Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Food (Section) Fight!: Week 10

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.

Washington Post
The Washington Post started off this week's Food (Section) Fight! with a black mark: my paper wasn't delivered on time this morning. In fact, it was about an hour late, arriving just as I was walking out the door. So instead of getting to enjoy it over breakfast--which I look forward to every Wednesday morning--I was contorting myself on a crowded Metro train trying to read a broadsheet paper (this is why people buy iPads). Aargh! Nonetheless, I know that's not the Food Section's fault, and this contest is about them and their content. But still, it set the tone, and the content isn't going to pull them up this week. 

It wasn't bad though. I enjoyed Emily Horton's article about the mortar and pestle, a kitchen tool I've heard great things about but still lack. Her piece has pushed me to seriously consider getting one (I added this one to my wishlist), and I appreciate her discussion about which types work better for certain functions. The other front page story, about Baltimore chef Spike Gjerde, didn't really interest me, although his recipes on page E8 sound good, especially the Sunchokes Braised in Butter and Bay Ice Cream (made with fresh bay leaf). In fact, recipes were a strong point of both the Post and the Times this week: I also like Bonnie Benwick's recipe for Salmon and Sushi Rice with Hot, Sweet and Sour Asian Sauce (perfect for Monday fish night) and Stephanie Witt Sedgwick's Toasted Israeli Couscous Primavera, which has flavors similar to a pasta dish I love to make and am looking forward to once the vegetables are in-season.

In a column about LUPEC DC, an association of women bartenders, Jason Wilson offers up two cocktails that sound great: The District, made with rye whiskey and ginger liqueur, and Her Lips Were Devil Red, a tequila-vermouth cocktail named after a lyric from Ricky Martin's infamous 1999 #1 hit.

New York Times
It was also a great week for The New York Times, which led with a fascinating cover story by Julia Moskin about the profession of the celebrity chef's ghost writer. She tells some great stories, unfortunately without naming names, although she does unmask Gwyneth Paltrow as using a ghost writer, which caused a coworker to quip "I told you she was a phony," since I'd recently been praising her often food-themed GOOP newsletter.

There's so much good content this week, it's hard to say where to go next. Perhaps to Pete Wells' review of Acme, a once Cajun-themed restaurant that now turns out modern Danish cuisine to a rather fashionable crowd. Andy Newman's piece on Grand Forks, ND, food critic Marilyn Hagerty is fun. In case you haven't heard, Hagerty wrote a not-scathing review of her town's new Olive Garden, which has become a viral Internet sensation. Although it's popularity smacks of elitism, I think it's rather cool that a small town paper has enough interest in dining to support a food critic. And I disagree with those who think she "gushes" about the Olive Garden (read the article; she's positive, but she's not gushing, and some say she's just being polite, given how little time she spends describing the food). 

Eric Asimov's article about Oregon chardonnays is interesting. I recently sampled some and just happened across one of the bottles described in the article when I went to get lunch at Cowgirl Creamery today. Sounds like something I should write about. The Coq au Vin Blanc recipe that accompanies the story sounds amazing. Speaking of recipes, lots of other good ones this week: Leek and Potato Souffle with Ham and Fontina sounds really tasty, and I like the cabbage three-ways presentation on the back, with recipes for Cabbage, Potato and Leek soup, Crunchy Vietnamese Cabbage Salad With Pan-Seared Tofu and Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies and Bread Crumbs. Even Mrs. Romney's Meat Loaf Cake sounds interesting.

Lastly, the article about the new pastry chefs at Le Bernadin and Jean Georges is interesting, giving a glimpse behind the scenes at two of New York's most famous eateries.

The Verdict
It's a good week for both sections, but the content-packed New York Times comes out on top.

The Score
The New York Times: 6
The Washington Post: 4


  1. I didn't see the Washington Post's Food section, but I did check out the New York Times' Dining section and found several of the articles interesting. I began the piece on cookbook ghostwriters thinking it would be a good job for you, but by the time I reached the end of the article, I decided you're too good for such thankless work.

  2. If I wrote a cookbook, you better be sure my name WILL appear on the cover.