Food (Section) Fight! is my weekly look at The Washington Post's Food section and The New York Times' Dining section with my verdict on which section had the better content for the week.
I was pretty sure as early as last night that The Washington Post was easily going to win Week 8 of Food (Section) Fight! I got wind that The Food Section was planning a feature spread on...macaroni & cheese! It doesn't get much better than that. The Food Section editor confirmed for me that indeed they were publishing a story, a way cool graphic and seven recipes all built around one of my all-time favorite foods (I recently wrote about it myself). It seemed the win was in the bag.
The New York Times
But I should not have counted out The New York Times so easily, as they put up a noble fight with this week's content. Jeff Gordinier wrote a fantastic story lamenting the disappearance from fine dining menus of traditional dishes done well in favor of new-fangled creations. His story is built around Tournedos Rossini, a French dish consisting of filet mignon on toasted bread topped with foie gras, truffles and a rich Madeira demi-glace, which he remembers fondly from his childhood (that's some sophisticated palate for a child).
Other worthwhile stories include political reporter Jeremy Peters' story about his experience with martinis on the campaign trail, particularly the surprisingly places where he got good ones. I'm not a big martini fan, but his story has convinced me I need to give the drink another shot. The story about J.B. Prince, a family-run restaurant supply store, is interesting as is the story about the city's restaurant health inspection grading system, although the impression I'm left with it is mostly that the system is flawed (nonetheless, I'm tempted to look up some of my favorite places to see how they score).
The dessert recipes on page 2 all sound fabulous, especially the Butterscotch Custard with Clove and Black Pepper and the Baked Tapioca Pudding with Cinnamon Sugar Brûlée. I'm going to have to make one of these soon. And the other one soon thereafter. Yummy.
The Washington Post
Back to WaPost and Jane Touzalin's inspired mac & cheese story. The graphic on the back page (by illustrator Laura Stanton) is really fun, basically showing how versatile macaroni & cheese can be, allowing you to customize not only its cheeses (the consensus from today's chat is that fontina makes the creamiest cheese sauce), but mix it up with different vegetables, herbs, aromatics and meats. I'm looking forward to concocting something with pancetta, caramelized onion, blue cheese and rosemary, maybe with a pine nut/parmesan topping.
Beyond that, WaPost holds off NYT's challenge, with quite a few other decent stories. I can't say I'm taken with Tim Carman's West African cuisine story (although he gets credit for thinking way outside the box on that one), but I like Bonnie Benwick's story about a college sophomore who's started a successful cooking publication geared toward college-age readers. Bonnie's Dinner in Minutes recipe is really good, so good in fact, that I adapted it for the sautéed chicken breast I made for dinner tonight. It's really just a basic take on flour-dredged sautéed chicken with simple pan sauce, but it's never a bad thing to remind people how easy and versatile a dinner that is. Finally, spirits columnist Jason Wilson offers up some interesting ideas for using port in cocktails, including the Philadelphia Scotchman, another drink I will be trying soon.
The Washington Post really grabbed me with their mac & cheese feature, and as much as the Times tried to sway me with their wonderful Tournedos de Rossini story, I'm still giving this to the Post.
The New York Times: 4
The Washington Post: 4