The omnivore’s dilemma, indeed. Would Michael Pollan eat squirrel? Photograph courtesy of Alia Malley
Todd Kliman, food and wine editor
• Mmmm, just what I want to dig into on a cold, winter day: ash, the new It ingredient. And not just ash—artisanal ash! Key Ingredient: Ash
• Crunchy-trendy types think eating local is all about cheeses and chickens from local farms. This Seattle woman has a more traditional notion of local—one that Michael Pollan and others might turn up their freshly exfoliated noses at, but which speaks right to the heart of what they so high-mindedly champion. I can almost taste her risotto di rodentia now: Eastern gray squirrel braised in Lopez Island white wine, with mushrooms and rice. Dinner gets very local for squirrel-eating Seattleite
• The feisty Alice Feiring weighs in on natural wine on her blog. “It’s about as much white noise,” she writes, “as the anti-war movement in 1970.” I like this for several reasons: A) I hope she’s right, and that natural wines continue to gain the following they deserve, and 2) You have to love a writer who refers to things that happened 40 years ago as if they were still part of popular consciousness. Natural wine movement, just noise?
Ann Limpert, food and wine editor
• Echoes of Arrested Development’s Cornballer machine: In a story that is every food editor’s nightmare, the BBC reports that a court in Chile has ruled that newspaper La Tercera should be held accountable for printing a churros recipe with a too-high oil temperature. Thirteen people were burned—some severely—when the hot oil exploded, and the newspaper has been ordered to pay out damages. Chile Exploding Churros Recipe Case Solved
• I keep looking for a link to The Onion on this one, but alas, it seems to be true: Japanese outposts of Wendy’s will be slinging burgers larded with foie gras and truffles. Vanity Fair points out they will sell for only about $16, which is nothing when compared to other moronically Marie Antoinette–style creations, such as a $1,000 bagel with truffled cream cheese and gold leaves in New York. Foie Gras at Wendy’s? How . . . Inspired! How Other Chains Could Follow Suit
Jessica Voelker, online dining editor
• This week found me finishing off a restaurant meal with an $11 ramekin of apple crumble so small that trying to share it nearly brought my dining partner and me to blows. Note to self: Crumbles are, by design, meant to be inexpensive and simple to prepare. Start making your own. Note to John Besh and Esquire’s Eat Like a Man blog: Thanks for the recipe. The Vacation Recipe: John Besh’s Apple and Pear Crumble
• I don’t want to be pushy and use the phrase “required reading,” but over on Gilt Taste, Francis Lam has created a roundup of favorite 2011 food stories I think anyone interested in culinary coverage will find edifying and enjoyable. Our Favorite Stories from 2011
• Margaret Talbot begins her New Yorker profile of Portlandia co-creator/star Carrie Brownstein with a recap of one of my favorite scenes from the show: the one in which a couple at a Portland restaurant fall down deep into the locavore rabbit hole. As anyone who has dined in Portland will tell you: It’s funny ’cause it’s true. Stumptown Girl
Sophie Gilbert, associate arts editor
• Happy holidays! Here’s a depressing Mark Bittman column about why the FDA has effectively neutered itself, along with a few horrible statistics: 1) when you buy meat at the supermarket, there’s a 25 percent chance it contains a potentially fatal, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 2) 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the US are given to farm animals. Bacteria 1, FDA 0
• In case you’re feeling grossed out enough to cut out meat for New Year, Bittman also offers this: his guide on going “semi-vegan.” No Meat, No Dairy, No Problem
• In cheerier news, NPR finds that you might actually be able to eat yourself smarter (I can haz cheezburger?). Is There Really Such a Thing as Brain Food?
• And finally, this week, EcoSalon gives us a nice breakdown of the ten different kinds of foodies (I’m definitely type one). Foodie Underground: The 10 Types of Foodies (And What to Do with Them)
Anna Spiegel, assistant food and wine editor
•It’s almost 2012, and you know what that means: list time! We at The Washingtonian love a good list—as you can tell from (shameless plug alert!) our new 100 Very Best Restaurants issue, currently on newsstands.
•Is Wu-Tang Flan truly incredible? VH1 has an unappetizing yet interesting list of this past year’s most “incredible” foods. The 25 Most Incredible Foods Of 2011
• Stefon! Sandra Lee swearing! Eater, master of the listicle, has a roundup of the dozen best food videos of the year. The Top Twelve Must-Watch Food Videos of 2011
2011: The Year’s Most Scathing Restaurant Reviews is a good read, as well.
• And over at Gizmodo, there’s a review of the nuttiest food-related articles this year, including that one about the poop burger and that other one about eggs made in a waffle iron. The Best Crazy Food Stories of the Year