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Best Food section?

I'm in Seattle: we've got the Times, with a full Wednesday food section; the P-I has food columns on Wednesdays; both review restaurants and carry food news on Fridays. The Weekly has a fantastic new critic, and the Stranger has weekly restaurant reviews.

Anyone in Seattle have opinions about these sections?

Anyone in other cities have a paper with a great food section (imho, nobody beats the NYT)

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  1. The L.A. Times is very good. The columnists are excellent.

    The Miami paper used to be very interesting, because it had so many articles on Latin American food. It's seemed less interesting recently, but maybe I haven't been looking closely enough.

    Among the alt-weeklies, the papers in L.A., Minneapolis, and Houston all have writers that I enjoy.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Frolic

      I like the LA Times Food Writers & Columnists, but don't care much for their main critic S. Irene Virbila (affectionately SIV on the LA Boards) -- from personal experience and what I perceive on the boards, her opinions are kind of a hit and miss.

      I do like LA Weekly's Jonathan Gold though.

      1. re: Frolic

        Frolic, for Minneapolis, are you referring to Dara Moskowitz of the City Pages (alternative weekly)? She's a two-time winner of the James Beard award for food writing. I think she's got a good chowsense. I find often find her writing style annoying (I wish they'd edit her more), but I think she knows her audience. And I'm now in the habit of picking up the latest City Pages every Wednesday. When she was on sabbatical, I missed her.

        EDIT: I also meant to say that I credit her for livening up the Twin Cities as a good chowhounding town(s). I wasn't here pre-Dara, so I can't be certain how much credit to give her, but I think she generates a lot of enthusiasm.

        I don't know I'd read her if I weren't local, though.


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Yep, I meant Dara. I should have be more specific.

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            One thing I love about Firefox is the built-in Feed Reader so I get to read Dara's articles as soon as they are printed online - usually 11Pm central time. RSS link: http://rss.citypages.com/Articles.rss...

            Here's a link to the restaurant section: http://citypages.com/restaurants/

            I also like the (admittedly abridged) online Taste Section of the Star-Tribune: http://www.startribune.com/438 <-- requires registration. There are some good recipes and Al Sicherman may be an acquired taste but he does have some useful information.

            I used to read two papers a day but thanks to the internet I read many more than two and no bothersome inky fingers.

            p.s. We used to have Carla Waldemar to whom I give lots of credit for livening up the TC food scene.

            1. re: MplsM ary

              Oops - I forgot to link to the Strib resto section (separate from cooking): http://www.startribune.com/456 Again this paper likes people to register for free (like a few other papers I read).

        2. Jonathan Kauffman is Berkeley's loss and Seattle's gain. One of the best restaurant critics ever in the SF Bay Area.

          1. NY Times seems to have lost something. Used to be excellent.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Withnail42

              When The Boston Globe's food section is better than the NY Times, as it often is these days, that says something about how the Times has declined.

              1. re: Withnail42

                They just hired Pete Wells, the restaurant writer for Food and Wine, as the new Dining section editor. He's smart and a good writer. I bet we'll see a reenergized food section in the New York Times.

              2. I agree--the LA times is the one I read every week on line. (the free articles, anyway.)

                1. I don't get to read it in toto, but the Chicago Tribune has produced some excellent pieces (bolsters my opinion that Chicago chowhounds may be the most perceptive and focused foodies anywhere).

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Gary Soup

                    Nothing against the quality of the food, but Chicago sure has a lot of gimmicky restaurants.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Which Chicago restaurants have you gone to that you thought were 'gimmicky'...what was the food like?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        And San Francisco doesn't? It seems like every other restaurant that opens in SF these days has a gimmick of some sort. Raw food, haute "comfort" food, themed (read neutered "fusion")food, "tapas" that aren't really, etc. Even designer ingredients are a gimmick, IMHO.

                    2. Well,The one in the San Antonio Texas Express News seems pretty good to me.It has recipes,articles about local cooking events and places and tv shows,as well a list of restraunts with reviews and also mentions restaraunts that have closed or moved.

                      1. The Montreal Gazette is rubbish and their food section is no better. They are several years behind the curve. Which is surprising as Montreal is a real food town.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Withnail42

                          Yes, Montreal is a food town, but the fact is that Anglophones are the minority. The recipes my SIL gives me from the French press in Montreal are terrific. The alt. weeklies (both the English and French ones) have good rest. review sections.

                          1. re: morebubbles

                            You’re right I was connecting on the negative. The alts French and English are excelent. Although a few years ago The Mirror hired the Kathy-Lee Gifford of restaurant reviewers all she talked about was her daughter and only seemed to review places her daughter wanted to go ie, all you can eat buffets and the local unremarkable dinners. They seemed to have ditched her and have gotten the section back on track.

                            As for the main-streams La Press in particular has a very good and comprehensive section.

                          2. re: Withnail42

                            A Montreal friend who follows the food media lays it all on the Gazette's lead critic (who shall remain nameless) and makes it sound like a power-trip situation similar to what we have here with the SF Chronicle.

                            I've enjoyed some of Maeve Haldane's on-line pieces at hour.ca

                            1. re: Gary Soup

                              No secret there. When I wrote the original post my thoughts were very similar to those of your friend’s. The section has a feeling of being lectured to from one who knows better than you and 'luckily for you' is not afraid to said so. Besides critiquing she writes long-winded articles, self-serving 'expert tips' and an odd selection of product features. No one I know really takes what she (the critic not your friend) says seriously. A while back during a restaurant review she talked about why chilean sea bass should not be on a menu as it is endangered. She then went ahead and ordered it. A week or so latter she wrote a pompous piece talking about chilean sea bass and why one should not eat it.

                              However that being said Sarah Musgrave who writes about casual dining (cheep eats) for the same paper is a not too bad.

                          3. The Toronto Star and Globe and Mail in Toronto used to have great Food sections and weekend restaurant reviews. Not anymore. It seems their recipes are copied from Epicurious. The Globe has Nigella Lawson recipes that are decent, but hardly a stretch in culinary creativity.

                            1. [[Edit -- this post responds to two other posts a ways above, but the software put it at the very end.]]

                              Gary Soup wrote: "I don't get to read it in toto, but the Chicago Tribune has produced some excellent pieces (bolsters my opinion that Chicago chowhounds may be the most perceptive and focused foodies anywhere)."

                              Gary, you may be thinking of Monica Eng, who is indeed a treasure. She wrote a weekly feature in the late 90's called "Dumpling Zone" (later "World Eats") that was always the first thing I turned to, in those days before I knew one could read and write about food on the internet. She's doing less food writing these days, though, it seems to me. And the regular staff in the Tribune's food section rarely publish anything I feel compelled to read.

                              Robert Lauriston wrote: "Nothing against the quality of the food, but Chicago sure has a lot of gimmicky restaurants."

                              Robert, you are probably thinking of Moto

                              and possibly Alinea?

                              I haven't been to either (I would go happily if someone else were paying the check!), but I wouldn't dismiss either as merely gimmicky. They are representative of one aspect of high-end dining in Chicago, true, but to think of Chicago food only in terms of Moto and Alinea is as inaccurate as assuming that all restaurants in the Bay Area are serving raw vegan meals.

                              My own tastes in restaurants run to the hole-in-the-wall ethnic kind, something which Chicago has in abundance and great variety, and which does not get covered well in the mainstream print media here. Instead, I look to the internet for well-informed discussion of everything from Azeri to Yunnanese here in Chicago. The newspapers don't cover those topics at the level of detail and analysis that I now want, and perhaps they simply cannot. So I for one no longer read the food section most weeks.

                              1. I really like the San Francisco Chronicle's Wednesday Food section and Friday Wine section (yep, a whole section devoted to wine.) Olivia Wu has been written a number of terrific articles about her stay in China (check out her blog at http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/owu/i...), Janet Fletcher writes wonderfully about cheese, and the restaurant news column is a good compliment to Chowhound. I think that my favorite column, though is called Pairings. It's in the Wine section and usually has the Chronicle's best recipes of the week (many written or collected by Carol Ness.) I also like Flo Braker's baking column, and Marlena Spieler and Georgeanne Brennan write well about international flavors. Overall, I think that these two sections are excellent.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Nancy Berry

                                  I agree with you generally. My beef with the Food Section's ueberlord is with his restaurant criticisms; he knows how to get the backing and put together a good food section, though some good staff has left possibly due to personality conflicts.

                                  Olivia Wu's special reports (like the tofu and the regional Chinese restaurants report) have been outstanding, though her reports from Shanghai didn't really focus enough on food and were (surprisingly) a bit cliche-ridden, IMHO.

                                  Not that I read it, but isn't the Wine section on Thursday?

                                  1. re: Gary Soup

                                    They just moved the Wine section to Fridays, part of a shake-up in the whole food coverage schedule.

                                  2. re: Nancy Berry

                                    I wish I had access to San Francisco Chronicle food section. I purchased the two cookbooks -- San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook, vol. 1 & 2 and am quite happy, though it makes me wonder what I'm missing on a more regular basis.

                                    1. re: NYchowcook

                                      I wish I could subscribe to the SF Chron Weds and Thurs papers and have them delivered. I know I can read it online, I know it's wasteful, but I like having something to hold in my hand. I do try to read it online when I remember.


                                      1. re: NYchowcook

                                        You can read both the food and wine sections online at www.sfgate.com. When you get to the home page, click on the San Francisco Chronicle logo just below and to the right of SFGATE.com. That will take you to that day's Chronicle's home page. Scroll down a bit on that page, find a box labeled Browse Weekly Sections, and click either FOOD or WINE, depending upon which one you want. You'll then be able to read that week's section.

                                        1. re: Nancy Berry

                                          or as an alternative, go to www.sfgate.com go to the left column titled..Main Section....FOOD AND DINING..and click.

                                          1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                            If you follow Derek's suggestion, then you can get to the week's wine articles by going to the upper right hand corner of the page and clicking [wine]. Then click [more Chronicle wine] at the bottom left corner of the page.

                                    2. By the way, if anyone wants to read food sections from all over the U.S., go to http://www.sautewednesday.com for a large group of newspaper food section links on the home page.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Nancy Berry

                                        omg, the Foodie Motivational Poster website off sautewednesday.com is absolutely hilarious:


                                        How about PETA: People for the Eating of Tasty Animals??