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
This week's Dining is the Summer Drinks Issue, and the staff managed to pull together a lot of cohesive content under this winning theme. Melissa Clark has the centerpiece story, which focuses on developing interesting cocktails as well as snacks to go with them. So the Golden Bowl, an anise-flavored whiskey cocktail, is paired with refreshing sounding White Bean and Fennel Dip. There are a lot of great ideas here. PDT's Jim Meehan contributes a short piece on curating a cocktail party, which he suggests can be accomplished by selecting an interesting "modifier" (i.e. a liqueur or an amari) to pair with a quality base spirit. Having a selection on hand will allow discerning guests to choose what they want. Complimenting both stories is the New York Times' new interactive cocktail recipe generator, which pairs a base spirit, with liqueuers and other mixers to make simple, classic cocktails.
The most interesting article of the summer drinks stories was Eric Asimov's lengthy piece about gin, which includes an overview of the different styles, a brief history of the spirit, an admittedly biased take on the gin vs. vodka debate (I'm solidly with Eric in favoring gin) and a tasting of 20 American gins, which has become a thing apparently. My only gripe: I wished he'd have listed all 20 of the gins sampled and not just the 10 he liked best.
Off-themed content that also interested me were Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything column on making do with pantry staples, from which he made a Spanish-influenced shrimp dish (surely Mark's pantry is way more impressive than most peoples') and David Tanis' recipe for Cold Rice Noodles with Grilled Chicken and Peanut Sauce, which looks like a more vegetal version of pad thai.
In this round of Food (Section) Fight!, the gloves are coming off at the Washington Post. Literally, as their feature story was an exposé by Aliza Green on how the common practice of using latex gloves in commercial kitchens may actually endanger food safety rather than promote it. The story includes the quite disturbing imagery of a gloved line cook handling raw chicken for a chicken salad and then handling the salad's vegetables without washing or changing gloves. Yikes.
Tim Carman has an insightful story about two people who started an organic candy business, which serves as an entry into his look at the difficulties of organic certification (and contains the interesting tidbit that while "organic" is a strictly regulated term, "natural" is not).
Tom Sietsema's First Bite showcases Bandolero, the second D.C. restaurant venture from Top Chef alum Mike Isabella. Georgetown's Bandolero promises to be as hot as his Chinatown debut, Graffiato, and I'm looking forward to my own first bite there in about a week.
Some great recipes this week too. The back pages features recipes for summer soups, including White Bean and Corn Soup and Beet and Tomato Bisque. I'm also intrigued by Bonnie Benwick's Dinner in Minutes recipe: Linguine with Fennel Tuna Sauce.
Here's a Food (Section) Fight! first: a tie. I love the Times' Summer Drinks Guide, but the Post packed in a lot of interesting and varied content this week. I really can't say which I found more enjoyable, so I'm not going to try. Kudos to both.
The New York Times: 12
The Washington Post: 10