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Restaurant Critic Roundup: GQ Critic Alan Richman Takes Up Weekly Reviews

Restaurant Critic Roundup: GQ Critic Alan Richman Takes Up Weekly Reviews

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This week in restaurant news, GQ's food critic, Alan Richman, kicked off new weekly restaurant reviews (to be posted Mondays with a star rating) with his review of the new location of veteran Brooklyn restaurant, Franny's. In the 10 years since its opening just down the street, he says, "Nothing much has changed, although now you can reserve for parties of eight to 12. Come to think of it, that's a lot that has changed."

Also in New York, critic Pete Wells tackles a notion that "there are people who believe that the Internet has made restaurant critics irrelevant." He calls attention to a tweet from ABC Cocina, this week's review spot for Wells, that read: "'abc cocina & michelin star chef jean-georges vongerichten welcome you to our modern global exchange celebrating local craft and international culture, a fusion of tradition and innovation uniting yesterday and tomorrow.'" "If that gives you a vivid picture of what is in store for you at this three-month-old establishment, stop reading and use the free time that now stretches out before you to do something nice for a stranger," he says, but "if, on the other hand, you found a few passages somewhat hazy, I’ll be happy to do my job."

In San Francisco, critic Michael Bauer reviews restaurant Chalkboard. "A feeling of deja vu crept into my mind as I entered the marble-topped bar at the new Chalkboard, which took the space of Healdsburg's four-star Cyrus restaurant," he says. "Some distinctive elements remained, but in what is a telling commentary on our times, Cyrus' elegant appointments had been changed or downplayed to create a much more casual vibe."

As always, the ratings range from stars to bells to beans, but every review offers specialized insight into the food, atmosphere, and service of eateries in each city’s dining scene and the critics eating at them.

Restaurant Critic Roundup: 7/31/2013

Alan RichmanGQFranny's2 stars
Gael GreeneInsatiable CriticThe Elm
Ryan SuttonBloombergAtelier Crenn
Pete WellsThe New York TimesABC Cocina2 stars
Michael BauerSan Francisco ChronicleChalkboard4 bells
Jonathan GoldLos Angeles TimesPetty Cash
Brad A. JohnsonOC RegisterDublin 4 Gastropub2.5 stars
Tom SietsemaWashington PostCasa Luca
William PorterDenver PostUdi's Pizza Cafe Bar2.5 stars
Robert MossCharleston City PaperCharleston Harbor Fish House

Click here for The Daily Meal's "Top Chefs Review — and Rate — America's Food Critics."

Tyler Sullivan is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter at @atylersullivan.

[EID Feature] Buddy's Pizza: A Detroit Original

This year Buddy's is celebrating their 65th anniversary at their original Detroit location at McNichols and Conant, where back in 1946 then-owner Gus Guerrera and employee Connie Piccinato developed the deep dish pizza we know today with a recipe that has changed very little over the years. Guerrera sold the place to Jimmy Bonacorsi and Jimmy Valenti, who renamed it "Buddy's" simply because that was where all their buddies who worked in the nearby Chrysler plant would meet. In 1970, Bill Jacobs bought the place and his son Robert now runs it. (Guerrera went on to open Cloverleaf Pizza in Eastpointe, which also claims to be "Detroit's original deep dish" - tomayto, tomahto.)

Robert insists that the original recipe has only been tweaked over time, making changes like using a higher-quality, more consistent cheese, increased topping selections, new sauces, various crusts such as nine-grain and gluten-free, and adding a variety of other menu options like sandwiches and pastas. But the classic traditional is exactly that - it's the pizza that made Buddy's famous, the one that has been called one of the "25 Best Pizzas You'll Ever Eat" by GQ Magazine food critic Alan Richman.

But. To celebrate their 65th anniversary, Buddy's has something new in store. With their long-standing history in Detroit as well as their long-held partnerships with some of Detroit's top nonprofit arts and culture organizations, Buddy's is introducing four new pizzas to their repertoire.

"We’re very involved in the community," says Robert. "I’m an artsy person." Robert is on the Board of Directors at the Detroit Institute of Arts. He has overseen Buddy's involvement with fundraising events such as the 35th annual "Slice of Life" event held every April benefiting the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. Robert says that these four new pizzas are "honoring our partnerships with the community." The DIA, Parade Company, Henry Ford Museum and Detroit Zoo will all have their own pizzas as part of the "Motor City Pizza Collection," with $1 from each pizza purchased going to benefit the namesake organization.

Original Buddy’s Crust
Motor City Cheese Blend (Fontinella, Asiago, Brick blend)
Spinach and Artichoke Blend
Roasted Tomatoes
Served with fresh lemon wedge

The Henry Ford
Original Buddy’s Crust
Motor City Cheese Blend (Fontinella, Asiago, Brick blend)
Red Onion
Seasoned Ground Beef
Smoked Bacon
Bleu Cheese
Tomato Basil Sauce

The Parade Company
Original Buddy’s Crust
Motor City Cheese Blend (Fontinella, Asiago, Brick blend)
Fresh Carrots
Sliced Grape Tomatoes
Tomato Basil Sauce

The Detroit Zoo
Original Buddy’s Crust
Motor City Cheese Blend (Fontinella, Asiago, Brick blend)
Fresh Basil
Pine Nuts
Tomato Basil Sauce

The new pizzas were rolled out on June 23, 2011, which is now known as "Buddy's Pizza Day" in Detroit, a title made official at the original location by Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh.

Buddy's is a Detroit staple. As Robert notes, "Buddy’s is a very iconic Detroit pizza. It’s our 65th year and it really represents a lot of the city's history. People have loved us this long and we’re still around it's really a testimony as to why we’re still here."

"Here" is a corner of Detroit dabbling on the outskirts of Hamtramck in a neighborhood that has seen FAR better days. But when other businesses fled and relocated as their old neighborhoods crumbled, Buddy's stayed put. "We can’t move it," Robert says. "We’ve opened up other units. We can’t pick up the building. . This is a unique place that has a lot of history to it why would we change the place?"

Plus, where else can you find an outdoor bocce court in the city? Exactly.

“Detroit-style” deep dish pizza isn’t just a cute name like “French fries” or “Philly cheese steak.” It is so-named because it started in Detroit, here, at Buddy’s Pizzeria. And with nine locations throughout Southeastern Michigan, Buddy's remains very much a local icon.

And now for part two of the good news that was announced on Buddy's Pizza Day last week. (Or, if you caught this piece, you knew about it a little sooner than you were supposed to. Uhhhhh . oops.) Buddy's is also now incorporating another Detroit icon into their brand: Kid Rock. At the original Detroit location you can order Kid Rock's Badass Detroiter Pizza, with Kid Rock's own American Badass Beer used in the crust. The pizza is made with cheese and pepperoni, tomato basil sauce, shaved parmesan and Buddy’s spice blend. It is only available at the Detroit location, and only on Fridays and Saturdays.

June 23 may have been deemed "Buddy's Pizza Day," but really . isn't every day Buddy's Pizza Day? Or, at least, shouldn't it be?

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Often controversial GQ critic Alan Richman has invented a new phrase to define what he sees as the country's "latest gastronomic trend": "Egotarian Cuisine." He writes: "The food

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A Fork in the Road: Tales of Food, Pleasure and Discovery

  • Food critic Alan Richman discovered this truth on a trip to post–Arab Spring Egypt, where his happiest culinary experience was with the "unsophisticated [and] unruly" dishes eaten by ordinary people
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Restaurant Critic Roundup: GQ Critic Alan Richman Takes Up

This week in restaurant news, GQ's food critic, Alan Richman, kicked off new weekly restaurant reviews (to be posted Mondays with a star rating) with his review of the new location of veteran Brooklyn restaurant, Franny's.In the 10 years since its opening just down the street, he says, "Nothing much has changed, although now you can reserve for parties of eight to 12.

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You Never Can Tell

La V’s sumptuous design belies its approachable bistro-style menu. But you can still order a 1945 Château Latour with your steak frites.

W hat! No Russian caviar? No experiments in modernist cuisine involving burnt hay and foraged reindeer moss? No pterodactyl-size lobsters?! I’m looking at the menu at La V, one of Austin’s most-anticipated new restaurants, and I am not seeing the hoary hallmarks of fine dining. As we all know, there are certain eternal verities, one being that restaurants with plush venues and remarkable wine lists serve elegant fare. Oh, sure, the chef may throw in Mom’s Salmon Croquettes, but overall, the food, drink, and design occupy the same elevated plane. At La V, though, there is a serious and deliberate disconnect, something out of sync. And I like it.

The tone is set at the host stand, where you can peer into a series of gorgeous rooms done in soft taupes and olive greens. You are escorted to your table past expansive windows, a dazzling crystal chandelier, and cushy banquettes. A server soon appears with the leather-bound wine list. If you follow the food media at all, you’ve read about this tome, which is one of the most impressive in Texas. But until you begin to turn—and turn—the pages, it’s hard to grasp the extent of a 1,200-label list (just to save you time, the 1945 Château Latour, for $20,500, is on page 43). By now your attitude has been thoroughly adjusted, so when the aforementioned food menu arrives, you do a double take. It’s as concise and approachable as your neighborhood French bistro’s. The costliest non-beef entrée is $36, and there’s not a speck of reindeer moss in sight.

I made reservations for myself and four friends, but I needn’t have, because most seats are kept open for walk-ins. We were still debating what to have when Vilma Mazaite, the head sommelier and a managing partner, appeared. (A Lithuanian who came to the United States after college, Mazaite has worked at, among others, Babbo, in New York, and the Little Nell, in Aspen. It was in Aspen, in fact, that she met Houston investment banker and mega wine collector Ralph Eads, who, with his wife, Lisa, financed and owns La V.) Our array of menu selections led her to suggest a 2012 Copain P2, a versatile California blend of pinot noir and pinot gris that, though high-priced at $70, perfectly suited a group that was angling for something pleasant, not a life-changing experience.

The wine complemented everything we tried, starting with a novel surf and turf (a deep bowl of three velvety seared scallops paired with crispy pan-fried nibbles of sweetbreads on leek spaetzle with a seductive red wine–shal lot butter). Our next choice, chicken-liver pâté, proved to be not the usual homey, grainy spread but a sumptuous pink brick, which we cut and slathered on slices of toasty brioche. But by far our favorite starter was the wine-braised and grilled octopus. A miracle of tenderness, the creature had its own mild flavor, brightened by an orange-and-lemon-zest marinade and a salty tonnato sauce, the latter a spunky Mediterranean tuna-caper-anchovy mayo that used to be popular but fell out of favor (here’s hoping it’s making a comeback).

One of the more unusual things about La V is that its top team is all women, which may explain why the menu is not an exercise in “egotarian cuisine” (a term coined by GQ critic Alan Richman in a harangue against the show-off cooking that’s become so pervasive in male-run kitchens). In fact, chef Allison Jenkins—who grew up outside Dallas and is a veteran of the Coach House, on Martha’s Vineyard, and Aspen’s Little Nell and Ajax Tavern—says, “Everyday dining is the most important dining there is.” (Right on!) She confesses that her natural style, the way she cooks at home, is Italian but says it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump to La V’s Provençal-style traditions and terroir.

Or maybe I should say “merroir,” because the menu has a strong Mediterranean seafood bent. Jenkins makes the case with her bouillabaisse, which has elements of that famous French stew crossed with Italy’s more eclectic cacciucco. “We use a lot of squid,” she says, “fresh, not frozen, which is rare, plus clams and blue prawns, and then we finish it with orange zest and Pernod, which is super-typical of Provence.” It was an agreeable dish, though for all the trouble it must be to make, it was much less impres sive than the fabulous pan-roasted Mas sachusetts cod, a pristine filet capped with deeply caramelized skin.

In fact, fish overall seems to be a strength. I was swept off my feet by the whole dourade, a fragile-fleshed white fish mounded with olives and a fantastic fennel-and-preserved-lemon confit that was mellow and pungent all at once. But when it came to red meat, it was hard to draw conclusions. We tried only one of the two choices, the lamb T-bones, and they proved tough and overdone, not re ally helped by their bed of nice but frankly boring beefy-flavored farro (I enjoyed the baby fiddlehead ferns, though).

Harvest to Heat

Book: Harvest to Heat
Author: Kelly Kochendorfer & Darryl Estrine
Recommended by: Analiese Paik, Fairfield Green Food Guide

Harvest to Heat: Cooking with America&rsquos Best Chefs, Farmers, and Artisans is as much a storybook about some of our country&rsquos best chefs and the farmers and artisan food producers that inspire them as it is a recipe book. The candid photos are so beautiful and capture the spirit of their subjects in such a way that I felt drawn in, compelled to turn the page to continue the adventure . This is a book you will want to purchase for yourself and as a gift for your favorite local food lovers. Over 55 of the country&rsquos best restaurant chefs, including Westport&rsquos own Bill Taibe of LeFarm restaurant, and the farmers and artisan food producers they work with are profiled in Harvest to Heat.


Texas barbecue, the classic version of which is found primarily in Central Texas and distinguished by its use of beef brisket and its indirect smoking method, is superior to all other regional varieties of barbecue. This is an incontrovertible fact. However, the state boasts tremendous variety of barbecue styles, from the cabrito pits of South Texas to the sweet tangy ribs of East Texas. Over the years, Texas Monthly has written about them all. In our first barbecue story, “The World’s Best Barbecue is in Taylor, Texas. Or is it Lockhart?” Griffin Smith Jr. wrote that, “at first blush, the East Texas chopped pork sandwich with hot sauce has little in common with the slab of Central Texas beef. . . . The emphasis in Central Texas is overwhelmingly on the meat itself—sauce, if available at all, is usually just a side dip.”

Central Texas barbecue owes its origins to the meat markets and grocery stores opened in the 1800s by German and Czech immigrants, who brought with them a style of smoking meat over wood with a simple preparation of salt and pepper. “Whatever fresh meat they couldn’t sell, they would smoke and sell as ‘barbecue,’” Katy Vine wrote in her 2012 story “Of Meat and Men.” “As demand grew, the markets evolved into barbecue joints, though the style of service didn’t change much. The meat was still sliced in front of the customer in line and served on butcher paper.”

The most famous of these meat markets became part of a canon—Louie Mueller’s in Taylor, Kreuz Market and Black’s in Lockhart, and City Market in Luling. The late 1990s brought on a subtle change to this lineup. After Kreuz Market’s owner, Edgar “Smitty” Schmidt died, the siblings who inherited the business parted ways. As a result, Kreuz Market moved to another part of town and the original building became Smitty’s. It made the “Best of the Best” barbecue in Texas Monthly’s 2003 round-up (the first in a series supervised by food editor Patricia Sharpe).

The front-runners had become so familiar that when the Texas Monthly staff hit the ground in 2008, for another “Top 50” review of barbecue joints, they were surprised by a completely unknown newcomer: Snow’s BBQ, in Lexington, “a small restaurant open only on Saturdays and only from eight in the morning until whenever the meat runs out, usually around noon.” A year later, in Austin, a little trailer called Franklin BBQ opened, causing such a fever that by the time it opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the spring of 2011, people slept on the ground overnight for a spot in line.

A shift was underway, highlighted by Vine’s 2012 story: “Whereas the legendary spots of yore had been primarily rural, now the widespread hunger for sublimely smoked meat, coupled with the boon of instantaneous buzz and feedback, made it possible for urban upstarts to enter the scene.”

The Wednesday Edition: A Roundup of Newspaper Food Stories

You can't replace the feeling of lounging on the couch with a scrunched-up newspaper. But with the web, at least you don't need to worry about getting ink on your hands and bagel. Here's a roundup of some food-related stories from our country's newspapers this week. Lucky for us, it's mostly free. For now. Macchiato optional.

Reviews of the revamped Water Grill and Sunny Spot in the Los Angeles Times plus how restaurants choose their music playlists. Lady Gaga or Langhorne Slim?

Mario Batali says “I'm (expletive deleted) starving” — he's on day four of a food-stamp budget ($31 for the week about $1.48 per meal) in protest of potential program cuts, according to the Associated Press via the News Tribune.

“Follow a Hungry Chef and See Where It Takes You,” says The New York Times. Also a a review of Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin and a recipe for mayonnaise.

From The Wall Street Journal, men are replacing women in the home kitchen an interview with critic Alan Richman and Burger King Hong Kong launches a black truffle burger for “a taste of royal delicacy.” Maybe a good alternative for singles who don't cook — a new study says 95% of respondents in China see culinary skills as an attractive attribute in a partner.

In The Washington Post, two new books on pressure-cooker technique (they don't explode anymore!) and winning barbecue sauces from the paper's Smoke Signals contest.

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, “Barbecue 101” from the San Jose Mercury News.

In the Boston Globe, barbecue tips and secrets from the winners of 󈬎 Kansas City Barbecue Society championships, hundreds of barbecue ribbons and the biggest prize of them all, the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue.” Because you needed more advice.

How to use wraps and packages on the grill, from The Chicago Tribune.

Need grilled burger ideas? Ten recipes from readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal.

The Sacramento Bee on growing, finding and cooking artichokes — now in season.

An appreciation for Pakistani food, with a recipe for Mulligatawny soup, in the Sioux City Journal.

A new restaurant is planned for Grand Central Terminal, says the New York Daily News and an obituary of the man who invented Oreo filling.

The Star Tribune on making puff pastry.

The San Francisco Chronicle's critic reveals “top five restaurant peeves.”

Bourdain and Ripert at Symphony Hall

Anthony Bourdain (left) and Eric Ripert. What does beverage choice say about a person?

Two distinguished gentlemen, trim and silver-haired, stepped onto the stage at Symphony Hall Friday night. It was almost a full 10 minutes before the first F-bomb dropped.

It fell from the lips of one Anthony Bourdain, host of Travel Channel's "No Reservations" and author of books such as "Kitchen Confidential" and "Medium Raw." He was here with his friend Eric Ripert, chef of New York's Le Bernardin and host of PBS show "Avec Eric," for an evening they were calling "Good vs. Evil."

Who was good, who evil? Well, Bourdain is a champion drinker and cusser who appears to delight in the possibility of pissing people off. He has famously ranted against the Food Network, vegans and vegetarians, organic food crusader Alice Waters, GQ critic Alan Richman, and the list goes on. Ripert heads up one of the best restaurants in the world (Le Bernardin has three Michelin stars and four from the New York Times), works for charitable causes, and has a French accent that, it turns out, makes even expletives sound elegant.

The pair kicked off two hours of freewheeling conversation by interrogating each other, one standing, the other in the hot seat at the center of the stage. Bourdain asked Ripert why he's spoken out against "Kitchen Nightmares" host Gordon Ramsay. "I'm scandalized by Ramsay's treatment of people," Ripert said. "At home or in work or in your car, who likes to be insulted? Who likes to be humiliated?" Bourdain tried to get Ripert to reveal who wins "Top Chef," on which both men appear as guest judges. And he begged Ripert to "explain your unholy love for Guy Fieri," the Food Network host.

Then it was Ripert's turn. "Do you think maybe the drugs have confused your critical abilities?" he asked.

Replied Bourdain, "No. Chefs are in the pleasure business. I just know my subject better than most." The line drew applause. So did almost all of Bourdain's lines. With an audience of food obsessives, this was a love fest.

Settling finally into a pair of orange armchairs, Ripert and Bourdain batted back and forth issues about which they're passionate.

Ripert pushed for sustainable seafood Bourdain said he would eat the last bluefin in the ocean. Both laughed at the concept of "farm to table." ("Where else are you going to get your food? What else are you going to eat it on?" Bourdain asked.) They agreed molecular gastronomy pioneer Ferran Adria is an artist, discussed good food vs. cheap food, and talked about meals that make them angry. Bourdain railed against fake Italian and Mexican fare, a la Olive Garden and Chili's. ("Macaroni Grill? Who grills macaroni?")

And, of course, they talked about Boston. Ripert gave a shoutout to friends' restaurants: Clio, Radius, Pigalle, and Bistro du Midi, where former Le Bernardin executive sous chef Robert Sisca heads the kitchen. Bourdain was hissed at for being a Yankees fan, cheered when he said he cried like a baby at the Red Sox' winning the World Series. And when he said he wanted to eat at Cambridge's Craigie on Main, the crowd went wild. "Get the burger!" yelled someone from the balcony. (Bourdain also said he wanted to go to Craigie on Main when he was in Boston filming "No Reservations" in January. It must be like "Waiting for Guffman" in Tony Maws's kitchen every time that guy comes to town.)

"Good vs. evil," it seemed, referred more to Bourdain and Ripert's opinions on the subjects they debated than the men themselves. And these guys have opinions. Friday, the two were always funny, often thoughtful, with an easy rapport. Some of the best moments came during a too-short, slightly disorganized audience Q&A, when the stars of the show were on less-trodden ground. This audience of people who follow chefs, restaurants, food trends, and food television probably already knew why Ripert was down on Ramsay and Bourdain was down on just about everyone else. They had watched Ripert employee Jennifer Carroll lose her cool on "Top Chef" and Bourdain eat warthog rectum in Namibia. It didn't matter. They just wanted to hear the two talk.

Restaurant Critic Roundup: GQ Critic Alan Richman Takes Up Weekly Reviews - Recipes


NEW YORK CORNER : Telepan by John Mariani

Notes from the Wine Cellar: Chablis Fights for the Right to Its Good Name
by John Mariani

by John Mariani

Dan Ackroyd, as Julia Child
The Real Julia Child

T he first TV cooking show I recall ever seeing was back in the '50s, live and in fuzzy black and white. It was called “Cooking with the Bontempis,” hosted by a lovely Italian woman named Feodora and her intrusive husband Pino, whose only role was to sing Italian arias whenever the camera switched away from Feodora getting things out of the oven. It was primitive, primal, and wonderfully goofy.
A decade later Julia Child, for many years in black and white, brought a loopy sophistication to cooking with her show “The French Chef,” followed by the antic, wine-slurping “Galloping Gourmet,” Graham Kerr ( below ), who seemed to prove every cliché about men in the kitchen. Child’s importance lay in her ability to cut through the pious hauteur of classic French cooking at a time when Good Housekeeping and newspaper food sections were printing endless casserole recipes, and cookbooks had titles like The I Hate to Cook Cookbook (click) by Peg Bracken. America’s food industry was making it easier for American housewives to cook less and less by selling the idea that cooking was menial and boring. Why cook when you could thaw and heat?
Child was engaging in her high-pitched New England lilt (she was born in California), funny without meaning to be so, and wholly unintimidating, like an eccentric aunt who always served great food at dinner parties. She was lovable, completely uninterested in showiness, and extremely good at demonstrating exactly how a recipe worked. When she famously dropped some food on the floor—there were no re-takes in those days—she quickly quipped that she had a self-cleaning kitchen floor. Her only concession to show biz was when PBS started taping her show in color. I don’t recall Julia ever changing her hairstyle in the three decades she was on PBS, and as she grew older and bonier, the more charming she appeared.
My favorite cooking show was entitled "Floyd on Food," a BBC-TV series from 1984 to 2001, in which the irascible, flamboyant, and extremely knowledgeable Keith Floyd, traveled with a two-man film crew around Europe, meeting eccentrics like himself. Floyd ( below ) had been a restaurateur and wine merchant, but mostly he was an adventurer cook, and he taught the viewer more about the food culture of a region than anyone before or since.
Then, in the 1990s, came the Food Network, at first a conglomeration of news shows (“The FDA today announced that swordfish have high mercury levels), old TV cooking shows (including “The Galloping Gourmet”), restaurant reviews by GQ food critic Alan Richman and a NYC socialite, and cooking demos, all done on a shoestring. It was often hokey but it had some solid talent, including impressive food authorities like Barbara Kafka and David Rosengarten, who gave serious attention to cooking skills on their shows. The Network also hired a shy, hopelessly inept New England cook turned New Orleans chef, named Emeril Lagasse, who stumbled through his first season reading cue cards with all the aplomb of a man taking an eye exam.
While the Network grew, it became obvious it would never be a big success without the crucial factor that makes television television: Dazzle! Flash! and a whole lot of Bam! Emeril Lagasse was sent to TV charm school and emerged as wild-and-wacky, over-the-top showman, complete with fake Louisiana accent and a gaggle of stock phrases his idolatrous audience waited anxiously for him to shout out: “Hey, this ain’t rocket science!” “Oh, yeah, babe!” and the ridiculous, “Let’s kick it up a notch!” I’ve always had the feeling that if he added an expletive to that last phrase, he might even appeal to the MTV crowd. His audience oo-ed and ahh-ed whenever he added butter to anything, applauded whenever he adds garlic, and whooped like banshees whenever he poured wine or booze into a pan. Meanwhile he ripped through recipes—still reading cue cards—taping three to five shows a day, adding his well-marketed “Essence of Emeril” spices to dishes. The shows were mainly vehicles for self-promotion, especially the sale of his best-selling books.
As on TV news, attractiveness—and attendant hairstyling—became far more important than substance sets became extravagant paeans to subsidizing kitchen companies and cookware and the hosts’ mantra was usually, “Hey, if you don’t want to use this or that ingredient, do anything you want!”
With only one or two exceptions, the Network’s talent now seems chosen because they look good, not because they teach well. Kookiness counts, as with Jamie Oliver’s “The Naked Chef,” and irascibility counts, as with Anthony “I’ll eat anything that moves” Bourdain’s roving around the world. (He’s now switched over to the Travel Channel.)
The most egregious example of Food Network lunacy is the dopey “Iron Chef,” whose set has the lighting of a Wayne Newton extravaganza, the pumped-up music and cutting of “Wrestlemania,” and the culinary value of “Fear Factor.” The satin-jacketed host of the original Japanese version is named Takeshi Kaga ( left ), who is not a chef at all but a musical comedy actor. Chefs compete in “epic battles” as to who can come up with a better, faster way to incorporate sea urchins and cocks’ combs into beef tongue, while a panel of Japanese has its comments translated into Godzilla-movie English. There is now a popular American version on the Food Network.
Of course, all shows on the Network are amply interrupted by wads of commercials, curiously enough for prepared foods like boxed cereals and pharmaceutical ads to clear out your cholesterol.
Meanwhile, over on cable and PBS, the cooking shows have been far less sensational and have far better production values (I’m also told they pay more money to the hosts of the shows) with veteran, seasoned cooks like Jacques Pépin and Lidia Bastianich ( right ) taking their time (about 26 minutes, uninterrupted by commercials) showing viewers the precise and correct way to make a dish both true to form and absolutely delicious. Pépin used to have his daughter Francine on his show to act as an interested foil to his classical French demeanor. His idea of simplicity is never to skimp on the best ingredients, which, of course, are where the flavors are. Bastianich, who gregariously brings her family into the frame, is a stout woman obviously not chosen for her weather girl looks. But her instructions are clear, her careful, take-your-time advice sure, and her obvious understanding of food carries enormous authority, whether she’s making a new pasta shape or cutting calamari to the right size.
Can you really learn to cook from TV shows? I think you can if you watch Pépin or Bastianich, who are very careful, very refined, and show real respect for food. I’m not so sure about many of the performers—for that’s what they are—on the Food Network, where most of the cooking segments are about short-cut, 30-minute meals, and 40-minute meals, several hosted by the ubiquitous, newly coiffed and no-longer-chubby Rachael Ray, who seems a throwback to those “I’ll get you outta the kitchen fast” days. “Calorie Commando” with Juan-Carlo Cruz makes me gag, for the simple reason that I’ve never, ever, seen convincing evidence that food deliberately robbed of calories—except by portion control—is a legitimate way to cook. “Semi-Homemade Cooking” with Deborah Norville look-alike Sandra Lee is another throwback to the Good Housekeeping days when cut corners are considered smart and modern. “The Surreal Gourmet,” in which “food personality Bob Blumer transforms everyday ingredients into a dining adventure” (like poaching salmon in your dishwasher) on a “rock n’ roll-style culinary tour” in his Toastermobile, is just plain silly.
But, hey, that’s entertainment! There are shows on the Food Network I enjoy—“Chocolate with Jacques Torres,” Sara Moulton’s “Sara’s Secrets,” and Mario Batali’s “Molto Mario” have solid, impeccably knowledgeable hosts and no distractions from the lesson plan. It’s not that easy to make chocolate in your kitchen the way Torres does, but he is the acknowledged master and you couldn’t have a better teacher. Moulton ( below, with Jacques Pepin ), a longtime editor at Gourmet Magazine, is not one to screw around with the basics, which is why they’re called the basics. Her instructions are precise and you know that she’s tested out these recipes many times before attempting them on the air. She’s the anti-Emeril cook on the Network. Then there’s Mario, whose insistence that Italian cooking must be respected for its simplicity and regionality, and he’s not one to waste a calorie, and looks it.
But these considerable talents have been wedged in between shows like “Low Carb and Lovin’ It” (no one told them the low-carb things is over?), “Food Fight,” and “Date Plate” in which “two eligible bachelors or bachelorettes” are each given a $50 shopping budget, and asked to “plan and cook a romantic meal in hopes of winning over a blind date.” Yawn.

Now that I think about it, Pino Bontempi’s creaking arias were a form of show biz too. But they were only a distraction from his wife’s cooking because they had no videotape back then with which to stop the action in the kitchen. Today, because of the technical abilities of TV to make everything into a laser-lighted facsimile of “America’s Next Top Model” and “Growing Up Gotti,” sizzle has largely replaced the substance on cooking shows. The phrase “a flash in the pan” occurs to me, but I think such shows will be with us for a long time to come. I’m just waiting for an all-purpose series to be entitled “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire Chef?” or maybe “The Saucier’s Apprentice” in which Donald Trump judges contestants’ semi-homemade casserole dishes.

by John Mariani

Readers of this column may note that in the past few months a number of very enticing new restaurants has turned up on the Upper West Side, above Columbus Circle. I've written enthusiastically about Jovia (click), Pair of 8's (click), and Compass (click), and now along comes another winner, Telepan , named after chef-partner Bill Telepan, whose work I so long admired when he was chef at JUdson Grill (which is now Bar Americain). Once pretty much a wasteland of gastronomic mediocrity, the Upper West Side is now booming with good places to eat, and Telepan makes the mix all the richer.
Since opening just a few weeks ago, it's already mobbed, and it's getting both a pre- and after-theater crowd that can come and eat lightly here.
Telepan's menu is listed by appetizers, middle courses, main courses, cheese, and desserts, and you may order à la carte or, for a remarkable $55, have four courses for $65, five and with wine, $105. Starters run $9.50-$19, middle courses $16.50-$26, and main courses $23-$30.
The restaurant is cobbled together from two townhouses, so Telepan is a slender place with a hall leading to an L-shaped dining room ( above ), nicely lighted, with colorful big paintings of food and agriculture, well-set tables decently spaced so that the noise level never gets too high, pretty little candles, four delightful fireplaces, and a wall color some may find a warm pea-soup tone while others, including me, see it more as institutional green not always flattering to complexions. Though not in the least a formal restaurant, the main dining room contrasts with the lower-lighted smaller room to the right of the bar ( below ), which gives it a somewhat more casual cast.
Bill Telepan ( right ) apprenticed at Alain Chapel near Lyons, then under Daniel Boulud while that chef was at Le Cirque, and the late Gilbert Lecoze at Le Bernardin, then with Alfred Portale at Gotham Bar and Grill--a culinary training that would be difficult to beat--becoming exec chef at Ansonia before taking over the stoves at JUdson Grill in 1998, which he left in 2004. His cooking has been consistent all along, and Telepan the restaurant's menu is not a radical departure from the style he showed so winningly at JUdson Grill. Which is all to the good, because I very much miss JUdson Grill. He seems a bit more adventurous and global now, but the honest, wholesome goodness of his cooking is its principal virtue at a time when so many other chefs are madly trying to find a way to wake up the food media. I want to eat everything on every page and would return for almost all of them. He is ably aided by chef de cuisine Josh Lawlor, previously at BLT Steak and JUdson Grill.
I will certainly beg Bill never to remove his house-smoked brook trout ( left ), chopped like a tartare and served with buckwheat-potato blini and black radish sour cream--a little masterpiece. I would also plead to keep the hen-of-the-woods mushrooms with a poached quail's egg, crisp frisée greens and a lacing of sharp mustard. Pan-fried blue prawns with cranberry beans, arugula and oregano was delicious, and nice fat marinated quail came with an apple-duck sausage with chicory and walnuts drizzled with an apple-balsamic. And these were only the appetizers.
The middle courses, which are fairly generous in proportion, include a lovely lobster dish "bolognese" ( below ) which comes in a savory broth of garlic, tomato, herbs, and shallots over spaghetti, while tortellini are stuffed with robiola cheese and Swiss chard in a Parmigiano broth. Pork cooked for hours until soft and lush fills pacchetti pasta, served with a rich sauce of ricotta, lardo, and basil. Most surprising and awfully good was a plate of big coddled eggs with scrapple, collard greens, and a sweet pork sauce, though it might be better as a lunch or brunch dish.
We then moved on to entrees--still hungry for more--and flavors built upon one another in dishes like his seared duck breast with cauliflower, hazelnuts, and pears, along with a little bit-- too little--of foie gras custard. Wild-striped bass was cooked in a manner Bill calls "lobster-braised," and the accompanying carrots are scented with vanilla, cooked in chardonnay, and sided with a well-buttered purée of potatoes. A trio of pork items on one dish--a confit, the loin, and fresh bacon--came with sausage tinged with oregano and made homey with fine, chewy texture of cassoulet beans. This dish, and more than two or three others throughout our evening, were quite salty, so you might want to tell them to ease up.
The best main course of all--typical of Telepan's prowess and imagination--was monkfish paprikas (he's got Hungarian blood in his veins), which tasted as meaty as pork or veal, served with cabbage stuffed with barley and kielbasa and accompanied by kohlrabi and paprika oil, a triumph of hearty modernized ethnic cookery.
There are "composed plates" of cheese offered, meaning they come with tidbits of currant brioche and a honey wine syrup or a cocoa tuile and candied lemon zest, wonderful to have with the selection of Ports and dessert wines here. Pastry chef Larissa Raphael, who'd been with Telepan at JUdson Grill, knows what he wants at the end of such lusty meals--some old-fashioned ideas rethought and revived with flair: a caramel brioche profiterole with rum-sautéed apples, apple cider sauce, and vanilla ice cream a quince granita parfait with poached quince, yogurt cream, and Prosecco a carrot cake sundae with gold old cream cheese whipped into ice cream, with sugared walnuts and some delightful cookies and other confections.
Telepan's partner, Jimmy Nicholas, has raided his own private cellar to put interesting bottlings on the 250-label winelist here, with emphasis on organic/biodynamic wines and an infatuation with the 1997 vintage in California, Tuscany, and Piedmont. By the glass selections number 25, with four sparklers. There are scores of very good bottles under $40, even under $30, a judicious choice of California cult wines, and older vintages of Bordeaux.
The list is overseen by a curious fellow named Aaron Von Rock, who sports hair and whiskers that give him the odd look of a billy goat. He knows his stuff and doesn't linger too long telling you all he knows about every bottle, but having asked him to choose wines for our four-courses meal of different dishes, we made the mistake of not insisting he serve us just one wine with each course, instead of four, an exercise that is not only tedious but impossible to appreciate unless everyone takes one bite of a dish, a sip of wine, passes both the left, and begins again. Also, throughout the night Mr. Von Rock seemed overworked, resulting in our having to flag him or a staff member down to refill our glasses.
So the Upper West Side has yet another triumph in its midst. I'm really beginning to wonder if the Upper East Side has anything like its neighbors' culinary clout at this point. Time to up the ante across Central Park!

Chablis Fights for the Right to Its Good Name
by John Mariani

What’s in a name? In the case of Chablis, far more than the producers of this white burgundy wine would like to hear. For “Chablis” is one of those wine names that has acquired a freewheeling, generic usage in the market. Many countries, including the U.S, appropriate the name without any relevance to the true Chablis. American wine giant Gallo even makes a Blush Chablis under its Livingston label.
True Chablis, which takes its name from a town of the same name, can be a superb white wine, made exclusively from chardonnay grapes, although it rarely reaches the level of more prestigious white burgundies made to the south in the Côte de Beaune. Chablis is made under strict French wine law regulations that designate the region’s vineyards. The best of these are the 7 Grand Crus and the 17 Premier Crus.
About 32 million bottles of Chablis are made each year from vineyards comprising 4,300 hectares (10,500 acres) in 20 villages. About a third of that is vinified by the co-operative La Chablisienne ( below ), but more and more individual proprietors are now bottling their own chablis, leading to different styles of the wine.
Two centuries ago Chablis was vastly successful as a cheap white wine easily shipped to nearby Paris . When railroads proliferated in France the mid-19th century, wines shipped from regions farther away challenged Chablis’ dominance of the market. Still, Chablis endures as the steely, mineral-rich wine traditionally quaffed with oysters and shellfish in Parisian bistros like La Rotonde, La Coupole, and Closerie des Lilas.
The identifying mineral character of Chablis comes from soil rich in limestone, clay, and fossilized oyster shells. There has been a debate in recent years among producers as to whether Chablis should be aged in oak barrels. Many producers believe Chablis retains its distinctive “gunflint” (“ pierre a fusil ”) flavor better in the sterile atmosphere of stainless steel others, particularly among the Grand Cru and Premier Cru producers, say a few months in oak imparts more character to Chablis.
Perhaps more important to Chablis’ character is the time in takes to mature in the bottle. Grand and Premier Crus may not reach their peak for seven to fifteen years, the same as big name burgundies like Meursault and Corton-Charlemagne. Over time Chablis’ flavors deepen, the minerals and acids come into balance, and the bouquet develops. For this reason the better Chablis are not released for two or more years. Right now wines from the highly regarded 2002 vintage are available at wine shops.
I did a tasting of several 2002s and found that most do indeed need time to reach maturity. Jean-Paul & Benôit Droin’s Premier Cru 2002 Chablis from the Montmains vineyard ($27) did not yield much beyond a high, perky acidity right now. The nose is small and tight, the minerals in modest evidence. The same producer’s 2002 Grand Cru, on the other hand, from the Vogros vineyard, was remarkably creamy, even with a touch of vanilla that suggests some time in oak. At its young age, this Chablis was an impressive enough to drink right now, and at $25 a very good buy indeed.
La Chablisienne’s Premier Cru 2002 from Vaillon ($30) is a classic effort, well made, flinty but with good fruit, ideal with chilled fresh oysters or mussels with a touch of mayonnaise.
Jean-Marie Brocard’s 2002 Premier Cru Montmains ($30) showed some real finesse and complexity, but this is one I want to hold onto because a few years from now it should really be magnificent.
The 2002 Grand Cru by Domaine Christian Moreau from Valmur ($60), however, had a big, rewarding, fruited bouquet. The wine was quite soft, round, and lemony, but again, not much mineral flavor came through. Domaine William Fevre’s 2002 from Bougros ($45) had lots of mineral notes both in the nose and the taste. First came an acidic rush, then vibrant tingles of that gunflint flavor that distinguishes chablis from the rest of Burgundy ’s wines.
I did pop the cork on one 1999 Chablis--Domaine Laroche Grand Cru Les Blanchots $85), an excellent vintage and at nearly five years old, the wine is beginning to show its strengths—the smoothing out of the acids, the pronounced mineral levels, and a ripe lush apple quality and floral nose that puts me in mind of a Chevalier Montrachet of the same vintage that. Still, $85 is a hell of a lot of money for a Chablis.
The vineyards of Domaine Christian Moreau There is still a lot of cheap, inferior Chablis from France on the market, so if you like the taste of the wine, it’s better to buy from the Grand Cru and Premier Cru categories, even if you have to wait a while for them to reach their peak.


In Sibiu, Romania, bakery owner Vasilie Presecan shaved his head and asked his 60 employees to do so for hygenic and marketing reasons, explaining that the resemblance between his workers' bald heads and the bakery's bread was "very striking."

Food & Drink

The sweet onion! The mild pepper! The maroon carrot! These and countless other tasty fruits and vegetables wouldn't exist but for the scientists of the Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center at Texas A&M, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year.

Live Fire Lineup Announced and It Looks Like a Hot Ticket

The much-anticipated Live Fire announced its chef lineup this week, and if fast-selling tickets are any indication, this will be yet another stellar year for the annual culinary benefit. This marks the fourth year since the event was first launched by the Austin Food & Wine Alliance to raise funds

Frozen Margarita

From The Pastry War, Houston.

You Never Can Tell

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At the Family Table With the Homesick Texan

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Add some spice to that next pool party.

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Food & Wine Magazine Names Three Texans to Its 2014 List of the Best New Chefs in America

Justin Yu, Paul Qui, and Matt McCallister make the prestigious list.

11 Texas Wines Take Gold in 30th Annual Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Wine Competition

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Getting to Know Killen’s BBQ’s New Pitmaster

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9 Texas Chefs Up for the People’s Best New Chef Award

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Texas Wine of the Month: Duchman Family Winery Vermentino 2012

A vibrant, crisp white wine, just in time for warm Texas weather.

Texas Represents Among the James Beard Award Finalists

Four of the five chefs nominated for Best Chef Southwest hail from Texas.

Can Texas Wine Break Into the National Scene?

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The Houston Mom Taking on Big Ag

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Prescription Julep

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Much-anticipated Austin Restaurant laV Opens Thursday


You should really Czech out this recipe for the delicious pastry.

Perini Ranch Steakhouse Is One of “America’s Classics”

The James Beard Foundation named the restaurant in the tiny town Buffalo Gap one of "America's Classics," a designation awarded to places that have "timeless appeal."

Hooking Houston on Bycatch

Over the past eight years P.J. Stoops, a Houston-based chef and fishmonger, has preached a quiet gospel: use every fish, and every part of the fish, in every part of the menu. It’s caught on.

GQ Names Qui Best New Restaurant of the Year

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Fourteen Texas Chefs and Restaurants Named James Beard Award Semifinalists

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Just Add Water (and Chef)

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The Wine Competition That Might Help Elevate Texas’s Standing Among Somms

The Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Wine Competition introduces some of the world's best sommeliers to Texas wines.

Transforming Mason Into a Wine Mecca

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The List: Texas’s Best New Restaurants of 2014

Grab a table and get ready for a treat. The eating (and drinking) has never been better.

Evolution of a Dish

Paul Qui's Rabbit Seven Ways.

Texas Wine of the Month: Lewis Wines Red Blend, 2010

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A Dictionary of Charcuterie . . .

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Nectar of the Gods

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Bars and Crafts

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Chic-Choc Old-Fashioned

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A little care and attention can raise your ribeye to new heights.

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Remembering a Texas Wine Pioneer

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The Austin Food & Wine Festival Lineup Announced

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Texas Wine of the Month: Spicewood Vineyards Estate Tempranillo 2012

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Apple Shandy

From CBD Provisions, in Dallas.

Seafood Gumbo

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Quack in the Box

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Watch the video: Benedict Cumberbatch Impersonating Alan Rickman..and how Alan Rickman reacts to it (June 2022).