They lost me at Bobby Flay

The supreme masters/mistresses of snark directed me to what they aptly described as epic fail: a saccharine site’s attempt to knock off South Beach/Aspen. Admittedly, the BBQpalooza here did not appear to have gone off without a hitch, either, but judging by the comments, when pastrami met brisket all hell broke loose. Of course, when your definition of serious eating appears to be ingesting at Mr. Creosote level (a quart of frozen yogurt, yay!), you probably should not be surprised when the trough gets overrun. Maybe it’s some kind of badge that this makes KFC promos look well-run. Ads may even ensue.

Bad pennies found in LA produce, too

I can’t keep up with all the “is it scandal or is it business as usual?” coverage of the wine world. But I was happy enough to see it break through into the MSM, with the Journal finally running the fight bloggers picked. It was just funny to see the piece come out the same week I got the brochure touting a class on “how to be a wine writer and get wine free.” Add a few trips, and that sounds not like a bonus but a job description.

Anyone seen the Velveeta?

Judging by the coupons I diligently study in my two hometown papers every Sunday, the Depression is officially upon us. Glossy ads for evaporated milk have suddenly started turning up, and with the message of “don’t waste your ‘drinking’ milk on your macaroni and cheese.” When I was growing up my mom bought exactly two kinds of milk, powdered and canned. And she barely had a pot to simmer beans in. If this is the future, it looks rather grim. Of course the funny thing is that the canned stuff is now priced much higher than the fresh. Maybe to pay for the ads?


And speaking of out-of-touchness, what does it say about the national media that a warning not to eat the tomalley in lobster gets almost as much coverage as the FDA’s latest flaming-red alert on serrano peppers? With mid-level restaurants going out of business faster than you can say salmonella, I kinda doubt the average Red Lobster aficionado is lying awake worrying about the green stuff. News at 11: Caviar gives you cancer!

So much for fried squirrel

It says everything about this election season that Hillary has become a nutcracker and Obama a cheese. I have not tried the former, but “Barick” was on offer at Zabar’s, and for about $30 a pound, no less. It’s from the apparently well-regarded Lazy Lady Farm in Vermont and actually pretty good, although it didn’t change my world. And it has to be better than anything modeled on McCain. Thousand-year-old eggs would be one concept, but I kinda like the idea of something that would fit into the Clinton pincers.

Stick to your attars

I can’t say where I heard this, but the world’s most extreme example of Journalism Lite is apparently battening down the hatches against incoming assaults on his credibility from the restaurant world. I shouldn’t be mean, considering food was considered a totally trivial pursuit when I left the NYTimes the first time, in 1983, but you have to admit there is a difference between sustenance and Youth Dew — one keeps you alive, the other is only essential as a tomb deodorizer. The guy is pretty clearly guilty on all charges, but I got my laugh while Googling one, that “George” is not the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. The first non-sponsored hits all led not to Paris but Las Vegas. I also happened upon an interview with the new Jules Verne proprietor in which he joked that his next restaurant would open on Mars. Just as I suspected, the Mojave Desert is overpopulated.

Can you polish a curd?

Forget the poor. The misguided will always be with us. After warding off a barrage of attacks for criticizing truffles that wasted smoky blue cheese on chocolate, I am now hearing from defenders of Cheddar ice cream. It almost makes me glad milk prices are getting so out of hand that cheesemakers are having to rein in their creative urges. To be fair, I actually went out and bought those absurd-sounding truffles when I spotted them at Murray’s, a box of five for $10 or $12. I ate one, confirmed my literal gut instincts and left the rest for a consort who considers chocolate as easy to resist as air or water. The fifth foil-wrapped ball is still sitting in plain sight literally months later. So file this under “won’t get fooled again.” I’m not crazy about apple pie to begin with. But Cheddar a la mode is straight out of Applebee’s.

Turkey on the floor

The biggest news in the blogosphere seems to be the casting of Meryl Streep as Julia. As someone who can tolerate her only in unaffected super-bitch roles, I pity her poor family having to listen to her rehearse until she gets the “accent” adorably right. And I totally disagree with the contention on Serious Eats that the film is “in good hands” with ol’ “I Feel Bad About My Dreck.” “Crazy Salad” and “Heartburn” were both works of verbal art, but her movies have been a leading cause of adult-onset diabetes. This is one screenwriter/director who could make broccoli rabe saccharine. Hand her Karo to script and my teeth ache already.

Blindfolds for rats

I thought I’d seen it all underground: The woman with her loafers off clipping her toenails on the A train, the couple stripping at the top of the stairs to the B, the woman in an open bathrobe with nothing underneath, also on the B. But the other day I got on the downtown C and there was a young guy ostentatiously eating a big bare roasted sweet potato like a hot dog, skin and all. I had to look away, the way you do when the creep across the car seems a little too busy with his hands in his lap. Chicken breasts I could see. But a tuber, in public?

All the trimmings

This year’s Thanksgiving issues of the food magazines are better than they have any right to be, at least the two and a half I have ingested. Bon Appetit’s is very smart and beautifully designed, breaking down the meal into dishes and cooking the hell out of them. And Saveur’s is taking me many tries to get through simply because it’s readable. Unfortunately, while I did learn that hybrids have taken over the cranberry world, I was surprised at how pumpkin can leave such water on the brain. Apparently since my last expedition to the bogs around South Carver, Mass., when Howes and Early Blacks were all any grower produced, Big Food has shifted toward genetic monkeying to such an extent that a couple growing organic can warrant a story just for doing what came naturally only 15 years ago. But I can’t imagine anything similar has happened off in another harvest capital my consort and I trekked to for our ill-fated book. Even if you bought a Dickinson pumpkin in Morton, Ill., you would not get a great puree for your pie next month, simply because what the cannery does best is extract liquid: One ton of raw pumpkin produces 600 pounds to be tinned. Try that at home, and not with a jack-o’-lantern.

Rollerball with cheese

Fairway prides itself on being first on so many things, so I have a suggestion after getting body-slammed yet again, this time by a cretin rushing to the register who hit my barely healed broken shoulder with all her weight and not even an excuse me. If shopping has to be a blood sport, why not put in an EMT station? Holy Foods would have them in no time.


Once upon a time, this town had moral standards and a mayor who knew the difference between art and dung. And if Rudy were still wielding his scepter in the shape of a plunger, you can bet this would not be happening in a major Metropolitan Museum: The menu at the Petrie Court Cafe the other day listed “stripped bass.” Is that what they mean by naked lunch?