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.
It's time for Beer Madness! The Washington Post's annual beer contest. This year, beer columnist Greg Kitsock introduced the panel of 32 beers (with another really great graphic), which have been divided into four divisions: hop, roast, fruit & spice and crisp, which replaced last year's malt category. Beer Madness was introduced in 2006, the year Delaware's Dogfish took top honor with its 90-Minute Imperial IPA. With links the brackets, the winners from others years were: Brooklyn Lager (2007), Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown Ale (2008), our "house" beer, Tröegs Hopback Amber Ale (2009), Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout (2010) and last year's insane 64-beer bracket winner, Flying Fish Exit 4. Here's the story, description of each beer and graphic.
So yay for Beer Madness! But after that, this week's Food section is kinda slim. Tim Carman has a column on the city's plans to start taxing mobile food trucks, which is interesting, but I've already read about that on Food Truck Fiesta, so it wasn't really news to me (also this week's biggest news in D.C. food trucks was really that Jose Andres, a.k.a. D.C.'s most famous chef, launched his own food truck Pepe yesterday, and there's sadly no mention of that in the Food section). I enjoyed Tom Sietsema's First Bite on Top Chef alum and Volt proprietor Bryan Voltaggio's new casual Frederick, Md., restaurant, Lunchbox. Volt is an amazing restaurant and it sounds like Lunchbox mostly lives up to Voltaggio's reputation for excellence. I'm very much looking forward to the opening of Bryan's first D.C. restaurant, Range, later this year.
None of this week's recipes really blew me away. I was most interested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick's Nourish recipe, Lemon Oregano Pork Tenderloin with Lemon Jus, but the New York Times' also had a pork recipe this week, which sounds more interesting.
New York Times
This week's Dining section led with two very well written front-page stories. Jeff Gordinier's piece about the retirement of Philadelphia restaurant Le Bec-Fin's longtime chef Georges Perrier was a moving tribute to the end of an era for what was once one of the country's top restaurants. The story gives a flavor of what Perrier is like and puts the recent decline of his restaurant in context with the changing landscape of top-tier culinary interests, particularly the sidelining of formal, traditional French cuisine, which was once the pinnacle of American fine dining (I sense a trend, as this is not unlike Gordinier's great story last week about the disappearance of Tournedos Rossini).
The other front-page story is Jennifer Steinhauer's attempt to recreate some of her favorite (ahem) junk foods at home. While that's not a particularly original experiment, it's still a fun read. Although not relevant to the subject at hand, I love Steinhauer's description of what it's like for a food reporter to work at a desk near a national security reporter: “Here is what I hear when I eavesdrop on Eric’s phone conversations: 'So, are those lethal or nonlethal?' Here is what he hears listening to me: 'Is that a buttercream or really more of a ganache?'” Personally, I don't have any nostalgia for Hostess Twinkies and Cupcakes (I didn't eat them much as a child), but I find attempts to replicate industrial food products amusing.
Both of the page 2 recipes sound really good this week: Pork Tenderloin with Shallots and Prunes, a take on the French dish porc aux pruneaux, and Barley, Celery Root and Mushroom Salad With Scallion Vinaigrette. I also enjoyed Eric Asimov's article on wine decanting.
Beer Madness is great fun, but The New York Times' wonderful front-page stories give the Dining section the win this week.
The New York Times: 5
The Washington Post: 4