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The Final Bid: What the Candidates Had to Say Before Iowa Finally Stopped Listening

Today, Iowa is all about the last word. Encouraged by a recent favorable opinion poll in the state, McCain returned for a brief trip, along with Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sam Brownback of Kansas. All three were harping on McCain's foreign-policy experience. “Call me old-fashioned, but I think foreign-policy experience matters,” Graham said. “And if it does matter, then the choice is easy.” “I know Pakistan, I know Israel," explained McCain at a different event. "I know these countries, I know their leaders." [NYO] Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton sent out talking points to surrogate speakers drumming up support across the state. They include bullet items like "Change isn’t something you just demand, or hope for, it is something you work for, and [Hillary] has been working for it all her life," and "Hillary has stood up to the Republicans and beat them twice in landslides." [Time]

Charcuterie Continues to Wow on the UWS; Beer, Cheese, and Chocolate Go Together in the East Village

Chelsea: Cain’s Website is already “pimping” a London opening. [Down by the Hipster] East Village: Jimmy’s No. 43 is hosting a cheese, beer, and chocolate pairing on January 22. Luckily, cheese before beer, you're in the clear. [Gridskipper] Danal on 10th Street has given up the ghost. [Zagat] Hell’s Kitchen: Tasting World is hosting its first Wine Essentials course of 2008 on January 17. [Tasting World] Midwood: The Amateur Gourmet’s "Best Place I Should’ve Been To Already and Where I Should’ve Already Gone Back To" for 2007: Di Fara Pizza. There are surely too many out there who can relate. Upper West Side: Ed Levine is as wowed by Sylvain Gasdon’s charcuterie at Bar Boulud as we were. [Ed Levine’s New York Eats via Eater] West Village: David Page and Barbara Shinn have left Home to focus on their North Fork winery and have taken the wine-sensitive heart of the restaurant with them. [Eater]

Low Temperatures, High Drama: Inside the Iowa Press Corps

Iowa Press
As you know, everyone who's anyone in politics is in Iowa right now. But so is everyone who's no one! That's right, we're talking about the press, the unwashed mass following the candidates around, scribbling and taping and snap-snapping as Hillary, Obama, McCain et al spout platitudes, stuff themselves full of local cuisine and generally attempt to maintain a grip on the love handles of the elusive midwestern vote. That's who we want to know about. We've had enough of Billary and FreJeri Thompson and KuciniHottie. What about the writers, anchors and bloggers who make them who they are?? (Or at least tell us who they want them to be?) For those of you with a lurid curiosity about these sick characters, we did some digging into what the Iowa press corps is up to. And not just the Dana Milbanks and the Adam Nagourneys. (Spotted! The NYT staff having dinner at Lucca, the Italian place in Des Moines' "East Village" that Ad Nags raved about in the travel section a few weeks ago.) We mean everyone. Take Jodi Kantor from the Times, for example.

Shake Shocker: No Lunch Line on Opening Day

It seems that even on the Shake Shack’s first day of winter operation, not many have decided to risk frostbite by ordering a Concrete. (Danny: Better put disclaimers on those cups, fast.) From noon till 1:30 p.m., we didn’t see more than a couple of people in line at a time when we periodically checked in with the Shake Cam. So, yes, a measure of sanity sometimes prevails in matters Shack — which’ll make it easy for us to snag a frozen custard on our way to buy a winter jacket and some hats and gloves at H&M.

California Visitor Actually a Displaced New Yorker

Fendi Fur
California legal secretary Colleen Delee took a break from shopping on Rodeo Drive to wear her Fendi fur in New York, where it’s actually cold enough for animal skins. But is that the only difference between New York and Los Angeles? Of course not. Delee shares her insights (and her recommendations on custom shoes) in this week’s Video Look Book. Video Look Book: Colleen Delee

PDT’s Winter Menu Blows Our Minds, GI Tracts

PDT’s winter cocktail menu debuted last night, and we are still hung-over. Mixologist Jim Meehan consulted his peers for the menu, which includes contributions from Pegu’s Audrey Sanders, Tailor’s Eben Freeman, “International cocktail maven” Charlotte Voisey, and others. There’s even a nod to Adam Platt in the description of PDT bartender Don Lee’s Benton’s Old Fashioned, a combo of bacon-infused bourbon, maple syrup, and angostura bitters: “the crossroad of Haute Barnyard and Barroom.” (If this keeps up, we’re going to have to add Haute Barnyard to the banished-words list soon.)

The Fug Girls' Official Celebrity-Style Mandates for 2008

Heath and Ellen

Yes, it was the year of downward spirals, DUIs, and prison terms, but 2007 was also chockablock with stylistically challenged celebrities digging deep into their pocketbooks and shelling out for some new clothes and coifs — and as a result, of course, positive pro-makeover press. But now that the likes of Katie Holmes, Rihanna, and even — gasp — Fergie are all squared away, we’re turning an eye toward celebs who could use a similar style overhaul in 2008. Take Heath Ledger, for instance. He’s freshly single, starring in the newest Batman film, and generally young and hot. So it’s beyond us why he insists on slumping around Brooklyn unshaven and wearing a porkpie hat. Wouldn’t his career and personal life continue their upward trajectory with more oomph if he put on a sharp suit occasionally, instead of dressing like he’s gone Method to play the Joker? Juno star Ellen Page is poised to collect a lot of Hollywood hardware for her mantel/garage shelf/toilet lid. Yet so far she’s rarely worn anything but black or gray on the red carpet, often with an awkwardness evoking a kid eating her first meal at the adults’ table. With the spotlight headed her way, there’s no time like the present to go a bit more glam: Throw in some color, funk up the accessories, and turn the Everygirl into a woman. Done right, no one will remember who actually wins the damn awards.

Spotted Pig's Ken Friedman Likes Your Sexy Stank

We can only imagine why Times writer Anna Jane Grossman rang Ken Friedman when she was looking for a quote about why folks forgo deodorant, but, boy, was he forthcoming about his use of what we call “meodorant”:
For those who managed to avoid underarm products, the idea of using them is anathema. “I never use deodorant,” said Ken Friedman, an owner of the Spotted Pig, a restaurant in the West Village. “I like girls who don’t use anything. They sort of smell like sex.”
Are you listening, Beyoncé? Cast Aside Underarm Protection, If You Dare [NYT]

Richard Arens Is Having His Moment

FINANCE • Trader Richard Arens, who runs a brokerage named ABS, made a vanity trade in order to push oil past the $100/barrel milestone. We're sure the girls at the bar will be real impressed. [MarketBeat/WSJ] • Citigroup will likely start laying off between 5 and 10 percent of its workforce next week, cutting as many as 32,000 jobs. Merrill Lynch plans to cut around 1,600. [CNBC] • Former E*Trade CEO Mitch Caplan, who helped load the company with the subprime loans, made off with a $11 million golden parachute. Compare that with former H&R Block chief Mark Ernst, responsible for his own big subprime losses, who took home a paltry $2.5 million. [Deal Journal/WSJ, DealBook/NYT]

Center Cut to Serve Just That; Maxim Just What Meatpacking Deserves

So why is Jeffrey Chodorow’s new Lincoln Center meatery to be called Center Cut? Because it will be devoted to the center cuts of meat! There will be center-cut steaks, center-cut pork chops, center-cut venison, and so forth, says the chef's rep Karine Bakhoum. We are flabbergasted. Such a proposition sounds insanely expensive and is also silly, since the first two ribs off the shoulder (ribs 1 and 2 in the trade) are by far the best ones, with the biggest portion of the spinalis dorsi muscle, also known as the “lip” or “deckle.”

Bill Clinton Pulls a Karl Rove


Late yesterday, Bill Clinton made an interesting statement while stumping for Hillary in Iowa. He predicted Mike Huckabee (who, like Clinton, hails from Hope, Arkansas) would win the Republican caucus today and even gave him a sort of hedging endorsement. From the Sun:
"Governor Huckabee has got a little hometown pride going because it looks like the Iowa republicans are going to give him the caucus." … "He looks to me like the only one who can tell a joke. It's a pretty dark crowd." … "You know he was underestimated. He's got on well here and it doesn't surprise me."
That's weird, huh? Especially since in some polls (like one in Arkansas, for example), Huckabee is the only candidate who poses a threat to Clinton's wife, Hillary. It's odd that Bubba would add his weight to Huckabee's momentum. Except, wait a minute, isn't this familiar? Didn't Karl Rove and President Bush sort of tout Hillary herself as an inevitable Democratic choice, thus playing into her "de facto nominee" primary strategy? Rove and Bush did it because they assume Hillary's negatives will take her down in the general election, so they felt safe encouraging her. Does former president Clinton feel that Huckabee is already flawed enough that he can't win in a national election? Or does he know something we don't (other than, you know, how to run a country) that might come up later? We're not sure. All we can tell you is you're lucky we're not drinking already. President Clinton Predicts Huckabee Win in Iowa [NYS]