A friend we will call Addison sometimes sends things my way that he thinks will inflame my dudgeon. Not very nice. So, I greet the news of the Meyer/Williams-Sonoma premade cocktail collab with a hearty congratulations to all involved, and I raise a Parksider to toast the Mr. and Mrs. T of the new millennium. And allow me to suggest extending the brand to the 6th borough with a tiein with the original Parkside killer.
A feature like post-collegiate kitchen makes sense, or would if young people read newspapers. But honing your culinary chops so that you can emulate the Olive Garden experience at home? To put it another way, is this a salad or a cry for help? Via YM.
By my reckoning, this is three kinds of sad: 1) Actual health care professionals rolling out the "what you don't know about ____ can kill you" gambit favored by third-place local newscasts during sweeps months 2) That there is a cardiac surgeon who is famous for his appearances on Oprah, and 3) The chilling suspicion that there might actually be readers for whom this would represent useful service journalism.
For the suspicion in #3 to be true, the semantic slipperiness of the word "salad" would have to be beyond the grasp of the average Whole Foods shopper. To review: "salad," as in "I'll just have a salad," refers usually to a lettuce-based preparation of leafy green vegetables, as such, potentially healthy.* "Salad," however, can also refer to just about any refrigerated and prepared food, such as egg salad. A "Salad Bar" usually contains some of each kind of salad item. One could a) make a salad of baby spinach and cherry tomatoes with a light splash of vinaigrette, or b) fix yourself a pail of sausage gravy, and call it a salad. As such, the salad bar represents a series of choices, sort of like eating in general. If your idea of a light meal includes a pound of Southern Sweet Potato Salad,* not even Oprah's cardiologist can save you.
*And the "vegan chicken delight" would delight whom, exactly? Lovers of conundrums? Those who make croutons out of the square root of -1?
This news of the famous Wine Spectator scam of 08, reminds me of a different piece of fake news: Zing! I Just Got You With Another One Of My Trademark 'Complete Lies' If you try hard enough, you can perpetrate a scam on just about anyone. If the purpose of the scam were to reveal some sort of fraud perpetrated by WS, it might have a point, but WS seems to be pretty clear about what each level of recognition, as WS editor Thomas Matthews explains. Granted, collecting a fee like this in return for a certificate is a bit of a racket, but it's a racket restaurants are under no obligation to join. I was chatting with a chef/owner recently about this business who told me he'd never opted in, saying "If you want to write about my wine, write about my wine, but I'm not going to pay for it." For an encore, perhaps Robin Goldstein will create Tammy Everett, a fictitious student from New Trier, and get her into Who's Who Among American High School Students
The seemingly deathless "fail" meme gets on the food bandwagon with Failfoods.com. Some are amusing, but at the end of the day, it's not that hard to find a picture of food that's unappetizing. More interesting is the logo. Is anyone in Austin paying attention?
It's been a while since we looked in on the Madness that is Williams-Sonoma ( beetubs, this week's posts, at large , skew v. West Coast, WTF?), but to be sure, the brain-damaged elves have been busy in their workshop. It's a repush of the $250.00 crock pot, now advertised as the magical indoor device that can produce BBQ. The receipt for the short ribs is reasonable enough (Except for the $13.00 BBQ sauce.* I think I'd rather pay for sex than buy BBQ sauce from a mail order outfit in California.) But you can braise short ribs until Daniel Boulud shows up at your house wearing nothing but a toque and a smile,** and you still won't have BBQ. Heck, you can ask these guys, but BBQ is a noun, and not something that happens in a crock pot. This sort of indifference to meaning damages the whole enterprise. If they are this careless w/ BBQ, who's to say that the potholders are not actually rags soaked in kerosene?
And it's spreading -- reader Chapman passes along news of the Slider Station mini burger sensation. Considering that the slider urge usually hits when one is too drunk to cook for oneself, this one is an accident waiting to happen.
*And calling a BBQ sauce "Southern style" is about as useful as calling a wine "European style." **8-10 hours, usually, depending on the wind.
Eating at Zuni is one of the things I'm looking forward to most about a December trip to SF. That, and the Habermas throwdown, but I digress. I'm looking forward to eating there, because I enjoy the Zuni Cookbook so much. What I enjoy about the Zuni cookbook is the relentless focus on how to cook particular dish -- cooking out of it can leave you feeling harassed, as when you have to shift red onion pickles back and forth between boiling water and ice water three times, or dry the inside of the chicken you will roast three days later -- but the results are often remarkable. This focus on technique makes the lone Zuni book much more compelling than the raft of variously authored books under the Panisse brand. Ingredient-driven food is great, and Waters is the lioness of this movement, but here, the heir's dessert apes Alice's worst inclinations towards mystifying the foods she champions.
Mr. Addison, longtime commenter and FOC commented on a previous post to the effect that The Freeze, were, in fact, superior to Mission of Burma. More rocking? Yes. More influential? No. In any case, here's a tune by them that also offers a useful mnemonic for remembering the hometown of the current NBAchampions. The pic to the left is of their LP with the cover by Edward Gorey, which as you might imagine, is eBay catnip.
By some accounts, Michael Bauer has the kind of make-or-break sway over SF restaurants that Frank Rich used to have over NYC theater. Unlike Rich, Bauer gives the appearance of working in concert with the local Convention and Visitors bureau. A whisper that the Bay Area is not the epicenter of American gastronomy sends him running to the keyboard like he's Hobbes, and it's a can of tuna. His recent effort is par for the course:
It's a three-part listicle, but whatever, it's August. More striking is the rhetoric, which seems cribbed from an article in a Southwest Airlines inflight magazine, where they talk about all the exciting things to see and do in some town you wish you could afford not to have to fly through. The list includes Alice Waters, Tony Gulisano, Paula LeDuc, Thomas Keller, Cindy Pawlcyn,
Craig Stoll, Emily Luchetti, Charles Phan, Jeremy Fox, and Gerald
Hirigoyen.As Grub St. points out, other than Keller and Waters, these are not folks who have reached the level of influence where, say, folks outside of San Francisco have heard of them. Paul Bertolli pops up in part two, but Bauer continues to bat around .200 in terms of names that are recognizable to a non-SFer who reads a lot about food.
It's the kind of thing that's easier to see when it's the mote in someone else's eye, but Bauer ultimately does SF a disservice with this kind of parochial boosterism. It's the same kind of folly that lead a younger Cod to champion some of the more obscure bands of his native Boston, (say, 8th Route Army) which undermined his advocacy of legitimate giants, like Mission of Burma. Bauer's inflation of SF chefs makes it seem as if he is writing about a much smaller town. It's cheerleading that leaves the reader with a profound sense of disembiggenment.