Restaurant Menu circa 1935
ANNOUNCEMENT: FOOD FIGHT!
On Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 6 PM, the International Culinary Center in NYC will hold a lively debate on the subject "Culinary Technology: A FAD...or the FUTURE?"--whether MODERNIST CUISINE is a flash in the pan or an integral part of cooking fundamentals, moderated by Dorothy Cann Hamilton, Founder and CEO of International Culinary Center. Join the strongly opinionated panelists:
contention that avant garde cuisine has had no
influence is so far off base as to be absolutely
stunning.”--Colman Andrews, editorial director, The Daily Meal,
and author of The
Taste of America and Ferran: The Inside
Story of El Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented
WHAT'S NEW IN ARIZONA?
By John Mariani
WHAT'S NEW IN ARIZONA?
Valley on the border of Arizona and Utah
first set foot in Scottsdale and Phoenix in 1977,
while driving across the country on a 14-week
honeymoon. After wending our way through the South
and barreling on through Texas, I was aware I was in
a new kind of western territory, one where people
were wholly willing to take chances and open to
innovation, while still preserving the long, often
sacred, traditions of the region.
place where I spent most time inside was the Bespoke Inn (below) which is a
good deal more than a bed-and-breakfast and well shy
of a formal hotel. Its luxury is evident in the
attention to personalized detail owners Kate and Rob
Herren put into every inch, from the comforters to the
soaps, from the books and toys on the shelves to the
polished nickel fixtures. There is an infinity edge
lap pool and you may ride British Pashley bicycles
free of charge (even if it’s 110 degrees outside).
for brunch and dinner daily; Appetizers $7-$15, main
has an indisputable reputation as one of the Valley's
most creative chefs, best evidenced at his first
up in Cave Creek, where he serves long tasting menus
of highly refined cuisine. He also runs the
Bink in Carefree, where the food is admirably
simple and so satisfyingly good. His newest
place, Bink's Midtown, despite its inane name, is a
fine marriage of both his creativity and his idea that
food should indeed have simple virtues, an attitude
reflected within the white wooden walls of a modest
house in Phoenix.
Open daily for lunch and dinner; appetizers at dinner $4-$21, main courses $16-$22.
House Brasserie doesn’t look quite like any other
restaurant in the area, unless you can find a place
with flocked gold wallpaper, Victorian mirrors, and
crystal chandeliers. It’s possible a silver mine
magnate’s house might once have looked
something like this, but otherwise it’s actually very
comfortable and not in the least stuffy. The
website says it’s “grandmotherly.”
Open for lunch and dinner daily; appetizers $4-$18, main courses $26-$45.
salt, pepper, meat, chilies, meat, fat, innards, meat.
That about describes the over-the-top
carnivorous fare at the appropriately named Pig &
Pickle. It’s a big, gregarious room with
the atmosphere of a gastropub set within--as are so
many restaurants in the Valley--a drab shopping
Open daily for dinner, from 4 PM; Appetizers $5-$12, main courses $14-$27.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner; appetizers $3-$9, main courses $9-$15.
NYC is hardly bereft of
good Greek restaurants, but the new Nerai is easily
the best to have opened since Anthos back in 2007
THE WORLD’S BEST SELLING
COOKIE MAKES A VERY
It’s not like sales of OREO cookies are lagging.
They have long been and still are the best-selling cookies in America: more than 345 billion have been sold since first appearing in 1912 and still selling 7.5 billion every year.
So the announcement “confirming the rumors” that two new flavors are being launched in limited release—about six to eight weeks on the market—may have more to do with keeping OREO’s image bright, even hip, when a TV spot, featuring vocals by indie rockers Tegan & Sara, plays during the Grammy Awards on Sunday, January 26. At the end of the commercial, OREO will reveal a one-time-only, top-secret hash tag for “fans with the fastest thumbs who tweet” to get a free first taste of the new cookies, which hit the shelves in February.
The two new flavors are Cookie Dough and Marshmallow Crispy. I’ve tasted them and they’re O.K., in the way a variant of “Surfer Girl” with strings might be, or a Porsche with fins. The cookies were likeable, nice crunch, pretty much the same dark chocolate flavor in the Cookie Dough sample. The Marshmallow Crispy one is biscuit color and has something of the taste of Rice Krispie Treats.
They’re awfully sweet, but then OREOS never skimped on the sugar content. They are certainly not an absurd marketing gaffe like New Coke or Pepsi Clear, and the limited release gives them a kind of cult status. But after eating a couple of the new flavors, I didn't feel like gorging on the rest of the package, as I and millions of fans do with uncontrolled abandon, with or without a glass or milk, on classic OREOS.
Indeed, a 2013 study from Connecticut College showed that, at least for lab rats, OREOS are as addictive as cocaine, activating the animals’ neurons in their “pleasure center” in the same way heavy drugs do. “I haven’t touched an OREO since doing this experiment,” the school’s neuroscience assistant professor Joseph Schroeder said after getting the results. Awesome.
OREOS have had a long time to grow on us. They weren’t the first sandwich cookie—that was Hydrox in 1908, followed four years later with a very similar cookie developed by a grocer named S.C. Thueson, who named it OREO, a name delectably, elusively mysterious, since nobody, not even Nabisco Biscuit Company that owns the trademark, knows what it means. It has been suggested that the name may derive from the French word for “gold,” or, because the original package had the product name in gold. Another guess is that the word is from the Greek for “mountain,” the shape of which early test batches of OREOs resembled. Both stories sound ridiculous.
the catchy name itself was easy to stick in people’s
had a happy sound, like a pet’s name, but one that
sounded vaguely like a symbol for a secret society
that passed out the cookies, with their odd imprints
of what looks like four-leaf clovers and a UFO with an
antenna, in low-lighted ritual halls, chanting “OREO,
OREO, OREO…” (Hydrox, which sounds like a cleaning
solution, went through various hands, was
discontinued, had name changes, and its most recent
owner, Kellogg’s let the brand drop.) The name
OREO is so well known that it even became pejorative
slang, both for a black person emulating whites, and
for a sexual threesome of two blacks and a white in
Such behavior always comes up as a topic of conversation—the twister considered mildly deviant—and I suspect more than one divorce lawyer has heard one party complain that “I loathe the way he eats his OREOs! It drives me goddamn crazy!” Cookies in bed. Not good.
OREO’s triple pleasure and twist-off top is what first beguiles children, but, however many thousands of the cookies you eat in your lifetime, those pleasures are recalled, along with the way the cookie softens in milk and how the crumbs bob in the milk, offering a fourth pleasure to the exercise of eating an OREO. It's something you never forget, the way most of us do about eating SPAM or TV Dinners or Chef Boyardee spaghetti.
So whether or not Americans need a new OREO flavor—these two are not the first ever marketed—seems moot. Variety is not such a bad thing—tassels on loafers, different color Post-Its, a new James Bond actor—but as with a few very good things in life, what was perfect when we were five should be just as wonderful when we’re fifty.
THE WINE CELLAR
The buying and
selling of wine has two long traditions: on the
one hand, it is a rough-and-tumble game of selling
as much mediocre wine and sheer plonk as possible
to a customer base that looks first and only at
price; on the other hand, it has for a century
been an elitist business in which price is
determined by supply and demand of the most
hyped-up wines in the world.
"Right now there's a luxe food economy, focused on a couple of London postcodes, which is entirely supported by a grotesque, preening, Louboutin-heeled, gold-plated iPhone-carrying, plastic-crashing, Bugatti-driving, natural resource-pillaging excuse for humanity that floats like some gold-flecked scummy head on the warm beer of the rest of an economy simply trying to make do. [Dining out with such people] is a complete and utter hell." --Jay Rayner, "Posh Restaurants Wasted on the Rich," The Observer.
Any of John Mariani's
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❖❖❖FEATURED LINKS: I am happy to report that the Virtual Gourmet is linked to four excellent travel sites:
Everett Potter's Travel Report:
I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." THIS WEEK: BEST OF FLORIDA SPORT FISHING
Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org. Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.
Tennis Resorts Online: A Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991).
An engaging, interactive
wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four
Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist, BusinessWeek.com;
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NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John
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