Tuesday, May 08, 2007

James Beard Awards announced

Last night, the James Beard Foundation announced their annual award winners, covering a spectrum of food topics from journalism to restaurants.

Dara Moskowitz, the food critic for the Twin Cities' alt weekly City Pages, won in the Best Newspaper, Newsletter or Magazine Column category. Hooray! I've long been a fan of Dara's column so it's exciting to see her acknowledged by this highly regarded organization. And, she beat John T. Edge and Lettie Teague, both of whom are well-published food/wine writers. She was nominated for the following articles, which are available online: "Take the Cannoli," "The Importance of Burgers," and "Weirded Out by Wine."

Other nominees I had been following didn't fare as well. Tim McKee of La Belle Vie and Alex Roberts of Alma, who were nominated in the Best Midwest Chef category, were edged out by Celina Tio of The American Restaurant in Kansas City (next time I'm in KC...). And, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon won the Best New Restaurant category in which Donald Link of Cochon (New Orleans), where I had a fantastic meal a week ago, had been nominated. Though Link did mop up the Best South Chef for Herbsaint.

You can see a full list of the winners here. (Thanks megnut for the link.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Why I Like Wednesdays

Wednesday is a great day to be a foodie. It's the day that the New York Times publishes a food section, Dining Out. And it's the day that Dara Moskowitz's food column appears in the City Pages, the Twin Cities' alternative weekly paper.

Dara, quite simply, rocks. She is a passionate, creative writer, as well as a keen observer, which certainly brings restaurant reviewing to a whole new level.

(Aside: For the record, in these parts, she only has one name. Foodies and fans ask each other, "Have you read Dara yet this week?" Or say things such as, "I wasn't a huge fan of that restaurant, but Dara loved it." However, if you look at her byline, you'll notice she's recently added a name, Grumdahl. So, mazel tov! Dara.)

I haven't always love Dara. At times, I have felt that her cleverness dominates her writing to the extent where the column becomes all about Dara and hardly about the restaurant—or even about food. Also, she can occasionally slather excessive praise on restaurants that neither need it or deserve it, but I've learned to take that with a grain of salt. A few years ago, however, I read a piece that was without pretention, converting me from an occasional read to one who can't go a week without.

My friend Tracy and I always compare restaurant notes, inevitably bringing Dara's opinions into our conversation. Often it serves us well, such as the time we ate at Azia and Dara advocated sticking to the appetizers and innovative cocktails. After eating a misguided fusion curry among other items ordered widely from the menu, we can both attest that we should have heeded her advice.

Clearly, her style has evolved and matured in the 10 years she has been the City Pages' food critic. And, I'm not alone in the Dara love. The James Beard Foundation has nominated her for awards in two separate categories this year.

Courtesy of the internets, even if you don't live in Minneapolis or St. Paul, you can still read Dara's column weekly. Best, if you find yourself hooked, most of her articles since 1997 have been archived.