Wednesday, January 6, 2010

here it is!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Photo: Gray's Papaya on 37th street

The stretch of 8th Avenue between Madison Square Garden and Port Authority is one of the most depressing parts of Manhattan. Even if these blocks are now flooded with Starbucks and Chase Bank branches, it's still the weird, cold, vaguely threatening land of 80's Eddie Murphy movies and hammy "hey, I'm walking here!" New York cliche. The Gray's Papaya on 37th St. seems to be doing its best to keep the old and the new, the good and the bad of the neighborhood in check.[bxA]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Three Stars for Marea

Congrats to Michael White and Chris Cannon on their three star review today in the NYT. While I was hoping that critic Sam Sifton might drop a big fat juicy four star on White and Cannon's high-class charmer, three stars is perhaps the more appropriate rating. Sifton sort of redeemed himself in my mind with the Marea review -- it contains some elegant prose, it's informative and fun, with lots of sharp twists and turns of the pen. He's brought his A-game, and didn't even make any awkward references to hip-hop lingo, as did in his two star of DBGB's last week. There was one passage, however, that truly belongs on his burgeoning greatest hits list...[bxA]

On describing a delicious appetizer:

The very first item on the menu at Marea is ricci, a piece of warm toast slathered with sea urchin roe, blanketed in a thin sheet of lardo, and dotted with sea salt. It offers exactly the sensation as kissing an extremely attractive person for the first time — a bolt of surprise and pleasure combined. The salt and fat give way to primal sweetness and combine in deeply agreeable ways. The feeling lingers on the tongue and vibrates through the body. Not bad at $14 a throw — and there are two on each plate.
Sexy Sifty, what have you done?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Four Stars for Marea Tonight?

After laying a big fat deuce on DBGB's last week in his first review as NYT food critic, Sam Sifton is about to deliver his second star rating to Marea, Michael White and Chris Cannon's pricey Central Park South Italian seafood joint. Now, conventional wisdom says that Marea is a lock for three stars -- the food, dining room and service are certainly all there, and many, many critics have already awarded it three stars or the equivalent. So, sure, Marea, three stars, that's the safe bet. But, for one second, could we consider, just consider, the possibility that Marea might join The Four Star Club Tonight? Hear me out, people:
I think Sifton's two star review of DGBG's skewed WAY too high. I know I'm in the minority here, but I was really underwhelmed by the place on my only visit. Sure, its possible I was there on an off night, but of the many dishes my party tried, about half were totally off, and the other half showed the potential to be a lot better. The food was, however, the thing that Sifton liked the most in his review. So, maybe, Sifton is easy when it comes to food. If that's true, than Marea might blow.his.mind.

More importantly, though, I can't help but feel like a four star Marea review might be the perfect strategical opportunity to let the Siftonator gain gravitas in the food world. In the weeks counting down to Bruni's departure, the odds were that it might be his last review, maybe even the first new four star restaurant to come about of his tenure (turns out EMP got that honor). By the time Bruni filed his last review, every big critic had already reviewed the place months before. It sort of seems like the times dining section put the Marea review aside for Sifton, maybe so that he could have a big moment early on. While a three star review might not raise his profile much, a four star review might even get people that don't read food blogs to take notice of Sam Sifton, the new NYT food critic. Also, understanding Marea's price point, a four star review might be an opportunity to suggest something about an economic up swing where fine dining is concerned. A lot of Bruni's four star EMP review revolved around its value. Marea is an old school expensive restaurant, and maybe a four star would be a way of saying that its time that we start thinking about these kind of places a bit more. Also, would anybody in the food world really complain about letting Marea join the four star club?

I'm calling it (perhaps foolishly) on a four star. He's bald. He likes hip hop. He's Sam Sifton, and he's the new sheriff in town.

I'm back!

Hi everyone, good to see you. If you're in any way a frequent visitor to this site (and thanks), you might have noticed that it's been some pretty slim pickins as far as posts have been concerned around here recently. The short story is that I've been really busy, but that's actually a really lame excuse. I'm sure you're busy too, but you still take the time to read this blog, right? I know I've got a long way to go in terms of making it up to you, but maybe I can start with a piece of food porn? Maybe a picture of a lovely Mexican pulled pork dish, panuchos de cohinata?

The real reason why things have been so quiet around here is that I was looking for, found and started a new job, and I've been doing some other writing as an intern for another food blog, the wonderful, the mighty, the majestic Its been a real trip. The people at Eater are great, and as an intern, I've had some crazy adventures, like:

-- Stalking Michele and Barack
-- Standing in a meat locker at DeBragga and Spitler
-- Watching the Artichoke cousins get denied a liquor license
-- Eating lots of street meat in Corona Park
-- Running down all the crazy fried chicken people are making now
-- Dishing out the best deals in town
-- Looking back on 68 years of Gourmet covers

..and lots of other stuff too. At any rate, thanks again for checking out this site, and although I know you have no reason to believe me, I promise to keep filling it with fun things for you to waste your time reading at work. Expect more posts, like, frequently, and like, really soon.

Also I'm tweeting under a different name now:

Love eternz, JF