Friday, October 30, 2009


There’s been much written about the demise of Gourmet. How it was an institution, how it was such a strong brand, how it changed the way we eat and helped people realize that eating is an inherently political act. And I agree with all those stances. In blog years the folding of the magazine was eons ago so I won’t retread what others have said, I just can’t move forward without at least a small perfunctory nod to my erstwhile favorite food mag.

In keeping with the theme of this blog I think what I’ll miss most about Gourmet (aside from the regular venue it gave Ruth Reichl) will be its invaluable expansion of what we consider “fit for human consumption.” And by “fit” I don’t just mean edible or delicious. I think Gourmet was one of a number of national platforms that helped people start to think about what their food choices mean, how food really does touch on every aspect of our lives from the purely superficial to the deep and meaningful. I believe that thinking about those things is very important, even in light of all the self-righteousness that has arisen around some sectors of the food industry (I’m looking at you vegan activists and militant locavores). There’s so much about food that has a larger context, and whether I agree with all sides of the issue or not, I do think the dialog itself was important.

So here’s my final toast to Gourmet, in all its glossy, pretty, fanciful food presentations, its top notch travel features, and some of its more serious endeavors. Thanks for helping us really figure out what’s “fit” to consume. You will be missed.

Turkey, Turkey, Pig, Turkey.

There was plenty of food consumed in the two (three??) months since I last posted. Meals made. Friends gathered. Menus planned. Plenty of ideas marinated as well. But nothing to compare with the next month. Not only are we in the thick of my favorite time of year-culinarily (yes i know that’s not a real word but clearly it should be so I’m using it anyway) and otherwise—but Hobart Street has been/is/will be the site of a considerable amount of edible riffing on fall themes in the next few weeks.

By the time December rolls around the capacious dining room tables at my house will have supported no fewer than three Turkeys. And dozens of friends will have gathered to give thanks for whatever it is they give thanks for, which with this crowd probably mostly means for the food, wine and good company.

We kicked things off with a lovely Canadian Thanksgiving celebration courtesy of Chef Jen B. Canadian Thanksgiving, it turns out, looks much like American Thanksgiving with the addition of some new-to-me desserts including a butter tart that is every bit as decadent and rich as it sounds.

We’re interjecting a Halloween open house into the Turkey Day line-up this weekend. Slow cooked pork will elbow aside the ungainly turkey for one night. As a total aside, don’t you just love the complexity you get when you slow cook things? It’s the ultimate example of patience rewarded. The supporting case for our pig, courtesy of neighbor Mike, will be a full barrage of comfort foods to fortify the neighborhood adults for the onslaught of marauding pint-sized trick-or-treaters that descend on the street. The flip side of living in a locale that closely resembles the friendly feel of Sesame St. or Mr. Roger’s neighborhood is that it attracts the same fans those shows did. Don’t get me wrong, Halloween is my favorite holiday on Hobart but I don’t think I was prepared for the sheer volume of hopped-up-on-sugar-kids we saw last year. This year I know better and we have a very VERY large pile of refined sugar products waiting to be distributed.

Once the costumed kids and the neighbors’ annual Halloween show have passed we’re into November. And November means Practice Thanksgiving. I view it as a dinner which let’s me experiment with more untraditional dishes that might not be ready to incorporate fully into the actual Turkey Day menu yet. But turkey number two takes its bow at this party.

Our final bird will mark Thanksgiving itself. Due to a number of factors—namely a family wedding and bit of travel fatigue—I’m opting to stay in Washington for Thanksgiving. I was calling it “Orphans Thanksgiving” for awhile, implying that we were picking up any strays who couldn’t or weren’t inclined to head out of town. But so many folks have opted to stay on purpose (myself included) that it really feels like a deliberate destination. Not so much a meal for orphans and strays as it is a pretty exciting gathering of some of my favorite folks. I’m more than a little bit excited. And not just because it gives me a chance to try out a few recipes before tackling a high pressure Christmas dinner for 35 in December (more on that mess at a later date).

I’ll try to take some good pics of the rest of our trio of fowl and the lone swine.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Other Side of the Beloved Burger

After all of the Rah-Rahs for Burgers on this blog, I feel like it's only fair to include a link to this article, decidedly not Fit For Human Consumption.