Excerpt: ‘The Hamburger: A History’How the burger rose to cultural ascendency in the new millennium after years of critique from environmentalists and anti-establishment thinkers.
Ko Reservation System Almost Online; Banks’ Cafeteria Workers StrikeMomofuku Ko’s online reservation system will go live sometime before Saturday. Here’s hoping the inevitable Web traffic doesn’t kill the server. [Eater]
Cafeteria workers for many of the city’s largest investment banks have been on strike since Tuesday, since they’re taking home an average of $21,000 a year, which is what the average Goldman Sachs employee makes in less than two weeks. [NYDN]
Hallo Berlin! Germany has more three-Michelin-star restaurants than any other country — except France, of course. [NYT]
Hung to Cook in Midtown Kitchen; Chirico Pleads Not Guilty to ExtortionTop Chef winner Hung Huynh will begin a one-month stint at kosher restaurant Solo on March 2; Justin Smillie, formerly of Barbuto, has replaced Akhtar Nawab at the E.U. [NYT]
Related: Akhtar Nawab to *NOT* Leave E.U., Will Open New Restaurant
If you’re clamoring for a Valentine’s Day tablecloth dinner at White Castle, you still might be able to get one. [Eater]
Master Purveyors will live on: The fire destroyed the offices, but the meat is still safe and sound in the warehouse. [Crain’s NY]
Related: Venerable Meat Purveyor Struck By Fire
Mob Associate Called CEO of Cipriani; Yet Another Fall PreviewColombo-crime family associate Dennis Pappas signed leases for Cipriani USA as the CEO of the restaurant group, but was surprisingly left off contracts submitted to the SLA. [NYP]
By the time Craig Hopson unveils his new menu in January, One if by Land, Two if by Sea will have undergone a complete renovation, building on a color scheme of chocolate and watermelon. [Restaurant Girl]
The fall openings include all the usual suspects. [Strong Buzz]
Related: Where the Underground Gourmet Will Be Eating [NYM]
Health Department Inspector Caught Sleeping on the Job; Kanye West, Foxy BrownA Health Department inspector is caught on video snoozing at a bar when he was supposed to be tracking down rats. [NYP]
Keith McNally and other meatpacking-district residents are trying to work things out with the Hotel Gansevoort and its monstrous sign. [NYP]
Kanye West has curry delivered — from England. His tab? Almost $4,000, without tip. [The Independent]
Real-Life Duff Man Will Bring You Beer at HomeAre you ambitious enough to try to figure out what kind of beer will go best with the your Super Bowl snacks but too lazy to attend the beer tastings at the likes of Jimmy’s and Bierkraft (or even consult this recent article)? Meet Sam Merritt, former brand manager of the Brooklyn Brewery and man behind Civilization of Beer, an organization that’s now offering private tastings. Merritt, in other words, brings the brew to you. (Thrillist, unsurprisingly, has already given him their grunt of approval.) We clamored to ask him a few questions.
Back of the House
All We Want For Christmas …In case you’re wondering what we want for Christmas here on Grub Street, we’ve actually gone to the trouble of making a list.
• A Grub Street outpost in Las Vegas. Possibly built in conjunction with Hawaiian Tropic Zone, with David Burke as consulting chef.
• A James Beard Rising Star Chef award. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!!
• A bar stool alongside Mario Batali and Courtney Love at the Spotted Pig. Then a hot ice pick with which to blind ourselves.
• A new restaurant which brags about “year-round” ingredients grown “all over the place, and bought from SysCo.”
• A menu that eschews subtitles, credits, translations, geography, or recipes in favor of big, detailed full-color pictures of every dish — just like at Denny’s.
• The permanent destruction of the Cookshack smoker, the last refuge of mediocre urban barbecue cooks. (The Cookshack, a refrigerator-size device that “smokes” with the aid of a handful of electrically warmed chips, is a sad replacement for a real wood smoker, like the ones used at RUB and other major barbecue establishments.)
• An end to “soft openings.” When you’re ready to open, open. Come hard or don’t come at all!
• Three good new Jewish delis, five good new non-gourmet pizzerias, ten good new local Chinese restaurants, and no more gourmet-burger operations.
• Unless, of course, it’s the White Castle on Avenue B we’ve always wished for.
Finally, a Cheeseburger That Plays MusicIn what’s surely the happiest marriage of ground meat and music promotion in ages (since Ugly Duckling created a ficticious “meat shake” shack, anyhow), local party band Cheeseburger just sent us this nifty burger pouch with their promo CD. We imagine it’s perfect for keeping a fried White Castle warm. — Daniel Maurer
Biscuit Battles ChipShop, Part Three: Are White Castles Better Fried or Smoked?At the conclusion of the first and second stages of the battle between Josh Cohen of Park Slope barbecue joint Biscuit and ChipShop’s fry guy Chris Sell, the latter had moved ahead: Both chefs disgusted judges Ben Schmerler and Gabrielle Langholtz more or less equally when they alternately smoked and fried sushi (“Sushi is owed an explanation and apology by both of these methods,” said Judge Gabrielle), and ChipShop figuratively battered Biscuit in the cod challenge. The question going into the final two rounds: Which method of cookery would prevail on rice pudding and (brace yourselves, cravers) White Castle sliders?
Biscuit Battles ChipShop: Is PB&J Better Fried or Smoked?Next time you decide that peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich could use something extra, know this: Not only will Park Slope’s ChipShop deep-fry anything so long you make the request in advance (and suggest something that won’t compromise the oil) — it’s how fried macaroni and cheese wound up on the menu — but Fifth Avenue’s new barbecue joint Biscuit recently announced that they’ll “smoke anything!” (They charge $2 per pound and also require advance notice.) To help you decide whether that PB&J should be fried or smoked, we had ChipShop owner Chris Sell and Biscuit owner Josh Cohen prepare the sandwich both ways and invited a couple of local food obsessives — Gabrielle Langholtz, chief editor of Edible Brooklyn, and Ben Schmerler, formerly a senior editor of the Zagat Survey and a onetime judge on Iron Chef — to evaluate the results. And since this was clearly an exercise in excess, we didn’t just leave it at peanut butter and jelly. Today, we present the first two rounds of this epic battle, with the remaining challenges (including White Castles, sushi, and rice pudding) to come tomorrow and Wednesday.
Back of the House
Monkeys Ape Our Reporter in the ‘Times’The Times reports today that rhesus monkeys live longer when starved on the bizarre Calorie Restriction program that Julian Dibbell subjected himself to in last week’s issue of New York. Responding to the piece in the magazine, we devised our own reduced-calorie diet (in which we would limit ourselves to just one White Castle burger at breakfast, among other items) and Adam Platt described how he attempts to stay thin (no mention of sliders). But having seen how unhappy that healthy old rhesus looks, we’re having second thoughts about limiting ourselves to four tater tots at a time. We realize that the moral, as the Times seems to suggest, is that Calorie Restriction is for the monkeys. We wholeheartedly agree.
One for the Ages: A Prescription That May Extend Life [NYT]
In the Magazine
Starve Your Way Into Immortality! Plus, Our Tater-Tot Diet
This week’s cover story tells of a bizarre, possibly successful scheme by a small cult of New Yorkers to extend their carcasses into extreme old age by tricking their bodies into thinking they’re starving. Or by actually starving. We’re not entirely sure we can tell the difference. The technique is called “calorie reduction,” and it gives us the shudders. Read the article if you dare. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we wanted to live past 40. Would a limited calorie intake be possible? Here’s a typical day following a Grub Street–style diet.
The New York Diet
The Punk-Rock Diet
Handsome Dick Manitoba, lead singer of New York proto-punk greats the Dictators, helped launch the CBGB scene in the mid-seventies; Saturday night, when his band plays the club’s next-to-last show, he’ll be marking the end of an era. Unlike many of their punk-rock peers, who were more into drugs than food, the Dictators were “gourmandizers” (according to CB’s founder Hilly Kristal, at least). Handsome Dick Manitoba shared some memories of the punk-era East Village eats scene (and outer-borough fast-food scene), plus where he chows now that he’s got a “lot of money.”