Hello! Welcome back to Nibbles, a semi-frequent posting ritual in which I cram together a bunch of minor posts into one big one so you, the reader, are entertained and I, the writer, feel like I’ve entertained you and informed you about all the things I’ve experienced recently related to food. So here we go:

– Hey so remember how I said this would be related to food? Not yet. Our first Nibble involves free tickets I received to the new Bob Dylan musical with choreography by Twyla Tharp; a musical called, appropriately, “The Times They Are A’Changin.” I’d been reading All That Chat, the popular theater chat board, because I’m a theater nerd and this was getting TONS of bad press. But Craig and I, who went in with the lowest of expectations, really enjoyed it. I thought it was visually stunning and the dancing was incredibly athletic. If you like Bob Dylan, musical theater, Cirque Du Soleil and intricate choreography this is the show for you.

– The show has a circus theme which reminded me afterwards of a funny story that I shared with Craig and the story is somewhat related to eating. When I was in 5th grade my parents sent me to performing arts camp, a camp called French Woods in upstate New York. While there I performed in Cats (I was a stray cat in a leotard) and Captain Louie, a musical by Stephen Schwartz that involved me sititng on someone’s shoulders pretending to fly around in an airplane. But one thing that made this camp special was that it had a circus. At the beginning of camp you could go and audition and they’d assign you a part in the circus that you’d study and at the end of the summer you’d perform in the big circus show. So I went to the audition and auditioned and as they called out names, they’d say which part of the circus you were assigned to. “Robert Avery,” they’d say, “You’re trapeze.” “Carl Winslow, you’re tightrope.” And then it came: “Adam Roberts, you’re fire eating.” Fire eating!? Were they nuts? Me eat fire?? So I told the guy in charge I was no longer interested. And thank God because if I’d pursued it I wouldn’t have the tastebuds to do what I’m doing now! And that’s my circus story.

– So big things are happening in my food writing career. I wish I could spill the beans right away but then I’d get in trouble. Suffice it to say I’ve written a few pieces for different publications that should be up soon. I’ll make sure to link to them when they’re up!

– Hey look at this site that linked to me. What language is this? What does this say? Is it nice? Is it mean? See if you click the hyperlink it goes to my site. BUT WHAT DOES IT SAY?! WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!

– I would just like to say that Eater’s NYT review oddsmakers are scary good. Do they have a perfect record? I think they do. How do they do it? Color me impressed.

– As a final thought I’d like to discuss honest food. What is honest food? The phrase came to me last night when Craig and I chose between dinner at the Westside Diner on 9th Avenue and dinner at Esca. Esca’s a fantastic restaurant (it’s featured prominently in my book) but it’s very expensive. The Westside Diner is fairly crappy but it’s cheap. The two places are close together and both are perfect for a meal after the theater, which is exactly the sort of meal Craig and I were having. So what’s more honest: the place that serves quality ingredients at high prices or the place that serves low quality ingredients prepared badly at cheap prices? Is it more honest to charge $8 for a filling gummy omelette or $28 for “hand harvested maine diver scallops with roasted brussel sprouts and pancetta.” This is an important question and I think it speaks to a big divide in our culture. Isn’t there a way to bridge these two extremes and have honest food that’s honest in both price and quality? Since that hadn’t happened yet, Craig and I decided to save our money and we ate at the diner. Our food was adequate and our wallets were happy.

And that my friends is Nibbles. Tune in next week with our special guest……Charo! We’ll be making churros. Cuchi cuchi!

12 thoughts on “Nibbles”

  1. I love Esca! I wrote about it in my blog when the hub and I went there back in…May or April. I think Esca is the kind of place where you go to have what I call “memorable food” or a “memorable meal”. It’s also a place that you go to really sit back and enjoy. Not just eat in a rush. Even though it was expensive, I thought the ambiance, the service, and the quality of the food was outstanding.

  2. I have no idea what language the site linked to you is in. I get the most hits to my blog from Thailand for what ever reason. Maybe they just like the subject matter. The world is truly shrinking-isn’t blogging amazing?

  3. The mystery blog is in Icelandic, but I have no idea what it says. Icelandic is a lot like the Norwegian of 1000 years ago, which is why I can tell you what language it is but almost nothing about what it says. If I had to guess based on the few words in his entry that were similar to modern Norwegian, I’d say he was equally confused about what to do with foie gras as you were in your last post. It’s not too odd that he’s reading your blog, either, because from what I understand Icelanders, like Norwegians, have mandatory English instruction from when they are very young.

  4. Funny! In my post i´m writing about my favourite food blogger in the whole world asking his readers what he should do with his Foié Gras, and wondering if it is a coincidence that I´ve been doing the same with mine these last few days! :)

    And yes, I´m icelandic and live in the capital, Reykjavik.

    Hope that solved the mistery! :)

  5. I love the whole topic of honest food and price. vs. quality. I shake my head when I hear someone say a restaurant that charges $15-$20 for a meal (including salad, sides, etc. not a la carte) is “expensive”. Yet these people routinely eat at fast-food restaurants without thinking. I would rather eat at home and skip the fast food so I have more money to spend on “expensive” meals that are prepared with quality ingredients and, most often, are things that I can’t prepare at home due to ingredient availability or lack of confidence and/or equipment. Upscale, or at least decent, dining should be an experience or a reward, not just another pit stop to fill your gut.

  6. Christopher Mims

    I’ll tell you what’s honest food: Trader Joe’s. Two blocks from Whole Foods, they could charge whatever they want to the worker bees droning through Union Square. But true to form, the nuts are cheaper than mail-order, the dried fruit isn’t much more than the fresh version would be, and the meals in a bag top out at $7.

    That said, given the vicissitudes of the restaurant biz, I have trouble faulting an owner for charging whatever they want to charge – they’ll all be out of business in a few years anyway.

  7. you went to french woods?! i went to a camp nearby called Independent Lake… and they have a circus too, in fact i was in the circus as a camper and then staff later on… in fact, there’s a flying trapeze in williamsburg, and I work there.. you should come try it sometime! it’s amazing and lots of fun!

  8. If you check out the other blog entries you see “Finnsi og Flórens” under a picture of Florence. My guess is that the language is Finnish.

  9. The cheap-crappy vs. expensive-great debate is an important one. Luckily, there are places in the city that DO hit the middle ground – they’re just not in the theatre district really. For a really great deal (and as a new Sloper), try out Scottadito’s pre fixe dinner menu or brunch. They use mostly organic ingredients and serve some interesting italian cuisine. As your taste of chinatown post demonstrated, you can eat extremely well in this city on the cheap.

  10. ruhlman seems to be big on the honest food/social conscience of consumers. maybe you two can come up with a good solution. I always wonder if organic vegetables and/or humanely raised protein actually *do* taste better in blind taste tests. It’s easy to say, “hey this chicken or cow didn’t suffer, so i feel good about bettering humanity and gosh darnit, this really does taste better!”

    this is probably more a question for Consumer Reports than food bloggers. Anyway, if humane/organic food actually does taste better, then it’s a matter of paying for better food. Does the average consumer care about that ‘better’ taste? is it markedly better or marginally better?

    If it really is about taste, then “honest food” is just another way of saying, “Do you want yellow mustard or grey poupons?” Of course there will always be people who actually love yellow mustard (or dishonest food) and people who choose to pay less for it.

    Now if it’s less about taste and more about creating a better world, since I’m assuming honesty > dishonesty and since honesty is a good quality, greater amounts would mean a great world. Now if all our choices are governed by how we want a greater world, do we stop buying DVD’s and T-shirts because they are made in China and they have a spotty human rights record?

  11. I think both cheap/just edible food and expensive/fancy food are honest. It’s the expensive/just edible food that ruins an evening because it’s dishonest. If a restaurant charges high prices, I expect some thought to go into the preparation, some pride taken in the selection of ingredients and presentation. When I set my expectations at that level because of the prices at a restaurant and then am disappointed because it seems like the chef doesn’t care about his work, I feel like I have been cheated.

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