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Wall Street Journal Food and Drink Section


CrescentFresh
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I know that Sir Loin of Beef has found some of their writing sloppy and misguided, but I am consistently impressed with the breadth and scope of food- and drink-related columns and stories in the Wall Street Journal. I'm not saying all of it is good, sometimes it is simplistic and, yes, misguided, but I more consistently find something to sink my teeth into in the WSJ that's interesting than I do in the Washington Post or the NY Times.

There are frequent book reviews of gastronomic interest, a cocktails column, wine reviews and Q&A that reach out to those who like to pay $15/bottle just as much as those who like to pay $100+/bottle*, features on everything from trends, ingredients, and gastronomic travel, and recipes from successful chefs from around the country (and not just those who have a TV show). And they don't ignore the DC Metro area by any means.

What prompted me to write about it now was opening up this past weekend's edition (the food and drink stuff is found mostly in the Weekend Journal section on Fridays and the Pursuits section in the Saturday/Sunday edition) and seeing a photo of a smiling Cathal Armstrong featured on a third of a page with some biography, quotes, and other factoids, and his recipe for a beef rib roast. I liked his kitchen tip: "Everything that grows under the ground, cook in cold water; everything that above the ground, cook in hot water" -- except new potatoes in their skins.

(If you read this, Cathal, would you mind telling me if you think the article, albeit short, was an accurate reflection of whatever interview they did with you?)

Anyway, you need to subscribe to the paper to read these articles, but it's worth checking out. I just thought I'd start a thread where we can post about items that we see in the WSJ, similar to the thread we have on the Washpost.

*Yes, this Rockwell guy in the Washingtonian does that too, but his column is only once a month, not once a week!

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I more consistently find something to sink my teeth into in the WSJ that's interesting than I do in the Washington Post or the NY Times.
It's the writing that keeps me paying my subscription out-of-pocket. Life got much easier when WSJ went on-line (no more nagging piles of "just a couple days behind" newsprint).

All is not lost if you'd rather not spring for a subscription. Check back on Fridays, sometimes a corporate sponsor picks-up all-day free access (bless them). Of course without the insight I've gained from this Board the WSJ articles would have less impact...

On 12/23 the WSJ article CrescentFresh mentioned included recipes for:

- Nana's Rib Roast (with celery root, carrots, parsnips, pearl onions and Brussels Sprouts)

- Yorkshire Pudding

- Pan Gravy

- Cathal Armstrong's Mashed Potatoes

- Leftovers: Cathal Armstrong's Potato Pancakes

- Leftovers: Beef, Vegetable and Barley Soup

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There are ... wine reviews ... And they don't ignore the DC Metro area by any means.

No, they certainly don't ignore it; in particular, the "wine columnists" appear to be monitoring the Washington wine-writing scene very closely.

Read my article,

then read theirs,

then click here to see either 1) the biggest coincidence in human history, or 2) plagiarizing that would get a freshman expelled from college.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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They have an interesting article about chain restaurant's attempts to "hook more sophisticated palates" (note: paid subscription required to access article).

A Little Wasabi Ginger With That Burger?

My favorite part is the end of the article.

Chili's Grill & Bar, in an effort to add bolder flavors to its menu, recently came up with a grilled tilapia seasoned with hoisin, a Chinese sauce. The chain describes the dish as a fillet brushed with a sweet-and-spicy glaze and garnished with red-chile tapenade, green onions and sesame seeds. But Chili's ended up taking the word "hoisin" out of the description and calling it "firecracker tilapia."

Fear of the word "hoisin"? :P

It reminds me of The Simpsons episode where the local women start a Fleet-A-Pita franchise:

Helen: Hmm, Pita. Well, I don't know about food from the Middle East. Isn't that whole area a little iffy?

Hostess: [laughs] Hey, I'm no geographer. You and I -- why don't we call it pocket bread, huh?

Maude: [reading the ingredients list] Umm, what's tahini?

Hostess: Flavor sauce!

Edna: And falafel?

Hostess: Crunch patties!

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No, they certainly don't ignore it; in particular, the "wine columnists" appear to be monitoring the Washington wine-writing scene very closely.

Read my article,

then read theirs,

then click here to see either 1) the biggest coincidence in human history, or 2) plagiarizing that would get a freshman expelled from college.

Cheers,

Rocks.

MOST interesting........

Has this happened again in the last year at all, or do you think they've been caught with their bottles uncorked?

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Maybe Dean could have spead their journey:

Falling in Love With a Rustic Italian

By DOROTHY J. GAITER AND JOHN BRECHER

2001 Brunellos Deliver

Complex, Earthy Charm;

A First-Class Update

January 5, 2007

Brunello di Montalcino excites a very special kind of passion in some people. They don't just like this special red wine from Italy's Tuscany region. They love it. And now, for the first time, we can say that we understand why. Let us tell you about our own journey.

<SNIP>

Now, the wines from 2001 -- said to be a great year -- are arriving in stores, so we decided to try again. We bought a large sample from several states. We set our price limit at $80, which left out quite a few but still allowed us plenty of opportunity to taste a broad sampling.

<SNIP>

The 2001 vintage was the one that changed our view of Brunello. When the 2002s arrive, will we change our minds again? Perhaps, but, for now, who cares? The 2001s are on shelves. Buy one, decant it for an hour and sip slowly with a giant veal chop or sausage and peppers. And if you can, buy some more and lay them down for a decade or so. They're worth the wait.

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When the 2002s arrive, will we change our minds again?

Most producers did not even make Brunello in 2002, as it was a famously difficult vintage in most of Italy. These people clearly do not understand their subject matter very well.

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Instead of highlighting excellent restaurant wine programs, the most recent two WSJ wine columns have been venting sessions. Last Friday's was the columnists' ten minor issues that cloud the restaurant wine experience and today's column revolved around reader write-ins. All the usual suspects. However, one complaint was local and I'm wondering if anyone knows the restaurant cited:

TASTINGS By DOROTHY J. GAITER AND JOHN BRECHER

Sounding Off on Restaurant Wine Service Our Readers Tell Us Their Pet Peeves; A Big C for 'Cheap'

March 9, 2007; Page W6

<snip>

But, in general, linking the quality of the glass to the price of the wine is annoying and insulting. Restaurants argue that, hey, you have to consider the cost of glasses, breakage, and so on. But, in fact, the markup on lower-priced wines is generally a higher percentage than on more expensive wines. There's plenty of room built into that lower price for good glasses. Our guess is that diners who order less-expensive bottles get the bad glasses to make a statement to them -- and to other diners. Kind of like a big, scarlet C on their chests -- for "Cheap."

"I have recoiled in some restaurants where they overprice the wine and then deliver the equivalent of Bugs Bunny juice glasses to drink it in," wrote Donald Alford Weadon Jr. of Washington, D.C. "With the advent of better-quality glass and durable crystal, there is no excuse to set garbage glassware." We couldn't agree more.

<snip>

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Most producers did not even make Brunello in 2002, as it was a famously difficult vintage in most of Italy. These people clearly do not understand their subject matter very well.
Methinks it's time to write these two off.

Gaiter and Brecher, the WSJ wine critics, are well-respected. I think you're both taking unwarranted pot shots while missing their point. While it is well-known that the 2002 vintage had problems, in Brunello as well as Italy in general, there are still many producers who have marketed their 2002's, and these are in fact (1) available and (2) tasting badly. See for example:

http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Blogs/Bl...211,957,00.html

I think G & B know the situation very well, and their original comment exactly reflects this.

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No, they certainly don't ignore it; in particular, the "wine columnists" appear to be monitoring the Washington wine-writing scene very closely.
So true. Their current article highlights Washington's "late to the party," but emerging wine bar scene. It's complete with interactive map and video. Nice mentions for Sonoma, Proof, Vinoteca, Cork, Veritas and Urbana:
A Capital Idea

D.C.'s Wine Bars Catch Up

With a National Trend

Well Worth Following

April 11, 2008; Page W3

<snip>

Washington is suddenly awash in wine bars -- and really good ones, too. We have been following the nationwide trend of wine bars for years now and while Washington may have been late to the party, it has made up for lost time in a hurry.

With the explosion of wine bars all over the country, you simply must drop into one -- and if you have, you really must drop into another. Good wine bars are pouring interesting wines that you might not be able to try otherwise -- and, in any event, trying a taste of wine at a wine bar is a much smaller risk than buying a whole bottle of something new and unusual that you may or may not like. This quick tour of a few of the wine bars of Washington (which we visited anonymously, of course) will give you some idea what wine bars can offer, and the kind of things we hope to see at good wine bars everywhere.

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Today's WSJ had a not particularly news worthy article by Miriam Gottfried about the influences of the locavore lifestyle on food styling for book/magazine photo layouts:

Whether for editorial or advertising purposes, the point of making natural food look appealing is to get people to buy the product, go out to eat or make a recipe. Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, says the effectiveness of the natural trend lies in its ability to invite the viewer in. "It might enable us more to put ourselves in the picture," he says.

There are some interesting "then and now" photos from Lou Manna in the slideshow.

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