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Calories to Show Up on Menus Starting March 31; Mercury Levels Horrifically High in Tuna Sushi

The Board of Health decided yesterday in a unanimous vote to make all chain restaurants with fifteen or more outlets – approximately 10 percent of the city’s restaurants – post calorie info on their menus starting March 31. RIP, 1,230-calorie triple Whopper with cheese. [CNN] Laboratory tests run on sushi samples from twenty Manhattan stores and restaurants revealed shockingly high levels of mercury in bluefin tuna, so high that the FDA could technically take the fish off the market. And if you’ve got to have your tuna sushi, you’d best head to Fairway and avoid Blue Ribbon Sushi at all costs. [NYT] Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl is “obsessed with” Momofuku Ssäm Bar, “like everyone else in New York,” according to her. [TONY]

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Food Writers Dwell Happily in the Past This Month

The best stories in this month’s crop of food mags are old. Saveur, which leads the year off with the Saveur 100, runs highlights from the WPA’s unpublished 1937 opus, America Eats, a documentary record of American foodways that is only now seeing the light of day; the images excerpted here are evocative and beautiful and make us eager to see the America Eats book to be published (finally) later this year. Gourmet is devoted to southern cooking, with a wonderful, previously unpublished “What Is Southern?” leadoff essay by the late Edna Lewis, formerly of Café Nicholson. Bon Appétit goes with a “Green Issue” with a long piece by Blue Hill’s Dan Barber on vegetables, an ecofriendly meat guide by sausage guru Bruce Aidells, and a moving essay on a vegetarian who returns to the meat wagon because of sausages. Food & Wine is something of a bore, consisting mostly of lists of “Tastes to Try in 2008,” most of which were short on detail and long on obviousness. (Fiamma has a new chef!) Finally, Food Arts, which won’t come out till later this week, has a major service feature on beef, along with an essay by French Culinary Institute techno whiz Dave Arnold on hydrocolloids, a class of gelatins big in molecular-gastronomy circles.

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The Literary Yule Log Burns Away

The food magazines are all in full-tilt holiday mode this month, but there’s some interesting stuff in there in spite of all the boilerplate. Saveur leads out with a massive roasting package, but the mag also includes an equally useful (if not equally pornographic) service feature on Champagne. There’s also a nice personal essay by Dana Bowen about electric slicers as a totem of holiday feats past. Food & Wine is a big old mess of Yuletide content, but the issue includes their Best Restaurant Dishes of 2007, and the sole New York representative is, you guessed it, the Bo Ssäm. (Sigh.) There’s also the excellent profile of Tailor’s Eben Freemen mentioned here recently and everything you want to know about what chefs are doing in New Orleans and Lake Tahoe. (Which in our case would be nothing.) Gourmet is all recipes and entertaining, as dull as paint, with, amazingly, an article about Padma Lakshmi’s chutneys with no image of the lady herself. (An article on the raising of Kobe cattle, though, fascinated us.) Finally, Food Arts brings their year-end trend piece, on the strange confluence of health consciousness and conspicuous consumption, as well as a piece by Pichet Ong on the rise of the celebrity pastry chef. Not a bad month in all.

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More About That Hunky Sam Mason

We’re not the only ones following Sam Mason’s path to power at Tailor: The April issue of Food Arts has an excellent article on the cocktail program at the restaurant-lounge. (It’s not online, but we’ve scored a PDF.) Given that Mason’s mixologist, Eben Freeman, made his bones alongside the chef at the cutting-edge wd-50, it’s no surprise that the drinks are wild sounding. The magazine gives descriptions and recipes for four of them, including a Lychee Daiquiri With Soy Caramel, a Butternut and Falernum cocktail (“a bit like butternut squash soup –with a kick”), and a Brandy Truffle Flip. With drinks that rich, who’s going to be hungry enough to eat? Tailor Made [Food Arts] Related: The Launch

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