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Meeting Jonathan Gold
The world, dear readers, isn’t fair. Last week I took a break from the Cart and went on a long weekend to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, my girlfriend visited the only place more lovely than Southern California, Tuscany.
Now I ask you, which one of us do you think met Jonathan Gold last week?
My girlfriend was staying with a friend of her sister’s. She said he is “some butcher or something.” The guy she was staying with is an apprentice to Dario Cecchini, the best butcher in Italy (By extension, probably the best butcher in the world).
Her second night in Florence, they ate at Antica Macelleria Cecchini, Cecchini’s butcher shop / restaurant and one of the best restaurants in Florence. Part way through the meal, there was a minor stir across the room. It was Gold, who was ALSO on vacation and ALSO enjoying Anticia Mascelleria Cecchini with his family. When she recognized him, the guy she is staying with said, “Oh, I know him! Let me introduce you.” And he did. JUST LIKE THAT.
“DID YOU TELL HIM ABOUT MY NEWSLETTER??”
“Ummm… it didn’t come up.”
“DID YOU TELL HIM THAT YOUR BOYFRIEND CRIED TWICE DURING THE DOCUMENTARY ABOUT HIM WHICH WAS ALSO OUR FOURTH DATE?”
“No, that would be really creepy.”
“OKAY THAT’S A GOOD POINT THANK YOU”
Gold's vacation is also why there isn’t a new review this week. As I said, the world isn’t fair.
As for Los Angeles: stick to the grilled section of the menu at Tsubaki, Mariscos Jalisco tacos are possibly the best bite in L.A., and Jumbo’s Clown Room is just as legendary as everyone says.
Kevin Alexander writes a great profile of Rocco DiSpirito for Thrillest. This is a biting and incisive look at a celebrity chef who hasn’t actually cooked anything for years. I recognize Rocco’s face, but realized I knew nothing about him.
Oyster vending machines? Oyster vending machines.
Disneyland people baffle me. I’ve been, and it’s fun, but I don't get the people with encyclopedic knowledge of the parks. That’s a long prelude to saying you can go to Frontierland and order Nachos for 9 people that arrive in a mini covered wagon. So, maybe I get the Disney people now?
The horror, the horror.
I should probably watch Rick & Morty, right? Also, I’m very much here for dedication to obscure fast food items.
Kenya just held a contentious election, with violence and accusations of tampering. The country is holding its breath waiting for the results. In the meantime, a hero has risen. #GitheriMan was a dude waiting to vote just having his dinner, and the Kenyan Internet got obsessed. These are good memes, Brent.
Taste Cooking has a few neat articles over the past few weeks. I got nostalgia so hard I was taken aback reading this story about what happened to bread machines. My Mom was OBSESSED with hers, which made weird loaves of bread with a hole in the middle. Also, I didn’t realize I was a snob about Onion Powder for no reason, but I am. They also have an entire recent issue dedicated to pepper, complete with a few great stories by friend-of-the-cart Matt Gross. This one, on his love of hot sauce, is fantastic.
This article is very, very funny and you should read it if you haven't already.
Citylab republishes a great Derek Thompson story from The Atlantic. He looks at the numbers and shows how restaurant jobs are growing faster than any sector of the economy. By 2020, they’ll outnumber manufacturing. He questions if this is sustainable, and also points out that restaurant jobs tend to be terrible. As we stagger into an uncertain future, we also need leaders willing to be honest about the economy.
This is a thoroughly weird story about a bunch of vegan activists bullying a local butcher shop in (where else) Berkeley. I can agree that eating meat is wrong but also agree that this is a bit much.
Serious service journalism from Chowhound: Whole Food employees tell you the best prepared foods.
Loyola University has launched a new interdisciplinary food studies program. It’s focused on food as it relates to arts, politics, and culture. I honestly can’t imagine a more dream scenario than studying food and culture in New Orleans for a few years. I’m happy sad just thinking about it, you know?
I didn’t know who Judith Jones was, but this interview with the legendary editor was reposted after she pased away last month. She lived a phenomenal life, bringing Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking to America, along with John Updike, Albert Camus, and others.
Beans are good!
Judge John Hodgman rules on a vexing question: Are chicken tenders and appetizer or an entree?
Author Alissa Nutting shares her Grub Street diet, and I don't really understand how she’s still alive.
Minor league baseball teams across America are running the greatest promotion in the history of sports this August. Teams are re-naming themselves after local food specialities. Names include the Brooklyn Slices or the Rochester plates. My favorite, however, is the Jersey Shore Pork Rolls.
Papa John’s gluten-free pizza… isn’t. Smdh.
The Daily Beast has a conversation with several experts about Rudy Kurniawan, the greatest American wine forger. Wine forgery is a huge problem, mostly caused by the fact that there are a lot of people with way too much money.
Iranians, protest US sanctions and skyrocketing vegetable prices, have created a meme where they wear onions as jewelry. This is entirely an excuse for me to post this.
Phish just finished up a 13-night residency at Madison Square Garden titled “Baker’s Dozen.” To help emphasize the themes of each night, they partnered with Federal Doughnuts in Philadelphia and gave out doughnuts matching the night’s themes to entering fans. This was a massive undertaking, with staff at the chain working 24-hours straight before some shows.
Huge news in Boston, as Clover is taking its fleet of trucks off the road to focus on their brick and mortar locations. I understand why, but it’s sad to lose some of the first food trucks Boston had or that I ever went to. It’s also sad to lose the best breakfast near South Station.
News from the Cape! The fisherman’s association is giving resturants free dogfish and skate, in the hope of drumming up support for these abundant (and tasty!) fish. Dogfish is what they use in England to make Fish and Chips, so it’s worth trying if you get the chance. Also, the Cape Cod Times has a fishing columnist and he looks EXACTLY like you imagine he does.
Elle Bhang reviews Shin Hakata ramen. She finds it meh, but has a lot of optimism. I’ve been and was unimpressed, but the idea of tomato soup ramen sounds really good.
Devra First writes an essay about why Instagram is killing food. My eyes rolled so hard I think I sprained something, but she makes some *ok* points. Overall, this is a bit of cloud yelling. Stew isn’t going anywhere and this misses the entire #uglydelicious thing that David Chang is all about right now.
Jolyon Helterman reviews Ruka, giving it two stars while saying that the shtick that works for Yvonne’s doesn’t seem to work well here. I think this is an off review. You’re going to quibble around the edges of a $75 duck entree? Or $36 small plates? He completely ignores how damn expensive this place is, which does a disservice to his overall review.
New York City
The Grill and the Pool, the two restaurants in the revamped Four Seasons and the most anticipated opening in New York this year, have finally arrived and the early reviews are coming in. All of them, so far, hit similar beats. The $10,000 trolley carts, the Tom Ford tuxedos, the Mad Men references! Ryan Sutton at Eater loves it, while Adam Platt at New York magazine didn’t. (interesting how they could have opposite takes on the same dishes) It’s hard not to see something very big and very rotten about America and New York in the return to a traditional form of luxury cooking at astronomic prices. Some of the ideas at play behind this place appeal to me greatly, but this is the most uncomfortable I’ve been thinking about spending a lot on a meal.
Maybe because of this opening, it feels like everything else in New York is reflecting on itself.
First, Pete Wells gives three stars to Guan Fu Sichuan in Flushing. I wonder about the timing, and if the Times isn’t reminding us that fanciness and circumstance predates New York hotel dining of the 50s.
There’s a wonderful history of The River Cafe, a 40-year Brooklyn institution that is better than people give it credit for.
The Times also takes on two New York lower-class staples. First, bananas. The logistics involved bringing them from massive container ships to corner fruit vendors boggles the mind. Then, the story that tore up the Internet: the buttered roll. New Yorkers can be obnoxiously self-regarding AND this can be a real New York thing, people.
A tipster spotted the subtle shade in this review of a Crown Heights Jamaican take-out place and I love it so much. Also, I want some oxtail.
I am v. v. here for the Cheetos pop-up restaurant.
The buzz for Chicago continues, as Bon Appetit names it the restaurant city of the year. Hard to argue, as it seems as if it’s combining the massive scale and immigrant influences of Los Angeles with the neighborhood clubbiness of New York.
Nick Kindelsperger is on the hunt for the best chorizo in town. Along the way, he explains something that’s always confused me: there are two main types of chorizo. Spanish chorizo is cured and ready-to-eat. Mexican chorizo is raw, needing to be cooked before you can eat it. It also tends to be spicier.
Jeff Ruby drops a triple review. He pits three of the city’s top sushi shops against each other. In the end, the inventive and bustling Kai Zan tops the reliable Juno and the not-as-good-but-still-good Arami.
The accolades continue to come in for HaiSous. This one from Mike Sula. It’s hard to root against this place, since the husband-and-wife team behind it were the victims of a massive scam by their former partner that left them bankrupt. Still, Sula says their refocus on home Vietnamese cooking is serving them well, even if a few things haven't quite gelled.
An updated guide to the Richland food court in Chinatown is essential reading. Makes me think I should do one to that basement food court in Boston’s Chinatown.
This is a deep dive into the relationship between Chicago and the Mississippi Delta. There’s a new restaurant coming next year that plans to highlight the region, so read up now. It's more complicated than the great migration, too.
Tom Sietsema writes a fantastic essay about dishwashers, the unheralded heroes of the kitchen (the employees, not the devices). He spends a shift working the sink at a Houston restaurant, realized just how much work the two people with him put in, even on a slow night. This also features quotes from just about every famous chef you’ve heard of talking about how important good dishwashers are, and how the best chefs started at that station. The article doesn't work in Chrome, so open it in another browser.
Sietsema stays on the road, visiting Flamant in Annapolis. This place sounds like you are visiting an impossibly cool European friend’s house. He also stops by ChiKos, the fast casual Chinese/Korean spot in Capitol Hill. I *need* to go there immediately and if you are in D.C., sign up for the tasting menu now while it’s still possible.
An interesting look in Washingtonian at a new Georgian (the country) restaurant coming to Shaw.
Laura Hayes at Washington City Paper writes a really interesting article on how Lyft and Uber have shaped the D.C. restaurant scene. It’s easier to get around, so it’s easier for restaurants to open in neighborhoods that used to be inaccessible and assume they'll find an audience. Would places like Ivy City even exist without the ride-hailing services? I bet this is true in cities around the country.
Important news regarding the only bar named after me. Club Tee Gee has survived it’s ownership dispute and will hopefully be around another 70 years. It’s not really named after me, but I have also been described as having “a palpable history here, a certain midcentury elegance”.
The state of dining in 2017 is strong. Besha Rodell revisits the best-reviewed restaurants of the year. Holy Christ, 2017 is half over.
Rodell adds a new great restaurant to the list, awarding three stars to Rosaliné in Hollywood. This review is more the story of Ricardo Zarate, whose food stall Mo-Chica landed him on the cover of Food & Wine as the best new chef in 2011. What followed was the dizzying rise of a small empire, which crashed just as quickly. This is his first new place since then. Rodell says the skills that put him on the map are evident, but she hopes he'll keep his focus and avoid expanding too quickly.
Out of context John Hodgman quote of the week
Chicken tenders are like subatomic particles: They change nature in context.