Good weekend reads

This summer, I’m doing two things to cook better / eat better.

First, I signed up to be a recipe tester for Leite’s Culinaria. Publishers provide Leite’s with the recipes, before new cookbooks are published — in exchange for feedback on the recipe from cooks. As a tester, you have to vet at least one recipe a month, following the recipe exactly, then report on how easy or hard it was it was to find the ingredients and do the cooking … and how the dish tasted.

Tandoori Chicken from Nancy Silverton’s “A Twist of the Wrist” was my first, and it was a blast. Chasing down the ingredients led me to an Asian market on Sixth Street (used to be Allen’s, I think) for tandoori paste and masala, and to a whole new (to me) section of the Camp Hill Giant for Greek yogurt.

Second, I decided to cook my way through “The Elements of Taste” by Gray Kunz, which is a good read … but the reason it’s here in this post is that Kunz has opened a new sorta restaurant / cocktail lounge in Manhattan.

“It joins an increasing number of cocktail lounges trying to move food beyond just cheese plates and gourmet sliders; or of mini-restaurants that are really just as much cocktail lounges; or of places that are trying to find new, diverse, sophisticated ways, sometimes involving an upgrade in food, to celebrate cocktail culture,” Frank Bruni wrote in the NYT Diners Journal.

Read more here.

Reason magazine is not the first place I’d go for food-friendly writing, but it has an interesting review of a new book by Barry Glassner, “The Gospel of Food.” There are two kinds of people: People who think there are two kinds of people, and people who don’t. Glassner’s in the second group.

“Glassner’s refusal to blame McDonald’s for making us fat is of a piece with his general willingness to critically examine common complaints about food manufacturers and restaurant chains, such as the charge that they foist unhealthy products on malleable consumers, tricking us into eating what’s bad for us.”

Read the piece here.

“ON Sunday mornings, there’s an organic market on Boulevard Raspail in Paris where everything screams ‘Eat me.’

“Even in early spring, the place manages to make the best markets of the rest of the world look shabby. On display are not only deep black radishes, the darkest green savoy cabbage and the to-be-expected but nevertheless mind-boggling cheese assortment, but also plate-size scallops replete with roe, a dozen types of oysters — including the coveted but increasingly rare Belon — crème fraîche, yogurt that looks just as rich as crème fraîche, and the herbs and vegetables Patricia Wells craves: cress (there are two kinds), lemon thyme, spinach, zucchini, fennel, baby cukes, fresh garlic (with stalks), spring onions and more.

“The author of the recently released ‘Vegetable Harvest‘ (William Morrow) — not a vegetarian book, but very much a vegetables-at-the-center-of-the-plate one — Ms. Wells is about to cook lunch for a couple of guests.”

Don’t let me stop you. Read more here.

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