All the buzz over Mr. Congeniality’s new restaurant almost makes me want to smoke a baguette. My consort and I were actually out the other week with one of his collegial collaborators and passed the scene of the first success, but none of us could recall the name, even though we all agreed the reviewer who set off his success was one of the greats. (Of course, I do know who that guy’s secret arme was.) And I could dwell on what it says about the fud world that after two incarnations as a 1 percent wine the joint is now saying “let ‘em eat bread.” Instead, I’ll just have to MT myself: Every time I see the name I flash on the sign at the 14th Street Garden of Eden: Olive Bastard. Which would, come to think of it, make a very good chain.
Archive for the ‘silliness’ Category
Consider this a confession of what a sloppy journalist I can be — I saw on my FB feed a hosanna for a new book devoted to cooking in your dishwasher and am now just going to trash it without delving deeper. My first thought was that the “pitch” was derriere- backward: “You can clean your dishes and cook dinner at the same time.” My second was that I really hoped author/agent/editor/fact-checker all understand food science at a very deep level, with “canning jars and vacuum-seal bags” involved. (Shall I mention one of the great lessons of restaurant school, that sautéed onions left overnight under a cover on a griddle can kill with botulism?) My third, saddest reaction was the reading the excitement that “it’s with a major publisher.” How long till we get “Mix Your Margarita With a Cat on a Roomba, in a Super-Lucha Cape”?
Apropos of nothing, or maybe everything, I just remembered a gracious friend who excused me and my consort (bad grammar because I caused the screwup) for showing up on the wrong night for a party. She recounted how she and her husband showed up on the wrong night at a hotel in Alaska, threw a fit to get a room and then, at the cook-your-own-breakfast buffet next morning, mistook the sausage and gravy for waffle batter. “I’m sure there’s a warrant out for us in Anchorage.” At least we left before stinking up the joint. . . .
It’s hard to compare a close-enough-to-get-spattered experience with a blurry video, but it did seem as a chicken slaughtered to make a mad point was sacrificed on the altar of machismo. Real chefs learn a calm bird makes a better roast bird. It’s a good thing technology is so transitory, unlike in Mayan times. A thousand years from now, no one will know the feathers flew for stagecraft and not stew.
Speaking of flute, I shouldn’t still be laughing, but whenever I type that word I remember being in a Paul in Paris for breakfast eons ago and overhearing an overbearing young woman explain to her beaten-looking companion that its inclusion in the special menu meant Champagne would be involved. J’doubt it.
Trend reporting gets more suspect by the hour, but I still thought it was amusing to have a piece on “cupcakes waning” pegged to a drop in sales at a chain whose problem is not that the phenomenon is fading but that said chain simply churns out crap. Mediocrity sells Subways, but no one would want even a foot-long macaron if it cost the world and sucked, too.
So Pizza Hut is marketing perfume — “eau de dough,” as a Toronto newspaper dubbed it. Not sure what it will do for men hoping to be sniffed out for a gluten-free hookup, but wouldn’t women have to worry about evoking a yeast infection?
New metaphor: Shelf life of a macaron. (I’d given up on those pricey little meringue Oreos, but my consort and I succumbed to one filled with sea salt caramel from Francois Payard over the weekend and are now hooked. Unfortunately, I learned the literal hard way that you have to eat ‘em or lose ‘em.)
Message to all bartenders of the Y chromosome variety: If you have to sport a beard, please don’t stroke it constantly. You mix with those hands? Or: Bring on the Brooklyn nets. In Manhattan, and everywhere.
You can love the gift, and the givers, and still hate the label. My less judgmental consort and I are now proud owners of an “artisan plank.” Which is a W-S fancy way of saying “breadboard.” It’s a beautiful piece, as perfect for slicing a baguette as for displaying a serious array of cheeses. But I have to wonder if the language abuse was worth it. Couldn’t the branding at least be adjectival? Call it al, maybe?
A sign in a shop in the Reading Terminal Market, warning against handling the snooty merchandise, gave me that old French feeling: Sometimes “merci” can sound just like “fuck you.”
Our most surreal evening started with a loooong walk to a restaurant deep in South Philadelphia that took us through a strange blocked-off street fair lit up like Christmas in Rizzoland, complete with both Santa and a somewhat deflated balloon Grinch, a North Pole express choo-choo for the kids, a tent with a whole roast pig and Sterno tins of pastas, and braziers with fires around which little groups of people were drinking. On our way back we stopped for a glass of wine at a just-opened place called Rhino that made us realize we weren’t all that far from the Jersey Shore, and somehow it seemed like a good idea to check out the bar at Le Bec-Fin on the way back to the hotel, just to see if things were as dead in the temple as they’d appeared from the street when we’d walked past the night before. Our route took us past Butcher and Singer, in the old Striped Bass, and Bob suggested we just take a peek. And OMFG was it ever bizarre. The huge room literally smelled like blood, as all the 1 percenters were tearing into their steaks like hyenas. I thought it looked Felliniesque; Bob compared it to “The Cook, the Thief etc.” Whatever. If they cut Social Security and Medicare to keep those people in the carne money, we’re doomed. A more sedate sort was holding down the chairs at Chez Georges, but one older couple was getting merrily sloshed. Bob: “Looks like they’re going to have a hot time later tonight.” Me: “Yeah, sliding around in the vomit.” But I had the most rewarding realization as we walked through the lobby to bed. The best part of staying in a hip hotel is passing people coming out of the bar and reminding them with your presence: They are drinking in a hotel.
Thanks to great friends from my 18-month layover in Louisville who were in town recently, I know the mixology trend has a long way and many bottles to go in NYC. Having been born and raised in Kentucky, the non-wine-drinker at the table ordered a Manhattan with Woodford Reserve, and the waitress had to go check the bourbon stock before announcing the bar had “Maker’s Mark, Jack Daniel’s and Southern Comfort.” He settled, then we all laughed. My laugh was: “Southern Comfort is bourbon?” And his: “Neither is Jack Daniel’s.”
Sorry, Pillsbury: your pizza crust can never be “artisan.”//Should never have to look at the food in a food photo and imagine the mohel sucking the blood off it.//You might be a wingnut if you want the gubmint to get out of the food stamp business but open up a commodities Costco.//”Finger sandwich” sounds bony.//On National Punch Day, can we all sock an annoying promoter in the face?//And did I really get a “to remember 9/11, here’s 20 percent off” email from a tea purveyor?
Speaking of which, I read many years ago — I think in Harper’s — that bodybuilding has a downside when it comes to package perception. And so I saw this and immediately thought a sequel to a certain restaurant memoir had been published. Pull quote: “Being very thin makes your dick look enormous.”