May 31, 2007

Pop Rocks Have Nothing on This.

A great trick from Indestructibles to make ‘fizzy fruit’. While the fruit loses its fizz quickly (after 15 minutes), I’m thinking some great desserts and drinks can be made from super fizzed out fruit.

Fizzy fruit salad perhaps?

May 30, 2007

I'm Freaking Out Man!

The 92nd Street Y had a panel discussion with some heavy hitters of the food world participating: Gael Greene, Jacques Pepin, Michael Whiteman, Arthur Schwartz and Mike Colameco chairing. I unfortunately was not in attendance.

Grub Street thankfully covered the event so that lazy bloggers like myself are not left in the dark. Remember, secondhand knowledge of an event is just as good as firsthand knowledge if I pretend like I was there and dodge any specific questions. “What was Gael Greene wearing?” “Ummmmm, wait what’s that in the sky!!??” My motto is avoid, avoid, avoid.

It appears that the question of the day was, “Is the New York dining scene better than ever?” With sides drawn definitively in the sand, some pulled the “In my day things were better” logic, while others proclaimed this to be the most revolutionary time in recent culinary history. So what’s the real answer? Of course I have a theory as well.

Today we’ve seen an explosion of interest in cooking and the delights a kitchen can offer. The Food Network offers unparalleled access to food porn, blogs allow immediate analysis of new information and cooking has become a national if not international phenomena. Things are moving along quite nicely.

Yet the same problems that have always existed remain, just as they did years ago. Cutting edge dishes are bastardized and standardized as crappy chefs emulate the best trying to cash in on the flavor of the month while fad items are overused and prices have skyrocketed. Pretentious eaters spouting off at the restaurant of the moment? They were around back then, and were just as obnoxious. Apparently their kids are now too.

As with most things in life, I’d have to say the answer lay somewhere in the middle. The only real difference between the 80’s and early 90’s and today is that information moves at an insanely faster pace. This means every change is picked up immediately and broadcast to a wide audience on an hourly basis. Molecular gastronomy is just as radical as the changes made to French cooking seen back then, just at a faster and more obscure pace. Flavors from around the world are available at a rate never seen before. Things are just faster, but so is the rest of society.

Cooking and food, just like everything else in life (see the financial markets), follows a circular pattern and is just a summary of what society looks like at a particular moment in time. I’ll leave it to the heavy hitters to try and prove one side over the other; I’ll be too busy standing on line for a couple hours trying to get a Shake Shack burger.


Sure that was a bad Fergie pun, but I have a hard time imagining a good Fergie pun. The New York Times in its weekly food insert (read: crack for foodies) has an article by Kim Severson about the 175 days set aside for food and beverage “days”.

After reading this I wanted to create the most obscure food holiday ever, but both Serious Eats and I noticed that we were both late to the game. Some crazy (If do it, eccentric, anyone else does it, insane) Pennsylvania couple specialize in creating wacky little holidays. A few examples:

Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Night (Aug. 8), National Eat What You Want Day (May 11), Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day (Nov. 8) and everyone’s favorite Yell Fudge at the Cobras in North America Day on June 2.

And I thought National Frickle Day was going to be wild and crazy. Now “Cannibal Day”, that’s something way ahead of its time.

May 21, 2007

The Chewbacca Defense

Bob Morris at the New York Times is insane; there is no other word for it. What else could explain this article? The premise of Morris’ story: the reason people drink Diet Coke isn’t for the calorie cutting attributes, but because, “people who drink it like to think they’re bad.”


Dating a biker? Bad. Getting a tattoo or multiple piercings? Bad. Eating 60 McDonald’s chicken nuggets or trying to stuff an entire double Big Mac into your mouth? Dumb and bad; I know that from personal experience. Diet Coke? About as bad as a puppy convention (No, I couldn’t think of anything better).

Is the world really that desperate to feel bad, but too lame to do anything about it that people use Diet Coke as their outlet? No, because quite frankly I don’t believe Morris when he says they do. That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. When have you ever met anyone who drinks Diet Coke to feel bad; Ask around and see what answers people really give you.

The usual responses are that people are sick of drinking water (fine) and that Diet Coke has less calories than Coke, thus healthier (drink water if you want healthy, but whatever). Never in my entire life have I heard anyone ever give this, “it makes me feel bad” logic.

I really can’t offer more than questions here, because why would the NY Times even print this article? Sure it’s interesting, but it’s also blatantly stupid. Isn't there a yet green market that he could be writing about instead?

Thanks to Megnut for the article.....and for having an absurd name

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

Jeffrey Chodorow a few months back paid $30,000 to place an ad in the New York Times bashing Frank Bruni, the New York Times food critic (and food critics in general), for an unfavorable rating. While I agreed with much of what he had to say, I imagine him to be the kind of guy who would pick up the kickball and take it home if something wasn’t to his liking.

The problem wasn’t his opinions; critics are not the be-all-end-all arbiter’s of taste they’d like to believe they are, especially Bruni. The issue rather stems from the medium he used. Taking out a full-page ad to tell about how great his restaurant was doing despite Bruni’s negativity? Poor form. Take it like a man…all the way to the bank.

While Chodorow may have been outraged at no one fighting for restaurateurs against pompous critics, do it through a proper medium. Write an op-ed, get another paper to write an article (Think the NY Post wouldn’t be a potentially receptive ear to bash the Times?) perhaps another established critic to disagree; all better ways of getting your point across. While I can’t place myself in Chodorow’s shoes, being a lowly anonymous blogger and all, I’d like to think he is a bit better than bullying. While his ad did get the point across clearly, some believe the potential ramifications are less than stellar.

Which brings us to round 2 of Chodorow vs. the critics: Wild Salmon.

Eater has an analysis of Adam Platt’s review of Wild Salmon, yet another Jeffrey Chodorow establishment. While Platt’s article places Wild Salmon in the distinctly “blah” category, Eater believes he never goes for the jugular. Because of Chodorow’s NY Times’ ad coupled with his powerhouse PR firm, critics are now forced, according to Eater, “to find a way to pan the restaurant without really, wholeheartedly tying it to the proverbial train tracks.” Obviously this has problems galore, if it’s true.

But while Eater wants to look at elements of Platt being overly timid, and is possibly right on some counts, they overshot their mark in the name of drama. Some of Eater’s statements are critiques of Platt’s style rather than critiques of his critique (Definitely overused that word). You want the truth? Look to the number of stars Platt gave; 1 out of 5. That’s a pretty clear indication of how he really feels.

While quick little numbers take away from the substance of the overall review (a separate topic all together), they give a great overview of how the author ultimately felt, in this case 20% of an amazing restaurant; not enough to make me want to run out and throw around Washingtons over at Wild Salmon. Yea that’s how I roll.

I’m not ready to believe that critics are going to comprise themselves on Chodorow’s behalf; I’ll be keeping watch on Wild Salmon reviews and we’ll see where the critics stand when the dust settles. Hopefully pompous and pretentious win out in the end; I couldn’t handle myself if the status quo were to change.

Critics: 1 Drama: 0

Car 54 Where are you?

So I’ve been on what you call a “hiatus”

Got sick, went on vacation, abduction, sure I could make up some story about where I was, but it would never convey the truth; I was saving the world.

Oh you don't need to say anything, your silent praise is more than enough thanks.