Food Writers Dwell Happily in the Past This MonthThe best stories in this month’s crop of food mags are old. Saveur, which leads the year off with the Saveur 100, runs highlights from the WPA’s unpublished 1937 opus, America Eats, a documentary record of American foodways that is only now seeing the light of day; the images excerpted here are evocative and beautiful and make us eager to see the America Eats book to be published (finally) later this year. Gourmet is devoted to southern cooking, with a wonderful, previously unpublished “What Is Southern?” leadoff essay by the late Edna Lewis, formerly of Café Nicholson. Bon Appétit goes with a “Green Issue” with a long piece by Blue Hill’s Dan Barber on vegetables, an ecofriendly meat guide by sausage guru Bruce Aidells, and a moving essay on a vegetarian who returns to the meat wagon because of sausages. Food & Wine is something of a bore, consisting mostly of lists of “Tastes to Try in 2008,” most of which were short on detail and long on obviousness. (Fiamma has a new chef!) Finally, Food Arts, which won’t come out till later this week, has a major service feature on beef, along with an essay by French Culinary Institute techno whiz Dave Arnold on hydrocolloids, a class of gelatins big in molecular-gastronomy circles.
‘Bon Appétit’ Brawl Continues: In Defense of Home Cooking
Grub Street pal Adam Roberts, known to the world as the Amateur Gourmet, penned a defense of home cooks today, pegged on our recent “incendiary” remarks about Bon Appétit. (Has that phrase ever been written before?) Roberts stands up for the home cook: “You may not find us in the glossy pages of New York Magazine, but you will find us at our kitchen table, laughing with friends, and digging into a slice of homemade apple pie.” Don’t get us wrong: New York is devoted to home cooking, and in fact, we have a pretty sizable recipe database which you can draw from. As far as our position here on Grub Street, though, we think we’re being misunderstood.
Back of the House
Face It, ‘Bon Appétit’: You’re Never Going to Be HipThe announcement by Bon Appétit that they were going to court younger readers by adjusting its logo was greeted with plenty of amusement earlier today, but the reality is even grimmer than it sounds: Not only is Bon App trying to skew younger, but it’s trying to differentiate itself from other food magazines. The truth is that Bon Appétit will never be any hipper or friskier than it is, because no magazine about upscale entertaining can ever speak to people that don’t have big houses and plenty of time on their hands. Even among such magazines, Bon Appétit is the most boring, an ad-packed Nembutal calling to mind the “women’s pages” where newspapers used to publish their party recipes. With the Food Network, the Internet, and a dozen more interesting magazines at their disposal, there’s no way we can imagine someone under 40 reading Bon Appétit.
In Other Magazines
Escaping the Obligatory Turkey FeatureIt’s November in the food-magazine business, so expect feature after endless feature about Thanksgiving, and every imaginable variation on recipes for turkey and stuffing. Gourmet gives a pretty complete account, including big Turkey Day features on the fancy version, the Asian version, the Italian version, and even the vegetarian version. Bon Appétit is about the same, taking the big-name approach: Bruce Aidells on turkey, and Michael Lamonaco on potatoes, among others. A profile of Aidells and his meat-minded kitchen is in November’s Food & Wine, as well as such year-round delights as domestic cheeses and a new brand of whiskey out of Oregon. Saveur, thankfully, limits itself to a nice article about a West Virginia farm, and then dips in on such disparate topics as kale, heritage chickens, prosciutto from Iowa, and other Saveur-like topics. We’re grateful for the respite; Thanksgiving is early this year but not that early.
Celebrity-Chef ‘Pop-Up’ Café Open in Midtown; Halloween RecipeAstoria: Freeze Peach is hosting a costume party Saturday at 8 p.m. and it’s BYO. [Joey in Astoria]
Boerum Hill: Balsamic vinegar is available as a topping at the new ecofriendly ice-cream parlor Blue Marble, on Atlantic Avenue near Bond Street. [Bergen Carroll]
Chelsea: Tekserv is hosting a Mac OS X Leopard release party tonight with free food and live jazz, and the winner of the leopard-themed costume contest gets an iPod. [Blog Chelsea]
Clinton Hill: New restaurant Mariam at 975 Fulton Street features cuisine from Senegal, Kenya, and Guinea, but even though okra was “cooked down to an indiscernible sludge,” it doesn’t feel overextended; the spot will soon add Jamaican food to the menu. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Flatiron: The Manhattan branch of Boerum Hill restaurant Lunetta opens Monday on Broadway at 21st Street. [Grub Street]
Lower East Side: Essex Street’s newest Shamalian bar may have opened for a night this week, but it’s closed now. [Eater] Just in time for Halloween house parties, the Stanton Social has provided a simple recipe for pumpkin croquettes. [Restaurant Girl]
Meatpacking District: The communal table at Los Dados is supposedly a hot singles scene. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
Midtown West: Bon Appétit’s “Pop-Up” café opened yesterday and features sandwiches and salads designed by Emeril, Giada, Govind, and Pichet Ong, plus desserts from Will Goldfarb. [Midtown Lunch]
Related: Celebrity Chefs Flock to Former Home of Cheesy Celebrity Restaurant
Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: Papas & Sons market was busted Wednesday. “Word on the street is that someone in there was running numbers,” but no one’s talking. [Across the Park]
Celebrity Chefs Flock to Former Home of Cheesy Celebrity Restaurant
The building that was the Hard Rock Café at 221 West 57th Street, having committed so many affronts to gastronomy over the years, is about to atone, temporarily. Bon Appétit is turning it into a “pop-up supper club and café” where, from October 25 to November 3, a series of celebrity chefs will do demos and book signings during lunchtime. The names should be familiar ones, ranging from TV chefs like Cat Cora and Giada De Laurentiis to established New York stars like Claudia Fleming and Will Goldfarb. Every day, the café area will feature a different signature dish from that day’s chef. Bon Appétit promises affordability, too: All the dishes at lunch will cost $10 or less.
The roster of chefs is after the jump.
In Other Magazines
‘Gourmet’ Hits El Alto; ‘Bon Appétit’ Hails ChangAs we near the end of the month, it’s time to look at the latest batch of food magazines. Gourmet‘s entire October issue is devoted to Latin American cooking and has two big features that New Yorkers will want to check out: a profile of “El Alto,” the Dominican enclave in upper Manhattan, with a focus on the area’s restaurants, and a mouthwatering survey of taco trucks around the USA.