Eat the Week: Critic Wars, Justice Scalia’s New York vs. Chicago Pizza Ruling, Blood for Blood Sausage, and the End of Pop-Tart Sushi
1. As part of Paterson budget cuts, New York state demolished the kosher law-enforcement division. One step in ensuring that kosher-labeled food meets proper requirements, the division was reduced from at least 8 members down to just one. $1 million per year will be saved, but opponents of the cut worry that kosher labeling fraud will increase. Meanwhile, two new restaurants do Jewish food without the kosher.
2. Low-income city residents showed an overwhelming demand for fresh fruits and vegetables this year. Food stamp spending at 40 of the city’s greenmarkets increased from $251,000 in 2009 to over $500,000 in 2010. It looks like access to fresh food is the main issue here.
3. Italian restaurateur Pino Luongo does not like his competition — and he especially hates the “Italian” food at Andrew Carmellini’s Locanda Verde, noting that “you have to be masochistic to eat there.” He went on to say, “call me an old-fart, if that’s Italian food, I’m Chinese.” Ouch. Carmellini had his chance to fight back via an email to Grub Street: “I feel sorry for Mr. Luongo if he is reduced to ranting about us on video. Maybe I will be that way when I am over the hill and nobody goes to my restaurants anymore.” Ah, the “grumpy old man” defense. Luongo also shot down NYT’s favorite Del Posto, but Joe Bastianich responded simply and appropriately by inviting Luongo to dine at Del Posto anytime.
4. From grumpy old men to stuck-up old ladies. Former New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton is too good for Brooklyn, Sam Sifton, and food trucks. Of Brooklyn she said, “it would take a lot to get me there for dinner… I haven’t been to Al di la, because you have to wait on line, and I’m not going to Brooklyn to wait on line.” Of current Times food critic Sam Sifton, “It’s food writing for an audience less interested in food and more interested in the experience and the theater of it.” And finally, she rips apart the charm of eating at a food truck: “I don’t know where they eat it, that’s what I can’t figure out about a truck. Where the hell do you eat it?” Well now, It must be nice to live in a townhouse in the Village.
5. Enter our brave champion, Robert Sietsema from The Village Voice. He will defend Brooklyn to the death. He jabs a knife at dear Mimi with a sharp rejoinder, “I suspect Brooklyn’s detractors are simply too lazy to find a subway and board it, their tongues so accustomed to the familiar and prosaic that they don’t want to taste anything else… they’re unwilling to admit that the culinary world as they know it — a world of French cuisine, heavy silverware, pinkies in the air, and $500 tabs — hardly exists anymore as far as most of us are concerned.” And the fatal blow? “Brooklyn doesn’t need your approbation. He who tires of Brooklyn tires of life.”
6. Worshipers at Christmas day mass at a church on Long Island were shocked by a hepatitis A scare. The source of the disease? Non other than the body of Christ — communion wafers. An individual at the church involved with the communion process discovered later that day that he was infected with hep A. The church responded by offering its parishioners free vaccinations. Merry Christmas!
7. Justice Scalia may be a big jerk, but he officially ruled that New York City pizza is better than Chicago pizza. We win… again.
8. Looking for something to do this weekend? Donate blood for blood sausage! The Meat Hook and Brooklyn Kitchen are hosting a weekend blood drive this Saturday from noon to 4:30. Show up, give blood, and be rewarded with a free blood sausage. Unless of course you’re vegetarian. Then you get a free pound of beans. Blood for beans.
9. Gonzalez y Gonzalez is that touristy place on Broadway in NoHo with the flashy neon-lighted sombrero. You know the place right? You’ve probably walked by it a thousand times, or maybe even stopped in for a margarita and American-Mexican food. After 21 years, Gonzalez is closing and a Chipotle is moving in.
10. Finally, Pop-Tarts World Cafe’s branding of Times Square has come to an end. Say good bye to Pop-Tart sushi. The store closed on New Year’s Eve, just in time for all those resolutions for healthier eating in 2011.
Photo: Luis Estrela