the pubic hair off the Coke cans. Suds that out of our collective memory and it would indeed be a miracle.

Tears of a Pierre

April 2009

There’s no escaping the Egotist now that he’s married up the editorial ladder. If he’s not on the radio reading self-righteously from a smarter thinker’s script, he’s slithering around trying to find a spotlight to dis teevee cooking shows. As if he never did any himself, of course. Really, could anyone seriously believe Julia Child showed a suckling pig roasting from beginning to bungholed end? Watching a lot of cooking is like watching herbs dry. Thirty minutes ain’t gonna do it. And Jeebus, the wine in her glass was not even wine. To think I always wondered how he could do a recipe or two a week without ever breaking a sweat. Now he’s barely winded on a self-aggrandizing marathon. Somehow I kinda doubt the fraud is in the prepped ingredients. It actually does matter how you chop an onion. And it helps if you have a cast of thousands.

Tacos? Try Graf No. 3

April 2009

Then again, work is challenging for editors down at the Fleur de Sel Mines, who seemed to have had a particularly hard time lately informing “superiors” that what they had brought forth was not chocolate but shit. Exhibit A was a stunt review that was as embarrassing as those really lame bums who stagger through the trains wailing “Lean on Me” for spare change. And the magazine piece — yes, Jay has no pizza — demonstrates what happens when you put penis to keyboard. Copy editors used to lose it over “indirection.” Now they allow blind alleys. But at least he didn’t start out with George Lucas and wind up with Saint Alice. Moron Dowd should have availed herself of the good organic wine at the expensive restaurant in Berkeley; then maybe she could have noted that the fairy godmother behind the White House garden was not even mentioned in her own paper’s announcement. Which appeared on the front page. Where She Who Must Be Worshiped says food stories never run. . .

Regret only

April 2009

The head that wears the gray crown must be feeling lighter these days, though. How else could his DI/DO editor get away with Tweeting for all the e-world about the mystery meat served in the Glitzateria? I still remember when Mme Ami dissed the food and a Sopranos-ominous sandwich materialized on the section honcha’s desk next day. But I guess they just figure anything that directs traffic to the twitching corpse is good. Either that or the shoeless count has no inkling of that Twitter thing the kids are all doing instead of slogging through nut-graf-free stories in print.

Head to tail, not eating but chasing

April 2009

Of all my many mottos, maybe my most used is: Expect the worst — you’ll never be  disappointed. And never was that more applicable than when I got called for jury duty. I went kicking and bitching, feeling only slightly better when my consort pointed out that someone so obsessed with pol porn should give a fuck about how the system works. So I bought a weekly Metrocard rather than my usual $20 one, I brought 16 books to read and I was determined to stay mellow for the minimum-required two days and more-likely 10 days expected for service. Which of course meant I was liberated in midafternoon on my first day. I had plenty of time at lunch and afterward to wander around the neighborhood I still know best from the weeks after 9/11, when most of it had no electricity, let alone phone service. I was struck by how many restaurants are now Vietnamese, Thai and Malaysian, but after my Great Disappointment at Nha Trang, I suspect it remains a destination primarily for one cuisine. You can get better Asian all over town now. But Chinese might still be best there, at least in Manhattan. Unfortunately, Cambodian didn’t get much of a chance uptown. The little place I kept passing on Third in the Nineties but never crossing the avenue to try is gone. I used to think flacks would be the new dinosaurs, in this wonderful age of all-knowing blogs with their shoe leather-meets-cellphone street “reporters.” But obviously, without professional help in catapulting the propaganda, you’re doomed. Especially in a neighborhood where  the kool kidz don’t congregate.