'NYT' on Serious Eats

Mimi Sheraton on Chodorow VS Bruni

We mentioned last week that restauranteur Jeffrey Chodorow declared war on the New York Times food section after their food critic Frank Bruni panned Chodorow's new steakhouse Kobe Club and gave it a starless review; former NYT and Time Magazine food critic Mimi Sheraton recently weighed in on the debacle for Slate: Chodorow, of course, was an idiot to have run such an ad. For one thing, it does worlds of good for the critic, indicating he or she has a strong following, and that his or her words can make or break a dining place—in itself a measure of proven dependability. Chodorow questions Bruni's credentials, but one might also ask: What qualifies Chodorow to be a restaurateur? Simply having... More

Make Your Own Pudding

The NYT's Mark Bittman makes a pudding promise: " You can make not only a credible but elegant and delicious chocolate or vanilla pudding in 20 minutes flat, not counting the time it takes to chill. That’s not much longer than it takes to start with a box of powdered mix, add milk and heat it." I have to admit that for some reason I've just always assumed pudding was fairly complicated to make and so had never so much as looked at a recipe for it before; Bittman is also sure to make the point that starting with quality ingredients (like with natural milk, not ultrapasteurized, and maybe purchased from a farm or farmer's market) is the best path... More

You Win Some, You... Get Really, Really Mad At Some?

We see restaurant reviews in newspapers and on blogs every single day but we rarely ever get to hear the other side of the story, how chefs and restauranteurs feel when they read what critics and customers have to say about their food. Today we've got two totally opposite reactions from people on different ends of the food industry ladder: Matt Finarelli's is working what's only his second job in a kitchen (at Restaurant Vero in Arlington) and his reaction to a local food blog reviewing the restaurant and giving highest praise to a dish he created is sweet and joyful: "So while my one addition was well-received, and even achieved “gem” status, I give all thanks to my bosses... More

A Grandchild of Italy Cracks the Spaghetti Code

Kim Severson of the New York Times visited her grandmother's hometown in Italy to discover the secret of her family's spaghetti sauce, only to find the secret wasn't in Italy at all: "In fact, only two things in the village reminded me of anything I grew up with. The fat pork sausages were cooked and served the same way, and my Italian cousins looked just like my brothers. To understand why I made my sauce the way I did, I needed to start closer to home, with my mother. She has been making spaghetti sauce for almost 60 years, from a recipe she learned from her mother, who had been making it with American ingredients since the early 1900s." Severson... More

What It's Like To Wait For A New York Times Review

David Chang was named one of the top ten chefs of 2006 by Food & Wine Magazine and his flagship restaurant Momofuku is one of the shining stars of New York's East Village restaurant scene, so he's no novice when it comes to attention from the press—but waiting for a review of his newest venture from Frank Bruni of the New York Times is a nerve-wracking experience nonetheless. Chang himself handicaps Momofuku Ssam Bar's chances at getting a starred review over at Eater: "Prune has one star – and that places rocks. This is where my money is: a review that says the restaurant is good enough, but not transcendent – a nice one-star. Some witty insights about the food,... More

NYT Dining Section Roundup: A Wine Collector, Red Velvet Cake, and Paul Bocuse

Florence Fabricant explains why over 300 people (including 80 chefs) flew into Monte Carlo from all over the world to spend this past weekend commemorating the 80th birthday of the chef Paul Bocuse in Celebrating the Ringmaster of the Restaurant Circus: "Before chefs had their own TV shows and million-dollar book deals, when today’s international obsession with chefs and restaurants was in its infancy, Mr. Bocuse was on the cover of Time magazine as the champion of nouvelle cuisine. People knew his name when they could name no one else who worked in a kitchen. "He made it possible for chefs to be respected international celebrities,” said the New York restaurateur Drew Nieporent. "And he made haute cuisine popular. His... More

NYT Dining Section Roundup: Korean Fried Chicken, Unlaid Eggs, and a New Column

The New York Times introduces a new column today: A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark. Its first installment is A Morning Meal Begs to Stay Up Late, exploring polenta's potential as a dinner item (it of course being the first cousin of grits): "It’s a perfect first recipe for this column devoted to foods I’m hankering to eat and proud to feed to anyone willing to pull up a chair ... or a couch. These are foods that are easy to cook and that speak to everyone, either stirring a memory or creating one." Other highlights: Marian Burros discovers the unexpected delight of unlaid eggs, which are eggs in varying stages of development that haven't been laid and are harvested... More

All the News That's Fit to Eat

Is PrimeTimeTables.com a Rip Off? The New York Times food section today was particularly toothsome and yummy: Kim Severson's piece on Prime Time Tables, the service that allows members to pay a fee (as little as $35) to get reservations... More

Gnocco Fritto Rules

In Frank Bruni's entertaining and informative piece on the food of Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna in today's Times he mentions gnocco fritto, the addictive little pockets of fried dough served with salami, mortadella, sopressata, prosciutto, or stracchino cheese (or with lardo... More

Rachael Ray: I Can Cook A Little, and So Can You

It's so easy to bash Rachael Ray, so maybe that's why I found David Carr's column in yesterday's Times so interesting. My two favorite lines from the story: "But Ms. Ray's folksy approach belies the sophistication of her message. She is part of the cut-to-the-chase genre of media, like Lucky, Domino and Real Simple magazines, and their success is built on this fact of modern life: if people are more secure economically, it is only because they are working longer and harder than ever before." And: "Ms. Ray's recipes may call for store-bought turkey loaf she is really trafficking in the ultimate modern luxury: time." Carr's piece was really the first one I've seen that tries to place the Rachael... More

Keep 'Em Coming, but What About R.W. Apple

The contest entries have been extraordinary, and keep them coming, but the piece by my buddy Johnny Apple in yesterday's Times should have reminded all of us that Apple was an inspiration to all food writers and food lovers. Nobody bought more passion and knowledge, not to mention reportorial skill and know-how, to food writing than Johnny. Johnny's posthumously published story yesterday had me thinking about jumping on a series of planes immediately, and I don't have the frequent flyer miles or the cash to do so.... More

How Do You Know Who to Believe?

I devour writing about food much the same way a rescued frostbitten mountainclimber tears into his first meal on terra firma. And because I read many of the same publications over and over again I've come to know which writers I can trust about food. Adam Platt, Frank Bruni, Gael Greene, Ruth Reichl, and Alan Richman are all writers I read or have read regularly over the last ten years, so I know where they are coming from. I don't always agree with them, but I have come to know where they stand vis a vis my own point of view about food. I read the Times Travel Section with relish this past Sunday from cover to cover. Mark Bittman... More

My Friend Johnny Apple Died on Tuesday

"More love and more joy than age or time could ever destroy." Smokey Robinson My friend Johnny Apple died this past Tuesday, and in his honor I went to the Shake Shack and had a triple dip sundae with hot caramel AND hot chocolate sauce. Johnny's great passion for food extended from frozen custard to foie gras. Of course if Johnny had been there with me we would have ordered so much more. Johnny Apple was all about MORE; more deliciously, obscenely rich food, more drink, more knowledge, more stories, and more heart and soul than I'd ever seen in one person before. I first met Johnny five or so years ago when we both served on a committee. I... More

Is Nora Ephron a National Treasure?

To me, there are two national treasures in the world of writers who sometimes write about food, and then there are the rest of us. I'm not going to talk about food's poet laureate Calvin Trillin, though I hope Gourmet's new Restaurant issue will have something by him. No, I'm here to celebrate Nora Ephron. She may be best known to some people as a screenwriter (Silkwood) and director (Sleepless in Seattle), but anyone who doesn't know that Nora Ephron is a seemingless effortless, inordinately graceful, and laugh-out-loud-funny essayist should not only read her current best-seller, "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts About Being a Woman, but also seek out Crazy Salad, a much earlier but just... More

ELE Sound Bites

"SOME COOKS ONLY KNOW HOW TO COOK DELICIOUS FOOD" Momofuku's David Chang and his talented crew of cooks are folks that seem to only know how to cook delicious food. So it should be no surprise that the brand new... More

"Do rich people eat tacos?"

Photo courtesy of The Great Taco Hunt I don't know who Cindy Price is, but she wrote a great mouthwatering story in today's NY Times about her search for the ultimate taco along Route 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Cindy hit 28 taquerias in five days. That's some serious taco eating. She started in LA, and hit my favorite taqueria there, El Taurino. El Taurino is a little scary (the last time I was there an armed guard kept watch over the dining room), but the tacos there are fantastic. She headed up to Santa Barbara, where before she tried the late Julia Child's favorite taqueria, La Super Rica Taqueria, she posed the following question: "Do rich... More

Man Bites (Organic Hot) Dog Story: And it's good

I must admit the idea of an organic hot dog seemed silly to me until I read Kim Seversen's piece on that very subject in last week's Times. As usual Kim blended the thoughtful and the delicious. So she actually inspired me to try the Applegate Farms organic hot dogs the company had sent me (and every other food writer in captivity). And I was shocked to find that these organic hot dogs were mighty tasty. They were garlicky, coarsely ground, and just salty enough. If they had a natural casing they'd be a potential entrant in my Hot Dog Hall of Fame. Maybe they couldn't find organic casings, though I don't see why not, as the natural casings are... More

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