Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Food (Section) Fight!: Week 25

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.

Cook In / Dine Out is really busy tonight preparing for the summer office dessert contest (chocolate cake with peanut butter-cream cheese frosting). So this is going to be a quick FSF, following a new format: top 5 for each.

New York Times

1) "A Rat Pack of Reviewers," by Julia Moskin. Moskin's feature chronicles the daily life of three Las Vegas restaurant critics with varied backgrounds from the buttoned-up John Curtas to the mohawked Al Mancini. It's an inviting look into the food culture of America's hospitality capital, which is more than just steakhouses these days.

2) "Across the Country, The Menu Expands," How to Cook Everything column by Mark Bittman. Bittman reflects on recent a cross-country road trip with his daughter and how the foods they encountered, while not always haute cuisine, are showing an increasing level of quality and variety from what they experienced on a similar trip just a few years ago.

3) "Help for the Gooey Fingered," review by Julia Moskin. Moskin also reviewed the new free iPad app from food website and magazine Gilt Taste. Its recipes include an innovative "fingers free" feature whereby you wave your hand in front of the iPad camera to switch between steps. I just tried it out and although it didn't work perfectly, I think with practice this could be great. Would love to see Mark Bittman's app implement something similar.

4) "A Summer Salad the French Might Recognize," recipe for French Potato and Green Bean Salad by David Tanis. Apparently I'm not the only one with Salade Niçoise on the mind, as David Tanis offers this simple version.

5) "Thailand Extends to Brooklyn," Pok Pok Ny restaurant review by Pete Wells. Portland-based Thai restauranteur/chef Andy Ricker's second New York outpost nets a two-star review. On the plus side: innovative Thai cooking. On the minus side: a small restroom and no reservations. Sounds like a place for those who enjoy waits.

Washington Post

1) "Who could make such a cake? You." The Process column by David Hagedorn. David Hagedorn is my hero this week. I loved his Process column, which tackled Momofuku Milk Bar pastry chef Christina Tosi's Lemon Berry Crunch Cake. It is similar conceptually to the Arnold Palmer Cake featured in the second issue of Lucky Peach: the idea is to build a 6-inch, 3-layer cake sandwich additional layers of frosting and/or filling. David breaks the process down, clearly explaining the equipment involved and how the cake really isn't that hard to make if you allow yourself time (several days) to complete its various steps. We even bonded over our love of Tosi's corn cookies during today's Free Range chat.

2) "Someone's upgraded my bean cuisine," Cooking for One column by Joe Yonan. Joe declares his love of beans this week, which is something I can get behind. In particular, he points out how much better dried beans are than canned; I completely agree, and am trying to use them instead as much as is practical, particularly for soups. Related recipes: Asian Bean and Barley Salad and Lentil, Beet and Orange Salad.

3) "Lighten up: how to make a summer picnic simple, smart and Southern," feature by Bonnie S. Benwick. Bonnie provides the Fourth of July picnic hook up with a bevy of tasty back page recipes, including Oven-Fried Chicken on a Stick.

4) "Noble rot can lead to a silly grin," Wine column by Jason Wilson. Interesting wine column on oft-overlooked sweet wines.

5) "Pasta and Zucchini with Lemon-Basil Ricotta Cream," Nourish recipe by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.   This sounds really good, and I bet it would be great with fresh ricotta, which I have recently learned how to make (and will share with you soon).

Bonus: 1) The tomato recipe contest starts with entries due July 24, 2) Jose Andrés is relocating Minibar to the former Zola Wine & Kitchen space, coinciding with the end of America Eats Tavern which will close next week, 3) Rasika's Vikram Sunderam was the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington "Rammy" award for best chef.


The Washington Post. The Times' Las Vegas feature was interesting, but David Hagedorn's forray into Momofuku Milk Bar cooking really captured by attention.

The Score

We are officially halfway through the year, and the score is tied!

The Washington Post: 12
The New York Times: 12