Monday, June 23, 2008

When Writing Gives you a Headache, Only Alcohol Can Cure The Pain...

The great fiction-writer George V. Higgins, in his non-fiction classic primer for aspiring writers, 'On Writing', said something to the effect that a writer should not quote another writer who was far superior, thus pointing out his own inferiority. This is advice that Lee Klein, of the Miami New Times, might have heeded before he wrote "If vegans are a 'Hezbollah-like splinter faction' of the vegetarian movement, as Anthony Bourdain once wrote...." This pithy quote of Bourdain's outshines anything from Klein's pen that comes after it, rendering the entire review an exercise in excruciating boredom. But for perhaps the last time, I've taken one for the team and plowed through the muck.

Before I continue, though, I would like to address Bourdain's comment, which I find both small-minded and pandering; but of course that is Bourdain's shtick-throw out four-letter words and quotables to the bored mid-western housewives who make up his core audience. Unfortunately, trying to be cute and superior by making fun of vegetarians shows he is neither-it only makes the 'Hezbollah' comment sound purposefully provocative and desperate.

But back to LK....Klein has his weekly New York reference, but at a record 500 words into the review-very restrained for Mr. Klein. He bemoans raw foodists as the "loopiest fringe" of the "vegetarian movement", whatever that is, so you know that what follows is going to be an objective overview of a raw foods restaurant (sarcasm). Kind of like when the Kleinster reviewed Brosia but wouldn't eat their most interesting dish because he "doesn't eat bunny". Kind of how six months ago he demanded that restaurants provide the sources of all of their meat and fish entrees, then promptly forgot about his high standards to kiss up to another Italian joint. I understand. I saw La Klein at an event at Pacific Time this past Monday, and he was looking as bored as most of his readers. Maybe it's those "Five Questions" that he asks of potential advertisers, I mean 'chefs', that has got him down. I feel you, Lee. You're one of a dying breed (print writers with a job). Maybe that's why he disliked the raw beets at "The Art of Food", but doesn't have a problem when Michelle Bernstein or Michael Schwartz serve them. Those chefs at least provide a fat expense-account meal paid for by the New Times. It sucks when your only real remuneration (a coupla free meals) ends up being some vegan terrorists (more sarcasm).

Speaking of Pacific Time, I loved the event this past week that highlighted the use of tap water at PT and Fratelli Lyon. Of course the Herald sent their top writer, Taylor Barnes. This is an important issue, and only the best will do. The germ of my original altercation with Kathy Martin and Herald food writing came about because of my disappointment with their knack for giving important stories to amateurs who had just gotten off the bus. Of course, with all the layoffs, one has to be kind. Soon Enrique Fernandez will be the only writer on staff. Of course he's been there since the '60's, and can't be fired. Best of luck, Taylor, and say hi to Jaweed for me. Perhaps in your piece you may have mentioned all of the top restaurateurs in the country, as well as in Miami, who have not eschewed bottled water. But of course, that would have been journalism, and that is frowned upon by the Miami Herald. Speaking of Jaweed, who has moved on to bigger and better things, one last look at 'Clink', the feature that tells you where to get the latest 'hot' cocktails...
[The Florida Room] "is styled after a Cuban speakeasy, and the menu also reflects that," says manager and mixologist Angelo Viera. "The focus is on a lot of rum cocktails and vintage Cuban classics." Of course the three drinks that follow contain no rum; nor are any of them Cuban in origin. Nor is there any such thing as a "Cuban speakeasy".
"Not on the list? Taste the glamour at home with these recipes." When a Pisco Sour is considered glamorous, there is really something crazy going on here. But don't worry, Jake, it's just Miami-Town...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Don't Eat Sushi...It's Not Funny...Later...

Enrique Fernandez in the Herald reviews Abokado, and has this throwaway gem..."I skipped sushi and sashimi." Yeah, you wouldn't want to touch that stuff, especially in a restaurant review of a place THAT SPECIALIZES IN RAW FISH! Also, "A good selection of wines includes the spicy whites that complement Asian food..." Like what? Some direction would be nice. Anyway, the best wines to accompany Asian food, esp. sushi, would be considered a slightly sweet wine, a simple Chablis, or a dry sparkler. By spicy whites I assume he means Gew├╝rztraminer, which also goes very well with Asian food-so why not mention it? Of course sushi goes best with sake or beer, so that would explain the lack of a word or two about the wine list, because there's all this stuff about the sake list. Just kidding. There's a "wide range" of sakes. A wide range. No names, no prices.

"The menu tilts heavily toward Japanese raw fish and its South American cousins, ceviches, tiraditos and estiraditos..." Guess that's why he didn't try the sushi or sashimi-with all those Latin treats, perhaps sushi and sashimi are outside abuelito's comfort zone? Oh, and thank you to an anonymous commenter for this It's nice to know that Enrique knows as little about fashion as he does about food. Man can that guy not write.

And Lee Klein's wacky piece on pancakes had something mysteriously fascinating about it...Least funny thing I've read this year. And I mean in any genre, including obituaries. The one about the 58 year old dude succumbing to brain cancer? Hilarious next to this dead-on-arrival piece of shit attempt at humor. The good thing is, when La Kleine is trying to be serious, he's gut-bustingly funny, so there are always a lot of laughs in his regular columns. And the 'Five Questions' ? Is the point to be as bland and uninformative as possible? Then I give it a perfect 10. How do you fuck up an interview with a guy as interesting and quirky as Dewey LoSasso? What is the point of this feature if there is nothing new there? Well, I guess at least the New Times is saving money by having Lee work harder. Well, maybe putting in more hours is more like it, because it's obvious no 'work' went into this one.

And it's great to see Linda Blandholm in the Herald getting the goods on the hot story of the 'Spice Guys'. A few months late but at least they're getting their due. Personally, I don't think who gets there first is necessarily as important as just getting it right, but a few months late is a little, well, too late.