The Counter is gone, but we've still got Brooklyn Beckham
Check out the Los Angeles section for a visit to the first NFT restaurant
OK everyone, I just learned about him and ALL I want to talk about is Brooklyn Beckham’s cooking show. The show, which airs on Facebook Messenger and Instagram (I KNOW!!!), has a crew of 62 people and a budget of $100k per episode. It features some of the most famous chefs in the world, even though in some episodes all Brooklyn does is assemble pre-made ingredients into sandwiches. This is WILD.
The Counter, a nonprofit publication dedicated to covering the food industry, announced it will be shutting down operations. Gawker covered the announcement and raised a number of questions. However, follow-up clarification seems to refute Gawker’s point that The Counter had a lot of money leftover. It seems like The Counter was broke. This sucks, but it’s a good lesson for media types. Many folks raise “nonprofits” as a solution for media funding. I think they are great, but even nonprofits need to have a plan to be profitable or break even.
I am, to a fault, a news person. But these days being a news person often means being a politics person. At the end of 2020, the 3 co-founders of RocaNews quit their jobs because they hated that.
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Department of Corrections: Two readers sent me very useful follow-ups on last week’s issue. The New York Times story I loved about Atlanta restaurant Aunt Fanny’s Cabin drew heavily (without attribution) from original reporting in the newsletter The Food Section. I liked the Times’ angle on the story more, but big outlets (the Times especially) rip off smaller ones all the time and shouldn’t! Also, an L.A. Taco profile of chef Adam Perry neglected to mention that he was formerly Jeffrey Epstein’s private chef. So, THAT’S a more complicated story! Thanks to the readers who helped me be smarter!
CJR profiles New York’s new Eater at Large Tammie Teclemariam, who is rapidly rising from food media outsider (her tweets helped bring about the sea change at Bon Appétit) to high-profile insider. It’s a great read and I was pretty shocked that Teclemariam hasn’t been writing that long considering how insightful and developed her voice is.
A Florida bride and wedding caterer are in jail after secretly putting a shitload of weed into the food at their wedding. Out-STANDING.
Mary Meisenzahl, writing in Insider, visits the second Chipotle in Roblox, a children’s MMO that many people (including this article) often call “the Metaverse”. This is a great story since it has a lot of screenshots to help understand what this actually looks like. So far it seems like the Metaverse is just branded experiences with minigames, which sounds right.
This week forced me to LOOK UP the phrase “Snickers Dick Vein Woke Mob” and… god fuck everything.
Everyone (In New York at least) is ordering Martinis. The article by Emily Sundberg focuses a lot on what martinis MEAN and even presents them as a counterpoint to the wellness movement. I actually see them as the next logical step. Martinis are pretty low-calorie and bracingly alcoholic. So you don’t have to order many or drink a bunch of them to get… quite drunk. Want to seem classier than a vodka soda but have the same number of calories? Have we got a drink for you.
Problematic alarm: Bulleit! The bourbon maker was touting the industry’s first black female master blender while paying her less than her colleagues and ignoring her complaints about racist behavior at the Kentucky headquarters. I’m embarrassed I didn’t know that Bulleit has had issues for years, with some startling accusations having been leveled against the founder by his own daughter.
The team at Thrillist ranked the 100 best snack foods of all time. This listing is… shockingly great! Outside of my personal quibbles (Combos are garbage), the list is comprehensive and rock solid with an unimpeachable top ten.
Does the leprechaun vomit the colors of the rainbow?
Mahira Rivers writes about the rise of international street food on restaurant menus across America. This does a pretty good job discussing the various factors at play but mentions Anthony Bourdain a few too many times.
My sister Hope’s Wine Meme of the Week
This week we got a special request from a reader to explain a wine meme posted by his local store.
“Okay this I can do - Caymus is a well-known, big heavy (overpriced) California Cab that would absolutely ruin delicate sushi. I mean, order whatever you want, but your sommelier might be a little disgruntled/sad if you do. For what it’s worth, my pick for sushi is dry Riesling or dry sparkling wine.
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Aaron Short in Grub Street profiles Michael’s, an upscale red-sauce spot in Southern Brooklyn that has been the main dining room for Brooklyn political power brokers for decades. This is a fun story and good exploration of how places get certain reputations.
Ryan Sutton absolutely decimates the food at the new Moynihan Train Hall. He points out that it’s confusing, expensive, and mostly closed. He compares it unfavorably to the old Penn Station, which featured food that was actually helpful to eat quickly or bring on a train. I *really* felt this a few weeks back when, waiting for a train early on a Saturday, the only place I could get food was a Starbucks.
Pete Wells reviews Rolo’s in Queens, where a superstar team of restaurateurs are putting their all into a new Ridgewood location. Wells praises the food and talks about the complexities of a great restaurant run by talented folks that is also a flashpoint for a neighborhood debate about gentrification.
Scott Lynch reviews Xolo and Bar Milagro which occupy a hidden stretch under the Williamsberg bridge. The menu is a bit all over the place (on purpose) but the location and vibes seem fun.
Tammie Teclemariam gets high, writing about her tour of restaurants at the top of skyscrapers. There’s an excellent part where she surveys a dining room of midtown tourists and tries to figure out who was the unseen person that just offered her drugs in the bathroom.
Lady Bunny’s Grub Street diet is so New York it makes me physically ache. Just wonderful.
Erika Adams in Eater interviews Brother Arnold Hadd, an actual Shaker, about what he thinks about the current Shaker food movement in New York. This strikes me as kind of a troll since there are like two “shaker” restaurants, but it is funny to have a very nice man from Maine chuckling at people selling lobster chowder.
More Burmese food is extremely exciting to me, the Burmese food lover.
University of New Hampshire researchers are testing if feeding cows seaweed could help with global warming.
Wenjing Ding writes an essential article in the Dig following chef Wei Ding through a day in the life of running his restaurant, My Happy Hunan Kitchen in Brighton. The day starts at 6:30 and doesn’t wrap up until midnight, which he’s been doing for months without a day off. The writing itself is OK but the story drives you through the exhausting yet satisfying day.
Jacqueline Cain previews Farmacia, a small cocktail bar coming to the North End that will focus on a prix-fixe, ticketed cocktail menu. Chicago’s Aviary has done a great job with this, but I haven’t read about many other places managing it.
GOD DAMN IT SCOTT. *sigh* Scott Kearnan writes the best Boston restaurant for every Zodiac sign.
Cannibis Coffee Milk either has you confused or deliriously excited.
Kara Baskin interviews Ran Duan, the genius behind Baldwin Bar and a growing restaurant group in suburban Boston. This is a great if somehow you aren’t already familiar with Duan’s story. It’s also a preview of his new bar, Birds of Paradise, at the Brighton Speedway.
Baskin also stops by Ovenbird Café in Belmont, which has changed owners and getting a slight menu refresh.
Lost Larson, a renowned bakery with a few locations in Chicago, has had to pay back (and future) pay to an employee who they fired last year for organizing her coworkers to complain about low pay and COVID safety conditions.
You had me at sizzling pig face.
John Kessler stops by Roux in Hyde Park, where he drops a capsule review of chef Charlie McKenna’s new spot.
Nick Kindelsperger drops a full review of TriBecca’s Sandwich Shop, a charming new place in Avondale. Kindelsperger focuses on their Cubano, which isn’t completely authentic but is composed entirely of very local ingredients. Kindelsperger doesn’t say it but I would describe the entire vibe of this place as “aggressively Midwestern”.
A Logan Square woman is raising money to create an alcohol-free bar and community center.
If you’ve been curious about the new Bored Ape NFT restaurant, your brain is broken the same way mine is. Lucas Kwan Peterson visits to find a HECK of a scene and an owner who… well I’ll be charitable and call him optimistic. I’m also like 90% sure this is not how intellectual property works at all but just no one is suing.
The best thing I read this week: Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison drops a lengthy column on the many, many fast food chains born out of Southern California. I actually expected this to be a boring retread of base-level food knowledge, but Morrison dives deeply into connections and chains I’d never heard of.
It’s too late for this to be service-y, but the Los Angeles Times’ guide to what to eat at Coachella is still a good read as an archive of the times. When I publish my #longread on how all festivals eventually become food festivals, the fact there are $400 pop-up omakases at Coachella will be the lead.
The Los Angeles Times looks at the merger of food and fashion in Los Angeles. A lot of interesting stuff here. This is kinda the high-fashion complement to last year’s New York Magazine cover story. This also points to the ascendant cultural cache of food over other forms of art. The article literally contains the quote, “Twenty years ago, designers were collaborating with musicians… The pairing with food… was a ‘natural progression.’”
Jenn Harris dives deeply into why Los Angeles restaurants are still short-staffed. It’s still a tough sell to get people to work in restaurants and customers are expecting everything to be back to “normal”. Please, be forgiving when you are out to eat.
L.A. Taco’s taco madness competition continues into round 3. One of the round two matches was determined by a single vote, so get over there and support your favs.
Bill Addison answers the question, what do you do if you are reviewing a restaurant and it turns out the Obamas are eating dinner with Beyonce while you are there? At least, that’s how he opens his review of chef Evan Funke’s Mother Wolf, one of the hottest restaurants in town. I loved this line:
There is often an only-in-L.A. disconnect between “industry restaurants” and “serious restaurants,” an odd juxtaposition of broadly pleasing menus and VIP pampering and other case-by-case intangibles.
Addison raves about the food, even if he also comments on Funke’s tendency to insist that undercooked pasta is the proper way to serve it (this was famously a tension between Funke and Jonathan Gold).
Out of Context J. Gold of the Week
I saw the best chefs of my generation employed by gastropubs; Racer 5, wild game chili, dry-rubbed riblets with their calico slaw dragging themselves through the steel seats at dawn looking for artisanal grits, molasses-glazed bacon, with New Orleans spiced shrimp, beer-and-bacon caramel corn. link