Robert Sietsema Addresses The Ruth Bourdain Twitter Account Question

A face only a mother could love
There's been a lot of talk today about the identity of Ruth Bourdain, the James Beard humor-award-winning Twitter account that deftly mixes up Ruth Reichl platitudes with Anthony Bourdain's attitude, being our very own Robert Sietsema. But is this true? We asked Robert to elaborate.

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Greetings from Sheboygan!

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At Sheboygan, Wisconsin's legendary Charcoal Inn, where all the bratwursts (a/k/a "brats," pronounced "braaaahts") are cooked over charcoal in a little hooded area behind the ancient lunch counter, one of the most popular configurations is the brat + burger.

Photo of the delicious combination after the jump

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Our Man Sietsema Suggests the Chicken

When Our Man Sietsema gets all mushy about a roast chicken, you should probably assume this is a truly spectacular roast chicken. The birdie in question is from Jason Neroni's 10 Downing, which Our Man reviews today. (I always misspell the chef's last name "negroni," which I guess tells you that I'm thinking of gin and compari far too often.)

Of the bird, Our Man writes: "the tender young flesh marshaled in sienna-skinned fragments across an oblong heap of arugula."

Our Man is similarly impressed by almost everything he eats at 10 Downing, including a delicious-sounding squid ink agnolotti. He appreciates Neroni's cooking, which often places a skillfully cooked hunk of meat at the fore, and then surrounds it with clever touches and global flavors.

Click the clickity above to read the full review.

10 Downing
10 Downing Street 212-255-0300

It's Izakaya Week


Today, Our Man Sietsema and I present Izakaya Week for your reading, eating and drinking pleasure. Izakayas are Japanese pubs that serve lots of alcohol, and a large selection of snacks--noodles, grilled meat and seafood, fried chicken, rice porridge, and so on.

Our Man Sietsema is at Rockmeisha, where the ramen is terrific, and anything involving a pig's foot is a good bet; skip the bizarre slab of cream cheese.

Meanwhile, I'm at Qoo Robata Bar in Williamsburg, where the encyclopedic menu offers good drinking food like raw octopus in wasabi, quail egg and bacon skewers and whole grilled smelts.

11 Barrow Street

Qoo Robata Bar
367 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn

Chowderheads and Other Do-Gooders

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Our man Robert Sietsema was in the East Village this past weekend filling up on chowder at Jimmy #43's "Chowder Slam," an event to benefit the New Amsterdam Market. The organization, which is working toward establishing an indoor public market in Manhattan made up of butchers, grocers and mongers of all sorts, is seeking volunteers who are good with their hands to help build stalls and kiosks for the new market. Not as fun as eating chowder, we know, but a great way to support small farms and other food purveyors.

Our Man Sietsema at Salumeria Rosi


This week, Our Man Sietsema tastes his way through Cesare Casella's Salumeria Rosi--a charcuterie shop with cooked dishes as well. Our Man finds the charcuterie to be pretty good, but he saves most of his love for Casella's cooking.

The salumeria serves Parmacotto products from Italy:

But while Parmacotto's products are wholesome and tasty, they're also a
bit boring if you're used to the quirky, local cured meats found
throughout Italy.

While the Parmacotto selections fail to dazzle, Our Man likes the small selection of domestic charcuterie, including the guanciale (cured pig jowl) from Chelsea's Salumeria Biellese. (This is an amazing place. If you haven't been, and you like charcuterie, you should call in sick and go now.)

The cooking done at Salumeria Rosi follows from Casella's previous two restaurants (Beppe and Maremma), and Our Man calls it mostly "stunning." He finds the small serving of lasagna "unforgettable," and most of the other dishes also win superlative adjectives.

Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto

283 Amsterdam Avenue 212-877-4800 

Our Man Sietsema Enjoys John Dory's Cod Sperm

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This week, Our Man Sietsema tells us all about the John Dory, the new seafood restaurant from the Spotted Pig's chef April Bloomfield. The upshot is that there's a whole lot of really good fish to be had, but mainly at a price that few can afford right now.

Our Man praises a few dishes with enthusiasm:

The best of the uncooked selections is the yellowtail, cut into fat matchsticks and dribbled with ginger oil, which is made crunchy with shreds of purple shallot and flakes of charred skin. What a beautiful picture it made on the plate!

And, Sietsema being Sietsema, he can't resist the opportunity for a dirty joke:

It came, for example, on cod milt (fish sperm, $16), a dish that defines just how far the menu will go to deliver novel seafood sensations. While this may conjure up images of ejaculating fish and hapless under-chefs running after them with paper cups, the semen comes in a sac that fries up like sweetbreads. For aficionados of weird food, it's delicious.

Semen, sac and sweetbreads--three words we never thought we'd see in the same sentence in a restaurant review!

The John Dory
85 Tenth Avenue

Our Man Sietsema Suggests Red Sauce


Like Lady and the Tramp

This week, Our Man Sietsema is in Dyker Heights at Colandrea New Corner Restaurant, which is not new at all, having been founded in 1939. We gather that it's the sort of place that's decorated in the flamboyant style of old Italian aunties--all bad oil paintings and fake classical statuary. Plus, Colandrea offers no less than three different types of lottery to play.

But for all its old-world, kitchy charm, the real reason to go here, Our Man says, is that they do classic Italian-American food right. No arugula or Balsalmic vinegar here, just good, old-fashioned spaghetti and meatballs, lasagne, chicken cacciatore, and baked ziti.

The lasagna can barely hold the sausage and cheese stuffing between its expansive, well-sauced layers, and a further heap of ground beef on top telegraphs the abundance of meat in the New World. To get spaghetti with meatballs, you must order the components separately. Spaghetti with marinara is $9.50, and a pair of meatballs is $5, re-creating one of the towering triumphs of Italian-American cooking, one that has long been clasped to the bosom of mainstream American cuisine.

Colandrea New Corner Restaurant
7201 Eighth Avenue
Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

Our Man Sietsema Digs Motorino


This week, Our Man Sietsema is at Motorino, which he praises for being more affordable and less pretentious than other pizza temples.

Though inspired by Naples pizza, Motorino's pies are cooked in a wood-burning oven that dominates the room (making the premises especially cozy in cold weather). Stippled with char, smoky, and slightly doughy, the marguerita ($10) stands up to any other I've tasted.   

Our Man Sietsema Channels Poe, Eats Pho

viet siet.jpgOur Man Sietsema is in the Bronx this week, where he's found a mini Southeast Asian neighborhood (two Cambodian shops and a Vietnamese restaurant) right next to Edgar Allen Poe's cottage. The restaurant is called World of Taste Seafood Deli/Vietnamese Food, and Our Man pronounces the food "excellent."

How good? Even the spring rolls are loveable:

So, too, are the cha gio (spring rolls, four for $3.50) way better than those found elsewhere. The delicate pastry flutes contain a mellow combo of pork, crab, mushrooms, and clear mung-bean vermicelli. They've been fried more aggressively than usual, resulting in a deep caramelized brown color and a superior crunch. Wrap them in iceberg with fresh mint, dip them in sharp vinegar, and rocket yourself to gastronomic nirvana.

Along with superior renditions of Vietnamese standards, the restaurant also offers regional cuisine from the city of Hue, of which Our Man approves.

Of course, the close proximity of the Edgar Allen Poe house prompts Our Man to cackle a bit over a basil seed drink that looks like a cupful of eyeballs.