Monday, October 22, 2012

Quote of the Day

Apropos of my thoughts earlier:
I would argue the other way. The problem with art is that it can fool us into forgetting that we are mortal, flesh-and-blood creatures. The culinary arts, on the other hand, remind us that we are creatures of bone and guts, even as they delight us with creations no other animal could ever produce. Fine food is about the aesthetic of the immanent, not the transcendent. A mouthful of Frantzén’s diver scallops, truffle purée and bouillons transports you to heaven while never letting you forget it is a perishable place on Earth. Through experiences like these you come to know the potential intensity of being alive, what it means, as Thoreau recommended, to suck out all the marrow of life.
From Julian Baggini.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Small Plates: 10.12.12

Bari Bari, a "European-style restaurant," is coming to 14th and R. [PoP]

Talk about spiking: Spike Mendelson is creating recipes for Captain Morgan rum. [Washingtonian]

The replacement for Town & Country, Edgar, coming soon to Mayflower Hotel. [PoP]

Radius, Mt. Pleasant's pizza joint, should be coming back next week. [Eater]

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Small Plates: 10.11.12

Screwed over employees try unique ways to get money back from Chef Donna. [WaPo]

Daily Grill has a new happy hour menu. It looks fantastic, and reasonably priced. [Young & Hungry]

Maddy's Taproom opened Monday. It's got 40 beers and Tex-Mex food. [Borderstan]

The Coupe began 24 hour service last night. Good luck to them; hope it works out. [Eater]

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Small Plates: 10.10.12

Yet another brewpub! Bardo is making plans to come to Bladensburg Rd, NE. [PoP]

After DC releases new regulations, food truck drivers worry they may have too few spaces. [WaPo]

Aaron Silverman, alum of Momofuku Noodle Bar, to open Rose's Luxury next year. [Young & Hungry]

The Coupe, from the owners of Tryst, is now soft-opened in Columbia Heights. [Washingtonian]

Sorry about the dearth of posting, I had computer issues. Also, I warned about the use of Mobile Roadway Vending locations to strangle food trucks here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Small Plates: 10.05.12

Brewpub "Right Proper" will be coming to Shaw, specializing in funky beers. [Young & Hungry]

Cava Grill opened yesterday in Tenleytown, giving them a sorely needed option for lunch. [PoP]

Gina Chersevani's Buffalo & Bergen will be offering Jamie Leeds' knishes. [Washingtonian]

Daily Grill recently got a renovation and a new happy hour menu. [PoP]

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Tuxedo

The other day, I was looking for cocktails to use my new Bittermen's mole bitters in, and happened across this article which, in addition to the lovely Left Hand cocktail (pro tip: go easy on the bitters in this one), had a recipe for the old tuxedo. In the PDT cocktail book, it had a picture of a money in a tuxedo, which recommended this to the writer. Such is the acumen of Wall Street Journal writers: easily distracted by a monkey in a tuxedo. Nevertheless, it is a quite excellent cocktail.

It is a variation on a 2:1 martini, adding in a few dashes of maraschino liqueur and absinthe (I used Pernod). These additions make the martini more interesting, though one needs to be careful about adding too much Pernod. The PDT recipe has you rinse the glass with Pernod, and add 1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur. I used Dale DeGroff's recipe from Craft of the Cocktail, which is reproduced after the jump. Following Mr. DeGroff, which asks for a couple dashes of Pernod and maraschino liqueur, I ended up without quite enough maraschino, though that's probably mostly my own fault. Certainly the variations in the recipes are mostly a matter of individual taste.

Small Plates: 10.04.12

The owner of Kushi is planning on bringing a 'whiskey bar' to 14th and P St. [Young & Hungry]

Embers Grill is now open next to Quizno's near Georgetown Law Schoo. [PoP]

Take a look inside the new Board Room bar on Connecticut near 18th. [Borderstan]

Glen's Garden Market, in the old Secret Safeway spot, will sell local beer in a cafe. [PoP]

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Apple-Pie Pork Chops

By some strange coincidence, there is no supermarket between the store where I pick up my CSA and home. There is a Yes! Organic Market across the street, but their selection of meats is pretty limited, so I usually avoid them. But the other day, I had no idea what I wanted to do for dinner anyway, and I figured I'd go to Yes! and poke around. They had some good looking, relatively cheap pork chops, so I picked them up. 

I wanted some fall flavors, and I still had some crabapple schapps. I know pork chops go well with apples, and it's fall, so time for fall flavors! I've never marinated with alcohol, and I was eager to try: I put a good slug of the schapps in a bag, along with some thyme and some cinnamon, and threw it into the fridge for a few hours.

I was a little worried that it would marinate for too long, and the pork would end up mushy, since it was in the fridge for five hours. It turned out, it may have been a bit longer than ideal, but not too long. I fried the pork chops for about 10 minutes, turning up the heat at the end to get a bit of a sear. I really enjoyed these. The pork was good and tender from the marinade. It was, however, a bit disconcerting to be eating pork that tasted an awful lot like apple pie. If I do this again, I'll marinate for a shorter period of time, and probably not bother with the thyme. It was overpowered by the other flavors, and so a waste of thyme.

Small Plates: 10.03.12

New Columbia Distillery's new gin, Greenhat, is available now at the distillery and Schneider's. [DCist]

Doner bistro opening Wednesday Thursday in Adams Morgan with Doner, Wurst, and beer. Exciting! [PoP]

Take a look inside Drafting Table, coming soon to the former ACKC space. [Washingtonian]

Boss Hog comes to life: an Oregon farmer was eaten by his own pigs. [Kottke]

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Small Plates: 10.02.12

Cyclone Anaya's brings upscale tex-mex to northern Virginia. [WaPo]

Drafting Table is set to open this Thursday, October 4, in the old ACKC space. [PoP]

R. J. Cooper is going to appear in "Chefs of Anarchy." It sounds fun. [Washingtonian]

Aaron Gordon is planning on bringing a European-style cafe to 14th and R. [Young & Hungry]

Monday, October 1, 2012

Death to Foodies: A defense of epicurean culture

Steven Poole of the Guardian recently posted a diatribe against foodies. Apparently, they've replaced famine as the third horseman of the apocalypse. "Western Industrial Civilization is eating itself stupid," he writes. I find more telling his description of a Jamie Oliver stage appearance.
Food festivals (or, if you will, "Feastivals") are the new rock festivals, featuring thrilling live stage performances of, er, cooking. As one dumbfounded witness of a stage appearance by Jamie Oliver observed: "The girls at the front – it's an overwhelmingly female crowd – are already holding up their iPhones […] A group in front of me are saying, 'Ohmigodohmigodohmigod' on a loop […] 'I love you, Jamie,' yells a girl on the brink of fainting."
So the burgeoning food culture is the new rock and roll? Wouldn't that put Mr. Poole in the age-old position of septugenarian critic, looking down his nose at kids these days? That doesn't seem that far off the mark.
On a crisp autumn evening in a north London street, a rôtisserie trailer is parked outside a garden flat, green fairy lights blinking on and off, warm chickens perfuming the air. A thirtyish hipster wanders out to where I'm standing with a friend on the pavement and drawls his unimpressed judgment of what is going on inside. "I think the arancinis are not quite spicy enough," he informs us, with an eaten-it-all-before air. "Could have more flavour, not really exotic." Right now I haven't the faintest idea what "arancinis" are (or that arancini, like panini, is already an Italian plural) . . . .
I think we can all agree that hipsters are annoying. But what does this really say about epicures as a whole? The people I've met who have loved food have generally been generous souls, more eager to share their new finds than to declaim how they liked that dish before anyone had heard of it. But to be fair, Mr. Poole's problems seem to extend further than old-man-syndrome. He complains that food has become a new religion:
Food is not only a safe "passion" (in the tellingly etiolated modern sense of "passion" that just means liking something a lot); it has become an obligatory one. The unexamined meal, as a pair of pioneer modern "foodies" wrote in the 1980s, is not worth eating. Most cannily, the department of philosophy at the University of North Texas announced in 2011 its "Philosophy of Food Project", no doubt having noticed which way the wind was blowing, and presumably hoping that it would be able to trick food-obsessives into hard thinking about other topics. One can of course think philosophically about food, as about anything at all, but that is not what is going on in our mainstream gastroculture. [. . .]
Everywhere in the ideology of foodism we see a yearning for food to be able to fill a spiritual void. Food is about "spirituality" and "expressing our identity", claims modern food-knight Michael Pollan. His celebrated catechism of modern foodism, The Omnivore's Dilemma, speaks of eating with a "full consciousness", and claims that every meal has its "karmic price"; it ends with the declaration that "what we're eating is never anything more or less than the body of the world". And so chewing on pork products becomes a sublime union of self with planet, a Gaian eucharist.
 Kant defines art as something which provides the occasion for much thought, and while he likely would not be happy with the idea of food as art, I don't see anything self-contradictory in the idea. "The unexamined meal is not worth eating" may be a bridge too far, but there can be value in thinking about what we eat. And the spiritual essence of food, far from being absurd or Gaian, is obvious. When we celebrate a meal, we have communion with those with whom we share it. It is not for nothing that the most prominent religion in American (and England) has the consumption of bread and wine at it's center.

And even to the extent a meal is purely an aesthetic experience, there's nothing wrong with that. Philosophers as diverse as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche have seen the aesthetic life as being in many ways closer to the best way of life than the blander life of ethics and duty. Having something outside of ourselves that we value leads us outside of ourselves, even if that thing is simply good food, well-prepared. And, unlike Rock 'n' Roll, the best epicures value healthy food as much as tasty food. (Not that the two are mutually exclusive.)

Mr. Poole seems to inadvertently hit on some of these themes when he talks about the linking of food and culture:
In an experiment, two psychologists gave different groups of people Heston Blumenthal's "Crab Ice-Cream" while describing it differently: one group was told it was about to eat a "savoury mousse", the other was expecting "ice-cream". The people given savoury mousse liked it, but the people thinking they were eating ice-cream found it "digusting" and even "the most unpleasant food they had ever tasted". The psychologists add that most food tastes "blander" without the "expectation of flavour caused by the visual appearance or verbal description of what is going to be eaten". One is reminded of Terry Gilliam's film Brazil, in which the plates of homogeneous brown muck at the restaurant are differentiated by the colour photos stuck in them and the savouring announcement of their names: "Numero deux, duck à l'orange", "Numero une, crevettes à la mayonnaise". (Slavoj Žižek calls this comic disjunction the "split between the food's image and the real of its formless excremental remainder".) The "exercise of vocabulary" in a menu, then, is never merely "abstract", as Robbe-Grillet thought. You eat their words.
To repeat a line: And what is wrong with that? Of course our experience is mediated through language. Who would deny otherwise? I remain unclear about what Mr. Poole's problem is. He seems to be upset that some restaurant have clumsily written menus, or perhaps that they engage in marketing; what he seems not to realize is that epicures just want to enjoy food.

Small Plates: 10.01.12

Just when you thought food trucks couldn't get any weirder, here comes the Nutella truck. [DCist]

After Top Chef, Jeffery Jew will leave the Brixton; to be replaced by Jorge Pimentel. [Young & Hungry]

Fuel Pizza is opening a new location on Georgia Ave near Howard University. [PoP]

Take a look inside Three Stars Brewing, the newest brewer in DC. [Washingtonian]