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.
Neither section really bowled me over this week, although both had interesting stories.
The Washington Post
An ancient picture of a British chef greets me on the cover of the Food Section. It's Robert May, a 17th century British chef who published the cookbook "The Accomplished Cook or The Art & Mystery of Cookery" in 1685. The article is about the British culinary tradition, which, although unfairly derided for its Victorian blandness, has a rich history of good food that (not unlike America's) went downhill in the early 20th century due to industrialization and war shortages. Clarissa Dickson Wright's article makes a good case for better appreciation of British cuisine, which I personally have never turned my nose up at (Yorkshire pudding? Bread & butter pudding? Sticky toffee pudding? Yum!). She mentions that British cooking is in a period of real renaissance, with influences from American modernism. I wish she'd included more specific examples, as that sounds interesting.
The other story I really liked was Jim Shahin's look at smoked beer. Wow, what a cool idea. I don't think I've had a smoked beer, although many porters do tend to veer toward smoky flavor. They included a recipe for Smoked Beer and Cheddar Soup, which sounds good. I think smoked beer would also make really awesome chili. At Rodman's this afternoon I picked up Epic Brewing's Smoked & Oaked Belgian-Style Ale.
The page 2 recipes both look interesting: Bonnie Benwick's Pear-Radicchio Risotto With Red Grapes and Stephanie Witt Sedgwick's Curry-Rubbed Chicken Scaloppine With Gingered Zucchini. I'm particularly interested in Bonnie's recipe, which she describes as having savory flavor despite the fruit.
The New York Times
The NYT also highlights a foreign culture's cuisine, focusing on Tibetan beef dumplings, Tsak Sha Momas, that sound really quite tasty. Julia Moskin's article talks about how the dish is actually a no-no, since Tibetans are supposed to be vegetarian (they are Buddhist), but they eat meat anyway out of necessity, since their harsh climate requires it.
I really enjoyed Pete Well's restaurant review which, playing against type, doesn't review a stuffy midtown place or so-on-the-edge-it's-about-to-fall-off Soho pop-up, but instead turns his lens toward...Shake Shack! He likes the hot dogs and really likes the shakes, but finds the burgers to be inconsistent and the fries to be a real disappointment. I haven't yet visited the D.C. outpost, but plan to do so soon.
Nice to see a story from former restaurant critic Frank Bruni, who profiles former pastry chef turned chef Alex Stupak, who just opened a Mexican restaurant in the East Village, Empellón Cocina, the sister restaurant to his West Village location, Empellón Taqueria. Stupak used to be pastry chef at Alinea, the Chicago restaurant at the forefront of modernist cuisine, but decided to take control of all aspects of the kitchen. Lastly, Melissa Clark's recipe for Sautéed Chicken With Meyer Lemon and Rosemary sounds really delicious. The accompanying article describes a quick method for making preserved lemons that I'd like to try.
It's a tough call. I enjoyed the Post's British cuisine article and can't wait to try some smoky beer. But the Tibetan dumplings, Bruni's Stupak profile, Shake Shack review and Clark's recipe pushes The Times just ahead this week.
The New York Times: 4
The Washington Post: 3