30 November 2004

12 perfect pubs

Just came across the Times of London's recent roundup of England's 12 perfect pubs: George Orwell wrote in 1946 about his perfect pub, called The Moon under Water, where the beer - stout in particular - was in good nick, unpretentious food came in generous portions and the barmaids called the customers “dear." As he was the original Grumpy Old Man, Orwell spoilt this idyllic picture by telling his readers at the end of the piece that The Moon under Water was pure fiction, too good to exist.

29 November 2004

Tellering too much

From the Independent: "It was much more difficult peeing in a plant pot than I thought it would be," says Juergen Teller in his Teutonic, monotone voice. He's referring to a self-portrait in his new book, "Louis XV," that shows a butt-naked Teller urinating on a phalaenopsis orchid. "I did manage it once but then the camera wasn't working and then there was no pee left. So, I waited a couple of hours before I tried again and I couldn't go and there was just dribble coming out. It was really... er..." Humiliating? I suggest. Still, you can't feel too sorry for the 40-year-old photographer. He may not have hit the plant pot full flow but he did get to romp with the legendary actress Charlotte Rampling and shack up in the £4,200-a-night Louis XV suite—hence the book's title—of Paris's most deluxe hotel, the Crillon."

27 November 2004

All-American pie

The lede to Nigel Slater's ode to chicken pot pie in the Observer makes me very happy and very hungry. (There's a recipe at the end.) "The Huntington is [an] ivy-covered grande dame [that] greets you with a complimentary glass of sherry and the promise of a hot chicken pie in the bar, a dish whose domed pastry crust hides a filling deep enough to go swimming in.

"The Huntington is like a hotel from another time; where they slip a quote from Byron under your door at night to let you know what kind of weather the dawn will bring. This is the sort of place where the barman remembers what you had to drink last night rather than how much. It is here that the barstaff expertly remove the crust from your home-made pot pie, then lay it on your plate and spoon blissfully mild chicken and velvety sauce at its side. The dish is then left on the table for you to help yourself to seconds."

26 November 2004

Absinthe makes the heart

A new UK brand of absinthe hits the market: There are few business models for marketing a product that has been banned and blamed through the decades for an assortment of miseries, from serial murders and insanity to the careless brush strokes of Vincent van Gogh... "Absinthe should taste like a bottled alpine meadow. For me, what's exciting about Jade is not just a question of whether they're good compared to others... What's really significant is that it's the first serious product that's begun the process of reclaiming absinthe's historic birthright."

21 November 2004

No more Classic Italian Cooking

Marcella Hazan says no more cookbooks: Hazan is calling this her last book. ''I'm old, I'm 80, and it took me four years to write this,'' she said recently over breakfast with her husband, Victor, at Payard Patisserie in Manhattan. Victor, to whom she has been married for nearly 50 years, was alarmed by the noise in the patisserie but soon homed in on the pastries, adding footnotes to Marcella's thoughts.

20 November 2004

Toffee toffs

The Independent chooses the 50 best food shops in Britain, with links for many of the purveyors, such as The Toffee Shop of Cumbria: A family business founded in 1910, Toffee Shop toffee is still made in the company's original copper pans, from recipes 90 years old. It is prepared in small batches, from sugar, butter and syrup or black treacle, mixed by hand, and broken up using a hammer. Toffee Shop fudge is made with butter, sugar and milk, with no glucose, glycerine, margarine or cheap flavourings. The results are delicious, without ever being cloyingly sweet, and the Toffee Shop is something of a national treasure.

19 November 2004

All about apples

Free PDF download of the beautiful, full-length, full-color cookbook published by Tasting Menu books, "All About Apples", subtitled "A tasting menu from Scott Carsberg of Lampreia," the highly regarded Seattle resto.

15 November 2004

Paris Reviewed

Calling it "the DNA of literature," the Paris Review will build a complete library of PDF files of their author interviews online, starting with the 1950s, including Faulkner, Henry Green, and Nelson Algren, on "Man With the Golden Arm": Well, if you're going to write a war novel, you have to do it while you're in the war. If you don't do the thing while you're there—at least the way I operate—you can't do it. It slips away. Two months after the was it was gone; but I was living in a living situation, and... I find it pretty hard to write on anything in the past... and this thing just got more real; I mean, the neighborhood I was living in, and these people, were a lot more real than the Army was.

12 November 2004

Oranges are not the only food

English novelist Jeanette Winterson, author of "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" and "Lighthousekeeping" is opening an Italian deli on the ground floor of her four-story Georgian home in east London: "Winterson's house in fashionable Spitalfields was once a greengrocer's shop.. and still bears the sign "Verde's & Co. Importers" over its still immaculate shop windows. When Winterson bought the house it was practically derelict. It took two years to restore it to health andshe was thrilled when a neighbour told her it had once had a board outside reading "JW Fruits"... The new deli will be called Verde's, making thrifty use of the original sign, and Winterson insists that it will not compete with the English delicatessen that already exists... next door.. The best-selling author is gearing herself up for her new role. I will sometimes serve in the shop. But that will be a matter of luck.

11 November 2004

The world from a balloon

The photographer Rankin, whose career began at Dazed & Confused magazine, answers questions from the readers of The Independent, such as, Could you be a war photographer? No. God, no. I'd shit my pants. I wanted to be a war photographer when I first started at the London College of Printing, but I realised pretty quickly that I was a portrait photographer. But I don't think I would find roughing it difficult, although I'm more used to five-star hotels these days. I'm anti-war—all war—and I think that everybody should be. I would rather photograph the world from a balloon.

10 November 2004

Dog pennis

Shanghai cuisine, from the Guardian's Stuart Jeffries: I have never, or at least not knowingly, had a dog's penis in my mouth. But Shanghai dining offers many such opportunities for squeamish westerners to broaden their oral experiences. Rohnie, our translator, picked up the menu... and read from the chef's recommendations. "You could have dog's feet," he suggested helpfully. My British dining companion and I shook our heads. "Or dog's brains?" Christ, no. "Maybe you'd prefer dog's organs." We exchanged bilious glances before asking Rohnie precisely which organs we would be offered. "Heart, liver, and the others." We passed. "Or dog's pennis?" "Actually, it's pronounced 'penis'," said my dining companion, taking refuge in pedantry, as people who face extreme dining experiences understandably do.

03 November 2004

Waiting on Ohio

Rodan: Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, 12:06am.
(Click to enlarge.)

02 November 2004

Either outcome

Friends are having a vote tally party tonight, and I intend to part with at least two bottles of 1982 Sassicaia, hoping they're still as sturdy as democracy, not tampered with, not yet spoiled.

James Wolcott calculates his evening plans: I am preparing myself for either outcome today. Should Kerry win, I will post an important statement called "A Time for Healing," or something equally noble-sounding. Should Bush win, I shall post a statement of philosophical resignation tentatively titled "Good, Go Ahead, America, Choke on Your Own Vomit, You Deserve to Die." The latter will probably require a little more tweaking.

01 November 2004

Green food

The lime in the chili and the lettuce on the curried chicken salad match the green of Shannon`s jacket.

Filter, Milwaukee below 6 Corners, Chicago.
(Click to enlarge.)

What a meal is worth

English photographer Peter A. Rossi writes about a recent assignment, shooting suburban London resto Just Around the Corner, where customers pay what they think the meal was worth. "When people don't pay what the owner thinks appropriate (about £20 a head), We just thank them nicely and give them their money back. These people know they don't belong here, they try you out and by giving them their money back nicely, you ensure that they never return."