NYT crit's favorite dishes, crazed cooking fans, sherry's comeback

The highlights from today's newspaper dining sections

Published December 30, 2009 3:31PM (EST)

  • The New York Times' new(ish) restaurant critic, Sam Sifton, recounts his favorite dishes of the year (the ones he consumed after he became one of the most powerful people in food, anyway). His picks include a number of exotic dishes (fusilli with red-wine-braised baby octopus and bone marrow, duck meatloaf), some simple ones (meatball pizza, a classic banh mi), and even a cocktail (the Prime Manhattan at Prime Meats, in Brooklyn). The Times has even included recipes for some of Sifton's choices. It's too bad they're so darn hard to find on the site.
  • The Washington Post has a fun Q & A this morning with Andrew Friedman, the author of "Knives at Dawn," about America's persistently weak attempts to win the prestigious Bocuse d'Or international competition (though they improved to finish sixth in 2009). The most entertaining part of the event? Apparently, the spectators, who bring cowbells and clackers and seem to do a lot of yelling even though very little of the cooking is actually visible. "They're screaming for something that's about to come out of a sous-vide machine."
  • The L.A. Times covers the resurgence of sherry in the cocktail world. Long relegated to being little more than a cooking ingredient, the drink's "distinct, maderized flavor" with "a tangy nuttiness" is becoming popular in L.A.'s bars — including the awesome-sounding Tar Pit (if you haven't heard about this place, I strongly suggest you look at this photo of one its signature cocktails, the Night Marcher). The reasons for sherry's comeback? Its low alcohol content (which makes a "good foodie-gastro cocktail") and its food friendliness.
  • The NYT's Kim Severson tells the moving story of Brooklyn's dwindling Southern-food trucks, which sell hard-to-find ingredients on the borough's streets. Their food is driven up from Georgia and the Carolinas — including "seasoning meat," giant smoked turkey wings, and white cornmeal — and, as part of New York's African American history, allow Southern transplants a taste of home during the holidays. Now, sadly, the trucks are disappearing as their ingredients pop up in cheap grocery stores, Southerners move back home, and youngsters stop caring about their roots.

By Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers is Salon's former Arts Editor. He has written for the Globe & Mail, the Village Voice and other publications. He can be reached at @thomasmaxrogers.

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