You may remember sometime back I complained about the Greenville News (yet again), this time regarding their restaurant reviewers. Seems they couldn’t identify some basic Indian cuisine. I got this e-mail from John Malik, chef and owner of 33 Liberty, complaining about the same thing. I share it here with John’s permission…
Here’s my weekly email to my customers and I specifically address the
Greenville News and their reliance on common-man restaurant reviews.
Enjoyed your site.
This week’s menu features milk jam. I realize it has been some time since
I talked about a specific food item but this item, milk jam, certainly
needs an explanation. My Mom’s parents were cattle ranchers and when I
was a little kid they managed an enormous ranch in Durango, Mexico. We
visited often and when we did we always ate plenty of cajeta (khi-heta).
Cajeta is goat’s milk that has been slowly reduced until it is the color
and consistency of caramel sauce. When we were in DC last month we ate at
a restaurant of Spanish influence that served milk jam as a dessert sauce
and it was non other than cajeta. Since cajeta should be goat’s milk and
this was cow’s milk it was simply called milk jam. So this week we will
serve milk jam as a sauce to garnish a vanilla waffle Sundae with Monroe
Peaches and Peach Ice Cream. Trust me, if you didn’t know better you
would think that milk jam is just caramel sauce. Caramel is made from
sugar and water that have been cooked slowly with a little cream thrown in
at the end so they are very similar and very delicious.
Need a laugh? If you have been reading my emails for any length of time
you know that I am not a fan of the Greenville News’ "restaurant critics".
Apparently the only criteria that the News requires of their reviewers is
a passing grade in 8th grade Grammar because time and again these people
have misidentified even the most basic food items and cooking techniques.
In last week’s review of Ansley’s one of their people offered this gem:
"The chocolate moose was divine"
Really; and how was the Chocolate Elk? Okay I can understand a non-food
savvy type making this mistake but where is the Editor?
Several weeks ago the reviewers at the News visited our friends at the
India Palace and had this to say:
"We started with a spicy sheet of tortilla"
Did she mean the Papadum? Tortillas are served in Mexican restaurants and
are made of flour and water while the Papadum is made from ground lentils.
Sure they are both flat and round but so are pancakes, crepes, pizza
dough, pitas, manhole covers, hubcaps and Frisbees.
"it’s like the crust of a loaf of bread without the soft white inside"
This muddled sentence described Puri, the Indian bread. It resembles a
pita but it has been baked on the inside of a Tandoori oven and I love it,
especially with crushed garlic and parsley. But what on earth is this
person trying to say? Are they pining for the soft white insides of a
loaf of Bunny?
Amy always ignores me when I fume over such shockingly bad culinary
journalism. Should I get upset when the restaurant reviewers
(and their editors) employed by the only daily paper in Greenville do not
know the difference between "Moose" or "mousse", tortilla or papadum? Why
should I care?
I take this business seriously, as do some other chefs and restaurateurs
in this town. The Greenville News, however, assumes that our profession
is simple enough to be judged by a handful of neophytes with no formal
training, no understanding of food preparation technique and no
appreciation for the difference between a glass of sweet tea and a glass
of Oregon Pinot Noir. Should Clemson lose a football game there are 5 or
6 writers methodically dissecting what went wrong for the Tigers and what
they need to do in order to win next week. The School board, City
Council, Hunting and Fishing, Peace Center, Chamber of Commerce, Furman
football, the Growl, the Bombers or the Art Museum is given the critical
eye, but serious food? Send in the clowns!
Please feel free to tell me I am wrong or just half baked.
I’ve never met John, nor have I had a chance to dine at 33 Liberty. I may have to make a trip that direction pretty soon.