I eagerly opened my current issue of Newsweek (August 13 & 20 issue) with its blaring headline, "101 Best Places to Eat in the World, Chosen by 53 of the Finest Chefs"... and then threw the magazine in the trash with utter disgust after perusing the story. (Incidentally, the phallic cover photo of two asparagus spears about to enter the mouth of a lipsticked woman turns out to be a stock shot by award-winner Donna Trope, which the Eater website reveals was used previously by Harper's Bazaar and a British food magazine, Observer Food Monthly. That's unforgivable right there.) Horrendous, cheap, shoddy journalism... pandering to the superficial and phony in search of quick, exploitive readership.
Tina Brown, what have you done to my lovely, serious magazine? I grew up much closer to Newsweek than to Time, but now I am convinced that Time has grabbed the mantle of serious, even brilliant journalism, and is running with the bit in its mouth. Did you see last week's Newsweek cover? My Huffington readers are well aware of my disdain for Mitt Romney, but even I was repulsed by their cover line: "Romney: The Wimp Factor... Is He Just Too Insecure to Be President?"
Just as I was repulsed by their recent cover story, "Obama -- The First Gay President." And that horrifying cover, "Behind the Mary Kennedy Tragedy." It's below-the-belt journalism, while Time has been churning out cover story after cover story, which are relevant, interesting and worthy of a few minutes of deep concentration... "One a Day," about military suicides, and "Roberts Rules," an analysis of the Supreme Court.
This Newsweek story has a superficial and highly-inaccurate list of 101 restaurants, which they claim are the best in each continent, a ridiculous supposition with which to start. And of course I immediately turned to North America and then Los Angles to see, which of our grand restaurants was selected to represent the best of the city... Melisse, Mozza, Providence, Valentino, Spago, Patina, WP 24, the list could go on-and-on... and what do I find? Farmshop.
Now, I have nothing against this smart, small farm-to-table eatery and grocery shop ensconced in the Brentwood Country Mart. Chef/owner Jeff Cerciello is turning out delicious casual dishes, and I had excellent shirred eggs and french toast one morning, while a delicious sirloin steak was on tap for a recent dinner. The magazine stated at the top of the relevant paragraph that its specialty is... fresh burrata and fruit??
A food writer named Elizabeth Falkner, author of Demolition Desserts, is quoted: "Worth a drive from anywhere in L.A. Gorgeous and memorable flavor combinations." Well, yes, as I mentioned I had nice meals there recently, then shopped for 'stuff' in its adjacent grocery store... overpriced products, but interesting 'stuff.' But to select this as the single best example of great Los Angeles food is unforgivable and insulting. To compound the egregious situation, they quote two snap reviews by Wolfgang Puck of restaurants in San Sebastian and Enterria, Spain... Wolf is quoted as saying about Mugaritz in Spain: "It's not about one dish... it's about the total experience." Their specialty? Edible stones, I kid you not. David Myers is quoted as raving about a sushi restaurnt in Tokyo, and I know he is planning to open a similar one here. It's unclear how the information provided by the 53 'participating' chefs was utilized... cherry-picked, my guess.
I have eaten in many of the restaurants on the list, and do agree that many of them are among the best in each city and country...The Chairman, in Hong Kong, Alinea in Chicago, Guy Savoy and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, Daniel in New York, Trattoria Sostanza in Florence (for the best Steak Florentine ever.) But they don't even select one in Las Vegas, the new culinary capital of the country. So I beg you to read the article with a skeptical curious and amused (or bemused) eye..and then visit your own personal favorite for a savory snack and smile.
To subscribe to Jay Weston's Restaurant Newsletter ($70 for twelve monthly issues) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Jay Weston on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaywestonsbcglo