Ruth Reichl Pens First of Many Love Notes to Momofuku KoIt didn’t take long for the Momofuku Ko bandwagon to start rolling, did it? Ruth Reichl has filed a panegyric to her dinner there on the Gourmet Website, and it’s only a matter of time until her fellow food-media elders do likewise. Every other chef can only sit back and watch: Chang has become the official sanctioned face of the gastronomic Now, even though he’s not really even the primary chef at Ko, as he is always the first to admit. (The names of co-chefs Tien Ho and Joaquin Baca don’t even appear in the post.) Chang comes off as some kind of combination of Escoffier and the Dalai Lama in this review: Reichl writes of eating “the richest, silkiest short rib you have ever tasted,” “translucent petals of silky fluke folded into a soft pink puddle of buttermilk and Sriracha,” and “drum roll please — a bowl of lychees topped with grated frozen foie gras is set before you. It reconstitutes in your mouth in the most amazing way as you take one bite, then another, fascinated by these textures.” (Ew!) Batten down the hatches and prepare to get a little cynical: A veritable onslaught of acclamation is coming your way. Odds are you’ll be very weary of reading them — and very desirous of getting a Momofuku Ko reservation, probably in about the same proportion.
First Taste: Momofuku Ko [Gourmet]
Calories to Show Up on Menus Starting March 31; Mercury Levels Horrifically HighThe Board of Health decided yesterday in a unanimous vote to make all chain restaurants with fifteen or more outlets – approximately 10 percent of the city’s restaurants – post calorie info on their menus starting March 31. RIP, 1,230-calorie triple Whopper with cheese. [CNN]
Laboratory tests run on sushi samples from twenty Manhattan stores and restaurants revealed shockingly high levels of mercury in bluefin tuna, so high that the FDA could technically take the fish off the market. And if you’ve got to have your tuna sushi, you’d best head to Fairway and avoid Blue Ribbon Sushi at all costs. [NYT]
Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl is “obsessed with” Momofuku Ssäm Bar, “like everyone else in New York,” according to her. [TONY]
Back of the House
‘Gourmet’ Relaunches Itself on the Web, and We ApproveGourmet magazine’s new Website launched today, and, having test-driven it, we have to say it’s a pretty sleek piece of work. We often wondered why Gourmet, traditionally the leading food magazine, had so much of its content buried in the vast, boggy mystery that was Epicurious.com. (After a year of trying, we could never sort out what Epicurious was supposed to cover, even though it always has a lot of great content.) But now Gourmet seems to have finally gotten its act together. It’s all there, fully formed: original videos (the first is a Fabio Trabocchi demo), clips from Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie TV series on PBS, classic articles from around the magazine, and the full database of all the recipes, among other things. It’s a great resource, and we’re glad it finally happened.
Gourmet Magazine Website
In Other Magazines
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.
In Other Magazines
The Literary Yule Log Burns Away
The food magazines are all in full-tilt holiday mode this month, but there’s some interesting stuff in there in spite of all the boilerplate. Saveur leads out with a massive roasting package, but the mag also includes an equally useful (if not equally pornographic) service feature on Champagne. There’s also a nice personal essay by Dana Bowen about electric slicers as a totem of holiday feats past. Food & Wine is a big old mess of Yuletide content, but the issue includes their Best Restaurant Dishes of 2007, and the sole New York representative is, you guessed it, the Bo Ssäm. (Sigh.) There’s also the excellent profile of Tailor’s Eben Freemen mentioned here recently and everything you want to know about what chefs are doing in New Orleans and Lake Tahoe. (Which in our case would be nothing.) Gourmet is all recipes and entertaining, as dull as paint, with, amazingly, an article about Padma Lakshmi’s chutneys with no image of the lady herself. (An article on the raising of Kobe cattle, though, fascinated us.) Finally, Food Arts brings their year-end trend piece, on the strange confluence of health consciousness and conspicuous consumption, as well as a piece by Pichet Ong on the rise of the celebrity pastry chef. Not a bad month in all.
Back of the House
Yet More Kudos for David Chang! (Shoot Us Now.)Is the David Chang superstar era over yet? If not, can you wake us when it is? We just opened the October Gourmet, and there’s a multipage lovefest to the Momofuku Man, complete with the usual musings on pork (“a mystical, magical animal,” he calls it, echoing Homer Simpson) and the usual close-ups of him eating. Coming on the heels of Bon Appétit’s even more ridiculous Chef of the Year award, we think the time may have come to say what everyone we know is already thinking: that Chang, earnest and talented as he is, has turned into the Sanjaya of Soup and needs to be reassessed.
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.
Epicurious Blog Will Soon Have Actual Bloggers Epicurious, the Web arm of the Condé Nast food empire, has always been extremely confusing for us. Gourmet’s blog, Choptalk, has writers from all over the world. But the Epi-log blog seemed to be written by only Tanya Wenman Steel. On Monday, the malnourished Epi-log will get an actual roster of contributors, headlined by Rick Bayless, writing on chefly topics, and Melissa Clark, on cookbooks and recipes. “We decided to create this blog party months and months ago because I wanted to enhance the blog with more voices from all over,” Steel tells us. So who else is ready to post?