Slow Food

At Smithtown Seafood, ‘local’ is measured in feet

At Smithtown Seafood, ‘local’ is measured in feet

Chef Ouita Michel, who calls Holly Hill Inn ( in Midway, Kentucky, her home base, is completely on board with the vision of FoodChain (see previous post). She's so on board that she opened the little takeout seafood restaurant inside the Bread Box called Smithtown Seafood ( and installed the immensely talented Jonathan Sanning as her chef de cuisine. (That's Jonathan below holding the fried fish.) Ouita (as everyone in Lexington seems to call her because everyone in Lexington who cares about food knows her) studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and took as her primary lesson the observation that the best French and Italian chefs create meals out of what they find around them. She's inculcated that same respect for...Read More

Why Parmigiano Reggiano is king

The king of Italian cheeses is Parmigiano Reggiano, which is head and shoulders above the various imitators sold as “parmesan” in the U.S. and Canada. I had always wondered why the D.O.P. product was so clearly superior, and a visit to Caseificio Poggioli (+39 059 783 155, on the Via Montanara in Spilimberto outside Modena helped me understand. The new €6 million facility is a cooperative of four dairy farmers of Modena province and was built, partly with public financing, after the May 2012 earthquake that destroyed so many of the region's cheese factories and aging warehouses. Yet to be tested by seismic events, the facility is equipped with state-of-the-art controls for the time-honored process of making Parmigiano Reggiano. Under the D.O.P. regulations, all...Read More

Why we are not foodies after all

Ever since the Atlantic Monthly published contributing editor B.R. Myers' screed ''The Moral Crusade Against Foodies'' in the March issue, insults and calumnies have been flying back and forth on the Web like mashed potatoes in a cafeteria food fight. The gist of Myers' argument is that to be a foodie is to be a glutton. When he insists that foodies have ''a littleness of soul,'' he reminds us of the New Yorker who went deer hunting in Maine, shot a farmer's cow, and pronounced that he preferred beef anyway. Myers picked some easy targets (Anthony Bourdain's ''oafishness,'' Michael Pollan's ''sanctimony'') and knocked them over—but so what? Even Bourdain, Pollan, et al. should be pleased. Myers' excoriation might even sell a few more books. We...Read More

Cooking with Comté

If you've ever eaten a croque monsieur in a cafe anywhere in France (my absolute favorite is served at the News Cafe in Paris at 78 rue d'Assas across from Jardin du Luxembourg), chances are you've eaten Comté cheese. The firm and nutty Comté is the largest selling hard cheese in France. I'd always figured that only a big factory could turn out enough Comté to satisfy the appetites of the fromage-loving French, but it turns out that Comté is still made pretty much the same way that it's been made for about a thousand years--that is, small-scale and personal. And the whole process is open to the public: from brown-and-white Montbéliarde cows grazing in buttercup-laden meadows, to milk delivery and early morning cheese-making in...Read More