by Jim Ridley
"Imagine the three-way love child of polenta, french fries and hummus and meditate on that for a moment…." Oh, I am, believe me, and not just because I haven't eaten breakfast or lunch. That bit of triple-X food porn (along with the accompanying photo) comes from cook eat FRET, where Claudia trawls through Lidia Bastianich's cookbook Lidia's Italy to find this recipe for panelle. Made with chickpea flour, the panelle is cooked, cooled on a sheet and cut, then pan-fried in olive oil to produce the puffy little triangles above. Thanks, CEF, for the tip that our local Whole Foods carries the necessary garbanzo flour.
• Ready for the latest menu updates from Milan's hottest restaurant of the moment, Osteria L'Intrepido? Too bad: the joint doesn't exist—although that didn't keep it from winning an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine. In a culinary scandal that has apparently just reached the tipping point, author Robin Goldstein submitted for consideration the bogus restaurant, a bogus menu, and a bogus wine list stocked with wines the magazine had earlier judged as sub-par, accompanied by a $250 entrance fee. Lo and behold, the fake food won a real award. The best account I've read is at The Epi-Log on Epicurious.com, where Michael Y. Park weighs both Goldstein's ruse and the magazine's rebuttal. Most curious, though, is this question near the conclusion: "Should [Wine Spectator] only hand out awards to restaurants staff have personally visited, even though that involves an incredible number of practical issues?" Um, let's put it another way: Should a critic hand out an award to a place whose food he's never tasted? If so, Carrington, Little Miss Martha Stewart Living Radio Return Guest, your job just got a hell of a lot easier.
• How's it hanging over at the Frist Center Café? A little askew, if you ask Melissa at Strawberry Beret and Frank at Nashville Eats Its ABCs. Frank doesn't care for the Caribbean barbecue sauce on his grilled pork chop ("Nasty is what it is") but has high marks for the homemade potato chips (what I've always ordered, and liked). Melissa—well, for some reason after reading her post, I've got "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" stuck in my head.
• Scott and Erin at Hungry Times Two leave today for England and Scotland. God knows why, but they plan to eat there. "Foodwise, we're very interested in searching out authentic pubs, fish 'n chip shops, and Indian food," they write. "Our itinerary is: London, Bath, maybe Canterbury, Ayr, Isle of Arran, Glasgow, Loch Lomond, and Edinburgh." Wish I knew someone close at hand with some knowledge of British food...say, someone who recently became a regular contributor to Bites....
• Speaking of whom, a laurel and hearty handshake to Jim Myers, a food writer with few peers, whose entry "Bravo Fluffernutter" was the 5,000th comment posted to Bites. He truly could not have done it without you. And neither could we.