Wylie Wins Respect for Molecular Gastronomy With a Third Star; Bar BouludIn a landmark for molecular gastronomy in America, the movement’s top proponent, Wylie Dufresne, gets his third star for wd-50. A historic review, especially as Frank Bruni expresses the usual reservations about overly cerebral cooking. [NYT]
Bar Boulud finally gets some respect from Alan Richman, who praises its blue-ribbon charcuterie and says of its much-maligned mains, “The worst that can be said…is that the recipes are relentlessly conventional — lamb stew, roasted chicken, boudin blanc. The best is that such a style of cooking is terribly missed.” [GQ]
Restaurant Girl seems to have been distinctly unimpressed with about half of the dishes she tried at Adour, resulting in a lukewarm, two-and-a-half-star review. Ducasse’s latest is not getting off to a great start. [NYDN]
A Dovetail Spy Scandal; Gordo Ruins New Jersey Valentine’s DayA Food & Wine contributing editor has been working as a hostess at Dovetail, the new three-star restaurant, for the past two months. Part of her arrangement with chef John Fraser? To spot food writers and alert the kitchen, but apparently she was no help in pointing out Frank Bruni. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Shake Shack and Burger Joint will face off tonight at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival for the title of champion in the “Burger Bash.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Landmarc at the Time Warner Center is throwing an Oscar party of sorts this Sunday, featuring a five-course tasting menu and two flat-screen TVs in the dining room. [Zagat]
French Mixologists Push ‘Cointreau Caviar’ to Local CocktailiansRest assured the “solids” at Tailor are just the start of the molecular madness. Esteemed French mixologists Fernando Castellon and Richard Lambert are working with Cointreau to bring what they call “caviar” — sort of like tapioca pearls, but with about half an ounce of liquid booze inside — to your next drink. Tomorrow they’ll show a select group of 40 bartenders (from Per Se, wd-50, PDT, and the like) how to prepare the spheres by mixing Cointreau and alginate and then using a syringe to drop the flavor combo into a calcium bath. Castellon tells us a mixologist using an immersion mixer would normally have to wait six hours for air bubbles to disappear, but their kit equips bartenders with a magnetic agitator so they can set up in eight minutes at the beginning of the night and make each drink in 30 seconds. The procedure took a year to research (finding an alginate that gets along with 80-proof liquor ain’t easy), but let’s hope it proves worth it when you take your first sip (and bite) of a “Cointreaupolitan.”
Related: Eben Freeman Turns His Cocktails Solid Just for the Hell of It
Back of the House
Jay Rayner Paints the New York Restaurant World in a Few Broad StrokesThe Man Who Ate the World, British restaurant critic Jay Rayner’s tour of the planet’s great restaurant cities will be coming out soon, as Gawker noted yesterday. Its piece lingered over Super Mario’s latest profanity-laced anti-blogger tirade, which was almost as enjoyable as his last one. But having read the New York chapter, we were hit by how much other good stuff was in it.
Jimmy’s Secret Chef Performs Culinary Miracles in the East Village
We always like Jimmy’s — the Belgian beers, the sausage plates, the occasional bacon tasting. But nothing could have prepared us for our recent discovery of a living, breathing young chef working gastronomic magic in Jimmy’s ultraprimitive kitchen. Using only two hot plates and a toaster oven, Philip Kirschen-Clark, the former fish man at wd-50, is making surprising, inventive dishes every night at the East Village bar.
Drink Japan Without Leaving Little Italy
Sake has been the next big trend for so long that we’ve been loathe to recognize it now that it’s actually arriving. If, like us, you’re utterly mystified by the stuff (not being able to read the bottle is part of it), check out the Joy of Sake next week. The city’s biggest sake event will hit the Puck Building on Thursday featuring 300 different sakes, at least a third of which aren’t available outside of Japan. The restaurant lineup looks good too: Seventeen restaurants are creating dishes meant to be paired with sake, including wd-50, Sakagura, and 15 East. Tickets are $75 in advance, $90 at the door.
Joy of Sake [Official Site]
Where Are the Restrooms at wd~50? No, Seriously — Where?
It’s no secret that wd~50’s bathrooms are as byzantine as its food. Even The New Yorker’s reviewer Kevin Conley wasn’t smart enough to figure them out: “It can take minutes to realize that you have to push the wall — a Mensa-test experience so disconcerting that one diner wound up down the hall in a storeroom.” Having seen our share of hidden doors (Pukk and 44, for starters), we knew we’d be okay when we went downstairs to confront the beast.
More Meatopia: Our Readers Get All Old Testament
Meatopia, the Woodstock of edible animals, has captured the imagination of Grub Street readers. Suggestions for next year’s theme have flooded in, nearly overwhelming both the Grub Street in-box and our wildest expectations. Send your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org by 6 p.m., and we might see you tomorrow. Among the contenders:
Gorge on BBQ in Chelsea This SundayChelsea: Hill Country, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Mara’s Homemade are all taking part in the Hudson River Park Trust’s Blues BBQ on Pier 54 this Sunday from 2 to 9 p.m. [TONY]
East Village: Monday’s Regional Dinner at Mercadito will highlight Mexico’s southern region with a menu featuring banana-leaf-wrapped pork and tres leches cake. [Grub Street]
Flatiron: Hill Country is hiring someone who can cut meat — must love high-energy restaurants. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Lower East Side: Wylie Dufresne switched up the bread at wd-50 from black to white sesame-seeded flatbread. [At the Sign of the Pink Pig]
Midtown West: Today is the last day of the Rockefeller Center greenmarket, but a farmer tells us there may be a deal to bring it back for fall. [Grub Street]
Soho: The developer behind the new glass hotel that will overlook 60 Thompson is Brack Capital Real Estate. [Down by the Hipster]
Times Square: Mickey D’s at 46th Street and Broadway is testing out a new Angus third-pounder that’s both thicker and juicier than their basic patty. [A Hamburger Today]
West Village: Jarnac has reopened with a new paint job, but in a week they’ll shut down again for summer vacation. [Eater]
The Annotated Dish
Wd-50’s Trout Dish Starts With Forbidden RiceWd-50’s kitchen, headed by chef Wylie Dufresne, is the locus of cutting-edge New York cookery. But for all their originality, the dishes are still nice to eat. This ocean trout, with fava bean, forbidden rice, and root-beer-date purée, is especially easy to love. “We started with the rice,” Dufresne tells us, “and then figured out where to go from there.” As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to read them described in the chef’s own words.
Daniel and Anthos Hit Big at Dessert AwardsThe Golden Scoop Pastry awards held last night had everything you would want from a dessert awards: a victory parade of New York chefs, a dozen world-class desserts, and a seven-foot pastry chef–slash–drag queen named Chocolatina. The ceremony was held at the French Culinary Institute and awarded prizes in five categories, the most important of which, Best Dessert Menu, was won by Dominque Ansel of Daniel. The most intense competition, though, may well have been Most Innovative Dessert, a coveted trophy in today’s go-go world of rock-star experimental dessert chefs.
If Wylie Dufresne Is So Original, Why Didn’t He Write a Book?Note: Readers with only a limited appetite for endless Talmudic hairsplitting over chef etiquette might want to quickly scan this exchange between us and the Gurgling Cod, a blogger even more fascinated by the Marcel Egg Scandal than we are.
Grub Street,While Marcel Vigneron certainly rips off Wylie Dufresne, the charge of plagiarism does not make sense. There’s no assertion of the work’s origination with Vigneron anywhere in the Wired piece that started this whole fuss. If you attend a musical performance, there is no such expectation that, say, Yo-Yo Ma wrote the cello suite he is performing. In this context, cooking is more like playing the cello than writing a book. If Dufresne wants to protect his intellectual property, he should write a book, which would be copyright protected. Like all artists, cooks rip each other off all the time. I suspect that the current mania for molecular gastronomy may work to create a notion of the molecular chef as auteur, rather than artisan, and thus these allegations of plagiarism.The Gurgling Cod
‘Wired’ Tries to Scramble the Case of the Stolen Egg
Our exposure of Top Chef washout Marcel Vigneron as an alleged egg thief has already had ramifications. Wired products editor Mark McClusky, who wrote the online feature in which Vigneron demonstrates a dish that wd-50 staffers tell us was stolen from them, now all but admits as much in a blog entry. “We’ve eaten at wd-50 as well — during the editing process here, we did realize that Marcel’s ‘Cyber Egg’ is very, very similar to the one that Dufresne serves.” Um, okay. So why did McClusky let the cyber-chef present it as if it were his own?
Did Marcel From ‘Top Chef’ Really Just Rip Off Wylie Dufresne?
Marcel Vigneron, the memorably unpopular molecular gastronomist from last year’s Top Chef, can add the staff of wd-50 to the long list of people that can’t stand him. The place is agog at the effrontery of Vigneron, since they believe he has brazenly ripped off one of chef Wylie Dufresne’s best-known dishes. By the looks of a feature in the current issue of Wired, Vigneron has created a showpiece dish of a “cyber egg,” the yolk of which is made of carrot-cardamom purée, surrounded by a white of hardened coconut milk. Very interesting, given that almost the exact same dish (minus a garnish of foam and carrot) has been served often at wd-50, is featured on the restaurant’s website, and, we are told by members of the staff, has been eaten by Vigneron at least twice. “It’s one thing to be inspired by a dish and to change the flavors to make it your own,” says line cook John Bignelli. “But to just steal everything? How can you do that?” Dufresne, staying above the fray, declined to comment.
Tasty Molecules From a Top Chef [Wired]
Related: ‘Top Chef’’s Marcel Doesn’t Love Joël Robuchon That Much