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All You Can Eat

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Topic: Reading about eating

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January 11, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Jane and Michael Stern talk Roadfood: tonight and tomorrow

Before there was Chowhound, Yelp, the fooderati on Twitter and that spiky-haired blond guy on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” food writers Jane and Michael Stern made it their mission to take our tastebuds on a cross-country tour. Armed with prodigious appetites, useless roadmaps and plenty of Alka-Seltzer, they’ve spent more than 30 years on our highways and byways, eating as much as 12 meals a day during some 200 annual road trips.

They’ve made it their mission to stop for the likes of chess pie and pig’s ear sandwiches along every turn in the road. She hates ketchup. He loves kishke and together they’ve traveled to joints with names like Putz’s Creamy Whip, fending off waitresses offering “Jewish tea” (er, that’s “Do you wish tea?”) and attempting to avoid the worst of the no-tell motels.

When they’re not on the road, gathering material for their Roadfood books and Web site, they’re on the radio — dishing with Lynne Rossetto Kasper on “The Splendid Table.” You’ve read their columns in “Gourmet,” seen them on “CBS This Morning” and portrayed on the Lifetime movie “Ambulance Girl,” based on Jane’s memoir of a food writer turned small town EMT.

Today, they’re in Seattle talking about their favorite subject: eating. And it’s not too late to join the conversation tonight at 6 p.m. when they’re hosting a benefit dinner for Seattle Arts & Lectures at the Palace Ballroom. Or you can catch them tomorrow, January 12, when they’ll be yukking it up with a lively lecture at 7:30 p.m. at Benaroya Hall (tickets available at the door for both events, or via the SAL Web site: details here).

Jane and Michael, doing what they do best (AP photo/Jim Cooper).

Last week, I had a chance to chew the fat with my fellow food-loving fressers, comparing notes on eating for a living during a coast-to-coast phone chat from their home base in Connecticut — with Jane’s French bulldog Elmer listening in. Here’s what they had to say:

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January 6, 2010 at 7:54 AM

In Seattle, teriyaki has the Edge. Your favorite teriyaki spot?

Today, in his ongoing series “United Tastes,” my clever colleague John T. Edge — the award-winning columnist, author, raconteur and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance — introduced New York Times readers to one of Seattle’s worst-kept secrets: our lust for teriyaki. John T. (yes, that’s his name — he’s from the…

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December 15, 2009 at 5:37 PM

Seattle Weekly’s new critic Jason Sheehan, comin’ over hot!

Local writers hoping to step up to the plate and take Jon Kauffman’s soon-to-be-vacated job at Seattle Weekly were surely disappointed to hear today’s announcement: they’ve hired an outtatowner to take his place. Good on them if the guy’s half as talented as the Weekly’s food dude, who arrived from the Bay Area a…

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November 19, 2009 at 10:05 PM

Jonathan Kauffman to leave Seattle Weekly for SF Weekly

There are few food writers as talented as Seattle Weekly’s Jonathan Kauffman, and I was sorry to read the announcement today that he’s blowing out of town, heading back where he came from: San Francisco. In a brief post on Voracious, Kauffman wrote: I’m both sad and excited to announce that on January 1, 2010,…

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November 5, 2009 at 10:33 AM

NYT posts “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do”

Journalist and author Bruce Buschel is opening a seafood restaurant, and in preparation for that he’s put together a two-part list of “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do.” The first debuted in the New York Times last week, the second ran today. His list pushed all the right buttons re: wrong-doing, and I’m not surprised at his readers’ (voluminous) reaction, having seen it before when I’ve delved into the subject of service.

A decade ago, after taking the job as Seattle Times restaurant critic, I posted a list of my own restaurant service peeves — among them many cited by Buschel. In 2004 I was floored by the volume of commentary after writing “When Restaurant Service Goes South.” Two hundred readers e-mailed or called in a single day to offer their two-cents regarding lousy service, a number that was a big deal back before we had global commenting capabilities via our Web site. In 2005 I wrote my “Ten Commandments of Restaurant Behavior” — a how-to for diners, with restaurant pros weighing in on how we can all get along better, regardless of which side of the table we’re on. And again, readers rewarded me with commandments of their own.

As a former waitress, a longtime restaurant critic and someone who dines out often and loves the restaurant business — imperfect though it may be, I think Buschel’s list provides excellent advice, as well as some “in your dreams, pal” suggestions.

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October 21, 2009 at 3:05 PM

Duck dinner: Seattle chef reinvents the way I’ll think about it

When I was a very young woman, in love with a young man who made his living at his family’s hardware store in New Jersey, I used to eat wild duck fairly regularly. Rick shot those ducks himself, bringing them home with the able assistance of our Golden Retriever, Adam. Later, when I was living in Alaska, in lust with another guy who hoisted a gun for fun, I learned how to remove a dead duck’s pinfeathers — using a waxing process not unlike the one my hairdresser insists I allow her to repeat with my eyebrows.

In the end, I married a man who does not shoot ducks and who has no time for sissy dogs like Golden Retrievers, preferring, instead, Northern breeds with minds of their own. And to my mind, there’s no better duck than the one my husband smokes out back on the Weber: birds I buy already gutted, cleaned and devoid of their pinfeathers. Funny: before today, I never thought much about me and men and ducks — though I’m well aware I’m crazy for them. In fact, I had one for dinner just last night. Duck, I mean.

Fragrant Duck, at Wild Ginger in Bellevue.

What got me thinking about ducks, however, was not last night’s dinner at Wild Ginger (delicious, by the way), but an extraordinary blog-post entitled “My omnivore’s dilemma.”

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October 5, 2009 at 9:32 AM

Gourmet magazine on “close” list says Conde Nast CEO

It seems like only yesterday (actually it was only yesterday) that a friend stopped to ask, “Did you go see Ruth Reichl at Third Place Books the other night?” I hadn’t. She was there, representing Gourmet as its longtime editor, promoting the 68-year-old magazine’s latest cookbook. And now comes news that there’s truth to the rumors I’ve been hearing: Gourmet is one of the magazines on Conde Nast’s chopping block. What a sin and a shame — as my friends and other food lovers across the country are reporting this morning.

What next! Gourmet is no longer the apple of Conde Nast’s eye. I’ll miss it.

Here’s the internal memo from Conde Nast CEO Chuck Townsend:

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August 24, 2009 at 10:41 AM

Vertical farming not pie in the sky, plus Skagit Valley love

As I sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and reading the paper this morning, I couldn’t help thinking about the green beans I ate for dinner last night — grown in local soil by a local farmer and bought on Saturday at my local farmers market. Nor could I stop thinking about the farmers I’ve come to know by name and by face, including those who work the land, grow the crops and raise livestock in the stunning acreage we know as the Skagit Valley — a place that always makes me say, “Is this gorgeous, or what?”

Those thoughts were prompted by an op-ed piece in today’s New York Times, “A Farm on Every Floor,” which began “If climate change and population growth progress at their current pace, in roughly 50 years farming as we know it will no longer exist. This means that the majority of people could soon be without enough food or water. But there is a solution that is surprisingly within reach: Move most farming into cities, and grow crops in tall, specially constructed buildings. It’s called vertical farming.”

Nate O’Neil of Frog Song Farm (left) farming horizontally on Fir Island. You’ll find him upright on Saturdays, selling organic produce at the Edmonds Farmers Market. (Seattle Times/Harley Soltes)

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