The week that was (5 January 2017)

- You will likely love this list from Bloomberg of the most scathing restaurant reviews in recent times. L’ami Louis by AA Gill takes the cake, while the excellent review of Trump's Grill(e) by Tina Ngyuen for Vanity Fair comes in at number two. She suggests there's a lot to be learnt about the President-Elect ("The allure of Trump’s restaurant, like the candidate, is that it seems like a cheap version of rich") and concludes it may just be the worst restaurant in America. There are take outs for those playing along at home too: "The menu itself would like to impress diners with how important it is, randomly capitalizing fancy words like “Prosciutto” and “Julienned” (and, strangely, ”House Salad”)." It's a pet peeve. Don't do it.

- You may also want to check out Lucky Peach's 10 Most Read Articles for 2016. I was rather fascinated (and impressed) to learn their most read article for the year was the history of pho. We're not all listicle consuming morons after all (unfortunately number two on the list, The Official Costco Food Court Power Rankings, does little to support my argument).
Among the list was Eat Drink Fuck Die, penned by Bourdain. It’s a cracker. It's a listicle within a listicle as Bourdain looks at some of the films that have best portrayed food over the decades, namely: Eat Drink Man WomanBabette’s Feast, Spielberg’s Munich and the grotesque La Grande Bouffe.
I was particularly enamoured by his thoughts on Eat Drink Man Woman, partly because I was discussing it on Sunday and have been meaning to look it up. I’m most pleased I did (click the link, watch the exquisite opening scene). Not only is it a delightful portrayal of the mesmerising movement of a chef in the kitchen (better, in my eyes, than any ballet),  but “… it supports, convincingly, the widely held belief that a plate of food has innate qualities, and that - depending on the history (personal or otherwise) that an eater might have with the dish - it can contain ‘heart.’” Food and memory are so inextricably linked, and yet so different for each and every person. It’s Proust with his madeleine - would it have been the same if it was toast or biscotto?
Bourdain suggests that's the point, but also gives a little touch up to the over-use of the concept: “You hear this all the time on shows like Top Chef. A chef will claim to cook with “love” (a proclamation that I, as a judge, often found worrying, summoning, as it did, possibilities that the contestant had rubbed his knob around in the sauce).” Ha! I feel likewise regarding the word passion. Let’s please keep it off my plate and out of the kitchen …

- There was also Lisa Abend’s list of the five chefs to watch around the world this year: Lisa Lov (Tigermom, Copenhagen); Beau Clugston (Le 6 Paul Bert, Paris); Jeong Kwan (Baekyangsa Temple, Bukha-myeon, South Korea); Angela Dimayuga (Mission Chinese Food, New York); Kamilla Seidler (Gustu, La Paz, Bolivia). A delightful and thoughtful list, and not just because of all those vaginas. There's health, social goals, education, terroir and, as an added bonus, there's a sneak peak at some of the dishes at Noma spin-off 108 too.

- If you read TWTW in the days before Christmas you may have re-read the article on The Sugar Conspiracy in The Guardian. It's fascinating. This week, Dan Barber reviewed a new book on the same topic, The Case Against Sugar. It brings some new facts to light: "In September, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, uncovered documents showing that Big Sugar paid three Harvard scientists in the 1960s to play down the connection between sugar and heart disease and instead point the finger at saturated fat. Coca-Cola and candy makers made similar headlines for their forays into nutrition science, funding studies that discounted the link between sugar and obesity." There’s more from Taubes, the author, here. Roll over, tobacco.

- Equally sobering is Kevin Alexander’s story in the Thrillist on the restaurant bubble in the States. It’s the third article in a trilogy, where Alexander argues we will inevitably see less sit-down traditional restaurants and more of the “hip iterations of fast-casual restaurants, with smaller menus, counter service, and a skeleton crew of front- and back-of-the-house staff”. (For any of you considering the fast-casual route - and that's a considerable number of you - note success still lies in genuine hospitality, see NYT on that here). It’s all a little sombre, with part one looking at the homogenous nature of today’s culinary innovationand part two exploring the endlessly dismal question of the chef shortage (and the necessity of price rises). Sombre, but definitely interesting.
- It’s not all bad, food has the ability to be excellent. It’s fundamental we make it so. Watch Christian Puglisi talking at Food on the Edge - a talk that inadvertently combines a couple of the issues above, namely the importance of the small, singular-focused restaurant, here with a farm attached. He wanted fresh mozzarella. You too can have fresh mozzarella, by attending one of Kristen’s classes.

- This Farm from a Box is also rather excellent. $50k buys you a shipping container containing all the tools and a closed loop system complete with solar powered drip irrigation; with enough juice to run a two acre plot and feed 150 people. But wait, there’s more. The power also runs the wifi, to keep the farmers connected and to allow them access to the three-part education regarding sustainable farming, technology use and enterprise. People are clever.
- And finally, the cricket. Yesterday an 87 year-old Hawkie skolled his beer on camera, bringing to light more than the contentious spelling of the word skol. Specifically, do we, as a nation, have a drinking problem? The Huff Post have pulled out some stats (citing pissed tourists as part of our malaise, which is a little odd) and the same old quotes. I have written about this for the Oz. I think it’s an important topic to discuss, but I think it’s poorly tackled by the wowsers. I believe drinking, particularly when coupled with food, is an art de vivre. It’s not for everyone, but I don’t think that means it can’t be for anyone. And so maybe Boonie is not the greatest poster boy for Australian alcohol consumption, but I still proudly drive a car with his name on the plates (because the man is a legend). And, to be safe today, I’ll be taking a tin of anchovies to accompany the odd VB. You will find me, and my anchovies, in the Ladies Stand. I’ll be the one in pink.