food 05.21.04


You may have heard that Song airlines, Delta's offspring, is issuing free tickets to passengers for being nice to each other and to flight attendants. Eww. No, really, ewww. Yes, air rage blah-de-blah, and, yes, great promotion. But it's all too creepily Stepford for us and, anyway, we should probably be skipping American congeniality awards this year.

As for New York, the last thing we need is to become nicer. We are plenty nice…sometimes. When we're not, screw it. What we prize is forthrightness. We don't say "Excuse me, dear, could you please step out of the way so that my dolly full of boxes and I could get by you and continue on to the back of the store?" Ucch. Three words instead: "Watch Your Back."

That's why we're so taken by Regina Schrambling's website Gastropoda. Ms. Schrambling, who has written for many newspapers and magazines, including a stint as the deputy editor of the Dining In/Dining Out section of the Times, writes mostly about food, restaurants, and travel. What she does not do is suffer fools gladly, which suits us just fine.

One example:
I've had my first taste of Per Se, and it could be my last. This was at a party in Veuve Clicquot's stunning new offices in the Starrett-Lehigh Building, where pastry chefs from five restaurants were plating desserts to go with the bottomless carafes of demi-sec. When I walked up to the Per Se table, the two young Keller acolytes behind it were determinedly studying super-tiny herb leaves to pluck the closest to perfection for what their sign said was Essence of Spring. I had a spoonful of one little orange mound without quite grasping the flavor and interrupted their mad-scientist intensity to ask: "What makes it spring?"

"What makes it creamy?" one responded distractedly.

"No, what makes it spring?"

"Apricots. And basil."

But of course. Those are two ingredients you'll find busting out all over the Greenmarket in March in New York. Even if they were seasonally correct, though, the Essence would taste less of spring than of Old Europe. The texture and the presentation felt as fresh as Escoffier.

Even though Ms. Schrambling may not win any free tickets on Song, we'd much rather sit next to her than someone who had won. When she says 'watch your back,' we know just what she means.
Hey, speaking of winning, we won! The Morning News announced this week their 2004 Editors' Awards for Online Excellence and MUG won for Favorite Guide to New York. A brief acceptance speech: thank you very much for the honor and thanks to MUG readers for letting us into your inbox every day.

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