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.
New York Times
Dining featured two really great front page stories today. First, Jeff Gordinier, quickly becoming my favorite Dining section writer, tackled a subject near and dear to me: cooking with music. He interviews chefs about their musical tastes in the kitchen, how central music is to their work and how their musical personality is seeping into the dining room. As a former music blogger turned food blogger, this story held particular interest for me. Love that it features my favorite ice cream chef, Jeni Britton Bauer.
I also really liked Jan Hoffman's story about 12 year-old Marshall Reid who learned to cook healthy food after being teased for being fat and is now an activist to help other children eat better too. He calls his effort "Portion Size Me," (Hoffman also calls it the "Marshall plan," clever), which he and his mom recently turned into a book. It's an inspiring and very human story, as Reid, now healthier but still struggling with his weight, admits to the same dessert temptations faced by many of us all the time.
Pete Wells gives two stars to Empellón Cocina, the East Village Mexican restaurant from Alex Stupak, the former pastry chef of New York's WD-50 and Chicago's Alinea. The restaurant has received a fair amount of buzz, so it's nice to see it get a decent review. Wells points out that Stupak's cooking isn't authentically Mexican, but draws on those flavors to design his own creative dishes, like a gordita made with deep-fried egg yolk served with smoked plantains and chorizo. The guacamole, served with pistachios and masa chips, sounds really good too.
Elaine Sciolino has a piece on the pursuit of the perfect pea. I love peas, although I'm not quite passionate enough to read the whole thing. However, the accompanying recipe for Petits Pois de L’Oustau de Baumanière, which is French for Awesome Sounding Peas with Bacon, is something I must make soon. In keeping with my asparagus theme this week, the Times offers a recipe for Penne with Asparagus Carbonara.
In contrast to the Times, I wasn't really excited about either of the Food section's front page stories, although both have their merits. Jim Shahin explores innovative barbecue cooking, something that would probably interest me more if I had a barbecue (one of the few food drawbacks of living in the city). Joe Yonan pops in for a Cooking for One column on eggs, particularly eggs from your own coop which, again, not something I can do where I live, although it bring back fond memories of gathering eggs in the morning on my grandma's farm.
Two things I really liked today: Bonnie Benwick's Dinner in Minutes recipe and Jason Wilson's Spirits column. Bonnie offered up a Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Croutons, which uses yogurt instead of cream as a thickener plus an interest spice blend of cumin seed, fennel seed and coriander. Jason Wilson's column focuses on cocktails made with grapefruit juice, a personal favorite for building interesting drinks (see, for example, my blog's to-date most popular post: The Happy Endings Whore's Bath). He demonstrates its versatility, offering up suggested drinks with mezcal, tequila, vodka and aquavit. During today's chat he offered quite a few more examples too.
New York Times. Great front pages stories and a review of Alex Stupak's restaurant definitely carries it to victory this week.
The New York Times: 9
The Washington Post: 7