Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Food (Section) Fight!: Week 5

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.

Week 5 was an easy decision, although at first I wasn't sure it would be.

Upon first glance, The Washington Post Food section left me a little cold. The big cover story? Cupcakes. I'm not really into cupcakes. In fact, I'm quite tired of them. I'd much prefer a slice of cake, thank you very much. They are messy to eat, with the frosting in one big glob rather than spread nicely over the whole cake. They're often dried out too. Yet D.C. seems to be the epicenter of a cupcake fever that's swept the nation. There's so many places to get cupcakes. There's even a mobile food truck that parks itself outside my office to offer them.

Despite my initial reaction, I actually enjoyed the feature story about Doron Petersan, proprietor of the Sticky Fingers vegan bakery in Columbia Heights and champion on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars. It's a great story about the drive to succeed doing something you love and care about.

Inside, there's lots of good content this week:
  • Tom Sietsema is apparently falling in love with Mintwood Place, which gets a rave First Bite. I'm very interested in this place and hope to go there soon. Chef Cedric Maupillier, formerly of Central Michel Richard, sounds like he'll pose a serious challenge to Cashion's Eat Place as Adams-Morgan's premier restaurant with his escargo-filled hush puppies and cassoulet. And don't get me started on the idea of a flaming Baked Alaska, courtesy of Dawn Swaney, his former Central sous-chef. This sounds amazing. I'm willing to take bets on whether Tom gives them at least 3 stars (Mintwood Place's website).
  • Bonnie Benwick, who I learned from today's chat has taken the reins as interim Food Section editor while Joe Yonan takes a leave of absence, has outdone herself this week with tasty recipes. First she offers up Salvadoran Enchiladas with ground pork, eggs and tomatoes. Shame the print edition didn't run the color photo with it, as it's quite attractive. Then she reviewed the British cookbook The Perfect Ingredient by Bryn Williams and adapted several of his recipes, including Almond Potatoes and Marjoram Gnocchi. Yum! I've been itching to try my hand at homemade gnocchi again and Bonnie just convinced me it's time.
  • More goodness from Stephanie Witt Sedgwick's Nourish column, which this week features Potato, Pancetta and Brussels Sprout Saute. I made sautéed Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs for Thanksgiving last year, so this is a flavor combination I already know will be good.
  • The Lemongrass food truck sound delicious, offering yet another welcome take on the old food truck standard of Asian-inspired tacos. Shame that as a downtown worker I won't be eating at the Arlington-exclusive truck.
  • Lastly, although not part of the Food Section content proper, spirits columnist Jason Wilson had some good cocktail advice for me during today's chat:
I seem to be out of control with ginger in cocktails. Everything I make has Domaine de Canton or ginger beer. Knowing that I like that flavor, as well as citrus, what should I try to broaden my horizons?

Hmm. That's not so bad to be taken with Domaine de Canton and ginger beer! Maybe you could stick with the ginger ale/beer theme, but broaden from there by trying new spirits. One I really like is the Cloudy Sky, which is sloe gin, ginger beer and lime juice. So tasty! You'll expand your horizons by trying real sloe gin, from a brand like Plymouth -- not the fake stuff. Another good template is the classic buck, which you can experiement with ginger beer and many different spirits. Here is the Bargoens Buck, which calls for Dutch genever, lemon juiceand Campari.
The New York Times this week, by comparison, was a snooze. The cover story was all about trying to appreciate food more by eating slowly and savoring. Yeah okay, I know that's a good idea, but does it really warrant almost two full pages of the section?

Recipe-wise, the Dark Chocolate-Cherry Ganache Bars are pretty, but I really don't like cherry with my chocolate. The Flaky Pastry Lids sound interesting until you read the recipe and realize it's just pie dough on top of soup.

Oh, and D.C.'s Georgetown Cupcakes is opening a branch in Soho, but I'm pretty sure The Washington Post cornered the food section market on cupcake coverage this morning, so that's a bit been-there-done-that.

Verdict: Great coverage by the Post and an off-week from the Times hands the Washington Post an easy Food (Section) Fight victory this week. Whoo-hoo!


  1. Yes to homemade gnocchi! No to reducing ginger beer!

  2. Maybe we could do gnocchi next Saturday. I get it would be good with bacon and Brussels sprouts, if you're up for having sprouts again so soon. I do love ginger beer, but I don't want all my cocktail recipes to feature ginger. Time to branch out!