Eater asks "is the future of cookbooks digital"? They say yes, and to an extent, they are right -- the future of cookbooks is digital, just the way it was back when folks were wondering if cooking blogs would make cookbooks obsolete. There will always be someone stoked about a future platform that will turn your digital Julia Chilld MTAOFC into a vertiable KITT of the kitchen, because "publishers speculate you'll soon be able to turn the pages using voice commands so you won't have to get your reader dirty." But the Cod's bet is that the all digital book utopia will continue to reside in the future, right where it's been for decades.
Dirty is one not the only, issue, but worth considering. Not even the most sophisticated tablet/iPad/etc, can eliminate the need to bring your sophisticated and costly tablet/iPad/etc. into an environment where there is fire, water, grease, and any number of other things that are not good for electronic device. If your kitchen looks like Thomas Keller's, maybe it's viable, but for the rest of us, it seems like a a dicey proposition.
The predictions the almost always savvy Paula Forbes makes is based on a "future of books" timeline from a website called TechCrunch. It's either a troll contra paper advocates, "The book is, at best, an artifact and at worst a nuisance," or, more charitably, asking a tech blog theabout the futre of text is a little like asking your Zumba instructor what the most popular cardio exercise will be in 2025.
The future Forbes sees for "dead tree" publication is an art object niche:
Achatz, Adria, Blumenthal etc. are the usual suspects here, but predicting a niche this narrow for print cookbooks does not account for how people exchange and use cookbooks. The social relations that are constellated around a cookbook make no sense in a digital realm. A digital cookbook as a wedding gift calls to mind Roast Beef's speculations about how robots have sex; a digital cookbook as heirloom is ridiculous, even if DRM permitted passing the text from mother to son.
The Cod imagines that digital cookbooks will grow -- it would be handy to have access to MTAOFC while you were on a business trip, in case you needed to poach a trout all of a sudden. But they will displace print cookbooks slowly and partially. At the risk of sounding like George Wallace, print today, print tomorrow, print forever. And many thanks to @pennypascal for the Peerless Photoshopping.
There does seem to be some ruckus attending Sifton, as a service to the patrons in the hotel housing Imperial No. 9, putting the name and address of a competing restaurant at the tail end of his review. I support the decision. Sifton did well to put it, and Wells did right to keep it. It's a critic's job to steer readers toward good restaurants/books/movies, and away from bad ones, right? If you walked into a record store asking for Guadacanal Diary, would it not be reasonable for the clerk to suggest REM instead? If you suggested an activity that did not involve drinking Narragansett Summer Ale, would it not be incumbent upon your friend to suggest amending the croquet match/trip to the beach/deposition/funeral to include the consumption of Narragansett Summer Ale? Seriously, folks, this stuff is the 'Gansett you know and love, but, like 1/4 Dale's Pale Ale on its mom's side.
To return, the folks who have a right to a beef w/ Sifton are the guests of the Mondrian Hotel. Including the Asia De Cuba address in the review is like saying to Mondrian patrons "Hey, the restaurant that is basically a Chuck E. Cheese for trophy wives in your sucks! But since that's what you want, here's how to get to a better Chuck E. Cheese for trophy wives! Have fun in the city! Did you get Lion King tickets?" Considering that Sifton knows at least 50 restaurants he actually likes, it's as if he thinks the people who stay at the Mondrian use Yahoo! personals.
A few questions for oyster lovers, and the folks who pander to them:
Restaurant folks: If a restaurant has oysters priced at, say $10/half dozen and $17/dozen, and you order six of one variety, do you ring that as $10 + $10 = $20, or at $17?
Also, what is the deal with Ameripure oysters? The cinetrix and I tucked in to some last night at a dreadful new spot in the upstate. They tasted like pieces of those white Crocs that nurses wear. The Cod's got nothing but love for Gulf seafood, but these oysters give Gulf oysters a bad name. Zero flavor, zero salinity. It was like the Sani-Taco of oysters. It's a curious buiness proposition, as the marketing hook seems to be reducing levels of pathogens I've never heard of, and would be happier not knowing about. I can understand concerns about BP related chemical contamination, but bacterial contamination would seem to be a whole other kettle of fish. Given the general cluelessness of this outfit, they could have done something like rinsed the oysters prior to serving. (Ordering poboys outside the 504 is like kissing gila monsters, but hope springs eternal. Ford's take on the roast beef poboy is something between pulled pork and sloppy Joe in texture, on a hot dog bun. It made me pine for Domilise's, even if I had to watch a loopof Tyree's catch Clockwork Orange steez, while Eli pinned my arms back, and Peyton fed me.*)
*I am aware that that may well be what this lady would ask Make-a-Wish for, which makes one of us.
Sometimes the Cod has lovely meals and never writes them up. Sometimes the Cod cooks things and never writes them up. Sometimes the subject of Sifton soundtracks does the Cod's work for him. But of the regular features here on the Cod, Guiteau Monday is like a train made out of depleted uranium. Garfield, you will remember, does not care for Mondays. (It's not as if he had a job, so not sure why he cared, but, I digress.) Guiteau shot President Garfied, and presumably really did not like Mondays. So, a regular feature here on the Cod is Guiteau Mondays, where we feature especially awful developments from the world. Our friends at the Awl make it easy this week, with the gender reveal baby cake party. It is what it sounds like -- your obstetrician communicates with your baker, and your baker makes a cake that is pink or blue on the inside. Especially/even if your day job compels you to consider the obstetrical episteme, this is pretty disturbing. The Cod is especially concerned that this trend will spread from obstetrics to oncology, and we will all be getting eVites to biopsy reveal parties. In any event, no question at all that is a Guiteau Monday. In hopes of a brighter week, and as a critique of binary notions of gender delivered as only a developmentally disabled five year old otter can do, play us off, Philippe:
If being a has-been who never quite lived up to expectations means two Michelin stars and a host of good works, then sign me up.
It's always nice to see David "United States of Arugula" Kamp in DI/DO, but this was a curious sort of piece. Charlie Trotter raised the bar for dining in Chicago, and still runs this exellent restaurant. And he brings in utes, cooks them nice food, and tries to motivate them. His former employee, Grant Achatz, has three stars, while Trotter has to content himself with two. Even that is a dis:
Evidently, a lack of bacon trapezes (Alinea) or wild-boar sloppy Joe (gonzo-hipster)* consigns a chef to the unhappy fate of simply running a really good restaurant. The bigger knock, however, is Trotter's failure to establish a beachhead in NYC, or to thrive in Vegas. Trotter's absence from Top Chef Masters goes unmentioned here, but seems of a piece with the larger concerns with what Trotter's done since opening the best restaurant in Chicago at the age of 27.
What strikes me about Kamp's piece is not any lack of sympathy on his part, but how much the yardsticks for cheffly success have changed. Not that long ago, holding down two Michelin stars in a relatively out of the way part of the dining world would have been something to celebrate. Indeed, a two-Michelin-star chef who screams at his cooks sounds like MFKF's bread and butter. Put Trotter's in France a generation ago, and it's a Thing. Evidently, Trotter's food is very good:
I'll take that over a wild-boar Sloppy Joe, thanks. In general, what Kamp describes -- a chef-proprietor with some love from Mr. Bib, who consistently cooks really good food and yells at his staff -- is what used to be the epitome of Chef. Now, lack of an outpost in Dubai, and failure to hobnob with Padma, put you in the also-ran category. Were I Trotter, I might be saying something to myself about how it's the pictures that got small. (Speaking of pictures, in the print ed of the Times, the big B&W pic seems to be laying it on a little thick, considering that it was taken in 1991, when color photography was widely available. Based on available images, the B&W seems like a reach.
*Achewood fans cannot read the words "gonzo" and "restaurant" in the same sentence without recalling the Sani-Taco story arc.