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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

On Friday of last week, we had part 1 of the Friday Food Porn Best of 2010 collection of truly awesome

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Friday Food Porn: The Best of 2010, Part 2

2010porn12.jpg
Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

On Friday of last week, we had part 1 of the Friday Food Porn Best of 2010 collection of truly awesome food photography--10 snaps which covered the best of the first six months (or so) of this soon-to-be-concluded year.

And today, we're continuing on with a Wednesday edition of our Friday staple: The Best of Friday Food Porn, Part 2. Click on through the jump to get started.

Oh, and that picture above? That's a vision of the greatest thing man has ever done with a potato: the Potatoes Minneapolis at Kevin Davis's Blueacre Seafood.

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Photo courtesy Peter Mumford

"The blue plaster walls are covered with scrawled Bic-pen graffiti; the high, curving wood of the booth's frame with names and dates written in Sharpie or literally gouged into the finish. And the seat backs on either side are gray with decades' worth of furtive scratching--more names and more dates, hasty pictures of eyeballs and skulls and declarations of love.

They are the cave paintings of Homo sapiens, hurried affirmations of existence, however brief, in this place at a certain time. The most recent is just two names, a man and a woman, who sat amid this swirl of history on July 22, 2010. The eldest are long gone--covered and smudged to gray illegibility, adding only a patina of age and forgotten good times to the cloth and wood and plaster. But in between is everything from sketches of trees, grinning skulls, and dire warnings (HERPES, written in a bold hand with an arrow pointing to a name left by some previous occupant) to simple tags (Carla, in a looping hand faded almost to invisibility and with no date appended) and the modern love poetry of the tequila-drunk and heartbroken (FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL...)."

From "For A Good Time, Call...", the review of Mama's Mexican Kitchen.

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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"Like an idiot, I eat maybe half the plate of Potatoes Minneapolis. I just can't help myself. And when I'm done, I have no room left for anything else. I make a run at my crab cake, sure, and it's good--called "The Ultimate" crab cake on Davis' menu, it's thick with big chunks of Dungeness crab meat, set on the plate in a tarn of lime and mustard sauce, and topped with a straight-out-of-NOLA salad made of shredded mirliton (also known as chayote or chuchu, depending on where you come from) dressed in vinegar and red chile. And I try to get through at least half my plate of king salmon, perfectly seared in the pan and served with split bing cherries, smoked almonds, and a simple wash of brown butter.

But these are losing propositions. After the Potatoes Minneapolis, I'm ruined for all other flavors, so I leave and vow to come back again."

From "Blueacres of Calm," the review of Blueacre Seafood.

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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"Nobody asked if I wanted my cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz, so Tat's got bonus points right there. Seriously, someone needs to put a stop to the Cheez Whiz thing. A cheesesteak is made with white American cheese, period. Cheez Whiz is for dimwits, for Pat's and Geno's fans who've been fooled by the hype. Tat's offers it, but they don't push it. They offer lots of things on their cheesesteaks (mushrooms and peppers, both hot and sweet) that no right-thinking person would order. But Tatman and Sichel have to make a living, and some people eat strange things."

From "The Steaks of Philadelphia," the review of the new Tat's Deli.

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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"I ate my cheese curds at midnight on a Sunday--dead in the middle of my Saturday night--and they were so blissfully simple, dumb, and perfect that I ate a second helping at about 12:15 just because I was so pleased with the way the small order of beer- battered, crisp, melty and golden-brown curds had come out the first time around. They arrived, with no sauce (needing none) or garnish beyond a cursory sprinkling of chopped parsley, in a white soufflé dish on a white plate, and were exactly what I wanted (fried anything, delivered hot, after drinks elsewhere and an argument of pointless severity with a friend), like guilty desires read with laser precision. Hot cheese and cold beer (Old Scratch, off a list filled with American craft brews) at midnight--the only thing that could've made it better would've been if the banh mi at the bottom of the curled, water-stained, and roughly-used paper menu hadn't been made with seitan.

Still, a man can't ask for everything. Or rather, he can ask, but no one will listen. So I sat happy at my annoyingly sticky glass-topped table (never a good idea, no matter how much it saves on the linen bill) under the wine-colored walls and black-and-white snaps of skulls in gas masks, ate my cheese, and shut up about it."

From "Vampire Weekend," the review of The Night Kitchen.

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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"Like so many things, fusion becomes less attractive and seems less wise the older you get and the longer you do it. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, fusion remains a bad idea. In order to do it right, you either have to be very bold or very talented or very smart or all three--this in an industry where most chefs are none of the above, and some of them can be flummoxed by the simple interaction of a lemon and a knife if either the lemon or the knife look different than it did in the cloistered halls of culinary school.

You have to have an idea of where the cuisines you're fusing naturally come together--what traits they share, what flavors they have in common. You have to do your addition, subtraction, and division with the care of a rocket scientist planning a trip to Planet Weird. It's so easy to go wrong. Botch a fraction somewhere and that's it. You're tumbling off into deep space all alone, and no one in the neighborhood can figure out why you wanted to open an Indo-Bulgarian restaurant in the first place."

From "Thai Me Up," the review of Pinto Thai Bistro and Sushi Bar.

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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"Real fine dining is different. There is a weight to it, a heaviness, that in the best cases feels grounding and solid--and in the worst will be translated to the food and the floor and come off as stodginess, or a sad clinging to a bygone heyday when everyone wore top hats and paid in cash. Real fine dining has age. There is an investment--in money, certainly, for the fixtures of luxurious moments, but, more important, in focus and commitment--that sets fine dining apart from casual. Service is a career, a noble calling best expressed in a fine-dining environment. Food, so twisted and tortured in lesser rooms, is given its most loving treatment at addresses where it's not merely stock, but an object of worship. In all elements is a seriousness that is not the denial of fun but a form of respect.

Walking into a fine-dining restaurant, you feel a slowing, a calm, as you are taken into the smooth workings of a house dedicated to your pleasure. When places like that vanish, they can't ever come back. Quiet competence and respect for tradition are things that can't just be grafted onto any new space. They must be learned, kept alive by institutional memories that outstretch trends and live down fads."

From the review of Il Terrazzo Carmine.

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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"When the rabbit terrine arrives, it is pretty and rustic and smells of nothing at all. Just a pinkish slab of rabbit meat, a tangle of wild watercress hiding a small mound of caramelized shallots, and a spoonful of the agrodolce sauce that came of the sweet-and-sour prep of the shallots. I take a bite of the terrine and know immediately that it's good--made by someone who really knows his way around deconstructing bunnies.

Beyond all that, the watercress tastes powerfully of pepper and nuttiness. It's stronger than the stuff you get in the store, delicious on its own. And the shallots are amazing--brown, sticky, and sweet like candy, with just the tiniest sting of vinegar. The shallots, all alone, are worth the price of admission.

But then I try everything together--a chunky and rich forkful of terrine, a leaf of watercress, a twist of shallot, and a squiggle of the agrodolce--and the effect is almost indescribable. So delicious, so ideally wedded and perfectly balanced, this bite is transcendent. It is the definition of the phrase "greater than the sum of its parts," rendering all other uses of it pat and cliché."

From "Assessing the Terrine," the review of Staple & Fancy

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This 12-stack from Burger Madness will probably just kill you. Get your affairs in order before eating.

From the "Burger Porn II" slideshow, which can be seen in its entirety here.

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Photo courtesy Joshua Huston

"The night I ate the chicken, I had what is maybe the defining dish on the Seatown board: potted tuna. So simple, so perfect, so delicious: nothing more than a small soufflé cup of packed albacore sealed under a cap of barely melted duck fat and served with bias-cut slabs of toasted baguette. It is a peasant dish among peasant dishes, the fat cap having once acted like the lid on a jar, meant to preserve the perishable meat for a day when meat would be scarce.

Here it translates into that weird realm of peasantry-gone-upscale, the duck fat not sealing the meat or preserving it so much as adding a buttery veil of salt and smoothness to the tuna beneath and lubricating everything so that it can all be sort of gouged up from the cup, spread across toast, and eaten like the best midnight snack ever: the flaky meat and liquid fat adding nothing but a luxurious silkiness, the toasted bread points offering a counterpoint of texture, crunch, and weight."

From "Glad Pantry," the review of Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie.

 
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