Reading the Fish Wrap: While Under the Influence

I don’t know if Jason Wilson’s piece in the Washington Post on how to conduct a spirits tasting at home affected my judgment (specifically the impromptu bourbon tasting it inspired), but a reading of this week’s New York Times dining section gave me an overwhelming sense that the world is a good place that is getting better. A feeling that’s hard to come by these days (jobs numbers, election politics, Europe).

While the impending foie gras ban in California is making people go a little nuts (“lush last meals”), I have to admit that diminishing the cruelty of creating those bits of deliciousness seems a good thing. I’d rather have sea urchin these days for my fix of creamy umami…and marrow is a close approximation. Likewise NYC’s ban of the sale of sweet drinks over 16oz can only be good for the health of the citizenry. Julia Moskin’s piece is fun to read if only for the stunning range of New Yorkers’ sweet bev fixes. I guess they walk it off.

In restaurant news, Sam Sifton is back with an article about a new restaurant (Blanca) hidden behind another (Roberta’s) in Brooklyn. Sure it’s another 12-seat, open-kitchen, tasting-menu situation (Boy, do I wish I was dining for Zagat these days: Instead I got Buddha Bar and Kobe Club!), but diners didn’t even know about it. They reserved for Roberta’s and were upgraded to Blanca. Also, I continue to be thrilled that Ligaya Mishan now has her own column and her review of Catch is a great read. What a scene at this big box, meatpacking night club/restaurant! The chef: Hung Huynh, a Top Chef winner. Pete Wells’ review of Neta, a sushi place from a couple of Masa chefs is both glowing and funny. All of the writing this week just felt…good-natured.

In terms of food, Jeff Gordinier has a truly sweet piece about a woman making small-batch pesto in upstate New York. She won’t share her recipe in part because the metrics are all based on her hand size and definition of a pinch. It’s ready when her food processor makes the right sound. And Melissa Clark comes through with a recipe for pan-seared pork cutlets with a green garlic salsa verde that I just might try this weekend.

So, thanks, Times writers and editors for all the happy news. Or should I thank Jason Wilson for suggesting I taste all those bourbons? Speaking of, can you please give your readers the same treatment for bourbon as you gave for rum this week? Probably best to do a tasting with a spirit you’d like to have left over.

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