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The Spotted Pig

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Time to Fill Out Our James Beard Brackets

The nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant industry, will be announced Monday morning. We’ll report on that as it happens, but for now, here are picks for the main categories from Adam Platt, Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, and Josh Ozersky. Our choices are admittedly New York–centric (the awards go to restaurants across the country), but the ceremony is held here, and the city always looms large in the proceedings.

A Very Special All-Pork Program

Welcome to a Very Special Episode of Grub Street. In honor of National Pork Day, we’re going to turn back the clock and look at some of the most memorable pork moments from our first six and a half months. We remember them as if they were yesterday …

So There Was Some Awards Thing Last Night?

Forest Whitaker and other Oscar revelers celebrated at parties. In New York, celebrity viewers were either at Elaine's, with EW, or the Spotted Pig, with New York. Brandon Davis ruined Paris Hilton's birthday party by harassing Paula Abdul and Courtney Love. Ron Burkle had George Clooney, Beyoncé, Clint Eastwood, and a bevy of other celebs over his house for a private Giorgio Armani runway show. Harvey Weinstein used direct-marketing techniques to get Rosario Dawson and Lindsay Lohan to come to a party. To which Cameron Diaz showed up with Tyrese. Courteney Cox spent at least $750,000 on a Damien Hirst. Josh Hartnett brought Helena Christensen back to his room at the Chateau Marmont. VanityFair.com's Jessica Coen left the Miramax Oscar party because it smelled too good, missed Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Spotted Pig Staff Partied Like It Was 1999

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Where does Spotted Pig owner Ken Friedman hold his holiday party? Not at the Spotted. When does he hold it? Not during the holiday season. And what does he serve? More food that you can imagine. This past Sunday — Super Bowl Sunday — Friedman threw a belated holiday party for his Pig staff at Del Posto, another eatery owned by part Pig owner Mario Batali. The feast was one of Dionysian excess — a roasted pig, mac 'n' cheese with black truffles, innumerable apps, cake "served by scantily clad babes." Rob and Robin have the complete menu — plus photos! — at Grub Street. Batali Helps Devise Insane Feast for Spotted Pig Staff [Grub Street]

Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand Dines at Sony’s Private Restaurant

For the past month, Franz Ferdinand front man Alex Kapranos has been spending long hours in a Chelsea studio producing a record by tourmates the Cribs; staying at the Greenpoint apartment of his girlfriend of four years Eleanor Friedberger, lead singer of the Fiery Furnaces; and celebrating the publication of Sound Bites: Eating on Tour With Franz Ferdinand, in which the culinary adventurer and former chef recounts everything from buffets in Singapore to bull’s testicles in Argentina. Before he returns to Glasgow next week to start work on a new record (and to tuck into his favorite curry), we thought we’d ask him where he’s been finding nourishment in his adopted city.

The Spotted Pig’s Anna Vanderzee Tells Mario Batali to Keep His Voice Down

After cutting her teeth as a bartender at Paris Commune and Mary Anne’s, Anna Vanderzee started work at the Spotted Pig two and a half years ago; she now splits her time between slinging drinks and serving up the ever-popular Roquefort burger (sorry, no cheese substitutions allowed). Being a dancer has helped her survive relentless seven-hour shifts: We asked her what coping mechanisms she deploys against Jäger cravers, Jay-Z groupies, a salt-shy Times reviewer, and a certain scooter-stealing celebrity.

All We Want For Christmas ...

In case you’re wondering what we want for Christmas here on Grub Street, we’ve actually gone to the trouble of making a list. • A Grub Street outpost in Las Vegas. Possibly built in conjunction with Hawaiian Tropic Zone, with David Burke as consulting chef. • A James Beard Rising Star Chef award. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!! • A bar stool alongside Mario Batali and Courtney Love at the Spotted Pig. Then a hot ice pick with which to blind ourselves. • A new restaurant which brags about “year-round” ingredients grown “all over the place, and bought from SysCo.” • A menu that eschews subtitles, credits, translations, geography, or recipes in favor of big, detailed full-color pictures of every dish — just like at Denny’s. • The permanent destruction of the Cookshack smoker, the last refuge of mediocre urban barbecue cooks. (The Cookshack, a refrigerator-size device that “smokes” with the aid of a handful of electrically warmed chips, is a sad replacement for a real wood smoker, like the ones used at RUB and other major barbecue establishments.) • An end to “soft openings.” When you’re ready to open, open. Come hard or don’t come at all! • Three good new Jewish delis, five good new non-gourmet pizzerias, ten good new local Chinese restaurants, and no more gourmet-burger operations. • Unless, of course, it’s the White Castle on Avenue B we’ve always wished for.

Spotted Pig to Finally Live Up to Its Name

Like everyone else, we enjoy the food at the Spotted Pig, but we've wondered why there isn't more pork on the menu — there's the name, after all, and the fact that there are probably about 3,000 images of pigs crammed inside the restaurant. But someone from the kitchen tells us we'll soon be able to satisfy all of our porky urges, with none other than Red Wattle suckling pigs, deboned, stuffed porchetta style with garlic and fried sage, and roasted. Our source tells us the dish may be available as soon as this month, weekends only. We'll keep you updated — we've spent some time checking out elite hogs with Spotted Pig chef April Bloomfield, as chronicled here, and we know this is a story worth following.

Heritage Pigs: So Much Tasty History

After our recent pilgrimage to upstate New York for a first look at the next stage in pig evolution, courtesy of Cesare Casella, we started thinking about the places serving breeds that have been around for centuries — the so-called "heritage" pigs whose noble lineage makes them extra-tasty.

Cesare Casella Invents a New Pig!

A lot of chefs — particularly of the Haute Barnyard breed — advertise their love of farms. But how many actually mastermind a breeding program, and then invite other chefs to the country to see the results? Cesare Casella, the Tuscan cook behind Maremma, has been breeding two types of pigs (and snow-white Chianina cattle) at Stonewall Preserve upstate. On Monday, he invited Mark Ladner of Del Posto, April Bloomfield of the Spotted Pig, Zak Pelaccio of Fatty Crab, Kevin Garcia of 'Cesca, and Mary Ellen Heavner of 5 Ninth to come up and sample the Stonewall pig.

Michelin's Explosive New Red Book

Michelin dropped its ratings bomb today, and it's safe to say that the New York restaurant world is, as usual, reeling. Though not as consequential as a Zagat snub, business-wise, the Michelin ratings are closer to the hearts of top chefs. (French chef Bernard Loiseau was widely believed to have killed himself over a Michelin downgrade.) The book is supposed to be in stores tomorrow (though our local Barnes & Noble says it's not even at the distributor yet). We do, however, know of some surprises. Messrs. Boulud, Bouley, and Takahama are no doubt having lousy afternoons.

Best Seats in the House: Where to Eat at the Bar

Even before the arrival of Joël Robuchon and his bar-centric L'Atelier, the ancient urban tradition of bar dining was undergoing a great renaissance. And why not? Eating while seated on a stool is a uniquely New York experience. It's convivial, expedient, and communal, but in a solitary way. The Gobbler has met Wall Street kingpins, ex–CIA agents, and loquacious bookies from Queens at restaurant bars. You don't have to deal with sniveling waiters or go overboard on tips, and it's often a convenient excuse for getting really, really drunk. Here are a few of the Gobbler's favorite barfly destinations.

Most Influential Young Chefs Named, Presented With Tchotchkes

Move over, Bouley! Step aside, Jojo! You're so over. There's a new generation of "emerging tastemakers," at least according to Food Arts magazine and their friends at Sterling Meats. Sunday night, meat purveyor and magazine jointly fêted ten young chefs who, they predict, "will be influencing what, where and how we dine out on a national level." The chefs were presented with framed, diploma-like certificates and envy-inducing Masamoto cobalt-steel knifes.