Lobster Rolls, Hot Dog Eating Contests, and the Chef Who Made Gordon Ramsay Cry: Eating & Reading

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

Last weekend was the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Ann Limpert, food and wine editor:

• Oh, how happy I'd be if soda fountains started cropping up as fast as fro-yo shops: Turning to Jerks to Restore the Allure of Soda Fountains.

• Writer Laura Leu bravely takes the George Plimpton approach to the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, shoving one dog after another down her throat with chasers of buns dipped in Crystal Light lemonade: I Dream of Weenie: My Life as a Female Competitive Eater.

• In related news, NPR looks into how the hot dog became a hot dog: Searching History for the Hot Dog’s Origin.

Sophie Gilbert, assistant editor and Sophie at the Stove blogger:

• Because you can never have enough hot-dog news after July Fourth weekend: Nathan's winner Joey Chestnut eats an average of 20,000 calories per food competition, which is roughly the same as my average Shake Shack binge: Hot Dog Champ Eats 20K Calories, Says Doctor Approves.

• Suddenly so many of my hangovers now make perfect sense (although the nights before are still a little blurry): Wine Alcohol Strength 'Systematically' Understated on Labeling.

• Pret! The Ivy! Zuma! Now if only more of these London restaurants would open branches in DC instead of Dubai, I'd be a lot less homesick: British Empire: Nine London Restaurants That Have Gone Global.

• Despite what his career trajectory would have you believe, apparently Ferran Adrià—a leader in the science-meets-food movement—is really the meat-and-and-potatoes type. His own preferences, says Mark Bittman, "lie in the realm of extremely simple fare:" The Gastronomist Gets Real

Kate Nerenberg, associate food and wine editor:

• I'm all for embracing the pork craze (but enough already with the bacon-and-chocolate pairing—stop pretending it tastes good), but this Mother Jones article about liquefying pig brains into a slurry with an air hose—and what happens to the people who perform that work—is enough to turn me to vegetarianism for awhile: The Spam Factory's Dirty Secret.  

• I know that all of you love lobster rolls as much as I do—if you didn't, they wouldn't be giving crabcakes a very sudden run for their money in this town. While this slideshow from Serious Eats isn't about the mid-Atlantic, it's still a fun parade of pictures to click through (check out that roll on slide 8!): 17 Lobster Rolls We Love in the Northeast.  

• You know Gordon Ramsay. But you probably don't know Marco Pierre White, a British chef who famously wrote in his autobiography that he made Ramsay cry in the kitchen. In this video interview, you'd never guess that White is known as the "original bad-boy chef," as he talks placidly about his many properties, making money as a chef, and how restaurateurs have had to change their concepts and ideas: Marco Pierre White: I've Had to Evolve.

Todd Kliman, food and wine editor:

• Are "snowballs" destined to become the next cupcakes and macarons? Let's hope so. And dig the mouthwatering visuals here. The N'awlins-derived concoction (not to be confused with snowcones) is a stack of finely textured ice, a drizzle of various homemade syrups, and a finishing pour of condensed milk or—as they like in Baltimore—cream: Color Wheel.

Komi may have dispensed with menus, but not like this techno-happy new restaurant in London's theater district. An image projector above each seat displays the options for the night. Diners press buttons to look at dishes, order, ask for the check—even call for a taxi. Coming soon, say its creators, to a city near you: Restaurant Serves Virtual Food.

• Josh Ozersky at Time takes a look at the three dominant trends in American gastronomy today: high modernism, meathead-ism, and the new-naturalism: American Food: A Call for Culinary Independence

• What are we tipping our waiters? This interactive Web site breaks it down, state by state. When it comes to sit-down dining, DC-area diners are not nearly as generous as I might have hoped. We rank slightly ahead of Arkansas (17.5%), but come nowhere close to New Hampshire (24.6%): How Much Do You Tip?

• Farmers are going to have to double food production rates by 2050 if they hope to feed what is estimated to be a population of 9 billion people worldwide, according to the latest U.N. World Economic and Social Survey. It's not that answers to the problem of sustainable food production don't exist, the U.N. says—it's that they're not being implemented: UN Calls for Doubling Food Production.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.