A few people have noted that my reviews tend to be positive and have asked why nothing ever get the thumbs down from me. I actually think I tend to be fairly critical, but it's true, I tend to post about places that I find delicious and exciting. I figure that's more helpful to the reader. After all, who needs to hear that Pupuseria X on Alvarado is only mediocre. The only exception I make is for places that have received lots of attention. In that case, I may post a contrarian review if I disagree.
That being said, I have a few genuine dislikes and pet peeves that I figured I would take the opportunity to air. Having had a grueling month at work, I'm particularly cranky, so I thought it was time to unleash some venom.
Okay, first let's discuss the hideous bacon flavored chocolate. I know the trend is to put bacon on everything these days, and I love bacon as much as the next Jew, but ughh...it tastes like bad chocolate with Bac-O Bits...I couldn't even finish the thing and for me and chocolate, that's saying a lot.
The bacon flavor is just putrid icing on the really bad cake though. Vosges dresses their chocolate in gourmet packages and sells it at up-market venues like Whole Foods and Intelligentsia, but the truth is, it's crap. Vosges contains additives, like soy lecithin, that better chocolate makers disdain. These additives are undoubtedly supposed to make it taste creamy, but instead give it a greasy, artificial mouthfeel. They try to cover for this by mixing with strong flavors like chili and salt, but to me, that just makes it worse, and they make the flavors so strong, it creates and unbalanced mess. Yuck!
Celebrity Chefs in LA
Five years ago, you could get into nearly any LA restaurant at any time by calling, at most, a week in advance. Sona, Spago or Melisse for 4 at 7:30? No problem. But then came the celebrity chefs. Bankrolled, book writing, Today show appearing chefs who started noticing that there was life west of Vegas. You know the routine. They show up for the first month to do interviews and cook for the beautiful people after which they speed back to Manhattan. In their wake, they have given us a little bit of New York in LA, and not in a good way. Restaurants that are all but inaccessible if you're not rep'd by William Morris, reservations available before 4:30 pm or after 1:30 am and customers who have more money than taste buds. Is the food good? Who knows? Who gets in? The only good thing, there's more space than ever at Melisse. So thanks for that Mario, Tom and Gordon.
The Back Room of Dim Sum Palaces
There is no more terrible feeling than showing up at your favorite dim sum house in the San Gabriel Valley and being shown to the back room. These overflow rooms, adjacent to the main hall are the places where carts fear to tread. So far afield are they that only chinese broccoli and chicken feet are allowed in. There you sit, hungry, waiting, watching the chicken feet go by for the fifth time, wondering where the rest of the food is, dying for a pork bun, some lotus-wrapped sticky rice or any other mosel. It's a Coleridge like horror: "Dim sum, dim sum everywhere but not a drop to eat."
There are a number of Scotches which, while I wouldn't say they are terrible, are overrated and unexciting. Most of these are highly promoted Speysiders which seem to be marketing to an otherwise whiskiphobic crowd. They are fine whiskies which I can drink, but can't get excited about. Among the malts in this category are: The Glenrothes vintage series and the Glenmorangie series of finished whiskies. Yawn! (I would have added Balvenie Doublewood, but given that good ole Doc Whiskey is singing their praises these days, I will give them another chance.)
One of the best sites to learn about Bourbon is straightbourbon.com. It's got a great FAQ, information on distilleries and brands (though it could use some updating) and a great forum with regular posts from distinguished whiskey expert Chuck Cowdery.
What perpetually gets in the way of my enjoyment of this site, though, is that nearly half of the posts seem to have nothing to do with Bourbon whatsoever, but instead are various right wing polemics about the myth of global warming, the right of every man woman and child to sport an uzi and the latest screed they heard on Rush or saw on Fox News.
I'm sorry, I came here to read about Bourbon. If I want to read right wing bullshit, I'll go to some right wing bullshit site...there are only, what, 35 million of those. Post something left of Mussolini on Straightbourbon and you will be called out as the Communist you inevitably are. Now, granted, the right wing posts are generally by a small minority of posters, but it gets in the way of a lot of good Bourbon information, and it's just annoying. In retaliation, I've got a mind to go to redstate.com and make 5,000 posts about the beauty of Elijah Craig 18 year old single barrel!
I've got no patience for this darling of the food media world. His books are overwritten and boring, as is his blog. His adherence to traditional French food is stodgy and boring. His TV appearances are, well, just boring. Please kick this guy to the curb and bring us Jeffrey Steingarten or someone who at least has a sense of humor.
There aren't many foods I flat-out dislike. In fact, about the only other one I can think of is tripe (no menudo for me thanks). But I just can't deal with hazlenuts. I hate how they grace every chocolate dessert, ruining the taste of fine chocolate with their rancidity. There is nothing worse than the pervasive smell of hazlenut flavored coffee that exudes from every pour of my body if I spend even a minute in my local 7-11. Hazlenuts are evil!! And don't even get me started on Nutella.
Wow, that felt good. I should do that more often.