You know what I like? The fact that I have a job where posting (mostly) naked pictures of Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi is not just tolerated, but considered smart, forward-thinking and good business. Like see that one up there? That picture has nothing to do with nothing. I could claim that it was vaguely related to the fact that ex-Top Chef contestant Richard Blais is coming to town this week (tonight, actually) for a special dinner at the Columbia Tower Club, but it's not like Padma herself is going to be here. No, I used that picture just because she's prettier than Blais and looks better laying on a fuzzy carpet. It's just that pictures of Padma are more likely to catch your eye than pictures of Blais.
As a matter of fact, regardless of the topic, I think I'll just fill the rest of this week's Greatest Hits post with naked pictures of Padma Lakshmi. Sounds like a good time, right? Let's get at it...
What, you didn't think I was really going to do it, did you?
This is from our in-depth investigation into the 6 best places for Dick's Drive-In to put its new Everett location. Maybe not quite so hot as Padma Lakshmi, but still a debate that lit up the Voracious blog this week.
"Look, we're heart-broken the new Dick's Drive-In isn't coming to West Seattle. But to show we're not sore losers (even if Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon totally abused the power of his office to get northsiders to vote in the chain's poll), we've decided to help the Spady family find the best location for its new digs. To that end we've painstakingly perused Craigslist ads and commercial real estate sites meditating on criteria like distance to bars and college kids."
"Food coming cold, poor timing, getting the order wrong, some junior server putting his thumb in the soup--these are all things that piss everyone off more or less equally. Spotty silverware or bathrooms that look like they just served as the only toilets within fifty miles of a chili eating contest? Those are problems for anyone.
What we were after are the things that really get to you personally--little mistakes or small details that the average diner might not even notice but just drive you out-of-your-mind crazy?"
Speaking of lighting up the blogs, this was another post that took off this week, and it all began with a simple question: What truly drives you crazy when dining out at a nice restaurant?
As the name suggests, this is a fork used for spearing oysters--generally off of other people's plates. It is considered rude to tie a shoelace to one end and throw the oyster fork like a tiny harpoon while reciting "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" unless one is absolutely sure they can hit an oyster from three seats away. On the other hand, it is perfectly appropriate, if children are present, to arm them with the oyster fork and have them fight the host's house pets (that's what the knife blade on the end is for). Betting is encouraged, but wagers of less than a hundred dollars are considered rude. Especially if you're betting on the cat."
This week, we also continued our series, "Food Pairing for the Modern Sophisticate," with a discussion of table manners, unusual cutlery and how to use it.
"Rene Redzepi is the head chef of Noma. Located in Copenhagen, Denmark, Noma was recently voted BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD. Do you understand what this means? There are NO restaurants that are better than Noma. Compared to Noma, the French Laundry's $250 tasting menu tastes like a rotten bag of fermented grandpa cocks. In fact, here's a convenient, bullet-pointed list of things that aren't as good as Noma:
• Les Freres Troisgros
• Le Bernadin
• The love a man has for a good horse"
That's from the Surly Gourmand's report on Noma chef Rene Redzepi's visit to Mistral Kitchen to pimp for his new book. Wait 'til you get to the part about the decorative ice hammer...
"29% of respondents tagged charcuterie as "yesterday's news" and 57%(!!) said the same about offal. This just makes me want to get a list of these 1,800 chefs questioned so I can be sure to never go to 57% of their restaurants ever again. I mean, charcuterie? Offal? That's like saying all of classical French cuisine is yesterday's news.
I am not shitting you here. French food--the mother cuisine, the absolute bastion of technique, the first and final word on classical prep and the tradition from which all that sous vide and confit and greenmarket local/sustainable menu nonsense has been taken--was called "yesterday's news" by 30% of you idiots surveyed. More than half of you called it only a "perennial favorite," which is just so much bullshit. My grandmother is a "perennial favorite." Paula Deen and backseat handjobs and ham with pineapple rings are all "perennial favorites." French cuisine, on the other hand, is the culinary tradition that invented everything from the knife you're holding to the white jacket you wear. Show a little goddamn respect."
This week, the National Restaurant Association released the results of its survey about what's hot on menus in 2010. The top-of-the-list results were completely unsurprising: Local food, local farms, farm-to-table cuisine and sustainable this-and-that. But it was the bottom of the list that inspired this particular rant--the entirety of which can be seen right here.
"If a few trucks from Portland's famous food cart scene had shown up (the event has formerly hosted such greats as Whiffles and Potato Champion), the Chowdown would have been less underwhelming. But as it stood, the Qwest Field parking lot was a loose corral of Seattle carts, with sometimes 20-minute waits around the most popular ones (Maximus Minimus, Skillet, Where Ya At Matt), leaving some less popular carts (Pioneer Grill, Al's Gourmet Sausages, Buns On Wheels) and places with far more accessible, walk-up retail locations (Top Pot, Molly Moon's, Parfait) twiddling their thumbs. Drinking while eating from carts was a cool idea that became far less exciting upon realizing that Pyramid was charging $8.50 a glass. Live music might've provided some enticement, if local favorite Riz Rollins hadn't been done by 6--during peak dinner hours of 6:15 and 7:15, Haiku-Chi was playing, which made my dinner decidedly more unpleasant. This is the Chowdown's fifth event in the past year--perhaps they wore themselves a little thin."
Apparently, the latest Mobile Chowdown was a bit of a let-down. Seriously? $8.50 a glass? That's why god invented hip flasks.
"See this? This is what a jalapeno popper should look like. Most Americans--and Seattleites are no different--fail to realize this, because American poppers typically come coated in a fried jalapeno skin, and yield a scalding burst of cream cheese which, nine times out of ten, burns the shit out of the roof of your mouth.
But the popper in this portrait, popularized locally in 1979 by a View Ridge nurse named Judy Field before an ultra-exclusive neighborhood event known as "The Fritz of July," does exist in Seattle, and served as the standard in our quest for Seattle's best jalapeno popper."
Finally, this week saw a run-down of the 5 best jalapeno poppers in the city. And for all of you out there who believe that there can't be any such thing as a "best jalapeno popper"? Read the list first, then decide.