Sietsema Previews His Own ‘Choice Eats’As a leadup to tonight’s Village Voice Choice Eats tasting event, Robert Sietsema gives Gothamist a lengthy interview and a barely disguised photo. Sietsema recalls his worst restaurant experience (cockroach) and explains how Frank Bruni maligned Katz’s by only giving it one star. His picks are after the jump.
Modernity Encroaches on Katz’s Once AgainKatz’s, like all sacred spaces, is an affront to the forces of progress; and it seems that the 21st century is intent on battering all its most glorious traditions with the gale-force winds of the Zeitgeist. First came the real-estate boom and, with it, the threat that some developer will buy the place and build a giant condo there. Then, earlier this winter, the Health Department sent its spiteful functionaries in to condemn the mother of all delis for selling salami the way they have for 120 years. In a ritual of degradation, the Health Department poured bleach on the precious beef sausages, to ensure they would never be consumed. (A similar atrocity occurred last year at Il Buco and is remembered in food circles as the Great Soppressata Massacre.)
The New York Diet
Comic Patrice O’Neal Considers Himself a Big Buffet Dude
Patrice O’Neal became a comic after he decided he wasn’t really into football and has since gone on to host VH1’s Web Junk, as well as make appearances on HBO’s Def Jam Comedy Jam, Comedy Central, and The Office. If you catch his Valentine’s gig at Stand-Up NY tonight, you might hear him riff about his diabetes — “Why couldn’t the doctor tell me, ‘Patrice, you can never eat Brussels sprouts again’?” — and, sure enough, he’s taking measures to control his weight: “When you get close to 40, you start to feel those years of ham hocks.” Nevertheless, his eating philosophy flies in the face of Mireille Guiliano’s. He tells us, “I don’t go to any sexy places to eat where they give you half a lamb chop and one bean. I like going, ‘Uhhh, I’m done’ when I eat.” And where can a man find that experience?
Back of the House
‘Esquire’ Sandwich Survey Is Spot-on
Ever since that glorious, immortal, probably imaginary day when the Earl of Sandwich, unwilling to leave his gaming table, directed a manservant to put meat between two slices of bread, the art of sandwich-making has flourished. Esquire’s “Best Sandwiches in America” offers a deluxe overview of America’s best, and we have to say, it’s about the most judicious such survey we’ve seen. The sandwiches chosen for the cities we know well, like the pork-and-provolone number at John’s Roast Pork in Philadelphia, or the Monte Cristo at Canter’s in L.A., are exactly the ones we would have picked, and the ones from cities we’ve never visited, like the Reggie Deluxe in Pine State Biscuits in Portland, Oregon (“fried chicken, bacon, cheddar, gravy, and an over-easy egg on a cream-top buttermilk biscuit still hot from the outdoor oven”), make us want to travel more.
Batali Calls Out Bloggers, Gordon Ramsay
Gawker unearths a choice quote from Guardian critic Jay Rayner’s forthcoming book The Man Who Ate the World. Excoriating bloggers, Mario Batali tells Rayner:
“It’s just people who hate things. But you know what? If they don’t like my beef cheek ravioli and the rock-and-roll we play on the sound system at Babbo, they can suck my dick. I don’t care.”
Except for the fellatio part, this pretty much jives with what he has told us in the past. Upon reading the book, we found it even more interesting that Batali, immediately before criticizing blogger/haters, decided to call out Gordon Ramsay.
The Original Sturgeon Queens Look Back on the LESThe Jews of New York, the PBS documentary we wrote about last week, was on the other day (it will air again Thursday at 9 p.m. on Channel 13) and it was as good as we had hoped. One highlight, included here for your viewing pleasure, is an extended interview with Anne Russ Federman and Hattie Russ Gold, the two surviving daughters from Russ & Daughters, talking about the Lower East Side back in the day. Keep an eye out for an image of Katz’s in its original incarnation!
The Jews of New York [WNET]
Earlier: Russ & Daughters Immortalized on PBS
Video: Russ & Daughters Excerpt From PBS’s The Jews of New York
Ben Stiller Crashes a Party at Fiamma, Penélope Cruz Makes Out at
Every Friday a notable New Yorker tells us where they’ve been eating, but where are the rest of them chowing down? Starting this week we’ll sort through the gossip columns à la Ils Vont (RIP) to tell you who’s been seen where (casual sightings only — boring galas, vodka launches, and pluggy appearances don’t count). We’ll eventually compile a ranking of restaurants most often visited by celebs. Not that you care about that sort of thing! Oh, but if you do, won’t you please leave your own sightings in the comments?
Back of the House
Katz’s Is Safe … for NowGiven our dire predictions, you’d think that we’d be abashed to see yesterday’s article in the Villager denying an imminent sale of Katz’s. But we’re not buying a bit of it! For one thing, everything we’ve said before still stands: The owners are out to make a load of money (we like how they were quoted as saying that they would only sell “for a stupid number — like $50 million” — you know, just in case you were wondering). These are the same owners who have gone on record saying that they’ll sell their air space to a condo if they can keep Katz’s on the ground floor. Given such heightened profit-consciousness, we still feel it’s just a matter of time.
Katz’s Assures You They’re Safe; Boulud on Buying LocalKatz’s Deli denies selling out to developers and claims it would take “like $50 million” for them to sacrifice the historic deli. [Villager]
Related: Mother of Mercy! Is This the End of Katz’s?
Daniel Boulud reveals his tips for stocking a global pantry, noting that buying locally is all relative: “You drive from Vermont or you fly from California, in less than 24 hours you get it.” [The Canadian Press]
Sort out the growing food-truck scene with this list of the trendsetters including Taco Truck, Dessert Truck from a former Le Cirque pastry chef, and Wafels & Dinges Truck serving “Soft and Chewy waffles or a Light and Crispy covered in powdered sugar, Nutella, strawberries, whipped cream, or maple syrup.” God bless the Belgian Ministry for Culinary Affairs. [Gridskipper]
Related: Taco Wars: Rockers Open New Front in Williamsburg
Eric Ripert to Feed Reader Who May Lose Sense of TasteDear Grub Street,Next weekend I’m getting surgery done on an impacted wisdom tooth which is growing very close to a central nerve. I’ve been told that if this nerve is damaged, there’s a chance I will lose a large part of feeling in my face – including a loss of my sense of taste. I’ve gone into “doomsday mode”, thinking of all the best flavors this city has to offer in an effort to get them ingrained into my gray memory. As of now I’ve got a reservation at Degustation, will be making at least three visits minimum to Ssäm Bar, and another to Sasabune. Are there maybe two or three dishes or places that should be added to this ever-growing list? Le Bernardin is in my sights of course, but understandably may be difficult to get into.
Signed,Facing My Final Hour
Uzbek Filmmaker Fights to Commemorate Katz’s
With Katz’s future hanging by a thread, the time is right for a full-out documentary effort. And only one man is stepping up: the Uzbek-born filmmaker Yura Dashevsky, a Brooklyn resident who is trying to complete Katz’s: That’s All! A Documentary Project, a film record of the place and what it means to people.
The State of the Deli Is Not Good; ‘Secret’ Spots RevealedA panel of Jewish food luminaries gathered recently to discuss the state of the deli. They didn’t paint a very sunny picture. [Serious Eats]
Related: Mother of Mercy! Is This the End of Katz’s?
Don’t blame the government for not letting great Chinese chefs into the country: It’s our fault for not wanting better Chinese cuisine. [NYT]
Manhattan’s secret spots range from sushi in a midtown basement to the bar across the street from the Corner Bistro. [NYP]
NYC’s Top-Rated Cupcake; Zeta-Jones Doesn’t Care About CookingSugar Sweet Sunshine comes out on top of Zagat’s new survey of the city’s top cupcakes. [NYP]
No Reservations had a $10,000-a-week food budget and in Catherine Zeta-Jones a star with zero interest in cooking: “I mean, if I was playing a brain surgeon, could I actually do brain surgery?” [Entertainment Weekly]
There are now the same number of Dallas cooks as New Yorkers on Top Chef. [Dallas Morning News]
Related: ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Lia on What Went Wrong