Counter Intelligence

Radiohead at the Culinary Institute

Posted in Niche by melissamccart on January 31, 2009

From McSweeney’s:

“Everything in Its Mise en Place”

“Fritter, Happier”

“All I Knead”


“My Waffle-Iron Lung”

“High and Dry Rub”

“Knives Out”

“Caramel Police”

“Black Star Anise”

“Weird Fishes”



Cheesetique Protests Roquefort Tariff

Posted in Everywhere Else, General Interest by melissamccart on January 29, 2009

Just when you thought “freedom fries” and all things anti-French had flown the coop with Bush in the Executive One helicopter Inauguration Day, The Washington Post reports Bush’s  final anti-French sendoff:

The United States, it turns out, has declared war on Roquefort cheese.

In its final days, the Bush administration imposed a 300 percent duty on Roquefort, in effect closing off the U.S. market. Americans, it declared, will no longer get to taste the creamy concoction that, in its authentic, most glorious form, comes with an odor of wet sheep and veins of blue mold that go perfectly with rye bread and coarse red wine.

The measure was announced January 13th by US Trade Rep Susan Schwab. Other items affected by the tariff include French truffles, Irish oatmeal, Italian sparkling water and foie gras, referenced as “fatty livers of ducks and geese.”

According to Jill Erber, owner of Cheesetique in Del Ray, Roquefort is “a mainstay of our inventory.” The tariff will render it virtually unavailable. In a protest on the store’s website, she writes:

Not only do I have a particular affection for Roquefort, but so do Cheesetique’s discerning customers, who marvel at its romantic story of creation, rustic approach to production even today and exclusive availability. Your love of raw milk Roquefort has made it a staple in many of my cheese classes and one of the most popular and consistent sellers at Cheesetique. Since opening our doors more than four years ago, we have never been without Roquefort Papillon (I prefer this brand above others, though we have also carried Carles, which is outstanding). We have sold hundreds of pounds of Roquefort despite its title as the most expensive cheese consistently carried at Cheesetique. 

Erber says Cheesetique will continue to carry Roquefort until supplies run out, which she says “is only a matter of time.”

Check out Erber’s full response here.

School House Kitchen

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on January 29, 2009

I’m kind of in love with Schoolhouse Kitchen products.  Made by Patsy and Wendy Smith, the SweetSmoothHot Mustard and Bardshar Chutney, profits are donated to Boys and Girls clubs, day care centers, and girls’ schools such as Miss Hall’s

Patsy’s mustard recipe is an heirloom passed down to her daughter, who runs day to day operations of the company in Brooklyn. Do the products sound familiar? They’ve been touted at New York’s Fancy Food Show, Aspen Food and Wine Festival and Stone Barns at Blue Hill.mustard31

The mustard is especially good, having won competitions around the country. To purchase, check out Dean and Deluca or order here.

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on January 28, 2009

1) Home Field Advantage. Washington Post. Your recipes for Superbowl Sunday, from Arizona and Pittsburgh.

2) Throwing the Book At Salt. New York Times. “. . . don’t go hiding your saltshakers. The city isn’t going after the seasoning people add at the table or in the kitchen. That makes up only about 11 percent of the salt people eat, Dr. Frieden says. His targets are packaged foods and mass-produced restaurant meals, which contribute 80 percent of the sodium in the average American diet.”

3) Root Beer: The Revival of All American. LA Times. “Not too long ago, you were lucky to find more than a couple of brands of root beer anywhere. Today, if you look around, you can choose among old favorites, regional brands that have become available here and a raft of novel brews that expand the very definition of root beer.”

4) Good Things Come in Small Packages. San Francisco Chronicle. Terrific awesome dim sum crib notes.

5) Ten Ways to Savor the Season’s Menus. Boston Globe.  Inspirations for where to go and what to eat: breakfasts, oysters, winter cocktails, savory noodle soups, mac and cheese and big beers.

Drive N Dine

Posted in Other Places by melissamccart on January 27, 2009

A tipster directed me to Chicago’s Everest on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange, which now offers Town Car service within 15 miles of the restaurant to pick up and drop off diners for $15 one way, regardless of the number of people in a party. Can’t wait for a drink? Drivers coordinate drink orders so it’s waiting upon arrival.

Would a Town Car drive to dine make you more inclined to patronize a restaurant, particularly on a wintry day like today? Or is it out of place in a city like DC, where the average taxi fare is significantly less, and Town Cars aren’t as ubiquituous as they are in New York and Chicago?

Alice Waters,Meet DC Chefs

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on January 24, 2009

Last weekend, I enjoyed volunteering for (and eating at) Lydia Bastianich’s inauguration dinner with the nicest, most hardworking people you’d ever want to meet. It was a treat to watch Bastianich in action: to hear her speaking Italian to Felidia chef Fortunado Nicotra or to see her taste from a huge pot of duck ragu as DC chef Barton Seaver worked across from her in a lovely home kitchen.

Regardless of good intentions of the dinners– on the heels of Bourdain’s Alice Waters rant on DCist  and Gothamist— there has been mounting criticism in undercurrents, on The Feedbag and elsewhere that DC chefs didn’t share the spotlight with those from anywhere else:

 And we hate to be the first to tell you, Alice, but flying twelve different chefs from around the nation into DC, when you’ve got some perfectly nice ones in town already, might defeat the purpose of your enviro-rants.

Were local chefs slighted by the event, despite that many of them were likely tied to their own kitchens during the city’s busiest weekend in decades? 

Will Obama’s term in Washington lead to more national recognition for local chefs?

We’ll soon find out.

UPDATE: See a response here.

I Heart Bacon

Posted in District of Columbia by melissamccart on January 22, 2009

To avoid the throngs this weekend, I ended up spending a couple nights at Commonwealth, which turned out to be one of the weekend the crowd pleasers. Among favorites were decadent veggie casseroles and Nantucket’s Cisco brews from the island’s small batch micro distillery named after the beach.

But the real indulgence was Chef Burrell’s fried bacon. This delicious treat is presented in a cone with fried veggies on the side and maple syrup for dipping. It’s worth the detour– and the calories– as a first course, snack or dessert for those who crave savory over sweets. Bacon lovers, take note: since it’s only offered as a special, call ahead to find out if it’s on the day’s menu.

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on January 21, 2009

1) Prominent Chefs Settle A White House Debate. New York Times. More buzz on the dinner of all dinners at Joan Nathan’s house. Also in the Times: superlative fried chicken and terrific recipes from New Orleans’ newest butcher shop.

2) The Diner In Chief. Washington Post. Finally, a president who’s interested in good food and fine dining.

3) Slow Cook Onions and the Results Are Delicious. LA Times. Super savory and complex.

4) Slow It Down. San Francisco Chronicle. Slow cooked shanks for cold days.

5) Savory Start to Chinese New Year. Boston Globe. Dumplings are among the recommendations for menu items to celebrate the Year of the Ox, beginning Sunday and Monday.

Cooking for Change

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on January 16, 2009

headerstaticOf the many inauguration activities I’m excited about this weekend, I’m looking forward to seeing some of the nation’s top chefs in town to celebrate.

DC Central Kitchen’s Art.Food.Hope has sponsored events for foodniks and Obamasupporters lucky enough to get tickets, who will be dining at homes around the city, feasting on meals prepared by a chef such as Jose Andres, Dan Barber, Lidia Bastianich, Rick Bayless; Daniel Boulud, Tom Colicchio, Floyd CardozJoan Nathan & Ann Amernick, Scott Peacock,Nora Pouillon, Nancy Silverton, and of course, Alice Waters. Each dinner seats between 20 and 30 people, with the exception of the Alice Waters dinner for 80 at the Philips Collection.

 Art.Food.Hope supports sustainable farmers and charity organizations that have fed the community of Washington DC for over twenty years.

Don’t have a ticket? Sunday’s Dupont Market may be the time and place for celebrity chef sightings.

Five on Food: Articles from the Wednesday Dining Pages

Posted in General Interest by melissamccart on January 14, 2009

1) Chefs Settle Down in “The Real DC.” New York Times. Some favorites in our dining scene are featured here and here.

2) First Suppers: A Tradition of Inaugural Meals. LA Times. “Over the last 200 years, food has been an integral part of the celebrations surrounding the transition of power from one American president to another. The menus served at inaugural events have been a mixed bag — sometimes displaying ostentatiousness, other times political symbolism and still other times just simplicity.”

3) Bartenders Hop Up Cocktail Flavor with Beer. San Francisco Chronicle. “When ordering a drink, the decision is usually straightforward: beer or a cocktail but in a number of bars and restaurants, the decision is getting easier as bartenders blur the lines between beer and spirits by serving drinks that combine the two.”

4) Obama Fest! A Party Menu of Global Proportions. Chicago Tribune. One recipe includes Spam, a tribute to Hawaii (!).

5) Eats to Keep You Warm. Boston Globe. 20 winter dining options.