You will not believe where Haagan-Dazs is from
After last week’s essay on Houston, several people sent me some great stories about Houston regional foods.
A beautiful little story about Larry's Original Mexican, a new (in 2014) Houston Tex-Mex place that inherited the original sign from Felix’s Tex-Mex, the father of Houston Tex-Mex cuisine.
I wasn’t expecting was an outpouring of nostalgia for something I’d never heard of. Kolache is a Czech pastry that has taken Texas, and most of the southern midwest, by storm. Traditional forms are filled by fruit, nuts, or farmer’s cheese. Texans make traditional ones, but also stuff them with jalapenos and cheese or even brisket. Here are the ten best places to get them.
A great deep dive from Atlas Obscura into foreign-branded food products. These are products that are essentially tricking consumers into thinking they are from a place they aren’t. It’s very, very common in the food world. The story is pegged to a fact that blew my damn mind: Haagan-Dazs is from the Bronx.
I would request follow-up research on General Gau’s chicken.
Interesting story about Kisaku Suzuki, a Japanese candy maker who adapted his machines to make the world’s first sushi-making robot. His company grew to a massive concern, but there’s a lot of debate. Does cheap, accessible sushi for the masses lessen the dish?
^ Click through and read this thread ^
You also might remember that two weeks ago (I think?) I linked to an article from Chinese food Quarterly Cleaver about tea. In it, Angie Lee tried to explain gan, a sensation delivered by certain teas. One of the editors at Clever sent me an article from a noted tea blogger (that’s a thing!) where he dives deeply into the concept. Seems like most of the issues come from two places: One is trying to translate it into English. Similar to how umami doesn’t really mean savory, “aftertaste” seems insufficient to describe gan. Also, some people don’t think it’s really a thing, but closer to an ineffable feeling you get when eating or drinking something special.
Cool project alert! Cleaver is taking a break for a bit to focus on their next project: an illustrated cookbook of Chinese recipes. 40 chefs, 40 illustrators, and one book that would make an awesome gift. They hit their goal on Kickstarter, but donate now to lock down a book for cheap. Consider giving $100 to get one of their kickass T-shirts.
Meghan McCarron writes an essay arguing that we owe fine dining to Japan, rather than to France. Well, it’s more complicated than that, but she argues that Japanese Kaiseki cuisine is not only the dominant form today but also the real inspiration behind French Nouvelle Cuisine. Her historical arguments are a bit thin, but it’s undeniable that Kaiseki is ascendant right now.
What is imitation crab? Does it know things? Let’s find out.
Taste Cooking writes up a great history on when celery was the hip, it food of the Victorian era. This reminds of this slightly different look at this story from boston dot com, focusing on how celery and olives once ruled the Thanksgiving table. This story is legit fantastic, featuring tons of archival ads and newspaper stories.
But what if I don’t want to stop drinking or eating spicy food. What then, nerds?
No one does a slam review like the British. Fay Maschler(?) at the Evening Standard reviews Flavour Bastard in Soho. This is a really funny review, and the food wasn’t all bad. The name of this place made me think back to high school. I was on the theater tech crew and helping produce a hip-hop dance show. I was running the soundboard and music. The Director had me edit out the single swear from one of the songs. “Are you sure? It’s just ‘ass?’ ” I said. “Yeah, well the dance isn’t quite good enough to earn that, so it’s better to bleep it out.”
“Don your tartan-print leisure knickers and command Barkley to warm up the Rolls-Royce, because McDonald’s is releasing a toothsome new offering for America’s blue-blooded lads.”
This is a great recipe for arancine (maybe that’s how you really spell it), which you should absolutely not try to make at home. However, this recipe starts with a lovely story about a Sicilian chef and the history of the dish, which you should absolutely read.
Here’s a video of a guy at a San Diego Padres game catching a foul ball while not spilling his carton of BBQ. We live in an age of heroes, my friends.
Christina Tosi, the fanatical and whimsical mind behind the Milk Bar Empire, is struggling as her empire expands past its emo roots. Excellent read to learn the background of the most important pastry chef of our time.
Drinking, on a roof now!
In case your eyes haven’t rolled far enough back into your head, Beth Teitell writes a long story on how millennials are getting food delivered. Isn’t that zany! The whole thing is a bit silly, and the line, “Meals on Wheels for the young and fit” is kind of offensive maybe?
The Globe also publishes two quick looks at two all-day restaurants. Explorateur near the Common will be great. Semolina near Tufts will last a million years.
Catherine Smart reviews Amateras, a new ramen spot in the Leather District. She says it might be the best bowl in town right now, a bold claim as we get stronger options citywide. Amateras doesn’t specialize in just one kind of ramen, but Smart says it still manages to nail each variety.
Simmons college has a “Foodie Floor.” It’s a floor in the Freshman dorm with a full-sized kitchen that residents can use to cook. Neat idea.
This is the most important food event of the year.
Boston dot com has another story about the dining hall concept in the Back Bay, including some looks at the food. It looks OK, I guess?
This is a fun article from Amy Scattergood. She lists the essential cookbooks to send your kid to college with. My Mom sent me with her original copy of Craig Claiborne’s kitchen primer. Shout out to my roommates for sitting through crab mornay that one time. True story.
Gillian Ferguson writes about Wendy Lam. 30 years ago, Wendy’s boss told her she would never make it as a waitress. Wendy left that job and went on to open Newport Seafood, which has since expanded to multiple locations. This is a fun story about a local entrepreneur, and I really want to restaurant's signature dish: Maine lobster cooking in a Cambodian style, in a wok with green onions, jalapeños, black pepper and clarified butter.
J. Gold is making up for lost time, reviewing Rosaliné, the new restaurant from Mo-Chica chef Ricardo Zarate. It’s been around for a while and it seems like it’s greatly improved from when Besha Roddell gave it a mixed look a few months back. Gold loves it, and his review is dense with references to obscure Peruvian dishes and a count of how many Pisco Sours he drank.
Roddell herself is at MTN, the new place from the team behind Gjelina and Gjusta. Rodell spends a lot of time reflecting on how this California-based Izakaya seems to inherit most of the chef’s best and worst tendencies (which also reflect the Venice neighborhood he’s helped build): Immense amounts of effort to prepare amazing dishes, more depth than he’s given credit for, and a certain showy obnoxiousness.
AN OBSCURE CANDY AND POTATO CHIP SHOP IN SILVERLATE? I wish I had some kind of alarm to ring.
Katherine Spiers sneaks into the San Gabriel Valley badminton club. The snack bar there is churning out cheap and authentic takes on Indonesian food. Snacks are also a relative misnomer, considering it’s full plates of fried rice plus desserts. Also, you can go if you’re not a member but it’s probably way more fun to pretend you are sneaking in.
New York City
Neat story about how hotel chains are teaming up with IDEO to rethink the buffet. Long a staple of hotels worldwide, they will change as hotels try and trim costs, prevent food waste, and use data to rethink how they feed their guests. Interesting to contrast that with Vegas, where buffets intentionally overflow.
The heartbreaking story of a DREAM-er chef who was on the cusp of opening his own restaurant. The Times has his story, plus a lot of numbers about how much of the restaurant industry is powered by illegal immigration.
Ligaya Mishan is at Prontito in Queens. She describes it as a Colombian temple to decadence. It’s ancient Rome channeled via hot dogs on picnic tables. Her description of a cholado is straight up pornographic.
Ryan Sutton writes that Corner Slice at Gotham West Market is the best new slice in town. He uses his review to honor the most democratic and New York-y of New York foods: the slice joint.
Taste has Gabi Porter write up a story of Ray, an Iranian immigrant who makes the best egg cream in New York. I’ll definitely be having one during my next trip.
I would for sure eat an eel burger.
I rarely link to stories about random industry news. But this is a fun chance to share with everyone that the best restaurant group in Chicago is known as “Lettuce Entertain You”. They are overhauling one of Chicago’s classic restaurants, and LOOK at the archive photo gallery the Tribune used.
I often include things in Snack Cart specifically for friends. I never have more so than this story: Hey Jeff, you should go here.
Mike Sula for Chicago Reader is at City Mouse, the new cornerstone restaurant of the Ace Hotel in Fulton Market. He spends a lot of time talking about how much the area has changed (from slaughterhouses and cheese factories to Google’s Chicago office).
Fooditor interviews Meg Galus, the pastry chef for the Boka Restaurant Group. The interview focuses on the challenges and opportunities that come with designing dessert programs for four distinct restaurants.
The Delta, the long-anticipated (by me at least!) restaurant honoring the connections between the South and Chicago finally opens this Sunday.
Today’s must-read is this long feature from the Washington City Paper. They profile how all the animals at the National Zoo are fed. It’s a really interesting look at the central commissary team, who prepare food for everyone from the birds to the elephants. The story talks about that, and does a deep dive into the specifics of feeding giant pandas, red-ruffed lemurs, and Asian short-clawed otters. You really see how each member of the the team is a mix of cook, nutritionist, and zoologist. Also, they add glitter to the tiger meat so they can track their poop!
I’ve never been so I don’t *get it* but WaWa is coming to D.C. this fall so that’s a big deal.
BAAAAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA. (I know these people have nothing to do with the Washington D.C. NFL team but seriously I hope everything relating to that organization turns to ash.)
Should I just cut to the chase and quit my corporate job to open up a cidery?
Tom Sietsema loves Salt Line in the Navy Yard. He gives it three stars for inventive takes on seafood. Get here quick, since it won’t be as good when you can’t sit outside by the water anymore. He also love Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., a fast-casual fried chick… what the hell are you doing and why haven’t you clicked already. FRIED CHICKEN BISCUITS.
Out of context J. Gold of the week
A pisco sour, a plate of corvine tiradito, waiters who always seem as if they’re auditioning for a show on FXX — it’s hard to have a bad time here.