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I adore this 1974 profile of Julia Child
Pete Wells writes a fairly essential essay for The New York Times about how even with the high-profile exposés on sexual harassment by famous chefs, it doesn’t seem like much is changing. I would have enjoyed him focusing more on his own role as critic, but then again maybe this essay is him warning chefs that he’s going to be paying more attention to this stuff. The line we saw the most on Twitter is worth printing out and hanging above your desk: “Something has gone grotesquely wrong when chefs brag that the chickens they buy lived happy, stress-free lives, but can’t promise us that the women they employ aren’t being assaulted in the storage room.”
Inspired by this essay, Charlotte Druckman shared her Gastronomica piece from 2010 on why there aren’t more great female chefs. It’s still chillingly relevant.
This 1974 profile of Julia Child from the New Yorker is a goddamn delight. It thoroughly captures one of the great figures of the century at the height of her fame. The piece itself is long, and make sure you budget extra time because you will IMMEDIATELY go to check to see where The French Chef is streaming and realize you can buy it on Amazon and buy two seasons and then your food newsletter will be late.
I am VERY excited for this new TASTE column by JJ Goode. Goode, a co-author of some of the biggest cookbooks of the past couple of years, admits that he knows a lot about food but doesn’t really know how to cook. He’s going to be writing recipes that he, a nervous and anxious home cook, can do. His first, for pie crust, is the first pie crust recipe I actually feel comfortable doing myself. He finally explains that it’s OK that at no point in making pie dough does it really look like pie dough.
Something I never realized but always should have known: super cheap rotisserie chickens at Costco (and other grocery stores) are loss leaders. They are also one of God’s perfect foods.
In a SOLID Dad move, a local Philadelphia man has been tracking his child’s growth with cheesesteaks.
A poetic essay by Hannah Kirshner, about how her tiny Japanese kitchen forced her to learn to cook Japanese food. It really makes you think about how the tools and spaces we use for cooking have evolved along with us.
Keith Pandolfi, writing for Extra Crispy, endorses one of my favorite travel traditions: reading the local paper over breakfast. I tend not to get too schmaltzy about print, but Pandolfi nails how much it helps you feel connected to a place that you might otherwise pass through without a second thought.
It’s worth revisiting 2017, just for a bit, to read a recap of all the best negative reviews. They are alternately funny, scathing, and a delightful. If you haven’t read it, I *strongly* recommend Jay Rayner’s review of the Fancy Crab in London.
Cambodia’s Tonle Sap lake is in crisis. This massive freshwater lake provides food for millions of people across Southeast Asia. Development, overfishing, and climate change are crippling the lake, as well as the people who depend upon it. Beautiful photos accompany this essay.
Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, published a speech she gave at the Women in WineSense conference. It does a great job highlighting how unequal the wine industry is, and does a pretty good job offering advice on how women can succeed in the industry.
Well, *I’ll* never look at an egg the same way again.
The Southern Foodways Alliance explores Ya-Ka-Mein. No one can really explain how noodles, eggs, and meat doused in soy sauce water became an African-American tradition in New Orleans. However, it’s a classic dish made in families or cheaply ad bodegas (Where it's sometimes known as Old Sober for it's hangover-curing properties). Sadly, it might be dying out as many of the corner bodegas that sold it were wiped out by Hurricane Katrina.
This raw water trend is the 478th piece of evidence that taxes need to be higher in this country. At least on these people. When you are paying $10/gallon for water full of bacteria, you have too much money.
I do not know what Mahalo.com is, but they produced a series of Youtube videos that have to be seen to be believe. The videos star a host showing you how to make basic cocktails, but it quickly becomes apparent she has no idea how to make basic cocktails. My personal favorite is the one for an old fashioned.
GREAT essay by Tamar Adler for Bon Appetit on the need for a “house meal”. This is something that can be cooked quickly and relatively easily; it’s something that can be made on autopilot from ingredients you usually have on hand. It’s essential for the times you are tired, grumpy, but need to eat something.
It’s definitely worth listening to this week’s episode of The Splendid Table. It’s the audio of the goodbye event for the show’s founder and original host, Lynne Rossetto Kasper. The Splendid Table was one of the first food-centric pieces of media I started consuming regularly, and I’ve listened religiously for years now. This was a great way for me to learn more about Lynne, who was a major figure in the food world that doesn’t get the credit she deserves. Also, I’m pretty sure The Splendid Table was the inspiration for one of the best SNL sketches of all time.
I finally looked up the stupid Tide Pods thing everyone is joking about on Twitter so here is the explanation.
New York City
The Times takes a broader look at restaurants going cashless. This is played as kinda “that’s so zany” angle. I wish they had taken a more serious look at how this excludes people who might not have credit cards. The writer saying, “Oh, this won’t affect people without credit cards because poor people would never want a fancy coffee or expensive salad” is suuuuuuper classist and maybe racist and not OK.
Ryan Sutton is a BUY on Bolivian fried chicken sandwiches in Manhattan. Robert Sietsema talks Roti in Queens.
There is a new restaurant in Chelsea Market that lets you shop while you dine. It’s a standard nice-ish farm-to-table place where all of the dishware and linens can also be purchased. I will give you $100 to try and buy the table.
Besha Rodell, the New York Times’ roving Australia critic, waxes rhapsodic on how Australian chefs are better with fish than anyone in the world. She holds up Sydney’s Saint Peter, helmed by a young chef, as the prime example. Here, the chef is aging meat, using offal, and other fancy modern cheffy things, but all with fish. It’s a good review that makes me want to try eyeball crackers.
A *hotly* anticipated Chinese place is now open in Brookline. Sichuan Garden has been replaced by Blossom Bar. Eight years ago, chef Ran Duan took over his parent’s restaurant, Sichuan Garden II, in Woburn. He opened Baldwin Bar, a neo-tiki mecca, on the second floor. It grew to national acclaim. Now his Dad has given him the reins to first restaurant, where he is slightly updating the menu (you can still get scallion pancakes) and bringing his cocktail expertise. Get in line now (behind me).
It’s sad when a 36-year-old restaurant closes. Sadder still when it’s one where I like to get lunch!
The Globe tries to settle the debate: what is the oldest tavern in Boston? The answer is more complicated than you would think, and like most great bar debates is open to interpretation and argument.
This excellent story about the rise of the fish processing industry near the Seaport contains one truly important nugget of information: There is a company named Boston Sword & Tuna. Metal.
Devra First writes up the first proper review in a while. She visits Cultivar in Government Center, which I’ve been walking by every day since it opened. She says a lot of her trips have been mixed, but with each visit the place gets better. The food has gotten brighter and the service more assured. That, plus her best single bite of 2017, earns it two stars. Time for me to stop walking by and to head inside.
This critique of fake Irish bars is poetry.
Phil Vettel previews 2018. He says 2017 was a great year for Chicago dining. New restaurants, good ones, opened at a breakneck pace. Lots of people think that’s not sustainable, and 2018 will see a lot of closings.
Anthony Todd, writing for Chicago Magazine, saw 2017 differently. He calls it a bad year, mostly because of the huge number of closings. Maybe this is just two writers looking at the same trend but picking different start and end points?
Eataly, this is NOT the time.
Mike Sula drops a wonderful takedown of Beatnik, a new Noble Square club / restaurant. The opening line, “There’s no way to complain about distracting music in a restaurant without sounding like a long and lingering fart,” killed me. He goes on to say that the restaurant needs to settle down and focus. The free-for-all cuisine and atmosphere means many of the dishes are poorly prepared or don’t make sense. I can’t imagine who thought you would want to do shared plates while sitting next to the DJ booth.
This list from Fooditor looks innocuous. It’s a standard 20 best bites of 2017 thing. But it’s written by Keng Sisavath, the head of the Chicago Strange Food Festival, so these are hard-to-find and amazing bites from across the City. Find out where you can get Mexico City-style quesadillas or traditional Vietnamese salad.
Tom Sietsema writes up a list of eight suggestions for restaurants to do better in 2018. All of these focus on service. The two that resonated with me most are seating incomplete parties (I don’t know the rationale for not doing this) and banishing the phrase, “Are you still working on that?”
Nice to read Tim Carman again. He does a full review of The Block food hall in Annandale. He covers most of the stalls at this mostly-Asian spot, and says that overall the place is are hit-or-miss. I think it’s a bit silly to review an entire food hall. There is such a diversity of foods and vendors it can never be anything but uneven. Still, real boat noodle soup! God, I miss boat noodle soup.
Washingtonian looks ahead with 10 openings they are excited for in 2018.
There is nothing I like more than messy family drama over copycat restaurants. This time, it’s on 12th St. NE, where a sister and brother-in-law are accused of stealing the concept from their brothers.
Laura Hayes takes stock of D.C.’s high-end coffee culture. This is a good read on a rapidly expanding industry. Younger people expect better coffee and are growing to understand the nuances, which is driving more high-end shops. We’re still in a place where chains from outside the district are getting most of the attention and the local roasting culture is just starting out. Several people call out that D.C.’s barista community seems a lot more diverse than other cities, and that more baristas are making living wages.
Really neat idea from a local catering chef. Feeling a bit lonely, he created a social network, Chefs Without Restaurants, to connect caterers, personal chefs, and food truck operators. He’s hoping it will increase collaboration, both for fun and for more practical things like referrals or ingredient splitting.
FINALLY, a food festival focused on millennials.
J. Gold writes up nine dishes to cure your hangovers. These run the gamut, but Gold clearly believes that a proper hangover cure requires intense amounts of meat (ideally served in broth) and ideally some offal. I can speak to the restorative powers of the boat noodles at Sapp personally, and my biggest regret from my time in Los Angeles was never having any birria.
Edwin Goei reviews Hanki Everyday Korean. It’s a New York important, serving takes on traditional Korean food as well as Galbi-topped hot dogs. Goei seems to struggle describing what looks like the kind of upgraded fast casual spot we’re seeing more of on the East Coast.
Out of context J. Gold quote of the week
If you are above claiming that your grandmother makes the best menudo in the world, I’m not sure we can ever be friends