Burns My Bacon: Cheflebrity Pseudo-Locavorism

There are plenty of controversies in the food world, but one thing pretty much everyone agrees on (except maybe Sarah Palin), is that the proliferation of local and seasonal ingredients on restaurant menus is a good thing. Even if you don’t care about counting carbon miles, it’s hard to deny that vegetables grown nearby and eaten in the correct season just taste better. Even if you love McDonald’s, it’s difficult to not be at least a little grossed out by factory-farmed meat. So every foodie should be excited that the farm-to-table ethos has expanded from homey, reclaimed-wood-paneled spots in places like Brooklyn and Portland to restaurants run by some of the nation’s most celebrated chefs. Right?

Maybe not.

I recently ate at ABC Kitchen, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s vegetable-centric, farm-to-table restaurant in Manhattan. Now when I say farm-to-table, I mean outrageously, over-the-top, down-to-the-tiniest detail farm-to-table. There is the requisite rooftop garden growing the eatery’s herbs, and everything down to the soy-based candles is organic. The tables themselves are made from salvaged northeastern woods. Decor consists of discarded tree branches and photos from local artists who understand how to put a bird on it. The menu has two sides: the first lists the dishes, while the flipside relates where every single ingredient is from. And we’re not just talking about sourcing the fish and the tomatoes. Literally every ingredient is accounted for. Thinking about ordering the pretzel-dusted calamari but need to know which artisan pretzel establishment makes the pretzels that generate the dust? They’ve got you covered.

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Cocktail O’Clock: The Ultimate Latte

See that cuppa in the picture? Ordinary, right? Wrong.

That’s a kicked-up latte with, hello . . . bourbon and butterscotch. Yes, if you’ve been paying attention, that’s the same post-dinner beverage offered at JG Domestic in Philly. This drink kinda brought it home for me, especially since it’s not often — okay, never have I shared a latte with 8 people. Yes, we all could have ordered our own but after a full dinner of plate after plate of food; sips were good for the time being. The operative phrase there is “time being.” So like any good recipe-jacking food-a-phile, I made a few notes to replicate the latte at home. The challenge was: could I make it as good without a fancy machine?

Guess what? It’s damn good and pretty damn close to what you will find at Jose Garces’ restaurant. The foam, which I thought would be most challenging, was not at all. So here you have it. I even included step-by-step pictures, so really you have no reason not to try this.

Bourbon Butterscotch Latte

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The Endless Road Trip — Philadelphia’s Top 10 Eats 4. Duck in a Pot

On the second night of our Philadelphia adventure, the intrepid ES crew was treated to a feast at JG Domestic, Iron Chef Jose Garces’ farm-to-table restaurant anchored in the bottom of Cira Center. Supposedly a small plate, made-to-share type of joint, we found that most of JG’s offerings were fairly large and satisfying… not that it didn’t stop us from trying almost everything on the menu!

But… BUT…

There is one item that stands above the rest. I’m not even saying it outshines everything at JG Domestic, I’m saying it outshines almost any meat-based appetizer I have ever eaten. And trust me, there have been a bounty of them in my years as an insatiable epicure.

Allow me to introduce you to the Hudson Valley Potted Duck with foie gras mousse and orange gelée, served with cornichons and crostini.

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Cheflebrity Smörgåsbord: A Taste of the Exotic East?

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The latest and greatest news about celebrity chefs, served up buffet style.

– Wait…there’s an Indian food show on television?  On American television?  Really?

– Easy Joke Alert:  People were angry when they couldn’t get in to a taping of Emeril’s show.  Even more angry?  The people who did get in.

After the jump…a Philly chef gets southern and stays local and Cat Cora gets herself some of that Oprah money.

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Cheflebrity Smörgåsbord: The Stars Come Out in Philly

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The latest and greatest news about celebrity chefs, served up buffet style.

– Lots of local news from Phoodie:  Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro (seen above across from my office…really!!) are in Philly shooting The Dark Fields and they grabbed dinner at Cuba Libre.

Iron Chef Jose Garces is firing up a taco truck and will be announcing its location daily via Twitter.  And there goes my productivity out the door.

After the jump…we get nostalgic about lunch and cartoons, and the latest news about successful people recognizing the accomplishments of other successful people.

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Who is 2009’s Eater of the Year?

As is now tradition, Endless Simmer marks the end of each year by looking back at the chefs, restauranteurs, politicians, talk show hosts, bloggers, and ordinary culinary schmoes who make each year tastier than the one that came before. But unlike certain other publications, we don’t make the final decision ourselves (Ben Bernanke? booooring.) Instead, it’s up to you readers to decide who should join past winners Anthony Bourdain and Hezbollah Tofu in the Endless Eaters Hall of Fame, and more importantly, claim the crown of 2009 Eater of the Year.

So read up on our nominees and cast your votes below.

Meryl Streep

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Foodies love to talk about how much we adore Julia Child. She introduced us to French food, she let us use butter, she never once said the word “yummo.” But the truth is, every icon can use a little updating — and really, if Julia was so perfect we’d all spend a lot more time re-watching Lessons with Master Chefs and a lot less tuning into Ace of Cakes, wouldn’t we? Only Streep could take the notoriously self-deprecating, gangly, mumbley Julia Child and turn her into a winsome, genius, sexy (was that just us?) star. If we could just get Meryl Streep to reenact every old episode of The French Chef, now that’s something we’d watch everyday.

Jose Garces

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We’ve been hyping Jose since way before he grilled Bobby Flay on TV and then schooled all comers on this year’s The Next Iron Chef, and with six eateries and counting, no one did more to put an American city on the culinary map this year than Philly’s Garces. Some might argue the world wasn’t in need of another name-brand chef-lebrity, but if this means Garces’ unique menus are coming to a city near us, we’re more than game.

Michelle Obama

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One year into the Obama era and Guantanamo’s still open, wars are still being waged, and unemployed food bloggers everywhere are still living without health insurance. Well, at least there’s one person in the White House who doesn’t let Joey Lieberman tell them what to do. Mrs. O decided to forget about literacy, china settings, or whatever it is first ladies are supposed to do, and instead made her first year in office all about food. She invited culinary students to the White House, planted a vegetable garden on her front lawn, got a farmers’ market put in across the street — heck, she’s even going on Iron Chef! Now that’s what we call a year’s worth of accomplishments.

This is Why You’re Fat

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Every year has one big concept food blog that takes the Internets by storm, a la Julie & Julia or Hezbollah Tofu. The 2009 entry was unquestionably This is Why You’re Fat, a hilarious, no-holds-barred look at the crap Americans actually put in our stomachs. Like some kind of greasy, pornographic car wreck, TIWYF is so wrong yet so right, and we just can’t look away.

Rachel Maddow

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A bit of a dark horse, but you’ve got to hand it to the only nightly newscaster willing to devote extended segments to taking on corporate agribusiness and their evil henchman. If you’ve got a free 25 minutes (and if you’re reading this, come on, you do), you really should watch Rachel’s hard-hitting piece about the DC lobbyists who spend millions of dollars trying to convince Americans that our fish need more mercury, our fats need more trans, and everything needs more high-fructose corn syrup. Plus, when was the last time you saw Keith Olberman talk Afghanistan policy while making a croquembouche with Martha Stewart? Did Walter Cronkite ever compare health care policy to ordering a pizza? Can Bill O’Reily show you how to mix a Jack Rose? Does Barbara Walters know where to find $2 tamales in Hell’s Kitchen? No, no, no, and no. Rachel Maddow: foodiest newslady ever.

Flexitarians

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Throughout the decade, Americans have become more and more obsessed with what we eat, and the whole foodie movement has been a constant struggle between two competing ideologies: the desire to be more in sync with our planet and our bodies, and the desire to wrap everything in bacon. But this was the year when people seemed to find a balance, when everyone and their mother became a part-time vegetarian, a vegan-til-nighttime, or a one-day-a-week meateater. Flexitarianism may not fully placate the PETA activists or sate the hardcore meatheads, but in contrast to all those other diet trends, it actually makes sense, and that’ s not something we see a lot of around these parts.  (Hilarious illustration via Breckenreid)

Vote Now!

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Previously: 2008 Eater of the Year Awards

2007 Eater of the Year Awards

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Cheflebrity Smörgåsbord: JOSE!

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The latest and greatest news about celebrity chefs, served up buffet style.

– Yep, I’m happy because my boy Jose Garces took home the crown. You’re happy because now I’ll stop going on and on about this. Also, be sure to check out our interview with Garces and the other finalist, Jehangir Mehta.

After the jump…sorry fellas — no Martha v. Rachael Cat Fight, Art Smith tries to bring the cuddly chef thing to the tube and a lesson for all fast food marketers: don’t mess with Fiddy.

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