As a leadup to tonight’s Village Voice Choice Eats tasting event, Robert Sietsema gives Gothamist a lengthy interview and a barely disguised photo. Sietsema recalls his worst restaurant experience (cockroach) and explains how Frank Bruni maligned Katz’s by only giving it one star. His picks are after the jump.
Katz’s, like all sacred spaces, is an affront to the forces of progress; and it seems that the 21st century is intent on battering all its most glorious traditions with the gale-force winds of the Zeitgeist. First came the real-estate boom and, with it, the threat that some developer will buy the place and build a giant condo there. Then, earlier this winter, the Health Department sent its spiteful functionaries in to condemn the mother of all delis for selling salami the way they have for 120 years. In a ritual of degradation, the Health Department poured bleach on the precious beef sausages, to ensure they would never be consumed. (A similar atrocity occurred last year at Il Buco and is remembered in food circles as the Great Soppressata Massacre.)
Patrice O’Neal became a comic after he decided he wasn’t really into football and has since gone on to host VH1’s Web Junk, as well as make appearances on HBO’s Def Jam Comedy Jam, Comedy Central, and The Office. If you catch his Valentine’s gig at Stand-Up NY tonight, you might hear him riff about his diabetes — “Why couldn’t the doctor tell me, 'Patrice, you can never eat Brussels sprouts again'?” — and, sure enough, he’s taking measures to control his weight: “When you get close to 40, you start to feel those years of ham hocks.” Nevertheless, his eating philosophy flies in the face of Mireille Guiliano’s. He tells us, “I don’t go to any sexy places to eat where they give you half a lamb chop and one bean. I like going, ‘Uhhh, I’m done’ when I eat.” And where can a man find that experience?
Ever since that glorious, immortal, probably imaginary day when the Earl of Sandwich, unwilling to leave his gaming table, directed a manservant to put meat between two slices of bread, the art of sandwich-making has flourished. Esquire’s “Best Sandwiches in America” offers a deluxe overview of America’s best, and we have to say, it’s about the most judicious such survey we've seen. The sandwiches chosen for the cities we know well, like the pork-and-provolone number at John’s Roast Pork in Philadelphia, or the Monte Cristo at Canter’s in L.A., are exactly the ones we would have picked, and the ones from cities we’ve never visited, like the Reggie Deluxe in Pine State Biscuits in Portland, Oregon (“fried chicken, bacon, cheddar, gravy, and an over-easy egg on a cream-top buttermilk biscuit still hot from the outdoor oven”), make us want to travel more.
Gawker unearths a choice quote from Guardian critic Jay Rayner’s forthcoming book The Man Who Ate the World. Excoriating bloggers, Mario Batali tells Rayner:
“It’s just people who hate things. But you know what? If they don’t like my beef cheek ravioli and the rock-and-roll we play on the sound system at Babbo, they can suck my dick. I don’t care.”
Except for the fellatio part, this pretty much jives with what he has told us in the past. Upon reading the book, we found it even more interesting that Batali, immediately before criticizing blogger/haters, decided to call out Gordon Ramsay.
Every Friday a notable New Yorker tells us where they’ve been eating, but where are the rest of them chowing down? Starting this week we’ll sort through the gossip columns à la Ils Vont (RIP) to tell you who’s been seen where (casual sightings only — boring galas, vodka launches, and pluggy appearances don’t count). We’ll eventually compile a ranking of restaurants most often visited by celebs. Not that you care about that sort of thing! Oh, but if you do, won’t you please leave your own sightings in the comments?
Given our dire predictions, you’d think that we’d be abashed to see yesterday’s article in the Villager denying an imminent sale of Katz’s. But we're not buying a bit of it! For one thing, everything we've said before still stands: The owners are out to make a load of money (we like how they were quoted as saying that they would only sell “for a stupid number — like $50 million” — you know, just in case you were wondering). These are the same owners who have gone on record saying that they’ll sell their air space to a condo if they can keep Katz’s on the ground floor. Given such heightened profit-consciousness, we still feel it’s just a matter of time.