Culture Desk - News, Reviews, Names & More
< Back to front page Text size +
all entries with the category


Dear Boston: Actually, it is you.

Posted by Devra First April 28, 2011 10:06 AM


Globe Staff File Photo/John Tlumacki

Come to Papa. Todd English circa 1999, before the opening of Kingfish Hall in Faneuil Hall.

Editor's note: In its May issue, Boston magazine runs a letter from the city, breaking up with a certain celebrity chef. Globe editors have managed to get their hands on the other half of the correspondence. Here it is, an exclusive -- the reply letter from "Todd English," mysteriously delivered to us late at night in a pizza box from Figs.

Dear Boston:

You're breaking up with me? Ha. Ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha! Sorry, OK, I'm back.

Honey, look. We had a misunderstanding. Happens all the time. You thought it was just you and me, together forever. That nothing would ever change. And that is so, so sweet, it really is. I've always admired your loyalty, Boston. Only you would wait 86 years for a championship baseball team.

But that's also why you and I don't always mesh. It's the insecurity. I just kind of can't take it sometimes, no offense. It can be, like, really off-putting. No offense! You're great! You deserve the best. But you settle. Eighty-six years! Is it any wonder New York captured my heart?

And it's not enough for you to be good. You have an inferiority complex. You have to demean the other guy, measure yourself against him. Yankees suck? No they don't. You should be happy about all that you've got. Instead, you feel threatened.

You are right. I'm not the chef you fell in love with back in 1984. Should I be? I loved "Ghostbusters" and "The Karate Kid," too. But I think we've all evolved since then. I mean, who smokes crack anymore?

What I'm saying is, you've changed, too. We're supposed to change. That's life. When I look at you, I get a little teary. You've come a long way. There just weren't a whole lot of options for you back when I opened Olives. Of course you were smitten. Who could withstand the charms of this dark-haired Casanova, if I do say so myself, turning out brilliant, big-flavored food in Charlestown? Nowadays, you're wooed on every corner by house-made charcuterie, painstakingly sourced local meat and fish, the pick of the markets that morning, creativity executed with classic French technique, craft cocktails, yada yada. (Desserts in this town still kind of suck, however. Rome wasn't built in a day.) You've got a plethora of well-known chefs almost as pretty as yours truly turning it out at an incredibly high level each and every day, courting your business on Facebook, chatting you up on Twitter, putting it all out on the line for you. What are they, chopped liver?

What's not so cute about you is that your loyalty has restrictions. If I don't do things your way, you get vindictive. You want me to be successful, but on your terms and by your side. You don't own me. I can't be contained! I am a force! Do you think pro athletes are faithful to their wives on the road? I thought we had an understanding. When I'm with you, I'm with you. "If you love something, set it free" and all that.

God, you're so clingy. No wonder celebrity chefs don't stay in small cities. When I became a celebrity myself, I could have simply left you. But I didn't. It wasn't out of obligation, or for appearances. I have real feelings for you. I continue to support you, in multiple locations. No, not as many as in the glory days, but I am still here. But your judgment, your cackling gloating when I hit difficulties, all that makes it hard to even want to be friends. Right now, Boston, I just kind of hate you.

I'm such an easy target for your schadenfreude, even I'm getting bored of the media takedowns. Well, pile on. I can take it. Yes, I sometimes make bad decisions. I don't always choose the best people to manage my business while I go about the business of being me. I can be flaky. I'm not always financially responsible. I regret that. I feel bad if anyone has been left holding the bag. Whoa, you should taste the new cupcake flavor my team just came up with! Someone just handed me one. Sorry, what were we talking about?

So anyway. Olives. Yes, it's been on hiatus for a long time. I may or may not have hit some wee financial snags. Do you have any idea of the pressure? You think of these restaurants as our children. Well, I've got baby mamas all over the country. I try to keep everyone clothed and fed. I'm doing my best. I'm even taking on extra work. GreenPans? Let's just say they're not only named for their environmental benefits. But when Olives was open, all you did was piss and moan about how it wasn't what it used to be. And I agree. That's why I closed it! Temporarily! I'm updating the space and the concept, which takes money and time. In my mind, it will reopen as the kind of affordable neighborhood restaurant people want today. And yes, I know my mind isn't the same as the real world. It's better.

Look, you simply want me to be something I'm not. You want to keep me in the kitchen, tied to a stove, barefoot and in chef's whites, searing and stirring and doing what I probably do best, in all honesty. It's just not where I'm at right now. Maybe I'll get back to it one day. But I'm restless. I have tiger blood, you know? I'm a culinary Sheen. You want me to be "seemly," your kind of proper. Whatever, 'Enry 'Iggins. You have got the wrong guy.

Here's what I don't understand. You're all: "We hate Kingfish Hall! Rustic Kitchen and Bonfire were lame! But we're pissed that they're gone! We want more from you! Why are you opening new places in New York and Vegas?" Make up your mind. Not everything I do is a success, but I keep trying out new ideas. I know you like people to find their thing and do it well forever, with only minor deviations. That's just not me.

That's why I turned elsewhere. And that's why you can't really break up with me. Emotionally, I moved on long ago. You are right: It really is time you did so, too.

But maybe we can still hook up sometimes?

Benefits for Japan

Posted by Devra First March 22, 2011 02:44 PM

Japan is a major culinary inspiration for many local chefs. Now Boston's ever-generous restaurant community is stepping up to aid the country after March 11's earthquake and tsunami.


Through April 1, the Metropolitan Restaurant Group (Metropolitan Club, Met Bar & Grill, Met Back Bay) will donate all proceeds from its Tokyo Burger (above) to the American Red Cross Japan disaster relief effort. The burger is topped with avocado, Muenster cheese, pickled red onions, daikon sprouts, and sticky soy sauce.


Chef Jason Santos of Gargoyles. (File Photo/Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe)

Today through April 26, Gargoyles on the Square will donate the proceeds from their Tokyo Tuesdays bento box to the American Red Cross Japan disaster relief effort.


Kinmedai sashimi at o ya. (File Photo/Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

On March 26 and April 9, o ya offers Saturday afternoon "Sake 101" courses from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Tickets are $125 per person, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Japanese Red Cross. The restaurant is also donating all proceeds from nightly sales of Sato no Homare sake. It's made by the Sudo Honke Brewery in Ibaraki Prefecture, an area heavily affected by the quake.


The sushi bar at Oishii Boston (Globe Staff File Photo/Evan Richman)

On April 3, Oishii Boston owner Ting Yen hosts a fund-raiser at the restaurant. All proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross. Chefs Anthony Caturano (Prezza), Dante de Magistris (Dante and Il Casale), Evan Deluty (Stella), Luis Morales (Radius), Kang San (Oishii Too Sushi Bar), and Michael Serpa (Neptune Oyster) will join him. Tickets are $100. The event starts at 5:30 p.m.


File Photo/Erik Jacobs for the Boston Globe

On April 4, Blue Ginger hosts a sake-tasting dinner featuring TY KU soju and liqueur. Chef Ming Tsai (above) has created a five-course menu, featuring a cheese course by Wasik's Cheese Shop. It costs $115 per person, including tax and gratuity, and starts at 6:30 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will go to earthquake and tsunami relief.


Mizu is a salon. And now it's a restaurant. (File Photo/Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe)

On April 9, chefs Will Gilson and Louie DiBiccari stage a pop-up restaurant at Mizu salon, presented by Eat and Sel de la Terre Back Bay. The $100 ticket includes five courses, tax, and gratuity. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to International Medical Corps to aid in their Japan relief efforts. The dinner starts at 7:30 p.m. and includes salon-themed dishes such as leek panna cotta with asparagus, morels, and shaved Parmesan, and angel hair fideos with rock shrimp, Meyer lemon, chickpeas, and spring greens.


Oringer (right) and Bissonnette. (File Photo/Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe)

On April 17 at Clio, chefs including Ken Oringer (Clio, Toro, Coppa, etc.), Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger), Tony Maws (Craigie on Main), Barry Maiden (Hungry Mother), Jamie Bissonnette (Toro, Coppa), Michael Schlow (Radius, Tico), and Seth Raynor (Nantucket's Boarding House, The Pearl, Corazon del Mar) join forces to create a 10-course kaiseki dinner. The cost is $250, including sake pairings and gratuity. All proceeds go to charity.

More to come.

IACP cookbook award finalists

Posted by Devra First March 7, 2011 07:29 PM

The International Association of Culinary Professionals has announced the finalists for its 2011 awards. For a complete list, go here. Here are some highlights among the cookbook finalists, by category:


"The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern," by Matt Lee and Ted Lee.
"The Winemaker Cooks," by Christine Hanna.
"Fried Chicken & Champagne: A Romp Through the Kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro," by Lisa Dupar.


"Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-Mouth Cookies," by Alice Medrich.
"Good to the Grain," by Kim Boyce and Amy Scattergood.
"Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful," by Barbara Fairchild.

Culinary history:

"Culinary Ephemera: An Illustrated History," by William Woys Weaver.
"97 Orchard," by Jane Ziegelman.
"Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystique of Mushrooms," by Greg Marley.


"The Essential New York Times Cookbook," by Amanda Hesser.
"Southern Living: 1,001 Ways to Cook Southern," by the editors of Southern Living.
"The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook," by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge.

Chefs and restaurants:

"Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World," by Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver.
"Michael Chiarello's Bottega," by Michael Chiarello.
"Fiesta at Rick's," by Rick Bayless and Deann Bayless.

For children and family:

"Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners," by Sara Moulton.
"Italian Home Cooking," by Julia Della Croce.
"The Baby & Toddler Cookbook," by Karen Ansel and Charity Ferreira.

First book:

"Fried Chicken & Champagne: A Romp Through the Kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro," by Lisa Dupar.
"Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes," by Mark Bitterman.
"Cooking with Italian Grandmothers: Recipes and Stories from Tuscany to Sicily," by Jessica Theroux.

Food matters:

"American Wasteland," by Jonathan Bloom.
"Good Meat," by Deborah Krasner.
"What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets," by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio.
"The Wild Table," by Connie Green and Sarah P. Scott.


"Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes From My Home To Yours," by Dorie Greenspan.
"The Country Cookbook," by Belinda Jeffery.
"Forgotten Skills of Cooking," by Darina Allen.

Health and special diet:
"Essentials of Nutrition for Chefs," by Catharine Powers and Mary Abbott Hess.
"Food Matters Cookbook," by Mark Bittman.
"Seriously Good! Gluten-Free Baking," by Phil Vickery.

"The Country Cooking of Ireland," by Coleman Andrews.
"Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge," by Grace Young.
"My Calabria," by Rosetta Constantino and Janet Fletcher.

Literary food writing:
"As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child & Avis DeVoto," by Joan Reardon.
"A Food Lover's Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela," by Dee Nolan.
"Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits," by Jason Wilson.

Bourdain and Ripert at Symphony Hall

Posted by Devra First March 5, 2011 02:59 PM


Anthony Bourdain (left) and Eric Ripert. What does beverage choice say about a person?

Two distinguished gentlemen, trim and silver-haired, stepped onto the stage at Symphony Hall Friday night. It was almost a full 10 minutes before the first F-bomb dropped.

It fell from the lips of one Anthony Bourdain, host of Travel Channel's "No Reservations" and author of books such as "Kitchen Confidential" and "Medium Raw." He was here with his friend Eric Ripert, chef of New York's Le Bernardin and host of PBS show "Avec Eric," for an evening they were calling "Good vs. Evil."

Who was good, who evil? Well, Bourdain is a champion drinker and cusser who appears to delight in the possibility of pissing people off. He has famously ranted against the Food Network, vegans and vegetarians, organic food crusader Alice Waters, GQ critic Alan Richman, and the list goes on. Ripert heads up one of the best restaurants in the world (Le Bernardin has three Michelin stars and four from the New York Times), works for charitable causes, and has a French accent that, it turns out, makes even expletives sound elegant.

The pair kicked off two hours of freewheeling conversation by interrogating each other, one standing, the other in the hot seat at the center of the stage. Bourdain asked Ripert why he's spoken out against "Kitchen Nightmares" host Gordon Ramsay. "I'm scandalized by Ramsay's treatment of people," Ripert said. "At home or in work or in your car, who likes to be insulted? Who likes to be humiliated?" Bourdain tried to get Ripert to reveal who wins "Top Chef," on which both men appear as guest judges. And he begged Ripert to "explain your unholy love for Guy Fieri," the Food Network host.

Then it was Ripert's turn. "Do you think maybe the drugs have confused your critical abilities?" he asked.

Replied Bourdain, "No. Chefs are in the pleasure business. I just know my subject better than most." The line drew applause. So did almost all of Bourdain's lines. With an audience of food obsessives, this was a love fest.

Settling finally into a pair of orange armchairs, Ripert and Bourdain batted back and forth issues about which they're passionate.

Ripert pushed for sustainable seafood; Bourdain said he would eat the last bluefin in the ocean. Both laughed at the concept of "farm to table." ("Where else are you going to get your food? What else are you going to eat it on?" Bourdain asked.) They agreed molecular gastronomy pioneer Ferran Adria is an artist, discussed good food vs. cheap food, and talked about meals that make them angry. Bourdain railed against fake Italian and Mexican fare, a la Olive Garden and Chili's. ("Macaroni Grill? Who grills macaroni?")

And, of course, they talked about Boston. Ripert gave a shoutout to friends' restaurants: Clio, Radius, Pigalle, and Bistro du Midi, where former Le Bernardin executive sous chef Robert Sisca heads the kitchen. Bourdain was hissed at for being a Yankees fan, cheered when he said he cried like a baby at the Red Sox' winning the World Series. And when he said he wanted to eat at Cambridge's Craigie on Main, the crowd went wild. "Get the burger!" yelled someone from the balcony. (Bourdain also said he wanted to go to Craigie on Main when he was in Boston filming "No Reservations" in January. It must be like "Waiting for Guffman" in Tony Maws's kitchen every time that guy comes to town.)

"Good vs. evil," it seemed, referred more to Bourdain and Ripert's opinions on the subjects they debated than the men themselves. And these guys have opinions. Friday, the two were always funny, often thoughtful, with an easy rapport. Some of the best moments came during a too-short, slightly disorganized audience Q&A, when the stars of the show were on less-trodden ground. This audience of people who follow chefs, restaurants, food trends, and food television probably already knew why Ripert was down on Ramsay and Bourdain was down on just about everyone else. They had watched Ripert employee Jennifer Carroll lose her cool on "Top Chef" and Bourdain eat warthog rectum in Namibia. It didn't matter. They just wanted to hear the two talk.

Infinium: An entirely new style of beer from Sam Adams and Weihenstephan

Posted by Steve Greenlee November 22, 2010 11:07 AM

INFINIUMwGlass.JPGFor the past two years, the Boston Beer Co., maker of Samuel Adams beers, has been working with Germany's Weihenstephan Brewery, the world's oldest brewery, to create an entirely new style of beer. Boston Beer founder Jim Koch and Weihenstephan director Josef Schradler announced this morning that the collaboration is complete.

The new beer, a champagne-like ale called Infinium, will hit store shelves in early December.

The two brewers claim Infinium is the first new beer created under the German beer purity law, called the Reinheitsgebot, in more than 100 years. (Under the law, only four ingredients -- malt, hops, yeast, and water -- can be used to make beer.)

"Frankly it was really cool and a huge honor," Koch told us. "Probably the most important brewery in the old world reached out to Sam Adams. I was like, 'Wait a minute. I was making beer in my kitchen 26 years ago. You guys were making beer a thousand years ago. Why do you need me?' They had an interesting perspective on Sam Adams. They said, 'You're the largest craft brewer in the world.' Well, yeah, I guess, but we're not even 1 percent of the US beer market. In the US, we're pretty trivial."

So what does Infinium taste like? We haven't had a chance to try it yet, but Koch says it's a deep golden, bubbly ale with a fruity aroma and contains 10.3 percent alcohol, more than twice that in a Sam Adams Boston Lager.

"The flavor idiom would be sort of in between a champagne, a dessert wine, and maybe a Sam Adams Noble Pils," Koch said. "You get some of the body and mouthfeel of a beer, some of the hop character of a beer, but it's very dry and acidic without being thin. And then it has some of the fruitiness -- pear, apple, peach, apricot notes -- of a dessert wine."

Sounds tasty. But it doesn't come cheap. The retail price will be $19.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle. Because it's been brewed in both Boston and Germany as a limited release, Koch said he expects most of it to be gone from liquor stores by New Year's Day.

Which raises another question: If this is such an important new beer, why not brew it all the time? "You know, we might," he said. "The thing is, it's quite challenging to make. It goes through a very difficult brewing process that is very time consuming and it ties up the brewery. Maybe someday."

Ferran Adria to teach at Harvard

Posted by Steve Greenlee March 24, 2010 05:38 PM

Spanish celebrity chef Ferran Adria is coming to Harvard.

Adria, 47, is teaming up with Harvard University to offer an undergraduate course in culinary physics. He'll begin teaching in the fall at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the university announced today. His course will use cooking to introduce students to soft matter physics, which involves the study of suspensions and gels.

Adria is at the forefront of a cuisine called molecular gastronomy -- a kind of fusion of kitchen and science lab. Ingredients such as agar agar (a type of gel that comes from seaweed), sodium alginate (a powder used to thicken food) and carrageenan (a seaweed extract) are used to mold food in unconventional ways. Foams, warm jellies and liquid nitrogen all play their parts.

His course will feature lectures by Harvard researchers and 12 celebrity chefs and food experts, including Wylie Dufresne, a New York chef whose innovations with molecular gastronomy have earned him a global following; Jose Andres, whose eatery in Washington has helped popularize the Spanish bar food known as tapas in the United States; and chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill, a pricey but understated New York restaurant that champions locally grown produce.

Adria announced this year that he's closing his acclaimed elBulli restaurant for a while to tinker with new ideas for molecular cuisine. The restaurant, which boasts the highest rating of three stars in the Michelin guide, a mark of exceptional cuisine, will close to the public in 2012 and 2013 but will continue to serve as a research lab. It will reopen in 2014. Adria says his goal is to break the molds that determine what food should look or feel like.

-- Associated Press

Openings: Chocolee Chocolates and Jerry Remy’s

Posted by June Wulff March 17, 2010 10:46 AM

We know about the Ides of March and that the month comes in like a lion, but we had no idea that the third week of the third month is Chocolate Week. At the tail end of this sweet week, (that would be Saturday), truffle along to Chocolee Chocolates in the South End and say hi to Lee Napoli who re-opens her shop at 11 a.m. in new digs on Dartmouth Street.

And if sweets aren't your thing (come on now), head over to the new Jerry Remy's Sports Bar & Grill near Fenway Park and pretend the Red Sox are in town (they will be on April 4, if we read the website correctly). The Grand Opening isn't until early April (close to the home opener, I suspect).

[Erik Jacobs for the Boston Globe]

See more photos of RemDawg's new restaurant.

Julia Child: cook, spy, correspondent

Posted by Steve Greenlee March 16, 2010 04:54 PM
Food writer Devra First files this over on the Dishing blog:

The Associated Press reports that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish the letters of Julia Child in December. "As Always, Julia" features more than 200 letters written by the chef and her agent Avis DeVoto. They run from 1952 through 1966, the span of time during which Child penned "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and became host of the "The French Chef." If you've seen "Julie & Julia," you know Child and DeVoto were also dear friends. Their letters are sure to make interesting reading, offering new insight into the lives and characters of both women.

The cheese stands alone

Posted by Steve Greenlee February 26, 2010 09:01 PM
From Globe staffer June Wulff:

This Saturday from 3 to 4 p.m., after your chores and before you settle down to
watch the Olympics, you can head to the nearest Whole Foods Market and watch
cheesemongers demonstrate the art of simultaneously breaking into 85-pound
wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano wheels. This is an attempt to break its own
world record from 2008. Guinness World Records confirmed that Whole Foods
Market, in its first attempt, set a record for "Most Parmigiano Reggiano Wheels Cracked Simultaneously," with almost 300 wheels opened at 176 stores. Official tools will be used -- five different kinds -- for this "parm cracking" and of course there will be tastings.

About the blog

"Media Remix" is where couch potatoes meet pop culture criticism. What does Honey Boo Boo say about class issues in America ? Is The Real Housewives anti-feminist? Does Lady Gaga empower gay fans, or patronize them? And where'd I put the remote control? If you love knowing about the latest in movies, TV, music and social media - and analyzing the politics of The Apprentice - grab a seat with "Media Remix."

About this blog

Culture Desk is a blog that serves to highlight both local and national stories of interest in the worlds of art, music, movies, TV, theater and more. Most items are written by writers and editors from The Boston Globe arts and culture staff.

Submit a tip to the Culture Desk


A&E video

loading video... (please wait a moment)