Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Food (Section) Fight!: Week 6

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.

This week's Food (Section) Fight! is between a good week and a really good week.

The Times had some great stories. I really enjoyed Alissa Rubin's thoughtful piece on her relationship with food while serving as a war correspondent in Afghanistan. I can imagine her joy at discovering that misplaced hunk of parmesan.

Lots of D.C. food in the New York Times this week. An interesting article about smoke flavor in cocktails featured three D.C.-area establishments, D.C.'s Rogue 24 and Columbia Room and Alexandria's PX. These places go to some pretty amazing lengths to infuse smoke flavor into their cocktails (I don't suppose they've thought of just using the liquid smoke flavor?). An article about the growing trend of Indian fast food mentioned Merzi in Penn Quarter. Also, although not in the food section, there was an article yesterday about the secret (or now not so secret) D.C. supper club, Hush. During today's chat, I gently ribbed the Washington Post Food Section about NYT stealing all this thunder. They took the high road, of course.

Recipe-wise, there were two good ones today: a very delicious-looking Fennel Al Forno, which sparked me to ask in the Washington Post chat why fennel is always sold with its stalks, and a traditional Split Pea Soup that I would like to make once I can get slab bacon from Red Apron downtown.

A good barometer of how much I enjoy The Washington Post Food Section is how far through my breakfast I am when I finish reading it. Generally, I finish it about the time I finish my cereal, leaving me enough time to skim another section while I finish my coffee. Not so today. There was so much good content that I didn't finish everything I wanted to read until after work.

Let's start with page E1 and Joe Yonan's monthly Cooking for One column, which explored former Chez Panisse Chef Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal, highlighting two really amazing-sound recipes: a kale-based Greens Gratin, which Joe says he enjoys over toast, and Chickpea Pasta. The story itself is interesting too, learning to cook by thinking about leftovers as ingredients for your next dish. Sounds like a wise way to be more frugal in the kitchen.

The other front page story I really enjoyed was Tim Carman's look at meat eating, identifying some stark contrasts between the overall decline in meat consumption and rise in concerns about its production against the increasing--especially locally--cachet of high-end meat-based restaurants, particularly burgers and barbecue. Love this line: "Even as millions of Americans continue to gobble down gourmet burgers, dry-aged steaks, chef-driven charcuterie and bacon-wrapped everything, they’re regularly forced to consider the potential consequences of their actions."

Jason Wilson's spirits column makes me want to run out to the liquor store and hunt down some white vermouth, which I'll admit I'd never heard of until I read his story. He describes white vermouth's taste as having "distinct aromas of thyme and oregano and notes of cloves and vanilla, striking a unique balance between sweet and savory." Doesn't that sound interesting?

Last but not least, Bonnie Benwick's Dinner in Minutes feature offers up a comforting Chicken and Andouille Hash that sounds like a great Sunday morning treat.

Verdict: It was a good week for The New York Times but a really good week for The Washington Post, which claims its third Food (Section) Fight victory in a row. For the year to date, that means they are now tied. Big week next week!

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