I have also been slow to catch on to why so many chefs are opening ambitious restaurants in airports, so I thank Andrew Sullivan for coming up with the perfect description of where you now have to spend hours before flying: police states with shopping. I’m so old I remember when the best you could hope for was a cafeteria line with $15 congealed crap; Chili’s was a major upgrade. But now half the marquee names in food are setting up kitchens almost on the tarmac. And what it all means is that the game has been rigged to lure the sheep into the pen hours ahead of flights so they have time to spend more money, since they know there will be no food once the plane finally takes off. Last time my consort and I flew we spent longer in the security line at JFK than the flight to Buffalo took and had to grab sawdusty sandwiches rather than a real meal. Message: Get there even earlier next time. Make what might be your last meal worth it by enriching a boldface name. . .
Archive for November, 2010
A friend in real life and on Twitter coined another perfect phrase — United States of Amnesia — and it really applies when it comes to beef. Everyone chooses just to forget the last go-round with lethal E. coli. Especially food writers. The WSJournal had a big roundup on — stop the presses! — name chefs going into the burger business, and it included a perfectly stupid graf on how grass-fed beef is “trendy in food circles partly because of a reputation for being better for the environment (although that is a question subject to scientific debate).” Uh. No. Some of us, even we the non-trendy, choose it because the cattle are fed what nature designed them to eat. Anyone who saw “Food, Inc.” saw graphically what happens when the poor animals are stuffed with grain their systems can’t process. Can you say shit (in the meat) happens?
Who could be surprised no one wants to ask Panchito about the Chimp, only about restaurants? It’s awkward for everyone to bring up that epic fail. But I was actually on the side of the Section Formerly Known as DI/DO when it came to the nonsense about covering cheaper restaurants. The embarrassing new public editor is really embarrassing, and not just for comparing the food pages to a moribund design magazine. Smart people without money are probably reading the Village Voice (online) rather than wasting $2 a day on a publication that still thinks $25 and Under has meaning 16 years on. Democracy is no mission for a paper with $4,900 bags to sell.
I know I’m easily outraged, but the New York Observer nearly sent me around the bend with its column “written by” a Four Seasons co-owner. It was bad enough he was allowed to produce what was essentially an advertorial. Worse was that he got to spew the lie that the Republicans are back and frisky since the election, as if a mere two weeks since the election created a surge. He described $14,000 lunch checks, people springing for a $1,500 bottle of Bordeaux — why, “it’s almost Reaganesque.” Hate to remind you, pal, but the guy who tanked the economy, the one whose name cannot be mentioned, was a Republican. But worst of all was reading that horseshit the day before Bloomberg announced huge cuts in city services because times are so tough. As someone on Twitter observed: “If only there were a way to charge people who can afford $1,500 wines to keep fire departments running.” Guess they really should restore the tax cuts for the obscenely rich. Screaming Eagle trickles down faster in a golden shower.
Turns out the soulless Chimp looks to have plagiarized much of his shameless book, but I suspect what @rudepundit is calling the “Ball jar Bush baby” tale is original. It’s just weird enough that the literal son of a bitch would have been warped by a canned fetus. What I want to know is how Panchito missed such a juicy tidbit. Scratch that. I already know. He was sucking and blowing. Or vice versa.
Thank allah he’s safely off on the booze beat, though, or we’d be sold the Wasilla snowbilly as just an affable sort with an unexamined past who couldn’t possibly wreck her own country and two others to boot. She’s trying to prove she’s not just stupid but willfully cretinous by insisting grocery prices are going way up. No matter that the hopelessly elitist bean counters say the average cost of the traditional dinner this year is all of $43.47, up pennies from last year, for SIXTEEN. But that’s with supermarket ingredients. And at that price, you probably get the salmonella for free.
Speaking of the looming holiday, I turned eagerly to Time’s feature after seeing it blurbed as “the latest in Thanksgiving technology: a heritage turkey grown just for you.” That would be a great marketing idea for these brave farmers saving breeds. But I read the damn thing all the way to the end, and it talked about technology and heritage turkeys, but only together. The cook touted for buying an old-fashioned bird gets hers the old-fashioned way: She buys it, from a farmer’s flock. And I really wish they had run a photo of the stuffing smeared on the outside to keep the turkey moist. No amount of kumquats and sage leaves as garnishes could make that alluring, even in parchment. I would hate to be around for the WTF moment when they slit open the body bag.
Maybe I’m cynical, but the passengers stranded on the cruise ship seemed to get more coverage than the cholera victims in Haiti — poor things had no cold beer or “champagne.” Certainly they got more food, even if it was crap like Spam. What was weirdest was how the media spun it as the wealthy on a luxury cruise, when anyone paying attention knows the 1 percent with the real bucks in this country would not be caught dead on a floating project with the middle and lower classes. They have their own yachts. In assorted ports. All I want to know is if the capitalist cruise line that called in the socialist Navy and Coast Guard for help has taxpayers covering the cost of the lobster substitutes, too. If so, let ’em eat Pop-Tarts.
I put up the positives and a few negatives on the NY Produce Show on the Epi Log but had a few outtakes I hate to waste. Like how a woman snipping samples of corn shoots explained how they’re produced: “First we terminate the baby corn.” Don’t tell the Teabaggers, or the Chimp: There’s abortion in the microgreen aisle.
Also, too, women buy most produce, but guess which gender markets it. To give just an idea of how fly-dominated the show was, when I stopped in the ladies room the attendant was asleep. Plus I was tempted to drop my card into two drawings for prizes, a Harley and tickets to whatever sport’s games are going on now, because I’d surely have won something I couldn’t use.
On two floors of the Hilton (could there be a more surreal setting?) I met two people I knew either personally or from phone interviews. I stopped by the booth whose backers got me invited, where I knew no one but where the founder and I go way back. Two booths represented growers my consort and I covered in our ill-fated harvest book in 1992. The national garden turns out to be surprisingly small. I couldn’t get to the show on time, so the press office was empty and someone steered me to the main registration desk, where they wondered why I wasn’t at the press lunch. I didn’t even realize there was one, and wasn’t interested, so I grabbed my name tag and headed up the escalators. Later I saw a little group of other food writers being led around by the nose and felt as if I’d escaped the sheep roundup. I will never understand the logic of the mass scoop, hand-fed.
I ran into a friend the other day who said the flacking biz is tough lately because clients who want placements in the NYT and WSJ can’t understand people don’t read newspapers anymore. (No comment.) So you’d think one who got great exposure in one of those outlets would be smart enough not to boast about using tons of an endangered fish. There is such a thing as bad publicity: Las Vegas has to be the clearest sign of End Times. And another learned you can certainly flog your cheese. Just don’t say the words “raw milk.” Dance around for a few sentences. . .
I forgot last week to bitch about my “happy” hour at the Regency. Power bar, indeed. After waiting just short of forever to order, my friend had to send back her gin and tonic because the tonic was flat, and then the cashews in the mixed nuts were rancid. The waiter was barely sentient, either overworked or not bothering. But the worst part was paying $14 a glass for Rock Rabbit sauvignon blanc and later seeing it in a store for $8.99 a bottle. At five glasses a bottle, $1.80 apiece, that’s a markup of what, 6 gazillion percent? I guess those tax cuts definitely have to stay in effect. Rich fucks can’t squander their money fast enough.
Back in the Chimp’s reign of error, I remember being in a restaurant in Torino where the owner asked if we were Americanos and I had to say: “No, no — New Yorkese.” Guess I’m going back to that since the Big O lost the equivalent of one of three Michelin stars and everyone’s decided he’s out of business. At least we got some amusement in this miserable campaign season: Semi-Homemade was kept as far out of sight as the Chimp himself. Apparently the big fear was having New Yorkese realize if we wanted to eat her crap we would have stayed in Iowa.
A little secret of Jewish home cooking has apparently been revealed in an ad in this week’s “slingers”: Canned broth makes the memories, not Mom slaving over a hot pot of bones. Especially the vegetable and the reduced-sodium broths that have been bringing families to the table since 1888. If I had any money, I’d be investing in psychotherapy clinics. Or not. Does this mean guilt is dead?
ReTweeting myself: If four Americans were killed by a muslin(cq) terrorist in this country, there would be a shitstorm. But four succumbing to celery contaminated with listeria is just business as usual. Keep trying, Big Food — you could manage a trifecta and also get salmonella and E. coli into some innocent-looking produce.
Maybe I have no faith, but one quote in the Bon App profile may have given it all away: Could it become Lucky for food? Sell stuff, not ads. Works for the Brits.