Waffle House, Darth Vader Burgers, and Deadly Mushrooms: Eating & Reading

Every week, we’ll let you know what the Washingtonian food staff is reading in the blogosphere and off the bookshelves.

By: Ann Limpert, Todd Kliman, Jessica Voelker, Sophie Gilbert, Anna Spiegel

The great American restaurant? Photograph courtesy of Waffle House.

Todd Kliman, food and wine editor

• My friend Jason Tesauro—writer, raconteur, wine expert, manners maven, fashion plate, cunning charmer—takes us on a lively tour of the wines of Moldova and discovers a patch of velvet behind the former Iron Curtain. I got to taste some of these wines this summer at JT’s home in Richmond—that’s me, in the last graf—and now this piece has me eager to try more. The Wines of Moldova: Discovering velvet behind the Iron Curtain

Mike Steinberger chimes in on his Wine Diarist blog with “not another broadside against the 100-point scale or wine ratings in general.” No, this is something different: Steinberger has created a wine quiz, and the results make for some quick and compelling reading. Quiz Time

Ann Limpert, food and wine editor


• “A Caesar salad’s pretty heterosexual” isn’t a phrase you hear unless you’re lunching with Barneys creative guru Simon Doonan, who has written a book called Gay Men Don’t Get Fat. Pass the Large Grain of Salt

• Because—and only because–this is written by Ruth Reichl, I will put mayo on the outside of my next grilled cheese. How to Make a Better Grilled Cheese

• It’s been a nasty week for crazy food-related deaths, from a Chinese billionaire who was poisoned while eating cat stew to a New Year’s Eve dinner in Australia where servings of death cap mushrooms killed two people. Deadly mushroom meal was made in a restaurant kitchen

• “The microwave has been filled with pudding for a very good reason; please do not clean it,” and other delightfully passive-aggressive notes you’ll likely never see gracing your office kitchen. Signs You’ll Never Read in Your Office’s Communal Kitchen

Jessica Voelker, online dining editor

• My paternal grandmother refused any food seasoned with black pepper, believing it had some atrocious effect on the human stomach (I can’t remember what, exactly). As a result, my dad is mad for the stuff. And I guess I take after him, because I make very liberal use of the pepper mill when cooking. Slate contributor Sarah Dickerman, however, thinks salt needs a new companion at the dinner table. I wonder what Grandma would say. Against Pepper

• I have a major girl crush on author Sloane Crosley, which is why I care (a lot) about what she eats. The fact that she loves oysters and bourbon does not make me love her less. Sloane Crosley Ingests Many Oysters, Drinks Unknown Quantities of Maker’s Mark on New Year’s

• And a must-read for Negroni fans: Seattle bartender Andrew Bohrer has an excellent primer on properly concocting that most wonderful of cocktails. As with all things, “you need to understand the rules before you break them.” Bartender Re-education: The Negroni

Sophie Gilbert, associate arts editor

• "A martini is not a martini without an olive. That, at least, is the thinking of a true connoisseur.” This wins my award for the best lede of 2012. Even better? It’s the lede to a 1,000-word feature in the Sioux City Journal about the opening of a new Olive Garden, which, according to the article, is the most exciting thing to happen in Sioux City since it came in 14th in the Top Drunkest Cities in America in 2010. Olive Garden arrives

• Remember that time when Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg baked brownies together? And Martha was wearing a Christmas sweater with what looked like a skier on it, and Snoop wore a tie? No? Well, relive it here, and cherish the moment, because the Martha Stewart Show is no longer. The Martha Stewart Show DUNZO After Six-Year Run

• The great American restaurant has finally been declared, and it is: Waffle House. As someone who once rented a car and drove an hour north of Baltimore just to get hash browns, I can’t disagree. Waffle House Is the Great American Restaurant

Anna Spiegel, assistant food and wine editor

• This takes burger wars to a whole new level: Eater National has all the questions (and none of the answers) you need to know in connection with the release of Star Wars–themed burgers at a fast food chain in France. Darth Vader and Jedi Hamburgers at Quick in France

• That’s almost as appetizing as “Pizza the Hut.”

• Oh, my goodness: That other East Coast city’s other Sietsema got a fantastic piece of hate mail over (what else?) gefilte fish. As we all know, Internet readers can be mean . . . and want to rub fish in your face. Hate Mail on the Subject of Gefilte Fish

• In other fish news (but the sad kind), Grub Street has a quick commentary (with links!) about the state of the bluefin tuna population. Basically, catch limits are up and the population is down, specifically by 593 pounds. Will humans look back at pictures like these in 2084 and feel very, very stupid? There’s Never Been a Worse Time to Be a Bluefin Tuna