Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Food (Section) Fight!: Week 44

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) “Stuffing, Set Free From Turkey,” by Julia Moskin. Stuffing is a delicious and versatile food, and I’m a big fan. I plan to feature two versions for my Thanksgiving coverage this year. It’s often my favorite part of the holiday meal. Moskin does a nice job detailing the history of the dish and how it used to be standard fare for many home cooks, but has lately been relegated almost exclusively to Thanksgiving. I particularly liked that her article mentioned the late film producer Ismael Merchant (of Merchant-Ivory fame), who was apparently a big fan of stuffing. She even shared his recipe for Spicy Lemon-Ginger Bread Stuffing.

2) “Sandy Offers Lessons to Restaurateurs,” by Glenn Collins. Last week, I gave the Times credit for putting out a great section the day after the hurricane. This week, the hurricane is all over the section. Collins’ article takes a look at how last week’s disaster is pushing restaurants to rethink disaster planning, install drainage devices and perhaps even alter their architecture to move basement kitchen and refrigeration space upstairs.

3) “Why Downtown Needs Diners Now,” Restaurants column by Pete Wells. No review this week, as Wells states it would be unfair to judge a restaurant under the irregular operating conditions of the past week. Fair enough. Instead, Wells has written an essay on how hard hurricane Sandy has been on many of Downtown’s small restaurants. It reads at times like a love letter: “Nowhere in the United States is so much culinary tradition and innovation crammed into so few square miles as in the southern end of Manhattan.” Championing restaurants in this manner may seem an unusual for a food critic, but when you consider it is his role to steer us eaters to where he thinks we should spend our time and dollars, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for him to make such a plea. I’ve certainly had my share of memorable meals below 23rd Street.

4) “The Wine List Comes With a Friend, Not a Foe,” The Pour column by Eric Asimov. This week, Asimov focuses on the role of the sommelier, the restaurant wine steward who is supposed to help diners find a match for their food and their wallet. This is great story about how many people feel intimidated by sommliers but shouldn’t be; they are there to help you. He offers useful tips for how to make the most of the relationship.

5) “Making Sure Kale Gets a Raw Deal,” A Good Appetite column by Melissa Clark. Kale salad has been a hot trend of late, one I jumped on early this year and then again more recently. Clark uses Kale in place of parsley to make Kale Tabbouleh, a great idea for the hardy greens.

Washington Post

1) “Complement or insult?” by Victorino Matus. For people, like me, who like to think about food in interesting ways, this article is exactly the kind of thing I enjoy reading about. Matus dissects the old adage about steak sauce: that it’s there to cover up bad cuts and isn’t needed for good ones. Of course, this isn’t universally accepted, as he writes about good steak restaurants that have added sauces to please consumers’ demand for them. And maybe that’s not a bad thing, as he writes about the “delicious” steak sauce from Craft by Tom Colicchio—one of three big name chefs interviewed for the article who also contributed their sauce recipes, including Colicchio’s Craft Steak Sauce and Michel Richard’s Green Peppercorn Sauce. I don’t remember seeing Matus’s byline in the Post before, but I hope to see more from him. [And speaking of Tom Colicchio, new Top Chef season starts tonight on Bravo. Yay!]

2) “The best lessons in cocktails come from papa,” Spirits column by Jason Wilson. The creativity continues with Wilson’s spirits column, which this week looks at the drinks written about in the novels of Ernest Hemingway, the subject of a new book “To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion” by D.C.-based author Philip Greene. I like that the accompanying cocktail recipe for “A Farewell to Hemingway” finds a use for kirschwasser other than cheese fondue.

3) “The foods trucks with a built-in audience,” by Amanda Abrams. There’s a fleet of mobile food trucks now serving D.C.’s daytime downtown crowd (count me among their well-fed fans), but there’s another division of that industry that gets little attention: the fleet of mobile caterers that serve construction workers. Abrams does a great job writing about how competitive it is to serve that niche.

4) “A room full of drawing boards to go back to,” First Bite column by Tom Sietsema. A recent weekend I walked by the about-to-open Logan Circle restaurant Drawing Board and thought it looked like a place I might want to try. After reading this week’s First Bite, I’m having second thoughts. Sietsema was entirely unimpressed by their burger (which is probably what I’d order) and finds the bartenders’ skills to be subpar (they apparently couldn’t mix a gimlet, a rather basic choice). Thanks for the heads up, Tom.

5) “Ginger-Glazed Baby-Cut Carrots with Cranberries,” Nourish recipe by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick. The Post will begin its two-part Thanksgiving coverage next week, but this Nourish recipe might be considered a preview. I happen to really like ginger-glazed carrots as a Thanksgiving side (I’ll be sharing my recipe soon). The notion to dried cranberries into the dish is a great idea.


The Washington Post. It’s a tough call this week, as I found a lot of good stories in both sections to enjoy. Credit Matus’ steak sauce story as the tie-breaker, since it was my single favorite food story of the week.


The Washington Post: 23
The New York Times: 20

1 comment:

  1. I like the headline on Matus' story. Clever.