Thursday, July 16, 2009

Peevey Post

One man's take on room for improvement in the food and food writing world (Cleveland-centric).

Things I'd like to see more of (or at least one of):

- Downtown breakfast spot/cafe with good coffee & pastry
- Delineation between for profit and not for profit enterprises
- Honest, open, and unbiased praise and criticism
- Fact checking
- Transparency in food sourcing
- Sub 40 seaters
- Classics improved upon
- Fowl
- Short, prix fixe menus
- Neighborhood spots
- Goat
- Spirits
- Urban market gardeners supplying their neighborhood (as opposed to/in addition to restaurants/other neighborhoods)
- An accepted definition of local (and sustainable)
- Traditional Mexican food (street and otherwise) (edited to add and Basque food, and Portuguese food, and . . .)
- Fun

Things I'd like to see less of:

- Menus proclaiming "farm" egg (whose farm?)
- Fried eggs on everything (too much of a good thing. it is possible.)
- Posts/articles titled "In Praise Of . . ."
- Posts/articles titled "In Defense Of . . ." (we all do this, but maybe it could be done a bit less. you are not Michael Pollan. if you are, thanks for reading. I like your new movie.)
- Labeling something as "deconstructed" (I'm late jumping on this)
- Greenwashing
- Celebrity
- Western European flag waving, regardless of appropriateness
- Making classics more palatable to locales
- Popularity contests
- "Sous vide" denoted on the menu
- Snake oil
- Lists
- Posts that end: Agree? Disagree? Are there things you'd like to see more or less of? If so please leave a comment! (or something to that effect)


mm said...

i agree totally about all items but particularly the goat and the sous vide. and for that matter confit shouldnt be used if it aint

The CFT said...

word. and good addition. i shower in warm liquid. often for a long time. i am not a confit.

lippyjam said...

Man. No 2 on the wish list has me intrigued. From a business perspective, I can’t think of a way to accomplish this (which may be a personal issue – either you are or you’re not, no?) If we’re looking for a mission or purpose, we still have boards/trustees on NPOs that “guide” our direction in the NPO realm. Or better collaboration?

Stuart said...

There are certainly lots of cuisines I'd like to see better represented in Cleveland. I could go on forever. Right now, I'm craving some good falafel. I guess everyone who doesn't live in New York wants that though.

It would be nice to have some meat-lite options. I don't want to have to choose between a vegetarian entree and a six ounce hunk of meat. I want vegetables and grains with just enough meat added for a little bit of flavor.

Also, it would be nice to see some desserts that you could eat regularly. Less decadent. Smaller.

fire has goat on their new menu. The menu is only a week or two old. I went just after they changed it and ordered the goat dish. They served it with lamb (after warning me) because they had trouble getting the goat. I haven't been back but they expected to be serving it as described on the menu within days.

The CFT said...

Lippy: The enterprises I'm thinking of are smaller businesses that tack on nonprofits with no real explanation of where the for profit business ends and the nonprofit starts. Both components could be great, but shouldn't the line of demarcation be clear?

These aren't entities like the Cleveland Clinic running the InterContinental. They're places with operations that just seem a bit more grey.

I appreciate your thoughts, and wish I could articulate myself a bit better.

Stuart: I'm with you, especially on the cuisines. But I do like Maha's for falafel. Regarding the easy on the meat, I suspect places think people want lots of meat (I hear Fig get criticised for portions every now and then), but someone's gotta be the chicken or hatch the egg or whatever, and see what people think of less beef/pork/etc.--I'll eat it. Isn't super influential Bittman advocating less meat?

I hold fire in high regard, but have embraced my inner-Clevelander enough to cross the river only on the most limited occassions (i.e. Saturday mornings). I shall go for the goat.

Nancy Heller said...

Love your reference to BYOB - but that would take an act of Congress (well, actually, the Ohio State Legislature), because the only BYOB permitted under the Ohio Revised Code is a "Blossom" exception for concerts at Blossom. Any other BYOB appears to violate the open container law - and that is just silly.

The CFT said...

I followed that conversation in the Food Forum, Nancy. You should have charged them your hourly rate. But what about legal realism?

What seemed to get lost in the discussion is the significance of the numerous places w/o liquor or alchohol licenses that permit BYO, regardless of the law. At least as far as I can tell, it's an unenforced law. Just like backyard chickens in Cle was. All passing the chicken and bees ordinance did was add transaction costs to an activity that had been going on for decades despite the old law. Also provided good political capital.

Now if those Forum folks could just chill out on fixating on the relevant restaurants . . . . That the existing law is ridiculous is purely academic.

I don't like don't ask don't tell any more than the next enlightened person, but good luck with w/ the OH legislature. There are better uses of resources.

Nancy Heller said...

But you were right to point it out, and it is ridiculous! I remember when I first moved to Cleveland in 1995, and we first visited Phnom Penh, we asked if we could bring beer, and even though they said yes, they seemed very nervous. Bob explained to me later that there was no such thing as BYOB in Ohio, which I kind of forgot about until the FWF discussion. It is absurd to not be able to enjoy your own beverages at a non-licensed restaurant.

So I repeat - you nailed that one.

The CFT said...

Phnom Penh (pre W. 25th location) was the first quasi-BYO I visited around here.

Thanks for indulging the list. I was all ranty yesterday, like most other days.

Stuart said...

Maha's is good but it's not really what I'm looking for. In New York, the falaferos compete with one another to offer the best and most condiments. They've got authentic sauces from countries all over the Middle East plus their own creative toppings. You can't get fried eggplant and amba (a popular sauce in Israel) at Maha's. Maha's tahini is great and who doesn't love Sriracha but I want a Las Vegas buffet sized salad bar full of pickles and sauces.

The CFT said...

Count me as a falafel conservative. While I enjoy the bounty of a diverse condiment stand, pickled beets et al., I'm all about the fried chickpea. Maha's reminds me of Tel Aviv balls of goodness I enjoyed long ago, and that'll do for me for now.

Pita, fried chickpea, salad, and sauce and I'm happy.