Friday, September 4, 2009

SLATE Magazine - Cool Enough to Report Stuff I Wrote About 7 Months Ago

Look, I'm tempted to say that brilliant minds think alike, but I can't always tell how smart the guy across from me is. Anyways, today I saw a SLATE article on Grub Street about how the "cupcake bubble" was starting to pop and how cupcakes are getting out of control. This isn't a surprising theory considering that anyone who isn't a New Yorker can tell you that there is no cupcake trend anywhere else in the world that is even remotely as ridiculous as the one there. And if you do ask a New Yorker about it, he might tell you that they invented cupcakes, so it's totally cool.

Well, in SLATE's article, they cite a few cities and examples of recession, overexpansion and how cheap it is to make cupcakes. None of this surprises anyone of course (unless you're 300 lbs and eat cupcakes night and day as an addiction), but what does surprise me is that this sounds eerily familiar...

Which begs the question: Did SLATE magazine coincidentally eat my sloppy seconds or do they just really love Hot Food Porn?

Ahem, what I wrote (see HERE), oh about 7 months ago:

"On my many walking tours through NY (less so in SF), I've been to many a patisserie and experienced an overwhelming amount of underwhelming cupcakes. Considering that cupcakes are quite a simple creation, every one and their mom thought they could make and sell them - which is, of course an asinine assumption at best. I am a cupcake fan, but I'm not a fan of an over-saturated cupcake market. It will destroy the cupcake, heed my words.

My fellow Americans, we are on the verge of a cupcake crisis.
There has not been enough regulation in the world of mediocre cupcakes. Look, it may sound silly to be asking for this now, but I guarantee you that 5 years from now when demand hits a new low, we'll all be seeking oversight into the cupcake industry. I feel like cupcake fever has already peaked in NY and the fallout is coming - Crumbs (many locations), Magnolia, Babycakes, Batch, Sweet Revenge, Burgers & Cupcakes, Cupcake Cafe, Tribeca Treats, Sugar Sweet Bakeshop, Little Cupcake, etc.. A few of these places are quite good, but how are all these places staying around by featuring cupcakes?"

What SLATE wrote:

"That punctured bubble may be giving way to an alternative energy bubble. But I've got my eyes on a smaller, but no less revealing, one: the Cupcake Bubble."

"The cupcakeries are succeeding for a few reasons. They're peddling a product that is simple, obvious, and generally affordable."

"Crumbs, started six years ago on Manhattan's Upper West Side, is up to nearly two dozen locations: five in Los Angeles, and 18 in chi-chi zones of the New York metro area—New Canaan, Conn.; Westfield, N.J.; East Hampton, N.Y.—with three more on the way. Magnolia Bakery, immortalized in Sex and the City, has three locations in Manhattan. Washington, D.C., is getting in on the act, too"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It’s Not Me, But It Might Just Be You. Is It Time To Break Up With Your Restaurant Critic?


So if you haven’t read this article the other day from the Grub Street NY, it was basically a critic survey of influential people and restaurants currently in the industry. It was mainly NY self-felatio that was partially interesting and partially vomit-inducing, but all in all, rather pointless and seemingly very regurgitated. Same names, same people, same city. I’m not one to try to get into a cockfight about opinions of critics, but there seemed to be a general “circle of friends” feeling here where the opinions (though different) mirrored the same trends and people that have been exhaustingly covered.

First off, I have no interest in becoming a critic or ever criticizing a restaurant in this blog. That’s not my place and being an aspiring chef, it’s a conflict of interest. I like recapping where I might go and what I enjoyed/appreciated from a cooking standpoint, so please try not to point fingers to my direction. I am merely trying to point out some observations from a diner’s standpoint. What I will say is that I have traveled a lot and I have eaten at many of the same places as some of these critics, but generally I also make an effort to avoid too many of these same trendy restaurants. What I am trying to say is that if I can find diversity and amazing new creativity in the cities that I travelled the last couple of years: Vegas, Chicago, Portland, NY, Seattle, LA and Boston, why isn’t it represented in the words of these industry prognosticators? For example, why did Alan Richman write-off all of Chicago, a city that seems much more progressive than New York over the last decade?

Aside from my thoughts on appreciation and diversity of criticism from professionals, the REAL kicker comes when we often hear these “professionals” talk about bloggers, yelpers, and the internet – the so-called “amateurs” (again, I’m a kitchen guy, not a critic), who are ruining their jobs. Now I’m not one to turn down reading an educated and well-informed opinion from a critic, I value that highly, but are nationally recognized and primary [city] critics too focused on niche and trend? (read the comments labeling Batali as a representative for the trend of “ethnic”, um yeah…) Is the need to be in tune with the heartbeat of a city forcing them to overlook the development of new and non-Western cuisine?

I really have no real answers (as usual), but I think you can infer that what I really want to ask is this: do major critics from city to city seem to have the same taste buds as you, or the same taste buds as each other? And if the latter is true, why is there a lack in diversity (a profession obviously Western cuisine biased) in food criticism? If we are dying to see diversity and ethnicity as the next emerging trend, do you trust these critics to give you an well informed analysis of ethnic cuisine?

Should “professionals” take a look at the mirror when it comes to questioning the emerging trend of “amateurs”? Does this inability affect the value of a reader’s trust?

Let me throw a theory out there. Maybe, just maybe, there IS a need for the developing internet forum that currently exists for food because it can simply no longer be covered the way it was covered years ago. (Articles like the one on Grub Street don’t always help either.) Dare I question if the blame for yelpers and so-called “wannabe” critics is simply the result of the insufficiency and inability of “true” critics. Call it the emerging trend, call it amateur hour, but any way you try to spin it – there are a lot of people who think many critics are failing or inadequate as a resource and that, everyone, is simply called market share.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


So myself (@hotfoodporn), Ryan (@chicharrones) of 4505 Meats, and Richie (@linecook) and Corey (@coreynead) of Nopa have been pathetically trying to put together some sort of fun event to commemorate a random gathering of people that happen to read and take an interest in what we randomly seem to spit out day in day out on twitter.  Really at first, we were kind of looking for an excuse to have some sort of party, but August happened to be one of the busiest months for each one of us individually.  It was so crazy that we kind of lost track of the planning that we set out to do.  But, we semi got our shit together so there is hope.




Hosted by: @linecook, @chicharrones, @hotfoodporn and possibly @coreynead

Where: At the Golden Gate Park


We booked a spot in Golden Gate Park and we are very much still planning to have a fun little get together there along with food.  A block party in a park essentially. 

There is however a slight catch… 

This is going to be the loosest most casual planned party ever and we want it to kind of be pot luck.  We will each definitely try to make a bunch of food, but we’re opening invitations to any and everyone.  It’s a free party for all. 

All you have to do is email us at and let us know two simple things:

1. is it just you or are you bringing a bunch of hot female friends, how many?

2. what you plan on bringing and sharing (BYOB is perfectly cool too and preferred)

After that, we will send everyone the exact details of the location and time that we will be getting there.  Come for a little time, come for a long time.  Whatever, whenever. 

No pressure to bring anything special.  I think if half the people brought six packs and the other half brought a bowl of tater salad, we’d still have a rocking good time.   

So if you don’t have anything planned to do this Saturday, September 5 on a holiday weekend and you happen to be looking to kick it with tunes, pig action and brew.  Email us and come on by!