I am in the middle of recording the audio book version of Bizarre Truth, my new book out from Random House on 9-8-09. Feel free to buy a copy on Amazon and help send my kid to college. Reading your own work is painful in the extreme, and all I see are the warts. And it doesn't help things that I have spent three nights at home in the last six weeks doesn’t help either.
Julie’s bunk. Period. I know everyone is sick and tired of reading about Julie/Julia but rather than chime in myself, let me direct you to the most spot-on reportage on the subject from my pal Elissa Altman on HuffPo.
What I can tell you is that writers like Julie Powell are rip-off artists, glomming onto material that isn’t theirs and taking advantage of our weakness for repackaged, repurposed content. If I wanted to see what my neighbor can do with Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I would ask. I loved the Alinea cookbook, and Mastering and all the other books whose recipes are aped on websites by bloggers looking for their own slice of the American Dream. But enough is enough. The idea has been done, time to move on. BTW, the movie is fair, neither a great food movie or a ballsy comedy.
I'm just back from L.A., and I'm here to report that the restaurant scene is rebounding in a big way. First off, I bumped into my Australian pal Neil Perry (Rockpool, et cetera) in the lobby of our hotel and he looked like hell. I assumed that meant he was doing double duty, running his global restaurant empire and expanding into the L.A. market. Bingo. Neil told me if the real estate issues settle themselves favorably, which in his case I have to assume means some swanky developer or hotelier paying his full freight, Neil will open a Spice Temple outpost soon count on it. Spice Temple is, simply put, the best modern Chinese-style restaurant you can imagine. When I was in Sydney last year I tasted a dozen items that Neil was about to put on to the menu in the then unopened restaurant, and when I returned a few months later the eatery was open. Stunning would be an understatement. Just one bite of the crab omelet or the chili-bathed whitefish dish he calls Fire Water are all you need taste to understand just how serious Neil takes his food. An L.A. version of this restaurant, a city with the talent pool he would need to staff a restaurant of this style, would be awesome. Neil was at Spago, CUT, and Mozza, and loved them all. He’s got good taste.
Highlights of my trip—crab pigout at Crustacean, breakfast at Boulevard, lobster with truffle sabayon at CUT, shaved tongue with white truffles at CUT, bone marrow flan at CUT, caramelized pork belly at CUT this continues to be one of the most underrated restaurants in the U.S., despite all the great reviews. It’s a lot more than a steak house. But the sirloin tasting was insane. I spent Wednesday night at Nobu on La Cienega, one of L.A.'s best party restaurant scenes, where some of the best party promoters in the city go nuts and pack the place with movie stars, jocks, and the hottest girls in SoCal. Stephon Marbury says "hi" to everyone in MN, and he’s still a jerk. He was amongst the 40 or so pro athletes who were there, and he was the only one looking around the room to see if anyone was looking at him. Sad. One of my tablemates knew him and struck up a chat so I got to say hi. He killed my Knicks after he decimated the Wolves, I can’t forgive.
Top Chef Masters is the best food show on TV right now. What a great guilty pleasure, and if you had to handicap the game right now, lead would have to go to Anita Lo, who cooks with beauty and intelligence and, most importantly, is in sync with what Gael and Jay want to see on their plates. The dark horse is Bayless, and Keller could win the whole thing but the gimmickiness of some of the challenges don’t suit his style. If he can make it to the finals, where he would get to cook his own food, look out. I got 10 bucks that says Art goes home next week. His folksy act, a cross between Sebastian Cabot and Richard Simmons, is getting really tired. The list of losers on this show reads like a who’s who of great chefs, and I have e-mailed and spoken on the phone with many of them, all of whom have a lot more respect for the contestants on the generic version of the show than they ever thought possible. Tell me you are not psyched for the next season in a few weeks? Vegas Baby.