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Eater writes about poop while Bon Appétit steps in it
Check out the New York section for a neat story about "virtual restaurants"
I will be honest with all of you, I had assumed that the Bon Appétit Cinematic Universe was gone. But apparently some folks are still hanging on, like star Brad Leone (I assume some others). Last week, Brad recommended a recipe that could give you botulism on the still-popular Youtube channel. THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME HE HAS DONE THIS. Brad is charismatic, and the BACU always walked the line between recipes as education and as entertainment. Random Tik Tok videos or blog posts don’t offer any guarantee you can replicate them without getting sick, so where is the line when you have a real responsibility when writing or filming a recipe? That being said, in the immortal words of Hope Gee, “If I had been subtweeted this brutally by the Joy of Cooking I would simply die.”
The best thing I read this week: JJ Goode is just so, so good, even when he’s writing about shit. Goode, a cookbook writer of a number of things you have on your shelf, explores why food media is willing to write about every aspect of food except the final stage of it. This is a great read.
Eater publishes a raw and honest essay by Lee Hennessy, a trans farm owner in Argyle New York. Hennessy writes about how fear of being visibly trans has held him back from putting his all into his business.
Masters Week means it’s time to revisit an absolute classic of food writing. Charlie Warzel, writing in Buzzfeed, tries to eat every item on the menu on the Masters concession menu without dying. A tradition unlike any other. However, if you wanted to do this today it would cost a bit more. Inflation has come for even pimento cheese.
Sam Dean in the Los Angeles Times asks the critical question: if inflation is so rampant how is Arizona Iced Tea STILL only $0.99. He finds the amazing Vultaggio family, who founded and own the brand and are committed to not screwing their customers. Astead said it, but if you aren’t super into “capitalism is bad” takes, think about how broken a system is where companies and owners like this are the exception not the rule.
A historic restaurant with a deeply racist past and a small Georgia town that is divided over whether to tear it down or keep it as a landmark. This story did NOT go where I thought, with the more liberal-ish (maybe?) coalition being the group that wants to keep the restaurant and accusing the city of trying to bury the past. It feels to me that landmarks in general drive people insane. You can teach or know about history without a bunch of old stuff around.
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So the restaurant Sugo in Toronto sure seems like it is run by some real pieces of shit! Keep that in mind next time you visit the Centre of the Universe.
Did my wife and I just recently watch The Net? Possibly. Is that why I was primed to read this history of online food delivery? Almost certainly.
Vittles publishes a lovely essay by Mina Miller comparing her time at a progressive food co-op and at a family-owned smoked salmon business owned by a famous conservative Tory and Brexiteer. One was a much better job than the other and Miller explores her feelings about why.
Did I pay $1 to download a 39-page short story composed only of reviews of imaginary beverages? I did. Was it worth it? Well:
Now: when you see the phrase “Pop-Tart-flavored beverage” I know your mind immediately wanders back to the recent Mountain Dew Doritos debacle. You described it as an affront to God, I maintain it was a compelling idea, imperfectly executed. In either case, we did for once agree that the end product tasted neither quite enough like Mountain Dew nor quite enough like any Dorito flavor known to humankind.
The story most people have sent me: Dutch dairy farmers are on high alert as thieves made off with $23,000 worth of cheese from a local dairy farm. Cheese theft is a pernicious crime as it’s easy to move (though possibly hard to sell). This crime was notable for how professional the crew seemed. I’ll just say that for me, the action is the juice.
Most of us need to come to terms with the fact that most Bloomin’ Onions are not that good. Onion rings have a better fry-to-smushy-onion ratio.
Whetstone magazine publishes a long feature on a new quest for Indian superfoods. I came to this story from a tweet by one of the quoted sources complaining he had been edited misleadingly and that the very idea of superfoods is just marketing hype, which sounds about right.
I have enjoyed his writing, but Jesus Nick Kristof’s campaign for governor has made him seem like an out-of-touch dilettante. Here’s him saying that alcoholism is not a problem for people who drink wine. Sure, Jan.
The hook of this story is about researchers inventing a wooden knife that is sharper than steel, but read on and it’s just a fun history of the knife! Of course I could only hear one thing in my head as I read it.
Substack has announced their food writer fellowships! These are food newsletters that the platform thinks are some of the best. The recipients will receive special advice and coaching (plus a grant). I’m not jealous at all, the rejection letter was quite polite.
One of the winners was Jason Wilson, who was also featured in the extremely popular Substack “Broken Palate”. His article is about natural wine, which Wilson says has entered it’s “dumb phase”, where it’s more a random status symbol of cool kid-ness vs. a real movement. Before my sister goes into TOO much of a rage, I’ll ask the question: Was it ever anything else?
This is a pretty brutal article about Blank Street Coffee, a new tech-bro-backed coffee startup expanding across the hipper neighborhoods of America. It starts by describing the founders as “bonded over a shared interest in start-ups” and ends with one of them saying, “We have good intentions”. I do wish writer Jensen Davis did a bit more to compare the working conditions and quality between local shops and Blank Street, as framing “local indie shop good, chain bad” is a bit outdated.
A douchebag food influencer pressured a local St. Louis restaurant for a free meal, and after they turned him down he posted a long negative review that roiled social media. This is… basically extortion? We all know there are no ethics in influencers, but it’s really wild how insane it is. Kudos to this restaurant for pushing back and, lol, the dude appears to have deleted IG entirely. I would never do this but I want to make it clear to you, the reader, I can absolutely be bought with the promise of free shit.
Helena Fitzgerald writes a beautiful essay about the closing of Angel’s Share, a faux-speakeasy in New York’s Lower East Side. It’s a lovely essay about aging, friends, what bars mean to history, and change. If you’ve ever had a favorite bar, this is something to read.
There’s a saying in politics: “you can make the numbers say whatever you want”. Apparently, you can even make the numbers say that Columbus, Ohio is the #3 pizza town in the United States (with Detroit and Columbus as #1 and #2). I actually gagged a bit at the description of “Ohio-valley style pizza”.
Jose Andres complained on stage at a big tech event that Apple Maps kept sending him and his World Central Kitchen team into Russian-controlled territory while they were providing humanitarian aid in Ukraine. This really seems to be an issue with an organization using Apple Maps while trying to work in an active war zone. I dunno, man.
I agreed with this tweet by writer Casey Johnston – I kinda love the food requirement for to-go cocktails. A bar near me sold delicious $2 samosas and I loved getting a drink and a snack.
Rachel Sugar dives into what, exactly, is going on at Ursula. The restaurant has won a James Beard award, but is struggling to figure out its future. If you’ve heard about it (in Snack Cart or elsewhere) this is a great read to figure out what the fuss is about.
Molly Lambert’s Grub Street diet is extremely “heat wave in Los Angeles” vibes. She bounces around getting lots of fancy coffee and juice and tries to avoid her un-air-conditioned apartment. She coins the phrase “red salsa Mexican restaurants”, which is just so perfect.
Tammie Teclemariam’s recovered from COVID, and uses a meal of high-end tempura at Tempura Matsui to wax rhapsodic on the joy of being taken care of at a fancy restaurant.
*For like five nights and only if you have American Express.
But seriously, the REAL international cuisine opening in Brooklyn that matters to everyone is a new place serving Rochester Garbage Plates in Clinton Hill. I’ve never had one but heard a *ton* about them and would love to try it, even if it is food designed for drunk college kids.
Pete Wells reviews Mena, a new Latin American place in TriBeCa from chef Victoria Blamey. Wells spends most of the review writing about how great Blamey is and how she’s struggled to find a restaurant to truly showcase her talents. It’s an interesting story of how a chef works through places, honing their vision even when they can’t actually execute it.
Do you like New York dining history? Sure you do. Wells gives a lot of it in El Quijote, a relatively decrepit Spanish restaurant that has been refurbished and revitalized. Wells is a touch nostalgic for what the place used to be, but he admits the food was terrible and now it’s great! He doesn’t mention how much it’s currently a big spot to ‘gram and be ‘grammed.
I *loved* this Eater NY Luke Fortney story about “virtual brands” – fake restaurants that operate take-out only out of different restaurants. They seem like virtual franchises, with prices, marketing, and menus set by the virtual brand (who takes a 10% cut), while all the food is made by the restaurant hosting the brand. The story focuses on a diner in Williamsburg home to a dozen of them. There’s a lot going on here! The “virtual brand” charges $20 for a BEC sandwich as opposed to the $7.50 the diner charges? The diner seems really happy with it? I dunno man!
Ryan Sutton raves about the egg creams at Agi’s. They are a modern take on the beverage, which made me wonder where in the city I could buy a traditional one?
I loved this ode to Boston pubs by my pal Chris Faraone. Who knew Corner Bar is still open!
It’s that time of year. Literally everyone writes a “where to eat carbs before the marathon” story. Here’s *spins wheel* Eater Boston’s.
I’m thoroughly baffled by this Kara Baskin story about Tasty Burger. It reads like a great review, but Tasty Burger has been open for 12 years and there’s no acknowledgement of why this is being written now. Has Baskin… never been to Tasty Burger?
For their new restaurant, the Charles Hotel has brought in one of the best Italian chefs in the country. Mark Lardner has a resume that includes Olives, Babbo, and Del Posto. Jolyon Helterman in Boston Magazine wonders what it must be like for someone that accomplished to be brought to a new restaurant and essentially be told to play the hits of Italian-American food. Helterman finds a ton to like, but nothing particularly inventive or interesting. Still, I don’t know how you can say it’s not inventive when the shrimp cocktail comes with a *teeny tiny* order of french fries! THAT’S innovation.
Chicago Tribune publishes the results of its Readers’ Choice awards. All food awards like this are made up, but the Tribune’s this year had a GREAT energy to them. It somehow felt ambitious and local all at the same time. The awards went to a few places I had heard of but a bunch I hadn’t, which mostly seems about right as these kinds of awards tend to highlight more than just what food people are talking about.
Chicago Magazine has a food critic again! They’ve left the position unfilled throughout the pandemic, and they use a few paragraphs to introduce their new critic John Kessler. Kessler is the former critic of the Atlanta Journal Constitution and has been contributing to Chicago Magazine since he moved to the city in 2015. His first review is a double, as chef Zubair Mohajir is running two menus out of the same space. Wazwan is a casual spot where you can find innovative bowls and precise fried chicken sandwiches. The Coach House by Wazwan is an ambitious tasting menu in the same space. Kessler does a good job reviewing what works and what doesn’t about each.
Louisa Chu tries to uncover the true history of The Walnut Room’s chicken pot pie. Legend tells that it was created by Sarah Hering, a shop girl who shared some of her lunch with a hungry customer who liked it so much she convinced Hering to make more the next day and brought all her friends et voila, one of the first places in Chicago for women to eat unescorted was born. Chu finds a lot of people convinced by the myth but Chu herself is skeptical. The undercurrent of this entire story is really how poorly we’ve kept records about women (as opposed to men).
Uncle Remus, a fixture on the West Side, has reopened after going dark part-way through COVID. It’s wild how even a 50-year-old restaurant gets rusty really quickly after being closed for a year.
For as many places that closed during the pandemic, new generations of places are emerging. Mike Sula reviews Sfera Sicilian Street Food, which pivoted from rice balls at farmers markets to a ghost kitchen selling Sicilian rolled pizza bread of sorts. Now, they are evolving into a brick and mortar. All of the dishes sound terrific.
How can you NOT read a food story that starts with “Ricky Hanft is the sausage king of northwest Indiana”.
Anne Marie Panoringan in Eater LA profiles Kei Concepts, a red-hot restaurant group in Orange County that is combining hustle and a cross-cultural mindset into an amazing set of restaurants. The ups and downs of this founding team will give you whiplash but each new concept sounds better than the next.
This wonderful column by Frank Shyong in the Los Angeles Times explores Ocha Classic, a Thai restaurant in Koreatown that is one of the most popular restaurants among Mexican and South American families in the area. Why? A bit of random chance and a lot of Los Angeles.
KCRW gives some advice on hosting your own iftar dinner. It’s sorta like a regular dinner party, but with higher stakes. If someone’s been fasting all day you want to make sure they know what to expect.
Really only Los Angeles could have a review that calls a place “Screamo-rooted vegan Mexican food”
LA Taco profiles barbecue legend Adam Perry Lang, who is currently running a small pop-up in the San Gabriel Valley. This is a big adjustment for Lang, whose high-profile career led to a Hollywood steakhouse that fell apart quickly during the pandemic. You could call this licking his wounds, but he seems really happy to be just enjoying his love of cooking and connecting with the community.
Bill Addison reviews Ipoh Kopitiam, another pandemic hobby that has turned into a full-on SGV restaurant. Kopitiam roughly translates to coffee shop, and chef Kenji Tang says he’s trying to emulate the casual coffee shops of Malaysia. Addison loves the curries and noodles, but nothing really can beat the coffee and kaya toast.
The grocery worker strike is over, with workers taking home huge pay increases. This is great!
LOTS of folks I follow have been posting from the new Jewish Deli exhibit at the Skirball Center. The exhibit dives into the history of the deli as a way to understand American Jewish culture and adaptation. Even just the photos in this article are outstanding, so definitely get out to the show before it closes Sept 4.
Out of Context J. Gold of the Week
But even red snapper can be pushed too far. Huachinango relleno is a complex work of culinary engineering but may be a little too weird to eat: a crisp-skinned grilled fish, split and filled with a mixture of shrimp and octopus, drenched with a quart or so of 40-weight cheese sauce decorated with baroque squiggles of ketchup and surmounted with toothpick-mounted olives that jut from the snapper’s flank like eye stalks from a crab. Link.