Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Food (Section) Fight!: Week 35

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

(1) "Getting to Know You," article by Suzanne Craig. The Times went with a restaurant theme this week, examining different angles of New York restaurants' ups, downs and even insides. Craig's lead story looks at the business's increasing use of customer profiles based on personal data amassed from repeat visits and online sources like Open Table. In an era where the companies we do business with increasingly know more about us, restaurants it seems are joining in too, using such data to anticipate how to best treat existing--and even new--customers.

(2) "Six Burners, 60 Sq. Ft.," feature by Sophie Brickman. I loved this second-page article and infographic about the layout of small Brooklyn restaurant Battersby's kitchen. Makes me appreciate my own compact, galley-style setup.

(3) "Reinvention, With Card Tricks and a Drink Cart," feature by Jeff Gordinier. I recently read about how Eleven Madison Park is switching restaurant staffs with Chicago's Alinea for two upcoming periods to showcase the restaurants in the other cities. Seems that's not the only trick that James Beard Award-winning chef Daniel Humm has planned, as his restaurant rolls out a new Manhattan cocktail truck, reinvents steak tartare starring carrots and offers "mystery desserts." Eleven Madison Park is revered as one of the country's finest, and Humm certainly looks to be working hard to keep it at the culinary forefront.

(4) "Sometimes Formica Beats White Tablecloths," How to Cook Everything column by Mark Bittman. Bittman may sound like a cranky old man ranting against four-star and hipster-hour-long-wait restaurants. But, I'm right there with him. As the former is too expensive and the latter too annoying, I too prefer casual restaurants (i.e. no tie) with good food and, preferably, a reservations system. I'm sure I'm not the only one who will start a quest to identify his unnamed favorite Japanese restaurant in Midtown.

(5) "Wine Salt: Easier to Make Than to Imagine," A Good Appetite column and recipe by Melissa Clark. Clark examines a wine-salt rub made from reduced white wine, thyme, sugar and salt, which sounds like an interesting way to flavor pork or chicken. The recipe is adapted from Pazzo, an Italian restaurant in Portland, Ore. (Personal aside: My burgeoning restaurant critic career--for my high school newspaper--ended at Pazzo, which I reviewed as a potential prom date locale my senior year).

Washington Post

(1) "Filling lunchboxes with buzz, tweets," Q&A by Jane Touzalin. It's back to school for the Washington Post Food section today! Touzalin sat down with Maria Trabocchi, special events director for Fiola and wife of the chef, to talk about what she packs for her kids' lunches. As you would expect, is not PB&J, but an ever-changing exotica of flavors. On this day, it was skate, prosciutto, tomatoes and stracchino on grilled bread. Apparently she went too far when she packed octopus. I love that she mentioned her Twitter feed, where she writes about the lunches she packs, and that she doesn't have very many followers (she's gained about 100 today).

(2) "With the kids back in school, a lesson in dinner planning," article by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick. Sedgwick tells us about how she never planned her dinners, at least she didn't consciously do so, but when July's derecho meant she had to toss everything from the freezer, she realized she'd actually been planning all along, by making and freezing extras that could be whipped up into quick dinners. Along those lines, she offers a number of great recipes, including Mexican Chicken Tenders and Rice and Beer-Braised Pork and Carrot Stew, which would be good for families or busy anybodies without a lot of time to make dinner.

(3) "Really, it's a piece of cake," Staff Favorites article and recipe by Jane Touzalin. This is a short little piece on page E5, but I love it. Touzalin talks about how her former coworker brought in this amazing dessert one day and she scored the recipe. She named it after the coworker, "Amy's Easy Apple Cake," and it sounds simple and delicious.

(4) "Roasted and Raw Carrot Salad with Avocado and Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette," Dinner in Minutes recipe by Bonnie Benwick. Benwick's salad of carrots, mixed greens and pine nuts sounds easy and delicious. She said it's good with cold soup--I bet my corn soup would be perfect with it.

(5) "One mission, many courses," article by Tom Sietsema. Restaurant critic Sietsema ventured into features territory with this week's centerpiece about how the State Department has enlisted a squad of America's biggest name chefs (including locals like Jose Andres, Vikram Sunderam, Bryan Voltaggio and Mike Isabella) as "State Chefs," serving as international ambassadors for America through food. Interesting idea, although frankly, it wasn't entirely clear to me from the story what the goal of this is. Still, food is an important part of culture, one that has often been ignored in the U.S. (although not so much lately). I hope it's a successful project.


The New York Times. Quite a few good stories in both sections this week, but the restaurant focus on the Times delivered my favorite stories.


The New York Times: 18
The Washington Post: 16

1 comment:

  1. Those restauant stories in the Times sound interesting. Also: a cocktail truck?!