I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve seen some interesting food and dining questions this week. Thankfully, either experts have answered them — or you (not I) will have to.
* Do you know which state has the most food bloggers? Warning: This is a trick question. [The New York Times]
* Should critics have to cook to be qualified for their jobs? [Denver Post]
* Why do Chinese food and doughnuts go together like peas and carrots in California (and my tummy)? [The Atlantic]
* How do you know if you’re a foodie? [Serious Eats]
* Which restaurant has the nicest restroom in the U.S.? [America's Best Restroom]
* Are you the next “Vacation Food Dude”? [Eater PDX]
* What should diners do when seated next to a boisterous table? [SF Gate]
* Why don’t servers write down orders? [Chow]
* Did the weather keep you away from chain restaurants? [Nation's Restaurant News]
A round-up of where some of your most (and least) favorite stars have been dining recently…
* Kelly Bensimon of “Real Housewives of New York” got a lesson in making pasta from New York chef Scott Conant of Faustina and Scarpetta fame. Doesn’t Sam Talbot (“Top Chef”) know how to make pasta? [US Magazine]
Chefs making food and news…
* San Francisco Chronicle executive food and wine editor Michael Bauer and his colleagues select the Bay Area’s Rising Star Chefs for 2010. Included are John Paul Carmona (Manresa), Perry Hoffman (étoile), Timothy Hollingsworth (The French Laundry), and Charlie Kleinman (Wexler’s). [San Francisco Chronicle]
* Wolfgang Puck, whose restaurants include 20.21, Chinois, CUT Las Vegas, Spago Beverly Hills, and many others, details of his ascension up the culinary ladder — and reveals he almost ended it all when he was fired from his first kitchen job as a young man. [Los Angeles Times]
* Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu London, Nobu New York, and others) shares his similar success story, which also includes suicidal thoughts after his first restaurant in Anchorage, Alaska, burned down, leaving him in serious debt. [ABC News]
* Susur Lee thinks that New Yorkers, like parents,”just don’t understand,” and we’re not ready to embrace chicken feet at Shang. Oh no, he didn’t! (Totally kidding, Chef Lee. You’re probably right!) [Grub Street New York]
* Laurent Tourondel (BLT Fish, BLT Market, BLT Steak) is ending his partnership with Jimmy Haber. They will, essentially, split the BLT empire. All I care about is who gets the bacon. [The New York Times]
Tipping has been on my mind a lot lately. Yours, too, judging by the volume of comments we saw on Facebook when we raised the issue — not once, but twice. It’s on my mind again, as Slashfood’s Hanna Raskin reports on a restaurant (not on OpenTable) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that banned a bad tipper. It may sound harsh, but restaurants certainly aren’t the first businesses to fire their clients. In doing so, the restaurant’s management may have felt they were protecting their employees’ interests (and wages!).
What do you think? Did the restaurant go too far in showing the patron the door — permanently? And, did the diner in question go too far by retaining a lawyer? Share your thoughts on this touchy topic here or on Facebook.
In food-related news from the blogosphere and your favorite food sections…
* Forget singing for your supper; it’s all about searching for it these days, thanks to a renewed interest in foraged ingredients. I don’t mind the practice, but this word is beginning to crop up on menus everywhere and it’s driving me a bit batty. [Nation's Restaurant News] [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
* New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz wants to ban the use of salt in food prep at restaurants in New York State. In other words, he wants to ruin all the restaurant food in New York State. [Nation's Restaurant News]
* Are Pop Rocks the new truffles? Probably not, but some restaurants in New York (Klee, Kefi, and Fishtail by David Burke) are embracing this clamorous candy and other 7-11 delights as ingredients in high-end dishes. [New York Post]
* I did not know that: Eggs aren’t dairy. Whew! I recently did a cleanse that excluded dairy, but I adore eggs so it was sheer (and, in hindsight, unnecessary) torture. Thanks to Carolina Santos-Neve and Epicurious for clearing this up. [The Epi-Log]
* It’s not easy to not eat meat, but Chow’s Roxanne Webber has some insights as to how vegetarian and vegan chefs make their meat-free dishes so delicious. [Chow]
* Pop-up restaurants are, well, popping up all over New York, much to diners’ great joy. [Los Angeles Times]
* Restaurateurs are embracing sustainability in ways big and small, from building materials to menu items. [Los Angeles Times]
* Shark is not sustainable, in case you were wondering. [The Atlantic]
* In news sure to shake Miss Piggy to her stilettos, whole-pig restaurants are all the rage in Southern California. [Los Angeles Times]
* Despite their appetite for whole pigs, diners want to get healthier. [Nation's Restaurant News]
* Diners also want to eat outdoors, especially in New York. [The New York Times]
* Food is my religion, and restaurants are my houses of worship. Thankfully, I am not alone. [The Grist]
Denver Post dining critic Tucker Shaw recently compiled a list of restaurants that “define Denver’s culinary momentum.” The criteria for earning a spot on the list were quite lofty. Cost, food, hospitality, service, and the space itself mattered, but the overarching question Shaw asked himself was, “Did my experience at this restaurant enrich my life?” If that’s not a tall order, I’m not sure what is.
Meeting the challenge and making the top 10 are Bones, Fruition Restaurant, Lola, Olivéa, Rioja, Root Down, and Table 6, among others. Honorable mentions for “trendsetters” include Argyll, Sushi SaSa, Twelve Restaurant, and Venue. Palace Arms at the Brown Palace and Restaurant Kevin Taylor receive honorable mentions under the”lasting hits” category.
Congratulations to these standouts in the Denver dining scene.
* Restaurant websites come under fire for a few of the right reasons. [Eater PDX]
* Restaurants come under fire for all the wrong reasons, thanks to the Chicago Tribune‘s Christopher Borrelli and his resentment at (GASP!) being treated like a regular (when he is, in fact, a regular). Here’s a bit of free advice, Mr. Borrelli: If you don’t appreciate that restaurants or the barristas at your local Starbucks are able to anticipate what you’ll order, stop ordering the very same thing every time you dine out or grab a coffee. Live a little! Try something new — but not out of spite, because that’s just plain silly. That is all. [Chicago Tribune]
Recent restaurant reviews from the news…
Easter is less than a month away, and, if you’re a planner (as I am), you’re probably ready to book a table at a restaurant for that day. What I love about Easter is that many restaurants offer brunch or an early traditional dinner (think ham and lamb). There’s something about eating dinner especially early (not early-bird special early, however) that feels extra decadent to me.
There are lots of Easter dining deals to be found on OpenTable. Some really fun ones that caught my eye include The Café at The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta, which is offering a brunch that includes a live petting zoo and an egg decorating station for kids. In Boston, Harborside Grill and Patio at the Hyatt Harborside features terrific views of the city’s skyline and activities for young diners, including a visit from the Easter Bunny himself. Chicago diners may have all the fun this year as Dick’s Last Resort is creating a brunch with live Beatles music by the Cavern Beat and an appearance by the Easter Bunny (I’m not sure how he’ll be in Boston and Chicago on the same day, but maybe he flies private?) as well as egg dying. China Grill in New York is getting festive and kid-friendly with an Easter egg hunt in the evening. In San Francisco, Bar Bambino is serving up a prix-fixe brunch comprised of classic Easter fare enjoyed in Italy. The nation’s capital is not to be outdone, with Chima Brazilian Steakhouse providing complimentary ice cream and entertainment for kids from 1- 5PM. If we lived in D.C., my husband would probably attempt to pass as a child based on this opportunity alone. His Zach Galifianakis beard would surely betray him, though.
Look for the launch of our national Easter page soon, and search for Easter dining deals on your local start page under “Easter Brunch & Dinner.”
What’s your favorite dish to dine on for Easter? How does your family celebrate? Share your thoughts here or on Facebook.