The Dirt on Kitchenette
The people behind Kitchenette -- the new on-line magazine about Bay Area food, published from a Twin Peaks address -- were, understandably, unable to think up something better than "Dish" as the name of their gossip column (theirs is called "The Dish," if that matters)."The Dish," they claim in a grand press release, is "the only source in the Bay Area for the inside scoop on restaurants, the people who run them and the people who frequent them."
Their best tidbit, apparently -- judging from both the release and the actual Website (www.kitchenette.com) -- is a squib on Rosti, the Tuscan grill "opening December 20" on Chestnut Street. This is worse than stale (itself a grave offense in the Web world): It is wrong. The restaurant's opening was delayed until Jan. 5, as a phone call or thwarted visit would quickly have revealed.
On the whole, Kitchenette is graphically attractive, but that's not enough to make up for an unfavorable blend of attitude and factual snafus. Having an anonymous waiter write a snotty column about restaurant customers ("Table Talk") is a clever idea, but a food magazine that hopes to be taken seriously can't afford to misspell cappuccino as "cappuchino."
The Book of Joyce
Since closing Square One in July, Joyce Goldstein has kept herself busy publishing cookbooks. In the fall came Taverna, a slender but handsome volume that offered a culinary tour of modest, family-style restaurants around the Mediterranean. Now arriving in bookstores is Kitchen Conversations (Morrow, $25), a bigger production that joins its illustrious brethren The Mediterranean Kitchen and Back to Square One on the shelf.
Although the book is full of recipes (160 of them), Goldstein's goal is, as she writes in her introduction, "to help you become a more intuitive cook, trained to taste, so you can become less dependent upon following every recipe down to the last syllable and quarter teaspoon. Then you can have real fun and adventure in the kitchen."
As is usual with Goldstein's cookbooks, the recipes emphasize easily obtained (and not too many) ingredients, and they turn out well. The Pugliese potato pie, for instance (Page 290), would be a welcome substitute on many restaurant menus for the overworked mashed potato.
And, on the off chance that you bungle a recipe, the ever-conversant Goldstein will be there (on the page) to help you "possibly rescue a dish if it has gone astray, to recognize when it is approaching success and when the dish is in balance, to stop and savor it when it is 'right,' and to learn to remember its taste so you can make it again. And again."