food 01.5.04

Schott's Food & Drink Miscellany

Schott's Food & Drink Miscellany wasn't just the best gift we got over the holidays — it's one of the best food books we've ever read. Author (or more properly, miscellanist) Ben Schott has compiled fascinating, arcane, funny, and just plain weird stuff about food and wine that makes it a pleasure to browse.

In it, we learn that baby wasps taste like scrambled eggs. The Cuban cigar sizes from demi-tasse to gran corona. The menu for JFK's 45th birthday dinner at the Four Seasons (after which, the party continued at Madison Square Garden, where Marilyn Monroe sang her famous rendition of Happy Birthday). That favism is a disease triggered by eating fava beans. That Captain Clarence Birdseye probably wasn't a captain and Colonel Sanders definitely wasn't a colonel. That not everybody's urine smells after eating asparagus and that some people aren't able to smell it, even if it does. That the Savoy Hotel in London sets a place for a wooden cat named Kaspar if the party would otherwise be 13 at table.

And we don't think any food and wine lover could resist a book that includes entries on hangover cures, Parmigiano-Reggiano terminology, the loving cup ritual, final meal requests, durian, baked Alaska, and a book on table manners which George Washington kept as a youth that includes rules such as "Being Sat at meat Scratch not neither Spit Cough or blow your Nose except there's a Necessity for it."

Mr. Schott, who is British, began his Miscellany series with Schott's Original Miscellany, which has been published here by Bloomsbury. The Food & Drink Miscellany won't be available in the U.S. until later in the year but you can buy it now from Amazon U.K.

Best-Selling Cookbooks:
(from the L.A. Times' list of bestselling books about food and cooking based on a poll of national and independent booksellers)
1. 30-Minute Meals 2 by Rachael Ray
2. Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten
3. Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Dessertsby Sherry Yard
4. Simply Ming: Easy Techniques for East-Meets-West Mealsby Ming Tsai and Arthur Boehm
5. 30-Minute Meals by Rachael Ray

Find them at Kitchen Arts and Letters, 1435 Lex [93rd/94th] 212.876.5550.

New Restaurants:
Alta, 64 W. 10th [5th/6th] 212.505.7777. This space has been home to many restaurants; we can remember as far back as Texarkana, and more recently, Aaron Sanchez's terrific L-Ray. Now, it's Spanish tapas.
David Burke & Donatella, 133 E. 61st [Park/Lex] 212.813.2121. David Burke, whose food made Park Avenue Cafe such a long-running hit, moves a couple of blocks downtown.
Riingo, 205 E. 45th [3rd] 212.867.5100. Leaving behind Aquavit and Scandinavian cooking, chef Marcus Samuelsson takes on Japanese/American fusion at the Alex Hotel, starting January 15.

Low Carb Products:
Doing the low-carb thing for the new year? More and more companies are jumping into the aisles but Keto Foods already has a large line of products to help. Look for snacks, condiments, desserts, shakes, bars, breakfast foods, even pasta and mashed "potatoes." The latter, called Ketatoes, will never taste like mashed potatoes, no matter how much butter and cream we mix in with it. Still, they're not bad, and with oat fiber as the main ingredient, it's a healthy substitute. The products are at health food stores around town.

MUG's Policy:
As we start the new year, it seems like a good time to remind readers of our basic policy:

We only write about things that we think will interest our readers. Period. That means we accept no payment of any kind, no gifts of any kind, no freebies, no kickbacks, nothing for our recommendations.

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