Peak Julia Child content
Scroll down to Los Angeles to read me gloat about eating somewhere before it was reviewed
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Gawker brings on superstar Alicia Kennedy to critique the new HBO Max show Julia. I generally agree with Kennedy’s point that we don’t need *yet another* Julia Child story (even if this one is dark and gritty(er)!). I rolled my eyes at Kennedy’s claims that Julia Child was moving women backward or that food-focused TV is consistently bourgeois. I appreciated that she mentions how there are plenty of other groundbreaking women who could make for interesting television. Jaya Saxena reviews the show for Eater, where she makes it sounds like it’s just not a ton of fun to watch. If we are having more Child content, Daniel Lavery gave me my single biggest laugh of the week with this line: “[Meryl Streep] plays Julia Child, a vividly idiosyncratic and deeply beloved author, cook, and public figure, and then for half of the movie Streep-as-Julia disappears while Amy Adams plays a woman who dislikes living in Queens and has heard of Julia Child.”
Winetext.com - an essential new way to buy wine
I am extremely over my pandemic “I’ll make cocktails at home” phase (RIP the Dry Curaçao on my shelf). These days, I’m getting back into wine.
WineText.com is a daily text message of exclusive wine deals. It’s a different highly-rated wine each day, with deals that could save up to 70% off SRP (Some with free shipping!). The deals are great. The ordering process is super simple. The wine arrives in lightning-fast time.
Now’s a great time to check out Winetext.com. On April 13th, they are having their first big rosé deal of 2022.
Vanity Fair profiles chef David Ruggerio, whose duel life of nascent food celebrity and New York Power Chef and Gambino mob enforcer fell apart disastrously in the mid-90s. It’s a wonderful story of not just one man, but of a different era of New York.
The best thing I read this week: Alastair Bland, writing in Smithsonian Magazine, explores the history of bluefin tuna. The giant fish created the ancient concept of sushi, but then was considered trash until the 1990s and a Japanese airline gimmick helped make it the centerpiece of a sushi meal. Now it’s falling out of favor with some fanatics. This was a great read for anyone who has ever eaten sushi.
The blog “scan of the month” is new to me. It’s a monthly 3D scan of… things. In a recent post they 3D image three common food containers to explain the complex science behind the lids of Heinz ketchup bottles, Sriracha, and VitaCoco. I don’t always recommend you get stoned before reading a Snack Cart link, but here we are.
A history of matchbooks, which inevitably intersects with a history of restaurants.
The war in Ukraine continues to send shocks throughout the globe. The Times goes deeper into how huge chunks of our food production are reliant on products from the Ukraine and other countries touched by the conflict. We’ll see more inflation, more scarcity, and more hunger.
I’m really trying to limit myself in how much I link to the newsletter Garbage Day, but I had to share an issue from last week that includes a segment “Searching For Gen Z’s Four Loko”. Ryan Broderick ponders if Gen Z can truly be a generational force without unifying cultural beverages like us olds had. FINE here’s another one about NFTs and the Bored Ape Yacht Club restaurant (this is a good read even if you don’t know what any of those words mean).
I love whenever my pal Ernie Smith writes about anything food-related in his newsletter Tedium. That is even more true when he does a deep dive into the history of weird or single-use utensils. Come for the utensil that makes the Spork look like garbage and stay for the weirdo Australian army can opener / spoon.
All Jimmy Buffett content is canonically food content. I don’t make the rules, I’m just here to enforce them and share links to this amazing Nick Paumgarten piece on Latitude Margaritaville, a rapidly-growing chain of Jimmy Buffett-themed retirement communities. There are some actual details about the Margaritaville restaurant chains, but mostly it explores the insane contradictions of the place. I would move there in a second.
This New York Mag piece on the best kitchen knives is exceptionally product-y content, but that can be great too! This is the rare product review that both makes the case for the fancy expensive thing while also making it clear the fancy thing isn’t for everyone. Featuring Snack Cart fav Matt Rodbard.
In a story only the WSJ could do seriously, Rachel Wolfe looks at the rising costs of lunch for workers returning to the office. This feels like a story where the bit is driving the narrative. The entire thing is about the cost of lunch but includes quotes that wildly undercut themselves like: “she says she is spending twice as much on food than she expected when she graduated in 2020, citing increased grocery-store prices. Notably, grocery-store prices are up 8.6% from year-ago levels, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics” or fail to call out other things that might be really going on: “That extra $4, plus the surging price of gas to fund his nearly two-hour round-trip commute, takes a chunk out of his earnings compared with when he worked remotely, he says.”
Deep breath: Rapper Pusha T is the original author of the iconic McDonald’s "I'm Lovin' It” jingle (??). That jingle was originally part of a much longer song recorded by Justin Timberlake (???) AND Pusha T has recorded a new diss track, sponsored by Arby’s, criticizing McDonald’s for taking advantage of him when he was a young songwriter(???!!!!1????) I need a cigarette.
I am thinking a lot about my relationship with alcohol these days. This beautiful and painful essay by Samantha Hunt on what drinking means to her and her family was hard to read, but I couldn’t pull myself away.
All I can say here is that I really hope the New York Times launches a full-time food Substack beat.
My Sister Hope’s Wine Meme of the Week
There’s much more to Chardonnay is way more than just the oaky buttery Californian ones you find. Burgundy (like Puligny Montrachet, Meursault), Chablis (Les Clos), and Champagne (Cote des Blanc) all make amazing Chardonnays. Don’t write it off completely!
I will link to every single Dom DeMarco obit that I find. It’s really hard to express just how good that pizza is.
Bloomberg dives into the broken economics of the Pizza Principle. The long-standing rule (which was new to me somehow!!) is that the price of a slice of regular pizza should be roughly the cost of a subway pass. Inflation combined with increased state subsidies have changed that, and the two are diverging for the first time in a long time. There are some GREAT charts in this article.
Tammie Teclemariam somehow, improbably, makes me wish Tao was still around.
If you have ever said “I love Chinatown” (regardless of what city you are in) you should read Pete Wells’ review of Uncle Lou. It’s a great review to learn more about the Cantonese food that has defined “authentic” Chinese food in America for more than 50 years.
I’ve never seen a review include the dagger at the end like this: “It turns out that some remixes of ‘Ray of Light’ last for a really long time — long enough that I started to think about all the restaurants that seem to be meant for people who fly from continent to continent, eating only food designed by chefs who think of themselves as global brands. You could leave New York on Tuesday night, and when you show up for dinner in Doha on Wednesday, ‘Paper Planes’ will still be playing in the dining room: ‘All I want to do is boom boom boom boom and cha-ching! take your money.’ ”
Ryan Sutton reviews Cut & Slice, a new Carribean-tinged pizza place in far out Bed Stuy. Sutton says the slices, even at *$11 each!* are worth the trip.
Sixpoint Brewery Taproom! Excited to be politely told to keep it down there some day.
New York Magazine profiles Jorge Dionicio, a Peruvian immigrant who has risen from the graveyard shift at an Omaha mall spot to his own omakase sushi counter in the Upper East Side called Hiramasa. This is a beautiful story from one angle on the American dream.
A Grub Street diet of Chef Shenarri Freeman has me missing writing about Washington D.C.. She’s there to visit friends and to eat a lot of Ethiopian food. She talks about how shitty the fruit is in New York (true), and drinks a green juice to battle her hangover (wtf).
MORE. JULIA CHILD. CONTENT. WBUR profiles Christine Tobin, the cook and food stylist behind “Julia”. Tobin, who lives in Roslindale, grew up on episodes of The French Chef and found herself tasked with recreating the iconic food of one of her idols.
The outdoor dining debacle continues to roll on in Boston. It’s very clear that Mayor Wu has botched this, but I really wish the North End restaurateurs were not quite so MAGA-y. As a friend said, “When they started complaining about tyranny they lost me”
Devra First rounds up 10 exciting restaurant openings in the spring and summer. She uses the piece to address the squeamishness we all feel that Eastern Standard is being replaced by Blue Ribbon Sushi, a New York restaurant group. I’m mostly excited about some of the things happening in Field’s Corner.
Grafton Street is back! Harvard Square is not dead yet!
All of Chicago laughed when Gordon Ramsay Burger opened and put hot dogs on the menu. Nick Kindelsperger decided to put his money where his mouth is and review the place. He finds a lot to like in the burger and has an unconventional take on the ketchup situation.
I’m kinda confused why this article on Taco Mucho is labeled “Column” instead of “Review” but it sounds like amazing veggie tacos.
Luisa Chu reviews Veggie House, a new vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown. They’re making vegetarian versions of classic Cantonese and Chinese-American dishes. Chu in particular says their version of Orange Chicken is better than anything with meat. The Salt & Pepper mushrooms sound great.
In advance of the Michelin guide’s full announcement next month, they’ve put out their Bib Gourmand choices for the city. True star-watchers know these tend to be more interesting than the traditional starred restaurants. There are a bunch of places I haven’t heard of but each one sounds outstanding.
Mike Sula profiles Annie Xiang, who turned her pregnancy aversion to caffeine into a startup. When her still-developing son rejected her 4-coffee-per-day habit, she reconnected with the tea of her childhood growing up in China. She’s now sourcing and highlighting the single original Chinese teas at pop-ups and farmers markets across the city.
This Sula review of Pippin’s is a great story about how a dive bar restaurant brought in a journeyman chef, let her flex her muscles, and now turns out innovative and comforting food (the oyster chips sound weird and like I would eat ten thousand of them). It’s a great story, but ALL I CARED ABOUT reading it was looking up why there is a part of Chicago nicknamed “the Viagra Triangle”.
Chicago Magazine’s John Kessler highlights Minahasa in Revival Food Hall, where chef John Avila is not just cooking his mom’s Indonesian recipes, he’s cooking them with her. This needed to be three times as long and NOT characterized under “budget picks”.
John Kessler AND Amy Kavanaugh join forces to highlight twelve of Chicago’s best new restaurants. They joined the Chicago Tribune in heaping praise upon Kasama. They also have a fun short feature on the rise of lunch.
L.A. Taco has launched their annual Taco Madness bracket. This is my favorite one of these, since it has all the chaos of the actual NCAA tournament. Head over and vote for your favorite and/or start adding pins to your Google Maps taco map.
GOD it feels good to have actually beaten the Los Angeles Times to a restaurant. I was in Los Angeles last week and met my good friend for breakfast at the new Clark Street Diner. The next day, Bill Addison dropped his review (I tried to go again over the weekend and the line was lol). Addison writes glowingly about how the new ownership has threaded the nostalgia needle of reviving what most will still call the 101 Diner.
California grocery store workers at Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons are still in negotiation even if last week they all voted to authorize a strike. We made these people work during a pandemic. I hope they get their demands met.
One of the most trite Los Angeles food cliches is to tell a New Yorker “Actually, Los Angeles has some great delis” (it’s correct, but come on!). As classic institutions change hands into new ownership and new places start up, the Los Angeles Times documents how the new places all have a sense of camaraderie rather than competition.
I literally gasped out loud at the phrase “Lomo Saltado Burritos”.
Out of Context J. Gold of the week
You’ve been to Eastside restaurants where roving bands of mariachis dispense tunage to anybody with a couple of bucks; musicians come through here too, but they’re just as likely to set their accordions down on the floor and eat lunch as they are to play. - Link