Monday, August 3, 2009

Me and the New Times, sitting in a tree...

As you can see from the date of the last post, I've been keeping the vitriol to a minimum---mostly by concentrating my writing efforts on some paying jobs, writing about art and design in addition to food and wine, and by not ever reading the local papers. Just a couple of things have come up that I feel I must respond to. The first is a series at the Miami New Times blog written by Jackie Sayet called Plato Royal. This series reminded me quite a bit of 'Culinary Cage Match' (which I wrote for since its inception), right down to the wrestling metaphor.

According to Jackie, "Thanks for pointing out your Cage Match articles. We're comparing one dish at two different places. We give pros and cons, and then a verdict. The idea came from our sister paper in San Fran, where they've had success with Dish Duel. It appears that your series however, is not the same thing, which is fun too. You work from the ingredient up, and compare how it comes alive in different dishes at two places. Ever once in a while, you'll take a dish like Philly Cheesecake and Croquetas, which is more like our format, just without the analysis. Anywho, here's Dish Duel in case you want to check it out. Thanks for commenting!"

Unfortunately, her response is somewhat misleading. I have written CCM's comparing dishes, comparing ingredients, and comparing events, like Afternoon Tea at the Biltmore versus Pineapple Blossom. Not unlike her recent piece comparing brunch at two hotels. Or her piece on Cobb Salads Isn't that comparing the same dish at two different joints-like Philly Cheesesteak, or Croquetas? Yeah-because that's what my column was about and why I am writing this PressChops. Simply put, it is fairly obvious that Battle Royal is a ripoff lesser version of Culinary Cage Match. Just without the insight, humor, and wit. Oh, and analysis...
1) "Thanks for pointing out your Cage Match articles." Obviously someone already pointed them out to you, because that's how you guys got the idea for your column. I'm certainly not saying Jackie herself 'stole' the idea. I don't know her, never heard of her, and I'm sure she is a wonderful, honest person. That was never my intention. I am simply saying that my idea was appropriated and anyone who has read both can plainly see that.
2) "Ever [sic] once in a while, you'll take a dish like Philly Cheescake [sic] and Croquetas, which is more like our format, just without the analysis." Actually, I had a very good editor at that is why my pieces don't go on for eight screens. Verbiage does not equal analysis.
3) Culinary Cage Match. Plato Royal. One is a genuine original. The other is a cheap copy.

I know everyone on the internet has a short memory, especially in the food game in Miami, where there really isn't that much to write about. But how about coming up with your own ideas? Or just admit to stealing mine. I can live with that.

From a recent back-and-forth on the New Times blog---
ME-"Loved your burger piece by the way, LK. Except for the fact that I worked at one of the places you mentioned and everything you said, factually (not your opinions, which are pretty much worthless, anyway), was incorrect. Makes your whole piece dubious and unreliable. And I would be happy to make those facts known to anyone who cares to email me at Luvya! Posted On: Saturday, May. 30 2009 @ 2:03PM

Chuck Strouse, editor says:


New Times, of course, corrects any error in fact as soon as possible. Danny, I'm afraid, bears animus toward our critic,Lee Klein, so I don't give his claim a lot of credence. Moreover, he seems unwilling to state the allegedly incorrect facts. Why? Maybe to draw more publicity to himself? He is, after all, a public relations type. If I'm unfairly tarring you, Danerino, show me. Help out the public. Don't snipe from behind a fence.

Chuck Strouse

Posted On: Sunday, May. 31 2009 @ 9:38PM

MiamiDanny says:

First Chuck: I have never "sniped from behind a fence". It is a wall-a huge, impenetrable, brick wall.

The facts: I have worked at Kingdom and the meat there is not "ground on premises"-they buy ground sirloin. The fries are not "fresh"; the buns are not "standard sesame"-they are special-ordered from a bakery. These are facts-also, of course, Kingdom is owned by a "nice neighborhood couple". Not the neighborhood where the restaurant is, but certainly they live in a "neighborhood".

The reason I brought this up was not to 'snipe', and I don't even know how to 'bear animus' (sounds dirty); in fact, I just felt that if you can't get the simplest facts straight in a piece about hamburgers, perhaps your opinion of said hamburgers is about as reliable as your 'facts'. Comprende, Chuck?

Posted On: Monday, Jun. 1 2009 @ 1:18PM

And that, as they say, was the end of that. No response. Hey, I understand people don't want to admit it when they mess up. I sure don't. Just wish it wasn't so obvious.

Which is why I wasn't surprised that the MNT's Kleinster finally got around to 'reviewing' Mi Rinconcito, my fave Mexican restaurant in Miami, and yet still managed to mess it up. Although my definitive SunPost review is no longer available online, due to SP's demise, it is still hanging by the entrance of the restaurant, in case you want to read it. It is about authenticity-yet reading Klein I almost felt like he hadn't even eaten there (figuratively or literally-take your pick). I was going to critique the review, but I got so bored re-reading it that I felt it would be cruel to subject anyone to Kleiner's tedium. [If you must.] It just seems that Lee has a bit of an inferiority complex when he gets out of his comfort zone of shitty, overpriced hotel restaurants. I'm sure it's well-earned (his complex, that is)-but that's between him and his shrink.

And I thought I was done complaining about the lack of attention paid to wine lists, but two recent Klein 'reviews' had me thinking-first let me give you this line from Klein's review of Eos..."Even so, the bill of fare here, composed mostly of "small plates," is among Miami's most creative assemblages of comestibles."
"Bill of fare"? "creative assemblages of comestibles"? It's called a fucking menu. A menu! Anyhoo, "Eos is damn impressive and clearly the new benchmark for Miami's hotel restaurants," says Klein. Yet the wine list has 12 reds and 12 whites---"Northern Greece is represented by a rubicund Boutari Grande Reserve Naoussa". Rubicund? You mean red, right? Beating that portable thesaurus to death, aren't we? And this wine has no vintage or price-and why say Northern Greece? Are there other wines on the list from Southern Greece? Is it good? Does it go well with the food at what you have just written is the best hotel restaurant in Miami; which has exactly twelve reds and twelve white wines on offer, according to you?

Lastly on the wine issue-people know I am very passionate about preserving and promoting fairly-priced wines on wine lists--and explaining why they are, in fact, fairly priced. [Note to New Times bloggers-I also wrote a column for called 'Under Deconstruction' about restaurant wine lists and how to find the winners-feel free to steal that, too.] So it pains me when Klein writes, referring to the restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, "The wine list offers some 500 French and domestic labels. Bottle prices go from $28 to $900, but the best values rest in the $70 to $140 range. Sommelier Kareem Zarwi can help you with selections." Oh, can he? Can the sommelier help me with my selections? Really? And can the waiter help me with my food selections? Great insight, man. How about you, La Klein, can you help me---isn't the idea of a restaurant review to give me the information that can 'help me with my selections'? In your case, apparently not.

And, to repeat, the review says that the wine list offers more than "500 French and domestic labels"-in fact, there are many bottles that are neither French nor domestic (Spain, Italy, New Zealand, etc.). The most cursory examination of the list would have shown that. But again, why let the facts get in the way? My guess is that Lee is clueless about wines and his editor pees a little in his pants every time he has to edit the crusty curmudgeon. It's gotta hurt, eh Chuckles?

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Never Sang for Lee Klein....Part 1

So I guess it's time to discuss what transpired between myself and the Miami New Times, after I was asked by Gail Shepherd to contribute a piece to their then-new 'foodie' blog, Shit Order. It's filled with the usual bad writing, incorrect/incomplete information, amateur photos, and comments from each of the bloggers about how wonderful they each are in their blissful ignorance. So I guess they thought that one of my pieces would fit right in....

Gail works for the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, and at the time (and perhaps still), Chuck Strouse was the editor of both papers. Now I'm not here to trash the New Times, or the fact that they basically do four different cover stories, which could more or less be defined by the old saying, "gas, grass, or ass, nobody rides for free", where 'gas' is replaced by 'DJ/rapper', and 'nobody rides for free' is replaced by "Cuba". Once (or twice) a year they do a food-related cover story, usually effed-up by Lee 'Grampa' Klein-the last one I believe was about bottled-water versus tap water. Yeah, he really glams it out.

So Gail asked me to do a First Bites. The conversation's a little fuzzy, but it went something like this...

" Hi Miami Danny: Thanks much for your entertaining participation in Short Order, and for your kind words on Presschops. I want to start a regular feature on Short Order where I ask SoFla foodies (writers, chefs, purveyors, bloggers, farmers, etc) to reminisce about their earliest food memories. The entries would be fairly short, maybe a paragraph or two, and I'll be collecting them either via email or by phone, depending on the interviewee's preference. Would you like to participate? I'll include a link to your blog (well, to Daily Cocaine, anyway!) and, if you approve and have one, a photo of you. Let me know if you think this would be something fun to do. Best, Gail Shepherd, New Times Broward Palm Beach"

Like I said, it's a little hazy. So I responded something like, oh..."Hi Gail-You are hilarious. Of course I'd love to participate. The New Times is like family to me! Can I interview you and Lee? ....Now that would be fun. Just let me know when you need it.

Gail-Cool! Yeah, family, well that’s one dysfunctional little clan you’ve got, isn’t it? You can definitely interview me anytime — my intuition tells me that maybe Lee would pass (you might think of Lee as an estranged uncle).... I’m pretty sure that it would be hard to get us all in a room together. Unless there’s a death or something. As for the question:
What’s your earliest food memory? Or one of the earliest? Please elaborate."

Like I said, it's been a long time, and it's all a little hazy. So to make a long story short, I send them the piece (see below), and Gail posts it immediately on the blog. I alert my readers, friends, family, former cellmates, etc., and they all enjoy my humorous jaunt-even though most of them have heard these stories a million times (I'm old). And I send the link out to the world.

Here's some more of my hazy recollection....
"Hi Gail-Here's the memory and my bio-I was trying to get it to you yesterday but the day just got away from me....
I was never a wine distributor, but I know a bunch pretty well from my days at Stop Miami. If you have any questions, maybe I can help. Let's grab a cocktail sometime soon and catch up. I'm also sending you a photo. Enjoy.

Gail-Thank you, this is really, really great. I remember going to the butcher with my mom too, it seems very quaint now. We also had the same refrigerator — full of nothing to eat — and a set of kitchen cabinets, also full of nothing to eat. You’d open the cabinet door and there’d be like, 8 cans of stewed tomatoes and some baking soda and a couple of rusty cans of bamboo shoots and maybe a pop-top of cocktail sausages. I’ll try to post this today.
Yes, I’d love to get together, maybe also with John Linn, who I’m sure would like to meet you.... Thanks again for this..."

But wait, later that evening, or the next morning, Lee Klein comes back from vacation and storms into the New Times offices after seeing my pretty face on their blog, and fuming, sputtering, and almost shitting himself because his panties are in such a twist (yes, I know for a fact he wears panties-don't ask), demands that my post and all mention of me be removed forthwith, or he will have a stroke right there in front of Mr. Strouse. The post is removed, and a runner is dispatched to get Miss Klein, whose seething hissy-fit shocked even some jaded staffers, a box of Kleenex (the kind with the aloe lotion-he has a tender rectum apparently) , with which to clean himself.

Of course I laugh about it, and of course Mr. Strouse feels compelled to phone me a few days later to explain why Klein is acting like a six-year-old schoolgirl, and try to make it seem like somehow I was at fault for accepting Gail's kind offer to submit a piece (again, this was not a paid piece (what is, anymore?)), after I had "called Mr. Klein an asshole." according to Strouse.

Three things:

#1-First let me say, I have never called Lee Klein an asshole. If you google "lee klein asshole", PressChops doesn't appear until 10th position, and I do not say that Lee Klein is an asshole in that post; I am referring to a hypothetical situation which does not involve Klein being an asshole.

#2-If I feel that it serves to edify, elucidate, or otherwise inform (or entertain) my readers (or myself) about something they probably already are suspicious of, but not really 100% sure of; if I might some day feel the absolute necessity to say, "Lee Klein is an asshole", I will feel no compunction about doing so. I have not done so yet, but I do reserve that right.

#3-Grow a fucking spine.

In Part 2, I finish what I started with this whole "Lee Klein is an asshole" rubbish, and get back to what PressChops is all about...calling out the frauds, the hypocrites, and the candy-ass sycophants. And, ahem, believe me, they know who they are...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Where Does the New Times Find These Losers????

In case you were wondering why this link is broken, the New Times removed the post, from both its Broward and Miami versions. I will only say that I am not in the newspaper publishing business, so I'm not sure why they would request that I submit a piece to them, publish it, and then remove it less than a day later (a coupla days later for the Broward edition-although it was subsequently reinstated For those of you who feel that I probably wrote some crazy, incendiary post, and got pulled for some fiery diatribe, here is the post in full. Incidentally, this was a freebie.

"Notorious blogger and culinary gadfly "Miami Danny" may strike fear and loathing into the hearts of local restaurant critics, but he never shrinks from jumping into the foodish fray -- pick a topic, he has an opinion. Here he shares his first food memory with Short Order:

My mother was a working mom, so often it would fall to my brothers and me to pick up our package from the butcher. “Pound-and-a-half of Kosher-made chop meat, please. For Mrs. Brody.” Our mother's instructions were always to tell either Sam or Mr. Katz, our butchers, the same thing. Even though we were pretty steady customers, almost daily, in fact. You couldn't get Kosher meat at the supermarket like you can today, and apparently my mom thought that our butchers would never remember who we were from day to day, or what we ordered. 'Chop meat' was ground beef, although I didn't start calling it that until I went away to college in Buffalo, NY, and no one seemed to know what 'chop meat' was. You learn fast that your East Coast big city ethnic charm can only go so far in the face of an exasperated 300-pound Polish butcher from Lackawanna.

The 'chop meat' was usually rolled into meatballs, which my mother would start doing as soon as she got her coat off. After hacking off a glob of margarine (does anyone still use margarine?), some chopped up pieces of carrot stick and an onion-half would go into the ancient, bent, 'meatball' pot. I say 'stick' because I never actually saw more than one carrot, or half-an-onion, at a time, in our jam-packed but somehow never-anything-to-eat-in-it refrigerator. Where did they come from? Was my mother actually buying carrots one stick at a time? Follow the vegetables with a cup or so of water, then the meatballs, and cook for about 45 minutes. I guess you could call them 'potted' meatballs, and they preceded almost every dinner of my childhood. My mother was very proud of her spice mix, which included 'garlic salt' and paprika that had turned to dust sometime in the late fifties. But if you complimented her on her delicious meatballs (which you did, because you were polite and famished), and asked her why they tasted so good tonight, she would often get this proud and mischievous glint in her eye. “Really? Thank you, boys. And do you know what I added to them tonight to make them taste so good?” she would ask us, waiting a beat before answering our curious looks. “Absolutely nothing!”

Recipe to follow (just kidding)."

**Danny Brody, aka Miami Danny, is the author of "The Gilded Palace of Sin," a book of poems published in 2008. He is also the founder of,, and He writes 'The Art of Hunger' for MAP Magazine, and writes 'Under Deconstruction' and 'Culinary Cage Match' for Along with his wife, he is the former proprietor of Stop Miami, a notorious watering hole in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami.