Archive for November, 2011

And you can’t platter “creme burley”

November 2011

The National Day of Food is coming, and the flacks are getting desperate. Some of these pitches must be parody. We’re really to be convinced that readers would pass up roast turkey for turkey “cupcakes,” frosted with mashed potatoes and garnished with raisins and cranberries? Trust me: This is no time for novelty. I read that and could only remember one of my favorite Maurizio Cattelan pieces. And the squirrel blowing its brains out in the kitchen could be either the pitchee or the poor soul who had to type that.

6 ingredients, starting with “lamb meal”

November 2011

As much as I dread the possibility of reincarnation, I do have an uncharacteristic urge to plan for it when I spot really good gigs for the next life. Like recipe developer for the Idaho potato pushers, who must be paid in serious drugs. I unfolded the accordion folder of eight and thought I’d picked up the Onion by mistake. They didn’t really coat chicken cutlets with hash browns (and Bisquick!), did they? How much gravy were they huffing when they stuffed acorn squash full of mashed potatoes? And what in the name of Montezuma’s Revenge were they thinking, using potatoes in tortilla soup? Why? The vichyssoise leeks were taken?

One word in Freshland: Plastics

November 2011

I’m gainfully unemployed, so I’m sharing this tip for free: Jeebus — if you want to know what’s really going down in the food world, do not waste your time retyping off the Twitter or trawling through Facebook, as the pros do. Just pick up a trade rag. I came home from the “Brazil”esque produce show this week with a clutch of magazines and today caught up to the one with the cover story on “food bloggers and their influence on food consumers.” This went on for pages and did advise produce peoples who are interested in hooking up with any blog to “make sure it’s not controversial.” But I’m not sure I’ve ever read a feature that danced so artfully around the burning issue: We know what you are. Now we’re just haggling about the price.

Did someone say nutrition Nazis?

November 2011

Figures that it would be Molto Ego who would induce second thoughts on my crazy idea of posting daily. By Sunday I’m sure I’ll have a whole other negative reaction to the bankster brouhaha over his loose lips; right now I love the idea of those guys writing checks for credit default swaps their guts can’t cash. And in the meantime I’m focusing on the rather astonishingly lame coverage of the linkbait. At first I was impressed the formerly arboreal media even jumped on the story. But then I started to count bylines — four for Rupert’s crew, three for Pinch’s — and neither mega-team answered the obvious question: Can you get into the “boycotted” restaurants? Saturday at Del Posto, for the record, is as open as it always was to peons: 4:30 or 10:30. Babbo’s line is nonstop busy. But if you want to know what the commenters are texting, including on whose cash keeps the crudo afloat, just head on over to your hometown paper. For the insights, you know, you can’t get on your own.

“The best qualities of his livestock”

November 2011

And it’s unfortunate the New Yorker does not have its “True Grits” feature available online in all its glory. Because everyone here in the center of the universe should read it. Implicitly, it makes it very clear that NYC took a wrong turn at burgers and pizza. . .

Frizzled leeks, indeed

November 2011

Two words you don’t ever want to see in the same graf of an e-tout: “upscale” and “Haiti.” Even to me, picking on flacks always feels kinda cruel, especially in an economy when any job is a job. But. Really. Did it occur to no one that nattering about lavish food and stylish guests might seem a bit, how you say, tone-deaf? And then to gold-plate the evening with lines like “the inherent challenge for us was creating a menu of Haitian-centric fare for a very discerning cosmopolitan audience”? Did no one think to divide the buffet between Port-au-Prince and Casa de Campo lines? Make the dire situation real? Of course I have a sick mind, but reading the edible lineup from grilled island shrimp to chocolate praline dacquoise made me wonder what the poor people were eating that night. Not, for sure, the “vegetarian option.”

End Times

November 2011

Does “pompom” juice come from cheerleaders?

November 2011

The produce show held in the very “Brazil” setting of the Hilton in Midtown is one of my new favorite events, not least because every time someone at a booth asks me Where you from? and I say I’m a writer, he/she just responds Oh and turns away. Those guys are very definitely there to sell their stuff, not their stories. So I can walk around and stock up on promo pens for the year, taste a few things, take a few photos and generally work in peace. And, in the process, learn that tofu is produce. That Tofurky is even viler than you could ever imagine, let alone describe. That Dustin Hoffman’s character really did miss the megaboat with plastics (individual potatoes and sweet potatoes are inevitably wrapped in it, and now even those synthetic baby carrots are being packaged in individual bagettes, like raisins). That the pros who are slicing and dicing vegetables for nukable sides have even worse knife skills than I do. That the cucumber world is definitely dominated by guys (even the Santa suit I saw was occupied by a zaftig woman). And I absorb all that while wondering why all Vinnies either look or sound alike. And whether I really overheard a cantaloupe promoter, demo-ing three varieties, saying “the Sharon Tates don’t last. . .”

You go first, Gawker

November 2011

Ambling through hackery . . .

Lay on the anchovies

November 2011

The older I get the dumber I feel. Until the self-described Black Walnut was exposed for his attempted sexy-time on the job, I always thought the National Restaurant Association was just a factchecker-proof source for statistics and quotes on trends. And even now reporters continue to say he’s just a folksy pizza guy, “an alternative to rivals with years of political experience.” But it and he are/were lobbyists. Very powerful ones. And not for the little guys who are lining up to support him in the wake of attacks by the “liberal” media. He beat off (to so speak) Hillarycare, which would have benefited small restaurateurs, the ones whose dues went to pay off those he slimed. Although the best detail is how different “a year’s salary” sounds from “$35,000.” Extra toppings do cost extra.

McRibs, as they say

November 2011

I wrote this over to the Twitter, but it’s amusing to see stories touting the accessibility of Eleven Madison Park’s cookbook that all run the same recipe: the granola. And I did not write this, but the macaron trend is officially past its sell-by date when Sur La Table is hawking ornaments shaped like them. Which would, however, be less cheesy on your pagan tree than the “chef” ornaments in the form of jacketed pigs. Even more WTF was the slinger in the Sunday papers emblazoned “give thanks this Veterans Day — receive these valuable coupons,” for the likes of Hormel and Hungry Man and Duncan Hines. Why not just say: “Support the troops: Buy processed crap”?

Flair for flare

November 2011

I also have to Tweet Longer on the premature exultation that makes this time of year so miserable for a food writer. Bad enough I’m inundated with xmas flackery before we’re even at Gobbler Hysteria Day. But I’m already getting e-releases for VD. Shouldn’t there be a mandated period of candy corn digestion before we have to start going all dark chocolate?

Later is one of my favorite words

November 2011

But I’m trying to change my ways and am going to start posting every day. Seems as if bile is not so satisfying when served cold.