In which I only briefly mention the milk discourse
Plus I find my looper, best of Boston, and tacos in Greenpoint.
If you are anything like me, election and post-election Twitter have had you *struggggling* this past week. Rather than read anything into Virgina results, I invite you to turn your eyes to Maine, where voters passed the nation’s first “right to food” constitutional amendment. It’s not super clear from the media coverage what this entails, but an interesting step that seems to have been opposed by the state’s agra-business community.
The real news this week is that I have found a Substack called "Snack Stack". In it, the author:
Links to a newsletter by someone from Lexington, Massachusetts,
Links to an iconic essay by Helen Rosner, and
Does a deep dive on a New England regional Chinese food appetizer.
I'm past finding a nemesis and think I just found... my looper? (TL;DR Chinese Chicken Fingers are apparently a New England Only thing). Either way, I’ll keep you posted when we fight to the death.
If you missed the milk discourse, there’s a handy summary here. If you can’t even click that: everyone freaked out about how much milk this one family on CNN buys, but according to my friend Jeff (who has children) 12 gallons per week isn’t insane for a family of 9. The connoisseur’s point to be mad about how milk isn’t really a good reflection of inflation.
Space tacos? SPACE TACOS. #spacetacos
This Gawker article saying not to cook for your dates is wrong. But then again my one move while dating was that I am a good cook (I’m also very tall), so I’m biased. The REAL debate is what to make for someone the morning after. I have a friend who insisted it’s a good idea to make scones, which I think we can all agree makes him a sociopath. The correct answer comes from Anthony Bourdain and Jacques Pépin.
Congrats to your World Series Champion Atlanta Braves, who apparently have a high end wine club driven by rookie Ian Anderson. This is a delightful story, though according to my sister the French would describe drinking the Bordeaux they mention in story as infanticide.
A New Zealand couple has grown what might be the world’s biggest potato. And they named him Doug. The AP headline calls Doug “ugly”, which seems unfair.
Amy McCarthy at Eater writes an ode to the Chili’s 2 for $25 meal and middlebrow dining in general. As someone who fucking loves Chili’s, I vibed with this. In both cooking and eating out, we’ve fetisihized something that we all have to do 3 times per day. Sometimes just eating dinner is fine.
Speaking of middlebrow being great, the WSJ profiles how The Cheesecake Factory survived the pandemic. Snack Cart is firmly in support of Cheesecake factory (even if I don’t like it) mostly because it’s a truly amazing enterprise that uses fresh ingredients and cooks a voluminous menu from scratch.
This is a lovely essay from Katina Parker for the Southern Foodways Alliance. There’s a bit of myth making here, but it’s hard to fault the work of dedicated volunteers across the country fighting hunger.
Wall Street Journal profiles two restaurants trying to adapt to the pandemic. One of them is the fancy brunch place near my parents’ house in Cape Cod! Shoutout to reporter Susan Kitchens, who managed to get “profiling a restaurant near my vacation house” past her editors.
Michelin stars are coming to Florida. The state’s tourism/marketing guide has struck a deal to bring the iconic guide to the sunshine state. This is a bit of a scandal down there because apparently the tourism board is known for entering into shady deals to promote the state, the last one being uncovered by Pitbull (listen, a lot of my interests are overlapping here). I would be fascinated to see the details, as Michelin moving into a new region is usually QUITE a big deal. I’d also never heard of Michelin doing pay for play like this.
Nina Li Coomes visits a popular ramen shop in Nagoya, Japan with an unusual COVID protocol. The restaurant is enforcing a no talking policy while customers are in line or eating (they are allowed to order toppings and that’s it). I would pay EXTRA to go to a fast-casual chain where no one is allowed to speak.
Alicia Kennedy weighs in on the Eleven Madison Park affair-du-legumes. She is great at putting things in larger context, and she says out loud the subtext of the entire discussion: the ways vegetables are coded female and meat is coded male and how that has affected how we value food.
Wonderful photos in this story about a couple that got married at a Taco Bell in the Bay Area. Don’t tell my wife how jealous I am. Love Más.
What will I be watching on Netflix this month? “Kazuhiko then introduces Kenta to “The Way of the Hot & Spicy”— a self-described philosophy in which overcoming professional challenges are no different from enjoying fiery hot meals.” (this may not be available on US Netflix yet which is a real bummer).
Ain’t no scandal like a local Youtube food influencer scandal because a local Youtube food influencer scandal IS COMPLETELY INCOMPREHENSIBLE.
Food and Wine is sorta crushing it? Will my wife kill me if I subscribe to a fifth food magazine? Their “make Thanksgiving Extra” section makes me wish I was a real subscriber. I enjoyed the Nikki Miller-Ka story about the intense family politics of Mac and Cheese. I liked this refreshingly honest take on making good gravy. I REALLY liked this piece on wearing caftans to dinner. I FUCKING LOVED this piece by kat Kinsman on the magical decadence of a gravy fountain.
My Sister Hope’s Wine Meme of the Week
OK so this one is about some of the headaches involved in selling natural wines. It’s made in small quantities so it’s allocated, but there’s never quite enough. Mouse and VA (volatiles acidity) are two of the most common faults that occur in natural wines - mouse can smell well, like mouse and VA smells like nail polish remover. Selling these wines directly means you get a lot of people worries about wine flaws or the size of their allocations. On the other hand brand ambassadors - who don’t sell directly- seem to have it all. Or possibly that they do less work for more responsibility.
The Times highlights the rise of the designer deli (like five years ago they would have called this the hipster deli). I remember some drama about how these places are ripping off the vibes of established locations like Russ & Daughters, but at the same time a density of delis is just a good thing for New York. Ultimately, I wonder how much this is just the normal generation-to-generation turnover.
I know very little about Egyptian food. I went out to a koshary place once in Bay Ridge, but found it kinda stodgy and boring (it was also at the end of a long eating and walking tour). So I really enjoyed reading Pete Well’s review of Foda Egyptian Sandwiches, where he breaks down a number of classic street food dishes all lovelingly prepared at a cart in Queens. He even makes liver sandwiches sound amazing.
Now that we’re all heading back to work, we’re going to need lunch. Robert Sietsema highlights 11 sandwiches he’s enjoying right now.
Brooklyn Magazine highlights Talea, a new woman-owned taproom and brewery in Williamsberg. The article talks about the beer generally, but I wish it had mentioned a few specific varieties to try.
The new owner of La Grenouille is holding impromptu concerts (starring himself) in the dining room. That’s certainly a choice! This article is great, balancing people who absolutely cannot stand this with people who think it’s fun.
Ryan Sutton loves Greenpont’s Taqueria Ramirez. He places the restaurant in the context of ever-improving tacos across the boroughs. Sutton does a great job diving into what makes tacos great and argues Ramirez understands what makes tacos good better than a lot of New York chefs at all price points: balance.
Boston Magazine unviels their annual Best Restaurants list. I go back and forth on the best way to structure lists like this. BoMag has divided it up into specific categories like “hall of fame” and “best of the burbs”. This puts places into really helpful context, but doesn’t quite have the “fight to the death over cocktails or in annoying Twitter canoes” vibe that a straight up ranking provides. Still, a lot of great spots and many personal favorites in the hall of fame.
WIN A LIFE TIME SUPPLY OF SWEET CHEEKS BISCUITS *pushes small child out of the way in rush to train station*
Sheryl Julian visits Base Crave in Cambridge to get a lesson in their lentil soup. The recipe is absurdly simple, and I’ll definitely be trying it out.
Marc Hurwitz highlights 10 restaurants that have adapted incredibly well to both dining in and takeout, which will probably remain the reality for a while.
Oriole has debuted a late night menu anchored by a ham sandwich, and I’m not mad about it. Are ham sandwiches having a moment?
I’m enjoyed Josh Noel’s beer writing in the Tribune, which is a nice beat for the paper to invest in. This guide of breweries to take a out-of-town guest is really good. Chicago friends, consider yourself on notice!
Nick Kindelsperger visits Solazo and loves the new incarnation. It’s hard not to root for the family behind it, who had to completely rebuild after a fire destroyed the first version of the restaurant. It went from a charming if generically Mexican all-day spot to a place that has refocused around the food of Oaxaca.
Louisa Chu writes about a new film, produced by James Cameron, that tells the stories of the six Chinese Titanic survivors (of eight total passangers) who survived the ships sinking. Chu focuses on one of them, Fang Lang, who ended up in Chicago and whose son opened one of the oldest Chinese food restaurants in the country. Great American story.
Mike Sula highlights the Ramen_Lord and Maa Maa Dei popups that will collab at the next Monday Night Foodball.
Honestly, I’m mostly linking to this video produced by L.A. Taco because it contains the line “The Higher the Socks, the Bomber the Taco”.
Even though the Dodgers didn’t make it, there was a bit of Los Angeles in the World Series. Wes Avila, one of the founders of Guerilla Tacos and, more recently, Angry Egret Dinette, threw out the first pitch at game 3.
Thai Curry Pizza? I am suspicious, yet intrigued.
Steve Lopez tries really hard here to not call wine aged underwater a gimmick. Yet with every paragraph it just sounds more and more gimmicky.
Out of Context J. Gold of the Week
Asanebo occupies a small storefront tucked into a mini-mall, lighted with neon and surrounded by double-parked BMWs. Hairy music-industry guys sit at the sushi bar, trading quips in Japanese with Tetsuya, the primary chef. A big Japanese guy at the bar, a local high school football coach who practically lives in this restaurant, holds an impromptu seminar on the Purdue secondary. - link