I hereby declare this crankypants Thursday. Maybe it's the VD hangovers?
---&---The first thing that's pissing people off is small plates, and the fact that restaurants that sell food in the small plate format STILL think it's OK to bring a dozen small plates to the table at the same time, or in an otherwise unpredictable sequence, even though the small plate trend has been with us for some time now.
Close Michael Bauer readers know that this has become almost
an old saw for him, and if you carefully read old mid-1990s reviews of places like Thirsty Bear
you can see that service was a very early thorn on the small-plates rose. Even Cesar's Chez Panisse service culture couldn't help but "border on rude," in Bauer's words.
Now, food writer Catherine Nash informs us that at least one small plates place still doesn't seem to get it -- Circa brought her 10 small plates within 5 minutes
, earning a downgrade to "let down" from "loved it."
we have to put up with ... sheesh!
---&---Speaking of the Chronicle, former Contra Costa Times food critic John Birdsall has declared a jihad against one of the Chron's food writers from his new qaeda at the East Bay Express.
Taking a break from writing like a crazy person
and barking orders at the elected government of Berkeley
, Birdsall put Valentine's Day to chillingly effective use, sending orders through the Internet
to his agents in Bay Area food media that the Chron's Marlena Spieler is never to work in this town -- ever -- again.
Happy Valentine's Day, Marlena! John Birdsall thinks you're "probably a really nice person!" And he's declared a fatwa
against you to prove how much he cares!
With a long bloody chef's knife possibly next to the keyboard as he typed, Birdsall explained that the fatwa
is no big deal, just probably related to Spieler's horrifying, detached, painted face as depicted by Chronicle graphics fiends, and the human charcuterie the Chron recently attached to her severed head, plus perhaps the just slightly terrifying hellscape of acid-trip iconography inserted next to her copy to set the mood.
Plus, Birdsall knows a way better writer at his old newspaper, and this other one who has a buzz cut and everything, plus she's a chef and we all know good chefs automatically make great food writers! She's already won over the entire Express editorial staff (by giving interviews
?) and they wholeheartedly endorse her, if only to get out of the broom closet where they ("we") are still cowering in mortal fear of Spieler's VDay visage!
(To be less unfair, this other writer actually has a blog you can go read
and that at first blush appears half decent.)
Oh, and apparently scary Spieler lives in Australia or Newfoundland or something instead of the San Francisco Bay Area. Whatever -- hasn't Birdsall heard of the Chronicle Foreign Service
? It's sort of like the BBC, but without the accents, and underwritten by Hearst instead of British taxpayers. Apparently Bronstein thought it up when he realized there was no other way to get international news in San Francisco.
--&--Having had enough of all this crankiness, particularly of the "hit piece" sort by writers from a certain SmartMoney magazine, Michael Bauer defends his former dinner dates
Tim and Nina Zagat against charges of grade inflation, saying
that while Tim and Nina might awkwardly fight about the check in front of him
, they put out an "influential, useful guide" that's no worse than Chowhound or eGullet. Even if 70 percent of Zagat Guide restaurants now get a once-coveted rating of 20 or better.
--&--Covers, actually, isn't feeling particularly cranky. It's actually been fun summarizing all of this mud, plus I'm still glowing from a Valentine home dinner of lamb, Van Der Heyden 02 Cab and Recchiuti chocolate purloined from its rightful owner.
But if I had to complain, I'd put my crank in the form of a question, you know? Because have you noticed? On CNET's food blog
? How about every third post ends in a question? Do you think they're trying to drive up traffic? Or more just trying to get the readers to do all the work?
Labels: John Birdsall skips his meds, service