Snack Cart: Prefabricated Irish pubs
Lucky Peach, a magazine of food and food culture, is folding after six years. In a blog post from the team, they confirm that there will be two more issues, the scheduled May issue and a giant double issue in the fall. This is a damn shame. Luck Peach was delightful in both its content and design. When it launched, there was truly nothing like it in the food world. Over time, other magazines have taken in more of the Lucky Peach’s style. As a friend once said, “the media world is dark and full of terror.”
A podcast I listen to for my other (some might say, “real”) job spent the last episode talking about the hidden giants of the Internet. There are things that millions and millions of people know about, but none of them are people you know. I thought about that reading this story about Auntie Fee, a Youtube star recently struck down with a heart attack. I consume a *lot* of food media, and often it’s the same person being interviewed by the same people. Clearly, there’s a lot more out there. How can we all do a better job of knowing?
Similar factors are at play in this Eater profile by Navneet Alang. Alang tells the story of Elijah Quashie, the young star behind the Youtube channel Chicken Connoisseur. Quashie reviews low-cost fried chicken stands that dot the landscape of London’s seedier neighborhoods. The profile quickly spins into a meta discussion of what makes a critic and what modern language we should be using to talk about food. Reading this, and watching Quashie’s videos, was the highlight of my day.
Food prep will be automated some day, and the economy will just collapse.
Siobhán Brett at Eater profiles a phenomenon that I’ve been obsessed with for years: There are a number of Irish companies that ship entire prefabricated Irish pubs around the world, set them up, and staff them with Irish people. This bizarre, decentralized franchise system raises interesting questions about authenticity but is mostly bananas insane.
What’s on Weibo, a blog that covers the Chinese Social network, has a fascinating profile of Tao Huabi, a woman whose addictive chili sauce lifted her from abject poverty and made her one of the richest people in China. The writing in this is pretty bad, but the story and pictures are fun.
Ryan Tompkins writes about his love affair with Ranch and I don’t realize it’s sponsored content until the footer. Read it. The midwest is weird, man.
Melissa Clark joins the Eater Upsell to talk about cooking dinner, and finally goes into the infamous pea guacamole incident.
Caramelized onions are the biggest lie in food. This amazing Gizmodo piece by Tom Scocca explores how Google’s AI bots are conspiring with lazy cookbook writers to trick all of us.
The New York Times Cultured Traveler looks at Bordeaux, France. The once sleepy French town and center of the global wine industry is undergoing a renaissance of food and wine. Does this revival coincide with my sister moving there? It does. Is it because of her? I don’t want to speculate wildly but yes, yes it is.
Blackbird Donuts is making a donut cake. File under: things my girlfriend will make me buy her next time she visits.
Marc Hurwitz visits O’Leary’s in Brookline. This homey Irish pub is a great stealth pre-Fenway Park stop, and a frequent “let’s get one more” stop for my Boston University Alumni Book Club.
Scott Kearnan profiles the hip new restaurants taking over South Boston. How will this traditional neighborhood react to more upscale options? More importantly, how will these new spots adapt to being peed on this weekend by parade attendees?
Ellen Bhang profiles Codman Square’s Next Step Soul Food Cafe. Bhang find terrific staples cooked in a no-frills space. Though calling it a no-frills space seems to make it sound fancier than it is.
Dugan Arnett writes a long feature on how Irish cuisine is evolving, even if in America it’s stuck in the fish and chips / shepherd's pie mold.
Sascha Pfeiffer reviews Arlington’s Bistro Duet. She calls it a good restaurant with aspirations of being a great one. She makes a great point that just being a good local restaurant is hard enough, so they should appreciate that. Based on the description of the menu, I think they are actually aspiring to be a great restaurant in 1996.
The Times sent Pete Wells to SXSW (that means it’s officially over, right?), where he reviews Franklin Barbecue. He doesn’t have much to say other than, “the line sure is long and the brisket sure is good,” though he does recommend a few other places. So far, these Wells on the road pieces have been alternately boring and bad. I like the idea of the Times expanding, but I wonder if they should be using freelancers with a bit more local knowledge.
Eater stays a little closer to home and profiles Red Hook’s Hometown Barbecue.
Bloomberg visits President Trump’s favorite restaurant. If you can get past the idea of that asshole eating a burger by the door, this is a great profile of the 21 Club. This New York institution is past its heyday, but there is something to learn about President Trump by learning about his favorite restaurant. I ate there once during restaurant week, of all things, which can’t be a thing they participate in, but here we are.
Food, feminism, and a bookstore. You’ve clicked already, haven’t you.
Katie Honan, for This is New York (I dunno, the dnainfo people), interviews Noah Allison, an urban planning PhD student focusing on the immigrant restaurants of Roosevelt Avenue. So far, Allison’s eaten at, documented, and mapped 394 brick and mortar establishments. Click through to read what he learned and find out a few of his favorite places.
Ryan Sutton, Eater New York’s restaurant critic and the hardest working man in show biz, drops essentially two reviews this week. He revisits Cosme, where he finds terrific Mexican food but prices that are shooting up at startling rates. Sutton’s “affordable” option is an over $120 brunch for two people.
Sutton drops an official review of Four Charles Prime Rib, where his last line is one of the most gently cutting ones I’ve ever read. He doesn’t like it and it sounds like I would hate it. I was prepared to ignore it forever except tucked away in a sidebar, Sutton mentions these are the best french fries in New York. God damn it, signing up for a fucking 11:30 pm reservation now.
Michael Gelbert at Fooditor addresses a tough question for Chicago: If the James Beard awards are here, and the Chicago food world is amply represented, why is the Chicago food media never nominated? Gelbert drops some pretty pointed criticism of his colleagues in the media, but most of it seems accurate. I have to say, I’ve been reading a lot of food writing over the past half year, and Chicago writing has consistently been a bit disappointing. It’s such a huge and diverse city, so I find it hard to understand why the media is so bad. The chicken and egg question boils down to: Is the food scene boring or is it an interesting scene with boring writing?
The 15 most important Chicago beers of all time.
Joseph Hernandez writes up Smalls Smoke Shack, an Irving Park spot for the Chicago Tribune. The restaurant, know for its barbecue, has shifted to focus on the chef’s native Filipino cuisine. The menu sounds great, and smoke will definitely still be making its presence felt.
“Little Gem lettuce is the new kale,” he said, slowly walking into the sea.
Uptown bar Larry’s is and unmarked, casual apartment-style bar. It looks a whole lot like a set from Friends.
LA Magazine publishes a list of the 100 most iconic dishes in Los Angeles. Overall, this list is pretty strong. Their #1 is perfect. The list features a bit more deli food and a LOT more pizza than it should. It also features a lot less Asian food and no Iranian food at all. Also, it completely leaves out Tommy’s, which is a travesty. Wait, no Tito’s tacos! You know what, fuck this list.
Noelle Carter explains the cold mezze dips at Niroj in Agoura Hills. In explaining the dips, she also talks about the scientist-turned chef behind the restaurant.
I must have slipped up, so we have two Besha Rodell reviews. First, she visits Howlin’ Ray’s, a Nashville hot chicken spot I can’t believe she hasn’t reviewed already. Howlin’ Ray’s is famous mostly for its line, which is at least two hours at the best of times. Rodell gives it three stars, saying that with the heat dialed down you can really taste the phenomenal food. But you didn’t wait on line to dial down the heat.
She also reviews Pasadena’s Maestro, which J. Gold reviewed last week. She doesn’t like it much more than Gold did. She gives it two stars and hopes that Chef Godinez will match his bold plating with bolder flavors. She does, however, take a step back to talk about how Godinez is just the first of a new wave of high-end Mexican restaurants that are about to sweep Southern California. It is going to be a great year for Mexican food in Los Angeles.
Holy shit, I never realized that Gustavo Arellano is also the restaurant critic at OC Weekly. I’m an idiot. The author and scribe of the “Ask a Mexican” column is a delightful writer. He reviews Palapa’s Marisquería & Sushi. He goes deep into Marisquerías, a type of casual Mexican restaurant I’d never heard of before.
The Post excerpts a great story about George Washington’s personal chef. The excerpt is from upcoming book “The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, From the Washingtons to the Obamas”, by Adrian Miller. Can’t wait to get my hands on this book.
Tim Carman recommends Red Apron Burger, using the profile as an opportunity to survey the thousands of third-wave burger chains taking over the District. He says Red Apron stands out from the pack because of its dedication to local sourcing.
Tom Sietsema visits and bestows three stars on Sfoglina (he explains how to pronounce it but I’ll never know). The newest restaurant, from Italian restaurateur Fabio Trabocchi, purports to be a more casual place for freshly made Italian specialities. Sietsema finds the place small, expensive, and peaceful. It sounds like a respite in the best sense of the word. The weird branding on everything would put me off.
Washington City Paper previews Mirabelle. Several other outlets had also had previews. Chef Frank Ruta cooked for three Presidents at the White House and is hoping to create a new D.C. power spot. Ambitious, but the French-American menu looks good, if cliche.
Out of context Gustavo Arellano quote of the week
Mexicans can turn even the daintiest of traditions into a fried, spiced ode to mestizaje.